Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Do Republicans really want another 9/11?

When I read this story from CBS News, I was struck by what was implied but not said: The Republicans want ISIS* to launch a 9/11-style attack before the mid-term elections so they can use it to campaign against President Obama.

Sadly, the Republican party has become the party of tearing down America and attempting to blame this destruction on its opponents. Will you agree that Republicans want to reduce the deficit and the national debt? Then why did they shut down the Federal Government last year, costing the economy $24 billion (source: Time magazine)?

I, for one, am hoping that the Republicans are not successful in encouraging another 9/11-style attack.

* ISIS stands for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (but is alternatively translated as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria orIslamic State in Iraq and al-Sham).

Sunday, June 15, 2014

64-bit mobile processors? Only in the Apple iPhone 5S!

John Gruber, writer of Daring Fireball, wrote a four-part post titled "Only Apple." I'm going to look at one statement he made in the second part: "No one else is making 64-bit mobile CPUs and Apple sold tens of millions of them immediately." "Immediately" in this context means beginning with the release date of the iPhone 5S, Sept. 21, 2013.

Here we are, almost nine months after Apple began shipping 64-bit mobile processors in volume. My question: Is anyone other than Apple shipping a mobile device (phone or tablet) with a 64-bit processor? The answer, as you will see below, is "No."

I found this article in PCWorld: "Qualcomm overtakes Apple with eight-core, 64-bit mobile processor." The money quote: "The Snapdragon 615 will go into high-end smartphones and tablets, which should become available in the fourth quarter." We're not even in the third quarter yet.

MediaTek has announced the MT6732 64-bit mobile processor. According to their news release: "The MT6732 platform will be commercially available by Q3 of 2014, with devices expected by the end of the year." So no devices shipping yet.

Samsung, of course, will also have a 64-bit mobile processor. The best information I can find says that these processors will be under the Exynos brand. However, Samsung appears to be waiting for 64-bit Android to be released later this year. Again, no shipping devices yet.

Intel issued a news release touting the "2.13GHz Intel Atom processor Z3480 ('Merrifield')" that is a "64-bit ready SOC" (SOC means "System on a chip"). Intel explains that "64-bit ready" means that the processor will run at 32 bits until 64-bit software is ready. It doesn't actually claim to be a 64-bit processor. It is expected to launch the second quarter of this year. I looked for devices with this processor and found this article from the Motley Fool: "Was Intel Corporation’s Atom Z3480 a Failure?" It claims that Dell is going to begin shipping Venue 7 and 8 tablets with this processor by July 1. I did find the Venue 8 Pro shown on Dell's web site but it is running an Atom Z3740D which is a 32-bit processor although it supports 64-bit instructions. It has the Windows 8.1 32-bit operating system installed. Dell may be shipping a device in the third quarter but it may only have a 32-bit processor, not a 64-bit processor.

Finally, Nvidia has announced the Tegra K1 processor in two versions, one 32 bit and one 64 bit. The 64-bit processor is expected to ship in devices in the second half of the year.

I have to conclude that Apple is the only company shipping a device with a 64-bit mobile processor even though it's now nine months after the iPhone 5S began shipping.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sam's Club $3,000 in online savings

Sam's Club sent me an email message today advertising a sale with $3,000 worth of savings. Just what do you have to buy to save $3,000? Here are the items, ranked first by savings, high to low; then sale price, low to high [or highest percentage savings high to low]:

ItemSavingsSale Price
Sectional Sofa
Sonoma Gazebo
Storage Shed
Mattress & Box Spring — Queen
Sectional Sofa
Asus Laptop
Sanyo 58" TV
Mattress & Box Spring — Queen
Dual-Monitor Workstation Stand
Mattress & Box Spring — King
Reclining Lift Chair
Sectional Sofa
Sectional Sofa
Heavy-Duty Shelf
Vision 48" TV
Snap & Grow Greenhouse
TCL 50" TV
KitchenAid Mixer
Vitamix Kitchen Set
Vertical Gas Smoker
Sno Cone Machine

At this point, in my opinion, there is no reason to include any further items in the sale. I am not going to make a trip to Sam's Club to save $10 on Kleenex. If it is on sale when I'm at the store, sure, I might buy it. But I would buy it whether or not it was on sale.

ItemSavingsSale Price
Asus Tablet
Video Baby Monitor
Electric Pencil Sharpener
Monster Tablet
Baby Monitor
Bonded Leather Massage Chair
Newport Air Purifier
Portable Charger
Kleenex Tissues, 36 boxes
Elephant Pendant
Dragonfly Pendant
Butterfly Pendant
Bluetooth Headphones
Double-Window Envelopes
Double-Window Envelopes
Clorox Wipes — Fresh Scent
Clorox Wipes — Lemon Scent
Mattress Protector — Twin XL
Mattress Protector — Twin
Memory Foam Pillow
Memory Foam Pillow
Mattress Protector — Full
Memory Foam Pillow
Mattress Protector — Queen
Mattress Protector — King
Mattress Protector — Cal. King
Gevalia Kaffe, 84 count
30-Day Food Storage
Food Storage, 4 Pails
Hearing Aid, Pair

• There are indeed $3,000 in savings but you almost have to buy four sectional sofas, three mattress and box spring sets, three televisions and something for the outside (a gazebo, a storage shed, a greenhouse or a gas smoker) to achieve those savings.
• I'm not sure what the point of this sales flyer is. Sure, I might buy online when I see the flyer and I'm in the market for a big-ticket item. But how many electric pencil sharpeners am I going to buy in my lifetime (just one so far and it still works)?
• I did comparison shop one item, the KitchenAid mixer, and found it at about $450 other places. So the sale price on this item is legitimate.
• Yes, I did mask the specific products sold. The pricing compared to other stores is not the point of this post. The point is that I think these sales flyers, even if just sent by email, have no value and the money Sam's Club spends on them is wasted.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Wall Street Journal survey

I just took a survey for the Wall Street Journal. I currently subscribe to the digital edition only. In the survey, they ran various pricing scenarios past me including an option to receive the print edition at no extra charge. That was the only pricing option where I selected the print edition; otherwise, I stuck with the digital-only edition.

They never asked me why I didn't want the print edition. The reason is simple: In the six months that I subscribed to both the digital and print editions, I received the print edition exactly one time. That's it. They didn't miss it 10% of the time and there was no way it was stolen every day; they just never delivered it. I even changed addresses to my home address thinking there was something about my business address they couldn't handle. No paper. Now I was getting the digital edition every day and only paying $2 per month extra for the print edition but I thought that it might be nice to read a real paper once in a while. Not a chance unless I wanted to go the newsstand and pay even more for it.

It makes me wonder how many others don't get their paper and just don't take the time to complain. Maybe they should do an, gasp!, audit on their circulation!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Wayne LaPierre, you are a fool

In December 2012, Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association, was quoted as saying, "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun."

Today, two Las Vegas police officers, good guys with guns, were shot in the head and killed.

Last Wednesday, June 4, three Canadian police officers, good guys with guns, were shot and killed.

On Friday, May 30, a Norfolk, Virginia police officer, a good guy with a gun, was shot and killed even though he knew the person he was looking for was armed.

That's six police officers killed by bullets fired at them by bad guys in 10 days. Good guys with guns can't always stop bad guys with guns. Mr. LaPierre, you are a fool.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

150+ OUPS utility poles in Norwood, Ohio?

On Williams Ave. at
Hazel Ave., Norwood
Duke Energy has been aggressively replacing old utility poles in Norwood, Ohio with new ones. In many cases, the old pole has other utilities attached, typically Cincinnati Bell phone lines or Time Warner Cable cable lines. Duke's contractor cuts the top of the old pole off, leaving the other utility lines attached, and may mark "OUPS" on the old pole with white spray paint (see picture). OUPS stands for Ohio Utilities Protection Service and it means, in this case, that the pole is slated to be removed.

The other utilities move their lines to the new pole and then the old pole is removed. That's the plan, at least, and many times it works well. But here in Norwood it hasn't. I estimate that there are over 150 old, OUPS utility poles lining our streets.

I have embarked on a project to document these poles and report them to city officials so that they can take action. I have a lot on my plate right now and this is a low priority so it will likely take me at least a year to do this. I'm hoping that some of these poles will be removed before I finish my project. As I do, I will publish the results here; there is no reason not to make them public.

At the same time, I have noticed a set of steel utility poles on Montgomery Road that are rusting and need to be scraped and painted. Some are currently being used but many no longer have a use. As a related project, I'm going to document these and see if someone (the City of Norwood or Duke Energy) can repair or remove these eyesores.

It's all about improving the city that I live in.

Friday, June 6, 2014

May 31, 2014: This blog passed 10,000 page views

On May 31, this blog went over 10,000 page views. I am pleasantly surprised at this and am inspired to keep on blogging.

And no, it's not just me admiring my posts; I set a cookie in my browsers that keep my views from counting.

I changed comments to full page today. I read that this allows posting comments even with third-party cookies disabled in your browser. Email me if you are having a problem posting a comment.

Updated June 10.

Illegal phone calls to my business — June 2014

For the month of June, I'm going to log illegal phone calls made to my business. As a business, my phone number is easy to find and is not on the National Do Not Call Registry. I'll let you research why these calls are illegal and you can submit a comment if you disagree. I have checked each number using Google search to insure that it isn't for a legitimate business.

June is done. Almost 50% of the calls to my business were illegal. My conclusion: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which is responsible for enforcing the laws and regulations, has totally lost control over the marketers.

On June 10, I removed all of my blocked numbers. Calls to a blocked number go directly to voice mail without my phone even ringing. Also note that I don't use the word "Hello" when I answer the phone; some systems incorrectly key off of that. I have Reveal from Cincinnati Bell which makes it harder for anonymous or private callers from calling my business. I did not include missed calls and there were a few of those the last week when I was on vacation.

If one of these phone numbers is yours and you want it redacted, please contact me by email.

Phone NumberCaller Identifier NameDate, Time of CallType of CallBusiness Mentioned or Note
402-260-1555West Point, NebraskaJune 4 1:21 p.m.Hang up
458-201-0551Eugene, OregonJune 4 5:10 p.m.RobocallBusiness loan
678-606-5652GA, USAJune 6 11:06 a.m.Robocall"Google Maps service provider"
458-201-0419Eugene, OregonJune 9 1:13 p.m.Hang up
714-233-2319Huntington Beach, CaliforniaJune 9 2:02 p.m.Hang up
714-233-2319Huntington Beach, CaliforniaJune 9 2:34 p.m.Robocall"Small business loan up to $250,000"
661-295-8596Palmdale, CaliforniaJune 10 8:41 p.m.Robocall"Political call," "SBA grant for exports"
215-383-1717Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaJune 11 4:33 p.m.SilenceWaited for 30 seconds after answering.
216-278-0121Cleveland, OhioJune 13 3:56 p.m.Hang up
206-858-8178Seattle, WashingtonJune 16 1:47 p.m.2-second rule
661-295-8596Tullahoma, TennesseeJune 16 9:41 p.m.RobocallRecycle your electronics.
727-938-0000Tarpon Springs, FloridaJune 18 1:44 p.m.RobocallU.S. Federal Data Corporation (see note 1)
253-236-2670Kent, WashingtonJune 19 2:52 p.m.Hang up
361-400-1007Yorktown, TexasJune 23 12:18 p.m.Hang up
513-452-5045Harrison, OhioJune 23 12:47 p.m.Robocall"Someone has claimed your Google business listing."
513-247-****Cincinnati, OhioJune 25 4:03 p.m.Spoofed; SilenceSee note 2.
214-440-0271Plano, TexasJune 26 2:17 p.m.One ringSee note 3.
800-646-6942Toll FreeJune 30 7:24 p.m.Hang up
800-646-6942Toll FreeJune 30 6:45 p.m.SilenceWaited for 20 seconds after answering.

Times are in Eastern Daylight Time (U.S.A.)

Explanation of type of call

2-second rule: The marketer must talk to me within two seconds after I have finished my greeting. This marketer violated that rule.
Hang up: I answered the phone and the marketer hung up on me without speaking.
Robocall: An automated system called me.
Silence: After I answer the call, give my company name and say, "This is Bruce," the marketer does not respond. The note shows how long I waited for a response.
Spoofed: See note 2.

Note 1: The Better Business Bureau has given the U.S. Federal Data Corporation an "F" rating.

Note 2: The caller actually spoofed my company's fax number. When I answered it, there was silence and I hung up after 15 seconds. There is no way my fax machine placed this call. I don't know if this is technically illegal, but I'm wondering how many other people they're calling using my fax number.

Note 3: This call only rang one time and left the caller identifier but hung up before the second ring. My understanding is that marketers try to time the number of rings to avoid voice mail.

There are a number of services for tracking these types of phone numbers but there are too many to choose from. I will use the format here instead but just for one month.

Updated July 6.