Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Ich w√ľnsche euch ein frohes Weihnachtsfest und alles Gute zum neuer Jahr!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Economic Boost

File this one under job creator.  I believe one of the goals of Congress in its next session should be to evaluate our infrastructure and develop at least a 5 year (or better yet, 10 year) plan.  We could reconsider building new interstates and instead look at how different mass transit could relieve congestion.  Instead of approving more drilling, we could incentivize green energy much the way Germany has: require utilities to pay back at 1.5 times the rate for homeowner generated energy from renewable sources unless the utility is already providing renewable energy.

So...  To help Congress and POTUS out, here's a helpful chart detailing how our money may be best spent if we want to help the economy and put people back to work.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Hemp v Cotton, The Trial of the Century!

So there's no real trial here.  I wish there were.  Hemp is a wondrous plant and could really improve agriculture and our economy.  For that matter, it could also help the drug problem in this country.


Guys, Don't Spill Your Seed

Along the lines of what Mr. Mourdock brought up...  If its so wrong for a woman to have an abortion, even when raped or under threat to her own health, then perhaps men should be more careful with their semen.  After all, you cannot make that embryo with an egg and a sperm.


Who Really Made the National Debt

This constantly drives me nuts.  President Obama did not increase the debt exponentially as many Republicans allege.  Actually, its been the Republicans that have raised our national debt so much.



Quote of the Week

"I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happened."  -Richard Mourdock

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Quote of the Week

I truly wish RFK could have left us some better advice on how to "remove this sickness from our soul."  We are still fighting the same problems that he was.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Quote of the Week

I never thought I would cite ole Ron Reagan except, perhaps, to ridicule him.  But this, I most certainly agree with him on.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Traditional Biblical Marriage

Since there seems to be some debate over what marriage means in this country, I thought I needed to weigh (since everyone else already beat me to it).  A certain CEO for a certain fast food business decided to say that he supports traditional marriage.  Mr Dan Cathy said in an interview:
We’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage. And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about
 I find it perfectly acceptable that Mr Cathy wishes to believe this.  Everyone is entitled to their beliefs.  There's plenty of racists left in this country that think mixed race marriages are wrong too.  Just because they believe it, does not mean its appropriate for the rest or for the government to act on their belief.  The government's job in all of this is to secure equality for Americans.

With all that in mind, I think Mr Cathy's beliefs on marriage need to be clarified.  Even though we are not a Christian country and our government is not to introduce law based on Christian beliefs (nor other religions' beliefs), let's pretend for a moment that we are.  The awesome infographic below hails from Unicornbooty (a gay news/misc site).  The following are the traditional ideas of marriage derived from the Bible.

Click for larger image

I think this has some real potential for our country.   I'm wondering if Mr Cathy wants a polygamous marriage or if he just wants a few concubines.  After all, we do not want to redefine what marriage is about in this country.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Quote of the Week

Two very good quotes from George Orwell this time.  Orwell is most notably the author of "1984" and also "Animal Farm."  When you hear people talk about Big Brother, you can thank Orwell.  Or think of an Orwellian society, a controlling totalitarian society.

Journalism is printing what someone else does not wanted printed.  Everything is public relations.

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Our New Chickens

We ordered new chickens from Meyer Hatchery out of Ohio.  We received them June 7th.  The chicks were all healthy and vigorous.  They are growing like crazy and look just great.


Apple Patent Wars

Apple is working quite successfully to ban the import of HTC products in the United States.  This is just another saga in the ongoing patent wars between Apple, Microsoft, and the Android crowd.  Aside from the fact that the delayed import of Android devices is annoying, its disappointing to me in other aspects.

I'm actually becoming fond of the iPhone.  There's definitely things I would change about it.  A larger screen would be great (and rumor is, the next iPhone will have it).  Perhaps making it more durable would  help as well.  What I really like is jailbreaking.

It is very difficult to root most Android phones.  I've been considering rooting my HTC Droid Incredible 2 or more likely my old Motorola Droid 2 Global.  Unfortunately...  That involves rolling back the device firmware, gaining root access, and then loading whatever you want.

On the iPhone, its as simple as visiting jailbreakme.com and clicking the button on the iPhone.  It'll unlock the iPhone and gain access.

Now, if it wasn't for philosophical reasons, I would probably switch to an iPhone eventually.  The key is Apple's behavior.  If Apple would quit fighting its sales battles in court, I would buy one.  Until then, I will stick with the free, open source based alternative.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Feed the Chickens


RIP Chickens

I came home last Thursday night to find my dog dining on a chicken.  When I checked the run, he had killed all but three chickens.  We bought 18 chicks originally, lost one at a couple weeks old, and had 17 nearly full grown hens.

This was by far the worst homesteading experience I've had thus far.  We'll be ordering more chicks online this time but that sets up back three months.  Fortunately we still have three chickens so we'll have fresh eggs but we won't have any extra to sell.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Quote of the Week

Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Quote of the Week

With all of the ridiculous legislation that education is facing in the United States, I cannot foresee this country turning out many more great thinkers.  If we do, they will be privately educated where those institutions have the ability to truly challenge students' thinking.

The aim of public education is not to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. ... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States... and that is its aim everywhere else.
 -H.L. Mencken
This actually makes me think of an anecdote from a teacher.  When one of her students failed to complete his homework consistently, she phoned the child's mother.  She explained the situation that this young pupil was failing to complete assignments and she was seeking the mother's help in getting the work finished.  The mother in turn called the principal to complain that the teacher was harassing her and that her child did not have to do homework if he did not want to!

When the teacher had the student in class again, the student remarked that he wasn't doing the homework but he knew she would pass anyway.  Why?  He brought up that the teacher will not get a raise unless her students pass the class (welcome to Indiana!).  Her response?  "I don't care, I'm leaving after this year."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quote of the Week

I love deadlines, especially the whooshing sound they make as they go by.  
-Douglas Adams
Who isn't this relevant to?  Sometimes we just can't meet deadlines or follow through with our promises.  Its time to fret about this less and move on.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Favorite Android Launcher

Part of buying an Android smartphone is, at least partially, accepting whatever modifications the manufacturer has made to the Android operating system.  However, if you don't care for their modified version, you can change a lot of the appearance through different launchers.  A launcher on Android is the homescreen(s) and app drawer as well as theme capability and included widgets.

After reading an article about doing some spring cleanup on my phone, I decided to really trim it down with a different launcher.  I own an HTC Droid Incredible 2 and the HTC Sense UI is a bit plain.  I had tried different launchers on my old Droid 2 Global and thought I'd try them again.  I was glad I did.

After looking through the numerous options (I've estimated at least three or four dozen different launchers), I settled on Go Launcher Ex.  Why?  Customization.  I wanted to select how many home screens I truly need, I like the ability to delete apps from the app drawer (iPhone style) and the ability to create folders on the home screen by putting one app on another.  Go Launcher also has available numerous different themes, some even free.

There are numerous other reasons to like Go Launcher as well.  I'm a big fan of the iPhone style app folders that open inline with the other apps.  It makes it quicker and easier to open the app you want as well as close the folder.  It truly is as simple as dragging on app onto another on any homescreen.

While I am on a widget diet, there are some helpful widgets made by Go that matches the Go Launcher quite well.  I installed the Go Power Master app and widget to watch my battery life.  It also makes it easy to kill running apps and switch between power modes to extend your battery life.

You can go to the Go Dev Team homepage or their blog to see more and download the apk files to install Go Launcher, Go Power Master, or any of their other great useful tools.  Google Play Store also has the apps, of course.

I want to know, what's your favorite Android launcher?  Leave me a note in the comments.

Quote of the Week

Go live your life folks.  Get off the computer and embrace the world.


Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover 
- Mark Twain

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Quote of the Week

This week my quote is much more than a quote, its a decent excerpt from Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler.  I find it especially relevant with all the lies we hear during election season.

The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, because the vast masses of a nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad (there is more ignorance than evil). 
The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them more easy victims of a big lie than a small one, because they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell big ones.
Such a form of lying would never enter their heads. They would never credit others with the possibility of such great impudence as the complete reversal of facts. Even explanations would long leave them in doubt and hesitation, and any trifling reason would dispose them to accept a thing as true. 
Something therefore always remains and sticks from the most imprudent of lies, a fact which all bodies and individuals concerned in the art of lying in this world know only too well, and therefore they stop at nothing to achieve this end. 
- Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)

Chickens Are In The Coop

Checking out the perches.
We finally moved the chickens from their indoor abode to their comfortable new setting outside.  I had a couple final touches to do on Saturday but they're moved for now.  Unfortunately...  We have some reconstruction to do on it.  We're actually going to make it taller.  So in the mean time, I'm putting up fence for the chickens' run and they can scratch around there while we make final adjustments one day.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What to Feed the Chickens

Since taking on a flock of chickens, I've been pretty curious just what I can feed my birds.  Sure, there's store bought feed but I want the strong healthy yolks and solid whites of a farm yard chicken egg.  While I intend on letting my chickens free range under my supervision, I have still been curious how to supplement their diet.

One of my favorite chicken sites, BackYard Chickens, had just the answer.  I won't list everything on the site but the simpler formula is won't not to feed your chickens: no candy/sugar, no salty stuff, no green potato peels (some sites simply say no peels at all), no dry beans, no avocado, and no citrus.  There's tons of veggies and fruit that chickens simply love.  Meal worms and scratch grains help too.

Torrent Protection



*UPDATE*

This has become, by far, the most popular post on my site.  Thank you for all of the interest.  In the time since I originally wrote this in 2007, the BitTorrent and Peer to Peer landscape has changed substantially.  PeerGuardian is no longer considered safe.  MoBlock does not work either.  For your own personal protection, I would recommend purchasing a VPN service or consider switching to newsgroups.  

PictureBitTorrent is under constant attack by governments, ISPs, and private industry groups.  Many want to shut down this invaluable tool completely.  ISPs have been throttling torrents slowing down your progress.  They don't recognize the advantages it carries allowing large groups to share data for free and/or open source software, indie artists, and other copyleft material.  Its tremendously easier downloading Linux or free indie artists now than it was ten years ago.

Unfortunately, it may be necessary to protect yourself when using BitTorrent.  Governments track users and private groups try infiltrating torrents.  My advice?  Use a combination of IP blocking and encryption.

Phoenix Lab’s PeerGuardian offers IP blocking.  This is an open source program built for Windows and designed to protect individuals from snooping governments and anti-P2P groups.  This will actually run on Windows 98 through 7 and Mac OS X 10.4.9 and later.

If you’re a Linux user like me, Phoenix Labs recommends MoBlock.   By default, they offer Tarballs but you can add their repo to your Debian based system by hitting up their Sourceforge page.  The SF DEB file supports Ubuntu 11.04 Natty.

The other part of protecting yourself is encrypting your torrents.  Most BitTorrent programs include an option for encryption.  Usually this is located under the options or preference menus.  TorrentFreak has a how-to for Azureus, Bitcomet, and uTorrent.

Why is all this so important?  As much as 25% of connected peers on major torrents can be anti-P2P agencies.  These groups work to pollute torrents with junk.  In turn,  you end up downloading a lot more than you need to.  By using MoBlock or PeerGuardian you can block these groups and help protect your personal privacy.  

I absolutely do not advocate nor condone the distribution of illegal material through BitTorrent or any other peer to peer file sharing systems.  I'm an open source advocate who believes the free sharing of knowledge will advance our civilization rapidly.  The free sharing of private property will just land you in jail or at least in court.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hello openSUSE

Or should I say "Goodbye Ubuntu?"  I have been using Ubuntu steadily since 4.10 Warty Warthog.  Ubuntu installed easily and I even got my laptop wireless card to work at a time when it required crazy configuration and extracting Windows drivers.  I still tried other distros during that time even running some for a good while.  I tried out Fedora Core, Freespire, Linspire, Mandriva, Mint, openSUSE, and even TurboLinux (well before Ubuntu though) amongst others.  No matter what I have tried, I have come back to Ubuntu.

After Gnome 3 and Unity were shown off, I switched off to Kubuntu for the KDE desktop.  KDE works well on Ubuntu but I still wasn't pleased that Canonical continues to focus on Unity.  I also contemplated a switch to Mint but when the Mint Gnome Shell Extension was announced, my heart sank.  MGSE just continued to mask the problems with these new desktops.  There was plenty of discussion about the issues with Gnome 3 (or Gnome Shell) and Unity on the web so I won't get into the poor multitasking.

Deciding to stick with KDE distros, I looked at Fedora and openSUSE.  Fedora still focuses a lot on Gnome though and has a poor history with stability.  Cutting edge is alright so long as it works.  I've never had good luck there though.  openSUSE on the other hand...  Well, I've really liked it in the past.  The last time I tried it, it was around version 11.1 or 11.2 maybe.  I had issues with installing codecs and some software.  The system otherwise worked well.  Since 12.1 was due soon, I waited for openSUSE and read some reviews of 11.4.  It was time to take the plunge.  Word on the webs told me the openSUSE team had worked out the issues plaguing me before.

It was time to ditch Ubuntu, hopefully for good.  I had 11.4 downloaded and burnt as a back up, then I let 12.1 work its magic.  The installation was super smooth and quick.  It detected my old partitions and imported it all perfectly.  The new system booted fast.  Updates downloaded and installed without problems.  Even more remarkably, I added additional respositiories and installed additional software, including some required codecs, without trouble.

The ability to add additional repos on openSUSE is a feature I love dearly and wish more distros would incorporate.  It made a lot of the setup easier.  The other helpful tool was the site openSUSE Guide.  The guide isn't complete and its not the most detailed.  But it will give you the basic tools to start your system right.

Once I've used the system more, I'll drop a few screenshots and maybe a more detailed review.  If you've tried openSUSE 12.1 or if you're ditching Ubuntu, let me know what you think.

Homemade Laundry Soap

I've taken a keen interest in homemade cleaners and especially laundry detergents or soaps.  Everyone seems to have an idea about how it should be made and how diluted it should be.  I've found powdered recipes and liquid recipes.  I've found recipes that take three ingredients or as many as seven.  Until I have a chance to try them all (which according to what their creators' claim could take me years to use them all up), I'll post recipes and links with some hope for feedback.  If you've used them, let me know.

An important note...  I intend on watering plants with the leftover water from laundry.  If you're doing the same, skip the borax.  It will kill your plants.  Also, I would recommend you stick to more decorative plants or at least not root crops.

Liquid Laundry Soaps
The Duggar Family is well known for their television show 19 And Counting on TLC.  Regardless of how you feel about their lifestyle, we could all take lessons in frugality from them.  Their laundry soap recipe is a great example.  Their recipe on the show actually stirred my interest in this DIY endeavor.  Their recipe uses a whole bar of Fels-Naptha soap, 1 cup washing soda, and 1/2 cup borax.  Once completely diluted, it yields 10 gallons.  They also suggest 1/4 cup for an HE front loader resulting in approximately 640 loads versus 5/8 cup for a top loader for 180 loads.

The Family Homestead shows step by step photos how to made liquid soap.  This is leaner recipe with 1/3 bar Fels-Naptha soap, 1/2 cup washing soda, and 1/2 borax.  This recipe makes a little over two gallons and translates to around $0.01 per load.

Powder Laundry Soaps
diyNatural has a basic recipe with the common ingredients: borax, washing soda, and bar soap.  Its a simple 1-1-1 ratio here.  That means one cup grated soap to one cup washing soda to one cup borax.  Mix well and serve.  I like this page for the cost comparison.  They claim their soap is $0.05 per load versus Arm & Hammer liquid or Tide with Bleach powder at $.021 per load.

I could continue posting any number of combinations of homemade laundry soap.  However, Tipnut has a list of 10 recipes worth checking.  My ultimate advice?  Try making some small batches and play with the recipes.  Eventually you'll find one you really prefer.  I can't see much wrong with the 1-1-1 ratio.  If you skip the borax like I will, I would suggest using slightly more laundry soap per load or making a more concentrated batch by including more soap and washing soda.

I'll have photos up soon of my own laundry detergent process as well as my homemade laundry plunger washer and wringer contraption.

Chickens


My wife and I have been throwing around the idea of chickens for a long time.  Its something we thought we would enjoy having and taking care of as well as collecting those wonderful eggs.  One Saturday, we researched the whole deal.  We bought books and a magazine, discussed our future chicken coop, and decided this is the year we're going to do it.