The disaster that is Obamacare is baffling to me.

Lies, lies, lies (at least the MSM is finally starting to wake up)

  • “If you like your insurance plan, you will keep it.”
  • “What we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.”
  • “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period.”
  • “We’ll start by reducing premiums by as much as $2,500 per family.”
  • “It will create 4 million jobs-400,000 jobs almost immediately.”
  • ” Obamacare “pushed back on the undue influence of special interests.”
  • “We are on schedule, and will be ready for the marketplaces to open on October 1.”
  • “Regardless of how the Marketplace is managed, consumers will be able to access the Marketplace with ease.”
  • “We expect to resolve these issues in the coming hours.”
  • “Take away the volume, and it works.” “No, we don’t have that data.”
  • “[We] follow high standards regarding the privacy and security of personal information.”

The Obamacare website has 500 million lines of code, yet just 50 thousand simultaneous users crashes the system.

It has been estimated that only 60% of the entire system has been completed (there is no back-end).

The unfinished Obamacare website codebase is 5x larger than Windows 8 and Facebook combined!

The seminal book on IT productivity The Mythical Man-Month  claims that on average a programmer can create as many as 6 lines of code per day.
How did they get this much code? An Obamacare website programmer would have to write thousands per day.

Continue reading ‘Obamacare’ »

(I’m not sure it was supposed to be this funny)

“It is not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government.”
I couldn’t agree more – 100%
Going to preschool ends up “boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime” and can help infants eventually “form more stable families of their own.”
Never mind that the two states Obama praised for their commitment to preschool Georgia and Oklahoma rank in the bottom third for reading and math proficiency, and college attendance, according to the Department of Education.
“As long as countries like China keep going all in on clean energy, so must we.”
Sixteen of the world’s top 20 most polluted cities are in China. The New York Times reported just a couple weeks ago that Beijing’s air quality ranked a “crazy bad” 755 on a scale of 0 to 500.
“Already, the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care costs.”
After trending downward, insurance premiums spiked 9.5% the year after ObamaCare became law, and another 4.5% last year. And that’s before the main event happens in 2014, when ObamaCare takes full effect. One study finds ObamaCare’s mountain of rules and regulations will nearly triple premiums for young people. And his own health care experts say that national spending will shoot up 7.4% in 2014 and will climb 6% or more for the foreseeable future.
“We can’t cut our way to prosperity.”
Obama’s own record shows pretty clearly that we can’t spend our way to prosperity either.
Of special note related to the 27 new federal programs that he proposed – “Let me repeat – nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime.”
Once again I see complete truth in this statement.

Let’s suppose you are a gourmet cook. You prepare a meal and share it with your friend. If he ever commented – “That was a wonderful meal. You must have some really good pots and pans!” you would likely introduce him to your carving knife.

People often comment on my photographs. It usually goes something like this – “What camera do you have?” or “Wow, you must have a nice camera!”

Sigh…

No tool can replace the photographer’s eye.

Here is my list of *fairly* inexpensive gift ideas for your favorite photographer.
Make sure you shop around, but get a base price from Amazon or B&H first.
If you find a price that is a lot less, something is probably not right.
The bitter taste of poor service lingers long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten!
Be sure to check out my gift guide from last year – http://hugger.us/?p=885

I really like photography. My first real camera was a film SLR; a Canon A-1. I purchased it in 1980 just before my first child was born. I loved that camera. It was the first multi-mode SLR – Aperture priority, Shutter priority and Manual. This should not be confused with what was probably the most popular camera of that period, the Canon AE-1. The AE-1 was shutter priority only. I had collected several nice FD lenses (manual focus): 50mm f1.4, 70-210mm f4.5, and 35-105mm f3.5. I even had the film winder. My old camera has been sitting in its bag for years now, ever since I purchased my first digital camera. I took it out the other day and noticed how the leather case was drying out and falling apart. I ditched the case and just enjoyed handling it for a while (no I didn’t shoot any film). As it lay on my desk I thought about what a waste it was just sitting there. My son has a Canon DSLR, but his collection of lenses is somewhat limited. We researched a bit and found a nice adapter ring that allows the use of FD lenses on today’s modern DSLRs. There are a few caveats – magnification, loss of light, and manual exposure only, but overall they are still useful. He immediately grabbed the 35-105 and the 70-210. He already had a 50mm f1.8 EF lens and the 18-55mm f3.5 kit lens (both auto focus and aperture). I’m glad the old lenses are getting some use now and being forced to shoot in manual requires you to think more about your shot and pay attention to the exposure. It’s like a mini course in photography.

This brings me to the leftovers – A-1 body, 50mm lens, and the winder. I have a lot of toys on my desk and the old A-1 seems to fit right in. I like just looking at it and picking it up every once in a while. I think it’s found a new home…….

Shot with my Canon 7D

I got a really nice OCZ Vertex2 SSD for my birthday. I wasn’t really looking for a major project this weekend, but I thought I’d give it a go. You can of course simply install the new drive, reinstall Windows, reinstall all of your software and then restore all of your data and settings from a recent backup. I chose a simpler, faster way. I cloned my existing C: drive onto the new SSD and then configured Windows to boot off of the new drive. After I was sure everything was working, I reformatted the old C: drive and made it available to the system as a new volume. Here are the basic steps to follow –

Continue reading ‘Replacing an old HDD with an SSD (Windows 7)’ »

My company recently decided to switch from Sprint Blackberries to AT&T and we had a choice between a BB Torch Slider or an iPhone4. I decided to try the iPhone. My personal phone is an aged HTC Touch Pro running WinMo 6. I’ve been off contract for almost 2 years now and am anxiously waiting for Verizon to offer a Phone7 device before I sign another contract. Sure I could go with any of a number of Android phones (some are pretty good), but I have a hankering for Phone7. It really saddens me to see the iPhone come to Verizon before a Phone7 device. I’ll wait until WMC2011 is over and hopefully I’ll have a better idea what to do (jump ship or go Android). I so want to have my current phone meet Mr. Sledgehammer!

As much as I Dislike Apple, I’m very glad to have the opportunity to play with an iPhone without a huge commitment on my part. It’s great when the company pays. Here are my thoughts on this device after a few month of using it in a corporate environment.

Continue reading ‘I have an iPhone, shhhhhhh’ »

I would label these suggestions as moderately priced. I don’t think anything is more than $200 and most are $100 or less. Don’t forget to check your baseline prices at Amazon!

Continue reading ‘20 Home Theater Gift Ideas’ »

These gift ideas are mostly on the inexpensive side (under $100). A few of them (like software upgrades) may be a bit more. These are nifty gadgets that any photographer will love and perhaps find indispensable.

Continue reading ‘20 Inexpensive Gift Ideas for the Photographer in your Life’ »

I’m from the old school of HiFi so please don’t misconstrue. I spent most of my high school and college years (~1970) lusting over MacIntosh, Marrantz and Bose. I remember hearing some Bose 901s and fell in love. Have you ever seen the Marrantz 150 FM tuner with the built-in oscilloscope? I got to play with these high end toys when I was young and they set my standards very high. Unfortunately my budget for such audiophile delights was non-existent. I bought my first true HiFi system in the Early 80s just as CDs were taking over. I was able to purchase a Kenwood system (all separate components) that pretty much fulfilled my audio lust -

  • 250 watt/channel Power Amp
  • Preamp
  • Surround Processor (w/ rear channel amp)
  • FM Tuner
  • Turntable
  • Dual Cassette Deck
  • CD Changer
  • Kenwood 3 way Speakers – 10” Woofers
  • Kenwood bookshelf rear Speakers

The components were all connected with a ‘network cable’ that allowed them to talk to each other. To listen to a CD you only had to turn on the CD player and it would switch on all of the other components and set up the inputs to play the CD. If you switched on the Turntable, it would switch everything over to that input automatically. I used it a lot for around 20 years. I used it to educate my children with the Beatles, Beach Boys, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Jazz. Over the last ten years I’ve hardly used it at all. Now I listen to music on portable systems (Zune with Etymotics ER4 ear buds), very nice audio systems in my cars, and on my computer. For critical listening on my computer I start with a high end Creative X-Fi sound card, into a wonderful little T-Amp that I built (modded), and finally drive a pair of Klipsch RB35 reference speakers. Since I installed my new HT System in the living room, my Kenwood HiFi has been sitting in the basement covered in plastic.

You can read about my T-AMP project here – http://hugger.us/?p=27

I still believe there is a value in high quality audio. My listening habits have changed over the years, but I still hate compromising on audio quality. I’ll get to my point now. I love quality electronic gear and my home theater reflects this -

  • Samsung LN46A950 46″ LCD with matrix backlighting
  • Samsung BDP3600 Bluray Player
  • Dish Network Duo DVR VIP 722
  • Yamaha YHT-591 5.1 Receiver (4:1 HDMI) 105W x 5
  • 10” 100w powered Sub-Woofer
  • (Harmony One remote of course)

I rarely use this system to listen to music except as background (with Pandora). This system is mainly for watching video. I didn’t mention the speakers and here is where I differ from the popular, expert opinions I often hear. I can possibly see a value in spending more for a good Center Channel speaker and a good Sub-Woofer. Installing huge floor standing stereo speakers for the L&R front channels seems like a waste to me. This also applies to any other channels you may have (5.1, 7.1, Height, etc). I’ve heard it stated that 90% of the audio from a movie comes out of the Center channel. I just can’t see spending thousands on the L&R fronts when they are of such minor importance to cinematic sound. I ‘need’ my speakers to sound OK for video and also take up little space (small living room). I have found that these Yamaha speakers fill my needs very well –

I understand that these small speakers are full of compromises. I also trust that some engineer at Yamaha designed them to sound as good as possible within the capabilities of the receiver and design constraints. My HT is not a dedicated room where I could hide the speaker so smaller satellite style speakers were a definite plus. I have the three identical front speakers flush mounted on the wall*** and the two rears are on adjustable wall mounts. For my needs and budget they are fine. My speakers are in phase and balanced. TV and even cinematic audio rarely involve a pure stereo musical listening experience (the exception being the big soundtrack movies like Top Gun). Most of the time the music is in the background with effects and dialog on top. This argument is similar to one I remember from years ago – high end audio in your car is dumb. The car is so noisy to begin with, high end audio is wasted. Yes, there are minimum quality levels that are acceptable. I simply believe that above those minimum levels the benefits drop off exponentially as cost increases. My HTIB audio system is not the best, it is good, perhaps even very good and doesn’t deserve the harsh opinions that systems of this type often receive. There are two major shortcomings of this HTIB that require some minor work to overcome. The Yamaha remote is simply horrible. This is easily overcome with the Harmony One. The second shortcoming is how power to the Subwoofer is controlled. It’s always powered on. There is no audio sensing circuitry that will turn it on when needed. The receiver has no switched power outlet on the back (no non-switched either). This was solved with a current sensing power strip. When the power strip senses the receiver power on, it turn on the subwoofer.

I was listening to the Home Theater Geeks podcast by Scott Wilkinson this week. He is a true audiophile at heart and firmly believes in all that label entails. His guest this week was very interesting if you can get past his personality – Jeff Rona. Jeff is a musician and makes a living scoring movies. He uses top-of-the-line Pro Audio gear in calibrated environments all day for his work. His home theater is much more modest. His reasons for this were music to my ears. The last 20 minutes of the interview is where he describes his home system.

Home theater Geeks interview with Jeff Rona - http://twit.tv/htg36

*** Update
I have my TV wall mounted on an articulated Sanus mount. I have a window in the center of the wall and love the ability to move the TV over to the side when not in use (doesn’t block the window). Sometime I just watch it from the side. The wall mounted center speaker was sometimes several feet away from the TV. I recently found a center speaker mount from Sanus that securely holds the center speaker just below the TV. Now it’s perfectly placed no matter where the TV is positioned.