Google automatically inserts tracking IDs into PDF documents you download

April 30, 2015

imageAre you a Google Docs user?  Do you create PDFs of your content?  Hope you like spyware. 

When you create a PDF from Google Docs, all links in the document will be automatically changed – without notifying you – to include a Google tracking ID.

Now Google will undoubtedly feign ignorance, disable this at some point later in the future, & promise to never do it again….

  • Just as Google did when they were caught stealing & aggregating the public’s Wifi passwords…
  • Just as Google did after the Entertainment industry filed suit again them for turning a blind eye & allowing stolen IP to be posted to YouTube…
  • Just as Google did after being caught indexing every student & teachers documents…
  • Just as Google is doing now after being caught giving their properties preferential treatment in their search engine as a monopoly…

This is Google, folks. ‪



Link Tracking Warning!
This document was first authored in Google Docs, then Downloaded as a PDF. So, Google has thoughtfully (ha!) added “tracking” redirections to all of the links here. (I have no idea why, but that’s Google.) If that bothers you, simply copy the text of the link into your browser’s URL field.

Stories from the field

April 30, 2015

Someday, I’m going to write a book about my time with my employer.  My role has given me some amazing opportunities to work with customers that y’all would be really surprised to hear about.  Each of these lines represent stories that I’m gonna write about some day.  I’m gonna keep this as a running list for the day I decide to start really writing this stuff down.

  • Novell Users Group
  • BB & Google/Microsoft
  • Y2K Pagers
  • “Pirate away”
  • JCB
  • Lily’s 95 check
  • “Cows”
  • DMS – Messaging
  • Scientology
  • Vertex Ball
  • IndyMac Waiting
  • Salma Hayek
  • Trader Joes
  • Brendan Kehoe
  • Ralphs
  • DirectAccess Palms Springs/Bakersfield
  • Technet Saturday
  • “I make no margin.”
  • John Tesh
  • IndyMac Bankruptcy
  • Nissan in Denver
  • Barbara & Bill
  • Steve & Wynn
  • “Your mike is on!”
  • The tanning bed
  • Brad & Hughes
  • The last NT4 server
  • Bldg 7 – the real story
  • Aerogel
  • Starlink
  • Bob McDowell & receipts
  • Drennan & the toilet story
  • Mac User Group w/ Apple: “Kurt, Ladies & Gentlemen!”
  • Bill @ UCLA
  • Bill @ Four Seasons BH
  • Brian & uBid
  • KROQ
  • That time when my laptop got stolen
  • Kinko’s Picnic
  • Donuts vs Ed Brill
  • “Don’t go there, Bill”
  • “Dirt”, “Digital Gen…” & “the rectum”
  • The Chicago shoe incident
  • Tap dancing on stage in San Diego
  • Ayala & Apple
  • “We just want to put you in a position to be successful.”
  • Miami hotdogs
  • Richard Jeni
  • “WHY CAN’T OUTLOOK DO THIS!?!?!”(Lotus)
  • “We need to get off Novell.”
  • “My name is Dan. I’m here to solve problems.”
  • “Man, she was diggin’ you.”
  • “I don’t know what I’m even doing here then.”
  • Special thanks credit.
  • Carpet pissing
  • Active Jam
  • Bob McDowell & 2 stories tall
  • Young & drunk @ MGS
  • “Bah, c’mon in. You’ve paid your dues.”
  • Kerry’s Angels
  • “I know. You just met me, jackass.”
  • My fiancé works at this office! Here’s her card.
  • Legal hold
  • Hello, I’m from HR.
  • See this photo? My girlfriend is from Redmond.
  • Price & partnership
  • It RAINS in Orlando
  • OS/2 is dead
  • CUE conference
  • Kurt’s got groupies!
  • Exchange Client vs Outlook
  • “Space Needle is the future”
  • “Bombs in my front yard!”
  • Becoming & leaving GATS
  • W hotel Seattle & the movement activated thermostat
  • “We’re from Gulf States!”
  • “Whistler: It’s all gone to sh–…”
  • Frank & the “User Manager” story
  • “Lieberman & a new name”
  • Twin Towers: “You better hope it works.”
  • The 3… 2… 1… Excel Macro
  • “Dude… you’re law enforcement!”
  • Warp Drive
  • Missing Ojai
  • The Compaq VP
  • Pissing off the Channel VP
  • Roadside bot
  • The fastest Teams deployment ever
  • “It fell off a truck.”
  • Ad Astra
  • Aisha Tyler
  • JimAll & WMV converter
  • Will & Cheri

HOWTO: Fix the “blank notification” problem on your Microsoft Band

April 12, 2015

There’s a niche scenario in which you may start to see blank notifications – notifications on your Band that have no content in them, even though there should be information about an appointment or something.

I have heard (not for certain) that this is caused by a relatively rare memory condition that may be resolved in an update.  (Don’t hold me to this)

I’ve encountered this once & according to what I’ve read, the way to fix this may be one of two ways:

    Go to Settings & the Power symbol, then “Turn off” your Band, then turn it back on again.
    Allow the Band to run until the battery runs out completely.  Then recharge it and start it again.

The ROI of Amazon Prime: Is $99 worth it?

April 12, 2015

imageThe ROI breakeven point for Amazon Prime at the new $99 subscription rate is essentially “10-20 items purchased throughout the year”. (Breakeven is closer to 10 if you value 2-day shipping & closer to 20 if you value standard shipping) Alternatively, if you actually use Amazon Video for entertainment displacing Netflix & you order at least one item, you break even.

It may very well pay for itself fairly quickly depending on how much you order from them. Cost of shipping 2-day is $8-$15 depending on the size/weight of the item(s). Hence the “10 items at 2-day shipping” breakeven threshold. Standard shipping is $4-$8 for items under $35, hence the “20 items…” logic. (Caveat with this is that the items need to be cheap, otherwise shipping would be free & you have to be okay with 7-10 day shipping) Netflix for a year is $79, hence the Amazon Video breakeven logic. Technically, there’s alternative uses that could possibly help validate the $99 spend such as Amazon Kindle lending library or Amazon’s new storage service but I don’t know anyone that finds value in these compared to other services or purchases and it’s consequently hard to establish a concrete value of these benefits.

LA TIMES: The Disneyland measles crisis: how to make negligent parents pay

April 12, 2015

imageI generally dislike resorting to government intervention. And I really dislike the LA Times for its one-track, myopic editors. So you can only imagine how important I believe this subject is, that I’d post this article from the LA Times about reinstituting government-mandated vaccinations in school – no exceptions. While you may think it’s a “choice”, this is life & death & your choice affects everyone else’s most helpless citizens, our children. ‪#‎wheatonslaw

The continuing and spreading outbreak of measles traced originally to visitors to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure park revives the questions of who should be held responsible, and how they should be made to pay for the injury and illness they’ve caused.

Here’s one suggestion, offered Thursday by science writer Alex Berezow in a USA Today op-ed: “Parents who do not vaccinate their children should go to jail.” That may be an extreme remedy, but Berezow’s notion that non-vaccinating parents should shoulder the responsibility for their actions is widely shared among legal experts and bioethicists.

Liability could certainly exist if a parent simply chose not to vaccinate his child and a death results.- Bioethicist Arthur L. Caplan

As the Los Angeles Times has documented, California has experienced an alarming increase in “personal belief” exemptions allowing unvaccinated children to attend public and private schools, and a parallel decrease in immunization rates among kindergartners in many communities.

Most alarmingly, the trends often are associated not with low-income neighborhoods, where the cost of a vaccine might be an issue (though less so since the Affordable Care Act mandated that preventive treatments such as vaccines be provided without cost-sharing), but in affluent communities, among ostensibly well-educated parents.

Disneyland Tells Employees: “Get Shots or Stay Home.” What’s the Law Say About That?

April 12, 2015

image“The first issue is whether Disneyland can even make the initial demand of its employees. The short answer is YES.”

If you are not living under a rock, you have heard by now that there is a large measles outbreak in the United States that can be linked back to some unvaccinated visitors to Disneyland. Lots of people are angry and concerned and I’ve gotten lots of questions about this outbreak, including what Disneyland can and should be doing to prevent outbreaks like this in the future. After all, a massively popular amusement park, visited by folks from the world over all packed into a relatively small space, is a pretty great place for disease to spread. Among those sickened by measles, were at least five Disneyland employees.

In response to this, Disneyland asked all employees who came into contact with the five sick employees to submit “vaccination records or submit to a blood test that shows they have built immunity to the disease.” And any employees who could not confirm their immunity status were asked to stay home on paid leave. So wait, if Mickey Mouse can’t confirm his immunity, does he have to stay home from work? Can Disneyland even do that? What about Mickey’s rights?

LA TIMES: UC will require measles vaccination for incoming students

April 12, 2015

imageAnti-vaxxers are free to choose to rely their make-believe rationale against vaccines… and also need not apply to the University of California. ‪#‎GoBruins

As the Disneyland measles outbreak continues to spread, the University of California announced Friday that it would require incoming students to be vaccinated for the measles as well as other diseases.

The move comes as the nation is dealing with an outbreak of the highly contagious disease that has left more than 100 people ill. The outbreak began at Disneyland in December but has spread since then.”The University of California will require incoming students to be screened for tuberculosis and vaccinated for measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, meningococcus, tetanus and whooping cough, under a plan set to take effect in 2017,” the UC said in a statement.

UC will require measles vaccination for incoming students

Ford’s Blind Dates with a Professional Stunt Driver

April 12, 2015

This rules so hard.

Speed Dating Prank | 2015 Ford Mustang |

A day with my son & Disneyland Hotel Room Service

April 12, 2015

imageRoom Service: “Disneyland Hotel Room Service. How may I assist you?”

Me: “Hello. This is room xxxx. I’d like to order breakfast for tomorrow at 6AM.”

Room Service: “Very good sir. And what would you like to order?”

Me: “I’d like one American Breakfast, scrambled, bacon & white toast, a bowl of oatmeal, a glass of orange juice, a pot of coffee…”


Me: “Um…”

Room Service: “<snicker> Yeaaaah, We heard all that. So one order of Mickey Mouse pancakes… with lots of syrup & butter, yes? Will that be all?”

Me: “<sigh> Yes, thank you.”

Room Service: “Our pleasure, sir.”

Son-in-background: “<bouncing on bed> BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

(This is a “summarization” of what went down.  It didn’t go exactly like this since I only have limited space here but it might as well have because that’s basically how it played out in my mind.)

One of the best days ever with my son.

April 12, 2015

imageSo my son wanted an ice cream bar at Paradise Pier while we were at Disney’s California Adventure.

The ice cream there is… well… overly frozen from dry ice, weak sauce, and had a ridiculous line in the hot sun to buy it, so I told him that I’d find him some better ice cream elsewhere. He quietly said, “Okay,” then didn’t mention it again.

As we headed to the exit 30min later, I found the Main Street ice cream parlor which was indoor, air conditioned, had a ton of ice cream selections, a table to sit at, and no line at a…ll. So now he’s sitting at the table with a monstrous mint chocolate chip ice cream cone, with ice cream all over his face (Yes, the kind I never got when I was a kid) & I say to him, “See? I remembered! I told you I’d find you some better ice cream, eh?”

He looks at me and says, “Daddy, you’re the BEST Daddy ever.”

I freeze & look at Anne & whisper, “(Did you coach…?)” She smiles & says, “(Nope. All him.)” ‪#‎todaywasagooddayasafather


April 12, 2015


Apple’s updated their executive team page with a new addition

April 12, 2015


Which reminds me of this video:

Presenting The Gold iPhone 5s

And this one:

The Gold iPhone Shortage Will Soon Be Over


Oh, by the way, in case you noticed that the above photo is as white as a vanilla milkshake in a snowstorm – and I’m not talking about the photo background – check this out:

Doesn’t seem to be much progress, ‘eh?

There is no choice in High Speed Broadband Internet connectivity for consumers. NONE.

April 12, 2015

imageA lot has been said about the supposed alternatives available to consumers for getting broadband Internet access.

Which of course is all a bunch of hooey.  There’s a monopoly on high speed Internet access for consumers and the folks holding that monopoly know it.

In spite of all evidence to the contrary (and then some), Comcast insists [PDF] that “the broadband marketplace is more competitive than ever.”

Hippy, dippy, BALONEY.  If there was ever a BETTER example of this – including detailed accounts of how bad un regulated service is amongst the supposed “choices” that consumers have, it’s this article:

I can tell you that I theoretically have 4 “choices”:

  1. Verizon-line DSL (capped at 6Mbps)
    No growth beyond 6Mbps.  Ever.  Meanwhile the rest of the industry is hitting 300Mbps to 1Gbps speeds.  This is a dead technology and the only step beyond this for telecom companies is “fiber” which is not available in most of Los Angeles.
  2. HugheNet Satellite (1sec latency, capped at 20GB)
    Besides being pricey, the latency of HughesNet and other satellite based Internet services makes it infeasible for random access streaming video, audio, real-time communications or telephony/VOIP.  Worse yet, it’s consumption capped at 10-20GB/month. 
  3. Cellular (2-25Mbps, capped at 5GB)
    Extremely expensive at $50/mo for 5GB/mo, highly variable speeds (I can barely get 2Mb through Verizon XLTE in my location) and capped on consumption to 5Gb per month.
  4. Time Warner (15Mbps-300Mbps)
    This is what I chose since it’s the only feasible choice. My issue is that service is irregular.  Sometimes I get 15Mbps and other times I get 70Mbps.  Sometimes in the middle of the day, the connection is DEAD and no amount of calling to Time Warner seems to help.

This is what I mean by NO CHOICE.  If I ever can’t stand it any more with Time Warner’s questionable service, I can never switch.  None of the other service alternatives are in the same realm.

There is no choice.

Scientists Have Discovered Another Earth With Probable Life!

April 12, 2015



I can’t geek out more than this:

NASA has discovered another Earth-like planet orbiting a nearby star within the habitable zone using the Kepler Space Telescope. Labeled as Kepler-186f, it is about 500 light-years away from us in the Cygnus constellation.

“The habitable zone” has also been referred to as the goldilocks zone. This zone is the region around a star, within which planets with proper atmospheric pressure are capable of supporting liquid water on their surfaces. It is estimated that there are at least 40 billion Earth-sized planets within the Milky Way, but this planet they’ve just discovered is the first Earth-sized planet to be discovered in the goldilocks zone of another nearby star.

Read more at:

Run OS X 10.10 Yosemite on Surface Pro 3

April 12, 2015
Surface Pro 3 running Mac OS 10.10 Yosemite
Here’s a blurb from the tutorial:

Run OS X 10.10 Yosemite on Surface Pro 3

I just finished a guide on how to install OS X 10.10 Yosemite on the Surface Pro 3. At this time everything but the touch screen, WIFI, and Bluetooth work on it. The machine works great as an OS X machine. Below is the link to the guide.

Run OS X 10.10 on the SP3 Guide

Also there’s a tool for Touch on MacOS that might be useful to some:

And there’s documentation on how to get iMessage working on a Hackintosh config here:

Your Late-Night Emails Are Hurting Your Team

April 12, 2015

Saw this post.  Couldn’t agree more:

Work-Life Balance: Your Late-Night Emails Are Hurting Your Team

Think about the message you’d like to send. Do you intend for your staff to reply to you immediately? Or are you just sending the email because you’re thinking about it at the moment, and want to get it done before you forget? If it’s the former, you’re intentionally chaining your employees to the office 24/7. If it’s the latter, you’re unintentionally chaining your employees to the office 24/7. And this isn’t good for you, your employees, or your company culture. Being connected in off-hours during busy times is the sign of a high-performer. Never disconnecting is a sign of a workaholic. And there is a difference.

Just a side note, learn this trick from Outlook:


  • New Email –> File –> Properties –> Select the checkbox “Do not deliver before:”
  • Set the time to 8:00AM. Write your email, then send.

The email will sit in your outbox until 8AM and save your directs the terror of having to respond at 1:00AM just to demonstrate their responsiveness.

The fight over how much money the Academy of Magical Arts should pay it’s founder

April 12, 2015


What a cloak & dagger mess. 

This is one of the things that made me shake my head about the Academy of Magical Arts 8 years ago.  People doing the he-says-she-says blame game dance around club matters – with a lot of people putting a ton of subjective emotion into the fray & few people actually putting up fact.  8 years ago, I ended up putting my membership on hiatus -mostly because I was having money troubles – and forgot all about it.  I rejoined this year only to find that… well, not much has changed.

What am I talking about?  Start with this:

Now, if you dig up some messages and do your research, you’ll find that Milt Larsen, founder of the Magic Castle wrote this on the topic – sort of a response so to speak:

The relevant portion of the post reads:

“In the March newsletter in Maurice’s report mentions: “Looking at our operating costs, rent approximates $700,000 per year and payments for creative services to Milt Larsen amount to well in excess of $400,000 per year.”   On the AMA books I am being paid that money for “creative services.”  That’s true, but what is the definition of “creative services?” In my book that’s the royalty of 5.5% of the food and beverage sales at the Magic Castle as agreed upon by every Board of Directors since the inception of the club until recently.  It is a fee in payment for my conceiving and physically building a Magic Castle clubhouse at no cost to the AMA, which includes the rooms of antique paneling, chandeliers, bars, art glass windows and ceilings, gimmicks and trademarks.     

This past year the total gross of the AMA was in excess of $12,000,000.   The $400,000 paid to me amounted to 3.33% of that income.  As a writer I am a great believer in the rights of “Intellectual Property.”  Inventors, authors, songwriters, artists, etc. deserve compensation for their work as long as it is enjoyed by future generations.  After spending a half century creating a world famous facility and trademark I can’t tell you how much I am saddened by the fact that Magic Castle name is not to be found anywhere in the club.  This year’s Founder’s Day was all about the founding of the Academy of Magical Arts. As far as that event goes the AMA acts as if the Magic Castle no longer exists. 

At the request of the AMA there will be a mediation hearing on April 15th before a retired judge.  The judge will attempt to resolve the AMA’s position that it should no longer have to abide by the contracts it signed.  Whatever the judge recommends I will support the AMA and continue promoting the art of magic in our various projects under the banner of Magic Castle’s Inc.”

But then, a member of the AMA wrote the following:

Now, if you’re not a member you won’t be able to read the comment so, here’s the relevant portion:

“…that was not “the agreement going in”, as you so hopefully put it. The agreement has been modified time and again, and the question becomes, when did its modification cease to be fair and reasonable?
I have said it before, Milt, Bill and Irene, deserve our thanks and financial support for their efforts on our behalf, but that must be tempered by financial responsibility on the part of the Board of Directors.
Was the last agreement fair, or was it fiscally imprudent and possibly beset by conflict of interest. That is what must be decided.

Milt was our landlord and our creative building director AND held the trademark. He has stopped being two of these things. Isn’t it appropriate that with less service he should receive less compensation?

[AMA member] feels that 5-7% is the “right number” to pay for a trademark. We only paid 4% for all three things in the past. Why the sudden climb of percent? Is it reasonable for our club? We have a history of not being very successful, needing to be bailed out by the members time and again. Joe Furlow and the BOD have done great work recently for the last few years, so let them continue to make improvements. I expect we will get to use the name Magic Castle for the future, the question is just how much is that worth and can we afford it.”


  • AMA’s stance appears to be that:
        • The Milt Larsen contract has been renegotiated regularly
        • The last negotiation resulted in committing too much money to Milt – a 1.5% raise, from 4% to 5.5%. They believe this was a result of a bias by some previous folks on the board, stacking the deck against the overall interests of the club. Can the contract be voided on this point?
        • Milt Larsen’s originally had 3 roles under the previous agreement and now has only 1 but is being paid the same, thus Milt’s payment should be reduced appropriately.
  • Milt’s stance appears to be:
        • The AMA Board of Directors signed the agreement – like it or not, they need to legally abide by it.
        • Milt didn’t benefit from this arrangement for years – i.e. made no money – when the Magic Castle failed to turn a profit.  Now that it has, they suddenly want to cut his share.  How is it fair that he share in the “debt” but not the “profit”, esp. now the the Castle is finally making money?
        • The AMA used the Magic Castle trademark for decades when they didn’t have to pay much for it.  Now that they are paying a substantial sum for it, they’re choosing to eliminate it from use.

Personally, I think that a contract’s a contract and the AMA has to abide by it.  If however there’s a term limit on the contract or a clause that says that the AMA can renegotiate it however at some time period, then they’re entitled to do that whether Milt likes it or not. 

And this is where it gets ugly because Milt holds the Magic Castle trademark & largely commands public opinion.  The Board of Directors holds the responsibility of making the Magic Castle a viable business as a commitment to it’s membership.  And this time, it would appear that the board is made up of business men – not “family”.


This will get resolved, whether anyone likes it or not.  The mediation will make it clear what renegotiation rights the Board has and what leverage Milt has in the AMA’s commitment to him.

I’ve noticed however that the Board has clearly brought an element of accountability to the financials of the AMA.  They’re running it like a serious business (which the Magic Castle is) instead of a club (which the AMA is)  And if the that means getting ugly on topics like this – well, welcome to the real world everyone. 

In business, using everything you’ve got to drive the best deal for the people you represent, is standard operating procedure.  It just is.  If folks don’t like “putting on the big boy pants” and having the Board engage in real business tactics on their behalf, and think that a profitable club is not worth the angst or conflict, then perhaps they shouldn’t have elected this Board of Directors.

The budget in terms we all can digest and understand. (2011)

April 10, 2015

The U.S. Congress sets a federal budget every year in the trillions of dollars. Few people know how much money that is so we created a breakdown of federal spending in simple terms. Let’s put the 2011 federal budget into perspective:

  • U.S. income: $2,170,000,000,000
  • Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000
  • New debt: $1,650,000,000,000
  • National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
  • Recent budget cut: $38,500,000,000
    (about 1% of the budget)

It helps to think about these numbers in terms that we can relate to. Let’s remove eight zeros from these numbers and pretend this is the household budget for the fictitious Jones family.

  • Total annual income for the Jones family: $21,700
  • Amount of money the Jones family spent: $38,200
  • Amount of new debt added to the credit card: $16,500
  • Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
  • Amount cut from the budget: $385