How IBM Public Cloud struggled against AWS and Microsoft

October 2, 2021

imageInsiders say that marketing missteps and duplicated development processes meant IBM Cloud was doomed from the start, and eight years after it attempted to launch its own public cloud the future of its effort is in dire straits.

The words stunned IBM’s cloud executives in November 2013. Former CEO Ginni Rometty had just told them that Watson, IBM’s dubious crown jewel, should run on the company’s own Power chips inside SoftLayer, IBM’s recently acquired cloud-computing division.

There was one big problem: SoftLayer, like all major cloud efforts at that point, only used x86 chips from Intel and AMD.

What came next can only be described as a scramble, according to sources who worked for IBM at the time.

Read the full article here:

Worried About Swearing Too Much? Science Says You Shouldn’t Be

September 18, 2021

imageA study found “swearing can enhance the effectiveness & persuasiveness of an argument.”

Another study “revealed people who curse often, lie less & have a higher degree of integrity.”

So suck it.

Study: Two spaces after a period makes reading easier

September 14, 2021

imageAmongst people who care deeply about typography and fonts — which is, in our typographic age, probably a reasonable chunk of people online — there’s been a low-level war about spacing after a period. Specifically: When you finish a sentence, do you type one space, or two?

There are many heated views on this matter.

But recently, a couple of scholars decided to science this one out, and … things did not turn out well for the one-spacers.

Read the full article here:

Bitcoin is a cult – Adam Caudill

September 4, 2021

This article from Adam Caudill, Director of Security at 1Password, is all you need to know about Bitcoin & crypto-purveyors.

imageThe Bitcoin community has changed greatly over the years; from technophiles that could explain a Merkle tree in their sleep, to speculators driven by the desire for a quick profit & blockchain startups seeking billion dollar valuations led by people who don’t even know what a Merkle tree is. As the years have gone on, a zealotry has been building around Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies driven by people who see them as something far grander than they actually are; people who believe that normal (or fiat) currencies are becoming a thing of the past, and the cryptocurrencies will fundamentally change the world’s economy.

Every year, their ranks grow, and their perception of cryptocurrencies becomes more grandiose, even as novel uses of the technology brings it to its knees. While I’m a firm believer that a well designed cryptocurrency could ease the flow of money across borders, and provide a stable option in areas of mass inflation, the reality is that we aren’t there yet. In fact, it’s the substantial instability in value that allows speculators to make money. Those that preach that the US Dollar and Euro are on their deathbed have utterly abandoned an objective view of reality.

I read the Bitcoin white-paper the day it was released – an interesting use of Merkle trees to create a public ledger and a fairly reasonable consensus protocol – it got the attention of many in the cryptography sphere for its novel properties. In the years since that paper was released, Bitcoin has become rather valuable, attracted many that see it as an investment, and a loyal (and vocal) following of people who think it’ll change everything. This discussion is about the latter.

Yesterday, someone on Twitter posted the hash of a recent Bitcoin block, the thousands of Tweets and other conversations that followed have convinced me that Bitcoin has crossed the line into true cult territory.

Read the essay here:

The gap between Microsoft & Amazon on Work-from Home

September 4, 2021

Taken from Bloomberg/Mint:

imageWhen Amazon said in March that most of its 60,000 workers in the Seattle area would return to the office by fall, some employees were infuriated. A few threatened to quit for reasons both substantial and otherwise, including one who said post-pandemic rules would interrupt his regularly scheduled kayaking. At the same time, Microsoft, at Redmond, said employees could work from home, the office or in a hybrid arrangement. Covid has compounded the impression that while Microsoft is often more enlightened, Amazon is harder driving and more old school. As employers compete for prized workers, demand for remote or hybrid work is fast becoming a part of hiring negotiations and compensation packages. Work flexibility may be even more important than pay.

“I think the job market has changed forever,” said Chris Bloomquist, co-founder of Talent Mine, a tech recruiting startup. Years ago, he said he could have counted on one hand the number of prospective employees seeking remote work. Now, seven of 10 candidates mention it off the top. And many, several recruiters say, insist on 100% remote.

Amazon has clarified its rules, likely shamed into it by corporate peer pressure. It now plans to allow two days of remote work. This beats its earlier “office-centric culture as our baseline”, but maybe not by enough. “People can be wooed away by other companies,” said an Amazon software engineer who requested anonymity. “I am jealous of Microsoft. There is implicit trust in its policy, that trust is meaningful.” A self-described introvert, she feels the office reduces her productivity, which flourished under stay-home rules, partly because she said she recharged after a daily siesta.

Read the rest of the article here:

The Legend of the “Chocolate Bar house” on Halloween

June 1, 2021

Halloween was always the start of the best time of the year for me when I was a kid.  In October, we got candy (I never got candy), then in November I had my birthday, then in December we had Christmas.  But Halloween was what I looked forward to because it was such a mystery as to what costume I’d be making and what candy I’d be getting.

When I was in 4th grade, there was a famous rumor going around my friends & classmates about a house in the neighborhood that gave out “full size chocolate bars” for Halloween as opposed to the “fun size” smaller snacks.  This was the 1.55oz bar that ran about $1 each, I think.

That was enough incentive for my friends and I to chart out the neighborhood in search of the fabled “chocolate bar house”.  We strategically organized every year covering each block and reporting back what we’d found by meeting in a central location.

Over the years, we continued to search every Halloween but we never found it and I began questioning after all these years if it even existed – or if may be the family that did it, moved away.

It’s been 40 years since then & I still remember how much fun Halloween was:

  • Sorting my candy into 3 tiers of quality (Take note: You tootsie roll, Jolly Rancher, & lollipop houses are bottom tier)
  • Judging houses & families based on the quality of their candy (And make no mistake: The kids JUDGE)
  • Trading candy amongst friends & bringing your stash to school the next school day (And you better have the goods)

I also remember how important that “house” search was each Halloween & how much fun it was to passionately *believe* in the legend of the Chocolate Bar house.

About 8 years ago, after living in condos most of my life, I bought a house in a suburb of Los Angeles right around Halloween and was sitting in my sparsely furnished living room, thinking about how much fun Halloween was going to be for my son, when it dawned on me:


I thought about the candy I could give out, the thrill the kids would get, etc. 

But it dawned on me that our house is on a street that doesn’t have a lot of families… mostly older, less active folks that didn’t turn their porch lights on during Halloween.

Honestly, we are in the middle of our block and our street was easy for kids to skip – you kids-at-heart know what I’m talking about: A lotta time, as a kid. you would look down a street at how many houses had their lights on, how long the block was, and wonder if the “juice was worth the squeeze”.  With a lot fewer porch lights on our street & a reputation for being filled with Boomers, I felt I had to overcome that.

So we decorated the tree on our curb with orange Halloween lights – LOTS OF LIGHTS – powered by a portable battery secured to a car we have parked out in front.  It was bright enough that the Intl Space Station could probably see our house’s tree from orbit.  No kid could miss the big orange tree and at least not wonder, “What’s goin’ on there?”

Our house had, well, no decorations.  I kept the entire house 100% black as night except the entryway to our front door which was lit in very bright orange light.  Simple but effective.

Over the years, our house went from ~20 visitors to ~300 and it really never gets old watching the awe & smiles on the kid’s faces wearing Captain America outfits & many many Harry Potter Wizard/Witches costumes. 

Additionally, our video security system out front constantly catches spoken comments from the kids (and parents) outside:

  • “Dudedudedude, shut up, I think this is it.”
  • <whispering parent> “Jeannie just texted me that it’s the house with the orange lit porch.”
  • “Mom, can you hold my chocolate bar in your purse? It’s too big for my pumpkin.”
  • “OMG I’m never going to be able to finish this [bar].”
  • “Bro, remember Tim talked about this place. We gotta ‘gram this house.”
  • “Mom! Mom! C’mon! There’s a line forming! He might run out! Hurry!”
  • <parent> “They really do this every year? Jesus.”
  • “Awyeah, achievement unlocked! LET’S GOOOOOOOO!”
  • “Fix up your costume… he doesn’t like if you have a sloppy costume…”

(Every year there’s a few parents that take photos of our house to text to their friends, which I guess I should expect, but what’s funny is that they usually try to photograph the front which, remember, has an extremely brightly lit entry way – and no other light.  Try it some time… it’s really hard to take a recognizable photo with this level of contrast.)

I forgot to mention something:  I hand out the “XL 4.4oz” Hershey chocolate bars – not the 1.55oz that I pined for when I was a kid.

These are enormous – particularly for grade school kids.  They are the size of actual books for many of them and their eyes grow wide when I hand them out.  I get less of a reaction from the jaded high schoolers but it’s still hilarious to hear them say, “Brooooooo” – that’s what’s up!”

That comment above about “needing to fix up one’s costume” is a relatively recent one.  I started to institute a simple, informal rule that seems to have been shared: 

  • No costume = no candy.
    (The corollary is: Lousy costume = lousy candy.)

Why? We’ve been doing this now for 7 years, and around the 3rd year I had a problem with high schoolers (and some adults) walking up in little/no costume at all.  Their little brother/sister told them our address and so their gang just showed up on a lark, basically wearing street clothes.

So I keep backup candy. Small fun size candy that I hand out to folks that simply don’t put in the effort.  I still remember the last kid (no costume) I handed a fun size candy to:

“What the… aww maaaaannnnn”

I realize I risk an egging of my house – but I still have hope that kids know the unspoken covenant of Halloween: “No costume – no candy”.

And then there’s always the 1% that wanna ruin it for everyone.

Sure, there’s a small set of kids that try to go for another pass, trying to double up. I usually give them a small item the 2nd time around which is their signal to move on.

And then of course, adults always fuck it up

  • Rude kids with parents that don’t teach them any manners (there’s always the “gimmes” & smart talk, attempts to grab the candy out of my hand, kids that actually try to ENTER my house, etc.)
  • Costumeless parents that are entitled enough to ask for candy for themselves – sans costume
  • Adults without kids that randomly walk up without a costume, saying “Trick or Treat” (This last one is full on creepy)

This has been on the rise in the past couple years but the happy ending is I’m judge, jury & executioner: Piss me off & you might get demoted to “fun size”… or may be nothing at all.  Believe me – the threat is all that’s necessary.

I’m not doing the chocolate bar this year.  Some folks will be disappointed but I’ve got something different planned.  It’s costing me a decent amount of money but I think it’ll be better.

For the chocolate critics, and yes, I’ve had a few folks that bitch about the “quality” of Hershey’s chocolate vs other brands (you can see what I deal with), this change will probably make them happy.  You can see where I’m going with this.

I’ll add more once we hit October 2021… which will be like the revenge of Halloween after this miserable pandemic that we’ve all gone through.

Happy early Halloween!

INFO: Understanding the differences between N95 respirators

May 28, 2021

imageIf you’re like me, you know wearing a piece of cloth on your face is more than 25% less effective than wearing an N95 mask. Statistically, 25% is a ridiculous difference in effectiveness.  (In Las Vegas, if someone told you that you had a 25% greater chance of losing on one game vs the other, you’d never take the table with the greater odds.  The difference is were talking about people’s lives.)

So the question is, if you’re going to buy N95 disposable respirators, which is the best product for your money?  Which provides the best protection for your dollar?

It turns out that there are many different N95 masks/respirators.  All are NIOSH approved however there are those:

  • With or without respirators (Exhaled air is unfiltered)
  • With or without FDA approval (Surgical qualified)
  • With or without oil particle filtering (“P95”)

And then there’s even N100 class respirators which are designed for 100% filtering instead of 95%.

imageNow it’s kind of hard to tell what masks are designed for medical protection and which are designed for carpenters & inhaling sawdust.  So I found the following resources that helped me… maybe it’ll help you… understand the difference between the different mask types.

(Note: I don’t have anything written on the difference in prices but suffice it to say that the price can vary wildly.  Also note that surgical respirators are often restricted to purchase by medical professionals.)

Reminder post re: contributions

May 12, 2021

These are instructions for discontinuing contributions.  (Reminder post for my own benefit)  Send an email to “RSVP Government Affairs” (auto-resolve through the GAL) with the message, “Please discontinue my contributions.” A response will be sent asking that you provide your employee ID & alias.  Deductions will halt in 1-2 pay periods.

Being wrong is an opportunity to “learn”, not an opportunity to “penalize”

March 15, 2021

imageIf you punish people for being wrong, they cover up their mistakes. They make excuses and throw blame to justify the past.

If you treat being wrong as a learning opportunity, people admit their errors. They take responsibility for correcting and preventing them in the future.

Echo Wall Clock not maintaining accurate time

November 29, 2020

imageI bought an Echo Wall Clock and found that it seems to STOP keeping accurate time every so often – for no reason at all – which is really annoying. 

I couldn’t find anyone that talked about this on forums or in

There’s very little support for this device online I’ve discovered, and as everyone knows, Amazon is effing horrible when it comes to customer support.  Even getting things returned takes knowing “where to go” because all routes intentionally lead to automated responses that usually lead to dead ends and are ultimately really frustrating.

I tried in vain to have my Echo Show disconnect and ultimately “forget” my Echo Wall Clock hoping that re-pairing the clock to my Echo would get it to synchronize the time with it so that it would accurately display the time. 

  • Holding the tiny blue button on the back will put it into pairing mode and flash Orange
  • Tell your Echo to “Alexa, pair Echo Wall Clock”.)

No dice. Every time I did this, the device would pair – but it wouldn’t set the time on the clock.

I can’t believe how difficult this was but basically, I had to do a complete “factory reset” of the clock in order to have it accurately reflect the time.

This “factory reset” completely erases the wall clock’s memory and starts it again as if it had never been used before.

Buried in the tiny brochure that comes with the Echo Wall Clock are the instructions for doing a factory reset of the device.  Only after I read this did I find an article on Amazon’s customer service page to accomplish this. This is the only way I could get the Echo Wall Clock’s time to be set accurately.

  • Go to your Echo device and have it “forget” your wall clock.  This is done on the Echo Show by swiping down from the top of the device, pressing  SETTINGS, pressing BLUETOOTH, selecting the ECHO WALL CLOCK but pressing the (i) symbol and selecting FORGET THIS DEVICE. 
  • Go to the Echo Wall Clock and push the tiny blue button on the back FIVE TIMES and the device will start to flash blue.
  • Go back to your Echo device and re-pair the Echo Wall Clock.  Simply tell your Echo, “Alexa, pair Echo Wall Clock.”

While I still use the clock to keep time, I would not recommend this device for anyone with an Echo ecosystem.  This is really poorly engineered and the device’s User Interface is terrible.

Recording YouTube videos using YOUTUBE-DL for free

November 18, 2020

imageRecently the RIAA made a big stink about an open source tool called “YOUTUBE-DL” which provides people with a free means of downloading YouTube videos.

Google has gone through great lengths to prevent people from downloading videos from YouTube, going so far as to lock out apps posted in the Google App Store that recorded YouTube videos.

Personally, I’d never even heard of this app.  I only learned about it when the RIAA filed their cease & desist notice to GitHub, the service where the app and it’s codebase are hosted.  So imagine my delight when I found the tool (reposted to GitHub after GitHub concluded that the request had no merit) and discovered it works BEAUTIFULLY.


First of all, it’s a command line tool, so if you’re not comfortable with using the command line (CMD.EXE)then you probably won’t want to use this.  On the other hand, it might be an opportunity to learn, right?

The main page for YOUTUBE-DL is:

Here you’ll find all the details however for the Cliff’s Notes on how to get started:


  • If you’re using Windows you can download the Windows app here:
      • Note: Your browser will likely try to prevent you from downloading the raw executable because downloading .EXE files is usually not a safe thing.  In this case, it’s fine and millions of people use this tool.  You can sidestep any warnings in downloading the .EXE.  How you do that will depend on what browser you use.
  • Move the .EXE to somewhere in your path to make it easy to call from a command prompt.  I moved it to C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\WindowsApps


  • Open a CMD.EXE prompt.
  • Change to the directory you want to save the video/MP4 file to.
  • Type youtube-dl [URL]
    Ex: youtube-dl
      • The program will pull in the video, identify the title, and save the video as [titlename].mp4 in the directory you’re in
      • The video quality will be the best available by default. If you wish to get a lower quality, see Options.

There are hundreds of advanced options available that can be applied at run time.  Here’s a few interesting ones:

  • Bypass geographic restrictions
    Ex: youtube-dl –geo-bypass [URL]
  • Record playlist from 5 to 49
    Ex: youtub-dl –playlist-start 5 –playlist-end 49 [PLAYLIST]
  • Update to newest version
    Ex: youtube-dl –U
  • Download at a lower quality format
    Ex: youtube-dl –f worst [URL

There is a very important FAQ published at:

It lists answers to questions like slow performance or other commonly asked questions.

HOWTO: Return stuff or get a Refund from Amazon

November 3, 2020

I’m writing this up more for my own memory as I keep forgetting how to get to the customer contact site when the refund process fails.


Easiest way to return stuff with Amazon is through the “Order History” portal:

  1. Go to
  2. Find the item you ordered & click the button “Return or Replace Items”


If however after trying this, you find that the web site says, “This item is ineligible for returns” or something like that, just go to the Customer Service site and chat with someone.  Or you can ask to be called by someone through this portal.

If you chat online, there’s a good chance that if the item is under $100, they will just refund the money outright.  I received the wrong item and they refunded my money and let me keep the “wrong item”.  Even if you never received the order, they will refund your money.  I had a $250 package that was never received and on the chat, the person got authorization to simply send another the next day.

Optimizing my home network for Remote Work

November 3, 2020

Recently, I completely revamped our home network and the performance for everything has skyrocketed.  Ping times, bandwidth/speed, network reach/range, responsiveness… everything.

These are the steps I took:

I upgraded our cable Internet plan from “100Mbps/10Mbps” to “400Mbps/20Mbps”.  Most days I see 480Mbps (!) which leads me to believe that that bandwidth is actually 500Mbps but they only guarantee 400) Total cost: $10/mo increase.

I replaced the Asus single hub router, with a 3-module, Eero Pro Wifi Router.  Beside having “5 bar” coverage across my entire home, performance against the 400Mbps connection is literally perfect as I usually see a ~480Mbps. This is because the Eero Pro, designed for performance, has one channel for communicating with PCs/tablets/endpoints & a SEPARATE channel that it uses for hub-to-hub mesh network communications.  This was about $270 but well worth it.

I installed this on every machine on my network.  This browser is soooo much faster than Chrome and Internet Explorer.  Edge leverages the same HTML rendering & Javascript engines as Chrome does so it’s 100% compatible with Chrome web site but the “Google Analytics tracking” services that monitor your browsing have all been removed, leaving a faster browsing experience.

Replacing the lousy DNS server that the cable company uses with OpenDNS makes browsing so much snappier and immediate.  Click on links is now almost instantaneous compared to the 1-2 second pauses per click.  Everything is “snappier”:  It’s crazy that a free service can improve your overall browsing speed so much.

Modern network devices have modes that will do a few nice things to maintain a good network connection:

  • Prioritize (also known as QoS or Quality of Service) voice and video conference call communications.  The Eero Pro has this capability they call Eero Labs “Optimize for Conferencing and Gamiing”.
  • Encourage devices on the network to use 5Ghz instead of 2.4Ghz.  2.4Ghz is easily interrupted by microwave ovens, appliances, and other devices disrupting phone calls.  The Eero Pro has a capability called “Band Steering” which tells devices to use the 5Ghz band instead if they can.

This is something I’ve actually had for a while but it’s worth mentioning:  When Cable Internet goes down, it’s usually because something has gone wrong with the cable modem’s connection, but sometimes’s it’s the router as well and they need a reboot.

The ResetPlug is a simple device that plugs into a AC power outlet, and you connect your mode+WiFi router into it for power.  You program it and it pings a web site every 5min:  If it can reach the site, it shuts off power, waits 30 seconds, then powers everything back on and tries again in 5min.  It repeats this process until a solid Internet connection is established.

HOWTO: Remove everything from your Facebook account

October 17, 2020

Facebook is a giant time sink and while you rationalize using it for your “knitting group” or hitting up your old high school classmates, the fact is that none of that is actually that valuable.

Meanwhile, Facebook is using you by monetizing your privacy every second of your life through fairly devious means you’re probably not even aware of. For example, did you know that the Facebook Messenger app is collecting all of your SMS text messages and the phone numbers you call/receive on your cell phone? I’ll bet you never agreed to that, did you? Do a search on it. You can even download what they’ve collected from the main Facebook site. Facebook even admitted it.

Look. I get it. You can’t get rid of your Facebook account because you have memberships to X or you get group meeting noticed from Y. Whatever. You need to maintain your memberships & your friends.

What you can do is DELETE EVERYTHING FROM YOUR ACCOUNT. Removing this content eliminates your presence on Facebook, minimizes your digital footprint, and kills Facebook’s ability to monetize your life.

I deleted 12 years of posts, photos, comments, likes, etc. from my Facebook account. You can too. All you need is Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome.

  • SocialBookPostManagerInstall the “Social Book Post Manager”.
    This is a free installable extension for your web browser that will, like a robot, “batch delete” content in your Facebook account. It is not fast as it emulates a human’s interactions with the Facebook web site so if you have a lot of posts or have many years of content you wish to delete, you may want to install & run it on more than one computer.
  • Login to Facebook and go to the Activity Log.
    Login to Facebook (TM), go to the Activity Log.
    Use activity filters to select a subset of posts to delete.
  • Run Social Book Post Manager & configure what posts/content to remove.
    It allows you to select what timeframe & context you want to remove content from (ex: 2015-2018 & anything with the word “Trump” in it), what content you want to delete (ex: posts, comments, likes, etc.) and how you want it deleted (automatically or user verified).
    Click the extension’s button to open the interface.
    If needed, choose “Year”, “Month”, “Text Contains” and “Text Not Contains” for posts that you want to delete.
  • Run the Social Book Post Manager’s Deletion process
    Click the “Delete Post” button. The extension will scan through your Activity Log and mark all posts matching the conditions.
    The prescan process may take a long time, depending on number of posts to be deleted.
    After the prescan process finishes, there will be a Confirm button shown on top of the Facebook (TM) page. You may verify and uncheck certain posts as desired, then continue to actually delete the posts.
    When done, the extension reports total number of posts deleted.

Note that this process may take all day – and may take multiple RUNS – in other words, you might have to do this several times because like any human doing things really really quickly, it misses things. It’s not flawless – and that’s Facebook’s fault.

This is a unique program because it really does work like a robot, deleting posts and “likes”, going through posts & comments one-by-one as fast as it can, as if you yourself were doing the deletions. (You will actually see it do it’s work)

This is because it doesn’t do anything programmatically (using APIs) against the Facebook web site – so Facebook can’t do anything to stop you. (Which they have with other tools that use Facebook APIs directly)

I had to run “Social Book Post Manager” probably 15 times to completely delete all the posts, comments, likes, and other content between 2001 & 2017. And I had it running all night, every night for 4 days across 3 different computers, each deleting a different year in my account. My account is now pristine & clean… and I never log into it unless I have to.

OFFER: Amazon offers 20% discount & $5 giftcard for old Kindle devices

September 15, 2020

Amazon will give 20% off of the purchase of a new Kindle if you trade in your old Kindle.  And they’ve give you $5 in gift credit as well.  If you’re like me, you have ancient Kindles lying around waiting for this opportunity.

The Kindle Oasis, in it’s highest end configuration (32GB, Wifi+3G, no ads) is $349.  20% off is $70 off the retail, bringing it down to $275, if you use the $5 credit.

I’m not even sure that the device needs to be in full working condition to get the 20% off.  It didn’t seem so.  I have a Kindle 3G 3rd generation that doesn’t hold a charge any more that I’m probably going to send in for a discount on another Kindle Paperwhite.

Don’t forget to hard reset your device before you send it in!  (Search this blog for instructions on how to do that.)

Yes, Coinstar accurately counts your coins.

August 25, 2020

Iimage marvel at Coinstar.  I remember the days of having to collect coins and stack them into paper rolls to change them into bills at the bank.  It was such a hassle that some people brought coins home, threw them into bottles or jugs or boxes and forgot about them

I’ve been doing some reorganizing for my mother-in-law would collect coins and stuff them into those paper rolls – 50 pennies, $2 in nickels, $5 in dimes, etc. to turn them into the bank.  Because that’s what you did back in the day when dealing with a lot of coins.

But Coinstar brought automated coin counting to the masses – in grocery and convenience stores, Coinstar machines would count your entire jug of coins in a few minutes and give you back a windfall of unexpected cash.

Since I had these rolls that my mother-in-law had stuffed (in anticipation of someday turning them into the bank) I decided to do the test that I’ve always wondered about: 

“Does Coinstar truly & accurately count coins – or is is gipping us, trimming a coin here, or a coin there, skimming change so to speak to increase profits?”

I can confidently say that after dumping these “exactly counted” rolls of coins in one-at-a-time and watching Coinstar count the coins – the machine does a 100% accurate count!  It’s really impressive – it never misses a single coin.  I did this for like 15 rolls of coins and it got the exact count on the screen every time, no matter what the coin.

So exchange confidently friends!  Coinstar is legit and it’s not cheating anyone.  And for maximum exchange, always get an eGift card for your coins.  If you select “eGift card” for the value of your coins exchanged, one of two things will happen:

  1. The Coinstar machine will give you a voucher for 100% of your coins for the vendor you chose.  I generally choose Amazon since I buy so much stuff there.
    …the key here is that Coinstar won’t charge you a counting service fee of 10%, which is what they usually do.
  2. If for some reason the Coinstar machine can’t issue an eGift card for the vendor of your choice at that moment, after you’ve turned in all your coins – be sure to stick around!  The machine will give you a CASH VOUCHER for the full amount of your coins without deducting the 10% service fee.

(One note:  I did discover something interesting:  Generally, Coinstar will also spit out/reject dimes & quarters dated 1964 or before. This is important because these coins are real silver, instead of the metal alloy used today.  These are worth much more than the 10 or 25 cents so once again, Coinstar’s doing us a favor!)

Federal & State Taxes deadlines pushed back to at least July 15, 2020 (except VA and MS)

April 12, 2020


For all 41 states with personal income tax, the income tax deadlines have been pushed back due to the coronavirus crisis. Most of these states have pushed their income tax deadline (both for filing and payment) to July 15, 2020. However, there are a few exceptions including:

  • Colorado, where the payment deadline has been pushed back to July 15 but the filing deadline has been pushed further to Oct. 15
  • Hawaii, where the payment and filing deadlines are both July 20
  • Iowa, where the payment and filing deadlines are both July 31
  • Mississippi, where the payment and filing deadlines are both May 15
  • Virginia, where the payment deadline is June 1 and the filing deadline is May 1

You should check with your state taxing authority if you’re dealing with estimated quarterly taxes. These deadlines may not apply to those specific payments.

Read more here:

New York City schools ban Zoom – switches to Microsoft Teams

April 7, 2020

I know a certain OTHER major school district  <ahem> that uses Teams as well.  (But they never went Zoom to begin with.)

Good job, New York. Stop using software that treats security & privacy as an afterthought.

Zoom’s SEC filing cites concerns about China-based development creating ‘market scrutiny’ of Zoom’s data security

April 1, 2020

Interesting line from Zoom Video Communication’s SEC filing:

(From Pg 21: “Risk Factors”)

imageMany governments have enacted laws requiring companies to provide notice of data security incidents involving certain types of personal data. In addition, some of our customers require us to notify them of data security breaches. Security compromises experienced by our competitors, by our customers or by us may lead to public disclosures, which may lead to widespread negative publicity. In addition, we have a high concentration of research and development personnel in China, which could expose us to market scrutiny regarding the integrity of our solution or data security features. Any security compromise in our industry, whether actual or perceived, could harm our reputation, erode confidence in the effectiveness of our security measures, negatively affect our ability to attract new customers and hosts, cause existing customers to elect not to renew their subscriptions or subject us to third-party lawsuits, regulatory fines or other action or liability, which could harm our business.

Seems Zoom has a lot of reasons to be concerned about security:

News re: Coronavirus (Non-post)

March 17, 2020

This is a list of reference links that I’m updating for my own personal reference.

How to disinfect N95 Respirators for reuse:
(Assumption is that they will be unavailable for repurchase for a long time)