We’ve been Hacked – Data Restored

HackedWe’re back up and running as you can see. Our hosting provider’s server farm was hacked and much damage was done. As a result we’ve been offline for more than 48 hours

My provider is Mungo Studios, a small outfit run by a friend of mine from my days at Microsoft. The server farm is located in a big data center near Chicago. My friend Tim owns several machines, which are in racks along with a few thousand others. For a small web hosting outfit, it’s more profitable to own the machines than to rent space on the data center’s machines like many host companies. He pays more up front, but has a slightly better margin on the back end. Everything is striped of course, and if some piece hardware goes bad, there is somebody there 24×7 to replace the parts and restore the data. (more…)

Code Problems – How does this kind of crap happen?

C++IconPractically every week we hear a story about some international conglomerate screwing up their computer code.  Code is what runs a business, why are there so many code problems?

Sony Entertainment got hacked, all the executive emails were put on public display, showing what petty people they really are. Not to mention several movies going into the pubic domain. Our own government has demonstrated they can’t secure the names and social security numbers of their own employees. Target has been hacked. Aside from the security issues, companies frequently have down time. Even stock exchanges have had blackouts. Software bugs have even resulted in grid failures. Even a Mars mission failed because one part of the code was doing calculations in miles, another in kilometers. These are all code problems. How does this kind of crap happen? Doesn’t anyone check or test code?  (more…)

Walmart Killing Another Small Town?

Walmart-empty-2a

A friend sent me a post about a Walmart store closing. This particular store is located in the town of Kimball, located in McDowell County, West Virginia. The headline was “Stop the Bleeding.” Apparently, a story about Walmart killing another small town. Being an old codger, I suspect there is more going on than the local paper is telling us. (more…)

Vocational Education – Who is Doing it Right?

Car Styling SketchDuring my lifetime, the world has changed in many ways. Vocational education is one of them. When I was in high school, classes in wood shop, auto shop, home economics and even typing were available. Not everyone wanted to go to college, in fact a lot of people just wanted to get a good job and make some money. After all, you can go to college any time. An interesting part of this equation is that college, at that time, was ridiculously cheap compared compared to the costs today.

It got me thinking about vocational education and relatively cost effective advanced degrees that train people for specific careers. You could view some of the options in that second category as high end vocational schools. (more…)

I Totally Missed National Civil Defense Week

Civil Defense from NukesI let it slip by without even a thought.  National Civil Defense Week was a thing during the 1950s and 60’s.  It was the second week in September, or right after labor day.  Why that particular day?  I’ve not been able to find any particular reason, maybe it was available.  Then again, maybe someone in the government thought a nuclear attack might be more likely during the holiday rich autumn.

In 1972 Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird established the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency as an independent component of the Department of Defense.  In 1983 Ronald Reagan announced a Crisis Relocation Plan to evacuate major urban areas in the event of nuclear war.  They thought it was possible to save as much as 80% of the population.  How reasonable does that sound now? (more…)

Can Climate Change Instigate an American Diaspora?

drought-02TNDiaspora has become a Megatrend. It’s a word historically used to describe the scattering of people from their homeland. In more recent times it has come to mean an involuntary mass dispersion. The expulsion of Jews from Judea in biblical times, or the more recent slave trade that brought Africans to the US would be classic examples. The ongoing mass migration from Syria and North Africa to Europe is perfectly described as a diaspora.

The United States has a few internal examples in the last century. The Okies fleeing the dust bowl of the 1930s, and the population of New Orleans fleeing the damage of hurricane Katrina can properly be counted as a diaspora. It might well turn out that the next American diaspora will be waves of people from California and the southwest moving to wetter and friendlier places. (more…)