Rants, Raves and Comments - sometimes you just need to let it out!

by Don Smith

This document is for informational purposes only, and there is absolutely no claim to its accuracy, rather it is only an opinion.


January 4, 2007

Your own Web Server

I sometimes expose a ftp server pc to the world for access to others to download / pull files - sharing pictures, etc.  It's a great way to share big files that you don't really want to email.  I have been amazed at the attacks on it.  They mostly all are trying to login as administrator with a whole slew of passwords.  They will hammer it for a few hours, then give up and move on (I use a rather long administrator password).  I started researching the IP addresses that were hammering on it and all most all of them were from Asia.  The people I am sharing with are from North America.  So, I set up a Denied Access list for all the Asia address range.  Lately I have been getting some from Latin America, so I Denied Access to that as well.  My list of banned IP addresses:

58.*.*.* 200.*.*.*
59.*.*.* 201.*.*.*
60.*.*.* 202.*.*.*
61.*.*.* 203.*.*.*
121.*.*.* 210.*.*.*
122.*.*.* 211.*.*.*
124.*.*.* 218.*.*.*
126.*.*.* 220.*.*.*
189.*.*.* 222.*.*.*
190.*.*.* 216.168.*.*

That has almost reduced my attacks to zero..  In the real world of wide open servers you can really see the intensity that people must protect their servers.


October 18, 2006

Delta Airlines - !


"HEBRON Two years after Delta Air Lines launched its SimpliFares initiative here, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport has resumed its perch as the most expensive major airport in the nation from which to fly.

Though Delta executives disagree, industry analysts say SimpliFares is dead.

walk-up fare from CVG flying direct to Atlanta cost $1,322 on Aug. 18, 2004 the day before SimpliFares went into effect. Two days later that fare plummeted to $738. But this week such a ticket would cost $1,429. A direct flight from Dayton offered a better walk-up deal this week for $506."

Well - what should I say?  We have gone from SimpliFares to StupidFares!  So I am driving to Dayton and Columbus more.  Sometimes there are reasonable fares out there - the first 3 to 5 seats on a plane.  Then it jumps from 200ish to 500 plus.  But, when I do drive to Dayton and Columbus - unless there is a significant price advantage or schedule advantage I DO NOT fly with Delta.  Why should I?  Have you tried to use your frequent flier miles out of Cincinnati lately?  Why accumlate any more.  There are not standard seats available.  The only way to get seats is using SkyChoice - 50,000 miles instead of SkySaver - 25,000 miles.



March 18, 2006

More BoxWave Junk!

I bought a Axim X3 minisync cable from Boxwave a few months back.  (http://www.boxwave.com/).  It lasted a few months (of infrequent use).  Then a piece of plastic broke in the retractable insides and it locked up - half out, half in.  So I ended up taking it apart to get cable.  The cable works fine, just the cheap mechanism failed badly.  That's two products now from BoxWave that were below expectations (see The Great PDA Screen Protector Ripoff below).


Sept 12, 2005

GE's VHS Rewinder - junk design

I bought a GE VHS Rewinder a while back.  It lasted a week and quit working.  I took it apart to find the belt had come off the pulley.  I put it back on and put it back together.  Of course, that lasted nothing, the belt was back off.  I tried some different belt (cut down rubber bands, elastic, etc.  No luck.  Okay, I took it apart further.  The motor is mounted 45 degrees from the pulley that drives the VHS tape.  What a bad design.  A belt running on a 45 degree pulley with any load on it comes off.  So, I cut a piece of plastic that was 90 degrees to the bend and the heated the bend up and "adjusted" the mount so the motor is now 90 degrees to the belt.  Put it back together, it works fine.


July, 2004

Experiences with Doctors

As part of the journey described in the blurb below, and on my dads update page, we had a variety of experiences with doctors and hospitals.  The following is only a opinion:

Kansas Inpatient Services 1131 S. Clifton, Ste. B Wichita, KS 67218, 316-462-1040 (Office)

Dr Lowell Ebersole, DO

Dr. John Womack, MD

Dr. Adam Flynn, MD

Dr. Charlotte Lim, MD

We had a series of experiences with this medical group.  They operate on a system where each doctor in the group takes a week of time treating patients in the hospital.  So, you may only see the same doctor every 3-4 weeks.  The handover between doctors caused some things to be missed and in turn put dad at risk. The rotating system may be okay if you are only in the hospital for a week.  Also, we had some real problems with Dr. Ebersole and Dr. Flynn.  Their care and attitude was not what we had hoped for nor needed.  I would NOT recommend either of these doctors care for anyone in my family.  Also, how they treated the nursing staff was unprofessional.  Dr. Womack is the lead for the group.  Good doctor, good care, but again you may not see him very often.  Dr. Lim was good.  In the end, she did a very good thing for us.  We were ready to change to a different doctor but were having trouble getting another doctor to take the case on.  Through her intervention we found a doctor that we were very pleased with.  {turns out it is very hard to get a doctor to take a patient on when they are with another doctor, so making the right choice early is very important}

I found an article on this group.

Via Christi Regional Medical Center Hospitalist Services, 929 N St Francis #5096 Wichita, KS 67214 Phone (316) 268-7000

Dr. Chau-Thong Nguyen-Dang, MD

Dr. Moin Shaikh, DO

Wow, what a change of experience when we changed to these two doctors.  Especially Dr. Nguyen-Dang.  She is FANTASTIC and I would let her take care of anyone in my family.  She is very good, very thorough, great bedside manner.  Her partner Dr. Shaikh is good as well.  If you are in the via Christi hospital, St. Francis in Wichita - get her for your doctor.

Dr. Michael R. Harwood M.D., United Medical Group, LLC 5701 State Avenue, Suite 100 Kansas City KS 66102 913-287-7800

Good Doctor.  Provided good care for dad while he was in the Medical Lodge and in Providence hospital.

Dr. La Donna Regier, Colby Medical and Surgical Center, 175 S. Range Avenue in Colby, (785)462-3332

She is the most caring doctor we had during this whole journey.  She is a family practice doctor that took good care of dad.  She also knew when it was time to call in a specialist!  She also spent the money running the tests that need to be ran to make sure.  I would let her care for any member of my family.  She also saw dad twice a day, morning and evening.  We had never had a doctor provide that level of care.  God Bless you Dr. Regier.


July, 2004

The Medical Industry

At the end of January my father took a serious stroke.  I took 5 months of time off work and helped him and mom through several hospitals and doctors.  It has been an education on the "broken" medical system.  During the stays dad was "given" several bad infections.  The worst, MRSA, Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a Staph Infection.  He got this in the lungs.  On the list of bad bugs, this one rates number 2.  The only drug to treat its vancomycin.  This is the sledgehammer of antibiotics; it is also the last resort antibioidic.  Once a bug becomes resistant to this, its pretty much over.  The number one on the list is VRSA, vancomycin resist staph infection.  During the journey we also got CDiff - Clostridium Difficile Infection.  I rated it number 3 on the bad bug list.  This one is in the digestional track.  It is a bug that is in "some" people we were told.  Dad got this bug.  It takes off when the good flora in your digestive track has been killed of by antibiotics.  Of course, they again treat it with vancomycin, orally instead of in the vein.  Further wiping out your digestive track.  A quote off a web site:

"This bacterium is primarily acquired in hospitals and chronic care facilities following antibiotic therapy covering a wide variety of bacteria (broad-spectrum) and is the most frequent cause of outbreaks of diarrhea in hospitalized patients."

Hospitals are great at moving bugs around the rooms.  We had a few nurses that we really had to get on their case, and for one, go to her manager to WASH YOUR HANDS every time you come into, and go out of a room.  When dad first got MRSA in the intensive care ward that first week in the hospital he got a sign on the door cautioning everyone coming and going.  You could see the signs show up on other doors that week.  This is terrible.  It puts you in the hospital for a longer period of time.  It extends your stay and cost.  AND, if you already are in intensive care, your body is struggling to fight anyway now you have a terrible bug.  AND your going to get an antibiotic that will wipe out your digestive track.

Dad also got two cases of hospital pneumonia and a really nasty bladder infection that he has to take antibiotics to fight for the rest of his life.  Life in hospitals - they are dirty places.

We were in the Select Specialty Hospital, within the St. Francis hospital, via Christi.  The care was good - but they were always short staffed.  The poor nurses were always over worked.  They also had a problem with short staffing.  We had a lot of agency nurses that we had to watch closely.  We had a couple nurses try to do bad things to dad because they did not know the case history.  We also discovered that the staff nurses always give the "harder work" patients to the agency nurses.  That is a really bad practice.  Yes, it makes work easier for them, but the patients who most need the consistency of care are not getting it.

Western Plains Medical Complex, Dodge City Kansas - We entered the rehab facility at WPMC with high expectations.  We were dismissed after 6 weeks.  They have a good program, but it has unrealistic expectations on the progress rate for a stroke patient.  We found out this out from another family in our home town that had the same experience.  Their father was dismissed and then later did make slow but great progress with almost a full recovery.  A severe stroke patient cannot make recovery rates that this place expects.

Medical Lodge Post Acute Care, 6500 Greeley Ave., Kansas City, MO - We were only here for a week.  They do have a good therapy department.  But, dad got CDiff after being here only a week.  He was admitted to Providence hospital in KC.  We fled the city and moved to a small hospital in western, Kansas to get away from the bugs.

Citizens Medical Center 100 E. College Dr. Colby, KS 67701 - Things were okay here.  They have a good therapy group.  Some struggles with getting the nurses to provide the level of care needed.  Unfortunately dad caught a bad bladder infection (the dangers of catheters) that he will never be able to rid himself of.  It will require a maintenance dose of antibiotics to keep at bay for the rest of his life.  Again, life in hospitals.


October 21, 2004

Ultra's Ripoff!

I just bought a Ultra Retractable ZipCord.  I got the RJ-11 and RJ-45 (two of them, one as a gift) products.  I paid $6.99 +sh for each on TigerDirect.com.  Okay, I guessed they were not Cat5 rated from the ad but thought I'd try them as there was a $3 rebate so that made them $3.99.  So I got the 3 items and when you finally get access to the online rebate form - "Limit one (1) Rebate per customer, company, address, e-mail address or paypal account."  AHH.  They got me again.  You think it is a great price so you buy more than one.  What a great scheme to move product.  So, I ran some tests.  The cable is 50" long fully extended.  It performs almost as well as my full Cat5 rated cable.  Okay.  It is still cheaper then the Belkin version for $29.99 (that goes to 8 ft).


February 21, 2004

The Great PDA Screen Protector Ripoff!

I've just been conned.  I bought a new Axim X3 a few months back.  I've been a PDA owner for 10 years now.  I've worked my way through the great PDA experiment.  I always made my own screen covers using nothing but blank transparencies.  I cut them to size, clean them and lay them down and smooth them out with a credit card.  Easy peasy, Lemon Squeezy.  I thought I was missing something on "clarity", "viewability", yada yada.  I decided I must be missing something.  I bought the "best in the market", Boxwave (http://www.boxwave.com/).  What a con.  I pulled it out and applied it.  Somewhere in the process I picked up fuzz on the sticky back.  The web site said you could wash it.  I did that.  Now, drying it.  I tried a dust free cloth.  When I re-applied, again fuzz on the sticky.  I tried washing and blow drying.  Fuzz again on the sticky side.  AND, the clarity was no better.  In fact, worse as I always ended up with fuzz or dust on the sticky side.  I went back to my homemade one.  Gave it a good wiping and re-applied.  It's better then the my $12.95 sticky one.  It's a rip off people.  Make your own!


November 5, 2003

Phyllis J. Zorn - you are an immoral reporter out for the headlines.  You will write anything, print anything and hurt anybody in the process.  

Do not buy or support the Hays Daily Newspaper while she is employed with them.  How do you fight a battle a news reporter?  They have access to a newspaper printing machine and mailing list.  At least I have the internet.


October 24, 2003

What's up with the TSA coming out against the 20 year old college student that hid box cutters on airplanes!  Okay, it was dangerous of him to be putting weapons on airplanes.  But, the TSA , Steven McHale, deputy admiistrator of the TSA says "Amateur testing like this does not in any way assist us or show us where we have flaws in our system".  WHAT?  I think it showed what is really going on - a big facade.  Lot's of gate security that hassles the travelers to no end but they really have not plugged the holes.  All they did is stop me from carrying anything metal on the plane.  This was a single kid.  What about organized pro's, like terrorists?  They surely can do better then a college student!  You read about failed tests of the system every couple of months.  Get it fixed or quit hassling me at check-in.

Let's face the true problem - the policy for dealing with hijackings before 9/11 was to give them what the wanted until you got them on the ground.  The policy did not anticipate using planes as weapons.  Can a group of people with box cutters perform a similar feat today? - NO.  The passengers would pummel them.  Was our security policy to lax before 9/11? - YES.  If you traveled in Europe before 9/11 you have seen security that matches what the USA has now.  Thanks for the wake up call Nathaniel Heatwole.


October 22, 2003

DIY hint - I started a small painting project.  Did you know that you can have the can of primer tinted?  Every project I undertake I learn something new.  That's life.  I painted the railing on my steps.  I scraped and brushed all the rusted areas then primed the rails with a standard can of white primer.  It took two coats of black paint to cover up the white primer (not unexpected).  But later I discovered I should have had them tint the white primer a gray color.


October 21, 2003

I'm an engineer.  It's my mentality and what I enjoy doing.  I've always taken things apart to see how they work or stopped and gazed and wondered how does it work.  If you have been following the press lately you will have seen the trend - job security for engineers is causing more and more stress in the work place.  Can anyone wonder why?  Manufacturing is leaving the USA at an incredible rate and the engineering infrastructure to support it is being laid off.  Is there a manufacturing sector that engineers can work in that you can expect to be employed for the next 20 years?  There is a perception that the place to be is in a pharmaceutical company.  As the baby boomers age the demand will grow for more and more drugs.  Plus, it is a very profitable sector which means good salary and benefits.

Have you seen the help wanted ads lately?  How many pages of ads are there for jobs in the health services industry?  Wow.  It's amazing.  The demand for jobs in aspects of the health industry is amazing.  This is a growing and profitable industry that is currently providing job security, salary and benefits!

Okay, let's all go to work for the health related industry.  But, I'm wondering who is going to pay the costs of medical benefits?  At some point you have to have money coming into the system from something?  Other service jobs?  Financial Industry?  But all these things are just moving the money around.

Ten years ago I would tell any high school student how great it was to be an engineer.  Today, I would not recommend going into engineering.  It has become a commodity tied to the manufacturing market.  As such it is going to the cheap labor markets of Asia.  One day maybe the market costs will equalize.  That's the big promise of the global economy.  But until Asia's standard of living rises to match ours or the dollar devaluates, be wary of going into the manufacturing job market.