Saturday, November 29, 2014

Technology - $90 "Laptop"

I think I have found a way to have a "laptop" for $90. First, pick up a no-name 7", 8GB Android tablet for about $50 (I picked one up from Best Buy). Then add a Bluetooth keyboard for about $25 (I picked one up from Amazon with a track pad that works well on an Android tablet) Then add a generic cover for the tablet for about $15 (I found one I liked at Walmart). Put it all together and you have a good "laptop" for about $90. Its not a Windows or Apple machine, but it is better than a Chromebook (it will spell check offline). If all you need to do is surf the internet and do some basic tasks like word processing, spreadsheet stuff, basic presentations, and a few other things, this set up will work perfectly for for you. Plus you have a touch screen and access to all the Android applications. This set up works very well for me and I saved a bundle.

The Economy - Price of Oil

I bought gas for my car today and was thrilled to find that gas at my closest self-serve station was now solidly below $3 a gallon (here in Southern California). That is awesome for those of us who do a lot of driving and commuting. The price of oil has dropped to about $65 a barrel, so gas might still go down further. Again, great news for all of us who are tired of paying so much for gas at the pump. But, $65 a barrel is a disaster for oil producers especially domestic producers. It turns out that most domestic producers need oil to be at $70-80 a barrel to make a profit. Now they can handle a short drop in price, but if the price stays low for an expended amount of time, then there will be carnage in the domestic oil business. So while I applaud the lower gas process, I am weary of the long term effects of low oil prices on the great paying jobs that have been produced across the country. The fracking miracle might be coming to an end, and that will not be good for any of us.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Opinion - A Simmering Rage

There is a rage that is simmering just below the surface in the US. We see glimpses of it here and there with riots that occasionally break out. What will happen if welfare ever stops? What will happen if food stamps stop working? We will have millions of people who are angry and without food or any kind of money who are going to explode with rag. Unfortunately they are not very bright so they will burn down their own neighborhoods and the businesses that provide them with jobs, services, and stuff to buy. They are going to kill off the only things they have left that will provide them with any kind of hope. That is exactly what has happened in Ferguson. The people who went on a rampage a couple of days ago burned their own neighborhood down. What fools! But when you are in a rage, you don’t care. You just act and you want to take your anger out on the first thing that crosses your path. In the end nothing changes and your own neighborhood is burned to the ground. What a waste!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Technology - My 7" Android Tablet

I have been using my $49 no-name Android tablet for just over two weeks. I mainly use it to surf the internet, check my email, and keep a journal. So far it has worked flawlessly. I use Chrome as my browser so all my bookmarks are there. I use Gmail for email, and that app works well. I use Drive and Docs for my journal so I can access it from any device I use. Now I wish I had a physical keyboard, but the touch screen keyboard works well enough. Plus, buying a keyboard might cost more than the tablet did! I also have a version of my favorite solitaire app, so I can waste as much time as I want. So far I am still impressed at all I am able to do with such an inexpensive device. Do they make any money selling these tablets at the price they do? Also, why buy something more expensive? Will it function any better? I don't think so and the build quality is good enough. So I don't think that buying something more expensive does not give you anything more for the money.

Monday, November 24, 2014

My Opinion - Ferguson

The decision from the grand jury is in and the police officer who shot and killed the African-American kid in Ferguson was not charged with any crimes. The decision is not surprising with all that has been leaked on the case. By what was reported the shooting was within policy, so the decision is not surprising. There will be riots and looting though. The African-American community is angry. It will react and there will be protests. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and there will be little damage to property. Destroying someone else’s property out of anger is not right or fair. On injustice (if you feel it was) does not make another right.

Some things to think about. What does this all say about the state of our society? Are we still racist and bigoted? Is lawlessness rampant in our streets? Are the police the good or bad guys? None of that is quite clear anymore. Maybe that is the biggest problem we have today. We do not quite know what the truth is and we do not know who to trust. Now that speaks volumes to the state of our society.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Technology - My Android Tablet

I have had my "no name" 7" Android tablet for six days now and all is working well. I use it surf the internet, check my email, read e-books, watch some videos, and keep a journal. For those things it's great. For the price I paid ($49), it's awesome. So why is iPad selling so much better? It has to be because people want to say they have an iPad. So the price for being "cool" is $200-300 more than you truly need to pay. Having both an iPad and an Android tablet I can say that the iPad is a better system which has more functionality and more quality apps. Is it worth the extra money? Not if all you are doing is surfing the internet and basic stuff. I am pleasantly impressed at what I can do for such a low price. The only question I have is how long will this device last? Since my iPad has lasted over three years now without a problem, my cost over time is about $200 a year. So this device has to last over three months to be cheaper in the long run. If it lasts longer than that, I will be very pleased.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Creativity - Make stuff you love

There is a key principle we all should remember when it comes to being creative If you create something that you would like to interact with, then others will as well. If you produce something you enjoy watching, others will as well. If you record something you like to listen to, others will as well. If you write something you like to read, others will as well. The point is to focus on making stuff you truly love, and others will also love them. If you focus on making things others will like, but you don't, you might make some money, but you will never be truly satisfied. You will never have a sense of true fulfillment.

Make stuff you love and the rest makes care of itself.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Technology - My 7" Android Tablet

I have been using my $49 "no name" 7" Android tablet for two days now and I like it. It's not an iPad, and it doesn't do everything, but it does 90% of what I need, which is enough. I like the size because it fits in the pocket of my cargo pants and I can type reasonably well with my thumbs (in landscape mode). It feels fast enough on the internet and its not bulky or heavy. I'm sure it's fragile because it's mostly plastic, but a good case will keep it reasonably safe. Overall I am surprised. What would I get if I paid for a more expensive branded one? Probably metal instead of plastic, and it would probably have more memory and a better processor, but would that be with the extra money? I am starting to think that it would not. Having spent a lot of time using a Chromebook I no lo her need all the functions that come with a higher priced device. Just get me in the internet and let me do some writing and reading. For $49, this device works just fine.

By the way, I created this post and published it all with my $49 tablet. Now that's cool!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Creativity - Why Create?

I spend a lot of time creating stuff that no one else will see or hear. I have written hundreds of thousands of words that no one will ever read but me. I have written hundreds of pieces of music that no one will ever hear but me. So, am I wasting my time? Absolutely not because the reason you want to create is not because someone will see it, hear it, or even buy it. You want to create stuff because you can. There is no other reason to create. If you create for the purpose of it being seen or heard you will spend your time trying to make others happy and that is the fastest way to burn out or experience a block. Just make stuff because you want to! That’s the only reason you need.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Technology - Android v iPad

I went into my local big box technology store to just browse and I came across a "no name" Android tablet for $49. I played with it for a while and realized that it was not to bad, especially for $49. Sure it only had 8 GB of ram, but that's what my iPhone has, so why not pick it up and try it out? So I did.

Now in my opinion an iPad is a much better device. It is more intuitive and just feels and works better all around. On the other hand, to $49 this tablet is working quite well. I can write on it, I can surf the internet, I can watch videos, and I can listen to music, which is just about all I do on a tablet. So for $49 I am a bit impressed. Let's see how well this Android tablet works over time.

Using this new tablet also made me think about what I am paying for when I buy an iPad. If you can do just about most things on a $49 tablet that you can do an a $299 iPad mini, why spend the extra money? Well, it is cool to buy an Apple iPad. No one cares if you buy an Android tablet (even if it is a well know brand). If you don't care if you look cool or not, then save yourself a fortune and pick up an inexpensive Android tablet. An iPad might not be worth the extra money.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

My Opinion - Vietnam, Iraq, Syria

I am watching a documentary on the Vietnam war. How did we loose that war? We won every battle and we devastated the NV army, but we still lost. Iraq was so similar and we "won" in Iraq, but once we pulled out, it has devolved into a mess. I think we have never learned the lesson that we can't win an unconventional war. Maybe the best thing we can do is make it so costly for the enemy that they give up the fight? So keeping the military intervention in Syria to air assets might be a good idea. Putting boots on the ground might just be a waste of resources. Maybe we should never have put troops in Vietnam or in Iraq? Maybe we should have just bombed every inch of what we could and waited till the enemy gave up. We should have bombed North Vietnam into the dark ages. We could have done the same with Iraq. Then when they just gave up, or been pounded into dust, we could have negotiated a surrender on our terms and never risked the lives of our troops.

Would that have worked? Maybe, but an air campaign would have had to go on for many months, and possibly years. Would the nation alow that? Today with all the air assets we have, it might not take as long. I think so since an air campaign does not cost as many lives, just a lot more treasure. Putting troops on the ground does not work. Once you pull them, the enemy will move in. They just have to wait it out.

The truth is we will never know if just using air power would have worked in Vietnam or Iraq. Let's see if it will work in Syria and the occupied territories in Iraq. There are reports that ground troops are going to be sent to Iraq and Syria. That would be a mistake. I guess we never learn.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Election - Repudiation

I wrote yesterday about how the the Republicans won big in the election yesterday. That was an understatement. The Republicans basically trounced the Democrats in just about every contested election. The Democrats only won in safe districts and states. Just about everywhere else the democrats got trounced. What is even more interesting was the fact that the Republicans really did not offer anything in the way of a compelling agenda. So the results of the election are not that the Republicans offer a more compelling vision for the nation than the Democrats. The results of the election are a repudiation of the direction and actions of the Democrats. This was a "slap down" of the Democrat agenda, but not an endorsement of the Republican agenda, since they did not really have one.

I think the voters want their elected officials to fix the problems that plague the nation. Specifically the economic ones. The Democrats had a six year opportunity to show that they could be counted on to fix what ails the nation, but the have failed and now have been basically swept from power to do anything but obstruct. The Republicans have an opportunity to show that they can at least demonstrate a willingness to fix what's wrong. If they do this, then things will go well for them in 2016. If they devolve into bickering, sectarianism, and ideological disputes, then they will get trounced in 2016. The electorate is tired of things not getting fixed and will continue to throw out those they feel are incapable of doing the job and replacing them with whomever is at hand.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Election - Republicans Win Big!

Republicans had a big night tonight. How quickly does the table turn. Two years ago the Democrats were riding high on the re-election of Obama as President. Today they lost the Senate, lost more seats in the house, lost some key governorships, and probably lost some ground in the state assemblies. It was a stunning defeat across the board, except of course in those states that are completely controlled by Democrats like California.

Now it is going to be interesting to see what Republicans do with their victory. It is also going to be interesting to see how this plays out for the 2016 presidential election. I hope the Republicans take the opportunity to try to fix some of the major problems we have and finally turn this economy around. Hopefully the President does not veto to many bills and we can finally see some action from the government towards making life better for all Americans, not just the Democrat party constituents and donors.

Is this a sign that the country will swing to the Republicans in 2016? The election of 2006 saw the Democrats take seats from the Republicans and usher in a Democrat President. Maybe the same will play out in 2016? If that is the case, who will the next president be? It is going to be an interesting 2 years. I for one am not looking forward to all the campaign ads we will be subjected to!

The Election - California

I did not vote today. Why vote when what I vote for never wins, or if by a miracle it does, it gets overturned by the courts? Why vote for a perpetual minority with no hope of ever being in power? Being a conservative in California is not pleasant. I see the state that I grew up in being ruined by liberal policies and an ever expanding welfare system. I see more and more crime. More and more poverty. More and more waste and fraud. Want to know where California is heading? Just look at Venezuela or Argentina. California is on the exact same course. So I did not vote because it is pointless.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The economy - Marketing Machines

While I was driving today I thought about how some companies are nothing more than marketing machines. These marketing machines churn out commercial after commercial and they spend huge portions of their revenue on marketing. You know the companies I am talking about. They are the ones who you hear about constantly on the radio, see their commercials on TV, and flood the internet with ads. I wonder how successful they would be without the marketing? I also wonder why they need to do so much marketing.

If you need to constantly market your product or service at such a high level that you business basically becomes a household name as a result, what does that say about your product or service? If that level of marketing is essential, then maybe your product is not very good. I understand that if you want people to find you you need to market, but at what level does it become excessive? Why not spend some of that money making sure your product or service is outstanding? I think that is that were the case, the excessive marketing would not have to be done and we could all be spared the constant bombardment of inane advertising. How effective is that marketing anyway? I know that I use very few (if any) of those products or services that are constantly on the air or in print. I bet i am not the only one.