Taking a Break

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No post this week.  I will return in about 2 weeks with a new post.  Enjoy the holiday week ahead.

Why I Didn’t Vote This Year

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Yesterday was Election Day in the United States.


I did not perform my civic duty as I usually do for one very simple reason: there was just nothing I cared enough about that would sway the general vote.


This year no Congressional seats up for grabs/


No governor position to fight for.


And last, no Presidential election this year to vote on.


That didn’t mean that I wasn’t interested in some of the elections going on around the state of Maine.  I just wish I lived in some of the other communities to vote on some of the important things that were happening in other towns than my own.


I will now give comments on some of those other elections.


First up is the Lewiston mayoral race.  For anyone who has read this blog will realize that I have written about current mayor Robert Macdonald a couple different times in recent years.  He is most popularly known for his comments against the growing Somalian community in his city.  This has now caused him to have several opponents for his job as mayor.


However, under Lewiston rules, if nobody gets at least 50% of the vote (which they didn’t), a runoff election must be held with the top two candidates to determine a winner of the mayor position.  His opponent, Benjamin Chin, is of Chinese descent and may play a factor toward supporting the immigrant population.  So this runoff may be more an election of the immigrants vs. those who don’t want the immigrants.  Personally, I see Macdonald recapturing his position and will continue his dislike toward the immigrants flooding his town.


Portland had 2 interesting referendum questions on its election ballot.  The lesser of the 2 questions, as confusing as it was, now will allow developers to build properties no matter how much it destroys any scenic view within the city.  This basically means that people who pay big money for those wonderful ocean views may lose them to some greedy developer.  Maybe people didn’t understand the question or maybe it was twisted in such a way that nobody could understand the ultimate result of the question.


The second referendum question of greater importance was to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour for all employees within the city limits by 2019.  While on the surface this would sound wonderful, most small businesses fought this one hard as it would create massive layoffs and possibly have many businesses leave the city.  Thankfully, this was defeated by a 58% to 42% margin.  However, and this is a big however, the city will be raising the wage to $10.10 starting in January.  This means that Portland, Maine will be the 7th highest minimum wage in the country.  I expect to see many businesses to start leaving or scaling back very soon.  Let me point out as a side note that in the near 13 years I worked at Staples, I barely got above the $10.10 rate at the time of my termination.  I think Staples is probably glad they don’t have a store within the Portland city limits as they would probably close it just to save money.


Speaking of Staples, my own city of South Portland had one of its city council seats up for grabs by a former Staples sales manager.  I would never vote for the guy because I felt the type of antics that he did to get himself fired from Staples was unprofessional and uncalled for.  What makes it worse for him was that he had a strong ethic to wanting to make the city more business friendly.  While this sounds like a great idea, it throws all the regular taxpayers under the bus and not being supported.  Thankfully, the taxpayers agreed and he was soundly defeated.  Ironically, 7 of my Facebook friends are mutual friends of his, but I am not.  Maybe he is still bitter over being fired from Staples?


Overall, this election year was a ho-hum year for the most part with some key issues being decided locally and around the country.  However, next year I will definitely be voting in November as I want to make sure that I cast my ballot for the proper person to be our next President.


Until next year…. No I will have posts before next November (I hope).













It Was Not SO Perfect

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Note:  This week’s post is being posted in both of my blogs.


Today is being called “Back to the Future” Day as it celebrates the date notable in the second movie of the trilogy.


One of the items in the movie was a product called “Pepsi Perfect”.  To celebrate the movie’s 30th anniversary, PepsiCo released a limited number of a special edition “Pepsi Perfect” product collectively boxed.


This product was limited to 6500 units and was to sell online for $20.15 for residents of the U.S. PepsiCo’s website did not state what online retailers would be selling this product but it was later discovered that the retailers were Walmart.com and amazon.com.


Of course, all was well and good to try to snag one of these bottles at the stroke of midnight on the east coast.  I had my computer on and launched to search on twitter to see who was selling the item.


Quickly, I found myself shocked when the #PepsiPerfect hashtag was trending as the product was already sold out at both online retailers well before the official launch time/release date.


Apparently, this product started selling online at approximately 10:15pm last night, a full hour and 45 minutes before it was supposed to be sold.  Twitter was exploding with comments showing anger from dozens of people who felt cheated that the two retailers started selling the product before the official release date.


So what exactly went wrong?  We may never know the answer to this question, but my thought is that someone decided to let it get released on the websites early unknowingly that it had a somewhat specific release date/time.


It would have been better if PepsiCo had announced a specific time of release and list of retailers who were going to be selling the product.  By not doing this, the retailers made up their own minds as to when to sell the item.


This brings me to the point of my blog.  Release dates are important and retailers (online and physical stores) should strictly adhere to them.  To be fair to everyone, the guidelines should be met at all times and not waver from them.  Companies produce these rules to keep everything fair for everyone and when someone violates that, the result is nothing but anger which has spread across the internet.


Unfortunately, there are no winners in this whole situation except for the few who managed to score one of the few available collector bottles.  I, however, will remain disappointed as I missed out on this as well.


In a future post, I will discuss more about release dates and the awkwardness they create and how now they are worse than ever.  As if anything could be worse than missing out on a collectible Pepsi bottle…



3 Things That Just May Be Wrong (and Soon Gone)

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This week’s post contains content that may be offensive to some readers.  Discretion is advised.


The new television season has brought us the umpteenth year of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”  A new year brings another new host.  This year we have “The Bachelor’s” Chris Harrison as the new host of the show.  This is the first white male host since the show entered syndication.  Unlike last year’s host Terry Crews, Harrison is much more subdued, almost comatose as host in a way not unlike the way Regis Philbin was during the network run.  It is unfortunate that this guy lacks personality because he might be a good host, but the show is plagued by going back to the old way of playing.


In the past seasons, the dollar amounts in the game were shuffled up with some easy questions getting big dollars associated with them.  Now, the show has reverted back to the stepladder approach, which means that the show can and does give away much less prize money.  Unless the player reaches one of the first of two winning plateaus which is $5,000 and they get a wrong answer, the player winds up with nothing.  In the past seasons, a player left with at least $1,000 just for playing.  Unfortunately, this year more zeros have been given away than normal so far.  I think they should at least give the player something for showing up.  Personally, I don’t see this show being as enjoyable anymore since they turned the show back to the way it was in its early life.  If this show survives this season, I would be surprised.  This show needs some refreshing along with a host with personality.


Next up, is the ABC/Disney show of “The Muppets”.  This is not your daddy’s “Muppet Show” nor is this any of the Muppet movies.  This is not a kid-friendly show despite airing at the family hour of 8pm EST.  After watching the first episode, I realized that all the jokes were presented in the preview of the show leaving nothing funny in the show.  Unfortunately, none of the episodes since the first have been the least bit funny nor would they appeal to children.  As a person who grew up watching the original “Muppet Show”, I am disappointed that this show even exists.


For those who haven’t watched this show, it chronicles the behind the scenes of Miss Piggy’s late night talk show.  Since children don’t stay up to watch late night talk shows (or at least they shouldn’t), this show would not appeal to them.  I just keep shaking my head wondering how this show could even exist.  Somewhere, creator Jim Henson is rolling around in his grave.  I believe that Disney should take this show off the air and either come up with something else or just kill it off completely.  I am hoping this show doesn’t last a full season – it does not deserve it.


Finally, if you have not already heard, Playboy is giving up on its nude women in its magazines.  The subscriptions for the magazine have dropped from over 5 million in the 1970’s to under 1 million today.  Now of course magazines in general have lost popularity along with printed books and therefore many bookstores have closed.


However, it always seemed that porn defied industry trends.  No matter the times, it seems that the thirst for naked women has never ended.  However, now given the internet, porn is readily available freely with a mouse click away.  Many of the pictures are much more explicit than anything that Playboy has ever published and now it seems that everyone is getting naked on the internet including minors.  With cellphones being so popular, children are posting inappropriate pictures of themselves at near record numbers.  What makes this worse is that many parents just don’t care what their children are doing anyway.


So with so much nudity available everywhere, it should be obvious that the time has come for Playboy to change to a more conservative magazine.  I have the feeling that the magazine will look a lot like GQ, Maxim, and those other provocative magazines.  With so many choices, how could a magazine like Playboy survive?  Possibly being unwrapped and placed at the checkout counter right by the TV Guide and People Magazine.  After all, if a child flipped through it, it would be like “been there, seen that”, even though it is still seems so wrong.


So will Playboy survive when it makes its changes next March?  I think the magazine will be history by year-end assuming it lasts that long.


Overall, I see two TV shows and one magazine that have gone completely the wrong way and yet the year is not even over.


What other things could possibly go wrong over the next few months?


Oh yeah, we have a Presidential election coming next year and that will certainly have a lot of wrong to it.


My Review of Windows 10

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This week’s post is all about my experiences with the Windows 10 operating system.


After a friend told me that I could create a disc and install the operating system that way, I decided to take the plunge.


First let me say that I was using Windows 7 Home Edition and I was rather happy with it, but knew at some point soon that this would become yet another unsupported operating system joining my Windows XP machine.


First let me say that Win 10 is a work in progress.  It is by no means perfect and does have bugs.  Some more of an annoyance, some could probably be avoided.


I have yet to see any blue screen of death scenarios yet as this is a good sign that the OS is somewhat bulletproof.  That pretty much ended a few operating systems ago and hopefully won’t come back again.


However, this OS does yearn back to another Windows version well hated and that was Windows ME.  As that operating system seemed like a beta product, so does Windows 10 in some regards as I will explain in a bit.




When I first put in my newly created installation disc in the cd drive, it churned for a couple of minutes before it loaded and was given the option to install the new OS.


After I decided to continue with the installation, a little graphic kept spinning for about 20 minutes while checking my system for any potential problems that would happen with the upgrade.


When the churning was finished, the installer only saw that the only program that would be uninstalled would be the “Media Center” program.  Now to many people, losing this program would be no big deal, but because I have a USB TV card that I use on occasion, I felt that losing this program may be a huge loss.  However, I researched and found that there were plenty of alternative programs out there that are “better” than what the Media Center program was.


So I decided to continue and let the installation go on and uninstall this program.


Now the real fun began.  The churning of the installation watching slowly as a circle slowly grew with each percentage completed and the computer rebooting a couple different times during the installation.


Time passed…and more time passed.


Minutes turned hours and the installation was still churning slowly for a total of a mind-blowing 4 ½ hours when the installation finally completed.  I have never seen any installation take so long and was wondering why this seemed to take forever and then some.


However, I would soon find out what really happened behind the curtain.


The First Time


When this program started up for the first time, it asked me to input a 4 digit PIN.  As far as Windows is concerned, this is your new password.  While this seems better, it opens it up to being much easier hacked than a lengthy alphanumeric password.  However, maybe simplicity is where they are heading to.


The desktop at startup looked pretty much the same as the same wallpaper and icons existed as before the update.  However, the taskbar included new icons for a new desktop flipper, Microsoft Edge (the new slim browser – sorry no add-ons allowed with it), and an icon for the Microsoft store.


The most notable icon on the right side of the taskbar is the “Action Center” icon.  When some notification is presented, this icon lights up and just gets annoying until the icon is pressed and cleared out.


I will say that the startup process was cut in half with this operating system.  However, my security software was uninstalled during the installation.  Apparently, it was not compatible with the new OS.  I do feel that the installer should have warned me ahead of time if it was going to uninstall this vital software before continuing and give me the opportunity to not to install the OS.


It is no wonder why this upgrade took so long as it was uninstalling incompatible software, but I still think that warnings would still have been appreciated.


Overall, the experience with the new OS has been pretty smooth.  Both Chrome and Firefox load faster and my internet connection seem a little perkier.


This doesn’t mean that all was completely flawless.  When I went to install Microsoft Bingo, at one point of its installation it stated that it was at “Step 40 of 9”.  Certainly while this laughable, bugs like this could have been avoided with a little better programming.  This really makes the OS look more like a beta product than a finished product.


Sound familiar?  To me this sounds like the way Windows ME performed as it acted more like a beta than a finished product.


This is why I am part of the Windows Insider group.  This group allows me to get sent to my computer the latest builds of the OS as they become available.  However, this process is not without its problems.  I see in my list of available updates, the latest build however it has yet to be installed for about the last 2 weeks.  The way they deliver updates now is similar to how the file sharing services worked of years gone by.  You got files delivered in pieces hoping that eventually you got the whole file.  Hopefully, Microsoft will realize how dumb this idea was and change it back to how updates were previously delivered.


Finally, the start menu is back for those who had Windows 8.  It sort of looks like the child of the old Win 7 start menu and the Win 8 start screen.  I find it too busy constantly flipping tiles and for the most part I just ignore it.


I have also found a couple of my games don’t work anymore even though they were not uninstalled by the OS installation process.  I expect that a future OS patch may make them work again.




If you have Windows 8/8.1, I recommend upgrading now.  If you have Windows 7 like I did, the picture is a little cloudier, but I decided to take the plunge as I saw this as the future and that at some point it will be required no matter what.  If you are hesitant on this update, you have roughly a little less than a year to get this update free.  Since this is the “last update” according to Microsoft, this is basically a no-brainer.  If you own any other older operating system and your computer is capable of running Win 10, then I would get this version from your local retailer as soon as possible.  I don’t expect that this product will remain on shelves for a long time or go on sale because it is available online.


Overall, I am fairly happy with Windows 10. It does have bugs and quirks, but it certainly better than Windows ME was years ago.


My Grade:


Installation:  3 (Depending on what software you have installed, it could be faster than the 4 ½ hours it took on my computer. Just don’t expect to be forewarned of everything it decides to uninstall on its own.)


User Experience:  7 (Not perfect, but work in progress.  I expect it to improve with time.)


Windows Update:  4 (Seriously, this is NOT Napster.  Don’t make us get our updates like it is.)


Overall:  6 (Yes, it has its problems.  However, so hasn’t all the Microsoft OSs?  I expect frequent updates to fix problems, if you can get the updates.)


This OS may not be a 10, but when is Windows 11 coming out?  Or will that be called 12?









Taking a Break

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This blog will resume in early September.  Thank you for your continued support.

Two Updates — One Now and One Coming Soon?

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This week’s post is about two very different updates to 2 devices, one of the updates should be available to everyone, the other limited to a slow rollout.


First up is the Microsoft Windows 10 update.


This upgrade is supposed to be “free” to everyone with Windows 7/8.  This is a wonderful idea at least in concept.  As I and possibly many others have done, they clicked the Windows 10 icon in the system area and set up a reservation awaiting their shiny new operating system.


The problem is that now a week later, I have reserved the update twice and have yet to see any indication that the update is coming anytime soon.  As Microsoft states on their website, the update could be coming in the “coming days or weeks”.  Who really wants to wait weeks while everyone else is joining the party now?  Rumors are that nearly 14 million machines have already been updated with the new software.


As a person who was part of their “Insider” program, I should have been amongst the first to receive the update, but it seemed that I just wasn’t on their list of people at the head of the line.


So my frustration had been building and I went and checked out another page on Microsoft’s website.  On that page, it said that I could upgrade now with their “media tool”, which effectively made a DVD version of the software that I could install on multiple machines if wanted.  I actually prefer this idea more so that way I have a hard copy in case something goes wrong and I wish to revert back to Windows 7.  It is nice that Microsoft is giving its customers a year to decide on the free upgrade as I have heard of some problems with the update.  My plan is to update tomorrow to the new OS and I hope all goes well with it.  I will report back in a future post with my thoughts on this new toy.


The other update I am waiting for is for my android phone.


When I bought my phone last year, it updated from version 4.3 to 4.4.4 immediately after setting up the phone.  However, the phone did have some problems with the update and showed the picture of a “dead android” guy, when I updated.  This was scary but resolved after the phone downloaded the update a second time and seemed to repair itself of its own problems.


So now since last November, we have seen the latest version lollipop 5 released.  There are a few different releases out there and depending on carrier and phone would determine which version update that phone would receive.


While most carriers throughout the world have received the version 5 update, U.S. carriers have been rather slow at rolling out the update.  Mind you, if you buy a shiny new phone, chances are it may have version 5 already on it, but older phones such as mine are still waiting for the update.


In the meantime, Android version M has already been announced for a release this fall.  I highly doubt that my phone will ever receive this update as it has yet to receive the current version.  I would rather wait now for M then have version 5 given the length of time it has been already.


I expect any update which should have happened at the end of July may not happen until as late as September given the current release pace.  I will let you know if and when I receive my long yearned for update.


Overall, it seems that updates should not be difficult.  When an update is available, it should be available to all not just a select few or even worse everyone but me.


Stay tuned for updates.

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