The power company’s aid in saving energy

My local electric company is going to start including a power usage comparison on the monthly bill.

For the last several years, they’ve been sending one annually, but it’s not all that hard to miss it. This is why I generally know I use less electricity year over year, but I don’t know how many people actually see the report. Read the full post »

This one hurts.

I tried to write the day it happened. I couldn’t write anything that made any sense. Mostly I sat and stared. I told myself when the Royals made the Wild Card, I’d be happy with whatever happened, because it was postseason baseball for the first time in 29 years.

But as they kept hanging on and steamrolling opponents, I got greedy. And it’s hard to feel guilty for getting greedy. Because I don’t know when this will happen again. Read the full post »

FTDI needs to be charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

FTDI is a company that makes computer chips for USB peripherals. Their chips are frequently cloned, which is an issue they have a right to deal with. But they have to be careful.

Breaking suspected cloned chips that consumers bought in good faith is the wrong answer. If I did that, it would be called hacking, and I would be sitting in jail right now, and probably would be facing a quarter-century in prison. Read the full post »

How to rebuild a PC in a hurry

Sometimes rebuilding a PC is faster than trying to fix it, and if you’re dealing with a virus infection, it’s better to rebuild than try to clean. It’s impossible to know if the system is 100% clean after infection–unless you rebuild.

If you’re the family CIO, here’s how you can go about rebuilding a Windows PC in a hurry.

Read the full post »

An approach for helping demanding people

I found myself in a conversation this past weekend about demanding people–specifically, people who every time you hear from them have a litany of 10 complaints.

At that point the conversation took a U-turn. “Yeah, how do you deal with people like that?”

About three years ago I met someone who was really good at that, and fortunately I was in a good position to watch him work and he didn’t mind. I’m still not as good at it as he is, but few people are, and we would all do well to try to be better at it.

Read the full post »

What to look for in a motherboard

I’ve been building PCs for more than 20 years and I tend to keep them a very long time, so it occurred to me that someone might be interested in what I look for in a motherboard to ensure both a long, reliable life and a long useful life.

Of course what to look for has changed to some degree over the years, but this is what I look for in the mid-2010s.

Read the full post »

Don’t buy a “desktop replacement” laptop

I found this oldie but goodie Lifehacker article: When two computers are cheaper than one. It advocates buying a cheap laptop and building a desktop PC to meet your computing needs.

I think it makes a lot of sense. A few weeks ago, a coworker asked me what the most I would be willing to pay for a laptop. I hesitated, thought for a while, and said you might be able to convince me to spend $600. “Wow,” he said. “I’m considering a $3,500 laptop.”

I wouldn’t. Read the full post »

Resources for securing WordPress

WordPress is the most popular blogging platform, and as one who’s tried virtually all of them you’ve heard of and a bunch you haven’t, I’ll also argue it’s the best.

From a security point of view, it has issues. That goes with being popular. But there are resources that can help, as well as general principles to keep in mind. Read the full post »

Why we can’t have nice things: The reaction to IBM’s big black and blue quarter

IBM announced yesterday that it had a terrible quarter. They missed earnings, the stock plunged, and Warren Buffett lost a billion dollars.

Everyone assumes Warren Buffett is worried, or livid, and selling off the stock like it’s on fire. Read the full post »

Defusing in person

My name, and my department’s name in general, gets thrown around a lot at work. We have a bit of a reputation as the can’t-do guys.

Professionalism dictates I not go into specifics about what kinds of things we reject or disapprove, but if I were to explain them, no security professional would disagree with me.

The other side of the argument, of course, is that the system still does its job the way it’s supposed to do and the system cost a lot of money. Here’s a story of a tense situation and how we were able to come to an understanding. Read the full post »