Shopping With A Quiet Child

Bryson Playing Angry Birds on a Kindle Fire

How to shop with a quiet child:

  1. Place Bryson in shopping cart
  2. Give him a Kindle Fire
  3. Run Angry Birds

Good for 15 to 30 minutes of quiet. Results vary by child.

Photo Credit: From the iPhone of Megan
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Precision Smokestack Targeting

Russian smokestack
Once in awhile I read an amusing quote. There was one recently in an article by The Wall Street Journal reporting on the Pentagon’s first cyber strategy. Part of the plan warns nations of the consequences of attacking the U.S. by hacking computer systems. Hackers, supported by national governments, pose as significant a threat to U.S. nuclear reactors, subways or pipelines as a hostile country’s military.

An unidentified U.S. military official said:

“If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks.”

Previous attacks have originated from Russia and China but often both the perpetrator and impact are unclear.
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Paul and Jake Graduate in Computer Engineering

Paul and Jake graduate in Computer Engineering

On Friday, May 7th, at the University of Utah 141st commencement, 7,034 graduates from all 50 states and 76 countries will receive degrees. The same day we will be with Paul and Jake at the College of Engineering Convocation at the Jon M. Huntsman Center at 6:45 pm.

With computer scientist parents and an older brother and sister with computer science degrees, perhaps it is not surprising that Paul and Jake chose a similar career path. But why a degree in Computer Engineering? According to U.S. News & World Report:

If there’s an app for something, there’s a software engineer behind it. From video games to missile systems to, yes, your iPhone, almost every big idea in modern business is supported by software. The work of designing, building, maintaining, and integrating those increasingly complex systems continues to be one the fastest-growing corners of the job market.

The job outlook is promising:

Employment of computer software engineers is expected to swell by a whopping 295,200 jobs, or more than 32 percent, between 2008 and 2018. That rate is well above the average for all occupations, as companies continually integrate new technologies and design their own.

Perhaps you are wondering how this is all working out for our recent graduates. Paul is already working full-time in his chosen field for a local employer and Jake joins him May 10.

Computer Engineering graduates
Credits: Photography and announcement design by Adelaide of Ada Shot Me.
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I Refuse To Participate In This Recession

Over at Unit Interactive they have the audacity to announce that they “refuse to participate in this recession.” Furthermore, they are behaving like the good times are back again:

We’ve raised pay for our staff. We’ve hired experts, not low-wage warm bodies. We’ve purchased additional computer equipment, furniture, and additional software licenses. We’re growing our business by making good business decisions. We’re doing what businesses are supposed to do to keep the market healthy and we’re crafting our own market results. That’s how the market is supposed to work.

Following their lead I have patterned my post title after their excellently phrased recession refusal. You may well ask, “So big deal, what have you done to show your non-participation?” Well, not much, but doesn’t the thought count? I’m not a business so I can’t give my non-existent employees a raise. How about that I received a 4% raise? I think that loading up my Roth IRA with stocks last month should either be viewed as complete folly or as someone at least pretending that there is no recession. And today I moved the last of my government treasuries into the market. Now I haven’t bought a house but I have been toying with acquiring another home and join my neighbors who have already purchased foreclosed properties. And thinking about loans, I am still increasing my portfolio at Lending Club. As for acquiring goods, though not much, maybe this qualifies as a recession rebuffer:

Rick with his new computer.
Rickety with his new computer — some assembly required

You are a hard person. So difficult to convince. What about my upcoming nine day trip to Texas. Not all the family can go but Jill, Paul, and myself will be driving to Keller. Ahhh, now you are smiling. What’s that? Only a fool would vacation with the economy in the dumps? Well, all I can say is, “I refuse to participate in this recession.”


12 Mar 2009 I’ve been asked what operating system I am running, how big a hard drive did I buy, and how much did it all cost. I am running Ubuntu 8.10 on two 640 GB drives that are configured as a RAID to give me fast 1.3 TB storage. I used the Alt CD installer for the RAID. System cost, including monitors, was $1298.83 with $34.71 shipping, all from Newegg. The two Asus 24″ monitors were $279.99 each, with free shipping.

And all through the system, not a Microsoft was stirring, not even a mouse.
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Windows to Ubuntu Transition

Windows to Ubuntu

Ubuntu Logo
When my sons and I were assembling personal computers for our own use, and networking them, we needed additional copies of Windows 95. This was always a challenge to come up with additional licenses. When the move came to Windows 98 I bought five copies of the operating system at $100 each, which at the time was an onerous amount to pay. In the next few years my children began to use Linux on their own computers. I was using Windows 2000 Professional my son Steven had given to me that had been given to him by Microsoft in a programming competition.

When XP was released it was time to move to Linux. Not that XP was a rickety operating system, I was just growing tired of having to keep buying my operating system over and over. I didn’t want to have to upgrade the many Windows software applications I had bought over the years.

So I began, first with a dual boot machine, and over time converted 15 years of data for use with Ubuntu. I moved Word Perfect and Office files to Open Office; moved from Turbo Tax to online tax preparation; exported Personal Ancestral File GEDCOMs to PhpGedView; and so forth. I’m a big fan of Google Docs and use it a lot.

Once in the open source world, life gets easier. I have learned about high quality open source software and to use on-line applications through Firefox. Ubuntu has a new release every six months and it just gets easier to use after each iteration.

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