Archive for the ‘computers’ Tag

06-19-2016 Journal – Weekly Update!   Leave a comment

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Summer is finally here but it’s been a little disappointing so far.  It’s the middle of June and the nights remain chilly which is doing nothing to help my pepper plants in our garden.  Very disappointing but not totally unexpected, it is Maine after all.

This week I’ve been consumed by these designs that I’ve been creating.  Each day I become more adept at using the computer software to color my sketches.  It’s an interesting process but it’s very detailed and time consuming.  I sat for almost three hours yesterday totally focused on what I was doing and when I finally finished and stood up I was suffering from eye strain and legs that went a bit wobbly. Even with all of that the results were much better than I expected.  The work will continue today and I’m actually looking forward to getting back into it.

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Most people just don’t get it. They see my time spent doing these designs as wasted but they couldn’t be more wrong.  The hours spent in these tasks are the highlights of my day.  The focus needed to complete them is something I’ve grown to need over the years and I’ve looked forward to it since I was a young child.  It’s the best addiction I’ve ever had and I hope I never lose it.

I’m hoping to breakaway for a while this week if the sunny weather continues. I could use some quiet times in the woods taking a few photographs of my favorite subjects . . . dragonflies.  They should be swarming near the swamps in large numbers by now and I plan to make the most of it. Here are two shots taken in 2011 when there were huge numbers of them in the area.

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I’ll be disappointed if I can’t get a few pictures but these cool nights may delay their arrival just a bit. I may be forced to return to the swamp a few more times before I have any success at all. Thankfully I live close enough which makes things so much easier.

ENJOY YOUR DAY

02-28-2016 Journal – Deadly Statistics!   Leave a comment

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What are two things that most people think about every day.  My best guess would be death and sex. With that thought in mind I decided to supply you all with a list of global statistics  about many things but mainly death. Many of these numbers are current up to and including today. Some of the information is shocking and some is simply unbelievable.

Global Death Rate

Statisticians have calculated the "mortality rate" for the world to be roughly .883 percent.  This means that 1 out of every 113 people in the world died last year.

World Population:

  • has reached 7 billion on October 31, 2011
  • is projected to reach 8 billion by 2024
  • has doubled in 40 years from 1959 (3 billion) to 1999 (6 billion)
  • is currently growing at a rate of around 1.13 % per year
  • growth rate reached its peak in the late 1960s, when it was at 2%
  • growth rate is currently declining and is projected to continue to decline in the coming years
  • average annual population change is currently estimated at over 80 million
  • world population will reach 10 billion persons in the year 2056

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As of Today

"This year" = from January 1 (00:00) up to now

"Today" = from the beginning of the current day up to now

"net population growth" = births minus deaths

145,641 Births today

60,991 Deaths today

22,888,972 Births this year

9,585,278 Deaths this year

84,650 Net population growth today

13,303,694 Net population growth this year

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Technology

37,472,003 Computers produced this year

2,092,893 Cellular phones sold today

$ 74,559,389 Money spent on videogames today

3,316,866,142 Internet users in the world today

82,805,119,987 Emails sent today

229,774,292 Tweets sent today

1,711,619,570 Google searches this year

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Health

1,621,694,128 Overweight people in the world people in the world

1,731,966,562 Water consumed this year (million L)

134,660 Deaths caused by water related diseases this year

661,570,850 People with no access to a safe drinking water source

Natural Resources

Quick Facts: Barrel = 42 Gallons = 159 Liters

31,340,762 Oil pumped today (barrels)

1,158,647,387,197 Oil left (barrels)

13,793 Days to the end of oil (~38 years)

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Miscellaneous Deaths

1,215,470 Deaths of children under 5 this year

54,974 Deaths of mothers during birth this year

268,816 Deaths caused by HIV/AIDS this year

1,313,313 Deaths caused by cancer this year

156,851 Deaths caused by malaria this year

Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking

5,659,200,051 Cigarettes smoked this year

799,386 Deaths caused by smoking this year

399,945 Deaths caused by alcohol this year

171,477 Suicides this year

215,859 Road traffic accident fatalities this year

$ 63,971,038,394 Money spent on illegal drugs this year

How’s that for a quick and dirty summary of the human race.  Chaos, death, destruction, confusion, and life goes just keeps rolling along.

IT’S MUCH MORE FUN TALKING ABOUT SEX

01-08-2016 Journal–Maine Woodstock 2016!   Leave a comment

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‘1969 was an interesting year.’

How to kill an entire Sunday.  Let me tell you how I did it.  Yesterday my better-half was scheduled to work and I was looking forward to a day of peace and quiet and time to work on MY projects. How could I even dare to imagine something like that, I should have known better.

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‘Who loves you Janis’

Unfortunately some months ago I made a commitment to her concerning the laptop she’d just purchased.  I promised I’d help her setup the new laptop by transferring all of her photographs from the old to the new. This should teach me a valuable lesson for the future. Never volunteer for something unless you’re absolutely sure you know what your getting into. I thought I knew but apparently I was once again clueless.

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‘The spooky Doors.’

I cleared off the kitchen table, fired up both computers, made a pot of coffee, and settled in for what I thought would be an hour or two of work. Oh how stupid I am.  Little did I know just how many photo’s she had scattered throughout that hard drive of her old computer. She had pictures from multiple cameras going back six years. There were videos from both her IPhone and IPad and I kid you not . . . more than ten thousand pictures taken with an assortment of past and present cell phones. She apparently has never discovered the use of the delete button.  It was a trash dump of photo’s placed on that laptop with absolutely no attempt at organization whatsoever.

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‘Jumpin Joe Cocker’

As always I fall back to the old adage “When someone gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  I found my own IPod and plugged it in, put on the headset and spent the next seven hours having a 60’s Flashback Sunday.  I started out by listening to the entire three days of Woodstock with the original recordings.  That required me to immediately switch from just coffee to coffee laced with Drambuie.  I then cranked up Joe Cocker, The Band, The Yardbirds, The Hollies, Janis Joplin, The Doors, and even the Greatest Hits of War. 

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‘My favorite band, The Band. ‘RIP Levon’

At the end of the day I’d transferred no less than twenty-five thousand pictures to the new laptop and was suffering from a serious coffee buzz overlapped with a Drambuie buzz.  There’s nothing better than Drambuie so after I finished transferring all the files I stopped drinking the coffee. From that point on it was Drambuie, Amy Winehouse  and me.  What a great way to spend the day and complete a tiresome project.

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‘Sweet Amy’

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‘Even sweeter . . . Drambuie on the lips.’

Today I’m back to what I’d call normal but still showing signs of a rather interesting hangover. For some reason my first cup of coffee this morning tasted strangely like Drambuie. How odd! I guess that’s one of the effects of time travel back to the sixties. Along with rocking out, a sore throat from all of the singing along, and being able to return home with no arrests or STD’s to show for it.

That’s what I’d call a good day in any decade.

05-30-2015 Journal – Computer Nightmare!   Leave a comment

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Gardening and other outdoor pursuits have taken a spot much lower on my priorities list today. Yesterday we had a very short thunderstorm (badly needed) but with it came many problems.  Some sort of power surge crashed my home network and fried my router. I spent most of yesterday attempting to repair and correct the problems.  What a pain in the butt.

My home network is quite comprehensive (when working) and an absolute nightmare when it isn’t.  Losing the router shut down our alarm system, the telephone system, the Xbox, the DVD player, the MyCloud, the Internet, and all printing capabilities.  It’s times like these that force me to realize just how much our household relies on this damn technology.

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After doing a lot of testing I determined the router had truly been destroyed.  Since it was rather old replacing it wasn’t that big of a deal.  Unfortunately that old router had been attached to the Time Warner modem on the Internet feed which was also badly damaged. It was off to my home-away-from-home, Best Buy, to begin the rebuilding process.  I upgraded to a newer model of  router and also purchased a network battery backup system. Then I stopped off at Time Warner on the way home and traded in the old modem for a new data modem.

I returned home and installed the new equipment which turned out to be much easier than I anticipated.  Good news, right?  No effing way.  As I began the process of making sure all of our devices were reprogrammed to the new system I found a new problem caused by the upgrade.  My “Old Faithful” of a desktop computer refused to connect to the new and improved network.  Unfortunately this desktop is four years old and is my main storage device  for over five thousand music files and an additional twenty-five thousand photographs. Please, just shoot me now.

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The desktop also has my only working copy of Windows Live Writer which is one of the best programs ever created for posting blogs. Microsoft in it’s infinite wisdom has discontinued the product and that puts me in a serious bind.  If I can’t resolve the network issues with this computer I’ll be totally and truly screwed.  The repair work will continue today and this posting will probably be handled through the WordPress system.

I love computers but OMFG can they be frustrating.  Between virus protection, firewalls, hackers, and network requirements, it can make a person crazy.  Hopefully I’ll figure things out quickly but as always with computers I expect the worst. I’ll keep you posted ( no pun intended).

04-30-2015 Journal – Microsoft Slipping Away!   Leave a comment

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Are you as sick as I am about all of these computer companies who insist on convincing or coercing every person in this country to use "The Cloud"? You can’t seem to buy software of any kind without that gentle shove by the company to convince you to place all of your personal writings, business writings, financials or anything else you can a think of on their version of "The Cloud".

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Is anyone on this earth unaware of the risks we take just by being on the Internet. Viruses appear without notice almost every day or so we’re told by McAfee.  Hackers are constantly breaking into those so-called secure sites and making the lives of us poor morons miserable. They’re costing us a lot of money each year to try and protect ourselves and it seems no matter what big companies do, they can’t protect themselves and our most private information.

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Three times in the last few years I’ve been forced to change my credit and debit cards because someone was buying music or other things with my card numbers in Paris, France, Cleveland, Ohio and Montreal, Canada.  I have those expert security specialists at Home Depot, Hannaford Foods, and Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield for making my information available to every hacker and thief who has a computer. I’m easily paying more than $200.00 a year for virus protection of my home computers and even a monthly charge for my freaking telephone.    Do you see where I’m going with this?

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Yesterday I was taken by surprise when Microsoft notified me via Facebook that they were making the MS Word program available for free to users of the IPad. I was thrilled because I’ve been loyal to Microsoft for decades.  It’s only within the last year or so that I’m becoming more and more disappointed with them.  After the X-Box One fiasco that make the device incompatible with a couple of decades of game software I’d already purchased, that was Strike One.  Strike Two was my purchase of a MS Surface tablet.  It crashed within a week of the purchase and with no help from their Tech Support took me a month to figure out how to reset it.  Of course I lost all of my information on it as well.

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Strike Three is this App which might be free but has a lot of strings attached. If you create any documents of any kind you’re forced to save them on the MS “Cloud” called “OneDrive”. There is no option that will allow you to save them just to your tablet.   In my opinion it’s those kind of strong-arm tactics that could get me to walk away from MS entirely.  Oh and by the way, you can take your Office 365 program and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

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Everyone knows and worries about Google becoming too intrusive  when they save every piece of information about us they can get.  I understand now they have access to and save information on virtually every website we visit on the web. People are concerned about Muslim terrorists but compared with Google they’re inconsequential.

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I took steps this year to install my own “Cloud” in my home with no available access from the net.  All of my information and backups are now stored safely out of reach of the online thieves and hackers and controlled only by me. 

So here’s my final thought  for Microsoft.  It’s time to get your collective heads out of your collective asses and get back to being the company we’ve all come to know and trust over the years. Bring Bill Gates back if you must and maybe he can stop you from following down that road right behind Google. 

Since you’ve used up your three strikes, I just deleted your free Word App from my IPad.  I never thought I’d see the day when Microsoft wasn’t leading the technology revolution by taking it in new and exciting directions instead of following along behind others like a lap dog.

03-23-2015 Journal – Nerdy Woes!   Leave a comment

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I spent a good part of my day yesterday trying to get a fourteen year old computer to once again work properly.  I’ve been a computer gamer for a very long time and started when the games were just text-only.  I finally settled in permanently with the X-Box because of my life long loyalty to Microsoft.  Don’t sit there and shake your head, all those years were a great deal of fun and taught me a great deal about computers and software.

As the games became more sophisticated the older games fell by the wayside.  Having spent my hard earned money for these games I refused to just discard them.  I saved the floppy disk games, games on CD’s, console games, and any other that I sincerely enjoyed playing.  All these years later most of them remain unplayable but alive and well in my files.  

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I’ve became interested in reviving some of  these old games after receiving from my nephew an Atari 2400 Anniversary console  that contained dozens of the ordinal Atari games such as Pong, Asteroids, and Centipede. My nephew is a computer nerd like me and after a telephone discussion a year ago he shipped me one of his older computers dating from the late nineties.  It’s one of the few I’ve been able to find with a working floppy disk drive and I also wanted to use it to convert many of my older games on floppies  to CD’s. It would give me a much better chance at playing them once again.

I love computers but they are extremely frustrating to work with.  The computer companies in their attempts to protect their software have made them extremely difficult to copy and to reuse.  It seems to me that most of their technological advances with game consoles and computer games are purposely made incompatible with previous generations.  It forces consumers to constantly spend their hard earned money on upgrades of both software and hardware.  My best recent example for that was X-Box One which will not play any of the hundreds of X-Box games made for previous X-Box versions. That sucks and has only convinced me never to buy one.

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Yesterday was like giving CPR to someone who is on his last leg. During shipment cables for that old computer were knocked loose and it took a while to get them all replugged into their proper places.  I finally was able to get it to reboot with Windows 2000 but that’s when the real fun began.  Using parts from a number of my past computers I finally found a mouse that would work with the unit.  The monitor worked fine and I thought I was home free.  I still had no sound and no working keyboard and I don’t know why.  The keyboard I have was from a newer model and there was no way it would ever work with this old machine.

One of my chores for this summer will now be to visit as many yard sales as possible to find a keyboard and mouse from that same era.  It should be an easy find since almost every yard sale has computers and parts for sale. With any luck at all I should have this machine working this summer and I can pull out my old Doom and Quake games and relive those earlier days that I enjoyed so much.

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I find myself extremely frustrated but having many years of computer experience it wasn’t unexpected.  I’ll just walk away for a while, turn on my X-Box 360, and return to the world of Halo to kill a few thousand aliens.  It always makes me fell better.

Nerds rule !

12-11-2014 Journal–Another Computer Day!   Leave a comment

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You would  think I’d know better by now after all of the computer and networking fiasco’s I’ve had in recent months, but oh no, I just keep kicking the hornets nest over and over again.

I’ve written in the past about the robbery that took place here almost two years ago.  If you’ve never been victimized by a home break-in it’s hard to explain just how paranoid you instantly become. Every time you leave your home you wonder if the criminals will return to take the rest of your belongings. 

I took all of the normal precautions at the time with lock changes, deadbolts, metal doors, and padlocks on just about everything you can think of.  It hasn’t made me feel the least bit protected. Today was the day when we purchased a rather sophisticated alarm system that can easily be expanded to include everything.  It’s the first step in the creation of a “Smart House” which unfortunately requires a hookup directly into my home network and my internet feed. 

Nothing is easy to install no matter what they tell you.  It may be easy for the manufacturers but the guys that write their user manuals are idiots.  Their one hour installation is  now in it’s seventh hour due to faulty video cameras and the lack of a competent translator to read their instructions.

At last I have it in, operating and tested.  All except for the two video cameras which were faulty and will soon be replaced.  I now have door contacts, motion detectors, thermostats, sirens, and range extenders.  All I need now is a wide and deep moat filled with hungry alligators and possibly a machine gun nest on the roof.  If any intruders can get over the moat, past the alligators, through my dead bolts, and alarm sirens I guess I’ll just have to shoot them.

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I feel safer already.

11-13-2014 Journal – My Cloud, My Rules!   Leave a comment

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I’m relaxing this morning for a number of reasons.  This is the only time of the day I can really settle back and watch some NASA TV without interruptions of any kind.  I always try to keep current with what they’re doing especially with the upcoming launch of this country’s next generation of space vehicle, the Orion, happening within the next three weeks. This unmanned first flight is the next step to seeing people actually visiting nearby asteroids and then on to Mars in a few years. For me it’s something that’s pretty damn exciting since I’ve been a huge space nerd for my entire life and never thought I’d live to see some of the things I’ve seen in the last few years. It also relaxes me like nothing else seems to do (do not include sex in that thought).

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It’s also the time of day where I usually write my blog postings without phone calls and constant conversational interruptions.  Most of my recent weeks have been a steady diet of all things computer.  I posted a few weeks ago about the disaster that was my attempt to upgrade my home wireless network. After a great deal of time and effort I finally accomplished what I set out to do. Unfortunately all of those efforts were just the first and most important step in my much larger project of creating and installing my own personal Cloud system.  It required a great deal of research to find the proper equipment and software as well as the training I needed to do it myself.  As of this morning I’m just hours away from the completion of that project and I’m feeling damn good about it.

One of the things that made the project so easy (a relative term) was a device called the My Cloud.  It’s a Western Digital product that attaches to a home network and provides a storage area for any and all devices included in that network.  It sounds like a simple matter but it is anything but.  Not only does it connect all of my computers, laptops, IPads, Android tablets, smart phones and printers together, it permits me to access the network with any of my wireless devices from anywhere I can find a Wi-Fi connection. We can upload photographs and videos from our cell phone and IPad cameras from just about anywhere. Everything is heavily encrypted and virus protected with layers of passwords and firewalls making access possible only by previously approved people.  Unlike most commercial Cloud ventures from major computer entities, my cloud cannot be accessed by the government without my consent. 

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This all started a few years ago when our home was burglarized.  Part of that "smash and grab" crime involved the theft of my better-half’s laptop.  We lost more than two years of her photographs of family and friends which could never be replaced. Also every time I have a computer problem I seem to lose data when forced to restore or recover the device.  It’s not that we don’t do proper backups, it’s that we sometimes forget to do them.  With this new system some of our backups will now be done automatically into the Cloud which has been installed in an area not easily discovered by marauding  criminals.  Between the two of us we have more than thirty thousand photographs and five thousand songs in storage that are now safe from loss. It’s easy to replace a device but some other things are just irreplaceable and require extra protection. It’ll take a day of two to copy everything completely to the new four terabyte Cloud but I’ll certainly sleep better knowing it’s finally done.

So hooray for me and it’s back to NASA and another steaming cup of hot and delicious "Midnight Velvet" coffee.  That’ll get my heart started for sure.

10-20-2014. Journal Entry-Welcome to My Computer Hell!   Leave a comment

I’m not at all sure when this posting will make it’s way to my blog. I’m suffering through computer hell this week. I made the decision to finally upgrade my home network with a new and much smarter router to prepare for the installation of the “My Cloud” I purchased. My plan was to do the cloud upgrade only after I was sure that everything on the network was functioning properly.

I did all of the necessary research I could to prepare myself and started the process. My network is loaded with nine devices of one sort or another and the installation instructions appeared detailed and specific. Unplug the Ethernet cables from the old router and plug them into the new one. Easy, right? I reset my system and then began resetting each of the devices to the new router’s network. It was going so well I should have known it couldn’t last. My desktop computer is located on the first floor and it recognized the new network, had excellent signal strength, but offered no internet access. So began the madness . . . .

To make a long story short all of our smart phones and IPads are working fine. The Xbox, CD player, and printer are fine and working as expected. My desktop and one laptop will not cooperate. My Surface which has always been stable and a great device decided to crash just when I needed it most to still posting my blog. I have since discovered that the hard drive on the Surface crashed and the cost to have it fixed is more than I spent to purchase it. Isn’t that just typical? . . . .

I dismantled my downstairs desktop and moved it closer to the router. I did that and after a few minutes it began working as expected or so I thought. Since it was supposedly working I then moved it back to it’s original position. As I was making the move I accidentally bumped against the door frame and broke off the wifi antenna on the rear of the console. I spent an hour repairing the damage, turned on the unit and of course it didn’t work. The BS continues . . . .

So for the last 72 hours I’ve been totally focused on getting the SOB of a network up and running. So far it’s coincidently cost me my Surface, a purchase of a wifi range extender that doesn’t work, and a broken and inoperative desktop computer. I suppose I could try to blog from my smart phone but I refuse to even try. I’ve got a few more things to attempt before I give up completely. God knows when I’ll be back on the blog with the ability to do the things that I need to do such as posting photographs.

I’ll continue this commentary as I go along. I’m at my wits end and dagerously close to scrapping the entire setup and buying all new computers. I shall return . . . .

It’s now two days later and I’ve accomplished nothing. I was blessed with an hour and a half telephone call to the tech support staff at Linksys. The girl who was assigned to my problem was nice enough but I could only understand every other word. She took over control of my computer remotely and began changing settings and working her magic. The total result was nothing. No answers, no fix, just a referral to an affiliated company for an $80.00 software fix that was good for just 90 days. I could then have a full year of coverage for just $199.99. What an effing deal, I think it could be categorized as an old fashion “Bait and Switch” scheme. I hung up abruptly before I took out my mounting frustrations on the idiot I was talking to.

Today is the day I’ve officially given up. I’m going to try and remove everything I purchased from Best Buy and return my system to the status quo of a week ago. Then a quick trip to the store for a refund which will free me up to pursue other options to correct my difficulties. I’m just guessing but I have a sneaking suspicion that after I put everything back together it still won’t function. With all of the settings changes made by their tech support I fear my entire system has been compromised and will be unusable. Maybe I can get some sort of posting done with my IPad. I’ll let you know . . . some day.

Kill me now . . . .

09-10-2013   Leave a comment

How many times a week are you told by others that your way of doing things could be better, meaning their way.  It’s amazing to me how everyone  thinks their way is the absolute best way.  I can understand it totally because at times I feel that way myself.

I’ve had close friends and family with no practical experience in much of anything tell me how I should invest my money, romance a woman, what food to eat, and what kind of job I should have. Everyone is an effing expert in everything it seems.  It’s funny that the guy with no girlfriends or prospects is the expert on romance.  The guy who doesn’t have two cents in his pocket or bank account  is the one telling me what stocks are going to go through the roof.  Maybe it’s the woman with no children who spends all of her time telling her married girlfriends how to raise their children.  It’s maddening.

To quote one of my favorite song lyrics, “Opinions are like assholes and everybody’s got one.”  I’ve learned over the years who I can rely on for good information and those hundreds who haven’t had a good idea about anything in recent memory.  I’ve also learned not to voice any of my own opinions unless I’m asked.  I may stand in a group of friends and listen to them tell each other how to live their lives without saying a single word.  It makes me the guy who never has to hear those dreaded words, “Your advice sucked.”

I suppose it’s always been that way.  People telling people what will happen in the future, how they should live their lives and they do it in such a way it’s seemed logical at the time.  Here are some predictions I’ve discovered from so-called experts that were so bad I just had to pass them along.

  • "Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949
  • "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
    Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943
  • "I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year."
    The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957
  • "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
    Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
  • "This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
    Western Union internal memo, 1876.
  • "We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."
    Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.
  • "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."
    Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.
  • "Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy."
    Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.
  • "The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives."
    Admiral William Leahy, US Atomic Bomb Project.
  • "Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."
    Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.
  • "Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."
    Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.
  • "Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances."
    Dr. Lee De Forest, inventor of the vacuum tube and father of television.
  • "Everything that can be invented has been invented."
    Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899

As you can see even people with impressive resumes aren’t experts in everything like they think they are.  I‘m certainly glad I never had these experts whispering in my ear and giving me advice about anything important.  Everything comes back to good old “common sense”.  Constantly being negative about things just stifles  creativity and can make you one miserable and unhappy SOB and also reward you with an honorable mention on this blog.