Hillary & Trump – Election 2016 – Is this the end?

hillary_clinton_vs-_donald_trump_-_caricatures

Many people who know me may tend to think I lean towards the “right”, but I do so much less than they have seen. My newer friends may see me leaning much more to the “left”, but I still have many views that are not. And considering my background, I’ll have to say my views are a bit more valid than the average voter.

In 2015, I dumped my republican registration and went independent. In good conscience, I did not have views strong enough to keep me, in my mind, labelled as a “R” or on the other side to be a “D”. So I just went, appropriately, to an “I” because my views, as a whole, are mine and mine alone and span between both ideologies and beyond. It is all about “I” (and those I care about). Many, on both sides, said it was foolish because in Kentucky, I now cannot vote in the primaries.

So here I am, a fairly fresh “I”, and now, hesitantly, I want to toss a few of my views into the sea of opinions, mass rhetoric and meme driven social discourse to try to bridge some of the “divides” that have been artificially created between the two predominant ideologies currently on display.

I really think that if people I know from both sides step back and honestly *really* look at things, they’ll be amazed at how far they’ve let themselves actually be led off the path they actually thought they were still on.

So in my mind, the biggest question is, “So where to begin?” – Here goes…

Gary Johnson & Jill Stein

Even though I and many of my disenfranchised friends on both sides support one of these candidates, it just isn’t (at this time) meant to be. The political, media and other establishments are not supportive (yet) of these third parties. I wish they were. I think people would be more likely to vote their true political alignment, instead of the “lesser of two evils”, if they were openly treated like the rest of the mainstream candidates and given equal time.

Multi-party is coming, but this election cycle is not the time and I have to reluctantly urge that you continue to support them financially and ideologically, but do not vote for them. It will, unfortunately, be a wasted one.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary, what a loaded person to really start with… I’m going to cover her career more since she has “more experience” (note the quotes).

I just deleted a few paragraphs that I started to write when I realized that it would take many articles, many “chapters”, many books, to even start to explain things about her… So I decided to break down a few issues and let you, if you care enough, do your own research and come to your own conclusions.

Bill was Governor of Arkansas from 79-81 and 83-92 until he became POTUS. There were innumerable scandals during those days (not only the sexy ones). Many didn’t “see the light” until much later, but they still happened… Here are some keywords from those times and some prior. Do your own research…

Cocaine, drug running, Mena Airport, white water, Watergate (Hillary), unethical, Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, persistent adultery, 850k settlement, cattle futures, SEC violations, rape, “Thomas Alfred Taylor”, “Kathy Shelton”, “Larry Nichols”, Epstein, “Lolita Express” and there are so, so many more that have been researched, investigated, and ultimately dismissed and/or covered up by friends, political appointees, people scared of the threats (political and physical), or rendered “inert” due to suicide, accidental death, plane crashes or the media’s irresponsibility to even cover them.

Why do I mention so much “Bill” stuff?

Hillary may not have been directly a part of all of the scandals, but she was involved in a good number of them. If she was aware of all that was going on, she is complicit. If she wasn’t then she was ignorant, it was all around her.

As First Lady of Arkansas she FAILED.

In November 1992, Bill was elected President. He finally reached the pinnacle of political accomplishment. He now held the highest office “in the land”, and Hillary, the highest spousal status… “First Lady”.

She attempted a healthcare overhaul and failed, even though she got a small part of it through (CHIP) and tries to use it as a net positive, she failed to get her healthcare plan passed and it just wasn’t the republicans that didn’t vote for it. Many democrats didn’t either.

A number of Bill’s sex scandals carried over from Arkansas to the White House and with Monica, and arguably others, many more were created. Someone as astute as many make Hillary out to be, she should’ve known (she did) the truth about Bill and his womanizing, sexual harassment and outright rape. I watched some old videos of them together in interviews with her defending him and him saying they loved each other. It was almost like watching episodes of ABC’s Scandal series or House of Cards. (It’s curious how people think fictional TV shows are more plausible than the reality right in front of them). Bill has said publicly in interviews that the marriage is based on love, I challenge someone to find Hillary doing the same. There is no real love there. It is a marriage of convenience. There is no active love between them. Maybe a nostalgic longing for “…what could’ve been”, but they are both in it for themselves (financially, politically and socially, in that order) and they will lie, cheat, steal and defend each other until their last breath on their dying day.

So, in my opinion and many others, as a more politically active First Lady of the U.S., she FAILED.

Then after the White House, the Clinton’s buy a house in New York JUST so she can run for Senate. She’s not even from the state, has no real connection with it (She’s a “redneck” from Arkansas) and uses the influence a senator of NY would gain to try and launch her presidential aspirations in 2008, but another senator (Obama), who had no real experience either, ran against her and was quite a bit more articulate and likable than she was.

The Obama campaign trashed her badly, she trashed them badly (they hated each other), even covertly creating the “birther movement” via Sydney Blumenthal, but it was not enough. Obama won.

She likes to say she “rebuilt” NYC after 9/11… OK… yea… Her main accomplishment was getting a federal building renamed, but “… Hillary’s Senate career is defined by safe, non-controversial bills, most of which were pure fluff and yet she couldn’t get them passed”- National Review

As a Senator and then first time presidential candidate she FAILED.

But, post election, Hillary didn’t give up, her and the Obamas conveniently became “friends” again and she was appointed to the position of Secretary of State by Obama. A pretty important job. Lots and lots of worldwide secrets pass through that office. One of the earlier scandals was the Wikileaks State Department Wire scandal. 100k+ wires leaked embarrassing her and ambassadors worldwide.

She also asked for a “secure” blackberry device, like one typically reserved for the President and associated officials. The NSA denied it due to the cost. So what does she do? Instead of using her state.gov email or coming up with a truly secure and compliant solution, she hires a guy name Brian Pagliano (A State Department Employee) to freelance and setup a “private” email server for her. Not a .GOV email in a secure federal data center, but @clintonemail.com on her own physical server. For those non-technical, a server is just a typically more powerful computer that is inherently designed to run at full capacity 24/7/365. But it is really no different, semantically, from a desktop PC you may be using now, and no more secure, unless made so by the administrator. He ended up getting immunity in the FBI investigation… Why would he need immunity if nothing wrong was done? Hmmm…

Back to Hillary’s setup. She had the servers setup in the closet of one of her basement bathrooms. Numerous hackers admit (and Hillary denies) that they broke into them, while at the same time she admitted the DNC email hacks and other commercial email hacks of associates happened and is the work of high level Russian hackers. But HER system in her basement was “secure”… Mmm hmm… No… Even the FBI director, that refused to recommend her prosecution, says as much.

I’m a technical person, I have setup many email servers, both “private” and hosted on third party providers (Google, Rackspace, etc.) I’ll even admit to having hosted them in the distant past from my home (on a commercial level setup). They were secured by disparate physical firewall devices, against a multitude of vulnerabilities. As I grew in technical ability, I learned professional data center protected and/or specific third party solutions, setup up properly, were much better and way more secure options.

She lied and avoided taking true responsibility for her mishandling of classified emails, avoidance of federal archiving laws, etc. Usually that type of thing, including lying to the FBI, gets you at least 5 years and/or $250,000 fine *per violation*.

Just because you are not prosecuted, does not mean you are innocent.

Again, I’m not going to expound on every issue, but what it comes down to is that Hillary has a knack for admittedly “Making Mistakes…” (private email server), surrounding herself with people who share her gift for drama (Huma/Weiner, Podesta, even Bill himself, among many others)…

As Secretary of State she FAILED

I’m leaving out a LOT of important issues here… I’ll do the same for Trump, although there are not nearly as many to leave out.

Overall, her entire career has been a failure.

Donald J. Trump

I’m not going to get too much into his TV career… It was TV. A lot of it was sensational and what some “stiff” folks would see as sexist, mysoginistic, etc. But I will say that even though MANY pundits and Hillary herself bring up Celebrity Apprentice as a negative for him, I honestly know they never really watched it… It was primarily a vehicle for celebrity contestants to raise money for their respective charities. Some are scrambling to criticize by saying some of the donations didn’t come from Trump directly, but via his foundation using donated monies. Who cares where it came from? He helped a lot of people at the expense, and with the connections, of “the rich” celebrities participating and charitable donations. Is that bad?

His bankruptcies then… Terrible!!

No. They were filed using existing finance laws on the books, bankruptcy isn’t illegal and is oftentimes good business practice. Some types of bankruptcies help a business restructure its debt to keep it in operation and *paying* its employees. Considering the number of companies Trump has been involved in (500+), six, seven even twenty bankruptcies is not bad. I believe the official number is six. 6 of even 500 is only (1.2%). He took many risks, some failed, but many more were successful and he has created many thousands of jobs. No one knows exactly because his company is private, which is wise these days.

Sure he may not have much foreign policy experience, as a government official, which he hasn’t been, but he has been an international business man. He already has much more than Obama had at the same point in his first election cycle. Probably more than many politicians had prior to their elections/appointments. Trump knows better how to deal with people and “get his way” in negotiations. Does Obama? Hillary? Yes? Really?! No…

Even the things that Hillary and Obama have done in private that have become public have been terrible and is bowing to the will of our opponents. Keywords: Iraq, Iran, billions, cash, flight, hostage release, ISIS funding, Libya… Bad instincts, lack of foresight.

I’m not going to get into his recent sexual “grab them by the pussy” statement, because it is so irrelevant and so common in the group vernacular among men (and oppositely in women), that almost every human who has ever existed would be disqualified for the same reason. Admit you’ve said or thought something similar and don’t lie to yourself. This happens to women, and happens to men… Even I, as a male, have been forcibly groped by a drunk female I barely knew and kissed involuntarily. I enjoyed it personally. 🙂 Guess that’s the double standard speaking.

Conclusion

I’m sure many of my more liberal friends will fret at my conclusion, some will defriend (Currently at 594 total), but realize that even though I don’t like Hillary and am not the biggest Trump fan, I’ve made my decision in this election cycle. The U.S. needs balance and that balance cannot be achieved if we have 4 or 8 more years of the status quo + the aftermath (Supreme Court Judges) that will result if Hillary “wins”.

Hillary does not like Russia. If we get her, the tensions will continue. World War 3 is already *much* closer than many realize with the current policies in place. Hillary will become an extension of these policies and likely implement worse ones with her anti-Russian rhetoric in the last debate.

Trump is a loud mouth, blow hard, unconventional candidate, but at least he is anti-establishment and when it comes down to it, that really is the primary positive to casting a vote for him. Establishment = Bad.

So let the defriending, acute disappointment and sympathy for the less enlightened one begin! 🙂 TRUMP 2016.

Disclaimer: If anything happens to me, investigate! 🙂

What he is saying now he was saying a LONG time ago…

Goodbye 2014, 2015 is upon us.

For me, 2014 was a year of struggle. Personally, emotionally and financially it started out with high hopes, as every year does, but 2014 ended sort-of, kind-of low for me. But that low is temporary. Due to a number of reasons, things went south early in the year, recovered nicely and ended very much in a state of overall “limbo”, leading towards uncharted waters. I see this unknown expanse as an opportunity for new discovery on all levels.

2014 was a year where I lost myself completely and found myself again, unexpectedly. I had a spring of uncertainty, a summer and early fall of love, leading into a winter of soulful contemplation, but those who are important are still with me. I depend very much on my family and friends, one in particular, to be a part of my life no matter in what capacity or frequency of interaction. All my “peoples” are important to my well-being. If you are one of them, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for gracefully listening, being mostly patient, relatively understanding, and generally being there when I needed you, whether in person or via electronic interaction in the ether. The full list of people is far too vast to list, therefore I will not attempt it.

My Faith, which I do not openly talk about often (not out of “shame”, but because it’s so radically ‘different’ in almost every way), was shaken and stirred a bit, but has been restored in full. A lot of my friends and family are fully devout, some passive observers, some with little faith or downright atheist/agnostic, but they are still my friends and I value their views and insights into life, the world, and everything greatly. Due to the path my life has taken me on, I feel I have probably one of the most diverse, eclectic and generally amazing group of friends imaginable. I am very lucky.

Life is hard, it gets you down, but can also take you to unimaginable heights. I’ve been to both extremes this year. I’m an eternal optimist. I know things will get better. I know they will settle and normalize. I know those who are important will stay in my life and those who are not will fall away. Not because they are better or worse, but because that’s how things in the universe revolve. We all drift in and out of each others existence, sometimes with great effect, sometimes with little, yet we always bump into each others realities for a reason and every single interaction is important to who we are and will ultimately be. Where we will all end up, no one knows, except the Architect of the Universe. I know who that is to me. Who(What)ever it is for you, I’m sure you will agree.

So I guess if there is anything I have really learned this year, it’s the absolute importance of friends, family and Faith. Without them, we are utterly alone in this place. On this “pale blue dot”.

Take a little while, listen and ponder carefully. These messages will resonate to most. Take some time to really realize reality.


NSFW – But we shall rise from the ashes of our pasts.

Stardust from Adrien Servadio on Vimeo.

Long, but much deeper than you may realize. 🙂

Best wishes to ALL of you this coming year. Happy 2015.

Linode Improves… Again!

linodeI know I talk about Linode a lot on my site here, but they are my faithful VPS hosting provider, so I want to support them as much as possible.

Recently, Linode made the jump to SSD drives for VPS and at the same time, doubled the RAM for them. SSD drives are not new for VPS providers, for example, Digital Ocean has used SSDs for over a year and at a lower price point for a basic server ($5/mo for 512mb RAM & 20GB space). Linode has a higher starting price point, but it’s well worth the price considering the robustness of the Linode experience including the control panel, very active support staff and excellent hardware.

I currently have 5 VPS on Linode, but manage another half dozen or so for clients. So when it came to “testing” out the SSD upgrade, I wanted to try it on my own first. It was relatively simple. The only caveat was that a few of my VPS were setup with 32-bit kernels. I had to change them to 64-bit and that was all. I clicked the “Upgrade” button in the Linode control panel and it only took about 10-15 minutes to migrate my VPS to new SSD servers with the 1GB memory upgrade. I then proceeded to update Ubuntu to 14.04 LTS on them all and they are running smoothly. Very painless.

Doing a hdparm drive benchmark, it is notably faster than before.

Before

Timing cached reads: 6854 MB in 1.99 seconds = 3442.87 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 404 MB in 3.02 seconds = 133.82 MB/sec

After

Timing cached reads: 19672 MB in 1.98 seconds = 9931.54 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 2856 MB in 3.00 seconds = 951.48 MB/sec

So, in conclusion, Linode continues to make major improvements to their infrastructure without raising the cost to the end-user. I hope they keep up the good work and they will have my business for years to come.

Linode “Nextgen” upgrades

Linode has invested over a million dollars into upgrading their network, servers and bandwidth to levels that are unparalleled when it comes to all the features they have already made available to subscribers.

There are three parts to the “Nextgen” upgrade so far.


The Network

“We’re spending $1 million making our network faster. Way faster. Cisco Nexus 7000 routers. Cisco Nexus 5000 switches with Nexus 2000 Fabric Extenders. Linode outbound network cap increased 5x. Outbound monthly transfer quota increased 10x.”

The Hardware

“We’re investing millions to make your Linodes faster. Crazy faster. We’ve begun a refresh of 3/4 of our entire fleet to a new ‘NextGen’ host hardware specification. And we’re upgrading all Linodes to 8 cores! Right now. As in all you need to do is reboot to double the computing power of your Linode.”

RAM Upgrade

“We’re doubling the RAM on all of our plans. This upgrade is available to existing and new customers. New Linodes will automatically be created with the new resources. Existing Linodes will need to go through the Upgrade Queue to receive the upgrades.”


These upgrades represent a MAJOR upgrade. I went from 1.2 TB of outbound to 12 TB. That is quite substantial. The 8 core hardware upgrade is a little harder for most to quantify, but it’s better than the 1-2 “visible” cores I get on DigitalOcean or other “minor” providers. The RAM went from 512 (for me) to 1024. That is very substantial as well when you determine how many sites you can run on a single 512 machine and how many more you can run with double the RAM.

I actually, to Linode’s loss, removed one of my VPS servers and moved sites over to one of the newly upgraded ones. I’m sure, once I outgrow my latest linode, I’ll expand to a new one once more, but for the time being, I love having the additional resources. For my “first” linodes and client ones, it’s great to have the additional resources, especially the “pooled” bandwidth.

Anyone who is looking for a VPS server would be stupid not to get one on Linode with all they have to offer. I manage 9 linodes split between 3 different accounts and the piece of mind that my sites are “safe” is reassuring. I have linode backups on half of them. 30 day S3 and personal rsync backups on the others and do not have to worry about my clients.

Here is my referral link.

Goodbye 2012. Helloooo 2013, you look good!

2013This will be my first (and last) post of 2012. It has been a busy year, so I’ve neglected posting.

2012 was a good and bad year for me. These are both personal and business.

The good.

  • I have been kept busy with various ventures and expect some of them come to fruition in 2013
  • Have built a foundation for personal and business growth
  • Have a LOT of good friends that have referred a lot of business and been there to hang out with
  • Got a cool new office space (see next item)
  • Still freelancing, but I’ve organized a new local (Somerset, KY) collective of amazing freelancers (Hivemind)
  • Visited and met with the main people I work with at my primary and oldest client in New York City (for the first time)
  • Flew in the co-pilot seat of a private jet, a Cessna Citation CJ-3 (vid). (Probably doesn’t happen often)
  • Got back into the “dating scene” after 17 years out of it. (Still looking)
  • The world didn’t end on 12/21/2012 🙂

The bad…

  • My iPad mini “disappeared”, at a family event. 🙁
  • Still a bit “lonely” in life
  • Running out of storage space on my NAS’ (plural)

Can’t really think of too many “bads”. I guess that’s a good thing.

2013 is here!

I am pretty sure this coming year will bring new opportunities for everyone. The world is so crazy these days, sometimes we just have to tune it down and focus on improving our own lives and spending time with those who are important to us. I’m sometimes guilty of beating around the bush and not taking the leap to make things happen in my life, but I’m going to try to change that this coming year.

There are many things out there that can bring us down, both personally and in business, but we can’t let them. Stay positive, realize that even on our darkest days, we are more fortunate than most people in this world.

Have a Happy 2013!

PS – I’ll try to post more often.

How to Balance Work and Family Life

Creating harmony between your career and family life can sometimes be a bit difficult, especially for those of us who are freelancers, in management and/or have a full-time job as well as side-work that can consume your family time.

I’m no expert on the topic, but after having virtually neglected my family life for many years and “losing the love I loved the most”, I feel that I can at least speak on the topic.

Freelancers

This is the way I am currently making my living.  I am 100% freelance and while making enough money to survive,  I hope to continue being more successful in the future so I can support my kids and have some savings when I get older.

For freelancers, the most important aspect of life is being able to delineate your time between work and family.  Stick by it as “religiously” as possible. Things will come up occasionally “after hours”, but make sure your significant other understands that fact and make sure (100%) that he/she is OK with these occasions. Perhaps even have an associate on call who can help if you are completely indisposed.

Since I unfortunately don’t have many day-to-day familial responsibilities as I used to, most of my work is performed in the afternoon and late at night. I usually sleep from 5-6am to 12-1pm.  I get my work done and still have time in the early evening to visit my daughters, family and participate in social activities.

If married, getting your work done during normal business hours is key. Have a dedicated office space to stay “in the zone” or if possible, rent a low cost office outside the home so you can separate your work location from home.

Fulltime + sidework

This was the way I operated for many years before and after I was married and had children.  I worked for many corporations, contractors and agencies and still had a “side job” hosting websites for friends, family and numerous clients.  Before I streamlined my hosting operations, it was consuming MANY evenings, sometimes days of my time when problems arose.

The actual design work wasn’t too time consuming, but the fact that I was on call virtually 24/7 could overshadow a vacation when the phone rang or during a holiday when it was hard to assist clients.  Laptops started going with me on vacation, to visit family and virtually anytime I was away from home.  Sometimes I even had to “clock out” of my day job to serve my personal clients.

This was probably the most stressful period in my life. Work, kids, wife, more work, then finally sleep for 3-6 hours. It took it’s toll on my health and due to bad handling, it also played a part in destroying my relationship.

For this category, I give the same advice as I did for freelancers. Streamline, follow a schedule, make sure there is truly an understanding with your spouse and have some backup if needed.

Managers

I know many people who are in management, from team leads to program managers and VP/CEO’s of companies.  Some of them are able to balance their lives well, but many others are hopelessly attached to their smartphones or work laptops, checking and responding to email at all hours of the night, even from bed, while still being at work before anyone else.  Some are “heroes” to their families, some have had their life crumble before their eyes.

The managers that are usually the worse offenders are  younger ones (25-45) who feel like they HAVE to work unlimited hours for “the company” so they don’t lose favor in the eyes of their superiors.  In extreme emergencies, I agree they should respond, but for normal daily operations, disconnect and enjoy life a little.  There’s always tomorrow and most likely nothing major is going to change from 7pm to 7am.

Conclusion

I’ve made many mistakes in the past, many mentioned above, and am doing my best so they never happen again.  My hosting operations are solid and streamlined.  I rarely have problems with that unless it’s an upstream provider.  I’ll send out one email to the affected parties and just wait for service to return. Design work can be scheduled appropriately.  As long as my clients don’t expect a full website whipped out in 24 hours, I am able to schedule and get them done in a reasonable timeframe.  Prioritize your work based on income, urgency, etc. and you shouldn’t run into many problems.

Full, honest and open 2-way communications is KEY in a relationship. Whether or not you have children, your significant other still needs to know that you are giving him/her adequate time without “pining” to be back on the PC.  Offer as much time as possible outside of work obligations.  Make a plan, understand his/her needs, keep a normal schedule… Don’t be creeping into bed at 2am, disturbing their sleep.  Be sure to make the time you spend quality time. Not just sitting around watching TV.  Make dinner, go for a walk, go to the movies, visit extended family or friends, find a mutual hobby, etc.  Turn off the phone or silence it.  Stay away from computers.

Losing one impatient client is better than losing your family.

What I think Apple Should Do…

Dear Steve Jobs,

I feel that with the “death” of the XServe Server and the uncertain future of Mac OS X Server OS, Apple should delve into offering hosted services to pull in entities who are now scattered among numerous other services such as Google Apps for Domains, commercial hosting, and numerous other third party hosted or self hosted apps, which require a lot of maintenance, multiple accounts, billing, etc.  Many of my IT associates who have switched to Apple laptops and desktops have commented to me that they hate still having to use non-apple apps to complete their daily business.

For example, the MobileMe interface already is an attractive and functional interface for email, contacts, calendar, iDisk, Photos and location services.  How much harder would it be to allow a company to signup and fully attach their own domain to the MobileMe framework.  Perhaps even create a separate enhanced version of MobileMe in their [Apple’s] newest “cloud” datacenter in North Carolina and, over time, have an ‘a la carte’ offering of additional new services that users need/request.  Maybe even allow developers to write custom Apps that can be cleanly integrated into the web interface and a matching app for the iOS device(s).

Keep the price reasonable, no more than $1-2/mo per user, which would be very attractive for small businesses, special pricing for larger corporations and perhaps discounts when Apple devices are purchased and attached to an account.  Perhaps 1 year for free when any iOS device is purchased to draw users in.

The advantages of this would be numerous, it would give small businesses and organizations a unified and complete “Apple Branded Experience” on their Mac PCs, iPhones, iPads, etc.  Almost everyone I know has a Apple device of some kind and many would prefer to use their own domain.  Apple does offer the capability of attaching a domain to your MobileMe webspace, but that does not extend to customization of the other services.

Also, with minor modifications to the existing MobileMe framework, it would bring a whole new potential residual revenue stream that millions of users could utilize.  It may also spur additional companies and users to buy Apple hardware knowing that all these services are so well intergrated. Adding similar features as Google Apps for Domains and improving upon them would make it a very attractive alternative.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do use and am VERY happy with Google Apps for Domains, but it would be nice to have some competition from another major player to keep things interesting.  Google does accomplish a lot of what I’ve stated in this email, but it’s not as “pretty”, well integrated and cost effective for those with many needs.

Perhaps Apple could even purchase a VoIP company and add that to their portfolio of services.  With an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and an old Mac Mini, it would be nice to get deep integration of all my communications needs while not being forced onto the @me.com domain.

I guess only time will tell how far Apple is willing to ascend into the cloud.

Need to Accept Credit Cards? Try Square!

Square Card Reader in iPhone 4
Square Card Reader in iPhone 4

Guess I’m a little late jumping on the bandwagon, but this past week I discovered Square. Square is a, in my opinion, revolutionary way to accept credit cards, whether it be within a company’s location or anyone who is constantly on the go.

It is very easy to signup and really the only thing to do is verify your bank account, so Square can direct deposit the funds you charge and the waiting time for the reader itself. I only signed up this past week, so I’m still waiting on my reader. Once it comes in, it looks as if it’s compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch, iPod and some Android devices. Just plug it into the headphone jack, open the app and swipe away.

When you swipe a card with the Square reader, the fee is only 2.75% which is quite excellent. Manually entering the card is 3.5% + 15¢, which is bit higher, but still not bad for the convenience it provides. I went ahead and manually entered a test charge from one of my cards and it went right into my account, minus the transaction fee. So even with the higher charge, $20 came out to $19.15.

A photographer friend of mine uses Square and it increased his revenue quickly. An IT associate uses “Square Up” with his clients onsite and does not have to worry about monthly invoicing paperwork and running to the bank to deposit paper checks. You don’t even have to be a “business” to utilize this, even individuals can use it. Square can be very helpful for anything from flea market selling to adding a convenient payment option for garage sales. Heck, you could even sit outside at your kid’s lemonade stand and use it for the “larger” transactions.

I plan on primarily using this “app” when I do work onsite for clients or over the phone if credit cards are the best option for them. I may add a slight surcharge if it’s done manually. But I think with the convenience it provides, it’ll definitely help increase my revenue stream.

Linode turns 7, gives ~42% RAM Upgrade to all customers!

Linode has turned out to be the best VPS provider I’ve ever used and it as of yesterday (6/16/10), they upgraded all VPS’ memory by ~42%.  All I have to say is Wow.  Since I’ve been with them, they have upgraded HDD space, which is also nice, but not something I really needed.  RAM is a different story, that is very important for VPS customers.  That much more memory means a LOT and really makes the entry level 512 servers (for only $19.95) much more useful without breaking the bank.

I currently have 5 512MB Linodes (upgraded from 360) and one 768 (upgraded from 512).  I should now be able to do much more with these servers now and offer more scalability to my customers who are paying for their own servers.

Linode, in my opinion, destroys the competition and always seems to be ahead of the gang of “peer” VPS providers like Slicehost, Rackspace Cloud Servers, VPS.net and others.  They may not have the “prettiest” or most user friendly control panel, but they offer a level of flexibility unrivaled by others.

Amtrak… All Aboard!

Since I am starting to focus this whole place more on technobabble, I try to avoid non-techy subjects, but having posted on Amtrak before, I will do so again.

Last week, Congress appropriated 15 billion to help Amtrak “steam forward” (sorry! 😉 ) into the the future.

In a veto-proof 311-104 vote last week that mimics a Senate decision late last year, the U.S. House wisely pumped $15 billion into the national rail system, allowing for capital improvements and providing operating funds for the heavily-subsidized service through fiscal year 2013.

While cross-country service will continue – Amtrak serves 500 destinations in 46 states – the House turned a switch and sent passenger rail service barrelling in new directions.

The bill provides about $500 million in each of the next five years for grants to allow states to contract with Amtrak to expand or establish rail service between cities. It also instructs the federal Department of Transportation to seek proposals from private firms to establish rapid rail service between New York City and Washington, the nation’s first foray into high-speed rail.

I’ve taken Amtrak in the past on various trips mostly from Ohio to DC or vice-versa on the Cardinal.  They have been fun and full of socializing with new people from all over the world (mostly while smoking in the smoking car, if they still exist).  From students to lawyers, hackers, rural commuters who were taking the train from Prince, WV to Manassas, VA to work construction, the people and their stories can be mesmerizing.  I even happened to run into a Shawnee “tribesmen” (who rolled us cigarettes when we ran out) who actually knew my old minister who married my wife and I.  Besides being a minister in Oxford, Ohio, he is also the story teller (AKA: Neeake) for the Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band. Small world!

In my few trips, Amtrak service was plagued by delays, mostly due to CSX and other freight lines that hit their crew’s time limit and had to stop, wherever they were, and bring in a new crew.  Sometimes these stops were made in the middle of the night on a single track with no secondary track nearby for them to “pull over”.  Sometimes the delays were up to 12 hours, but at least there was food (and self brought vodka and coke) to pass the time.  Even with the delays, there was plenty to do and we were able to move about the train and stretch, unlike the recent airline debacles this past winter.   Fortunately, I had no schedule to meet, but others did and problems like these turned a lot of people away from rail.

Hopefully this new federal funding will change this and allow infrastructure upgrades possible that will minimize or eliminate these massive delays and bring back the “good ol days” of passenger rail in the U.S.

To conclude, trains are an American past-time, a mode of transportation that made expansion across North America possible.  Most people these days don’t give trains their due when it comes to this “forgotten” piece of history.  Lets embrace this funding and encourage your elected officials not to let it die before it is fully realized.

PS – Gas prices aren’t getting any lower any time soon.

Original Article from quote above