Uber? Nevermind…

The Uber adventure is over. Tonight I headed out with a goal to make $300 this weekend. I started at 8:30. At 12:30, I check my earnings and I’m at ~ $50. That’s $12.50/hr. on a Friday night, before taxes, gas, commercial insurance, and car wear. Except for last Saturday night (when I made $114 in 4 hours), every time I’ve gone out, I’ve been making $12-15/hr.

And then there’s their ridiculous, unfair, and misleading rating system. Passengers are asked to rate drivers, 1 to 5 stars. In order to stay “active” (keep your job) you have to maintain a score of 4.6 or greater. So basically, anything less than a 5 is a failure. Too many 4’s (which passengers think is a GOOD rating) and you’re fired.

I need a part-time job but not this bad. I can make more than that part-time and not destroy my car in the process. If I was unemployed and had no other choice, I’d suck it up and do it. Thank God I’m not that desperate. I’m disappointed, but not desperate.

Ubering around Austin

People have asked how the part-time Uber gig is going. I started last Sunday as I had to wait for my commercial car insurance policy to go into effect. Uber doesn’t require drivers to carry any insurance beyond a consumer policy. However, if I had an accident with such a policy while I was driving for hire and the insurance company found out about it, they could refuse to cover anything and I’d be screwed. So I ponied up an extra $45/mo. to get as commercial “ride-share” policy that is only offered by Geico (in Texas).

Tonight was my first weekend night driving (when it gets busy). It reminds me a lot of when I drove a taxi about 20 years ago. People are exactly the same now as they were then. There’s the quiet, shy type. The snob. The drunk. The business traveler. Groups of all the above. It’s fun to observe human behavior and occasionally, our interaction may go beyond just catching a ride. The other day, a lady ask about my regular 9 to 5 job and she ended up taking a business card. I could end up meeting a customer some day for my regular job.

I park in places downtown no one else can park because I stay in the car or stand next to it. I figure that if a cop asks me what’s up, he’s likely to leave me alone or just ask me to move instead of ticketing me. After all, I’m helping him out by helping to keep drunks off the road.

Is there money to be made in this? The jury is out. I’ve driven in quiet times where I made only $12/hr. and tonight, I made about $25/hr. It will take a couple of weeks of driving (at least) to learn when the the demand is the highest. My goal is to make $1000/mo. by working 10-15 hours per week.

Coming Soon: sendclintonpostcards.com

If you landed on this page after following the link sendhillarypostcards.com, it’s because the website is not yet up. I just registered the domain name this evening. I am currently looking for a worthy charity to which the proceeds from the sales of postcards will go.

The site will allow people to send a postcard to Hillary, reminding her that WE DO remember Benghazi. Make a donation of $5, $10, whatever, and I’ll send Hillary a postcard on your behalf. The proceeds go to toward a charity but I am undecided on which one. I think it should be military related as two of the four Americans killed were former Navy Seals. My grandpa served in the Navy in Korea. I’m thinking of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. A decision will be made soon.

I’m fed up with web developers

Getting on the soap box here… Not all (of course), but a whole lotta web page designers have gotten lazy (probably more like cheap) and it’s pissing me off.

They think they need to make a page that’s easily viewable on a phone or tablet. Fine, I get why people would like that. However, when I’m at home or at work (most waking hours during the week) I have two full-sized monitors in front of me. On a 24″ monitor, a browser can be opened wide and still only take half the screen. You have about 20 inches (horiz.) to work with on a full-screen. On a smaller monitor, say a laptop, around 15, give or take 2. The way it’s normally done is to have code for one type (PC), and different code for the other (Android / iPhone). But no, project managers are getting lazy (cheap?) and won’t be bothered with writing separate desktop and mobile code. Bastards.

But that’s small potatoes compared to what’s really got me steamed. You know those pages that go dim and then pop-up some graphic asking for your email address or to complete a survey or whatever? They’re growing like a cancer. Those tabs get closed immediately. I just barely landed on your site for the first time ever. Why in hell would I want to give you my email address or do a survey or whatever-the-fuck? In case you’ve been living in your parents’ basement too long, people are getting sick of the intrusiveness of web scum like you. Most everyone hated pop-up ads in the 90s and guess what, they still hate ‘em.

So why do you scumbags insist on plaguing your visitors with things they hate? Because every once in a while some poor schmuck clicks and you make a quick buck. Easy money usually leads to no money. Ever consider how much MORE you could make by not doing things that make people want to leave your site? You can show us banner ads and text ads (you know, what made Google rich) all day. No one cares about those. But when you start animating, getting in the way of what we came to read, play music or a video, or whatever obnoxiousness, we’re outta there. And hopefully, someday, the people who own your company will wake up and smell the BS and either make you knock it off or send you packing.

The problem with Jeb Bush

Every time I come across a news story that mentions Jeb Bush’s potential bid for the Republican presidential nomination, I can’t help but wonder, what are these people thinking? Does anyone seriously believe he can win in the general election?

Here’s the deal: It matters not what his views are. It doesn’t matter what he thinks about common core, Obamacare, or illegal immigration. None of that matters here. People who debate his positions on issues are missing the bigger point.

Even if he was a die-hard conservative, the second coming of Reagan, Jeb Bush will never be elected president simply because of his name. His brother GW (whom I voted for twice and don’t regret it for a minute) allowed the press to drag his name through the mud for 8 years. Obama blamed every problem he could on Bush for as long as he could get away with it. GW has never stood up for himself and as a result, his name, essentially his BRAND, is ruined. Low-information voters, the ones you see being interviewed on the street who can’t tell you the difference between the House and Senate, are the same people who are going to see the Bush name on the ticket and say, “awe HELL no!”

Anyone who pushes for Jeb Bush should be carefully scrutinized. Chances are, they are nothing more than shills for the Democrats. After all, the ONLY people who want Jeb to win the nomination are the Democrats because they know he will be easy to beat. Just google “Jeb Bush”. Click the links to a few articles and read the comments left by readers. Very rarely will you see anyone who wants Jeb in the White House. The vast majority of commenters want nothing to do with him. And yet, CNN says he “leads” in their “poll”. Riiiiight.

The Sopranos

Back when the show was playing original new episodes on HBO, a good friend sang its praises. I didn’t have cable TV nor was I interested in paying (at that time) around $35/mo. to watch one show.

Some years later, I was visiting my parents in Omaha and saw an episode. I thought it was pretty good (from season 6B). I caught a couple more later on as I did have cable TV at this time and it had been syndicated. I liked it so much, I bought the entire box set, every episode on DVD.

I’ve watched all 6 seasons at least 3 or 4 times. I recently finished a run and for the first time ever, I’m starting the show again right away instead of waiting a few years like I usually do. Every time I watch an episode, I know what’s going to happen, but I still learn or spot something new from a scene or episode that I didn’t notice before. [Reading any literature is like that, especially Bible study].

Tonight, I took notice of a particular conversation between Tony and his teenage daughter Meadow. It reminds me of conversations I’ve had with my own daughter when she was younger.

Even today, she knows that all she has to do to make me cover my ears is to talk about that subject LOL…

Meadow Soprano: This country’s light-years behind the rest of the world. Most civilized countries have legalized prostitution.

Tony Soprano: Don’t you got somewhere to be?

Meadow Soprano: I mean, it’s a joke. Look what they’re putting the President through.

Carmela Soprano: He deserved what he got.

Anthony ‘A.J.’ Soprano, Jr.: He got Monica Kaczynski and the broad with the long nose.

Meadow Soprano: I just don’t think sex should be a punishable offense.

Tony Soprano: You know honey, that’s where I agree with you. I don’t think sex should be a punishable offense either. But I do think talking about sex at the breakfast table is a punishable offense. So no more sex talk, OK?

Meadow Soprano: It’s the 90s. Parents are supposed to discuss sex with their children.

Tony Soprano: Yeah, but that’s where you’re wrong. You see out there it’s the 1990s but in this house it’s 1954.

[points to the window]

Tony Soprano: 1990s.

[points to the floor]

Tony Soprano: 1954. So now and forever, I don’t want to hear any more sex talk, OK?

I’m with Tony on this one :-)


The experiment is to see how much (if any) loss in connection speed occurs when using a straight connection to the internet with one’s own ISP vs. using a VPN.

Straight connection (TWC):

 twc1 twc2





















More to come!

And back to Xubuntu 13.10

The adventure with Kubuntu was fun but unfortunately short-lived. I really do prefer the UI and I may try it out again with the release of 14.04 but I doubt it’s been fixed.

I work from home and I’m on the computer all day. I occasionally – accidentally – hit some unknown sequence/combination of keys in the lower-left of the keyboard and next thing ya know, the entire desktop disappears and then reappears looking like Kubuntu looks in it’s default, just installed state. My wallpaper is gone. But most importantly, my windows were gone. The applications were still running, but I had no way to access the open windows because they were no longer visible nor did they appear in the panel. A very puzzling experience.

So I asked on ubuntuforums.com and no one had ever heard of it. Here is my post at the Ubuntu Forums.

Twice in the past few days, I have run into a most odd situation. I work with 2 monitors and multiple windows open. All of a sudden, all of my windows disappear and the wallpapers revert to the default purple Kubuntu wallpaper. The buttons on the taskbar for each open program are gone, as if I had closed all of the windows. However, the programs are indeed still running. I can tell because I can still hear the audio from a video I am streaming. Alt-tab doesn’t show any of them. It’s as if the running programs are invisible to the GUI. I do not use multiple desktops, however the behavior is similar to what happens when you do switch desktops. The only way to recover is to reboot. When I do reboot, I have to go in and change my wallpaper back to what I normally use (custom images) as Kubuntu seems to have forgotten my wallpaper settings.

This is a critical error and I simply can not have this happen while I’m working. I’m talking with customers on the phone and an error like that can cost the company (and me) money. So I’m back to Xubuntu.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved Xubuntu. I just prefer some of the eye candy that comes with KDE. Interestingly, I never had those stability issues with SUSE. There is too much I need in the Debian space that just isn’t available in SUSE.

I will next test a Red Hat – derived KDE and see what that’s like.

Update (June 15, 2014):

I actually found the solution to this problem by mistake. I was testing Kubuntu again and found that it’s actually a KDE/Kubuntu feature! I was accidentally hitting the “super” aka “meta” (Windows) key while hitting tab. Apparently that causes the machine to shift workspaces. I don’t use multiple workspaces. I was able to disable this by going into the Global Keyboard Shortcut settings and changing the hotkey to “none” for Activities, Next Activity, and Previous Activity under KDE Component Plasma Desktop Shell.

From Xubuntu to openSUSE to Kubuntu 13.10

openSUSE is great and it’s perhaps the best desktop for a Red Hat distro. Unfortunately for these FOSS acolytes, Kubuntu’s Debian/Ubuntu familiarity and ease of use continues to draw me back. I’ve always loved XFCE and I’ve used Xubuntu exclusively on my laptop for about 3 years. However, I’m really liking the improvements and much-needed bug fixes that have made Kubuntu 13.10 perhaps the best iteration I’ve seen so far.

I’ve tested this distro now and again over the years and have always found it wanting of basic needs. Thanks to some much-needed improvements, this version just might be “the” OS that will once and forever get me off Windows.

There is also a tremendous marketing opportunity coming in 2014: Microsoft ending Windows XP support. While my take on this is outside the scope of this post, I will say that the desktop operating systems I am configuring now are superior to Windows 8 in a multitude of ways.

I will soon (within a month) be publishing more information, including reviews, of these Linux distros. My goal is to find the best desktop version of the Linux operating system so that I can help promote its use in place of the very unpopular Windows 8. Microsoft arrogantly continues to ignore it’s customer base, doubling-down on a worthless user interface like Obama doubles-down on “Obamacare”.

I’ve been working on this project for several years and I look forward to publishing my findings. Stay tuned.

Testing, testing… 1, 2, 3.

Finally, after four years, I’m at the half-way mark for my college degree. I go half-time so it’s taking me twice as long as a traditional student. I also need to get some work experience in my new field and so far, I haven’t had much luck with that. Although I bring something most college students don’t have, 20 years of business experience, my resume screams “salesman!” so no one in a hiring position for any IT job will even look at me. On the advice of a school career counselor, I changed it from a chronological to a functional resume, highlighting my IT skills and knowledge and downplaying my work experience. I’m also starting to apply for internship-type jobs (I have bills to pay so I can’t work for free) and I’m looking into meeting people at computer user groups so that I can network. We’ll see how all that works out.

In the mean time, I’ve decided it might help my resume if I did some volunteer work on open source projects. I don’t have much time to devote to coding (my passion) but I have found a way to squeeze in some QA testing work. Every morning, I download the daily build for the next Xubuntu Linux release. I install it on my laptop and test the hell out of it. I have figured out a way to do this using USB thumb drives by actually installing the OS onto one thumb drive from an ISO image on another thumb drive. This keeps me from touching the actual hard drive in the laptop so it stays unadulterated. I got tired of monkeying with daily changes to Grub as this laptop has a regular, full-time installation of Xubuntu Linux (development release) and Windows 7.

Throughout the day, I put the OS through several tests as requested by the developers. I communicate with some of them through IRC chat in case I have questions. Once the tests are complete, I mark the image as either passed or failed. If I fail it, I either submit a bug report on Launchpad or confirm an already existing report made by another tester.

QA testing is easy, fun, gives me a way to contribute to the open-source community, and an opportunity to learn more about this great operating system. It helps the developers and users of Xubuntu and in it gives me real-world IT experience I can put on a resume. It’s kind of like giving myself a job; I don’t get paid for it, but I do benefit from it. As I learn more about software development in school, I hope to put what I’ve learned about Java into practice where I can actually contribute to the code base of open-source projects. Eventually, I might even get someone to pay me for it in the form of an actual job. That is the goal and some how, some day, I will reach it.