Monthly Archives: November 2017

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

I would like to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving holiday. My day was truly blessed since i had all 3 of my children home for Thanksgiving dinner. Even though they do not live a great distance away, individual work schedules often prevent us from all being able to gather in the same place at the same time. This Thanksgiving day it happened and it was truly a joy.

As I write this, it is the morning of Black Friday. I guess a lot of you are out there amongst those wild hoards. I sit here in front of a cozy fire (it was 35 degrees outside when I got up) and watch the melee on TV as the lemmings crowd the malls and big box stores looking to save some money on a crock pot or new TV. I must admit, when I was a bit younger I braved those crowds for the pure thrill of it more so than to grab the bargains. However, as time marches on, society becomes more and more violent. Inevitably there will be some news stories of “mob rage” at some of the Black Friday sales. Sadly a few people will likely get beaten, trampled, or have profanities yelled at them by an angry mob trying to grab the last few pairs of discounted pajamas or whatever. I lament that the concept of a “peaceful assembly” is vanishing from our society, even while shopping of consumer goods.

Please, be happy, respect others, stay calm, and enjoy your Black Friday shopping.

Time for a Network Upgrade


Today I updated my home network. For the last few years I have been using an old 8 port Ethernet hub that I got for free (the previous owner was not using it and just wanted to get rid of it). An Ethernet hub is a rather simple but inefficient way to network several computers. An Ethernet switch is more complex but more efficient. In really simple terms, a hub allows computer on the network to transmit data whenever they want to (just like everyone in a group trying to talk at once) which causes some data to get garbled (referred to as collisions) and therefore sometimes the data needs to be resent. A switch has “traffic control” to enable one computer to send data at a time and each device that wants to send data has to wait its turn. In my little home network I am typically only using one of my computers at a time so the inefficiencies of a hub were not a big concern. However I was at a local computer store last week and saw a deal I couldn’t resist. A 5 port fast (10/100 Mbps) Ethernet switch for $5. Time to upgrade.

Above is a very non-technical description of the difference between an Ethernet Hub and an Ethernet Switch. If you would like me to post a more in depth technical comparison, leave a comment.

Here is a brief comparison of the 2 devices:


  • Manufacturer – 3Com
  • Model – 3Com OfficeConnect Dual Speed Hub 8 – (8 port hub)
  • Part Number – 3C16750B
  • Size – 9in. X 7.3in. X 2.4in. (228.6mm x 185.42mm x 60.96mm) (L x W x H)
  • Weight – 33.86 ounces
  • Power consumption – 33 Watts

I can not find a date code on it but it was probably manufactured around the year 2000. I doubt that they are still in production but you can still buy them on Amazon for $75 new (I assume that this is new old stock), or on eBay for around $20 used.


  • Manufacturer – Tenda
  • Model – S105 5 Port Fast Ethernet switch
  • Size – 3.2in. x 2.0in. x 0.88in. (82.00mm x 52.00mm x 22.30mm) (L x W x H)
  • Weight – 0.120 KG
  • Power consumption – 1.6 Watts maximum
  • Purchased 11/05/2017 at Micro Center for $4.99 (on sale)

I could have bought a similar switch in 8 port configuration, but I only needed 5 ports so why waste an extra $5.

Technology marches on. Computer equipment keeps getting smaller, cheaper and more fully featured.

You may ask why anyone would be using wired networking instead of wireless (Wi-Fi) in this day and age. Actually I have both on my home network, but some of my computers do not have Wi-Fi built in and they do have Ethernet built in. I could buy Wi-Fi to USB adapters for them but I have found them to be unreliable. They are also an unnecessary cost and and wireless is less secure than wired. Besides I am an old fart and like old school to some point.


Item on the left is my old hub. The new switch is on the right. Front view.








Item on the left is my old hub. The new switch is on the right. Rear view.

Let’s Dump Daylight Saving Time

Daylight saving time (DST)

I wish “daylight saving time” would go away!

Daylight saving time ended and we went back to standard time on Sunday November 5. This morning (Monday) I awoke when the sun came up. It was around 7:30 am by my internal clock but 6:30 am by the clock beside my bed. So, by the clock I got up an hour earlier than usual. This evening I will likely start feeling like it is bedtime way too early. A few days and I will re-adjust but this bi-annual change in time keeping is annoying. DST was conceived in the late 1800 and implemented in the early 1900. It was a good idea then but the world has changed significantly in the last 100 years. DST is obsolete in this day and age, and annoying. Yet governments that can never agree on anything, can not agree to abandon it. Granted, in the scheme of the world today, this issue is pretty insignificant; but it is still annoying. To muddy the waters even more, the powers that be occasionally change the dates of implementation.

Definition of DST

“Daylight saving time” is the practice of advancing clocks during summer months so that evening daylight lasts longer, while sacrificing normal sunrise times. DST is implemented by adjusting clocks forward one hour close to the start of spring and adjusting them backward one hour in the autumn to standard time.

The main purpose of DST is to make better use of daylight. This in turn is supposed to reduce energy costs. However DST clock shifts sometimes complicate timekeeping and can disrupt travel, billing, record keeping, medical devices, heavy equipment, and sleep patterns. Computer software often adjusts clocks automatically, but policy changes by various jurisdictions of DST dates and timings may be confusing.

A Brief History of DST

Standard time, with the country divided into time zones was instituted in the U.S. and Canada by the railroads on November 18, 1883.

DST has been used in the U.S. and in many European countries since World War I. They began saving daylight at 11:00 p.m. on April 30, 1916. Other countries and jurisdictions soon adopted this 1916 action: Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey, and Tasmania. Nova Scotia and Manitoba adopted it as well, with Britain following suit three weeks later, on May 21, 1916. In 1917, Australia and Newfoundland began saving daylight.

The plan was not formally adopted in the U.S. until 1918. ‘An Act to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United States‘ was enacted on March 19, 1918. It both established standard time zones and set summer DST to begin on March 31, 1918.

Here are a couple of links if you want to explore the subject in more detail:

I Hate Airports

I recently flew from Atlanta Georgia to Halifax Nova Scotia and back. One silly incident with airport security in Halifax started me thinking. First let me state that the issue was precipitated by my own forgetfulness. It all started as a result of my carelessness, I knew better.

Going through the airport in Halifax, my carry on bag was stopped at x-ray. It was x-rayed a couple of times, a couple of supervisors looked at it, debated for a while, them I was pulled aside, with my bag. 2 people took everything out of it, including all the zippered side pockets. then stuffed everything back in in a big ball, nearly smashing my blood glucose measuring kit (I am a diabetic). They repeated this a couple of times, whispering among themselves and repacking my stuff even more messily each time. Oh, I was so wishing I had filled the case with some really smelly dirty socks or old fishing cloths. All the while they would not tell me what was the issue. They finally asked if there was a set of keys in the bag. I told them which zippered pocket my car keys were in; I tried to show them but they got really excited and warned me not to touch the bag. They found the keys but were not interested. Finally, after messing up all my stuff a few more times, the smartest one of the pair (I guess that was why he had Sargent’s stripes on his epaulets) asked me if there was another key chain in my bag with a bullet on it. I said sure, why didn’t you ask me that 10 minutes ago and save us all a lot of time. I told him to look for a small blue zippered case in side the top front zippered pocket of the bag. He got it and pulled out the key ring with my cottage key on it. Also, on the key ring was a replica of a pistol cartridge. It had a spent primer in the primer pocket, a fairly large hole drilled laterally through it for the key ring to pass through. It was obvious to even a casual observer that it was not a real cartridge and could never be turned into a real one without an inordinate amount of machining. However, Sherlock Holmes said I could not carry it on the plane. He said that I could either go back out of security and check the bag (which the airline would charge me $25 to do) or he could confiscate it. I pointed out to him that it was obviously not real and therefore not a threat. He said it didn’t matter, it still can not go on the plane. I also pointed out that it had gone through security at Atlanta and Toronto with no issues. His response was that they were both wrong and he was right, it can not go on a plane. Again he asked if I wanted to leave security and check the bag. I replied that it wasn’t worth anything, just throw it in the garbage. So he took it off the key ring (wouldn’t let me do it; after all it was a dangerous weapon) and he took it back to his office. I guess it was too dangerous to just toss it in the garbage. Now we can all rest a little easier because this alert security officer seized a key chain bobble and made Canada more secure because of it.

Again this was all initiated by my own stupidity. I know from past experience that Canadian law enforcement persons in all branches of enforcement are overly paranoid of anything that even hints of a connection to a firearm. I travel to my cottage in Nova Scotia at least once a year. I keep that little blue zip up pouch in my suitcase when I travel across the Canada/US boarder. I keep some Canadian money , a Canadian Credit Card, and the key to my cabin in Canada. When I cross the border into Canada I take out the little blue pouch and my wallet and I swap things out. I put Canadian dollars, credit card, and key in my wallet and put my US dollars, cards, and house key in the pouch and put it back in my suitcase. When I cross back into the US, I swap everything back. It is such a routine that I did not even think of it. The difference on this trip is that I flew instead of driving my car. They usually do no X-ray your bags when you drive across the boarder. Even if they did, the fake cartridge is perfectly legal everywhere except the Halifax airport. If I had my wits about me when I packed for this trip I would have taken the key Ring out and left it home. Once again I am foiled by my own stupidity.

This also reminded me of a similar incident at a Federal Government building in Atlanta a few years back. Like all Federal Buildings now, you had to empty your pockets and pass through a metal detector to enter the building. I put the contents of my pockets in the bin for inspection as required. On my key chain was a small plastic replica of a Glock pistol. It was about ¾ inch long, solid plastic, no moving parts, no holes, weighed a fraction of an ounce, easily x-rayed to indicate nothing hidden inside. Just a tiny piece of plastic shaped like a gun. The security guard picked it up and said “you can not take that in, it’s a gun”. I was totally amazed. A second guard looked at it and told the first guy that it was OK, not a restricted item. But the first guy now had to save face and could not show weakness by backing down. So he decreed again that it was a gun and could not enter the building. In this case there was no inconvenience, I just went back to the parking lot and put the key chain in my car then re-entered the building without incident.

However, the airport incident caused me to ponder just how unsettling the power bestowed on a group of poorly trained airport security officers is. They have more power over your life than any “real” law enforcement agency. They have the right to detain and search you on a whim, no probable cause required. They can fondle you, x-ray your most intimate parts, even strip search you without regard for your personal dignity. They can detain you as long as they want, make you miss your plane, just for the fun of it (You may say that this does not happen but I witnessed it first hand at the Atlanta airport when a TSA officer detained and searched the person in front of me simply because he overheard that person make a brief but very polite comment about the inefficiency of the current TSA staff). They can do all these things without and chance of consequences to themselves if they overstep the bounds of their authority; because there are no bounds to their authority. You the traveler, on the other hand have no recourse if you feel you have been abused or treated unjustly. Your only defense is to never enter an airport.

I realize that security at airports is required but I do lament the days when a person actually had some rights to privacy and dignity. Also we once had legal bounds on how aggressive law enforcement could be when enforcing the law. We also had recourse when law enforcement let their personal prejudices affect the way that they applied the law. In an airport, these principles are totally gone. It is a “police state” in the fullest extent of the definition of that term. Even sadder is that no one complains. In days gone by Americans were proud of the freedoms afforded to individuals in a “free” country and bragged about the fact that America had a comprehensive Constitution that protected the individual’s rights and freedoms. Now they quietly accept the fact that this same Constitution has been nullified and they meekly accept whatever humiliation is heaped upon them.

By the way, from now on, nothing on my key chains but flowers and unicorns; no wait, a unicorn’s horn is a deadly weapon; make that flowers and rainbows.