Thursday, December 24, 2009

more on book with Dwight Watt character

More about book info I sent earlier today.

I only learned of the book when I Googled myself today. I know nothing about the authors. However i do intend to get a copy and learn about this Dwight Watt.

There is a Dwight Watts on MySpace that is not me. His tag line says he is "America's new Jesus". Do not confuse him with me. I do have a myspace page which is at I never have gone in all the settings.

book with Dwight Watt as character

Here is a scary thought, a novel that has Dwight Watt as a major character.

Apparently the book is not available yet, but I will get and read. And what is really scary are the similarities in the description of the character and me. The character is head of a department at a university, I was head of the IT department at HGTC. It is in Kansas, I own 80 acres of the land my dad and previous family members had in Kansas. Now you will not find me looking for caskets.

We will wait and see what this book is.

Friday, December 18, 2009

2009 (Watt Thoughts)

2009 (Watt Thoughts)

It has been an interesting year with lots of experiences.

Career wise, I changed and stayed the same. The college I teach for merged with another in July and became Georgia Northwestern Technical College, was Northwestern Technical College. No effect on my job other than changed supervisors and the administrators are now 50 miles away from me. Then in October I began teaching at York Technical College in Rock Hill SC (where I taught my first two classes). However that was not the right job for me and I had the opportunity to return to my position (including desk and office) at GNTC and I did in November.

I moved from LaFayette GA in October to Rock Hill and then for the first three weeks in November I stayed at Key West (Inn, wish it had been the beach) and then got a bigger apartment than before, but as nice and from same landlord. I was in the area of the floods in September so rental property is still tight. Finally got all my stuff back to LaFayette the first weekend in December

I have continued riding my bicycle this year regularly, but was able to only ride in one event, the Savannah Century on Labor Day weekend and rode 55 miles that Sunday. I had pneumonia in April which blocked several rides. I have joined the local gym and now am on treadmill for 30 minutes most days and cycle machine 15 minutes. From November to early March it gets dark to early in NW Georgia to ride or run safely when I get home so I think this will work well.

I have continued my contract work with businesses. I also am the sound and video technician for my church’s service each week. I do the web pages for several organizations.

I started writing a column for three newspapers (Swainsboro, LaFayette and Ringgold, Georgia) that is a question answer type article about computers for the average person. I have done 35 of them and they have been received well. I still do my Watt Thoughts column via the Internet and wrote my 200th column last month since I started it in 1998.

Travel wise I went to Kentucky in July for IBBGCM, to Washington DC in March with my uncle to see my mom, on a cruise to Key West (the real one) and Nassau in June (that was my cousin’s honeymoon that she invited the family to go with her) and this fall to DC again to see my mom and I went to Gettysburg one day. I also took a number of nearby trips. If you want to see pictures go to or or some are on my Facebook page (amazing the number of people I knew in college I have found there, I do have a blackberry now also, just no texting yet).

My webpage is and e-mail address is (same e-mail since 1996, but now I can see on Blackberry also)

The year has been good overall. Made some good new friends.

Hope you had a good year

Looking forward to next year, but no idea what may be in it. Hopefully more learning, new professional and personal experiences, travel, reading and time with friends


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Vaccination e-mail virus/phishing

The current phishing e-mail floating out there that also loads the Zeus virus on your machine appears to be from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) or other government agency which requests you click on the link and do a vaccination profile.

The e-mail says the government is building a required database of those that have had and not had their H1N1 shot so to determine how to continue the vaccinations and deal with the pandemic. There is no program to do this. The e-mail is just a vehicle to put a virus on your machine and may have a phishing component. Just opening the e-mail is not going to be a problem, but if you click on the link you will be exposed to Zeus (not H1N1) and depending on your virus protection (notice similarity of human disease to computer diseases like viruses) your machine may be infected. DO NOT click on the link.

If you already have clicked on the link then run your anti-virus program (after making sure latest updates are installed) or get a anti-virus program if you do not have one (if you don't have one, get one whether you clicked or not).

Be safe. In any e-mail before clicking on a link make sure the link is not a spoofed one (going somewhere different that it says. Two easy ways to watch, 1. hover your pointer over the link and see what appears in the small pop-up type box and if different, don't use, or 2. when hovering over the link with the pointer, look at the bottom or the screen and you will see the actual link, make sure it is the same before clicking on the link. You may see in an e-mail that has a link showing but when hover over it (I am creating this from imagination)

Happy Thanksgiving

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving Thursday.

As we have this holiday let us remember what it is and is not.

Thanksgiving is not a holiday developed as the eve of Black Friday, but a day for us to give thanks and celebrate our many blessings. Although we are going through difficult economic times and many people are facing health crises, we still have blessings around us.

For each of us we need to look tomorrow at the what good things have happened to us in the last year. This may be friends of a long time, new friends that may now be our closest friends, for some of us job opportunities that have appeared, the food that is available to us (although some do not have enough, our living facilities (varies by person but those with small may fee more blessed for that roof over their head than those with mansions), family, freedoms, and heath breakthroughs may have occurred. Whatever the good things were let them overshadow the bad things that have occurred for at least this one day.

Remember the Pilgrims when they celebrate Thanksgiving originally had been through a miserable trip from England, many had died on the way and after arriving, starvation, warfare and finally things had gone better as they had learned from the Indians (savages as they called them in the proclamation that showed them how to survive) with crops and bountiful animals that meant they would no longer starve. However they still faced cold weather (no gas or electric heat), death, diseases, but they chose to celebrate and give thanks for what they had.

Be positive and look at the blessings you have first Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Holidays and the price of gas

You can tell Thanksgiving is one week away by driving by your local high volume gas station. Stop in your retail stores and watch them cutting prices trying to get sales for Christmas.

The wholesale price of oil has held between $77 and $80 per barrel for about a month now with ups and downs from 50 cents to $3 per day. In the last two weeks I have watched it drop about 10 cents in a lot of places. However this morning I discovered it had jumped 12 cents at my local high volume dealer after sitting steady at $2.42 to $2.43 for a week. Now it is $2.55.

The price for a barrel of wholesale crude dropped today and the retail price of refined gas jumps. Logical plain economics to some, but I would not have passed Economics 101 in college using that approach.

Have a good and safe Thanksgiving and hopefully the price will drop a little (we can dream a lot) by then to make your travels a little less costly. I drive about 700-800 miles for a normal week so I watch gas and oil prices closely.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Health-care or Health-care insurance reform

As I have listened to and read the debates all summer and fall about the proposed reform bills on Capital Hill I have been struck by one item. Hardly anyone seems to know what they are trying to reform from Obama down to the columnists and talk show hosts (right or left).

You hear the terms health care and health-care insurance used interchangeably by almost all of them as if they were the same issue.

Health-care is the treatment, prevention and diagnosis by professionals out there. The USA has probably the best system in the world as far as the health-care that is available. It is not the same level everywhere. The question is not that I hear of improving the health-care but improving the availability. If you are not sure if the best health care in the world is here in the USA then look and see where the rich and powerful around the world go when they get bad sick, it is most often to the USA. There are some good places in other countries but we stay on the cutting edge of health-care developments in the USA.

Health-care insurance is not the health-care but how is it paid. For a large majority of Americans this is by insurance. There is a number that are not covered by insurance for a variety of reasons and those of them who do not have the resources to pay seems to really be the issue. The proposed solutions are to change how it is paid.

So the real issue appears to be health-care insurance reform and not health-care reform, and often you see the debaters say to reform health care so everyone is covered, and then follow with that we don't want to lose our world class health-care level, just make sure all can use it easily.

Major concerns are getting people diagnosed and cured quicker and take the weight off the emergency rooms and that we all can get world class health-care at the same time. And allowing the quality health-care to be in all communities once money for the people there is available.

Let's make the debate easier by using correct terms and ten maybe we can reach consensus on the best way to do this and not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Mozilla Firefox may have just converted me

I will probably use Mozilla Firefox more now than the rest of the web browsers. I was writing a reply to an e-mail earlier tonight and my computer did the blue screen of death. (See Watt Thoughts 193 at about that) It fixed as easily as those articles state. However everytime before I have been working in Internet Explorer (IE) in webmail in similar situation and I lost everything I had written but not sent.

Tonight I was in Firefox 3.5 and when I restarted the machine I started Firefox and it opened the compose box I was in automatically and showed all but the last few words. It was a message I had spend 15 minutes or more composing. Way to go Firefox. I already had started using Firefox for doing webmail for two reasons. First was in IE 8 (32 and 64 bit versions) often the pop-up compose box would not fully open or the spellcheck box would not. No problem in Firefox. Second was I like the way it does the webmail spell check box. In IE after each correction it goes back to the top of the message and I had to scroll back down to the spelling errors. In Firefox it stays at the point where I corrected the spelling error.

I will still use IE, Safari and Opera to check pages and sometimes some pages work better in one over another. But I will be moving to more Firefox usage.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ahead and did not know it again

For at least the second time I have discovered that I had learned how to do something and was doing it on the computer without realizing what it was. Then thinking I needed to try to learn about this new programming concept I realized I had been doing, but not knowing what it was called or that it was something really special.
Back in the 80s I wrote an extensive student records program for Swainsboro Tech that was used by a number of people on the system at one time. The system was written in COBOL on a Burroughs 1900 midrange computer. The total code for the system was about 200, 000 lines of COBOL code. It ran one copy on the computer and the different users logged in at their terminal and did different things. For instance it maintained registration, grades, transcripts, attendance, financial aid, and the book store among other items. Different people did the work in the system for the different areas.
I realized as I started developing the program in the early 80s that having different people using and to put in one program that centrally controlled everything (including security to certain parts on top of system security) meant I needed a way for the parts for different users to peel off and run their code and then join back on central control module. I studied for a good while the Burroughs manuals (this part of COBOL is machine dependent) and found what would work and it worked well. I also set the files in a way that as I got in databases deeper I realized I had set them up in the approach a good database would take.
Then in the late 80s I heard people talking about doing multi-threaded programs and I wanted to learn what that is and how it was done. As I started digging I realized that what I had done in my students records program was multi-threading and that I had been doing this for more than 5 years. Multi-threading and applications for multi-users was neat and still impresses me.
Back in 2004 I started working on a real estate web site and one of the items was we wanted the site I developed to allow the agents to take care of the listings (enter, change, delete and post pictures). It was to be simple enough that they should be able to do with just knowledge of how to browse the Internet and to find pictures stored on their computer. I had not done a site with that before but I set out to learn how and discover how to do and I learned the PHP programming language and MYSQL database would work well (I used what I already knew about SQL and databases to learn MySQL quickly and I realized I understood PHP from my experience with doing reveal codes in WordPerfect and my knowledge of BASIC and FORTRAN). I have developed the same feature for another couple real estate sites and a donkey farm (they list donkeys for sale) and an arts council site for events. I use the code developed from one site to modify and use for the next as far as the management side of the site for them managing their content.
Over the last couple of years I started hearing about Content Management Systems (CMS) to do web sites and have been trying to learn what is different about them versus what I do in developing websites in the actual HTML/XHTML code. I started studying a book on a free CMS called Joomla and talking with others and suddenly this week realized what I had done with those real estate and other sites was CMS. The people have the control of putting and maintaining the information on their sites, instead of me having to do it all. I had basically developed my own specialized CMS systems without realizing it.
As I tell my students being in computers means we have to keep learning and changing. And sometimes I amaze myself with having known something just not the proper term for it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rainy Monday

It continued to rain thru the night and still is this morning in LaFayette. Has come down heavy at times during night and on my drive to work this morning. Low lying areas are covered in water, but they do seem to have it moving now.

Apparently Georgia Northwestern Technical College is closed due to it today as I got to college 1 hour late and the doors are locked. Did get a few pictures of flooding on campus.


Rain in NW Georgia (or Rainy night in Georgia)

I made it back to LaFayette safely tonight but took longer than normally due to rain and flooding. My apt is fine. On the 30 miles on the Hwy 136 from the interstate to my house it rained all the way. Normally takes me about 35 minutes to 40 minutes. There were a number of paces where dirt had washed over road. About 5 miles from my apt I had to stop as road was under water, it was up to window air units in houses there. Fire truck was sitting in road (if you know LaFayette it was by skating rink). A truck came thru and told us it was passable but about 6 inches deep. my car made it thru safely. They at intersection with bypass it was deep under water on side but made it thru on shallower side. It is raining again now.

I had done the devotion at church tonight after tutoring a lady on java this afternoon and did not leave until about 6:45 and with stop to eat supper should have been here about 12:15 but it was almost 1AM.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Computer oddities (power supply and Windows backup)

Last night I discovered two things about my computer. One was where the keyboard ceased working and the monitor got no signal after the blue screen of death (bsod). Second was a backup I had done using Vista backup would not work with restore.

First was where my 64 bit quad core machine had seemed to blowout a video card three times and a keyboard once in the five months I have owned it (built from a kit). I knew the last time I had realized that one of the "bad" video cards had worked when I put back in when the PC had crashed and lost signal to the monitor. Likewise I discovered then that the keyboard that had been replaced one of the times when the keyboard and video signal went dead after crash (blue screen with full memory dump) worked on my laptop. At 5 this morning when I discovered the crash I got the two "bad" cards and the "bad" keyboard out. I then replaced both with no effect. No signal to the keyboard or monitor but there was disk activity. I then pulled the power cord going to the power supply from the outlet for some reason and plugged it back in. Hit power switch and PC was happy again. Now I know what the problem has been the whole time is power supply is flaky and that I had not realized I was unplugging the power supply before putting in a new card was resetting in the power supply. I will cure that later today by stopping by the computer store in Marietta and getting a power supply.

Second was trying to get some pictures back from a backup I did using the backup program in Vista. I had backed up a student's pictures from her laptop that she was sending back to Acer (would not turn on) and she had no backup. (the disk ran fine in my machine but Acer claimed when they sent it back that she had a bad disk.) The backup ran fine. Then went to restore the pictures last week, I am on Windows 7 now, and got a message about a bad mediaid.bin file. Found that it is a separate file stored in the root and that Restore needs it. I had not deleted it. I looked at the backup and noticed it was lots of folders and they had sub-folders inside and I did not look further. After trying several methods to fix the mediaid.bin file I realized backup was on the external hard drive so I put it in my laptop that runs Vista. Tried it there and got the same error and then access denied. Decided to look at the backup a little further as I was convinced it was good. Realized they were all zip folders and when going in them discovered the pictures were in there fine (showed in show thumbnails) and they were just zipped. Thought they can't be just plain zips but tried the extract on the Windows Explorer view of the folder and they extracted to my new location fine and the pictures are all there. Just they are in 15 zip folders and were in about 5 folders originally and after extracts back to about five folders as originally. So time to go in each and un-zip. However I now have her pictures back and I can burn then on CD for her. Moral of story is that the Windows backup program is no longer a special compressed file, but is just a set of zip files that has been split in several zip files and if the Restore does not work, (the easier way) then you can unzip each of the backup folders manually.


So much for trying to slow down

Last weekend has led me to the conclusion that it is fruitless to do try to do what I have tried to do for about 5 months and that is slow down.

Agreed it was a 3 day weekend, but just thinking about what I did tires me now. Friday evening I drove from LaFayette GA to Swainsboro GA for about 5.5 hours and 300 miles.

Saturday morning it was leave just after 8 am and head for St. Simon's to the King and Price to attend a friend's wedding. I had not been to King and Prince before and it is nice. They had a fabulous breakfast and lunch buffet for the reception. Eli and Ann's wedding was on the lawn on the lawn by the ocean and nice. Then I headed to Savannah to the bike shop to use a gift card I had been given and picked up several items and registration for Sunday. Then on to Statesboro GA for the Georgia Southern football game at 6PM. GSU won with 40 seconds to go in the game. Back to Swainsboro for the night.

Sunday morning I was on the road at 6:30 am headed to Savannah to ride my bicycle in the Savannah Century. The ride starts going over the Savannah River bridge and then stays flat. It got hotter on Sunday so part way on the ride I decided I would just do the 50 mile route which turned out to be 55 miles, but I did it. Then drove back to Swainsboro. Took a nap (that is slowing down).

Monday I went to the duplex I rent out and cut grass for just over an hour and then that afternoon drove back to LaFatyette getting in at 9:30pm, a little earlier than normal.

So for the weekend I drove my car about 1100 miles and rode my bike 55 miles (and it was on the car for about 800 miles).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More on schools wanting passwords to social sites

In this case they are wanting the students passwords to MySpace and Facebook even if they do not use at school. Getting the password means the school can then pose as the students and post as them and you could not prove students did not post. I understand the school and workplace has legal basis for saying what you can or cannot do when using a computer or network owned by the school or business, but they do not need passwords to see what people posted. Google and other search engines can get them to it. (as a warning that I tell my students, employers HR offices, and colleges admission offices will search and see what you have posted and turn down people for jobs and admission for information that is not a good reflection on them.

If I give you my Facebook password then no one can tell (including Facebook) that what you post to my account was not posted by me. If someone wanted to smear or libel someone and damage someone else, they would be to get the second person's Facebook/MySpace password and post the smear on the second person's MySpace/Facebook page and there is no trail to the real poster except thru some detailed computer forensics that may or may not lead to the true poster.

Would the school require all students who drive to give the school a copy of their car keys? Do they expect to have a key to every students home? Those are similar situations.


School wanting students Facebook/MySpace passwords

I have a problem with schools or businesses wanting students or employee passwords for something not used at work or school and/or not part of the business or school. Sounds like Big Brother. The schools can find ways that are legal and ethical to see what is posted ion MySpace/Facebook. Check with HR and admission offices as they know how to look and see what people post.

This story which is video at CNN also has a glaring error. They place North Augusta in GA, not in SC, and even say in story the school is following a SC group's guidelines.