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Free Security Support Is Partially Responsible for Bad Software!


Another blogger here at TechRepublic.com recently asked if it was reasonable to keep providing free support just because we know how. 

VERY interesting question! You've done it. I've done it. (Heck, I've done it in the last week, TWICE!) (OK, once for a CPA, once for an M.D.. If the Mayor calls I'll help him too, but....)

Once in a Blue Moon this free support leads to some paid work or even a moderate expression of gratitude, but more often it is just a matter of giving away the expertise we have worked so hard to develop and, you know as well as I do, that if you touch someone's computer and anything goes wrong in the next five years (as, of course, it always does) you will be blamed. You are FAR more likely to end up at the Defendant side on Judge Judy than getting sincere, long-term graritude from your neighbor, friend, brother-in-law, etc.

So, in your heart-of-hearts you already know that giving free advice is considered worth every penny (i.e., NOTHING!!!) to the people we help (at least not until AFTER they have spent $300 and five hours trying to get help from their vendor's support line in New Delhi) AND we learn little or nothing from their problems.

You mean you DIDN'T ALREADY KNOW USERS ACT AS IF THEY WERE MORONS?? WHAT ROCK WERE YOU LIVING UNDER FOR THE PAST 20 YEARS?

But I see a much more insidious threat from providing anything more than just the most basic neighborhood support (Yes, that's a floppy. No, your new computer doesn't have any way to use them. Yes, I can add a floppy drive for about $10 as long as you don't expect me to support it for the next 50 years for free, etc. Or, a REAL example from an M.D. last week - Yes, take the memory card out of the camera and plug it into the slot on your PC's media reader port - then a new program will show up on your screen and offer to help you do something with it! (actual support e-mail in the past week to a 54-year-old surgeon!!!))

The real problem is that if we geeks/IT professionals are always willing and ready to fix virus infections or help people secure their e-mail and their NEW computers, WILL the average person EVER get fed up enough with Windows to demand that Microsoft sell software that works correctly right out of the box or give refunds if it isn't simple enough for the average college graduate to operate?

20 years+ of providing free security advice and security tech support for friends and even small businesses has taught me that as long as I am willing to fix it for free they will NEVER complain to Microsoft or Dell, or HP, or whoever's product won't work.  ONLY when I tell people my phone is acting up, or I am on vacation, or some such, do they spend actual $$ on support and discover that I really SHOULD be charging them my enterprise consulting rate of $300/hr and that it would be a LOT cheaper if they called me first (on contract!).

So, when you complain about how bad software is, whip out a mirror and take a good LOOK, because YOU, the friendly neighborhood GEEK who fixes Microsoft's problems for free, IS THE ONE TO BLAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Of course, cynic and crass commercial creature that I am, I am almost gleeful when Microsoft introduces some new bug-filled product - I see Microsoft as a guarantee of lifetime employment  (Y2K ALONE easily covered the downpayment on our ranch!) - I can even foresee getting a big discount in some retirement villiage if I agree to provide limited free support and lessons to the other residents.

That will also give me a great opportunity to laugh at all the football jocks with their bad knees! Of course my knees are bad too, but I came by it honestly - racing cars and crashing hang gliders, not making money for some high school coach or a fortune for some university by risking my precious cranium in a flimsy helmet!

I can't wait! I will quickly identify the "jocks" (just the jerks that is. After all, I myself earned a black belt in 9 weeks and trained for marathons) and I will be sure to humiliate them as often as possible.

But, even with the incredible profit motive on the other side, I would still prefer to see Microsoft and other vendors do a better job providing software that works - there would still be enough work for real geeks.

Just consider for a minute, not the way hardware cost per Meg of RAM or CPU cycle has plunged, but the fact that computers are actually LESS secure today for the average user than they were 20 years ago!

What other industry could get away with that for so many product cycles? Sure, Detroit did it for decades, but now Japan, Korea, and soon enough even China, are eating their lunch! (Did you know that China is about to enter the U.S. car market and the reason GM and Ford have trouble selling in China is because DETROIT CAN'T MEET CHINESE MILEAGE AND POLLUTION STANDARDS?????????)

If you want to see U.S. companies have their feet held to the fire and REALLY start producing decent software, STOP SUPPORTING EVERYONE YOU KNOW AND PUT THE REAL SUPPORT BURDEN WHERE IT BELONGS - ALL RIGHT!!! ENOUGH!!! 25 YEARS OF GIGANTIC PROFITS IS LONG ENOUGH!!! Can you hear me, MR. Gates? Or, are you too busy giving away the profits you got from the software WE support???????????????????????????????? 

That's OUR money you are giving away and, as nobel as your goals are, never forget that you got that money by overcharging people for BAD, sometimes REALLY BAD software!!!

 

What do YOU think??

Good, or BAD, I want to hear your opinion, am I completely off my rocker?

 Or, did most of this make complete sense? I'm certainly NOT against the Gates Foundation's charities, but if I hadn't been getting FREE Microsoft review software for the past 25 years I'd kinda be wondering just WHOSE money is being given away AND whether my free support had contributed to the awful state of software security today!

Before you blame Microsoft, take a look in the mirror! WHY should ANY corporation improve their software when GEEKS will support if for FREE

Locksmith, John McCormick 

46 comments
PhilippeV
PhilippeV

First, the online support communities are very helpful for users, they help identifying common problems and solving them using a lot more of alternatives than the few ones proposed by vendors. Second, they help reduce the workload of vendor supports, and participate a lot to the creation of online help; many vendors benefit of those added documentations that they don't have the time to develop specifically. Third, vendors are listening those support areas and DO monitor the most wellknown ones that their customers are also signaling to them when they call the vendor support. Fourth, most vendors now have created such community support areas in their online sites to help them collecting such community information directly instead of having to look for many online community areas. Fifth, with those independant sources of information, vendors are listening their market and adapting their softwares consequently, to resolve the most wanted issues and provide the most wanted features. This is working exactly like natural business intelligence of competitors: if features are missing or not supported by one vendor, another competitor will create add-ons or competitive softwares that will avoid those problems, so vendors need strategies to listen what their customers want and which problems they have. Sixth, those disseminated community supprot areas are a great platform for advertizing, because they carry lots of cross-site linking to the vendor itself, with long-living links without having the vendor to pay for such advertizing. They augment the presence and visibility of the vendor, even in areas or countries that a vendor did not thought they were so much present; this is helpful to identify new markets and expand their marketability of their products... Finally, by making the vendor support still available, such support is involved only in the most complex problems that online communities are not solving with clear solutions. So the vendor support is onvolved in the most tricky cases, and will concentrate on working on the most difficult problems that are clearly in the domain of work of the vendor; the vendor assistance can then provide the most interesting information to the development desk. My conclusion is that online community support is not opposed to vendor support; both are complementary and work better together than one against the other. Together, they provide better support to customers, and DO make the vendor software more helpful to users, to solve more problems than expeted, and more marketable.

k.kopplik
k.kopplik

I help my family and friends by not only fixing the issue but educating them so that next time they know better. I do not have the room for technical support at home. I do not carry any diagnostic tools at home as they belong to work not me. This helps keep any request down to a minimum as I just let them know I am not setup at home to do that kind of thing. Let?s say someone did want to sue over their PC. How old is it? Think about it. The PC?s I am working on are not new they are a year or two old. Think of the depreciation factor. If you did get sued wouldn?t they have to prove you maliciously did damage? If you are that worried about it write up a disclaimer. Do you really think the people we help are the ones lining the pockets of Gates? As long as the companies and corporations that we work for keep purchasing the software, Gates will keep on making it. The people we help are just someone who bought a PC at the store and it came with Windows on it. So, maybe it is not the support you are giving but the education that you are not. If people are ignorant and we do not educate them then we are to blame for the situation with MS. What if we collectively banned together and said no more MR. Gates?

wmlundine
wmlundine

... and make many excellent points but on a very basic personal philosophical basis I disagree with the your premise. I offer free support to all comers and ask nothing in return (I also expect nothing). Tough love is fine...it's just not my thing.

tundraroamer
tundraroamer

A local PC shop is advertising on the radio to bring in your problem PC and if they can fix it in 15 minutes or less, the repair is free. The first thought is that it will never be fixed in that amount of time or that's how long it takes to get the estimate done. But, these guys have been a round for a while and have continued to grow over the years so they must be doing something right. How many time has it taken you to fix a "bad" problem in 15 minutes or less just because you knew what to do? I hope they do well with the program. It's a win-win. Fix it and customer is yours. Don't fix it but explain the problem and the customers business will probably be yours since the customer also probably had an idea that's its going to cost something to fix, otherwise they would have not brought it in to them in the first place. Either way, the customer gets a repaired PC. Yes, it's a sales gimmick but maybe it's an effective way to fight back against the conglomerate geek squad type of competition.

Tech Locksmith
Tech Locksmith

Actually sounds like a good idea, shouldn't take that long for most things. For example, my CPA was going over my corporate returns the other day and just mentioned in passing she had spent a full hour on tech support over a memory problem on two supposedly identical laptops (one was going to Spain the next day). After about 15 seconds I told her it was due to being on battery one one and plugged in with the other and therefore in power-conservation mode on one - she confirmed that as the exact problem but it took Dell an hour to straighten it out for her. She plugged in both power supplies and the problem was fixed in seconds. Hmm, 1 hr on the phone, or 15 seconds with me? Most problems can be diagnosed (check the power supply) or fixed (run AV software) in a minute or less. If I were looking for more work I would offer the same PC shop guarantee - great business and great service to the community! If they are at all honest, send people to them.

Tech Locksmith
Tech Locksmith

I hope no one thought I was demanding they change their policy, I was just pointing out possible consequences. Cheers to you and anyone who is able to keep teaching beginners! Just so you're having fun. The only thing I would ask is, how LONG have you been doing this? (I'm REAL old.) About 15 years ago I began just refering people to some of my many published tutorials or even my books - I get REAL tired of repeating the same advice over and over - heck, that's why I wrote it down in the first place! I figure if someone wants my free advice and is too lazy to even read what advice I've written down, then let them pay for a help line call. There's lots of clever people, all it takes is old age and an open mind so you keep learning.

wmlundine
wmlundine

...though I have no where near your credentials. My first "personal computer" was a TRW portable with two cassette drives. We used it to extrapolate upper air wind, temp and humidity (6th Weather Wing Vandenberg AFB 1972-1976) and play games of course. I was MCSA certified in 2002 (56 yrs old). I got the idea for free computer support here on Tech Republic (the main thrust of my support is malware).

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I spotted this link in a recent Pop Sci (may have been MaxPC). Unfortunately we had no response from the contact email when a close friend tried to get a price quote. I couldn't tell you if it's a legal issue with Altair Engineering or the kit builder simply decided not to reply. http://www.altairkit.com/index.html Usless by modern standars I know but damn do I want to hear that push Daisy Daisy out through a radio frequency.

Tech Locksmith
Tech Locksmith

Ran across a LOT of people from Vandenberg during the decades I wrote the Power User Column for Government Computer News. My first "personal" computer was probably the 4K terminal which Radio Shack sold prior to building the CoCo - Would do a little with hacking but mostly it was a way onto some nets. The first computer I programmed was an IBM 1401 - no card reader. It was nearly new at the time.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Oh, your logic is fine as far as it goes. But I've got two questions. 1) Why do you think software vendors are going to change their support habits if the world's techs quit doing free work for their neighbors? The software vendors don't care about individual user support, they care about the big corporate contracts. Besides, the EULAs always have a paragraph about how the software isn't warranted to do anything at all. 2) Why are you providing free support in the first place? You apparently know all the problems it can provide, but you continue. See "Ten good reasons not to provide free tech support" at http://downloads.techrepublic.com.com/download.aspx?docid=173362 And "Ten ways to decline a request for free tech support" at http://downloads.techrepublic.com.com/download.aspx?docid=173363 Make copies of the first one and hand it out to the leech, er, requester. Feel free to add your reason 11, "If I keep fixing the problems, the vendor never will."

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The vendors don't care about the little person because they are getting free tech support and as a result, do not persue the vendor for the tech support they should be providing. I think he's advicating that end users start asking the hard questions of the vendor like why does this not work like you advertise and why is the security so completely non existant? Your right on the one account though, vendors want big company support contracts where the companies internal IT has a high degree of skill but the company still pays the inflated support contract prices. The last thing vendors want is civilian end users with enough technical knowledge to realize the pretty box on the shelf is purely marketing buzz. What we really need to do is see civilian end users realize that computers are like cars not like pens. A pen you pick up and start writting, it's unlikely to break without understanably excessive force and if it does, you get another from teh box. Civilians (mondains or whatever term you want to use) think computers are like pens and while Apple has done a good job of designing information appliances rather than computers they are still not pens. Civilians need to understand that computers are like cars. Few people are foolish enough to jump into a car with no training at all. When people do get into a car, they are aware of what they are doing; fasten belt, turn on engine, turn on lights, ease out of the drive, be aware of your driving and those around you. No one get's into a car and then constantly presses the gas to go faster with complete blindness to the road ahead. Currently, computer users need no education outside of banging the kayboard and mouse until they get aproximately what they want. They jump into the computer chair, press the gas as hard, watch the light post at the end of the road get closer then cry fawl when they crash headlong into it without ever thinking to slowdown or turn. They jump onto a (now dedicated and nearly hidden) internet believing that anything they view was build to the same value set they personally support then cry fawl when a response to spam empties there accounts or the machine kludges to a hault after clicking on "you gotta see this funniest [blah] ever". I can see the arguemen being presented. If we continue to hold the end users hand and rebuild there system every time they crash it into a brick wall, they'll never think to learn anything about the system or question the vendor. At the same time, my instinct is to help those around me when I can offer a tip on a better way to do something or explenation of why the thing is mucked up and how to fix it and get on with your day.

Tech Locksmith
Tech Locksmith

A couple additional points Other than the EULA no license is required to run a PC (unlike a car.) As far as help, I pity the struggling chick also as it trys to get out of a shell, but ... Did you ever hear the phrase "Teach a man to fish..." If we are truly professionals we need to look ahead at what too much free support does in the long run - that sort of vision is what makes a professional.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I actually had an email forward in my head during that last comment. The forward recently came through my inbox again so it was fresh. I can't do it justice hear as it's locked in Outlook at work and not important enough for me to be remoting in to the office for. --- If people treated car service centers like they treat computer help desks. Service call center, Tod speaking. "it crashed!" Your car sir? "yes, the stupid thing crashed!" What where you doing when this happened? "I was pushing the pedal down like the picture shows! It's supposed to go faster when you do that!" And then it crashed. What did it hit? "A pole! It was going really fast then crashed into a pole." Did you see this pole coming? "yes, as the road turned around a bend!" Have you read the manual sir? "yes, and it said push the peddal to make it go faster which I was doing!" Did you try to slow down and turn? "Slow down?" Yes sir. In the manual on page 13 right beside where it says hot to go fast, it says to push the wide pedal to slow down. You said you read the manual right? --- I don't do it justice but you get the idea. Hopefully it gives you a giggle.

Tech Locksmith
Tech Locksmith

Well, with billions of dollars at risk, I think consumers who sink $1000 into a PC and can't get it to work will eventually start complaining to Microsoft. EULAs have never been really tested and we all know that you can sue over anything, anything at all. A solid class-action suit against MS would shake things up but as long as most people can get help from kids or local geeks, the pressure is off. Besides, there is a basic principal of contract law that something you sell must be suitable for the intended use. Another important point is that a contract is always construed AGAINST the entity which created it. Now for the other question. Why do I provide free support? I do very little of it, but lets see: 1) I built a free Web site for a large animal rescue operation (a charity) 2) I advise Small Town Life Magazine, a good news publication which donates half of each 10K publishing run to VA homes, nursing homes, a VA hospital, doctors offices, hospitals, etc (an unregistered charity) 3) I recently built a free Web site for one of my doctors - keeping on the good side of doctors can save your life. The site related to her horses. 4) I've advised my Vet (who, unasked tore up my bill). 5) I've advised my Atty. (who has failed to send me a bill for 2 years.) 6) As for advising the Mayor of Punxsutawey, I consider that part of being a good citizen. As for providing free support for the unwashed masses with their e-machines from Wal-Mart, etc., which is the real problem, I don't do that unless it is an interesting problem I can include in an article or my next book.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

you either believed each person you helped was either helping others or could help / would be likely to help you. And in the process of enlightened self interest, you are on the road to saving the economy, along with millions of others who do similar barters, from govt inflation of currency, which is a massive hidden tax and actually devaluing your currency at rates which really approach 10% a year. This hits the poor and those on fixed incomes and those who can't get inflation adjusted raises the hardest. Power to the people! What you don't want are people who take alot of your time and give nothing in return.

Tech Locksmith
Tech Locksmith

You seem interested in the topic so I thought I'd share a site a ran across recently. The U.S. Treas Dept. (their buliding is between my DC Club (The National Press Club) and the White House so I visit them a lot) stopped publishing M3 last year. That is incredibly significent if you think someone is hiding something. But the point is that someone has recreated it at: http://nowandfutures.com/key_stats.html It has a lot to do with debunking the recent statement that Americans don't save any money - we just have it in real estate or stocks or other things which aren't counted in M1 or M2. That is a great simplification, but you seem to understand.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm looking for a distro that will easily integrate with Active Directory. Until now I haven't been able to get a Linux box on the company domain in three previous attempts. Jaqui says the newest version of SUSE Enterprise includes this, so that's probably what I'll use the next time I take my biennial shot at it. Periodically I look at Linux for professional education, but unless conditions at my job change, Linux will remain an academic exercise for me. Since there are other things my boss has asked me to learn, applications we use daily, Linux is on the very back burner, turned way down low. Unlike some, I'm satisfied with the performance of Windows on my home machine. That may be because I don't know any better, but at home I just don't care. There are other things I rather do with my home computer than replace the OS that came on it (XP), and other things I rather do than be on my home computer. Many have recommended a Linux live CD for my tool bag, but I don't know what circumstances would require using it. Maybe I just haven't run into a situation that required it, but I suspect I'm already using Bart-PE for the same purposes, and it uses the Windows hardware drivers I've already got. Heck, maybe Bart-PE has a Linux back end and I don't know it. I don't game myself, and I regard Macs as expensive for the average user who only wants to read mail, surf the web, download multimedia, and play games. But it's been years since I priced one, so maybe I'm wrong. I only mentioned Linux in the previous post because if I say I don't want to support my friends when they won't keep their security software updated, someone else will say, "Well, install Linux for them and you don't have to worry about viruses, etc." I wouldn't be interested in installing Linux for my neighbors even if I knew it as well as I do Windows. While I enjoy my work, I rarely want to spend my free time on computers; eventually gynecologists get tired of looking at, well, you know. It's not an anti-knowledge-sharing thing; if someone want to talk about gardening, bird watching, or NASCAR, let's have at it. Thanks for the comments.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'm not saying switch and never look back. It works for me outside of gaming but I'm not everybody. I think you'd gain a great deal by at least being familiar with it though. There are some design features that are completely different compaired to windows. Start with a distrobution that's geared more towards easy administration and user friendlyness. Gentoo is great but you don't want three days of compiling as an introduction to Linux. Look at Ubuntu or Mandriva if your going to install to tinker or go for a bootable LiveCD as listed below. It's one of those things where I now see all the glaring glitches in Windows when I'm working on it after being spoiled by X being truly user friendly. It's the subtle personality traits granted. I grew up on Windows. I cut my teeth on the Adam and second teeth on an Apple 2E (Anyone out there remember Conan on the 2E? Damn I need me a copy of that back and an emulator) but my real understanding started with Dos on through the Windows onion layers. I picked up Linux originally not to get away from Redmond but because I'd explorered all the panes of Windows and needed new OS wrap my head around so I'm not telling you as a Zealot: "Libre Linux or death!" One of the lesser liked traits being that objects like message boxes, menus or windows demand focus. If I go to Start, request a program load then bring my previous program into focus to continue working, the new program takes screen and mouse focus by force. Now I have to wait for some laggidy bloat to load into memory before I can go back to what I was doing. Why can't it load in the background (X style that is) and leave working with what I (the user) chooses to focus on until I'm ready to focus on the newly loaded program? I also blow Excel's memory management about once a week. It's not hardware (intel dual core with 512 ram that never maxes out under business app use) and it's not Windows in general (close/reopen Excel and all is good again). Excel just doesn't like a 30 meg workbook with a few hundred formula to calculate through regardless of what the specs say in the Help. That's not really a Windows issue but I thought I'd throw it in. I'm off topic; ah yes.. linux. yeah, don't go learning Linux so you can put it on your friends machine to support (it's getting better and if configed, the user's not going to break it by accident). I'd highly recommend at least getting a few LiveCD distrobutions for personal education though. Knoppix LiveCD Kubuntu LiveCD/Install to feel like Windows Ubuntu LiveCD/Install to feel like osX Mandriva LiveCD if it exists yet (I'm partial to Mandriva these days) Knoppix LiveCd should be in every techs tool bag for when you need a bootable OS (Win32/64 passwords aren't even a speedbump unless your authenticating against a server when you've your own OS to mount the drive). For average users, I'm recommending a mac these days. osX is a very clean X theme over a BSD Unix OS (ls, mount, fs, locate.. it's all there). For personal use it's Linux. For gaming, it's WinXP until game developers go back to openGL and start writting for Linux too or DX10 forces the upgrade to Vista (it's a year or more away so we'll see how game support of other OS is by then). it's to the point now where Windows is familiar but when I get home and see that *nix login prompt then start working in X (unless I skip the startx and stick with the cli) it feels like that comfortable old sweater that just fits right.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I enjoy my job, but I don't enjoy being responsible for my neighbor's computer, or his sister's computer, or his sister's hair sytlist's computer. Maybe Pennsylvanians are better at providing a reasonably accurate problem description than South Carolinians. Maybe they don't expect that if I touch it once, it's my burden forever. Maybe they can understand when I explain that there is no way their hard drive could have been damaged by the service pack they asked me to install six months ago. Maybe PA residents don't expect me to provide free hardware "borrowed" from work or to bring the software disks and the company's product keys. Maybe I just don't like making house calls. The few occasions I've done so I've walked out the door with less respect for my friends than I had when I walked in. Maybe I'm tired of scraping off malware for users unwilling to keep their security software up to date. Yes, I could install Linux for them, then spend all my time trying to support an OS I don't know how to use myself. And no, I'm not going to learn how to use it just to support my friends. For me, this has nothing to do with the idea that terminating my support will cause the vendors to get their acts together. While I don't think that will happen, my lack of non-work support is driven purely by having been taken advantage of one time too many.

Tech Locksmith
Tech Locksmith

I never suggested it wasn?t OK to help friends and neighbors, just that those of us who do need to take our share of responsibility for the lack of quality end-user operating systems and applications. Of course you have to be careful that you don't help so much that you cripple people. The U.S. $ is a fiat currency, I thought everyone knew that. Gold and silver are MONEY, virtually every currency is just paper backed by printing ink. When people won't agree to be taxed for what they demand government's only alternative is to print more money and conceal the tax that way - did you REALLY think gold has gone from $32/oz to $650? An oz. still buys about the same amount of most things. BTW, Yellow Cake (actually U3O8)really is in short supply which is why it is rising so much faster than printing presses can run. $85/pound at the last spot sale. I think it was under $10/pound five years ago. (Did I mention I used to be both a miner AND trained physicist?) Good Points Dr. Dij

tundraroamer
tundraroamer

So, lets see if I have this right. You stick your head out of your home in PA and if you see your shadow, you don't provide support that day. But if you do see your shadow, you provide support to those around you.(Grin!) Or maybe the other way around. If you (or I) provide support to someone who in turn does us a "favor", what line on your 1040 does that go on? Actually, providing unpaid support to someone in need just proves you are human and are doing as our Creator said to do. We can be better then corporate America is.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

My friend in school growing up used to gleefully tell us about the correct GroundHog technique. Sure you send your cease and decist order through that cute little head when they stick it up out of the ground but if you can find 'em sunning on a rock; I hear the trick is to hit the rock just where they meet and see how high little GH jumps. If any out there are offended at such inhuman a comment; we where kids in highschool in a small town.. there's only so much you can amuse yourself.

tundraroamer
tundraroamer

I'm still working through 1099's. Haven't got that far and won't need that one anyway. Only joined this thread because I caught it early on but not sure I will be able to keep up with other blogs without having to think about first. Limited thinking these days. As 15767 goes, I used to have a prairie dog game that the kids (and I) really enjoyed. They look a lot a like groundhogs when popping their head out of the hole for blasting. Would make a great addition to the site... Sort of.

Tech Locksmith
Tech Locksmith

Actually it is Form 1120, this a "C" corporation so it goes under either advertising or good will. (Well, you did ASK!!) Absolutely agree with you that we CAN do better and must. BTW, when the groundhog sticks his head up I usually try to put a bit of lead into it so he won't make more holes for my mini horses to trip in. (I once wrote a one-on-one interview with Phil, know him well - the Mayor (snake) runs the local feed store where we buy emu (rattite) feed. I also advise the municipality on the threat of bird flu and, since the Commonwealth dropped the program, on radiologic emergency management - all at no cost, of course. Glad you joined us tundraroamer - remember, to make this like the subscription Locksmith you can simply check this blog once each week. Did I ever post the link to my community web site? It has photos of GHD events. www.15767.com

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I don't think I've ever heard it put that way or conciously considered it though it seems obvious in hindsite. Usualy the motivation for not providing free support is the success of having all your friends and half the townsfolk at your door constantly. "Windows won't do [blah], can you help?" Sure, here's a Kubuntu CD, boot off it, see if this does everything you want then call me to walk you through installing it. Not to make an attack but for personal interest; what art is it you practiced that awarded you a black belt in nine weeks? Of my obsessions, martial arts is only trumped by computers so this peaks both my interests. I know some arts (kendo, iaido) begin ranking at Dan level (1 degree blackbelt to karateka) though I'm always warry of any art using a belt colour ranking that get's around the one rank per six months if training three times a week traditional benchmark.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

the bill from Geek Squad! Unless you open a PC repair store, is not worth your spare time. Time is the one thing they can't pay you back. So unless they're willing to tell you ahead what they'll trade you for and you'd like to do it, DON'T. We had a big thread on this a year or so ago. Some got angry, thought IT people were stuck up if they won't give free advice. I'd say this tends to be the younger people who haven't proved themself yet and have to show off what they know. They think they should be able to download all music for free, so this seems to illogically extend to the knowledge in your head. Others pointed out rightfully that doctors, lawyers, plumbers, travel agents.. don't give out free advice. Unless it's someone close to you such as your spouse or kids, or you want to help a charity such as your church, why bother? This problem has been foisted on you by the big computer resellers who provide next to no support with their thin margins on mass produced PCs, unless the customer pays extra for it, and they usually don't, figuring either nothing will happen, as they browse the back alleys of the bad areas of the internet; or that they'll figure it out themselves (unlikely unless they're the type asked fof advice). BTW, I made a comment that you might want to start up your own ISP coop in your local area to get service extended to your ranch. New silicon valley startup is promoting idea of wireless router repeaters, that forward to each other in a grid config, and encrypt, so you could get connection if you could convince a neighbot to use one of these.

Tech Locksmith
Tech Locksmith

Thanks for the suggestion, but convincing neighbors? Hmm, let me look out the window (I'm on top of a high hill), nope, no other building in sight! (GRIN) I also happen to know that the nearest neighbor doesn't even have a computer and doesn't want one. (Actually many of my other neighbors are Amish too, which sort of reduces the need for a co-op.) Otherwise you have a good suggestion and others should check it out. For now I'm also tied into a contract for 2-way satellite and it is working out well. It is also more reliable than the phone line and is easy to run off my big UPS - of course we have a wireless network running off that satellite modem, but it barely reaches 20% of the ranch. Not complaining, I set up what we need, obviously we could get better range, but it does make wireless security a bit of a moot question except for testing purposes! Thanks for the idea, I hope others in different situations will check it out.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Odd that that sounds like choppers coming in. ;) My addiction began with the Adam. BBs systems added when the 486 was king after adding a math coprocessor to the die. Internet killed the local BBs off when a modem ISP moved into the local calling area but it didn't matter; network access just opened up a whole new world. I've watched everything from the Adam onwards and reached back through historical reading for anything previous. Sidenote, I figured I'd pull the discussion of steel out of the forum and forward over a few book recommendations directly. Not sure if they got through as I'm still figuring out how all the TR functions work. If it did, hopefully it was of interest. Cheers ===/========- ===/====-

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

"Ah, come on. If that doesn't set the troll-O-meter blinking I don't know what will" Hahaha.. how long has it been since you saw one of those comments back to a blatant newbie trolling line.

Tech Locksmith
Tech Locksmith

Not only did my college roommate work for BBN so I know a bit about DARPA and the Internet, I was The Washington Bureau Chief for Newsbytes News Network! (GRIN)

Tech Locksmith
Tech Locksmith

You're speaking my language. We raise Jacob Sheep and this is still lambing season.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Damn that was some funny squishy. Thanks, that bit will keep me laughing for a good day or so. (No need to invoke the troll-O-meter but if you remember Usenet, you know what I mean)

tundraroamer
tundraroamer

that the Chinese recently launched a secret satellite that is capable of intercepting internet direct feeds, removing Google and replacing it with their own version and then sending the feed on its way complete with the Chinese character set that nobody wants to install on their browser. The new service they install is called we-foun-yu and is sponsored by ICANNSPAMU.

Tech Locksmith
Tech Locksmith

BTW, I agree with your 6-month estimate for tests at three times/week, but you retain a LOT more when you have multiple sessions per day punctuated by meditation. I estimate about 70 hours of instruction to qualify for a test based on the 6 month schedule. I put in nearly 1,000 hours total, so I suppose I was actually a bit slow (GRIN). I was under severe time pressures at the time and would have preferred to take longer, but a year later I retained most of the training, probably as much or more than most of the students.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Two students of the sword such as us could probably ramble on and fill pages back and forth over cutting technique alone. In a more "civilized" time we both would have had daily training interspersed with Zazen and education in diplomacy, literature, arts, hores back riding. I can see how the stillness of Zazen calming the mind and contrasting the activity of training would help greatly. Zazen remains an important part of many of the Japanese arts. A past teacher once mentioned that modern martial training by serious students of the Japanese arts is at least three times a week with gradings every six months. Less serious students (unfortunately I'm in this group due to time constraints) train one to two times a week with gradings every twelve months. Perhaps one day my mornings will begin with a half hour of Iai followed by a hot bath and massage before arriving at some shnazzy back room tech lab building future solutions or "security auditing" existing systems. I find Bushido and the Hacker ethic extremely complimentary though Bushido applies equally to many other aspects of life including modern business.

Tech Locksmith
Tech Locksmith

Presume you play Go! too Knew someone who worked for years to develop a really good Go program. It turned out pretty well. Just FYI: Funny thing, I was working with heavy equipment and the manager couldn't understand why the new cutting edge on the Cat Dozer kept wearing out. I checked out the installation and the idiot installer was WELDING the carefully, exquisitely tempered high-carbon edge to the blade! By the time he was done it was virtually as soft as butter! The fool said it had to be done to keep the edge from falling off!! Never thought of locktite on the bolts or even tapping each one with a punch to flatten the threats THEN cutting the bolts off with a torch when it didn't matter!!! Probably not available anyplace now, but I have a reprint of Dobree's 2-part 1905 Royal Archelogical Institute Journal piece printed by Shumway in York, PA "Japanese Sword Blades" ISBN- 0-08387-034-4 1971 Not a tutorial on folding steel but a detailed description of Japanese swords. Includes names of the principal smiths and detailed drawings of the sword tips. "A sword when drawn in a long corridor produces an atmospheric change in fine weather, even in midsummer it brings a cool breeze into a large house." (poem found on a tsuba) Note: I've certainly noticed that whipping out 20+-inches of razor sharp steel can have a chilling effect, even more than pulling out my Mini-14 with a 40-round clip!! Idiots who drive a 3,000 pound piece of crap steel at 90 m.p.h. will faint at the sight of a bare blade. You know, there is a reason my main avatar/user name is SiliconSamurai.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I understand the basic cross-section of demascis steel (passed to China from Demasics) but couldn't tell you the specifics of the forging process. Flaws in the metal are drawn to the center of the blade while the purer steel is drawn to the outside (I'm guessing a magnetized casting mold?) resulting in a hard external edge and soft core that will withstand being folded back on itself from tip to hilt. I do so love all sword technique (spanish saber and dagger technique is absalutely gorgeious to see done well) though the single egded katana continues to be my personal preference. There's just something about that gracful curve the forging process puts into the blade. My smalltown neibours wouldn't think twice after watching me growup with stick in the back yard. Such is the benefit when you litterally know everyone by name for fifty miles including the police. I'm still the new person here in the big city and they do take such a more paranoid aproach to what they don't understand on first sight. Luckilly the local Japanese culture center is a short distance from home.

Tech Locksmith
Tech Locksmith

You've go the picture. The swords are straight but they are the folded metal style (I do a little blacksmithing but never attemted more than folding carbon steel over an iron rod myself). Fortunately the neighbors are far away and a bit wary of me anyway. (GRIN)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Forgoing the Hollywood style demonstraited in Kill Bill and the like, I'm pretty sure I'm getting the jist. Bushi aproach to sword is very much do or do not. The stories of Musashi are filled with single stroke fights or beutiful demonstrations of him running adversaries around the Dojo at the end of paired boken. I'm sure there where exchanges of parry and cut and many duels won by a light but lethal cut across an artery but the prefered ending was a single cut win. When on a battle field or facing multiple attackers you'd want to make a single cut kill and move on to the next threat. I'm seeing Shim Gum Do as more of the chinese style of flurished cuts with the focus being on a leathal shallow cut with the same goal of being free to move on to the next threat. Now I'm very curious to see or read more about it. I'm guessing the sword used is a strait double bladed like the demascis steel type blade rather than sandwitch of folded steal single sided blade. Either way, I'd never want to be on the wrong end of a swordsmans ire. Hopefully I'll be able to keep up with my Iai at least as a life long study. If I wasn't in this city I'd be looking into Shinken and cutting targets but somehow I really think the neibours here would take it the wrong way.

Tech Locksmith
Tech Locksmith

My then master is a Zen Buddhist monk, I probably don?t need to tell you how little paper gets filled!! Just FYI, Shim Gum Do?s main divergence from Samurai training (and remember the Japanese learned sword making from the Koreans) is that Samurai sword is one shot, 100% win or dead. Shim Gum Do is much more Zen ? instead of aiming to cut through a body, it aims to make a single fatal shallow cut and have the sword ready to use against others. Very simplistic explanation, but English doesn?t lend itself well to explaining this sort of thing. I think you probably get my meaning. BTW, friends of my wife in N.Z. are sword instructors and just missed being in LOTR. Bushido fits one kind of hacker very well, I feel I am the other kind, more of a Zen hacker, ready to run away if appropriate.

Tech Locksmith
Tech Locksmith

Shim Gum Do That is a sword skill. I was already experienced in other martial arts and sword, and, in addition, spent up to 15 hours/day in the dojo, every day of the week, so it really wasn't that remarkable except for a sign of my endurance at that time, but I learned all the intermediate belts, passed the tests along with all the other students, and had an honest final test. Probably the best proof was that no other student objected. If you figure it out, I put in about the same number of hours that people taking a year to reach 1st dan did. I was also in superb condition at the time, having been marathon training. Now I'm just another tired old man.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'm an Iaidoka eleven months away from the Dojo on a year sabatical with my first born. I miss the Dojo but it was more important to be home with the new family after work. I'm a little envious and I'll admit it openly. 15 hours a day is probably about what the traditional education was like when kenjutsu was life and death not "playing at swords". I'd love to be able to but that much time into my own training. In my case, I like that my choosen art has become one of the most formal and impractical in modern life. The impracticality of walking down the street turning the arts focus too internal development of self rather than external development of force. Tamashigiri; Who doesn't like to cut a tatinami target from time to time. Shim Gum Do is new to me which means a trip to Chapters and a new tangent for my bookshelf. Now, I'd best read these other branches off my comment and see how much defensive writting I have to do. Cheers

Tech Locksmith
Tech Locksmith

I don't own the 35mm film and it was 30 years ago so I can't post anything, just thought you'd enjoy the description, it was witnessed live by hundreds and, I think, ran on a local TV station.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Like I said, we'd fill pages of chatter back and forth on the topic of sword arts. If you've video available on your site I'm all eyes. I've seen some video of crazy stuff like cutting apples and mellons though in person only seen targets and "safer" cutting displays. In terms of technique, some of the nicest stuff I've seen is tamashigiri practitioners. There's something very pretty about watching a sword cut during the draw then flow throw three quick and smooth 40 degree slices. I've also caught a few documentaries showing Kendo waza practiced between two people with shinken rather than boken or shanai.

Tech Locksmith
Tech Locksmith

The master did a demo to promote the school (in an insurance company autidorium of all places!) Did you ever see anyone cut a watermellon in half with a sword while it rested on a bare stomach? Now, did you ever see the master place the watermellon blindfolded, stand up, walk away, turn around, return at a run and do it? The student (3rd Dan) actually moved and I have the film, the sword cut the end off the watermellon, but came down exactly where the middle WAS when the master placed it. The American Buddist Shim Gum Do Association (Mind Sword Path) center is in the Boston area there are others everywhere. Master Kim wrote a book on the subject but I never read it so don't know if it is useful.

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