Category: Brainstew

Avoiding Lake Lewisville in the Texas Drought

lewisvilleI’ve been silent on my blog for almost a year for personal reasons, slaying a dragon, so to speak. I do feel like commenting on Lake Lewisville and just how bad of shape it is in. We decided to test the waters this past weekend and spent several hours at the lake just hanging out on the beach and doing minimal boating around. Well, wouldn’t you know it on the trip back to the dock, dead center in the the lake, in 30 feet of water, we hit the top of a tree. I am not sure why the Army Core of Engineers did not clear out the trees in the main part of the lake, all I know is that at 6pm on Sunday we were stranded with a spun out hub in my prop. What is a hub you ask? It is a piece of plastic that sits between the prop shaft and the prop, it is designed to give if you hit something. Well, while I would expect to hit something in 5-10 feet of water, I would not expect that in 30 feet at full throttle.  I feel lucky that nothing more happened, but I am angry that the lake is even open at this point. It is around 68 percent full and clearly is a death trap for the wrong boat. If you are thinking about visiting the lake, don’t. There are better choices until the drought passes and it refills.

Why I love my Amex Gold Card

I have a gold Amex card and I am not a big fan of the $150 annual fee, I feel like I golddon’t get enough from the card versus what I pay to possess it. Of course, it is a step down from the platinum I had in ’07 and ’08 til the economy made me rethink every nickel I spent as a small business owner and I had to dump 6 employees and my warehouse to survive the tsunami that is our current economy.

Fast forward to 2012, I knew I needed a new vehicle and I had to decide between a car and a truck. Oh, how I wanted a GMC pick up ( it would have been my third in 20 years), I can’t begin to tell you how those commercials pulled at my strings to make me want sugar coated, prettily colored rice with yummy marshmallows in a bowl of succulent milk. I kept looking at those pickups like a cactus looks at chapstick, I simply had to have one.

But, at the end of the day, I decided a really fun car would offset my disappointment

cactuswith not getting a new truck. So I got an Infinti instead, the absolute opposite of a GMC Sierra( why can’t American car companies make a good premium car anymore?). GM would be disappointed of course, and the cacti would not get Chapstick to slaver all over themselves, but at the end of the day I realized, why would I want to buy a new truck so I can trash it up with my construction business? I store all my tools in the back seat. I jump in my truck frequently with a screw driver in my back pocket and end up slicing a hole in the seat.  My current truck smells like fries, ass, and foot. This is the ideal smellesborg if  you are single and ever have to put a date inside the cab .

Did I mention the Spring hail this prior year pounded my area beyond recognition and totaled out the truck (along with everything around me) and really added a touch of “white trash” to my previously blemished work vehicle? Well, since the hail my truck looks like the ugly cousin of Fester. Which is fine with me, as long as it runs. Unfortunately for me that has changed recently.

Seven months ago I swapped out the old fuel pump for a new one. The truck has run great until this past month. Twice I have driven to a habitat job site only to end up stuck there cranking the engine while it mockingly refuses to turn over. Quite a pain in my ass to say the least. Twice I have had to have the truck towed home. If you are wondering why I didn’t fix the truck after the first tow see this post. This is where my Amex comes into play. I found out that I get 4 tows a year at $25 each. That’s a hell of a nice bonus from the card, which has already paid for itself this past month and definitely makes it my favorite card for sure. So, if you own an older vehicle a gold card is a great way to cover your rear if you ever get stuck anywhere.

 

 

 

 

The disappointment that is Windows 8

Call it impetus, call it giddiness, call it holiday delirium. What ever you do, don’t call it a smart decision. Just a couple of weeks ago Windows 8 bounced on to the world market and like a naive child looking at candy in a candy store I bought in to the hype, lock, stock, and crazy 8 barrel.

Now, I’m no stool pigeon and I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck… I have a long history with windows, even becoming a MCSE in 2000, so I know my way around the OS. But, I must confess, since Windows Vista arrived and was simply a train wreck, I completely skipped it and waited for SP1 on Windows 7 to arrive before I dared to upgrade. I have loved Windows 7 and its stability. But, I read the reviews for Windows 8 and decided I would jump out early and adopt. I liked the idea of Metro and while I have no use, nor do most of the massive population of desktop users, to implement the touch screen features, it seemed cool. Famous last words…

What a disaster it has been
First, I can’t begin to express how ridiculous it is that the start menu is gone. I have had to create a start folder “short cut” in the toolbar just to get a horribly inferior experience. It still sucks. I know that I am going to have to buy a 3rd party solution sooner than later to fix this really bad decision on Microsoft’s part. I get it, MS wants to be cool and hip and target the tablet market, but screwing over millions of desktop users is a really bad idea and a great way to push more users over to the fruit tree company that shall remain nameless.

Fruit Anyone?

Second, to take full advantage of Windows 8, MS wants you to login with them automatically to get updates and use most of the Apps they offer as well as skydrive. Within a few days of installing W8 I was informed that I was somehow spamming through email and my account had been blocked. I don’t spam and I am not sure how they would know what I was doing that anyway with the yahoo account I registered with unless they were tracking every bit of data I moved around the internet. As a new install, there are no viruses running on my system and just to make sure I checked with yahoo to see if the account had been hacked. Clean as a whistle. So, I have no idea what they are talking about. I proceeded to try to reset my password and found out I had to email someone to get it reset and then wait… and wait… and wait. I have not heard a follow up in over a week and a half, so I have no idea what happened. My skydrive has started working again, so I assume the problem is fixed.  But, I would not be surprised if the other shoe drops and I get blocked again for no reason.

 

Third, my system has started rebooting on its own again for no reason. When I bought the system a year and a half ago it started this little game of randomly screaming out of my speakers and rebooting once or twice a week. I never clearly determined the problem, but decided it had something to do with the power supply being too small for 3 monitors. So, I upgraded it to a 750w supply and I upgraded the BIOS. Problem solved and system behaved. Now, almost a year later, the mysterious problem has returned with like a squealing pig.

Fourth, I don’t like the way the Apps behave, it is incredibly annoying that in order to use an App I have to switch over to the Metro screen to click on it, then when I am done, I have click back into windows to get back to work. All my normal programs I can find in the annoying start folder I have pinned to the toolbar, but not the “Apps”.

The Skype App is also broken and shuts down, but oddly worked for the first few days. The 8 zip app is a piece of shit and poorly designed and slow as molasses. The selection of Apps is minuscule at best and one has to wonder if it will get better any time soon. I can go on and on, but what I am saying here is that you should not upgrade anytime soon unless you have to. I was happy with Windows 7 and I am still contemplating reverting back. But, it would entail so much work.

Not to be negative Ned to the grave, I will give kudos to the fast boot time, and  to Metro. It’s an interesting idea, I just think it should be optional. MS may want to consider sliding back to two interfaces to accommodate the desktop crowd, which is its bread and butter. I do not see the need or desire to start poking my monitor with my finger anytime soon to open anything. The mouse and keyboard is my dance partner and we ain’t square dancing, so back off!

 

Monetizing a Blog the Easy Way

I have a few small businesses that I own in remodeling and web design.
I also offer SEO services to help boost my clients’ site rankings, thus I maintain a large network of around 80 websites on various topics which grows every month. Some of these sites also sell advertising. They do this through text link ads and blog posting. Text link ads are one of the fastest ways to  .

With a simple list of related text links on your the homepage of your blog you could potentially pull in hundreds of dollars every month. You can even have links placed on the inside pages of your site if it has enough traffic.  Another interesting product they allow publishers to monetize their site with is called hosted pages. You write a post with a link to the website they request and you get paid for it being on your blog. Seems pretty easy. I have been with them as a publisher for several years and have been very happy with the service and sales. They do a nice job of keeping most of my sites monetized for me on autopilot, which allows me to focus on my businesses. Its a great way to build passive income and if you have a site that actually has readers then you will be sure to rake in some cash.

One of the features I like best about them is they have developed an easy to use wordpress plugin that eliminates the need to crowbar their code onto my sites the old painful code laden ways of years past. I now simple add the plugin and paste the site’s id and It is ready to go.

So if you are interested, click on the lovely affiliate link or the banner below I have added to the post and check them out. You will be glad you did.