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Preview: Jack Krupansky on Blogging

Jack Krupansky on Blogging

Issues that Jack Krupansky has stumbled across as he journeys deeper into the blogging jungle

Updated: 2018-01-14T06:49:53.351-05:00


Yikes, my Toshiba touch screen stopped working!!!


I bought a hot new Toshiba notebook computer at the end of the year, a Toshiba Satellite P50-AST3GX2, with Windows 8.1. I even paid an extra $200 to get a touch screen. The machine works great, but a couple of times a week the touch screen stops responding. Everything else about the machine still works, but I have to use the track pad and keys to navigate and make selections. I still don't know what cause the touch screen to stop working, but I do have a quick workaround. Sure, of course you can shut down and reboot the machine, but that's too inconvenient.
What's the workaround for a touch screen that is non-responsive? Simple: Just toggle the Wi-Fi mode twice. That's the F12 (or FN+F12 keys, depending on whether you have function keys enabled). In my case I modified the function key configuration so that just pressing the ley labeled with both the F12 and Wi-Fi labels is the same as the old-style F12 key, so I need to press the FN+F12 keys to toggle airplane mode. Press FN+F12 once to toggle airplane mode, wait a couple of seconds until the popup message confirms the new airplane mode, and then hit FN+F12 again to toggle airplane mode back to what you really wanted it to be. The first press of FN+F12 is what resets the touch screen and restores full touch features. If you haven't changed the function keys settings, just use the F12 key alone.
In short, in takes a couple of seconds to re-enable the touch screen by toggled FN+F12 twice, but that's hardly the biggest annoyance in my life these days.
I really like the touch screen a lot.
The one thing I don't like about this machine is that since it is a "hot" i7-based machine, it has a bigger and bulkier power adapter which is a pain for travel.
-- Jack Krupansky

Yikes!!! My Toshiba mouse trackpad stopped working!!!


I got my brand new Toshiba notebook computer (P50-AST3GX2) and it was working fine until suddenly the mouse cursor disappeared and would not come back.
Problem: This new PC features "One Touch Function Keys" which means that the normal PC F1 through F12 function keys behave as Toshiba system control keys by default rather than as PC function keys. You have to hold the "FN" key before hitting the function key to get the PC function keys. Evidently, I had probably hit F5 to refresh the browser or something like that, but Toshiba has assigned that key to toggle the enable of the mouse trackpad, so instead of refreshing the web page, the mouse trackpad became disabled.
Solution: Just hit the F5 key again and, presto, the mouse trackpad works again.
If you really need to perform the PC F5 function, hit the FN+F5 keys.
If you want to restore the PC function keys to their normal operation:
1. Go to the Windows Start screen.
2. Type "System Settings".
3. Select the system settings program.
4. Select the "Keyboard" menu item from the left panel.
5. Set the "Function Keys Mode" to "Standard F1-F12 mode" – as opposed to "Special function mode".
6. Click on "Okay".
7. Restart the PC for the change to take effect.
Sorry for the inconvenience! It's not my fault, really.
-- Jack Krupansky

Twitter IPO


BTW, I'm blogging about the Twitter IPO on my finance blog:

-- Jack Krupansky

Success with the NY state Obamacare exchange


Wow, I finally succeeded in getting a New York state Obamacare account and application set up so that I am finally able to see plans and prices. The full price range is $307 to $1,121. Bronze plans range from $307 to $407 with a $3,000 deductible. Platinum plans range from $443 to $1,121 with no deductible. Excluding United HealthCare plans, the highest platinum premium is $649 per month.   Until today I had an account that I could log into, but was unable to finish the application process. I had called customer service last week, described the problem, they put me on hold, and reasonably quickly came back and told me that they were aware of the problem, were working on it, but I would just have to try "later".   The problem was that I would log in and if I tried to view plans, the system would simply insist that my application was not complete, give me a button to continue where I left off, but clicking that button simply took me to the last page of the application process where all I could do is initial the application, check the fine print, and then click on the "Finish" button. I would do all of that, but the system would unceremoniously dump me out to the main "Individual" screen and not let me view or select any plans. Rinse and repeat, but no change.   The good news is that the long delays of the first week were resolved. IOW, I could quickly do nothing.   Also, even in the first week, I did not experience any long hold times with customer service.   I tried to complete my application every day, to no avail, but today I called customer service as before, described the problem, and once again they said they were still working on it. But... this time they suggested that I should create a brand new account and try again. Actually, I was going to suggest that myself since I was concerned that the many timeouts in the first few days may have left my account in some unworkable state.   So, I created a new account, which was reasonably fast and pain-free, and everything worked fine. And then I finished the application process and could see plans and prices.   Actually, there is still one glitch – it asks me if my 2014 income will be the same as in 2012 and will only prompt me for my expected 2014 income if I answer "Yes", when the answer is really "No." IOW, they have the yes and no options wired backwards, at least for my scenario.   And, meanwhile, my original "zombie" account is still out there, lifeless but not quite dead.   The real bottom line is that I will continue to be self-insured in 2014 and beyond since the penalty for not carrying insurance is still significantly less than $1,000 less than the penalty. That's the economic rule that I have decided to use.   Although, since I am 59, I'm not too many years away from Medicare.   Meanwhile, I continue to make semi-regular $25 monthly donations to the U.S. Treasury to pay down the federal debt.   BTW, I am thoroughly amused by the extent to which the White House itself has adopted the use of the term "Obamacare." For example, see: -- Jack Krupansky[...]

Should I start using twitter again?


Hmmm... now that Twitter is on the verge of a stock IPO that I am interested in as an investor, I'm pondering whether I should start using Twitter again. I "hit pause" on using Twitter back on April 13, 2010, three and a half years ago, having found that it wasn't delivering any real value to me, personally.
Maybe I'll think about it next week.
Me on Twitter ("back in the day"):
Meanwhile, I actually do use Twitter semi-regularly in a passive manner, for searches of recent news, such as for the Twitter IPO itself:

-- Jack Krupansky

Contacts in Hong Kong and Shanghai?


I visited Hong Hong and China once back in the 1980's and have always been intrigued with them. Lately as I look around for new work I have been trying to do some out of the box thinking and have been contemplating living and working in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Maybe it was reading James Clavell's epic novel TAI-PAN about Hong Kong that helped to spur my thinking. I haven't yet pursued the matter seriously or even casually, but the idea keeping popping into my head with increasing frequency. Besides the simple fact that I haven't the foggiest clue what it would be like to live and work over there these days, the most immediate obstacle is that I have no professional contacts over there. Zero. Not even a single one.
So, I put out this simple query: Anybody have any technical/professional contacts over in Hong Kong and Shanghai that would be interested in having a conversation with a modestly adventurous American?
If I had the money, I would simply hop on a plane and check out local technology groups and businesses when I got there, but unfortunately such "larks" are not within my current budget.
One idea I have had is to pursue the concept of "virtually living" on the Internet, with all the photos, videos, web cameras, and discussion forums on the Web these days. This would allow me to experience a fraction of what life is like in some distant locale without the cost physical movement. For now it is simply a thought, but it is a thought that keeps popping into my head.

Does the NY Times know how to count?


No wonder the NY Times has been struggling financially: they simply don't even know how to count!
Yesterday the NY Times claimed  that I had reach my monthly limit of 10 stories, but I am very confident that I have not clicked on ANY stories (okay, maybe one or two... or three) other than in Google News and in Twitter, which are not supposed to count. I am still able to click on Times stories in Google News, so I suspect it may be the Twitter side of the house that is miscounting.
Meanwhile, my readership of the NY Times has clearly declined, which accrues to the benefit of the Washington Post and the Christian Science Monitor (as well as Reuters and AP), both sources of high quality stories.

Mike Wallace and 60 Minutes


I used to love watching Mike Wallace on Biography when I was a kid. And he definitely raised the bar with his many early years with 60 Minutes. But, alas, later in its life 60 Minutes began to exemplify the steady decline in the quality of journalism in America. These days, I would not watch 60 minutes for any reason. It is now basically the epitome of "trash journalism." Wallace had a talent for picking his targets carefully and crafting his questions just as carefully. He was always laser-focused and dead-on. Both the questions and the answer had great value. These days, none of that is the case. Maybe 60 Minutes is actually the cause of its own diminished stature in that maybe most people in power know enough to stay away for fear that something, anything that might be even remotely embarrassing might pop up in an interview and that even the phrasing of questions or a moment of hesitation will be misread. Mike Wallace knew how to do it right, but those who have followed him simply don't have a clue. Yes, Mike's results were frequently sensational, but mostly because of the quality of his work, but these days the goal seems to be sensationalism at any cost and with as little attention as possibly to the quality of the work other than an obsession with slickness and edginess that hides and distorts the truth more than uncovers it.
In any case, here's to the good old days, the days of Mike Wallace in Biography and his early years in 60 Minutes.

Getting into Prezi


I am finally starting to get into Prezi. It is in fact a very cool way to prepare and make presentations.
I don't yet have any hard-core, really serious presentations yet, but here's my "workspace" on Prezi:
I am going to try to organize some of my thoughts on software agents in the form of Prezi presentations. I have already made a couple of initial stabs at that link above, but please consider it all "a work in progress."
I am just using the free offering, which means all of my work is public (which is perfect for an entrepreneur.)

April Fool's Day is a perfect fit for the Occupy Movement


Usually I cringe at the silliness of April Fool's Day, but I see that it is a perfect and natural fit for the Occupy Movement, where they tweet about the way things "should" be but "sadly" aren't. Actually, that sounds a lot like what they do most of the time anyway.
  • Bankers arrested! (NOT)
  • Brookfield properties renames Zuccotti Park to Liberty Square and gives Occupy Wall Street control (NOT)
  • Ray Kelly resigns as NYPD commissioner (NOT)
  • Walmart open to unionization (NOT)
  • Monsanto phases out GMOs (NOT)
  • Rush Limbaugh supports Planned Parenthood (NOT)
  • Moratorium on old-growth forest logging (NOT)
  • GOP supportive of women's reproductive rights (NOT)
  • Shell pledges money for oil spill cleanup (NOT)
  • TransCanada scraps plane for Keystone pipeline (NOT)
Hmmm... most of these items have nothing to do with Wall Street per se. That illustrates perfectly how un-focused the whole Occupy Wall Street movement has been.

Use View page source to view SOPA blacked-out Wikipedia pages


Although the morons at Wikipedia have chosen to black out the English Wikipedia for the day in a mindless protest of the proposed Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA), you can still get to the text by using your browser's "View page source" right click menu option (that's in Google Chrome, other browsers have a similar feature.) The original wiki page is still there, but with a non-so-cute graphic applied over it. You may see the original page flash up before the graphic gets drawn. Unfortunately, you have to paw through raw HTML text to read the page, but the essential content is there.
I suspect that the reason they are leaving the original page intact underneath the blackout image is to avoid screwing up their positioning in search engine results. The search engine web page crawlers will not "see" the blackout graphic, but will continue to see the underlying original wiki page, in much the same way that we can still see it with "View page source."
Although the blackout graphic claims that SOPA "could fatally damage the free and open Internet", there is close to zero chance that SOPA would actually "kill" the "free and open" Internet. The operant word in their spurious claim is "could", meaning "in theory, at the extreme", but it is interesting that even the anti-SOPA crowd is careful to avoid falsely claiming that SOPA "would" kill the "free and open" Internet.
The whole anti-SOPA/PIPA "movement" is simply a derivative of the anti-intellectual property movement.
Curiously, the SOPA page itself in the Wikipedia is not blacked out.

Back to work


Just when I was starting to get into my finance blogging on a more frequent basis, now I have a lead on some "real" work, so I'll need to suspend a lot of my blogging until further notice while I pursue this work lead. Sorry about that.

Blogging schedule for my finance blog


I want to start blogging more on my finance blog and I am thinking that having a schedule might make sense in terms of reaching people who are paying attention to the financial markets during the day. Here's my tentative initial plan:
  1. Late evening post (8 PM to 12 AM.) Not so much for the night birds, but to have something for the early birds the next day. A more thoughtful contemplation of what transpired during the day and response to late news.
  2. Early morning post (6 AM to 8:30 AM.) Not quite early enough for the hard-core early birds, but something early in the day for normal people.
  3. Late morning post (10:30 AM to noon.) Response to news of the morning.
  4. Mid-afternoon post (2 PM to 3:30 PM.) Response to news of the day. Before the stock market closes
Whether I manage to do all of that remains to be seen, but at least I have a plan to work from.

What does ICYMI mean??


Oh well, I guess I might as well go ahead and admit that I am one of the slowest guys on the Internet. I mean, five minutes ago I had not a clue what "ICYMI" meant. I got an email from a big-deal group in Washington and the subject line started out with "ICYMI –".
Lucky for me, enlightenment was just a Google click away. The acronyms section of "The Free Dictionary" web site has a page that tells me that it stand for "In Case You Missed It." Ah... okay... yes, I had missed it, but now I know.
Hmmm... I wonder how long I have been missing it?
There is a Wiktionary page for ICYMI that dates to October 2009. Technically, it is an "initialism."

How can I become a millionaire?


There were actually a couple of short periods of time back in 2000 when I was technically a "millionaire", at least on paper (plus one time when a broker error made me a millionaire for a weekend!) But, as they say, "easy come, easy go." And back in 2005 I was doing so poorly financially that I actually filed for bankruptcy. Since November 30, 2005 (the day my bankruptcy was discharged) I have gradually been slowly climbing back up the lower rungs of the wealth ladder out of the pit of gloom, primarily through regular retirement contributions but also cutting spending and saving when possible, so that now I actually have a modest amount of "investments." I'm certainly not a millionaire or in the top 1% or even the top 10%, but I'm somewhere in the top 20% now. I won't disclose my exact "wealth", but it's very loosely north of $50,000 and south of $250,000, so lets pretend that it is $100,000 for the sake of argument and to have a nice round number. So, the question of the day is: How can I become a millionaire? Seriously. It's a legitimate question. How likely I am to become a millionaire again is an open and essentially unanswerable question, but what options or paths to that end are available is a reasonable question.   Here are the practical paths that I have identified in just a few minutes today: Buy a winning lottery ticket. Hey, sometimes it actually does payoff, but I won't bet on it. Marry a wealthy woman. Ditto. Start a successful business. Ditto, except that it actually still is a (semi-remote) possibility. Join a hot startup. Ditto, but a little more possible. (Seriously, send me leads on this!) A short string of wildly-successful option trades. Hey, I actually did this in 1998 and 1999, but... a long story... and not likely to be repeated. Invest in a hot stock that rises 40% a year for 7 years. Technically possible, but the odds remain long. Investments that rise 20% a year for 13 years. More doable, but still quite difficult. Investments that rise 15% a year for 17 years. On the fringe of being practical, but too long to wait. Investments that rise 10% a year for 24 years. Starting to sound within reach technically, but not within reach time-wise. Investments that rise 8% a year for 30 years. Great, something I might actually have a shot at achieving, but only if my goal is to leave a million in my will rather than enjoy it during retirement. Investments that rise 5% a year for 48 years. Ditto. I could reasonably expect to do this, but again not for my personal use. Investments that rise 4% a year for 59 years. That rate of return is reasonable and achievable for an average investor, but won't achieve the end goal within my expected lifetime. And then there is inflation, taxes, bad years, etc. And presuming that you have a reasonable income stream while your wealth is growing.   And then there is a bigger pair of questions. Once you have accumulated $1 million: How do you keep it? How can you live off of it in a sustainable manner? It may seem obvious that you save $1 million for retirement and then spend it all in retirement, but that is a risky expectation due to uncertainty about the future. Better to define an allocation of money that you will be spending and money that remains dedicated to further investment. That's a topic for future discussion. Here we're just concerned with getting to $1 million (ASAP) in the first place.   Where do I do from here? The only things I can say with certainty are that I will continue making my retirement contributions and hopefully see some compound returns over the year[...]

Wall Street Occupied (by the Dark Knight)


On a typical Saturday I walk all around lower Manhattan (starting my walk from my apartment on East 50th Street), sometimes walking up Wall Street. Since 9/11 Wall Street has had limited access, but usually the sidewalks are open to pedestrian traffic and even the street itself is usually open to pedestrian traffic. Since the Occupy Wall Street movement moved into the neighborhood there have been the usual steel barricades to assure that people stay on the sidewalks. But, this past Saturday (11/5) I walked up Wall Street from the East River and around Water Street or Pearl Street even the side walk was closed with barricades and there were two police cars blocking the street.   Except, the police cars were an odd color of blue and had some strange-looking emblem on the doors. I figured maybe they were for some private security company since some of the banks on Wall Street have intensive security forces. There were no cops near the cars, so I walked up to examine the emblems and they did say "Police Department", but for the "City of Gotham." Ah... that explains it. I had seen some movie production trucks a block earlier. So, this had to be filming of the new "Dark Knight" sequel That had been rumored.   I detoured towards the south of Wall Street and then parallel to Wall Street to get to Broad Street where the New York Stock Exchange is located. They also had Broad Street barricaded, but after a few minutes of looking around I noticed them open up the barricade on the east side of Broad Street and they were letting people through.   Walking north on Broad Street across from the stock exchange I noticed a lot of little piles of fluffy white stuff, which I presume was fake snow.   Crossing over Wall Street in front of the old Morgan bank building I saw a large stream of movie extras entering the building, many of whom were in full, heavy riot gear with body armor and assault rifles. Presumably they had just finished filming on the closed-off portion of Wall Street.   I noticed that all of the usual steel barricades at the intersection of Broad and Wall were gone. I guess they just didn't fit into the movie screenplay. Ironic, that a movie shot with heavy security and street violence would want less security measures visible than what are normally on the street on a typical, uneventful day. Interesting how reality can be stranger than fiction – the old adage that truth can be stranger than fiction since fiction has to make sense.   Just up Nassau Street a half-block (Nassau is the continuation of Broad Street but the name changes at Wall Street!) I saw a movie flyer taped to a pole which detailed access restrictions that day due to filming for "Magnus Rex", mentioning the use of simulated gunfire and assault rifles (and noting that this required careful coordination with NYPD). So, yes, this definitely was probably filming for the new Dark Knight sequel. And, once again, quite ironic how with all of the tenseness and quasi-violence of the nearby Occupy Wall Street encampment (two blocks north and one block west), they would have all of this fictional violence at the same time.   Is fiction mocking reality or is reality mocking fiction?   And, as expected, when I walked along the outside of Zucotti park it was nothing but a kind of calm buzziness not unlike any NYC park – except for the uncontrolled frenzy of the drummers and the spectators egging them on as they approached their 6 PM drumming curfew.   AFAICT, the size of the Zucotti Park "movement" was about the same as in recent weeks. It hasn't managed to spill into surr[...]

Ignoring Occupy Wall Street for the rest of the year


I've followed the whole Occupy Wall Street movement with great interest over the past month, but it is time for me to hit the "ignore" button on them for the rest of the year (at least.) They've gotten repetitive and predictable and don't appear to be likely to do anything truly of long-term interest. Who knows, maybe they'll surprise me and somehow get their act together, but they simply don't appear to be on an upwards trend at this point, in terms of garnering significant additional deeply passionate support from the rest of the so-called 99% that is not already active in the movement. Yeah, sometimes the various unions (a small fraction of Americans all together) join in, but only halfheartedly, like with the so-called "General Strike" in Oakland right now. Sure, things could change at any moment, but I'll make that judgment on January 1, 2012 and determine then whether I can keep them on "ignore."   For now, I'll simply write off OWS as an offshoot of the anti-globalization movement. There's a little more to it than that, but that basically summarizes them quite well.   FWIW, here's how I have been following the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement:   The Adbusters web site. These are the guys/brains/puppet-masters behind the global "Occupy" movement. The "Culture Jammers HQ."   The Occupy Wall Street web site. The "official" web site for this "leaderless resistance movement."   The Occupy Wall Street Facebook page.   The Occupy Wall Street Twitter feed.   Google News for "Occupy Wall Street." On a typical Saturday on my normal schedule I walk all around lower Manhattan, including Union Square, Washington Square, Battery Park, Battery City Park, the World Trade Center Site, and sometimes Wall Street and even past Zucotti Park, so I am sure I will "notice" if the OWS movement actually does take off. And I regularly walk to, around, and through Central Park on various days of the week as well, so I'll certainly notice if OWS makes good on their "threat" to "occupy Central Park" as they have said they would.   So, if the OWS movement does actually take off, I'll notice it first hand without having to waste another moment of my time reading about it on the Web.   -- Jack Krupansky[...]

Should I resume using twitter?


After a reasonably long experimental use of Twitter, I went on a hiatus from Twitter about eighteen months ago since I felt it wasn't a very productive or profitable use of my time. So far, I haven't regretted that decision and had remained focused on real, billable work since then. But now I am once more back on the street looking for work, so now it seems reasonable to question whether anything has changed enough to warrant my return to Twitter. I'll give the question some thought over the next few weeks, although my current feeling is that Twitter would still be a relative waste of my limited time and resources.
Can anybody offer any personal experiences that show clearly that Twitter had a dramatically positive ROI for their efforts?

Debugging font issue - Experiment #19


Okay, I think after 18 experiments I am finally ready to declare Mission Accomplished.
One last block quote.
That's all for now.

Debugging font issue - Experiment #18


Experiment #17 seems successful, so two separate delete operations it is.
Try another list:
  1. Bold
  2. Italics
  3. Bold italics
  4. No formatting
After the list.
Hmmm... Even with no newline after my signature line, it looks like lots of extra whitespace in the blog posts.

Debugging font issue - Experiment #17


Okay, experiment #16 failed, back to tiny text, suggesting that deleting both the WLM "original message" header and the original message text in one operation causes tint text.
In this experiment I deleted the same text, but in two separate delete operations.
I started with the sent message for experiment #15.

Debugging font issue - Experiment #16


Experiment #15 looked fine.   For this experiment I deleted all but the signature line in one operation. This is supposed to be a block quote. Try some italics and bold formatting.   -- Jack Krupansky[...]

Debugging font issue - Experiment #15


Experiment #14 was fine.
For this experiment I started by forwarding my previous sent message. First deleted only the WLM "original message" header, then I deleted the original message text itself, then added this new text.
Add a short list for good measure.
  1. X
  2. Y
  3. Z
After the list. Note: I did not format the list as a numbered list until I had first typed the text of the first line after the list to assure that this line would have normal paragraph formatting.
The end. I hope.
One final experiment: I deleted the newline at the end of my signature line since it looks like some extra white space was showing up in the blog post.

Debugging font issue - Experiment #14


Experiment #13 was fine other than that I forgot to add back my email link.
Deleted some text from a forward of my original sent message for experiment # 13. When I forward just a sent message, I first delete the "orginal message" header that WLM places before the original message text. I wonder if that messes up formatting for the first paragraph.
Now I add the un-numbered list:
  1. A
  2. B
  3. C – add some bold and italics formatting.
Line after the list.

Debugging font issue - Experiment #13


Oops, experiment #11 was not completely successful – the first paragraph had tiny text for some unknown reason. And experiment #12 was a disaster because I deleted all text but the signature line and started over, but forgot to round-trip between Plain Text and Rich Text first.
So, for this experiment I deleted all text but the signature line, went to plain text and then back to rich text, and then added this text.
Now I add the un-numbered list:
  1. A
  2. B
  3. C – add some bold and italics formatting.
Line after the list.
-- Jack Krupansky