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02/17/2018

32GB just doesn't cut it for Windows 10.

Nuvision99.JPGWhen I saw this deal on Microsoft’s website a few months ago, I thought it was a steal. Just $99 buys me a tablet with Windows 10 on it that I can leave in the office, and use for my personal online activities during lunch break.

Initial set-up wasn’t too bad. I added a 64GB microSD card and installed all extra programs (except my virus protection) on it, to make sure Windows has enough space for itself. For a while that seemed to work, even though the frequent updates, that you can’t do much against, made it hard to find times when I could actually use the tablet for the intended purpose.

But then the “creators update” version 1709 of Windows 10 came along, and that was the end of useful life for my little cheap tablet. While the finished installation might have fitted onto what was left of my 32GB SSD, Windows 10 needs a lot more space during updates – and it will not use the SD-card for that??

I learned my lesson. Went out to eBay and found a refurbished Dell Venue 11 Pro 7140, with 128GB SSD in it. Windows 10 Pro came pre-installed. $209 doesn’t break the bank either, and it has room to grow, even with Windows 10 on it.

DellVenue.JPGSo, in case you’re thinking about getting yourself a Windows tablet, make sure it has at least 64GB (or better 128GB) of harddrive space, and 4GB or more of RAM.

01/04/2018

Remember Equifax?

Just about four months ago roughly 143 million people – pretty much every adult in the USA – fell victim to Equifax’s lax handling of highly sensitive personal information. While the initial outrage lasted in the media, everybody was eagerly trying to protect what they could – but by now it’s eerily quiet out there.

It’s not over, though. It will never be over. For the rest of your life you will have to watch your credit file, not just with Equifax, but with all three reporting agencies. Good for you, if you placed a security freeze on your credit file with every one of the bureaus. Once your accounts are “frozen”, identity thieves will have to find your PIN code to “unfreeze” them before they can cause you harm.

90dayFraudAlert.JPGSince I am a bit paranoid, I add an extra layer of protection by placing what is called an “initial 90 day fraud alert” with each of the credit bureaus every 100 days. That way, whenever anybody applies for new credit using your personal data, the creditor will have to call a phone number you supplied to make sure it is really you. Also, each time you place an initial fraud alert, you are entitled to another free credit report from that agency.

Now, these credit reporting agencies are not in the business of making your life easier, so they try hard to hide the place where you need to go to fill out their fraud alert form. I bookmarked those links for you, though. You’re welcome.

Equifax fraud alert
Experian fraud alert
Transunion fraud alert

03/13/2016

Weekend-Plumber

IMG_20160313_143403.jpgSaturday evening I went into the basement to finish making an ExxoPok that I had started on earlier and noticed a small puddle of water right underneath our main drain on the floor.

I knew immediately where that was coming from, because a few years ago the same thing happened. There is a 1.5 foot section of really flimsy tube, made of unknown material, connecting from the copper pipe above into the cast iron drain that goes out.

Last time there was a leak on the bottom of this connection pipe, which we fixed by wrapping water activated fiber-glass epoxy tape around it. This time water was coming out of a growing hole at the top of the connection.

Sunday morning, by the time we had finally made it to Lowe's and back, to get more of that magic bandage, there was about a gallon of water on the floor, eight big towels soaking wet. Two people using the bathroom, taking showers, washing dishes, didn't improve the situation.

The tricky part to the job was that wooden door-frame right next to the pipe. We had to carefully saw, drill, chisel away at it to make a gap big enough for me to get my hand through. Once you open the package of that bandage you have to apply it really quickly. The stuff fully sets within 30 minutes. This time I didn't just wrap the leaky part; I put a full four rolls of the fiber-glass tape all the way around the entire piece of pipe.

That should last a few more years.

01/18/2016

Reed City (??), MI

IMG_3654.JPG

We were on our way home from Cadillac, MI, after a fun and relaxing skiing weekend. Our old van was loaded with skiing gear, two medium size suitcases, stuff for our dog, a cooler, some food. Since we only had a quarter tank of gas left, I decided to get off the highway and fill up. As I drove down the ramp the engine revved up all by itself, and then I lost all power - a very familiar feeling which I remembered from a few years ago with our Taurus.

I slowly rolled to the side of the road. Try turning it off and back on again, try reverse, now try drive, what about 1, or 2 - nothing. That's bad. Now what? While we were sitting there, searching for the closest towing service on the smartphone, a Sheriff pulls up from behind and asks if we needed help. The Sheriff called a tow truck for us, which took only about 15 minutes to arrive. Phil's County Line Service is just a mile away, in Reed City, MI.

Another 45 minutes later we had a rental car driver from Enterprise in Big Rapids, MI, come pick us up. Most of our stuff fit in the trunk of that Hyundai Sonata. Except for our skis and the cooler. The drive home was a bit tricky because of the weather. Lake effect snow falling, then blowing and drifting across icy roads. We drove past three trucks that had rolled over into the ditch, and two cars had slid off the highway - probably because of somebody being in a big hurry to get somewhere.

It looks like there will be another trip to Reed City, MI - to pick up the van (if they fixed it) or try to sell it for parts (if it isn't worth fixing).

02/07/2015

Freeze! It's for your own good.

Anthem.jpgLast Wednesday it became known that all personal information of roughly 12% of the entire population of the USA had been stolen by some Chinese hackers, because one big, powerful, rich insurance company carelessly neglected to encrypt and protect their database. 

The insurance company said they will notify all affected customers, and offer them free credit repair and identity protection services - but it will take weeks, or months, before this happens; and then the "protection" will likely only be offered for one year. 

If you are one of the victims, or even if you got lucky this time, you are not completely helpless, though. There is one powerful tool available to you to protect your credit: place a security freeze on your consumer credit report. You have to do that with all three credit reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. It is free in many States, and costs $5 to $10 in some other States.

After that, you have the peace of mind that nobody can abuse your personal information to obtain credit without your knowledge. The freeze will slow you down a little bit, in case you want to get new credit in the future, because you would have to "thaw" your account temporarily, or for a specific lender, but for me that is well worth it! 

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