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to update or not to update....

When it comes to change, I find it exciting and frightening at the same time.

In the world of PC software, change is called "update" - and vendors want us to believe that an update is always a change for the better. I develop software for a living, so I can tell you this: most updates don't result in any improvement. Some updates even result in major setbacks.

I've been dealing with those setbacks with regards to one of my favorite pieces of software for a few months now. Ever since Skype decided to force automatic updates on users, beginning with version 6, I was unable to receive calls through my Skype-In phone number on my computer. I always made sure I was logged into Skype on that one computer only, logged out of Skype on all other devices - to no avail. Skype would simply redirect all calls to my cell phone, instead of "ringing" the PC.

Today I solved the problem, though. Sweet victory!

Here's what I did - just in case you have a similar problem:

  • uninstall Skype
  • download version from
  • install that and say "not now" when it tells you to update to the latest version
  • disable the SkypeUpdater Windows Service
  • find the SkypeSetup.exe in your profile's appdata/local/temp folder and delete it
  • replace that SkypeSetup.exe with an empty text file
  • deny all permissions for Everyone on the empty text file

Reboot and live happily ever after. 



19:03 Posted in Opinions | Permalink | Comments (1)


Tax Appeal, Anyone?

It seems like not too long ago that I had to play that exact same game - appealing our annual property assessment.

I personally believe that my primary residence should not be taxed at all, because I already paid taxes twice on that money. First, when I earn the money, I pay my income tax. Then, when I buy a house with the money, I pay sales tax.

Bottom line: nobody ever owns their property - we just rent it from the State.

In Indiana we thought we got a break of sorts when we voted a tax cap of 1% for residential property into our constitution, but soon after that we noticed that our government came up with a new creative way of raising tax revenues.

If the percentage can't go above 1%, they need to raise the value of our properties.

That's exactly what our assessor has been trying to do for the past two years! In-midst of a sluggish economy, continuously decreasing real estate sales prices, and an average inflation rate just under 3%, the value of our old house in an old neighborhood has supposedly, miraculously, increased by 7.22% over the past twelve months. 

So, here we go again - tax appeal. This time, though, I didn't have to think long about how to do it. I just repeated the same procedure as last year: going through the tax assessor's own database of property report cards I found several houses, comparable to ours, in our immediate neighborhood that had been sold within the past twelve month for a fair, realistic price - considerably lower than what our assessment said.

Our appeal was successful! The new value of our property is now only 1.12% higher than last year's.

I find it strange, though, that nobody else seems to appeal their property assessments. Do other people simply grumble, complain, and then just pay whatever? Tell me, do you appeal - and if you do, how do you go about it? 


10:58 Posted in Opinions | Permalink | Comments (2)


Burn-Ban on the 4th?


Currently major parts of the USA are under severe drought conditions. Record high temperatures combined with record low rain-fall create an extreme fire hazard. Colorado is burning out of control, and almost all counties in Indiana have issued burn-bans. That means you can't make a fire anywhere, and you certainly cannot light your fireworks.

Many cities have canceled or postponed their fireworks displays that were planned for celebrations of the 4th of July this year. While I realize this is a necessary precaution, I still hope that IPFW's fireworks event will take place - because this is the first time I'd be able to enjoy it as a US-citizen.

11:56 Posted in Opinions | Permalink | Comments (0)


Crown Week

CrownWeek.jpgLast night I had a coupon in the mail. Nothing special, you may say, we get coupons in the mail every day. Sometimes for stuff that we'd never use, or didn't even know existed. Most coupons a worth $1 or $2, sometimes even $10, but my coupon is worth $100 - wow!

That's good, right?

Well, I don't think so. This coupon, in my opinion, sums up most of the things that are wrong with health care and the medical profession in the USA. The coupon is from my dentist, trying to get people to spend thousands of dollars on crowns, bridges, and veneers during the last week of April.

06:39 Posted in Opinions | Permalink | Comments (0)


Dihydrogen Monoxide

I am shocked! I admit, I have ignored this real chemical danger for too long!

But now that I discovered the truth, I urge you to educate yourself and take action to protect your and your family's health.

Dihydrogen monoxide, also called "hydroxyl acid":
is the major component of acid rain
contributes to the "greenhouse effect"
may cause severe burns
is fatal if inhaled
contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape
accelerates corrosion of many metals
may cause electrical failures and decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes
has been found in excised tumors of terminal cancer patients

Despite the danger, dihydrogen monoxide is often used:
as an industrial solvent and coolant
in nuclear power plants
in the production of styrofoam
as a fire retardant
in many forms of cruel animal research
in the distribution of pesticides. Even after washing, produce remains contaminated by this chemical
as an additive in certain "junk-foods" and other food products

Please visit this eye-opening website and join the movement to ban Dihydrogen Monoxide!


01:00 Posted in Opinions | Permalink | Comments (1)