How to Manage a Slow Internet Connection

Today’s technology doesn’t much allow for a slow internet connection, however, a year ago I switched my wireless service to T-Mobile. This was for a couple of reasons that I won’t go into at the moment. Unfortunately, T-Mobile’s network is still 2G at home. This provides an extremely slow connection on my smartphone and on my computer when I am forced to connect (due to weather outage on my satellite).

Here are some tips to remember when having to use a slow connection from a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

  1. Be patient. This is easier said than done, especially when there are gnats that have more patience than I have. I have to keep reminding myself that no matter how slow it is, it was slower in 2004 when I was in Kandahar, Afghanistan. It would sometimes take 5 minutes for an email to load. This would make for a real fun time when I was given a 10 minute allotment of time to use the internet.
  2. Install tools on your device to make the connection a little better. What I mean to say is, install Opera browser on your device. Opera allows you to utilize tools to make a slow connection load a little bit faster. With Turbo mode, the browser removes all unnecessary lines of code from the web page. Also, you have the option to turn off features such as Java, images, and more.
  3. If you are using a smartphone through T-Mobile, consider installing a network booster. This will pull in 4G signals from extreme distances away. I will post more on this after I install my own booster and fine tune it. With all available information, I should be able to get a 4G signal 45 miles from the tower.
  4. Search for alternative connections. StraightTalk, available through StraightTalk.com and WalMart, offers a WiFi hotspot with 5 Gb of data for $50. You have 60 days to use the 5 Gb of data and it is truly 4G ( in most locations).

If you are forced to use a slow connection such as T-Mobile or dialup, remember to use Opera. Enable Turbo and disable images. I still allow java because several web sites loses functionality without java.


Posted in Technology

Operating an eBusiness from Home

eBusiness - e business, or e-business, is the application of information and communication technologies (ICT) in support of all the activities of business. Commerce constitutes the exchange of products and services between businesses, groups and individuals and can be seen as one of the essential activities of any business. Electronic commerce focuses on the use of ICT to enable the external activities and relationships of the business with individuals, groups and other businesses.[1] The term “e-business” was coined by IBM‘s marketing and Internet teams in 1996.[2][3] - per Wikipedia

Owning an eBusiness doesn’t mean that you have to sell products or services. You can provide information through a website and make money doing so to be deemed an eBusiness. How can you make money by providing information? The main way is through advertising.

There are multiple pay per click networks that allow new publishers to sign up and attach their ads to your website. Whenever a visitor clicks an ad, you get paid up to $15 per click – although that is an extreme amount (the typical click pays between $0.25 and $1.50).

There are affiliate programs that allow you publish links to the eCommerce site that are affiliated with. When a visitor clicks through and buys an item from that site, you are paid a percentage of the total sale. In 2007 and 2008, utilizing the eBay affiliate program, I earned between $75 and $200 per month. While this wasn’t a lot, it provided me with the means to take the family out to dinner and a movie without digging into my own checkbook.

Whenever you establish your site -> by establish, I mean, whenever your site has a steady stream of traffic -> sell ad space on your site. You can add an area to the side bar or sell banner placements on your site. A lot of other site owners will pay $25, $50, $100 or more per month. If you sell 6-10 ad units per month, your site will generate a decent amount of revenue from this alone.

How do you set up a website for eBusiness and not sell anything? First you need a domain and webhosting. This is easy. Sign up for an account at a provider such as GoDaddy or 1&1. Purchase your domain and pay for hosting. Hosting typically runs $3 / month or less for a basic shared hosting server.

Whenever you login on the hosting management site, click the web apps link and install WordPress. You don’t have to know anything to get it going! To change the look of your site, download new themes -> this is done directly in the WordPress Control Panel by clicking Appearance -> Themes. You don’t have to download anything to your local computer, it is downloaded remotely to the server and installed by clicking a button.

The same goes for plugins. Simply choose the plugin that you wish to use and click install. I have a plugin available on WordPress.org to simplify the site owner’s task of adding affiliate advertisements. My plugin works in conjunction with 3 different programs: eBay, Amazon, and Commission Junction (CJ). CJ allows affiliates to partner with multiple merchants, effectively giving the publisher a broad range of products to promote and the visitor many options through the publisher site.

There are also plugins available for eCommerce, Google AdSense, services, hospitality, and much, much more.

It has been stated that the average person can earn $40k plus annually using AdSense alone within two years of publishing a website. So the article goes that 250 quality posts annually will provide enough traffic to one site in two years that you will earn $40k per year. This is great supplemental income for anybody, especially when you only need to spend a few hours in ONE day to write a week’s worth of posts!

Do you currently own a website? If so, tell us about your hosting experience and any tips that you have to drive traffic to your site by commenting on this post.


Posted in php Code

Buying/Building a New Computer

There comes a time in most people’s lives where they must buy a new computer. There are several things to think about when buying a new computer: Operating System, Processor, RAM, cost. If you are on a budget and are technical savvy, why not build your own computer or, at the very least, hire somebody to build the computer for you.

How do I build a computer, you ask? It really isn’t as hard today as it used to be. You can shop several websites and buy components for your computer. You can even buy barebones kits that include everything needed to build the computer yourself.

But what do I need? That really is a common question. Here is a list of the common components found in a PC.

  • Case – This is the container that houses the computer components. The case has the power button.
  • Motherboard – This is the circuit board that sends signals to and from the processor. The motherboard is one of the most essential parts of the computer. Motherboards usually have integrated sound. This eliminates the need for an additional sound card. Some also come with integrated video and wireless.
  • CPU (processor) – There are many CPU’s on the market today. You have single core, dual core, quad core and now even 6 and 8 core processors. For the average user, a dual core processor is ideal. The single core chips are almost, if not already, completely obsolete.
  • RAM – The RAM, or random access memory, is what makes your computer work. When using a program, RAM is constantly updating the state of the program. For instance, if you are using a word processor – until you save the file, it is being stored in RAM as you key in data. Once you save the file, it is still in RAM until you close the word processor. For most people, 4 Gb is enough but 8 Gb is better.
  • Hard Disk Drive – The hard disk drive (HDD) is where the operating system is stored and all of your data is stored. 20 years ago, you were fortunate to own a 1 Gb hard disk. These drives were extremely expensive. Today, you shouldn’t get less than 250 Gb. There are many barebones kits that include a 1 Tb (terabyte) drive, or 1000 Gb. These drives don’t cost more than $50 now.
  • CD/DVD ROM – Again, the price is so cheap now that a typical CD/DVD burner can be purchased for less that $20. If you really want to go pro, get yourself a BluRay burner. These are less than $75.
  • Video card – Unless your motherboard doesn’t have integrated graphics and you aren’t a gamer, you won’t need this. However, some motherboards don’t carry integrated graphics and it is detrimental to buy a video card. If you aren’t a gamer, a good video card with over 1 Gb RAM can be purchased for under $30. If you are a gamer, don’t expect to spend less than $150 on a good video card.
  • Wireless card – If the board doesn’t contain integrated wireless and you need WI-FI at home, you can purchase a decent PCI express Wireless card for under $10.
  • Power Supply – Here is where it can be tricky. You need a good power supply that can power your computer at all times. For most people, 450 Watts is ample to power the computer. However, if you are building a gamer PC, consider 650 +.
  • Operating System – When building, you choose the OS that you wish to install. For me, I install Windows 7 Ultimate or Windows 8.1 Enterprise because I prefer both of these operating systems. You can get Linux for free. Simply download Ubuntu and you are all set.

I recently built myself a new computer. My old laptop has seen better days and before it completely died, I built a system that is pretty decent. It contains the AMD 8 core FX-8350 cpu. This chip ranks in at #5 on the top 10 performing chips, via CPUBenchmark.com. I am using a mid range motherboard, MSI 970A-G43. The board doesn’t have integrated graphics and the chip doesn’t have a built in GPU so I purchased a low range video card, Sapphire Radeon HD5450. I also purchased a Seagate 1 Tb hard disk, LG DVD burner, and Hiro wireless card. For my power supply, I have a Solid Gear 650 Watt power supply. My RAM is Adata – 8 Gb. The case that was included with my kit is a ThermalTake Versa gaming case. For $5 more, I ordered neon lights to install on the inside of my case.

This barebones kit sells on TigerDirect.com. And I purchased everything for under $600 (not including the monitor). Some other things that you will need that isn’t included is thermal paste and a wrist ground strap. I purchased both of these from eBay for less than $5 with free shipping.

If you choose to build the computer yourself, these are the steps I took to build mine.

  1. Open the Motherboard and remove it from the box.
  2. Open the CPU and remove it from the box.
  3. Being careful, place the CPU in the Motherboard following directions. (Look for the arrow on the chip and in the slot to install the CPU)
  4. Lock the CPU into place by closing the latch on the motherboard at the CPU socket.
  5. Apply thermal paste to CPU. This is tricky. You don’t want to overdo it because this will cause the CPU to overheat. However, not enough will also cause the CPU to overheat. A lot of heatsinks have thermal paste already on them. If this is the case, you shouldn’t apply any.
  6. Attach heatsink to the CPU and latch it following directions for your machine.
  7. Install Motherboard in case. It is essential that nowhere on the board touches the case except for where the screws attach. Inspect your case and verify if it needs spacers are not. The spacers will be included with the hardware for your case.
  8. Install power supply in case. Attach all cables to motherboard, as per the specs of your board.
  9. Install RAM. The RAM fits into the appropriate slots on the board and locks down with tabs on the two outer edges of the stick.
  10. Install video and wireless cards if necessary. If your machine requires the additional cards, remove the covers from the outside of the case following the directions with your case.
  11. Install HDD and CD/DVD drives. These will install into the case following the directions of the case. Attach the appropriate cables from the power supply to the drives. Also attach the SATA communications cables to the motherboard.
  12. Finally, attach all of the wiring in the case to the motherboard following the directions from the case and motherboard. This sounds harder than it really is.
  13. Once you have all wiring installed, use cable wraps to clean up the installation.

Congratulations, you have built a computer. Now, connect the power supply to the wall, your keyboard and mouse to the PC, and your monitor to the machine.

Install your OS and you are all set.


Posted in Technology

Surviving Power Outages

I recently read an article that said that America could lose electricity if 9 substations were attacked in the US. While I don’t suspect that this would happen, it certainly could happen. Then we would go back to the stone ages, per se, and have to survive. It doesn’t have to be that bad with a little preparedness. (No I am not a conspiracy theorist, or even worry about this, but I live in an area prone to outages due to being rural and close enough to the coast to lose power in hurricanes.)

I have read about several individuals going off the grid. I don’t intend to go completely off the grid, or at least not now, but do have a contingency plan for power outages. The initial cost of this is less than $2000 and certainly is worth it’s cost when needed.

First, let me say this: I don’t have a gasoline, diesel, or lp gas generator. These systems, while they provide excellent electricity, simply cost too much money. I have four 12 volt golf cart batteries that power a series of 600 watt inverters. Also, I have a 12 volt deep freeze/ refrigerator that we use. Finally I have 4000 watts of solar panels connected to the batteries to recharge that batteries.

With the 13 watt compact fluorescent bulbs, one inverter is designated to powering lamps in each room of the house. The lamps aren’t necessarily in the rooms at all times but are stored in a container for quick retrieval in the event of an outage. One inverter is used to power fans. The fans, while they won’t keep you cool, do provide you with air movement. One inverter powers my television, satellite, and internet. Bare in mind that while we are using the inverter, I don’t try to power my 55″ television because it causes the inverter to emit an audible alarm that the power usage is too high. I have a 20″ television that we use during power outages. Finally, the last inverter is used for recharging laptop computers, cellphones, and other devices.

For cooking, I purchased a Coleman camping stove. This is a two burner propane stove that typically burns the small bottles of LP gas. I also have an adapter that I purchased that allows me to connect my stove to a 5 gallon propane tank. This is beneficial because it costs a lot less for 5 gallons than for the small bottles. We also have a charcoal grill and two burner fish fryer to use during outages.

For water, because we are all electric and have a well for our household water, I had a well technician to install a hand pump. This allows us to get drinking water  from the well. Also, I have two 275 gallon intermediate bulk containers that I purchased locally to keep water stored in. I treat this water with chlorine and other chemicals (just as you would a swimming pool) to prevent this water from getting harmful bacteria in it. This water, in conjunction with a submersible bilge pump (for boating) and a tent for showering gives us the ability to shower when the power is out. The bilge pump wires up to a 12 volt battery and I have an on/off switch located by a shed where the water containers are stored. Also, I have a main disconnect installed by the batteries. By disconnecting the power when not in use, it prevents the battery from discharging, the water from accidentally being pumped out, and the pump from cavitating and wearing out prematurely.

I have been reading about a solar powered window air conditioning unit. It is a 12,000 BTU unit and would provide enough cooling for our kitchen/ living room and bedrooms. I do intend to add this to our system in the future because we live in lower Alabama where the heat and humidity are both extreme in July and August.

Do you have a contingency plan for power outages? Let us know about your plan by commenting.


Posted in Simple Living

Internet Options in Rural America

Like most people living in rural America, my wife and I have children at home and it absolutely necessary that we have internet. Where we live, AT&T owns the landline infrastructure. AT&T refuses to install the few parts to provide us with DSL (they already have optic lines and the most everything required installed, just need a couple of switches according to a tech), so we are left with a few options.

Dial up – while it definitely has the pro of being cheap, it doesn’t fit into our plans because:

  1. We have five children, between the two of us. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to allow everyone time to use the internet.
  2. We don’t have a landline anymore because AT&T wouldn’t repair phone lines coming to our home. The tech actually dug the line up, spliced it, placed it on two sticks to hold it above the ground, and wrapped it in a garbage bag with duct tape. It took multiple calls to AT&T, emails, and finally a few posts on the internet with the pictures of our phone line repair to get it fixed!

Wireless – this is a better option except for the overpriced bandwidth required.

  • In 2009, there was a kid who wrote an app for iPhone that allowed you to tether your iPhone to your computer and get the most out of your unlimited data plan with AT&T. This was great for a short period of time – then AT&T wireless decided that you could keep your unlimited data plan but it would no longer be truly unlimited because at 3GB they were going to throttle your internet to dial speeds. Also, the area where I live never saw 3G or 4G internet until after AT&T actually implemented this policy.
  • Verizon is far too expensive to use their services anywhere!
  • Sprint offers certain broadband companies the option of selling unlimited broadband internet to their customers. This is not a bad option but it has two problems:
  • -> Sprint doesn’t have any towers within 20 miles of here. The sales rep told me that if there was a tower within 20 miles they could sell me a signal booster that would allow me to use the service.
  • -> It costs $125 per month with a 6 month contract.
  • T-Mobile, who is actually my wireless provider, offers truly unlimited data through their phone packages. I saved a ton of money switching our service to T-Mobile and when I am in an LTE area, it is FAST! Unfortunately, at home it is very SLOW! I am connected with GPRS (slower than EDGE). On the bright side, they are in the middle of upgrading towers nationwide and hope to have all towers upgraded by mid 2015. This is great news and will promise to be good. For now, I use my data package as a backup for when my internet goes out. I have also read about to how to squeeze the 4G signal from 45 miles away using ingenuity, an antenna, and booster. This does require registering the booster as a tower, however. I will post about my findings after I try this.

Satellite Internet Providers – this has been my choice for 7 years now. I was with HughesNet for 6 years and have been with ViaSat’s Exede internet service for a year.

  • Hughes is slow. Their customer service sucks. Their service sucks. Their plans suck, even more so now than they used to. You are truly limited with HughesNet. They offer plans that allow you X amount of bandwidth per month with X amount to be used at night time during their, now, “bonus” period. My plan had a free period where you had unlimited bandwidth for 5 hours during the night but it was slower than 3G wireless, most DSL plans, and only 3-4 times faster than dial-up.
  • DishNet – This is HughesNet being sold through a third party. Do the math. You can pay Hughes directly or pay the middle man. This is your choice.
  • WildBlue which is now Exede – To start with I stayed away from WildBlue because they had a tendency to give you X amount of bandwidth per month. When you ran out, you were out. No internet. Period. Exede, on the other hand, offers a plan called Evolution. With this plan, you have unlimited web browsing and email usage. You get 5Gb of data for everything else. 5Gb doesn’t sound like much, and isn’t much for that matter. But if the internet is used properly, you will always have bandwidth to use when you don’t want to use it. We can’t stream video or music but we can use the internet.

The other cons of the satellite internet are: if it rains or is cloudy, the internet goes out. The price of the internet is high, although it is less than wireless because we get unlimited web browsing and email usage for the same amount as 5Gb of wireless through AT&T. Again, Verizon is too expensive for me to consider.

The pros are: Exede is pretty quick. Sure it has a high latency (ping times between 700-900 ms) but consider this. I send request to website from my computer in rural Alabama. It is beamed from my computer to 1000 miles above Earth. It is beamed back from space to data center in Anchorage, Alaska. It then retrieves info, beams back from Alaska to space to Alabama. It does all this in less than a second. Not too shabby. But not good for VOIP either.

A lot of rural America has the option for DSL. This is the smartest choice where available because DSL isn’t too expensive. In fact, it costs less than dial up did twenty years ago. DSL provides decent upload and download speeds and gives you fair allotment of data bandwidth. While DSL doesn’t run at speeds comparable to 4G or Exede, it gives you the best value for your money.


Posted in Technology

How to Deal With Kidney Stones

As a man, I can assure you that there is really not many things that can hurt a guy worse than a kidney stone. I have had my fair share of them.

When I was a child and teenager, I really liked milk. I would drink, sometimes, 1.5 gallons per day but at minimum .75 gallons daily. I loved milk! It was good for strengthening bones and provided me with Vitamin D. Plus, did I mention that I loved it?

I found out that this was extremely bad because the excess calcium has a tendency to build up in the kidneys.

In 2004, I went to Kandahar Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. What I discovered there was that the drinking water we had (supplied to us from United Arab Emirates), contained a lot of minerals. These minerals are also conducive to the formation of kidney stones. While I could’ve done a lot to prevent kidney stones, I found that out only after the fact.

MY STORY

Enter early adulthood. I was maybe 23 when I had my first major kidney stone. My son was just over 1 year old and I planned to take him to Pensacola to see the Blue Angels practice. Instead, I had an overwhelming pain in the lower left quadrant of my stomach. I initially thought that I should get something to eat and maybe it would make me feel better. This didn’t work.

I then went to the bathroom and passed a “gross” amount of blood when I urinated. I immediately decided to go the hospital. I was en route when the real pain of a kidney stone moving hit me. Imagine a red hot knife, being pulled out of a bed of coals, stabbing you in the back and twisting! That is the only comparison of what a kidney stone feels like, and that doesn’t do it much justice!

When I arrived at the hospital ER and told the nurse what was going on, she called the doctor. He ordered a heaping dose of Morphine and a KUB (kidney upper bladder) x-ray. The x-ray confirmed that I, in fact, had an extremely large kidney stone and that I would have to be referred to a urologist for a lithotripsy.

I was transferred to a hospital equipped for the litho. After undergoing the litho, I thought I would die. I couldn’t do anything but lay in the bed for a week. I didn’t even eat! I would drink water and sleep.

After a week, I completely passed it.

Major stone #2 – In April 2010, I was hospitalized with kidney stone #2. Once again, I underwent a litho to break the stone. Unfortunately, the litho wasn’t able to break the stone. After 6 weeks of agony because the stone was caught in the urethra, I prayed that God would let me pass it or let me pass. I didn’t care but something had to give. I passed the stone, within minutes!

PREVENTION

My urologist informed me of how to prevent future kidney stones. The best way to prevent kidney stones is: first and foremost, stay well hydrated. Keep the kidneys active. The last thing the kidneys need is to not have enough fluid to filter.

Second, before bed every night, drink a glass of lemon water. Dr. Terry stated that while he preferred patients to drink water with freshly squeezed lemon in it, lemon juice was also acceptable.

3 years ago, my wife became an independent rep of Young Living Essential Oils, and I actually use two drops of Lemon Oil in my water now. The two drops are almost equal to squeezing half a lemon into a glass of water. This has proven to be more cost effective to me, in the long run.

Have you had a kidney stone and would like to share your story? Do you have chronic problems with stones and have to prevent the stones in your body? If so, we would love to hear from you. Leave your comments and share your story.


Posted in Health

Greenstick Fibula Fracture

In the past 15 months, I have learned a lot about greenstick fibula fractures. In April of 2013, my 11 year old daughter was playing softball. She attempted to slide home after a team member had a base hit. While the umpire deemed that she was safe, in her mind, she was anything but safe. She shattered the tibia at her right ankle and sustained a greenstick fibula fracture.

In May of this year, I fell approximately 40 inches at work sustaining a tibial plateau fracture and greenstick fibula fracture at my left knee.

What is a greenstick fibula fracture?

Dr. Clayton Lane at Alabama Orthopedic Clinic described a greenstick as follows: imagine breaking a green limb off a tree by putting pressure on the stick from the top and bottom. The stick breaks but it is more of a buckle rather than a break. A greenstick fracture is where the bone is fractured due to stress but doesn’t actually cause a break, rather it bends the bone.

What is the cure for a greenstick fracture? Simply put, immobilize and don’t put any weight on the leg for several weeks. This will allow it to heal.


Posted in Health

Shoulder Surgery – What to Expect Leading up to Surgery and Immediately After

I know that the title of this post covers a wide range of different shoulder injuries. Bare with me, I will tie it all together. In 2012, I sustained an injury to my right shoulder. This injury not only caused a rotator cuff tear but also a Type 2 SLAP tear. In 2013, I suffered an injury to my left shoulder that led to impingement syndrome and also had severe arthritis in the AC joint. I required surgery on both shoulders and will right about my experiences.

In 2012, Dr. Albert Haas in Mobile, AL performed surgery to my right shoulder to repair a partial thickness rotator cuff tear and SLAP tear. For those of you reading this, you probably already know what the rotator cuff tear or SLAP tear is at this point. Leading up to the surgery, I had to go to a physical terrorist and had an injection in the shoulder to try to make it better. Dr. Haas explained the injection as filling in the tears and allowing the body to naturally heal. Unfortunately, this didn’t work.

24 hours before surgery – the surgery center called me and asked me several questions about my recent health. Specifically, did I have a cold or any other illness that would require me to reschedule my surgery. Fortunately, I had no cold no did I have any other illness and was cleared for surgery.

The night before – I went to Walgreen’s and purchased anti-microbial soap to bathe with. This reduces the risk of any infections after surgery. I ate late so that I wouldn’t be hungry later. I wound up eating at 11:00 pm. Eating after midnight is a no-no. Also, it is recommended not to use tobacco or smoke (if you do any of this). You are allowed to brush your teeth and rinse your mouth out.

The morning of surgery – The surgery center recommended that I wear loose clothing and specifically a shirt that buttoned up so that it could be placed over my shoulder after surgery. After you awaken, you won’t be able to put your arm in a t-shirt or Polo shirt. I arrived for 15 minutes early. The staff went ahead and called me back and began prepping me.

In this case, the surgery prep consisted of checking vitals, shaving my chest and back, and giving me an IV. While we waited on Dr. Haas, the anesthesiologist visited to once again go over my medical history and explain to me that he would be putting me to sleep.

After half an hour, they rolled me to the operating room where I was placed on the operating table. I don’t remember much after that because they put me to sleep.

I woke myself in recovery moaning! I had never felt so much pain – ever! I have had kidney stones and they were nothing in comparison! Once I was awake, I stopped moaning because this isn’t going to make it feel better.

I looked around and there was a nurse sitting at the foot of the bed. I asked her if I in fact had tears in my shoulder. She told me that we would talk when I was fully awake. Well, hell, I was fully awake!

I sat there for five minutes watching the clock before I asked her again and also asked her if I could have something for pain. She immediately went to get a shot of dilaudid. She then told me about what Dr. Haas had to do to my shoulder. Finally, she went to get my family to bring them back.

After 20 minutes, I had no relief from the pain in my shoulder. It felt like I had been hit in the shoulder by a freight train! I asked for more meds. She gave me another shot of dilaudid.

After 15 more minutes, it started to ease up. She gave me an oral lortab 10 and a cup of Coca Cola. They want to see you drink and make sure that you hold the fluid down before releasing you, by the way. This is to ensure that there is no adverse effects from the anesthesia.

We made the hour drive back home and when I arrived at home, I needed my first of many pain pills. That evening I discovered that I should have started prepping myself for the surgery by using my left hand more to eat. I lost 20 lbs over the next 6 weeks while my right arm was immobilized.

While my left shoulder was completely different, the 24 hours preceding surgery was pretty much the same. I arrived for surgery and was taken back for the vitals and to meet with the anesthesiologist. He went over medical history and what he was going to do. One thing that Dr. Christopher Patton ordered that Dr. Haas didn’t was a nerve block.

I was given an injection in my IV to make me less tense while they performed the nerve block. From what I remember, they use ultrasound to guide their needle into place. They also ask if you feel the needle. What I discovered is that they want to know if you feel a sticking sensation, not pressure! They can do permanent nerve damage so it is detrimental to let them know of any pain that you may have.

Once this was complete, I was rolled into surgery. After the operation, the one huge thing that was different in recovery was that I was in NO pain! It was night and day, the difference in how I felt. Provided, I had a completely different procedure in the left shoulder – it didn’t hurt at all! The nurse recommended that I take pain meds prior to leaving only because she said it was better to be safe than sorry. I took a pain pill and headed home.

After arriving home, I didn’t take another pain pill for 30 hours because my arm and shoulder was completely asleep! It was both good and bad because I got a little nervous. After I finally regained feeling in the arm, it never hurt bad!

If you are looking at having shoulder surgery, be sure to ask your orthopedic doctor about doing a nerve block on your shoulder. You will be thankful that you did! Also, if you are facing surgery in your dominant arm, be sure to prepare yourself for it by eating and using your other arm a little more! This will only help you.

If you are facing surgery or have had surgery in either of your shoulders, we would love to hear about your details. Feel free to comment and share your experiences!


Posted in Health

Over the Air TV vs. Paid Digital TV

Last year one of the local television stations was removed from Dish Network’s lineup. What was so frustrating is that the local TV station demanded more money from Dish during their contract negotiations and Dish refused to give them the amount they were demanding.

The problem that I and many other Dish customers had was that we were paying for the service and we weren’t receiving said service. To add fuel to the fire, Dish Network refused to reimburse any of the money that we were paying for the service, yet the local affiliate station couldn’t be viewed.

What was even more frustrating was trying to find a decent television antenna that would actually work (55 miles from the station). WalMart and BestBuy carries antennas but none of the antennas that they had would actually work. The old tv antenna outside was installed in the eighties and no longer worked.

After exhausting all local resources, I turned to the web to find a tv antenna. Not only did I find a great antenna but I found one that works regardless  to if it raining or not. This gave me the option to turn off my Dish Network service and watch several over the air television stations that were previously not available to me! I now only pay for Dish during the Walking Dead season!

If you are in need of antenna or are simply tired of paying Dish Network, I bought my antenna from Antennas Direct. They offer great service and pricing and stand behind the antennas that they sell.


Posted in Technology

Patients View of Rotator Cuff Conservative Treatment

In the past two years, I have learned a lot about the shoulder anatomy due to having tears in both my right and left shoulders. I used two different orthopedic specialists for my shoulders and recommend both of these doctors to anybody living in the Mobile, AL area. Here is what I have learned through my own injuries.

Before I start, let me state that I am NOT a doctor and WILL NOT be responsible for any misinterpretation of what I am writing. My statements in this post aren’t meant to be used as treatment or diagnoses but rather to be used strictly as information. There are no two injuries that are exactly alike and not all people will respond to treatments the same. That being said, let me tell my story.

In 2012, I sustained an injury to my right shoulder while working on a tractor. This was a very large farm tractor, 285 hp Case Magnum to be exact. The hydraulic pump on the tractor failed. While removing the faulty hydraulic pump, the pump slipped from my hands due to the excess hydraulic fluid that spilled from the pump. This pump has a square base on it where it mounts to the tractor. The corner of the pump struck me in the right shoulder.

My initial thoughts were that it broke my collarbone due to the extreme pain in the shoulder. However, a lot of symptoms that occur with fractures wasn’t present in my shoulder. I was able to move my fingers, wrist, elbow, and could still lift my arm at the shoulder. My second thought was that I sustained a very bad bruise.

For the next few weeks, I managed to continue working at my regular job (chemical plant) and on farm equipment and automobiles at home. One Saturday morning as I was getting up out of bed, my shoulder felt like it had a bad catch in it and needed to pop. As I continued to get up, I felt something literally tear from the bottom up. I lost all range of motion and strength in my right arm immediately. Over the next several days, I was unable to get any strength in my shoulder and couldn’t control the pain so I went to see my family doctor.

Dr. Hussain ordered an x-ray and MRI. The MRI confirmed that I had not only suffered a tear in rotator cuff but also a tear in the labrum, or the cartilage that makes up the shoulder joint. He referred me to Dr. Albert Haas at The Orthopedic Group in Mobile for further treatment.

Dr. Haas initially injected the shoulder with cortisone and told me to give it three weeks. In those three weeks, I was given exercises to do that would make the shoulder feel better. I was also instructed to ice the shoulder for 20 minutes every 3 hours. This proved to be the best pain killer there was for the shoulder, by the way.

At the end of the three weeks, my shoulder was still no better so I went back to see Dr. Haas who scheduled arthroscropic surgery on the joint. While he was in there, he repaired the rotator cuff and the SLAP tear of the shoulder. (I have a new post coming about that.)

I then proceeded to endure several months of physical therapy (terror)! (Another post is coming on that, as well.)

On to the other shoulder:

Almost one year after tearing my right shoulder, I was working at home moving old farm equipment to the scrap yard. One evening, I couldn’t get the trailer that I was hauling the equipment on to come loose from old pickup truck. I proceeded to get on the bumper of the pickup truck and jump up and down to try to force the trailer to break free from the trailer hitch. It did, and when it did, I also broke free from the bumper of the truck.

The law of gravity states that what goes up must come down and I did. On my way down, I through my left hand out to break the fall. That didn’t do very much good for my shoulder!

Having had the symptoms in my other shoulder a year earlier, I went to my personal doctor. This time, insurance approved me to go to the other orthopedic clinic in Mobile. I saw Dr. Christopher Patton.

Dr. Patton is fairly young and very passionate about what he does. When he talks about performing surgery, his eyes light up! While he definitely loves to perform surgery, he tries every method to make the shoulder better prior to operating. In my case, he immediately ordered physical terror.

The physical terrorists had 6 weeks to torture me before I went back to see Dr. Patton. When I saw him the second time, nothing had changed so he injected the shoulder and put me through 6 more weeks of terror.

The torture chamber that the physical terrorists use is like this. When you arrive, expect to spend 10 minutes using a rope and pulley to stretch the shoulder out. After this, you will have a time frame of using weights to work the shoulder. The physical terrorists will then start a deep tissue massage. They may ask you for a confession. If they do, tell them everything! I think that they would make wonderful interrogators!

At the end of this 6 week period, I still was no better and had to scheduled for arthroscopic surgery on the left shoulder. I will also post about this later this week.

If you have or have had a shoulder injury and would like to discuss your time seeing the physical terrorists, or if you are a physical terrorist and would like to tell your side of the story, we would love to hear from you! Feel free to comment and tell us about your experiences!


Posted in Health

Smoked Beef Brisket

Have a green egg and want to really impress your peeps with your cooking prowess? Here is my recipe for wonderful beef brisket (I will publish a video on this at a later date – 7/5/14). I will give you my step by step instructions to beef brisket heaven.

Needed:

Hickory Chips
Beef Brisket
Brown Sugar
Cayenne Pepper
Paprika
Salt
Garlic Powder
Aluminum Roasting Pan

Mix 1/2 pound of brown sugar with 1/8 cup salt, 2 tablespoons of garlic powder, 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper and 1 tablespoon of paprika in a bowl. Place the brisket in the aluminum roasting pan, fat side down (this prevents the brisket from drying out). Rub the brisket down with the brown sugar rub that we have prepared.

Heat the green egg up to 190 degrees and put 1/4 pound of hickory chips on the egg. Place the pan with the brisket on the rack in the green egg. Let it cook for 6-7 hours (or until you can stick a fork in the center of it and turn it easily).

After it is prepared, I always wrap the brisket in aluminum foil and let it sit for at least two hours prior to consumption. This allows it to continue to cook for a little bit longer. From here, you can either shred or cut the brisket and it is ready to eat with or without barbecue sauce.

 


Posted in Southern Cooking

Hurricane Preparedness

As hurricane season is in full force, I have compiled a list of supplies that my household always has on hand just in case. While I live inland 45 miles, it is definitely not uncommon to be without electricity for several days after a major storm. In order to survive, these are the necessities that I have found that we absolutely have to have.

  • Gasoline – Not only does power outages prevent us from getting gasoline but once the power is restored, it may be several days before the local refineries start production again. Because of this, local gas stations have resorted to rationing gas when it becomes available by drawing names for customers to fill their tanks. I have two five gallon gas cans, 6 one gallon gas cans, and 3 six gallon outboard motor fuel tanks. Even though this may sound like an overkill, my SUV holds 32 gallons so in the event that the fuel isn’t needed for the storm, I can always use the fuel in my SUV after the storm and also in the boats and lawn equipment.
  • Water – For drinking water, we both buy several gallons of water from the grocery store and fill gallon containers with filtered water. We do not have city water so if we lose power, we lose water. As a general rule of thumb, I try to have 50 gallons of water on hand for drinking and cooking. This may seem like an overkill but we can always drink the water later. For showers and toilets, I bought an empty 275 gallon Schutz tote. Along with this container, I have a shower tent that we take camping with us. By placing a bilge pump in the container, we can pump what water we need to bathe and fill a container to flush our toilets with.
  • Food – Throughout the winter months whenever I go grocery shopping, I always buy non-perishable items such as dry beans, pasta, and canned goods. I also try to keep a small supply of canned processed meat such as SPAM, tuna, and chicken. By having a stockpile of these items, we could survive for about one month.
  • Propane stove and propane – Our home is all electric so I bought a Coleman 2 burner camping stove. This stove typically operates on the small cans of propane that is available at sporting good stores such as Bass Pro Shops, Academy, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. The small cans are convenient and relatively cheap, you can also buy an adapter hose for this stove. This will allow you to connect a 5 gallon bottle of propane. After three years of using my stove while camping, I still have a large amount of propane left in this bottle.
  • Portable Electricity – Whenever I was growing up, we used a kerosene lamp and candles to light the house after a storm. That was before technology had advanced to the point it is today. In our home, I use three deep cycle batteries from my boats to run a power inverter. My power inverter is not very big – 600 watts to be exact. This will basically charge our phones, give us light at night time, and power the bilge pump for bathing. To recharge the batteries, I have three small solar kits that was purchased from Amazon.com during the day. These kits fully charge the batteries during the day and at night time we are able to have lights and charge phones.
  • Portable Radio / Flashlights / Batteries – During the storm, I will not energize the power inverters due to safety concerns. However, I have a headlamps that I give to the children, my wife, and myself. Also, I give each person a flashlight. In the bathrooms, I have push button battery operated lamps to provide a little light. I also have a battery operated/ hand cranked AM/FM radio/light that we use to get updates on the storm’s progress.
  • Chainsaw – After the storm, I usually have to cut my way back into civilization. This is because we live a good distance away from the major highway, at the end of the road, and our closest neighbor is over 1/2 mile away. Without fail, trees always fall on our road and I have to cut them up and remove them from the road so that we can get through.

If you plan on riding out a hurricane, it always best to have a contingency plan. We never know what will happen during a storm. Electricity could be out for days or even weeks. Grocery stores and convenience stores usually sell out of supplies in the days leading up to a storm and it can be hard to find what you need if you wait to the last minute. My advice is to buy a little bit each week and save it for a rainy day…or hurricane.


Posted in Simple Living

Facts and Myths about Smartphones

One of the most common misunderstandings that people have about rooting or jailbreaking is that that if you root or jailbreak your device it is automatically unlocked to all cellular networks.

Unfortunately, this is simply not the case. Jailbreaking and rooting gives you superuser root access to your device. Jailbreaking an iPhone gives you the ability install apps that aren’t approved by iTunes – you can install apps from sources such as Cydia and other app stores.

Rooting an Android allows you to run certain apps that won’t otherwise run without root. You can also make changes to your devices boot animation and system files.

Also, root access on Android gives you the ability to remove all of the “bloatware” that is installed on your device from your carrier – (i.e. AT&T Navigator, AT&T Code Scanner, AT&T whatever). You can remove all of these apps with root access.

Next, if you have a CDMA iPhone 5 through Sprint and would like to use the phone with AT&T, you would have to have the device carrier unlocked. Carrier unlocking has nothing to do with jailbreaking. 90% of the time, you can call the carrier who sold the iPhone and ask them to unlock it. If they won’t unlock it, then there are two methods of unlocking – have somebody with access to the iTunes database to unlock your IMEI. In turn, you would need to reactivate the handset through iTunes. This method works well but sometimes the carrier blocks the IMEI from being unlocked in the database, which will lead us to the hardware method.

You can hardware unlock the iPhone by inserting a decoder in the SIM tray with the SIM card. The decoder would then allow any network carrier to work in your locked iPhone. This method also allows you to relock the device to the single carrier by simply removing the decoder.

Unlocking an android sometimes requires a bit more work. For instance, to network unlock an AT&T Galaxy Note (i717) or Galaxy SII(i777) you simply install a T-Mobile modem on the device, go through a series of steps then reboot the device with a non carrier SIM installed. The device should be unlocked. It will freeze quite a bit until you reinstall the AT&T modem.

If you need customization done to your smartphone, contact Scott at (251)387-2498 or through his Facebook page at http://facebook.com/scottpdaugherty.


Posted in Technology

Google has changed the SEO world as we know it

What do we do now that Google has changed the SEO world by encrypting all of the data associated with organic searches?

Yahoo and Bing simply don’t have enough traffic to successfully base a keyword program of their data!

Several years back when I was younger and couldn’t afford SEO keyword tools, I used Google AdWords to see data about searches and was able to base my SEO keyword optimization based on the data that I received from there. This proved to be successful to a degree because I was able to continuously drive traffic to my websites and convert the traffic once they were there.

I am not even sure how the AdWords console is set up anymore because I haven’t used that program in several years. It may be a good time to do investigative research on the matter though.

Back then, the social networking market wasn’t there like it is today. Facebook still only allowed college students (even then it wasn’t very big yet), and MySpace was a place for spammers to have a field day. I had never even heard of Twitter.

Today, however, a large amount of my traffic comes from Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest (thanks to my wife).

Even though things are not looking up for search engine marketing, remember, to utilize tools such as social networking and possibly advertisements. Today, I get more traffic to sites from Facebook than I ever got from Google (even when I was ranked on page #1 for good keywords).

I think we are going to see more marketers turning to social networking for their primary source of traffic and relying less on Google. The fact remains, you get better results by being sociable!


Posted in Technology

Carrier Unlocking/ Modding AT&T HTC Vivid

Whenever AT&T refuses to unlock your device, you can unlock most Android devices to other networks by yourself. I carrier unlocked my son’s HTC Vivid yesterday with minimal problems, using a few hacks I found on XDA Developers.

Before you attempt to unlock a device yourself, please note that you can void the warranty and the HTC requires several steps to proceed.

If you are running with a custom ROM, then your devices bootloader has been unlocked. If it has been relocked, you have to use the unlock.bin file that HTC gives developers. If it has not been unlocked, then you can visit HTC’s website and get the unlock code for your device.

Make sure that your device has the stock AT&T ROM AND that the device isn’t rooted. If you need to download the stock ICS for your device, search Google for the download link for the stock ROM. To install it, you must relock the bootloader then unlock the bootloader to S-Off the bootloader.

Once you have the bootloader unlocked, visit http://unlimited.io and download the juopunutbear exploit for the device.

To flash the juopunutbear exploit, you must have access to a computer that has Ubuntu 12.04 (I couldn’t get the Live CD option to work for me) or higher installed. (Ubuntu is a free operating system and does work extremely well on machines that already have Windows 7 installed giving you dual boot operating systems.) Unpackage the .tgz file and run juopunutbear from terminal (CTRL+ALT+T) by changing the directory to where you extracted the files. You can do this by using cd on the command line. Next, chmod ControlBear, adb, and fastboot to 755 from the command line. Finally run ControlBear from command line by typing sudo ./ControlBear. You will need to enter you password that you established when you installed Ubuntu.

This does require you to remove a plastic panel from inside the battery compartment and doing a “wire trick”. The wire trick is actually the worst part of the entire operation. It took me three tries to get it right.

Once you get the wire trick right, the device will power on and off a few times while Ubuntu continues to install the new hboot software on the device.

After it is completed, the device will power back on.

Finally visit http://www.sieempi.eu/blog/2011/09/22/universal-sim-unlock-for-s-offed-htc-devices-536 and enter the information for your device into the form and submit it. Download the file Config.dat and place it on an external SD card.

Insert the SD card into the phone and reboot the recovery mode by pressing VOL Down + Power. Make sure that the device still says unlocked at the very top or you will need to unlock the bootloader once again. Finally go to SIMLOCK on the recovery screen and let the config file work it’s magic. Once completed, restart the device and it is unlocked to all carriers.

After all of that, I installed TWRP (recovery) on the device and Android 4.2.2 (Dirty Unicorn). Whenever I powered the device back up, it rebooted itself to unlock the carrier within the new Android OS and the phone runs extremely well now.

You can find the download links for TWRP and Dirty Unicorn on XDA Devleopers forum.

Special thanks goes out to http://unlimted.io and XDA Contributors siempi and hasoon2000. You can use hasoon2000′s all in one tool to install a custom recovery and root the device!


Posted in Technology

Carrier Unlocking For iPhones

Recently AT&T and I have parted company with one another. The problem that I have had (and a lot of other former and current AT&T customers have) is that the big AT&T doesn’t care if you have signal at home or not. Back in March 2013, they had a hardware failure on a tower resulting in loss of service at my house and several other houses within a mile of my home.

Due to me currently seeking compensatory damages from AT&T in the amount of the last month’s bill and early termination fee, AT&T refused to unlock an iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 that I own. Most companies charge $20 or more to unlock the iPhone within the iTunes database allowing you to use other network SIM cards.

I then decided to search eBay for iPhone unlocking and found that I could get the devices unlocked for less than $2. (The devices were made and purchased long before the new DCMA rules went into effect).

By paying less than $5, both iPhones are now unlocked to T-Mobile (which by the way offers 4 lines of unlimited talk, text, and web starting at only $100/month) and are both fully operational!

If you need an iPhone unlocked, here is the link to where I got my phones unlocked: iPhone Factory Permanent Unlock Code Service for AT&T USA ATT iPhone 3GS 4 4S 5


Posted in Technology

Super Mods for the AT&T Galaxy Note SGH-I717

I have been tweaking on my Galaxy Note for about a week after leaving AT&T permanently. I bought a Straight Talk SIM and set the phone but unfortunately it was still hit or miss on the crappy AT&T network. After reading several members on XDA Forums, I have worked on my phone and have set it up to work with any network and force 4G speeds (and have even forced LTE speeds from my Note using Straight Talk.)

I am taking no credit for any of the custom programming that I have put on my phone. I will post the user who published the post and the link to the original post on XDA forums. (The carrier unlocking will come in especially handy if you leave AT&T on terms such as mine (taking them to Small Claims Court) or if you live in Canada (from what I understand). You also don’t have to pay a penny for an unlock code for the device.)

That being said, the very first thing that I did to my device was root and installation of TWRP (Team Win Recovery Project). TWRP allows for easy flashing. Be sure that you create a backup prior to any flash as this will save you if you screw up.

bhp090808 posted a link to an easy installation of the recovery tool with easy to follow instructions.This package includes everything that you need to install TWRP to your I717 and root your device. This took less than 10 minutes to install. See full post here.

Next, I played around with some custom ROMs. While I found a couple of fun ones that I like, I lost functionality of the S-Pen and also couldn’t do the SIM unlock. The SIM unlock was detrimental to my being able to maintain a good signal in my home so I discovered that I what I really needed was stock ICS. I was able to find the UCLF6 version of 4.0.4 in three variations – stock, odexed, and deodexed that was available from bigfau. I downloaded the stock version and when I flashed for safety, I reflashed SuperSU that is included in the recovery tool package. You can download the stock ICS here.

For the SIM unlock, I ordered a T-Mobile SIM card from Amazon for $5. I needed the SIM to unlock the cellular data on my wife’s iPhone 5 so that she could send and receive multimedia messages. AT&T locks that option out but using the SIM swap method, I was successful at changing her APN. Because the T-Mobile Nano SIM came with an adapter to a full size SIM, I was able to slide that SIM into my I717. Whenever I powered on the Note, it asked for the network unlock code, which AT&T wouldn’t give me because I am currently suing them in Small Claims Court for breach of contract.

SO…crixley posted on how to unlock the carrier from the default carrier to another carrier by flashing a T-Mobile radio to the device. Everything was great about that post, it worked just fine. Here are the instructions. The only issue is the T-Mobile radio link provided is dead. Fortunately, VoiD_Dweller posted a thread with several T-Mobile radios. The radio that I used to unlock the carrier was T989 UVLE1. Several of the other radios removed the baseband from my device, thus I had to reflash the ICS ROM to the device. You can find the thread here.

After unlocking, reflash the ICS ROM a third time to remove the T-Mobile radio from the device. The T-Mobile radio caused my Note to lock up continuously.

To force the Note to stay on 4G and stop dropping signal, I placed the T-Mobile SIM back into the device. From the dialer I punched in *#2263#. This brought up the preferred networks (which is locked from Straight Talk). I chose WCDMA and WCDMA all. I powered off the device and reinserted the Straight Talk SIM. I did have to enter the APN information again for Straight Talk which is:
APN NAME: Straight Talk
APN: tfdata
MMSC: mms-tf.net
MMS Proxy: mms3-tracfone.com

Now my device never drops signal and never goes to 2G networks.

To finish my customization, I found a thread by BoOsT on how to install Beats Audio on the device. I downloaded the appropriate files and rebooted the device into recovery and installed them in the order that BoOsT said to and it worked perfectly. You can see the thread here.

Finally, I like the ability to tether my device to my computer every now and then. Straight Talk doesn’t allow you to tether but fortunately I found a work around for that as well. With FoxFi, you can tether via Wireless, USB, or Bluetooth. You also have the option to hide the tethering while tethered via USB.

All in all, I am extremely excited about finally being able to use my Note without limitations! :D


Posted in Technology

Parental Controls on the iPhone

As a huge fan, advocate, and developer of Android, I have to say that I was really impressed when I found that you have more control over the content of an iPhone than realized. The only way that I found this information was when I recently decided to kick AT&T to the curb due to several months of arguing the fact that there was no service where I live due to a tower failure and lack of response from their technicians. We decided to give Straight Talk a shot with their no contract unlimited everything for only $45/month per line. This, in itself, was another prime reason to leave AT&T behind because we were paying $265/month for service that we couldn’t use.

Anyway, my wife has strongly chosen Apple since the iPhone 4 because of their simple user interface (her opinion). I bought an iPhone 5 for her back at Christmas time. After cutting the Straight Talk SIM card to make it work in her iPhone 5 (see the post about making the iPhone 5 work on Straight Talk), I had to find a way to make the data connection work.

Even though there are several places to download the APN settings into your iPhone, I decided to download the iPhone Configuration Utility for Windows. With this tool, you can set a variety of policies on the phone, the same way that corporations do. (If you are looking for the APN settings for Straight Talk, read the post on setting the iPhone 5 up for Straight Talk.)

The first thing to do is on the left side of the screen click configuration profiles. Next, click New.

Create a new configuration profile.

Create a new configuration profile.

This will bring you to the General properties screen. This is mandatory information here. Enter the name of this configuration. For this example, I am going to enter Grounded. Next, we have to enter an identifier. For this post, I am going to call this identifier com.grounded.profile. I am setting it up so that it can be removed with authentication (in the event of good behavior.) Finally, because I am going to be grounding my wife from her phone, I am going to set the policy to expire in 7 days, or on 9/1/2013.

Set up the general profile information

Set up the general profile information

Now let’s set up the restrictions – or things that I am grounding her from! In the middle of the screen, click restrictions and in the lower right window click Configure.

 

Set up restrictions

Set up restrictions

I intend to basically ground her from everything but the telephone so I am going to uncheck every box. Here are the options to disallow.

Device Functionality

  1. Allow installing apps
  2. Allow use of camera -> Allow FaceTime
  3. Allow screen capture
  4. Allow automatic sync while roaming
  5. Allow Siri -> Allow Siri while device locked
  6. Allow voice dialing
  7. Allow Passbook while device locked
  8. Allow In-App Purchase
  9. Force user to enter iTunes Store password for all purchases (good idea to enter this on a child’s device anyway)
  10. Allow multiplayer gaming
  11. Allow Game Center friends

Applications

  1. Allow use of YouTube (while this doesn’t hide the YouTube app, it will not work)
  2. Allow use of iTunes Store (again, the store will open but won’t load)
  3. Allow use of Safari (this temporarily hides Safari from the device)
  4. The next few options are directly related to Safari ->Enable autofill, Force fraud warning, Enable JavaScript, Block Pop-ups, and Cookie Control

iCloud

  1. Allow backup (this completely stops iCloud from working)
  2. Allow document sync
  3. Allow Photo Stream (disallowing can cause data loss)
  4. Allow shared photo streams

Security and Privacy

  1. Allow diagnostic data to sent to Apple (I never allow this information for any other devices so I am glad that I found this)
  2. Allow user to accept untrusted TLS certificates (On a child’s device, probably a good idea to block this as well)
  3. Force encrypted backups (Not necessary but can be wise for adult’s devices)

Content Ratings

  1. Allow explicit music, podcasts, & iTunes U (Now that I have seen this, it is permanently removed from the children’s devices)
  2. Allow iBookstore erotica (This again is definitely going to be removed from the kids Apple devices)

Ratings region

I have left this as United States.

Allowed Content Ratings

  1. Movies – You can set the desired age limit on this or remove movies altogether. For this particular purpose, I am removing them altogether.
  2. TV Shows – This is the same as above.
  3. Apps – This is the fun part because you can remove Apps altogether.

Because this is set to expire on a certain date, the policy can now be placed on the device. Once the device is plugged in, directly beneath the Configuration Profiles on the left side, you will see devices and the device that is connected. Click it, then on the tab at the top of the right hand window click Configuration Profiles. Here you will see the profile that you have created. Click Install and you are all set.

Once the policy has been installed, it can be removed by clicking remove and entering your authentication password that you set in the general properties.

By the way, I didn’t really ground my wife…  ;P


Posted in Technology

How to Fix Forgotten Password in Windows 7

My wife decided to change the password on her Windows 7 64-bit machine to something really clever to keep the kids off of her machine. I have taught her to write a highly encrypted password using strings of caps, lower case, numbers, and symbols. I have also taught her to use at least 16 characters so that it makes decrypting the password pretty tough.

Before beginning, you are going to need a blank DVD or blank flash drive and an internet connection.

Here is the solution:

You will need to download Ubuntu from http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop.

Whether you have the 64 bit version of Windows or 32 bit, download the 32 bit version of Ubuntu. Otherwise, you will not be able to reset the Windows password.

You will either need a blank DVD or flash drive to create your Live CD.

If you choose to install Linux on a flash drive, you will also need UNetBootIn. Once downloaded, open the program and choose from ISO. Check Diskimage. Select the location of your Ubuntu download and choose the location of your USB Drive. Click Ok.

Once you have the bootable disk, insert into the locked machine.

Change the boot options of the machine to the disk that you have Ubuntu on. From the options menu, select Try Ubuntu. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO INSTALL UBUNTU ON THIS DISK AS ALL OF THE WINDOWS FILES WILL BE LOST!!!

For this tutorial, I am using Ubuntu 12.10 for my Live CD.

Once you have booted into the test version of Ubuntu, here are the steps to follow:

First, at the top left hand corner of the screen is Dash Home. Click into that and at the bottom you will see five icons. Click the second one for apps. Click Installed to see a list of all apps. Scroll down until you see Software Sources.

Select all options.

Next, you will need to download chntpw from https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/karmic/i386/chntpw/0.99.5-0+nmu1.

Click the to download it and save the file to your computer.

Before we open terminal, click the third icon on the left side of the screen to enter the Home Folder. Here we will mount the drive where windows is installed.

Find the directory to your Windows installation and click it once. Whenever you have mounted it, you will see the eject button appear beside it.

Now, open terminal (CTRL+ALT+T) to install chntpw. Type the following commands and press enter after each line:

cd Downloads

sudo dpkg -i chntpw*

You should see that it has installed.

Close terminal and reopen terminal. Also, open Home Folder again. Hover your mouse over the Windows directory to see the exact location of it (should look similar to this – /media/ubuntu/%STRING/). Once you have the exact location, type the following into Terminal:

cd /media/ubuntu/

ls

Typing ls will bring up the directories that you have mounted.

Type the following replacing %STRING with the name of your Windows directory.

cd %STRING/Windows/System32/config

Now we will use the chntpw tool to change the password. If you can’t remember the exact username for your windows account, no problem. You can retrieve it by entering:

sudo chntpw SAM

Here we can see the users for Windows.

Type q and press enter.

On my machine, my login is Scott. Type the following replacing Scott iwth your username.

sudo chntpw -u Scott SAM

Scroll up and check to see if the username you are working has dis/lock entered into the Lock field. If it does, enter 3 to unlock the user. In my case, my account is already unlocked so I will not have to enter 3 but on my wife’s machine I had to unlock the account. Now, my advice is to select 1 to disable the password.

Now type y and enter.

From terminal you can type:

sudo reboot

Or simply click the power button to restart your computer. Unplug the flash drive or eject the disk before it shuts completely down to remove Ubuntu.

On my machine, because I am the only user, it booted straight into Windows without me having to choose a user. If there is more than one user account on your computer, you will have to select the account that you have unlocked.

Now go to control panel -> User Accounts and select the user account that you removed the password from. Enter a password for the user.

Reboot the machine again and you will have to enter your new password. Prior to rebooting, be sure to write down your password this time. ;)


Posted in Technology

Installing 3 Operating Systems on One Machine

I recently Frankensteined an old laptop that didn’t work to get it working by canibalizing a couple of other laptops. I ordered a new 320GB hard drive for the machine. Having an old Compaq laptop with XP that is broken and an Acer desktop with Win 7, I decided to try the task of installing those two OSs on my machine. I finally decided to finish it up with Ubuntu. Here is how to do it.

First, I had to download a copy of Windows 7 SP1 from Microsoft. No big deal there. I then burnt the .iso file to a DVD. Second, I downloaded the Ubuntu .iso file and setup a bootable flash drive.

To have the space on this hard drive to install more than the one OS, I had to boot into the linux flash drive first. By opening terminal and installing Gparted (sudo apt-get install gparted), I was able to resize the main partition to create an unused area on the hard disk.

After rebooting, I went into boot options to boot from CD/DVD and booted up and installed Windows 7 in the space I provided for it. After this installation finished, I booted back into the flash drive and installed Ubuntu along with Windows 7.

Finally, I booted back into Ubuntu and installed Gparted on the main hard disk and resized XP and 7 to give me 200+ gb of storage. This allows me to place pictures, music, files, etc. that is accessible by all of the operating systems.

Here is the drawback. Initially on bootup, I have to choose between Ubuntu or Windows 7. Choosing Windows 7, I have the option to boot into Windows 7 or previous versions of Windows.

After everything has finished, I have a working 3 operating system machine with decent storage space to be mounted between all OSs.


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