Archive for January, 2013

President Obama Poses the Wrong Case for Immigration Reform

January 30, 2013

I was listening to the Rachael Maddow show on MSNBC the other evening. She was playing the President’s speeches on immigration reform from May, 2011 and from earlier this month – they were almost the same – almost word for word. The President is pitching the wrong case for immigration reform, though.

The President ponders – (paraphrasing) “what if the next Google or Intel is not founded here by an immigrant – what if the next Google or Intel is founded in another country because of our immigration policy?” Throughout his speech – before and following this “wonderment”, the President is primarily discussing the undocumented worker. The founders of these tech companies were not undocumented – this is wrong parallelism to cite…

The issue is this, and it was correctly captured by Bill Gates in an interview from the Davos World Economic Forum on CNN today: US immigration policy today tends to drive immigrants educated in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) out of the country. Many of these valuable people must leave the US and contribute to other countries’ economies instead of being welcome to remain in the US to contribute to our economy here – that’s the impact of the current immigration policy, and it must change.

My own company can testify to this problem. Last year, I was unable to afford to assist an Indian employee to stay here in the US to continue to work at my company. I could not work with my attorneys to convert an F1 visa that had been extended with an OPT extension into an H1B or E1 visa in the timeframe allowed. I had to let this Ph. D. employee go at the expiration of her OPT. She was fortunate (we all are fortunate) and remains here in the US working legally at a nearby university.

The priority case for immigration reform is to let skilled people stay here with a minimum of administrative burden on the person or the employer so that our economy benefits. The political debate mires this rational priority with the dilemma of how to address the issue of the undocumented worker.

None of the immigrant of funders of Google, Intel and many other tech firms here in the US that the President refers to in context were undocumented. All of these immigrant corporate founders are valuable to our economy, and we need more of the likes of them!

How to handle the undocumented worker? Well, I really don’t know the best answer to that, but it is not the most important consideration – it is just the most highlighted political consideration that is getting in the way of addressing the more significant elements of reform.

My humble opinion.

Privacy, ID Theft and Junk Mail

January 28, 2013

I have a bone to pick – Citi, AmEx, AAA, AARP, DirecTV – all you other guys doing mass mailings – ARE YOU ALL LISTENING?

We get a ton of mass mailings, here. We shred a ton of mail, here.  Every credit card application we receive is pre-completed. Envelops are addressed on the paper envelop, and our address appears again inside the letter. We try to shred anything with a name and address – or even more information. We try to preserve privacy and fight ID theft. We try!

You mass mailers make that mission terribly difficult.

Here is what you can do to make my life easier:

1) Address my mass mailing to “Neighbor” at my address.

2) Use a glassine window and place my name and address on only one sheet of paper in the letter.

3) STOP sending me pre-completer credit card applications – I get several a week – sometimes several a day! CITI, doesn’t my silence over the many years send you a message? I try and try to stop your wasteful mailings to no avail – I phone, and I write. I know that you are obliged to stop this harassing marketing practice if I ask you, but I have to go through precisely the right channel, and I guess I have not found it, yet. Just STOP. You have wasted more than a hundred dollars in postage and who knows how much in printing and assembly to send me trash through the mail over the years trying to entice me with your credit card offers. Please, just STOP. I am not going to do business with you!

4) On the credit card applications – if you are just compelled to send me something to appease a manager somewhere looking over your shoulder to be sure that you left no stone unturned, have a box to check to STOP the wasteful flow of paper from your place to mine!

Every time my name, address, phone number and birthdate (or some significant date) and other information such as current insurer appears on the same sheet of paper, well, you are aiding and abetting the ID thieves that somewhere in your company you are surely spending money to defeat.

If I get the RoboCaller award, I swear I am going to invest some of it in a mighty hefty shredder just for your nuisance trash you send to me.

So, all kidding aside, the mass mailers assist identity thieves who do dumpster diving by putting a lot of information in one place. A big offender is AARP that sends me something once or twice a week, and older people have a lot to lose, and many haven’t a good idea of the risks of ID theft – that does them a great disservice in my opinion.

AARP – are you listening?

If I get this robocaller prize, I swear I’ll take up a battle against junk mail, next! Watch Out – HERE I COME!

“Like” my Robocaller Blocker on Facebook

January 26, 2013

Hi folks – please “like” my proposal for a method to block 95% of those illegal robocallers that call sometimes several times a day – what a NUISANCE they are.  I know how to stop them. “Like” my proposal and get us all one step closer to stomping out these scammers!


Odds and Ends Monday

January 21, 2013

I have been busy lately:

The WiMAX Forum – you think Wi-Fi for your laptop and cellphone is great, just wait for WiMax. My oldest client has asked me to be a leader in the WiMax Forum, so I am getting up to speed on the politics of this tech forum. Lot’s of fun and a few great challenges for me, here!

My Nikon 1 J1 camera – it is lots of fun – a minimalist camera with a disappointing megapixel count but a great user interface for me. I took this camera with me to Taiwan, and it took great pictures – a good compromise between a point-and-shoot camera and a semi-pro camera. I like the interchangeable lens, and that was the differentiator for me that pushed me into the line at the CostCo register!

My good friend Mark Hepworth – our City Councilman – is running for Mayor. I think Mark will make a superb Mayor. He is principled, ethical, and credible in the City politics scene. Mark asked me to work for his campaign a few months ago, and I am glad to work for him.  I can’t wait to call Mark “Mr. Mayor”!

We have a crime wave in our neighborhood. My neighbors are up-in-arms -they are worried and anxious – three homes burgled in two weeks. I have arranged a meeting with the Chief of Police, here, this week. As the HOA “guy” (the President), I have a Crime Watch team organized with street captains, an efficient e-mail pyramid, and cameras and signs and lots of stuff to fight crime. Regardless of all of this, we have a crime wave, here. We have the crooks on camera in the commission of more than one burglary, so we’ll catch these rats!

January reporting deadlines for my companies are due in a week (groan) – working on this – well, I should be working on this right now, but I am procrastinating…  Blogging, instead!

My alma mater Rice University has drafted me to work on their local College of Engineering Alumni Committee – we need to raise some money for this department, and I think I can help!

My good friend JC and I had dinner recently with past Senator Kay Hutchison

IMG_0456and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Robert Curl (the carbon “buckyball”). I had dinner at the Curl house a number of times while I was at Rice – their son Mike and I were dorm roommates… It was good to spend some time with Bob and his wife that evening and catch up. We somehow meet about once a year and enjoy dinner in a “highfalutin” venue somewhere – every year, somehow…

IMG_0457The other night was the Texas Academy of Mathematics, Engineering, Science and Technology – the annual TAMEST awards banquet. This is a terrific venue to rub shoulders with brilliant and impacting people in Texas!

“Home Maintenance Week” – well, two weeks was last week and will be this week – some sheetrock repairs, fence repairs, irrigation system repairs, window repairs – all either done last week or to be done this week. I do some of this, and hire out some of this – the annual January maintenance homeowner activity for our household… I have everything “under control”!

A Christmas present was the 1988 and 1989 “Mission Impossible” series on DVD – watching the 1988 series now. This is a classic serial that I have not ever seen on contemporary TV – sad – a great TV serial!

So, time to get back to filing my W2’s and W3!

Brian – Out for now!

Stop those Dang Robocallers!

January 18, 2013

I am fed up with robocallers – FED UP! There are entire days when the only telephone calls I get are from robocallers, and the only cellphone SMS messages I get are from mass e-mailers.

The Federal Trade Commission has a “challenge” to the public to stop the illegal robocaller:

It is a public competition for the best overall solution to this nuisance, and I entered with a proposal.  On the final day of editimg my proposal, I received five robocalls, so you can bet that I was “all fired up”!

Here is my 15-page proposal – Robocaller Blocker  I call it the “RoboBlaster”.

The FTC makes their decision on the most promising response to their challenge on April 1st – on APRIL FOOL’S DAY, of all days…

Stay tuned…

Most Fans “blow”

January 3, 2013

Today, I have been in the bathroom running the exhaust fan, at the stove running the exhaust fan, listening to the furnace blowing air, sitting at my desk with the APS fan rumbling on its worn bearings, with the external drive enclosure fans whirring and the computer fan whirring, too, and in the car with the blower on high to defog my windshield. I am surrounded by fans, and they are noisy buggers for the most part with disappointing airflow.

Most fans “blow”. They are lousy compromises on size, airflow, power consumption, vibration – and noise. There is one standout in fan design that I am aware of, and that is the fan that Apple uses with asymmetrically spaced impeller blades in their MacBook Pro Retina Display laptops. See about half way down the webpage:

I listened closely to a MacBook Pro Retina Display laptop fan running full blast in a Best Buy the other day – it was a quiet whir with a terrific rush of air out the exhaust ports off the laptop. With my ear pressed up against the case bottom where the fan was directly behind, I could just hear a soft whir. Marvelous. I had taken great pains to turn off the sound from blaring TVs throughout the store during a customer lull, and it was quiet – almost silent on the store floor. A largish number of sales staff crowded around me as I booted from a thumb drive with a fan speed control utility installed and set the fan to max speed. The fan was really, genuinely quiet. Impressive. I passed the laptop around, and the Geek Squad fellow listened and smiled. “Quiet. Really quiet. You should hear the HP laptop fans – they screech at high speed. These Apple fans are amazingly quiet.” Yes, they really are quiet.

If these fans with asymmetrically spaced impeller blades were made for bathrooms and kitchens, our homes would be much quieter environments. For desktop computers, APS cabinets and drive enclosures, and our offices would be much quieter. Even car AC systems would benefit.

Heck, why not for nuclear submarine propellers…

I want quiet flow, not “blow”.