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Legacy Post – Who I Am – Part 001 (originally published 06.28.08) 27 June 2009

Posted by splait in Uncategorized.
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My name is Sid Plait. I am a graduate of Georgia Tech in Information and Computer Sciences, and I worked for high technology corporations in and around Atlanta, Georgia for over 21 years. I spent most of that time concerned with what my clients needed and wanted, and making sure that what we developed was as easy to use as possible. At some point, way too long after I’d had enough of Corporate America, I left it and went out on my own. I love consulting, and work with homeowners and very small businesses from downtown Atlanta to points north, from Decatur to Vinings, Roswell, And Alpharetta.

My main areas of expertise are:

  • Macs and Windows PCs (fixing, maintaining, and upgrading)
  • Networking (wired and wireless)
  • Technology integration (getting your iPod, iPhone, Treo, Blackberry, media server, and whatever else comes along talking to your network and assisting in organizing your life, putting your record albums into digital format, hooking up an external drive for backups, etc.)
  • Virus and other malware removal
  • Disaster planning
  • Data recovery from failed hard drives
  • Recycling electronics properly
  • Destroying hard drives from old computers so no one can get to your data

I also love to teach my clients as much as they want to know about their computing environment, and I do it using plain English, so that it’s easy for them to “get it”.

When my clients graduate to servers, I refer them to several different people here that I love to work with and are associates of mine that will provide them with the same level of support and respect I gave them while I worked for them.

I have lived in the Atlanta area since 1972. I love my wife, daughter, her fiance, and my dog; music (most types); movies; science fiction; mysteries; the occasional Oprah Book Club book;  college basketball and baseballPowerCore; the wonders of the universe beyond our planet; and volunteering at the Georgia Aquarium several times a month.

I am not fond of, nor am I very tolerant of people who hate, people who repeat things they hear or read on the Internet without doing their own research on the subject, people who lie to get power and/or money, and people who refuse to listen to both sides of an argument and think about the information from the side opposed to them.  These people may become targets of future posts here.  If you ever catch me doing any of those things through this blog (or anywhere else), call me on it.

Hopefully, there are a few people left who don’t fit that profile.

Oh yeah, I also like Waffle House, the Cuban sandwich at Fancy Pantry (ask for it crispy!), food in general, and writing.

I use a Mac as my main computer (PowerBook G4, 1.5GHz, 1GB RAM, 250GB hard drive), and I have a number of PCs running different Windows operating systems.

This blog will be about things that I love, and some that I don’t.

Please feel free to comment on anything I write, but do so nicely. BE CIVIL, no matter how much that hurts. (If you’re not sure what ‘being civil’ means, go here.)  I reserve the right to remove any comments or whole postings by anyone who is rude or mean. Even to the point of blocking that individual from posting at all if s/he doesn’t understand the rules.  After all, it’s my blog, not yours.

I hope you find these pages interesting and fun (much of the time, anyway). If there are topics you would like me to address, please write me by cutting and pasting the following into your browser’s address bar: blog”at”plaitsolutions”dot”com.   MAKE SURE you change the word “at” (with the quotes) to @, and the word “dot” (with the quotes) to a period. I did it this way for security purposes.

Trust me.  Internet privacy and security are true passions of mine, as you will see in posts on my other blog.

I look forward to meeting you through this medium.

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Deja Vu? (deja vu?) 27 June 2009

Posted by splait in Uncategorized.
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Some of you will notice, over the next couple of days, that posts here on this site look familiar.

Well, if you read my other blog, they will be.

I am moving all non-technical posts from blog.plaitsolutions.com to this blog.  The two blogs have separate purposes and I don’t want to confuse the people going to the other blog any longer.  It will be linked to my website and will be strictly technical from now on (well, after I get all the stuff moved over here, anyway).

I will use the words “Legacy Post” preceding the original titles so that you can just discard any emails you get if you don’t want to read them again.

Once more, thank you all for being here.

BTW, any and all comments are welcome.  If you have something to say, positive or negative, please do so through the “add a comment” link just under the title of the relevant post.  Keep it clean and keep it nice.  You are welcome to disagree, but if you get mean (and I decide what “mean” means), I will block the comment.  If you do it twice, I will lock you out.  Those are my rules.

Step Right Up and Experience the Media Circus!! (Or, Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that Never Ends) 27 June 2009

Posted by splait in Uncategorized.
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To all of you who Googled Michael Jackson and found this site, welcome!  (I’ll get to him in a minute.)

To those of you who have been here before, thanks for sticking with me!

So.  Today I took a great seminar on how to take my business to the next level.  I picked up some really great techniques for doing that.  This post is not about that.

When I get up in the morning, I usually don’t watch commercial TV.  If anything, I watch Turner Movie Classics (commercial-free).  So I was not aware of what was going on.

I knew Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett died yesterday, and both deaths left me a little sad.  The world had lost two extraordinary people.  No matter what you think of either of them, they contributed something to use, made our lives a little better.

That’s the last I will say about them here until the end of this post.

During an afternoon break, I went to the lobby of the conference center where CNN was on.  I watched, but I could only stand about three minutes of what I saw.  I was totally disgusted.

We have turned into a nation of peeping toms and ambulance chasers.

CNN had been running non-stop coverage and speculation about Michael Jackson’s death ALL DAY LONG!!!  All the speculation I heard was baseless (or based on rumor), people were being maligned and blamed through strong innuendo.

I heard one commentator say that MJ probably overdosed on drugs.  The implications of that statement could be huge and ruin someone’s reputation (hopefully the commentator’s, but not likely).  The talking head even said that Michael’s doctor would be questioned.

All based on rumor.  All innuendo.

Tonight, I turned on ABC World News Tonight (with Charlie Gibson – another of my heroes).  They dedicated a nice, tasteful, and short three minutes or so to all of this.

However, after that comes on Entertainment Tonight.

And I heard (true or not, I don’t know – more believable, though) that Michael took too many Demerol tablets last night after over-exerting himself.  Then, the idiot on the idiot box said something like “It looks like Michael Jackson may have died of a drug overdose”!

OMG!!

While that statement may be technically true, when someone uses the term “drug overdose”, my thoughts go to illegal drugs, not prescription drugs.  I suspect yours do, too.

Sensationalizing anyone’s death by using misleading terminology intentionally is one of the most heinous crimes committed by “journalists” and talk show hosts.

Don’t these people realize that many Americans (I won’t speak about other countries because I have no idea what they think or how this stuff is presented to them) take in all the crap they spew and believe much of it without question?  Look what happens when the talk radio people blather their hatred out to the masses – we get murders (e.g., the Holocaust Museum), mayhem (abortion clinics), and other hateful crimes that could be avoided if these people were human.   Well, many of them are not; they are just game show hosts, and there are people out there who hang on their every word.

It’s sad, but we have been heading for this for many years.  Maybe we deserve it, because we are so complacent that even our justice system can’t or won’t do anything about it.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  This is pretty much a repeat of Princess Diana’s death and the garbage on the tube for days (weeks) afterward.

While Michael and Farrah were entertainers, they became icons in their own ways, and this is how we treat them – Farrah’s death is basically forgotten, and Michael’s is the headline news for The Inquirer, right between the two headed-baby and OctoMom.

I, for one, will no longer watch CNN, even if they have real news to report.  ET has been garbage for a long time.

Those of us with clear heads are obligated to fight the infotainment and talk radio establishment in some way, shape, or form.  We need to take back the Internet and get rid of the hate mongers.  I know we have freedom of speech, but these people are inciteful (NOT insightful), mean, rude, and are only interested in money and power.

I’m not sure how we do it legally, and that’s the only path I will take, but these people need to banned from TV, radio, and the Internet.

Any ideas on how to do that?  Anyone?

Anyway, this post is a start.

Make it stop! 21 May 2009

Posted by splait in Uncategorized.
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Here’s one to make your head explode.

Last post, I talked about science and religion. That will probably be a recurring theme here, so I might as well start recurring right now.

Another pet theory of mine, never to be proven by me, takes aim at the people who firmly believe that the universe is only about 6,000 years old, even with strong proof available that it is around 14 billion years old.

Going back to the supposition that there exists (or existed) some supreme being that created everything, couldn’t she/he/it have created everything we know about .00001 ms (milliseconds) ago, with all of our memories intact? With all of the “proof” that the universe is 14 billion years old already in place? All of our history created with no blip in how we view everything.

Why not? And if not, how can you prove it either way?

And why does it matter? Does it really make any difference?

However and whenever we got here, I get my fun out of seeing the discoveries that scientists can make about the glory of the universe and all the neat stuff they imagine about without much proof.

(Have we explored the depths of pi enough? Maybe Sagan was right and there are messages in the fabric of our universe there for us to find and understand. Read the book, don’t just see the movie. I refer, of course, to Contact. What a great and curious mind that man had!)

The search for knowledge, as far as I’m concerned, is Humanity’s purpose. We are close to creating major replacement parts for the human body, understanding how some of our most vile diseases work (and, thereby being able to create ways to combat them effectively), and maybe even slamming protons together to see how the universe was created!

We can look back to a time close to our universe’s beginning and see how everything (EVERYTHING!) evolved by using the Hubble telescope (in space, for Crickey’s sake!) to look out into time. (Thank you, STS-125 crew, for the great job!)

Maybe it’s all just a figment of my imagination. Everything. Even you! Do YOU really exist, or have I created you in my mind in order to not go stir crazy?

Does it really matter?

Wherein another comment gets its own post 21 May 2009

Posted by splait in Uncategorized.
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So, from my last post, I got a reply that engendered a long response. So, as I have done once before (in my previous blog), I will reprint the comment here, then my response.

    Helioprogenus wrote:

“When you said “also, I believe in spirituality,” I thought how can Phil Plait’s brother be spiritual. Then I remembered that my siblings are not atheists like myself, and I suppose can self referentially identify as spiritual. It’s funny how you can catch yourself reacting hypocritically before actually reasoning through a subject. Part of that I suppose is human nature, and our subsequent reactionary responses.”

    My response is:

An interesting observation.

Another – even an atheist can be spiritual. Spirituality, although the root of the word is “spirit”, is a way of being, and doesn’t necessarily mean that the person believes in God or spirits. It can be just about being at peace with myself and loving and or appreciating nature (not “Mother nature”).

And that is not to say that I do or do not believe in God or spirits. Nor am I saying I am an atheist.

I certainly do not believe that organized religion is good for anyone (in general). I heard a minister Sunday morning saying to his “flock” that evolution is the work of the Devil. Actually, I believe he said “Satan”.

Whatever.

I get real tired of people who purport to be religious leaders preaching hate.

I have many ideas on the subject of God, but here’s the main one – whether or not I believe in a holy being, isn’t it possible that religion and science can and do work together?

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that there is a creator of the universe. Isn’t it possible, if the creator is (from our standpoint) all powerful and omniscient, that s/he/it (I am not Southern, so don’t read it out loud – it means what it looks like, not how it sounds) created the rules of the universe, maybe so that humans would have a purpose and a way to explore our own curiosity? Maybe our job is to figure it all out, and the ultimate rules are so well hidden that it will take us until we are a mature species to determine what “God” hath wrought.

Then again, maybe not.

But why does it all have to divide us?

Arthur C. Clarke, a great writer and lover of science, wrote, “The Nine Billion Names of God”, wherein a pair of computer techs are sent to a country abroad (from the US) to maintain the computer a religious people are using to calculate all the names of God. They believe that that is Humanity’s purpose, and they use a special alphabet to generate the names.

I will not spoil the ending of this wonderful story (it’s short) by giving the ending, but I certainly don’t know our purpose, and I suspect none of us do. There are shaman out there in all religions who say they know, but I have serious doubts about all of them.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the root of the word “sham” comes from “shaman”. (Actually, it’s probably the other way around.)

Anyway, I am a strong proponent of all of us getting along. My online nom de plume is “The Barber of Civility”, and I’ll shave the heads of all who don’t believe as I do! (No, wait, that’s not right.)

And yeah, I find myself thinking non-critically sometimes, reacting to some hidden prejudice, but thank the Mighty Flying Spaghetti Monster (and here, too!) that I usually catch myself before saying anything too foolish.

What up, dog! 9 May 2009

Posted by splait in Uncategorized.
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An Elephant in My Pajamas.  An unusual domain name.  Outside A Dog.  An unusual name for most anything.

One of my heroes, Groucho Marx, had an unusual (but wonderful) take on life and language.  He said, “I once shot an elephant in my pajamas – – how he got in my pajamas I’ll never know!”  He also said, “Outside a dog, a book is a man’s best friend.  Inside a dog, it’s too hard to read.”

So, now you know.

I wanted the domain to be “outsideadog”, but someone grabbed it first, so I used that for my blog title.  It reflects my view on many things, including the American English language.  So, this blog will be about many things.  Whatever things I feel like writing about.

I invite comments.  I know I’m not the only one on this marble who sees things from a skewed point of view.  So feel free to agree, disagree, provide feedback (positive or negative), or to just plain lambast whatever I have to say here.  I won’t edit your comments unless they are mean-spirited, libelous, or crude, and I reserve the right to not publish your comments at all, if I feel they add nothing to the discussion.

I write here to invoke intelligent discussion on whatever topics I choose.  Assuming other people read this, please feel free to join the conversation.  I want to experience as many people’s thoughts as I can.  Tell me if you think I am out to lunch on something I said, but also tell me why you think that.  Give me meat to chew on, to ponder.

I am a proponent of critical thinking, well-written music and books, movies that make me think (and some that don’t), intelligent science-fiction, good food (the definition of which is very broad for me, while the definition of bad food is easy to articulate), science (especially astronomy), using the English language properly and communicating well, a living Earth that we treat with reverence, and leading lives with as much integrity and humility as our humanity allows.  However, I also believe in spirituality and eating red meat, so there are contradictions.  They are what makes life so interesting.

I hope (but do not promise) that you find these pages fun, humorous, intelligently written, and interesting.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Oh, yeah. If some of my references (like the name of this post – it’s not what you might think) are not easily understood, just ask about them.  My sense of humor is (obviously) mine, but that doesn’t always translate as something to which others can relate.  I don’t mind, and I won’t think you’re dense.