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Mindconnection eNL, 2008-05-18

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In this issue:

 
  1. Product highlight
  2. Brainpower tip
  3. Finance tip
  4. Security tip
  1. Health tip/Fitness tip
  2. Miscellany
  3. Thought for the day
 

1. Product Highlight

Communicate with people and translate printed text
Spanish <-> English Translator Ectaco iTravl Deluxe Sp

The Spanish <-> English Translator Ectaco iTravl Deluxe Sp combines the iTravlSp with the cPen-20, so you can now translate printed text in addition to using your iTravl for 2-way communication with other people in English and Spanish.

http://www.mindconnection.com/product/LANG-ECT-NTLDLX-Ch.html
The Spanish iTravl features full text translation (enter your own sentences), voice output, speech recognition, a language learning program, and an extensive travel guide. Over 1 million words and 14,000 categorized phrases. Color touch screen with adjustable color schemes and adjustable font sizes, virtual keyboards with full character sets. About the size of a cell phone, it has controls familiar to any cell phone user.

Also in:



2. Brainpower tip

I recently reviewed a book by a well-meaning, but grossly disinformed author. As a consequence of her being disinformed, her book had so many errors of fact in it that I was able to list one for every single page!

She got her diseducation from several sources, including a fraudumentary that was long on emotional scare tactics but short on truth. That author knew absolutely nothing about most of the subjects she covered, and merely parrotted what she'd gleaned from tertiary sources.

We can look mighty stupid when we reach false conclusions. How do you sort out the propaganda from the truth? When someone presents you with "facts" supporting an obvious agenda, ask what the sources are. And then, determine if those sources are authoritative.

What's an authoritative source? Well, I'm not an authority on that. However, I am a very good secondary source for answering that question because I have spent many years researching highly technical topics for publication and the quality of my work has resulted in a reputation that brings in new projects with no marketing on my part whatsoever.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Does this source do original research, development, or design in that area of expertise?
  • Does this source have significant experience, and not just in terms of time?
  • Does this source do any consulting work in that field, or has this source served in any lead technical capacity (not management capacity) in that field?
  • What has this source accomplished of note in that field (disregard awards, as they are seldom made by experts in the subject matter)?
  • Do other sources point toward this source, formally (that is, quoted in research papers and theses)?
  • Is this source politically independent (not focused on a particular political agenda)?
  • Does this source have extensive material you can review, and is that material internally consistent plus consistent with the literature of that particular field?

The more these characteristics apply to your source, the more authoritative it is. If none of these characteristics apply, your source isn't authoritative.

Now, let's take an example to show a concept, here. A doctor is an expert, right? You wouldn't ask your plumber to check you out for a recurring pain in your chest. Which one is more authoritative, a doctor or a plumber? If you are asking for a recommendation on whether to use flex or solid tubing to your toilet tank, the plumber is an expert and could be considered an authority. Your doctor would be a tertiary source, at best.

If your doctor happens to be the nation's foremost heart surgeon, then your doctor is an authority on chest pain. If your doctor is a general practitioner, then your doctor is a secondary source.

Note that secondary sources are often sufficient. But if the questions is highly technical or the stakes are particularly high, then you want to go to an authoritative source. Doing this will help you understand the actual facts and not get derailed by incorrect information or outright disinformation.

Note also that original research is entirely different from google-searching or literature-searching. For example, the PhD who is working in the Dept of Agriculture and plans to present a paper on the effects of drought on the average weight of Celebrity tomatoes in the Midwest is doing original research. The gardener who spends an hour online and another hour poring through gardening books at the library is doing secondary research.

Both might be excellent sources for your questions on growing tomatoes. But the PhD will be the authoritative source, because the gardener hasn't done the research firsthand. In fact, the gardener probably will have read an article written by the PhD and make that the basis for the answer you get.

That is not to say all PhDs are automatically more knowledgeable than all non-PhDs. If you drew that conclusion, please re-read.

Remember, your conclusions are only as good as your information. And your information is only as good as your sources.

3. Finance tip

If you're one of our USA readers, you've no doubt heard people complain about the "high" cost of gasoline at the pump. People are calling for the govt to "make Exxon lower the price" and other nonsense.

If you look at the price of gasoline twenty years ago and compare it to today's price adjusted for inflation, gasoline actually costs less. What has happened is the Federal Reserve has pumped out so much money that the currency has been severely debased. When Alan Greenspan mismanaged the Federal Reserve for 18 years, he effectively stole half of all your earnings, savings, and property by causing the dollar to drop 50% in value during his reign of economic malfeasance.

But Greenspan did this to please a free-spending CONgress. And CONgress gets away with it because every time there's an election, millions of Americans vote Demopublican and thereby throw away any power their vote would have. You can't stop this sorry state of affairs via your own actions, but you don't have to contribute to it either.

For more immediate results if you don't like the price of gasoline at the pump, you can do the following:

  • Drive less. Think about how to do this, and start turning your thoughts into action. I drive 90% fewer miles than I did a decade ago.
  • Burn less per mile. Keep tires inflated, use synthetic motor oil, and drive a fuel-efficient vehicle. My standard transmission Camry gets almost dead-nuts 40MPG on the highway. Contrary to the blatherings of clueless media types, you can easily exceed the EPA ratings.

Please note that plug-in electric cars do not save fuel or reduce pollution. They have exactly the opposite effect. This is because electricity, like money, does not grow on trees.

4. Security tip

In a previous issue, I mentioned the 3 Ds personal security:
  1. Deter. Make it hard for thieves to attack you, in the first place.
  2. Detect. Know when your security has been compromised.
  3. Defend. Take corrective action.

Now, let's look at….

Deter.

  • Shred personal documents, discarded paper statements, old checks, and even solicitations. Anything with your name, address, phone number, etc., shred it. Thieves get one piece of information (e.g., your name) from one source, another piece from another source, and before long they have built your identity. Don't give them anything.
     
  • Don't give out your SSN. Your SSN is your "cattle ear tattoo" foisted upon you by the government. That number is between you and the government. Only an employer (who must report your wages to the government on a W-2), entities that must report payments to you on a 1099, and government agencies need this number. Refuse to give it to anyone else. If some flunky tells you it's "required," kindly inform that person that it's not required, and ask to speak to his/her supervisor immediately.
     
  • If a merchant insists on having your SSN to authorize a credit card, report that merchant to your card-issuing bank (the toll-free number is right on the back of the card). My suggestion is to place the call while still in the store. Before you place it, inform the merchant this is a violation of that company's agreement with its card service provider and one call from you could result in loss of the merchant account (that penalty is stipulated in the merchant's service agreement). This is actually a very serious infraction, so use that fact to your advantage.
     
  • Don't sign up for contests and drawings that ask for your name, phone number, e-mail address, etc. This is how you get flooded with junk. Worse, though, this information gets sold to list rentals. That's how these contest organizers can afford to give out prizes.
     
  • Never click on links in unsolicited e-mails.
     
  • Use passwords that don't make sense. If your password spells a word, it can and will be guessed. Always use a nonsensical combination of letters and numbers such as xv7m89j and memorize it.
     
  • Conduct credit card transactions online rather than in person, whenever possible. This dramatically reduces the chance of credit card information theft. It's a bit harder to stand behind you with a cell phone camera snapping photos of both sides of your credit card when you are seated in front of your home computer than when you are standing in line at a cash register.

Your greatest risk and how to deter it

Your greatest source of security risk is the IRS. This is an agency where adhering to ethics, being honest, playing by the rules, and supervising employees are "not part of the culture." This agency fails on all counts in colossal ways, such as in the Hoyt Fiasco.

While there is no legitimate reason for this agency to exist, the fact is it does. And its employees have pretty much carte-blanche to misbehave however they want to. Which is why the GAO reports on crimes committed by IRS employees are shocking but never followed up on by law enforcement. That is not to say all IRS employees are criminals or bad people. Some IRS employees are actually decent people, even if they are deluded about why they get up in the morning.

Selling the personal and confidential information of taxpayers is a big and thriving business at the IRS. It's been written about quite a bit lately, but CONgress pretends it doesn't happen. You need to reduce your exposure to that business by properly limiting what you give to the IRS, to whom at the IRS you provide it, and how you provide it.

This does not mean you should become a "tax protestor." The horrendous problems with IRS employee misbehavior have nothing to do with taxation. It has everything to do with a extreme imbalance of power that presents very tempting opportunities to steal from defenseless individuals. In fact, people who "tax protest" provide ammunition for supporting the delusion that the IRS is somehow necessary. It makes you wonder if many of those "tax protestors" are actually hired by IRS managers for this very reason.

To deter IRS problems:

  1. File your taxes on time and accurately. Don't let low audit rates give you a false sense of confidence that you can cheat and get away with it. Murphy's Law does exist. Once you are audited, you will have to provide more information, and your risk of being an information sales target increases exponentially.
     
  2. Don't associate with known tax cheats. IRS employees will be the first to say they are wonderful people, even though a "few bad apples" are in the IRS (they have this exactly backwards, proportion-wise), and guilt by association isn't fair. But IRS investigators are also quick to jump on the guilt by association bandwagon and go after people simply because a known tax cheat has their name on file. And the IRS presumes guilt; you have to prove your innocence. If you can't, then you owe. Even if you can, sometimes you owe.
     
  3. Keep income tax filing matters private. It's nobody's business what you deducted or what you paid.
     
  4. Live within your means. The fact it's now illegal for the IRS to conduct "lifestyle audits" doesn't stop them from conducting such an audit anyhow and just keeping it "off the record." Ostentatious wealth isn't smart from a security standpoint, period.

These are just four tips. A list of ten would be easy to come up with, because many of the things that initiate an IRS attack are subtle. Your being an honest, hard-working member of society doesn't protect you. Every IRS employee wants to look good at review time. One of the best ways to look good is to "realize additional revenue," that is, nail a taxpayer hard. The bottom line here is that you should conduct your business and personal affairs in a manner that doesn't give IRS people the idea that going after you would look good at review time.

They are watching all of us, looking for some fools to pop their heads up and become targets. Don't be one of those fools.

5. Health tip/Fitness tips

Blow out and vacuum your computer.

Why

In addition to putting your data at risk, this dust puts you at risk. The dust gets constantly pumped into the air you breathe, and that's definitely unhealthy.

How

  1. Shut the computer off.
  2. Open the case.
  3. Use the blowing attachment of your vacuum cleaner, blow dust in a logical pattern. Just as you wash a car from the top down, blow out dust from the front to the rear.
  4. After waiting a bit for the worst of the dust to settle, vacuum the bottom of the case and vacuum the openings.
  5. Close the machine back up.
  6. Vacuum the area around your workstation.
  7. Wait at least half an hour before turning the machine back on, so you aren't simply sucking in much of the dust you just blew out.

Pay special attention to:

  1. Hard drive bays.
  2. CPU fan.
  3. Any external case fans.
  4. Power supply.

To get it really clean

Using a can of compressed gas, blow the power supply outwards from the internal vents while vacuuming from the outside.

6. Miscellany

  1. The three most valuable brand names on earth: Marlboro, Coca Cola, and Budweiser, in that order. All are toxic drugs, responsible for more deaths and disease than all of the viruses combined.
     
  2. We don't run ads in our newsletter. We do get inquiries from advertisers, all the time. To keep this eNL coming, go to www.mindconnection.com and do your shopping from there (as appropriate).
     

  3. Please forward this eNL to others.

7. Thought for the Day

What you don't say can communicate even more than what you do say. How often do you fail to tell others you appreciate them? Make a list of people important to you and review it with this in mind.

 

Wishing you the best,

Mark Lamendola
Mindconnection

Authorship

The views expressed in this e-newsletter are generally not shared by criminals, zombies, or brainwashed individuals.

Except where noted, this e-newsletter is entirely the work of Mark Lamendola. Anything presented as fact can be independently verified. Often, sources are given; but where not given, they are readily available to anyone who makes the effort.

Mark provides information from either research or his own areas of established expertise. Sometimes, what appears to be a personal opinion is the only possibility when applying sound logic--reason it out before judging! (That said, some personal opinions do appear on occasion).

The purpose of this publication is to inform and empower its readers (and save you money!).

Personal note from Mark: I value each and every one of you, and I hope that shows in the diligent effort I put into writing this e-newsletter. Thank you for being a faithful reader.

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