Sunday, November 30, 2008

Will today's kids be worse off (economically) than their parents?

I attended my 35th year High School reunion last night, and one of my classmates was saying that he's concerned that the current generation of kids will be the first in a long time who standard of living isn't greater than their parents (us).

I agree that this is a real possibility, but I have to wonder if that is a bad thing.

I see kids these days who are incredibly bored with the 'things' that their parents have acquired for them.

Cell phones, big screen TV's, huge houses with pools, gym memberships, cars for their 16th birthdays, etc, etc, etc.

Are they better off for it?

Can they read and write any better than the previous generation?
Do they have honesty, integrity and ethics (reports indicate that 60% of today's students cheat in school).
Are they physically fit (what's the obesity level for today's children?)

I'm not suggesting that eating at a soup kitchen would be a good thing for today's spoiled children (God knows there are children who have been doing that anyway in the economic boom of the latter part of the 20th century), but I am saying that a return to a simpler time when everyone doesn't acquire everything immediately that they believe they want, or have been brainwashed to believe they need, is a bad thing.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

New York Restaurants---Slice of New York

My wife and I visited New York City on Friday, November 28th, 2008 (Black Friday).

When we visit New York, we like to have a slice of pizza for lunch. We were walking back from making a dinner reservation at DaRosina, when we spotted a Pizza parlor called Slice of New York, 8th Avenue and 45th Street (727 Eighth Avenue).

We were looking in the window when a very animated, tall gentleman waved to us and his enthusiasm made us enter (it was approximately 12:15)

We paid $11.49 for two slices of pizza (1 plain and 1 pep with mushroom) and 2 Diet Pepsis. We paid cash, but I believe they accept credit card.

The place wasn't crowded, and we able to sit easily.

The pizza slices were large, very hot, and delicious.

I used the rest room which was fairly clean, but had some graffiti on the hand dryer.

My wife and I both recommend this place highly.

If you decide to go, ladies be prepared. The man at the counter is very nice, with a great sense of humor, but he's a big flirt.

New York Restaurants---

My wife and I visted New York City on Friday, November 28th , 2008 (Black Friday).

After seeing Arthur Miller's All My Sons, we had dinner at DaRosina, at 342 W. 46th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues).

We walked down 46th Street shortly after buying our tickets around noon, and after reading the posted menu outside the restaurant, we went inside and made a reservation for 5PM, although the gentleman who took the reservation said we could come in earlier if we wanted to.

The show finished around 4:20, and it was only a 5 minute walk to the restaurant.

We entered around 4:30, told them we had a 5PM reservation, and without taking our name, seated us at a wall table for 2.

We were quickly waited on.

We both elected the Pri Fixe dinner option.

For $28, a choice of appetizer, soup, or salad, an entree, a dessert and coffee or tea.

I selected the Striped Bass, my wife selected Veal Parmigiana.

We both had Caesar Salad (neither a large one, nor a great tasting one).

I had 2 Budweisers ($5 each), my wife had Chaddonna Terri di Chi ($8 per glass).

My Striped Bass came with 2 clam shells, 2 shrimp and pasta in a light tomato sauce that was delicious. It very much reminded me of the Italian meals we enjoyed in Venice---very delicious and light.

My wife enjoyed her Veal.

For dessert, I had chocolate Gilato and a coffee (actually 2), my wife had a Raspberry Tart with Espresso. The Gilato reminded me of the fine Gilato I enjoyed in Rome. I tasted the Raspberry Tart---I would have been disappointed had I ordered it.

Total bill was $88.87. I left a tip of $13.13, to bring the total to $102.00.

We both used the restroom---there were two adjoining restrooms in the back.

My wife used the one on the right, I used the one on the left which should have been marked out-of-order as someone had broken the flush handle, and it was no longer flushable (sorry :)

We left around 5:30 and the place was packed.

All in all, the restaurant was excellent, but my wife felt a candle on the table with dimmed lighting would have been a nice touch.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Man arrested in connection with Cinnaminson Robberies

Looks like we're safe for now---until someone else starts this nonsense...

From the Burlington County Times of November 28, 2008

http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/news/112-11282008-1629056.html

CINNAMINSON — A Willingboro man was arrested yesterday afternoon on suspicion that he robbed a local sandwich shop and a convenience store in Edgewater Park, police said.

David L. Brown, 39, of Ember Lane was taken into custody at 2:06 p.m. after a Cinnaminson officer on patrol on Route 130 saw him driving a black Ford Explorer that matched the descriptions of a getaway vehicle used in robberies at the Subway Sandwich Shop on Route 130 in Cinnaminson and the 7-Eleven on Cooper Street in Edgewater Park.

Both robberies were committed Wednesday, and involved lone robbers who threatened clerks with weapons. No serious injuries were reported.

Cinnaminson police said Brown also was positively identified as the Subway robber from surveillance video footage. Brown later confessed to both robberies at Cinnaminson police headquarters, police said.

Brown was charged with armed robbery and theft in connection with the Subway holdup, and he was lodged in Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly on $200,000 bail, police said.

Charges from the 7-Eleven robbery are pending, police said.

Cinnaminson police said an investigation also is ongoing to determine if Brown is also responsible for other robberies in the county, including Monday morning robberies at a Cinnaminson dry cleaners and at a gas station in Burlington Township.

In both those holdups, a lone man wearing a motorcycle helmet threatened employees and then escaped in a dark colored SUV.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Columbia Sportswear Jacket Washing Instructions

Not my best blog post, but it can be instructive.

My Columbia Sportswear Winter Parka was pretty dirty the other day. After checking the Washing Instructions on both the shell and the liner (with a magnifying glass), my lovely bride washed it and it turned out pretty well. Here are the Washing Instructions for the Liner.

MACHINE WASH WITH COLD, MILD DETERGENT WITH LIKE COLORS
DO NOT BLEACH
TUMBLE DRY LOW
DO NOT IRON
DO NOT DRY CLEAN

For the shell...

MACHINE WASH COLD WATER WITH MILD DETERGENT WITH LIKE COLORS
REMOVE PROMPTLY
DO NOT BLEACH
TUMBLE DRY LOW
TOUCH UP WITH WARM IRON FACE SIDE ONLY

Cinnaminson Armed robber strikes again

This is from the November 27, 2008 Burlington County Times...

http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/news/112-11272008-1628625.html

CINNAMINSON — A suspect wanted in the armed robbery of a convenience store in Edgewater Park early yesterday morning apparently struck again at a sandwich shop on Route 130 last night.Cinnaminson police said they were sent to a Subway sandwich shop at the Pep Boys Plaza at 6:30 p.m. for a report of an armed robbery.

Police said the suspect entered the store, announced a robbery, took about $500 and fled the building. He indicated to the cashier that he had a weapon but did not reveal one during the robbery, police said.

He was last seen driving a Ford Explorer toward Route 130.

Police described the suspect as a black man in his mid-30s, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, 170 pounds, with a thin build, goatee with long sideburns, and wearing a white baseball cap with a maroon zip-up long-sleeve jacket and work boots.

Earlier yesterday morning, Edgewater Park police said the man robbed the 7-Eleven at knife-point.

The robbery occurred at 12:06 a.m. at the 7-Eleven on Cooper Street, said police Chief Robert Brian. He said a man entered the store, browsed for a short time and then grabbed the clerk and threatened him with a knife.

The teller turned over approximately $100 cash and the robber left the store, driving away in a black Ford Explorer, Brian said.

The teller wasn't seriously injured, the chief said.

The investigation is ongoing, but Brian said it's too early to tell if the robbery was connected to other recent holdups in the county.

A black Ford Explorer also was used as a getaway vehicle Monday morning during a robbery at a drycleaner in Cinnaminson. During that robbery, a man wearing a motorcycle helmet threatened an employee with a pipe, police said.

A man wearing a motorcycle helmet also robbed a gas station in Burlington Township Monday morning. That robber escaped in what was described as a dark green SUV with dealer plates.

Anyone with information on the robberies can contact Cinnaminson Officer William Covert at (856) 829-6667 (ext. 2) or Edgewater Park Det. John Harris at (609) 877-4404.

Fastballs...your road to riches

An interesting Reality show in India, the Million Dollar Arm...

http://www.littleindia.com/news/128/ARTICLE/1958/2007-12-03.html

I've often asked people I meet if they can throw 95 miles per hour---baseball riches can be yours. Of course, most people can't approach that speed.

I threw 83 but was wild enough to know I had no baseball career possibilities, although I do thank Ruly Carpenter for his letter.

I've often wandered if you could just 'find' someone who can throw that hard---it doesn't make a lot of sense to me, since throwing hard requires specific muscle training.

At any rate, two contestants from this show have just been signed by the Pirates.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/cricketNews/idUKDEL39951420081125

Kids get out there throwing---Parents of kids, get your kids a baseball and start practicing. Watch those windows!

By the way, here's a link to the product page for a baseball that can measure your throwing speeed---only $23.50 on Amazon (link gets you to Amazon plus if you buy it I get a small commission...)

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00015QV1G/ref=nosim/professorsmileys

Letter of the week---November 27, 2008

My thanks to a reader who sent this email to me yesterday...

Mr. Smiley

I purchased your book about a week and a half ago. I already passed half the book and I can tell you is that this the best introductory book I have ever read..It's worth every penny.

You know, I was getting frustrated with other books and sometimes I got to a point where I thought programming was not for me, but your book is so nicely written and so understandable that I am have progressed more in this short time then ever before.

I just want to thank you and I really really appreciate you took the dedication and time to write this book.

I think, thanks to your book I can eventually have a sucessful career.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Forks in the Road...

They say a cat has nine lives...not sure about people.

3 weeks ago tomorrow I tripped over my dog and smashed my nose into a wooden cabinet. 12 stitches and I'm basically back in business, but a few inches one way or other and I might have broken my jaw, knocked out all of my front teeth, or bashed my skull.

Each of us lives life within those "few inches one way or other" or "a few minutes one way or other". I call these forks in the road.

I (and I hear others) have theorized that these forks in the road generate split parallel existences---for instance, in one world, I have a 12 stitch broken nose. In the other, I'm in a coma with a fractured skull. In another, instead of falling forward, I fell sideways down the steps and now I'm dead...

You get the point.

I can count numerous times in my life where there have been these potential forks in the road---I'll get around to enumerating them.

How about you?

Cinnaminson Hit and Run November 20, 2008

I just saw this posted in the Cinnaminson Post Office...

On Thursday, November 20 at 5:30 PM there was an accident on South Bound Rt. 130 at the Wallmart Intersection.

My car was a Red 2001 Ford Mustang. The individual that hit me from behind was a man but due to injuries sustained I was unable to gat a full description of him and his vehicle. He did push my car to the side of the road and then promptly left the scene without bothering to call Police or an Emergency assistance.

I am looking for someone who may have witnessed the accident and or have seen the person moving my car to the side of the road.

Please call the Cinnaminson Police Department with any information in regards to this accident.

856-829-6666

Please help me catch this person.

Route 130 named most dangerous in state for pedestrians

Route 130 named most dangerous in state for pedestrians...no surprise there. Here's a link to the Courier Post article...

http://www.courierpostonline.com/article/20081029/NEWS01/81029031

New Jersey Employee Search

Know anyone who works in State Government?

Apparently, you can query their name here, and find out their salary for the year 2007...

http://php.app.com/NJpublicemployees/search.php

You can also query an entire town.

Cinnaminson NJ Crime Log---November 26, 2008

It must be the economy---criminals are picking on Cinnaminson again.

Watch out for a black Ford Explorer sports utility vehicle, and someone who exits and then puts on a motorcycle helmet. This man targeted my dry cleaners---and they are nice, hard working people.

From the Burlington County Times...

A man wearing a motorcycle helmet and wielding a metal pipe robbed a dry cleaning business this morning, and police suspect the robbery is connected to a holdup earlier today at a gas station in Burlington Township.

According to investigators, the Burlington Township robbery occurred at around 4:30 a.m. at the Shell gas station on Mount Holly Road. Less than four hours later, Jordan's Cleaners in the Mainline Shopping Center off Route 130 in Cinnaminson also was robbed by a man wearing a motorcycle helmet, police said.

"We believe the two are related," Cinnaminson Detective Sgt. William Covert said this afternoon.
He said the dry cleaners robbery occurred at 8:16 a.m. while the business was first opening. A man wearing a red and black motorcycle helmet entered the business and brandished a metal pipe while demanding money. He took an undisclosed amount of cash then escaped in a black Ford Explorer sports utility vehicle, Covert said.


During the Burlington Township robbery, a man wearing a full-face motorcycle helmet entered the convenience store at the gas station, brandished an unknown type of weapon and demanded money. The lone employee complied and the man took an undisclosed amount of cash and fled in what was described as a dark green GMC Jimmy SUV, police said.

No injuries were reported in either robbery.

Burlington Township investigators believe the robber's getaway vehicle may have been purchased recently because it had a car dealership advertisement placard in place of a license plate. The vehicle was last seen traveling west toward Willingboro on Sunset Road, police said.
Investigators said the two holdups yesterday are not suspected to be related to a string of two bank robberies and one attempted bank robbery in the area involving lone robbers wearing motorcycle helmets. Those robberies occurred at banks in Maple Shade on Sept. 28, Medford on Oct. 7 and Cherry Hill on Oct. 20.


Covert and Burlington Township police detective Brandon Roberson said investigators so far have found no connection between the bank robberies and the robberies at the gas station and dry cleaners.

"We're aware of the bank jobs, but there's no indication at this time that they're related," Roberson said.

Anyone with information about the robberies is asked to call Burlington Township police at (609) 386-2019 or Cinnaminson police at (856) 829-6667.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Philadelphia Phillies Road to the Championship Rebroadcast

Comcast is going to be re-broadcasting several games from the Phillies post-season. The schedule is as follows:

December 9 at 7 p.m. - Phillies clinch the National League East championship on Sept. 28 at Citizens Bank Park.

December 14 at 7 p.m. - Game 2 of the NLDS against the Milwaukee Brewers at Citizens Bank Park. Shane Victorino hits a grand slam against CC Sabathia.

December 21 at 7 p.m. - Game 4 of the NLDS against the Brewers at Miller Park. The Phillies advance to their first NLCS since 1993.

December 24 at 7 p.m. - Game 4 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Victorino and Matt Stairs hit home runs in the eighth inning to win it.

December 30 at 7 p.m. - Game 5 of the NLCS against the Dodgers. The Phillies clinch their first NL pennant in 15 years.

January 2 at 7 p.m. - Game 5 of the World Series.

Cinnaminson---Blue Newspaper Recycling Buckets

Anyone know the schedule of delivery for the new Blue Newspaper Recycling buckets I'm seeing in parts of Cinnaminson?

I subscribe to 3 newspapers a week, and I have so many newspapers that I recently purchased a big blue storage bucket of my own to accommodate the every-other-week recycling pickup.

Based on my usage, you would have thought that our household would be one of the first to get these.

Update, Tuesday, November 25th.

Well, the blue buckets came rolling down Pomona Road, and I am now the proud owner (recipient) of a blue newspaper recycling bucket, can. I think it holds about 60 gallons, so bucket is an understatement.

Havest Diner---Beautiful Pen Drawing

If you visit the Harvest Diner in Cinnaminson, as you enter, look straight ahead and check out the beautiful ink drawing of the Diner done by a former waitress named "Emer".

It's really quite stunning.

I'm not sure if she is still drawing or painting, but she does beautiful work.

My first Eagles game---September 17, 1961

I recently wrote about my first Phillies game.

My first Philadelphia Eagles game was also a memorable one---once again, my brother Joe took me.

He was in Jefferson Medical School at the time, and one of the doctors gave the students some tickets. They were in the End Zone, which is why I got a great view of Timmy Brown running back a kickoff return for a touchdown. I believe the game was against the Cleveland Browns. I don't remember how hot or cold it was---I think I had hot chocolate, but I don't remember being super cold.

On September 17, 1961, Tim Brown ran back a kickoff for 105 yards versus the Cleveland Browns. In 1966, he ran back TWO kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game--but those were 90 and 93 yards. I vividly remember him fielding the ball in the end zone and taking off up the middle---so I believe the 1961 game is the one.

I'm trying to determine the exact date---Internet resources for NFL games don't seem to be nearly as good as those for Baseball. OK, here's one...

http://www.nfl.com/players/timmybrown/careerstats?id=BRO713184

Looks like he had 5 return touchdowns. 1 in 1961, 1 in 1962, 1 in 1963, and 2 in 1966.

Just found this site...

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/

It has details for all the seasons that are superior to the others, including longest kickoff return per player, and box scores...

In 1961, Timmy Brown's longest was for 105 yards---occurred on September 17, 1961 versus the Cleveland Browns. I think this is the game...

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/phi/1961.htm

In 1962, Timmy Brown's longest was for 99 yards---occurred on December 2, 1962 at Washington---so that can't be the game.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/phi/1962.htm

In 1963, Timmy Brown's longest was for 100 yards---that occurred on September 22 at home versus the St. Louis Cardinals. I seem to recall my game was versus the Browns---so I don't think this is it.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/phi/1963.htm

In 1966, Timmy Brown's longest was for 93 yards---he also had one for 90 yards. Both occurred in the same game. November 6, 1966 at home versus the Dallas Cowboys.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/phi/1966.htm

Well, it looks like it was September 17, 1961. I was 6 years old. A great game, and a piece of history.

Here are some links on the 105 yard return...

http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com/news/Story.asp?story_id=3467

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Brown_(actor)

Monday, November 24, 2008

My first Phillies game---Saturday, July 13, 1963

I was thinking back to my first Phillies game.

I know I was around 6 or 7 (1962, 1963), it was against the San Francisco Giants, and the Phillies won 4-3.

My brother Joe took me.

I remember him driving, paying someone to 'watch' out car, and then standing outside Connie Mack Stadium waiting to buy a ticket. I remember thinking it looked like we were going into a big movie theater---all I knew of ball fields was a big open lot, like we had at the Bridgesburg field. As we were walking to get into the park, we saw some Phillies. Clay Dalrymple stands out prominently, as he didn't look like a ball player--he didn't have any hair. My brother pointed out some San Francisco Giants walking into the players entrance---he said they didn't look that big!

I can still remember walking into the park, and seeing the green grass--it was stunningly beautiful, still one of the most breathtaking scenes I have ever seen (and I've been to Hawaii).

I was mesmerized and amazed---something that puzzled me was why the Phillies wore red? I thought they wore white and black uniforms (poor us, we only had Black and White televisions).

I don't remember a lot about the game, but I do know I saw Willie Mays.

I also remember the seats were behind the plate---a precursor to my 25 years behind the plate with my own season tickets.

I didn't catch a foul ball---never did, although on the way home we did see a kid with a ball---I was very jealous.

Checking the baseball encyclopedia should give me an idea of the date of this game...

Hmmm...

Friday, July 28, 1961...a 4-3 win over the Giants. I don't know if it was a day game or night game. My game was a day game.

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/box-scores/boxscore.php?boxid=196107282PHI

Saturday, July 13, 1963. 4-3 win over the Giants. Looks like a great game. My buddy Roy Sievers hit 2 home runs, and so did Willie Mays. Here's the box score...

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/box-scores/boxscore.php?boxid=196307130PHI

Thursday, July 30, 1964. 4-3 win over the Giants. I don't think this is it--I went to several games in 1964. That wouldn't have been my first game.

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/box-scores/boxscore.php?boxid=196407300PHI

I believe it was most like the Saturday game, July 13, 1963---a great game1

Bellwether Catholics sided with Obama

I saw this article in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer---Bellwether Catholics sided with Obama

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/world_us/20081123_Bellwether_Catholics_sided_with_Obama.html

I'll let you read the article for yourself---I don't have a lot to say about it myself, except for the way that Catholics are bunched together.

For instance, I and my family are Catholics---we go to Mass every Sunday. We follow the preachings and rules of the Church.

I know other people who never go to Mass, who neither follow the preachings and rules of the Church, nor quite honestly do they know what they are.

Then there are people in between.

Asked by a pollster, all of these people would say they are Catholics, when in fact only set are practicing Catholics---and from my point of view, when pollsters lump me and my family in with the other group, I'm a bit annoyed.

Catholics who proclaim themselves as Catholics should be practicing Catholics.

If they don't attend Church regularly, and following the preachings and rules of the Church, then they need to categorize themselves as "Born Catholic", or "Baptized Catholic" or "Raised Catholic" or "Fallen Away Catholic" or "Do as I want Catholic."

Please, just don't skew the polls.

Obama, the new FDR?

I've been meaning to blog this title for a while now.

Obama's plans for Infrastructure rebuilding, which I think is a good idea provided we have the money to pay for it, sounds like FDR's Public Works Administration.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Works_Administration

I believe my mother told me my Uncle Bob worked in the program in the 30's.

I think the Hoover Dam was built using this program, but I may be wrong.

James Bond Movies

My wife and I saw Quantum of Silence last night at the Ritz. I enjoyed it.

It made me remember that I've seen about 20 James Bond movies at the theater in my lifetime.

I believe the first was From Russia with Love. I remember it pretty well. My brother Joe took me to see it (I'm guessing I was about 10 or 11 at the time), and I believe we drove in a very thick fog to a twin theater on Route 611 to see it.

Let me check to see how close I am here as I use Wikipedia to list the James Bond movies and their release dates...

Dr. No 1962
From Russia with Love 1963
Goldfinger 1964
Thunderball 1965
You Only Live Twice 1967
On Her Majesty's Secret Service 1969
Diamonds Are Forever 1971

Live and Let Die 1973
The Man with the Golden Gun 1974
The Spy Who Loved Me 1977
Moonraker 1979
For Your Eyes Only 1981

Octopussy 1983
A View to a Kill 1985
The Living Daylights 1987
Licence to Kill 1989
GoldenEye 1995

Tomorrow Never Dies 1997
The World Is Not Enough 1999
Die Another Day 2002

Casino Royale 2006
Quantum of Solace 2008

Hmmm...From Russia with Love was 1963, and I would have been 8, but there's no doubt I saw it with him, he was a big James Bond fan, and I saw remember that opening sniper scene.

Retrofitness---it has to hit you on the head

My wife is still a bit annoyed with Retrofitness in Moorestown---she asked if she could display her Avon books somewhere in their very large showroom, and the front desk girl said she would check with her manager, and then placed them under the counter. That's where they are two weeks later. Not a great way to treat a good paying (make that great paying) customer.

Today my wife wore her Riverton Fitness Center shirt to work out at Retrofitness.

Gee, I wonder if anyone there noticed?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Another Plagarism Site

Any computer authors out there?

See if your book is being plagarized here...my C++ book is...

http://hates.home.anadolu.edu.tr/books/Computer/

Fan Mail---Letter of the week

I just received this very nice email from a student/reader who bought my book last week---nice emails like this inspire me to keep writing in the face of overwhelming obstacles to just quit and watch the Eagles frustrate me with another close loss :)

By the way, here is the Amazon.com link to the book this reader is talking about....

http://www.amazon.com/Learn-Program-C-John-Smiley/dp/0072222611/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1227460659&sr=1-7

It's listed as being out-of-print, but I have the rights to sell it, and have republished it under my Smiley Publishing brand. I have a hundred copies right behind me if anyone needs one.

Hi John,

I hope you remember me. I purchased your book about a week and a half ago. I already passed half the book and I can tell you is that this the best introductory book I have ever read..It's worth every penny.

You know, I was getting frustrated with other books and sometimes I got to a point where I thought programming was not for me, but your book is so nicely written and so understandable that I am have progressed more in this short time then ever before.

I just want to thank you and I really really appreciate you took the dedication and time to write this book.

I think, thanks to your book I can eventually have a sucessful career. I am eager to learn more. By the way, do you have a continuation book for C#?....It would be great if you did. Or if you don't, can you recommend me one from another source....

I need to get up to pace because I would eventually like to get Microsoft Certified in .NET in the near future.

As you can tell I joined your C# group in Facebook but I am the only member there.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

35 years ago

Where were you when JFK was shot, November 22nd, 1:30PM Eastern time.

I was in the 3rd grade (8 years old) at All Saints Elementary School in Philadelphia, probably doing Art (it was a Friday afternoon, and that's when we did art).

I remember a nun coming in to tell us the Prisident had been shot in Texas. I specifically remember Texas, because immediately I thought of a scene from a Western on a dusty street where someone would pull a six shooter on the President and drop him with a single shot. The only other image I had of Texas would be from the Jimmy Dean show (popular at that time). You have to remember how kids were at that time---pretty innocent, at least by today's standards.

I don't remember if the nun was crying. I do know we were dismissed for the day, and I walked about 5 minutes to my house. I don't remember if my mother was crying, but certainly at this point, the bad news was all over the television, and most likely the news was out that the President was dead.

It was a very sad time.

Some things I remember are the news crews gathered at the White House---I specifically remember a miniature model of the Apollo moon rocket being removed from the White House, along with a narrator telling the audience how much the president loved the model.

On Sunday, November 24th, I (along with my brother Bob) was one of the millions of people who witnessed Lee Harvey being shot on live television. My parents were at Church (the 11AM mass). I was at home because I had gone to the 9:15 Childrens mass.

Seeing someone shot on live televison is nothing new to today's kids--they see it all the time, and it has to change them in some way. Later that evening, when I went to visit my grandmother on Wilmot street in the Frankford section of Philadelphia, I recall seeing the first Zapruder film showing the President being killed---it was grainy, but you could certainly see his head explode.

Talk about a loss of innocence.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cinnaminson Lukoil at Route 130 and Riverton Road

Anyone know why the Lukoil across from Riggins at Route 130 and Riverton Road in Cinnaminson has been closed for the last week?

Page Views

My website stats indicate that this page averages over 1,000 views per day

http://www.johnsmiley.com/cis18.notfree/smiley029/smiley029.htm

Now how can I make money on it?

I've tried 'turning it off' for a week, and asking people to make a donation. One person did.

I've tried putting a 'donation' button on the top---no one did.

I've recently placed Yahoo ads on the top---nothing obvious, although just now I've modified my Yahoo reporting criteria to let me know how well that page is doing.

More to follow.

Macy's Dressing Rooms

My wife reports that she saw a sign in Macy's yesterday that said something along the line of...

Use of this dressing room indicates your consent to be monitored by same sex store personnel

What does that mean?

This will never work...Atlantic City Expressway tolls

This press release just in...

ATLANTIC CITY (AP) -- Atlantic City's Expressway will stop accepting money at its toll plazas by the end of 2010.

The highway will use E-ZPass and video tolling instead.

Video tolling uses cameras to capture license plate numbers and motorists who don't have E-ZPass are billed for the toll.

The South Jersey Transportation Authority says toll collectors won't lose their jobs. Instead, they'll be trained to fill other jobs that become vacant with the agency.

Tuesday's cashless toll announcement came on the same day the expressway raised tolls for the first time in a decade.
***
Information from: The Press of Atlantic City,
http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com

This will never work...do you really think people are going to pay a toll bill they receive in the mail?

How much will it cost to mail them a bill?

And do you really believe toll collectors won't be laid off?

ASP.Net Question of the week (Friday, November 21, 2008)

Question.

I swear I've looked all through the tool box in Visual Web Developer Express and there is no control named Web Server control.

Answer:

It can be confusing. There are HTML controls and there are also Web Server Controls.

HTML controls, if you are familiar with HTML, are controls that work with the HTML object model--such as radio buttons, buttons, forms, etc. You can code these directly into an HTML page.

ASP.Net permits you to use these controls in an ASP.Net page--which makes sense.

In addition, ASP.Net also provides additional controls beyond the HTML like controls. This also makes sense since, as a developer, you are looking for greater functionality than mere HTML controls--after all, that's why you're learning ASP.Net. These additional controls can be bunched into a category called Web Server Controls.

This page from MSDN does a decent job of describing the categories...

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/zsyt68f1.aspx


In the old days, this would have been printed and included in the Product documentation.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What will happen to the Automakers?

If the Big 3 Automakers go out of business, what will happen?

They have assets, to be sure---won't someone (another auto company) buy them?

Must be the hedge funds

Wow, the DOW is down again---this time 444 points to finish at 7552.29.

Must be the hedge funds dumping stock again in the last hour.

If you can afford to buy and hold, this may be the greatest buying opportunity in the last 40 years---but be careful, I'm not a professional market timer---and we've seen how well those guys have done.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Forgot all about this---Web.archive.org

I forgot all about this great website

http://web.archive.org

Enter a website, and see the way it looked a long time ago. Here's a listing for Microsoft...

http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.microsoft.com

and here is their website from 1996

http://web.archive.org/web/19961020014044/http://www.microsoft.com/

Check out my website from the year 2000 :)

http://web.archive.org/web/20000301041030/http://www.johnsmiley.com/

Are you kidding me? Today Show

The Today Show has a psychiatrist on counseling parents on how to handle children who will be depressed if they don't get everything on their Christmas list this year.

Thoughts on....Customer Service

Hmmm...let's see, I sent a letter to Retrofitness in Moorestown, NJ on October 26th telling them that I was giving them 60 days notice of my membership termination.

You would think that someone would contact me to ask me why?

Customer Service--or should I say Customer Management---is a big buzz word these days.

"They" say that it takes 10 times as much effort/money to acquire a new customer than it does to keep one---yet no one from the my fitness club has contacted me to ask me why I'm no longer going to be a member after January 12th, 2009.

Some reasons?

No Kettleballs, a water fountain that was broken for over 3 months, no owner on site, no call back from the owner when Iasked an employee to have them (she wasn't sure if it was a man or woman) call me back, and the final straw, no placement of my wife's Avon catalogs in the large reception area.

You know what?

I bet sometime in late January or February they'll mail something to the house addressed to Current Resident offering me a discount to join the club :)

Amazing.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Saladworks Sunday, November 16, 2008

Yes, in spite of the small diet sized takeout bowl, we went there again---got 3 salads and 1 pasta meal.

Surprisingly, the old takeout bowls were there---my wife thought perhaps my blogging/complaining had an impact.

Not so--the very nice manager said that there was an issue with the lid for the new bowls, and that they were temporarily using the old bowls. She also said when they use the diet bowls again, we will get the same amount of salad---I told her I would watch her like a hawk :)

Hmmm...the lids fit very well the one time we got the new bowl.

More to follow.

Just removed my Google Adsense link--and added by Yahoo Ads link

I just removed my Google Adsense link--and added by Yahoo Ads link---I should have done that weeks ago instead of wasting time with Google.

What's their share price today?

Plagarism on Scribd.com

As a published author, it's always disconcerting to find my published materials posted online. Here's an email I recently sent to a site (http://www.scribd.com/) that had several pages of one of my books posted...and the reply. Why is it 1000 times harder to have it removed than it is to post it---and once removed, it can be put back up in the blink of an eye...

Someone has copied some pages from my book

Learn to Program with Visual Basic Examples

and placed it on your site---would you please remove it?

Here's the link to it

http://www.scribd.com/doc/5634529/How-to-create-MS-Access-as-backend-database-for-VB-application

John Smiley

Here's their response...




Thanks for contacting the Copyright Department at Scribd.

Scribd is a self-publishing platform that enables users from around the world to publish and/or read written works, documents, and rich content over the Internet. Scribd takes the rights of intellectual property owners very seriously and complies as a service provider with all applicable provisions of the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") of 1998. We expeditiously remove infringing material and terminate repeat infringers when appropriate.

I sincerely regret that one of our users posted your content to Scribd without your authorization.

Your email was very clear, but it's missing some elements that would allow me to accept it as an "authorized statement" under specific legal criteria established by the DMCA.

To avoid making this any more tedious than it has to be, I've attached a template of a valid DMCA request below. The information in this template is the absolute minimum that we can accept under United States law. Simply substitute everything in [brackets] with the necessary information. Then send the request back to me, and I'll remove the infringing content as soon as possible.

Remember, your DMCA request is a legal document. You must include your FULL mailing address and phone number along with a valid email address. We are unable to remove content based on email addresses alone.

Your takedown request must include a direct link (URL) to each and every infringing document that you want us to remove. We cannot remove documents based on keywords, search terms, title, author name, cover design, or resemblance (physical or otherwise) to another document.

There are absolutely NO EXCEPTIONS to these legal requirements, regardless of your country of origin.

Your DMCA request can only apply to infringing documents on Scribd.com up to the date of the request. Your DMCA request does not cover possible future infringements. Most documents on Scribd are indexed by Google within 24 hours, so a Google Alert is an excellent way of finding out - usually within minutes - if your work has been posted on Scribd or another site.

Thanks for your understanding.

Please contact me if you have any further questions.Jason Bentleyjason@scribd.com***

========== BEGIN SAMPLE DMCA TAKEDOWN NOTICE ==========


Attn: Jason Bentley, Scribd.com,
Pursuant to 17 USC 512(c)(3)(A), this communication serves as a statement that:

(1). I am [the exclusive rights holder the duly authorized representative of the exclusive rights holder] for [title of copyrighted material being infringed upon, along with any identifying material such as ISBNs, publication dates, etc -- or, if the material is a web page, the URL];

(2). These exclusive rights are being violated by material available upon your site at the following URL(s): [URLs of infringing material];

(3) I have a good faith belief that the use of this material in such a fashion is not authorized by the copyright holder, the copyright holder's agent, or the law;

(4) Under penalty of perjury in a United States court of law, I state that the information contained in this notification is accurate, and that I am authorized to act on the behalf of the exclusive rights holder for the material in question;

(5) I may be contacted by the following methods (include all): [physical address, telephone number, and email address];I hereby request that you remove or disable access to this material as it appears on your service in as expedient a fashion as possible. Thank you for your kind cooperation.

Regards,[your full legal name]

========== END SAMPLE DMCA TAKEDOWN NOTICE ==========

Weaning myself off Google

Since Google doesn't want to play ball with me, I will no longer play ball with them. Therefore, I'm weaning myself off Google---and that probably means moving my blog from Blogspot, which I believe is owned by Google (Big Brother, are you reading this now :)

Is there anything comparable to Google Alerts?

I have about 100 Google Alerts in place.

Waiting on Google Adsense Update #3

Google Adsense sent me this email at 2 this morning---I had set a text alert on my phone and it won't me (and my wife) up out of a sound sleep...I need to see if I can have my Yahoo ads appear on Blogspot--if not, I may need to switch my Blog to Wordpress. I think I'll do all of my searches using LiveSearch.

Hello John,

Thank you for your interest in Google AdSense. After reviewing your application, our specialists have found that it does not meet our programc riteria. Therefore, we are unable to accept you into our program.


We have certain policies in place that we believe will help ensure the effectiveness of Google ads for our publishers as well as for our advertisers. We review all publishers, and we reserve the right to decline any application. As we grow, we may find that we are able to expand our program to more web publishers with a wider variety of web content.

Please note that we may not be able to respond to inquiries regarding the specific reasons for our decision. Thank you for your understanding.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

Catholic bashing

I'm so sick of people telling me they were once Catholics, but some priest did this and another priest did that, and the Church wouldn't give their relative an annulment, and the Church wouldn't bury their father who hadn't been to church in 40 years, and they couldn't get married on a Wednesday morning, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

These people drop their faith like yo-yo dieters drop a diet fad.

Their mistake is this...

When I go to church, I go there to pray to God.

I don't go there to worship a priest.

If your Catholic church doesn't have a priest who can facilitate your relationship with God, find another church.

By the way, if you've truly been hurt by a priest (and there are some who have) contact your local District Attorney and have them prosecuted.

I write computer programming books

Someone just emailed me on Lulu.com (My Print-On-Demand company) and asked me how I am able to write 600 page books when they can't get beyond 150. Here's my reply.

I write books on computer programming--it's a bit easier in that I develop a computer program that has explicit steps that have to be completed.

I illustrate these steps in the book with screenshots and explanations.

My books are a bit unusual in that the project is developed in the context of a real computer class with people, dialog, character development and interaction.

It's great for learning on your own---elearners, Distance Learning Programs, learn on your own.

Not your average computer geek book.

Monday, November 17, 2008

SmallBasic from Microsoft---how did I miss this?

Wow, another programming environment from Microsoft. I really missed this one. It's free~

Here's what the Microsoft Web page says about it...

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/devlabs/cc950524.aspx

Small Basic is a project that's aimed at bringing "fun" back to programming. By providing a small and easy to learn programming language in a friendly and inviting development environment, Small Basic makes programming a breeze. Ideal for kids and adults alike, Small Basic helps beginners take the first step into the wonderful world of programming.

Small Basic derives its inspiration from the original BASIC programming language, and is based on the Microsoft .Net platform. It is really small with just 15 keywords and uses minimal concepts to keep the barrier to entry as low as possible.

The Small Basic development environment is simple, yet provides powerful modern environment features like Intellisense™ and instant context sensitive help.

Small Basic allows third-party libraries to be plugged in with ease, making it possible for the community to extend the experience in fun and interesting ways.

Sending Email through Oracle

I spent some time this morning trying to send email via an Oracle PL/SQL program---still trying to get it to work.

At the moment, I'm receiving an ORA-29729 error when I execue the UTL_MAIL.SEND statement---Unable to relay mail for xyz@xyz.com

Probably a permission thing.

2008-12-01 Update

Indeed, that's exactly what it was---I needed to contact the server administrator to have some permission set for SMTP. By the way, here's the single line of code I execute from a script to send an email (or text message) to myself to let me know that a script has completed...

EXECUTE UTL_MAIL.SEND('JSMILEY', '5551112222@txt.att.net', NULL, NULL, 'SCRIPT 123-XYZ-IS-DONE', NULL);

Bad Drivers---NJ UPL-75K

This woman tailgated me, passed on the right, and generally swerved in and out of traffic from 5 miles out on the Tacony Palmyra Bridge until I lost her at Levick Street and Oxford Avenue.
I took this picture of her at Levick and the Boulevard---fortunately, for her, she wasn't dumb enough to run the red light, or the traffic camera would have caught her.

I don't know if you can see from the picture, but her rear view mirror is turned towards her face so that she can apply her makeup---something she did at every stop light.


Watch out for her--she's a menace.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Vorhees Ritz Last night---there's no recession there

My wife and I went to the Vorhees Ritz last night--there's no recession there, the place was packed. The ticket area was jammed, and many movies were sold out.

I had to park in the back of the lot--that's only happened to me a few time.

The new James Bond movie was sold out---and people were waiting down the hall to get into it.

I did chat with a fellow on the way in--I said there's no recession here.

He said he knew friends who were in business--one a car dealership, and another one who does work with Atlantic City Casino hotels, and he said there October business was horrible.

I told him my November business is horrible as well.

Moodle---Administrative Wish List

I use Moodle to run my Internet Courses.

It's an Open Source product, and I could download and install it on my own Web Site, but it's easier for me to use this company to do so...

http://www.moodlerooms.com

I can't say enough nice things about this company---the price is good, and the support is personalized and quick.

Tom Murdock and Gina Stevens run the company--and they both do a wonderful job. Because of them, I have this...

http://johnsmiley.mrooms.net

There are some things I would like Moodle to do that I don't believe it currently does...

1. I would like to be able to generate automated, periodic emails to students in my classes. For instance, the first day of a new class, I would like to generate a welcome message. Prior to the first Office Hours chat, I would like to send a reminder. Prior to the half way point in the course, I would like to send a reminder about our midterm. The day the course ends, I would like to send a thank you message. You get the idea. Moodle permits me to use a Group Mail feature--but it's manual.

2. I would like to be able to accept payment for my courses directly through my Moodle site, and link it to my Paypal account. There is some chatter about this on the Administrative Panel--but I haven't figured out if it gives me what I need or not.

3. I would like my courses to be advertised in the world wide Moodle community---not sure how to do that.

I was thinking about becoming an Avon representative until ...

Did you see the piece about Avon on Good Morning America last week?

They said you could make $80,000 a year sellinig Avon.

Sounds good to me, so I was thinking about becoming an Avon representative unti I started reading about all of these problems.

http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/avon-c84532.html

http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/avon-products-c118733.html

http://www.complaintsboard.com/bycompany/avon-a46972.html

Avon believes their online systems have a problem--they advertised in Information Week for solutions...

http://www.informationweek.com/rfp/avon/

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Soccer Mouth Guards

I promised myself I wouldn't blog about soccer---my daughter plays in the South Jersey Girls Soccer League, and it's well run and well officiated. Everything I've seen indicates those in charge really care about the well being of the girls participating.

Can someone tell me then why mouth guards are not mandatory for the girls?

Do a Google search for soccer mouth injuries and you'll be appalled and sickened at the injuries that can occur.

I would like my daughter to wear one, but she won't because none of the other girls do---I think we need to mandate it.

Some states are doing so.

More to follow on this.

Route 130 in Cinnaminson and Delran--a disaster

I've been complaining about the Route 130 stretch through Cinnaminson and Delran for years---does anyone else thing that it's a disaster?

The road is bevelled---it has gulleys.

Trying to drive it is like trying to drive in a snow drift---except there's no snow.

Cars are constantly rolling right, rolling left.

I swear the center portion of the lanes is about 6 inches higher than the tire portions.

I've emails the Burlington County Times about this, to no avail---no reaction.

How many accidents are caused by this uneven roadway?

Waiting on Google Adsense Update #2

The waiting is nerve wracking...my latest message upon logging into Google Adsense...

Account Not Active

An AdSense account does not exist for this login, as your application is currently in review.

Within a week of your application date, we'll review your application and follow-up with you via email. Once you are approved to join AdSense, you'll be able to log in to your account and get started.

I'm too nice

My beautiful wife just got around to reading my posts about Le Bec Fin from 2000? 2002?

She thought my letter to George Perrier was too nice---she was probably correct.

My wife was the ultimate victim of the Le Bec Fin fiasco--the wait staff brought her a Thymus Gland (Sweetbread) instead of Veal. For those of you not familiar with that delicacy, it's not for everyone.

She complained to me right away---I tasted it and thought it was V-E-R-Y tender veal.

Eventually she found our waiter (there were 6 of them, a managerial problem I think) and he admitted the mistake.

He should have comp'd our $75 lunch---instead he offered us a complementary dessert (dessert was free).

From that point on, the phrase that many Philadelphians utter when they are getting a lousy meal took on a different meaning

"Where do you think you are, Le Bec Fin?"

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'd like to upgrade my PC

I'd like to upgrade my PC, but ...

I'm afraid I'll get stuck with Microsoft Vista :(

I'm currently using XP Pro Edition.

Way to go Cinnaminson Streets Department

Way to go!

The Street sweeper just swept through my leaf pile (that I paid Kurt G money to blow onto Pomona Road).

I noticed that you drove around Charlie's pile--is that because he was outside watching you?

Introducing Self Paced courses in my Internet school

This is the text of an email I just sent out to my Yahoo groups concerning new offerings in my Internet based courses...

In the past, all of my courses have begun on a set starting date, and ended (more or less) or a set finishing date. This has caused me to lose some potential students who are ready to take a course, but the course isn't ready to begin.

For instance, Introduction to Visual C# begins on January 26th, 2009.

I just sold a Visual C# book today to a student who might be interested in taking the course along with reading the book, but the course isn't starting for 2 months.

I've also had students who would like to fly through an 8 week course in a week or so--but in my traditional courses, I've opened up a week of material at the beginning of each week. In other words, In Week 1, you couldn't see the classroom material for Week 2 through 8.

For these reasons, I've created self-paced versions of all of my Introductory courses---they all begin---anytime you want.

Self Paced courses are really no different from my regular classes.


You still have an active instructor (me) who will answer your questions, grade your assignments.Self-paced classes follow the same syllabus as the Regularly Scheduled course.

In almost every way are identical to Regularly scheduled courses, with the following differences:


  • Self Paced courses can be started at any time---you don't have to wait around for the course to begin the way you do with a regularly scheduled course.
  • You have up to 90 days from the time you register to finish the Self Paced course (twist my arm and I'll give you even longer)
  • You can finish the Self Paced course at your own pace---faster or slower than the suggested pacing of the Regularly Scheduled course. All materials for the course are available from the first day you enter the classroom.
  • Self Paced courses do not have a 1 hour weekly chat--although you can always chat with me weekly in the Alumni Chat Room of my Moodle University, which is hosted on alternating Wednesday evenings or Saturday mornings.
  • Self Paced courses are offered at a $50 discount off the regularly scheduled course.
  • There is no repeat rate pricing for a Self-paced course.

Right now, all of the Intro courses I offer are now available as Self Paced Courses, and you can register and join anytime you wish by following this link...

http://www.johnsmiley.com/main/training.htm#SELFPACED

I hope to offer additional courses in the Intermediate and Advanced levels in the coming weeks.

Thanks---and have a great day!

What a dope I am---Web site redirection

I'm such a dope---I just sent out a course notification email with the incorrect product page--as a result, customers won't be paying for the correct course!

However, it's not a problem if you know how to set up a web page redirection, which is what I did using this code...

meta equiv="Refresh" content="3; URL=http://www.johnsmiley.com/products/101.htm"

Place this on the incorrect page reference, and display a message indicating that your user will be redirected in 3 seconds to the site. That's what the 3 after the word CONTENT indicates.

The bottom line: my stupidity generates a valuable tip for you today. Maybe Google will see the value in my blog and approve my Ads. Please!!!!!!

Saladworks Huntingdon Valley vs Saladworks Delran NJ

I'm happy to report that Saladworks of Huntingdon Valley is still using the larger Saladworks takeout bowl that had been in use at my regular Delran location. I picked up a BLT salad last night on the way home from teaching at Penn State.


Here's the Huntingdon Valley bowl with the salad in it...




and here's the empty Huntingdon Valley bowl...






You may recall that I measured the size of the 'diet' portion Delran bowl the other night by pouring water into it---it held 20 ounces when filled to the brim.



I did the same with this Huntingdon Valley orange bowl--the results?


When filled to the brim it held 40 ounces of water (double the 'diet' portion at Delran.)


My wife pointed out that we never got salads filled to the brim (I thought we did).


However, if filled to where the indentations in the bowl stop---about three-quarters of the way up, where most consumers would expect their bowl to be filled to, it held 28 ounces.

I would say that it's been my experience that most times my salads are filled a bit over that line--so let's say to the 30 ounce fluid level mark.


You do the math--that's a 10 ounce difference.

Let's put those side by side so you can see the difference...Huntingdon Pike 40 ounce bowl on the left, Delran NJ 20 ounce bowl on the right...



My informal experiment therefore leads me to believe that I'm now only getting about 2/3's the amount of salad I was previously getting at my Delran Saladworks.


The bottom line---the customer is being shortchanged in Delran NJ.

By the way, if you have the patience (and Adobe Acrobat reader) check out the Delran NJ Saladworks menu link here, and the picture of the salads (filled to the brim in older style brown bowls)

http://www.saladworks.com/pdfs/menu/Delran.pdf


I guess I'll need to fire off a letter to Saladworks today.

Wow, I just sold something

I just sold something for the first time since November 1st---a $13.95 Visual C# 2008 eBook.

http://www.johnsmiley.com/main/ebooks.htm

Many thanks to my new customer---I greatly appreciate your business.

I was very concerned---I hadn't sold a book, eBook, anything really since November 1st.

If you don't think we're in a recession, think again.

NASA to Turn Astronauts' Urine, Sweat Into Space-Station Water

Here's a link to an article on Bloomberg News about Nasa's Space Shuttle launch tonight...

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aWmhTsYjuH3k&refer=home

Part of the mission will be to make urine drinkable---wow, the search engine's will have a field day on that one.

Here's a link to a Philadelphia Daily News article about it...

http://www.philly.com/dailynews/local/34453144.html

This article is interesting because it highlight's the Shuttle commander---Chris Ferguson, who is a Philadelphia native, and a graduate of Drexel University.

For those of you who have been following my blog, you may know that both of my sons attend Drexel University. It's quite a feather in the cap of an engineering university to have a Shuttle commander among its graduates.

By the way, call John Smiley, the Capitalist, at 856-314-8615 for a confidential paid appraisal of the University.

A word from SetFocus

Someone is reading my blog...I received an email from Stacey Uhrig the other day.

She was happy to hear that I'm writing about SetFocus, and I was happy to hear that she's reading my blog.

Here's what she said about the current focus of Setfocus :)

Things on our end are great!

We have grown in a stable fashion over the years.

Back in the day - when you first wrote about SetFocus we were training roughly 80-100 students a year in our 13 week program (.NET). Today we have 3 tracks (.NET, SQL Server, and MS Business Intelligence). We will be launching a 4th track in 2009, SharePoint.

Each quarter we are training on average 100 students - so around 400 / year. We continue to have strict admissions criteria on the front end and superior career services on the back end, helping individuals solidify positions all across the country.

One of the major factors in our growth / expansion is that we designed and implemented a proprietary online training solution, called The GRID, using Polycom Video Conferencing technology. This online solution, which we launched in 2005, allows for our students to train from anywhere in the country synchronously with local students. It also allows us to expand our instructor talent, as many of our instructors also teach remotely from their home base. This allows us to tap into the best of the best when it comes to instructors, and does not limit us to simply the tri-state area for expertise. Roughly 70% of our students are remote today. Many of our staff are also remote. It's wonderful not having geographic boundaries!

Back to me :)

The thing that always impressed me about SetFocus is their 'strict' admissions standards.

I can recommend a training program that doesn't take everyone. Do you remember the radio and television ads from training companies that promised they would have you trained and employed in 30 days?

SetFocus doesn't do that--they can afford to be picky, because their clients want the best.

So I continue to recommend them highly---and I'll be periodically blogging about the experiences of one of their students as they (no he or she here) goes through their program.

By the way, if you aren't admitted to SetFocus don't despair.

I am one of those other companies that will train you and help you get employed--but it won't take 30 days.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Someone does care what I say....

I've been working on this blog since 1970, I wanted to thank the one and only person who posted a comment.

In reference to a post I made in which I stated no one cares what I have to say, this person responded...

I care what you have to say! Has anyone ever told you that you resemble Haary the K?

That's quite a complement---like me, Harry Kallas is a very nice looking fellow, and he still has the voice I once had.

Thanks anonymous---I really appreciated your kind comment.

OK, I feel bad

As you know, my C++ eBook is the most frequently downloaded C++ book in the world! Illegally, of course---I sell my eBook for $12.95---well, once in a while I do. For the most part, it's being stolen each and every minute of the day.

A few weeks ago I noticed that I was getting a lot of page views for an article I wrote which describes how to download and install the Borland C++ compiler, which happens to be the compiler I use in the book. The link to a .pdf is one I reference in the book. Hmmm, I was beginning to see a pattern.

I then decided to password protect the .pdf, and to place some kind of shameful plea on my website and ask people to contact me if they really needed directions, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

I just received this email from a reader (he didn't buy the book from me...) I feel a bit guilty...he's a soldier, defending our country in Iraq, and he just made a $5 donation---I would have given it to him for free :)

Mr. Smiley,

My name is (name withheld).. I am a Student at DeVry University, and currently deployed to Iraq with the Army.

I am writing you for 2 reasons really.

First is to say that I am currently reading your book,"Learn to Program With C++", and I really enjoy the context in which you present this learning atmosphere.

The second reason for my writing is I am trying to install the Borland C++ compiler that you stated in your book. However, when I went to the article. It was password protected.

I paid five dollars to the Amazon Honor System, thinking it would give a password, but to no avail.

If you are not too busy, is here any way I can get that pdf so I can continue enjoying your book?

I appreciate all of your help.

Sincerely, Name Withheld

Here is my response...

Hi Derik

I'm sorry about that.

My C++ book is being illegally distributed on the Internet via FileSharing websites, and I haven't been able to stop it.

I don't charge much for eBooks ($12.95) which most people can probably afford---those who can't I will gladly give it to for free.

I'm not sure where you got it, but you probably downloaded it believing it was from the author. That's OK.

Thanks so much for the donation---I had forgotten about theAmazon.com Honor account---it looks like there's $8.08 in it.

I'll be glad to provide you the password---it's

some password I won't reveal here :)

By the way, thanks for defending our country---I and my family appreciate it.

If you ever want to take an online class with me, my classes are freeto active military personnel, and that's certainly you.

Right now, I have 1 soldier in Iraq, another in Afghanistan.

I know it's tough to study over there, and taking an Internet classcan be tricky with the Internet connections, but please consider it.

Please let me know how you make out with your studies---C++ is a tough first language to learn, but my book does a pretty good job helping you to learn on your own.

Have a safe day!

Keep in touch.

John Smiley

Why is info_getuspk@yahoo.com spamming me?

I run two groups out on Yahoo...one is devoted to Visual Basic, and this guy

info_getuspk@yahoo.com

keeps posting nonsense---I guess he doesn't realize that the group is moderated. None of his stuff is getting through.

I have enough time running my business legitimately---how can this guy waste so much of his time.

I was scared my eBooks were being stolen

I thought that my eBooks were being stolen again...actually, my C++ eBook is probably the most stolen eBook in existence. It seems that there are 100's of links to it on the Internet.

I was more scared about my new books, Introduction to Visual C# 2008 Express and Introduction to Visual Basic.Net 2008 Express.

My web statistics indicated that there were 100's of page views of those 2 eBooks yesterday, but in terms of download bandwith, just about 20.

I was scared because all eBook sales go through me---and as you well know, if you are a regular read of my smog, I mean blog, business is bad and I haven't sold anything since November 1st.

I forgot that I had sent out a number of emails to teachers providing them with links to the eBooks--it's great to see that they are downloading them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Time to start thinking about a new cell phone...maybe

Our 2 year plan with Cingular (now AT&T) runs out on December 24th :)

It's tempting to run out and upgrade, however, we are in the midst of a recession-depression, and my phone (and the others on the plan) work fine.

What's the point?

Still, it's always a good idea to have something in mind...

Since I've become a texting maniac since the last time I bought a new cell phone, I know I want something I can text with easily. I don't mind push buttons, but everything is pointing me in the direction of a touch screen.

I don't do much Internet stuff on the phone--I prefer to read email in my office. I mainly followed the playoffs and World Series on the phone when I was away from the TV.

Of course, it will need to fit into my shorts pocket when I go running in the morning, without bouncing around a lot and falling out.

And of course, it should work well as a phone--we can't forget that part, can we?

I did a good job the last time around in picking my Sony Ericson---ultimately, it performed very well, although I was a bit disappointed with the Radio part, and the camera developed a mar in it at the beginning of year 2.

I'm intrigued by the Blackberry Storm---although I hear it doesn't do well as a phone.

I also don't want to spend $300-$500 for it.

Maybe I'll just keep this one for a while.

Just created Introductory Self-Paced Courses

I spent the better part of this evening setting up Self paced versions of my Intro courses---they're still actively worked by an instructor (me), however, they won't feature a 1 hour chat each week.

All the material will be available up front--no need to wait until Week 2 to see Week 2's materials.

All of my 8 week Intro courses will be available in this Self-paced format. I don't have payment links set up for these yet---I should have those by the weekend.

As far as the lack of a weekly chat, all of my students are welcome to attend my weekly chats via the Alumni Room--the forum in my Moodle Room that is devoted to activities for current and past students. I have chat links listed there for all of my weekly chats.

Therefore, Self paced students will still be able to chat with me live that way.

Once again, the link for my Training Courses is here...

http://www.johnsmiley.com/main/training.htm

Moodle Resources

I use Moodle to produce my Internet based courses---I thouight I would develop this entry to list the resources I've found on Moodle...

http://moodletraining.blogspot.com/

http://wwwlb.aub.edu.lb/~acc/Moodle/MoodleFaculty/MoodleFacTutorials/MoodleFacTutorials.htm

This one is the Moodle Open Source site itself---although it does require you to register...

http://moodle.org/

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Applebees in Atlantic City--my wife likes hot food

Wow, I thought we had a nice lunch yesterday (Monday, November 10, 2008) at Applebees in Atlantic City, but my wife is now telling her brother that

1. Her soup was cold
2. She didn't like the mayonnaise on her chicken sandwich
3. Her fries were cold

For $22.29 (plus a $4 tip), don't you think she's asking for a lot---hot food?

My wife's desire for hot food is a frequently complaint---about the only place we can get hot food is at Red Lobster or Outback.

As for me, I don't ask for much---I thought the soup was warm, and I opted for a Ceasar Salad that was very light on the dressing.

But the diet pepsi was very cold!

I must say that Juan M's service (Table #010) was fine--he brought me 2 diet pepsi's, asked me if I wanted a 3rd, and never stared at my face.

He did accidentally overcharge us for a 3rd Pick 2 special--but he fixed it quickly.

Google Adsense---cease and desist

We all know (at least regular readers do) that I have been permanently blacklisted by Google Adsense.

Why then, when I log into my blog each day, do I see this message?

Your AdSense account needs verification. Please check your email for the Google AdSense Verification message.

I check my email each day---Google doesn't even have the good manners to respond to my Google Adsense reinstatement request.

What's Google's stock trading at today?

$311.46

Glad I didn't buy that 5 years ago.

Broken Nose Update (2008-11-01)

I just got back from my Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Matthews.

It was her associates saw me in the Emergency Room last Thursday and stitched me up.

She told me that although my nose was broken, it's straight, my breathing appears normal, and once the swelling goes down in about 6 weeks, I will once again look like Brad Pitt.

Charlene, her nurse, removed my stitches. She assured me it wouldn't hurt, just a little pinch, and she was right.

Thanks to all for putting me back together.

As I said before, I truly am blessed not to have done more damage to myself.

I'm happy as can be that they won but what are they doing now?

I haven't written much about my beloved Philadelphia Phillies---those of you who have browsed my web site know the difficulties I had with Phillies management, Guy Weaver, etc.

Still, I was extremely happy when the team brought a championship to Philadelphia, and I celebrated like everyone else.

However, even in those euphoric hours after the exciting Game 5 win, and the parade, I needed to point out something very important---while the average working person paid hundreds of dollars to see the games, stayed up late to watch them, called in or out sick to go to the Parade, on Monday morning they were back at work--while our heroes are now enjoying about a month off before they go back to the 'work' of preparing for Spring Training in February. It's a hardship I know---particularly for those players making over 1 million dollars (Not all of them, I know--World Series hero Cole Hammels is only paid $500,000 per year--but he's looking at a huge raise this year.

Oh, if only my fastball hadn't topped out at 81 miles per hour---where might I be today?

What exactly is a mandate?

This quote from the Associated Press in an article entitled "Obama eyes use of executive orders" disturbs me because of the word 'mandate'.

"There's a lot that the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action, and I think we'll see the president do that," John Podesta, Obama's transition chief said. "I think that he feels like he has a real mandate for change. We need to get off the course that the Bush administration has set."

I told my wife on Sunday to watch out for the first day Executive Orders that Obama would sign, and also the ones that he would rescind of Bush's---this is no surprise.

However, let's focus on that word 'mandate'---what exactly is a mandate?

Victor Spadaro---Rest in Peace

On Veterans Day, I want to remember my Aunt Hilda's son, Victor Spadaro, killed in Vietnam on July 30th, 1967. Here is his entry on the Virtual Vietnam Veterans Wall.

http://vietnam-wall.myarmedforces.com/profile/49597/Victor_Spadaro

I recently came across a mention of Victor in a California newspaper---I'll be posting that link as soon as I find it.

U.S. Presidential Election Results

A year from now, no one will be able to find these figures (even now they can be hard to fin), so I'm placing them here:

Obama: 66,056,046 (53%) 364 Votes

McCain: 57,838,800 (46%) 163 Electoral Votes

Business is so bad...

My November business is so bad that I just checked my Amazon Seller account to verify that I didn't accidentally turn on the "I'm on vacation' setting

I didn't :(

My Website 'sucks'

Recently, one of my student's whose honesty I value, told me that my website 'sucks'.

I don't really disagree, my website needs a lot of work, and I've been trying to improve it, but his use of the very popular word 'sucks' is one that repels me.

It seems everywhere I turn I hear "that sucks".

In my younger years, we used to say "that stinks" or "that's a shame". Today it seems to be "that sucks" or "it sucks to me you".

I was inspired this morning to check out its definition today at Dictionary.com. Here's what it says...

1 dictionary results for: sucks

v. sucked, suck·ing, sucks
v. tr.
1. To draw (liquid) into the mouth by movements of the tongue and lips that create suction.
2.

a. To draw in by establishing a partial vacuum: a cleaning device that sucks up dirt.
b. To draw in by or as if by a current in a fluid.
c. To draw or pull as if by suction: teenagers who are sucked into a life of crime.
3. To draw nourishment through or from: suck a baby bottle.
4. To hold, moisten, or maneuver (a sweet, for example) in the mouth.
5. Vulgar Slang To perform fellatio on.

v. intr.
1. To draw something in by or as if by suction: felt the drain starting to suck.

2. To draw nourishment; suckle.
3. To make a sound caused by suction.
4. Vulgar Slang To be disgustingly disagreeable or offensive.

n.
1. The act or sound of sucking.
2. Suction.
3. Something drawn in by sucking.

Phrasal Verb(s):
suck in To take advantage of; cheat; swindle.
suck up Slang To behave obsequiously; fawn.

I'm not sure what definition is best for use with my website---the closest would seem to be the fourth intransitive verb form

Vulgar Slang To be disgustingly disagreeable or offensive

I'm not sure that my website is disgustingly disagreeable or offensive--but it may very well 'stink'.

Harvest Diner in Cinnaminson

I can't say enough nice things about my favorite diner, the Harvest Diner in Cinnaminson, NJ.

The food is great--just the way you want it. Bottomless, endless, excellent coffee, with a friendly owner, and staff.

We sit in Kriss-Ann's section by the window--she''s a wonderful waitress!

I often tell my wife that I think it's a portal to the other side---to me, having breakfast there is a very peaceful time.