Category Archives: technology

Will It Explode? (Part 2)

In Part 1, I explained that my daughter Nadiyah and I were going to power up my very first personal computer, a machine that I built from a kit way back in 1983.  It hasn’t been turned on since the late eighties, so the object of our little lab session is to answer the question: will it still work after all these years, or will it explode? In this episode, Part 2, we finally plug the little monster in and find out.  Wish us luck!

Please forgive the video framing, which chops off about half of my big head!

Black History Month is About MAKING History, Not Just Studying History

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass, circa 1870

As a young person coming of age in the 1960s, I learned a smattering of black history in school. We studied, however briefly, black icons like Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, and George Washington Carver. Though clearly important, these people often seemed frozen in amber, because my contemporaries and I were witnessing new history being made in the black struggle every year. The tumultuous 1960s inspired us to believe that we could make history, not merely study it. This year we find ourselves celebrating some heretofore unknown history makers: the women whose story is told in the movie Hidden Figures. We examine anew the themes of the 20th century black liberation struggle expressed by James Baldwin and retold in the movie I am Not your Negro. These stories inspire us, but they also challenge us to add our own chapters to the black history narrative.

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Will It Explode? (Part 1)

In early 1983, thirty-four years ago, I got my first “serious” personal computer, a Heathkit H-89 all-in-one machine. I built it from scratch, which means that I soldered all the components on the circuit boards and assembled all of the subsystems into the completed unit. I bought the computer to help with the business I intended to start – Telecom Analysis Systems, Inc. (TAS).  It was the tool I used to write and edit our business plan, and to develop and test the hardware and firmware of our product prototypes. In those days, the H-89 worked like a charm, and never gave me or my co-founders, Steve Moore and Charles Simmons, a bit of trouble.

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Road Trip 2017

It’s time to start planning for the 2017 Road Trip. I look forward to seeing more of this country (and a bit of Canada) up close and personal. I really like experiencing new places and meeting interesting people. Probably more than anything, I treasure the opportunity to think and reflect and listen to audiobooks during the hours and hours of windshield time.

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Unexpected Reunion with a Mentor

Jim Spaniola and me at French Laundry Fenton, more than 45 years after our time in the Ceramic Circuits Lab.

More than forty-five years ago, I began my college education at General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) in Flint, Michigan. This was back in Flint’s glory days, when world-class industrial production as well as ground-breaking research took place right in the midst of the city. My co-op sponsor was the AC Spark Plug Division of General Motors. My first assignment at AC was in the Engineering Research Center, which was located at the corner of Averill Avenue and Davison Road. I felt lucky and excited to have what seemed like a plum first assignment.

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Seller Beware: The Response from eBay

A victory of sorts, but the issue remains.

2016-10-23-14-39-33

It has now been more than a month since I was scammed out of my iPhone 6, as described in my earlier post on the subject.  I’ve had several calls and email exchanges with eBay “customer service” agents and supervisors who have done absolutely nothing but say that nothing can or would be done.  Well, just this morning, as I was spreading the last of my blackberry jam on my English muffin top at a local restaurant, I received a call from an 801 exchange – UTAH!  A real, live eBay exec by the name of Danny Faust was on the other end of the line.  He said that as a result of my blog post and the subsequent article on the eCommerceBytes blog, executives at eBay had taken a look at my case, and that as a result, they determined the following:

  1. The address provided by my “buyer” was actually a freight forwarder, which should  have prima facia voided the eBay “Money Back Guarantee.”
  2. The “buyer” should have provided the picture of the device and shipping box that I requested after the “buyer” submitted their claim.
  3. The fact that the return item (the piece of crap credit-card scanner, remember?)  was drop-shipped from Texas rather than from the address my phone was shipped to should have raised flags.

The result of the above, per Mr. Faust, was that eBay was refunding the $328.00 payment that they froze and subsequently removed from my PayPal account. 

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Seller Beware! EBay Policies Facilitate THEFT of Your Property

I found out the hard way that EBay is facilitating the theft of items people post for sale on their site.

I just had an experience with EBay that I find extremely discouraging, and the result is that I will no longer be posting any items for sale on EBay. EBay’s “Money Back Guarantee program” protects unscrupulous, scam “buyers” by returning their money even if they falsely claim that they received a damaged item, or even that they didn’t receive the item. The seller is left holding the bag, or in my own case, holding a bogus piece of junk.  Something must be done to address this outrageous situation, before many, many more occasional EBay sellers are scammed. In the meantime, my recommendation is that you do not post anything for sale on EBay that you are not willing to give away!

 

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Day 12: Boulder Dam

Monday morning, May 18, 2015, day 12 of my cross-country journey. Time to see something I’ve wanted to see for a long time, the Hoover Dam (a.k.a. Boulder Dam). After much less than a one-day stay, it’s time to leave the delightful Boulder City hotel. First though, I’ve got to get some breakfast and check out the Boulder Dam museum right here in the hotel. Continue reading