Webconsuls - Web Design, SEO, and SMO Specialists

Saturday, February 28, 2009

My Rear View Mirror of the Banking Industry

Comptroller of the Currency logo
I don't know about all of you, but I find the current state of affairs of the banking industry exhausting. So today I thought I might offer you my personal perspective on this subject, that is: my rear view mirror of the banking industry.

Most of you know that I worked in the banking industry from 1969 through 1989. I started my banking career as a clerk and in my final position I was a Vice-President for Fleet Bank. It occurred to me today that over that 20 year span, I observed a lot of banking industry milestones. Some of these are comical and some very serious. For example:
1. In 1970, while employed with Wells Fargo, I watched as they installed some of the first ATM machines in two San Diego branches. What was comical about this process was the fact that there really was nothing automatic about these machines. Actually, they installed impressive looking equipment in the wall of the bank and issued cards. People would come up to the machine, insert their card and receive money. What the customers didn't realize is that behind the machine, inside a little room was a real live person who would retrieve a paper transaction from the back of the machine, type on a non-electric typewriter a debit or credit to the person's account. Then this employee would walk across the lobby and hand the typewritten transaction to a teller. Yeah! An automatic teller machine was born.
2. Also in 1970, Wells Fargo opened a branch in the Grossmont section of San Diego. They were very proud of the installation of their first pneumatic tube system which operated between the customers car and the drive up window.
3. I think the first time I remember a bank being closed by the Comptroller of the Currency was in 1973. This was U. S. National Bank of San Diego and when the Comptroller of the Currency shut it down it was the biggest bank failure in U. S. history. At the time depositor's funds were insured up to $20,000! The bank was purchased by Crocker National Bank for $89.5 million. At the time Crocker more or less agreed to keep most of the USNB's employees, but they did not agree to honor the pension plans that had been set up by USNB. Having later worked with some of these USNB employees when I served as a AVP for Crocker Bank, I can attest to the fact that these employees never financially recovered from this decision and they carried a resentment against Crocker. This made for a great working environment.
4. In 1978 shortly after I was hired by Crocker to be a Consumer Lender, I remember when Citibank (think Citigroup) decided to issue credit cards to what seemed like hundreds of thousands of consumers across the United States. It seemed we all received one. Every card had the same effective date. And on that date consumers were in line at their local banks to get cash advances from these cards. I remember that day, as we ran short on cash at the Wilshire-Hauser branch of Crocker Bank! Keep in mind none of these consumers actually applied for the cards. The invitation came in the mail from a banking company that none of us had heard of prior to that time. Great!
5. I believe it was around late 1979 or early 1980 that the banks across the United States decided to lure consumers with home equity lines of credit. Many consumers prior to this time avoided even the thought of a second mortgage being recorded against their home. But we all went down that road and I became so proficient at explaining this product to consumers I was actually featured in a Time Magazine advertisement for Indian Head Bank of New Hampshire! I am not kidding.
6. In 1989 I watched from afar the establishment of the Resolution Trust Corporation which was formed to deal with the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s.
7. Just about the time that Fleet Bank was winding up their takeover of Indian Head Bank (1989)they decided to offer incentive pay for Mortgage Loan Officers. I remember remarking to my immediate boss at the time, "This cannot bode well for the banking industry." He questioned my reasoning and I explained when a Mortgage Loan Officer becomes a commissioned sales person this is bound to affect their lending decisions.

The bottom line is this: even with all of my banking experience and all of the audits that I lived through with the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Federal Reserve, I am shocked at where we find ourselves today. Did these federal agencies and state banking agencies, as well, just stop performing audits? Did they just look the other way when the lending decisions seemed to be based on "fluff"? Or were these toxic loans packaged and sold so quickly on the open market that the examiners never really saw the worst?

Today as I thought about this post I went to the website for the Comptroller of the Currency, the administrator for national banks (think Wells Fargo, Bank of America, CitiGroup, etc). Their tag line on their website says: "Ensuring a Safe and Sound National Banking System for All Americans". Are they kidding me? Visit their site: In 2007 the OCC was listed as one of the best places to work in the Federal Government. And...they say: "The OCC offers one of the best benefits programs in government. Our health and life insurance and retirement programs are among the best in government and compare well to private companies."


Final thought for the day: "I am glad the taxpayers can afford to offer such wonderful benefits to an agency that is ensuring a safe and sound national banking system for all Americans; however, when will all Americans be assured access to the same quality health insurance coverage?"

Any thoughts?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Making Twitter More Relevant to Your Business


The point of this video is how to make your Twitter account more valuable to marketing efforts.

Here at Webconsuls, we take pride in providing this type of 'guru' knowledge- based on and customized to your business, your market and your goals.

If there is 1 thing that is clear in internet marketing, it is that 'cookie cutter' strategies are not effective.  Personalization in the marketplace allows for someone to set themselves apart from the pack in a desired manner.  Contact us for tips and strategies in Twitter or any other marketing medium that you have heard about, but you are not fully utilizing.  This is what we do.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Indian and Pakistani Weddings

Growing up in the states you see that every little girl dreams of her wedding of how it will be and all the details in her head as she grows up. In India or Pakistan, traditionally, the parents would plan their children's weddings and back in the days arranged marriages were more common. Today, majority of the weddings are love marriages where the bride and groom find each other (the normal way).

A wedding from my culture is a bit more of a headache that will push you to go for a drive-thru wedding in Vegas. Our weddings last for several days. After reading Dick's post on the cost break-down of his and Fran's wedding, I almost felt like crying realizing the difference in his wedding and my traditional wedding. Let me give you the breakdown of what how I have come to see a semi-traditional wedding in my culture.

Mehndi (Henna Tattoo)
Day 1 - Mehndi. The Mehndi (known as Henna) is a temporary tattoo that the bride, family, and friends put on their hands and some on their feet on special occasions (particularly at weddings). I personally hate the smell of it, some people actually like it.


Day 2 - Pithi. The Pithi ceremony is the day before the wedding. It involves rubbing a paste made of chickpea flour, turmeric, or rose water on the bride and groom. This is great for the skin and evens out the skin tone the day before the wedding. The family takes turns in putting some of it on and over the years this tradition has evolved to friends coming together towards the end and egging the groom and messing him up with all sorts of different grocery items such as eggs, flour, syrup, ketchup, mustard, etc... Sad to say only the groom goes through this un-eventful process =/. After all this mess is done, we dance away and in some weddings play Dandiya which is done so with two sticks hitting each other (sounds ridiculous but is quite fun).

Day 3a - Nikah (Nikkah). The Nikah ceremony is simply a contract between the bride and groom in the Muslim religion. I find it to be equivalent to the marriage license from a judge or justice of peace. This ceremony is only for those within the religion and close family and takes place before the reception itself.

Me and Zaheen at the night of our Engagement

Day 3b - Reception. This is similar to how white weddings (traditional western wedding) are celebrated with dinner and dance party. We have the cake cutting ceremony followed by the first dance and a traditional father daughter dance (taken from the American culture) leading to a night to remember (so they say).

Day 4 - Satada (Rukhsati) - Just when you thought it was over there is one final day. This day is for close family only where the bride is acknowledged to have left her family to go in to the groom's side of the family. This day has a lot of crying as the parents of the bride realize her daughter is going away. It's also viewed as the first lunch/dinner with the two families together and the bride and groom have consummated their marriage.

One day I left out which is the court ceremony. We have decided to do our court ceremony on the same week as our reception so that Zaheen (my fiance) could wear a close to traditional white dress at the court room.

So this sums up my interpretation for a five day wedding. I'll be going through this process this April and will write about my experience afterwards.

What are some traditions you follow for weddings?
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How To Host A Cost Effective Wedding

On February 20th Francene Miyake and I were married. We are very happy, thanks.

Hawaiian Theme Wedding


At this stage of our lives neither needed or wanted a large wedding and major reception. We originally planned just going to see a judge and having a very simple ceremony in his chambers. We later decided on a ceremony at our home. The only guests would be family, the woman who introduced us, and her family - a total of eighteen guests.

We chose a Hawaiian theme. Francene was born in Hawaii and our yard has a look that is somewhat tropical. We also knew of two restaurants that had great Hawaiian food available for take-out.

This type of wedding can be done much less expensively than a more traditional event. And the guests all said they loved it. With a small wedding there is less pressure on everyone. It started on time and was short and sweet. We are just as married as if we had said our vows in front of 200 people and spent a small fortune on the reception. Having the reception at home allowed the teen age boys to play games in the family room, the adults to talk at the table, and the six year old to go back and forth between all generations.

Here are some out of pocket cost breakdowns. You might want to compare them to a wedding you financed.
ItemHow DoneIncremental Cost
Save The Date Mailing EMail$0
Invitation EMail$0
RSVP EMail$0
Bride's Dress Closet$0
Groom's Clothes Closet$0
Flower Girl's DressTarget$15
Flowers3 Leis$100
Wedding SiteHome$0
JudgeFriend$0
Reception SiteHome$0
Reception Plates, etcPaper with Hawaiian Theme$10
Reception FoodHawaiian Take Out$350
Reception DrinkBeer and Wine$150
Photographer and PicturesGroom and Guest's Digitals$0


So the total was about $625.

Click here for the full size official wedding picture from my camera:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Web Site Metrics Are A Wonderful Gift

My friend Lori works at the library. Every time someone asks her a question at work she has a button to press. This counter records how many questions Lori answers. This is an important metric to the library for it measures their service to the public. I asked "What is your most common question?"

Lori said the most common question was "Where's the bathroom?" The other day some one came in with a very specific question which required quite a bit of research. Lori was with that patron for some time before their request was satisfied.

"Then you got to click it?" "Yes, then I did."

"Not really the same click is it?" "No, it really isn't."

Not really the same click at all.

And that is where we are very fortunate with web site analytics. Customer data which was once very difficult, expensive, if not impossible can now be mined by analytic programs tracking website traffic. This level of data collection is not available in any other media on such a comprehensive level and for such a low cost.

We don't have to rely on human counters to keep track of visitors. But as we see in the case of the library, to just look at the number of visitors or number of questions answered will never give us an accurate picture. Looking at data must always coincide with context.
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Monday, February 23, 2009

Dancing Thru The Flames Mindboggling Science And The Arrival of Homo Evolutis




The key to managing crisis is to keep an eye on the long term, while you're dancing in the flames.

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished, That will be the beginning. - Louis L'Amour, A special congrats to Dick & Francene for choosing the right partner.

What's Next? The Current Financial Crisis, The Ultimate Reboot & Homo Evolutis.

The Current Financial Crisis? Stop Evolving, Stop Growing. The Ultimate reboot is at hand.

I would argue that we are already living in the time of the ultimate reboot and Homo Evolutus. You can see those people all around you. Notice the kinds of tech that you or your friends are now using, Facebook, iPhones, and bluetooth headsets. Some people are evolving right before our very eyes.

This same evolution is going on with the information that we use, as it is moving to the cloud where our devices are just the access points to this info.

The sweet spot is the chatty innovator who is using your product or service and talking about it on the internets. These people are aware of what is going on because they are learning on the fly how to digest this deluge of information.

Does your site have a, blog, an RSS feed, video, an audio podcast? If it does great! You are feeding these innovators the information they want in a way they find usable, if not you are still living in a Web 1.0 world.

Web 2.0 is a phrase that we see bantered around all the time. To me a Web 2.0 website gives me the tools to Follow, and Interact with, the information that is being produced by the site, Either from the site owners themselves ( Like this blog ) or via user generated content, think Digg or Youtube.

Watch this scary and at the same time inspiring Ted Talk, that will point out the fires we are dancing thru today, and new ideas that are forming the basis of our tomorrows.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Love is in the Air at Webconsuls

If you are a regular reader of the Webconsuls' blog, then perhaps yesterday you saw Keith Hansen's post about love and marriage. Keith addressed the subject of how to know when you have found "the one" and you are ready for marriage. I am happy to report that love is in the air at Webconsuls. Dick Fay and Francene Miyake were married yesterday, February 20, 2009.

Today, on behalf of the Webconsuls' team, I would like to congratulate Dick and Fran on the occasion of their wedding. I am dedicating this post to them.

I am not sure when Dick and Fran first met, but I came to know them as a couple about 10 years ago. I actually met Dick in June 1981, when he and Dennis were both attending an ARCO executive training seminar. But it wasn't until Dennis and I returned to California in 1997 that Dennis and Dick reconnected and eventually formed Webconsuls.

But back to the happy couple...and a wonderfully interesting couple they are. Here is what I can tell you about them:
*Dick and Fran are fiercely loyal to their alma maters, Dick to Villanova and Duke, Fran to University of Southern California (USC). (I try not to call Dick the day after a critical loss!)
*They enjoy attending USC home games.
*Fran is an avid gardener.
*Dick is an avid golfer.
*Dick enjoys photography.
*They are both great with numbers. Dick has a masters in Applied Statistics and Fran, I believe, is a CPA.
*They are inquisitive and love to read.
*They both enjoy traveling to exotic places. (Think "Following the Equator" by Mark Twain,1897)

Today as I was preparing this post I thought about finding a beautiful quotation about marriage. Mark Twain is usually a good source for meaningful observations about life. I learned that Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) married Olivia Langdon 139 years ago this month! On September 8, 1869, Twain sent the following message to Olivia:

"This 4th of February will be the mightiest day in the history of our lives, the holiest, and the most generous toward us both--for it makes of two fractional lives a whole; it gives to two purposeless lives a work, and doubles the strength of each whereby to perform it; it gives to two questioning natures a reason for living, and something to live for; it will give a new gladness to the sunshine, a new fragrance to the flower, a new beauty to the earth, a new mystery to life; and Livy it will give a new revelation to love, a new depth to sorrow, a new impulse to worship. In that day the scales will fall from our eyes and we shall look upon a new world. Speed it!"

I hope you will enjoy today's photo album. The first photo is of Dick and Fran in Kenya 2004, taken on the equator. Photo two is of Dick and Fran on their trip to the Arctic 2006.
Fran and Dick, Kenya 2004

Dick and Fran- Arctic Tour 2006


You will notice there is nothing technical about this blog, it is Saturday morning and love is in the air. Today is about two really nice people, Dick and Fran. Here's to our friends, to a new gladness to the sunshine, a new fragrance to the flowers...and a new world together. Speed it, indeed!

Friday, February 20, 2009

'The 5 Factors That Make a Man Want to Take the Plunge'

I was talking with a friend this week, who had just had a falling out with a long-time girlfriend and considered the relationship over for good.  In short, the friend was depressed from failed relationships and the notion of settling.  I insisted settling is worse than being alone- or a least that is my argument.
A recent article, from Yahoo's 'Dating 101' series describes these 5 factors that make a man ready for marriage:

1. The Capacity to Love
2. Being Able to Accept Imperfection
3. He Truly Believes in Commitment
4. He's Sure He Can Be the Man
5. He's Tired of Playing Around

Again, these aren't my points, but the argument made is an interesting one.
My take instead, is best paraphrased from the late and great Dr. Randy Pausch regarding knowing if you (male or female) are ready and 'this is the one'.  Pausch says, you know you have true love when 'their (your partner's) happiness is more important to you than your own'.

Truer words were never spoken on the subject in my experience.  Please pass along your own sentiments as advice if you have some.  If it helped you, it could help others in a tough situation.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Android G2, the HTC Magic new Google phone (Sapphire)

While surfing the web doing some research on the next phone I want to get my hands on I came across some news on the new HTC Magic (what some rumors say is the Android G2), codename Sapphire 2.0 which was just released couple of days ago on February 17th, 2009 to Vodafone customers outside of United States. Every HTC device has a codename that is given before the release of the device.

HTC and Google have made great improvements from the first release of T-Mobile G1 by. The HTC Magic has followed other phones such as the HTC Touch Diamond 2 and Touch HD in taking off the slide out keyboard and having an on screen keypad like the iPhone or HTC Diamond.

A cool feature I noticed on some of the videos is a wide screen keyboard. The traditional camera which was on the T-Mobile G1 now has capability to record videos as well as take pictures. It's not clear whether or not the T-Mobile version which will be released sometime this summer in the states will have the same features or not but we'll have to wait and find out.

This phone is slightly thicker than the iPhone but feels like the same size. Great improvement in design since the G1. The only flaw most tech journalists found was the keyboard was a bit cramped but 3rd party keyboards will probably be available soon.

For those that are wondering, the HTC Magic is running on the Google Android Cupcake, incase you want to try implementing it on a Windows Mobile device as was done with the first release of Android. Click here for Google Android for WM found on XDA Developers =)





Do you think the HTC Magic has anything on the iPhone? What are your thoughts on the new HTC Magic?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Setting the Right Goals to Lose Weight and Shape Up

Many of us are "goal oriented" and achieving a goal can bring great personal satisfaction. I think that a goal such as "losing 10 pounds" is counterproductive. Certainly you might achieve the goal, but then what? After a while the weight always seems to come back.

I think that a better for losing weight and shaping up is to find lifestyle changes that result in eating less and exercising more and then monitoring your maintenance of those changes.

I decided this year to exercise more and eat less. I try to play golf on Saturday and Sunday and generally walk carrying my own bag. My first change is to always walk and carry my bag. We have a small gym at the club and my second change was to use one of the aerobic machines on Monday - Wednesday- Friday. The first Monday my legs were too tired. So I changed to using the machines Tuesday -Friday. If I don't play golf then I try to get to the machines on the weekend. If I do neither on the week end day, then I will use the machine on Monday. In any case I have changed my lifestyle and adding this exercise to my routine. I am lucky. The club is close by, using the gym requires no additional cost, I can do it in any weather, and there are televisions showing news or sports so the time goes my quickly. I started at 20 minutes and am up to 30. I plan on adding some exercise with the strength machines in the near future.

Before starting I had a physical. I would highly recommend that to anyone before starting an exercise program.

Your lifestyle may make finding an exercise program more difficult, but if you try I am sure it can be done. Maybe you can jog or take a brisk walk before dinner or first thing in the morning or at lunch. Or jump rope. Or ride a bike. The point is to find something you can do for the long haul. And if the first thing you try does not work, try something else.

I have also cut back on my eating. Some days are better than others. When we go out I now bring back leftovers. I have reduced my snacks. I have reduced my portions. I have also reducing my alcohol intake. I still have a beer with my friends after golf and occasionally have a drink or some wine with dinner rather than on a regular basis as before.

I ate too much at a Super Bowl party and too much on a recent dinner out. I know I could do better in those situations. I also tend to snack too much when it readily available so I need to watch that.

At this point I feel better. I enjoy the exercise. I do not feel deprived. I am sleeping better.
So far I have lost six pounds this year. I know I could have gone on some kind of diet program and lost more but I have done that in the past and then gained the weight once I got tired of the diet. I think I can continue this for a long time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Facebook's New Terms of Service Causes Social Uproar

Facebook recently changed their Terms of Service regarding the ownership of the content you upload to their social network. Previously when material was deleted from your account or an account was closed the material connected to that account would be removed as well.
You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.
A very important note to this amendment is that privacy settings are still enforced. If you have posted something from full public view the privacy settings are also retained in perpetuity.

It was a post at The Consumerists an article entitled Facebook's New Terms Of Service: "We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content. Forever." which started the uproar.

Mark Zuckerman, Facebook CEO, has responded to the stir on his Facebook Blog
Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckermans response.
A couple of weeks ago, we updated our terms of use to clarify a few points for our users. A number of people have raised questions about our changes, so I'd like to address those here. I'll also take the opportunity to explain how we think about people's information.

Our philosophy is that people own their information and control who they share it with. When a person shares information on Facebook, they first need to grant Facebook a license to use that information so that we can show it to the other people they've asked us to share it with. Without this license, we couldn't help people share that information.

One of the questions about our new terms of use is whether Facebook can use this information forever. When a person shares something like a message with a friend, two copies of that information are created—one in the person's sent messages box and the other in their friend's inbox. Even if the person deactivates their account, their friend still has a copy of that message. We think this is the right way for Facebook to work, and it is consistent with how other services like email work. One of the reasons we updated our terms was to make this more clear.

In reality, we wouldn't share your information in a way you wouldn't want. The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work. Our goal is to build great products and to communicate clearly to help people share more information in this trusted environment. ...

I doubt this is the end of this conversation.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Presidents' Day! from Webconsuls LLC



Presidents' Day History from Wikipedia,

Originally titled Washington's Birthday, the federal holiday was implemented by the United States of America federal government in 1880 for government offices in the District of Columbia and expanded in 1885 to include all federal offices. As the first federal holiday to honor an American citizen, the holiday was celebrated on Washington's actual birthday, February 22. On January 1, 1971 the federal holiday was shifted to the third Monday in February by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. A draft of the Uniform Holidays Bill of 1968 would have renamed the holiday to Presidents' Day to honor both Washington and Lincoln, but this proposal failed in committee and the bill as voted on and signed into law on June 28, 1968 kept the name Washington's Birthday.

By the mid-1980s, with a push from advertisers, the term "Presidents' Day" began its public appearance. The theme has expanded the focus of the holiday to honor another President born in February, Abraham Lincoln, and often other Presidents of the United States. Although Lincoln's birthday, February 12, was never a federal holiday, approximately a dozen state governments have officially renamed their Washington's Birthday observances as "Presidents Day", "Washington and Lincoln Day", or other such designations. However, "Presidents Day" is not always an all-inclusive term. In Massachusetts, while the state officially celebrates "Washington's Birthday," state law also prescribes that the governor issue an annual Presidents Day proclamation honoring the presidents that have come from Massachusetts: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Calvin Coolidge, and John F. Kennedy. (Coolidge, the only one born outside of Massachusetts, spent his entire political career before the vice presidency there. George H. W. Bush, on the other hand, was born in Massachusetts, but has spent most of his life elsewhere.) Alabama uniquely observes the day as "Washington and Jefferson Day", even though Jefferson's birthday was in April. In New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois, while Washington's Birthday is a federal holiday, Abraham Lincoln's birthday is still a state holiday, falling on February 12 regardless of the day of the week. In California, Lincoln's Birthday is also a legal state holiday, however, observance is frequently moved to the Monday or Friday occurring closest to February 12. When Lincoln's Birthday is observed on the Friday preceding Washington's Birthday, the resultant four-day weekend is commonly called "Presidents' Day Weekend", particularly by retailers in their sale advertisements.

In Washington's home state of Virginia the holiday is legally known as "George Washington Day."

We at Webconsuls hope you have a great Presidents' Day, and don't need to get into a bank!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Windows 7 Beta and Windows.old Folder

windows 7 beta
Two weeks ago I knew nothing about Windows 7 Beta and Windows.old folder. I was pretty enthusiastic about Windows 7 Beta and after I installed it on my computer I was jazzed. Everything seemed to be going smoothly and I was really enjoying my new Operating System when suddenly everything went down hill in a hurry.

After I installed Windows 7 Beta I noticed a folder called Windows.old that had over 50 GBs of info inside it. Initially I did not think anything of it, but after further investigation I realized that that folder contained lots of media from my previous operating system. I backed up everything that I thought to be important and went ahead and deleted the Windows.old folder to free up some space on my C Drive. With the deletion of that folder my computer went into a tailspin.

When I removed that folder from my computer I deleted the Mass Storage Controller driver and my Audio driver. Normally, this would not be a big deal, as you would just download the drivers you deleted or restore your computer to a previous restore point. Unfortunately, since I was running an operating system that was a beta there were no drivers that were compatible and since I had just installed Windows 7 there were no restore points.

It has been a week and I am still working out my problems. I learned a lot of valuable lessons from this experience. When beta testing these things happen and one needs know how to fix the problems with out very much support, if any. I need to know exactly what it is I am deleting, which would seem obvious. Live and Learn! Overall, I still have good things to say about Windows 7 Beta.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Windows 7 Beta Story Continued...

Windows 7 Beta Story Continued... After hours and hours on the phone with HP, I realized that they understood less about my problem than I did. Go Figure! HP sent me discs, when those didn't work they sent me more discs, and when those did not work they sent me more. I finally had to say enough is enough!

I decided to enlist the services of a third party, which really means, I dropped off my computer to be fixed and ran like hell. My hope now is that my only step left in fixing my problem is just to go and pick up my computer.

I believe that I have made it over the hump. Everything should be downhill from here on out, or at least I am praying that is the case. I have to remind myself that we are dealing with computers! I will say that I am looking forward to getting to play with Windows 7 Beta again, since I am pretty sure I cannot mess up anymore than I already have!

My Funny Valentine, Our Perpetual Valentine


25 years ago today my funny valentine, our perpetual valentine, was born. It was February 14, 1984, when our youngest son, Daniel, came into this world at about 8:00PM in the Providence Hospital, Anchorage, Alaska. It is hard to believe that 25 years have passed since that cold, freezing cold (about 6 degrees), winter night. Dennis arrived home from the office around five and found me resting in the bedroom. He inquired if I felt OK to which I responded: "Well, I am OK, just uncomfortable." By 6:00PM we were driving on icy roads hurrying to get to the hospital. Dan arrived so quickly that it was really Dennis and the charge nurse, Char Peters, who delivered Daniel. No anesthetic and that is why I said Dan arrived about 8:00PM, the truth is everyone in the delivery room was so busy that we forgot to look at the clock!

That evening Dennis and I knew that Valentine's Day would always be special to us. We would really never need to buy another card or Valentine's gift as we had our perpetual Valentine. To remember this night, Dennis wrote a song for Daniel. You can enjoy "Daniel's Valentine" here.
This sweet little boy, is now a man that loves books, music, history, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, harmonica playing, photography, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Twain, Emerson, Thoreau, philosophy, dogs, and good food. He was named for my uncle Daniel and my father's mother's maiden name Ryan. Daniel is a Hebrew name meaning "God is my judge" and Ryan, of Gaelic origin, means "king" or "little prince". I need not say more.

The video I am sharing with you today is Pete Seeger singing Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" at a celebration for Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday on May 3, 2009.


So today, as I wish Daniel a happy 25th birthday, I want to wish all of you a Happy Valentine's Day. If you attempt to learn about the history of this day, you will find that everyone seems to have their own version of how and why we have come to celebrate Valentine's Day. I will let you do this research on your own. What I have come to realize in the past week is that I have many friends and relatives that have a February birthday. It is an extraordinary number. Let me see: our son Daniel(14th), Dennis' sister Vivian(19th) and brother Harvey(19th), Dennis' cousin Bob Stuckelman(19th), Dennis' cousin Joe Stuckelman(16th), Dennis' nephew Joshua Yates(14th), Dennis' nephew Jared Rubin(27th), our friend Arnold Glassman(16th), our friend Father Rick Degagne(11th), our friend Sheryl Thompson(14th), our friend Bart von Gal(21st), my cousin Harry Egan(14th), my sister Agnes Laband(13th), my nephew Steve Laband(5th) and the list goes on. Just this week as we celebrated Father Rick's birthday we both commented about all the February birthdays, so Father Rick counted back and we concluded that it must be the lusty month of May that produces all of these wonderful February babies. Come to think about it, May is the month we celebrate Mother's Day...so now we may conclude what really goes on in many homes on Mother's Day.
Happy Birthday Dan!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Yahoo Phishing Hijackings- Be on the Lookout

I have recently come into contact with  a Phishing scheme where an owner of a Yahoo Search Marketing sponsored search account was emailed falsely as Yahoo.  The account owner then logged into this fake page giving the phishing thieves access to that account.  The thief then hijacks the account using someone else's money to pay for advertising until the fraud is captured and stopped by Yahoo themselves.  Whats more is that the thieves even leave the previous advertising campaign active and running so that the owner will not notice any difference until logging in to the account itself.
Similar fraudulent tactics have been widely publicized with eBay.  Again, this is not Yahoo or eBay's doing and that parent company does give all stolen funds back to the rightful owner.  But the best case scenario is a major headache and time wasted researching the issue and dollars lost/refunded.
In conclusion, do not ever log-in to any account of any type using a hyper-link from an email.  Always go to your normal log in page to enter in private information.  I promise you will not notice a difference in the fake and real log in pages- these guys are pro's.  Save the irritation and time.  It can happen to anyone not paying attention.
Here is Yahoo's company line on the matter- http://www.ysmblog.com/blog/2008/12/12/no-phishing-here/

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sleeping Remedies That Avoid Over The Counter Drugs

So if you're like me and have problems sleeping and want to avoid OTC (over the counter) sleeping pills then you should read this post. I did some research since I've been having trouble falling asleep for a few weeks now.

Below is a list of steps, try a few and see what works for you.

1) Exercise regularly at least six hours before going to bed. If you have an office job you are more likely to have insomnia than someone who does physical work.

2) Sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Doing this will allow your body to get use to sleeping and waking up at a certain time and your body will adjust to that routine.

3) Drink a warm glass of milk 15-20min before going to bed. The calcium in milk relaxes your nerves.

4) Eat a bed time snack before going to bed. Something small with low protein and high carbs such as cookies and juice.

5) Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, and Tobacco. Alcohol may get you tired and 'buzzed' but research has shown that it prevents deep rest.

6) Sleep on your back. This is the best position for relaxing as it allows all your internal organs to rest properly. Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach because it causes pressure on your internal organs which results in shallow breathing.

7) Count backwards. Although this is something I read online and does not seem to work for me, it has worked for some people. Start counting backwards from 1,000 and hopefully you'll fall asleep before you get to zero. Don't continue counting to negative numbers. If you did not fall asleep by the time you got to zero, it's probably not working for you.

8) Earplugs. I'm a very light sleeper and can lose my sleep from someone walking outside my bedroom door. Earplugs can give you a good night’s rest if noise is an issue.

9) Wiggle your toes. A friend of my told me about this and it comes from some yoga techniques. Wiggling your toes up and down 12 times can relax your entire body and help you fall asleep.

10) Sleep with your head facing north. Aligning your body with the magnetic field of the planet to bring your energy in sync with the planet. (I myself did not even bother trying this one)
Share your thoughts and keep this list growing.

What remedies do you have for falling asleep?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How to view your archived google chats on your iPhone, almost

One of the things I have wanted to do with my iPhone was to be able to view archived google talk chats via the device. If you are using imap, go to "Labels" under your Gmail settings you will see "Chats" but no way to select "Show in IMAP" Here is my "almost" workaround.

Once you have logged into your gmail account, click "Create a filter" (next to the search mail button) in the subject field place "Chat with" and click the "Next Step" button, check "Apply the label" and make a new label named "iChat" check "Also apply filter to X number of Conversations below." and click "Create Filter"

Then go to "Settings", "Labs" and make sure that you have "Advanced IMAP Controls" enabled for your account, and that you have chats set to archive. Look under "Settings" "Chat" and select "Save chat history"

Now go back to "Settings", "Labels" and check that your new "iChat" label is set to "Show in IMAP"

On your iPhone you should now see your iChats folder when you open the email app and your chats,

Check it out and tell me if it works for you, as I am only seeing some of my chats.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Get Fit in 2009

Many people made New Year's Resolutions to lose weight and/or get in better physical shape. By now many have of those resolutions have been broken. I am going to lay out a plan for you to follow the rest of the month. Next week I will review what I am doing.

First of all I am not a physician. My first advice is to see your doctor and get his/her permission before you start. Your physician may recommend something different far better for your specific needs.

With that in mind, I think that that the two things one needs to do is :
1. Eat Less.
2. Exercise More.

Pretty simple.

Lets start with eating less. There are countless diet books with plans you can follow, packaged meals you can buy, and programs you can embark on. My advice is to eat what you are currently eating, just less of it. And much less of foods that you know provide little nutrition but lots of calories. So have smaller portions, especially desserts. Or maybe have smaller portions at meal time followed by fruit rather than ice cream for dessert.

Next, exercise more. I think that a successful exercise program includes aerobic exercise and strength building exercise, but you should start with something aerobic to start getting into the exercise routine. The trick is to find something you can do for 20-30 minutes almost every day and fits your lifestyle. Suppose you work from 9-5 with a 90 minute commute each day, well then maybe you need to find something to do at lunch time. Maybe you get home soon enough to take a nice walk before dinner. Or perhaps, you start late and can get in something in the early morning. Try to find something that does not involve a major investment. Walking and jumping rope are two possibilities. Maybe you can join the Y or a gym for a trial membership. You could have a treadmill or other piece of equipment being used as a clothes hanger.

The hard part is that you need to plan on doing this for the rest of your life. Eating less will happen if you just work at it. Exercise will take finding the exercises that fit into your life and don't get terribly boring. Maybe you could walk with friends, or clean up the old treadmill and put it in front of a TV. Whatever it is you need to find something.

Here is what you need to accomplish the rest of February:
1. Weigh yourself and write it down. I would suggest with light clothes in the morning.
2. See your doctor and tell him/her that you are going to start an exercise program. Follow advice from your doctor.
3. Eat a little less. Do this almost every day.
4. Find one or more aerobic exercises you enjoy and do them for 20 minutes 3 or 4 times a week. If you try something and don't like it, move on and try something else. You don't have to do the same thing each day.

Good luck.

How to Merge Your Gmail Duplicate Contacts

Merge your duplicate gmail contacts with this new feature found in Gmail's Contact Manager.

1. Sign into your gmail account. Select Contacts.

2. To eradicate all the duplicates in your contact list select All Contacts.

3. Select your duplicate listings.

4. Select Merge these 2 contacts.

5. Check your entry for edits.

6. Press Save.

Merging your contacts this way is not only a convenient way to keep your database clean and organized it will prevent you from losing a contact on Google Talk. Prior to this feature I had tried to manually merge contacts together and inadvertently dropped an important Google Talk contact (sorry Dennis). Had I had this simple but necessary feature that would not have happened.

Be sure to sync and backup your phone prior to merging contacts to insure you have a current backup.

Great addition Google. Thank You.

Monday, February 9, 2009

iPhone Geocaching with Groundspeak's Geocaching iPhone App


iPhone Geocaching with

Groundspeak's Geocaching iPhone Application



Geocaching is a global treasure hunting game where participants locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors using GPS enabled devices and then share their experience online at http://www.geocaching.com/
iPhone Geocaching puts this sport in your pocket! 
Groundspeak's Geocaching iPhone Application Features:
  • Direct access to Geocaching.com's database of worldwide geocaches
  • Search by current location, address or lookup code
  • Access geocache details, including description, hint and recent logs
  • Save geocache listing for quick retrieval
  • Log geocache finds and post notes in the field
  • Filter your hides and finds from the Geocaching.com search results
  • Navigate to geocaches with a simulated compass arrow
  • Look up trackable item detail, including item goals, while on the trail
  • NEW Tweet your new iPhone Geocache finds thru Twitter! 
The Geocaching iPhone Application is available in Dutch, French German and Japanese language versions. Groundspeak's Geocaching Application is best supported by the iPhone 3G but it is also compatible with the iPod Touch and 1st generation iPhones. (USE THE FORCE LUKE!)
Please note: You will need Wi-Fi access for the application to work on the iPod Touch. Also, without GPS, compass navigation will not work on the 1st generation iPhone.

iPhone Geocaching How it works

The iPhone 3G uses a combination of GPS, Wi-Fi positioning and cell towers to determine your approximate location. Groundspeak's iPhone Application then queries the Geocaching.com database in real-time and provides a list of geocaches near you. The application can also geocode addresses, search using a location from your address book, or look up a geocache or trackable item by it's GC (Geocaching.com) code.


Ready to go iPhone Geocaching?
Hit the iTunes Store to download Groundspeak's Geocaching iPhone Application now!










Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bill Gates Changes The World Again



A billionaire, a passionate techie (QUICK GET THIS MAN AN IPHONE!) and a shrewd businessman, Bill Gates has changed the world once, while leading Microsoft to dizzying success. Now He plans to do it again with his very own style of philanthropy. Gates hopes to solve some of the world's biggest problems, from building great teachers to stopping Malaria. In a passionate and, yes, funny 18 minutes, he asks us to consider these two big questions and how we might answer them. (Check the Q&A on the TED Blog. http://blog.ted.com/ )

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Technically speaking, He's Just Not That Into You

Have you seen He's Just Not That Into You? This film opened yesterday and since today is Saturday I thought I would provide a little preview of this romantic comedy. Technically speaking, He's Just Not That Into You, was not on my to-do list for February 6th, so I have not yet seen the movie, but I have seen the previews. I think this is one of those films that I might be able to convince my husband, Dennis, to see. Why? Eye candy! There are enough "big" stars, both men and women, in this film to keep everyone happy for 129 minutes. For your convenience, I have included a trailer for the movie in this post. You will see that the producers feel that the basic interactive groundrules for men and women are established when we are very young children, which is "he says one thing, but means another" and "she hears what she wants to hear." As an aside, I remember my first little boy "friend." In 1954-55 we walked to kindergarten each morning holding hands. His name was Raymond Wood. I think he was always nice to me!



Ok, here is the scoop: He's Just Not That Into You is based on a self-help book that was written by Greg Behrentdt and Liz Tuccillo. No, neither Greg nor Liz is a psychologist. Both were writers for Sex and the City, they based this book on a famous line from the 6th season episode called "Pick-a-little, Talk-a-little" which originally aired July 13, 2003(yes, the episode title is the name of an annoying song from The Music Man). Six years later and with a reported budget of $25,000,000 we now have a romantic comedy that will either make you laugh or help you escape today's crazy technical world for two hours.

Probably the most poignant message in He's Just Not That Into You is this: In today's world, unlike when I was wondering "why doesn't HE call?," a person can't just expect to hear from someone via a landline phone, they need to worry about every known "SOCIAL NETWORK:" myspace, facebook, youtube, plurk, plugoo, brightkite, ping, twitter, yammer, and the fatal text messaging via the cell phone. As Mary, played by Drew Barrymore, says: "It's exhausting!"

The fact is love, or what we hope will turn into love, makes us do foolish things. We are all guilty of this, we are human. In 1965 Martha (Reeves) and the Vandellas released "Love Makes Me Do Foolish Things," it never made it to #1, but many of us loved this song, because in 1965 and for a long time after that, our social networks consisted only of a phone and the Friday night mixer (dance). This song made us cry and if we were really lucky that special someone would ask us to dance and we would forget all our troubles. Escape!



So for this Saturday: Dance to this music,take a break and go away with your friend. Go to the movies or rent a movie,love the one you're with, and let me know how this works out for you, write a comment on my blog post.

P.S. For the record, if you are wondering what happened to little Raymond Wood. We continued through grade school together as friends. After that we lost touch. In 2006, my mother passed away. As I stood outside the church waiting for her funeral to begin, I looked across the crowd and there stood Raymond. He walked over to me, put his arms around me and said "I wouldn't miss being with you today." Precious memories, indeed!

Friday, February 6, 2009

PPC Ad Scheduling


Both Yahoo and Google have their own forms of 'ad scheduling'.  This means that we can choose when we want our ads to be shown and just as importantly, when we don't want our ads to be shown-- well kind of.
Google fully provides this functionality- hour by hour, day by day, even down to every 1/4 hour, when to display your ads.  The campaign 'edit status' button has what looks like a hyperlink, which is where you can find the ad scheduling function.

Yahoo Search Marketing on the other hand, allows you to schedule a start date and an end date, which is their full and complete definition of ad scheduling.  Therefore, taking your campaigns on and offline at certain hours is a manual process-- log in to the account and literally turn the account offline or back online to perform the same function.  This is ridiculous- Yahoo needs to step up to the plate.  We are not asking for voice command here.

Both search engines have the faults and points of utility, but for this function it's a runaway: collegiate versus kindergarten.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What is Reiki and does it work?

Reiki is a Japanese technique used for healing, relieving stress and relaxation. It is done using ones 'life force energy' to raise another persons 'life force energy'. If someone is feeling stressed or un-happy, then their 'life force energy' is low.

Reiki is a natural and safe spiritual healing and self-improvement method that anyone can use. It has also shown to heal wounds not just moods (not scientifically of course).

I have been thinking about going to see someone that practices Reiki. I've been told this lady has helped decrease the size of a brain tumor. She also has helped with sports injuries such as sprained ankles and such.

My brother had suggested this to me since I need a hernia surgery and after talking to her on the phone, she said she can cure it but I'm just a bit skeptical on the idea of it working. I've never been to one but have been reading up on it and what they do is they hover their hands over the part that hurts and as Obi-Wan said it in Star Wars "Use the Force" to heal you.

Have you ever heard of Reiki or another form of herbal/spiritual healing that works?
If you have, have you tried it yourself?
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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

January Performance of Our Portfolios


January was not a good month for investors. The Dow and S and P 500 indexes both fell over 8.5% and the NASDAQ fell over 6 %. Lets look at the model portfolios set up in an earlier blog.

One portfolio was 10 stocks recommended by Fortune Magazine.

Name Symbol Last price Change Shares Cost basis Mkt value Gain Gain %
Altria Group, Inc. MO 16.54 -0.3 65.74 1001.31 1087.29 85.98 8.59
Annaly Capital Management, Inc. NLY 15.14 -0.01 62.38 1000 944.46 -55.54 -5.55
Dell Inc. DELL 9.5 -0.45 96.68 1000 918.46 -81.54 -8.15
Devon Energy Corporation DVN 61.6 -1.24 15.07 1000 928.08 -71.92 -7.19
Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc. DO 62.76 -1.22 16.8 1000 1054.16 54.16 5.42
Fluor Corporation (NEW) FLR 38.9 -1.82 22.06 1000 858.28 -141.72 -14.17
Johnson & Johnson JNJ 57.69 -0.59 16.55 1000 954.59 -45.41 -4.54
Medco Health Solutions Inc. MHS 44.93 -0.81 23.62 1000.71 1061.34 60.63 6.06
Pfizer Inc. PFE 14.58 -0.54 55.9 1000 815.03 -184.97 -18.5
Potash Corp./Saskatchewan (USA) POT 74.86 -2.79 13.52 1000 1012.17 12.17 1.22
Cash
-2.02


-2.02






10002.02 9631.84 -368.16 -3.68%

As you can see it fell a little over 3.5% and beat the averages.

Our lowrisk portfolio fell 4.6%, not as good but better than the averages.

Name Symbol Last price Change Shares Cost basis Mkt value Gain Gain %
Schwab Total Stock Market Index Inv SWTIX 14.35 -0.32 181.52 2800 2604.85 -195.15 -6.97
Schwab International Index Inv SWINX 11.63 -0.17 90.43 1200 1051.65 -148.35 -12.36
Schwab Total Bond Market SWLBX 8.75 -0.02 670.77 6000 5869.26 -130.74 -2.18
Cash
0


0






10000 9525.76 -474.24 -4.74%


Medium risk did worse, but still beat the averages.

Name Symbol Last price Change Shares Cost basis Mkt value Gain Gain %
Vanguard Total Bond Market Index VBMFX 10.07 3.05 390.79 4000 3935.29 -64.71 -1.62
Vanguard Total Intl Stock Index VGTSX 9.5 -0.12 167.6 1800 1592.23 -207.77 -11.54
Vanguard Total Stock Mkt Idx VTSMX 20 -0.45 195.43 4200 3908.58 -291.42 -6.94
Cash
0


0






10000 9436.1 -563.9 -5.64%

Lastly, our simple rebalancing portfolio performed thusly

Name Symbol Last price Change Shares Cost basis Mkt value Gain Gain %
iShares S&P 500 Index (ETF) IVV 82.97 -1.76 55.31 5005 4589.03 -415.97 -8.31
Cash
4995

4995 4995 0 0





10000 9584.03 -415.97 -4.16%

So we need to rebalance to get to a 50/50 split, so we buy a couple of shares of the ishare and now have this portfolio.

Name Symbol Shares Mkt value
iShares S&P 500 Index (ETF) IVV 57.76 4792.06
Cash
4792.02 4792.02



9584.07
Hopefully things will improve for investors.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Updating Website: Check Out This Google Tip

It is important to keep your web site current and up to date. Telephone numbers, employee names, addresses and other details change and need to be replaced with the current information. Searching your site first for all the edits to be made can save you considerable back and forth time with your Webmaster. 
  • Find all the changes to be made
  • evaluate the text on the page for need to rewrite
  • send changes in one Word document to your Webmaster.

Here is a handy search tip to help you find those items which need to be replaced or updated.
 
In Google's search box:
  • type the exact text you are trying find
  • space
  • site:www.yourwebsiteaddress.com (using your address and leaving no space between the colon and the www)
For example, if I were searching www.webconsuls.com for "Darin" ...
Returned will be a list of all the instances where that term appears.

 
If you click the link labeled "Cached" the cached page will come up with your terms highlighted for easy spotting.
Send your list of changes in a Word document to your webmaster.

After the changes are made remember to refresh your page to see the changes. This is especially helpful with larger sites with lots of text and those with blog entries.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Six More Weeks of Winter! - Punxsutawney Phil



Six More Weeks of Winter! - Punxsutawney Phil

Phil's official forecast as read February 2nd, 2009 at sunrise at Gobbler's Knob:

Hear Ye Hear Ye!!

On Gobbler's Knob this glorious Groundhog Day, February 2nd, 2009

Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of all Prognosticators

Awoke to the call of President Bill Cooper

And greeted his handlers, Ben Hughes and John Griffiths

After casting a joyful eye towards thousands of his faithful followers,

Phil proclaimed that his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers were World Champions one more time

And a bright sky above me

Showed my shadow beside me.

So 6 more weeks of winter it will be...

For those of us who live in San Clemente California, this is not a bad thing.

Happy Groundhog Day from Webconsuls LLC.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

iPhone Applications are becoming more Technical and more Expensive!

The iPhone has made a surge in the creation of applications by aftermarket companies. With everyday that goes by the iPhone becomes more universal and applicable for everyday life. Whether you are using the iPhone for business or pleasure, you are sure to find an application for your needs. IPhone applications are becoming more technical and more expensive! Here are three applications that are very neat and cost an unbelievable amount:


iRa Pro $899.99 - Provides touch based viewing and control of IP based video surveillance equipment. Inspired by the mobility needs of the high-end security industry, iRa Pro enables users to view multiple live video feeds directly from cameras or from video management servers and to directly control pan-tilt-zoom cameras using the intuitive touchscreen interface of the iPhone and iPod touch.



My Accounts To Go (MATG) $449.99 - Is an innovative Apple iPhone application which allows its user to remotely access their corporate account information from corporate financial management systems such as Microsoft Dynamics GP (Great Plains) and SAP BusinessOne. CBR Technology is also an Apple Authorized Developer and uses the latest version of Apple's SDK to produce its high-quality iPhone-compatible applications.



Lexi-COMPLETE $299.99 - Lexi-COMPLETE provides detailed information on drugs, drug interactions, diagnosis, disease management, patient education, and more. Lexi-Comp's in-house clinical team conducts constant surveillance of the FDA, pharmaceutical industry, and clinical literature to develop timely, unbiased information that helps health care providers make more informed decisions, reduce adverse drug events, and deliver better patient care.