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December 30, 2008

Is Geni.com Safe For Personal Information?

Last week my Auntie SanSan sent an email to Hefita introducing her to a genealogy project she was working on. She had entered some family data for my side of the family and was inviting Hefita to add information about the her relations. Auntie SanSan was using a site called Geni.com that is a Web 2.0 alternative to Ancestry.com and the like. It has a nice flash based interface and it includes social networking aspects that have been missing from the other big players. You can organize family gatherings, send virtual gifts, etc. The interface is easy to use and if you want to spend the time, you can put together a fairly comprehensive family tree. So Hefita invited some family members to join and contribute. While we did not think twice about adding information it became fairly clear that others were having some reservations about using Geni.com to put names, addresses, birth dates, maiden names, etc. Hmmm these are all good points. So unless the site was going to steal the information, what exactly is the business model. I decided to do some digging.

So the site's terms and conditions clearly state that they are interested in securing your personal information but they also state that they are not responsible if it is compromised. Hmmm... this is troubling. They "try" to secure the site and protect your information, but if it gets out, they aren't responsible. I'm not feeling warm and fuzzy. I do personally know some of the people involved in the project and I'm sure they aren't leaving huge holes in the system. Some of them were involved in PayPal and they haven't been hacked (but have been phished).

So the bottom line is this. If you are super paranoid, don't put anything on the net that you want compromised. Period. Otherwise only give information to sites you trust and limit the type of information to the strength of their conviction in protecting it.

Do you still feel safe with all that online banking and those purchases at Amazon.com? :-) Kind of makes you go hmmmm....

Posted by Hefe at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2008

Freedom From JUSTICE - The Novel

My nephew, Joe Reister (Joe Jose to the family) is a writer. He's been working on his craft for a while now and has written a number of remarkable short stories. A few years ago he sat down to write the great American Novel. I'm not certain where he found the inspiration, but his first major novel, Freedom From JUSTICE is not only a catchy double entendre, but also an excellent thriller with a scrappy hero named Liberator who has all these mad skills of 007 but the conscience of Jack Ryan. He also has a past life he is trying to hide from JUSTICE and get back to it without the whole thing going north. It's an excellent read.

Joe Jose wrote the book a while back and the only reason I am mentioning it now is that he sent a bound copy to Hefito a couple days ago for his 18th birthday. Very cool! Up until now, we had to print it out and read it on our computers. Now we can actually hold the book in our hands. If you want to reach the author and get your own copy, here's how to contact him.

Joseph G. Reister
jgreister at hotmail dot com

Tell him Uncle Bill sent you ;-)

Posted by Hefe at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2008

Classic Hefito

Ever since the bug problems started, Hefito has been down on the car. He seems to focus on every little sound and instead of embracing the quirks of a classic car he finds every little squeak an annoyance or some sort of foretelling of catastrophic failure. I've been working on adjusting the new carburetor and timing since I changed the parts since he has been complaining that the car lugs. We went out for a drive together and I did feel the lugging and also noticed that the passenger side door was hitting somewhere. I asked Hefito about it and he said a friend was hanging on the door. I thought maybe something was bent. Hefito was feeling all guilty and dejected so I decided we should look into the problem. It turned out to be very simple. The weather had turned cold and he latch was sticking. A little WD-40 was all it took and the door was working fine again.

A couple days later Hefito calls and says "Dad... I don't want you to think I am complaining about the car, but now the driver's side door is stuck. I can't open it and I have really pulled on it. I think maybe the weather stripping is stuck in the door latch. I tried to open it from the inside and the outside and its really stuck. I had to crawl across the car to drive it.". I said "I'm sure it's something simple, I'll check it out when I get home." "Thanks dada, I want you to know I really tried to solve the problem on my own."

So when I got home from work I went and checked the door. Sure enough it was quite stuck. I looked down and noticed something odd about the door. I walked around he car opened the passenger side door, reached across the car and pulled up on the door lock. I walked back around and opened the driver's side door. Problem solving is definitely not one of Hefito's strong points.

Posted by Hefe at 03:50 PM | Comments (0)

The Amex Wishlist 2008

Today is the last day. Go for it, you might get lucky.

Posted by Hefe at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2008

Great Places For Bug Parts and Info

I must admit I've learned a lot doing the bug project. Mostly I learned that even if your car is 30 years old, it is still possible to find parts if you know where to look. Here is a list of resources I used while I was getting the car back on the road (only the recent ones are listed because, sadly some of the older once I used to use are no longer around).

- This place is great if you are into scavenger hunts, you have lot's of time on your hands, and you are into bitter disappointment. On the upside if they have what you want it will be at a discount price.

Wolfsburg West - These guys have the really good stuff but it tends to be a little expensive and sometimes they run out of stock. They ship the parts right away and I have always been happy with the service.

JC Whitney
- What can I say, these guys have pretty much everything for any model car you might have. The parts tend to be a bit lower quality but I bought my front bumper from them and I like to look at their magazine. The do send you a lot of email once you place an order.

Air Head Parts
- They have a great selection of after market parts and since I live on the West Coast, they can get parts to me in two days. Once I placed an order by noon and it shipped that same day arriving two days later. Totally awesome. They also have a bunch of well written helpful documentati
on to help you adjust your carburetor, toubleshoot problems, etc.

EBay - Be carful, things are not exacty what they seem. I won some "new" parts that were actually "unused". It's semantic and a little nit picky I realize, but cmon, new is new and unused is "not totally new".

OE VeeDub - They had some parts that I needed at a fair price, but the shipping was 1/3 of the total cost. I bought $24 in parts and paid $12 in shipping. JC Whitney was free and Air Heads charged $20 for $400 in parts. You have to factor these things in.

Posted by Hefe at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2008

Odd Bug Problems

The bug has been acting up lately. It has this miss in it that is pretty hard to understand. It started on a drive home the other night and got worse the next day. Hefito insisted that we take it to a "real" mechanic to have it looked at. He took it in and the guy charged $90 to change the points (a $3 part) and while it did run better, it was not running right.

The problem is that when the car is cold it runs great. Then, when it warms up, it idles great but sputters at around 1500-2000 RPMs. If you floor it, it doesn't sputter until it settles in on a fixed RPM. I suspected a vacuum leak somewhere, but I couldn't find one anywhere. The I decided there was a problem with the timing, but that didn't seem to be the case. I spent a couple days messing with it and finally decided I needed to get a new carburetor and while I was at it, a new Single Vacuum Dual Advance (SVDA) distributor. My stock dual vacuum distributor was probably OK, but there was some question as to the compatibility of the new carburetor with my old distributor.

I did some shopping around and decided to got with a set from Airhead Parts. I matched the EMPI PICT-34-3 with a SVDA distibutor. I got the parts in two days and after a couple hours of work on the car, I had it running perfectly again. So at the end of the day, I think the carburetor got some gunk in it. I bought a rebuild kit and at some point I might rebuild it, but honestly the new EMPI carburetor fits much better (the accelerator pump and linkage clear the alternator) and chances or good I would mess up the rebuild. I have never been successful in the past. Anyway, but 74 beetle is back on the road. Look out.

Posted by Hefe at 03:33 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2008

Flag of Kerblakistan

The other day a friend of mine mentioned that he couldn't find the flag of Kerblakistan anywhere. That led him to believe that perhaps they didn't have a flag. I told him that was nonsense and that every country has a flag so I did some digging.

It turns out that Kerblakistan does actually have a flag. It's blue white and green just like Uzbekistan or Sierra Leone with a single red dove in the center to signify the bloody peace they want to maintain by keeping their borders closed to non-anarchist tourists. I don't think you can get a visa to visit unless you can somehow prove you are an anarchist. Not that I am interested in a visit, but how exactly does one prove their anarchy?

Posted by Hefe at 01:17 PM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2008

Mac Frugal vs Mac Million

The other night I got a call from The Sandpiper. It was mostly a catch up session since we don't get together as much as we would like and about twice a month we hook up and give each other the proverbial "dump". So he says "I got together with BS the other night. I told him I'd take him out to dinner for his birthday. So guess how much I spent?". I pondered this for a bit before I decided to answer. Knowing The Sandpiper he either spent very little or quite a bit. First a little background.

For those of you who don't know The Sandpiper, he is a bit ... frugal. To put it into perspective, once he invited a group of people over to his place for jerk chicken. He was generously providing the meat and asked others to bring salad or a side dish. When the dinner hit the table here were exactly 2 drummettes per person. It was cool, there was plenty of salad to fill up on.

Now, for those of you who don't know BS, he is well... hmm... He's a bit like PT Barnum without all the clowns and animals. He is affluent and enjoys his social stature. He's a really nice fellow, but he's not always paying attention to the needs of others. He once offered to let "Friends and Family" stay at his beach house in Santa Crux. Only $1500 per night. Needless to say we passed on his kind offer. My buddy Night Owl lets us stay at his place in Truckee for a six pack a night. That's a real "Friend and Family" deal.

So back to the question. Mac Frugal vs Mac Million. I figured he spent more than he wanted and hazard "$150 bucks?" He says "try $200 with tip". I asked "Where did you eat The House of Bullion" He said, "I tried to get BS to eat at this sports bar so we could catch the last game of the World Series, but he wanted to try out some swank new place that just opened. He was schmoozing the manager passing cards around and acting like he owned the place. The manager did give us a round of drinks on the house." He said "Do you think BS was taking advantage?". "It would seem so" I said "but you did tell him you were buying him dinner and it was his choice on where you ate. In some ways that's just the price of admission to the BS dinner show. Next year why don't you just send him a card?" The Sandpiper shook it off and said "Well I did have a pretty good time... until the check came." That's The Sandpiper. He likes being frugal but hates being cheap. I suppose I can connect with that.

Posted by Hefe at 02:31 PM | Comments (0)