Why is Everything so Complicated?

Enough talk about government. Instead, let’s look at software. Specifically, why does it have to be so dang complicated? Take updates. It has become fairly commonplace to get them. If you use Windows, there is even a utility helpfully called Windows Update. On a regular basis, it provides updates to Windows – or something. Generally we have no idea what it updates, but we are simply to sit back and suffer through updates (and often the associated restarts). As an aside, I have been working in this industry long enough that I recall when we were told that installations and updates would not require as many reboots. I can only imagine what it would be like if it required more. But I digress.

As a recent gift, we passed down a laptop to one of our kids. Don’t give me that look. There is nothing wrong such a thing. The laptop is perfectly fine for regular use, and in fact should serve him just fine for a while, and means we don’t have to go out and buy a new one.

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Get the Government Out of, Well, Everything

Maybe that is extreme. But maybe, just maybe, the government has their fingers – or their entire hands – in a few too many places and they needs to pull them out. It is already apparent that the only time the government is interested in doing so is when they are trying to use such a move when they are trying to bargain – like when they say they will shut down air traffic control towers at certain airports because there is no funding.

Now recent announcements in the Mint Hill area have the Highland Games being delayed. The Madness being delayed. Charlotte has the Carrousel Parade in danger of going under. Budget cuts may close the James K. Polk site (after $130,000 in renovations was released, no less). Perhaps the problem is the government just has their hands in too many places.

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Not Every Program Can be Saved

For that matter, not every program should be saved. Of course you realize I am not talking about your program, I am talking about theirs (pointing vaguely in the air at someone else).

If you live somewhere in the Charlotte area, you may have heard that the Concord and Hickory air traffic control towers are currently scheduled to be closed due to budget cuts. If anything is scheduled to be closed, it should probably not be air traffic control towers – but I suspect one of two things will happen here.

Either the traffic will do just fine by being handled at Charlotte-Douglas, perhaps with additional staff paid for by the very same people who didn’t want to pay for those towers, or someone somewhere will figure out a way to pay for these employees elsewhere. Perhaps even the individuals using the fields will do so, such as the NASCAR teams that use the Concord airport and say that they need the controllers in the first place.

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Debating the Effectiveness of Vaccination

Movies like 28 Days Later, Contagion and Outbreak cater to our fear that something is going to come along that will destroy our way of life. Ultimately it is more than that. In a society that is both ever more connected and ever more disconnected, by interacting so closely and being able to very quickly be on the other side of the world, events like these show that the efficacy of vaccination is called into question now more than ever.

No one wants the elderly to pass, but ultimately they are old. They have lived their lives, and as they age, they tend to suffer. There are ailments of all sorts, from broken hips and heart troubles to cancer and well, more cancer. In some cases, dying can actually be seen as a blessing because it can put and end to their suffering. Jack Kevorkian may be the most extreme example of this. The point being that we don’t often put a whole lot of thought into the aged dying from sickness – they are supposed to do so, right?

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Premature Announcement Syndrome

Is it just me, or are companies really having a problem dealing with technology?

For those that don’t know, I work in the technology field – and I’m not just talking about whatever residual income may flow through the site here. I’m talking about my actual “day job”, where I work on actual computers and networks and all things geeky. That mans I have a reasonable understanding of how things work.

As such, I really understand why companies want to not have to send you a piece of paper every month to explain their relationship with you. Even for for those not in the technology industry, it’s not hard – printing all those statements and delivering them to your customers is a huge expense in equipment, supplies and postage.

What I don’t get is why they are so colossally bad at making it happen.

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Intelligently Extending Your Brand

Fast-food behemoth McDonald’s recently released a new item – dubbed Fish McBites – and it has been noted that they did not spark sales. Really? That’s a surprised? No one lined up for Fish McBites? No one in the entire company thought this might be a bad idea?

Meanwhile, as Chick-Fil-A, In-n-Out Burger and Krispy Kreme roll out their brands, people line up – some for days in advance of the stores opening. What is the difference? In a word, it is probably focus. The latter examples, for the most part, focus on their core businesses. It could be argued that Chick-Fil-A is getting close to expanding too far out of their comfort zone. If you have been to the Dwarf House, which actually predated the fast-food version of their stores, then you probably know what I mean. They would probably be better to get rid of some of their products rather than continuing to expand the lineup.

McDonald’s is probably no different.

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One Reason Kids Don't Get Enough Exercise

I talked about bus routes in Charlotte a while back. I would have to assume that other cities have the same problem, but I could be wrong – I’ve lived here for a while now, so the rest of the world may just be a part of my imagination now.

Regardless, I’ve noticed that not only do I see the city bus stopping every few hundred feet, but the school bus will stop about as often. Worse, the bus stops almost as soon as it pulls out of the school. Seriously?

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The Money (and Politics) of the NFL

Though sports are often in the news – almost always daily – recent announcements make things all the more interesting.

In Charlotte, the Carolina Panthers are seeking money for stadium upgrades. This is interesting on several fronts. One, because what we see as outsiders is that the team did not necessarily ask for the money – the city very nearly offered it. The first mention of the money was an article that essentially suggested the city would be open to offering money to the team if they were interested.

True or not, who in their right mind would turn down free money if it is offered?

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Fix Quicken Loan Calculation Error

I noticed the other day – okay, it has probably been a couple of months and I’m just getting around to addressing the problem – that Quicken has started to miscalculated the principal and interest on a loan (specifically a mortgage – I don’t know if it’s a problem on all loans).

So I did the first thing most people will do: I searched online for the solution. The most common suggestion was to remove the loan and add a new one. While that will work, it means at best that you get a new loan, and I don’t like that. It’s messy.

Luckily, there is another answer.

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Marissa Mayer and Working Remotely

The uproar this week is that recently appointed savior of Yahoo Marissa Mayer may have just caused herself irreparable damage by issuing a decree that requires everyone to work from the office rather than from home.

Even well-regarded titan of all things Richard Branson weighed in on the subject.

But what is really the issue here?

Surely Sir Richard would agree that not everyone can work from home all the time, can he?

Pieces of the business puzzle may be complimented by remote workers, or even replaced outright, such as a kiosk that provides check-ins to a flight or prints boarding passes, and a plane can assist in the flying through automated systems, there are simply times when a physical body needs to be present.

This isn’t much different.

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