Friday, February 26, 2016

Starbucks Rewards

I've been a member of Starbucks rewards program for a short while, partly because I stop a the local store at the halfway point on my 6 mile roundtrip daily walk. It's in a local commercial area which fits into the routes I take for my walks, which varys from 6 to 8 miles.

At the Starbucks I guy a doppio con panna using my own 3 oz cup they gave me when I bought a pound of coffe about 2 years ago. The cup gives me a ten cent discount, which being free in the first place, has more than paid for itself.

Starbucks recently announced they're changing the rewards programs from giving a star forevery stop and/or purchase, up to 2 per day, and a free drink after 12 stars, to giving 2 stars for every dollar you spend no matter the stops or purchases, maybe because they didn't say if there was a daily maximum quota.

For me this means while now I earn a free drink every 12 days or stops (sometimes on trips to Seattle I'll stop at a second Starbucks), meaning two free drinks a month, after the change I'll only earn a free drink about every 5-6 weeks.

That's because a doppio con panna only costs just over $2 with tax, so it will take 32 purchases to get to the 125 star goal for a free drink, and at only 20-25 purchases a month (days I walk), that means more than a month between free drinks.

While I ocassionally purchase whole bean coffee, I have no interest to purchase more expensive drinks to get more stars. It's not worth it for me because there are cafes in the area which have better  mochas which are cheaper than Starbucks.

One of those local cafes is Metropolitan Market which has their own rewards program with the same buy 12 get one free drink offer. Their 12-oz mochas are better and cheaper than Starbucks. The University of Puget Sound student (also public) cafe offers my favorite 12-oz mocha, also cheaper.

And there are several Cutters Point, Tullys, and other cafes in the area with better mochas than Starbucks. While only some of those cafes offer rewards programs for regulars, I still prefer them to Starbucks for the mochas.

It's clear the change is more for business than customers. Coffee drinks are really cheap to make for the price, so the current rewards program isn't hurting Starbucks' bottom line, and clearly aimed to get more money from customers.

For me, though, it's not going to work. I'll continue to just buy my doppio con panna, and earn whatever stars they give. For other drinks I'll go to the other cafes with the better, and cheaper, mochas.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Apple and FBI

Update.-- It's been reported the the FBI and DOJ are not using a new or unique argument for the case of the iPhone with the San Bernadino terrorists. Apple has reported that in the last 3 months the DOJ has filed 9 cases against Apple using the All Writ Act they're using in the SB case.

This means they've been testing the argument to see how judges and court decide. In some of those cases, the case concluded but the DOJ is still pursuing the court order against Apple. In one of the cases, it's likely the judge will rule against the DOJ saying the argument doesn't apply.

Apple has said they plan to use the decision from that case to ask the judges in the other cases and the SB cases to apply the same idea, the All Writs Act doesn't apply, which would invalidate the court orders. In addition Apple is reporting they also plan to add a new argument proposed by their new lawyers.

The argument is that the FBI isn't asking for Apple to unlock any iPhones, which could be within the ability, and wouldn't mandate creating any new software, but the FBI is mandating Apple develop a whole new IOS product, something Apple would have to create for free for the government only.

That Apple argues isn't legal under the Constitution. The government can't force a company to make a product for the specific use for the sole use of the government. They argue the courts don't have that authority, only Congress has the authority to pass the appropriate laws.

So that's where the story is at, but public opinion is changing as of the truth about the FBI and DOJ actions are made public, and now the public favors Apple more than the FBI, even in cases of terrorism.

Original Post.--After reading more news stories about the court fight between Apple and the FBI, it's clear a lot of law enforcement people are misstating the facts of the court order, and some on Apple's side are overstating the case.

In short, the court order by the federal judge does not order Apple to unlock the iPhone (operating IOS 8) of the San Bernadino mass shooter. The court order specifically instructs Apple to develop a new version of IOS for the FBI which bypasses the security features erasing the memory after 10 failed attempts at the passcode.

Apple argues, and rightly so by many experts' view, that's it's impossible to write the new IOS software to work on just one iPhone with IOS. It will work on any iPhone with IOS 8 and  conceivably IOS 9, or at least until Apple develops and releases a version which protects against attempts to update or upgrade IOS in an iPhone without the passcode.

Apple has not stated they can unlock the iPhone, but some think they could, but the FBI does not want that, to give the iPhone to Apple, they unlock it, and give it back unlocked with a new passcode they tell the FBI. That would be the simpliest and easiest solution to the court order.

The truth is that the FBI wants the tool, the iPhone is secondary. They have said, they want to try the brute force technique to unlock the iPhone, meaning to try consecutive attempts with passcodes until they find the right one and unlock the iPhone.

Currently the iPhone will erase its memory after the 10th failed try. This was stated by the Federal District Attorney of Manhattan who said the office there had about a 170 iPhones they would like to unlock with this tool. That's what Apple warned about and it's true.

And this is where the FBI is misleading the public and the media. They want the tool. The court order specifies the tool. And Apple has said no. Apple isn't misleading anyone on their point, the tool would work on any iPhone with IOS 8, and that's not in compliance with the request by the FBI and the court order.

And it's why Apple is making their stand. The FBI can't twist the facts for public support using national security and terrorism and saying that trumps Apple's products. And Apple is right about the damage it would do if they had to comply with the court order.

No one argues that Apple could simply update IOS 9 and all future IOS versions to prevent the tool, or any similar tool from working, but that's not what this case is about, and what the court order says. This case is about the FBI forcing Apple to weaken their IOS security, something the FBI criticized them about before.


I've been wearing Gramicci's Original G shorts for years. I liked everything about the old style and size. I eventually added a dozen pair of Rock G shorts , and after having them shortened to the length I like (8.5" inseam than the 11.5" inseam they came), which are my everyday shorts.

I haven't worn long pants since September 2012 no matter the northwest weather. The shorts are that comfortable. I wear the original G shorts for work around the place, but after all the years most of the pairs were worn our, mostly on the waistband.

So when Gramicci oftered half off their Original G shorts recently I bought 4 pair to replace the aging, non-public pair, leaving only 2 good old pair.I was greatly disappointed in the new Original G shorts for a few reasons.

First, the legs are longer, and I had to have an alteration shop shorten them to the length of the old shorts. But it turned out the new shorts have a shorter inseam for the same length because the shorts are baggier - or "roomier" as some might say - and such that they just hang on my body than fit.

I've lost nearly 50 lbs in the last 3 1/2 years, from around 190 lbs to just over 140 so far, with another 5-7 lbs of fat to lose. The German side of my heritage as my grandparents used to say. This means I'm now somewhere between a small (too small) and a medium (too big), why the medim fits so big on me now.

But my point here is that Gramicci has changed the style and size of the Original G shorts, which for me doesn't work. I'll keep wearing the old shorts and relegate the new ones to the bottom of the stack if I don't donate them. I just don't like shorts or pants that baggy.

I like a comfortable fit, but these are comfort and some. I've written Gramicci to express my view, and maybe they'll change the size of the Original G shorts, but I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Nathan Strobe Light

The local runners store carries the Nathan Strobe Light for $10. When you look at it, you wonder where the $10 price goes because it surely doesn't cost more than $2-3 to produce, transport and market, at most, but when the package promised over 50 hours of light on steady and 100 hours on strobe, it seemed like a reasonable deal.

Well, the light is good. It clips on to the chest strap of my backpack for my 6 mile predawn walk to town and back. It alone, but also sometimes with a good flashlight, clearly makes me visible to drivers on the roads where I walk, which are the rural roads between home and town.

But their promise about battery life, doesn't ring true. The original batteries lasted just over 40 hours on strobe, the mode I always use. The first set of replacement batteries, Duracell brand, only lasted just over 30 hours. I bought a 9-pack of generic batteries for the price of the strobe, so I'm testing them now.

While I like this light, and it clearly does a good job, it's also clear it eats batteries, and will cost over time more than the light, and if you use it for distance walks, take a spare set of batteries, because when it quits, it quits without a blink.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


It's ironc that while many politicians, even political parties, in the US and Europe are decrying the problem of illegal Muslim immigrant are the problem with terrorism, blame all Muslims for the acts of a very few.

The problem with that view is that the vast majority of terrorist are citizens, and others are legal immigrants, always entering the countries through immigration ports, and getting legal status to visit or reside in the countries. 

This includes all of the 19 terrorists involved in the September 11, 2001 attack in the US. All were in the US legally and never broke the law during their stay until September 11th. This also includes most of those in attacks in Europe.

The politicians who argue for closing the border to Muslims are only playing on the fears of people and especially voters. They're using Muslims as their scapegoat forgetting there are almost as many Muslims in the world as Christians, and from as many countries.

Some countries are dominated by Muslims, including the government, which often follows both secular and sharia law. Yet we don't blame the population of those countries for our problems identifying the few terrorists.

And the FBI has reported every year the greatest threat to the US isn't Muslim terrorist groups, it's other groups, like white supremicists, anti-government militias, the KKK, etc., where almost the entire group are white, who often cite christian principles and the Bible as their source of values and law.

That's the irony. Whites shouldn't use the few Muslims to blame all of them unless they're willing to blame all whites for the acts of the white extremists, such as Timothy McVeigh, who commited the second most damaging act of terrorism in our history, or all the mass shooters in the last decade.

And the FBI continues to report that the deaths acts of terrorism, whether you call the mass shooting sor not, from white extremists far outnumber those of Arab or Muslim extremists by almost an order of magnitude.

That's the reality politicians don't want to admit. Whites our own worst enemy, they live among us. They look like us, live like us, work like us, but hate differently, and yet we don't want to admit it because they're white and Christians.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Apple vs FBI

This post has been updated to a newer post.

Update II.--The Washington Post is reporting the FBI asked the San Bernadino (SB) county officials to reset the password on the iPhone's iCloud account. This disconnects the sync between the iCloud and iPhone.

No one has reported if SB county officials told the FBI of the account ID and password which they could have used to access and download the latest backup with Apple reported was 6 weeks old at the time of the shooting, so it's little use to the FBI who want recent information from the iPhone.

But Apple has reported this made getting into the account impossible without the ID and password. No one is reporting SB county officials knew the passcode and unlocked the iPhone. Without the passcode the iPhone is impossible to access and retrieve information on it, hence why the FBI got the court order.

No one has reported if SB county officials know the passcode or not, and if so, did they access the iPhone. There is software for iPhones for corporate and government employees where only a few IT people can change passcodes/words to ensure employees don't restrict access to IT folks.

The FBI still has access to the iCloud account through the SB county officials who changed it. Surely they informed the FBI of the new password, something Apple doesn't know. As for the iPhone, it's still a big mystery who knows what, and it's still a possiblity the FBI is not forthcoming with everything they know.

Update.--There appears to be some confusion, especially maybe on my part, about what the county knew about the passcodes to the iPhone and iCloud account. The news story I read (Apple Insider) said the county had the iPhone's passcode, and changed the iCloud account passcode, preventing anyone from accessing it, including Apple.

The question is how the county accessed the iCloud account, through their computers to Apple's server or through the iPhone, but the key is that the iPhone has to have the right matching Apple ID and password on the iPhone to sync the iCloud and iPhone, which means they had to also access the iPhone, at least from my understanding (an my iPhone and iPad).

This still means the county employees had to unlock the iPhone. The second question is that they say this was done at the instruction of the FBI, so the FBI also knew the iCloud account password had been reset, something they could have equally accessed from the county with the Apple ID and new password.

Anyway, that's my understanding for now. I'll stand by what I say until proven otherwise, and to me the FBI appears to act to protect the iPhone and iCloud account with new passwords, thinking that it would be impossible for Apple to get into the iCloud account, which means they may have set Apple up to look like they're the bad guy.

Original.-- It's safe to say a lot of people, especially people with iPhones (iPads less so), are paying attention to the court order granted the FBI (Department of Justice representing them in federal court) the right to order Apple to write tools for iPhones to bypass the passcode security protection feature.

The FBI says it only applies to the one iPhone they have from the two terrorists who commited the mass shooting in San Bernadino county last fall. The request is for Apple to write a version of IOS which the FBI can load into the iPhone to then try to determine the passcode to unlock it.

In their public releases the FBI has stated they don't know the passcode and the iPhone may have the passcode security feature enabled which erases the iPhone's memory after 10 successive failed attempt to unlock it. They want to use the "brute force" method to repeatedly try passcodes.

Apple has contended that any IOS software can't be written specifically for one iPhone, it would work on all iPhone with IOS 9 or later. Technology experts argue Apple could write a specific version of IOS for this one iPhone if they had detailed information about it to put into the code, but the FBI could alter it later.

Let's remember the FBI isn't giving the iPhone to Apple to unlock  and return it permanently unlocked for the FBI to gather the information on it. That would be the common sense approach to the problem, let Apple solve it in-house protecting their work and give the FBI an unlocked iPhone.

On Friday (2/19/2016) Apple released a public statement which contradicts the FBI assertion they don't know the passcode. The statement says San Bernadino county officials knew the passcode and unlocked it. It was county property to the own and control the use of it by employees.

The statement also asserts that when told of this, meaning the county had unlocked it, the FBI instructed them to change the passcode to protect the contents, meaning someone at the county unlocked it and changed the passcode security and iCloud settings before giving it back to the FBI.

This means the FBI doesn't need any tool to unlock, but it's possible they wanted to try to unlock through their forensic computer tools, and failed, so they got a federal judge to issue the order saying they need the tool for their investigation.

At this point that appears the intent is to compel Apple to give the FBI a tool to unlock any iPhone they want by going around IOS security features to protect the user's content. I wonder how much or how little the DOJ lawyers told the judge that the passcode was known and the iPhone unlocked, and then locked at the FBI instructions.

This is a good example of government overreach, and fraud on the American people by the FBI, to use terrorism, with the San Bernadino shooting, to scare people, but mostly courts, politicians and even the White House into thinking Apple is the bad guy.

The FBI is the bad guy here, and they know it. Apple's statement make it clear the iPhone was unlocked and the contents accessible to the FBI, and they didn't need any help from Apple for their investigation at that time, but they instructed county officials to change things and not tell them the new passcodes.

We'll see what the court says when Apple goes back before the judge February 26th with the evidence the FBI was not thoroughly honest about the iPhone being locked and the contents protected such that the FBI couldn't get access to it. They had their chance and refused it.

The FBI doesn't deserve a court order, they deserve a judge to rescind the orignal order and later motion to Apple. And they need to get the county official to divulge the passcodes to the FBI, which unlocks the iPhone and iCloud accout.

Then they can continue with their investigation without any involvement from Apple. That's what they could have done in the first place. They set the public stage to make it a national security issue that could be embarrassing. But there is a simple solution the FBI refuses to use.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


It’s not that our military isn’t the best in the world, it is, but greatly overbloated and expensive, something solved with prudent excising of unnecessary programs and changing to match the world conditions now and expected for the next decades. 
It’s that our enemies, no matter how small, not only don’t fear us, seek to engage us, and use us to recruit believers to fight against the best military in the world. It’s also that our tecnological advantage has almost evaporated as many governments and terrorist groups acquire better weapons and technology available from governments like China and Russia, through wars with governments supplied by major weapons countries, or through the black market provided by other countries. 
The enemies have shown that technology wins battles but doesn’t win wars. America likes to win wars but struggles to win battles. We base our pride on patriotism on winning wars, which is why wars like Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq divides us about our view on the military, and why politicians keep creating imaginary enemies to sell a bigger military which isn’t necessary or needed, the money better spent on domestic programs and for international diplomacy.
The cost of our military is more than the cost of the military of the next dozen or so nations on the list. It’s why we could easily cut our military by 10%, even more, and still be the best in the world. Even military planners know this and have agreed to lower military budgets, but politicians keep funding programs and weapons the military doesn’t want or need. They’ve expressed that over and over.
The answer is to critically look at our miiitary and reduce it with the associated costs, some of which could go to veterans programs to help those who needs jobs, help, healthcare, etc., and some of which could rebuild this country as the best country for it’s infrastructure, education, environment, healthcare, support for low income families, and everything else.
It’s time to get real with our military and its costs, very real with the goal to reduce it by 10-15% for the immeidate future and reduce costs by the same for decades. Let’s put the money to better use for Americans and the world.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Day One Journal

Update II (2/15/2016).-- I got a response from the company if they plan to add iCloud sync with version 2 of the app. They don't, meaning it's their cloud or nothing. I would now only recommend the app with reservations, don't trust them. It's a good app, and probably the best for what it does, but relying solely on their system is not just their gamble, it's yours too.

It's the old adage, buyer beware. I plan to use version 2 along side version 1 even though it's not supported. So far they run in parallel as mirror images of each other. What I add or edit in one I put in the other, so I can have a backup and test their sync and cloud service, but I'm not holding my breath they won't charge at some time in the future, since they're a business and the users are their revenue source.

Update (2/11/2016).-- After trying to find a replacement app, which was unsuccessful along with the fact I couldn't import the history of entries from Day One into any new app, I bought the new app, which is both the OS-X and IOS versions.

I created the account to use their cloud server and am running them in parallel. The old and new versions of the app are designed to be separate apps on the Mac and IOS devices so they don't interfer with each other, the old one uses Apple's iCloud and the new one Bloom Built's server.

The apps require separate entries into the database, but it's just cut and paste one to the other. I don't use the new features with the new app, I use it as a daily journal for my walking trips. I also don't use the location tool in the IOS app so I don't get the weather. There's better apps for that and their choice of weather sources isn't that good.

Anyway, I had to backtrack on saying I wouldn't buy it. I'm angry at Apple they don't allow app companies to offer discounts on upgrades but only allow full prices for old and new customers, which explains why some apps developers replace their apps on the App Store than update them.

I'lll stand by the view the company will introduce a subscription for the sync and service sometime in the future, possibly later this year when the introduce the premium service they announced which will be a subscription. I'll decide to keep the app or not when the do that.

Original Post.-- I've walked 5-6 days a week, most weeks that is, since September 2012. Since then I have used Day One journal app for Mac OS-X and IOS with iCloud sync, dropbox also available with version 1 of this app, which with its simplicity and iCloud sync was why it was a great buy.

I have over 600 entries with it logging every day I walk with the mileage, weather and notes. It's worked great for what I want with very few glitches over the years but always fixable from the backup on the Mac, the devices, or with iCloud. You can also export all the entries in PDF or text format as a backup.

Recently the company, Bloom Built LLC, released version 2.0 of Day One journal for OS-X and IOS for $20, a 50% discount for awhile. The Apple App store doesn't allow charges for upgrades so many companies have reverted to complete new versions, removing the old version, so they can charge for the app.

Well, it didn't take long for users to discover that while the new version has rave reviews, it has one major underlying flaw. The company dropped iCloud and Dropbox sync. In place they have their own exclusive, proprietary sync with their servers through user accounts, free for the time being.

This opened a storm of bad ratings on the Apple App store and iTunes App store, outnumbering the favorable reviews by a significant margin. I haven't upgraded yet, as I'm researching replacement apps for both the Mac and iPhone.

While I like the app, and wouldn't mind paying the $20 for the OS-X app and $5 for the IOS app, I'm not going to buy it for now. The company states they went to their exclusive sync for a better service offering more and better features in the future, like encryption.

I can't see adding their sync to my accounts because I don't know if, but expect, they will charge a subscription in the future for the service with the apps and the sync through their servers. Every company which has gone this route does this at some point, it's the revenue stream the put into the business plan.

Which is why I doubt Day One will add iCloud and Dropbox sync into version 2 until they lose more customers than they gain, meaning more people won't buy the apps than will because they know the bill comes later with the subscription. A nice app can but lost with bad management decisions, and this is one excellent example.

They want the subscription revenue, and this is the way to go, but it comes at a price. Good as the app is, and questionable why Apple endorsed it as an "Editors' Choice", it's not worth relying on the company to service and secure your private journal.

In short for now, DO NOT BUY IT, until you know the future costs.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Curious why

I’m curious when you judge a person, especially someone famous or a celebrity, for their character and personality, or for what they’ve said or done, it’s ok when the person being verbally attacked isn’t black, but when that person is black, suddenly it’s racism, and black people attack the person doing the criticizing, except other black people, who'll make the same criticisms but they’re not attacked.

It's just an observation in passing, which is curious why white people can't be critical of black people without incurring the label of racism and black people use the racist card when white people call them out for call criticism of blacks racism. It's seems some black people think only black people have the right to criticize other black people, forgetting they're just people regardless of their race.

It's not necessarily widespread but often enough to cause me to go, "Huh?"

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

When tests fail

For the last almost 16 months I've had a bacterial infection or overgrowth in my digestive tract, or at least I say it is and know from experience, but not all gastroenterologists would agree with that diagnosis, in spite of the evidence.

One, however, saw it not only wasn't normal, but clearly some type of infection, but all the tests for known bacterial infections and overgrowth were negative. And while many specialist might give up saying they don't know what it is, and as I've written before, "Patient heal thyself."

Last year were down to the last test, a colonoscopy, which was scheduled for last June but wasn't done, so he did an endoscopy on my upper GI tract, from the throat to the duodenum, where he found I had Barrett's Esophagus. Like I cared since it wasn't a problem.

Anyway, since last June the war between the body and the bacteria had good and bad periods, some where I lost 4-5 lbs in 3-4 day when the body was winning, and where I gained 4-5+ lbs when the bacteria was winning.

So we scheduled another colonoscopy, which was done today (2/9/16) after a weekend of two preparations kits to ensure the colon was flushed and cleansed. I had a day of fasting and then the  prescription preparation protocol each of two days before. Yeah, overkill it was, in every manner of speaking.

The colonoscopy proved effectively meaningless, finding nothing obviously physically wrong related to the bacteria or polyps (none), but finding two small other problems, normal stuff of age and consistent digestive problems, nothing worth pursuing, although he sent one out for biopsy.

What I was thinking before the proceedure and which proved with the proceedure - I was only mildly sedated to watch the monitor and talk with the gastroenterologist during the proceedure - was that colonoscopies have one major flaw.

Not so much the colonoscopy, but the whole proceedure with the preparation. A colonoscopy looks for physical problems in the large colon. It can't look for other problems, such as bacteria, tissue masses, etc. because they're flushed out with the preparation.

And unless they leave attachments or remanents on the intestinal wall, the gastroenterologist won't see them. It's the gap in gastroenterology, between the known tests for non-physical conditions and tests for physical conditions.

This gap, however, is huge, in part why they call it Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which is short for "It's bets the Shit" out of us. They can't know what they can't identify, and therefore can't treat conditions they don't know.

And this is where I'm at. To me it's a bacterial infection when it flares up because not only does it hamper the large colon, it has extensive side effects throughout the body, often flu-like symptoms. But two labs have only identified it as "aggregate bacteria" from samples.

What's also frurstrating is that I've met other people with other digestive conditions to go through the series of tests and arrive at the same place with their specialists, it's unknown, and therefore untreatable, unless the specialist is willing to experiment with the patients approval.

So this is where I'm at, but my gastroenterologist is leaving the clinic for another job, so I have to find a new gastroenterologist, and effectively start all over, except we have all the tests results proving what we don't know and nothing of what we know.

What I've also learned, some at the recommendation of gastroenterologists or naturopaths, is that probiotics are a disaster. Four different brands of different single or multiple probiotics made matters worse, like sending more soldiers into an ongoing major battle.

Enzymes don't work, as has several other health supplements which are supposed to help fight digestive bacterial problems. All of these only made the bacteria condition worse. I've found fasting helps as does colds and the flu, because the immune system seems to fight anything it sees as abnormal, which includes this bateria.

Anyway, just some thoughts to date. Since mid-January, the body is winning the battles and war after 3+ weeks of the bacteria winning. I went from 144 lbs in early December to over 152 lbs in January and am down to 143 lbs this week.

That's the difference the bacteria adds to the body when it flares up, 5-7 lbs, and all in my digestive tract with all the associated problems in the digestive tract and symptoms in the body. And there's nothing doctors will do. They can prescribe universal antibiotics but won't without specific test showing it's an infection, which requires identifying the bacteria, which they can't seem to do.

While I still have some measure of confidence in gastroenterologists, the ones who care enough to keep exploring than be dismissive of the patient, I don't have much confidence they can solve my problem, so I live with it for now and try ways to keep it in check and hope the body overcomes it for good, some day.