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Out Of A Coma

September 17, 2012 Leave a comment

We’re back …. or at least out of a coma.

Slightly after our little stint of “help” from the folks at Sophisticated Pittsburgh on upping our number of blog writers, they in fact lost many of theirs.  In other words people got real jobs, go married, or just disappeared of the face of the earth at SP.  As a result, we are coming back to our original self.

So, about our original self. The blog experimentally started in 2005, and was moved to .mac via the Apple iWeb.  We started writing around the time that PittGirl, CafeWitness, and others started and gained one of the top growing blog rankings ending up with 2000 readers per day, across 15 countries while on the .mac site.

That actually scared us, considering the amount of vomit we spewed out in those days along with the other rant blogs.  I’m not sure we’ll be as harsh these days, but we’ll try.

BTW – while we were hosting on .mac, Apple kindly asked us to move our site due to their product not being originally made for the amount of throughput we were getting.

So, around Spring of 2008 we moved to WordPress.

The Weasel is back, and we will be blowing word chunks as far as possible.

Cheers

-SWB

PowerUp Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Jobs

October 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Here we go again …. another program destined to make Pittsburgh great.

PowerUp Pittsburgh (click here to learn more from the Post-Gazette article), will supposedly spider out the successes of the technology and health industries in Oakland.  Some of that has already happened, but PowerUp is supposed to help fill in dying area (where businesses have moved out, etc).  We encourage you to really read the article as it explains the project much better than SWB possibly could.

We are not going to bash the program at all, but in fact we are going to thank Mayor Luke and all involved to get this ball rolling.

Why are we thanking them?  Well, it’s because they aren’t starting with a completely written-in-stone plan.

Why is this good? Because Pittsburgh residents and workers (or more likely ex-workers) still have the time to try and influence it.

So why should ‘Burghers think about trying to influence the program and why did we initially say “Here We Go Again” like we were going to blast the program? One simple reason … we’ve done this before and by the definition of those programs they’ve been wildly successful.

For example, programs to bring industries into Pittsburgh have brought companies like Google, Seagate (now gone, but they came), and other prestigious names into the area … but there is one problem with the available jobs from those companies – they require a Masters or Phd.  So basically the people in the that have lost jobs in Pittsburgh cannot re-acquire employment with the education and skills that they already have because they don’t have that new shiny piece of paper.  Keep in mind many of these people are like me and have 25 years of tech experience with up to date technologies and have massive management and professional skills gained over 25 years of employment.  What people like me don’t have is another $100k to land an entry level position for about $40k.  If you want a decent job today, you are looking at $120k to possibly $250k by the graduation time.  Do the math on that one.  If you gain a decent job (even $50k/yr starting) once you subtract your financial aid payments, you are lucky to make rent payments in a low income housing project (but you aren’t allowed to live there because you now have a good job making $50k/yr).  The chances you have of making a life event remotely close to the quality of the one your parents had is slim and next to nil. Even with the great education … that is until your schooling is paid off, around the age of 65.  So what’s left if you can’t affored the re-ed? … the $8 to $12/hr jobs that still leave you homeless, but with enough money to at least buy clothes so you don’t get arrested for lewdness when you are dumpster-diving at your local McD’s because you can’t even afford to eat there.  So let’s get to your children’s education … it ain’t gonna happen.  Even if you wanted them to go to college you’ve already blown their higher education savings for yourself so you can get back to work.  Nothing left …. sorry kid.

So why do we rant about the above …. isn’t any jobs coming in good jobs?  Yes, and don’t stop supporting the programs that get in place and attract jobs, everything helps.  What people do need to do though is remind those doing the programs that they need to remember those skills already in the area (not the skills they want to attract to the area) so that the people already losing homes, families, and hope can get back to work and recover.  It’s great when new things appear (I lived in SouthSide Words when it was being built, and then the Cork Factory) and that was a wonderful experience.  but now, like many others in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas we watch program after program that helps people come into the city, gain skills, and take them back out … but programs continually totally forget those skills already in place.

I no longer live in the new places because we all forgot to fight to keep our jobs here, and allowed greed to move them out. There is this new re-outsourcing thing.  India, Russia, and others are so overloaded with tech jobs that they no longer have enough skilled persons to do them that they are bringing the jobs back to the US … at their pay levels.  So that job you were paid $30/hr for is not at a rate of about $11 to $13 per hour.  Most of those jobs were illegal to obtain by foreigners that moved to the US, unless there were no US citizens to do them.  So we forgot about our own, and never did any of these new programs address that.

The one key thing that all these wonderful programs forget is that this city at one time was made into and international wonder simply because everyone here supported each other and didn’t forget where we came from.

We’re forgetting … and we are allowing those running programs to forget also.

Don’t let them forget why Pittsburgh was what it was and could be greater if we once again rely on that key thing … building each other up.

Why was Steve Jobs so revered?  He never forgot, and he never stopped pushing those below him to be as passionate as he was.  We need to relearn that.

-SWB

Dollar Bank and MasterCard Drop the ball big time

June 7, 2011 Leave a comment

First … to consumers, this is a credit/debit card alert (and most likely you’ll hear it from us WAY before hearing it from Dollar Bank or Master Card): MasterCard caught a processor possibly fraudulently charging to customer accounts, so cards were shut off and/or canceled.

Now on to the rant.  After standing in a store having my card twice declined as a debit, and then declined as a credit, I called the number on the card to see what was going on.  They informed me there was a card security issues and my card was shut off and canceled. When I asked who was the “offender” I was told that MasterCard does not inform Dollar Bank.

Now, I have online banking with alerts set to go to email ….. never received anything and was told by customer service that only if I had happened to log on to http://www.dollarbank.com would I have seen an alert.   Now keep in mind we left PNC for multiple reasons, one being that we felt they used bailout money to drive National City down to acquire them – which in our eyes was illegal.

…but…

When something happens on your account with PNC and previously with National City, you knew via email immediately (or within minutes) what was going on.  Not specifics, mind you, but general info … ie. “your card was shut off due to security issues, call customer service for more info.”.  Neither National City dropped the ball on their customers by not informing them especially if they had elected to be informed with their account alerts via email.

So … basically still being clueless because I don’t know what vendor I am dealing with that was trying to post fraudulent charges to accounts associated with my bank, by no fault of my own after I get my new card I will be forced to link that card or use that card with a vendor that was known to process fraudulent charges.  The best security is to immediately inform and keep your customers informed.  Dollar Bank and MasterCard both dropped the ball on that by keeping their customers in the dark.

So, we elect to give a clueless trophy to Dollar Bank for being back around the early 90s in technology that keeps their customers in the dark, and to instantly going from what we thought was the better bank in Pittsburgh to what in our opinion is now close to being a joke.

We also give MasterCard a trophy for making sure their customers are in the dark so as the thieves of the world can take their pickings.

-SWB

PS – When we had National City / Visa combo as our banking … no issues.  Dollar Bank / MasterCard … issues.  BE AWARE.

Working On Foot

Working In Crazy Mocha Pittsburgh

With every new “renaissance” to a city tends to bring a new way of working. S.P. was initially going to publish this article in “New Town”, but after some thought we decided on “City On foot” because of the location it is being written.  The pic on the site was taken at the time and place of the article’s “birth”.

Moving on and getting past plugging the article to the actual article.

“In Olden Days” the workplace was the workplace.  You probably spend more years in your life going to the same building, office, or establishment day after day than you did living in your own house.  That’s just the way it was.  Simple.

Click Here to go to the remainder of the article on the website.

-Karyon

Changes To SWB

January 24, 2011 2 comments

Our New Owners

Yup, we being taken over.

This is for the good.  After being inactive for a while, another site has inquired about taking over Screaming Weasel.  There will be changes, it will retain some of  the sarcasm, but will lose some of the “rantiness”  and negativity that it had when it started around 2005-2006 and rant blogs were the fad – although we will gripe a little through it,  and SWB will be the occasional guest writer.

We think you’ll like it … and what it will present about Pittsburgh.

If you want to check out our new owners, Click Here

Here is their future WordPress Blog (Click Here)

Please welcome Karyon Nightly (sophisticatedpgh) as  the new main writer.

-SWB

Back in business – Review: CDS Micro

February 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Thanks to CDS Micro Systems in the Pittsburgh area, our favorite laptop (less the Windows running on it part) is back in business.  We ordered our keyboard for the Acer Aspire One for $16 (much less than others … and the order included shipping).  CDS received our order at 4:20pm on the 23rd of Feb, and had it in the mail first thing in the morning on the 24th of Feb … now that’s service.

We found them on Ebay, and for that kind of service, if you have an Acer or Gateway, it’s worth checking them out. The keyboard was exactly what we ordered and needed, fit perfectly (which can be an issue with netbook replacement parts(, and worked perfectly.  Actually the replacement keyboard was better quality than the original.

You can find CDS Micro listed in SWB Recommends.

Now for those experiencing this issue. If you get liquids like coffee in your netbook keyboard, it’s cheap enough to order a new one, but the old one can be cleaned with some patience.  This is an old technique taught to me by some old time TV / Radio guys and mainframe technicians.  It’s based on the fact that purified water is your best cleaner (if you ever use this technique for cleaning anything else electronic and it has batteries, capacitors, etc in it or on it, you must remove or completely discharge them. If not, you could get electrocuted or they parts could explode).  If this is a little technical for you, don’t do it.  Ask your local tech head to do it for you.

The netbook keyboards are so thin, any liquids that can leave a residue (no matter how minute) will cause the keyboard to malfunction for quite a while. You need to carefully clean the old keyboard to see if you can get it to work again.

The trick is using very good purified water … not electronic cleaners, not windex, etc.  Simple purified water will do the trick.

Here are the steps:

  1. Find a plastic pan (preferably one that has not been used) that is about the side of the netbook keyboard and fill it with your purified water to a level that will fully cover the keyboard.
  2. Place the keyboard in the water … if you need to use something to keep it submersed, make sure it does not depress any of the keys.
  3. After five minutes lift the keyboard out and let the water drain, removing the residue within the keyboard.
  4. Go back to step 2 twice, on the third time change the water and do the procedure two more times.  More if the keyboard was heavily soiled.
  5. Tap out as much water as possible (remember tap means tap, not smack)
  6. Leave the keyboard out for about a week in a very dry area, near light airflow if possible (yes I did say a week).
  7. After your keyboard has dried out, it should work fine.

Like I said, this is not guaranteed to work, but gets you a backup keyboard for your netbook instead of just wasting it to the garbage.

-SWB

PS – Small netbooks are great for gremlins, and usually come with them if you are running Windows 🙂

The “Toyota Bomb”

February 25, 2010 Leave a comment

The most popular question of the day:

“Do you think Toyota is being treated unfairly by our government?” … YES.

Why?

Because what is happening is something we try to make sure never happens in the corporate world, and is setting a precedent that could have some serious ramifications later in all corporate businesses.

And that is? ….. Conflict of interests. Really, really, big conflict of interests.

The U.S. government, because of the bailouts now effectively owns part of the U.S. car manufacturers (or at least some of them). That puts them in a very dangerous place where doing any regulation on the car manufacturers they do not own sets precedents to allow that to happen on a regular basis in real business.

This could set the scenario where an exec sits on one company and also on an another company selling or manufacturing like products allowing for price fixing, and monopolizing of an industry or product.

That happending could end up being a huge problem nobody in business wants, besides a few top controllers of the corporate world. It could also set the precedent of government control of businesses (and not in a good way).

What should be done with the Toyota issue?

There should have been a panel assembled of experts and representatives from the auto and safety industries from all countries where Toyota sells. They should have been the ones to review the Toyota recall issues and publish a decision and recommendations on those findings. All of the countries involved should have agreed to go by those published findings and decisions. This would have eliminated the conflict of interests legal issue our government has with handling this themselves.

The Toyota issue is not only hurting Toyota, it is hurting all auto sales from foreign companies, especially from Japan. Speaking to my father, who sells Honda, their sales are being hurt from this issue too. It’s helping the American companies, but way before they fix their own issues … and that’s another problem.

Think also, how many more people are employed in this country by companies like Toyota, Honda, etc. The good paying jobs and up being more numerous in those companies than in the American ones (I know this from how well Honda treats my father with bonuses, etc and how poorly I saw him treated when selling and working for the American car companies. I also have friends that worked for Chrysler, GM, etc and moved over to Toyota or Honda that are much happier now).

If the government messes up on this issue, it could end up hitting us even further in the economic groin … further rendering us useless as a financially powerful country.

We may want to think this one out a little further before putting a bullet in Toyota’s head, or we may end up dead from the ricochet. Issues like this are ones where you want to make sure you are thinking out how the resolutions you give will determine how that industry or business goes over the next five years, not just today or this month, etc.

Yes, Toyota needs to work on things like transparency …. but so do our companies. As they say “the one that has done no sin may throw the first stone.” I don’t think the U.S. is qualified to throw the first stone.

Well, since it is so deserving, SWB is handing out it’s frst never-ending clueless trophy. It’s good for as long as the U.S. Government is around, for as good as it is designed, the clueless will always be present within it.

The “Toyota Bomb” is ticking … will our government stop the show in time before it blows?

-SWB

PS – Our government needs to get back to governing. The people are quite capable of not buying Toyota’s if they don’t like them or don’t trust them.