hankrules2011

A polymath rambling about virtually anything

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Leaving LinkedIn. Hopefully Some New & Diverse Blog Posts Here…

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 3, 2019

I am coming to the conclusion I may finally terminate my LinkedIn account after 15 years there. There are a number of reasons and it both pains and saddens me, but I see no viable alternative. I’ve worked hard over 15 years to build the largest very high-quality network on the platform, and by most accounts, I did pretty well. I have 19,910 followers at the moment (really wanted to reach 20K very badly), of whom about 55% are senior execs and some 40% C-level execs, and in every industry that exists in over 160 countries, at the highest levels of commerce, government, military, science, etc. But for some reason — and I have my theories — after being a huge ambassador for LI for a decade and a half, they turned on me last year — and I’m a PAYING customer! — and started to arbitrarily and punitively harass and “punish” me for alleged rule violations that tens of millions of people do everyday but on a far worse basis than I ever did, and with the company’s full knowledge and blessing. And for a year, I’ve interacted with these customer service pukes and it’s like talking to a damn brick wall! They refuse to respond to anything I say, assert, allege, ask, to send me to colleagues or supervisors or even their Legal department, to defend their blatant hypocrisy in their absurdly inconsistent enforcement of alleged rules they continually cite, but which are not at all on one document they cite and it’s hidden beneath generic links on the other they cite, so no one could ever find it, and they just robotically intone the same idiot sentence or two repeatedly, regardless of my question, assertion, statement, topic, allegation, etc. It’s like they’re brain dead zombies! I have a lot more to say, but this wasn’t originally going to be my topic, so I’ll end this part. Suffice it to say though that I’ve NEVER been this stonewalled, this ignored, this shit on by any company in the world and I think it speaks very ill of them, especially since they’re lying hypocrites. I expected more from a company such as theirs. If I still had my health, time, energy, strength, stamina and the money I once had before my medical bills decimated it, I would literally sue them — and I would win! I’ve never lost a lawsuit and I’ve sworn to go to my grave with that record intact. I’m confident it wouldn’t be too hard to prove my allegations against them, and despite what their terms say in regards to litigation damage maximums, a good attorney will get around that, and I would be looking for millions….

In any event, I often post links to interesting articles on a variety of topics there, and I often add my own commentary or thoughts or opinion. And sometimes I’ll just write a much longer independent article, again about various topics. Some of my posts don’t get too many views, but many get quite a few, and some get a large number. I posted about the Capital One Hacker a few days ago and got about 650 views. Then I posted about how the DoD has banned military personnel from using CBD, even though it’s federally legal in all 50 states. That one got closer to 2,000 views. Some of my posts have exceeded 15,000, 20,000+ views, but those are rare. And it’s always hard to predict which ones people will find interesting.

The point of all of this rambling that as I take several days to extracate myself from LinkedIn, I may stop posting pieces there and start posting them here. I don’t have a fraction of the followers or readers, but that doesn’t matter. I post on things I find interesting and hope others will too. If they don’t, they don’t. If they do, they’re definitely welcome.

Cheers!

Scott

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An Asheville Vacation – Photos

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 3, 2019

Hi. We rarely get to take vacations and especially with my health disintegrating over the past year and a half especially, let alone the past four plus years, it’s just very hard for me to travel. I mean physically painful. But we had a chance to take a few days and go somewhere and we never get to take vacations and frankly, this may be the last one we get to take, and Gretchen really deserved one after a hellish year and a half for her, so we debated between St Simons Island, my former home, or Asheville, an eclectic little place with great B&Bs that we really love. Gretchen chose Asheville. I actually didn’t want to go very much because I knew it would be grueling, but again, Gretchen deserved it, so I thought any sacrifice would be well worth it. And it was grueling, incredibly so. It took me a week to recover upon our return.

Anyway, I don’t have the time, energy, stamina or ability to write a full, comprehensive blog post, but while I didn’t take a million pics, I did get some decent ones, so this blog will basically be a photo blog post. I may follow up with a second one in the near future with some additional photos. I hope you all are doing well out there. If you’ve contacted me and not gotten a response, it’s truly not personal. I just have a ton on my plate and small windows of opportunity most days to get anything done.

 

Scott & Gretchen’s Asheville 2019 Vacation — Photos

 

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Some Blog Site Changes

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 5, 2019

While I’m having a hard time finding the strength, energy, time, etc., to write many blogs, to write any articles, book reviews or much of anything, as well as rare new difficulties doing things I’ve always done and taken for granted my whole life, such as simply reading, playing computer games, watching shows or films, paying bills, walking, swallowing, and well the list is endless. And the time I spend online and using my computers has diminished by a shocking degree, which saddens me. Nonetheless, I am capable of making a few changes here and there, things that aren’t time intensive or brain taxing, such as edit or modify this blog, and make occasional changes at LinkedIn, Goodreads, and Discogs. So I wanted to briefly let you know about a few things I’ve done here.

It may not be apparent that I’ve done anything, which is understandable since I haven’t changed the theme or general layout. That said, I actually HAVE made some changes to the layout, or more precisely, I’ve eliminated some of the sideboard items (Twitter and Instagram feeds), edited my blogroll, added to my right side “Music” category with a few other minor additions or deletions in various sections on the sidebars. I’ve also updated and added some Pages, which are the topical tabs at the top of my blog (“About,” “Contact,” “Favorite Books” and so on). I’ve been trying to modify and lessen my digital footprints for several reasons and dating back to last year and before. Some of the actions I’ve taken have been to delete my Facebook account, the most important of them all. Followed by the termination of two Twitter accounts, two Instagram accounts, a few others that were somewhat similar, and most recently, and at a painfully slow pace, trying to get away from Google’s clutches! I feel strongly about this and have for a number of years. There are many variables, but ultimately I’ve known for a long time that Facebook’s business model consists entirely of data mining their users’ personal information and using this to attract advertisers or selling it to various highest bidders. They offer no products, make nothing tangible, are essentially useless as a commodity — except for the massive amount of personal data they’ve constantly harvested from every user (and even non-users!) to sell to those willing to pay. And as the world found out, adversarial states are more than willing to pay insane amounts in efforts to destabilize other countries, their governments and organizations such as NATO, the EU, etc. And everyone has jumped on that bandwagon right after that. I’ve stopped using any Chrome or Chromium-based web browsers, terminated my Blogger account, my YouTube account, two Gmail/Google accounts (with one more major one to go), no longer use Google Maps or even its search engine, among other things. There are alternatives to all that don’t involve any known data mining, spying, storing, analyzing, and selling ALL of your personal data, which until recently, was the exact same business model of Facebook’s.

(For those of you with their heads in the sand the past few years and you’re unaware of the dangers posed by Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, and sadly Amazon, among others, I encourage you to research this. I’m going to provide you with a few helpful links for those of you who wish to avoid Google as much as possible. Not perfect, a little rough around the edges, some of these, but sometimes you have to sacrifice things like convenience to save and salvage your privacy, etc. For starters, here’s an article on Google and privacy dangers, another on 20 alternative Windows web browsers to help you get away from the major norms, a basic article titled “How to leave Google behind,” and a similar one called “Drop Google” with more links to more Google alternatives that I’ve found pretty helpful.)

OK, the last half of this post was not intended to be the tangent it turned out to be. Just mentioning some changes, start giving a seminar. Sorry.

The main change is this: I belong to literally dozens of various professional associations and organizations for many different reasons. Indeed, I’ve also belonged to a number of other, different ones at various times in the past. And when people see this list of over three dozen active organizations in which I’m a member, most express a great deal of surprise at the variety and diversity of career fields, specific professional categories, and more seen there. So I decided to post these here, with links to each one’s website, preceded by an explanation, of sorts, attempting to provide a partial story that might help make sense of it. And I created this, not as a blog Post, but as a permanent Page as one of the tabs at the top of this blog, beside the ones I mentioned earlier, and others. As it is the newest Page, it’s located on the right end of the row of Pages at the top of the blog and is easily accessible. It’s simply titled “Professional Organizations” and I encourage everyone to check it out as it borders on being truly bizarre. Look at it and you’ll see why!

OK, I’m done. I’m worn out. I promised Gretchen I would go to bed tonight, but I didn’t/haven’t, instead staying up to post something on LinkedIn and to write this. It takes me much longer to do anything these days, especially writing, which is one of the reasons I write so very little now. I started at 12:30 AM and it’s now 4:30 AM. Not going to bed now. And I’ll be very fatigued tomorrow/today, as I am typically every day now and I’ve also been sick for quite awhile, which has really worn me out. As I think I recently mentioned, I stopped blogging a couple of years ago for one year because I went through such an insanely nightmarish year regarding my health. Up til that point, I had accumulated a decent number of followers, many of whom commented and interacted with me. However, in the year since I returned, I’ve only been able to post sporadically and even though I basically still have the same number of followers, even on days I post something, I no longer get virtually any hits, likes or comments. It was discouraging, but I feel I understand why and I don’t blame anyone or hold it against anyone. So this huge amount of time I just spent writing this was likely a complete waste of time energy and resulted in a complete lack of sleep, and virtually no one will see or read this and no one will comment, so I’ve been asking myself Should I Continue when I’m only writing for myself and I think I’ve concluded Yes. I’ve been blogging since 2003, generally enjoy it, and if nothing else, I can treat it as my own public occasional diary for future reference of what I was doing or thinking at a certain point in time. And that’s good enough. So, if anyone sees this, thanks for reading and have a great day. For those of you who do not see this, there’s obviously no need to say anything, so I’ve alerted you all to my new Page. I hope at least one person will eventually see it and find it interesting. Thanks and cheers!

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It’s Not Just Huawei and ZTE…

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 4, 2019

I published an article on my LinkedIn page on April 4, 2019. This is the gist.

There are other technology-based companies in China, some much bigger and wealthier than Huawei, that *could* be capable of things some accuse the more famous companies of while hiding beneath the surface. Here is the link to it if you’re interested: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/its-just-huawei-zte-scott-holstad.

 

Well, what I found after publishing the link on my blog here was that while, if memory serves me correctly, for many years LinkedIn has been an open site, if not for posts, articles, original content, etc., at least for people’s profiles, often viewed as expanded digital resumes. The impetus was simple. Your profile, and hence your digital resume, could be located by anyone, anywhere, most prominently headhunters, recruiters, HR professionals, etc. That was, after all, the original point. But no more! I really don’t know when changes started happening, but I discovered sometime last year that if one searched for me by name and my LinkedIn profile came up in the search results, clicking on it would take you to a black page with a login, and subsequently ever since, everything I’ve posted, shared, written, published, created, and yes, even my ever fluid profile has been completely off limits to anyone who cannot log into LinkedIn, presumably anyone who does not have an account. I’ve said publicly what I think about this new trend, but for this particular purpose, that’s a topic for another post.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

In any event, when I posted the original post with the link to my article here, I heard from some of you telling me you couldn’t access the article, was there another way for you to read it? And yes, there is. Forgive me for taking so long to address this, but I’ve been ill, busy and out of town, so I’m only now getting to it, but my solution is to simply reproduce my article in its entirety as it appears on my LinkedIn profile here on my blog, at which point it will be accessible to all. The formatting may not be as perfect, but the content will be the same. So, as requested,

 

It’s Not Just Huawei and ZTE…

 

Yesterday, Foreign Policy magazine published an article titled “The Improbable Rise of Huawei” with the tagline reading “How did a private Chinese firm come to dominate the world’s most important emerging technology?” (https://bit.ly/2HXEcU2) Current trendy topic, legitimate questions. I get it. And I don’t blame the authors or the journal. It’s a good piece, well written in a quality publication, and it’s one that needs addressing, although in my opinion, there’s probably been a little bit of overkill recently.

Huawei Mobile Phone\

[Huawei Mobile Phone]

I’ve been researching this myself. But I’ve been researching some other things, other companies, their owners, and shell games – all Chinese. And I’ve got a LOT of questions, and one thing I’m curious about is why the founder of Huawei, a Communist party member and former PLA soldier, is getting so much notoriety, and everyone knows how fabulously wealthy the company has become, yet no one is talking about another Chinese entrepreneur who started a company of his own, also under mysterious and unusual circumstances, and who has been so very successful, that he is worth about 20 times what Huawei’s Ren Zhengfei is worth and according to this year’s Forbes, is the 22nd richest man in the world (https://bit.ly/2HYsbhq), compared to Ren, whom Forbes lists at #1,425 (https://bit.ly/2G1jnFb)!

Do you know of whom I refer? Does the name “Jack Ma” ring a bell? Does the company, “Alibaba” (or Alibaba Group) ring a bell? (https://www.alibaba.com) Let’s just say that his background is of a person who was largely a massive failure, who found out about the Internet and somehow found 20 grand to start a web design company out of his house with his wife. (I intend to write more about this some other time, so I’m leaving a great deal out…) Around 1999, with his wife and a group of friends, Alibaba had been formed as a B to B technology marketplace start-up. (https://bit.ly/2fcoC5c)

Then Ma disappears. Nothing on him. I’m sure it’s possible to find stuff, but just take a cursory glance and see if you can find him in, say 2006 or 2010. Yet, in 2015 he surfaces and takes the company public at the NYSE in the biggest IPO in the history of the world! Now how did he get from poor, miserable failure (rejected on 30 out of 30 job applications after barely making it through a minor teacher’s institute with a BA in English, just as one example), start two companies in three years, start making bank and then disappear from view for 15 years, only to emerge in the public’s eye to become, by today, owner of a relatively unknown (in much of the West) Chinese company that is literally worth twice as much as the notorious, world famous Huawei, and whose own net worth as of this year is over $40 BILLION compared to Ren’s $2.2 billion, as of two days ago? Doesn’t that strike anyone besides me as just a little … odd? And while Huawei is everywhere in the world, so is Alibaba. Indeed, I have very senior level contacts at both companies (C-level), both in China and in the US. I’ve interacted with some people at different times. And the Foreign Policy writers, if I recall correctly, noted that Huawei is everywhere now – specifically in 170 countries. Guess how many countries Alibaba operates in? Going on 200. Yep, bigger, richer, more successful, founder possibly more mysterious than Huawei’s, and while the company hasn’t become notorious for making devices like mobile phones, they sell the hell out of them! I know, I bought one. Recently. A high-end Kyocera, unlocked international, for half the retail cost elsewhere. But I didn’t keep it. There were multiple reasons why. I looked at it, tested it carefully, and returned it. The company actually has a program where they award certificates, of a sort, to third party resellers whom they deem sufficiently good enough to represent them. And while the company is not a manufacturer, like Huawei is, it has access to and sells more (I believe) items, generally technology items such as … mobile phones…, than most companies in the world. And while people are up in arms about Huawei’s alleged ties to China’s communist party, certainly in the company’s beginnings, many analysts believe that NO “private” company, especially such huge, successful international behemoths – that are everywhere throughout the western world, for instance – could possibly operate without both the permission AND most likely the backing of the CCP, or at least elements of the CCP. Think about that. And think about the fact that Alibaba sells a virtually unlimited number of Huawei and ZTE products, as well as many other international products (including from other Chinese companies), in more places than Huawei! And how hard is it to modify a mobile phone? If MSS, or one of the newer agencies that have been created over the past few years, were to somehow be involved in some way – and I’m NOT saying they are at all!!! – it wouldn’t be too difficult to replicate or even improve on some of the possibilities that some people are accusing Huawei of. Think about that too. And just in case you’re wondering if the company is just a giant marketplace, understand this – like many other companies, they’re ambitious. And they’ve developed a cloud program so massive, it can be rivaled only by the likes of AWS, Google, IBM and it seems Oracle is also moving up the ranks. Literally, Alibaba has come out of nowhere to become one of the roughly 5-6 biggest cloud providers in the entire world! And yes, I have connections with people at Alibaba Cloud (https://us.alibabacloud.com).

Server Farm - Alibaba Rev

What does one make of this? I guess my primary point is to not discount this company simply because it does not manufacture high tech wireless devices. It’s a technology company, first and foremost, and it’s gone from reseller to a very big player, essentially under most people’s noses. Which begs another question: how big do and will they get? I anticipate acquisitions, partnerships, new divisions in other areas. I would think AI would be very attractive to them at the moment, especially in light of Xi’s announced ONE TRILLION-dollar goal to have the biggest and best quality (by far) AI industry in the world by 2025. And with the R&D available in China, and that kind of financial backing, and – forgive me if it seems like I don’t know what in the world I’m talking about, because I know enough to be dangerous, but I’m not a scientist – with the likely advent of advanced quantum computing, it’s virtually impossible to imagine the possibilities of that bizarre universe as a base for AI. And what could come from that. Need I continue?

But that’s not all. I’ve been delving into other, smaller and lesser known, but increasingly popular, Chinese wireless manufacturers and companies, and have turned up quite a bit of interesting information in the process. I’m not ready to name names, but one company that interested me turned out to be owned by another company – in the same district in the same city – that turned out to be owned by yet another company – same district, same city – all of whom had unlisted, but official representatives who shared the same email domain – that of one of these companies. And their items and inventory are similar, but grow more diverse, and you start hitting walls, have to find ways around them, and continue on, while more and more companies pop up. And they go out of their way to hide their connections with the others, and the next one and next one. Standard shell game. Makes one wonder who the ultimate owner is… Possibly Huawei? Or ZTE? Or MSS itself? Who knows? All I know is there’s a lot more going on in China than many realize, particularly with certain types of technology being sold and provided in the West. And that begs an interesting question – could Huawei simply be a distraction – a large one – thus allowing an untold number of much smaller, relatively unknown companies (or in Alibaba’s case, certainly not smaller, but definitely not a household name) to produce and distribute goods that actually might do what Huawei’s products are often accused of? Let’s not forget, there are a lot of devious people in the world, including in some governments (I think the US learned that in 2016, although preparations for that began many, many years earlier). Face it, many Westerners, and especially Americans, are – or have been for decades – simply naïve because we haven’t bothered to study other peoples and cultures and so on much more the way so many other countries have studied the US. Kissinger himself said that was probably his biggest mistake, circa the ‘70s. Not educating himself properly, not getting to know other peoples, other cultures, others’ goals and ambitions, even among one’s perceived allies. I would like to hope many Americans have come a long way since then, but I fear that most US geopolitical policy efforts since the Cold War have finally brought many to realize we have not, that we sat on our haunches, focused on the wrong agendas while ignoring important issues, and now there could be some major prices to be paid, if not already, then almost certainly in the near future.

I’ll wrap things up now, although I have much more to say. As mentioned, I hope to continue researching and digging and be able later to publish a more detailed piece with more specific information and harder analysis. Besides, I’ve been banging this out for too long now, and I have to move on to other projects. And while everyone is focusing on Huawei, I’d encourage people to take a hard look at some other entities, such as was mentioned here, as well as numerous other examples, and then do some reflecting. Feedback is welcome.

 

Scott C. Holstad

Founder, COO, CTO, Chief Strategy Officer, VP Cybersecurity @ WireMe Designs, LLC – Retired!

WireMe Designs, LLC

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“Project Dumbphone”

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 26, 2019

I’m sharing an article written/published today about her hopes, intentions, actions and results in going back to “dumb phones,” aka, good old flip phones. I intend to write a piece of my own about the same subject sometime, because I’ve recently done the exact same thing, although I’ve not yet come to any definitive conclusions. Still, this makes for an interesting read, and for those of us who have been getting sick of smart phones owning our damn lives and of being unable to live with constant social media, good old fashioned clamshell flip phones are sounding mighty appealing these days. Here’s the story…

Project Dumbphone

by G.A. Cameron

Feel free to leave comments on the article’s webpage or here.  I’m interested in what people think about this topic…

 

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Giving up my smartphone

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 24, 2019

I’m considering this very thing and have been researching good flip phones for many weeks. I have steep technological preferences, so unfortunately, most don’t work for me, and I did order a decent and highly rated Kyrocera, only to find when I hook it to my computer, it’s not recognized and I downloaded the current device driver updates from their site and it STILL won’t work — AND they’re 13 years old! And I’ve done a lot of research and found tons of people have the same problem and AT&T (the carrier) actually has a lot of support pages for this phone, including several on this problem, none of which can currently help me.

However, after ordering this phone, I found ANOTHER phone I liked even more! A Samsung, and I’ve discovered they make some very cool ones (as do some other companies) that are “smart” flip phones that are WAY advanced and can be pretty pricey — BUT they’re not available in the US and may never be, even though there’s huge interest and demand. But many of these are sold in unlocked “international” versions, so that theoretically they should work with any 4G GSM network and carrier, such as AT&T. So I ordered one and am still waiting to get it. My main worry is no one here will know how to activate it since they’ll have never seen it, even if I have an AT&T sim, which I do. Still, it’s a Samsung Galaxy Folder 2 G1650, and while it’s not the “best” on the market (the “best” costs in excess of $12,000!!! — 12 THOUSAND!), it’s pretty freaking good and the retail price is pretty high (although not as high as a Galaxy S10+!) for a flip phone, but with my recent technology luck — which surprisingly has not been good — I’m not only worried this phone won’t work either and I’ll have to return both, but I may NEVER find the phone I’m looking for, unlike the author of the following blog, which I thought was good and wanted to share and which — if and when I get a flip phone that works and satisfies me — I’ll probably write about too, in terms of my reasons for wanting to “take a step back…”.

via Giving up my smartphone

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