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Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

My New Custom Designed and Built Falcon Northwest Mach V PC

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 2, 2019

Hello all. It’s been awhile. Those of you still with me know the last four years have been really rough, but this one is topping even last year, which I didn’t think could be done. The point, though, is that I used to post regularly for years, decades actually, but the past few years, I haven’t been able to because of my extremely poor health. I feel bad about that, not only because I enjoyed it and miss it, but because I feel like I let you down, and while I still have about the same number of followers I did several years ago, apparently very few read the rare blogs I post, probably because they’re so darn rare! It’s frustrating, and I’m sorry. So much has happened this year, I would never have sufficient time, strength, energy, anything to be able to relate even half of it. So I won’t. Instead I’m going to do what I’ve been doing, and that’s writing some nonsensical unimportant post few will read or care about, but I’ll like it, as it’s become sort of like my own online journaling experiment now, in terms of helping me remember what I was doing, thinking, undergoing, purchasing, reading on any given day, and I’m grateful for that.

So with that intro, I’m going to proceed to post a new blog that utterly no one but myself will find remotely interesting, but a guy’s gotta show off his new car/house/boat/computer/audio system/etc, and I have no one to do so with, so I’m just posting this here in the unlikely chance someone might read it at pause to ponder it for a mere moment.

 

My new custom designed, custom built high-end “gaming” computer

Falcon Northwest Mach V Icon2

 

Desiring to replace my 2.5-year-old custom designed, custom built Xidax X8 Glacier because I wanted more power, speed and other various reasons, I embarked on an intensive two month search for the right “high quality/reasonable cost” combo machine that wouldn’t be exactly what I wanted, due to unfortunate financial considerations at the time, but which would still be very high-end and would remain so for a decent period of time.

I spent time designing a huge variety of configurations with over 35 PC makers, and ultimately over 200 unique configurations. I decided early that I wanted to go with an established, proven “elite” high-end boutique custom PC company, and while one will find various companies listed in any Top 10 lists of these types of companies, there are generally four that have stood out to me for many years, one of which I had already purchased two rigs from in the past. These are OriginPC, Digital Storm, Falcon Northwest and Maingear. All have several desktop models, many starting at very low prices, but are basically barren, so one is forced to upgrade components as they build their potential machines. While I had a price range in mind, which (naturally) increased as time went by, I tried very hard to put together configurations that I would view as compromises, sacrificing components to save money, such as storage capacity and brand, memory brand and speed, audio cards, etc. However, there were certain things I was determined NOT to sacrifice on. These included getting the top of the line Intel X299 processor, at least 10TB of storage, a minimum of 64GB of RAM, and a very solid motherboard, ideally an ASUS ROG RAMPAGE VI EXTREME OMEGA, which is what I currently have, as well as the storage and RAM. I wanted to change some other things though with the new system though.

Falcon Northwest, established in 1992, is the “father” of custom gaming PCs, known for their elite quality and historically insanely high prices. And while that has held true all these years, other companies have risen to their heights in many ways, and a few have surpassed Falcon in price insanity. I posted an example of a Digital Storm configuration a few days ago on LinkedIn that exceeded $40,000. I’ve put together configurations of several machines that exceeded $100,000! All four named companies can go pretty high, along with a few others. However, the most costly configuration I was able to put together for Falcon was just under $30,000. That doesn’t take into account, however, their famous hand crafted, hand painted (with several layers of high quality automotive paint) rigs that can be designed for anything anyone wants, ranging from corporate logos to clouds to actual representations of Picasso paintings, and just about anything one can think of. And when you start talking about those features, the prices jump very high.

Finally, after two months, and after getting an Origin and Digital Storm both under $8,000 and a Falcon slightly under $10,000 (I could not at all get a Maingear under $11,500), and while I amused myself a few times by putting together configurations of rigs that would cost more than some houses, I felt like I had 3-4 solid finalists, and I was ready to make a decision. I actually had an Origin Genesis tied with a Digital Storm Velox, but on the final day I felt nervous, so I quickly did some last minute research and dug up quite a few complaints all over the Net about both companies, largely in their post-sale customer service/tech support and problems having warranties honored. While both companies have excellent reputations with the pros, hundreds of one-star customer reviews said something to me, so I quickly decided to give Falcon another chance. They’re incredibly famous for the highest quality, most stable bad ass rigs around, and for virtually perfect service/support and an excellent warranty that other companies charge extra for if you want to add years, etc. My beef with the company had been the lack of very many options at all with most of the components, and the fact that they only offered one motherboard, and IMO, not the best, for their expensive flagship rig, just as an example. In fact, I was very unhappy about this, because the RAM options couldn’t compete with those at other companies, the storage couldn’t compete, etc., yet they were in the same price range as the others – higher, actually – largely based on reputation, I felt. However, fast but thorough last-minute digging found ample reviews remarking on their high quality, their reliability, their computers’ speed and power, their excellent warranty, etc. So I just started pumping out configs, tweaking each just a bit to get an acceptable price with the most acceptable components I could live with. And I finally felt like I had found one. So a few days ago, I called the company (PST), and spent nearly three hours on the phone with a very knowledgeable, intelligent, friendly, experienced, helpful sales rep named Ben. I voiced some complaints I had, particularly about their RAM’s speed, their audio cards, their motherboard options, etc., and demanded both explanations as to their offerings and a reason to choose his company over the others. And he didn’t hard sell me, and didn’t really try to sell me at all. Which makes a big difference to me. He took the time to explain the reason for each component choice, their commitment to what they view as the most stable high-quality computers that can be built, and in some cases, he said he thought he might be able to accommodate a custom request of mine on a couple of components I hassled him about, saying he thought they might have a couple of “unofficial” (typically not available for sale) versions of what I specifically wanted, and he did. So we made a few tweaks over the phone and then I went through the purchase process, spending much more than I originally intended or wanted, but doing so after having found out that my standards were simply going to cost more than I had hoped for. Yeah, I felt some anxiety about that purchase and the charge I’ll be seeing on my credit card next month. (This comes at a time when I just configured and had built a custom PC for my wife, due to arrive today AND buying a new Apple iPhone XS MAX, 512GB to replace my Samsung Galaxy S8+ I’ve grown disenchanted with. It’s been a very expensive week!).

So I made the decision, bought the computer, the ship date is supposed to be August 19th, but due to some custom paintwork I’m getting, it will probably take about two weeks longer. So I’m going to stop wasting all this time blabbing and list the specs followed by a picture or two. I don’t really have anyone around me to tell such things to, here and in person, or at least anyone who would care or appreciate such things – which is why I’m writing this idiocy! You know how most guys like to show off their new car, gun, motorcycle, house, girlfriend, hot PC, great audio system, etc. Well, call me a superficial twit, but sometimes I want to do that and have no one to really turn to, so today, this is my outlet! And now for some specs. Thanks!

 

Specs:  Falcon Northwest Mach V – Designed by and built for Scott Holstad – July/August 2019

  1. Exotix Paint: Mach V

  2. Exotix Paint: Custom

  3. Exotix Color: Red Rain

  4. Exotix Logo: Rain Falcon Northwest Logo

  5. Chassis: Mach V – Icon2

  6. Chassis Parts: Mach V

  7. Chassis Logo: Light-White

  8. Power Supply: EVGA P2 1200W – Platinum Modular ATX

  9. Motherboard: ASUS Prime X299 Deluxe II – ATX

  10. CPU: Intel Core i9-9980XE 18-Core, 36 Threads – 4.5GHz (OC)

  11. Overclock Processor – Extra Testing

  12. Liquid Cooler: Asetek – 650LX 120MM

  13. Liquid Cooler Retention Ring: Socket 2011/2066

  14. Memory: 4 16GB DDR4 3000MHz G.Skill – Ripjaw V – 64GB

  15. Video Card: Two (2) NVIDIA GEFORCE RTX 2080 Ti 11GB – Founders Edition

  16. Video Card Part: Aluminum Extender Fin – RTX 2080-Series

  17. Chassis Part: Mach V – Video Card Retention Bar

  18. SLI Bridge: NVIDIA – 3 Slot – NVLINK RTX 2000-Series

  19. Sound Card: Creative Labs Sound BlasterX AE-5

  20. MB-Networking: Networking: On-Board (Ethernet)

  21. SSD: Two (2) M.2 2TB Samsung 970 EVO PLUS PCI Express SSD

  22. HDD: 8TB Western Digital Red Pro HDD 7200 RPM 256MB Cache

  23. Optical Drive: ASUS – DVD Rewriter – SATA Black

  24. Software Label: Microsoft Genuine Label

  25. Software License: Windows 10 Home

  26. Software Media: Windows 10

  27. USB Rescue Drive

  28. Warranty: Free Parts/Labor – 3 Year

  29. Tech Support: Free Lifetime

  30. Shipping: Falcon Two Way Overnight Free Service – 1 Year; Free Two-Way Shipping – 2 Year

 

 

 

 

Falcon Northwest Mach V

 

 

Falcon Northwest Mach V

 

 

 

Falcon Northwest Mach V

 

Front view of my computer with the color and design I chose

 

 

 

Mach V chassis

 

The overall aesthetic custom design look of my new computer demonstrated on an older Mach V chassis. No two custom paint jobs Falcon does are identical. Each is unique.

 

 

 

And I guess that’s it! Not my ideal rig if I had the money, but still pretty good overall, and should be quite good for awhile to come, especially with that CPU. And of course, most components are expandable, meaning I can double the RAM, more than double the number of drives and drastically increase storage, upgrade the video cards, etc. Which is always one of my requirements. Price? Not saying!

Cheers!

 

Posted in Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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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Book Review: Losing Military Supremacy: The Myopia of American Strategic Planning

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 4, 2019

Losing Military Supremacy: The Myopia of American Strategic PlanningLosing Military Supremacy: The Myopia of American Strategic Planning by Andrei Martyanov
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have to admit I bought this book because the title and premise were intriguing, matching some of my own concerns about the recent, current and future state of the US military. But, wow, what a crazy scenario! I’m prepared to listen to and accept criticism regarding much about our military, particularly the state and status of many of our frontline weapons, a number of which are largely obsolete now, or have never been produced after throwing hundreds of billions away because of scope creep and countless other issues. Legitimate stuff, and some criticisms I’ve been making for years. And there are many reasons for this, which could probably fill a number of books. Fair enough.

What I did NOT like about this book was the author’s continual comparisons between US weapons and modern Russian weapons, ALWAYS gloating over Russian superiority, boasting how their navy could crush our navy like sardines, citing the fact that our most recent nuclear subs are, largely, ancient while Russia just produced eight new “state of the art” nuclear subs with “superior, world class” technology, apparently any one of which has such Superman-like powers, it could completely demolish our entire military in one shot, followed by wiping out the US with a second. Serious superiority issues, and a real attitude problem.

Okay, I lived through much of the Cold War. I’ve heard enough Commie propaganda over the decades, whether Soviet, Chinese, North Korean, Cuban, North Vietnamese, etc, AS WELL as most of the Arab hardliners like Saddam and Libya’s and Syria’s typical leaders, among many more, and the boasting, bragging and chest thumping is something that any two bit junior college analyst could identify, define, etc, and moreover, ultimately, with many of these loud mouths, some put their money where their mouth is, and some are total bullshitters, witness Saddam, most of the traditional 20th century Arab powers, the beloved Kims, etc. And, yes, the Russians, because as has been found out in most military encounters between many US advanced weapons vs Soviet advanced weapons, typically through proxies, the Soviets have usually had their asses handed to them. And their house came crumbling down, the giant threat a house of cards. So I take it with a grain of salt when a RUSSIAN analyst starts boasting about how their few new ships could take out all of America’s, for all intents and purposes, and I’d love to see the author, via Putin, try to put their money where their mouth is.

Which is not to say his criticism of the reductions in our military personnel, our loss of experience in crucial areas, such as nuclear, our lack of producing virtually any new world class advanced weaponry since the Cold War, at least in quantity, isn’t entirely legitimate. It’s just his snarky and frankly very odd and suspicious personal circumstances as a person and professional that make this book and it’s whole “my penis is bigger than yours” infantile attitude so damn bizarre and frustrating! He’s a Russian, was in their navy, left Russia, immigrated to America, became an American citizen and somehow found gainful, if unspecified, employment with some unnamed … US defense contractor, I believe, possibly working on US weaponry, presumably naval. Now, think about that. The US lets some Russian ex-naval vet immigrate to America, magically become a US citizen, and then let him have freaking clearance to do defense work for our damn military??? Since when does THAT happen? I haven’t heard of such things since the Manhattan Project, and those were largely German JEWISH scientists, who had everything to lose if they stayed in Germany. Of course they’re working to defeat Hitler. But this guy is working to help the US and make our military better? All the while bragging about how much our military sucks now and how fucking awesome Russia’s is??? I mean, you should read some of his claims and assertions. They’re inane! He has a warped grasp on reality, particularly when bragging about Russian military technical superiority to anything the US has got. MAYBE THAT’S BECAUSE WE’VE ALLOWED GODDAMN RUSSIAN SPIES TO COME WORK IN OUR DAMN DEFENSE INDUSTRY AND SABOTAGE OUR MILITARY!!!!!!! What I want to know is, who the hell approved this, who approved his application for citizenship, was he fully, let alone adequately debriefed when he came here, how many polygraphs has he been given, is his work audited, who’s in on it with him, what’s his REAL motive, what’s his ulterior motive, who is he REALLY working for, and yet, if he’s so damn obvious, he wouldn’t be so damn obvious now, would he? So makes you wonder if this isn’t merely IW, put on by the DoD, if the author even exists at all and we’re merely playing at information warfare and propaganda games, and so many other options and possibilities. Frankly, I’m too busy with more important obligations, but if I had the luxury of time, I’d consider doing a little digging, because it seems to me that something’s rotten in Denmark.

Ultimately though, let’s assume the author is correct in his assessment of the wasting away of US military power, which has some truth to it. Again, fair criticisms to put forth. But the antithetical, virtually rabid, boasting, gloating, stiff dick factor for Russian military technology in its alleged superiority of everything American (which is frankly horseshit, in most cases), when he’s supposed to be a US citizen working in OUR defense industry to make our military better, all the while gushing about how damn awesome Russia is and we suck??? Doesn’t that strike you as odd? WTH don’t we deport him back to Russia if he’s got such a hardon for Putin and thinks his new country is pathetic? Why did he even bother coming here? Perchance another Oswald, a US plant? Just a thought, but then I like to conjecture all types of scenarios for most things.

Ultimately, right or wrong, propaganda or truth, the book is unreadable because the author is presented as having such a one sided superiority hangup, for the side he allegedly left. Which makes many Americans ticked off enough to stop reading the book. And so, possibly, maybe the project worked for the DIA or DARPA or RAND or whomever. It stinks too much and too obviously to be legit.

Work of fiction and not recommended. Two stars for amusement and creativity, as well as intended “mystery” scenario given to the author. Sadly, a waste of time and money.

View all my reviews

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It’s Not Just Huawei and ZTE…

Posted by Scott Holstad on April 4, 2019

I published an article on my LinkedIn page today. This is the gist.

There are other technology-based companies in China, some much bigger & 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.

Thanks!

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Important! Quantum Computing

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 9, 2018

This is a brief post about a very important subject. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t really know just how important it is, let alone know anything about it at all.

Listen please! This is a very important & urgent topic. I strongly support US government-funded research in quantum science & quantum computing. And perhaps most importantly, encryption capable of reliably standing up to the power of those using such computers against others, etc. Quantum computing is technically here. And it’s unreal! Current encryption standards are about to become obsolete & useless to those who possess this technology. As this article states, “Quantum computers pose a significant risk to encrypted devices & communications. Due to many current encryption methods being based on a complex series of math equations, encryption becomes more vulnerable to quantum computers which can process up to 100 million times faster than a traditional computer. As such, even quantum computer prototypes have the ability to invalidate many forms of cybersecurity.” And while the technology is already here, & as it’s likely to be broadly available in the next 5-10 years, the truly worrisome thing is that most experts feel that sufficient security technology to protect against such systems is 20 years away. By then, it won’t even matter anymore. Please educate yourselves on this crucial topic & support serious research. It’s truly critical.

A brief, reader friendly article that addresses this can be found here:  https://thehill.com/opinion/technology/419810-the-united-states-needs-better-quantum-science-as-a-national-policy.

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The Chair of the Joint Chiefs Wants Money & Has Some Interesting Comments To Make. What Are To Be Made of These?

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 24, 2018

(Note: I originally published this on LinkedIn on 11/23/18. The URL may be found here:  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/chair-joint-chiefs-wants-money-has-some-interesting-comments-holstad/.)

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford wants some serious budgetary money from Congress to “maintain its [the US military] eroding military edge against Russia & China — but also to start innovating.” Interesting, & interesting choice of words. I have many questions, among them being … why haven’t we started innovating already? Funny, but I was under the distinct impression that we have been innovating recently & in some cases, for awhile. I remain under the impression that we’ve committed to EW & have been making some new, “innovative” progress in that field. And with Cyber Command’s new directive & “rules of engagement,” again I was under the impression that we’ve been moving in the innovation department there for awhile with major plans to proceed at lightening speed. Moreover, I research, read & am exposed to a number of various types of information implying or outright stating that, with the help of the increasingly numerous defense contractors, new technology with new capabilities, & new weapons systems are well under way, not only in R&D, but in actual production. So, I guess what I want to know is are my beliefs & assumptions wrong or did General Dunford simply utilize a somewhat unfortunate & potentially misleading choice of words in his statement?

Dunford further goes on to say “U.S. alliances would provide a decisive advantage in any major conflict. The U.S. would not lose a war with Russia or China, but such a war would be lengthy. And the U.S. has the edge today.” Again, interesting. Much of the information to which I am exposed suggests that the US does NOT have the edge today & moreover both Russia & especially China have surpassed us over the past couple of years. Indeed, China has doubled down on its R&D & technologies budget while allegedly, America’s R&D investment budgets have been slashed! Are we really that confident that in 3-5 years, the US would NOT lose a war (presumably cyber) with either country, particularly China, as that country has done more in the past two to three decades than what no country in the history of the world has done, in terms of the overall advancements it has made with its continuing commitment to Asian leadership, if not the world’s, as the US withdraws into nationalistic isolationism?

Please forgive me if I sound skeptical, jaded, sadly naïve or anything else that a number of you may not appreciate. My purpose in commenting on these issues is sincere. I truly DO want to know if I misunderstand current & future facts as they seem to appear, or if my understandings & assumptions are simply wrong – or perhaps a combination of both. And perhaps right as well. I have a great deal of respect for the Joint Chiefs & have many, many connections there, at the Pentagon & even with certain individuals who are or have been on the actual Joint Chiefs. I listen to the things they say – as well as to the things they don’t say. And I have numerous connections throughout the military & foreign policy communities. I have heard a great deal of worrisome predictions, beliefs, facts, data & statistics, & I find it difficult not to assume certain things, & my particular personality is one in which I hope for the best while planning for the worst. Additionally, while I do not presently have time to address this topic, I am curious to which “US alliances” the Chairman is referring. Such things are subject to change at any time, as we have seen & will likely continue to see….

The Chairman makes some additional interesting observations & statements, which I really do not have the time to address at the moment. And I do realize most to all of you in these respective industries are not at liberty to comment or address them. But I would welcome communication from any who wish to discuss these & related topics, who wish to share my concerns or correct my understanding of certain things, etc. Feel free to contact me. I promise to keep our communication confidential. As I tend to stay tremendously busy & am regularly deluged with hundreds of messages & emails, it may take me awhile to respond, but I shall certainly try to as best I can. And if anyone does care to publicly comment on these & related topics, that would also be welcome.

Finally, the article that inspired this post may be found at https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2018/11/17/saving-americas-military-edge-will-take-money-and-new-ideas-dunford-says/. I’ve always found DefenseNews to be a solid, reliable source of information & appreciate the job the people there do on a consistent basis.

I strongly support our military & the strides & efforts made throughout its branches, as well as joint efforts. But for too long, I have been worried about the seeming trend in which we fall behind other growing powers, particularly in technology, R&D & cyber. Space too, for that matter. And I am anxious to see new & greater commitment to these & other substantial areas, as many of us believe many real threats do exist & will certainly grow, most likely fairly quickly. And I’m determined we regain our lead & remain in the lead in new & expanding theaters & branches. This is my stance. I like to believe it is shared by many. Thank you.

Scott C. Holstad

November 23, 2018

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Book Review: Nuclear Weapons: A Very Short Introduction

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 14, 2018

Nuclear Weapons: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)Nuclear Weapons: A Very Short Introduction by Joseph M. Siracusa

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At a little over 150 pages, this book covers a lot of ground in a short format. Unfortunately, while I did think it was pretty good, its focus wasn’t entirely what I wanted, and it lacked in some areas. There is an initial introduction to the creation of atomic bombs from a very minimal and layman’s technical perspective, but then the book launches into the history of nuclear power, the history behind the Manhattan Project and the WW II race for the atomic bomb, America’s legacy of being the first and only country to use it, and the bulk of the rest of the book is a history and discussion of the Cold War politics, diplomacy, and military strategic readiness (from a US perspective) between the US and the Soviet Union. The book ends with a minor bit on how, with the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has had to try to find a place for the Bomb in its arsenal, for some people, how to justify not only maintaining a large stockpile, but improving it, for others, how to decrease a load of weapons large enough to destroy this planet many times over. It ends by acknowledging the fact that now that there’s not another nuclear “enemy” to construct a strategy around, and with the advent of non-state sponsored organizations, terrorists and the like, the effort to construct a new ideology and strategy is much more difficult than it used to be.

All of that was good, if not occasionally repetitive. What I had hoped to see was more scientific and technical detail behind, not only the creation of the early bombs, but current technology, and where we are heading. And I didn’t get that. I also wanted to see more of a discussion on the ethics behind this, and on the justifications of maintaining the current seven nuclear powers while working to ensure no other country, and especially no other country the US “disapproves” of (Iran…), obtains nuclear weapons or a nuclear weapon industry. I mean, why is it okay for Pakistan to have them, but not Iran? Why is it okay for Israel to be thought of of having them (they won’t admit to it), while other countries cannot? I’m not saying I support the idea of more or warmongering countries getting nuclear weapons, but who made America the planet’s god, to decide who gets them and who doesn’t? That strikes me as incredibly arrogant and hypocritical. And I’m American! Naturally, the world would be better off without nuclear weapons, but that genie is out of the bottle, so this is a complex problem requiring, yes, political and diplomatic discussions and solutions, and not saber rattling. I’m currently reading another book on “limited” nuclear warfare for the 21st century. It’s incredibly interesting, and I think it would make a good companion piece to this book, maybe as Volume 2 of a two volume series. Because that’s where the world has gone, that’s where the world should and will have to go if we intend to not commit global suicide, and nuclear power countries need to dialogue about these issues and more.

This book doesn’t have the highest rating out there, and I’ve read a lot of reviews and it seems mostly due to lack of sufficient discussion on a wide range of topics, such as I’ve brought up. But I think its lower rating is unfair, because the subtitle for the book is “A Very Short Introduction.” What the hell do you expect for 150 pages?!? Of course I would have liked more. For that, I need to buy a 750 page textbook for $200. This was exactly what it advertised itself to be, so I feel it merits four stars at a minimum. If this is a topic that interests you, I certainly recommend it.

View all my reviews

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Visit Some Of My Updated Social Media Sites

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 30, 2018

Hi! I haven’t been blogging as much as I want to, nor have I been as active on some sites like I’d prefer to be, but lately I have been more active on some of my social media and other sites, and I thought I’d let you know about them.

Years ago, I got caught up in the Pinterest craze, created some boards, and pinned quite a few things to my boards. I developed a good number of followers, especially for a couple of my boards, such as my Amazing Men’s Watches board.

Well, for whatever reason, I got tired of it and haven’t been back in a long time. Like four years. 4 years! I was last active on the site in 2014. For some reason, a couple of months ago, it occurred to me to go visit my site, and I suddenly became interested again and started pinning new things to my boards. In fact, I’ve gotten so into it, I’ve created a number of new boards, and I’ve pinned quite a few things to them. And I’ve slowly been getting a few new followers here and there, so that’s been nice. I now have 18 boards with over 2,500 pins! While my watch board remains my most popular, with 368 pins and 524 followers, I’m particularly fond of some of my new boards and have been busy pinning pics, etc, to those especially. Among them are boards entitled Art I Like (262 pins as of today), Favorite TV Shows (58 pins as of today), and Boutique Computers (245 pins as of today). My Sports board has 8 sections with 459 pins. Some other, original, popular boards include Music, Musicians & Bands, Cute Animals, Books Worth Reading, and Places To Visit. So, please come check out my Pinterest boards, and feel free to follow me. Also, if you have a Pinterest site, let me know where I can find it and I’ll check yours out!

Another site I’ve been very active on for the past year and a half is Discogs, the audiophile’s online music site. I’ve bought and sold a number of really great items there, and among the great things about that site is, not only do they have just about every album ever made in their database, with most having copies for sales by people all over the world, but you can get great deals and find out the media and sleeve gradings, join discussion groups, and put your collection on your site for people to see. And one of the cool things about that last bit is Discogs will list the value for your collection, and in Minimum, Median, and Maximum value. I actually just got rid of triple digits of albums, so my collection is actually one of the smaller ones I’ve seen on the site, but I’m still proud of it because I have some good, rare, and valuable items, which is totally cool. Some of my more rare items include a Russian version of The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, a Greek Public Enemy album, a Portuguese Depeche Mode album, a rare red vinyl Czech Iron Maiden album, a Chinese Linkin Park CD (which technically does not exist — I had to work hard to find it and get it out of China for a customer, who then didn’t want to pay the bucks for it…), German and Australian editions of Gary Numan’s debut Tubeway Army album, an old French Devo EP, and many more. I currently have 823 albums listed, with a Median value of $6,920.90 and a Maximum value of $11,883.21. You also are rated on your purchases and any sales you make, and it’s strongly recommended to try to maintain a high rating. In fact, they’ll kick you off the site if your rating drops too low. Fortunately, my ratings as both buyer and seller are 100%, so that’s awesome. I’ve worked hard to satisfy everyone I deal with there. The only thing that bugs me is everyone is supposed to provide “feedback” (ratings) for every buyer and seller, but I’ve sold quite a few items on the site and only about a third of my buyers ever bothered giving me feedback, even though most sent me private messages expressing satisfaction. But it looks like I haven’t sold much there, which isn’t the case. I used to have a large listing of items for sale, triple digits, but selling became too time and labor-intensive, and my health has become so bad over the past five months, that I basically shut that down and now I have just five items listed for sale. Still, I’d love it if any of you went to my Discogs site and looked at my profile, as well as my collection. Let me know if you do, and let me know if you have a profile and collection there, so I can go check those out. You can find my Discogs profile here, and my collection here.

I’ve also been fairly active on Goodreads — but not active enough. The site reports 1,467 books on my bookshelf there, with 1,061 read, 207 to be read, and 199 that I’m allegedly currently reading! Now, I’ve always read numerous books simultaneously — I have a system — and I have indeed let it get out of hand, but I’m certainly not in the middle of 199 books at the moment. A number of those books are ones I’ve finished, but haven’t had or made the time to review yet, and hence list them as Read. I’ve got several stacks of print and Kindle books to review. That being said, I probably AM in the middle of over 100 – 120 books right now, with me actively reading about 40-50 on a semi-daily basis. I read a few chapters of one book, switch to another and do the same, and continue on. And I get into phases, so that for several months, I was mostly reading religious, philosophical, and scientific books, other months nearly only sci fi books, other months mostly biographies, but lately it’s been a hodge podge of stuff — a combination of technology, biography, sci fi, business, history, nonfiction, and technical/scientific books that are mostly military in nature (electronic warfare, nuclear, etc.). As you know, I sometimes post some of my book reviews I write here on this blog, but I don’t do that for every book or every review — just some of them. So if you’re interested in my reviews, go check out my Read section (my most recent completed books are Philip Matyszak’s “Sparta: Rise of a Warrior Nation,” John Hernandez’s “How To Become A NFL Sports Agent,” and Joseph Siracusa’s “Nuclear Weapons: A Very Short Introduction.”), and if you’re interested in what I’m currently reading, go here (the newest books I’ve started reading are “The Holy Bible” –  ESV version, “The Quran,” “802.11ac,” and “Basic Security Testing With Kali Linux.”), and if you’d like to see what I’ve got lined up, go here (They’re ordered from oldest, chronologically, to most recently added to the list. My most recently added are Thomas Asbridge’s “The Greatest Knight,” Andrea De Martino’s “Introduction to Modern EW Systems,” Will Storr’s “Selfie,” Gordon Colbach’s “Wireless Networking,” Michael Steer’s “Microwave and RF Design,” Mark Richards’ “Fundamentals of Radar Signal Processing.”) and also, feel free to check out my Author’s profile page, and feel free to send me a friend request. Also, if you have a Goodreads’ site, let me know so I can check it out!

I’ve also been active on other sites, only two of which I’ll briefly mention. As some of you may know, over two years ago, Gretchen and I founded a small technology startup, which has gone through changes, difficulties, evolutions, and is currently on hiatus due to my extremely poor health. The name of the company is WireMe Designs, LLC. The original business model is described on the website, but it’s evolved this year to focus more on consulting, and we thus had a new website created early this summer to reflect that. It’d be awesome if you checked it out, and let me know what you think. Greatly appreciated. You can find it at https://wiremedesigns.com. Secondly, if you look back over my blog here, you’ll note I wrote a couple of posts in May about my LinkedIn site and profile, and my experience to date on building my network in both quantity and quality. Well, it’s gone REALLY big since then, and I intend to try to find the time to write a post about it here with updated information. When I last wrote about it, I had expanded my network from a little over 400 people in January to over 3,300 in mid-May, listing 171 “notable” connections, including the CEO of Symantec, the president of Dell, the CTO of the ATF, several major UN connections, the CISO of Nissan, CISO of US Department of Education, CIO of USDA, CFO of Sprint, CISO of IBM, and CISO of The White House.

Well, as I said, my network has seriously EXPLODED since then, and as of this morning, I now have over 11,600 connections and it’s a VERY high-quality network, with 44% of my connections being senior executives, many of them C-level executives. I now have the highest connections at nearly every company in most major civilian industries, nearly a thousand US and international military connections, many of them generals, at the Pentagon, and even on the Joint Chiefs. I also have over 1,600 federal and international government connections at the highest levels, including most agency leaders, intelligence agency executives, the Senate, House, dozens of people at The White House, a dozen directors and above on the National Security Council, connections in so many countries that I have no idea, hundreds of connections at the European Parliament and European Commission, Interpol, NATO, nuclear connections in over 45 countries, numerous ambassadors — foreign and domestic — and about 75 connections at the UN, including several on the UN Security Council, and executives in the Secretary General’s office. It’s truly stunning. It just keeps growing, and as a result, I’ve been offered some mind blowing opportunities in a number of areas. And, as as for recent “notable” connections, I now have over 1,400 listed, among them recently the CLO of Sony, COO of Universal Music Group Nashville, CIO KraftHeinz, CIO of AIG, CIO of Nike, CPO of Shell, CFO of NBC Sports, CPO of the US Navy, CTO of HP, CTO of WebMD, CSO of Fidelity Investments, CTO/CIO of AAA, and the CDO of GE. Simply amazing. So, feel free to check my LinkedIn profile out, send me a connection request with a personal message to let me know who you are and how you found me, and a link to your profile if you have one.

I could keep writing more, but I’m not well and this has taken too long and tired me out, so I need to stop. I hope some of you will check these sites out, as well as others, which you can find on a page located at the top of my blog called Find Me Here… It’s got links to Instagram and Twitter accounts, as well as others. You can catch up on me in many ways, even though I haven’t been blogging here very often. Thanks to those of you who have stuck with me here, and for the comments. I appreciate all of you very much, and feel free to remind me to visit your blogs, because I’m bad about that and I admit it. Something I need to work on. I hope everyone is having a good weekend and cheers!

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An Interview With Global Security Expert Harris Schwartz

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 11, 2018

Today I published an interview on LinkedIn with a world renowned global leader in cybercrime & cybersecurity: Harris Schwartz. Feel free to read and comment. Many of you may find this interesting.  Cheers! https://www.linkedin.com/…/interview-global-security-exper…/

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