Jacob J. Walker's Blog

Scholarly Thoughts, Research, and Journalism for Informal Peer Review

Archive for April, 2015

Some thoughts on Islam after visiting a Placer County mosque

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Recently, I went with my daughters to a mosque in Roseville, which is sponsored by the Islamic Society of Placer County.  This was part of a broader program of religious exploration that my kids have been a part of.  Going there and talking with their imam confirmed to me that most U.S. Muslims, like most U.S. Christians, interpret their holy text in a way that is peaceful and good.  And from talking with other Muslims from around the world, it seems that this is also the case in most places.

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Written by Jacob Walker

April 28th, 2015 at 11:59 am

Posted in Religion

Some Initial Thoughts about Research Methodology to Assist in the Determination of “What Ought to Be?”

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Hume recognize the “Is-Ought” problem such that it is not generally possible to determine what ought to be from what currently is. To refine this concept, I see it as that all logical and rational thinking must be grounded in postulated ideas, whether we are cognizant of them or not. So for example, we cannot hold a scientific notion of how to determine truth in our world if we do not believe that evidence should be the primary method we use to determine accuracy of statements. Further, even if we choose to believe that evidence is how we should determine the truth about what currently is occurring, it doesn’t follow that we should use evidence to determine what we believe ought to be occurring.

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Written by Jacob Walker

April 19th, 2015 at 11:59 am

Posted in Philosophy

A Simple and Appropriate Value-Added Measurement of Colleges’ Economic Benefit

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The news talks all the time about our national problem of student debt, and the problems with the cost of colleges.   To solve this, there is a need for a simple measurement that is “objective” (or at least properly contextualized) that can be used determine whether a college (or program within a college) is likely a worthwhile economic investment.

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Written by Jacob Walker

April 17th, 2015 at 11:59 am

The Major Categories of Computer Problems

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computer-problem-152211_1280From my experience as a computer nerd for many years, it seems that nearly all computer problems fit in one of the following categories:

  • User Error
  • Malicious Software (Malware)
  • Insufficient Resources or Capacity
  • Misconfiguration
  • Third-Party Problems (Such as bugs in software)
  • Physical Hardware Problems

These are listed in the order of which I think occur most often. I would appreciate some thoughts from other techs about whether there is a category that I’m missing.  After ensuring that this ontology (categorization) is sufficient, I hope to start to talk about some of the heuristics (symptoms) of each of these categories, as knowing the symptoms can greatly benefit a technician in working to solve a problem.

Written by Jacob Walker

April 16th, 2015 at 6:41 am

Why I Think Twin River’s Current Special Election is Bad

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I believe there are times for special elections and recalls, but only when an individual has done something truly egregious, otherwise I agree with Bruce Maiman that generally special elections just waste tax payer dollars and lead to lower voter turnout.

Although, there have been times in the past that I supported a special election, such as work to remove Cortez Quinn.  But, I think the fact that he was ultimately convicted of a felony justifies thinking it would have been good to have a recall.  (Although the problem solved itself)

But, right now I see a huge waste of tax payer dollars  in the Twin Rivers Unified School District.  The special election is estimated to cost about $113,000.  This could pay for another teacher or two in Twin Rivers, or buy over 200 net books.  But instead, the political forces of California have rammed through a special election to work to get an “up and coming” Democrat into an office.  And while I tend to vote for Democrats, this is just so clearly politically motivated, and not about the kids, I am a bit sick.   For this reason, and because Sonja Cameron is clearly the more qualified candidate for this position, I am endorsing Sonja Cameron (which I will talk more about soon.)

Written by Jacob Walker

April 10th, 2015 at 9:51 am

Chat Log with OOMA Sales

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I recently posted about my poor experience with AT&T, but the VoIP provider Ooma is not much better, as the following chat log shows.   (I probably got a little snarky in the end, but it is clearly frustrating to ask for one thing, be given another, and when they give you a URL in their brochure, it doesn’t work!)  I should preface this, with the fact that I didn’t see a link to their complete pricing on their business page (http://ooma.com/products/business) so I went into their chat to ask them where I could find it…  This is what ensued:

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Written by Jacob Walker

April 7th, 2015 at 12:42 pm

Posted in Economics

What to do about AT&T and other companies that lie?

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As can be seen by the chat log I posted yesterday, AT&T is blatantly lying in their advertising, knowing they can get away with charging customers nearly 25% more (over $80 per year), to force customers to lease their equipment.  Although I suppose this is not as bad as them charging $139 per month to not steal your private information.

So what can be done about it?  I am a tad disillusioned and cynical about the ability to stop companies from doing this.  At one time I would try to do a boycott, but when there is an oligopoly, this is not quite so easy to do, and my one-man boycott of In-N-Out Burger for bullying small businesses didn’t do anything. (They forced Woody’s In and Out in Loomis to change their name, despite Woody’s being legally in the right to have the name. They have done this type of thing to many other businesses also.)

I could try to go through the regulators, and I plan to send my chat log and info to the FTC and FCC.  But again, I doubt much will happen there.

The biggest problem, is we are slipping on the slippery slope.  As businesses have impunity to lie, and we as the public don’t catch them or do anything about it, then other businesses will follow suit to stay competitive.  This is why they must get called out on it.  But how does one get public outrage against a systemic problem?

 

Written by Jacob Walker

April 4th, 2015 at 11:59 am

Posted in Economics

Chat Log with AT&T Rep: Should I Laugh or Cry?

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I recently had a conversation with an AT&T rep about my desire to use my own equipment for DSL.  The chat didn’t go so well… Here is the transcript:

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Written by Jacob Walker

April 2nd, 2015 at 11:59 am

Posted in Economics