Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Government Found a New Way to Snoop on You, and Thieves Love It

 The United States Post Office has been offering a new service you probably are not aware of, Informed delivery. Identity Thieves see it as uninformed consent to steal your identity.


This USPS product sounds wonderful. You can sign up with USPS and receive pictures of your personal mail and small packages in your insecure email before they arrive in your mail box.


What a wonderful product offering. Not only are all phone calls made in the United States monitored, now who sends you mail is captured and stored in a database. How quaint, the Government may build of a "Family Tree" of everyone you have contact with through personal mail and email since they have your email address too.


 From Wikipedia:

"In the United States the government pays phone companies directly to record and collect cellular communications from specified individuals.[14] U.S. law enforcement agencies can also legally track the movements of people from their mobile phone signals upon obtaining a court order to do so"


As to Informed Mail, here is a quote from a CBS News article from November 2018. I found this quote of particular interest:

"It's being collected by companies that collect and sell data. This kind of information is also oftentimes available on social media," Levin said.

That can allow scammers to sign up with your name and address but their email. The Secret Service warns criminals can take advantage of Informed Delivery to "intercept mail and to further their identity theft fraud schemes."


How much personal information have you let loose on the Internet over the years, through email, social sites, etc.

Everyone should know, email is not a secure way to communicate sensitive information. Once email leaves your computer, it is routed through several pipelines across the Internet before it arrives at its destination. As this websites states at the beginning of their post:

Company Alarm states in one of their articles, "There’s a reason your CPA advises you not to send your Social Security Number via e-mail. E-mail, like text messages, is not secure. It’s easy to hack and intercept.

That’s the danger of Informed Delivery. If a hacker can get access to your e-mail, he or she can view the exterior of every piece of mail you receive – daily. With that information, an identity thief can learn all kinds of things about you: Where you bank, what credit cards you have, the name and address of where you work."

It’s endless, and it’s an endless stream of information for the bad guys.

In fact, Informed Delivery makes identity theft easier. Under normal circumstances, thieves would have to wait out in the cold to check the contents of your mailbox. With Informed Delivery and a little computer hacking, they can monitor your correspondence from the comfort of their own home."


Even USPS recognizes the dangers of identity theft stemming from Informed Mail service. Fortunately, a reporter at the Dallas Morning News found a solution.

""Want to block your address? You must notify the eSAFE team by email at

Ruiz says your note should give "full name, mailing address, phone number, email address" and "request that an individual account at an address be blocked."

"Or they can request," he continues, "that no Informed Delivery accounts are allowed at the address at all.""


If you do nothing, you are leaving the door open to thieves opening an account to preview your mail. They would know when you receive a birthday card that may have money in it. They can know when your tax refund arrives. They know when your credit card bill arrives and know it contains your account number.

I am not sure what concerns me more, the Government invading my privacy through mail I send to family and friends who use Informed Mail, or the idea of some identity thief already having access to my personal mail.

I sent my email to: The Government and the Internet have taken away enough of my private information. Something "coincidental" about this whole process is this: Suddenly, the email account I used after sending an email to verify the email address is valid, suddenly could not save my draft or connect to the server. I had to reenter the password, that worked just fine yesterday. Hm-mm, I am sure it is nothing, simply a glitch.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Linux Mint LMDE 4 Debbie Overview

It feels as if the pool of major Debian based distributions is shrinking. I hope it is just me. The fight for the next Linux Top Dog rages on. In alphabetical order, are: Elementary OS, Manjaro Linux, Mint Linux, Pop OS, Zorin OS.

Some of these distributions want to be "Windows" so badly, through slick marketing, they fail to mention they are indeed, Linux Distributions. Wow, this is like having an addicted parent, and telling your friends your Dad/Mom isn't around (in rehab), because he/she went on, "vacation". Too bad, so sad and quite pointless. Linux is what it is, and a complete Windows or IOS replacement, Linux is not, and may never be.

Linux Mint, does not hide its roots, as some of the wanna Be's do. It proudly proclaims Mint is a Linux Distribution. Mint is also unique among Linux Distributions. Most of the major Linux Distributions offer their distribution featuring the most popular desktops. Mint is no exception in this area.

What makes Mint unique, is no matter which desktop version of Mint you download and install, they all look and operate the same. I find this approach interesting. What flavor of Mint you install depends on some cloudy subjective ideas floating around the ether in our heads.


Mint LMDE 4 from Mint Homepage

There is only one Mint DE. They are just implemented using different underlying desktops. Most modern laptops and desktops have more than enough horse power to use any modern Desktop. Possibly, favoring certain desktop tuned programs might influence ones decision.

Mint LMDE is no exception in this look alike merry go round. What makes Mint LMDE unique, is its heritage. Mint LMDE is based on Debian Linux. Mint LMDE is not as popular as the the other Mint flavors. In case something serious happens with Ubuntu, Mint LMDE stands ready to fill the gap.

Mint LMDE comes with a hushed and no longer deserved disclaimer that floats around the Internet. Debian is not friendly. Debian is not for beginners. What Debian is and Mint LMDE takes advantage of, is Debian is rock solid and you experience Debian through Mint LMDE. I do not think there are more than a few systems that would not happily run Mint LMDE as well as they would any other Mint flavor.

What you get out of Mint LMDE is you are shielded from exploits discovered in newer versions of Linux applications. Debian application in the Debian Repository are tested to the point there is nothing left to discover.

This means if you use Mint LMDE, you enjoy more protection from potential exploits that are uncovered in newer releases of occasional Linux applications. Not totally protected, but mostly protected. Anything is possible. The truth is, most of what we do is Internet centric. Most standards that make the Internet work have been around for decades, and are not likely to change in the next year. If they do, Mint LMDE will adjust.

One fallacy I read continuously is Mint in any flavor is a, "Beginners" distribution. I spent about a month using Mint LMDE, and I feel Mint LMDE rather than being a beginners distribution, is a well polished, well thought out, and well maintained Linux distribution.

Articles about Linux Mint also complain Mint is not easy to modify. If you use Mint, especially, the Mint Flagship Desktop, Cinnamon, what tweaks do you really need to do make are not available? You can add and remove all the programs you wish, change the looks, change the background image, change the mouse cursor. What you can't do without the probability of breaking your system is change Mint into something else, not Mint. You are on your own trying to do that.

Linux Mint did not arrive at its position on the Distrowatch top 100, because it has a cool name. Mint Linux is in the top five on Distrowatch top 100 because it has earned its right to be there.

Linux Mint will probably find and correctly install your printer. Several of the top twenty-five distributions do not find my Brother Printer, which I think is inexcusable with the state of Linux moving forward in general. If that isn't bad enough, several of these distributions do not even offer a new user any ideas on where to get help.

Whether you are a new user, or a, "Distro Hopper" (like me) always looking for the "best" Linux distribution, Linux Mint satisfies many more users than it disappoints. That thought makes Mint LMDE is one of the hidden jewels of the Linux world.


Friday, November 20, 2020

Total Gym Personal Review From a Decades Long Skeptic

These are my notes and my thoughts about purchasing and the first months use of a Total Gym. I am not being compensated for this, nor am I receiving any type of payment or incentive. I am a newly converted skeptic about Total Gym and what it can do for me.

I am over 60 years old, so your needs may be different from mine. I wanted the most versatility for the buck, and few bucks at that. I also wanted simple, and no loose weights to find a home for. I also wanted something my wife who is a lot shorter than I am could use without going through a major setup change

I spent years watching Chuck Norris, and later Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley using the Total Gym on television around o’dark-thirty. I never gave the infomercials any thought. It was just another infomercial. This year, after six months of no real exercise, I knew going to the gym was not going to happen in this time of Covid-19. I learned from lifelong experience, walking alone is not enough. 

I researched hours and hours for home gym products, watched numerous videos and purchased my Total Gym a little over a month ago. I found this site to be the most honest and helpful for me. Will of, The Home Gym put it into perspective for me. In the moment I was trying to decide whether I only needed to spend $900.00 on a Total Gym, or did I need the $1,600 model? I was reading Will’s thoughts on the Total Gym, when I came across a comment Will made about all the Total Gyms being basically the same in the amount of exercises they can perform. There is a difference between the amount of exercises, but not a lot, so how much do you really need to spend? As little as reasonably possible came to mind.

I compared what one Total Gym did compared to the next models up the chain, and found a deal on the Total Gym Extreme. Twelve incline positions, eight of the add-ons, minus a DVD and a chart I would never really look at or use. Order placed.

Total Gym, I know now, even though I was skeptical post purchase, for my needs has the most upside with the least downside. I planned to use it in the front room, fold it up and put it in a closet when done. Of course I was outvoted with no possible recount on that idea. Now my Total Gym shares space with assorted boxes and items we really no longer need in the garage. Here are my notes written by date.

Total Gym but are apprehensive about getting too sore. I told her it isn’t an issue as the movements a smooth and controlled starting with only a small portion of her body weight. This coming from two not exercise inclined people, like most of us out there. If you are on Facebook, there is a Total Gym addicts group you may want to check out. Some of their videos are on YouTube. Very informative videos made by real people like you and me.


10/18/20 My Total Gym Extreme arrived and I set it up in the front room. I did some of the exercises I had watched on the web about Total Gym, maybe the commercial too. Already I think Total Gym is going to be good for me.


10/20/20 Walked a mile plus. Used my Total Gym first time. It was very hard to follow the program. Not the different exercises themselves, but moving out of the old position and into the new position. I thought changing positions was harder doing the than the exercise itself. The skeptic in me was starting to rise.


10/21-23/20 Walked a mile plus every day. In the four days. I have done heavy yard work, heavy garage cleaning, and car washing. I was not done being sore until yesterday, the 23'rd. I was not sure what Card Deck plan I followed, but it was longer and more difficult than I had ambition for.


10/24/20 Walked about 1.5 miles. I found and followed the Total Gym 6 - 8 minute workout day two plan. It was quite easy, and I obviously learned something about getting on and off the Glide Board, and changing positions. I completed the exercises, one rep of 15 each in about fifteen minutes, with some of that time reading the Card Deck exercise card, adding and removing pieces parts. I feel okay after my Total Gym exercises.


10/25/20 Walked 1 mile. Completed day three exercises. Some of my muscles know they have been used, but not the same type of sore like weight training. This was more of an overall internal notice of muscle being used.


10/26/20 Snowing outside with high wind, no walking. Completed day 4 exercises. Moving around the Glide Board definitely easier. Completed the exercises fairly fast. They were easy. I can feel them in my shoulders and upper back tonight though.


10/27/20 Ten to twelve inches of snow, no walking today. Completed day five exercises. My arms were not quite ready for day 5. For that reason today was harder than yesterday. I think the exercises were using still recovering muscles. I can definitely feel I used some used and tired muscle.


I am starting to see Total Gym less as exercise equipment and more as body correction equipment. Seldom used muscles and movements make themselves known as I follow the structured exercises. My muscles do not feel sore as they would if I were doing weight machines. They feel used, but differently. An inner soreness throughout some of the least used muscles rather than sore in one spot. 


I feel the exercises are improving my core muscles (lots of improvement needed), working them along with other seldom used muscles from simply being on the glide board, changing positions, getting up and down from three inches off the floor on a rolling angled surface. I find I am more sensitive to how and what I am sitting on these days. Slumping is going away, as it feels better to sit upright rather than slump.


11/10 Walked 1 mile. Completed day two of the card cycle. I am wondering if I caught something back around October 20, as my muscles were more sore, tired and tender than I think they should have been. It may have been pollen in the air, or I was not eating enough protein. Time will tell.


I am enjoying my time on the Total Gym. It now feels like the time goes too quick. I am extending the repetitions. I think this I more important in the moment than raising the angle of the Total Gym right now.


11/18 Walked 1 mile. I just finished my second complete set of the 6 – 8 minute workout. I found putting on deodorant there are muscles in my armpit as they were a little tender. I did not know I had any muscle there. I don’t know which arm exercise made them tender. Also on my rib cage under my arms is a little bit of sore muscle. I also didn’t know I had muscle there.

Now that two sets of the six to eight minute rotation exercises are over, I have noticed a lot of body changes – keep in mind Rome wasn’t built in a day. I started doing eight to ten repetitions of each exercise and that felt like enough. I remember the day one six to eight minute workout exercise list took me almost thirty minutes to complete. I found surprisingly, that getting on and off the glide board and changing glide board positions seemed more difficult than doing the exercises the first rotation. Now after completing a second set of the repetitions everything is easy and my time doing the exercises is closer to the claimed time.

I can feel the Total Gym is correcting my bad posture and body use habits. Total Gym is not a machine you want to use to develop lots of muscle, though you certainly can from the videos I have watched. Total Gym and the workout routines I feel will build anyone up into a deceptively muscular person who’s physique stronger and tuned, more versatile than someone who uses weights alone.

I have found so many little muscles that became tender from using my Total Gym, that I never noticed using the gym weight machine rotation. I am noticing rather quick changes in my body in a lot of small ways. Stronger hand grip, stronger core, changes in my shoulder areas, and better balance.

I do not notice much of a change in my legs probably because I walk every day I can. I have noticed my knees work more smoothly and the floor is a lot closer than it used to be. The Total Gym I purchased was on the bottom of my Total Gym options. My Total Gym is smooth, fairly quiet and efficient. It is also fun! I never thought I would say exercise is fun. One thing that may be unique to me, is if I close my eyes while using Total Gym it almost feels like I am in the water because of the motion of the glide board and the smooth movements of the exercises.

I can see myself upgrading in the future to a better model, but for the money I spent on base model, I feel I have received excellent value. One last observation, I could not find any negative reviews on Total Gym itself. There are a few complaints about shipping and customer service, but they are prevalent almost everywhere something is sold on the web.

I am so happy with my Total Gym, I found a good deal on a second Total Gym, and had it shipped to my Daughters house. They are just starting to use it. She tells me they are all excited about Total Gym

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Hating Your Children, More Common Than You ThInk

 Below are comments pulled from online articles concerning parents who hate their children. These are common summation reasons parents give for not loving or wanting their children around. For example, a few websites sugar coat the issue of people hating their children and wrote:

"Many parents have a negative self-image which they unwittingly extend to their children."


"Parents are disturbed, depressed, angry"


"Parents relinquished parental authority and lost confidence in themselves."

"Parents in North America have become prone to asking their children rather than telling them."


Reading on, we start to get to real feelings:

"I Wake Up Every Day Wishing This Was Not My Life..."

"I never wanted children. ..."


Then shorter and more bitter, if that is possible:


‘I regret having children’

I feel like I'm just tolerating them, just getting along because there's no other choice, like roommates that I can't get rid of.




These last comments reveal true feelings. The comments above these last few comments are, 'safe to say' comments. Safe to say comments are generally half lies. They do not say what someone really feels. Safe to say comments are couched in enough 'safe' phrasing, most people hearing or reading them will feel more sympathy than if more direct wording is used.

The last four comments are brutal and cut to the quick. They are decoratively true, and the people making them have the courage to express their real feelings, without icing or powdered sugar on top.

What do we do with these feelings when we have them? Usually we do one of two things. The most obvious is to bury them due to guilt or shame. Put on a happy face, and pretend all is well. This may work at the office, but it is a major fail in the family unit. Even smaller children can sense they are not wanted.

The second option is rationalize these feelings away. My children are too much like me. My children are nothing like me. As much as I try, I can not get through to my children. I live on one planet, and my children live on another. I'm too busy working.

What people with these feelings should do is work on finding common ground with their children. What do you enjoy your child may enjoy? What do your children think about, what is their personality? You can find interests or hobbies you can share, whether it is sports, gaming, music or reading.

It may even be something neither of you has tried before. Introduce your child to new things. Something not be on your top ten list of likes, but something you both can do. Both of you make little notes of what you want to do. Put them in a hat, mix them up, draw one of them and do it.

Finally, you are the adult. You made the child. Your child didn't appear in a puff of smoke. Your child is also fifty percent you. Fifty percent of your child is your thinking, your abilities, your shortfalls. Find a middle ground and stay in it.

Remember the long run. Your child is in the house for a limited amount of time. Sooner or later, probably sooner, your child is going to find an escape. It may be college, the military, or moving out, but they will be gone, and you will be left with a hole in your life you didn't know you had. Make the best of today.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Linux Mint LMDE on a Ten Year Old Laptop

I typed this up for someone who has a ten year old laptop that used to host Windows 7. They want to keep using there laptop as aside from the slow hard drive, it runs like new. This particular laptop has a very slow hard drive, and eight gigabytes of memory. I use Linux Mint, so which distribution to Install was an easy choice. Once Linux Mint was loaded, the slow hard drive is not noticeable. For a few very applications such as graphics intensive programs, this laptop is more than they could ever hope to utilize.

For this computer I moved the Panel to the top of the screen and added Plank on the bottom of the screen. For often used programs, Plank is quicker to use.



Your Linux Mint Debian Edition Laptop

Linux is the most used operating system in the world today. Everything from Smartphones to the Internet is powered by Linux. If you include Android, which is a type of Linux, over eighty percent of the World runs on Linux.

In many ways Linux is similar to other operating systems such as Windows, iOS, OS X, and others. Linux has the types of software and graphical interface you are accustomed to using in Windows. You can even run some Android programs, though they are boring. You will be using Linux Mint LMDE 4 Debbie, a Windows like, simple to use and maintain type of Linux.

The Linux Mint start menu button is on the top left, the green M in a circle. Unlike Windows, (almost) all the programs of a type have their own place in the menu display. Accessories, Education, Games, Graphics, and Internet are example menu entries with applicable programs below them. Office for example contains a Microsoft Windows compatible office suite. Accessories contains editors and my favorite notes program, Zim. After a few days of using Linux Mint, you will feel completely at home.

I put on a bunch of games. I have only played or tried maybe half the games, so I don’t know how they play or if they will even run.

I have created two accounts on the laptop for you. Your account, and a second account named Zorro for everyone else. Your account is the administrator account. Zorro account is a user account and has no ability to change anything. Anyone using the Zorro account can not see any files in your account, such as documents. Your account has a password, Zorro does not. Using your account you can see all files in the Zorro account.

When you power up the laptop, a boot screen will appear. You can either do nothing and wait five seconds, or hit enter. Now you will have to wait for about one minute for the login screen to appear. Select the account you wish to use and add the password.

If you never connect the laptop to the Internet, it will run as it is until it can not run any more. If you connect to the Internet it will want to update itself. If you find you do connect to the Internet, it is best to keep Linux Mint updated. The process is simple, just follow the prompts.

LinuxMint LMDE 4, the Linux you are using, is based on Debian and uses the Cinnamon Desktop. On the bottom of the screen is a row of icons. The program that holds them is called Plank which is a Dock (Think Dock like at a Lake). When you open a program not on the Plank Dock, its icon will show up on the Dock. If you want to keep it there, right click on the icon and click once in the, “Keep in Dock” box. If you want to remove any program already on the Dock, right click on the icon and Click in the box.

The Cinnamon Desktop is simple to use. For example if you want to change the desktop background, do a right click and click on, “Desktop Settings”. There are a lot of alternate backgrounds you can choose from on the left side of the program screen.

Your laptop has a firewall installed for the Internet, and I put ad blocking and anti tracking extensions in Firefox Web Browser. Linux is mostly immune to viruses and malware, so you don’t have to worry about that.

Linux is free software and the applications and games are also free. There is a program named Wine, that lets you run some Windows applications and games, but your chance of getting a virus just like using a Windows computer. Plus it would run really sloooowwww.

One last note. Any text files, Documents, or spreadsheets you create on your laptop that you will share with Windows users, needs to use a font that starts with “Liberation”. The Liberation Fonts are Windows format compatible. This means if you use a font starting with, Liberation in a document, the formatting will be retained if the document is opened in Windows.

Holdem, Get Some Money without Losing Yours Part 6

Poker Friends, Poker Foes, Collusion, Lending and Borrowing No matter where you play Poker, there are going to be people who know each other...