Musings on Mail-in Voting

Eric Hogue was exploring the merits and shortfalls of California holding “mail-in” elections for the June primary and possibly other elections in the future. This idea is being floated in some recently introduced legislation that is expected to be debated later this year.

This idea is bad for a variety of reasons; some which exist now and others that could arise if the system is implemented.

Currently, once you register to vote as a permanent absentee voter, your ballot is automatically mailed to you in perpetuity or until the county clerk has some reason to drop you from the voter rolls.

This creates two problem areas. First, as with any other kind of voter registration, there is no requirement to prove citizenship or eligibility to vote. Secondly, your ballot can be disqualified and your vote may never be counted if someone at the county clerk’s office says your signature does not match the one on file from your voter registration card. This rule disproportionately impacts many senior citizens and results in many of their votes never being counted. If your ballot is disqualified for this reason, there is no requirement to notify the voter of a potential problem with their vote. Without such notification, the voter will continue to cast ballots which are subsequently disqualified.

A new area of abuse in the voting system should this proposal ever become law would be voters giving blank signed ballots to special interest groups in exchange for some perceived benefit to them or some group to which they have membership. The interest group would then punch the ballots and return them to the clerk’s office in their county.

Also, this proposal would allow illegal aliens, non-citizens and others without voting rights to be more insulated from any efforts to weed them off of the voting rolls.

If we want more voter involvement, a better way of doing that would be going to a system similar to Texas where they allow “early voting”. Early Voting is a system of consolidating precincts and allowing voting at a regular poling place several weeks before a scheduled election. The poling places are open five or six days a week to allow as many people as possible to vote.

The other reform worth looking at is having each county cross-check their voter rolls with other counties to remove duplicate registrations. This would require some type of state issued identification. This would be a step toward preventing such things as college students from voting twice (once at school and once at home) or people registered to vote at addresses where they no longer live from voting faithfully in every election.

Mail-in voting is just another opportunity to create more voter fraud in a state already full of tainted votes.

More 64-Bit Computing

This is an update to my adventures with the 64-bit version of Windows XP Professional.

Finding a fully functional anti-virus program is still the biggest challenge. I had read that Computer Associates antivirus product would work on this version of XP; Not their EZ Trust version but their business product. However if you download the trial version it will not install but gives you an error that it is not for 64 bit systems. On the bright side at least it is aware that you have a 64-bit system. The trial version with gateway will partially install but does not appear to install the antivirus software proper just all the administrative bells and whistles for the gateway. However, I got a copy of the retail CD for eTrust and it did install. I then installed the upgrade that CA recommends. The program appears to be installed properly but I still want to check my Event Log just to make sure.

I did call Computer Associates yesterday and after some stumbling they said the retail CD should work on my computer. The CA Representative suggested that maybe I should wait for the new version that is certified to work on the 64-bit XP system. It will be out at the end of February or first part of March. So look for eTrust Antivirus version 8 towards the end of the first quarter.

While I was having all my adventures with anti-virus programs, all my e-mail was lost (i.e. deleted) by something. My Outlook pst file containing all my e-mails was gone yesterday when I tried to check my e-mail. My last backup was two weeks ago so I took out my backup CD and had to recreate my In Box less any messages received in the last two weeks.

Printing is the other persistent irritation with this OS. HP is still not making a drive for my HP PhotoSmart 100 printer. I went on their website and inquired what they would recommend as an upgrade to this perfectly fine printer and there is no 64-bit printer driver for the supposed replacement that they recommend on their website.

This reminds me of HP’s screw-ups when Windows 95 was released. HP wrote all their drivers to the wrong standard and none worked with Windows 95. After they fixed the drivers, HP retaliated by charging $30 for each driver that you downloaded from their website. After things calmed down, HP went back to free downloads.

Needless to say, Adobe Acrobat will not create PDF files in a 64-bit environment. Additionally, the workaround posted on Adobe’s website does not work. Adobe says that it should work with version 5, 6 or 7.

Roxio’s successor to Easy CD Creator is available at you local Costco and will run on Windows XP 64-bit and it even says so on the retail box.

Pompous Politicians Tarnish Senate Hearings

Samuel Alito is rapidly moving to confirmation as an Associate Justice on the US Supreme Court. The Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have succeeded only in using their allotted time for questioning the nominee as a platform for beating their own chests and pontificating on their own virtues. Judge Alito is treated as irrelevant to the whole proceedings. There is no honest effort being made to ask any meaningful questions of the Judge or to learn more about his views.

Mercifully, this dog and pony show is drawing to a conclusion. The biggest casualty in the proceedings are the pundits who have to endure endless hours of senile and irrelevant Democrats yearning for the good old days when they were respected and revered as the custodians of the national government and defenders of the Constitution. Fortunately, the fraud and myth of FDR is almost behind us now as the “greatest generation” slowly goes on to their eternal reward.

Regrettably, there is not a single Democrat in the Senate that believes the Constitution is worth defending any more. The Constitution is viewed as the Democrats biggest obstacle to establishing a socialist, workers paradise in the United States. They harbor a perverted fantasy that they can engineer a society that works the way the Soviet Union would have if they had been in charge.

When an office holder takes their oath to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic” they are at a minimum promising to keep us safe from the domestic threat posed by the Democrats. Sadly our nation appears to be infected with the same cancer that led to the fall of Rome two millennia ago.

School Band Bans Babies

Saturday I attended the Junior High School Honor Band Concert in Elk Grove. This band is a one-time performance of students from a variety of schools in several northern California counties. Children from as far as Redding and Lake Tahoe enter the competition.

The children practiced as a group for the first time the day before the event. After practicing for one and a half days, they put on a concert for parents where the students do their four songs and then go home.

My wife, children and their grandparents arrived Saturday afternoon for the concert. The 6th grade band was just finishing and when they were done we entered the concert hall. The theater was stuffy and very uncomfortable. It was oppressive for adults to be in let alone a lot of children. The ventilation was shut-off and the humidity in the place was very high. It was a full house.

We found seats and waited for the concert to begin. During this time, I went outside with the baby and entered just as the first song began.

After the children started their second song, the conductor stopped the performance and dismissed all the babies in the crowd. He waited until a couple of embarrassed moms walked out with their babies and then resumed the concert. The moms with the babies were there to see their older children play in this band. This was not some fifty dollar a ticket affair at the Mondavi Center, it was a free event to allow children to show-off for their parents. To stop the event and kick parents out of the event was rude and unprofessional.

At this point, I left with our baby and went outside. (He was fine until the performance was stopped.) I tried to reenter the building several times but after about 30 seconds inside the building, I began hacking and coughing up stuff from my lungs and had to leave. It was unbearable inside the building.

I think the conductor should have kept his opinions on babies to himself. If he wanted to make a constructive comment during this event then he should get the event organizers to turn on the ventilation in the concert hall and quit picking on a bunch of little children.

The conductor is nuts if he thinks that his concert with one day of practice is so sacrosanct that small children must be banned from his presence. He should remain cloistered in whatever college he came from and quit interacting with the real world where small children have as much right to be seen in public as their older siblings.

My Introduction to Windows XP Profession x64 Edition

Over the last ten days I have had a crash course in more frustrating aspects of computer hardware. On a stormy day just before Christmas my daughter’s computer quit working.

Since troubleshooting a computer is somewhat of a “plug and pray” proposition, I tried the usual things in the usual order. I tried a new hard rive, then a new RAM chip, then I transferred everything to a spare case with a different motherboard. The computer would still not operate. The only component that I had not replaced by this time was the CPU.

I decided to gut my own computer and give it to my daughter because many of her Christmas gifts required her to have a computer. I was able to backup most of her hard drive and transfer it to the new computer. She ended up with a net gain in her computing ability. She went from 256 MB of RAM to one GB, and from an 80 GB drive to 120 GB.

This left me in the need for another computer for myself. I went down to my local Fry’s Electronics to buy a CPU. Oops! They had only one 32 bit CPU in the whole store. So here I am with no computer and staring at the uncharted waters of 64 bit computing. I bought an AMD Athlon processor and motherboard and installed Windows XP Professional x64 Edition.

This version of XP may look like the 32 bit version but it is a very different operating system under the hood. The first thing you will notice is that it will NOT run any 16 bit software or any software with a 16 installation program. This means all DOS and windows 3.x program will not run. Also many programs made for Windows 95 and 98 will not install.

Compatibility Issues
My program to print CD labels would not install, but I was able to get it working by copying the program from my old drive and then copying the .dll files into the programs directory.

My program to print checks which I use with Microsoft Money would not install at all.

Kodak Easy Share software would install but cannot connect to the camera. Only by using a preinstalled Wizard could I download the photos into my hard drive.

The biggest complaint that I have is that there is no anti-virus program on the market for this version of Windows unless you look at Enterprise Corporate anti-virus packages. Some brands will install but they will not give you real-time protection. This includes Computer Associates, Symantec, McAfee, Bit Defender, Panda, F-Secure and several others that I tried. This OS was officially released on April 30, 2005 but support by many vendors is spotty at best. So I am using a 30-day trial hoping that something will be available soon that I can purchase.

The only CD/DVD writing software that I have found that will work in this version of Windows XP is Nero version 7. The CD writing software that is part of XP will only write to CDs and not DVDs.

In my first few days with the 64 bit version of Windows XP, I would say that there is more of a learning curve than I had hoped to encounter. I will keep you updated as this adventure continues.

Microsoft’s New Vista

There is a new Vista on the technology horizon. Microsoft, the Wal-Mart of computing, is currently Beta testing its successor to Windows XP. The new Windows is called Vista.

Vista is a completely redesigned operating system that has a simpler look and feel. It will be more graphically friendly using thumbnails instead of icons and arrive complete with easier search capabilities. Rigid directory structures give way to virtual folders that can be used to group any object on the hard drive.

This new computing interface is due to the efforts of all those programmers that Microsoft got from Apple when they bailed their desktop arch rivals out of the fiscal hole they were in prior to the introduction of I-pods.

The core software of the operating system is being re-written to plug most of the existing security holes and exploits that have plagued the software giant.

Another improvement is the changes in the desktop security model. The default user will no longer be the Administrator. When Administrative rights are needed the computer will prompt user for a password, execute the change and then return to User rights.

The guys at Microsoft have been listening to their customers and stayed up late into the night to try building a better OS. Vista is scheduled to be out in the fourth quarter of 2006. Historically, this really means more like third quarter of 2007 but we will see.

Chances are that you will need a new computer to get the most out of Vista. The system requirements are:
Dual Core Processor x64
1 GB RAM, Min is 512MB
Graphics must support Windows Vista Display Driver Model, Min is DirectX 9, >64 MB RAM, AGP or PCI Express
Hard drive—Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) drive with an 8 MB cache and Native Command Queuing (NCQ)

This is the best reason to upgrade you computer since Y2K.

Senate Betrays America

Senate Democrats have decided that if they can’t run the United States then no one will defend us.

For them it is better to destroy this country than to keep it safe from terrorists. Today they appear to have destroyed the Patriot Act and its renewal.

This treasonous act forces the blinders upon the intelligence agencies entrusted with defending this nation. This is a violation of the oath of office that these blusterous politicians take every few years to defend this country from all enemies foreign and domestic. Unfortunately for us, these politicians are the domestic enemies, which threaten our very existence as a nation.

If Congress doesn’t stop leaking every nation secret and black ops project while simultaneously leaving us naked and defenseless to our enemies, tens of thousands will die. How much blood must be spilled before they are held accountable?

Like ancient Rome, the barbarians are storming the walls and the Senate is too busy wetting themselves to protect the people. They either need to do their job or make way for Caesar to take over their responsibilities.