Published on Thursday, November 28 2013 14:05
Lee: As long as there have been families and neighbors, there has been loaned tools and work parties.
Bob: I thought the Amish invented the work party?
Lee: No silly, they just take them a little more seriously than most of us.
Bob: Our flood has provided many opportunities to help our neighbors.
Lee: Too many, some might say.
Bob: Here in 2013, there is something new at work parties: government accounting rules.
Lee: Are we really going to talk about accounting rules? Half our readers will turn the page and the other half will fall asleep.
Bob: This is "Tech Talk" and government accounting provides ample technicalities. We're only going to talk about a single accounting rule. It has a name similar to "FEMA Rule 36, Chapter 5, Section 12, ...". Here we'll call it TUCGAR, short for The Unnecessarily Complicated Government Accounting Rule.
Lee: The Town Of Lyons faces an enormous bill from FEMA. It is something like 10 times the town's annual budget. It covers the FEMA rescue efforts, National Guard, the food and water, the evacuee housing, helicopters, ... the whole enchilada. Does FEMA really expect us to pay it?
Lee: Let's send them one those funny checks they use to "balance" the federal budget. The Lyons Recorder knows lots about printing. Maybe they can print a big stretchy latex check on the town's behalf.
Bob: FEMA expects cash, like when you pay your taxes.
Lee: But we don't have that much cash. Can we pay in livestock? 8-track tapes? mash whiskey? good intentions?
Bob: It's the government. They like cash. But they also like credits. And that is where TUCGAR and the best tradition of helping your neighbor meet. Every hour that you volunteer helping your neighbor can become a TUCGAR credit. Each of those credits reduces the town's bill from FEMA.
Lee: Are you saying: if I muck out 10 yards of mud from my neighbors basement and he mucks out 10 yards of mud from my basement, that the town can get a credit against the FEMA bill?
Bob: Yup, that's the TUCGAR rule.
Lee: Does the town get the credit if I work on my own house?
Bob: Nope, that's the "Unnecessarily Complicated" part of the rule.
Lee: All those church groups & relief organizations that are working around town count?
Bob: Yes, we receive their labor and the credit too.
Lee: Our neighbors are helping each other out of the goodness of their hearts. They're so focused on the tasks at hand, they probably don't know about the TUCGAR credits.
Bob: I saw the Ford Broncos Club Of Denver digging out a home in Pinewood Springs. I'm sure they weren't thinking about TUCGAR credits. Their growling stomachs and barbecue alongside Rt 36 was at the front of their minds.
Lee: Do we get the TUCGAR credit even if the mayor prefers Toyota trucks?
Bob: Yes, even if she switches to Chevys.
Lee: There is probably a really long nasty form to fill out, right? You probably have to be over qualified to work at H&R Block to get the credit, right?
Bob: Nope, there is an organization already setup to track it. They're called the Lyons Volunteers. They're an adjunct to town hall.
Lee: Aren't those the people wearing the white shirts with green lettering led by the green shirts? Aren't they the ones you see on Saturdays working all over town covered in dirt and sawdust?
Bob: Yes, they deploy work crews from the storage pods at the corner of High & 4th on Saturday mornings at 9AM. Behind them is an accounting system to track all the work and get the TUCGAR credits. I asked how many credits have been earned thus far but the "Unnecessarily Complicated" thing was getting in the way again. I resorted to a back of the envelope guess. I think it is more than $100,000 worth of TUCGAR credits.
Lee: That's a good start but there is still long way to go.
Bob: Yes. Now that basic infrastructure is coming back on line and most residents have returned, the pace of work available for TUCGAR credits is increasing. Whether you work with Lyons Volunteer crews or independently, we should be recording it to cut the town's FEMA bill. Visit lyonsvolunteers.org for more information. There is a web form to report hours. Click on "Log Volunteer Hours". Or stop in town hall and ask to speak to Lyons Volunteers.
Published on Thursday, October 10 2013 14:03
With Lee Hall & Bob Gilson
Lee: What was the first thing you did after you evacuated Lyons?
Bob: Sat down on a toilet that did not require I fill it with water before use. Didn’t even need to share a flush with someone.
Lee: Ahh, simple pleasures.
Bob: But it didn’t last. The reading rack included an article on inverters.
Lee: Do we really want to hear about this?
Published on Thursday, March 29 2012 07:59
Lee: Have you noticed that technology sales people will only describe where a device or plan works well. Wouldn’t you love it if sales people said things like “this device really sucks at XYZ”? It would be much more helpful.
Bob: That’s why we’re here. This is an inverse sales pitch regarding mobile devices and plans. The key word of the column is “sucks”.
Published on Wednesday, January 11 2012 08:48
Bob: The holiday shopping season is upon us. Its a time when many ask for outlandishly sized gifts.
Lee: And through the “magic” of credit card debt, some receive them.
Bob: You may not have heard ,but Lee works for Santa. He gets the letters requesting reliable and secure Microsoft Windows systems.
Lee: I’ve resigned three times, but he keeps sending the letters.
Bob: The week of Thanksgiving, I was asked to deliver a Santa sized gift for my customer, Jim Cook. He runs Victoria Sailing School. Jim has a new line of business getting started: E-Learn To Sail(http://elearntosail. com). It,s the same classes he has been offering for years but now you can take them over the internet.
Lee: I’ve heard many “Bob-tales.” Some of them are believable if you have a flux capacitor hooked up to your machine. But there is no way I will believe you managed to push a sailboat, two humpback whales and the water they require over the internet using your modest computing facilities.
Bob: No virtual reality required. Leave the transparent aluminum to fiction. E-Learn To Sail teaches courses in coastal navigation, celestial navigation and weather for the mariner. It,s a lot of charts, compasses, and parallel ruler work.
Lee: Do you say “Argh” a lot?
Bob: In celestial navigation you do. You make so many mistakes that you run out of erasers. Coastal navigation is more fun. You skirt around dangerous shoals and glide into harbors for rum punch.
Lee: Does this have anything to do with Tech Talk? Make a connection, please.
Bob: Today’s topic is content management systems. CMS for short.
Lee: Huh? I’m reaching for the keyboard....
Bob: Hey, put that down. I’m not going ultra-geek with this. Its a perfect Tech Talk column because it dispels some misconceptions about the difficulty and expense of building web sites. A CMS is a Lego set for building websites.
Lee: Very well. But I’m keeping the keyboard ready in case you spout gibberish.
Bob: The project was to build a shopping website for elearntosail.com.
It was supposed to be a leisurely paced project. Jim placed an ad in Sail Magazine giving the project a deadline of the end of November. Sail Magazine published early. Jim received a call the Tuesday before Thanksgiving from a Sail Magazine reader looking for the completed web site.
Lee: And then he placed a call to you.
Bob: He said “Mush!”.
Lee: So how far along was the site before Tuesday?
Bob: I’d worked on it less than a day. I’d completed the underlying building blocks. I’ll skip the list of components. Its just the stuff no one cares about so long as it works. Also, credit card processing was working. No point in running a web store without credit card processing.
Lee: That’s a pretty good start. What work remained?
Bob: Everything a customer would see. The web site was almost blank. The web store needed products to sell. The videos that demonstrate Jim’s teaching style and classroom environment were missing.
Lee: Is this when you raised your bill while complaining of the rising costs of time travel?
Bob: Nope. The effort had two advantages. First, Jim and I had worked on Victoria Sailing School’s site(http://victoriasailingschool.com) together. This gave us a working design to emulate and a source of text and images. Second, Jim is a very practical guy. He understands a CMS can combine components very quickly. But they don’t always fit perfectly. The trick is to adjust the design to meet the business goals rather than get fussy about the site working EXACTLY as you’d like.
Lee: No Steve Jobs inspired puritanism allowed.
Bob: Steve Jobs could afford puritanism. Jim Cook can’t.
Lee: So you made all sorts of dirty hacks?
Bob: No. It looks nice. It flows well. It was complete and running by midnight.
Lee: What features does the site include?
Lee: I’ve seen a similar feature list from those companies promising a “web store in 5 minutes.”
Bob: Stay clear of those. Sure, the features they promise work, but they aren’t tuned to your business. For example: Jim has me working on a teaching aide that simulates lighthouses, buoys, and other aides to navigation. It,s just another plug-in to the CMS. If he signed up with those “all in one” solutions, their tech support would say “you can’t get there from here.”
Lee: Never say that to a navigation guy.
Bob: He’ll make you clean the bilge.
Lee: So the web store looks nice, displays video, sells classes, processes credit cards, and was completed in 2 days. The CMS allows new features to be added easily. You never griped about the pressure? Never asked for more money?
Bob: No need. I was a bit wired at the end, but no super-hero moves were needed.
Lee: That’s a little anti-climactic.
Bob: If you want drama, learn the value of Jim’s classes by dropping your GPS into salt water when the fog rolls in.
Lee: Before we close, how does Lora feel about your new video technology? Any upgrades in the future of the Lyons Recorder’s web site?
Bob: “Lust” does not begin to describe her position.
Published on Thursday, October 20 2011 01:00
Lee: How are disk drives and warm waffles similar?
Bob: They’re both round, easily spun, and more enjoyable if you don’t fling them across the room.
Published on Thursday, August 25 2011 01:00
Bob: Suppose you want to purchase a new computer and decided it should be mobile. You go shopping and discover there is now a division between laptop computers and something new called a netbook.Read more: Tech Talk with Bob Gilson and Lee Hall
Published on Monday, July 25 2011 01:00
Lee: Today’s topic is a fun one: Malware (aka, Viruses).
Bob: Many of you have had at least some experience with a virus – most of which were merely called to your attention as your anti-virus software caught it. However, some of you have suffered the ill effects of actual damage caused by the malware. How is it related to the lesser genomes of slugs, fleas and paramecium?Read more: Tech Talk - Malware
Published on Wednesday, May 11 2011 16:13
Bob: Hi! Welcome to Tech Talk With Bob and Lee.
Lee: Hi! We think we're as entertaining as those guys that talk about cars.
Bob: Except we talk about technology.
Lee: Its harder to make tech funny because so many people are tortured by it.
Read more: Welcome to Tech Talk