More Words than a picture

A picture may be worth a thousand words. Having an on-top of it Manager overseeing your business is worth much more as seen in the following pictures.

The first picture is of a placard at a local Applebee’s. The business of this Applebee’s at least is customer satisfaction through employee perfection. The greeters, wait staff, cooks, and bus staff are true professionals. They work and maybe live the slogan (below) they walk by going to and from the kitchen area. I only stop in for lunch, and while I am there, I think, “Wow, what a great place this must be to work at!”

What every business should strive for - property of Applebee's

What every business should strive for

This store on the other hand is one store of a national chain. In this case office oriented products from paper to printers. One look at the trash can was enough to catch my attention about the state of the business at this particular store.

The outside grounds between the store and parking lot were filthy. The store itself needed better lighting. It looked like saving on the electric bill was more important than the customer experience. Not one person smiled as I was asked if I needed help.

It feels dirty and have not even entered the store yet.

It feels dirty and have not even entered the store yet.

The thing is, people notice. A very few people like me look around from the parking lot to the bathroom. For other people it is just a feeling that the business feels sort of icky and they want to get out as quickly as possible even. Customers in this second dingy looking store spend less time pondering whether they should make a purchase. Customers are quicker to leave and spend their money at a place that feels cleaner and fresher.

If you serve the public, and you want to make the best impression, look at your business as your customer’s do. Starting with the parking lot, is everything clean and tidy? Is the lighting appropriate? Do your employees look as if they want to be there? Do you want to be there?

Having a dirty building front, visible smoking employees, old gum and trash near the entrance, poor lighting are some of the things that turn off repeat business. The biggest hit to the bottom line is your customers spending their money somewhere else. Clean up your business so your customers want to stay and return in the future.

Get Paid to Overcome Your Shyness

If you are shy by nature and want to be more outgoing, an easy way to get there is by working somewhere where you are forced to speak with strangers. Customers come with all types of personalities and temperaments. If you go out and find a job where you are forced to interact with the public, you will become less shy be default.

You will be forced to interact, discuss, persuade, and listen to and resolve complaints. In the interim you will learn how to easily carry on your end of the conversation. Not so obvious you will learn other speaking skills too.

You will learn how and when it is okay to control conversation. How to encourage or discourage conversation with your posture and expression. You will learn confidence because you will learn that some people are just like you, and others are different than you. Generally you will learn that you can hold your own with almost any person, and there is no reason to be shy anymore.

Half of us are shy by nature. You can get paid to learn to not be shy.

Half of us are shy by nature. You can get paid to learn to not be shy.

Once you realize you don’t need to be shy as in quiet, your world can change. You can become more outgoing in your personal life. You can control the ebb and flow of conversation. You will have learned what attracts and what turns off different personality types.

Get a job in fast food perhaps, and you will learn the skills to become the verbal master of your own ship!

Are You Lonely Tonight?

If you ever feel like nobody knows your name, create a resume or apply for a job online. Suddenly, you have more friends than you thought possible. Look at the number of job related emails received jobs in about 24 hours. On a weekend no less. Bots never sleep I suppose. Amazing…

Create a resume or apply for a job online. The email just doesn't stop.

Create a resume or apply for a job online. The email just doesn’t stop.

Microwave Tea trick

Here is a quick tip for microwaved tea using tea bags, if you heat your tea cup in a microwave as I do. I use different teas who’s tea bags have different levels of liking water. Some tea bags absorb water quickly and sink right into my tea mug.

Other tea bags are still floating high and almost dry after the water is heated and the tea mug removed from the microwave. Here is a pretty low tech way to manage these testy tea bags.

Microwave tea can be Problematic when tea bags float

Microwave tea can be Problematic when tea bags float

What I do is simple when I have tea bags who would rather float on top of the water is take a finger and roll my finger against the side of the cup with the tea bag in between the glass and my finger as seen in the picture below.

Roll the Tea Bag against the side of your mug or cup, pushing the air out.

Roll the Tea Bag against the side of your mug or cup, pushing the air out.

What this does is force most of the air out of the tea bag, and forces the ta bag to absorb some water. Then as the heating process starts the tea bag is at least partially submerged and tea creation can begin.

There are a few brands of tea which are very stubborn and even rolling your finger over the tea bag against the wall of the tea mug has little effect. These teas need hotter water than other teas before they will absorb water and start to release their flavors.

Now you can relax and enjoy your tea, instead of becoming frustrated with it.

Write Better in only Three Minutes a Day

Writing is being able to hold a conversation without the other person present. No more, no less. Becoming a better writer is easier than you think. Writing is not some secret art that only a few people can do well and everyone else struggles with.

I doubt anyone will read this post who is a professional writer. Writing as well as a professional writer, for the most part is reserved for professional writers. What you can do however is learn to become comfortable putting your thoughts on paper.

Whether you are putting words on paper or typing text in a simple text editor, writing is a simple process. What separates you from others who write well is not writing or very little writing. Writing takes practice as does almost everything else. The more you do it the better you get.

These simple steps will help you to write better with the least amount of effort. We can’t know what we can’t know. We can’t write if we don’t write. Let’s do some writing.

Open up whatever text editor is on your computer, Notepad, TextEdit, Gedit, Leafpad, Mousepad or another text editor. A word processor is not needed, although if you feel more comfortable using a word processor, use it.

1. Write three sentences about something that happened today. Your three sentences do not have to be about the same topic. For example:

“I woke up hungry today. I took my dog for a walk. The weather is hot and humid today, I am ready for winter”

The important thing is you write something. It doesn’t have to be pretty.

Write better by writing something every day

Write better by writing something every day

2. Each day before you go to sleep, write out three more sentences. Think about what you want to write before you sit down and write. Having an idea of what you want to say makes writing easier.

3. Every five to seven days, review what you have written. Read your sentences out loud. Do your words sound like conversation? If your words do not sound like conversation, what could be the reason? Write as you talk, you are having a conversation when you write.

4. When you find you can write out three sentences with little effort, it is time to start writing three sentences about the same subject.

If your daily three sentences have been about the same subject, try writing five sentences, turning your sentences into a complete paragraph.

This is all there is to improving your writing. A few minutes a day is all it takes. Soon you will be writing like you were a born writer. Your words will fill the page, and they will sound great. All that separates you from someone who seems to write without effort is practice.

Only a few minutes a day over time and you will become a natural writer.

Friendlier Debian Linux Discovered

If you have read any of my Linux posts, you know I am a fan of Debian and XFCE. I found a couple of Debian Distributions and each do better at bringing Debian to the Desktop than Debian itself. Both are based on Debian and use Debian repositories. Both make some modifications to Debian to enhance Debian and make it a more complete desktop experience.

Debian 8 screen shot

Debian 8 screenshot

Debian is not the most user friendly distribution. Nor is Debian recommended as a beginner Distribution. When using Debian, one is pretty much on their own when looking for answers. There excellent resources and references for Debian, but they are scattered and at times difficult to understand. Some of the material of course is outdated which complicates things. There is a Debian newsgroup, but it is stuffy and mostly unfriendly to beginner questions.

Basic Debian is pretty much basic upon install. Debian is boring and like it that way. Depending on your needs Debian is incomplete and will need you to install additional programs. You need to have some idea of what additional programs you want added.

What Debian does do in an outstanding manner is produce a small footprint, very fast OS. The system is not cluttered with junk you do not want or need. The blandness of Debian allows each user to create the system they want. What these two distributions do is take Debian from bland to outstanding.

The first Distribution I stumbled upon is from the Mepis folks, actually a subgroup of Mepis. The Debian modification they are putting out is called MX-15 based on Debian 8. The changes you are most likely to notice is a change in XFCE. They have upgraded XFCE and are using the version in Debian Testing. The next thing you will notice is MX-15 is complete both on the desktop or with the software.

Mepis MX-15 screenshot

Mepis MX-15 screenshot

MX-15 Linux makes other less obvious but enjoyable changes to the main distribution that the average user may not even notice. MX-15 is worth checking out. Of the two distributions in this post MX-15 is more user friendly to install. EFI install is an option during install. You will wish to read the notes during install.

http://www.mepiscommunity.org/mx

The second and flashiest Debian distribution I found is from Voyager Linux which originates in France. The Debian spin Voyager has created is named Voyager X8 and is based also on Debian 8. Voyager Linux is interesting in they take Debian and Xubuntu (Ubuntu XFCE) and give each distribution a colorful change over and dress up, from the desktop to the programs included.

Voyager X8 screenshot

Voyager X8 screenshot

Voyager X8 is less beginner friendly for install, but if you understand how the hard drive should be formatted, install is easy. Not only is Voyager X8 a live CD when you download the ISO, but you have some options to decide on before you start your download. Voyager X8 comes in two live versions, one for EFI installation and one for a normal Grub 2 mbr installation.

Click on X8, select your language on the right.

Between MX-15 and Voyager X8 and MX-15 both distributions go a long way towards making Debian a better Debian. MX-15 created some changes which Voyager X8 does not do. Documentation and help is on the main screen when you log in. MX-15 has a grub repair tool on the live CD. Voyager X8 is the most modified desktop with the Voyager group adding their own special additions to the desktop, with MX-15 not modifying the desktop.

Support for both these systems is very good and the documentation is excellent with the edge going to MX-15. If you are looking for a Debian based Linux, check out these two options. Both have a Live CD ISO, so you can try them first. Try them both, decide which you prefer, install it, and make it yours.

Chess Games and Chess Resources for Linux

I listed below the chess programs and resources I have on my Computer running under Linux. Some of these listed below are also cross platform.

3D Chess – glChess and this manual page were written by Robert Ancell bob27@users.sourceforge.net. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU General Public License, Version 2 any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.

On Debian systems, the complete text of the GNU General Public License can be found in /usr/share/common-licenses/GPL.

http://linux.die.net/man/6/glchess

Gnome Chess – GNOME Chess is a 2D chess game, where games can be played between a combination of human and computer players. GNOME Chess detects known third party chess engines for computer players.

https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Chess

Brutal Chess – Brutal Chess features full 3D graphics, an advanced particle engine, and several different levels of intelligent AI, inspired by the once popular “Battle Chess” released by Interplay circa 1988.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/brutalchess/

Chessx – A free and open source chess database application for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/chessx/

Chinese Chess – GMChess is an open source Chinese Chess based on XiangQi Wizard. (link is external) Chinese chess (Xiangqi) is one of the most popular chess games to have originated in China.

https://lgdb.org/game/gmchess

One of many configurable from beginner to winner Chess games for Linux

Dream Chess – DreamChess is an open source chess game. Our primary target platforms are Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. DreamChess features 3D OpenGL graphics and provides various chess board sets, ranging from classic wooden to flat figurines.

A moderately strong chess engine is included: Dreamer. However, should this engine be too weak for you, then you can use any other XBoard-compatible chess engine, including the popular Crafty and GNU Chess.

Other features include music, sound effects, on-screen move lists using SAN notation, undo functionality, and savegames in PGN format.

The DreamChess team currently consists of only a handful of people. We could use help in many areas, such as programming, graphics, sound and testing. If you’re interested in helping out, please send an email to feedback at dreamchess.org.

http://dreamchess.org/

EBoard – EBoard is a user-friendly chess interface for ICS (Internet Chess Servers). While it will focus on FICS (www.freechess.org ), should work with any other ICS. It supports playing against local chess engines too.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/eboard/

Knights – Knights aims to be the ultimate chess resource on your computer. Written for the K Desktop Environment, it’s designed to be both friendly to new chess players and functional for Grand Masters. Here’s a quick list of Knights’ key features:

Play against yourself, against computer opponents, or against others over the Internet.

Customize your board and pieces with over 30 different themes, or create your own!
Audio cues help alert you to important events.
Novice players can preview potential moves.
Save your unfinished matches and play them again later.

http://knights.sourceforge.net/news_archive.php and http://www1.knights-chess.com/?kw=chess+pieces

Pychess –  PyChess is a gtk chess client, originally developed for GNOME, but running well under all other linux desktops. (Which we know of, at least). PyChess is 100% python code, from the top of the UI to the bottom of the chess engine, and all code is licensed under the GNU Public License.

The goal of PyChess is to provide an advanced chess client for linux following the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines. The client should be usable to those new to chess, who just want to play a short game and get back to their work, as well as those who wants to use the computer to further enhance their play.

Use Any Chess Engine

With PyChess it is easy to play a game against the computer or use the computer to help you find the best move during a game with the Hint Mode feature.

PyChess comes with its own built-in chess engine and will automatically detect and work with most popular chess engines as long as they’re installed on your computer. This includes engines such as GnuChess, Crafty, Sjeng and Fruit, and even Windows engines like Rybka.

In the case PyChess doesn’t automatically detect an engine you’ve installed, you can manually add and configure it engines menu. See the wiki for additional engines.

http://www.pychess.org/about/

Scid – Scid is a chess database application (cross-platform, for Unix/Linux and Windows) with many search and database maintenance features.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/scid/

XBoard – XBoard is a graphical user interface for chess in all its major forms, including international chess, xiangqi (Chinese chess), shogi (Japanese chess) and Makruk, in addition to many minor variants such as Losers Chess, Crazyhouse, Chess960 and Capablanca Chess. It displays a chessboard on the screen, accepts moves made with the mouse, and loads and saves games in Portable Game Notation (PGN). It serves as a front-end for many different chess services, including:

Chess engines that will run on your machine and play a game against you or help you analyze, such as GNU Chess, Crafty, or many others.

Chess servers on the Internet, where you can connect to play chess with people from all over the world, watch other users play, or just hang out and chat.

Correspondence chess played by electronic mail. The CMail program automates the tasks of parsing email from your opponent, playing his moves out on your board, and mailing your reply move after you’ve chosen it.

XBoard runs on Unix and Unix-like systems that use the X Window System.

https://www.gnu.org/software/xboard/

XShogi – GNU Shogi is a computer program that plays the game of Shogi, also known as Japanese Chess.

https://www.gnu.org/software/gnushogi/

Where Have All the Real Blogs Gone?

This is a rant about what passes for Blogs these days. I don’t know about you, but I am really disappointed in almost all the Blogs I try to read.

Blogs were created as a platform where a single author could write about his or her passion in life. Whether that passion was brewing what the author thinks is the best beer ever created by God or man, to writing about their dog and best Buddie Rex.

Perhaps someone wanted to write about the wonders of Linux, which I am rather fond of. Or maybe Bee Keeping, or making paper mache baskets and bowls from discarded office paper. Whatever the topic was, people enjoyed writing about their favorite subject, maybe even themselves.

How about trying to read about some trending trigger subjects these days? There will be several newly created, monetized blogs out there for you to read. Slick and pretty and advertising packed.  Can you even get through one paragraph before you are interrupted with a pop up window wanting you to register? All you need is provide your name and an email.

Then you could be alerted to new posts of which you may have an interest. That was a great idea! You no longer had to visit the blog itself to see whats new and may be of interest to you. You could wait for the email.

Some Blogs became popular and had any number of readers. Then came along marketing and the business world. Hey, did you know you can use your Blog to make money? Off to the races both Blogs and Bloggers went.

Passions became what the Internet wanted. Want to read about relationships and dating? We have it. Hope you don’t mind an advertisement in your face every ten seconds which needs to be clicked away. Trying to pay the bills you know.

Real Blogs are hard to find these days. They are relegated to the backwaters of the Internet. Most real Blogs are not making any money. If a real Blog doesn’t make money, it’s of little use to the machinery of the Internet. Like this artwork some street artist created for our pleasure, it was not seen by enough people to become important.

Is it worth less if it is free?

Free Street Art. Free and Internet rarely are seen in the same sentence.

That machinery starts with your favorite search engine. Look up a blog on any subject, and you will be sick of advertisements before you hit on a blog with no advertising. The Internet runs on money. If you don’t make money for someone and yourself, the Internet machinery doesn’t really care.

Good writing is such a rare thing these days. Many of us are into funny or striking pictures followed up by or including a thirty second read. Sometime this is all that needs to be done. Other times it is done to capture a market share. We readers forget a person on the other end took the time to write something that is important to them in some way or another.

This isn’t just my rant. This is an all inclusive rant of good people who have a message they want to get out to the world. The thing is, they can’t get their message out unless they become gloss and glitter and spend a lot of money monetizing their Blog. Even then they probably won’t make it.

If Bloggers choose not to generate income for the machine, they almost perish, sent to backwaters of the Internet when what they have to say is stumbled upon by accident. This is a shame, really.

I enjoy reading real posts by real people who have something they feel is important enough to share with the world. People who misspell words, have run on sentences, beat the horse to death. People who care about you, the Reader!

Manjaro Linux Brief Overview

I recently installed Manjaro Linux, wanting to see what was out there for the leading edge of Linux. There are only a few Linux distributions which are difficult to install these days. There are several Linux distributions aimed at new users. Manjaro is fairly straightforward, is simple to install and maintain.

I downloaded the ISO, and went through the install which is quite a simple task. Manjaro Linux installed smoothly and update Grub without any issues. One nice touch with Manjaro and Grub, is Manjaro defaults to the last boot option you picked. This is good if you are using more than one operating system on your computer.

My desktop flavor of Manjaro is XFCE. I enjoy the right click menu of XFCE. Manjaro itself comes with a complete set of programs already. Not too many and not too few. Unless you need to do something an ordinary user would not do, you will get along fine with Manjaro’s default programs.

Everything went smoothly with my time with Manjaro, In fact Manjaro is still one of the systems on my computer. There were a few silly things that happened after the first update, but they went away with the second update. Nothing show stopping by any means.

Leading edge and great performance too!

Leading edge and great performance too!

My only concern with Manjaro and an average user, is the amount of updating, and the time it takes. Frequent updates are to be expected using Manjaro Linux as Manjaro is a leading edge Distribution and updates arrive shortly after they are created. Updating takes time however, so time needs to be set aside to update Manjaro.

Is Manjaro right for you? If you have a high bandwidth connection such as cable and want to be on the leading edge with as little fuss as possible, and you do not mind frequent updates, Manjaro is for you.

If your bandwidth is metered or limited, you may want a smaller distribution with less updating. I use Manjaro from time to time, and for my needs Manjaro just the way it installs is fine for my needs. I am an ordinary user, and for me the frequent updates for me are a detractor.

As mentioned updates are the proce you pay for leading edge Linux. Manjaro’s Team ensures all updates are tested and checked before you will see them. Crashing has not been an issue with Manjaro with credit going to the Manjaro Team.

All in all except for the first update Manjaro has been a good performer. You can do worse than use Manjaro Linux.

Knee Jerk Gun Control

Freedom of speech is a constitutional right. Should freedom of speech come with any personal responsibility? Some forms of free speech are a criminal offense. Yelling, “Fire”, in a crowded theater is one of the oft used examples.

What about other forms of speech where meaning and links are not so clear? Do we have the right to claim free speech whenever we wish?

In the picture below for example. On the left side window of the SUV is what looks like a revolutionary war silhouette  bust. Below it are the words, “KEEP CALM, JOIN THE DARKSIDE”. The license plate identification starts with the letters, MAL. So what?

Humor, subtle suggestion, or an order to the insane?

Humor, subtle suggestion, or an order to the insane?

So what if you are driving along, hearing voices because you chose not to take your medication, or you can not afford to? Happens too often to too many people. Voices are telling them to do something violent. They just don’t know what to do. Then they pull up behind this vehicle and start reading whats on the window and the license plate.

The Revolutionary bust image. Why, that could be you. Keep calm, join the Darkside? What a great suggestion! The license plate with the letters MAL? If you live in the Southwest, you probably know one word for ‘bad’ in Spanish is Mal. Hey, is this a personal message for my eyes only?

Even trying to ignore the voices, one has to wonder the intent of the decor on the back of this vehicle represents? Are they trying to be funny, making a point, or offering a violent suggestion in a round about way?

Back to Freedom of Speech. If someone already unstable reads, and reads into the decor on the back of this vehicle, falls in the abyss, gets a weapon and goes on a killing spree, who’s fault is it?

In the moment, we want to blame Guns. Guns are bad, they are evil, they kill. If we didn’t have guns, most murders could be prevented. There is some truth to this train of thought.

However what about the rest of the circumstances surrounding the mentally ill murderer? Why are they out and about in public with an extremely unstable psyche? Why aren’t they monitored better, so they are not out driving, listening to voices telling them to kill? Maybe the doctor is at fault? The family, the person themselves? Kind of hard to blame the person, they were fine before they quit taking their medicine.

How about the owner of this vehicle? If someone stopped behind them at a stop light or traffic jam read this, and it put them over the edge, is the vehicle owner partially responsible?

We are so good at knee jerk reactions. People are in an uproar, how can these mass murders keep happening? I received a letter from my congressman telling me he demands more and better gun control so no measure of extreme violence can be taken again so easily.

No one wants to address the issue that we have people on the streets who should not be there. They are poor, unwanted, and horrible cared for medically. Taking them off the streets and treating their psyche is a fragile process wrought with problems.

Their civil rights may be violated. Their individual freedom may be infringed upon. Lots and lots of legal hassles involved in taking someone off the streets and putting them in a hospital or sanitarium where they may really belong.

If Civil Rights and Personal Freedoms were not an issue, Money is. Money is the deciding factor when it comes to eliminating mass murder by the mentally ill. So is Money the crux when it comes to treating and caring for the mentally ill and unstable.

Who is willing to pay for their care? Who is going to monitor and advocate for people taken off the streets or otherwise removed from their current way of life in the name of public safety? Perhaps a better question is: Who doesn’t share in the wave mass murders we are read about so frequently?

Let’s admit it. If the mass killings of School Children starting with Sandy Hook Elementary School did not open pocket books, and remove dangerous unstable people from the streets, the killing and wounding of several scores of LGBT people matters even less. Money is at stake. Money is the real issue.