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I Hate Linux

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

WHS Developer Tip #1: Web Site Status

Q: How can I programmable determine if the WHS Remote Access Web Site(s) are enabled or not?

A: When a user first enables the WHS Web Sites through the Home Server Console, the HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows Home Server\Website Manager registry key is created and contains a single value named Connectivity which is set to 1 when the sites are enabled and 0 if the sites are disabled.

A slightly more programmatic method is to check the value of RemoteAccessConfig.IsAppPoolEnabled (located in the Microsoft.HomeServer.RemoteAccess.Utilities namespace and the WHSCommon.dll assembly).

True if the sites are enabled, false if not.

Edit: I goofed, RemoteAccessConfig.IsAppPoolEnabled right away, even if the web site is turned off and only returns false after the web sites have been turned on and then off again... which means the regkey is the current best bet.

Note: The information in this post is based on undocumented and at times deduced information on Windows Home Server and is not officially supported or endorsed by Microsoft and could very easily be wrong or subject to change in future, so please take it and everything else said on this blog with a grain of salt and use with caution.

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Windows Home Server Developer Tips

I'm pleased to announce the kick off a series of semi-regular Windows Home Server Developer Tips posts aimed at both add-in and standalone application developers that will cover some of the neat and undocumented features of Windows Home Server that programmers can take advantage of, as well use of some of the documented methods that are buried away in the official documentation.

So let's kick things off with the first tip... determining the web site status.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More waiting

Not hearing anything from HD#2's offices nor from the Mayo Clinic regarding my last visit, I gave HD#2 a call last week... and again yesterday to see if everything had been sent out, if the required letter of medical necessity had been written and sent to my insurance company and when/if I should begin to worry about not yet hearing anything from the Mayo Clinic.

At long last I got my answer... despite being told it would only take a few days to collect my info and mail it off... they are still trying to collect everything... which means (from my prospective) NOTHING has gotten done over the last three weeks.

Damn it.

Despite how bad this crap is... I do need to keep reminding myself that even under the state run/paid for systems that some presidential candidates are pushing... what I am seeing (and have experienced) in past is likely faster and better than what would be achieved under a single payer health plan.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Phase Two & Three: Windows Shares & IIS

Despite intending on being more logical in my coding and perfecting one set of API calls before moving on to another... over the weekend it was a fairly chaotic process as I ran back and forth between different pieces to make my ugly form with a dozen text boxes and two dozen different buttons to let me test out every little thing including installing Windows components using an answer file.

After much work it's all done... well mostly.

Early yesterday I began cleaning up the code a bit and moving it in into an actual add-in which works great (despite being ugly as heck) and squashed the last remaining bug in my add-in (that I'm aware of)... now I just need to figure out why IIS no longer wants to serve pages over HTTPS to the directory I created.

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DFS Oddity

When one launches an administrative tool locally... one has good cause to expect it to list local resources automatically that the tool cares about right?

Not so it seems with the DFS (Distributed File System) MMC applet.

Over the weekend when working on my new add-in I was making use of NetDfsAddStdRoot() as well as a couple of other DFS calls and ran into an oddity... when I create a DFS root in the MMC applet... it shows up, however when I create one with NetDfsAddStdRoot() it doesn't, nor does it show up if you right click in the list and choose refresh.

Granted, this may not sound like a huge issue... only Windows limits you to a single DFS root, which means if I create one programmatically and then the user tries to create their own manually in the MMC... they are going to get an error and there will be no obvious way to get around it.

Sounds like a bug doesn't it? Possibly (and likely unrelated to this one), and there is a way around it... you just have to be explicit and add the root or server to the DFS MMC which is a nice thing to know which means I can remove the notice from my add-in about how you shouldn't uninstall it without first using it’s build in 'remove configuration' button.

I don't have a (VPC) Windows Server 2008 server handy but will see if this behavior is the same under it, if so I'll bug it on connect and see what they say as call me crazy... but a management tool when run locally should display local resources in cases when standalone authentication is not necessary (ie SQL) and enumeration of the resources are not prohibitively expensive.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Phase One: DFS

Despite my earlier estimate... I'm now expecting that my new WHS add-in will take significantly longer than first expected... largely because of the fights with the Win32 API.

Currently (first of 3 separate API sets I need to work with) I'm implementing support for the Windows Distributed File System which requires 7 (for my purposes) or so API calls and while all are documented on MSDN, only a handful are on PInvoke.net or blog posts (yes once I'm done I'll share some of what I've come up with)... so I get to spend plenty of time writing my own definitions and plugging away at them, making sure I understand exactly what it is expecting when the MSDN docs are less than clear.

I dunno about you... but I really am no fan of marshalling pointers to arrays of structures.

I'm happy to say though that despite all of this, I've implemented and got working 5 of the 7 API calls I need, think I've identified #6 and have yet to figure out how to accomplish the 7th task.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

This is going to hurt

After a brief discussion over on the Windows Home Server forums and a longer talk with a Windows Server admin sort of guy... a brilliant idea for a WHS Add-in came to mind... one so mind bogglingly simple (to the user) that requires a dozen or two Win32 API calls to various Windows Server 2003 DLL's and just 2 calls to WHS APIs.

Unfortunately I think it such a neat idea (although not very novel) that I've got to do it myself... despite my hand problems which are considerably worse this week due to teaching MOC 4994.

As I type this my students work on an exercise on XML Web Services and I track down all of the different API's I think I'm going to need to call to make my add-in work.

The question now becomes how long will I last this weekend (shouldn't take more than a couple of hours to wire things up (once I get the APIs working)) after this week and after a day or two of heavy coding and testing.

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Dozier Internet Law: Don't push the big red button

One of the most hilarious and obviously futile moves (amongst so many) from our friends at Dozier Internet Law with it's to portray itself as a respectable and knowledgeable firm has been their user agreement that denies browsers permission to view the source code of their web site.

What happens when you tell a group of geeks not to do something? Look! And look they have... reviewing the heck out of the code and posting it all over the place on sites like Slashdot, the Something Awful forums, DSLReports, and the Empty Rhetoric blog.

In that spirit, today I've got two pieces of satire on this issue, one by me and one I found over in the comments of a blog post discussing this very same issue.

Click to zoom:
DozierParody_3

 

LOL_Code

#2 comes courtesy of Miss Cellania of misscellania.com and is in the style of LOLCATS.com, a site that makes me hate cats (I'm very allergic) a bit less), while the first is in the same theme that I've been using for the last two (1) (2)(just because it's so darn easy).

At first glance one might actually believe them that their source code is their own 'intellectual property'... but then this is the same firm that has previously tried to use copyright to prevent people from reading or speaking... perhaps they are horribly ashamed that their site doesn't validate properly according to the W3C specs.

You'd think that a firm that claims to protect 'the Reputations and the Intellectual Property of Businesses on the Web' would care a wet slap about their own reputation, but then I guess John Dozier and the rest there have never heard the the rule about being in a hole...

When you are in a hole... STOP DIGGING!

Stop digging John, now it's just getting pathetic.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Another Dozier Internet Law Satire

Previously I'd discussed my opinion that Dozier Internet Law appeared to be running an extortion racket in sending at least one C&D and demanding payment without any proof from the intended target or semblance of legal process, and in that spirit I present my second of many parodies of their business practices and unprofessional views:

DozierParody_2 

(Edit: Given the poor (nearly stock) layout of this blog, it's best to click on the above image to see it fully)

While I've got a few more ideas for other page headers and a couple of other things, anyone have any other ideas they'd care to share or make up themselves?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dozier Internet Law: Toothless Cowards?

It's now been nearly 2 weeks since I demanded that Dozier Internet Law file suit against me for my alleged copyright infringement in republishing part of the full text of their C&D letter directed to Infomercial Scams.

I'd hope that the week deadline I gave them would be enough. It came and went. So I gave them almost another week... and still nothing, this all despite telling them when I was out of town and how they could find me.

I can only assume that given neither I, nor Infomercial Scams have been sued with... the threats of Dozier Internet Law are without merit.

Given the continued irrationality on the part of Dozier Internet Law and it's now claiming that browsers are unable to view their page source and that US law would not govern if these issues ever came to court... there is only one place to escalate this to (short of suit from our side)... parodies!

I present the first of many parody images I have created (from scratch (unless Dozier claims copyright of the colors that are used)) that discuss some of the views of Dozier Internet Law:

DozierParody_1

I know, it doesn't fit well on my blog)

Rather than hide behind their web site and make such laughable comments in blog comments... they should better advertise what they believe in on their web site and let potential clients have a better idea of what they are getting into if they were to hire them.

Please note that the above image is copyrighted and as such may not be copied or used without my permission. All readers of this blog however may use the above image and all later Dozier Internet Law related ones on their own blogs, and web sites and print media in a manor consistent with its intent.

All other uses, especially that by Dozier Internet Law or any of its agents, actors or other thugs is expressly prohibited.

This permission does not include any commercial use of the above parody however. In a week or two after I've made and published another dozen or so, the most popular designs will be made available on T-shirts and other such wares (with all profits going to charity) so as to better spread the word and humor regarding our friends at Dozier Internet Law.

Note: This web site is in no way officially associated with or sanctioned by Dozier Internet Law, it's managing partner John Dozier or any other person working for the firm in question.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dozier Internet Law actions indirectly limiting research?

Previously I've written about Dozier's representation of a fraudulent spyware maker as well as the managing partner previously claiming that sites like Infomercial Scams were legal and immune. Both were discovered with a quick Google search for their name and a small bit of reading.

I'm sad to say though that that is becoming less and less useful as the actions of Dozier now that the Streisand effect is in full effect which has lead to countless new links in the search results that make it harder and harder to find other information on them.

As of this post, it appears that a full 15 of the top 30 hits on Google for 'Dozier Internet Law' are links to pages critical of them.

As upset as John Dozier and the others at Dozier Internet Law must be, I too am rather upset as it means I have to work that much harder to do legitimate Google based research on them and their past dealings.

One hopes that the folks over at Dozier Internet Lawsuits, a blog dedicated to 'Keeping an eye on the "Cyber Trial Lawyer"' will be able to do a better job of wading through all of it than me.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A double standard from John Dozier

While doing a little more research on our friend John Dozier, managing partner of the now infamously thuggish Dozier Internet Law (yes I know there are far better things I could be doing on a Saturday night) I ran across an interview with him where this question and answer came up (answer truncated for length):

Ted Murphy:

 

A lot of the things that we're talking about there, are things that – that are specific to an employee or specific to the company in – in regards to blogs, but what about the legal issues surrounding consumer posts on a – on a blog? You know, if – if I post something about a new product that I'm releasing and I allow comments back from the – the public, what do I need to look for there? Do I – you know, is that opening me up for – for potential liability based on those public comments back on my blog?

 

John Dozier:

 

Yes, it is very high risk. Fundamentally, we in the U.S. determined, you know, back in the late 90's that this was a potential problem and could impact the free expression of ideas of the internet. So Congress passed immunity for the owners of blogs as long as they are not involved directly in managing content and really changing, potentially editing and changing what is being said.

 

If you're editing and changing what's being said, making judgment calls that could impact the – the message that's being sent out, then you – then you have absolute liability as a publisher for what third-parties are saying.

So according to Mr. Dozier... so long as a blog or site does not directly edit or change what is being said... then the site owner is largely immune.

Funny, Infomercial Scams.com says this on their submission form:

Scams are posted uncensored!

Something that the original C&D letter noted... and called it "willfully false and misleading" and "defamatory".

So on one hand... Mr. Dozier claims that statements on sites like Infomercial Scams are legal and that such site owners are not liable... while on the other hand his firm insists that they are and amongst other things... seemingly engages in racketeering in demanding that the publisher, not the originator of the controversial comments pay up without any semblance of legal process.

This seems rather contradictory... and when I think of such things I think of a quote from Atlas Shrugged:

I'll give you a hint. Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.

So which is it John?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Dozier Internet Law: Running an extortion racket?

When thinking about the ongoing dispute over the unprofessional actions of Dozier Internet Law... I think back to an old Monty Python episode and the the army protection racket sketch:

Dino: Oh see my brother's clumsy colonel, and when he gets unhappy he breaks things. Like say, he don't feel the army's playing fair by him, he may start breaking things, colonel.

 

Colonel: What is all this about?

 

Luigi: How many men you got here, colonel?

 

Colonel: Oh, er ... seven thousand infantry, six hundred artillery, and er, two divisions of paratroops.

 

Luigi: Paratroops, Dino.

 

Dino: Be a shame if someone was to set fire to them.

 

Colonel: Set fire to them?

 

Luigi: Fires happen, colonel.

 

Dino: Things burn.

Aside from a horrible impression by British actors portraying Italian mobsters, it's an entertaining sketch about a couple of guys trying to get protection money out of the an Army Colonel who just wants to do his job and be left alone.

As I'd discussed previously... I was rather shocked to see the third of their itemized demands in their horribly unprofessional letter that:

3. Compensate our client for its attorney fees and costs

Is it just me or does that stink of an attempt to extort funds (ultimately for themselves in the end) from a third party without any semblance of legal process?

In the case of most C&D's (cease and desist letters) simply the threat of suit is enough to get many parties to fold and give in to the demands of the complainant so as to avoid any further legal issues... in this case though, the folks at Dozier Internet Law seem to be saying: "pay us money... or we'll sue you for more:... something that isn't to far off from "pay me money... or beat you up and steal your wallet."

Sure sounds like extortion to me... but then, I'm not a lawyer nor an expert in the subject... just a guy who uses common sense and thinks things through before I act... and one who is fully aware of the Streisand effect which has lead to a great deal of new happenings including allegations of copyright infringement on the part of Dozier Internet Law.

Despite all of this I'm forced to wonder... how much of this is the fault of DirectBuy... and how much is that of Dozier Internet Law? I can understand DirectBuy calling their lawyer at Dozier Internet Law and saying "any chance you could get these negative reviews removed from this site?" with a genuine desire to look good and it was solely Dozier Internet Law who went off the wall with this wholly unprofessional original C&D letter, not to mention later events.

At the same time I am left to wonder if this could be part of the way DirectBuy operates as well... after all, they made the choice to sic Dozier Internet Law on the web site in question... for all we know DirectBuy is just as guilty of gross unprofessionalism (in my opinion) as Dozier Internet Law and approves wholly of their actions.

I don't know... and lord do I wish I did.

I guess in the end this will only be resolved one of two ways... either Dozier Internet Law files suit against me and everyone else who has stated their opinion of them (even if negative in nature) and/or violated their copyright... or they AND DirectBuy apologize publicly for all that has transgressed since (and including) the initial sending of the C&D letter that caused this all to begin.

Ultimately the second option is the best for all parties involved as the only way for this issue to be resolved amicably is for the seemingly unprofessional folks at Dozier Internet Law to admit they were wrong, apologize and drop the issue... because if they do not and were to sue... they'll simply cause the MSM as well as even more bloggers to see what is going on and cause their name to be dragged through the mud even more, not through our actions, but through their own.

Frankly... I'd much rather have em go on a lawsuit binge as I'm always a fan of letting people shoot themselves in the foot... over and over and over and over again and from the sounds of it... this isn't Dozier Internet Law's first time.

Our friend John Dozier, managing partner at Dozier Internet Law had this to say about a suit against a client he was/is defending:

A lot of these allegations of this advertising ... they have nothing to do with us

This regarding a virtually worthless piece of anti-spyware software that was being hawked by a company called Secure Computer who was being sued by both the state of Washington, but also by Microsoft for false advertising and trademark infringement respectively.

Despite the claims of innocence, the case with the state was eventually settled while the federal case from Microsoft is still pending.

Personally I'm always a fan when a lawyer comes out touting the innocence of their client... only to have them be found guilty or just as damning (PR wise) is having their client settle wether they admit fault or not (they did not in this case).

Way to go John!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Attention: Dozier Internet Law

This blog post is to inform you that when your underlings inevitably track down my home to serve me with notice that you are suing me for copyright infringement (as per my earlier demand), they will notice that I am not at my residence in Madison, SD and will not be for several days.

I regret to inform you that I am visiting a friend in Minnesota until Monday and should return home to my place around 10-11pm on Monday the 15th.

That being said... if you just can't wait to sue me for violating your copyrights and whatever other bogus charges you may concoct, I can be found staying at my fathers home in Fridley, MN... otherwise you'll have to wait to serve me then.

To my 3 regular readers and all others recently discovering this blog due to Dozier Internet Law's irrational and possibly corrupt dealings with the internet and those who wish to voice an opinion that they and/or their clients find offensive/disagreeable/wrong, I apologize for not being as vocal on this issue as I had planned, that should change a bit within the next week or two as my time clears up a bit.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

HD #2 re-re-re-re-re-visit

Given HD (hand doctor) #4 being out of ideas other than having me see someone else on the east coast, today I saw HD #2 again for the first time since late may as it was he who referred me to HD #4 before we looked at external options... and external options it looks like it will be.

Over the next few days will be collecting every note, test result and other relevant piece of documentation on my hand issues and attempted diagnosis me in this issue and send it all off to the Mayo Clinic to see if they want to give diagnosis a try.

HD #2's office actually thinks that I could hear back from Mayo with an appointment date within the next two weeks... when I'd actually be seen is another question... but a two week turn around time for a once over on my records and a decision as to what they want to do to/with me over a day or two in under two weeks at such a place is not a bad deal IMO.

In the mean time, HD #2's office will also need to send a 'letter of medical necessity' to my insurance company so as to ask for such a trip to be considered 'in network'. Given I've really exhausted all in network (that HD #1, 2 and 4 are aware of) resources this shouldn't be an issue... but given this is an insurance company... there is no way to know for sure.

Now where was I... oh yes, waiting, a familiar state.

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HD#4 no more

After much telephone tag and after the last series of tests, last week HD#4 (Hand Doctor #4) and his PA decided that they had no new diagnostic ideas for me and sent me back to HD #2 who had originally referred me to #4.

The one suggestion they made was to see a Dr that #4 knows of out in Boston... something I likely wont be able to do anytime soon for insurance reasons (not to mention airfare).

In the mean time get back to dealing with HD #2... even if for a short time.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Don't forget to sue me too

I was always raised to believe that lawyers were very smart people, after all, to be able to spend so many years in law school and pass the bar... it's an impressive feat,  and I'm happy to say that it has been true for all of those I've known personally. I'm sad to say though that from time to time I see a case here and there of lawyers who don't seem to be well grounded in reality... and at least one person at Dozier Internet Law, P.C....a Mr. Donald E. Morris, Esq seems to fit that bill.

Apparently, his client DirectBuy was unhappy with some reviews of their company on infomercialscams.com and rather than work to professionally solve the issues... they sent the owner of the site a cease and desist letter... and probably the least professional I've seen... and I've seen a few (only two directed at me directly however).

While points one and two of what they demand seem pretty straight forward and normal:

1. Immediately remove from all of your websites all defamatory and disparaging remarks regarding our client made by you and your visitors, and

2. Immediately cease and desist in publishing defamatory statements about our client, whether the statements are made by you or third parties, and

It's #3 which I'm forced to wonder about:

3. Compensate our client for its attorney fees and costs

Since when do you demand legal fees in the first threatening letter? Isn't that usually reserved until letter 3 or 4 where you say "this is your last chance, your very last and absolutely final chance... after we give you a couple more... if you do not comply with our perfectly reasonable demands... we will add court and attorney fees to the list of things we will be suing you for... whenever we get around to doing so."

As sad as it is that some companies think this a legitimate way to deal with angry customers... there is just something about a SLAPP suit (strategic lawsuit against public participation) or even a threat of suit that just makes me smile.

Of course... one that ends with this just makes it so much better:

Please be aware that this letter is copyrighted by our law firm, and you are not authorized to republish this in any manner. Use of this letter in a posting, in full or in part, will subject you to further legal causes of action.

Well hot damn... I think I just violated their copyright as well... and of course for such threats to be meaningful... they have to be willing to make good on them.

With that said... I hereby demand that you Mr. Morris immediately file a copyright infringement suit against Mr. Leonard in this matter and name me as a co-defendant for my blatant disregard for your copyrights in my reproduction of parts of your letter that is marked as "for negotiation and settlement purposes only," not to mention hosting a full copy of it here, as well as all other persons and groups who reproduced, hosted, discussed, read or thought about any part of this letter.

This blog post puts you on notice that should you refuse to comply with our demands by October 15, 2007, I will have no choice but to recommend that the blogosphere pursue all legal causes of action, including the further reproductions of your letter, to protect its interests and that of all free people in this country who may wish to express an opinion you or your client may not agree with.

On a side note... I'm forced to wonder if any law schools out there spend some time discussing SLAPP suits and recommend that their students once out in the real world caution their clients against them because no matter how well intended they might be... they have this funny way of backfiring.

More info can be found on the Consumer Law & Policy Blog, as well as their response to Mr Morris.

Truly a Digg worthy case.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I'm a warm hearted bastard

As discussed earlier... I am a cold heartless bastard... but also I am also a warm hearted one as well... just depends on the situation and last night was one of those cases.

Being at the wedding a couple friends and I decided to show our love with a little covert decorating of the happy couples hotel room (this is something that is done at weddings in this group of friends).

Immediately after the reception and before the dance, Kevin, Stephanie and I made our way to a local dollar store, auto parts store and a Walgreens to buy supplies and then bide our time.

Come around 9pm we slipped out of the dance and made our way next door to where we had earlier learned that the happy couple was staying.

Ideally when doing something like this it's good to call ahead and get the hotel manager to help you out. In this case it was a bit of a problem as he thought we were going to destroy the room... so as to put his mind at ease, Stephanie gave him her number and other info and promised that she and Kevin would come back in the morning and clean up anything that needed cleaning.

So after getting in (unescorted amazingly) we began our work which included:

  • Saran wrapped their toilet
    Watch where you go
  • Fill the hot tub full of balloons
    The Jacuzzi
  • Taped a mirror on top of the bed
  • Short sheeted the bed
    Short Sheet
  • Attach a toy set of hand cuffs to a lamp
  • Add dish soap to the hot tub jets
  • Write a few friendly messages on the mirrors
  • Leave a disposable camera in the room on which we took some jokingly provocative pictures of us and a note which said "we've taken plenty of pictures for you... why don't you take some for us?"
  • Spider webbed the room
  • Spider web
    Multi-room spider web
  • Sprayed silly string around the hot tub

For those worried... we left several lights on so that they would not accidentally run into the web and even left a knife near the door so they could get through quickly (if they didn't want to undo it properly).

So a good time had by the three of us for sure... and I expect Bri and Pat had a good laugh as well.

Next stop... the Latanda and Brandon (aka Fish) wedding next month.

Congrats Bri and Pat

Big ole congratulations to go my friends Bri and Pat who finally got around to tying the knot yesterday in Bri's home town of Worthington, MN:

STA71029

Twas a nice service in the local Lutheran church (and one that was the first I'd ever seen with a giant cross behind the alter) and the dinner and dance afterwards was just as good... and like all other such events, I kept the digital camera at hand and get so many telling moments like the male stripping:

STA71185

Conga lines:
STA71114

Eating:
STA71137

Dirty dancing with gay men:
STA71175

Hints of cheating (she was only talking):STA71067

Angry Best men (I refused to join in the dollar dance):
STA71072

Same sex dollar dancing:
STA71065

Drinking:
STA71035

So once again... congrats to Bri and Pat, you are a great couple and I'm thrilled to see that your nearly 2 year long engagement has ended and that you've officially begun your lives together and no longer live in sin (kidding).

Friday, October 05, 2007

I'm a cold heartless bastard

In life there are plenty of unexpected things that can happen and so as to avoid many of them we prepare... we brush our teeth to avoid cavities, we wear a seatbelt to avoid the windshield, we lock our doors to keep people from breaking in, and we carry health insurance so as to avoid overwhelming medical bills.

Sure no level of prevention or preparation is perfect, however it is every persons responsibility to make a reasonable effort to prepare/prevent issues that may come up.

This morning a TV I was near had the CBS Early Show on which had an interview with Tom Rider, husband of Tanya Rider, the woman who spent 8 days trapped in her car at the bottom of a ravine. On it he was talking about his wife, her slow recovery and the costs involved. That's right... she's uninsured and it's expected that her medical bills will end up totaling somewhere between $500,000 and $1,000,000. Truly a wonderful story of survival and aside from it being a wonderful sob story to try to sell people on programs like HillaryCare II or the Edwards plan as she is one of those 44 million Americans who lack health insurance... only it, like that mythical number leaves out a lot.

Lemme share a little secret most people don't know about the medical industry... and especially large hospitals... just because the bill lists something as $1,000, doesn't mean you are actually going to end up paying that much, even if you don't have insurance.

The short reason is that hospitals are known to artificially inflate their prices so as to have room for lower, negotiated rates with insurance companies that they actually charge. That's why when you've got something on your bill as costing $1,000, the actual cost to you (pre-out of pocket limits) might be closer to $78.

Hospitals are also known to be enormously generous as they want to avoid looking like a bunch of greedy monsters that care about nothing but money and are actually fairly willing (at times) to wave large portions of bills under certain circumstances.

So it is very likely that even if her total bill comes to $1,000,000... the total amount the hospital would ask them to pay will be significantly less... assuming they ask for anything at all. It is more likely that the hospital will simply decide to wave most, if not all of the remaining bill out of a (public) sense of community and compassion, after all, it only makes business sense as they are likely not the only hospital system in the area and want people to want to come to them for treatment and such an act is a wonderful PR stunt.

So we've got an uninsured couple who hit hard times... that stinks right? Not so fast... he is insured and she's not. Why couldn't she get on his plan? Good question. Why wasn't she covered at all? Even better question.

From the sounds of it, it was largely by choice.

Some articles claim that because some of her jobs were so new she wasn't covered yet, the interview I saw this morning the husband said something to the effect of "we figured that if she got sick, or broke her leg, that we'd have the money to take care of her."

Sounds like by choice to me... but still not sure? According to the same interview the couple on the verge of closing on a house AND had $60,000 sitting in the bank for a rainy day.

I'm sad to say that I took this story a little personally (a rarity for me) and it infuriated me because I am largely unemployed and unemployable, and spending $228 a month (on plastic) to maintain health insurance (and would even if I didn't need it) because I recognize it's necessity and am responsible enough to take care of myself and not expect others to do for me what I refuse to do for myself.

It is astonishing to me that this couple WILLINGLY went without insurance and now has the gall to whine about it.

Don't brush your teeth and get cavities? Tough. Don't wear a seat belt and go through a windshield? Sucks to be you. Leave your doors unlocked and have someone walk right in and steals your tv? Ha ha. Decided to remove the batteries from your smoke detector to power your GameBoy and you didn't find out about the fire in time? I guess Tetris was more important eh? Live in an area in a known floodplain and don't carry flood insurance? Hope you can swim. Don't change your oil very often and had your engine seize up? Maybe now you'll learn.

Hence the title of this post... I'm a cold heartless bastard and I freely admit it as I've got little sympathy for those who choose not to take at least basic and adequate preventative measures so as to reduce the likelihood and impact of a catastrophic event.

What's the solution? One option is something similar to the Romney plan (state mandated, not federally) of requiring people to carry some degree of health insurance, despite the far too often cry from people about the high cost of insurance, on which to a certain extent they are correct... provided we are talking about full coverage. Instead though they need to view health insurance the way we do auto insurance.

When was the last time you had your auto insurance company pay for an oil change, a tire rotation or an engine replacement? You don't! Why? Because those are the basic auto services that we all pay for out of pocket... just like a trip to the doctor or other minor things are for many who do not carry full coverage health insurance.

Generally the only time we involve the auto-insurance company is when we get into some sort of accident that involves significant vehicle or personal damage... provided you've got coverage, something that is sometimes optional (at least with regards to collision coverage).

The solution to cases like this is people being responsible citizens and consumers and carrying some degree of health insurance. Ideally they'd go for an inexpensive plan (not unlike life insurance) that covers only the big things, things that are not likely to occur so that if they do have a cough or a broken leg... they pay for it out of pocket, but if they require major surgery or extended hospital stays... the insurance kicks in.

What's stopping it? Personal responsibility, and the CBS Morning Show touting the irresponsibility of this couple sure doesn't help things.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

How little I know

Over the years I've found that I'm an unusual kind of .NET developer... as I really don't use databases directly either personally or professionally.

Sure BrendansStudentLoans.com has a SQL 2005 backend with a dozen quick stored procedures... but other than that, the only real DB programming I've done was in the 2002 timeframe when taking a database programming class back at DSU and where I became quite proficient at writing PL/SQL... so much so that the teacher ended up using my homework assignments and tests as the answer keys and lost only a single point during the semester... only because I ended up making the same mistake as everyone else on the final.

Why is this relevant? Because I'm seeing this week just how rusty I've gotten and how things have passed me by.
This week I am taking MOC 2779: Implementing a Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Database (for free) so as to learn a bit more about the data world and wow... there are a lot of things I'd heard of... but never used... and even more things that I'd never even heard of.

Wow.

More so it's been interesting during practices and labs when we've got to write some (at times) complex queries... and I completely forget SQL syntax for a join or how to do other SQL operations from a hand written query. It's especially interesting as SQL is so different than the way I think... I tend to be a more procedural person than simply not a declarative person.

That reminds me... where the hell is the Intellisense in SQL Server Management Studio? Yes I know there are other tools that offer it... but come on... this is a Microsoft tool... released in 2005!

So taking this course has been a bit of a humbling experience... but also one that reminds me that there are areas I need to keep up on and try to use a little more if for no other reason but then to keep up on it.

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