Is Toastmasters Worth It?

I’m asking myself whether or not Toastmasters is worth the time I spend each month attending meetings, giving feedback, and giving speeches. I’ve had the pleasure of living in the vicinity of three toastmasters clubs in Kuala Lumpur – The Allianz Toastmaster club, the KL Advanced Toastmasters club, and the Bangsar Toastmasters club. I would also mention Pricewaterhouse Coopers, but I have only attended that club once and if that was my gauge of determining whether or not to attend toastmasters I certainly would not.

In my couple of months with Toastmasters I’ve had a pretty good time and have grown as a speaker and listener, as well as enjoyed some very good speeches and the occasional snack. Meetings at Allianz go from 6:00 to 9:30 while those at KL Advanced start at around 7:30 and go to 10. Allianz is composed of mostly younger employees with the splattering of a few old ones, the meeting room is usually pristine and there is a good mix of beginning and intermediate level speakers. The KL Advanced club is composed of mostly middle aged folks with a splattering of younger people such as myself – KL Advanced is hosted by a man who goes by ‘Lucky’ and is is run pretty much like clockwork.

What have I personally gained from being in Toastmasters and spending a few days a month in these meetings instead of relaxing in my apartment? Firstly, I’ve met some pretty interesting people – it’s nice to communicate with new folks when you’re an expat and gain more local friends. Secondly, I’ve learned a bit behind each and every person who gives a speech since their world views and personal life often come out when giving their speeches. From this you can take another perspective when creating your mental construct of what the world really is and how you can approach communicating with similar people in the future.

The only disadvantage, of course, is that you are obligated to go to improve yourself and sometimes time seems to be wasted when visiting guests try to get you to go to their clubs or workshops or if time is wasted from someone giving a unprepared speech.

Adding up the positives and negatives, I must say that Toastmasters is for me a positive thing, as long as I keep learning within it, and meeting new folks. If both of those other things halt then there probably is something better to do.

Hialeah and Bellingham – Web Traffic From Crawlers

Apparently traffic from Hialeah and Bellingham have been plaguing the analytics accounts of many a webmaster for the past month or more. This traffic is apparently coming from Microsoft search-bots that also process the javascript on the page, meaning some sort of ‘smart-crawler’. What this means for Google and pagerank is that hopefully these 100% bouncers are not tabulated into pagerank – how do you deal with it as a web traffic analyzer? You will need to place filters in your results to exclude the cities of Bellingham and Hialeah- this traffic is not coming from the same IP address.

Use the filter below to get rid of these analytics ruiners:
filter

Adobe Leaks 38 Million User and Password Pairs

Millions of people have had their password exposed to hackers, millions of people use the same password in multiple places, and millions of people better change their generic password after a massive failure by Adobe to protect their data. A file, which is circulating around the internet with the name “users.tar.gz”, is being downloaded and used to create tools for people to check if their email address was on this list of users comprised. Facebook and other large companies have been mining the data and sending out warning emails to their users not to be using the same password on their applications as they did for Adobe. This is another reminder that a one step authentication method is susceptible to being comprised.

What are your thoughts on this massive breach, are you inspired to change your passwords? Has internet hacking negatively influenced your company’s productivity in the never ending struggle to find balance between ease of use and security?

Second Game in World FIDE World Chess Championship Another Draw

So much for the folks to flew all the way to India to watch the world chess championship! The second game was also a draw, finishing up in just 25 moves due to repetition. The sport of chess just lost a few thousand more followers, and I’m sure you haven’t even seen this news on your local television channel if you’re living in the US because chess has become so diminished throughout the years in favor of more exciting sports, such as golf!

Below are the last few moves in the second game, I’m so bored with the subject I don’t want to waste any more time writing about it.

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First Game in Chess Championship a Draw

A disappointing start to the world championship chess match – a draw very early on into the game based on repetition of moves. Based on the game of chess, a draw is sometimes preferable to continuing the game – however a draw in the teen move count of a chess game is very disappointing and will hurt the popularity of chess as a sport. Not only is this boring for viewers, but especially boring for folks who bought tickets for the match. The first game has Magnus Carlsen playing as white and Viswananathan Anand as black –  a draw is considered by some as a victory for black. What are your thoughts on watching a game that only involves so few moves and so little excitement? The game was one and a half hours. The interview after the game between the two seemed to show Anand as a bit more cheerful than Carlsen, who was disappointed that he had to draw. Below is a photo of the after interview and the last three moves.

The after interview.

The after interview.

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Gates Should Take CEO Position at Microsoft

Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft on April 4th, 1975. Paul was the investor and Gates was the brains. After dealing with cancer Allen distanced himself from the company, and for the next 20 or so years Gates built Microsoft into the largest software company in the world and wrote the operating system you probably are using right now – Microsoft Windows. Microsoft enjoyed more success than Apple for the longest time, until of course Jobs returned to Apple and brought genius and creativity to the company in a leadership role. Gates has distanced himself from the company since Steve Balmer was given leadership, and has been working on philanthropic projects since all the while remaining the monarch if you will of the Microsoft kingdom.

Much like Jobs, Gates was heavily involved in the details of the company’s work early on – he personally reviewed every line of code for the first five years that the company produced [1]. Hard work and dedication, and owning the company he worked for – being passionate about quality and quantity was a trademark skill Gates possessed. His determination, grit, and intelligence helped make him into the richest person in the world – and his tenacious defence of Microsoft’s key products kept copycats at bay to some degree. I think a Gates return to Microsoft would mean a huge increase in awareness of Microsoft products, and a new energy for the giant and some would say stagnating company.

 

[1] Gates, William ‘Bill’ (October 13, 2005). Remarks (Speech). Waterloo, ONArchived from the original on April 6, 2008. Retrieved March 31, 2008.

Rome Total War 2 Glitches

I was excited to finally buy Rome Total war when it came out, for around 60 or 70 bucks (I can’t remember off the top of my head). However I have been very disappointed in how glitchy the game has been. From just plain throwing exceptions that require quitting the game and losing a turn or two’s progress to my most recent issue which is where the game does not allow you to use the mouse to move around the map or use the bound keys to rotate your map view. For such a huge map as the one Rome Total War 2 uses, this is a game-killer. I looked online and found a solution, which was simply to reload a old save game – but unfortunately like clockwork once I got to the end of that turn and proceeded to the next turn the glitch happened again. If anyone is interested in the save game file I am open to sharing it. From a few threads it looks like this problem happens if a certain number of attacks and retreats happened in a turn, which is ludicrous! You would think this game would be tested better as it has been the most pre-ordered game in the total war series!

Anyways, I thought I’d write this post in the rare chance Creative Assembly will catch this post and fix their problems!

Intervening in Syria is Wrong

A messy sectarian struggle where innocents are getting killed by the Assad government and also the rebel groups is not a place to get involved in. Ten years ago we were guaranteed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and our government launched a costly war that cost trillions of dollars when taking into consideration not only troops, equipment, and supplies but also required infrastructure repairs in these foreign countries and the massive costs of treating returning soldiers both mentally and physically. Turns out we were lied to, and Syria looks to be no different. Regardless, we know for certain there are dangerous enemies on both sides of this conflict – giving any side the upper hand or getting involved at all with incite more hatred towards the United States and may be a catalyst for war with Iran and a cold war like conflict with Russia. Just because Obama decided to put a red line down does not mean he has the authority to strike whoever he wants at will, much media pressure has been put on rank and file congressmen and women to support involvement but a vote has not yet been put forth until the administration is certain it has won over approval. If approval is not going to happen the administration will try to strike without congressional approval. Why can’t the US start leading by not getting militarily involved in every conflict on the face of the planet? Most Americans oppose any military action and the population is war-weary, why can’t politicians that have ties to the military-industrial complex give their greed a rest and stop drinking the purple lemonade given to them by CNN and the White House?

 

The Reason for the Trayvon Martin Publicity

How did Trayvon Martin come into the public’s eye? Why did Obama personally make a comment on the case and compare Trayvon to his own kids? Why is Eric Holder now pushing for Federal intervention in a state case? Why was there a state case after police finished their investigation and found Zimmerman to be innocent?

The answer to all of these questions, in my opinion, is that the Obama administration along with Bloomberg and other liberal gun control proponents are using this as a catalyst to undo some very important laws and rights we have as US Citizens passed down through generations – the second Amendment of our Constitution that is. Already, Obama operatives such as Holder are pushing to repeal “Stand Your Ground” laws. Of course, Mayor Bloomberg and all of the liberal media outlets are also broadcasting nonstop about the need to repeal such laws.

If you aren’t aware of what a “Stand your Ground” law is, it basically protects your right to protect yourself with deadly force if there is a reasonable belief of an unlawful threat without fleeing first. When applied to defending your home against intruders this law is often called the “Castle Doctrine”. These laws protect those defending themselves from threat using deadly force, and are most applicable to those that have concealed carry licenses and are carrying a weapon for self defense.

Given that the law abiding and outlaws in this country both have guns, these laws brings balance to the force if you will – outlaws will think twice before trying to commit crimes in the open. If the equation is modified where the outlaws are the only ones who have guns and can use them because they simply don’t care about the law, then we have a problem. Montana was the safest place I’ve lived, and one of the reasons I felt so safe is that nearly everyone has a gun and knows how to use it – and there are a lot more law abiding folks then outlaws. On the other hand, walking down the streets of Chicago where the gun laws are the strictest in the country you will be mindful to watch your step and your back at all times.

One of the most stirring reasons I am against each and every one of these gun control politicians is the fact that each of them is surrounded by folks protecting them with guns. I doubt they will ever in their lives walk around without the protection of guns and people willing to sacrifice their lives to protect them. Normal citizens who are trying to make a living while protecting their families from those that would do them harm deserve the tools needed to defend themselves. In fact, the founders of our country devised the second amendment not for the ability to hunt like Obama likes to mislead folks into thinking (and to think Obama was a Constitutional law professor). Instead, the law was place right between free speech and the limitation on government from quartering troops in peoples’ homes without owner consent. Doesn’t that mean the second amendment was written to limit the powers of government and to keep our United States from becoming an tyrannical state?

The Gambler

While most young folks don’t know who Kenny Rogers is, I’m sure almost everyone who gets to this website has heard this song. The lyrics seem simple enough, but the implications are deep. In life you are dealt a set of cards every so often and you have no choice but to make a decision. You may accept what life gives you, you could reject it, or you could simply run away. If you ask yourself if you’re playing the game right, I hope the answer is yes.