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Saturday, May 23, 2020

The great webcam shortage of 2020...

So, among the plethora of missed opportunities that arose for the wise investor (like investing in 3B, Clorox, Moderna, Zoom., etc...)  I found another stock that would have been great to buy in March: Logitech.  Everywhere you look, all their webcams are sold out.  It actually got me to thinking about my own webcams that I've bought over the years...

I have a few laying around the house... I actually noticed that most of my webcams are logitech cameras, and it just turns out that I still have a few of them laying around the house.

In the early days of this blog, I had and old Logitech Quickcam.  I say old, but I have the thing I went digging in the garage and I found it.  You can see here the photo that I dutifully took in my photobox (affiliate link at the bottom...)

I tried digging for any of the old webcam photos or timelapse videos I used to have, but I can't find anything.  Maybe I'll loop back around and fill in more details.

It was an okay camera at the time, but the photos are complete garbage by today's standards.  I had some trouble with it because I think the USB cable is going bad after all this time 20+ years, 12 of which have been in a box wrapped up in a ball.

The next camera I managed to dig out of storage is a Logitech QuickCam S5500 (I think?)  As it turns out, Logitech doesn't put labels on these things, so I am just going by what my computer thinks it's called.

This is a better camera.  It has a higher resolution and a built in privacy guard that slides down over the camera sensor.  Honestly, it's about as good as the built in webcam in most laptops.  However, it's still pretty lame compared to more moden webcam.

I think I got this camera 12 or 13 years ago.  I replaced the QuickCam with it, and I continued to make timelapse videos out my window and save still images on a schedule with the program motion.  I just verified that it is still available in Ubuntu's repository too... good old apt install motion, and you are on your way.

It's funny to think that back then, I would save a still photo into a folder every second.  Those photos were stitched into a 14-hour timelapse, and every 5 seconds, the image was copied into a folder synchronized to dropbox and shared publicly.  Then I had a simple javascript utility that would refresh the 5 most recent right here on this blog.  ahh, those were some interesting days of manually writing HTML and XML documents to generate my resume with XSLT.



Finally, these days, I have a Logitech C922 on my computer.  I actually had a C920 at one point, and I got the corporate/lync/skype certified C930e for my Mom when she threw a baby shower for Renmin and I.  This form factor was used with a number of webcams.  This one supports 1080P video, and the corporate one has the same sensor, but a wider angle lense.  I also had one that was nearly identical to this camera, but it only supported 720P.

It's a pretty good camera, and in addition to video quality, the audio quality of the stereo microphones is pretty good too.  Some people have even told me it's better than my Plantronics headset, but I tend to use my Bose QC35+ headset during video calls, and people tell me that sounds great!

So I didn't just want to show you the cameras, I also setup a little photo shoot to compare them...
15+ year old QuickCam



The QuickCam has low resolution, has trouble dealing with the brightness of the lightbox, and you need to manually focus by turning the ring around the lense.  I also had trouble because I think the cable is going bad, and most photos I took turned out blurry even though I had the camera on a tripod.








12 year old QuickCam S5500




The QuickCam S5500 is a little better.  It actually has auto focus, and it had no trouble dealing with the bright lights in the lightbox.  You can even see the angle is wide enough to get the back corner of the box.  The two QuickCam models are actually in about the same spot, so you can see how much wider the angle is on the S5500.
5 year old Logitech C922







Next, I get to a more modern webcam.  Now, this camera has such a wide angle compared to the other two, that I had to move the camera in closer, and I still couldn't get rid of the back corners.






I guess just for good measure, I'll add a photo from my phone...


7 month old Pixel 3 XL smartphone

It really is amazing to look at how far digital cameras have come in the past 20 years.  I remember in 2000 it has a huge deal when we had a digital camera that saved BMP images is a 1.4MB floppd disk.  It was so cool that we could just carry around this "small" 3.5" disk and save a few pictures on it.

Now I'm not happy if a camera doesn't support 4K video or HDR.  How times have changed.


Anyway, It's time for me to get some sleep, so Goodnight...

Later,

SteveO

Friday, May 22, 2020

Virtual Interview Difficulties, and my plan to make it better.

Hey, so I guess I have had some trouble getting back into the idea of blogging.  Maybe I can make a recovery and not just rant about politics, but I don't know...

I've had a lot of stress in my life recently with: my boss retaliating against me for the crime of having a child; then being forced to work for the county for 6 months under the threat of paying over $25,000 if a quit (a type of debt slavery); then finally being able to quit, but dealing with my offer being retracted everyone stopped hiring because of this virus.  If not for my totally awesome family and that COVID stimulus check, I would be totally screwed right now (instead I still have a fleeting hope of making through this in one piece while my wife works).  Anyway, enough about me, I made my bed, I can work it out.

It wasn't all bad though.  I went through a round of interviews for Google.  It was an Software Engineer - Engineering Productivity interview (SWE-EngProd).  I was super excited by the idea of what I could do at the job, but unfortunately, I didn't make it through the hiring committee.  This is the second time I have made it this far in a Google Interview, but this time I really had a hard time with the virtual online interviews.  My excuse is the lack of a white board.Which has got me thinking about my next interview.  So... I got an idea...  If I practice like this:




Then maybe I should interview like this:

I don't know, maybe it's crazy to think like that ;P.

Regardless, I have an Amazon interview coming up, and I have been working on how I could do camera switching with Chime, and I came up with this idea.

I had purchased that overhead camera a while ago on Amazon just to see if this might work.  At the time I was thinking about creating an online YouTube class, and all the MOOCs I saw on Coursera and Udacity featured a video of a hand drawing on a white board.  So, I thought, why can't I do that?  I explain crap all the time to people.  So I bought it.

Now, the camera mount I got isn't available anymore, but the identical item can still be purchased under a different name.  Here is an affiliate link if you think you want to buy one of these:(I.E. I get paid if you click the link and buy one.)  Anyway, here are links to the "Photo Copy Stand" and the webcam I have connected to it:


Full disclosure, I used a cheap little dry erase board I had laying around, but I did just buy a 48"x36" magnetic dry erase board for the back of my office door, and it works great with those magnetic dry erase markers.  I am normally an expo marker person, but the Amazon bookstore in the mall had those in the checkout isle, so I grabbed it while getting something else.

I also used those cool little 2040 Design Studio Pugoo pads, where are these awesome sticky pads that I use as a non-permanent adhesive, but it looks like that company doesn't exist anymore.  So, I can't shill for them too.  That's right people, I am selling out by putting an advertisement on my blog. What else will unemployment drive me to do?

I promise not to go too crazy with the advertising, but I think the context here works, so I'm going to do it.  Oh, about that $165 webcam, that price is inflated due to COVID.  Normally, that's a $70 webcam, but because everyone is working from home, laptop webcams suck, and most people don't like the new $200+ webcams, this older but still pretty good webcam is in much higher demand that normal.  So, unless you are desperate, wait for Logitech to pick up production again.

ok, so, I'm trying my hand at being a corporate shill, but at least I'm promoting some things I actually use... I think saying that will help me sleep at night.  Other than that, the family is doing good.  We still have the house, and I'm still interviewing for work, and that's about it for now.

Later,

     SteveO

Regarding Bernie Blackout



So, many of you may have heard about the recent Vice documentary Bernie Blackout.  I recently saw it, and I have to say it's nice to know other people noticed the same thing as me.  I think they sum it up best with this one chart I grabbed from the show:

Screen clipping from the Vice Bernie Blackout Documentary.
I think it's really telling that every single time one of the news networks started talking about Bernie, it was phrased in a negative light.  For example, all candidates had about 2% of their supporters talk negatively about others online, but because Bernie had more supporters than all others combined, this lead to the invention of a false "Bernie Bro" narrative.  If he won a state, then it was somehow the smallest win in history.  They call this the Carl Rove strategy in the documentary, and I guess so, I don't really know to be honest.

Then there are the three spikes that occur in that bar graph: one the day before super tuesday, one at the end of super tuesday, and one on April 9th.  These are interesting because the largest spike, before super tuesday, the media chose to talk about everyone except Bernie.  Then the other two spikes were the two times where Bernie was talked about more than the others candidates; these were the day the media reported Bernie lost on super tuesday, and the day Bernie announced he was dropping out, proclaiming that Biden "won".

However, Biden didn't really win.  He was propped up by every other candidate that dropped out as well as the media narrative.  It's the same thing that happened with Hillary in 2016.  Bernie was filling stadiums with people he would bring to the Democratic Party; not the anti-Trump crowd that would vote Democrat no matter what, but people who have lost hope in our political system and would have voted for someone who actually believes what they are saying.  Those who are disenfranchised by people like Hillary and Biden.  The people who the Democratic Party doesn't care about.  People who actually believe in democracy.

Overall, I liked the documentary, and I think you should hop on over to Vice and watch it.  I felt that sort of tightness in your chest when someone is preaching to the choir of a repressed group; you know, it just kept tugging on my heart strings.  It pointed out a lot of things I felt were obvious.  Like the fact that people supported Bernie because he was promoting what they believed, not some evil old man putting ideas in their head.  It's why Hillary lost in 2016, and it's why I think Biden lost on April 9th.  Not because Bernie didn't support Biden, but because Biden (Hillary 2.0) doesn't stand for anything.

So, this is where I lose faith in our system again.  The same thing happened in 2016.  I had hopes for a candidate that would actually believe the purpose of government is to serve the people which is represents, but then we ended up with a choice between a douche and a turd sandwich.



Anyway... I guess that's my rant for now.

Later,

     SteveO

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Adventures in the Land of Oracle and the Peoplesoft Test Framework

Hey everybody,

    I've been writing test cases with the PeopleSoft Testing Framework for the past year and a half, and I've found it hard to find any real objective feedback regarding how this framework operates and whether it's a tool that various businesses want to use.  So, I thought I would scribble my thoughts on the matter, and talk about testing with this interesting tool.  Oh, and just to be clear, I have a strong opinion that I am sure you will understand by the end.  (Scroll to the last line if you want to know the spoiler.)

   First, what is this thing about which I speak?  Oracle bought PeopleSoft some years back, and a tester on that PeopleSoft team wrote a UI automation tool to test new features when they come out.  He called this thing the PeopleSoft Testing Framework (which I will call PTF).  It is included with PeopleSoft, and it is a database-driven layer on top of Selenium as well as a UI to write/record and playback tests.

   When the County hired me to come on board and write their tests, I had never touched PeopleSoft before, and all I knew about it was that big companies use it for HR like stuff.  I think they hired me because the PTF UI had just enough clues for me to look at it, and see the similarities with Selenium development.

    Because I know Oracle gets a little litigious at times, I'll just describe the UI rather than post a screenshot.  The UI feels like a 90s era muti-document interface, complete with awkward elements that won't fit quite right on the page, and the inevitable empty spaces that almost always take up a third of the screen.  You have a sidebar that displays a folder tree along the left side, and inside that you will find tests and test shells.  The test shells are containers for you to execute tests from in a specific order.  The main meat of the program comes from tests - which look a lot like test shells - and are displayed as a table of values.  Each row is a test step, and the steps have some general properties like ID, comments, and a checkbox to toggle a step active/inactive; however, the meat of the tests is contained in the Type, Action, Recognition, Parameters, and Value fields.

     Type is used to point your action to a type of element on the page, the browser itself, or back at the PTF tool to run a function.  Each Type has a list of supported Actions (I.E. the type "button" has a "click" action.  The Recognition is mostly used for HTML element selectors, but there are exceptions to this, like the "Page" type, which uses GoTo and a unique identifier for the page.  You can pass Parameters to a special type of test call a library tests, and the "Get Property" Action on many Types will use Parameters to determine the exact property you want as well as what Variable you will store it as.  Finally, every test has a set of Test Cases, which use the Value field to create variants of the test.

Here is an example of what a test case would look like:
TypeActionRecognitionParametersValue
BrowserStart_Login
PagePromptManagePosition.GBLadd
PagePromptOk
TextSet_Valuename=POSITION_DATA_EFFDT$0&effdt

     The above, opens a new browser and logs in with a test user specified in the global PTF configuration (more on that later.)  it loads a page, with a value of "add", which actually loads a URL within the PTF environment (again in the global configuration), then clicks over to a section to create a new user.  PromptOk is a special action to click that add user command.  Finally, it enters text into a textbox on the page with the desired name.  The Value here is actually a variable, stored globally in the database.

     So, I said globally there a couple times.  PTF uses a global configuration for each environment; this locks down the base URL for the test, specifies a browser, and securely stores a username/password for use in your tests.  Also, because EVERYTHING is stored in the database, so are the variables, in fact, you can view your PTF variables using the regular PeopleSoft web UI.  There are also certain permissions in PeopleSoft security to allow a user to create, modify, or run PTF related things.  I'm not getting into that here.

     Now, I described the UI a lot, but if you go down the road to learn about PTF, everyone promotes the test recorder feature.  It does it's job well, but only works in Internet Explorer, and not even Microsoft wants to support that anymore; however, it will record what you click on and where you go.  There are also a few configuration options for making it recognize when you are just clicking through menus, and it will deactivate those steps in favor of a single goto action (however, it saves both methods to the test.

     Once you record some tests it is time to playback, which is the part about PTF I hate the most.  When you playback tests they run extremely slow.  I don't know if it's something the County has done or everyone has the same problem, but the tests are only capable of filling out about one text box per minute.  I have seen it take 5 minutes just to log into the system.  In theory, your tests would be running over night when nobody is sitting around watching the paint dry, but I have had a lot of problems getting command line execution to work correctly, and nobody can touch the keyboard or mouse while the tests are running.  I have also had a whole host or problems getting it to run in a Windows VM as well, and you can wave goodbye to Linux support.

    We found that things run well as long as we had a dedicated computer sitting in a corner cube to run the tests on, and we didn't mind leaving the computer unlocked when we walk away while still signed in... this part always makes me cringe.  I dread the day someone causes havoc while logged in with my credentials because of this issue.  I have found that if I log in using remote desktop, things work okay most of the time, but then I need to babysit the tests because we will occasionally get errors because it won't type in a value in some random text box; I suspect this is some sort of network related snafu, but it makes execution hard.  If you run in Hyper-V, get ready for random crashes and network failure messages, and god help you if you are connected to a VPN.

     As you might have picked up on at this point, running the tests requires constant babysitting.  I was told and once upon a bunch of the tests passed on to me ran smoothly, and nothing ever went wrong, but in my experience, this has never been the case.  You will run a testshell, that shell will call five test cases that run great, then the sixth one fails.  You review XML the log in PTFs internal log viewer and find that it didn't type in a required field, and the test failed half way through creating a complex object.  Fixing the problem looks like this:

  1. You take the shell you are running, and deactivate the tests that succeeded
  2. click into the failed test, make sure you are viewing the correct test case
  3. deactivate whatever steps succeeded
  4. possibly add an extra step to open the partially created object and edit it 
  5. deactivate all the steps in the shell after the object is created
  6. re-run the test... the mysterious failure goes away!
  7. remove or deactivate the step that you possibly added to the test
  8. re-activate all the stuff that was deactivated in step 3
  9. deactivate everything that has been run in the shell
  10. reactivate anything that was not run in the shell
  11. run the shell again and pray you don't get another failure like that
  12. possibly repeat steps 1-11 several times, but for a different failure in another part of the shell.

As a result of running these automated tests a few times, I know in detail all of the steps created in each script.  I know that if one part of the test fails, I need to manually go into the database and correct the data by hand with SQL or a compare report will fail.  I have an intimate knowledge of this kind of thing just from troubleshooting my tests, and saying.. well, lets see what happens if I just push forward with the tests even though that step failed... or I just repeat this step and create a new position rather than correcting an incorrect position.

Getting support from Oracle is painful.  You always get sent to an over-sea support center where they ask the same 10 questions before escalating your issue, meanwhile, you only get one message per day unless you decide to work in India's time zone; often times, issues will magically resolve themselves after a week with no action done by you. 

There is also no community support.  Or very little.  Most forum topics are asking for success stories with PTF, and the Oracle PTF focus group hasn't proven to be a source of information.  The only documentation Oracle has on the the tool is a chapter in their documentation on PeopleTools, and a $2,000 course that pretty much just walks you through the UI, and the teacher will not understand in-depth technical questions about the tool.

However, in the back of my mind, I keep looking back on my previous decade of experience before coming to work here.  I think back to the days of coding tests in Specflow/C#/Selenium... or Mocha/Webdriver.io/Javascript... heck, the other day, just for laughs I implemented a few of my tests in Robot Framework with Python... and that is when I lost all hope for PTF.

I admit, the idea of hiring a developer to write automated tests can be intimidating, but if you have a budget for using PeopleSoft, you have a budget for it.  The thing about Robot Framework specifically that really won my admiration at this point is actually the report it generates.  Just google RobotFramework tutorials on YouTube, or you might be able to access Lynda.com for free via your public library's website (you don't even need to leave home!)  Why do I happen to like it?  I'm glad you appear to care!

     Robot Framework has a nice keyword driven syntax.  So, you can start by describing your test in english, and gradually convert each sentence into code.  For example, start by writing a user-story like suite name  "As a ___ I want to do ___ so that ____ happens."  Then elaborate with a series of "Given ___ when someones does ____ then ____ happens" tests.  Each line of that file is a keyword, so, you can create a hierarchy of .robot files that define each keyword as a series of steps.  There are tons of libraries to add database, API, and even Selenium/Appium functionality to your tests, and if you really need custom functionality, everything is open source, and there are even tutorials on how to create your own custom libraries written in python.

     The tests support running locally, pointing at your own Selenium grid, or pointing to a cloud provider like browserstack of Saucelabs. You can even run multiple browser simultaneously.  However, best of all, is that report file.  It gives you a great summary that breaks down each file run into a bar graph of how many tests in that file passed/failed.  When you hit failures, clicking on the failed test opens a detailed log page, and you can drill down to the exact step that failed (complete with screenshots.)

     As a proper test automation framework, RobotFramework gives you the ability to write a custom piece of code that automatically run before/after all the tests as well as before/after each test.  Plus, there is a Jenkins plugin that perfectly integrates the whole thing into your build reporting pipeline.  Using a different CI server?  Don't worry, you just need to specify a folder to save the report in, which will contain everything you need.  results are in XML by default, but you can change formats if that works better for you.  I'm sure people will make more plugins for the Atlassian and Microsoft crowd too.

The final amazing part is that there is tons of documentation and an active community.  During the process of writing a few tests as a POC to compare against PTF, I found a link to almost everything I needed on the main website, and nearly all the github documentation pages followed the same format.  Nearly every question I came up with had an answer on Stack Overflow already.  The couple I had to ask were answered pretty quickly.

So, my conclusion is that it's really hard to compare PTF with a Selenium framework.  The theory behard PTF is that your PeopleSoft experts will be able to record tests and play them back rather than running tests manually, and sometimes it works that way, but my experience has not gone that way at all.  The reality has been that I need to fall back on my Selenium experience and web development background constantly.  I frequently end up using browser development tools for inspecting elements and exploring page DOMs to better define my selectors.  I've spent so much time debugging the tests, I constantly wonder if it really is faster than running the tests manually. 

That said, let me circle back for a second to this topic of learning curve, because that seems to be the #1 thing going for PTF at this point.  For that, I point you to Selenium IDE.  A wonderful tool that gives you almost all of the functionality of PTF.  Just record you tests in a browser, and you can play back the tests.  However, when troubleshooting, in both situations, you will need a lot of technical knowledge to parse through the depths.  So, if you are writing Selenium tests in C#, PTF might be easier, but it's not nearly as powerful.  Javascript is probably just as steep of a learning curve.  However, I think Python with Robot Framework is the easiest way to go.

TLDR:

PTF has poor documentation, little-to-no community support, inadequate corporate support, its limited to only controlling a single browser ata time, while connecting to a single PeopleSoft environment at a time, on a dedicated computer, and has no Continuous Integration server support.  On the other hand, Selenium has tons of documentation, a massive community, supports multiple simultaneous browsers, can handle multiple URLs to any site simultaneously, can run in the background on your workstation, and was built to be run from a Continuous Integration server.  Additionally, Selenium is way faster, and only a slightly steeper learning curve in some cases.
   

Anyway... I just had to vent for a few minutes... PTF is driving me nuts right now.

Later,

     SteveO
Spoiler:  I have grown to hate PTF and will never recommend people stray away from Selenium.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Can I come back to blogging?

So, I've been debating with myself if I want to go back to blogging again.  I tried switching to wordpress for a little while, and I even hosted my own wordpress blog on my home computer (pretty much just for personal journaling, not really to share.)  I keep wondering if anyone really cares what I have to say.

So, in the meantime I've: had 2 kids; bought a house; changed jobs... 3 times?; gotten what seems like a dozen certifications; Jaani died; and firmly established that I hate mowing the lawn.

Some of these things have not been completely positive... Jaani died on my birthday last year, which was a pretty traumatizing event; I'm just happy my older daughter didn't cry too much, because I would have lost it.  My younger daughter has officially been alive for 4 weeks as of today.  That's kind of an accomplishment; even if a really low bar.  My marriage is going really well; it appears I married super mom, and it just adds to the immediately apparent things that have gone well (however, improvements to our financial situation is probably still more immediately apparent... despite taking a 30% pay cut to work at the County.

So, let me break out to talk about the work situation.  In April of 2016... oh man, I had just left Avanade... that seems like a lifetime ago.  My wife was still pregnant with our first daughter.  So, I had left Avande on April 1st... they announced in the previous January that they were outsourcing our team to India... I spent the next few months teaching unqualified people in India how to do my job.  I honestly don't think any of them knew what they were doing, and inside sources tell me the project was scrapped as a result.  Avanade offered me a lesser job on April 4th... literally the next working day after April 1st.  I interviewed for Rightside, Amazon, and Avanade in the middle of April.  Avanade wasn't really so much of an interview, because I had interviewed for that role the previous February, but a check in to see if I would come back.

I told Avanade I would take the roll so I wouldn't lose unemployment for the next few weeks before I could start there.  Amazon and Rightside spent a week or two deliberating as they interviewed candidates; they responded within a day of eachother, and I chose Rightside because they had the most competitive of an offer as Rightside did...  So I ended up accepting the Avanade role, worked for three days, and quit when Rightside made an offer.  I worked at Rightside's Enom.com team until January 2017, when our team was sold to Tucows, and they laid off everyone. So, after a short search, I moved on to a contract with Expedia; I stayed there for about 10 months.  My manager there actually left after a month, so the whole 3-month contract-to-hire idea got messed up, and the team didn't have a budget to bring me on full time.  At one point, I saw a job application for the County, and just applied to see what it would be like.  They made me an offer, but it was a full 30% less than I was making at Expedia.  Honestly, I probably should have stayed at Expedia to see if they would make an offer once things on the team stabilized again, but - with some pressure from my wife - I decided to try life at a government job.  To be honest, it's stable, predictable, and low pressure most of the time, but I fear it doesn't challenge me enough.

So yea, that's my work story for the past 3 years...

Things are heating up on the training side too.  Last year, I did Microsoft Technical Associate certifications in Python and Computer Science; I got my ITIL certification, and I took 2 Peoplesoft classes covering PTF and Peoplesoft Security.  This year, I completed my Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification, and I'm committed to getting my ISTQB certification in mid-July.  I also signed up for a Google Cloud 12-week challenge to get a Google Associate Cloud Engineer certification, which makes me wonder if I should just go ahead and get my MTA for Cloud Fundamentals just because it's free...  I am also thinking about getting the Amazon Cloud Practitioner certification just to be well rounded.

 In addition to those certifications, I also finished a Professional Certificate in Six Sigma and Lean from the Technical University of Munich, and I will probably get the Google Cloud Architecture Specialization from Coursera because I can get a free month to work on it, and I will probably have some time with my upcoming parental leave.

Life with kids is different too.  I was starting to get used to having one around, and now that we have two, I feel like I need super mom to gain some upper body strength (the one area she is lacking...)  It gets hard to carry both of them around, and she is already overpowered by one 2 1/2 year old...imagine a 2 year old with a 4 1/2 year old...  But the kids are great overall.  They have their moment.  Right now they compete to see who can cry louder at 3AM... or how many times they can make mom go back-and-forth between the two bedrooms.  However, with the older one being able to talk more... and form sentences.  They say the darndest things.

anyway... that's a huge update.  Let's see if I can keep this up to keep things brief in the future 'eh?

later,

     SteveO

Sunday, April 24, 2016

My post politically active year ever!

     So, aside from being a vocal Bernie Sanders supporter, I have also participated in more aspects of the social process than ever before.  I have been a regular contributor by making small $10 weekly payments to Bernie's Campaign, and I've even engaged in phone banking (an activity that I absolutely despise.)  All because I feel like for the first time in my life, a political figure actually represents my views.  However, I have been learning a lot about Hillary supporters in this process, and I would like to take a few minutes to describe what I am hearing from them.

     First of all, there is not much (if any) talk about what actual policies Hillary supports.  The vast majority of people I speak with just say they want to vote for her, and usually say they don't have a reason.  Honestly, who can blame them.  News channels like CNN and MSNBC only cover how much Hillary disagrees with the other candidates, but there is never any talk about what Hillary is planning to do.  She just talks about how she is being attacked by Bernie Sanders, who has tried more than any other candidate to keep the debate about policy issues, but she has only engaged in mud slinging.

     If her time as First Lady, A Senator, or as Secretary of State are any indication of what to expect, then we can rest assured it will be a year dominated by news of the various scandals she is involved with.  We can rest assured that she will continue to deregulate the banks, and we can be certain that the countless wars we actively engage in will continue to receive more tax dollars year after year.  Furthermore, the TPP would be signed, and tax loopholes would be expanded to provide new alternatives to Panama, now that recent events have exposed that loophole.  Our healthcare system would continue as is, and she would make more grants available to finance college education; both of these are part of the problem leading to astronomical College tuition rates and healthcare costs.  This is what we should expect if Hillary does exactly what she has been doing throughout her career.

     I have not talked with a single Hilary supporter who understands what Hillary will do, nor can they even explain what she claims she will do.  Again, who could blame them.  In order to figure out what her claims are, you need to sift through pages of empty campaign slogans and glittering prizes, and you still won't read much about what she actually plans to do.  Most of the time, especially in terms of campaign finance, you are looking at a candidate who benefits greatly from Citizens United and secret funding from Super Pacs; not to mention that she gets sanctioned for campaign finance violations in every campaign she has run.  However, thanks to the Clinton Defence Fund, she can just treat these pesky fines as the cost of doing business as usual.  If she did bring campaign finance reform, it would most likely be in the form of opening up contributions so she wouldn't have to pay so much in court fees and sanctions.

     One thing Hillary has established, is that she knows how to speak out against the ideas of others, but where she is lacking is the actual follow through on her own views.  She considers contacting your state representatives and asking them to support your candidate "harassing the Super Delegates."  She calls Bernie Sanders unqualified with no basis, and then claims she is being viciously attacked when Bernie said taking tens of millions in campaign funds from special interest groups through her Super PACs makes her unqualified; he claims that supporting the Panama Free Trade Agreement makes her unqualified.  Honestly, based on her campaign claims from her own website, she is claiming that she will eliminate the very things that have allowed her to run for president.

I cold continue to go on, and honestly, when it comes to the issues she lists on her own site, nearly every one of them is in direct contradiction to the actions she has taken throughout her political career.  Honestly, I can't go through all 30 of them here, but I encourage you to do some fact checking, and see what she has actually done.  You , may be suprised to find that while many of the points she makes on her site seem good on the surface, she does not have a plan to achieve any of them, and history has shown that she typically voted against these views in the past; with a few exceptions like Alzheimer's, sexual assault, and disability rights.  However, those are no-brainer issues that have not even come up during the campaign; additionally, everyone agrees with those points.

In closing, Anonymous has a great video that lists the scandals that Hillary was involved in.  While I admit some of these are not substantiated claims, but it was proven that she repeatedly lied to the public, she pardoned FALN terrorists, and repeatedly committed record setting campaign fraud offenses.  Anyway, take a look at this video, and judge for yourself.

   

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Why I Chose Bernie Sanders

Before half of our precinct showed up, they had to move us to the hallway because we didn't fit in the room...
After caucusing today, I got really riled up about why I chose Bernie. (121 people in my precinct, 93 for Bernie, 23 for Clinton – well over 1,000 for my district showed up!) Part of it was because I chose to get involved when it came time to give arguments supporting him after the Clinton candidates spoke, and the thoughts are bouncing around in my head now, so I feel like I need to get them out! So, here I go… A vote for Bernie is a vote for:
  • Eliminating the health insurance racket, not reforming it.
  • Eliminating the overpriced private school system we refer to as Universities and Colleges, in favor of updating our public school system to include a college education.  Increasing access to grants and student loans has resulted in over a Trillion dollars of outstanding debt, and the 37th education system in the world in terms of quality.
  • Eliminating tax loopholes, that allow large corporations like the NFL, Microsoft, Walmart, and Apple to shift profits to overseas tax havens, costing the American public Billions in taxes each year (I.E. $40 Billion from Microsoft and nearly $100 Billion from Apple every year!)  Plus we all know the NFL should not be considered a non-profit tax-exempt organization.
  • A vote to repeal citizens united, which Hilary has utilized in every campaign she has run in the past 6 years (thus, no way in hell she would change that.)  I suppose rootstrikers.
  • A vote for trying to confront Islamic extremists by disproving their argument (and primary recruiting tool) that the western world doesn’t care about them.
  • The only hope for achieving peace in the middle east is to treat each of the countries involved as equal partners in a mutual resolution to conflict. (I.E. Remain neutral and not side with Israel and Saudi Arabia exclusively in opposition to Iran).
  • We need to adjust our tax laws to remove tax caps for high income households; especially in terms of the 15% investment income tax, which almost exclusively applies to people with annual income above a million dollars.
  • We need to ask the question of where the money to pay for war is coming from.  This money is obtained by punishing the teachers and schools in this country with insufficient funding.  It is obtained by punishing the citizens of this country by not maintaining our existing infrastructure.  It is obtained by devaluing public transportation, and denying people a mass transit alternative.
  • We need to recognize that we only have one planet, and if we break it we might not be able to fix it.  Global warming is real, and regardless of how it is happening, we need to take every action possible to slow or reverse it’s effects.  We need to reduce subsidies for oil, coal, and nuclear power production, and increase subsidies for solar, wind, and geothermal power production.  There is no reason we shouldn’t have a 100% green power grid by 2020.
  • We need to promote a more sustainable materials economy.  Our buildings, electronics, and other consumer goods need to be designed to be broken down into raw components that can be used for the next generation of consumer goods.  This type of technological ecosystem will reduce the burden of disposing of waste, and reduce the demand for destructively mining new raw materials.
  • Electric vehicles are one of our best bets to reduce CO2 emissions.  Even though the current electric grid would produce a similar or greater emission per mile than gasoline cars; centralizing the source of emissions increases the feasibility of eliminating CO2 emissions from transportation.