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Social Security Abuse: A New Low! 

Historical


By now surely we all know that using the social security number (SSN) as a form of identification - as specified in the original social security act - is illegal.

Unlike the modern crop of career politicians, for obvious reasons our ancestors found the practice of allowing any government to number their citizens both irksome & immoral. Perhaps a partial explanation of this parity was that - rather than seeking jobs-for-life as overly-resourced representatives - a mere generation ago our lawmakers fully expected to become part of "we the people" once again, too?

Modern Trends


Indeed, modern attempts by liberal, clueless leaders have sought to require "we the people" to surrender our numbers upon-demand to everything from law-enforcement agencies to furniture rental stores.

Keeping such intolerable abuses of our retirement account identifiers in mind therefore, perhaps we should be thankful that identity theft has caused us all to be a lot more protective of our common governmental markings?

Yet I write this morning not to belabor the obvious and various outrages against your personal freedom. No: I write today to share yet another twist in the torrent of SSN outrages, as presently being perpetrated against United States Citizens everywhere.

A New Low


I was mentally heading-out the door to teach a 3 weeks worth of classes at Vanguard. After reading their identification requirements, I simply had to tell the world about them.

In a document entitled "Facilitator Instructions for Background Check" I was dumbfounded to read:

"1.Background Check

The instructor must complete and return the attached Vanguard Access Card and Vehicle Registration Form prior to the training event. We do not have electronic submission at this time. Please print the four page document and complete the following:

Validate the Name field in the "General Information" section on Page 1, updating if necessary to match the facilitator’s name as it appears on their government-issued ID (e.g., Social Security card for U.S. citizens, Social Insurance Number if Canadian or passport for non-U.S. citizens).

Complete the "Personal Information" sections at the bottom of Page 1 through the top of Page 2 and again at the bottom of Page 3 through the top of Page 4

NOTE: This section requires a Social Security number; Social Insurance Number if Canadian, non-U.S. citizens may use 999-99-9999."

The Point


It seems that, abuse of all abuses, that "We The People" now OFFICIALLY have FAR LESS PRIVACY AND SECURITY THAN THAT BEING OFFERED TO FOREIGN NATIONALS. Even a potential terrorist enjoys more freedom!

(Ironic, isn't it?)

Many of U.S have passports (if not active DoD security clearances, too!) -Rather than illegally FORCING us to FAX the independent security-trolls the very key to our financial future and mental well-being, why not let EITHER of those be enough... just as they are for any NON-US Citizen?

–Yea, yea, we know: If you GOT it, then why not ABUSE it?

Far too sad! Yet once again, it all looks like a clear case of shame on ... uh ... someone. -Will history record that the onus for letting our freedom slip away was upon U.S... or the lawyers, sycophants, & trolls? ;-)


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Learn how io Program with VB.NET 
The summer is upon us! -If you have kids who love to sit in-front of a computer playing games (or, "if you have boys?"), then I wanted to help you help our future GNP.

How to brighten your economic future? By simply taking a moment to discover a way to 'encourage' your kids to become software producers, rater than software consumers.

Best of all, from software development tools to summer-time programming lessons, learning how to write software is free.

For those already familiar with our free training seminar, then here is the next part of the training designed to teach the absolute beginner how to write software using Visual BASIC.NET (or "VB.NET".)

Happy Summer,

-Rn


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Virtualization, Windows 98, and Java - Oh My! 
Lots of folks just LOVE those old Microsoft Operating Systems. Be we looking to play a classic game, run a licensed application, or simply enjoy the ability to use Windows 98 and / or Windows 2000 much like we would any activation-free operating system, having the ability to "just boot it" is a refreshing experience.

Indeed, in as much as most folks with any tenure in the industry at-all have 8 to 10 classic Windows 98 / Windows 2000 licenses with keys, the fact that we are not even able to re-activate Win98 or Win2K over and over again ... is a real bonus!

So while doing a little testing for a book I have been researching, I decided to pop-in a '98 next to the '2K, 'XP and '7 in Oracle's Virtual Box.

Installing Windows 98


With something as old as Windows 98 (almost 15 years at the time of this writing!), one might expect a few "gotchas" along the way.

When creating your Windows 98 VM using Virtual Box, be sure to:

(1) Don't be afraid to use a lot of resources: Windows 98 can address 1.5GB of RAM, as well as a few gigs of disk - feel free to chew-up a little over 135GB on that virtual hard drive. Most folks find that 2GB is usually more than enough.

(2) Like any old software, do NOT let that hard-drive expand virtually! When creating the virtual drive therefore, be sure all disk is formatted & ready for use - just like we have to do when installing SQL Server!

(3) Be sure to enable linear, real-mode addressing!

To enable the supported "flat-mode addressing" in the VM, while creating the VM simply click on "Settings" then (a) select the "Processor" tab under "System" to "Enable PAE/NX", then (b) under the "Acceleration" tab, be sure to DISABLE VT-x/AMD-V (and yes, I was using an AMD chipset - the downgrade works fine.)

(4) While installing Windows 98SE (the recommended release -- available on eBay for about $10), feel free to click "Y"es on the two blue-screen message you may get if they are complaining about missing DLL's. This is a soft problem. Works fine afterward.

Installing Java


Java 5 is officially the last release to support Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME. If we can endure a single install-time warning however, Java 6 Update 7 (1.6.0.7) was the last demonstrably working version. Use jre-6u1-windows-i586-p.exe after installing '95, '98, or 'ME.

Before installing Java however, note that unlike my EzInstall (which includes the installer & un-installer as part of the program itself), that in order to install anything created with Microsoft Installers, you need to first install ... uh ... the installer. For Win98, we will also need to download Microsoft Installer Version 2.0.

Browser Caveats


There are two:

Of course the browser is ancient. In modern terms (CSS, XML, HTML 5) Windows Explorer will not do a lot for you.

Indeed, when I first started the '98 browser, by default it would not allow me to browse anywhere without selecting a modem.

We can easily get around that problem by setting up a LAN to connect to the Internet before opening the browser the next time.

The second browser problem is the default home page. Since Windows 98 is no longer supported, the junk loaded at the default Microsoft site actually crashed the bowser!

To fix the problem, simply cancel the browser-fetch when you first start Internet Explorer, then set up the "use blank page" default under "Internet Options."

Virtual Box Caveats


Note that Oracle's Host Extensions will not work. The last of the 16 bit MS Operating Systems, one must get used to not being able to run 32 bit code. In as much as Win98 can boot MSDOS in real-mode however, folks with an interest in that DOS legacy can easily learn to live with the limitation.

Unfortunately, when we loose the ability to install Oracle's Host Extensions, we also loose the ability to share host-folders with a virtual machine. So while things like FTP, USB (if you can find a driver), ISO images, email, and CD-ROMS are viable data interchange options, note that the browser will allow us to pull things down just fine.

Support & Security


'95, '98, and 'ME are no longer supported. Don't even bother checking for updates (another bonus?) -After installing everything you need, consider disconnecting the VM from the Internet.

Why drop the 'Net? Because even if the VM is behind a firewall, there simply were TONS of back-doors and exploits (see the 'Bottom-line Benefits' section (below) for recovery information.)

By way of clarification, we should note that a down-to-earth (pun intended), home-spun, external-net-disabled LAN is great for game-play. Just remember: Less Internet, less attack surface.

(In a like manner, unless one lives well out-of-range, then be sure to button-down that wifi, too!)

Bottom-line Benefits


From an end-user point of view, certainly the greatest benefit of using virtualization is the ability to take snapshots, and export appliances. A snap-shot allows us to save an image before a potentially dangerous operation. If things go bump-in-the-core, we can quickly set the entire machine back to a last-stable snapshot. When restoring a snapshot, since the delta (restored change) comes from outside of the VM, even a newly-installed virus doesn't stand a chance of being a problem. (I use the snapshot feature a lot when installing, layering, and cross-upgrading software on Microsoft Servers!)

Exporting an appliance is also one great way to back things up. Unlike when using snap-shots, routinely exporting appliances will allow us to take our work with us (by importing the appliance to a laptop (etc.) "just like a book"), or recovering the entire (operating system + installed applications + our data) as part of an extremely robust disaster-recovery plan. --No safe deposit box should be without one.

Conclusion


After reviewing the above tome, I must admit that it all LOOKS a lot more involved than it is. Rather than being intimidated, just give it a try.

Enjoy the freedom!

-Rn




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