Here’s a few thoughts on the candidates from last night’s debate in no particular order.
- Trump: He and Carson sounded the most non-scripted. Or perhaps running by their own script (very much outsiders). I liked what he said about the Iraq invasion of 2003 (it was a disaster) and I liked that he said he didn’t currently feel secure (because of W’s wars). Also high marks for raising vaccine skepticism.
- Carson: He certainly came across with a lot of poise and quiet assurance. I was impressed that he said he had counseled W Bush to not invade Iraq. However, he is calling for a bigger defense budget. Someone needs to show him what the current one is (greater than all other countries combined)! It’s comments like this that make me think he is still trying to be attractive to the big conservative campaign contributors.
- Rand Paul: It was the most I’ve heard him sound like his dad. But he’s been so all over the map on his positions that it’s very hard to have any confidence in him. His strategy to appeal to the mainstream Republicans and keep his father’s base has completely failed.
- Rubio: The most total neocon shill of all of them. This comment was the most hilarious of the night: Gangster in Moscow trying to divide NATO.
- Fiorina: Not impressed. Nothing much distinct about her. I thought Trump’s criticism of her time at HP had some teeth to it.
- Cruz: Comments on Supreme Court and nominees caught some of my attention.
- Jeb: Wimpy. But the most interesting comment was that everyone up there besides Trump had some connection to foreign policy people of Bush 41 and Bush 42. Yes, that’s right. That’s the influence of the Neoconservatives on display.
- Walker: Reference to his work in Wisconsin was important. But I know his foreign policy views are neocon dominated as well.
- Kasich: Don’t know much about him but his reference to his past experience creating jobs sounding intriguing.
- Huckabee: Mostly forgettable. I don’t remember anything significant that he said.
- Christie: Very patriotic and moved by 9/11 but this seems to make him very eager for more war.
It’s summer and you have teenagers at home not working and not in school. Or it’s during the school year and you are worried about the allure of easy media access distracting from studies. In this day and age, everyone has an internet connection with a wireless router. Most likely you have a smart phone and your kids have a smart phone or a tablet device which can access the internet via wireless router. There are dangers which you are probably well aware of. Access to explicit content on the internet is a click away. And even without that worry, the lure of media is like a strong intoxicating and highly addictive drug. Kids as well as adults are easily ensnared into this time consuming addiction.
What can you do? Here are a few things I am doing. Feel free to ask questions or make suggestions in the comments section.
For filtering of web content, I use OpenDNS. This service works by providing all of your devices with DNS name servers. These DNS servers are what translate URL addresses into numeric addresses that computers can understand. OpenDNS provides very flexible filtering of web sites. You can configure this filtering by using the OpenDNS categories or even creating your own filters.
The basic filtering service of OpenDNS is free and fairly easy to use. All you have to do is put the OpenDNS addresses into your wireless router. Since all devices in your home get their DNS addresses from this router, all devices are subject to the filters you set up.
Drawbacks of OpenDNS
OpenDNS works with Google so that all of your traffic is being analyzed and used by Google to understand your web browsing habits and use this data to more effectively market to you.
Another drawback is if you are using ATT uVerse. The uVerse router has DNS hard coded into it and the addresses cannot be changed. You can get around this by purchasing an inexpensive wireless router. You must then connect this router to the ATT uVerse router and configure it to DMZ mode. Then turn off wireless access to the uVerse router so that only your other router is available to use. It sounds a bit complicated but is not impossible.
After you have set up effective content filtering you are still left with the problem
of constant media access and it’s resulting overload leading to a form of addiction. Just think, when we were young, all the family had was one or two TVs. Now everyone in the house has a portable media device with access to the web, netflix, youtube and many other things to entertain them.
Device Access Scheduling
When you purchase a wireless router, check to see if the software of the router offers scheduling and device filtering. I am using a router which is compatible with the Tomato open source router software. Tomato offers the ability to set up internet access schedules. So I can define access times for any single or any group of devices which access our home wireless network. For example, during the summer I am turning off access to all devices during the day until 2 PM. Access goes down at 11 PM. During the school year this is changed so that internet access is open during the week for a short period of time later in the evening and then shut down again before bed time.
Your kids are most likely texting with their friends and classmates. This can be a very beneficial thing. I have seen instances where one of my kids forgot a book that the class was reading. One of her friends was able to take photos of the pages and send them to her to read. Texting allows for collaboration and communication which is an aid to learning. Of course there are dangers as well. But remember that all data going to the internet is passing through your router. This data can be intercepted and viewed. Is this fair? Well I think that it is my house and my equipment that is being used. I therefore have a responsibility to make sure this house and it’s technology are not being abused. I am looking into setting up surveillance of our network. In a future post I might discuss how this is accomplished.
We started using a phone service called Ting. This service does not use contracts and the billing is determined by data usage. Ting also allows for putting limits on data usage. So a particular device can be limited to how much data is allowed for a particular pay period. This can be helpful in preventing abuse of a cell phone. If a phone is being misused it can be turned off or removed from the account.
Pre-Loaded Tomato: The cost is slightly more but you get the benefits of Tomato. This web site offers routers pre-loaded with Tomato firmware. This makes it easy to get the benefits of scheduling that I have discussed above.
Surveillance: Viewing text messages from your router does not appear to be possible due to encryption. You can intercept them easily but they are not clear text.
When I was in music school, I think it was my junior year, at times I would hit the doldrums for practicing my instrument which was classical guitar. This particular year I took up the recorder as a way to bust out of it. It worked and I fell love with the recorder. There are similarities actually. Both guitar and recorder require lots of finger dexterity with odd hand/finger positions. They are both easy to play at first but take work to really master and play well. My teacher who was an early music specialist (played both baroque and renaissance lute) decided to start an early music ensemble at our school and I played some recorder in that group.
Thanks to my wonderful wife, I received my first wooden recorder as a Christmas gift this year. It is a Huber (made in Switzerland). It’s style is a cross between baroque and modern. It blows hard and has a loud but sweet sound. Perfect for solo and ensemble performance.
This video is of the performance for the prelude to our Good Friday service at our church. The continuo is played by our music director. It really worked out well having organ as accompaniment. I was a bit shaky and I had some noticeable bloopers but overall I am satisfied. I really love the sound of this instrument and playing it is pure joy. I hope we have some more opportunities in the future.