Category: DontPostOnHomepage


Unemployment and the Corona Virus

The CARES Act provides additional protection for people who are otherwise ineligible to collect unemployment benefits. The CARES Act came along just in time for me but it was not easy to collect.

I’ve been actively seeking employment since I was laid off from my previous full-time job. Perhaps the problem is my previous job was very good and I’m expecting too much from my new job. I received a very good severance package. When my severance ran out, I hit my 401K. The severance and 401K counted against my unemployment benefits. When I was spending my severance and 401K, I wasn’t eligible to collect unemployment. When I was finally able to receive payments, I was able to collect for only a few weeks. Shortly after I began receiving benefits, my unemployment claim expired.

I was able to find some short-term contract work. When my contracts ended, I earned just enough to start collecting unemployment again. After just a few weeks, I exhausted my benefits again. By then, Corona Virus was in full-swing and the Cares Act kicked in. But it was a major ordeal filing a claim. Unemployment benefits quickly became available for contract workers. Not so quickly for regular claimants with exhausted benefits.

Being a W2 claimant with exhausted benefits, there was no way for me to file and on-line pandemic claim. I called the unemployment hotline only to discover it wasn’t my day to call. A-M callers could call on Tuesday, Thursday, and a half-day on Saturdays. N-Z callers got Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It seems A-M people were gypped out of half a day. When I was able to get through the busy signals on my day, it was
“For contract workers press 1, for W2 new claims, press 2, all others press 3”
I press 2 or 3 then…
“All our agents are busy please try later”

I got the same message over and over. I happened to have an email for someone at unemployment who helped me previously. I asked her how to get through if calls were being accepted for contract workers, but calls for people with regular claims were not getting through. Since I had a regular claim on file and was not a contract worker, I was trying option 3 “all other questions” to get information. She replied, “call anyways, you will not be turned away”. So I pressed 1 for contract workers and got through.

The hold message said I could wait on hold, or they would call back when it was my turn. I wanted to be a good citizen and not tie up a line, so I opted for a call-back. No call-back. Another wasted day. I called back on my next day and selected option 1 for contract workers. They transferred me to the people for general inquiries. After 3 1/2 hours on hold, I got hung-up on. I called back asked to be transferred and got hung-up on again after four hours on hold.

The next day, I eventually got an agent who told me, the “system” was not able to process exhausted benefits claims yet. I should get an email telling me when I could file.

On Monday, the following week, I saw an on-line notice that the system was ready to process exhausted benefits claims (I never got my email). I needed some guidance on how to answer some of the questions. Since Monday wasn’t my call-in day, I waited until Tuesday. When I called in on Tuesday, I discovered they no longer had call-in days based on names. I could have called in the previous day. When I was able to get through, I was informed there was a special line for pandemic claims, so I called it. The pandemic line people told me they only process contract workers, call regular employment. I called regular unemployment, they told me they don’t process pandemic claims. I should call the pandemic line for exhausted benefits claims.

So I called the pandemic line again. She tried to turn me away, but I insisted. She started to enter my claim and ran into a question. She put me on hold to discuss the matter with her supervisor. Hung up again. I called the next day. The agent told me I already had a claim in the system, I would need to call regular employment. I called regular unemployment they told me to call pandemic unemployment. I called pandemic unemployment and got through just before closing.

“The work-day is over, can I call you back tomorrow?”
“Sure, fine”

The next day, no callback.

So, I decide to file a claim on my own. I can’t start a new claim because there is already a claim in the system. I can’t enter my existing claim because I don’t have a password. I try the “forgot password” button. It sends me a reset code. When I enter my reset code, it told me “The information I entered does match the information they had on file.”

I call the pandemic line again. The only thing they could do was enter a ticket. I should hear back in 48 hours. I try to log-on again the next day to check the status. Still can’t enter a new claim, already a claim in the system. I try a password reset again. This time, it wouldn’t even send me a reset code. Since my logon situation changed, I called the pandemic line.

Them: “Well, tickets might take longer they 48 hours, they’re really busy. Call regular unemployment”

Me: “can you enter a new ticket or update the existing ticket?”

Them: “My supervisor said she will not enter a new ticket. Call regular unemployment. She said to let you go. I don’t want to hang up on you, but she wants me to terminate the call”

So I call regular unemployment. Again. Expecting to get the run-around again, I get someone I spoke with before. This time she had access she didn’t have before. After …

PowerShell Remoting

In my most recent blog, I commented on Windows without windows. I was (and am) somewhat skeptical about Microsoft’s push to discourage the Graphical User Interface (GUI) interface on Windows servers. The GUI interface is more intuitive than PowerShell, but when managing a farm of remote servers, PowerShell can be more convenient and practical.

I worked in a redundant environment where some applications would run on over a dozen servers. When I deployed application updates, I would verify my work. Checking the status of an application by individually logging onto GUIs on a dozen or more servers would have been daunting and time consuming. Checking the status with PowerShell remoting is quicker, easier, and can be scripted.

There are several different PowerShell remoting commands. Many PowerShell commands have the “-computername” option in which an administrator can run a command on a local computer and execute the command over the network on one or multiple remote computers. That can be more efficient than signing on to multiple computers and running commands via the GUI.

Three common ways to PowerShell remote are:

Invoke-command -scriptblock {command} -computername {name(s) of computers separated by commas} [-Credential ]
You can place almost any PowerShell command between the curly braces. This is handy for PowerShell commands that don’t have the -computername option, or other commands that wouldn’t otherwise work remotely.
You can use the -credential option if you need to pass a logon and password.
A handy way to do that is:
$credential = get-credential

The above command will prompt for the logon and put encrypted credentials into a PowerShell variable
-credential is often unneeded in a domain environment and often needed needed in a workstation environment.

Invoke-command Example:
invoke-command -scriptblock {get process} -computername computer01, computer02 -Credential $credential

Another PowerShell remoting methodology is to open remote shell:
New-pssession {computer name remoting to} [-Credential ]
Enter-pssession {computer name remoting to} [-Credential ]
-credential is optional depending upon your environment

Finally, many PowerShell commands have the -computername option.
get-service -computername computer01,computer02

Unfortunately many of these commands do not have the -credential paramater. Using commands in a non-domain environment may be problematic.

Remote PowerShell doesn’t always work “out of the box”

The setup can vary depending if the client and destination computers on a workstation computer or a domain computer.

In general, these are the necessary set-up commands:

Remote computer: Enable-PSRemoting
Client computer (this is the computer you are remoting from):
set-item wsman:\localhost\Client\TrustedHosts -value [computer name/s or “*”)

You can check the value by:
get-item wsman:\localhost\Client\TrustedHosts

Some remoting commands require special setup. For example,
get-process requires the remoteregistry service to be running on the destination computer


Remote Desktop (RDP) with the GUI is an intuitive way of managing computers. If you are monitoring or managing just one or two computers, RDP with GUI can be the way to go. If you are managing a bunch of computers, PowerShell remoting can be handier, easier, and more efficient.



Windows Server Without Windows

In a recent blog post of mine, I said “New technology and ideas don ‘t come along very often. New ideas are often regurgitated old ideas.”

I have another example. Microsoft is moving away from the Graphical User Interface (GUI) for its Windows servers. GUI based Windows servers are now discouraged in favor of the “recommended” Server Core. Microsoft is now encouraging Windows server administrators to configure Windows without any windows. Remember MS-DOS? Wikipedia says “it was gradually superseded by operating systems offering a graphical user interface (GUI)”. I doubt if GUI based “Windows” servers will be “gradually superseded” by non-GUI servers but “Windows” administrators will be and are encouraged to do all their administration work via PowerShell.

I understand the reasoning for Server Core. No windows mean less resource consumption. It means a smaller attack surface. The downside is Server Core is not “intuitive”. Even with the Graphical User Interface, administering a Windows server takes training and experience. Server Core is designed to be administered with PowerShell. PowerShell has come a long way since it was first introduced but PowerShell is not intuitive. Server Core administrators will need to remember a vast set of esoteric PowerShell commands. Thankfully, PowerShell has a rather extensive help and fortunately, Server Core is not entirely command line. GUI commands such as notepad and regedit still work.

I’m trying to keep an open mind when it comes to Server Core but I am also somewhat skeptical. GUI based Windows servers are designed to be “intuitive”. I don’t always need to remember the exact details about how to configure a component. If I’m not sure how to configure a component, the Graphical User Interface can often guide me through the process. Not so much with Server Core. Help might guide me, but I need to remember the exact PowerShell command or at least part of the command to use Help.

It’s a good idea to be able to work on either kind of server. For that reason, I’m running Server Core in my home lab alongside GUI Windows servers. Should an interesting employment opportunity come along, I want to have the skills to meet the prospective employer’s needs. You never know when the boss will come to you and say “Hey Bob, I need you to build and manage a Server Core server for a new application”. I’m not going to say “I don’t know how to manage Server Core, see Joe”.​…


Google for Jobs

I’ve been a job seeker for a while and every morning, I go search through several job boards – Indeed, LinkedIn, Dice, Monster, Career Builder, Glassdoor, and ZipRecruiter. I know there are a BUNCH of job boards, but I decided to do a Google search to see if I was missing any. I learned I was using the most common boards. After my research I added Linkup to my job search engines. Several of the lists mentioned Google for Jobs.

I never heard of Google for Jobs, and even after Googling Google for Jobs, I had difficulty figuring out how to use it. Google for Jobs is not a separate website. It’s not a different URL either. Then I looked on Youtube I learned there’s a “secret” search string.

When using Google for Jobs, the first search keyword is “jobs”. Then enter the job title or job keyword, then enter the city. For example,

jobs manager denver

Google will provide the results in a highlighted window in the search results. And BTW, Google for Jobs doesn’t work very well in I.E. You might not achieve the desired result. When using Google for Jobs, I recommend Chrome.

Click the blue bar on top of the Google for Jobs Window and you can refine the job search such as date posted, etc.

Google for Jobs aggregates jobs from employer websites and multiple job boards. I find jobs from boards I don’t normally use, and from boards I use all the time. If a job is posted on multiple sites, Google will combine them into a single page and give you the option about which board to apply on.

One caution is sometimes less than savory job boards will scrape jobs from other job boards or employer sites. You click on the posting and it asks for your email before providing job information. Then it sends you to a listing of irrelevant jobs. I find that annoyingly common on Google for Jobs, but see it on other job boards too. After a while, you will be able to recognize the phony job boards. Just don’t be tempted to give them a good email address. I have an email I use when I don’t want to give my email out. Essentially, it’s for spam. I can still look in my spambox to make sure I don’t miss anything important, but having a spambox reduces the spam in my primary inbox.

It’s not a good idea to use Google for Jobs as your sole search tool, but it is a terrific way to find job postings that you might have otherwise have missed. I see job postings from boards I don’t ordinarily use but I also see jobs I missed from boards I regularly use.…


Book Review, A Republic If You Can Keep It by Neil Gorsuch

I recently wrote a book review about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s book In My Own Words. Now, I just finished Neil Gorsuch’s book, A Republic If You Can Keep it. Similar to Ginsburg’s book, Gorsuch’s book is mostly a collection of writings, speeches, and court opinions. That’s where the similarity ends.

Much of Ginsburg’s book is about Women’s rights and her political ideology. Much of Gorsuch’s book is about his love for the law. I’m not saying Ginsburg doesn’t love the law, it just wasn’t stressed in her book.

Gorsuch stressed he believes in the separation of powers, mostly that judges shouldn’t legislate. He questioned how non-lifetime administrative law judges can be impartial and expressed concern about the volume of rules and regulations passed by the Executive Branch. Laws should be written by the legislature.

Gorsuch is a firm believer that laws and the Constitution mean what they say. At least they should.

His book taught me about stare decisis. Stare decisis is the use of precedent (previous court rulings) to decide on new cases. I learned that stare decisis is only one factor of many that judges use to determine their rulings. Precedent is a major factor in determining the outcome of a judicial ruling, but precedent is not necessarily an overiding factor. Sometimes bad precedents are used to rule on new cases. But not always.

One of his points that interested me was that there is more agreement than disagreement between the justices of an appeals court or the justices of the Supreme Court.

I think his most important point is when a judge is happy with all of his rulings, he’s probably a bad judge. We as laypeople have opinions about court rulings. Some court opinions please us while other court rulings infuriate us. A good judge will base his opinions on the law and his rulings may not always turn out the way he wished it would. Beware of the judge that bases his rulings on his own personal opinions and not the law.

I’m probably more politically aligned with Gorsuch than I am with Ginsberg. One of the things that worries me, a little, was that after reading the book, I now realize Gorsuch will not base his court opinions on his political ideology. He will base his opinions on the law, even if he is unhappy with the way the decision turned out. Even though I may be disappointed in the way his court opinions may turn out, after reading the book, I have acquired a deep respect for the man.

In summary, no matter what your political ideology, I highly recommend A Republic If You Can Keep It for anyone who wants to get insight into how the man thinks.



Book Review: In My Own Words Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I like to read political books. Although I consider myself to be a conservative, I read books from varying political points of view. Any writing from Ruth Bader Ginsburg would most definitely be a liberal point of view. In her book, she unabashedly calls herself a liberal.
I was expecting her book to be autobiographical. Although her book did contain a biographical component, most of the book consisted of her writings, speeches, and court opinions.

Eighth Grade Opinion Piece

One of the first passages from her book was an opinion piece from her eighth-grade newspaper. She wrote about the five greatest writings of all time, the Ten Commandments, the Magna Carta, the British Bill of Rights, The US Declaration of Independence, and the UN Charter. Nothing about the US Constitution. Keep in mind this is a writing of an eighth-grader.

Part of her writing horrified me. She wrote about how the Magna Carta “gave the English peasants the first rights ever granted to them”. Rights being granted ??!! No, No, No, our rights weren’t granted. The Constitution doesn’t grant rights. Rights are natural, given by God. The Constitution doesn’t grant rights, it guarantees rights. Then I calmed down and remembered it was written by an eighth-grader and she was talking about the Magna Carta, not the Constitution. Interesting point though. The British get their rights from the Magna Carta and Americans get our rights from God?

Strong Believer in Women’ Rights and Affirmative Action

A large part of the book discusses her opinions on Women’s rights. She is a strong advocate for women’s rights. I guess I can’t blame her for that, she is a woman after all. She also devotes chapters to her opinions about affirmative action. She is a strong believer in affirmative action.

Foreign and International Law

She makes some interesting points about citations of foreign and international law. These kinds of citations have been used by both conservative and liberal justices. There is some controversy about whether or not these are appropriate in American court opinions. Her point was that foreign and international law are not used as legal president, but as reasoning to justify a court opinion.

I thought she made an interesting point about dissenting court opinions. She wrote about several of her dissents especially when she was on the losing side regarding women’s rights and affirmative action. Her point was dissenting opinions can spur the legislature to take action and pass laws to correct deficiencies that led to unfavorable court opinions.


In summary, if you are expecting an autobiography you will probably be disappointed. If you want to read a book about what makes Ruth Bader Ginsburg “tick”, the book will not disapoint. My timing for reading her book worked out very well. Just as I finished her book and returned it to the library, I checked out a book I had on reserve. The book? A Republic, If You Can Keep It. By Neal Gorsuch.​…


The Declaration of Independence, more than words on paper; Writing a Compelling Blog

This is the eighth article in my series for Toastmasters Leadership Development, Level 4, Write a Compelling Blog

The Declaration of Independence is the most eloquent, provocative, and powerful document ever written by mortal men. What can be more eloquent than “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.“? And what about these words… “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it“…. People have the Right to abolish their government?. Provacative even today. But words that give the Declaration of Independence its real power are the closing words….”we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor” The signers were willing to put everything on the line to achieve American independence. Everything. Of the 56 men who pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor, nine of the signers died in the war, five of those were tortured to death and twelve of them lost their homes and farms.

One of the heroic signers reminded me of the Lee Greenwood song, God Bless the USA. First of all, the Declaration of Independence was the first time the words United States of America (USA) were put on paper. When John Hart signed the Document he became a hunted man. For a year, he hid in caves and the forest. When he returned to his estate, it was looted and destroyed.

If tomorrow all the things were gone
I worked for all my life
And I had to start again
With just my children and my wife

All the things he worked for all his life were gone.
Hart couldn’t start over with his children and his wife.
You see, when he returned, his wife was dead. His children were scattered to the four winds, never to be seen again.

I thank my lucky stars
To be living here today
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom
And they can’t take that away

Yes, the thirteen-star flag did stand for freedom.
But they can’t take that away?
That wasn’t a sure thing. Not by a longshot.
Our nation was in a fight for its very survival. No, the British didn’t “take that away”, but they sure tried and almost did.

The story of John Hart was an extraordinary story of heroism. His story is only one of 56. Read about all of their stories. Watch a Youtube video. And don’t ever let anyone tell you the signers were nothing but a bunch of old white aristocrats. They were much more. They heroes one-and-all. We owe our great nation to them.…


The New Toastmasters Pathways Program; Writing a Compelling Blog

This is the seventh article in my series for Toastmasters Leadership Development, Level 4, Write a Compelling Blog.


Toastmasters is a formal do-at-your-own-pace education program. There are no “grades” just volunteers working together to develop their communication and leadership skills. Starting March 2018, Toastmasters from Colorado, Western Nebraska, and Eastern Wyoming, embarked on a brand new program known as “Pathways”. Members take an assessment which will recommend a program customized for the needs of each member. Each member is free to follow the recommended path or follow an entirely different path. Details on the paths are here:

The previous Toastmasters “education” program is scheduled to be phased out at the end of June 2020. After that, Toastmasters will not be able to earn awards under the old program. New members are currently able earn awards only under the new Pathways program. I earned my third Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) award just after the new program started. Upon earning my third DTM, I immediately started on the new Pathways program.

What is Pathways all About?

Pathways is a complete revamp of the Toastmasters program. It brings Toastmasters into the modern age. I remembered the old days when Toastmasters presentations were done with overhead slides and projectors. Millennials, do you even know what those are? Toastmasters projects were on paper manuals. Now, new Toastmasters select two paths. All the materials are on-line. Members take on-line self-assessments and view online videos. That’s quite an upgrade from before!

I’ve was in Toastmasters for many years before Pathways began so Pathways is quite an adjustment for me. I’m certain many of the older Toastmasters are having an even more difficult time adjusting. I’m a lifelong computer geek and I admit the transition is difficult even for me. I can only imagine how difficult things are for the non-technical oldtimers.

I try not to resist change. Officers in Toastmasters are expected to be advocates of the new program. As a club officer and former high-ranking District officer, I’m doing my best to be supportive. Fortunately for me, the timing worked out. I completed my traditional DTM program just as the new program was starting. I didn’t have to worry about rushing to complete my awards before the deadline. As time runs out, I know quite a few Toastmasters who are now rushing to complete their DTM’s. Personally, I hope Toastmasters extends the deadline.

Having completed the “traditional” program and earning three Distinguished Toastmaster Awards, I know the “traditional” program inside and out. I’m still learning Pathways. My two complaints about Pathways are Pathways prescribes that projects be done in a certain order. Under the traditional program, completing projects out of order was discouraged but possible and done all the time. My biggest complaint is that levels in Pathways need to be signed off before a Toastmaster can proceed to the next level. If club officers are slow in signing off on completion of a Pathways level, then the member is stuck in limbo and unable to proceed to the next level.


Pathways brings Toastmasters into the modern age. This blog is part of a Pathways project.There was no place for this kind of modern project under the older program. Even so, I am still reserving judgment. I don’t want to be an old fuddy-duddy and resist Pathways, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to enthusiastically support it either.…


The Bill of Rights, More than the First Ten Amendments; Writing a compelling Blog

This is the sixth article in my series for Toastmasters Leadership Development, Level 4, Write a Compelling Blog

A number of years ago, an extra copy of the Bill of Rights was discovered. The document went on a tour of cities all over the country. When the document arrived in Denver, Colorado I took the opportunity to see it. I was surprised to discover the Bill of Rights has twelve amendments, not ten. I can attest that I now know the bill of rights has twelve amendments because I saw it with my own eyes.

The framers of the Constitution were worried that the new Constitution would not be ratified by the states so they proposed a series of amendments (what became known as the Bill of Rights) to make passage more likely. Ten of the twelve amendments passed rather quickly, two of the amendments did not.

The original first amendment was not about freedom of speech, religion, press, or the right to petition the government. The original second amendment was not about the right to keep and bear arms. The original first amendment was about the number of representatives and the size of their congressional districts. The second amendment was about congressional pay. The second amendment actually passed, but not until 1992 when it ratified as the 27th Amendment. One can, therefore, argue that the Bill of Rights consists of the first ten and the 27th Amendment.


Godaddy Review, Writing a Compelling Blog

This is the fifth article in my series for Toastmasters Leadership Development, Level 4, Write a Compelling Blog

I’ve been a Godaddy customer for many years now. I use their domain registration, email, hosting, and a variety of other services. This website is hosted by Godaddy. Godaddy’s costs are a little high compared to other companies, but not overly so. Definitely not high enough for me to seriously consider changing providers. Actually, Godaddy often has promotions that make signing up for new services very reasonable. Call tech support and request help. They will email a survey. Fill out the survry and you will get 30% when you sign up for a new service. They also email unsolicited promotions. Same deal – sign up for a new service and get 30% off. Years ago, they would email promotions get 30% off any order. I would wait for the promotion, then renew. Can’t do that any more. They still send 30% of promotions, but their coupons are only good for new orders, never renewals. One way to get around that is to convert your old service to a new service. If you upgrade to a different but similar service, you may be able to save money with the discount.

I do call Godaddy’s tech support on occasion. They have 24×7 tech support, hold times are reasonable, rarely more than a few minutes. The call centers are Stateside. I never get techs with indecipherable accents. The reps are always personable, polite, and professional. They listen, and attempt to resolve my problem. Sometimes they are able to help, other times they don’t/can’t/won’t resolve my problem.

Recently, I received an email alert about a down website. I called tech support. The person at the end of the line was very personable and friendly. He investigated the problem, then informed me that I would need to pay for a plan for them to help me fix it. I declined and fixed the problem myself. More than once they told me the help I am asking for is beyond the scope of the normal tech support. They tell me I can purchase an extended tech support plan and open a ticket. “Usually” they will resolve my problem within 24 hours. Or they tell me I need to upgrade my service because the plan I’m on only offers very basic services, and I should be on a better (more expensive) plan. I am purposefully being non specific about the details to aviod revealing problems I have run into or technical information about the services I subscribe to.

I do occaaionally get calls from Goddaddy. The ask me how things are going, then go into a pitch trying me to upgrade my plan or buy additional services. One time they called to tell me I was using too much disk space then tried to get me to upgrade my plan. So they were bringing a technical problem to my attention. I investigated and found a very large file I didn’t need and deleted it. I didn’t need a more expensive plan.


Overall, I think Godaddy offers decent services at a reasonable price. Whenever sigining up for a new service check for discount codes. If you allow them to upsell you, ask for a discount. More than likely there is a discount code you can use. Once you are signed up, plan on paying full price for future renewalls. Godaddy has friendly Stateside tech support, but be prepaired for an upsell whenever you call them. …