Category: Front Page Right


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”.​…


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.​…


Book Review: Permanent Record – Writing a Compelling Blog

This is the third article in my series for Toastmasters Leadership Development, Level 4, Write a Compelling Blog.​This article is also part of my book review series.

My book review for today is Permanent Record an autobiography of Edward Snowden. Snowden is the NSA contractor who revealed to the world that the NSA listens in on just about every electronic communication worldwide. When the eavesdropping was revealed, I was puzzled because I thought it was common knowledge that the NSA was listening in on everyone’s communications. I even remember seeing a documentary telling about an AT&T employee who discovered an extra cable coming out of a router and traced it to a secret NSA network operations center on the floor below.

I decided to read the book because this type of intrigue has always fascinated me. I’m also a computer geek and wanted to read about another computer geek. In some parts of the book, I was jealous of his computer expertise. In other parts of the book, his work seemed to be rather mundane.

The book starts with his earliest memories and was frankly, quite boring. I could only manage to read a couple of chapters a day. I wasn’t even sure I would be able to finish the book by the time it was due back at the library. Fortunately, the book picked up and got quite interesting from when he was recalling his time in Army boot-camp. The further I got, the more interesting the book got. By the time I was halfway through, I could barely put the book down

Parts of Permanent Record were a little technical but Snowden did an excellent job of explaining the technology without over-simplifying. I recently read an online book on a very technical computer subject I wanted to learn more about. The book was so over-simplified it was sickly. Snowden’s technical explanations were perfect. I already understood the technology he wrote about but didn’t find his explanations too simple. I think the non-technical person could easily understand his explanations, and a technical person won’t feel they are being talked down to.

One of the other things that puzzled me when the news stories first came out was how can a meer contractor have so much access to very sensitive information? Well, Snowden gained his security clearances as an employee of the CIA. He was a contractor because he could make much more money as a contractor than a government employee.

I remember watching the movie about Snowden. I don’t remember much about the earlier parts of the movie, but I do remember the later parts. The book seems to follow very closely from the time he decided to reveal the eavesdropping to the world.

I guess you can call Snowden a whistleblower. He definitely calls himself a whistleblower. He even cited an event from early American Naval history, when whistleblowers were protected by law. Even though the book predates current events, it gave me a different perspective about the Trump/Ukraine whistleblower.

By the time I finished the book, I realized the extent of the government’s eavesdropping is much more extensive than I realized. The title of the book, Permanent Record, is from his revelation that the government wants not only to listen in on every communication, but it also wants to keep a record of every communication. Forever. I won’t go into all of that, I’ll let you read for yourself. One thing I will comment on. Near the end of the book, Snowden said something quite disturbing but not surprising. The government knows I have read the book. He was talking about people who bought the book with their credit cards, but that would apply to people like me who checked the book out from a library.

Overall, I give the book a thumbs up. A fascinating read. The book will delight technogeeks and conspiracy theorists.…

How to Get Free Access to Classes, part of, offers a wide variety of on-line training classes. Classes on Lynda are on a subscription basis. A basic subscription is $29.99/month with a one-month free trial. The cost of an annual subscription is $17.99/month with a one-month free trial. Although I find the subscription cost to be reasonable, there is a way to get free access to – no subscription fee, and it’s completely legal and supported. More later.

I find the classes to be of high-quality. Most or all of the instructors are native English speakers and many of the classes have downloadable training materials such as scripts for labs, etc. I do not see a way to post questions or feedback on

I also purchase classes from Udemy charges on a per/class basis. The list price for each class varies, usually from about $100-$200 per class, though there is almost always a “sale”. Generally, the sale prices vary from about $9.99 – $29.99. If a class price is in the $29.99 range and you are not in a hurry, you can probably wait a couple of weeks and get a price from $9.99 – 13.99. Udemy classes have previews, so you can take a free preview to get a flavor for the class and instructor. Many of the Udemy instructors have thick foreign accents so be sure to take the preview. Like Lynda, many Udemy classes have downloadable training materials. One thing Udemy has that Lynda doesn’t is student feedback. Students can post question and comments. Questions are are answered by the instructor or other students.

How to get Free Access to

So how do you get “free” access to Have a library card? My library offers free access to classes. I’ve taken many. I don’t know if all libraries offer access to but it won’t hurt to check with your local library. I am pretty sure the free classes are restricted to libraries in the U.S.

Happy learning.…

Movie Review: Hunter Killer

I like watching submarine movies. From the old WW II movies, to the Russian submarines in distress, to the modern American submarine movies. Hunter Killer stars Gerald Butler and was released in 2018. I just received the movie from Netflix. This is my movie review of Hunter Killer

The movie starts with the unexplained sinking of American and Russian submarines. No one knows who is behind the sinkings. Tensions rise between the two nations because they blame each other. We later discover the attacks on the subs were staged by a Russian general. He is instagating a coup d’etat and holds Russian president captive.

An American submarine and SEAL team are tasked with staging a rescue. If you like suspense and blood-and-guts, this is the movie for you. The SEAL team is involved in shoot-outs, people die on both sides. Like most movies, the good guys are better shots than the bad guys. Even though most of the SEAL team is killed, they killed a lot more Russians. The submarine and naval warfare scenes are suspenseful and exciting.

I was never in the Navy, but I did notice the captain referring to the sub as a ship. My understanding is a submarine is a “boat”. Also, I did notice insubordination and open descent during the most perilous part of the mission when the captain was not acting in conventional manner. Without having military experience, I couldn’t say if that would happen on a real sub. And yes, I did see Crimson Tide.

Overall, I thought the movie was great. I rate it four out of five stars. It’s a must-see for anyone who enjoys submarine movies.

Book Review: Enemy of the People

Not long ago, I read Unmasked: Big Media’s War Against Trump by L. Brent Bozell. The book is an expose’ about the negative treatment President Trump receives in the press. After completing the book, I decided to get an opposing viewpoint by reading Enemy of the People Trump’s War on the Press, the New McCarthyism, and the Threat to American Democracy by Marvin Kalb. Kalb’s book certainly does present an opposing viewpoint. Here, I will review Enemy of the People and contrast with Unmasked.

Kalb began his book by stating he didn’t take Trump seriously. Kalb saw Trump as a “comic character” and a “real estate huckster”. It was clear from the beginning, Kalb is not a fan of Donald Trump.

Enemy of the People took exception with the amount of press coverage Donald Trump received. Other than comparing the amount of coverage Trump received in relation to what Clinton received, Kalb presents almost no statistics at all. Rather than present hard statistics, much of Kalb’s book are based on what is “obvious” to him. While ignoring the negative coverage Trump received during the Republican primaries, Kalb made the point that Trump won the nomination because he received so much “free” coverage, the other candidates couldn’t keep up. Kalb made the point “The president sucks up too much of Washington’s precious supply of oxygen, leaving news organizations little option but to cover one Trump-related story after another”.

I think that’s the major contrast between the two books. Enemy criticizes the amount of coverage overall, while Unmasked presents statistics criticizing the percentage of negative coverage the President received.

I actually can’t argue much with Kalb’s point about the amount of coverage President Trump receives. He didn’t make the point, so I will. There is a school of thought that any coverage is good coverage. Even though most of the coverage was negative, Trump probably did receive the most coverage. I don’t think it ever occurred to Kalb that the negative coverage (which Kalb failed to mention), helped Trump win the election. Kalb did not like Trump’s message. At all. Trump’s base did like what Trump had to say. That’s why Trump won the nomination, and that’s why he won the election.

The title of the book is Enemy of the People. I think that’s why Kalb wrote the book. Kalb really takes exception with Trump’s use of “Enemy of the People” and “Fake News”. He compares Trump to Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, and Mao Zedong who also used similar terms. He compares Trump’s “drain the swamp” to military coups that promised to combat corruption, improve the judicial system, and clean up rigged elections.

About half of Kalb’s book was dedicated to Senator Joseph McArthy, a Senator who made a name for himself by accusing people of being communists or communist sympathizers. McArthy became a populist Senator until people tired of him and a highly respected journalist, Edward R Murrow, brought him down. The inference of Kalb’s book is Donald Trump is nothing but another Senator Joseph McArthy, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, and Mao Zedong and it’s time a journalist brought President Trump down.

Marvin Kalb is a lifelong journalist. He doesn’t like is profession being criticized. Any president who would dare to do so is the real “Enemy of the People”. …

Book Review: Atomic Habits

,Atomic Habits by James Clear was on the list of recommended books at my local library so I decided to check it out. There was a short waiting list so I reserved the book. The timing was perfect. Just as I was finishing another book, my hold became available. This is my book review of Atomic Habits.

The book is about how to develop new, good habits and shed old, bad habits. The book contains simple, commonsense ideas. To start new habits, make it easy to incorporate new habits into your daily life, start off incrementally (not all at once), and reward yourself for success. To break bad habits, arrange your life or living arrangements to make it harder partake in your bad habit, start off incrementally, and punish yourself when you relapse into a bad habit. It’s important to be consistent in developing new habits and breaking bad ones. Incorporate your habit into your daily routine, but if you miss, try not to miss two days in a row. Same for breaking a bad habit. If you relapse, try not to relapse two days in a row.

To reinforce his points, the author provides numerous examples from his own life, the lives of well known people, and the lives of not so well known people. Overall, I found the book to be an easy read, and plan to incorporate his suggestions into my daily life. If you would like help developing good habits and shedding bad ones, the book will provide valuable suggestions about how to improve your life.

In case you were wondering, I have decided to incorporate the author’s ideas into my daily life. The book is 20 chapters. As I was reading the book, I decided to take up the author’s suggestion and start out incrementally. I decided to read at least two chapters every day. That way I should be able to finish the book in a little over a week. Actually, some days I read more than two chapters so I finished the book in a week. I’ve had a book laying on the shelf for many years. I started reading the book, but didn’t get very far. It’s a long book. If I read two chapters a day, I will finish it. I have another book on hold at the library that should arrive soon. Maybe I’ll read one chapter from each book every day (maybe more). Two chapters between them. That way, I’ll finish both books.

The author mentioned his weekly blog. I’ve had my website for quite a few years now, but only updated it rarely. I decided to get into the habit of updating my website regularly. This is my first post since making that decision. I did another post recently. It was quite long and quite technical. I worked on it every day for weeks (including research). So, if you don’t see another blog post in a week, I will be working on a more involved article or maybe I’ll be posting on my other blog. This one is pretty short. If I’m not working on a longer, technical article, I should be able to knock one out like this at least once a week.…