Category: Articles


A Job Seeker’s Frustration, Writing a Compelling Blog

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

I’ve been on the job market for a while now. I’ve applied for more than a few jobs. Some of the jobs I apply for are a perfect match for me, other jobs I feel I can do, but might not look really good on paper. I don’t apply for jobs that are completely outside of my area of expertise. I receive an automated acknowledgment from nearly every job I apply for. Then I wait. Wait for an interview invitation or an outright rejection.

Some of the jobs I apply for, I never hear back. That doesn’t bother me. Some of the jobs say “we are not moving forward with you because there are other more qualified candidates”. That stings a little, especially if I think it’s the “perfect job”. I make a note and forget about it. Some rejections are quite patronizing: “We were very impressed with your background but are not moving forward with your application because we’ve received an overwhelming response and there are more qualified candidates. My favorite so far: ‘We received an overwhelming response to our job posting and you [me] have been selected for an interview”. When I read the first few words I was thinking another reject and almost skipped over it. Now, I’m looking forward to the interview. The bottom line is I don’t really expect to hear back when I apply, and rejects and non-replies don’t bother me much.

What bothers me is when I don’t hear back after a phone or especially an in-person interview. Most of those I follow up on. It really bothers me when I don’t receive a reply from my status request. I show up for an interview, felt I really made a connection with the hiring manager. The hiring manager promises a follow up, but doesn’t. So I follow up and don’t hear back. Nothing.

Whenever I’m invited for an interview, I research the company via See my blog posting Glassdoor review. I look at the postings about the interview process. It’s very, very common for companies not to let the job candidate know they aren’t going to get the job. It’s very, very common for companies not to respond to candidates asking for a job status. Job candidates on Glassdoor post their frustrations about how rude and unprofessional the non-responses are. I agree. Emails can be impersonal and it’s not hard to send a rejection email. I’ve received from phone a call from a company that decided not to hire me. That call was difficult for me. I can only imagine how unpleasant it is for the person who makes rejection calls all day long. Thing is, I don’t expect a call. A simple response to my status request, positive or negative. Maybe I should start calling people and put them on the spot and make them wish they sent me an email rejection. …


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.…


Glassdoor for Jobseekers, Writing a Compelling Blog

This is the second article in my series for Toastmasters Leadership Development, Level 4, Write a Compelling Blog. My topic for today is Glassdoor for Jobseekers. is a website for job seekers. Glassdoor is a way to get “insiders” information about working for a company. Glassdoor is also a job board. It’s a job board that works like most of the other job boards. Put in a keyword and location and search. Glassdoor will spew out a list of job openings that match your criteria. You can refine your search by entering a timeline such as jobs posted anytime, today, the last 3 days, etc. That’s handy if you search the boards every day.

Employee Reviews

I do use the Glassdoor job board but that’s not what makes it unique. Glassdoor can provide “inside” information about companies. Employees post company reviews and information about benefits and pay. Interviewees post information about the interview process. If you want to see what it’s like to work for a company enter the company name and look at the reviews. Big companies often have thousands of reviews. Smaller companies not so many

When looking at a company, don’t let a single review affect your opinion about the company. You need to look at many reviews and check for a common theme. Don’t pay much attention to reviews that report terrible management, low pay, great coworkers. You’ll see those reviews for almost any company. I’ve worked for some companies that report low pay but thought I was fairly compensated.

If you see multiple reports about other things, pay attention. One of the companies I was looking at had multiple reports about bounced paychecks. At another company, I saw many complaints about layoffs. Those are the kinds of things you should pay attention to. At many companies, different kinds of workers may give different kinds of reviews. A report from a sales person may be different from a blue-collar worker, which may be different from a white-collar worker. I’m not saying to ignore reports from different kinds of workers, but do pay more attention to reports from workers similar to you. As I said, look for trends and multiple complaints about the same thing. There is an exception. If you see a report or complaint about an issue that would affect your job, they pay attention.

During your interview, be careful about bringing up negative things you saw on Glassdoor. At one company I interviewed at, one of the interviewers admitted the problem, another got quite indignant. It will usually be a good thing to bring up the positive things you found on Glassdoor.

Reviews by Interviewees

Glassdoor also has a section about the interview process. Again look for trends, not single comments. Most interviews and most interviewers are different so you will see a large variety of different posts. Look for the types of questions that might be asked, especially if they are related to the job you are applying for. Look for how long the interview process takes. If you are looking for a way to get “in” look for how people were invited for an interview. Most importantly, look for trends about how people were treated. Posters can rate the interview as “positive”, “neutral”, or “negative”, check to see which of the three are the most common.

Benefits and pay

Glassdoor also has a section with benefits as reported by employees. I generally do not see much detail about the benefits information, especially health insurance. And the employee postings about health insurance tends to be all over the place, from very positive to very negative. You can generally get a pretty good idea about the paid time off.

Finally, Glassdoor also posts salary information for different kinds of jobs. I generally don’t see much detail here, and usually don’t see salary information for the kind of job I’m applying for. I look anyway, sometimes I’m surprised about how much or how little I can expect to earn.

Many companies also have reviews on, another job board. If you see a job posting on Indeed, and the company has a review, then by all-means click on the review link. Follow my advice about Glassdoor reviews. Maybe even compare the Glassdoor reviews with the Indeed reviews. No matter what, it’s always a good idea to get all the information you can about the companies you are applying for. …


My Membership in Toastmasters, Writing a Compelling Blog

I joined Toastmasters quite a few years ago when my employer started a Toastmasters chapter. I joined the club because I enjoyed public speaking. At the time, I had no idea that Toastmasters is a worldwide organization for communication and leadership development. Leadership development is a really big part of Toastmasters. Not only do Toastmasters give speeches, each member also learns how to take on club officer roles, lead and organize club meetings, and serve in officer roles beyond the club level.

Toastmasters is organized into regions, districts, divisions, areas, and clubs. I’ve served in officer roles at the district, division, area, and club level. I led a Toastmasters district consisting of parts of three states. Our district had over 3,000 members belonging to over 160 clubs. I built a team consisting of nearly 50 volunteer leaders. Leading the district, I learned leadership and was responsible for administration, finance, budgeting, marketing, and member achievement. College students learn these things out of books. In Toastmasters, we receive instruction, and it’s not book learning. We are leading real people, managing real money (in my case over $60,000), and achieving real business goals. By-the-way, our district was recognized as a Distinguished District because we fulfilled all of our business goals.

By completing speeches, serving in officer roles, and completing leadership projects, members achieve different levels of recognition (called education level). The highest education level in Toastmasters is Distinguished Toastmasters (DTM). Due to the officer requirement, most Toastmasters take several years to earn a DTM. It took about five years for me to achieve my first DTM. That’s pretty typical. Note, I said it took five years for me to achieve my first DTM. I now have three DTMs and am working on my fourth.

Toastmasters is different from taking a college class. In college, students take a class, get a grade and move on to the next class. Think about a college-level public speaking class. After finishing a public speaking class, most students don’t get the opportunity to repeat and reinforce the skills they learned. The difference is that skills learned in Toastmasters are on-going. I’ve been in Toastmasters for quite a few years. I continue to speak regularly and serve in leadership roles. I not only keep my skills current, but I’m continually improving. Toastmasters don’t receive grades, but we are evaluated. Every speech receives a written and oral evaluation. We get feedback suggestions and for improvement. Evaluations also tell us what we did well. A good evaluation will be motivating (“you did a great job on ….”), and offer suggestions for improvement (“I notice you could do a little better on …, next time try…”)

If you are shy, Toastmasters is a wonderful way to meet people, overcome shyness, and improve social skills. Toastmasters is not intended to be a singles organization, I wouldn’t recommend joining Toastmasters to find your next love interest. PLEASE don’t. Toastmasters is an educational organization, not a singles club. Having said that, I do know several married couples who met in Toastmasters.

Toastmasters recently revised the education program. The revision is a major update over the “traditional” program, and incorporates modern technology. The new program still consists of speaking, serving in leadership roles, and completing leadership projects. This blog is indented to complete a blogging project from Level 4 in the Leadership Development track: “Write a Compelling Blog”. I’ve been blogging for years, but only occasionally. I recently resolved to blog once a week, and have been doing so. This project expects me to blog eight times over four weeks, so for the next month, I will blog twice a week. Then at the end of the month, I will give a speech about how my blogging project went.…

Unsolicited Endorsement of Discount Tire

I’ve been a customer of Discount Tire for many years. The primary reason is because of their “Free” Replacement Certificate. The cost of the certificate depends on the tire, but the idea is if your tire goes flat because of a road hazzard, they will replace it for “free”. Well, not entirely free. If they replace the tire they’ll expect you to buy a new certificate. The difference between Discount Tire and other tire stores is that Discount Tire does not pro-rate the replacement. With most other stores they’ll pro-rate the cost of the replacement tire based on the wear of the old tire. In other words, with other stores you’ll get a discount on the replacement tire. With Discount Tire, you’ll get a new tire regardless of the wear. Well almost. Discount will replace the tire if it still has legal tred. One time my bald tire went flat. The steel chords were showing. They wouldn’t honor the free replacement. That’s fair because it was completely obvious my tire did not have legal tred. Another time my flat tire had barely legal tred, maybe even a little less. They honored the certificate.

I had a flat recently. Not sure why the tire went flat. It took a while for me to find a safe place to pull off the road. By the time I pulled off, the tire was smoking. When I took it to Discount, they replaced the tire. No questions asked. Actually, they did ask a question. When I bought the tires, Discount put on better tires than what I paid for. I paid for cheap tires, they put on nice tires and charged me the cheaper price. The receipt showed the cheaper tires. When I took in my tire to be replaced,the rep asked why the tire on the receipt was not the same as what I was replacing. When I explained, he accepted my answer and replaced the tire.

Over time, the replacement certificates cost quite a bit more than replacing flats. I buy the certificates anyway. I buy them for “piece of mind”. And because I am confident Discount tire will take care of me.…

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.


Exchange 2019 in a Home Lab with a Dynamic IP and Blocked Port 25

A recruiter recently submitted me for a Microsoft Exchange project even though I knew almost nothing about Exchange. Well, I thought, it wouldn’t hurt to learn. The learning process was quite an ordeal, mostly because Exchange in a home lab is quite different from Exchange in a commercial environment. First of all it can be a challenge when you run Microsoft Exchange in a home lab with a dynamic IP and your ISP blocks port 25. This article is all about how to get around those hurdles. I ran into another hurdle when I discovered a trial download of Exchange is generally unavailable, at least not one I could find. If you want to download Exchange, you need to be on a Volume License Agreement or buy a copy. The retail version of Exchange can be very expensive for home users, but if you shop around, you should be able to find a copy for a reasonable price (Google is your friend). I was going to suggest download Exchange from Technet, but I just discovered Microsoft doesn’t offer Technet subscriptions anymore.

I wanted to run my home lab cheaply as possible. I did not want to pay the relatively high cost to lease a static IP address. There are ways to get around that but there are other problems associated with having a dynamic IP address. I will describe how I got around the problems associated with not having a static IP. I will describe here what I did to get my home lab up and running. It took many Google searches to find what I need to make Exchange work in my home lab. And it wasn’t all in one place. I would run into a problem, search for an answer, then run into a new problem and the new answer was in an entirely different place. The answers weren’t always clear or complete. My goal here is to compile what I found and put it in a single place. Hopefully Google will find my site so your Google searches will point here and help you to make your home lab work. The goal of this posting is to help you set up your home lab. I’m going to cover the basics about installing Exchange, but I do not plan on going into great detail. There are a bunch of articles and YouTube videos about how to install Exchange. I help you get Exchange installed but the goal here is to help you configure Exchange to run in your home lab – after Exchange is installed. Specifically how to get Exchange running without a static IP address and what to do when your ISP blocks port 25. The cost is about $30.97 per year, plus the cost of Exchange. Please allow me to give a standard disclaimer. The solutions presented here worked for me. I’m providing these solutions in the hope you will find them useful. As always, you will need to determine if the solutions outlined here are appropriate for you. Every environment is different. These worked for me, don’t sue me if they don’t work for you or if you follow my cookbook and your stove catches on fire.

Before getting started, you will need to determine how your ISP connects you to the Internet.
This article assumes your ISP connects you directly to the Internet. In my environment, all the devices in my home use non-routable IP addresses. This means my computers could see servers on the Internet but Internet could not see my computers. You will need the Internet to be able to see your Exchange Edge server. No problem. This article explains how to configure your home-router to attach devices in your home to the Internet. Here’s the caution. This article assumes the IP address on the Internet side of your router is routable. In other words a real IP address. In the past, I used an ISP where the IP address of the Internet facing side of my router was also non-routable. My router was not directly connected to the Internet. The Internet would not be able to see my Edge server. If this applies to you, you are out of luck. You will need to lease a static-IP.

The next thing to know is Exchange 2019 is only supported on Windows Server 2019, and you need a 64 bit computer. Since Exchange typically has a mailbox server and an Edge server (more on that later), you will need two servers. At least the servers can be virtual and Windows Server 2019 is available for evaluation download. I do have a rather extensive home lab, so I had the iron to run Windows 2019 and Exchange 2019. Windows Server with Exchange will run on a desktop class machine, and you can buy them rather inexpensively on Ebay, sometimes for less than $100. My 8 GB desktop machine will run Windows and Exchange 2019 but I could not install an additional virtualized Windows 2019 on the same machine – not enough memory. I didn’t find that out until after I installed Exchange. Fortunately, I do have an extra Windows Server 2016 in my lab with 16 GB. I was able to install a virtualized Windows 2019 server running the Edge server under Hyper-V on Windows 2016. I probably could have installed two virtualized 2019 servers with Exchange and Exchange Edge on my 16 GB Windows 2016 machine but didn’t think to do that until it was too late.
If you are curious, this is what I have in my lab:
HP Compaq Pro 6300 SFF
Intel Pentium CPU G870 3.1 GHZ
8192 KB

HP Compaq Pro 6300 SFF
Intel Core CPU I5-3470 CPU 3.2 GHZ
16384 GB

If you have two computers with adequate memory, you won’t need Hyper-V. If you only have one computer, you will need Hyper-V or other virtualization software. It’s important to know what kind of processor you need if you want to run Hyper-V. Windows Server is …


Toastmasters, a Wonderful Self-Improvement Program; Writing a Compelling Blog

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

I recently applied for a job on-line. Shortly after I applied, I received a response asking me to undergo an automated on-line job interview. The automated interview questions were the typical questions – Why do you want to work for us, why are you a good fit, etc. The last question was a little different and interesting. They asked, what have you done lately to improve yourself?

I instantly had an answer. I told them I was a member of Toastmasters, “an international organization for communication and leadership development”. I told them Toastmasters has helped me to become a better communicator and better leader.

I only had 1 minute to record my answer so I couldn’t go into much detail. If you are in Toastmasters, you know the benefits. If you aren’t I can go on and on describing what Toastmasters has done for me.

Toastmasters is an almost all-volunteer organization. Toastmasters has a small paid staff, but the volunteers are what make Toastmasters go. And it’s the volunteers that get the biggest benefit out of Toastmasters. In a previous role, I managed a substantial budget, implemented marketing and training programs. I built a team of almost 50 volunteers and met all the administrative goals established by the Toastmasters International organization.

I met my Chinese counterpart. He told me a fasinating fact about Toastmasters in China. Our conversation helped me to realize how lucky I am to be an American. Toastmasters has taken me to places I would have never otherwise been to. Most of all, Toastmasters has given me confidence. I think that’s one of the biggest benefits of being a Member. Members grow in confidence. Members become better speakers. Active members become leaders.

Toastmasters are in the organization to improve themselves. Part of that involves helping others improve themselves. Toastmasters is an organization of people helping people get better.
I like to tell people I’m a much better communicator and leader than when I joined Toastmasters. And since I intend to stay in the organization indefinitely, I’m not as good now as I’m going to be in the future!

How to Expand Windows Disks on Oracle Virtual Box. The Complete Guide with the Missing Steps

What to do when Windows Disk Management Doesn’t Show Additional Stogage After Expanding VirtualBox Disk Size

A while ago, the disk drive on my Windows machines running under Oracle Virtual Box was starting to run out of space. Simple – I’ll ask my best friend Google for help. Google pointed me to how-to-geek (Click here)

I followed the instructions to expand the disk but discovered just expanding the virtual disk is not enough. The Internet told me to CD to the Virtualbox software diretory: “C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox”


Then issue one of the following commands:

VBoxManage modifyhd “[full path and file name to virtual disk]” –resize [size in MB]

or if you’re on V6:
Manage modifymedium disk “[full path and file name to virtual disk]” –resize [size in MB]

Example: VBoxManage modifyhd “C:\Users\username\VirtualBox VMs\Windows 7\Windows 7.vdi” –resize 81920

I shut down the virtual machine and followed the instructions to expand the disk. I then restarted the virtual machine. Virtualbox showed the increased disk size, but Windows Disk Management did not. When I went to Computer Management/Disk Management the disk did not show any aditional space. I researched on Google but couldn’t find an answer. I did see lots of other people were having the same problem.

After more searching, I finally found the answer on youtube: The answer starts about 1:10 into the video. (click here)

The secret is to shutdown the machine, detach the disk, run the above command to expand the disk size, reattach the disk, THEN restart the machine.

To remove the disk, go to Virtualbox, click on the machine, then settings, then storage, right click on the disk you plan to expand, then “Remove Attachment” (remember the location of the disk for when you’re ready to add it back

After you have expanded the disk, add it back and restart the virtual machine. You will then see the increased disk size under Computer Management/Disk Management. At this point, Windows will let you expand the size of the disk.