Techie Saturday – Printers

This Idiot’s guide to Technology post is about printers. In some cases, the old “You Get What You Pay For” just isn’t true anymore. Sometimes you get more than you paid for, and printers are generally in that case. The reason why is that the manufacturers make it back three times over in the cartridges that contain the ink, so they sell you the printer at or below their costs.

Expensive print cartridges every month or two gets them more than enough profit. But that fact does allow you a couple of advantages and one pretty serious disadvantage. You will probably find cartridges for new printers last longer than the one you already own. When you do it is rather easy to just buy the newer printer. But that produces the main disadvantage which is the old printer ends up as more plastic in the local dump or in the ocean!

I want to let you in on a little secret here. The printer manufacturer wants you to believe that if you want a quality printout you MUST use their cartridges. If you don’t your printer will probably breakdown faster. Don’t believe they hype.

I have been using ink cartridges from other sellers in my HP printer for years now with no difference from using the manufacturer’s ones. I have an HP3700 series printer that I would highly recommend. HP brand cartridges cost about $62/set and last for 300+ pages. I buy Valuetoner Remanufactured Ink Cartridges Replacement for about $35/set.

I will admit that some remanufacturers of cartridges are indeed junk. If you order them from Amazon you need to make sure they are 4 stars or above.

Starting Your Car With A Buggy Whip.

This post is going to be about those seniors among us who proclaim to be “proudly ignorant” of today’s technology. My wife and her brother are in that class. They proudly proclaim that they want as little as possible to do with all these new fangled inventions of late. They are not quite old enough to go back before the invention of the automobile, but if they were I bet they would still be trying to start their cars with a buggy whip. It worked for that single horse power buggy so why can’t it work for one powered by two-hundred horses?

Any time I try to talk to my wife about technology, it is as if her eyes glaze over on the first sentence. She does use her computer, mainly to play her card and board games and keep some recipes but that is about it. She constantly complains about how the computer is doing things differently now. When I try to tell her a computer can only do what the programmer put into it, she is just not convinced. She thinks her computer is out to get her in one regard or another.

She and her brother still have the old flip style cell phones. They don’t have any phone numbers in its address book, but instead still carry their little books with the numbers scratched in. Don’t even ask them to set up voice mail for callers to send them messages. That simply won’t happen.

When I tell my wife that within the next decade, TV as she knows it will likely not exist, she gets very upset. “Why can’t they leave my stuff alone!” I tell her with the new streaming video coming from the Internet it will not be necessary to set up the DVR to record programs as they will all be available with just a few button clicks anytime she wants them but she is still not convinced.

If I really want to get her angry, and I do once in a while just to jerk her chain, I tell her I, like millions of other households, am going to cancel our $200/month satellite account and replace it with $20/month Rogu and Netflix connections she simply gets livid.

I guess I should not be surprised that she is so anti-technology as she resists change in all other aspect of her life. She is convinced that if everything stayed exactly the same she would have a more contented life. All she needs is her buggy whip… Go Figure….

To Thy Own Self Be True…

I think most of you know that the title above is from Willian Shakespeare. But, do you actually know what it means? A longer quote is in the header above this post. I admit that I was a weird kid who actually enjoyed reading Shakespeare! It was a challenge trying to put his Old-English words into today’s language. I really don’t remember how old I was when I started read him, it was probably in my early high school years.

Getting to the main idea of this post, I think these words mean different things to different people. They likely also mean different things to the same person, depending on circumstance of life when they come upon them. I found the following interpretation some time ago and it is pretty close to what I think they mean at least at this time in my life.

When we follow this fad or that one, we are like sheep who just follow the herd. In my mind that is the lazy way to go. Herd mentality in itself is a dangerous way to occupy. Yes, thinking for yourself is hard and opens you up to criticism, but it also allows you to be the person you were meant to be. If you go about life trying to impress others you are bound to fail. One reason is because most people, despite what you think, just don’t care or even notice what you do. Another is that trying to impress others likely takes you off the path that you might have been destined to go.

Don’t spend your life trying to impress others. Applause is a very short-lived thing. Just be who you are and that is mostly defined by the causes you take on to support. Be your own person. Think for yourself.

It is human nature that all of us want to think we add value to this world by what we do. We want to leave a legacy that survives us. That is hard to do when you follow the herd. All you do is leave footprints…

Two Birds With One Stone (aka Think Big)

I love thinking at the macro level. I guess my attitude is “think big or go home”. We have a lot of problems in this country that desperately need solutions. It would be great if one solution could solve multiple problems. That is what this post is about.

The Problems

Problem No. 1 – Teachers aren’t paid enough.

Most everyone agrees that teachers, especially those at the primary and secondary levels need to be paid more. One solution is to make the school year longer but I don’t think the teachers’ union would willingly go along with that. Is there another way to solve this problem?

Problem No. 2 – There are too many lawyers

We are a nation of lawyers. We have more lawyer in the US than the rest of the world. That is a major problem, especially with their promises of getting you a lot of money with little effort on your part. They used to call these guys “ambulance chasers” but since that now seems a noble part of the profession, I’m sure it has another name. Another problem here is that most of those folks in Congress are lawyers. We need fewer lawyers in the country and especially in Congress. Is there another way to solve this problem?

Problem No. 3 – There are not enough Doctors.

With all us Baby Boomers getting old now we need more doctors in this country. The problem is critical especially in rural areas. Because they can generally make much more money in urban areas they just don’t want to put out their shingle in smaller towns. Is there another way to solve this problem?

Problem No. 4 – Our Economic Ladder Is Completely Out of Balance.

How can a ladder that is so top heavy even stay up? The very fat cats on the very top rung of the ladder have as much money as those of us on the ladder. We gotta do something about that before the ladder comes crushing around the rest of us. Is there another way to solve this problem?

The Solution

Here is the drum roll….

Drastically Change How We Are Taxed.

Changing our tax system could solve all of these problems. Here is how:

  1. Let’s put a flat tax on everyone with additional adjustments layered on top of that. Let’s say 12%. I know you are thinking that is way too low, but wait for it…
  2. Remove all exemptions and make all income the same. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, it is income. No more capital gains loopholes, no more subsidizing religious organizations who have morphed more into political ones. Make the exemptions so simple that no loopholes at all are possible
  3. Add a tax adjustment that is occupation specific. I’ll leave it up to the bean counters to come up with the exact numbers, including the base rate above, but will give you magnitude examples here:

Special Adjustments

Teachers at the primary and secondary level-6%
Teachers at college level-2%
Lawyers+25%
Doctors in rural areas+5%
Doctors in Urban areas+15%
Income from inherited wealth+30%
Income from… (fill in the blank)

You get the idea. This plan would go a long way in solving all four problems identified here. Let’s make it a true capitalistic system of supply and demand.

But I also like Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax idea of putting an annual tax percentage on inherited estates based on the value inherited.

Eliminate Federal Pensions and Retirement Plans

Now before you get all worked up by the title I want to add a couple of more words. “For all elected employees”. I think this plan will go a long ways to prevent future gridlock that we are seeing today. Here is one of my sources that back up that idea:

Congressional members are eligible for their own unique pension plans under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), though there are other retirement benefits available, ranging from Social Security and the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Currently, members of Congress are eligible for a pension dependent on the member’s age at retirement, length of service, and salary.

The pension value can be up to 80 percent of the member’s final salary. Currently, Congressional pay is $174,000 per year, which, at an 80-percent rate, equates to a lifelong pension benefit of $139,200. All benefits are taxpayer-funded.

Source: Investopedia

A three-term congressman (or one-term senator) who has now reached retirement age of sixty-two would be eligible for an annual pension of $17,588 for six years of work. Let’s see, I was an engineer who worked thirty years for the same company and my pension is less than two times this amount. So, I would say that you can make out pretty well on a congressional pension.

Getting down to the roots of this post. Our founders never meant that representing your constituents in Congress to be a full-time job. It was just something that you did to fulfill your obligations to your country. The first president illustrated that by limiting his occupancy to two terms.

Secondly, Congress should mirror the private sector when it comes to these sorts of things. Since private sector pensions are pretty much a thing of the past, federal pensions should also be eliminated. Just give them 401k payments like the rest of us have. In that same area, Congress should not have their own healthcare plan that are so out of touch with what their constituents get.

The problem today is that there are just too many in our congress who are determined to make being a congressman a full time job. If we could just get one of those guys, specifically Mitch McConnel to finally leave maybe at least some level of gridlock would be finally eliminated.

Making term limits happen is the problem. It takes either a constitutional amendment initiated by the State or for Congress to overwhelmingly do it. Neither is likely to happen today. But Congress is not the only institution that needs term limits. Supreme Court Justices should be told to leave after they have served twelve years.

Let’s give power back to the people instead of keeping it entrenched in the powermongers in Washington.