Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Dirty Word That Starts to Worry Me/Us

I'm referring to the bankrupt word. I first heard of it as a schoolboy and the connotation was bad. Then I knew it only associate with people, not organizations or governments. Bankrupts were shameful people who fell into the same category as criminals. They had done wrong in principle and had to be punished by the courts to be labeled as such. They carried social stigmas that not only hurt their own reputations but also their families's. I felt pity for children whose fathers were made bankrupt. Responsible people who were made bankrupt tend to go into hiding and avoided friends because the shame was unbearable. They had their rights to property ownership denied or taken away and had to live on minimal living standard as they tried to repay their debts. And this was what I observed - people tried to stay away from bankrupts as if they were lepers. Not only had they been declared social outcasts by the courts, the public too had added more injuries to their lives. How embarrassing it was to be a bankrupt in those days.

But nowadays it seems people no longer feel remorse for mismanaging their financial debts that they are taken to courts by their creditors for defaulting their loan repayments. It has become acceptable even fashionable to become bankrupts. These people are also morally bankrupt and this, may I add, precedes financial bankruptcy. Has they been responsible and upright they would be careful not to bite more than they can chew. To such, taking away money borrowed and not making timely repayments is a repugnant act of abuse of trust. While there are honest bankrupts, by whom I mean those who couldn't help it and are declared due to business failures caused by unforeseen circumstances, there are now more and more people who consider it not wrong to become bankrupts. On top of it they are even proud and feel no loss in social status when they are made to be bankrupt. They consider it a convenient way to become irresponsible and couldn't be bothered what the world think of them.

But this is not my concern. My neighbor being a bankrupt, say, has no effect upon me, apart from perhaps a likelihood of being occasionally disturbed to give him money. But it is both a worry and an angry and annoying reaction should my government becomes insolvent. A nice word to explain an inability to repay its debts. Governments will not become bankrupt but they will take the citizens towards hard times. Currencies will devalue, cost of living spiral, crime rates go up, the people becomes disenchanted with their lives and the general mood of the nation turns negative. There will be stronger tendencies of citizen protests and at the very worst, the government will be overthrown with strong possibilities of injuries and bloodshed, even deaths. 

Now being in debt is not wrong. All of us at one time or another owe either the bank or someone money we borrowed for a purpose, typically to buy a house or a car, or for those venturing out, to start a business. But we would over the years painstakingly pay off our debts with interest to honor what trust the lenders had in us. The problem with borrowing is often the attitude that we use the money to gamble, money that doesn't belong to us, so if the gamble fails, well, to deal with the consequence as it arise. In other words, borrowers consider being in debt as an opportunistic venture and lenders abetted them in the hope that they succeed so both parties can win. But we have seen how financial institutions collapsed when borrowers could not repay their installments due to economic recessions, job loss or over exposure of their assets which then are taken over to be auctioned to recover the debt. And lately several governments have chosen to risk the future of their citizens by undertaking risky investments that give them opportunities to receive bribes. Trust in government has reached very low which explains why so many countries change governments as often as diapers. They are lucky to have democratic process in place with constitutionally upright police, military and judiciary to check on the excesses of the ruling parties and bring them to court to be charged, jailed and even executed. But some are in precarious state where these check and balance machinery instead abet the offenders, even the anti corruption agency supposedly to prosecute the guilty persons lack any bite to do anything.

I won't mention names but we don't have a system in which citizen concerns are seriously and fairly addressed and acted upon. Such a system will quickly accelerate the decline of the nation. I've never lived in a worse administration where abuses are blatantly protected. When the heads set such examples how can we expect the subordinates to do otherwise? There is a bad vibe in the air. Electricity tariff will be increased soon as gasoline had recently. What follow will be increases of related costs on food, services and essential goods. The government had served notice - come April 2015 the public will be taxed on what they consume. The GST will become a new burden without an adjusted reduction in personal tax for the ordinary folks. The GST will be another way to collect more taxes and the prime minister cleverly tells gullible citizens that paying them means patriotism. How stupid an argument can this be? Even a kid can tell you that it means the government is a poor manager of public funds and all the taxes it collect over the years to have to resort to squeezing more.

Tax is dirty but if well spent to bring welfare to the general public it will not be burdensome. But to force more taxes while the politicians raise their own salaries and live grandiose lifestyles, you be the judge if the prime minister is believable and credible. The path he leads the nation down is the path he laid, and he alone will be held responsible for the outcome of our future.


Thursday, November 07, 2013

My Personal Cloud

Nick sounded approachable the first time I spoke with him about Synology. Most IT dealers I spoke to were blur about this brand of NAS (network attached storage) which has a far better consumer rating than the Buffalo brand. By consumer I mean home users. I don't know about business users who require a bigger and faster storage. The key concern is reliability which Synology scored good points. Nick is in network solution so knows what I want, and I clearly want the DS-213j model which has 2 bays for the hard disks. After much Internet research and comparison this model came up very well reviewed. Google it in Amazon to read about it. I decided to go along with Nick although his offer is pricier than another source. I guess personal touch and having a real physical store help boost customer confidence. In spite of the hype about its reliability you can never be sure that you won't need technical or warranty support one day.

The DS-213j was set up on Oct 21 to become my personal cloud. It has 2x1Tb WD red caviar HDD set on RAID 1 array where an exact copy (or mirror) of a set of data are stored on both disks. This is useful when read performance or reliability is more important than data storage capacity. In the event of failure in one disk, the data is still intact on the second. RAID 1 is a very popular and common configuration in network storage.

For the DS-213j or DiskStation to operate optimally data transfer speed at 1000Mbps or gigabit is recommended and using cat 5e or cat 6 Ethernet cable required. My existing Dlink DSL-2640B modem router cannot provide this output as it has only 10/100Mbps LAN ports. Its wireless speed is also slow at 54Mbps. In searching for a better modem router I found and bought the TPLink TD-W8970 300Mbps wireless N gigabit ADSL2+ modem router that fits the requirement. The Dlink retired to become a LAN switch for the PC and printer for wired network access and printing.

I took my cloud project a little further so it become an integrated digital library cum entertainment centre. To protect it from power failure and surges I installed the Prolink PRO850VU UPS with AVR to stabilize input power supply and provide emergency power backup in the event of power failure. The wiring layout is tidied up to make it appear neater. The next steps to complete this love project are to attach my USB hard disk containing movies to the DiskStation to enable watching them on all my portable devices including smartphone on my home wifi network. And finally to instal a Foscam surveillance camera for added security.

I'm still in the learning curve and through this month long period I picked up useful technical knowledge that makes me appreciate this project even more. It cost me a little over RM2000 or about USD650 for all the equipment. I have my son-in-law who is very knowledgeable in setting up IT equipment to thank for configuring the modem routers and switch to enhance privacy and security, and my son for technical advice and feedbacks. I'm starting to enjoy years of accumulated music, photos and home videos of my grandchildren and our family outings and holidays beside having a place for my data accessible 24/7 anywhere, anytime. Who says retirement is boring?

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