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Force, Politics and War

Why do we appear so willing to go to war with Iran and other countries?

I was watching the presidential debate and each time I do I’m struck by the amount of war mongering. Does not help that I think it’s largely done to get votes. And listening to the responses does not make me feel any safer.

The big why appear to be the fear of them setting off a nuclear bomb or something on US soil. Personally I think it’s to a large extent being afraid of the unknown, and of course the love mainstream media has for articles that scare people into buying their copy, accurate or not.

Foreign politics appear very mysterious so much so that it appears that the common man could not possibly understand it. (Of course there are a LOT of vested interests involved which tend to have the muscle to get their spin published. Which adds to the confusion.)

Looks like a recipe for war.

Have you ever had views of someone who you did not actually know, that changed once you got to know them? Once you spoke with them you discovered that they were very similar to you. Not to say that you had to agree with everything, but you now understood them and misconceptions that you had were corrected?

It happens to most of us. The interesting thing is that people are all the same when it comes to basic things. We love our family, group and country. We dislike being oppressed and made to do things against our will. We are willing to fight, and taking the risk to die, for freedom.

Having been fortunate to have visited several continents and met with people from literally all across the world, these are basics that have been shared by all. It did not matter what their politics were, what social, or educational, or any background they had.

The US constitution is unique. In fact every foreigner I’ve ever discussed it with wished they had it. Again, regardless of political views, etc.

Because in the end we are all people.

So why are we so willing to go to war? I’m not talking about vested interests which cook up some story so that they can invade someone and retrieve oil, or whatever. I’m talking about every day citizens.

There is a thing which people across the world are afraid of. The great unknown.

It can be the person next door, the people in the other part of town. Certainly people who live and speak differently and maybe live across the world. Because if there is unrest in Syria, or some other country, then we should just remover the “noise” by bombing or nuking them, according to some. Besides the obvious wrong, many people are way too eager to cause harm to others without having ascertained the correctness of their desired actions and proper use of force.

Sure we’ve been upset by someone and “wished they were dead!” But it’s simply an expression over how upset we were. Once calm and collected again we would not cause that harm.

Let’s switch it around a bit.

Let’s for arguments sake say that some countries did not like that we, oh lets say something very fictional such as, “drive too many cars”. Our use is threatening their way of life. Could be the extra gas consumption, how it ruins the air quality.

In this scenario most of the world is upset with us. Tourism drops as it’s seen by them as being supportive of our irrational ways. And we must be monsters for putting out all these fumes, threatening the ozone layer and so on. Indeed they all realize that they did not really know us after all. Because nobody they know would cause such harm.

(Similar to how people realize that they obviously did not know their spouse after all, after he or she did something, or was believed to have done something terrible or unreal.)

OK, so here we are. Countries around us start to move military closer to our borders because they know we can be a big threat, and clearly we don’t care about them. They decide to boycott us. Place sanctions to make us lower the number of cars we make and drive.

We are becoming more isolated, China wants to be paid for all the money we borrowed, and are now having harder and harder time paying back as other countries no longer want to buy our products.

In this scenario the world is no longer looking up to us, and indeed are heavily against us. Our neighboring countries are scared and putting up armies facing our borders to defend themselves from the fascist who are poisoning the planet.

Imagine what your response would be. You might would want to put up armed forces around OUR borders because they are so upset and might invade us! Let’s say a coalition of countries in Europe and Russia are year in and year out demanding we stop using cars. Talks about bombing the USA floats around in the media and the internet forums across the world.

You would feel threatened and uncertain about what would come next. Just look at the Cuban missile crises to see a real example. 

If it was your neighbor next door who talked about taking your car away you might just tell them that you will kill them if they touch your car! You would poster up in an attempt to scare the person from touching your car. Never mind if they said that about your kids. You would be talking WAR!

The simplicity of it is that in order to know people and actually understand them, you need to communicate with them. Find out what their considerations are. Why they said what they said.

We already insulate ourselves from each other in cities because we “know” there are a bunch of scary people so we attempt to isolate ourselves. Build fences and if possible use barbwire around our homes. Resulting in less and less communication. And what we do get is from the media so we get even more scared and communicate even less.

The way out of that fearful and horrible life is to be in more communication with the environment. I’ve been a bouncer at disco’s and restaurants. Not because I’m this big guy, which I’m not, but because I can handle the situation verbally. When the other big bouncers could not handle a situation I was called in. OK, so I practiced martial arts for years and I have a certain confidence that goes with it. But I never threatened the “bad” guys. Typically I simply showed them how their behavior scared the other guys. By consulting their understanding I never had to result to force and always resolved the situation. (I’ve been face to face with cop killers, gang members etc. When we part ways we are best friends. Even though I did not in any way support their criminal activities as solutions to their problems. But I can communicate with anyone on any subject without getting antagonistic or copping an attitude. And I’m willing to understand others. See it from their point of view. Which, by the way, being a friend makes it much easier to point someone in more positive direction.)

The simplicity of foreign policy is that you need to treat others the way you want to be treated. Show others respect and you’d be surprised how much respect you would get back.

If you have done something wrong you don’t actually mind being corrected if you can’t figure out how yourself. It’s how you are being handled, and spoken to, that make the difference.

We as a country need to treat others the way we want to be treated. You don’t start a fight unless they throw one first. Which means if a drunk comes and assaults you, you don’t immediately start beating him/her up. You simply step aside or handle the immediate danger by holding them down so that they cannot hurt anyone. You don’t hit them. They are obviously not operating at full capacity. Posturing is a sign that you are weak and insecure. If you are strong and secure you don’t bother posturing. You simply handle things as they come up.

Some of you might even have the experience of saying you were wrong in order to make it easier for the other party to be realize they were wrong. By showing that you could be a reasonable person others feel it’s OK to open up. And thus you can initiate positive relationships, or at least have respectful disagreements.

The same applies to groups. Treat other groups the way you want your group to be treated. Countries are big groups. Treat them the way you want them to treat your country.

That is the basics of any foreign policy regardless if that means your family, neighbors or other countries.

Sanctions are not necessarily very workable. If you have a democracy then the politicians can be voted out of office or forced to change their policy by popular vote. However, sanctions against countries that are not democratic only hurt the civilians. South Africa under apartheid became a strong and resourceful country after the sanctions were placed on them. That is to say that blacks, coloreds and Indians did not get better conditions. Because many of the whites were ignorant and thought lack of western education meant people were less than them. Sanctions in their mind were simply seen as ignorance of the South African “situation”.

When you are the little guy you handle yourself the best you can. However once you get in a position of power you immediately inherit big responsibilities. You now have to set a good example, or you will destabilize your zone or area. USA must be very gentle and safe in dealings with other nations, or we’ll become the massive bully others want to take down. Usually by covert means as they cannot win any other way.

That does not mean we give up our muscle. It means we strike fair and firm when needed to. The trick with force is to only use it to get someones attention. Once you got it you back off. Resume communication and resolve it without force. Try it next time you end up applying force to handle someone. And by the way, your voice can be very forceful as well.

Abandon IT Dept for the Cloud?

People have some interesting affinity for the latest and greatest solution, which gets applied to any and all problems. The grass is apparently so readily seen to be greener on the other side, that even common sense is left behind. I’m guessing there’s frustration afoot, which might be because of a slow or inept IT dept. But could also be because not enough funds are allocated to properly run the IT dept. Just saying.

This urge to always jump on the latest new technology is often done as if there’s a great emergency. The idea behind the Cloud is certainly interesting. But is moving your IT into the Cloud the right move, or are you asking for even more trouble?

Your IT dept has physical control, are motivated by how you run your business. In other words you can hire, fire and make demands to ensure they are aligned with supporting your business plan.

The Cloud however, is ENTIRELY out of your control.

In-house you can observe and handle security issues. On the Cloud you are hoping that they don’t have a staff failure, upsets, or whatever, which results in them not caring properly for your data/information.

In the Cloud which you are part of, you are part of many others, which certainly makes the Cloud a bigger target as far as, in the eyes of the criminal hacker, having higher potential payoff to hack. It’s more worthwhile to break into the Cloud.

When that happens, how do you act to protect your data?

There are many ways to “hack” into something. For example, in social engineering, where by pretending to be someone else, you talk people into giving you knowledge that opens the doors you want “unlocked” A simple phone call, or email, and someone might hand out the “keys”. It is very popular and easy to succeed with. It could also very well be that the people working the Cloud know better than Your average staff, than to fall pray for it.

Ultimately you need to look at your budget, evaluate the business impact of not having much of an internal IT dept, versus handing it out to someone else, and hope for the best.

True, you might already be hoping for the best. That your computers don’t get broken into, that IT knows what they are doing, etc. Data loss, for example, are more often caused by an upset employee, than some outside body. Making an argument for the Cloud. In theory it looks like the Cloud can be viable alternative.

I just don’t trust my business information, to be kept completely safe where things such as motivation, competence, reliability, etc. is not only unknown, but mostly unknowable. Where you can’t take advance action to ensure that the person being fired will not be able to cause you harm in a vengeful moment. Where, if the internet is down, you can’t do anything because all your data lives elsewhere.

Simply jumping on the Cloud because it is the hot thing that “everybody” is talking about, is not a very well evaluated reason. Most of the time common sense is the most reliable tool you have. Use it!

OSDial 2.3 Pre-Release

OSDial 2.3 is about to get released. While we wait for some purely visual changes to be completed we decided to ship 2.2.9, which is otherwise locked down and will become V2.3.

OSDial 2.3 brings a wealth of new features truly too long to list here, but you can see a copy on the feature page.

Amongst it you will notice that you can now upgrade automatically to the latest version from any previous version. The size of it has exceeded CD’s 700MB and at around 900MB now requires a DVD.

With around 1200 changes almost every facet of the dialer has been touched in this upgrade.

As usual everything that is needed is included in the release, including Asterisk, Apache and MySQL. All you need are computers and phones for the agents, and a carrier.

Phones can be analog, digitial (such as VoIP) and soft-phones. When dealing with many agents it is generally cheaper to go with analog phones as they are cheap and easy to replace when they break, and does not require any tech to replace.

When it comes to carriers we recommend WSS Communications which we learned about from one of our (picky) international clients. People that use them are very happy! Let them know that I recommended you and ask for the special care they are famous for!

Is Bank Of America Not Above Extortion?

Today Bank Of America appears to try to loose as many customers as possible in one fell swoop. With no prior notice I found myself having no option but to either consent to a new disclosure, requiring me to hire an attorney on the spot, or loose online access to my accounts.

Their online service gives you one opportunity to continue to do online banking and from there on you are locked out, unless you agree! I cannot but wonder what kind of buffoon would resort to these kinds of tactics?

Is a corporation of the size of Bank Of America unable to give their customers enough time to properly review the changes to their Electronic Communications Disclosure? What would prompt them to take such drastic measure? Either they don’t care about customers, which I suppose would really would not be something new, or some amateur threw it together without any thought at all over how this will affect their customers.

It certainly CAN be a very benevolent change, but how can I, a mere layman, be expected to understand the legalese that I have to consent to? Words have different meanings in law than they do in plain English, potentially creating a minefield.

Bank Of America does offer me the opportunity for to withdraw my consent, but only after I give Bank Of America a “reasonable period of time to act upon my withdrawal”. Of course it’s good for Bank Of America to have the unspecified time to make their change, but we won’t have that courtesy of a couple of days.

The language used appear plain but again not being an attorney I have no idea what might mean something different than what I read in to it. Initially it seem to suggest that I need to be able to SUPPORT certain hardware and software requirements. However at the very end I need to confirm that I HAVE the required hardware and software. Sounds like an important switch to me, but then I’m not an attorney.

About the only thing good is that they support the Chrome browser from Google.
Other than that I’m left with the careless implementation of their updated Electronic Communication Disclosure, which supposedly is updated to better serve me. Guess they don’t really have a clue of what is better for me.

I wonder how many other people will say this is not how I want to be treated as a customer, and take their business elsewhere?

Microsoft intentions revealed in internal emails

Today I ran into a very interesting news site that has a section which contains a number of emails that were revealed in court. The message is clear as day. We don’t change, and, Open Source has to go.

A few excerpts from Bill Gates emails. You will see his inclination towards using patent as an anti competitive move. And how he completely distorts how the GPL works.

“This anti-trust thing will blow over. We haven’t changed our business practices at all. [May change e-mail retention policies]
– 1995

“One thing we have got to change in our strategy – allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by other peoples browsers in one of the most destructive things we could do to the company.

“We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on PROPRIETARY IE capabilities.
Anything else is suicide for our platform.
– 1998 “Highly Confidental” Email

[On being told of the free Star Office]
“An interesting development…
At some point we will have to consider the patents they violate.
– 1998 Email

“One thing I find myself wondering about is whether we shouldn’t try to make the “ACPI” extensions somehow Windows specific.

“It seems unfortunate if we do this work and get our partners to do the work and the result is that Linux works great without having to do the work.

“Maybe there is no way to avoid this problem but it does bother me.
Maybe we could define the APIs so that they work well with NT and not the others even if they are open.

“Or maybe we could patent something related to this
– 1999 “Highly Confidental” Email

“Software written in universities should be free software. But it shouldn’t be GPL software. GPL software is like this thing called Linux, where you can never commercialize anything around it; that is, it always has to be free.
– Government Leader’s Conference, Seattle, 2002

A good selection of emails are listed here.

It is sad that an industry leader Like Microsoft does not have what it takes to operate with integrity and feel it has to be above the law.

Make no mistake about it, Gates knows exactly how the GPL works, but chooses to distort it to compete with us. Of course most of us never had any desire to compete with him, we just want to have a reliable product. One that one can rely on to be upgraded timely, have effective bug fixing that does not break other things and above all interoperability.

Had Microsoft pursued a track where they made their O/S’s and applications work well with any other, had open standards as to how one can interact with them and so on, Linux might not have grown up to be this monster in their minds.

As it is, it is only going to get worse. Microsoft is “embracing” Open Source in one sentence and then out of the side of it’s mouth, directing it’s troops to infiltrate and cut down our popularity with imaginary patents. I say imaginary because they claim that we are in violation of a couple of hundred patents, but are yet to show a single one.

They know we will replace anything that is violating anyones intellectual property. There for it is a better scare tactic to just say we are in violation than actually getting anything resolved. See the court case involving SCO, and the license deal with Novell.

OSDial Ver2.2 Released

This release moves OSDial out of the now long since unsupported Asterisk 1.2 branch, and into the latest 1.6 branch. It also comes with our custom modifications of Asterisk which includes real time processing. A valuable feature when you process a lot of calls! 🙂

OSDial Ver. 2.2 also bring support for both 32 and 64bit processors. (As usual the 32bit version supports memory above the traditional 4G limit.) Both versions uses a kernel specifically optimized for OSDial.

During the last year we made over 600 improvements to OSDial, which includes cosmetic changes, bug fixes and new features. As is standard, for us, not all but most of the features we added are those requested, and paid for, by clients. Ensuring OSDial remain a practical product based on actual client needs.

At the same time OSDial has become compatible with a wide variety of industries. From industries such as automotive, banking, commercial collections, education, insurance to healthcare, religious, not for profit, time share utilities, and so on. More details at http://callcentersg.com/industry.php.

An Announce List has been added to keep you up to date on progress, available at http://callcentersg.com/updates.php.

How to Spam Facebook, or How to Protect Yourself

A fascinating and eye opening article on Tech Crunch (techcrunsh.com) about how spammers abuse Facebook and other social networking sites, ripping people off and making good money. Written by one of the top spammers himself.

An excerpt:

“Did you know how Mark Zuckerberg supported Facebook in the early days, before he got venture funding? Casino ads. And how about those advertisers who were making over $100,000 a day selling Acai Berry and other weight loss products – they are friends of mine, pioneers of new advertising channels. You see those ads saying “Inbox (5). Nick, someone in San Francisco has a crush on you!” (with your name, profile picture, and city in the ad). I generated millions of dollars from these offers on Facebook – I am not proud of it, but it was very lucrative.

“I will walk you through how these online scams work on Facebook and other social networks – the mechanics of how the money is made, some of the people involved, and who is actually clicking on ads. If you’re reading this article, there is a good chance that you are not the type of person actually clicking on these spam ads, but are you curious as to who actually is?

Here is the link for the whole article.

There is a long list of comments to which I thought it best to make some clarifications:

@James, Interesting how some people think that you can be honorable without being ethical.

Honor comes from being true to yourself, and last time I looked being true to yourself had nothing to do with what you feel like doing for the moment. You stand up for for right against wrong and do unselfish deeds.

Man is basically good and wants to help his fellow man, this is the area to look in when you search for being true to yourself. Justifying ones actions is only done because deep inside you want to like yourself and your actions.

Morals is limited to what is best for a specific group, may it be the mafia or police. Whilst ethics deals with best survival for all, where all win.

Fortunately you can do all sorts of bad things and change your mind and become a good honorable person. But it has to include this step of making up for the damage on the same order of magnitude as one has created.

A honorable person can make a mistake in the heat of things, committing some unethical action, but will have to figure out how to stop and make it right again. Or his actions will make him loose his honor in an instant.

Honor can be expensive to have. In a world where money is more important than honor, it’s challenging to interact with people without getting in trouble, honor wise.

The rewards for being honorable is mostly something that you know yourself, and maybe some people notice. The reward is how you feel about yourself, which interestingly makes for great internal peace where you really respect yourself. For some reason luck also seem to follow honor. 🙂

@Dennis, I don’t know you from a hole in the wall, or your motivations, but your action here certainly is giving people a chance to be more aware of what is really going on. Giving them a better chance to protect themselves. That sounds like a good start on making up for the damage. Keep it up!

Online News – Liability or Asset?

Today I stumbled upon the idea that as we switch more and more towards getting news online, we also get less and less disagreeing or opposing views. This is mainly due to the fact that we can and mostly subscribe to things that interest and mostly agree with our personal views.

I think it is clear that only hearing what we want to hear can isolate us and put us out of touch with what is really going on. This may or may not be bad in itself, but certainly it is not true to say what we don’t know won’t hurt us.

Knowledge is a vital asset as truth is at once needed to properly solve problems.

Just look at elections. Throughout history we vote people into power and then turn around and complain over what they are doing. The missing ingredients is us being involved enough to not only know what is really going on, but to ensure it goes in a direction we want.

We want someone to do the “dirty” work so that we don’t have to. It is easier to pass the buck and hope that some government will care for us, than to make sure things are the way we want them to be.

It has gone so far that Congress is at the lowest approval, possibly in history, certainly in many decades. I think one reason Obama was voted in was because we really wanted an outsider, someone very unlike the last President, in hope that such a person would make good on our inner wishes.

The US was founded in a time where people needed a much higher level of involvement just to stay alive. That threat of imminent death had enough motivation to have a high level of awareness and control of our environment. It was very fortunate that we got such a decent constitution and did not go the way of Tsar Russia or any number of countries not known for their freedoms.

That freedom is also what created the Internet. A free to communicate world where everyone has equal rights.

This new digital world is also a place that can become very automated and require even less involvement by us, with more individuation.

Of course it can also facilitate more and wider range of information. The question is, will you use the Internet to crawl into a hole, or to spread out and seek more knowledge?

OSDial (Open Source Dialer) Ver 2.1.0 Released

Call Center Service Group, LC, Clearwater, FL, just released OSDial Ver 2.1.0 to the world. An exiting, mature and full feature predictive dialer with features like inbound, outbound and blended calling, internal or external agents, unlimited custom forms, unlimited campaigns, unlimited leads, and many many more (see website). Capacity of your server(s) is the only limiting factor. The dialer is available under the OpenSource license AGPL.

You can test drive it through a couple of LiveCD’s available on the website. Download the CD images and burn them to two CD’s. If you have a promotional code you get a limited VoIP account with BinFone to test with.

OSDial is available for you to download and build on your own. You can choose to have CCSG install it for you on your server(s), or buy a turnkey dialer certified to run OSDial. It comes with three years warranty, three years on-site, next business day hardware support. These dialers are built by Supermicro and are generally considered the best you can get. In fact our military uses the same model in the deserts of Iraq.

http://callcentersg.com

OSDial grew out of Vicidial, which was the first OpenSource dialer that was widely adopted. Having different goals we decided to fork Vicidial and create OSDial.

We are very exited to bring you this release as it marks a very steep departure of what the industry has been offering. (Mention this article and I’ll give you a promotional code for a BinFone VoIP account.)

RIAA Lawsuits May Be Unconstitutional

I’ve said before that I don’t condone copyright abuses, but at the same time corporate abuse of citizens is no less acceptable.

The RIAA (Record Industry Association of America) has been waging a war against people it decides has unauthorized copies of their songs. Which often enough is found to be a mistake on their part. This is the same people who tried to lobby Congress to allow them to hack and erase the disk on any computer they thought were in violation of their copyright. To make things worse, the methods by which they identify who has unauthorized music is vague and fulled of flaws. (The fact that I think they steal from the musicians they represent themselves is another story.) I came upon this blog by known security consultant Schneier, which he in turn found on USA Today.

Briefly: “Harvard law professor Charles Nesson is arguing, in court, that the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999 is unconstitutional:

“He makes the argument that the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999 is very much unconstitutional, in that its hefty fines for copyright infringement (misleadingly called “theft” in the title of the bill) show that the bill is effectively a criminal statute, yet for a civil crime. That’s because it really focuses on punitive damages, rather than making private parties whole again. Even worse, it puts the act of enforcing the criminal statute in the hands of a private body (the RIAA) who uses it for profit motive in being able to get hefty fines.

“Imagine a statute which, in the name of deterrence, provides for a $750 fine for each mile-per-hour that a driver exceeds the speed limit, with the fine escalating to $150,000 per mile over the limit if the driver knew he or she was speeding. Imagine that the fines are not publicized, and most drivers do not know they exist. Imagine that enforcement of the fines is put in the hands of a private, self-interested police force, that has no political accountability, that can pursue any defendant it chooses at its own whim, that can accept or reject payoffs in exchange for not prosecuting the tickets, and that pockets for itself all payoffs and fines. Imagine that a significant percentage of these fines were never contested, regardless of whether they had merit, because the individuals being fined have limited financial resources and little idea of whether they can prevail in front of an objective judicial body.