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The Actuator – May 6th

Level 17

I know the calendar says May, but it feels more like March still. March 67th, in fact. We are well into what I’m going to call the Lost Spring. Here’s hoping it won’t also be a Lost Summer.

As always, here's a bunch of links I hope you find useful. Enjoy!


Want to Find a Misinformed Public? Facebook’s Already Done It
I am shocked, just shocked to discover Facebook is taking advantage of people to earn revenue.

A no-brainer stimulus idea: Electrify USPS mail trucks
I am surprised the USPS has not been updating their fleet over the years as a matter of course. But, yeah, now would be a good time to start converting a percentage of vehicles to electric.

As fewer people fly, rate of guns found in bags by TSA jumps
Something to look forward to when I start flying again.

How New Jersey’s former CIO learned to embrace the longevity of COBOL
It’s easy to blame process breakdowns on “legacy” code, even when the code isn’t the issue.  

Bye, Amazon
There’s a lot to unpack in this post from Tim Bray regarding his decision to leave AWS.

Great, Now Invasive 'Murder Hornets' Are a Thing to Worry About
Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse.

ILOVEYOU Virus: 20 Years After the Malware Caused $10B Losses Worldwide
Ah, memories. Today this email subject would read “I love you 3000.”


Was pruning some shrubs this weekend and found this. I guess the pruning will have to wait.



Those hornets don't sound good... another gift from the east I suppose... as if the virus wasn't enough o.O!


Yep leave the eggs alone Thomas!

Level 14

Thanks for the articles.  I asked my friend who's an exterminator about the murder hornets and he said "the only things that should be worried about them are bees.".  Idk if that means it's yet more hype and fear mongering, or if the threat to bees also = threat to us.  

Level 14

@sqlrockstar Great collection of reads as always!


I read another article on the "Murder Hornets" .... no thank you.. The destruction they bring to bee hives will wreak havoc on agriculture.

A couple of us were musing on whether or not we have been transported back to ancient Egypt and we are in a series of plagues.....

Level 14

Cobol programs.... 


Every time my wife sees articles like this she says she's tempted to dust off some old skills.


Murder Hornets....they don't have anything on the F/A 18 Hornet or the F/A 18 E/F Super Hornet!!!

Tell us about your bird eggs, please?  I enjoy bird watching, but don't have much experience identify species by egg size/shape/color or nest.  Do you know what species these eggs belong to?

If not, what's the nearest big city to you?  I might be able to come up with an online list of bush-nesting birds and pictures of their eggs based on geography.

Facebook, Facebook . . . what are we going to do with you?  When people turn to you for advice, while demonstrating poor thinking, and you choose to profit off their misinformed ideas . . . shame on you!

Based on that story, Facebook's willing will make money off people doing wishful thinking, and companies who target their poor thinking skills. Don't be one of those who don't do critical thinking, and you won't be easily lead down a path of disappointment.

"Just keeping up with the neighbors" isn't an explanation or an excuse.  Be BETTER than the rest instead of contributing to inaccurate thinking.  You can still make a profit by taking the high road.

Having the USPS use electric vehicles sounds attractive to me.  Better fuel efficiency, fewer emissions, increased demand for charging stations and specialized batteries should only benefit other users of electric vehicles.  Using less gasoline could keep gasoline dependencies, and prices, from growing out of control.

But nothing comes without a price.  What will it cost to move away from gasoline in the mail delivery industry?  Money previously spent at gasoline auto & truck manufacturers will migrate to electric vehicle manufacturers, possible reducing or eliminating jobs while simultaneously opening up new jobs at other plants that build & service electric vehicles.  

What about the big batteries--what happens to them after ten or twenty years and they fail?  Do they become some new toxic landfill that will hurt our drinking water?

Having owned an electric hybrid vehicle for many years, and consistently achieved between 60 and 70 mpg at 55 mph on long-distance drives, and 50 mpg+ within the city at speeds under 35 mph, will others tolerate behind mail trucks & cars that are driving the speed limit, when so many people feel they need to drive much faster than that limit?  Will road rage be an unexpected consequence?

I like the idea of electric over gasoline, and I've proven electric cars work just fine in the -45 F that we occasionally experience in northern Minnesota.  Granted, they run a bit more on the hybrid gasoline mode, and mpg can drop down into the upper 30's.  But I'm betting a mail carrier's gasoline vehicle gets a lot poorer mileage in those temps, too.  Electric and/or hybrids rock!


electric mail trucks, interesting idea, maybe a hybrid could be considered. I know a number of rural routes the mail carrier uses their own vehicle purpose built with right hand drive.  Jeeps are common for this out here.  Regenerative braking would make good sense for partial charging purposes.  Even a clean diesel-electric with a small diesel engine running a generator to power electric motors similar to train locomotives would be a huge fuel economy gain.  

More people are getting caught trying to sneak more guns onboard airplanes?  I tend to think it's not caused by more people carrying more guns, but rather that the TSA has more time to do a better job.  I could be wrong.

If I'm wrong, that's not so good--more people thinking they need guns on airplanes, or wherever they're going.  It's a breakdown in our education system and in parents for not instilling good morals and politeness and acceptance and tolerance of folks who look or sound or thinking differently.  Less trust in the court system.  Well, I guess watching how political parties have been working hard to manipulate who can be a judge and who can't, based not on honesty and experience, but by political leanings and support from specific groups . . .   This might not be good, but it's also not such a big surprise.

I trust our law enforcement, and our neighbors, and strangers (to a degree).  I've no need for a gun on an airplane.  I hope others stop being brainwashed into thinking they do.  We've no need for paranoia.

Besides, if the government WERE that bad, there's no way a plane full of people with guns is going to fix it.

COBOL versus newer, more efficient languages / code?  Hmmm.  Stable, but clunky.  Reliable, but not fast, not glamorous, not sexy.  Not GUI.

You don't throw away something simply because it's old--not when it does the job well.  Even though it may not have been what you studied or have never learned.

I'm on the fence with this one.  I know that I've appreciated newer and faster solutions--particularly when their predecessors were buggy or unreliable.  But tossing out something simply because it isn't new & cool, while simultaneously adopting something that might be less reliable, less secure . . .   That doesn't make sense, either.

I say that, as long as I'm not using COBOL, I don't have the right to decide.  Just give me something fast & reliable & secure and affordable.  Is that so hard?

Amazon.  What's wrong with behaving honorably and ethically, even at the temporary expense of some market points?

Giant Asian Hornets arriving in North America.  Not what anyone needs.  One assumes they're arriving as stowaways since they're near shipping ports with a lot of Asian commerce.

We've seen similar unwanted imports within ship ballasts (Zebra Mussels) and tires filled with water (West Nile Virus in mosquitoes). 

Folks will continue bringing in unwanted exotic critters that thrive in new environments without predators as long as folks are allowed to travel / import / export without adequate education and inspection.

For my part, I've no desire to meet one of these little (but relatively HUGE) stinging beasties.  I'd rather folks kept them back where their originated.

At least there's at least one predator in North America capable of occasionally defeating a Giant Asian Hornet:



Computer viruses, like "I Love You", seem to me to be another sign of poorly managed children, poorly defined senses or morals and ethics.  There's no need for them.  But unsupervised people continue writing them, for malicious intent or for hoped-for profits, or both.

Let's take responsibility for not doing a good job of educating kids about what's right & wrong, what's acceptable behavior and what's not.  And then continually monitor them to ensure they don't stray from the desired path, even as adults.

I'm not talking about a Big Brother environment--no one wants that.  But I AM thinking of a world where people don't automatically plan mischief and who only avoid it if they believe the risk of being caught, and the associated punishments, are low.


@rschroeder don't forget Fire ants and Killer bees were stowaways too....

Then you have others that were brought here to help resolve one problem and became another....Nutria are a good example.

About the Author
Thomas LaRock is a Head Geek at SolarWinds and a Microsoft® Certified Master, SQL Server® MVP, VMware® vExpert, and a Microsoft Certified Trainer. He has over 20 years experience in the IT industry in roles including programmer, developer, analyst, and database administrator.