The past few days has been extremely hard for the precious metals, especially silver which has fallen over 25% in just two days. The thing I’ve never really liked about stocks is there are so many aspects to why a stock may or may not perform well. With precious metals there is really only two fundamentals which are closely related — the devaluation of fiat money and fear in the markets. The purpose of Gold and Silver has always been used to represent and store wealth because the value it represents stays relatively constant. Fiat money (paper money) usually goes down overtime which means it takes more of it to buy something than it did in the past. In his book title, Money, Charles Moran looked at the history of fiat currency and pointed out that their fate has always been the same. It always begins with the government producing more of it for it’s own purposes which causes people to loose confidence in it. As people loose confidence in it, it falls in value and because it falls in value the government needs to produce more an this spiral continues until it’s worthless. The more it falls in value, the more people look to precious metals which retain their value. Take a look at what he says,

Every rise in the prices, being in reality a fall in the value of the paper money, instead of inducing holders of commodities and property to realize, only increases their desire to retain them, whilst it increases the desire of the holders of paper money to exchange it for anything possessing intrinsic value. The inevitable result is a panic in regard to the paper money, and the very government that issued it is soon forced to refuse it in payment of taxes and loans, as it will no longer procure the supplies needed by the government and by its officers and employees. 

 To make sure this is clear, allow me to summarize what he just said here. Governments, through abuse produce more currency for it’s own uses which causes people to lose confidence in it and therefore it’s value decreases. As it falls in value, the government is forced to produce more which causes people to loose even more confidence in it. The result is people begin to hoard precious metals and other things of intrinsic value. In a panic, people try to get rid of their fiat money in exchange for precious metals. It’s a downward spiral that to this point in history has never been stopped once it’s started.

So why am I writing this? Mostly to reaffirm to myself why I began investing in precious metals in the first place. Knowing the history of all fiat currency of the past and how closely the United States is repeating it, I cannot see any other logical conclusion than to hoard precious metals until a better currency alternative replaces the U.S. Dollar. The fact is the U.S. dollar through the abuse of the Treasury has caused the dollar to fall in value. As a result people are loosing confidence and there is no reason to believe this is going to change anytime soon. This means the fundamentals for gold and silver are as strong as it could possible be except there is a new element in these modern times. The stock market has allowed big investors to manipulate the precious metals, although to what extent I’m not sure. I’m not one of these conspiracy theorists but what I do know is the demand for Gold and Silver has increased significantly and yet the price has remained relatively low on the COMEX. What does this mean? It means there is a disconnect between what people are paying for paper precious metals vs. what they are paying for physical precious metals.

I know that this recent fall in price makes no sense fundamentally. I believe more than ever that the price of gold/silver will rise significantly over the next few years and this is nothing more than a incredible opportunity to accumulate more precious metals. Unfortunately for me, I’m too poor to buy any more at this point. However, I was fortunate enough to be able to get some when it was dirt cheap so I’ve done quite nicely with the little I have :)

As long as I can remember I’ve always saved my money, paid cash for everything and if I did use a credit card I always had enough cash to pay off all my debt instantly so in reality I’ve never had any true debt, not even a car payment. This made it difficult to get credit cards to begin with but eventually I got a card from CapitalOne with a small limit about 1 year later I got an HSBC GM Card and finally chase. I use my Chase card daily for every transaction regardless of how small or large. When all is said and done, CapitalOne can’t even compare to Chase and if it wasn’t for CapitalOne being the oldest account on my record, I would cancel them and eventually will in the future when it no longer is an issue. 

Credit Limits

The initial credit limits were actually very low but understandable considering my credit history or lack of it. Chase gave me an initial credit limit that was 80% higher than CapitalOne. CapitalOne has only increased limit once while Chase increases my limit regularly about every 6-8 months. It’s been 5 years and CapitalOne has yet to increase my limit more than once even though my credit score is excellent. My limit with Chase is now 550% higher than CapitalOne. I decided to call them and ask for an increase and their automated recording, first level support, and the supervisor I talked with said I was not eligible for a credit increase and it was non-negotiable.

Interest

Interest has remained about the same for both companies however Chase has called me two times to ask if I was happy with my service. When I mentioned a lower interest rate would be nice, they temporarily lowered my rate. CapitalOne still has not had a lower interest rate than Chase and refuses to lower it from it’s existing level.

Checks

Chase sends me checks every 3-4 months with special offers of low interest and only charge a one time fee of 3-4% of the total. So I could write a check with 0% interest for 1 year (12 months) and only pay a 4% fee. I even used these checks to buy my car. I mention this because it has been the single thing that makes me appreciate and use Chase as my primary card.

Customer Service

I don’t have much to say here since I rarely call support but the few times I have had to, Chase has always been much more friendly, helpful and they speak English 

Categories: Chase, CapitalOne,

A surprisingly large number of people I talk seem to believe that people actually “hack” into their account when in reality they’ve been tricked into giving out information. These hacks would be very ineffective if people didn’t respond to just any cool sounding app request. 

Many people don’t realize each time they type a character, it occupies a single byte. When you type a single space using the spacebar, it also occupies the same amount of space in memory and/or storage as a single text character. So if I open notepad in windows and create a text file and then press the spacebar 1,024 times it will have a file size of 1k or 1 kilobyte even though the file will look empty and full of “whitespace”. Now it’s a waste of time to even worry about for most people, but it’s been a major issue with many websites. I recently viewed the homepage of KOMO NEWS, KING 5, and KIRO TV, the three major networks in the Seattle area and was surprised to see just how much whitespace two of them contained. The underlying HTML code for KOMO NEWS was 134KB before and after I removed the major portions of whitespace it had dropped to just 90KB. KING 5 was nearly 200KB before and 95KB after. This is only after removing the major portions of whitespace and does not include completely removing every unneeded space character. It’s also worth mentioning that a return character as the result of hitting the “Enter” or “Return” key also occupies space. So spreading a single line of code over three lines takes up an additional 2 bytes. This data gets sent across the internet just like any other data and therefore it consumes bandwidth. In the case of KING 5 which contained at least 100KB of wasted whitespace, with 20k pageviews daily that translates into nearly 2GB of useless bandwidth being wasted. Not only that, it could easily add 200-500ms of loading time, especially things such as mobile devices and those with less than 1.5Mbps connections. It also doesn’t include all the whitespace in CSS and Javascript files.

Categories: optimization, whitespace, html,

Charlie Gyenes (W6HIQ) makes HF mobile antennas under the name Hi-Q-Antennas. In the past I’ve seen mixed reviews of his antennas although the negative comments had more to do with Charlie and his service than his antennas. He claims to supply antennas to the Military, Nasa and other government entities. The military will often purchase products from many different vendors so it could be thousands or it could be a few dozen for all we know. I personally would love to see the size of his government contracts but that’s a whole different topic. Anyways, I recently discovered a problem between Charlie and a few others in the ham community. I don’t know the details but apparently his antenna lost in a competition where they measure antenna efficiency and he began accuse them of “cooking the numbers”. Then it seems he began to make person attacks against K0BG. It’s impossible to completely prevent criticism, angry customers or even slander but it is possible to respond in a mature and professional manner ─ something in which Hi-Q-Antennas has failed miserably. The response from him is not only a failure from a PR and customer standpoint, it’s an embarrassment to the entire amateur radio community. I would never purchase one of his products after seeing his response to critics and I would encourage others to avoid him as well.

As I already stated, I am unaware of the details of what happened and what exactly was done by K0BG. I do know that K0BG praised the Hi-Q antennas in the past, he is well respected among many in the hobby regarding mobile installations and apparently said or did something in the recent past to criticize Hi-Q-Antennas. I also know that Charlie Gyenes (W6HIQ) participated in the 3905 Century Club’s annual Antenna Shootout competition; He lost to a far cheaper antenna. He also responded by having his lawyer send letters to I believe K0B6 and the 3905 Club despite having absolutely no proof that anything was amiss in the competition ─ at least he hasn’t proven anything publicly from what I have seen. From what I’ve read on his site and others I suspect the letters were threats of legal action for slander. The results of the 2009 Antenna Shootout stated that one of the competitors (Charlie Gyenes - his website confirmed it was him.) complained that the test equipment had to be faulty:

One of the major complainants… this year insisted that the test equipment could not have been working properly.  I offered to let him pick up and try the gear for himself (and even Loren offered to deliver it), but he declined.  After the gear was returned to me, I took it out in the field and tested it to insure it was working properly – it was.  If anyone is interested, I have pix and results from testing three different brands of antennas from one vehicle and one mount location.

The Hi-Q-Antenna news page is filled with very poor grammar, style and personal attacks against KB06 and the 3905 Antenna Shootout. I mention this because it’s so poor I had to read it multiple times before I even had a clue as to what he was trying to say. Below are just a few small quotes taken from the page:

ENTER a “QUACK” * Mr. Know it All! K0bg.
He has gone on a rampage to bash the Hi-Q products (he had FOUR of them, written many articles praising them as being the very best for the past six years, now it is ALL BAD)!


In 2009 it was apparent the ALL of the Hi-Q HF Mobile antennas where the WORST including the NEW Hi-Q-6/80 that is used by our military and NASA! 

All of the attendees with Hi-Q antennas at Vista has requested from tom bates, AA1NZ to DO NOT PUBLISH the results until he personally inspect, calibrate HIS ( $9.00 DVOM) with the loop antenna AND
DO A RE-TEST! (Oh yeah, he offered it to me to check it but I know nothing about his DVOM).

Then the KNOW IT All’s came: K0BG!

(Anybody that has OVER 60 subjects on his website, pretends to be an EXPERT on all, HE IS EXPERT ON NONE)!

Look up his biography: I have NOT seen any doctoral degrees in any field of electronics, no brand name test equipment and the KNOWHOW how to use it’
OH YES, he does have usable ideas (or complied them from other people, plagiarizing, like how to do a good grounding and where to place the ferrites or toroids!


K0BG has thrown his hat in the ring, (k0bg.com) allen has for the past six years has written numerous articles praising the four Hi-Q antennas he has (or had).
In October he choose to REMOVE all of his references, crying like a 15 year old school girl, that I had hurt his friends feeling (and his) by doing what needed to be done: STAND up for my good name and the reputation of all of the Hi-Q products by threatening to hire a lawyer to defend my rights!
(And YES, I did)!

The first and most obvious thing you will notice when visiting his site is it’s hideous and poorly designed website that looks like it’s taken right out of the 1990’s. Second, you notice the horrible grammar and the constant misspelling of simple words such as “were”. Third, the obvious tone of the entire message is exactly what he accuses KB06 of, “crying like a 15 year old school girl”. When one looks at all the past results, the reputation of those who run the competition, and the amateur community in general, there is absolutely no reason for this kind of attitude and response. (If he ever reads this, his time, energy and money would be much better spend on a new website and checking his many grammar and spelling mistakes.)

What’s surprising to me above anything else is how immature and unprofessional his response has been as a business owner. He has done everything wrong, broken every rule in the book and more. This easily could have been turned into one of the best opportunities to improve the publics perception of Hi-Q-Antennas. Instead of asking for help and trying to figure out what went wrong, he let his pride get in the way and began to slander and attack anyone and everyone who would dare to criticize him and his product. Apparently he has a problem knowing how to deal with customers according to one reviewer:

If you have a problem getting it to work correctly (or have any question in general like “I ordered this antenna 2 weeks ago and I was wondering when it would ship”) be prepared to get a grumpy Charlie. When I called and cracked open my wallet to order it he was happy to serve. When other calls were made that were not making him money he was less than obliging. And if you have any polite suggestions or feedback, Just keep that to yourself as they do not want to improve their product. 

To his credit there are also plenty of positive reviews but it seems he doesn’t do well with criticism and complaints. This reminds me of the famous adage, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” His reputation wouldn’t have even been the slightest bit hurt by any of this had he simply and humbly accepted the results whether they were right or wrong. Over at ExpertLaw.com they have a great article about what constitutes slander and ends with some great reason why one should think very carefully about commencing a lawsuit of slander (the principal applies to any legal action including letters from lawyers) because the lawsuit could do more damage than the “slanderous accusations”. The fact is most amateurs would have chalked to low performance his antenna’s apparently got at the competition to something gone wrong like a bad cable or something and most certainly wouldn’t base their opinion of his antennas from a single competition. This is a case where he clearly overreacted and it will come back to bite him.

There is far more to operating a successful business than simply providing a great product. The most important factor is to provide excellent service and a professional response to every customer ─ especially the critics. I’ve learned that any publicity is good publicity if you know how to respond. When I managed The Great Escape it wasn’t uncommon to have customers complain but we were successful because we genuinely cared about our customers. We were so successful in this that even some of our most angry customers became repeat customers and they even unknowingly became some of the best advertisers. I remember one particularly busy day when I mistakenly double booked a birthday party for the same time slot. We had enough party rooms but not enough room in the laser tag arena for both groups. I immediately told both parties what had happened, explained it was my fault, and asked if one would be willing to wait 20 minutes to play. They were both extremely angry, both refused to compromise and let the other go first and one of the moms said, “This is the worst experience I have ever had. I will never come here again!”. To make a long story short, I apologized several more times, I let her kids play on our inflatables for free while they waited and provided extra pizza. Finally, I only charged her for 8 people even though she had 20 people. Her response as she handed me her credit card was, “I know I was angry and said I wouldn’t come back but…the kids did have a great time so I’m sure we’ll come again.” I later found out she told several parents everything that happened, which only served to increase their confidence in us, not because we were perfect but because they knew if something did go wrong we would make it right. This is the heart of customer service and it is the single deciding factor between satisfied customers and loyal customers.

The only thing Hi-Q-Antennas can do now is apologize to the 3905 club and K0BG for overreacting and making slanderous accusations against them and apologize to the amateur radio community for being an embarrassment. If he would actually humble himself and do these two things he could quite possibly turn things around.

Here are more pictures from the flooding around Port Orchard for December, 12 2010

Here are some pictures from the flooding around Port Orchard for December, 12 2010

The past few days a group of people known only as Anonymous to the media has been making headlines as they attempted to crash Mastercard, Visa, Paypal, Amazon and other services that cutoff the ability of supporters to donate to Wikileaks. They were successful at taking Mastercard’s corporate website offline for a few hours but failed miserably when it attempted to attack other companies like Paypal and Amazon. They’ve struggled to stay organized and communications channels open as Twitter and Facebook have repeatedly closed their accounts. They even used Google Docs to power a poll which would determine their next target but that soon became inaccessible also.

It was reported yesterday that a 16 year old male from the Netherlands was arrested in connection #operationpayback and apparently was responsible for running one of the IRC servers used to coordinate the attacks. Today a supposedly “official” Press Release was posted but there was a very big mistake. It was discovered by Paul Rankin that the person who created the Press Release did not remove the meta data that shows who created the document. In this blog post you can see the Authors name very clearly. Some people wondered if someone could possibly be this stupid but the answer is definitely yes.

I did a little searching and found that he has a website conveniently using his real name AlexTapanaris.com where he posts his 3D animations. A little more searching revealed that he frequented an animation/graphics forum which displayed his full name complete with a link back to his website and his username. He even started a thread about the attacks as can be seen in the two images below. The first screenshot displays his real name and his username followed by the two posts about the recent attacks.

Although of little interest to most people, another search of his username revealed his Youtube Channel which says he is a 29 year old male from Greece. This confirms that that the vast majority of these attackers are from countries like Greece, Turkey, Spain and the Netherlands. What I find most ironic is their screams for openness and transparency all while they hide behind anonymous identities.

I have always been a fan of old books, particularly Christian ones, but recently I found a new interest in old political and financial books. While at Goodwill this past week I found a book published in 1946 by Rollin G. Thomas, titled Our Modern Banking and Monetary System, which discusses the the banking and monetary system in the United States, one which has remained relatively unchanged since it’s publication. The old adage is true that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it and based on this premise I hope to at the very least be better prepared in the event that we do indeed repeat history.

I’m a very simple guy who over-thinks almost everything so my explanations can sometimes be oversimplified and yet complex. I tend to think of my own thinking process as being like a spiderweb which is actually very simple yet complex due to how it’s all put together. When it comes to our current financial crisis I have many thoughts on what caused the partial collapse of the entire world economy and what’s potentially ahead for the future.

There is debate on both sides of the political spectrum as to who was to blame for the housing crisis and I don’t care to go down that road again, but what happened is very obvious. Home mortgages were easy to get regardless of your credit worthiness and this resulted in a surge of people buying homes they couldn’t afford which then caused a surge in home prices because demand was artificially rising. This could not continue on indefinitely and eventually it all came to a crash in 2007-2008. To make things worse, we had have a government that can’t seem to stop spending money and just prints more when it’s convenient. Unfortunately this is not new to the the rest of the world.

The governments responsibility is to print money for use by it’s people, not it’s own use. If and when a government begins to abuse this power and prints money at will for it’s own use it results in a loss of confidence by the people who use it. It is not a requirement for money to have intrinsic value to be useful, but it is a requirement that those who use it in the exchange of goods and services have confidence in the fiat money. There comes a point where there is not enough money in circulation to meet the demand of the people and therefore printing more becomes necessary. When the money is paid back it is either re-loaned to others or removed from circulation if it’s no longer needed. This is all part of the design and purpose of the Federal Reserve in managing the nations money supply.

The idea of a central bank that manages the money supply is actually very effective when used as intended, but when the bank begins to print print money for it’s own purposes instead of meeting the needs and demands of the public, the public looses confidence in it and will look for other places to store their money. If this abuse by the government continues, the result will inevitably be a collapse of the currency. A while back I posted the following quote from the mid 1800’s which explains this phenomenon.

Nearly all the government paper issues ever made have shared the same fate as those whose history we have sketched. The phases through which they all pass is remarkably similar. The issue of paper money is generally resorted to by governments, as a resource to meet indispensable expenditures. This is contrary to the first principle of money, which is, that being an instrument made by the government at the expense and for the convenience of the individuals who use it, it should only be manufactured when demanded by the individuals. The principle which controls the issue of government paper money being false, like all other recourse to false principles, the issue cannot fail to be injurious to both government and people. No matter how despotic or popular the government issuing the paper money may be, the public soon lose confidence in it: if forced by legal enactments to accept it, they avoid holding it, and hoard the coin, in which they have confidence, and which, therefore, suddenly disappear from cirulation. The anxiety to exchange paper money, in which the community has no confidence, for commodities and other property which have an intrinsic value, soon produces a rapid rise of prices, which is the true indication and measure of the depreciation of all paper money having a forced circulation. Every rise in the prices, being in reality a fall in the value of the paper money, instead of inducing holders of commodities and property to realize, only increases their desire to retain their desire to retain them, whilst it increases the desire of the holders of paper money to exchange it for anything possessing intrinsic value. The inevitable result is a panic in regard to the paper money, and the very government that issued it is soon forced to refuse it in payment of taxes and loans, as it will no longer procure the supplies needed by the government and by its officers and employees.

Such are the terrible perturbations produced in communities by a forced cirulation of paper money. An inevitable fatality urges the Governments that use it, toward its abuse; for a forced circulation of paper money is always resorted to in moments of crisis, when the ordinary resources are insufficient. A first excess in the issue of paper money, rendered necessary by excessive expenditures, produces a depreciation in the value of the money received in payment of the taxes levied, and this depreciation obliges the Government to make further issues to augment its resources, so as to compensate the depreciation in the value of the taxes; and so on, ad infinitum, until the value of the paper falls to zero, which is equivalent to general or rather national bankruptcy.

When I first read that, I was taken aback at the accuracy with which it describes the current state of our government. I found it hard to believe that this was written over 150+ years previously and thus my interest in old financial and political books began. Today here I am writing about something which I am vastly inexperienced, but deeply interested in for reason I don’t quite understand. This very post was only intended to be about two sentences explaining a quote I wanted to post but even as I write I realize an important part of growing and learning from our mistakes is learning to articulate the thoughts and gut feelings that seem to fill our minds.

This past week, the United State Federal Reserve announced it would begins it’s second round of quantitative easing (Known as QE2) by purchasing 600 Billion dollars in debt from the treasury. For those unfamiliar with what this means, the Department of Treasury prints money via the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which then sells it to the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve then turns around and buys treasury bonds and treasury notes from the Treasury. Confused? Think it’s insane? It is and it’s this insane practice and which has caused people to loose confidence in the dollar and therefore it becomes devalued.

This brings me to the topic of inflation, which I intended to write about from the beginning. It is a common misconception that higher prices is the result of inflation, but higher prices are really just a symptom of Inflation. Many people are familiar with the Supply and Demand model which says if the demand for a product and/or service rises but the ability to meet the demand is not possible, the result will be higher prices. In this case the value of the money stays the same, it’s just the cost of a particular item has gone up because demand is greater than the supply. This is a normal and healthy part of our economic system. Inflation occurs when the value of money falls and thus more of it is required to purchase the same as before the fall in value. For example, if I am able to purchase a gallon of milk for $3 but then the value of my money is devalued to half of it’s original value, I will now need to use $6 to purchase the same thing. In this example the money did not stay the same and I now need more of it to purchase the same amount. The difference with inflation is that just about everything will rise in price, but with the  supply and demand model, only those products and services where demand exceeds supply, the price will rise.

The U.S. government has been abusing it’s power and printing enormous amounts of money to fund it’s spending which has caused people to loose confidence in the dollar. This lost confidence causes the dollar to fall in value because no one wants it. When the value falls, it requires more of it to purchase the same as before it fell in value. So what does this mean for us? With this recent announcement of QE2, the already weak dollar will be devalued even further and thus prices will rise. At this point depending on who you listen to, the dollar is expected to loose another 30-50% of it’s current value. If you’re still asking what does that mean for you, it simply means the dollar will either collapse or prices of products and services will skyrocket to unbelievable levels.

I’ll share a little later what I’ve been doing to prepare but let’s just say for now that you should get your savings out of the dollar and put it into things of intrinsic value like precious metals and commodities. I would also suggest you avoid things like CD’s.

"Those who preach a gospel of healing must ultimately deal with the reality of those born with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or a host of other diseases. If they choose to go down that road they will come face-to-face with the God who declares, “They were not created in a secret place without my knowledge. It was I who knit them together while they were still in the womb and I have ordained ever day of their life.” It is sad that they are quick to declare diseases developed late in life as being outside the will of God and the result of sin and satan. It is still more sad how many people miss the opportunity to allow Christ to be their strength and thus the unique opportunity to declare to the world the goodness of their savior even in the midst of pain and suffering."
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