Monday, October 3, 2011

Don't buy Microsoft Office -- install OpenOffice instead for free

For most people, Microsoft Office is a waste of money and very frustrating to use.

As an alternative, I recommend downloading and installing OpenOffice. In addition to being free, it is much easier to use. OpenOffice can be used to edit Microsoft Office files (Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, etc). Documents can be saved in a variety of file formats, including PDF.

To download the latest version, visit

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Change Mutual Funds and the Corporate World

Problem #1: Mutual fund investors sacrifice their right to vote for diversification, and in some cases, fund management.

Fund managers do not necessarily represent you or your interests, and generally vote according to whatever a corporation's board recommends because that is the quickest thing to do. Non-voting investors are helpless and have no influence on the board. This situation has led to boards that are not accountable, and widespread investor frustration.

Proposal #1: all mutual funds must allow investors the option of voting their shares.

Problem #2: Online proxy voting sites usually have a single button to "vote according to the board recommendations", but do not have a single button to "vote against board recommendations". 

Why are investors who disagree with the board forced to do more? 

Proposal #2: if a site offers a single button to vote with the board, there must also be a single button for voting against the board recommendations.

As investor citizens, don't sacrifice your right to vote. Arguably, your right to vote in corporate decisions may be more important than your right to vote in government elections. Government elections are national, corporations are global.

ProxyDemocracy - see how various mutual funds vote. (note: prior to 2003 mutual funds didn't have to disclose this information) 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Loup Ski Patrol Winter Sports Swap: Oct. 29 9:00 - 1:00


Saturday, October 29, 2011 9:00am til 1:00pm

Location: The Agriplex – Okanogan County Fairgrounds
Rodeo Trail, Okanogan, WA

$2 cash admission charge
Credit and Debit Cards Accepted for Purchases

Items: clothing, skis, snowboards, boots, outdoor gear, googles, helmets, and more.

Get Season Passes now!

Interested in Selling items? Gear Check-in is 5:00pm til 7:00pm Friday, October 28th

All proceeds benefit the Loup Loup Ski Patrol and are used to purchase equipment, medical supplies and make improvements to facilities.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

eBook Self Publishing information: SmashWords

Here's my notes on smashwords...

(from link above... see step 2 for how to find someone willing to format your book)

Easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Sign up for your free account.  Your confirmation email will summarize your next steps.
  2. Format your manuscript as a Microsoft Word .doc file per the guidelines in the Smashwords Style Guide, or, if you don't have the time or patience to do it yourself, send an email to to request "Mark's List" of low-cost Smashwords ebook formatters and cover designers.
  3. Click Publish and follow the simple steps to upload your book and cover image.

The following two links are listed on the page above. The Marketing Guide is very good reading. The Style Guide is the details of how to format the Word doc.
Marketing Guide:
Style Guide:

Monday, May 2, 2011

PHP, SOAP, Webservice, WSDL, URL format, Uncaught SoapFault exception

The following error occurs when attempting to create a soap client in PHP if the url does not have ?wsdl at the end.

Fatal error: Uncaught SoapFault exception: [WSDL] SOAP-ERROR: Parsing WSDL: Couldn't load from '' : Premature end of data in tag html line 3 in /.../codefile.php:502 Stack trace: #0 /.../codefile.php(502): SoapClient->SoapClient('https://testsite...') #1 {main} thrown in /.../codefile.php on line 502

For example:
$client = new SoapClient('');

$client = new SoapClient('');
(no error)

Friday, April 22, 2011

How to fix Honda Element Clunking noise

Annoying noise coming from rear of your Element?

I switched the rubber bushings on the sway bar and the clunking noise is now gone.

1. Use 12mm socket wrench to remove left and right bushings (4 bolts). note: you don't need to remove the whole sway bar -- the rubber bushings can be removed by themselves.
2. put the left rubber bushing (item 7 in diagram below) where the right bushing was and vice versa.

See the following link for a description and diagram of the problem. See item 7 in diagrams below. The bushings look similar to the ones pictured below, and are for attaching the sway bar to the frame.

If you want to replace worn out bushings, the part number is 52306-SCV-000 for the Honda Element. This is for years 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011. The part is also referred to as "BUSH, STABILIZER HOLDER" on some part dealer websites, for example, Sons Honda. The price is about $3 per bushing.

Feel free to leave a comment if you found this helpful.

Honda Element Sway Bar Bushing Diagram
Honda Element Sway Bar Bushing Diagram with Linkage
Honda Element Rubber Sway Bar Bushing

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Do it Yourself Methow Valley Cam iPhone App

1. load any one of the following urls in Safari on your iPhone or iPod Touch device.

2. click the button at the bottom center of the screen that looks like an arrow in a box.
3. Select "Add to Home Screen", give it a name like "MazamaCam"

This will create an icon that you can click to directly load that cam page.

4. repeat steps 1-3 for each cam