Category Archives: Did you know?

If you fly into San Diego….

Did you know?

AirplaneI have only flown once since 9/11.

It’s not that I fear flying.

It’s because I really really really really really don’t like waiting, especially if I have to stand and wait.

Zoey the Cool Cat bookI always have a book or magazine with me so that I can read if I’m forced to wait anywhere.

In the case of flying, though, I’m not forced to fly and wait in those security screening lines, so I don’t fly.

If I can’t get there by bus, train, car, bike, or foot, I figure I really don’t need to go.

However, if you are flying into San Diego, especially during the holidays, be sure to sit on the left side of the plane so you’ll have the most spectacular views of downtown San Diego.

Downtown San Diego from San Diego Sky Tours

Also remember to contact me because I often have free or discounted tickets to the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and SeaWorld if you’re interested in visiting those.

I also have some good resources after being here for 21 years so I can probably find you discounts on other attractions, too.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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IBOexchange update

Did you know?

If you missed my first post (and all the great comments) about IBOexchange, go here: IBOexchange.

After 17 days of using IBOexchange, I wanted to provide an update. I am having fun with it, but fun doesn’t always make money. However, in this case, income flow has started.

First, most of the IBOexchange members are in “network marketing,” “online marketing,” and “MLM” (multi-level marketing). That’s okay, though, because I’m not interested in changing careers, only in making contacts. If the network/online/MLM folks are so rich, then they should be able to buy Photographic Art at some point. All I have to do is keep making contacts because the more contacts you make, the greater the possibility of someone buying your product or service.

Two of my sites are registered with IBOexchange: my blog here and my Facebook business page. I have my WordPress blog registered because I have WordAds here, and every visitor here makes an “ad impression” for which I get paid.

Thanksgiving squirrelI have been blogging since June 2008, and I have been able to determine that blogging/liking/commenting truly does adhere to the 80/20 rule in that if I like/comment on a blog, 80 percent of those people will be by within 30 days to like/comment on my blog. Not only that, but 80 percent of those people will leave an equal number of likes and comments. If I leave 10 likes/comments, 80 percent will be by my blog within 30 days and leave 10 likes/comments.

Continuation can often result in relationships.

I’m currently following 3,033 blogs, so if I could like/comment them all today, within 30 days I’d have 2,426 likes/comments. Now picture me camping out in just 10 blogs per day for 30 days and leaving 10 likes/comments per day. Within 30 days after I finish, I’ll have 2,400 likes/comments….

….which turn into ad impressions, which makes me money!

Have I noticed an uptick in daily visits? Yes, I have, to the tune of an extra 100 hits per day, and that’s with me doing very little this past week because I’ve been sick.

Now let’s look at my Facebook business page. Facebook has this notification system whereby you can invite all of your friends to like your business page. It worked extremely well until I reached 500 likes. Once I reached that level, though, it was extremely difficult to get new likes. Of course, I got daily messages from Facebook offering to promote my page to get more likes for just $25 per day. No….

Thanksgiving squirrelFacebook likes in and of themselves won’t pay the bills. Contacts will, and Facebook knows that, but what small business has $25 per day to pay them to promote the business without any guarantee whatsoever. No….

When I started IBOexchange on November 5, my Facebook business page had 558 likes. As of a few minutes ago, 17 days later, it has 777 likes. That’s an average of almost 13 likes per day. That’s significant, even better than what Facebook was providing initially.

More importantly, though, Facebook provides me with a list of the people who have liked my business page. That’s key, because those are prospective customers. Now all I have to do is continue to reach out to them. It’s marketing at its most basic level.

Thanksgiving squirrelI also try to let everyone know that I made it to their Facebook page/web site/YouTube/whatever by leaving a simple comment: “Found my way here via IBOexchange.” That does two things: It lets them know that I’m serious about relationships, and it tells them that IBOexchange works if they don’t already know that.”

I also have a Photographic Art blog, a blog that hasn’t been very active. Beginning this weekend, I will endeavor to correct that deficiency and make it my Photographic Art blog, as it should be.

A good general rule of thumb might be the 80/20 rule: 80% of my posts here will be photos, music, philately, Zoey the Cool Cat, my wise old grandmother, etc., while 20% will be about my Photographic Art venture.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!Over at my Photographic Art blog, 80% of my posts will be about my Photographic Art venture, and 20% will be about everything else in life.

So if you want the best of both, be sure to follow both. Here’s my Photographic Art blog: Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos. That is where I will be posting specials, new Photographic Art, and happiness when someone buys something. I probably will also move my “How I Did It” series from here over to there.

If you think you might be interested in IBOexchange for your business, click on the image below:


Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Minimum standards and planned obsolescence

Did you know?

After I left Texas A&M University in May 1977, three hours short of graduation, I moved to Houston where one of my new friends worked at Texas Instruments. He worked their graveyard backup shift. In other words, he went to work at 10:00 p.m. every day, pushed a couple of buttons and rotated some knobs, and sat there for eight hours while the computers backed up all the data from the day. He found it a pretty boring but well-paying job.

One day, knowing my fanatical interest in all things Star Trek, he asked me if I wanted to go to work with him and play Star Trek on one of the TI mainframe computers. How could I refuse?

We played for eight hours straight, but it was the most uncomfortable eight hours I’ve ever put myself through. He worked in the room where the mainframe computers were, and that room was freezing! That was when I learned that computers put out a lot of heat, especially huge mainframe computers, and that the rooms were purposefully kept cold to help the computers do their work.

Heat is the #1 cause of computer and component failure…. 37 years ago and still today!

For the last 18 months I have been having significant problems with my graphics computer, the one with a 1TB hard drive, 8GB of memory, and quad core Intel processors. It’s actually a rather small computer, and it sits between my desk and the printer.

I thought the problem was with malware, viruses, and spyware. This past week, through Microsoft’s Assure program, I let one of their technicians take remote control of the computer. I sat and watched…. and learned!

He found all sorts of garbage programs that I had not found by using several anti-malware, anti-virus, and anti-spyware programs:

► MalwareBytes Anti-Malware
► Sophos Virus Removal Tool
► SpyHunter
► HitmanPro

I was amazed.

As he was finishing deleting the last of the garbage programs that HitmanPro had found, my computer spontaneously rebooted itself. Spontaneous rebooting was not my #1 problem, but it seemed that spontaneous rebooting always occurred when I was deep in the midst of creating Photographic Art in Photoshop, which was at least once a day….

In other words, making heavy use of the computer processors and the GPU….

Often it would not reboot and I would have to do graphics on my dedicated music computer.

According to the Microsoft guru, the computer was probably overheating and shutting itself down. That’s when he grabbed one more piece of software: SpeedFan.

SpeedFan is a cute little program that tells you all sorts of technical data about your computer and its components, including how fast the fans are turning and how hot everything is. It uses SMART to do that.

SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) is a monitoring system for computers and components that detects and reports on various indicators of drive reliability, helping to anticipate hardware failure. Anticipating hardware failure allows you to replace components prior to a disaster happening, thus saving lots of time, money, and data. Manufacturers use recorded SMART data to discover where faults lie and prevent them from recurring in future drive designs.

SpeedFan provided a temperature readout of my computer and its components:

SpeedFan readout

Notice that the temperatures of various components range from 68°F to 147°F. The little graphics next to the components indicate if the temperature is on the cool side (blue down arrow), on the hot side (red up arrow), just right (green check), or burning up (fire). I had two components that were burning up.

My computer is sufficiently old (2009) that it doesn’t tell me what the components are, so my only choices were to (1) buy a new computer, (2) take the computer to a computer tech and let the tech figure out which components were overheating, (3) add some sort of cooling system to the computer, or (4) buy a new house with a dedicated computer room.

After researching the costs of various options, I decided on option #3. Option #1 would cost about $800 for a similar computer; #2 would cost a minimum of $250 and could get into the thousands of dollars; #3 could cost as little as $4.99 for a USB case fan or as much as $140 for a specialized computer cooling fan; and option #4 could cost several million dollars….

After three visits to Fry’s Electronics, I finally found a case fan that fits inside the computer and is powered by a USB port. Cost a whopping $11.95, tax included. It took all of ten minutes to install it.

Here’s the SpeedFan readout after using the computer all day for every processor-intensive task I could think of:

SpeedFan readout

No hot arrows, no fires.

One other thing I learned yesterday and today relates to my occupation as a home inspector. Structures are built according to various codes, but those codes are only a minimum standard. Like virtually everything in life, no one wants to do more than the minimum. Minimums often mean “the cheapest way.” Would you like to fly to the moon in a spacecraft built by the lowest bidder? Challenger…. Columbia….

I learned that computers are the same way. Manufacturers put just enough into the computer to ensure that it works for a year or so…. planned obsolescence. You can make your computer last a lot longer than the manufacturer’s plan if you’ll monitor its parts and take care of them.

Here’s an easy way to determine if your computer is overheating: touch it. Your body temperature is 98.6°F, so if your computer is warm (or hot!) to the touch, it’s hotter than 98.6°F.

Now all you have to do is determine if how hot it is, is okay.

You can do that easily with SpeedFan.

Go here.

SpeedFan will download and install itself once you give it permission to. After that, just click on the desktop icon and let SpeedFan do its thing and give you a report.

P.S. Don’t worry about me being three hours short of graduating from Texas A&M University. I completed those hours during the Fall Semester of 1978 and graduated in December 1978.

P.P.S. Since installing the fan and doing every processor-intensive task I could think of, my computer has chosen not to spontaneously reboot itself.

P.P.P.S. Makes you wonder about this all-powerful God creature and why s/he has planned obsolescence for the human body. Built to minimum standards?…………..

P.P.P.P.S. Now go back and read my post from yesterday. It’s here: If it’s on the Internet, it must be true. Now leave a comment and tell me whether this review of SpeedFan is an honest review or a paid review……….LOL

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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If it’s on the Internet, it must be true

Did you know?

When my wise old grandmother adopted me at the age of 11, one of the things that she instilled in me was the belief that humans are basically good.

She did that one day when I came home from grade school with a torn shirt and all bruised and bloody from my first encounter with the school bully.

Her 80/10/10 rule explained people:

“Ten percent of the people you meet will love you because that’s the kind of people they are. Ten percent of the people you meet will hate you because that’s the kind of people they are. Eighty percent of the people you meet will love or hate you depending on your actions and words, so be nice.”

“Basically good,” to me, also means “honest.”

Working on IBOexchange (see my post) led me to several micro job web sites. Micro jobs are easy online tasks that anyone can do from home and which pay, usually anywhere from 5¢ to $20. Five cent jobs are things such as liking someone on Facebook or YouTube. Twenty dollar jobs are usually more time-consuming, such as perusing a web site and writing a testimonial.

MoneyI have known since youth that money is the root of many problems, and watching Judge Judy confirmed that.

Of course, the $20 jobs piqued my curiosity so I checked out a few of them and just cannot convince myself to write a fake testimonial. Maybe if the pay was $200 instead of $20.

I now wonder if I can ever trust an online testimonial again. More importantly, I wonder if I will succumb to needing money so badly, or simply needing something to do, that I’m writing fake testimonials. I guess only time will tell.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Did you know?

I have always been amazed when I come across a blog that has 35 million followers but only 25,000 hits and has only been up since June 2013.

At a minimum, I would think that if you have 35 million followers, you should have at least 35 million hits because each person would have to visit at least once in order to follow you.

Such is not the case, though.

I’m at 10,189 followers according to WordPress, but that includes WordPress, LinkedIn, and Twitter followers, so some of that is redundant. I suspect the number of actual people following me is closer to six or seven thousand.

More importantly, though, how do you even get 35 million followers?

Well, over the past few days, I have discovered how you do that. It’s done with exchanges.

There are various exchanges out there. You can participate in a YouTube exchange, a Facebook exchange, A Twitter exchange, even a WordPress follow exchange.

The one that I think I have hooked up with permanently is IBOexchange. Here is their front page:


As you can see, I can participate in exchanges for Facebook Likes, Facebook Shares, Facebook Followers, Google +1, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.

Their motivation tool is Coins. With their free membership, you get 50 Coins per day when you log in. You offer a certain number of Coins to people who Like you on Facebook, or YouTube, etc. You can earn Coins by Likeing someone else.

Look at the portion of the screen in red, and you can see that if I Like the top left person/page, that person will give me 19 Coins. The more coins you offer people, the better position you get in those two rows, and the more Likes you’ll get. You can buy more Coins, or upgrade your free membership to VIP membership and get 100 Coins per day instead of 50. You can buy VIP membership by the day, week, month, or year. A year’s VIP membership is only $25.00, and you can pay with PayPal.

Since I have WordAds on this blog, I entered my WordPress URL by clicking on the “Traffic Exchange” button halfway down the left side column in the graphic above. Later today I’ll be upgrading to a VIP membership for the year. Let’s see if a traffic exchange increases the number of impressions that WordAds records, thereby increasing my monthly income from WordAds.

Sign up for IBOexchange here:


Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Exploring the past with Google Earth & Google Street View

Did you know?

I think it was the movie Logan’s Run where the camera pans the city and we see that McDonald’s has bought everything—McDonald’s Auto Dealership, McDonald’s Groceries, McDonald’s Drug Store, McDonald’s Gas Station, and, of course, a McDonald’s burger palace….

If I were to lay odds on something like that happening within the next fifty years, I would go 2 to 1 on Google, and 3 to 1 on Apple (Apple’s problems with the iPhone 6 might cause me to redo those odds….).

I didn’t jump on the Google bandwagon until 2008 when I started blogging. Previously, I was MapQuest instead of Google Maps, Yahoo! search instead of Google search….

Zoey the Cool CatTwo really cool Google programs that I discovered a couple of years ago when I started blogging at WordPress are Google Street View and Google Earth. Using both of those programs, from the comfort of my home with Zoey the Cool Cat resting comfortably on the printer, I was able to visit all the places I had ever lived. I didn’t remember all the addresses, but with Street View, I didn’t have to. I just had to remember what streets led where.

Here are the places where I lived for the first 18 years of life on Earth:

802 West Alice Avenue; Kingsville, Texas; 1955-1956
This was my maternal grandparents’ house and where we were living when I was born. Both of these grandparents were teachers, and I had my grandmother for English in ninth grade. One of the reasons I chose not to go to Texas A&I University in Kingsville was because, by that time, my grandmother was teaching required freshman English at A&I, and my granddad was teaching required physical education. After my experience in ninth grade, I was pretty determined never to have a relative as a teacher again….
802 West Alice Avenue, Kingsville Texas

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

728 Santa Barbara Drive; Kingsville, Texas; 1956-1959
This was the first home I remember, although all I remember is that the birds used to fly into the windows (barely visible) under the roof eaves at the front right. I felt so sorry every time I found a dead bird. They did get a proper funeral from this little boy.
728 Santa Barbara Drive, Kingsville Texas

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

302 Inwood Drive; Palestine Texas; 1960-1961
My dad got a promotion with Missouri Pacific Railroad, but it required us to move from Kingsville to Palestine. I remember that I used to love running up and down the front steps to the street.
This was the house we were living in when my dad killed himself because of my mom’s indiscretions. I spent 43 years looking for this house and finally found the address in 2012 on my dad’s death certificate, available online at No one could (would) tell me the address because I had been lied to all my life about my dad’s death. I suppose they thought that if I found the address, I would find out the truth about my dad’s death.
302 Inwood Drive Palestine Texas

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

185 S 100 W; Brigham City, Utah; 1961-1963
This was where we moved after my dad’s death. (This is the current address; I don’t know if it was the address when we lived there.) Mom’s family were Mormons living in northern Utah and southern Idaho.
This house was directly behind Food Town grocery store, which became Food King and is now named Smith’s Food King. Food Town/Food King is where my juvenile crime career started.
Mom turned to alcohol to deal with my dad’s death, which meant that we three children got neither love nor discipline, much less food. I stole lots of food from Food Town/Food King. Back in 1979, when I went to a family reunion in Utah, I went by and made restitution to the best of my recollection.
185 S 100 W Brigham City Utah

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

626 S 600 W; Brigham City, Utah; 1963
After mom remarried, we moved into the house where my stepdad and his family had lived for several years. We stayed only a few months before moving to a new home that was big enough for two adults and seven children.
I don’t remember much about this home other than it used to have a big, beautiful tree out front where I used to sit and read—Charlotte’s Web, The Boxcar Children, The Secret Garden.
626 S 600 W, Brigham City Utah

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

301 Englewood Drive; Brigham City, Utah; 1963-1965
This is where we moved after mom remarried. My stepdad also was an alcoholic, so life wasn’t any better as far as love, discipline, and food went. My oldest stepsister and I were physically and verbally abused—endlessly—and I can’t say that I was unhappy to leave the family when my wise old grandmother adopted me in December 1965.
301 Englewood Drive, Brigham City Utah

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

420 West Alice Avenue; Kingsville, Texas; 1965-1973
Back to Kingsville, and just four blocks from where my family was living when I was born.
My wise old grandmotherThis was my wise old grandmother’s house. Granddad worked for Missouri Pacific Railroad several hundred miles away in Taylor, Texas. He came home every other weekend, so it was up to my wise old grandmother to give me love, discipline, and food, and turn me from my juvenile ways. I think she succeeded.
The house still has the storm shutters (hurricane country) which my granddad and I installed in 1968 after Hurricane Beulah blew Kingsville apart in September 1967.
I also planted the two oak trees in the front yard at the same time because Beulah destroyed our mesquite, ash, and hackberry trees. I chose oak because oak and palm trees were the only trees to survive Beulah, and I disliked palm trees (still do).
420 West Alice Avenue, Kingsville Texas

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

All of the pictures are from Google Street View. You have to admit that they are decent pictures for historical purposes!

Google Earth is a free program and a lot of fun.

Google Street View is simply part of Google Maps, so when you go to Google Maps, after entering an address, simply click on the picture that shows up under the address; the picture has “Street View” in the lower left corner to help.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Plastic bags banned (mostly) in California effective 7-1-15

Did you know?

California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation today that makes California the first state in the nation to ban plastic grocery bags. Interestingly, the news about the legislation says that it will prohibit “large stores” from using the sacks beginning in July 2015. I could find no definition of “large stores,” but the news article states, “The law applies to stores that sell groceries and pharmacies— think Safeway, Target, Walmart, Rite Aid— but not stores that don’t sell those items, like Macy’s.” Hmmm. I think Macy’s qualifies as a “large store.” I’m confused, but government often confuses me, so no big deal there.

Over 120 local California cities and counties currently ban plastic bags. I know the bags are dangerous to our wildlife, but so are the plastic rings that occupy the top of your six packs of canned beer and sodas…. and string…. and rubber bands…. and fishing line…. I don’t see anyone rushing to ban those. Oh, what a tangled web we weave….

Last night, Zoey the Cool Cat had an incident that frightened her, as well as Jim and me. I found a sack stuffed in a cupboard so I put it on the bed for Zoey the Cool Cat to enjoy:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Does she not look happy and satisfied, probably having pleasant dreams of finally catching the mourning doves outside our office window.

I mention the plastic bags because wildlife often get tangled up in them and die. Last night, Zoey the Cool Cat got tangled up in that sack. See the two handles? She got her head through one and couldn’t get out. She took off through the house, trying to get rid of the thing around her neck, frightened and howling. She finally got stuck in a corner where I was able to reach her and get the sack off her neck. It took about 30 minutes of me holding her and talking to her before she calmed down, though. Poor kitty….

I can only imagine what the wildlife outside goes through when they get their necks, feet, and wings caught up in plastic bags, plastic ring tops, fishing line, and string.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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