Just sharing this post from a non-smoker on ecigs

Please take a moment to read this and the comments on the post. She hits the nail on the head. Vaping is the future and it’s helping people get healthy and off these addictive cigs that kill more people than a lot of other diseases that are out there.

As Rip Trippers says “Remember, smoking is dead. Vaping is the future and the future is now.”

Read her post here: Sallie’s Personal Pages – A Non-Smoker’s Perspective on Electronic Cigarettes

Vapers Take Action NOW! – CASAA Assessment of FDA Deeming Regulation, April 25, 2014

Yesterday the FDA regulation draft was released and it going to effectively kill the small businesses and halt innovation of the devices. This is going to kill the vaping community and it really upsets me and we need to take action. Here is a quote from the CASAA’s article on this issue that was released today. I have it up here as a mirror as their site was going up and down earlier from the traffic. The original source is here: CASAA Assessment of FDA Deeming Regulation, April 25, 2014. I took this quote from their page at 11:00AM CST on 4/25/14.

Also take a moment to watch this video that explains what exactly this means to everyone (vapers and vendors).

Yesterday’s FDA draft deeming regulation regarding e-cigarettes, other smoke-free alternatives, and other products is not as bad on its face as it might have been. However, a full review — in the context of background knowledge and institutional analysis — reveals that the proposed regulation is inappropriate, ill-founded, and potentially devastating for consumers.

1. The proposed regulation of non-combustible tobacco products, particularly including e-cigarettes, does almost nothing to address any real problems.

With the exception of ingredient labeling requirements, which benefit consumers, and bans on sales to minors, which we also support, this appears to be a classic case of a solution in search of a problem. FDA presents only speculative claims of harms or risks from smoke-free products.  To the extent that they identify potential problems, there is no reason to believe that the proposed regulations will address them.  

For example, there are vague assertions that regulation will address problems of unsanitary manufacturing processes or contamination. Addressing these would benefit consumers. But the regulations, which primarily involve busy-work information filings and applications, would do nothing to address such problems. Another example is the repeated claims about fixing consumer misperceptions. There is no evidence that consumers are misinformed. But even if they are misinformed, there is no apparent way the proposed restrictions would change that. Indeed, we believe the proposed regulations would increase confusion.

FDA implies that their filing and application processes address these speculative problems, but they do not. They would have us believe that their HPHC (hazardous and potentially hazardous chemicals) reporting process, where manufacturers are required to measure and catalog the quantities of a list of chemicals in products, is a solution. But such reporting is nearly useless for educating consumers, as was made clear when FDA and TPSAC discussed how to try to make it useful in a meeting last year. It does nothing to prevent occasional contamination problems and is not sufficient knowledge for determining which products might pose higher risks, though it will inevitably be interpreted as such.

Similarly, they declare that their application process for allowing new or “substantially equivalent” products onto the market protects good products and eliminates bad ones. But there is no evidence that their process actually accomplishes this. Moreover, that process is hopelessly backlogged merely trying to regulate cigarettes and smokeless tobacco; they will be even less capable of dealing with applications about far more complicated and varying e-cigarettes. FDA actions, discussions, and statements about the approval process strongly suggest that for manufacturers to get filings approved, they will have to provide information that is next-to-impossible to produce.

2. There is no recognition of consumer interests.

The consumers are the primary stakeholders in this process, yet FDA displays an utter disregard for their interests. Discussions of the cost of the proposed regulations focus entirely on the compliance costs for manufacturers. There is no apparent awareness of the costs imposed on consumers. It is telling that the logon password for yesterday’s FDA phone broadcast about the regulations was “industry.”

There are signals that FDA would take actions that are harmful to consumers. FDA is aggressively soliciting reasons to ban e-cigarette flavors and there are several hints that they intend to take this step. Buried in the middle of a nondescript paragraph is the observation that they would gain the authority to impose whatever unspecified restrictions on additives and constituents they want. Reading between the lines indicates they would be inclined to ban any product variation that appears to be slightly higher risk than an alternative (but still very low risk compared to smoking), regardless of whether consumers preferred it.

FDA consistently insists that e-cigarettes and other smoke-free products cannot be considered smoking cessation aids and asserts (contrary to overwhelming evidence) that they are not effective as such. Yet this regulation says that the only reason for allowing a new (which means post-2007) product onto the market is that it is useful for smoking cessation. This might just be the self-contraction that unrealistic rhetoric often leads to, but it might signal an intention to ban most everything.

3. The rules would eliminate the small businesses that provide the high-quality e-cigarette products that experienced vapers prefer.

The filing requirements that would be imposed on manufacturers would put small-sized, and probably medium-sized, companies out of business. Only a half dozen large manufacturers (particularly including the major traditional tobacco companies and their suppliers) would be able to meet these requirements.  Moreover, any smaller manufacturer that was able to complete the filings would face the prospect of being instantly put out of business by the FDA’s ruling as soon as the grace period (24 months) expires and FDA gets through the backlog and rules on their applications. Thus, these regulations appear to eliminate the vast majority of e-cigarette manufacturers approximately two years after they take effect.

FDA repeatedly asks for comments on how the requirements could be made non-fatal for small manufacturers. But this appears to be disingenuous; there is simply no way to reconcile the burdens imposed by proposed requirements with the resources of small and medium specialty businesses that make higher quality e-cigarette components.

4. The scientific claims made by FDA are flawed and biased.

We are very concerned with FDA’s apparently tenuous grasp of the relevant science.  They ignore the bulk of what is known, repeatedly misinterpret studies, and accept as fact politically-motivated assertions of authors.  They have some out-and-out factual errors in their review of the science, but far worse is the spin and innuendo. They cherry-pick single sources with particular conclusions about topics that are far more uncertain when all the evidence is considered.  In almost every case, the uncritical acceptance of bad information tends to justify restrictions and deny the harms they will inflict on the public with these restrictions.  This bodes ill for what they will accept as new evidence in response to their requested comments.  

By contrast, they downplay overwhelmingly obvious facts about the benefits of e-cigarettes.  For example, they present the statement that e-cigarettes reduce exposures to toxicants compared to smoking, something that is true beyond a doubt, with the caveats “some researchers have stated” and “may.” They similarly downplay the evidence about e-cigarettes’ effectiveness in aiding smoking cessation.

(We expect to provide more details about the scientific errors and spin at the antiTHRlies.com blog over the coming weeks.)

It is this biased view of the science that will presumably be used to evaluate product applications, determine the content of warning labels, and otherwise control communication. In particular, FDA implies that a new tobacco product can only be justified if it is effective for harm reduction (a term they blatantly avoid). Yet FDA’s evaluation of e-cigarettes seems to deny they are effective. Given that the harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes is supported by about as much evidence is imaginable for any new product, It is difficult to see how they could reach a favorable ruling about any product.

FDA asks for comments about many aspects of the proposed regulation, including evidentiary support. They do not do this for most of their tenuous scientific assertions, however. Furthermore, they demonstrate a willingness to accept most anything as evidence if it supports their inclinations. Since they will inevitably get comments from someone providing ostensible evidence to support every claim they want to make, and since they demonstrate a tendency to cherry-pick and uncritically report such claims, this suggests that FDA will conclude that they have adequate support for every additional restriction they wish to impose.

Taking Action.

It is our current assessment that these proposed regulations are not in the best interests of consumers. They include some good provisions, but do far more harm than good. They are based on arbitrary claims and rationalizations. Should the regulations be finalized as currently formulated and implied, we are prepared to marshal our resources to file a lawsuit on behalf of consumers.

We expect to provide further analysis on Monday, April 28th, 2014. In the next week or two, we will issue a Call to Action detailing how the proposed regulations affect consumers along with suggested actions so that consumers can respond most effectively. Please remember that a comment to the FDA regulations made on Day 1 is given no more weight than a comment made on Day 75.  We urge the vaping community and others interested in opposing regulation that discourages tobacco harm reduction to await further analysis before acting. There is no benefit in acting or opining precipitously.

OwnCloud vs. DropBox – Conclusion and Thoughts

At the end of January I made a post about giving OwnCloud a spin as a replacement for DropBox. I used this solution for over a month and overall I was quite happy with it, but there was one killer feature that made me go back.

What does it do well? The desktop to cloud sync works very well. It works the same way that DropBox does. It does sometimes take a while for the initial sync but after that it is on par for smaller updates with dropbox. There is the ability to have multiple users and also plugins are available to extend the features of the OwnCloud server. You can even leverage 3rd party cloud storage services (DropBox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, etc). This is a nifty feature but I did not use it.

I wanted to make this post longer but it really doesn’t need to be. The bottom line is that if you use OwnCloud mainly for desktop to desktop sync and maintaining a backup in the cloud this will work very well for you. The thing that made me go back to DropBox is that the camera upload function of their Android app was simply too fickle and unreliable to actually get the photos up to the owncloud server. In addition to being fickle it will NOT upload video files. I heavily rely on this everyday and this was the killer feature that DropBox just did well.

Again if you just need a desktop to desktop with cloud backup then OwnCloud is great. But if you rely on the camera upload feature of DropBox then you will be very disappointed as this just simply does not work well.

Such Update. Very Post. – Hello Again! Reviews and Updates Inside

As some of you have noticed I haven’t been posting as frequently in the past 3-4 weeks. Due to my main job being abnormally busy I haven’t had the time to get some posts put together and up. What I am going to do here is just re-cap any open posts (except for the Dropbox vs OwnCloud post) in this and update you on some previous posts.   Let’s move on to the reviews and updates on the TP-LINK I keep posting about.

The TP-LINK Archer C7

Lets talk about the TP-LINK Archer C7 router. I have made a few posts about new firmware that appeared to “fix” the instability with the wireless connections but then only to follow up a few weeks later with yet another firmware. The bottom line is that I can no longer recommend this router. It requires constant restarts to get it to even work for more than 4-5 days. I ended up selling it on eBay to try and re-coup my losses. I appreciate the support from the TP-LINK support staff but in the end I want a product that works and not something that needs to be babied. I replaced the TP-LINK with a NetGear R7000 AC1900 Router. It has an AP mode (kudos to this!) and it is VERY fast AND stable. It was twice the price of the TP-LINK but you get what you pay for.

 

HP ZR2740w Monitors

I have been eyeballing these on Woot.com for a year or two now every time they have the refurbished ones on there for $349 +shipping. I finally pulled the trigger and picked up 3 of them to run in a triple head setup on my main desktop. Overall if you can get them for the $349 price it is an absolute steal. They are perfectly fine for gaming and excellent for working on. I did have one that had issues out of the box but HP support overnighted me a NEW panel and a pre-paid label to send it back. Such service. Very speed. Wow. They are 2560×1440 monitors with built in USB 2.0 hubs. They are VERY basic (no OSD) but they are solid and do exactly what a monitor should.

Comcast and Verizon are Advocating Piracy, Not really but indirectly they are

Last year there were many articles (here is one of them: TorrentFreak – Netflix Says It’s Killing BitTorrent Traffic) coming out with statistics showing that Netflix is lowering the amount of pirated materials as more and more content that users would normally pirate becomes available to watch on the Netflix service. However now that the big ISPs got the FCC regulation lifted that was basically keeping net neutrality in place they are now “throttling”, simply limiting the speed, of the Netflix traffic down to a speed that makes the Netflix service almost unusable. In addition to Netflix being affected any other services that are run on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centers will be throttled as Netflix leverages the AWS to deliver their content.

How do you know if Netflix is being throttled? It’s quite simple. If you were previously able to view HD grade streams (aka very clear) on Netflix and you are now getting low quality picture and/or audio when watching Netflix you are likely being throttled. I am sure there are ways to see exactly how limited it is but I am not aware of them, so if you know how drop me a line and I will update this post with it.

Now how does this promote piracy? Let me explain. Let’s say I am on Netflix and I want to sit down and watch a movie on there. I login, click the movie, and it begins playing. However even though my internet connection is showing great speeds and there are no other issues at play my video quality is horrid and stops to buffer (load) all the time. Now I can just deal with it or I can download uTorrent then head over to ThePirateBay and download the movie at full speed. I will then have a full HD copy of the movie saved on my PC that I can now watch without any quality or loading issues.

The whole reason people like Netflix is the convenience and the quality of the service. Now that Comcast and Verizon are throttling (reports are showing down to 2mbps) the traffic for Netflix people may look elsewhere to get their files. I am not advocating piracy here but I am just saying that if this convenient method for legally watching copyrighted content suddenly isn’t as easy or doesn’t work as well people will go elsewhere and pirating themedia is really the only other alternative that is not overpriced. I don;t know about you but if I had the choice of paying $8+ a month for choppy, low quality video playback or a 5 minute download of a free HD video the choice would be clear.

In closing these carriers are greedy corporations and we have no other real alternatives at this point. We need to lobby against these practices and take back our internet. Do you know that the US pays the most for internet access yet most of us have speeds that are slower than ISPs in 3rd world countries? And that is still not enough for these big corporations that keep nickel and diming us and other companies. Why? Because they can. They own all the cabling, equipment, and other parts that deliver the network. They keep other small ISPs out of the market that try to come to the market and this hinders competition. I don’t know about you but where I live but I can pay Comcast $80 a month for a 50Mbit unmetered connection or AT&T $150 a month for a 25Mbit 250GB capped connection. Either options are horrible but Comcast in my case is the lesser of 2 evils. Think about that and let that sink it.

But in case you still don’t believe me have a read at this ITWorld.com article that shows a ton of evidence pointing that this is happening now. Article: Is your ISP throttling Netflix streaming speeds?

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