Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Why I keep telling people not to pirate software. (Ron Ayers Motorsports and the BSA)

piratedsoftwarevd7 I can't tell you how many times I've told friends, family, and professionals in the last two years about the dangers of piracy. The days of borrowing your friend's copy of Window 98 are over. The days of installing a friend's computer game on your PC and playing online are over. And most importantly, the days of downloading illegal hacks of software because you can't afford the real program are over!


I've had friends recently who have called me with a triumphant note in their voice, saying to me "HA! I got a new working copy of Microsoft Vista!" (Or XP, or Office, or Photoshop, etc ad infinitum). I usually shake my head and warn them to be careful, only to be told "No man. It works fine. I got it to activate and everything!"


I'd like to take them all down to a local Greenville business and let them ask Ron Ayers how confident their IT staff felt about it when they got busted last week for running illegal copies of software and were forced to pay a  $72,000 fine and then were forced to purchase legitimate copies of the software on top of that already huge bill from the piracy police!


The BSA (Business Software Alliance) published an article a few days back about the bust. The highlights are as follows:


The Business Software Alliance (BSA) today announced that Ron Ayers Motorsports (www.ronayers.com), a motor sports superstore and equipment supplier, headquartered in Greenville, NC, agreed to pay $72,053 to BSA to settle claims that it had unlicensed copies of Adobe and Microsoft software on its computers. In addition to the payment, the company agreed to delete all unlicensed copies of software installed on its computers, acquire any necessary replacement licenses and commit to implementing stronger software license management practices.


Thirty-five percent of the software installed in 2006 on PCs worldwide was installed without legal licenses, amounting to nearly $40 billion in global losses because of software piracy.  An independent study shows that 21 percent of software in the United States is unlicensed.*    


(For the full article, click here)


Let me see if I can explain some of how the new world of software programming works, using a few clearly identified ground rules for a baseline:

  1. YOU are not smarter than the entire engineering staff of Microsoft, Adobe, or whomever, regardless of what you think of your bittorrent skills.
  2. The Internet is a requirement for most people and most software in today's digital world.
  3. Your hacked software IS going to eventually rat you out, even if your "friends" don't,

Regardless of your love or disdain for Microsoft as a company, let's agree that they have collectively created one of the most advanced pieces of software in the history of the world (The Windows Operating System). In recent years companies like Microsoft have been losing hundreds of millions of dollars annually due to people who are downloading pirated copies of their software. Doesn't it follow that they would take every step they can in order to catch people who are installing illegal copies of their programs? It's not like it amounts to five thousand dollars a year, in which case they would just likely not even notice, but when you put a dent of a few hundred million in someone's pocket, they feel it!


How is this accomplished?

First and foremost, software piracy is reported through the Internet by your own computer reporting on you.  Years back, Microsoft incorporated a program called WGA, which stands for Windows Genuine Validation. Microsoft got tired of getting screwed over by the general population of Internet users, so they instituted the WGA policy. Basically, before you can get any more updates beyond a certain date, you had to download the WGA application update first. This little program simply loads itself, checks to make sure the serial key you have on your computer matches the one you have registered on Microsoft's web site, and checks to be sure that your key hasn't been reported as stolen or pirated. In layman's terms, it creates a unique fingerprint of you and passes that fingerprint off to the Microsoft database. Each and every time you come to get a new update for Windows, or try to download an office template for MS Word, or try to update your browser, your fingerprint is compared again.


Maybe you're one of these people who have a new hacked copy and you can update just fine! That's great! Awesome! Now you can go get updates to your system and no one will ever catch you!!! Yeah, not really...  If you consider it like a fingerprint, it's really an easy analogy to follow. Again, let me remind you Microsoft isn't stupid.(Greedy, overzealous, self-righteous, monopolizing capitalists maybe... but never stupid.) When five thousand people show up to the same store (read as windows update web site) and all five thousand people try to use the same fingerprint, alarms start to go off. No one comes out to arrest you. No one screams FREEZE. Nothing happens that you are aware of. All right! You got away with it again!


What you aren't aware of is that Microsoft puts your fingerprint in a database of "suspected fakes" and starts to track it. It's really simple to do. Let's assume that Microsoft (this works for Adobe too) releases a new patch on Tuesday. A normal user would login sometime that week through the Automatic Update feature, have their fingerprint scanned, and then be authorized to get the download. However, anytime the same download gets applied to the same fingerprint over five thousand times in the same week, something is wrong! (Remember, you got your hacked copy from a friend, co-worker, Internet site, etc. Now you ALL have the same fingerprint, but different IDs, so once ALL of you download the same patch, they know something is wrong.)

What happens in the real world when a crime is believed to be in progress? An  investigation is started, much the same as in the digital world. Microsoft doesn't have the time, patience, or the desire to track you down and come to your door; this is true. However don't think for a moment that it can't happen. Just like with a real-world investigation, the judge doesn't do the leg work. He has cops, lawyers, bounty hunters, and others for that. Microsoft and these other companies who spend hundreds of millions making software do too!


There are companies out there who make a percentage of the profits for catching you running pirated software. Microsoft doesn't chase you down themselves. They DO however pass over the information to one of these companies, and let them run with it. Let's assume that your pirated software is Microsoft Windows, retailing for about $180.00. Five thousand people who have all stolen the same copy equates to about nine-hundred thousand dollars! (That's almost a million dollars Microsoft lost JUST on the ONE pirated copy that got stolen from ECU a few years back! I worked for a computer IT company at the time and I literally had HUNDREDS of people come in with the same cd-key and try to tell me it was theirs they purchased but they lost their original disc!) Now, let's assume I work for the BSA or other organization. I simply call Microsoft and say "Hey guys. I'll make you a deal. I'll go investigate and collect your money for you. In exchange I want 20% of whatever I can recover in fines. Deal? Cool!"


Now you have a private company (who is ALSO smarter than you) with a vested interest in tracking you down and carrying you to court for the fines you owe to Microsoft, Adobe, and others. In the end, what happens? Ask the guys at Ron Ayers what happens. Seventy-two thousand dollars later, with your name all over the paper, and after having to fire your entire IT staff, you STILL have to hire new employees, buy new software, and deal with annual audits for the rest of your life to make sure you haven't done it again!


To those of you out there who are geeks: Don't flame me with emails telling me I'm an idiot. I KNOW very well this isn't the actual method instituted to track software piracy. I'm trying to make an analogy that my regular readers can understand, in simple terms, minus all the jargon.


How do you protect yourself against piracy?

Well, I'm not going to give away all my trade secrets for free. After all, I do run an IT company that needs to turn a profit. If you think you're in danger of being caught for pirated software then you probably are. You can easily Google the word "Software auditing program" and try some programs for yourself. If you are a business owner out there, or work for a company you feel might get caught, I would be delighted to help you audit your software inventory. Does this mean I will call the police and tell them you're running illegal software? No. I work for my client, which is you or your company. My job and my liability end with me reporting to you which programs are or are not compliant. It's up to YOU to contact the proper people and purchase legitimate software.


What if I'm already running pirated software?

If you know already that you're running illegal copies of software, you can purchase the legitimate copes for a discounted price and have your "keys" changed to reflect the new licenses, which will make you legitimate. Again, this is something you can try to do yourself, but I would definitely see about contracting someone who knows what they are doing before relying on it for your business. If you want professional assistance, check out the official work web site: www.twnetworx.com



If you find this article useful, please Digg it. If you have questions or comments or want to know more, leave a comment and I'll answer it online.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Windows Vista SP1 (Not yet. Wait for it.. wait for it...)

Some of you who read my previous post about upgrading your copy of Windows Vista to Service Pack 1 have since emailed me or asked about the upgrade's feasibility. As time grows nearer to the update being released, more and more hype is being mentioned on the Net about how people can't wait to go get it. Even my co-workers are greedy to get some of their new features and don't want to wait. (I can't blame them there... I want to try the new features out too.) However, it should be remembered that nothing significant has changed on the Microsoft back end since I wrote that last post.


As a Microsoft Development Partner and a Technet Partner, we already have access to the new Vista SP1 Prerelease Candidate through official channels, yet I still maintain abstinence for those who are concerned about their computer's stability. Web sites frequented by the techno-gurus are already filling up with people asking how to fix problems with the new service pack, one of which is an unending reboot cycle that you can't stop.


As of today, there are at least 12 programs that were unable to work with Vista SP1 when it became available to us earlier this week. In a rare self-effacing moment and with the intent of maintaining full disclosure (read that as: Microsoft is tired of being yelled at, so they are trying to be up-front about it for a change) Microsoft has made available a Knowledge Base Article (#935796) detailing the current programs that are having problems with the new service pack. Though mostly security related, and therefore sadly not affecting most of you since most people don't actually want to USE security software, there are some more common programs that you have that might be affected. As you can see in the article, the manufacturers have already created fixes for most of their application, however some yet remain sans patch.


In an effort to avoid the flaming barrage of "Microsoft Sucks" litanies, it bears repeating that most of these issues are not Microsoft's fault. Many of the hardware and software manufacturers have yet to comply with the deadline released by Microsoft, which would allow their programs and hardware to be addressed during the patch process.


Full details about the Microsoft Vista SP1 problems are copied below, with comments from me on certain sections. For those of you who get bored with the geek-speak, stop reading here.


Information about programs that are known to experience a loss of functionality when they run on a Windows Vista Service Pack 1-based computer



Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista is an important update for Windows Vista. Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) contains many security, reliability, and feature updates for Windows Vista. A program may experience a loss of functionality after you install Windows Vista SP1. However, most programs will continue to work as expected after you install Windows Vista SP1.
This article lists programs that have been reported to experience a loss of functionality when they are installed on a Windows Vista SP1-based computer.

•This article should not be considered a comprehensive list of programs that experience loss of functionality when they run on a Windows Vista SP1-based computer.
(Microsoft gets the understatement of the year award for this comment!)

•If you are using a program that appears in this article, you may have to contact the software vendor for more information.


The following tables contain programs that are known to experience a loss of functionality when they are run on a Windows Vista SP1-based computer.
If an application that is not mentioned in this article has a change in functionality after you install Windows Vista SP1, perform the following actions:

•Restart the computer at least one time after you notice that the program is not working correctly. This may let services or pending functions finish to correct the problem.

•Contact the software vendor. For example, visit the support area of the software vendor Web site. You may be able to find an application update that mentions Windows Vista SP1 or a newer version of the program that was released after Windows Vista SP1. (Short of being a geek like us, you're most likely going to just get frustrated trying to do this. If you can't get it to work, let me know by posting in the comment section and and I'll try to help by finding you the patch/upgrade you need for your program.)

•Report the problem to the software vendor. You may be able to use a contact link on the software vendor Web page to report the problem and to request an updated version of the application.


Programs that are blocked from starting after you install Windows Vista SP1

The programs in the following table have known compatibility problems with Windows Vista SP1. For reliability reasons, Microsoft blocks these programs from starting after you install Windows Vista SP1.
Note These programs are blocked from starting with the approval of the third-party software vendor. (This means "We know they won't work, so we're NOT going to let them run and potentially hurt your computer. I applaud this statement from Microsoft! Further, I would suggest that if you have any of these programs listed below and you plan on installing the patch yourself, you should uninstall the affected programs  first, as you might not be able to cleanly uninstall them after the patch is applied.)


BitDefender AV or Internet Security Version: 10
Made By: BitDefender

A supported version (2008 or a later version) is now available.


Fujitsu Shock Sensor Version
Made By: Fujitsu Limited
Current information about this issue is posted on the vendor Web site.


Jiangmin KV Antivirus Version 10
Made By: Jiangmin
A supported version is now available.


Jiangmin KV Antivirus Version 2008
Made By: Jiangmin

A supported version is now available.


Trend Micro Internet Security Version 2008
Made By: Trend Micro

A supported version (16.1 or a later version) is now available.


Zone Alarm Security Suite Version 7.1.078
Made By: Zone Alarm

A supported version ( or a later version) is now available.


Programs that do not run after you install Windows Vista SP1

The programs in the following table do not run after you install Windows Vista SP1. The following table may include either a suggestion for how to resolve the issue or a Web site where you may find a solution for the issue. If a solution currently does not exist, contact the software vendor. Or, visit the software vendor Web site for a recommended solution.


Iron Speed Designer Version 5.0.1
Made By: Iron Speed

A supported version (5.0.2 or a later version) is now available.


Xheo Licensing Version 3.1
Made By: Xheo
A supported version (3.1 R17024 or a later version) is now available.


Free Allegiance Version 2.1
Made By: Allegiance

Current information about this issue is posted on the vendor Web site.


Programs that have a loss of functionality after you install Windows Vista SP1

The programs in the following table have a major or minor loss of functionality after you install Windows Vista SP1. We recommend that you contact the software vendor. Or, visit the software vendor Web site for a recommended solution or program update.


NYT Reader Version 1
Made By: New York Times
New York Times Reader stops working when the right mouse button pressed.
http://www.nytimes.com/timesreader (http://www.nytimes.com/timesreader)
A supported version is now available.


Rising Personal Firewall Version 2007
Made By: Rising
Rising Personal Firewall disconnect functionality does not work in Windows Vista SP1

A supported version (2008 version) is now available.


Novell ZCM Agent Version 10.01
Made By: Novell
ZCM 10.0.x is not supported in Windows Vista SP1

Current information about this issue is posted on the vendor Web site.

For information about how to contact a software vendor, click the appropriate article number in the following list to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Out of Jail, on Parole, but it's not over yet!


Well, I'm sitting here in pajamas and a sweater because for some reason I'm cold as ice and don't know why. The heat is set on 65 degrees and it feels to me like its 40, though my thermostat assures me I'm incorrect.  I just got home from work and I wanted to share the good news with all of you who have supported me trying to raise money for the MDA.


When I got arrested and taken to "jail" today at noon, the total donations received thus far were holding tight at $825.00 with little prospect of breaking my $1,000 barrier, much less my $3,000.00 goal. The judge sentenced me to a table and lunch without cheesecake; a truly horrible punishment if you know my love of cheesecake. Having nothing better to do for our hour-long incarceration the ladies at my table and I started at the top of our cell phone's phonebooks and started working down one more time, trolling through the list of contacts and begging for bail money.


A little less than an hour later I had reached the end of my rope, which is synonymous with the end of my contact list in my BlackJack. So, I started on Senators and the girl beside me started on Congressmen. lol. I called Tim at my office and had him start texting me phone numbers he could scour from Google. As fast as he'd SMS me, I'd call them up and make my plea to get bail money.


Can you just stop a second and think how it feels to be the person I'm talking to on the phone when I start the conversation with "Hi, You don't know me, but I'm calling from jail because I need bail money..." I like to wait a few seconds and let the dramatic pause settle in before I tell them the whole scoop. I think I so thoroughly convinced the lady at Senator Marc Basnight's office that she asked for proof of what I was trying to do! lol. She did however, offer to poll the senator's staff members for me and get back with me for contributions!


In the end, thanks to all the contributions of my friends, associates, clients, and kind hearted people I contacted, we raised $1,250.00 in contributions to date!


That's right!


This doesn't mean it's over. I have until March 22nd to continue to receive donations and now that I know that we can raise $400.00 in one day during lunch, I KNOW we can hit the $3000.00 mark by next month.

So, if you know someone who would consider giving to this really awesome organization to help these kids out, PLEASE make your contribution today. You can pay online directly to the MDA and get your tax-deductible receipt straight in your email immediately, or you can pay by check. If you pay by check, you need to send the check to me, but make it payable to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. I will turn in all the checks on the 21st of March with the "bail log" and get a final tally of the figures at that time.


Links you can use:

If you need the links again, here they are below:

b_clickheretohelpmemakemygoal4 This link takes you to my personal page on the MDA web site where you can click to make your donation online.
b_lookwhohasdonated This shows the online contributions only, so don't feel left out if you don't see yours on here. They have your funds, but those are hand tabulated.
b_whatyourmoneywillbuyBlue More info about the MDA


Thanks again to ALL of you who have contributed thus far and to all those who have helped to spread the word about this cause. Posting my page on your blogs and web sites really helped. I think we were one of the few people who actually utilized the web portal to get donations, and it worked wonderfully. Please don't stop yet though... we're almost there. If we can raise the $3000.00 we can send 5 kids to camp this summer and help fund research to improve their life!


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Tommy is going to Jail!


UPDATED 2/19/2008: Read End of Article!

Unfortunately, my crimes have caught up with me. I need your help to get bail money to get out of jail! Here's the story:

This year, I have the honor and pleasure of participating in the Muscular Dystrophy Association's (MDA) "Lock Up 2008." This is a national effort happening all across the country this year, but I need your help and the help of anyone you know who might have a kind heart and a few dollars to spare. On February 21st, 2008 I will be arrested by Pitt County Police and taken to Jail until I can raise the money necessary for my bail. This "bail" money comes in the form of tax-deductible charitable donations given by you to the MDA.

Your donation would help MDA continue the important fight against muscular dystrophy. Check out my web page by clicking on the link below. There you'll find all kinds of information about MDA, and be able to make your tax-deductible donation on-line using your credit card. IF you are local and can contribute via check, that is acceptable too. I can't accept cash on behalf of the organization, but anything else is ok!

How much is it going to cost to get you out of jail, Tommy?mariannecamp_24

The association asks each of us who campaigns to try to raise $3000.00 in contributions from those they know. When I asked the lady on the phone about the details, she told me it takes $650.00 to send one child to camp each summer. I KNOW, of all you friends and associates out there, I can raise the $650.00, but I think if someone tries really hard, with enough help, I can break the $3000.00 mark. Personally, my goal is to raise $5000.00 for the organization.

Why should I help?

I've been a lucky person in my life. When I think about children that have to grow up with one of the 43 different neuromuscular diseases that make up the MD family, I am reminded how blessed I am. I'm healthy, my family is all healthy, my daughter is healthy. But one day, this could happen to someone in my family, or someone I care about, and just knowing that research TODAY can help the people suffering from this disease in the future is enough to make me want to try. I've never ever ever raised money for anything in my entire life (except boy scouts). I've never asked anyone for money, never sent the thousands of circulating donation emails that people get, and never contributed to a cause like this before. I'd really like my first attempt at something like this to be a success. I'd like the help of my friends, family, and associates, for the sake of the children who suffer from this disease.

If you give through the web site, mentioned below, the site will ask you for your name, address, email etc. This is only so they can send you a receipt for your tax deduction, not so they can spam you. You can write off whatever amount you choose to give on your taxes this year as a charitable contribution. This will truly cost you NOTHING in the long run.

How Much Do You Want?

The web site link asks for increments starting at $85.00, but that's not required. Truth be told, most people I know can't afford to give $85.00 to anything this time of year. The last button on the page says "Other amount." If you choose that and just donate $5.00, $10.00, or whatever you feel comfortable with.

I literally know THOUSANDS of people across the world. This time I plan to email each and every single one of them about this. I'm going to hit every contact I have on myspace, facebook, linkedin, email contacts, clients, customers, vendors, partners, friends, family, and maybe even random people I meet on the street. The organization doesn't need everyone to donate huge sums of money, but if I could only get everyone I know to spare ten dollars, I could raise thousands of dollars for this cause. Please help me out in this. If you are strapped this month and only can spare $3.00, then do it. These kids don't feel hurt that you didn't give more. They feel blessed that you cared enough to take the time to give at all! Please help them have a better life and help them get the treatments they need to lead healthy lives!

What's Involved?

I'm going to keep this web page live on my blogs for the next 14 days, until all the checks and credit cards are in. I'm not going to list names of people, because I don't think that's in the spirit of the event, but I will list a daily update here each and every day on how much money we've raised to help the MDA. You will be able to come back here each day and see how far we've come towards our goal.

Make Your Donation Online

If you want to publish a link to this page online, I would greatly appreciate ANY links to blogs, web sites, forums, or other places that will raise awareness of the cause.


Want to download the form and mail it in?

docIf you'd like to download a form and send it via postal mail with your contribution, you can get the form by clicking here.

More Information About the MDA:

If you'd like to know more about the MDA before giving, please feel free to review these links below for more information. I'll also answer any questions I can in the comments section if you'd like to post.

Thanks SO MUCH to all of you who help with this cause. You'll never hear it from most of these kids, but if they knew where each and every person was, and could thank them in person, they certainly would!

Donations To Date:

2/09/2008: Donations started coming in today. THANKS SOOO MUCH! This makes me feel like it's making some progress. The rest of you, come on! Give 1 dollar, 5 dollars, anything you can will help!

2/17/2008: I sent out a second email and started putting comments on everyone's Myspace and facebook pages, and then emailed everyone one last time!

2/19/2008: Today I started calling people in a last-ditch effort to hit the minumum of 650.00.. I'm almost there.

2/19/2008: HOLY CRAP! I passed the $650.00 mark! I think we even have a contribution coming in from the United Kingdom! Thanks SOOO much. Can we TRY for $1000.00? C'mon people. I have a day and a half left! If I can hit 1300.00, that's enough to send two kids to camp this year, which would be a really awesome achievement!


Date Amount
2-09-2008: $25.00
2-09-2008: $100.00
2-10-2008: $25.00
2-16-2008: $50.00
2-16-2008: $10.00
2-17-2008: $100.00
2/17/2008: $100.00
2/18/2008: $50
2/18/2008: $10.00
2/19/2008: $15.00
2/19/2008: $200.00 (passed the first milestone!)
2/19/2008: 20.00
2/19/2008: 10.00





My many thanks to all of you who have made links back to this post (CNN Libya, Anglo, Merritt, Khadija, etc!)

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Injunction To Stop Beach Driving, ORV Access, and ruin the Outer Banks of NC


Copied from the ISLAND FREE PRESS, photo by Buddy Swain.

I am going to attempt to see through the redness of rage and try to write this article in a manner which may accurately reflect the facts and try my best to keep the four-letter words to a minimum. This may be the most important article I have ever posted, so I hope any and all fans of the beaches of North Carolina will listen up and listen well.


As of today, February 20th, Derb Carter (919-967-1450) at attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center (to be referred to as SELC), on behalf of the Defenders of Wildlife ( Referred to henceforth as DoW, Contact Person: Jason Rylander: 202-772-3245) and the National Audubon Society (Henceforth referred to as NAS, Contact Person: Chris Canfield: 919-929-3899) filed an injunction in federal court to suspend beach driving on portions of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, in areas that "that have been identified as being most critical to threatened and endangered shorebirds in order to protect them before the upcoming breeding season begins."


What does this mean?

I'll give the short version. The DoW and NPS have been trying for years to shut down access to the beaches of North Carolina to ORV users. (For clarification, ORV means Off Road Vehicle and refers to any vehicle capable of driving in the sand; trucks, cars, dunebuggies, 4 wheelers, motorcycles, whatever.)  Their primary claim in recent years has been to tout the "national seashore" as a protected location for the Piping Plover, and a few other shore birds. Basically, they want to ruin the entire economic infrastructure of the east coast of north carolina for a few birds which aren't even native to the area.


First and foremost, those of you who love birds need to understand something that apparently the DoW and the NPS fail to realize, no matter how many times it gets brought up. There is NO SUCH THING as the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Let me explain...


Originating August 17, 1937 (see reference 3 at the bottom of this article for details) a large part of the seashore of North Carolina was marked off by congress for the specific use of "public recreation."  On January 12, 1953 it was actually established and put into existence. I will translate public recreation into "people being able to enjoy themselves" for the sake assuming that was the general intent. Furthermore, the area is not, wasn't ever, and has never been a "State Park." The fact that the state-owned land is managed by the "National Park Service" and the simple abbreviation of "Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area" into "Cape Hatteras National Seashore" seem to have confused people into believing that this is actually "Cape Hatteras National Park," or maybe Cape Hatteras Piping Plover Park, or some other such nonsense. The area in question is comprised of 30,319.43 acres, or 122.7 square miles, of seashore. Basically the US government got together at the behest of many citizens and agreed that we east coasters of North Carolina could have 0.22% of our great State of North Carolina for public recreation.  Yes, that's right, you read it right 1 fifth of 1 percent of our state is reserved as the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. (For those who like obtuse facts, the land in question occupies .0000003237% of the land mass of the United States. Yeah, less than 1/3 of one millionth of one percent)


Why again are they fighting to get this injunction? To preserve endangered shore birds and species of flora, such as the Piping Plover, the Seabeach Amaranth, the Colonial Waterbird, and the American Oystercatcher, among other species.

I'm going to detail some of these right away, and save others for further discussion.

The American Oystercatcher:

(taken from the NAS' Own web site!)
American Oystercatcher can be found breeding in the U.S. along the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts south to Georgia, and in selected localities along the Gulf Coast in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas. In recent years the number of records of the species north of Massachusetts has increased with several breeding records from Maine. American Oystercatcher is also a permanent resident of marine coastlines throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America. The northernmost breeding populations, from Massachusetts to Virginia, are migratory, and appear to spend the winter in the southeastern United States. Birds found along the southern Atlantic Coast and the Gulf Coast seem to be permanent residents. A number of Audubon Important Bird Areas (IBAs) provide critical nesting, migratory, and wintering habitat for American Oystercatchers. These IBAs include North Carolina's Cape Hatteras National Seashore IBA which supports 30 nesting pairs; Georgia's Altamaha River Delta IBA, which supports up to 250 oystercatchers during migration/winter; Florida's Big Bend Ecosystem IBA, within which 400-600 wintering birds can be found at Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and perhaps hundreds more at Lower Suwanee NWR (585 birds were seen here in November 2000); and Florida's Hillsborough Bay IBA, which hosts an average of 66 breeding pairs of American Oystercatcher. Blah Blah Blag...


Let's make sure we all understand this.

1) the Bird is NOT endangered.

2) It apparently flourishes in 9 eastern contiguous states, plus florida

3) It flourished in two other countries AND another continent.
4) HUNDREDS of them are seen elsewhere breeding just fine with no help from us.

5) CHNSRA seems to have the LEAST of them anywhere...

So, that tells me that they aren't suited as well to our climate but survive everywhere else just fine. How about we let mother nature handle this bird as she seems to already be doing a fine job of it already?


Seabeach Amaranth:

This one is easy.

1) They are native to beaches, but NOT to ours.

2) The only ones we have ever had were artificially transplanted there by us, not nature.

3) Those died...


Hmm.. seems like that wasn't meant to be either.


The Piping Plover: I am SOOO sick of hearing about this bird.
(Facts excerpted from the US Fish and Wildlife Service)

  • Piping plovers were common along the Atlantic coast during much of the 19th century, but commercial hunting for feathers to decorate hats nearly wiped them out. Following passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918, plovers recovered to a 20th century peak in the 1940s. Increased development and beach recreation after World War II caused the population decline that led to Endangered Species Act protection in 1986. Intensive protection has helped the population more than double in the last 20 years, but the most recent surveys place the Atlantic population at fewer than 2,000 pairs.
  • Atlantic coast piping plovers breed on coastal beaches from Newfoundland and southeastern Quebec to North Carolina
  • Storm tides, predators or intruding humans sometimes disrupt nests before the eggs hatch. When this happens, the plovers often lay another clutch of eggs. Chicks hatched from these late-nesting efforts may not fly until late August.
  • Piping plovers often gather in groups on undisturbed beaches before their southward migration. By mid-September, both adult and young plovers have departed for their wintering areas. These birds winter on the Atlantic coast from North Carolina south to Florida, along the Gulf coast, and in the Bahamas and West Indies

Let's analyze how reducing ORV Access will save these birds from what man has done to them...

  • We don't hunt them for feathers, so don't blame that on us please! Get real!
  • They PEAKED in the 1940s? Wow.. they've been declining for 60 years but it's all the fault of four-wheel drives?
  • They apparently breed in THOUSANDS of miles of coastal beaches AND in Canada, but you want to close MY beach? Why?

So, you want to stop us from driving on the beach because of a bird that has been suffering from darwinian decline for 68 years? How is that exactly going to affect the Muskrats, Foxes, Wolves, crows, deer, and pedestrian traffic that causes damage to these birds?




I'd like to start with a few simple though processes, in the hopes that someone from the Audubon bothers to read this. First, we don't drive ON the dunes. It's illegal and you can't easily do it anyway even if it WERE legal. Secondly, we locals aggressively watch out for the endangered species that are marked out on the beaches. Just because we like to drive on the beach doesn't mean we don't enjoy nature too.  Third: 90% of beach driving is done at the tide line. Absolutely NONE is done intra-dune; you can't get between the dunes and if you DID try it, some locals would make much worse of you than any law would. You do NOT destroy OUR beaches! Lastly, we are almost all driving on the sand near the tide. So, let's assume we weren't there to disturb this pretty little bird. What would happen?

A) It would drown.. there are WAVES where we are driving. It's called a tide, happens twice a day. Ring any bells?

B) It would get eaten by crabs.

C) It would get eaten by muskrats, foxes, hungry midgets, etc.


Ok.. let's forget the rights of the people to use the park for what it was intended for. Let's just analyze the economic impact of this on the beaches coastal communities. Absolutely ALL of these communities comprising the Outer Banks need the tourists for survival. Hundreds of thousands of tourists travel across the entire United States to be able to drive on our beaches, fish from our shores, and spend money in our restaurants, gas stations, hotels, and stores. The economic damage this injunction would cause is incalculable. You're talking about a locale where the population changes from 20,000 in the Winter Season to over 3 Million visitors in the summer. Drastic fluctuations in the housing economy, which is mostly built on the rental property design, would plummet property values in less than year. Restaurants that operate seasonally would lose valuable customers, followed by staff, resulting in the closing of their doors forever.  Sport and commercial fishing would suffer horrendous damage to their economies as well.


Listen up people! WE LIVE HERE! This is OUR beach and the United States Congress says it belongs to US, not to the birds, the amaranths, or to anyone else. What happens if a bird species dies off? Nothing. The world goes on. It's a scientific fact that more species disappear from earth each day than have ever been discovered in the history of exploration. Do you really think ruining our incomes, our past-times, and our economy are worth saving a few dozen birds?


You're truly out of your mind! Go play your animal politics in a REAL state park and you'll have my endorsement, my support, and even my money! But keep your filthy trifling hands off my families income and my family's beaches! Until congress decides these beaches ARE a wildlife preserve, you have no right to be here any more than anyone else. So shut up and enjoy the sun like we do!


This needs to be fought and fought now!

If you'd like to lend your voice or support to the cause, I have made a forum on the NCBBA web site, where I am the site moderator, where we members and visitors alike are discussing the injunction. You can visit the NCBBA forum here:





Reference Materials For This Article:

1) SELC Injunction Information, copied in its entirety for reference, but available for personal viewing at : http://www.southernenvironment.org/newsroom/2008/02-20_hatteras_prelimin.htm


Federal judge asked to restrict driving in order to save 2008 breeding season on Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Derb Carter
SELC Attorney 919-967-1450
Defenders of Wildlife – Jason Rylander, 202-772-3245
National Audubon Society – Chris Canfield, 919-929-3899

Raleigh– Conservationists are asking a federal judge to suspend beach driving on portions of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore that have been identified as being most critical to threatened and endangered shorebirds in order to protect them before the upcoming breeding season begins. The Southern Environmental Law Center, representing Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society, filed for a preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court requesting that beach driving be halted along approximately 12 percent of the shoreline to allow birds to nest and raise chicks. The requested closures were recommended by the Park Service’s own scientists and are vital to a successful breeding season in 2008.

“At this point, every breeding season is critically important to the shorebirds that nest on Hatteras. Fortunately, by limiting driving on even this small area would help protect them during this season, giving the Park Service time to develop and implement a reasonable long-term plan to manage driving on the beach,” said SELC attorney Derb Carter. “Each year we see fewer and fewer of these species on Hatteras. Waiting any longer for the Park Service to properly manage beach driving could very well mean we have nothing left to protect.”

The organizations seek to restrict driving along those portions of the Seashore identified by scientists for the Park Service as being the most critical to nesting shorebirds. The proposed region represents approximately 12 percent of the available shoreline (see map). Importantly, the areas would still be open to pedestrian access, allowing Park visitors to continue using these areas.

The National Park Service, which is charged with developing and implementing a plan to manage beach driving to protect and preserve the region’s natural resources, is currently undertaking a process to develop future rules for driving at Hatteras. However, NPS admits the process will take at least three years to complete. Scientists agree that several species could be eliminated from the Seashore in that time.

“Waiting three more years for National Park Service to figure this out is simply not an option. We can’t risk repeating the unfortunate events of last year by losing even more of Cape Hatteras’ wildlife,” said Defenders of Wildlife staff attorney Jason Rylander. “The Park Service’s actions are not only negligent, but also illegal.”

Cape Hatteras National Seashore is home to nesting shorebirds, such as the threatened piping plover, the common tern, and the American oystercatcher. The number of colonial waterbirds nesting on Seashore beaches declined from a high of 1,508 nests in 1997 to 212 nests in 2007 - an 86 percent decline in 10 years. Last year, two of the imperiled shorebird species, gull-billed terns and black skimmers, disappeared entirely from the Seashore. Since 1995, common terns have been all but eliminated at the Seashore while American Oystercatchers have seen their numbers decline by almost one half since 1999.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore is currently operating under an interim management plan that doesn’t adequately protect the area’s wildlife and consistently favors ORV access over protection for threatened and endangered species. In fact, according to materials provided by the Park Service at recent public hearings, less than one percent of Cape Hatteras National Seashore is permanently closed to vehicular use for the protection of natural resources. Under the Park Service’s interim management plan, this year is expected to be another extremely poor one for nesting birds.

“The only way to safeguard everyone’s access to Cape Hatteras is to put a responsible, science-based vehicle management plan in place now. That the Park Service has failed to do so imperils not only the birds and natural areas, but also the safety of all visitors,” said Chris Canfield, executive director of Audubon North Carolina.

The Park Service has failed to develop a permanent beach driving management plan for decades despite being legally required to do so. In addition to federal regulation requiring such protection, in 1973, President Nixon ordered all federal agencies, including the National Park Service, to regulate beach driving to protect natural resources. Most recently, U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle issued an order concluding that driving on the Seashore is illegal as the Park Service has failed to adopt beach driving regulations.



2) Island Free Press Article, February 19, 2008, copied in its entirety for reference, but available for personal viewing at: http://www.islandfreepress.org/2008Archives/02.19.2008-EnviromentalGroupSeeksInjunction.html


Environmental groups will seek injunction to stop beach driving
Breaking News

The environmental groups that have sued the National Park Service over its interim protected species plan at Cape Hatteras National Seashore will ask a federal court judge on Wednesday, Feb. 20, for a temporary injunction to stop beach driving until the lawsuit is settled.
Environmental group seek injunction to stop beach driving
The environmental groups that have sued the National Park Service over its interim protected species plan at Cape Hatteras National Seashore will ask a federal court judge on Wednesday, Feb. 20, for a temporary injunction to stop beach driving until the lawsuit is settled.
Members of a negotiated rulemaking committee that is working on a long-range plan to regulate ORV use on the seashore got the news Tuesday afternoon in an e-mail from Patrick Field of the Consensus Building Institute, one of the facilitators working with a committee to negotiate a long-range ORV plan.
“The plaintiffs in the lawsuit over the interim plan and those members of the Committee let us know this afternoon, Tuesday, that they plan to file a request for a preliminary injunction with the District Court tomorrow, Wednesday, February 20th.
“Once the document is filed with the court, they will provide a copy of that (request for a) preliminary injunction to us to forward to the Committee.”
The Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), filed a lawsuit against the National Park Service on Oct. 18 in federal district court in Elizabeth City over its failure to adopt regulations to manage beach driving at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
The suit claims that the interim protected species management plan under which the Park Service has been operating does not do enough to protect species of shorebirds and sea turtles that nest on the seashore.
The groups also filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue over violations of the Endangered Species Act in connection with the interim management plan.
The lawsuit contends that the interim plan, which is intended to protect the birds and turtles until a long-range plan is adopted, does not go far enough.
The National Park Service is currently involved in two concurrent processes to formulate a long-range plan for ORV use on the seashore beaches.
They are:
  • An ORV Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Plan/EIS will guide the management of ORV use at Cape Hatteras for the next 10 to 15 years and is required by the National Environmental Policy Act.   The first public scoping meetings were last year, and now the National Park Service has developed a list of preliminary options for ORV management. The Park Service hosted a series of public information meetings in January to answer questions about the options and will accepted public comment on the alternative options until Feb. 15.
  • A negotiated rulemaking advisory committee had its first meetings on Jan. 3 and 4 at the Avon Fire Hall.  This committee is appointed under federal law by the Secretary of the Interior to assist the Park Service in developing rules for operating ORVs on the seashore. The next meeting of the committee will be Feb. 26 and 27 in Kill Devil Hills.

You can find more information on the negotiated rulemaking committee and other efforts to develop an ORV plan in the Shooting the Breeze column at the top of the front page of this Web site.
Other relevant links on the Free Press site are:
The Island Free Press will continue to post updates on the plan by the environmental groups to seek an injunction.

3) Title 16 of the U.S. Code, Chapter 1, Subchapter LXIII, Section 459 (Designating the area for recreation, not preservation)

Copied in its entirety, but available at: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=browse_usc&docid=Cite:+16USC459


From the U.S. Code Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov] [Laws in effect as of January 3, 2005] [Document not affected by Public Laws enacted between January 3, 2005 and June 19, 2006] [CITE: 16USC459] TITLE 16--CONSERVATION CHAPTER 1--NATIONAL PARKS, MILITARY PARKS, MONUMENTS, AND SEASHORES SUBCHAPTER LXIII--NATIONAL SEASHORE RECREATIONAL AREAS Sec. 459. Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area; conditional establishment; acquisition of lands When title to all the lands, except those within the limits of established villages, within boundaries to be designated by the Secretary of the Interior within the area of approximately one hundred square miles on the islands of Chicamacomico, Ocracoke, Bodie, Roanoke, and Collington, and the waters and the lands beneath the waters adjacent thereto shall have been vested in the United States, said area shall be, and is, established, dedicated, and set apart as a national seashore recreational area for the benefit and enjoyment of the people and shall be known as the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area: Provided, That the United States shall not purchase by appropriation of public moneys any lands within the aforesaid area, but such lands shall be secured by the United States only by public or private donation.

(Aug. 17, 1937, ch. 687, Sec. 1, 50 Stat. 669; June 29, 1940, ch. 459, Sec. 1, 54 Stat. 702.)

Change of Name

Words ``national seashore recreational area'' substituted in text for ``national seashore'' pursuant to act June 29, 1940.




Update to Post: 23-Feb, 2008: I had a comment from "Jim and Ginny" that was well formed, but it was throwing off the size of the blog screen, so I'm removing it from comments, but placing it here in its entirety.


Injunction Myths Dispelled
Formatted version can be found at

SELC Injunction Myths include the following:
1. adequate protection requires that USGS protocols be implemented,
2. species at CHNSRA are in a downward spiral bordering on extirpation,
3. requested year round closures represent 12% of the available shoreline, and
4. the economic impact will be consistent with the .05 to .08 percent of the economic value generated by all park visitation.

If this were the case, then why did USFWS issue a no jeopardy opinion? Furthermore, why did USFWS state that the Interim Plan may even improve Plover habitat? Finally, why would NPS, at the federal level issue a finding of no significant impact?

As per the quote below, USGS does not view the protocols as the minimum required protection.

“This document was produced by the United States Geological Survey, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, at the request of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The information and recommendations presented are the professional opinions of the scientists that analyzed and interpreted the scientific data associated with protected species at the Seashore. This information will be considered by the National Park Service (NPS), along with federal laws and mandates, NPS policies, other scientific information, and public input, in developing management plans and conservation strategies implemented at the Seashore.”

In support of this claim, SELC quotes figure for two years—1999 and 2007. I added Colonial Water Birds tallies from 2000 & 2004 (source Park Planning Interim Protected Species Handouts).
· 1999 -- 1,155 pairs,
· 2000 -- 465 pairs,
· 2004 -- 964 pairs, and
· 2007 -- 217 pairs (While there were fewer Colonial Water Birds at CHNSRA, newly constructed Cora June Island was home to one of the largest mixed tern/black skimmer colonies in the state with good numbers of nesting adults that successfully fledged hundreds of chicks—see Feb. news at http://www.ncwildlife.org.

This is far from a steady decline inferred from the data presented for 1999 and 2007. It is, in fact, representative of the high variability in nesting pairs referenced by the NPS with 2004 coming close to the 1999 recorded pairs. Finally while the tallies for CHNSRA are low in 2007, a new alternative breeding site, Cora June Island, was a resounding success. So what is the overall population for our area, 217 pairs or 217 pairs plus the nesting pairs that “successfully fledged hundreds of chicks”?

The map for the year round closures does not specify the actual miles included in the requested year round closures. That said, the map is comparable to the critical habitat designation. Using the data from the critical habitat designation and a thorough review of 2007 beach access reports, I determined that the requested year round closures total approximately 12.9 miles. As for the miles of shoreline actually available to ORVs, the total is 41 miles (57 minus 16 miles of beach closed for more than a decade). Bottom line the requested year round closures actually account for 31% (12.9/41) of the shoreline available to ORVs during the winter and 37% (12.9/34.8) of the shoreline available during the summer when seasonal closures are in effect. This is a far cry from the 12% figure provided by SELC.

SELC got these figures from an economic impact study contracted by USFWS in conjunction with the attempt to re-designate critical habitat for the piping plover. This study relies on the Vogelsong Survey. Furthermore, SELC claims that the minimal impact identified in the USFWS economic impact study will be mitigated by the 13% of visitors who would visit more often if ORVs were not allowed on the beach. The 13% figure also comes from the Vogelsong study.

Neither USFWS nor SELC disclose the fact that, the Vogelsong study also states that 32.4% that indicated that they would visit less frequently, and 29% said that they “would not return at all if this beach were closed to ORVs.” That is, as many as 61.4% visitors indicated that they would visit less often or not return at all if ORVs were not permitted on the park’s beaches. So how does a 61.4% decrease in visitation result in a .05 to .08 percent impact on the economic value generated by all park visitation? If you really want to know, read the following critique of the economic impact study published by USFWS.

BeatBoxing Basset Hound

Because it's freakin' funny, that's why!

Just click the link.



Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Got too many photos?

This was my photo backup tonight! Ever wonder why not all your photos make it onto the web sites? No one offers enough space for me to store 'em!



Pimpin' My Tax Deduction!

Ok, yeah, I know it's not great to everyone, but I just finally got my Jeep lettered today. Courtney down at SignSmiths, Inc put my first signage on my trucks today. It's kind of like the first time I put my own shingle up on my office... kind of proud to have it. Anyway, I thought I'd share the pics.


DSCN0912 DSCN0913

Now that it's looking all pretty I REALLY need to wash it good. The rims are dirty.. grr. I hate cleaning rims.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

In election 2008, don’t forget Angry White Man

I coped this, in its entirety from the Aspen Times Weekly. You can find the source article here. My Kudo's to the author for having the stones to write this.



There is a great amount of interest in this year’s presidential elections, as everybody seems to recognize that our next president has to be a lot better than George Bush. The Democrats are riding high with two groundbreaking candidates — a woman and an African-American — while the conservative Republicans are in a quandary about their party’s nod to a quasi-liberal maverick, John McCain.
Each candidate is carefully pandering to a smorgasbord of special-interest groups, ranging from gay, lesbian and transgender people to children of illegal immigrants to working mothers to evangelical Christians.
There is one group no one has recognized, and it is the group that will decide the election: the Angry White Man. The Angry White Man comes from all economic backgrounds, from dirt-poor to filthy rich. He represents all geographic areas in America, from urban sophisticate to rural redneck, deep South to mountain West, left Coast to Eastern Seaboard.
His common traits are that he isn’t looking for anything from anyone — just the promise to be able to make his own way on a level playing field. In many cases, he is an independent businessman and employs several people. He pays more than his share of taxes and works hard.
The victimhood syndrome buzzwords — “disenfranchised,” “marginalized” and “voiceless” — don’t resonate with him. “Press ‘one’ for English” is a curse-word to him. He’s used to picking up the tab, whether it’s the company Christmas party, three sets of braces, three college educations or a beautiful wedding.
He believes the Constitution is to be interpreted literally, not as a “living document” open to the whims and vagaries of a panel of judges who have never worked an honest day in their lives.
The Angry White Man owns firearms, and he’s willing to pick up a gun to defend his home and his country. He is willing to lay down his life to defend the freedom and safety of others, and the thought of killing someone who needs killing really doesn’t bother him.
The Angry White Man is not a metrosexual, a homosexual or a victim. Nobody like him drowned in Hurricane Katrina — he got his people together and got the hell out, then went back in to rescue those too helpless and stupid to help themselves, often as a police officer, a National Guard soldier or a volunteer firefighter.
His last name and religion don’t matter. His background might be Italian, English, Polish, German, Slavic, Irish, or Russian, and he might have Cherokee, Mexican, or Puerto Rican mixed in, but he considers himself a white American.
He’s a man’s man, the kind of guy who likes to play poker, watch football, hunt white-tailed deer, call turkeys, play golf, spend a few bucks at a strip club once in a blue moon, change his own oil and build things. He coaches baseball, soccer and football teams and doesn’t ask for a penny. He’s the kind of guy who can put an addition on his house with a couple of friends, drill an oil well, weld a new bumper for his truck, design a factory and publish books. He can fill a train with 100,000 tons of coal and get it to the power plant on time so that you keep the lights on and never know what it took to flip that light switch.
Women either love him or hate him, but they know he’s a man, not a dishrag. If they’re looking for someone to walk all over, they’ve got the wrong guy. He stands up straight, opens doors for women and says “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am.”
He might be a Republican and he might be a Democrat; he might be a Libertarian or a Green. He knows that his wife is more emotional than rational, and he guides the family in a rational manner.
He’s not a racist, but he is annoyed and disappointed when people of certain backgrounds exhibit behavior that typifies the worst stereotypes of their race. He’s willing to give everybody a fair chance if they work hard, play by the rules and learn English.
Most important, the Angry White Man is pissed off. When his job site becomes flooded with illegal workers who don’t pay taxes and his wages drop like a stone, he gets righteously angry. When his job gets shipped overseas, and he has to speak to some incomprehensible idiot in India for tech support, he simmers. When Al Sharpton comes on TV, leading some rally for reparations for slavery or some such nonsense, he bites his tongue and he remembers. When a child gets charged with carrying a concealed weapon for mistakenly bringing a penknife to school, he takes note of who the local idiots are in education and law enforcement.
He also votes, and the Angry White Man loathes Hillary Clinton. Her voice reminds him of a shovel scraping a rock. He recoils at the mere sight of her on television. Her very image disgusts him, and he cannot fathom why anyone would want her as their leader. It’s not that she is a woman. It’s that she is who she is. It’s the liberal victim groups she panders to, the “poor me” attitude that she represents, her inability to give a straight answer to an honest question, his tax dollars that she wants to give to people who refuse to do anything for themselves.
There are many millions of Angry White Men. Four million Angry White Men are members of the National Rifle Association, and all of them will vote against Hillary Clinton, just as the great majority of them voted for George Bush.
He hopes that she will be the Democratic nominee for president in 2008, and he will make sure that she gets beaten like a drum.



I guess this makes me an Angry White Man...