Other Federal Agencies, People

Woosh goes the TSP

“So, lucky you were in government,” the Rat’s neighbor said to him as he came out with the trash this morning. “This whole financial crisis must just be background noise for you.”

After prying the trash can lid off his neighbor’s head, the Rat explained that, no, Feds are not exactly immune to the stupidity of bankers.

If you haven’t been watching the stock market lately…well, if you’ve been hiding on a rock under a desert island for the past year, you might be surprised to see that Thrift Savings Plan share prices have come DOWN a bit recently. In fact, since last year, some TSP shares have lost as much as 22% of their value since last October.

This is, in part, why the whiskered one broke down and put up Google ads on the blog–it was more subtle than a handmade sign at the intersection.



So, now that the Rat is starting to ramp up this blogging thing, it seemed like a good time to try to monetize the thing. So he signed up for a Google AdSense account, and went through the rigamarole of setting up ad boxes.

Imagine his horror when the first advertisement to show on his blog was for “Rat Breeding Services.”

“I am NOT running a prostitution site,” he said, banging his head.

He tweaked his metadata, and futzed with the AdSense configuration a little, and gave it another go.

First ad: “Rat Cages & Housing, Large stock of Rat Supplies. Cages, food, treats, and more.”

Clearly, this was not going as planned.

Defense Department, tech

iPod Touch, iPhone Break, iGo Ballistic

The Rat has a well-established level of techno-lust.  So it is a monument to his level of self control that he has not previously been the owner of an iPod Touch or iPhone. Well, either his self control, or the fact that he is invariably infuriated by their user interface.As a Crackberry user, the Rat prefers the tactile feedback of chicklets pressing under his…well, I guess for a lack of a better term, we’ll call them “fingertips”.  And in early testing, the cyberodent determined that trying to use the touch-sensitive screen of an iPhone or iPod Touch would drive him out of his fuzzy mind.

His wife and eldest ratling, however, have been iPhonatics  since early on.  His wife purchased (thankfully) a reconditioned first-generation iPhone some time ago, and his son, sporting hot fresh cash from a lucrative summer job, begged incessantly for weeks before Mrs. Rat went and stood in the hour-long line at the local Apple Store to procure him one of the second generation iPhones a few months ago. That left his less-than-year-old iPod Touch–with some heavy wear–up for grabs.

 So, Ratling Number 1 re-gifted it to his father as a birthday/late Father’s day/early Christmas present. The whiskered one has found it ideal for stealthily checking his email from the living room while allegedly listening to books on tape. 

Naturally, just a few days later, the eldest offspring dropped his iPhone, and cracked its screen.  A quick call to Apple confirmed that it would cost $250 to repair the phone, which was more than the AT&T “subsidized” price it was originally purchased for.  So, now the Rat is spending his spare time watching iPhone repair videos and tracking down a replacement iPhone 3G glass front.  Unless someone would like to make a donation…

“And would you believe the Army is interested in iPhones?” the cyberodent whined.  “Sure, they have nice high-rez graphics. But they aren’t exactly what I’d call military-grade ruggedized.”

Ironically, Apple–which has hardly ever been known for its close relationship with the military, despite a loyal Mac following in the Army–now finds itself in the odd position of being in the munitions business.  As the New York Times’ Ashlee Vance reports, PA Semi– the ARM processor manufacturer that Apple purchased and now has tasked with developing new iPod processors– is also now on tap to provide similar processors for missiles, avionics and sensors for defense applications.

“So maybe soon you’ll be able to buy a Predator flight control system through the Apple Apps Store,” the Rat told his sulking son.  “Just don’t drop your phone while flying it.”   


Coast Guard turns to blogs for PR help

The commandant of the  Coast Guard has laid out a plan to use “social media practices” to “increase the organization’s transparency,” a blurb from the Armed Forces Press Service reports. Or, in other words, they’re gettin’ bloggy with it.  Naturally, Adm. Thad Allen announced this in…a teleconference with bloggers and online journalists.

The Rat has not been blogging long. But he knows already how the EgoSphere, er, Blogosphere works.  If you stroke their egos, they will come.  And if you throw some buzzwords at them, they will come even faster and more gleefully.The Defense Department(and the Coast Guard, by tangent, the fifth military service over in that other cabinet-level department) has figured out that nothing breeds online cred and swollen heads better than taking the message straight around the “filter”–that would be all you dead-tree and pre-Web electronics journalists out there, yo–to bloggers who not only will spread the word eagerly, but practically trip over their traffic statistics in a rush to get the credibility of interviewing a four-star anyone.

Step two in total blogroll domination:  say “social media”.  By not just pandering to the blogarati but using the same tools as them, the Coast Guard gains blogger cred–or as Joey Ramone sang, “Gabba gabba we accept you we accept you one of us.”