Monday, October 13, 2014

Medicare, Tricare and CHAMPVA.

If you retire from the armed services, you and your dependents are eligible for Tricare medical . The two main flavors are Tricare Standard, that is equivalent to an Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), and Tricare Prime, that is equivalent to a Preferred Provider Option (PPO).

Tricare is similar to Medicare, but it also provides prescription drug coverage. Once you reach age 65, you are eligible for Medicare. Medicare Part A covers hospital care and it is provided automatically. To maintain Tricare, you must accept Medicare part B which covers doctor visits. You are then given Tricare for Life as secondary insurance. Your spouse will continue to be covered by Tricare Prime until he or she reaches age 65. Then the spouse will be covered by Tricare for Life, too assuming Medicare Part B is accepted.

With Medicare as primary insurance and Tricare is secondary, there is no need for Medicare Part C or D that provide prescription dug coverage. Tricare for Life covers prescription drugs.

CHAMPVA is very similar to Tricare. In fact, Tricare was originally called CHAMPUS. To be eligible for CHAMPVA:

  1. the spouse or child of a veteran who has been rated for total and permanent disability due to service-connected disability by the VA (that is, a VA regional office)
  2. the widow/widower or child of a veteran who passed away due to a service-connected disability rated by the VA
  3. the widow/widower or child of a veteran who at the time of death, was rated as permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability
  4. the widow/widower or child of a military man or woman who was killed in the line of duty (but not due to bad conduct– often though these will be TRICARE eligible rather than CHAMPVA)
Notice that dependents must have a sponsor who is (100 per cent) totally and permanently disabled or the sponsor passed away from service-connected disability (less than 100 per cent.).

If a vet never received a service connected disability, the survivors would not eligible for CHAMPVA. Of course, the death must be be related to the specific service-connected (SC) disability the VA has awarded.

Likewise the spouse and children may be eligible for Dependent Indemnity Compensation.(DIC) when a disabled veteran passes. The criteria are similar to those for CHAMPVA eligibility.

If a vet dies while a claim is being adjudicated, the survivors of a pending SC claim must open a new Accrued Claim.

Why would a survivor want to reopen an Accrued Claim? If the death is related to the claimed condition, the survivors may be eligible for both CHAMPVA a medical coverage and DIC. Even if the claimed condition is not related to the cause of death, the survivors could receive disability compensation in the form of lump sum payment.

Accrued benefits are only payable if the VA Form 21-534 was filed within one year after the veteran's death.

Once a dependent reached age 65, CHMAPVA becomes secondary insurance as is the case for Tricare. It is called CHAMPVA for Life.

Thee are also Medicare part C & D. Medicare part D does provide prescription coverage, but this private program will become more expensive in the next 10 years. This is because the program was never properly funded by the Congress and it was being subsidized by Standard Medicare FICA payroll tax receipts.

Obama removed the $10 billion subsidy form Part D and rolled the projected revenues into ACA. Medicare Part C that insurers also sell is similar to Part D.

Any vet who has either Tricare for Life or CHAMPVA as secondary insurance does not need Medicare Part C or D.

You an also purchase Medicare Supplemental or MediGap insurance to cover Medicare co-pays. This may be a better and lower cost option than Medicare Part C and D for people who need secondary insurance.

Your local Social Security office should be able to answer any questions you have on Medicare or Medigap. As a retired armed services person or disabled vet, you may have some extra medical entitlements when you reach age 65.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

The two kinds of Republicans are very different, but both are dangerous

The Republican party has a dichotomy and it is very apparent that the Establishment Republicans and the Tea Party Wing don't get along that well.

When Micheal Steele was the RNC chair, a copy of an RNC presentation was left behind in a room. This graphic is revealing because it shows the GOP was aware of the dichotomy even before he rise of the Tea Party.
The major donors are the Establishments Republicans. Many Americans think of them as the one per cent, but is probably closer to the top 8-10 per cent of American families.

Many of these people are the sons and daughters of wealthy Americans. Both the Bush and Romney families are examples.

Most of the Establishment Republicans have two major goals.

Business should be able to do whatever the hell it wants to do without government interference or regulation. Many of these elitists believe they are on equal footing with the government. This view has been around since the rise of the trusts.

It was Republican Theodore Roosevelt who made it clear that corporations were subordinate to the government and the public good. Teddy broke up the trusts and opened the door to unionization in the US.

The Establishment Republicans also believe in privatization which serves two objectives. First, it expands the private sector and makes it more profitable. Second, it reduces the size of government making regulation even harder.

It's not a coincidence that the GOP cuts the budget of IRS every chance it gets. During the GW Bush administration the budget for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was cut which curtailed about 50 per cent of safety inspections Some huge mine and refinery disasters followed after years of corporate neglect and no federal safety inspections. 

The other side of the Republican coin can be described as the the true believers. These are the crazies who fear the sky is falling and hold reactionary views. Politicans like Michelle Bachmann, Ted Cruz, Louie Gohmert, Rick Santorum, and Steve King and Blake Fahrenholdt` are good examples. Many are Christo-fascists who are certain the US is a Christan nation.

You can also include Rush Limbaugh's, ditto heads, the Tea Party, libertarians and the militia movement in the true believer wing. At the bottom feeder end, there are the Sovereign Citizen anarchists. The FBI considers the Sovereign Citizens to biggest terroist threat in the US.

Judson Phillips, one of the funders of the Tea Party, wants to return the US to "classic liberalism" ot he late 1700s. Phillips thinks the governors should appoint senators and only people who own propriety should be able to vote.

In colonial times, women and blacks couldn't vote, women could not own property and only about 12-16 per cent of the American population could vote. Property was defined differently in each state. In Massachusetts, a mule would suffice for voting. 

Why are the GOP emotives upset with Establishment Republicans. The Great recession wiped out their 401Ks when they lost their jobs. Many also lost their homes. The Great American Dream was over for them.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Where to start in VA disability compensation

First, are you eligible?

A veteran must have two years of active duty under her belt as of a 1981 service entry.

You must have a disability that the VA determines is service-connected on active duty, or was made worse by active military service. You must also have a discharge that the VA determines was under other than dishonorable conditions. For example, you are unlikely to qualify for disability compensation if you have a bad conduct discharge. 
The disability compensation conditions are less strict than eligibility for some other benefits such as a VA pension or VA home loans. In both cases, you must have served on active duty during a wartime period such as the Korean War, the Vietnam War or the Gulf Wars.

You have three basic options when you start a claim. You can represent yourself “pro se” or give your Power of Attorney (POA) to a Veterans Service Organization or an attorney. 

Let's look at the pros and cons of each. 

Pro Se

1, You have complete control of your claim. If you have to appeal to the Board of Veteran Appeals (BVA) you get special consideration because you do not have professional representation. You can also ask the BVA for a reconsideration of its ruling, something a veteran service organization or attorney cannot do.

You will be able to go to the VA's Veteran Center that has many experienced counselors who can access most VA claims databases.

In addition, you can usually see the same VA counselor as the claim progresses. The Veterans Center is open 5 -days a week and doesn't close during local or national VA conventions or similar events.

You will have to do all of your own research and file the claim using the On-line VONAPP or the VA paper Form 21-526. You will also have to coordinate the completion of Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQ) with your physicians and clinicians to document your claim.

You will have to set up a file system for incoming VA letters and outgoing claims documents. You wail need access the Internet, a PC and a printer, preferably a laser multifunction printer. You will need software that is able to edit postscript document format (PDF) documents such as Adobe Acrobat.


An attorney can probably provide the best help up front on a claim. If an attorney takes your case, it is a good sign that your case has merit. The attorneys have paralegals who will help you with paperwork and answer questions by phone. You can expect a higher level of service with an attorney.

Most attorneys will also be able to refer you to doctors who understand the VA's documentation requirements and know how to properly complete a DBQ. The VA Regional Office is likely to take attorney representation more seriously than a claim that is represented pro se or by a veterans organization.

The attorney will receive 20 per cent of any retroactive pay that you receive. However, this does not apply to monthly contrast, other private practice attorneys take about 1/3 of a settlement plus administrative costs.

Most veteran attorneys do not provide this services to become wealthy Most have been veterans and understand the need for these legal services to vets.

Veteran Service Organizations

Last but not least are the service organizations such as the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Veterans (AMVETS). There are many others. Most of the states also have state level veteran service officers(VSO).

These veteran organizations usually require POA. However, this does not restrict you from talking to the counselors in the Veteran Center, On the other hand, an attorney will probably want all conservations and documentation to go through the attorney's office.

The exception of the state service organization who usually will not ask for POA. Have found most service organizations to be the least effective way to staff a claim. Many of these offices have limited hours and may be open only 4-days a week. During a VA conventions the entire office may close. One office rotated its VSOs every 90-days and a vet could have 20 different VSOs or more during the life cycle of a claim.

Service organizations are unlikely to help you write or review claim documentation. Service orgs will represent you during a local BVA hearing, but many VSOs lack legal training. This is true in FL. However, in NY a VSO must have legal training.

The state VSOs are a different animal. Many will help you without requiring POA.Most are unlikely to represent you during a BVA hearing.

So, if you are representing yourself pro se, you can still get advice from both counselors in the vet center and from state level VSOs. In the case of the writer, this situation worked best, but it is not for everyone.

Is Pro Se is for me?

Fist of all can you or your significant other write well? Can you distinguish facts from opinion? How good is your grammar and reading comprehension? 

The BVA has strict rules on evidence. The BVA will throw out any opinion other than expert that you try to present as fact. 

Try some of these tests before you dive into pro se.  Check out the following grammar and reading comprehension tests and your ability to distinguish fact from opinion.

If you are having difficulty with these tests, suggest you engage and attorney. Regardless of whether you start the claim with an attorney, you will probably eventually need one if you appeal to the BVA, which provides legal administrative hearings.


VA Form 21-526

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What you can do to secure your home network

1. Don't use Microsoft Windows. It has holes engineered into it paid for by NSA. Hackers will find some of these holes. Linux Mint 17 is a better operating system (OS)than Windows. It is free and more secure. You can download it from the Internet or buy a Linux magazine that includes a Mint DVD. You can install it and update it in less than on hour Try that with MS Windows.

2. Purchase a router with DD_WRT or Tomato firmware installed. It provides better security than the home router you can get at a computer store. It is also possible your existing router can be upgraded with either Tomato or DD-WRT firmware.

3. Configure your browser so it doesn't remember any history, There are also some great security browser extensions like Ghostery and No Script. Use the Duck, Duck, Go search engine because this search engine uses secure SSL security. Your Internet searches are not archived either.

4. By all means install anti-virus software on you PC before you connect to the Internet. If you are using Linux, ClamAV can be downloaded using the internal Synaptic Package Manager. Avast AV has to be downloaded from the AVAST website and you need to request a free registration key by email. Then run a virus scan on your home directory and then the complete OS.

5. Install a uninterpretable power supply to protect your PC, cable modem and router form surges, spikes, brownouts and drops. This upgrade can extend the life of your router, cable modem and PC or laptop for years.

6. If you are using wireless, use a 12-14 digit password and change it at least quarterly.
Hardinfo Ip connections display

7. In Linux, use Hardinfo IP connections check your security. You should not have any established connections to the Internet when your browser is closed. In this example the browser is connected to the Internet and I have two established connections. If you have any established connections with public IP addressees when the browser is closed, you probably have a Trojan or some other malware that is lurking in your PC.

8. Linux Mint has the IP tables firewall and you can use the GUFW front end to modify the firewall. You do need a basic understanding o IP addressing and ports to use this firewall. Likewise, the ClamAV anti-virus program has the Clam TK front end graphical user interface.

9.You can use Keypass to store passwords on your desktop or Lastpass extension in your browser. This will allow you to have many unique passwords for email, bank accounts and online retailers.

There are many other things you can do to improve security in your home networks. These are just some basics.

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Conservative Historical Myths

There are many conservative myths and they start at the Revolutionary War.

Pseudo-historians like Newt Gingrich will suggest the Revolutionary War was a conservative revolution and Americans should return to those days of yesteryear to recapture our spirit The founders were 10 feet tall and they wrote the Constitution in stone just like the 10 commandments.

First, the US revolution was a liberal revolution as was the French. The purpose of the revolution was to throw of the shackles of monarchy and replace it with a democratic republic. The early US democracy is hardly like the one we have today. Women and blacks could not vote and women could not own property.

Some Tories were tared and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. 

However, there were conservatives who were sympathetic to the crown and most emigrated to Canada. At that time conservatives were called Tories.

The US Constitution contains the manner in which our government was structured and some legal principals, most of which are in the Bill of Rights. A house, a senate and judiciary were created so that laws could be written, interpreted and executed. The strict constructionist or originalist theory of the US Constitution has no basis in fact. We would not need a legislative branch, an executive branch and a judiciary if everything was in stone.

Conservatives say the US is a Christian nation, but the First amendment makes it clear he US was established as a secular nation. Want more proof? Read the Treaty of Tripoli signed by John Adams and passed by unanimous voice vote in the US senate. The founders were aware of the religious wars in Europe and didn't want that mistake repeated in the US.

The next conservative myth is that the Civil War was about state rights. Jefferson Davis never talked about state rights until after the Civil war. The Civil War had a lot to do with slavery, but not as most Americans imagine it. Lincoln never talked about abolishing slavery when he first ran for president.

In the mid-19th century, the power of the Southern states were declining as new territories were incorporated into the US. The big concern of Southern representatives and senators was that slavery was not being expanded into the new states.

The Southern economic system was predicated upon slavery. The vice president of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens said this in his Cornerstone speech in 1861

"Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition."

Southern plantation owners did not want slavery abolished or contained because it was immensely profitable.

The next big myth is that the US never lost a war. Most historians will admit that the US lost the war of 1812, but our history books often gloss over the fact. The last war the US won was World War 2. The Korean War was a stalemate and the US performed a strategic withdrawal in Vietnam. We also occupied Iraq, but eventually withdrew.

Is it possible to have a military victory in a 10 year occupation? One Marine general thinks so.

Conservatives also like to gloss over the Great Depression. The only Democratic president who was elected in the period between 1900 and the start of the Great Depression was Woodrow Wilson. Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover all served prior to the Great Depression and all were Republican.

Segue to 2008 and another Republican, GW Bush heralded another economic meltdown. Bush's Ownership Society and deregulation of the 5 major investment banks led the US into to the Great Recession. The GOP myth is that the great recession was caused by Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac. Both organization worsened the economic situation in the great Recession, but neither organization caused it.

Another great conservative myth is supply side economics which has been around since the 1890s when it was called “horse and sparrow.”

The idea is that you give the affluent more society so the wealthy  can redistribute it to the middle class. Supply side economics also implies taxes should be cut for the affluent. 

Does anyone really know what the affluent do with their tax cuts? Suspect a lot of the cash ends up in the Cayman Islands or Switzerland.

In the early 80s, the influential and multi-partisan American Economics Association had 18,000 members. Only 12 called themselves supply-side economists in American universities, There is no major department that could be called "supply-side," and there is no supply-side economist at any major department.

This is significant, because academia in the 70s was dominated by conservative economic theory, and conservative economists normally welcome any ideas that make the case against government intervention. The fact that they scrutinized supply-side theory and rejected it wholesales gives eloquent testimony to the theory's bankruptcy.

When candidate George Bush called it “voodoo economics” in the 1980 presidential campaign, he was doing so with the full backing of America's economic community.

Today the conservatives are suggesting that America needs more tax cuts, privatization and deregulation, three things that failed during the GW bush presidency.

Rarely do Republicans offer any reputable proof that their theories about taxes, privatization or deregulation work. The best the GOP can do is provide highly partisan studies from the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute and 

When you are a political party that I more faith-based than fact-based, ideology is more import that hard facts.

A good example occurred in FL. Without any factual basis, the FL legislature bought Gov. Rick Scott's assumption that people applying for welfare had a drug problem. People applying for welfare were forced to take drug tests at their own expense. The courts threw the law out when it was discovered that few welfare applicants had failed the drug test.

A similar law was recently passed in TN. Only ½ per cent of the welfare applicants failed the drug test there. It is hard to teach a conservative dog new tricks.

Why do Americans continue to elect legislators who are irrational because of their half-baked ideology? Most of these people cannot be confused with facts. 

Some even think that biblical values are more important than US constitutional values. Others think the US Constitution is based upon the bible. America needs to get these misfits like these of politics.

That would be people like Reps. Steven King, Blake Fahrenholt, Louie Gohmert and Michelle Bachmann. Bachman is retiring, hopefully for good.


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Friday, August 29, 2014

The Veterans Administration and McKinsey and Company

You have probably never heard of McKinney and Company.  It is a very large NYC based consulting firm and also very secretive. it is one of the hardest companies in the US to interview because of corporate secrecy.

It provides consulting services to both medical insurers and government organizations. One of its customer is the Veterans Administration and many high level VA and other agency employees have worked for this corporation. 

That would be people like Bob McDonald, the new VA secretary. Beth Cobert is the new deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget.  Tommy Sowers, who oversees the public affairs office and other vital programs for the Department of Veterans Affairs, was a former McKinsey consultant.

McKinsey & Company desires a “very low profile public image.” It has a policy against discussing specific client situations and does not advertise. Members are not supposed to “sell” their services following attorney and accountant traditions from the early 1900s, 

MicKinsey does have medical insurance clients both in the private and public sectors. Many of these corporations practice  the three D's of  insurance claims: "deny, delay and defend" against them. 

If you have  submitted a VA claim, you might begin to understand why the average claim takes about 4.5 years. You might also understand why only 10-11 per cent of claims are appealed. People simply give up.

If you are fortunate enough to prevail in a claim, you will probably run into the fallback gambit;  a low ball rating that does not conform to the disability schedule in 38 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part C.

The VA was established as a charitable organization during the Revolutionary War and greatly expanded  after the Civil War. Claims are supposed to be considered in a non-adversarial fashion. 

Enter McKinsey and Company. 

A 1993 profile story in Fortune Magazine said McKinsey & Company was “the most well-known, most secretive, most high-priced, most prestigious, most consistently successful, most envied, most trusted, most disliked management consulting firm on earth.

According to BusinessWeek the firm is "ridiculed, reviled, or revered . . ." 
The Wall Street Journal said McKinsey is seen as “elite, loyal and secretive" while The News Observer said McKinsey's internal culture was “collegiate and ruthlessly competitive” and sometimes described as arrogant.

Why would an elite company like McKinsey and company, who competes with Mitt Romney's Bain and Company, be involved in the VA? First of all, medical insurance is big business. According to McKinsey the average US household, spends more annually on health insurance than on its home mortgage.
The VA is one of McKinsey's success stories. Or is it?

[It] helped reorganized the Veterans’ Health Administration into 21 networks, each with accountable clinical leadership, across the United States. The program also introduced clinically relevant performance measures, with corresponding rewards, and new information systems, including one for electronic medical records. The VA soon became a leader in clinical quality: for example, the risk of death for men over 65 in the VA’s care is 40 percent lower than the US average. The satisfaction level of patients rose to 83 percent, 12 percent above the national average . . .

However, the new information systems never really worked, a problem that is still plaguing the VA today.  Likewise, the VA needed more major reforms in the 1995-2000 period. 

[T]he Veterans Health Administration (VHA) implemented universal primary care, closed 55% of their acute care hospital beds, increased patient treatments by 24%, had a 48% increase in ambulatory care visits, and decreased staffing by 12%. By 2000, the VHA had 10,000 fewer employees than in 1995 and a 104% increase in patients treated since 1995, and had managed to maintain the same cost per patient-day . . .

Does the VA need corporate sharks as consultants? That is the question. 

Certainly the record of McKinsey and Company has not been perfect. McKinsey had advised a large IT corporation that cell phones would be a niche technology. IT does not appear to be the company's strong suit.

In addition, several civil suits have been filed against home insurance and vehicle insurance companies after the insurers were advised by McKinsey, to allegedly low ball insurees for actual value of the property damage.

McKinsey was cited in a February 2007 CNN article for developing controversial car insurance practices that State Farm and Allstate used in the mid-1990s to avoid paying claims involving soft tissue injury.

State Farm and Allstate  are two of the worst companies in the US for paying medical insurance claims and are well known for their three D tactics.

These are tactics that should not be used by the VA. Or for that matter, in government at all.


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Monday, August 11, 2014

Lenovo makes and excellent data backup option.

In the past I have used a Iomega Datastore to backup my data. I had purchased a used unit for under a $100 because the previous owner was unable to use it with Windows Vista.

The Iomega unit was buggy and hot and I had to default the unit many times. Eventually, the  redundant array of independent disks (Raid) array had to be reformatted, which destroyed all of the existing data.

Last week, I was unable to even connect  to Iomega Datastor on my network. It was time to buy a new unit. These units are called Network Attached Storage (NAS) because they have an Ethernet port and can be connected to a home router or cable modem.

There are many backup options in the market, some are the size or a smart phone. Many work off of a USB connection to a laptop or PC.
Lenovo IX2

Lenovo bought out Iomega and he new unit I received is called the Lenovo IX2
It has two hard drives and supports both Raid 0 and Raid 1.

 It is a big improvement form the old Iomega unit. It runs a lot cooler and the serial ATA drives are far easier to swap out. The embedded software is far more robust, too.
RAID 0 comprises striping (but neither parity nor mirroring). This level provides no data redundancy nor fault tolerance, but improves performance through parallelism of read and write operations across multiple drives. RAID 0 has no error detection mechanism, so the failure of one disk causes the loss of all data on the array.
RAID 1 comprises mirroring (without parity or striping). Data is written identically to two (or more) drives, thereby producing a "mirrored set". The read request is serviced by any of the drives containing the requested data. This can improve performance if data is read from the disk with the least seek latency and rotational latency. Conversely, write performance can be degraded because all drives must be updated; . . . the write performance is determined by the slowest drive. The array continues to operate as long as at least one drive is functioning. (Wikipedia).
The IX2 has two hard drives.

Raid 0 is great for serving media. If you want to push out You Tube or Amazon Prime videos to your TV, a RAID 0 setup is speedy. The downside is that if one drive fails, you lose all of your data. 

RAID 1 is far better for backing up data because if a drive fails, your data will be intact. When you replace the failed drive, data from the working drive will be copied to the new redundant drive. RAID 1 is slower than RAID 0, but it is a better option for data backup. It's slower because your data has to be copied to each hard drive in the RAID array.

However, the so-called personal backup devices rarely have more than one hard drive while the Lenovo IX2 has two 1.0TB SATA Hard Drives, which are easy to swap out. Raid 1 is a far safer option for your data than a personal backup unit with one drive.

With  NAS, anyone on your home network can access the unit if you give them permissions.

You can establish both users and groups through the embedded sever on the Lenovo IX2. .

If you purchase one of these units or any sort of backup device,  recommend you use it with an uninterpretable power supply (UPS). No backup device will last long with power surges, brownouts or drops.

If you shop around , you may be able to purchase a Lenovo IX2 for under $200. The units have many options including firmware upgrades and enhanced security. 

I was able to setup an administrative user and group quickly. I had no difficulty seeing the shared directories on my Linux desktop using Samba . However, initially I was unable to access any of the IX2 directories. Eventually it became clear that access permissions were needed to get to the default shared directories  Once I setup access permissions, I was able to backup my laptop to the Lenovo NAS using Linux Mint's Simple Backup Suite.

Don't forget to check Access Permissions for the data directorates

Had I used Windows, I would have been able to download the Acronis Backup Manager which is excellent backup software.

So far the only hiccup with the system is that I have to point my browser to IP address of the device with a manage directory such as:

You can also configure the unit to use https or SSL which is more secure.

The Lenovo IX2 has many features. The screen shot below shows about half of them.

If your files are important, you may need NAS with a RAID array,  

Can recall a story from a a local PC repair man. The business next to his store sold swimming pool supplies and equipment. The owners computer and point of sale devices were exposed to fumes from 10 per cent pool bleach (sodium hypochlorite) and muriatic acid every day. The PC man had tried to sell the pool store owner a backup system, but he had no success.

Then one day the pool store owner needed some data recovery help. His computers had all gone down and he PC repair guy indicated that all of his hard drives had been destroyed, Nothing could be recovered

It got worse. The state tax collector was scheduled to audit the swimming pool supply company the following week.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Extending your home network

The best way to extend a network is to add an Ethernet switch with a cable segment. You can extend Ethernet 100 meters which is about 109 yards.

You  can also use wireless repeaters or extenders.  Today, this is a wireless-to-wireless connection to the main wireless router that is connected to a cable modem.

This diagram explains this. The the laptop is in the range of the wireless router or access point. A wireless extender or repeater is used to extend the home network to a part of the home that is outside of the range of the home wireless router.

When you connect  a wireless router to an extender, there will be a loss of bandwidth. The two wireless devices can also interfere with each other.

"A better option for extending wireless coverage is to configure a secondary box as a wireless access point, with a wired connection between a LAN port on the secondary box and a LAN port on the primary box (wireless router). If Ethernet wiring is not an option, an alternative is powerline networking -- AV500 technology is inexpensive and good. Wireless extender kits consisting of a powerline adapter module (connect to the wireless router) and a wireless extender module (integrated powerline networking and wireless access point) are available." (Wikipedia). 

Rightardia has not had great luck with Ethernet over power lines. If your house takes an occasional power drop, these adapters will eventually fail.

 Ethernet Powerline adapters

Make sure you purchase and Ethernet extender or repeater that supports 802.11n. The older 802.11g extenders could not support WPA2 personal AES encryption. The preceding  is the only way that Rightardia would recommend you ever set up wireless security

The only home wireless security options that are secure are 
WPA2 personal  with AES encryption

Use at an eight digit password with some upper case letters, numbers and special  characters such as $, %, ^, or <. Better passwords are 12 -14 characters long.

In the old days, you had to have an Ethernet cable connection to extend a wireless network. Some of the new repeaters such as the Netgear WN200RPT are wireless to wireless only. These units have Ethernet ports but they are for wired connections at the distant end of the house.

You can configure the Wn200RPT with a cable connected to one of its Ethernet port by pointing your router to However, you must have both a wireless Internet and a wired Ethernet connection up for this configuration to work.
                                 Netgear WnN2000RPT wireless repeater

An easier way to configure this device on a PC or laptop and look for a wireless
service set identifier (SSID) such as Netgear_ext in you wireless connections. Connect to it and point your browser to 192,168.250.1. You can also try the url,

Once you are connected to the repeater, the config is intuitive. You must identify the SSID on the home router's access point you need to to connect to. Recommend you use the same password on both the existing and new SSID you have just created.

The configurator  will suggest just adding _ext to the original access point's SSID. So if you existing SSID was Zucinni, you will now have an additional SSID such as Zucinni_ext.

At this point, the Netger_ext disappears because it had been overwritten and you have to connect to the new SSID you just created.

Once the wireless connection is complete, try to connect to the Internet by opening another tab on your browser.

The ports of the back of the unit are for wired Ethernet connections in the room the repeater is in

If you can connect to the Internet , the WN200RPT configurator will let you finish the config. Otherwise restart the configurator and try again. Remember this is a wireless to wireless connection. It does not connect to the main wireless router with a wired Ethernet connection. In fact, it will not work if this repeater has an Ethernet connection to the main router.


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