17 January 2018

The Edward Ringwald Websites has a new hosting home!


The Edward Ringwald websites has just recently moved into a new hosting home!  I have been with our current web hosting provider for a few years; however, my current web hosting provider was recently acquired and the costs to keep the websites on my current web hosting provider keep going up.  And up.  And still up every year.  An important point when you are watching your finances.

So, I had to go shopping for a new web hosting provider and I managed to find one.  After evaluating a few web hosting providers I settled on InMotion Web Hosting after reading the positive reviews it received on cNet.  I visited InMotion's web site and went through a demonstration of the web hosting products and services InMotion has to offer.  I was very impressed with the features you get for the level of web hosting you want.

That said, I signed up with InMotion.  Another great feature of InMotion is their website transfer service in which their support team will move your website from your current hosting provider to InMotion; I took advantage of this valuable service as soon as I signed up for hosting and they did an awesome job in moving the files that keep the Edward Ringwald Websites running!

Now all that remains for me is to go in and update the settings in the domain names that will transition from my current hosting provider to InMotion.  As with the joys of the Internet, this involves DNS (which stands for Domain Name System) changes which take about 24 to 48 hours to propagate around the world as each DNS server is updated with the new information.

So, did I confuse you a little about DNS?  Well, it's time for a Great American Teach-In Moment!

The DNS system delegates the responsibility of assigning domain names and mapping them to Internet resources, according to this article on Wikipedia.  In layman's terms, when you type in edwardringwald.com (as an example) in your browser's address bar and press enter, your request is passed on to the DNS server of your Internet provider.  The DNS server looks up the edwardringwald.com domain name and finds its unique IP (Internet Protocol) address assigned to it.  Once that IP address is found your browser sends the request to the IP address assigned to edwardringwald.com and the web server sends you the edwardringwald.com home page.  In short, DNS is like an electronic phone book of domains and their IP addresses.

When a change has to be made to the domain name's DNS information, the web site owner makes the changes with the provider who maintains the domain name.  Once the changes are submitted due to so many DNS servers around the world the changes take about 24 to 48 hours to take place.

All that remains is for me to change the DNS information for the web site domains - edwardringwald.com, interstate275florida.com, drawbridgeahead.com and our web site portal, edwardringwaldwebsites.com - to point to our new web hosting home.  In other words, when you type edwardringwald.com after the DNS is updated you will be taken to the same edwardringwald.com web site you know and see today, the only difference is that we are at a new web hosting home.  That will take place in the next couple of days and during the time of DNS propagation you might get some 404 error pages as we make the transition to our new web hosting home.
 

22 November 2017

Christmas Holiday Season 2017 On The Train!

With another successful Great American Teach-In behind us and the Thanksgiving holidays fast approaching, the Christmas holiday season is upon us!  Just recently I gave my annual presentation on web design to students throughout the school day over at Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School in St. Petersburg, which was very well received by both students and teachers!

Haven't you been by the website portal for the websites of the Edward Ringwald Websites Network lately?  I recently did a major overhaul of the website portal and gave the page design and layout a more uniform look all across my websites.  If you haven't checked it out lately, head on over to my websites portal at EdwardRingwaldWebsites.com - it provides convenient access to the three websites of the Edward Ringwald Websites Network, which are Interstate275Florida.com, DrawBridgeAhead.com and of course EdwardRingwald.com!

OK.  Let's change gears a little bit and set the mood for the 2017 Christmas holiday season, which traditionally begins the Day After Thanksgiving.  A lot of you out there will partake in Black Friday and the shopping crowds, but more than likely you may incorporate a themed train ride at one of Florida's two official state railroad museums, the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish as well as the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami as part of your Christmas holiday season activities.

First, the Florida Railroad Museum will be kicking off its North Pole Express event beginning Thursday, 30 November 2017 and on these dates in December 2017:  1 to 3 December 2017, 7 to 10 December 2017 and 14 to 18 December 2017, which are on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays  (with the final run on Monday, 18 December 2017).  North Pole Express sells out rather quickly once tickets go on sale on Labor Day in September; a check of the Florida Railroad Museum website is advised for remaining ticket availability.

Second, the Gold Coast Railroad Museum will be kicking off its Polar Express event beginning Friday, 24 November 2017 as well as the remainder of Thanksgiving weekend, Saturday, 25 November 2017 and Sunday, 26 November 2017.  The Polar Express will also be held on these dates in December 2017:  1-3 December 2017, 8-10 December 2017 and 15-24 December 2017 (the final run is on Sunday, 24 December 2017 which is Christmas Eve).  Some dates for The Polar Express at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum are already sold out; you can check ticket availability for the remaining dates over at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum website.

As with any train themed Christmas event, arrival at either venue at least 30 minutes to an hour prior to train departure is highly recommended.  This will give you time to park, pick up your tickets and be in line for boarding.  In addition, hotel accommodations are a plus especially if you are traveling a considerable distance to either Miami or Parrish as the events take place in the evening hours.

The Florida Railroad Museum is located in Parrish just off of US 301 at 12210 83 St E and is 35 miles south of Tampa as well as 25 miles north of Sarasota on Interstate 75.  Easy access to the Florida Railroad Museum via Interstate 75's Exit 229, also known as Moccasin Wallow Road.  From Interstate 75 follow Moccasin Wallow Road east for about five miles to US 301, then south on US 301 for 1/4 mile to the museum entrance.

The Gold Coast Railroad Museum is located in Miami on the grounds of Zoo Miami at 12450 SW 152nd Street, which is a mile and a half west of the Florida Turnpike at Exit 16.  It's easy to get to from anywhere in South Florida as well as the Florida Keys and from the Tampa Bay region it's a 4.5 hour drive via Interstate 75 and the Alligator Alley to the Florida Turnpike exit at Exit 5; south on the Florida Turnpike to Exit 16 and SW 152nd Street and you'll be there in no time.

You ought to go on a Christmas themed train ride at one or (if you can) both railroad museums.  Believe me, a Christmas themed train ride will be a memorable Christmas holiday season for you and your family.

ALL ABOARD!!!
 

11 April 2016

A minor update and is our Federal Government fueling Eating Disorders?


We're a few months into 2016, and I know, I haven't posted in a while.  I have been busy a lot trying to balance the load between my full time job and my weekends at the railroad museum.  In my spare time I have been tweaking EdwardRingwald.com little by little trying out some new features.

If you haven't noticed, I made a slight change to the blog picture that you see to the left and also made it into an icon as you can see in the title bar of your browser.  How do you make this icon?  It's time for a web design Great American Teach-In moment!

First, you take an image and resize it to a small image file, usually 100 x 100.  You can use any image editor including Microsoft Picture Manager (which comes with the Office suite) to resize the image.  Save the image file as a .jpg file.

But you are not done yet!  There is one more step!

You have to convert the resized image into an icon file.  There are plenty of websites out there that will convert an image file into an icon for you, and I highly recommend the Favicon and App Icon Generator at Dan's Tools.  The site is easy to use, but make sure you deselect the check mark for including your favicon in the public gallery before you click on create favicon.  The resulting file will be a favicon.ico file (the .ico extension tells Windows that it is an icon file).

Simply upload the favicon.ico file to your web server, add the HTML (link rel="shortcut icon" href="(location of your favicon file)") for the favicon in your HTML header area on your web page, and you're all set!

With the minor updates aside, let's change gears here and discuss a subject that I haven't got around to in a while.  Lately, if you go to your favorite restaurant you have more than likely seen something new on the menu:  Calorie counts.

You can thank the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the same law that gave us Obamacare.  A part of the law requires that chain restaurants post calorie counts in their menus, all in the name of encouraging Americans to live healthier lifestyles.  To me, I think these calorie counts posted prominently on printed menus and menu boards have the potential to scare people away, especially people who are fighting a battle with eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa.

Is our Federal Government requiring restaurants to post calorie counts on the menus fueling people with eating disorders?  This article I found at reason.com on the Federal Government's mandatory calorie counts being hazardous to your health tells it all.

According to the article, twenty million women as well as ten million men (as of 2011) struggle with one form of eating disorder or another, including Anorexia Nervosa.  An eating disorder is a serious condition, both physically and mentally, in which a person avoids eating food for fear of weight gain.  The road to recovery for someone with an eating disorder is a long road to recovery requiring the help of a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist as well as a counselor specializing in eating disorders.  Most people with eating disorders are helped on an outpatient basis but a good number (especially the more severe cases) require some form of inpatient treatment, usually at a treatment facility specializing in eating disorders.

A person who is recovering from an eating disorder is usually taught to stop counting calories and stop weighing oneself as a part of therapy, according to the reason.com article.  Unfortunately, when a person in recovery from an eating disorder walks into a restaurant for a get together with friends and/or family, once the calorie counts are seen on the menu that person could potentially face an anxiety attack, worried about weight gain and appearance.  Is this what our Federal Government is doing to scare away people with eating disorders from restaurants?

My opinion is this:  Calorie counts have no place on a restaurant's printed menu or on a menu board.  However, restaurants can make nutritional information including calorie counts available to the customer upon request, as is present practice.  But don't post calorie counts to scare away customers!

Clearly, this is one part of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that should be repealed.  Our Federal Government should not be in the nanny business scaring people with calorie counts prominently posted.
 

24 May 2015

Memorial Day 2015

As Memorial Day 2015 approaches, it is the start of the summer season!  School will be just wrapping up for the 2014-15 school year and the countless high school graduations, not to mention those summer road trips.

But there's the real meaning of Memorial Day, which is celebrated on the last Monday of May.  It is a time to remember our men and women of the United States Armed Forces who have given the supreme sacrifice to keep our nation - as well as our cherished freedoms that we Americans take for granted - safe.

And while we're on that same subject, let's not forget our veterans who have somehow succumbed to the restrictive confines of guardianship thanks to Chapter 744 of the Florida Statutes.  All it takes is the allegations of a concerned adult, especially a social worker, to begin a process which destroys a veteran's dignity, respect and well being.

To our veterans out there observing Memorial Day, we salute you!
 

28 March 2015

Has Zephyrhills High School become a correctional institution? Or a mini-North Korea?

Previously I have covered numerous topics regarding school principals who trump parental rights with all the power at their disposal, the most noteworthy being Virgil Mills Elementary School and their anti-parental rights policy which can turn parents into criminals by the mere issuance of a trespass warning.  Now our public schools are getting much more like a closed neverworld akin to a correctional facility or even a mini-North Korea.

Of recently, high school principals are pushing all their power over their students to a new level.  A great example can be found at Zephyrhills High School in Zephyrhills, which is 20 miles northeast of Tampa.  On the edict of Zephyrhills High School's principal, Andrew Frelick, he has ordered that all students needing to use the restroom be under a strict staff escort at all times, according to Bay News 9 and WTSP 10 News.

What?  Bathroom escort at all times?  Has Zephyrhills High School become a state correctional facility?  Or, better yet, has Zephyrhills High School seceded from the United States?  To me, this is absurd.

Unfortunately, principal Andrew Frelick's edict turned the entire Zephyrhills High School student body of 1,500 into state correctional institution inmates.  Let's make that better:  Principal Andrew Frelick decided to let Zephyrhills High School secede from the United States and become a territory of the repressive Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which we also know as North Korea.  I would be sure that North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, would like administering an American high school from Pyongyang.

After all, if you happen to travel to North Korea - which the U.S. State Department considers non-routine for American citizens - you will be under escort at all times by your tour guide who is an agent of the North Korean government from the time you step off the plane at Pyongyang and your passport and visa are checked to the time you get back on the plane to head to Beijing to catch your return flight home.  While you are in North Korea, the threat of detention (not the detention you see in an American public school for minor transgressions of school rules) and imprisonment looms over your head at all times, even if you have the proper paperwork to enter North Korea.

Besides, having to be escorted to the restroom at Zephyrhills High School - or anywhere else on campus - is demeaning to students.  That's like treating students like state prison inmates, only without the handcuffs and leg irons that are applied by the correctional officers prior to moving a prisoner from a cell.

Perhaps Dr. Kurt Browning, the Pasco County Superintendent of Schools, needs to overrule principal Andrew Frelick's authority and do away with this draconian treatment of students who need to use the restroom.  If a school principal is concerned about abuse of restroom privileges, there are other ways to address the issue.

After all, Dr. Browning, as superintendent of schools for Pasco County, is the head principal in charge.

Parents of students in Zephyrhills High School, you have a voice.  Voice your displeasure to Zephyrhills High School principal Andrew Frelick.  Voice your displeasure to Pasco County Schools Superintendent Dr. Kurt Browning as well as to the Pasco County School Board in Land o' Lakes.

Believe me, if I had any children attending Zephyrhills High School, they would be immediately pulled out of that school and either sent to private school or homeschool.  Students are people, not prison inmates nor North Korean citizens.

Besides, Dr. Browning needs to replace Andrew Frelick as principal of Zephyrhills High School with another principal that cares not only about students but their parents as well.  By enacting this draconian bathroom escort policy and treating students like prison inmates or North Korean citizens, Principal Andrew Frelick does not care one bit about his students.

That's my opinion.

NOTE:  Comments for this blog entry are closed.
 

28 February 2015

Day Out With Thomas 2015

I know, I've been busy with a lot of things but I try to keep the Edward Ringwald Blog as fresh as possible with new content.  But we got a friendly tank engine that you may know which is just around the corner.

If you guessed Day Out With Thomas, you are right!  Day Out With Thomas 2015 is just around the corner at both the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami as well as the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish!

Here are the dates for Day Out With Thomas 2015 in March at the two railroad museums:

Gold Coast Railroad Museum:  7 and 8 March 2015 as well as 14 and 15 March 2015.  Admission is $20.00.

Florida Railroad Museum:  14 and 15 March 2015 as well as 21 and 22 March 2015.  Admission is $19.00.

Advance purchase of tickets for Day Out With Thomas is highly recommended.  That way, you can purchase your tickets online and on the day of the event, just head on over to the Will Call window and pick up your tickets.  I agree, you and your family will have plenty of Thomas fun!

To purchase tickets, click on either the Gold Coast Railroad Museum or the Florida Railroad Museum links above to go to that railroad museum's website.  Then click on the link at the railroad museum website for Day Out With Thomas and select the date and time for your ride.

OK.  Now where is the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami as well as the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish?  Glad you asked!

The Gold Coast Railroad Museum is located in Miami on the grounds of Zoo Miami, 12450 SW 152nd Street in Miami.  The entrance to both the zoo and the museum is located about a mile west of the Florida Turnpike at Exit 16, which is the exit for FL 992, SW 152nd Street.  From southwest Florida follow Interstate 75 across Alligator Alley to Exit 5, which is the exit for southbound Florida Turnpike.  Continue south on the turnpike to Exit 16, SW 152nd Street.

The Florida Railroad Museum is located in Parrish, east of US 301 at 12210 83rd Street East.  The museum is 35 miles south of Tampa, 15 miles south of St. Petersburg (via Interstate 275 and the Sunshine Skyway) and 25 miles north of Sarasota and can be reached from Interstate 75 at Exit 229, Moccasin Wallow Road.  East on Moccasin Wallow Road for five miles to US 301, then south on US 301 to 83rd Street East and the museum entrance.

For those of you coming from St. Petersburg via Interstate 275 and the Sunshine Skyway, follow Interstate 275 to its southern terminus at Interstate 75.  When you get to Interstate 75 you will want to follow the signage for northbound Interstate 75 to Tampa but you will exit at the very next exit at Exit 229, Moccasin Wallow Road to Parrish.

Be sure to check out my adventures with the 2014 Day Out With Thomas at two railroad museums in two states over at EdwardRingwald.com!  That way, you can get yourself an idea of what a Day Out With Thomas is like.  In fact, HiT Entertainment - the proprietors of Thomas the Tank Engine including Day Out With Thomas - have plenty of great ideas so that you and your children can plan for an exciting Day Out With Thomas!

31 December 2014

As 31 December 2014 gives way into 1 January 2015

As 2014 slowly fades into the sunset and 2015 rises at dawn, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! In Spanish, Feliz Navidad y Feliz Año Nuevo! In Slovenian, Vesel božič i Srečno novo leto! And in German, Frohe Weihnachten und Glückliches neues Jahr!

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Christmas and New Year.  Whether you went to First Night in downtown St. Petersburg and watched the fireworks as midnight rolled around or stayed at home and watched the ball drop in Times Square in New York City at the stroke of midnight, we will say goodbye to 2014 and hello to 2015.

Getting to some EdwardRingwald.com website notes, I finally got the Christmas lights page up for 2014 after all the website coding and testing prior to putting the pages and pictures live.  Now that I am using CoffeeCup HTML Editor as my web design software, it takes a lot of getting used to:  Making sure the HTML is correct to the letter and making sure all the references are in their right places.  But I think CoffeeCup HTML Editor is much more robust and it gives you more control over what you want to show out there on the web.

The good news?  I am going to leave the Christmas 2014 page up for a good part of 2015 so that everyone can come by and check it out.  In 2014 I feature not only two light displays in St. Petersburg but I also feature Christmas themed train excursions at four different railroad museums in two states!

Now on to 2015.

Today as I am writing this entry I came across an ABC Action News Taking Action For You article by Jackie Callaway which should have you concerned, especially in this day and age of data breaches involving Target and The Home Depot:  Retailers asking for and scanning your ID when you have to return an item.  That in itself is very scary and you should be concerned if you care about your privacy, especially in a retail environment.

As I wrote in a blog entry back in December 2011 here are some important pointers on what you need to do when it comes to retail returns:

1.   Save your receipts!  This will eliminate plenty of inconvenience when you go to exchange or return an item. If you do not have your original receipt with you, more than likely you will be offered store credit so that you can purchase another item.  Check your store's return policy; it can be found online on the retailer's web site or posted in store at the customer service desk.  In addition, be aware of any restocking fees that may be imposed.

2.  If a retailer demands ID and scans the ID somewhere, this is a time when red flags should go up.  More and more retailers are demanding ID as a part of the return process in order to deter fraudulent returns; if you hand the store clerk your ID you are unwittingly handing over your personal information to a third party called The Retail Equation out of Irvine, CA.  This should definitely have you concerned.

As we hear of more and more data breach incidents with retailers - despite retailer policies on protecting the privacy of its customers - any retailer requiring and capturing ID as part of the returns process amounts to nothing more than a retailer dabbling into your personal affairs as well as a recipe for identity theft.

That being said, what should you do if a retailer demands ID from you as part of the returns process and the retailer captures your ID data?

The answer is very simple:  If you have an alternate form of ID other than a driver's license, use it.  If you have an United States Passport or Passport Card, USE IT.  NEVER HAND OVER YOUR DRIVER LICENSE - ESPECIALLY A FLORIDA DRIVER LICENSE - TO A RETAILER UNLESS IT IS THE ONLY ID YOU HAVE!

For starters, a Florida Driver License is the worst identity document in the nation to have in your possession other than for operating a motor vehicle, which is the law.  Thanks to the Federal REAL ID law enacted in 2010, and the relevant Florida Statutes that were changed in order to comply with REAL ID, your Florida Driver License has on it your physical street address.  That in itself is a goldmine for stalkers and domestic violence perpetrators who somehow can get their hands on your driver license data.  In addition, a retailer has no business finding out where you live.

Before REAL ID, you could have a post office box mailing address on your driver license in order to minimize the risk of your personal information being compromised.  Today, only law enforcement officers are allowed to substitute their post office box mailing addresses in place of a physical street address on a driver license, if any.  Did Congress have any compassion for victims of stalking or domestic violence when REAL ID was passed?

Besides, despite federal laws to the contrary the State of Florida has a habit of selling your name and address information on your driver's license to third parties.  Which leads me to wonder:  If the State of Florida is selling your personal information to third parties, I imagine retailers with ID required and captured policies - such as Best Buy, for instance - are doing the same thing.

And another thing to ponder is of course the data breach incidents that have happened with Target and The Home Depot.  All it takes is a skilled hacker to harvest your personal information.  One day we will go online or turn on the TV and the news will have a breaking news alert:  Major data breach incident involving The Retail Equation.

Any retailer that requires ID when you return an item will also try to claim that it is also their policy to help deter identity theft. Any retailer claiming the purpose of requiring ID to help deter identity theft is a false statement. Besides, store clerks have been involved in identity theft cases as the perpetrators!

Again, if you got a passport or passport card, use it as ID.  I know, passport books are expensive but you can get a passport card from the United States State Department for $30.  Besides, a passport card is valid for ten years as opposed to a Florida Driver License which is only valid for eight years depending on your driving record.  Not only you will have an alternative form of ID which meets federal REAL ID requirements for boarding aircraft when flying domestically and entering federal facilities, you can use it for trips to Canada and Mexico when you cross the border by land.  The only time you would have to invest in a passport book is if you are traveling by air internationally including Canada and Mexico.

If you have a post office box as a mailing address, use it to your benefit. If in the event a retailer requires a street address, give your work street address - not the street address where you live. Again, residential street addresses are a goldmine not only for dabbling store clerks but for stalkers and domestic violence perpetrators as mentioned earlier.

Be sure to hang on to your driver's license, but put that away in a safe place in your wallet or purse. The only time you need to produce your driver's license is in these situations:

1. While you are operating a motor vehicle.
2. In the event of a traffic stop.
3. In the event of a motor vehicle accident.
Remember, you must carry your registration and proof of motor vehicle insurance as well - it's the law!
4. When you rent a car - after all, it is illegal for any rental car company such as Alamo or Dollar to rent to anyone without a valid driver's license.


Once again: If you are asked for ID by a retail store clerk, pull out your passport or passport card if you got one. This solves 99% of all ID required issues when it comes to retailers.

Now here's my take on retailers requiring ID when you return an item for exchange or refund, especially in light of the retailer data breach incidents:

1. Retailers have a right to control return fraud. Asking the customer for his name and address is the first step and using the information only for the purpose of processing the return and destroying the information collected from the customer after a period of time - such as 60 days - ensures privacy for the customer.

2. If a retailer wants to require ID for a return, that's their business. At least the information from the ID should not be captured and held in a computer database subject to unauthorized access, as is the case with The Retail Equation.

3. To law enforcement or to a rental car company, a driver's license is one thing. However, to retailers such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us or any other retailer known to ask for and capture IDs from customers as well as The Retail Equation, my residential street address - in other words, where I live - is none of your business


Again, as the final seconds of 2014 tick away into the first seconds of 2015, I would like to say Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2015!