Tech Infiltration, NAFTA/USMCA, WiFi, Tornadoes and #MoneyTalk

A story of tech infiltration broke about how a server manufacturer was compromised by the Chinese security folks (allegedly). The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies, outlines how many US firms use the technology that was compromised. Why am I talking about this here? This is a game changer for technology. Most of your technology is assembled by small companies in the far east, and now that it has been proven that they are compromised, how the manufacturing chain works will have to change.

Who is compromised? Every firm that matters: Apple, Amazon, NASA, Banks, Government Agencies, etc., etc.,. Expect statements soon from all of them, attempting to downplay the scope of this hack (however it is very big).

The current U.S. regime is already xenophobic, there will now be a push to “Buy BUILT in America ONLY”, especially in the tech area (and absolutely on Government contracts).

Tech Infiltration

Dunrobin after the Tornado (courtesy Global News)

This leads to the other big news this week the completion of NAFTA USMCA. The new agreement has changes that will screw affect farmers, but it seems to be better than nothing. It did not remedy the “buy America” policy the U.S. governments currently have, thus Canadian firms still cannot easily penetrate the lucrative U.S. government contract world.

The tech infiltration will not help with this lack of access to the U.S. Government contracts. If anything rules will get tighter in this area.

Are you feeling paranoid about your own tech security? You should, since Wired just told us, How Russian Spies Infiltrated Hotel WI-FI to hack victims up close. Remember if you are using any kind of public WiFi, don’t use your banking app, better still, just don’t connect to it. Your phone will tell you it is not secure, believe your phone. If you get a VPN (virtual Private Network) you might be safer, but never completely.

Hell of a Wind

We were lucky that all that happened to our house, during the Ottawa Tornadoes, was we lost power for about 49 hours. This meant all food in all of our freezers and refrigerators had to be thrown out (about $1000 worth is my guess). Given my home insurance deductible, it is not worth claiming. We have friends that were much worse off, and my wife and I actually were in Burlington the weekend (visiting my Grandson).

My daughter got to enjoy Barrhaven in the Dark for the weekend, and did an excellent job taking care of the house. Our City Councillor and Provincial MP did a great job helping folks out as well.

I will be putting together a better power outage plan, as the current one wasn’t very good. A generator is an idea, but would entail a great deal of work on our house wiring too. Maybe Solar or a Tesla house battery system?

My Recent Writings

Keeping with my technology theme here, I did write, FinTech’s Foundations COBOL. I loved COBOL at school, it was so easy to comprehend, and maybe I can retire and get some contracts programming in it? Maybe my skills are a bit too rusty though.

Wonder what kind of Tech Infiltration there is on the COBOL side of things?

Deep Money Thought

“Fortune aids the audacious” -Virgil

“What Fortune has made yours is not your own.” -Seneca

A stoic thought about money, what Fortune gives you, you must be wary of, and plan for when it is not there. Virgil’s comment is the more popularly quoted, but Seneca’s view is important to remember as well.

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FinTech’s Foundations COBOL

A very interesting article from the Wall Street Journal confirmed to me what I had always suspected, in terms of the technology all banking is still based on, COBOL (at least on the banking side of things).

The world of banking is very risk averse when it comes to technology. There are backups to all systems, multiple power sources every system must live up to “5 9’s” availability. This means the system is up 99.99999 % of the time. As the Canadian Feds found out changing out an old system and replacing it with new code and technology is problematic (aka Phoenix), thus most Banks are reluctant to do whole sale changes just to update technology. Old systems get replaced typically if they are broken, not if they are still working.

At the core of the banking system in terms of technology is a language older than me (and I am old). COBOL (COmmon Business-Oriented Language) was written in 1959 based on the works of Admiral Grace Hopper. I worked in it, at school and on the job as well (at school I used WATBOL), so I have a passing understanding of the language. It does, what it does, well.

FinTech continues to crow about it being new and exciting, and parts of it might be (the user interface is my guess), however the heavy lifting (i.e. account creation, asset moves, etc.,) is all still being done capably by COBOL.

FinTech COBOL

A COBOL Punched Card

Fear and Loathing

Is it time to fear FinTech? You should be skeptical of all the claims, but if the system works (for you), that is the major decision point. If someone tells you how it is the future of banking, ask them about how they interface to the banking COBOL interface (see if they have an answer for you).

I am glad to see that old technology still keeps the world humming.


EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

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Back to School, London Calling, Basic Cable and #MoneyTalk

It is that magical time when kids go back to school, and life goes back to a more normal pace (for parents). If you just took your child to Kindergarten, what are your plans for their University Education? Might be time to start thinking about an RESP, don’t you think?

Back to school is always a fun time, Thanksgiving is around, Pumpkin Lattes are everywhere and Christmas stuff is available in Costco. Halloween candy has been available since the end of July in most stores, and we wonder why people spend so much? If I bought a box of Halloween candy in August, I would be buying more in August, September and October as well. All I can think of when I see this is one of my favorite songs by the Clash, “Lost in the Supermarket” (from the album London Calling).

I’m all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for a special offer
Guaranteed personality

What would you do if your vacation was ruined by a hurricane? I guess that is something to check with your travel insurance. Sounds like a possible fraud too, as I got an email about making claims on my travel insurance due to the current hurricane (and I am not even on vacation).

There was a disgusting story on Reddit about someone trying to get their 80 year old mother a basic cable & phone package, and Rogers refusing to offer their basic package to the consumer. It is not that surprising, but still shows why the CRTC’s ability to police the Communication Monopolies is nonexistent.

We in Ottawa found out our Light Rail System will not be ready as planned, and isn’t likely to be ready for a good long time. Is this surprising? Not if you actually looked at the work sites daily (like those of us who take the bus). When will it be ready? No one is willing to set a date.

My Recent Writings

Haven’t written one of these in a while, so there is a dearth of things to read written by me (maybe not a dearth, more like a small pile).

On Being Laid Off (a 10 year retrospective) sums up that I was lucky to be laid off when I did, but at the time I wouldn’t have thought that was possible. Another example of right time, wrong reason can still work out. Still doesn’t take the sting out of being laid off though.

Inflation looks like it might be making a comeback, given Inflation is at 2011 levels again. If all this tarif nonsense keeps up, that could be a big contributing factor, luckily in Ontario we have a buck-a-beer.

How we Doin’ now, is more of a statement of, I am not dead yet. I am still at this, but I am kind of busy with life at the same time.

Why would you have more than one savings plan for your disabled child? Why wouldn’t you if you can, is a better question, and that is the contents of Why an RESP for a Disabled Child ?

Social Media Money

If the following Tweet does not make your blood run cold, I don’t know what will. That much income and still having financial issues? Wow.

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I have set up an RESP for my son. For those who don’t remember my son is on the Autism Spectrum, so why would I not put money into this RDSP, instead of an RESP? There are a few reasons for an RESP for a disabled child.

RESP for a disabled child
There can be many reasons that an RESP is still a viable savings plan for parents of disabled children, and here are a few to consider.

Child Can Attend Post-Secondary Programs

If your child is not mentally disabled, or can cope with a post-secondary program, then an RESP is a good way to plan for their post-secondary education. In our case my son may be able to go to College, University or other training programs. Having an RESP is simply a good plan for his future.

CESG Can Pay Well

As my son’s RDSP Disability Savings Bond is calculated against my family income, currently the DSB payment is quite low. When my son reaches his 18th birthday the DSB will be calculated against his income, so the pay out for money deposited into his RDSP will be higher.

While the CESG portion of the RESP is also calculated based on my family income, it still pays well. I get 20% pay back up to $2500, so $500 every year is pretty good payback for an investment.

RESP Can Be Rolled into RDSP

There is a way to transfer money from an unused RESP to an RDSP. Is this the best thing to do with the RESP if it is unused is an open question. My RDSP expert said it would be better to collapse the RESP, pay back all grants and pay tax on any growth, and then add the remaining moneys into an RDSP. I will investigate that concept some more as my son gets closer to University age.

Your Situation May Vary

Depending on the situation, what is working for me (in my opinion), may not work as well for your family. I would do the research and look at the arithmetic about whether it is worthwhile setting up both an RDSP and an RESP for your disabled child. If you can only afford 1 savings plan, make sure the RDSP is dealt with first. If your income is low, remember the Canada Learning Bond might be available to your kid’s RESP, and that pays if you put in minimal amounts.

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How we doin’ now?

It’s been a while since I have written much original here, and I must admit I have been quite lacking in writing motivations. Have no fear, I shall not be retiring from whatever this might be, but I figured I might update my more reliable followers.

Rumours of my demise are greatly exaggerated

I am fine, however, I am dealing with many interesting life challenges, that are quite distracting.

My son continues to grow, and his abilities continue to expand. He will soon dwarf even his father in stature, which is a blessing, and a curse. Our friends at the CRA have decided to review my Medical Expenses claims, and I am collecting those now. Hopefully they will be appeased by my offering of information.

As loved ones age, there is a great deal to learn how the Social Safety Net works for seniors (and how it does not work as well). It is even more challenging when you are dealing with a different province, my case Quebec. I am learning a great deal there, and I am practicing my French a great deal, as well.

My work on my social media continues, ensuring my older writings don’t disappear, but I also continue to clean up (or delete) some of my older works as well.

Writing Continues

I continue to start and attempt to complete articles on the RDSP. Expect to see something of these soon, but I continue to have folks suggest I write a book on the topic. I have hundreds of other unfinished pieces, that one day I will complete.

I have shied away from the Phoenix topic, given my employer, but I can assure you it is as big a mess as the media makes it out.

My wrestlings with Quicken continue on, and I have plenty of other odd topics to rant on about.

As for the crypto-blockchain-weed-gold-ponzi-real-estate ideas all floating around, I was burned badly enough with the Tech Bubble, thanks. Go off and make your fortunes, just buy me a beer if you make it big. Please stop sending me great ideas about articles on the subject, unless they are humorous.

Come back often, there will be plenty to read soon. In fact, go to the Search for the site I have written 3000 articles already, it might already be there!

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