All posts by Dan Lauerman

I love to write. Articles about technology, how-to, parenting, or just life in general.

Calm Act

What is the CALM act?

The CALM act stands for the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act.  It is put in place to help reduce drastic volume changes in television between regular programming and commercials.  The CALM act will force a more consistent volume.  The FCC is also referring to the CALM act as regulation on Loud Commercials.

Date Effective

December 13, 2012

What this Means for Me

The CALM act means that your likelihood of being startled by obnoxious differences in volume being eliminated.  It’s an act that is in the people’s favor eliminating the attempt at drawing more attention to an advertisement by usage of commercials that distinctly attempt to overpower the normal volume of the programming on a channel.  The CALM act does not correct differences in volumes between channels.

More Information

You can find more information at the FCC webpage about Loud Commercials.


Love the Lord Your God with All Your Heart

Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart?  Is it even possible to love with all of your heart?  What does that even mean? Let’s explore this together.

Your Heart

The heart is seen as a place of conception for many things in our lives.  Love, emotions and actions all can begin in the heart.  We can literally feel warmth in our heart when something good reaches far enough into our soul.  Our heart can beat fast when we’re scared, angry or excited.  We say that our heart should guide us.

Wait.  Guided by our heart?!  Isn’t it our brain that controls movements, thoughts and draws from experience to make good decisions?  Then why on earth would we allow our heart to be our guide?

Our heart is the beginning of things that are mostly intangible.  If you haven’t read the article on Christian Living, I would suggest that.  Things happen in the heart that the mind cannot conceive, much less make sense of.  To love the Lord your God with all your heart, you must act in a way that contradicts many things around you.

The Distractions and Lies

You cannot get away from influence.  I know that because even in this article I am trying to influence you.  I want to make you see that you must press against distractions in your life that want to take the place of God in your heart.  You may not already believe that or feel it’s important, therefore I am trying to influence you to believe it is important enough that you would adopt it as your own belief.  That is influence.  Here are some of the influences you will experience that take the place of God in your heart.

Influence to an Action or Pattern

Do you know what advertising really is?  It’s an attempt to change your actions or patterns in life.  It attempts to break the trajectory you were on in order to direct you in a new one that is more beneficial to the advertiser.  Notice it is to the benefit of the adveriser.  Always drink a certain soda? — then it’s time to switch. Always use a certain brand of makeup? — then it’s time see one that gives longer lasting and better coverage.  Happy with what you already have? — You’re crazy, it’s because you haven’t yet seen that product x exists.  Now that you know what you are missing out on, it’s time to focus your attention to what you are missing in life.

Influence to a Method of Thinking

Have you ever watched that one unbiased news channel?  No?  Maybe you haven’t because it doesn’t exist.  Everyone knows the news is biased and they are OK with that, as long as they are watching the one that matches their view point.  Do you find it easy to converse with someone about a topic regarding ideologies when you do not agree?  The first part of influencing to a certain method of thinking is to actually change the persons view point.  That is not enough though.  Influence to a method of thinking makes sure that the new believer expends energy protecting that view point.  What this influence leads you too is finding yourself caught up in focusing on things that are relatively unimportant to God, or you find yourself tirelessly protecting the proper view of God. God’s ideals need to be observed within us yet they do not need to be defended by us.  We simply take action where God has told us to take action and let the rest just be living out his ideals.

Influence to Individuality

There is no greater assault on loving the Lord your God with all your heart then to convince someone to love them self  with all of the their heart.  If you don’t believe that the modern day push for individuality is not directly tied to teaching people to love themselves, then you need to take a closer look.  Listen to a few of these slogans that go along with the individuality movement.

“Do whatever feels right to you”
“Don’t let anyone tell you to change”
“You can do anything you set your mind to”

The fact of the matter is God has set a standard.  We can tirelessly look to find somewhere in the Bible that states his standard is unimportant, but we won’t.  You can believe that the creator of the universe wired everything the way he did for a reason and stick to it, or you can believe that the you can become the God of your own life and suddenly everything you want you can have.  You don’t need a higher power anymore.  Except what happens when other people being the God of their own lives interferes with yours?  Who solves that dilemma?

How to Love the Lord Your God With All Your Heart

The truth is, it’s simple.  You need to learn to recognize the influences in your life that take your focus off of God.  Those things are trying to capture your attention through objects, thoughts and power.  In the midst of an impatient society, we want the best now.  God says the best is later, when you are in eternity with him.  So why let the distractions lead us away?  It’s not that we actually want to be distracted but  that we let the influences remain.  We still watch TV.  We still listen to music we don’t agree with.  We still want to make ourselves powerful.  We still want ultimate control.

When you keep the influences around that match our sinful desires, then you will be distracted from giving your whole heart to God.  You will give in.  When you choose not to give the negative influences a chance, then you will be free to let your heart be completely available for the creator.

As stated earlier, the heart is where the intangible happens.  Loving God, who can be viewed as intangible in our every day lives, doesn’t seem to make sense.  Once the negative influences around you begin to tell you that, it will be hard to remember why you first loved him.  What if the influences around you started to say it doesn’t make sense to love your kids?  They need so much attention, they can’t make it on their own, and they rarely contribute back.  You know the amazing ways a relationship with your children makes your life better.  However, a repeating influence of the opposite view could change your own view.   As long as it promises something more tangible and more prompt, you will probably begin leaning towards it.

So what to do in basic terms?  Do not let negative influences have repeated chances to change your mind as they promise short term, more fulfilling benefits.

When you first believed, you probably wanted to love the Lord your God with all your heart.  Go back to that.  Back to before the influences changed you and made you numb.

Types of Expenses to Include in a Budget

A budget is made of up income and expenses to help someone figure out where their money is going and how much they have left.  Expenses are the payments that someone makes for things.  Expenses make up the side of the budget that outlines where your money goes.  Having a good grasp of your expenses is often the most difficult part of maintaining a budget and not understanding is a common reason for poor money management.

It is very important to know your expenses and the number one way to really understand them is to track them.  Not for just a month or two.  A continual tracking of expenses keeps your budget in check as well as allows you to make changes to it over time as you see categories needing an increase or decrease in how much you have allotted for spending.

On your budget, you will list expense categories and those categories will be given an amount that you plan to spend for that category in the time frame of your budget.  For example, how much do you plan to spend on groceries each month?  Or how much do you plan to spend on gas every two weeks?  The time frame of your budget is up to you and the expense categories need to fit your life’s needs.

Let’s looks at some budget expense categories

Expenses to Include on a Budget


Gas,  Insurance, Repairs, Regular Maintenance


Mortgage or Rent, Insurance, Utilities, Repairs, Maintenance, Regular fees, Taxes, Extra Principle, Homeowners Association


Groceries, Dining


Medical Bills, Insurance, HSA/HRA Contributions, Prescriptions, Gym Memberships, Health Classes


Cell Phone, Cable, Internet, Home Phone, Storage Units,


Clothes, Non-essentials, Household Items

What Other Expenses to Include?

The categories above may not apply to you, or certain expenses within them may be irrelevant.  The point is to define a few major categories and figure out if you want to break them down.  You may not need to break them down though.  You can easily take the food category and just combine groceries and dining out for example if you do not feel a need to track them separately.

Some may want to include payroll deductions such as insurance fees taken out by your employer, 401K contributions and Health Savings.  Some would rather just account for what they pay out of pocket with the money they actually are paid by their employer.  It’s all about what makes the most sense to each individual creating their budget.

You may have other things that need their own category such as a boat or a beach house.  Maybe you want a category for your child expenses.  Maybe a category for your work expenses.  A budget must be very personal for it to be successful.  It needs to match your actual spending and financial situation.

The most important thing to remember is no matter how little or much income you earn, a budget is important to effectively manage your money.  Even if it is just the old envelop system of portioning cash to different envelopes each time you are paid, it is still helpful.  It does not need to be fancy spread sheets and calculations.

Talend Open Studio for Data Integration: Lesson 2 – Creating a MS SQL Connection

The first thing you need to do once you have a Talend Project created is define your connections that data will be extracted from or where it will be written to.

Microsoft SQL Server is a good example of a database that many users will need to work with in ETL, so we will cover how to add that to your project in Talend.

1.  Create the Connection in Talend Repository

In your open project, look for the Repository.  This is where you will find many different objects available within your Talend project.  Specifically for adding a connection, we are going to expand the Metadata category within the repository.  Then you will need to right-click on “Db Connections” and choose “Create Connection”

Step 1 in Creating a Microsoft SQL Connection in Talend ETL
In the Talend project repository, right click on Db Connections under Metadata to add a connection to MS SQL


2.  Enter MS SQL Connection Name

You will then be prompted with a dialog box that will walk you through creating your connection.  In the first box which is step 1/2, enter at least a name for your connection and then click Next.

Step 2 in Creating a Microsoft SQL Connection in Talend ETL
Enter a name for your Microsoft SQL connection in Talend ETL

3.  Enter MS SQL Connection Details

Next, enter the details needed to define your connection.  Make sure to use SQL server authetication by entering a Login and Password.  Currently, Windows Authentication with SQL Server 2008 is not consistent.  After you have entered the details click “Finish”

Step 3 in Creating a Microsoft SQL Connection in Talend ETL
Enter the MS SQL connection details and click Finish


4.  Verify

You will now see your connection under Metadata in the Talend Repository

Adding a MS SQL connection in Talend Open Studio ETL
You will now see your Microsoft SQL connection created in Talend ETL

The Romans Road

What do you mean there’s a simple path to salvation?

The Romans Road is one of many different tools to use to help understand how someone experiences salvation.  This article will give you a simple overview of the Romans Road.  If you are reading this and do not even believe that you need to be saved then you’re at the perfect place.  The Romans Road does not just give instruction on what you need to do to be accepted into Heaven, it also tells why you must make yourself right as well as the sacrifice that was necessary so that you can become right in the sight of God.

First off, the Romans Road Must be Seen as it is Intended

If you think the purpose of following the Romans Road is to get to Heaven, than you are wrong.  As a Christ follower, the goal is not to get into Heaven.  Sadly enough this is how many Christians are trying to live.  They make all the “sacrifices” necessary in life to get into Heaven.  That is not what God wants though; he isn’t looking for people who can make it into Heaven.  He’s looking for those who desire relationship with Him.  He’s looking for people that choose to accept Jesus as the only way they can become forgiven for their sins.  Sin is not disqualification for Heaven.  Sins are actions that separate you from God.  As one can see in the Romans Road, sin causes us to fall short of what God intended.  So when we ask  for forgiveness, it’s not that it keeps us from sinning but it restores our relationship with God.

Heaven is a place for the people that are united with God by accepting the sacrifice of Jesus as atonement for their sins.  Heaven is where God exists and where relationship someday will honor him without the destructive nature sin offers.  Until then, God gave a way to become united with him again through the restorative process of forgiveness.

The Romans Road

Romans 3:23

All have sinned.  No one is worthy of relationship with God because we are naturally sinners.

Romans 6:23

We deserve death for our sin, but we receive eternal life as a gift from God.

Romans 5:8

God loves us so much that even while we continue separating ourselves from Him through sin, he sent his son Jesus to become the sacrifice for us.

Romans 10:9

If you declare Jesus as Lord and believe that he was raised from the dead than you will be saved.

Romans 10:13

Everyone who calls on Jesus’ name will be spared

Romans 5:1

Since we are made right through faith, we have peace with God because of Jesus.

Types of Income to Include in a Budget

What Kinds of Income to Include in a Budget?

We are continuing our teaching on budgeting.  We’ve already identified the parts that are to be included on a budget, mainly income and expenses.  In this lesson we are going to continue discussing the topic of how to create a budget, focusing on what is income and what kinds of income to include in a budget.

Income, for our purposes, will be anything that adds to your liquid cash assets on a regular basis.  Income is not equity, nor interest accumulated but not yet available, such as by a CD account or money paid off on your mortgage.  Liquid cash assets is money that you have available to spend at any time you desire.  A CD is not a liquid asset because you must wait until a certain period of time before having access to the funds that were put in and the interest that has accrued.  If you are paid out your interest from a CD on a regular basis, even though you can’t withdraw the original funds, then the interest would be considered income.

What are types of incomes to consider?

Payroll Income

The payments made to you by an employer for your work.  You can either use Net income here (how much is actually given to you after all deductions) or Gross and count all of the deductions as expenses.  You can decide what is best for your budget.

Business Income

Do you do any side work?  Rent out something you own? This would be considered business income and can be included on a personal budget if it doesn’t make it too complicated.  You may want to keep a separate budget for your business and just include the bottom line on your personal budget.

Interest Income

Amounts paid to you that are available during the budget period.  This would be interest on savings and checking accounts, CD’s that pay interest instead of accumulate, or other interest that is paid to you.

Child Support or Alimony

Do you receive payments from someone else as a result of a family settlement?  This is included in income.


Any other stipends paid to you on a monthly basis, such as living expenses of someone living with you, lottery winnings paid regularly, etc.  Anything else that is paid on a regular basis.

One Offs

If you receive irregular income of some sort during a budget period, you can include that as income too, but be careful of how it may tie out your numbers at the end.  You may just want to keep it separate for the sake of tracking the purchases made with it separately.

Those are the basics.  If you are following this and working towards building your own budget, then start thinking about what various types of income you have and would like to include on a personal budget.

Next will be expenses.


What is a Budget

For some, managing their money is a natural and everyday process that just makes sense.  But there are many people who just don’t understand what it takes to efficiently plan and utilize the financial resources they have.  If you understand what a budget is, but have no idea how to create one or why you even need one, then this is the place to be.

what a budget is:

  • A plan
  • Categories of things you buy (expenses) and money you receive (income)
  • A way to balance income and expenses
  • A tool

What a budget is not

  • A bank account
  • A way to lose control over your money
  • An annoyance

There is one thing to know right away with a budget.  A budget should not limit you to the point where it becomes a nuisance .  The reason for creating a budget is to free your money up so that you can use it how you really want to.  Trying to save for a car?  A budget will help you plan and keep track of how close you are and how long it will take.

A budget can look many different ways, but every budget usually contains a few elements.  These can appear differently or be given different weighting based on the individual.  Let’s review these elements:

Time Frame

You can budget for the week, the month, the quarter, even the year.  You do not have to stick to any time frame, but choosing the one that is best for you is beneficial to giving you the best picture of where your finances are at.  The time frame most likely depends on how often you pay certain bills or how often you are paid.


You need to know all the sources of money coming to you.  Whether pay checks, social security, pensions or any other way you make money.  These should be kept track of in a budget.


The biggest reason people fail to efficiently handle money is because they have no idea where it goes.  On your budget you will need to create categories for the things you spend money on such as auto expenses, clothes, and food.  Tracking all of these purchases gives you a picture of where you money is going.

Those are main elements.  We will get into more on these elements in future posts, but for fun, here is a sample budget.

Sample Monthly Budget


Payroll: $2300

Lawn Cutting: $200


Food: $200

Gas: $150

Health Insurance: $175

Income Taxes: $650

Auto Insurance: $65

Cell Phone: $60

Student Loan Payments: $600

Total After Expenses: $600

Savings: $400

Total non-discretionary Funds Available: $200

By looking at the sample monthly budget, we know there is $200 per month to spend on extra things.  That is, unless there is an overspend in one of the categories.  By a simple list like this, you can easily figure out where your money will go and how much extra you will have.  We will get into more detailed budgeting in the future.

Talend Open Studio for Data Integration: Lesson 1 – Creating a Project

The first step in creating an ETL project in Talend Open Studio for Data Integration is to create the actual project definition. The project serves as a container for resources, including database connections, job scripts and contexts. When the application is launched, it will use a default folder in the installation directory named workspace. When a project is created, the project exists in a sub-directory in the workspace directory.

See the screenshot from Talend Open Studio for Data Integration 5.1:

Notice we have typed in a name of “OurFirstProject” in the Create a New Project field.  When we click the Create… button we get a dialog box that comes up and allows us to add a Project Description.  Clicking Finish then saves our project and gives us a new view in Open Studio as seen below.

At this point we can highlight the project we want and click Open, or we can use any of the other features.  When you arrive at this screen as the opening screen, simple click Create… to start a new project.

Lesson 4: Creating an HTML File

Even if you know how to write HTML and have all of the tags memorized, you still need to know how to create a file that the web server will access. When a web server service is installed on a workstation, it will generally create a directory to hold your web server documents.

If using Microsoft Internet Information Services, and you have installed the web server service, then you should find a directory called “wwwroot” on your hard drive. The options for this server are usually found by going to Control Panel/Administrative Tools/Internet Information Services Manager. There you can do things like configure IIS, set the home directory and set the permissions.

If you are using Apache, you will find an httpd.conf file in the location where you installed Apache. This file is going to control the Apache web server and setup things like the home directory. By default, Apache uses a directory called htdocs for the web server directory.

Ok, so you have figured out where to put your documents. Now, how do you create the file that the web server will use? The easiest way is to simply create a new file on your computer called index.htm or index.html. Often, file extensions are hidden, so you need to make sure your file is actually index.htm rather than “index.htm.txt”. Using notepad is a good way to get started, but as you write more complicated code, a tool like will help by color coding your written code.

Now to make our first HTML file, we will take the entire code segment found in Lesson 3 and paste it into our blank index.htm file. Save this file to your web server directory. If this web server is running on your own computer, you can probably just type localhost into your web browser and you should be redirected to your web server which will display your default page.

By naming your document index.htm chances are good that you will be making it your default page, but we will get more into default pages in Lesson 5 and 6 where we will cover IIS and Apache configurations respectively. See you soon!

Lesson 3: Beginning HTML

If you didn’t check out the last tutorial, quickly check it out. We are going to pull apart the HTML code that we found in that lesson to give a briefer in HTML.

HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. It is a language that is based on control statements, basically commands wrapped around text to tell the web browser how to display the web pages. Without many of the HTML commands that we have available to us, web pages would just display as text. Fortunately, using the generic commands that many web browsers interpret the same way, we can make functional and graphical web pages.

In HTML, the commands are call tags. HTML tags tell the browser what to do with the data returned from the web server. Let’s take a look at our example from lesson 2. The entire text is here:

      <title>My First Webpage</title>
      <p>Not going to say Hello World!</p>

That would actually display a page that just had some text in it that says “Not going to say Hello World! and the title of the browser changes to “My First Webpage”.

So let’s review the various parts, keeping it in the hierarchy found. First of all we have the beginning and closing HTML tags.


These tell the browser that the markup found in the text is the HTML format. Every HTML page has a tag at the beginning and a tag at the end. The second tag, with the forward slash, is called a closing tag. This tells the browser that it has reached the end of the segment that matches the name in the closing tag. All text and tags found between an opening and closing tags are considered to be “nested” between those tags.

Let’s look at the next part. The head tag.

      <title>My First Webpage</title>

The head tag always goes next after the opening html tag. The head is the header section and contains information for the browser about the page, as well much of the scripting instructions that might appear on the page. We will get into that much later, but for now just think of the head section as definitions. For example, the Title tag, which is nested in the head section, tells the browser the name of the specific page that the user is on.

Next comes the body. Let’s look at how we wrote that code:

      <p>Not going to say Hello World!</p>

The body section always follows the head section. The body contains the actual data that is to be displayed on the web page, it tells the browser how the page should look. Text, graphics, and links can all be found in the body section. In this example, we are including the p tag which tells the browser to display a block of text as a paragraph. Notice the closing tag both for the p tag and the body tag.

That is it for this lesson. Congratulations, you are getting closer to creating your own web page! Next lesson, we will talk about taking this code, storing it in a file and viewing it in your web browser.