A vote is dangerous if cast by the ignorant.

Posted in Government on March 22, 2017 by Jon Spencer

Politicians and lawyers are two of the most unethical and despised professions. A judge is the combination of them both.

Posted in Government on March 20, 2017 by Jon Spencer

Humanity will become an intelligent species, once it stops believing in religion.

Posted in Atheisism on March 15, 2017 by Jon Spencer

The VA – a bloated tick – Part 2

Posted in VA on January 3, 2017 by Jon Spencer

Well, I gave the VA a couple of weeks (due to the holidays) to move my info from Texas to Tennessee.  I called today and spoke with the reps in Memphis.  After explaining what I needed a few times, I was able to get verification I was in the system in Memphis.  Ms. Davis in the New Patient Department said my info was in the system, so all I had to do was call the local VA clinic and they would set me up with an appointment.  I asked the woman (Ms. Davis) if she was sure this was correct, because last time I was told I had to call them back to finalize the process.  She said, “No, just call the clinic directly and they will get you setup.”

So I call the local clinic, and guess what, they say I can’t be seen yet b/c a primary physician has not been assigned to me yet.  The good news, Mr. Shamam submitted a request to Memphis to get this assignment done and said I should be able to call back Friday (3 days) and hopefully have a doctor assigned.  At that point, it will be just a matter of getting an appointment.

Not as bad as I had expected, and might be a bit nit-picky, but again, you talk to 3 people in the VA, expect to get 4 different answers.  Would have been nice when I was talking to Ms. Davis if she would have taken the time to review my file to ensure everything was in order, but of course she pushed me off as soon as possible.  Hopefully part 3 will be coming shortly and I will be able to report the VA was quick and efficient in getting me in to see a doctor.

The VA – a bloated tick

Posted in VA on December 12, 2016 by Jon Spencer

Ok, so this is a rant about how utterly inefficient the VA system is.  I have seen the reports in the news, but never realized how utterly incompetent the system is at serving veterans for even the most simple requests.

First, I moved from Dallas, Tx to Tennessee, North Carolina, then back to Tennessee this year.  I know, a lot of moving, but it was spread over many months.  You would think something as simple as an address change would be relatively painless.  You would be wrong.

Now in Oct, I landed a new job, so I contact the VA to update my records.  I tried to use the online feature, but for some reason THAT address doesn’t update to the one the VA system uses…so I had to call and get them to update their system.

Nearly 3 months later, I attempt to get into a clinic for basic medical checkups (vision, dental, eye).  I received a card stating I was enrolled in the Veterans Choice Program, so naturally I call the number on the card to attempt to be seen.  Well, their info on my wasn’t updated, so that took about 20 min just to get my new address entered.  At the end, I am notified that I am in the system, but there are two programs and of course, I have not been assigned to one.  I was told I have to call the VA and get enrolled.  Ok, first…this is a VA program, but not really the VA…so just another time/money/bureaucracy sink to stymie getting anything done for the veteran.

I then call the VA toll free line, and amazinly get to talk to David there.  I tell him I just want to get in for a basic check-up at my local VA clinic, so he takes my info to verify it’s me.  Well, after 10 min of that, he then tells me my contact info is still pointing to Dallas.  Now remember, I contacted the VA multiple times over the summer, I have even received correspondence at the new address, but yet his system is showing an address that is nearly a year outdated.  Sigh….

So we get past this point, and now I’m informed that to be seen in at my local CBOC clinic, I have to contact the Regional Hospital in Memphis to have them (1) change my preferred facility from Dallas to Tennessee, and (2) will need to work with them on getting an appointment.  So far, I have spent over two hours on the phone, with two different people, in two different offices, and not even close to getting an appointment.

David gives me the Memphis phone number, and tries to connect, but no one answers.  He then gets back on the line with me and says we will call the main switchboard number, then have them transfer to the Eligibility Department at the Memphis VA Hospital.  So I wait and after a few minutes I hear the phone ringing.  TEN minutes later, I am still listening to the phone ringing.  Finally, a Mr. Billy Smith answers, I tell him the situation and I need my preferred facility changed from Dallas to Tennessee.  He fumbles around for a bit, then puts me on hold.  So I wait again, and wait….and wait…and wait.  Another 7 minutes pass and now a Mr. Johnson answers, and I have to go through the whole explanation again.  So after explaining and verifying who I am, I am now told there are two ways to proceed.

Option #1, drive down to Memphis, wait in line to see someone there to get my files transferred, and once that step is done, then meet with another individual to get an appointment setup.  Well, I work during the week, and Memphis is about 2 hours away from me, so I choose not to waste a whole day for an administrative process that should only take about 30 actually minutes of work…tops.  Especially since I would then have to drive BACK two hours to home and wait around for my appointment at the clinic that is 10 minutes away from my house.

Option #2, I submit my request over the phone.  This process will take 5-7 business days.  Once this is completed, I will need to call back to setup an appointment.  Well, first, I will need to call back to even check if I was moved in system, which I highly doubt will happen, but if it does by some Festivus Miracle, I can then speak with someone on getting an appointment.  Oh, BTW, getting an appointment will take another 2 weeks.

I tell Mr. Johnson since I’m already on the phone with him, let’s go ahead and get the ball rolling.  I assume he did actually put a request in to get me into the Memphis system, but I will have to wait a week to even see if it’s been done.  My experience is that it will not.  I imagine it will be like usual, in that I will wait a week only to find out no one has a clue what I’m talking about, and will have to start the process again…wasting a week waiting on the VA to do nothing.

So, now that I’m in this process, I can easily see why the VA has been under such intense criticism over the past few years.  It is a unbelievably mismanaged, incompetent, and bloated agency that is full of tenured employees with no incentive to help, or fear of being reprimanded when they don’t.  This is the thanks veterans get; a system that is difficult to ‘enroll’ in (although I’ve been a disabled vet for 20+ years), slow response to meet basic services, and providing sub-par attention when forced to deal with the people they are suppose to assist.

More to follow on the blundering VA Health Care system as I go deeper into the bureaucracy.

MadCSLab – What is it?

Posted in General on December 12, 2016 by Jon Spencer

Welcome to the Mad Computer Science Laboratory, where we will delve into the forbidden secrets of the tech world!

ASP.NET MVC – Hello with textbox and button

Posted in MVC on January 19, 2012 by Jon Spencer
I have started my new job, and am self-teaching ASP.NET and MVC. Prior experience has been all client/server apps, so doing stuff in the web world is a bit new. Same concepts, just implemented in a new way.
Since the best way to learn how to swim is to be thrown in a deep pool filed with sharks…I voluntered to create a dashboard to track transactions from our stores. While doing this, I thought I would first try a ‘Hello World’ project, but allow the user to enter his/her name in a text box, press submit, and then redirect to the index page with the new inputed name. Fairly simple ‘Hello’ application….or so I though! BTW, I am using VS 2008, ASP.NET 3.5, MVC 2, and coding in C#.
First, I created a new project. File-New Project-ASP.NET MVC 2 Web Application. I called my project ‘HelloName’ and went with the defaults from here.
I am doing all my work on the Index page, so I will need an initial value for the name variable, and also a way to change this variable and display the inputed name on the re-rendered Index.
First, the code for Index.aspx:
<% @PageLanguage=”C#”MasterPageFile=”~/Views/Shared/Site.Master”Inherits=”System.Web.Mvc.ViewPage” %> <asp:ContentID=”Content1″ContentPlaceHolderID=”TitleContent”runat=”server”> Home Page </asp:Content> <asp:ContentID=”Content2″ContentPlaceHolderID=”MainContent”runat=”server”>
<label>Your Name::</label>
<%using (Html.BeginForm()){ %>
     <%= Html.TextBox(“Name”)%><inputtype=”submit”value=”Submit Report Date”/>
<% } %>
<p><label>Hello, <%= Html.Encode(ViewData[“Name”])%>!</label></p>
The only stuff I added was the code between the <asp:Content>tag.  First, I create a basic label, then a form (since ASP.NET doesn’t implement forms, you need one for the textbox and button), a textbox which is named ‘Name’ and a submit button. For more info on why MVC doesn’t use forms, check out Building Web Apps without Web Forms by Chris Tavares.
Not a whole lot going on in the View.  The big question is how to get the property in the controller to bind to/from my textbox.  With code behind, it is fairy easy, since the HTML page can see the properties in your code.  But this causes the logic layer to be tightly coupled with the UI, the exact opposite of why we went with a MVC solution to begin with.
‘Bind’ these two together is not that difficult.  You notice we have a textbox that we named ‘Name’.  Now we will take a look and see how the controller is created to link all this up.

using System;
using System.Linq;
using System.Web;
using System.Web.Mvc;
namespace HelloName.Controllers
     publicclassHomeController : Controller
          #region Properties
          privatestring _name;
          publicString Name
               get { return _name; }
               set { _name = value; }
          publicActionResult Index()
               if ((Name == null) || (Name == “”))
                    Name =
“Name”] = Name;
               return View();

          publicActionResult Index(string Name)
               if ((Name == null) || (Name == “”))
                    Name =
               this.Name = Name;
“Name”] = Name;
               return View();

In the above code, you can see there is a public property called ‘Name’.  This the where we will store the name inputed by the user.  However, on first load, we don’t have a name, so we handle setting this in the HTTP GET when the page is rendered by setting the Name to ‘Nobody’.  Next, the line ViewData[“Name”] = Name; will assign the Name property to the View Model.  It is this same naming convention that allows our View textbox to pull “Name” properly (in the view we used an Html.Textbox(“Name”) if you recall).
The hard part (for me at least) was how to essentially save the state (the user’s inputed) in a stateless environment.  This is handled in the HTTP POST.  You will notice we overwrote the ActionResult function for Index, adding a parameter called Name which is coming from the View Model (remember ViewData[“Name”]).  We now take the input data, check for null or an empty string, and then will assign the input to our controllers Name variable (this.Name).  The button click started the POST event, our action was handled by the Index page (taking in the argument passed), the value was set to our controller variable, then the page is rendered using the value in the controller variable to populate the textbox again, as well as the “Hello, <person>” label.
Not difficult, once you realize the name you set for the view data must be used in the view and also as the argument in the function that handles the POST.  This is what took me nearly half a day of experimenting with to get right.
Hope this helps you understand the GET, POST, and ViewData work that is going on when using MVC.  Enjoy!!!