Those Indecipherable Medical Bills? They’re One Reason Health Care Costs So Much

  • Why do we put our employers at a competitive disadvantage by requiring them to provide health care for their employees?
  • Why do hospitals need to provide free care to the uninsured, causing financial distress, especially in low income neighborhoods?
  • Why do doctors need to hire staff whose sole purpose is to sift through the red-tape imposed by different insurance companies?
  • And why do we allow a system of billing as described in this article? This could happen to just about anyone.

Stop the madness. Single payer, single payer, single payer!

Those Indecipherable Medical Bills? They’re One Reason Health Care Costs So Much

Destroy Powershell COM Object

While working with Outlook email using Windows Powershell, I noticed that Outlook did not close. This is because Windows will not close the Outlook process until all programs are done with it. This blog post has a nice discussion about it as well as the method for forcing the COM object to close.

Upgrading XAMPP

Upgrading XAMPP from ver 5.5.19 to 5.63 was easier than I could have imagined. I wanted to take advantage of the new PHP 5.6 ‘argument unpacking‘ feature using the splat operator. I was afraid that the process of transferring test websites, including a full WordPress installation, and command line scripts would be painful. It was not. Here are the steps I took.

  1. Renamed the old xampp folder from \xampp to \xampp Old
  2. Unpacked the new xampp package to \xampp
  3. In the new installation, renamed the following files and folders by appending “Old” to their names:
    1. /apache/conf/httpd.conf, apache configuration file where the virtual host settings reside;
    2. /mysql/data/, the entire mysql data folder
    3. /php/php.ini, the php initialization file where there have been many customizations over time.
  4. Copied the files and folders in step 3 to the corresponding location in the new installation.
  5. Copied the website folders I wanted to transfer from /htdocs/

Fired up the new installation, and everything worked perfectly! Even the WordPress site picked up right where it left off on the old installation without a hiccup.

Simulate domain in test environment

I converting a website to WordPress in a test environment, accessing the server on localhost. But I want to simulate the ultimate domain.

First, in the apache httpd.conf file, set up a virtual host by adding the following lines:

<VirtualHost *:80>
DocumentRoot /xampp/htdocs/wordpress
<VirtualHost *:80>
 DocumentRoot /xampp/htdocs
 ServerName localhost

This redirects the domain name to the correct directory on the local host server. It also resets the local host so other websites on the server can be accessed.

Second, use the hosts file to redirect windows when it encounters the domain. On Windows 7, the host file is located at: C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts

Simply add the following line:

Send Calendar Invitations with PHP

The first problem is sending mail from PHP from a smpt server that requires authentication. The standard php.ini file does not allow that. Fortunately, there is fake sendmail for windows which is included in the xampp installation. This requires modification of both the php.ini [mail function] section as well as the sendmail.ini file where the server authentication information is stored. With these modifications, the php mail function will work!

The primary problem is how to configure an e-mail attachment with a proper calendar invitation. This was kindly explained at Exchange Core. This seems to work not only with messages sent to an Exchange server, but also when sent to standard imap servers when viewed with a client that understands what to do with .ics attachments, such as the iPad. Awesome!

See also, iCalendar on Wikipedia and the iCalendar specification at the Internet Engineering Task Force.