Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sanity about Marine shooting

Folks, here is a very good posting about how we should look at the alledged massacre by Marines two months ago. I have no idea about guilt or innocence, but I like the case stated here by Jimbo.

Major Syd and Capt Chuck (Ret.), your thoughts are welcomed.

Friday, May 12, 2006

I wish I had a watermelon....

From the National Review Online:

This post was a reaction to a question: What would you like President Bush to say during his address on Monday night?

What Derb Would Like Bush to Say
[John Derbyshire]

Don't get me dreaming, JPod. Dreaming... dreaming... Zzzzz...

"My fellow Americans: Our nation's lawmakers are currently debating issues of immigration reform. The House of Representatives has passed a bill to deal with the problem of illegal immigration. The Senate is crafting somewhat more general proposals, including a 'guest worker' program of the type that we tried out, with unhappy results, in the post-WW2 period, the type that has caused grave problems in Germany, and that in any case vastly expands the responsibilities of a federal government department utterly unable to cope with its current tasks. Agreement on a suitable compromise between House and Senate is not in sight, and may not be possible. Any legislation that emerges from current proposals would, it seems to me, neither address our main problems in this area, nor answer the question so often asked about immigration reform: Why pass new legislation when existing legislation is not being, and in some cases cannot be, enforced?

"To offer a way forward on this issue, I am going to propose the following. One: That all legal immigration into the U.S.A., excepting only cases crucial to our national security, be halted forthwith. Two: That Congress authorize the federal government, as a matter of the highest priority, to construct high walls along our entire northern and southern borders, supplemented by electronic monitoring devices and manned patrols in much greater numbers than at present; and that Congress designate all necessary funds for this effort. Three: That by widespread and rigorous enforcement of employer sanctions, and greatly increased sweeps of suspect workplaces, and by responding with dispatch to citizen reports, the enforcement arm of our immigration services begin the human but speedy removal of illegal immigrants from our nation, by attrition and deportation; and that Congress designate all necessary funds for this purpose..

"My fellow Americans: Since the passing of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments, our nation has engaged in the greatest act of generosity in human history, opening our country to tens of millions of people from all regions of the world, sharing our wonderful American dream in a way unprecedented in all the chronicles of humanity, and unequalled in the world of our time. Generosity, however, must have a limit. It is time now to take a pause: to cease the inflow for a while, in order that those who have come, and their children, can be fully, happily, and successfully absorbed into our nation's fabric. This is how the previous great wave of immigrants, the wave that ended in 1924, was assimilated.

"We are a large-hearted and generous nation, and may we always remain so. We cannot, however, take in all three or four billion of the world's poor and striving. There are limits even to our hospitality, and I believe it is the general sense of the American people today that those limits have been reached....."

[Derb] There's no place like home... there's no place like home... Oh, here I am, back in Upper Mexico. Darn it.

Posted at 12:20 PM

Hat-tip: National Review Online

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Moving to VOIP Step Five -- Complete

Well, my number has been ported, and I'm now a Vonage customer. The final change-over happened today.

The entire process went flawlessly. 125% satisfaction.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Moving to VOIP Step Four - Set Up

15 minutes from start to finish. No problems...and dial tone when hardware was set up. The dial tone was for the temporary number that Vonage assigned to me until my actual number is ported over. I have tested by making several calls...all flawless.

I wish I had something to bitch about...but I don't.

The next step is for ATT/SBC to release my landline number and give it to Vonage so that I can make calls from it. THAT step is the one I dread.

Satisfaction so far = still 110%. I might even move it to 125%...extra, extra credit for flawless set up.

Moving to VOIP Step Three - Equipment

Received the VONAGE VOIP router today. It's a Linksys 3-port LAN router, with 2 telephone ports. Install will be tonight or tomorrow. I received the equipment 3 business days after placing the order. Not bad. Normally, I wouldn't be able to use this until Vonage ports my phone number over from SBC/ATT. However, Vonage assigned me a temp phone number to use until my home number is moved over. This means I'll be able to use Vonage as soon as I get the equipment set up. I think this is a great marketing move on the part of Vonage. Just think if you had the equipment, were ready to set it all up, and you couldn't use it for another 2-3 weeks because Ma Bell hadn't released your phone number yet. Again, this is a smart move on the part of Vonage.

Satisfaction level = 110% (extra credit for the temporary phone number)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Moving to VOIP Step Two -- LNP

The second step of the process was to move the existing telephone line to VOIP. I chose Vonage for this line. I went online and ordered the Vonage service for one of my phone lines. I need unlimited long distance, plus all the bells and whistles. This is $49.99/mo, with the first 6 months at $39.99. As many of you know, LNP (Local Number Portability, or keeping your existing number when you move) is a tricky thing, and Vonage has automated the entire process, including qualifying that I was the actual owner of the line (I had to have a copy of my SBC/ATT bill handy). Vonage handles all of the communication with SBC, so they'll never see it coming...just that my number (and money each month) goes away.

The Vonage web site states that LNP and turning the line on takes approx 20 days. The key for me is that I need to have the new DSL hooked up and ready by the time Vonage takes over the number. I think I have it all worked out (famous last words).

Overall satisfaction level so far: 100%

Moving to VOIP Step One -- Faster Internet

I called TDS yesterday and placed an order for DSL, along with a POTS line (they require 1 traditional line with a DSL order). The process of calling and ordering was pretty good. I'd give them an "Excellent" compared with SBC/ATT, who would rate a "Poor".

I actually saw a TDS repair van while I was driving to an appointment, and got the phone number off of the van (877-METROCOM). I called and had a 1-minute hold time. (This rates very well compared with SBC/ATT. I called them on Tuesday and was on hold for 32 minutes.) The person on the other end of the line was very knowledgeable about DSL. I told him I was very familiar with the terminology and the process of hooking up DSL, so we had an easier time of it than a normal prospect might (someone who might not really understand DSL).

The entire order process took about 15 minutes, and the DSL will be switched on by the 15th of May. All in all, a pleasant experience. We'll see if they make the due-date.

Moving to VOIP (the beginning)

I have decided to move 2 of my 3 phones lines to VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), and to get a faster internet connection. I thought I'd blog about the process of moving the lines and getting new internet service.

First, I have been an ATT/Southwestern Bell/Ameritech/SBC/ATT customer all of my adult life (30 years), plus another 10 before I turned 18. 40 total years with SBC or some version of them.

I currently live in Wisconsin, and have used SBC for my voice since moving here in 1998, and DSL service since it's inception here in 2001. I get the slowest speed DSL service, as I am 11,000 feet from the nearest central office ( CO -- that brick building in your neighborhood with no windows with the phone company logo on it). This 11k foot distance has SBC all atwitter. I have called SBC 3 times and requested a speed upgrade on my DSL, but each time they tell me they cannot increase the speed, as I am more than 6,000 feet from the CO. I've told them that they will lose me as a customer if they cannot provide faster speeds. I've basically been told to pound sand (a telephone technical term meaning 'see ya').

So I've been considering moving to a cable modem. My hesitation to move to cable is -- well, it's Time Warner. I have used them for cable TV here in the past, and their customer service leaves a LOT to be desired. This poor service in the past has me hesitant to move to them as my ISP (Internet Service Provider). I just don't trust the jerks to give me good service.

AHAH! TDS Telecom (a Madison, WI-based telecom firm) offers DSL in my neighborhood. They lease the line from SBC, but they use a different set of equipment to send me the DSL (this piece of equipment is called a D-SLAM, or DSL Access Modem). TDS claims that they can give me up to 4MB per second speed (ok, that's tops -- let's figure between 2 and 3MB/S). It's a little more expensive, but, packaged with the telephone line, I'll come out ahead by $20 per month. This package requires DSL and a POTS line (Plain Ole Telephone Service = copper wire). If I then move my other two lines to VOIP, I'll end up with a total bill of about $150/month. I'm paying SBC/ATT/Mouse (get it?) $250/month, so I'll end up saving about a hundred bucks a month. Works for me.

This is all background for the actual blogging about the move process. More to follow.