Thursday, June 30, 2005

Your trade-in value may vary: Four trade-in stories.

One - I wanted to trade the Goodyear Eagle tires on my new car for Michelan MSV tires. $90 Goodyear tires would get me $20 each on trade.

Two - Car dealers don't want your 11 mpg Ford Epedition. You paid $40,000 three years ago,
good luck getting $8,000 in trade now.

Three - A 3 1/4 year old Nissan Xterra is worth 50% of what was paid for it when trading it for new car.

Four - A two year old Power Macintosh can fetch 45% of what was paid for it by selling it on eBay.

Something to do with law of supply and demand.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Low tech savings: My new Vibe lacks carpeting in the "luggage" area behind the back seat. One can go online to J.C. Whitney, and find a custom carpet piece for $129, or buy a OEM Pontiac carpet for even more, but I just went to Pep Boys, and bought a piece of carpet (3' x 6') for $9.99, and took a scissors and trimmed it to fit perfectly.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

GM in distress: With General Motors having trouble selling cars, they are offering some good promotions currently, so I spring for a Pontiac Vibe (really a rebadged Toyota Matrix) for about $6325 off sticker when all is said and done, and then the Dealer effectively gave me 100% of Kelly Blue Book Trade in value, when in previous years it was a struggle to get a dealer close to such a figure.
The dealer also sells Hummer, and its not too big a stretch to think of the Vibe as a mini-Hummer. The Hummer is the H2 model, and they soon will have a newer slightly smaller Hummer model called the H3. So I'm putting an H5 logo on my Vibe.
The Vibe is rated 29 mpg city, so I will be contributing less in the future to Saudi sheiks.

Bush and Congress could so trivially solve our energy import woes. Just get Oil Shale production going in the U.S., (How does 60 trillion tons of reserves sound?) and it could cost zero to do that. Just have the government be a buyer of last resort for Oil; from Oil Shale. If you guaranteed a price of $44 / barrel, the industry would boom, and with Crude prices currently at $59 the government could just sit back and watch the Saudis squirm. Without a government guarantee, investors are not confident oil prices will stay at a high level, and will stand on the sidelines.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

First word on an Intel based Macintosh: has reports from developers receiving their $999 Developmental Intel based PowerMac, and its looking good.
Details here.
25th Anniversary of Pac-Man: Great computer game, first appeared in 1980. Atari (then owned by Warner Brothers) bought the home rights and proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot by too quickly bringing an inferior version (I called it "Flickerman" at the time) for the Atari 2600 game console to market in 1981. They produced 12 million copies, when only 10 million game consoles had been sold. They did even worse with their ET-Phone home game, 4 million of which ended up in a New Mexico landfill.

If Atari had first brought out the good version of Pacman that they later did for their 400/800 home computer, Atari could have captured that home computer market. There was a brief period where Atari outsold both Apple IIe and IBM PCs. You do know there was an Atari version of Visicalc?

Your Terablogger was President of Atari user groups in Houston and New Orleans during the 1980-85 time period, so may be somewhat biased about Atari.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

ebay to the rescue: I have this tiny flat salt shaker that fits in my shirt pocket, and I use to carry my Sodium free salt with me. It's nice and tiny and portable (and easy to lose), and well made by Tupperware; but you can't buy the things, they're only party favors. A Tupperware kiosk in a mall had none, and regardless of price offered said they couldn't get them for me.
But I found them for sale on Ebay!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

How to keep an organization secure: Sure there are infinite ways to steal data. But hire good people, treat them fairly, encourage them, allow them to grow professionally and reward them for doing so; and don't give them reasons to become disgruntled. One easy way: All salaries are posted. Stops an HR department from doing its usual good job of creating job security for itself by allienating employees and increasing turn over. i.e. "After all, you're exempt" or "this is an Employment at will State" or my favorite: "Let's save money, this year we'll give bonuses instead of raises". Sometimes I think HR departments main job is to look for excuses to not provide promised benefits. If an organization is relatively flat with few levels of management, less time is wasted forever redoing organization charts.

Monday, June 20, 2005

It's the email stupid. Don't distract yourself worrying about iPods. Outbound email is your corporations' biggest security hole. Read here. And with free email available at Google, Yahoo and, etc., scanning your email server will miss most everything anyway, whether it be outgoing secure documents or incoming virii.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Pod Slurping : New term coined here, for the use of an iPod to surrepticiously suck data off a PC for nefarious purposes. The proposed methods of protection are not well thought out !

1. Ban iPods. All manner of USB devices with 1 Gig of memory are very small any more and are excellent for slurping. Right, ban them too?
Are you ready to quash productivity by banning PDAs which also can slurp data?

2. Turn off USB ports in BIOS. So your keyboard, mouse, scanner and printer won't work now? And your PDA can't synch the new meetings your secretary put on your calendar? And with CD-R and DVD-R devices in PCs, you have another convienent avenue for "slurping" gigabytes of data.

3. Enforce strong physical security. All too many (70% ?) security breaches are inside jobs,
which means numbers 3, 4 or 5 are no panacea.

4. Place data on a server rather than local workstation. Same problem as number 3 !

5. Encrypt data. See number 3 AGAIN !


And then if a Computer has Bluetooth capability, one could "slurp" via their cell phone, as many new phones have megabytes of RAM on board. If the data theft is an inside job one doesn't need gigabytes of data, just the 8 Megs of the latest bid proposal, budget, patent application, proposed Partner selections, proposed new organizational chart or incriminating email. How about a Personnel Spreadsheet that could be used to prove the males are paid 20% more than the females in your organization?

IMHO Biggest corporate security hole occurs when a hot new Job candidate comes in and is shown all the "new" stuff to impress him or her. They can go to work elsewhere, or remain at their current position, remembering what they were recently shown, or even given documentation on.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

SBC/Yahoo violates their own Privacy Policy On day one of creating my email 5 weeks ago, I immediately went to "Marketing Preferences" and opted out of Everything. I just double checked and those settings remain intact. Despite that I received SPAM from SBC today for a pager to my SBC email address. Further that letter has no additional opt-out link within it. I am requesting compensation for this violation and will keep on their case over this.

Cingular sent me two copies of the same SPAM 3 days ago pushing some marketing promotion, and with them my account has been opted out of EVERYTHING for a full year. Cingular failed to include an opt-out link in their UCE. I have already requested compensation for that privacy violation.

Must be the time of year, with newly hired MBAs pushing marketing schemes, and not familiar with Privacy Law.

But then SBC is lax with privacy issues, as posted here.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Waiting on SBC billing correction. Allegedly I will receive a phone call from their "Executive Appeals" manager, so far that department has only been good at saying "Oh, I'm so sorry";
but apparently has zero authority or ability to fix their 20 year old billing system that once it makes a mistake, it lives on for months. One need only read the horror stories at

FOLLOWUP 4 PM : Gave up waiting for the "Executive Appeals" Manager to call me and finally got one of the folks to pass me through. Two plus hours on the phone to demonstrate chapter and verse how many times I was lied to by CSRs bent on meeting handle time limits, finally got personal assurance that an "order" is in process to correct my billing and issue the promised credits. She claimed no knowledge of residential 6.0 mbps dsl. Being the cynic I am, I have my doubts. I was particularly nonplussed when this manager who assured me she'd do what it took to solve my problem and promised to give me her phone number, wimped out and didn't give me her phone number. Hello Lily Tomlin.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

SBC dsl Modem Info: Their dsl modem comes with zero documentation, and hardly any on the web on SBC/Yahoo sites. I quickly discovered it was so crippled as to be a nuisance and I went back to my Earthlink dsl modem. More recently I have found the sort of documentation and information for their modem that SBC should have provided. Typical of SBC's seemingly working to generate extra support calls. The good information is here. Nothing found there changes anything I figured out or decided to do by June 9.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

SBC IS VERY PREDICTABLE: Note my June 7 post where I indicated a concern about billing. Despite my double checking with SBC on 6/8, and despite their records confirming what was told to me, I was instead charged:

1. For dsl service BEFORE my dsl was activated.
2. At a rate higher than was confirmed to me.

I called in today, and despite the web showing the incorrect billing, they claim to be unable to
issue the adjustment credits until the charges post to my bill, but claim credits will be issued. I insisted on an additional month's credit as partial compensation for the grief, and a supervisor agreed, we'll see how quickly they "discover" they can't do that.

Maybe I need to tell Ed Cholerton, chief executive officer of the SBC Media Solutions Group about how screwed up their dsl folks are.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Advice for those arrested:
Insecurity = Microsoft: Ten new security patches to be released today for Windows, likely
causing all manner of other problems, not the least of which is a computer restart will be required. Wasn't that a selling point of Windows XP, restarts wouldn't be required???

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Pleasant SBC surprize: I got a phone call from the SBC "Customer Intervention Team" sort of a third tier customer support, relative to the Convergys survey I filled out. I've learned, rather than rate them 1 out of 10, I rate them 3, and a phone call is more likely generated. I gave them an earful.

1. SBC dsl is working great, is FAST as advertised, and reliable, and now - cheap.
2. Customer support can be a nitemare due to "handle time" restraints of reps,
which indirectly encourages false answers, guessed at answers, and lies.
Customer support reps have zero education on the dsl install process.
3. Documentation on the web is OK, but links may be non existant, or indexed
totally illogically. Google saves the day here. SBC/Yahoo has no
link I ever found to the free web hosting at Geocities.
4. Small steps SBC should take to drastically cut down on the number of support calls.
5. SBC's dsl modem is hard coded to the IP numbers it uses for your LAN,
so rather than reconfigure my whole Lan, I'm using my old Earthlink dsl modem,
the unconfigurable SBC modem also generates unneccessary support calls and grief.
(see June 16 posting)

SBC was kind enough to give me the "800" number back to
the "Customer Intervention Team" for future use (if necessary).

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Faster Internet in the Home: I now nominally have 3.0 mbps speed connection to the internet at home thanks to SBC/Yahoo, Cable offers 5.0 mbps (but it comes with stereotypical Cable service). Now Bell South announces it will soon have 6.0 mbps download speeds for dsl available for its customers, and likely other telcos will follow suit. It doesn't show up yet on Bell South's web page.

Followup : SBC tells me they will soon offer "residential" 6.0 mbps dsl, currently available for business at $119.99/month. No word yet on date or pricing. SBC had promised PacBell residential users they'd have 6.0 in a few years back in 1999!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

DSL Installation: June 7 is the "confirmed" date of my SBC dsl installation. So as of 8 AM, I'll be checking hourly: Concerns:
1. When will I be able to log onto dsl? before 11 AM
2. Will I be recapped at the 3 mbps I ordered, rather than the 1.5 mbps I have now? yes
3. Will all this get done TODAY? yes
4. Will SBC quash Earthlink's order to deprovision my phone line? apparently yes
5. Will SBC get the billing correct? Absolutely not.

Yesterday I got emailed a questionaire by Convergys regarding a support phone call of June 2. I hope Convergys doesn't manage CRM for SBC. If they do it would explain all its deficienies. Mandatory short handle times, tell the customer ==anything== to get them off the phone, don't identify yourself, and try to never escalate a call.
Tuesday June 7 proves I had been lied to at least twice by SBC personnel. As of 5 AM, I lost my dsl signal on my phone line. The green dsl light on the dsl modem went to blinking red, meaning the line had been deprovisioned. Well, SBC told me work started at 8 AM, and my dsl service was being switched over, not provisioned. Now both of those statements are proven lies, and they have generated an 8 AM support call.

Apparently no one at Customer Service or Tech Support, level one or Tier Two knows anything about the install procedure, let alone the procedure for changing ISPs on a dsl line. In the midst of one call trying to check on the deprovisioned line, it became provisioned again (at about 9:30 AM), and at 3.008 mbps download instead of 1.548, and 512 kbps upload instead of 384. Those speeds are as advertised. Soon, I hope, they will configure their router so I can log in.

FOLLOWUP 3: 10:45 AM
It works! 2.341 mbps download, 417 Kbps upload speed it tested at Now to insert my Wireless Router.

FOLLOWUP 4: 11:30 AM Alls well that ends well. Now to see if the billing goes correctly.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Apple to use Pentium chips: Apple finally announces what had been rumored for weeks. It will give up trying to cajole IBM to keep up with Intel (in processor speed, and laptop processors), and start making all its Macintoshs with Intel inside. Apple's press release is here. Apple already has demo versions of it's OS X running on Intel chips, and has "kits" available for paid members of it's software devlopers to transition their software over. Apple confessed that it has had OS X running on Intel chips for 5 years (likely in case they wanted to have OS X for PCs). Then Apple in fine print lists all the cases where transitioning software will be far more than trivial.
  • Applications built for Mac OS 8 or 9
  • Code written specifically for AltiVec
  • Code that inserts preferences in the System Preferences pane
  • Applications that require a G4 or G5 processor
  • Applications that depend on one or more kernel extensions
  • Kernel extensions
  • Bundled Java applications
That essentially means Apple will completely stop supporting OS 9 (effectively they have already) when the new Intel Macintoshs appear.

Will this cause Apple as much grief as switching to Macintosh, or OS 7, or a 32 bit OS, or the switch to PowerPC 10 years ago, and then the switch to OS X? Apple never did get many developers to write software that fully used multiple processors or the 64 bit nature of the G5.
Apple wasn't able to produce a 3 GHz G5 by June of 2004 as Steve Jobs promised when he introduced G5 Macintosh computers. A year late 2.7 GHz is the fastest Macintosh and it requires a liquid cooling subsystem.

Will Intel based Macs be able to use AMD processors? If only as a threat to keep Intel cooperative.

Will the new Intel Macs be able to dual boot or be able to simultaneously run OS X and Windows?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Not so high tech: The horn on my 2002 Xterra stopped working today. The fuse I figured out its on also controls the 4 way flashers, and they still work, so I located the horn (behind the grill), saw no loose wires, and I unscrewed it (with a 14mm hex wrench), ran over to Auto Shack and for $15.95 (great on a Sunday at 7 PM) bought a new horn; wired it on, screwed it into the bracket, and Voila. I have a working horn. A point of interest. Horns all seem to be made in Italy.
dsl waiting game. My phone line is still "provisioned", that is it has a dsl signal on it, but for now Earthlink no longer allows me to connect, and SBC/Yahoo hasn't yet configured the router for me to log on at a better capped speed. I have my fingers crossed.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

progress on dsl? Today, two days after the order, my dsl modem arrived, a Speedstream 5100.
I have to reconfigure my D-Link Wireless router because it was using the IP# hard coded into the Speedstream ( It helps to live under 200 miles from the shipping depot, so UPS ground arrives in 1 day.

Apparently I still have to wait till the appointed "Service Activation Date" of June 7, 2005, and it will be activated sometime between 8 AM and 6 PM, coincidently the time of 800 phone support; and hope you get Amarillo which for unknown reasons (perhaps a less strictly enforced "handle time"?) seems to be the best place to get SBC/Yahoo support from, based on my empirical results.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

More on dsl: Today SBC dropped its' prices on dsl. $14.95 for 1.5 mbps, and $24.99 for the
3.0 mbps download speed I had agreed to. So I called in, was told it was a 2 minute wait to speak to a representative of SBC, and 12 minutes later a representative answered the phone. But she had not been told about the price drop, and had to get a supervisors approval to give me the new lower price on my pending order. And then the rep. had to be chided to check on whether the dsl modem had shipped yet. SBC isn't set up to email one a tracking number. All in all makes one conclude Lily Tomlin is alive and well, although it's still better than dealing with Pradeep at an Indian call center. If an "Offshore" call center refuses to tell you where they are, just say "You're in Bangladesh !", to which they always will say with pride, "No, we're in India".