Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Qwest Internet

We have had Qwest Internet Service for almost a year. Our internet service has been dropping on us almost everyday for varying periods of time. It usually happens for short periods of time, but it generally resets any streaming video we may be watching. Last night it dropped us and I was sick and tired of it. I am also sick of that I am getting no more than 2.5M down when I am paying for 3M and 450k up when I am paying for 800k.

I called and the guy gave me excuses about the way I have things wired in my house. I went and rumpled around and got it set up on a nice short phone cord and it still would not connect. By the way the setup I have had worked all day before that. After going and setting things back up the way they were, eventually it found a DSL connection again. It had been down for 45 minutes or more.

I went off on the guy, which I always feel bad about because he just answers the phone an does not control Qwests garbage network. I asked him what I needed to do to get a stable connection. I then asked for his supervisor. I asked the same thing of him and asked why I am not gettting the level of service that I am paying for. He ran some tests and tol me I was getting 2.5M down ad 500k up. He said getting 80% of my service plan is great. He also told me that my plan is a 640k up plan.

I should not expect to get any more than 80% of the service level that I am paying for?

The other thing that has been irritating me these many months is that I pay the same for 3mbps down service that people in other areas pay for 7mbps service.

We need more competition. We need more incentives for better communication lines.

My only other choice around here is Comcast and I can't stand the policies they are putting in place to make it harder for people to use the internet for competing services to their own. Services like VOIP and streaming video. I feel like switching to them I almost have to sell my soul. Unfortunately, with Qwest I feel like I am in much the same boat most times.

The solution for the dropping of connectivity the Qwest supervisior gave me was that he was going to request to move me to another port. It is possible that could help, but isn't there anything in place to see when a port dies, especially frequently?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Curad Basic Care Plastic

These bandages occasionally end up in our home due to being the most inexpensive bandages on the shelf. Unfortunately the few cents we save are becoming more and more a willing expenditure rather than have to deal with the shortcomings of these bandages.

They stick better to the packaging than to staying in place on a wound. Most times I use them for cuts on hands and they are impossible to open with one hand. Even with two hands it is very difficult to pry the tabs from the adhesive.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I've had a MagicJack for a few weeks. The idea of the product is that it plugs into your USB port turning it into a phone jack. When I first installed it it was pretty much that. I slight install time and even though it said could be hours before I had a phone number, I had one right away.

You can pick a number from various places in the United States, even if you don't live there. This could save on long distance charges if you have a large group of family that needed to call you from there. Although I think you could do the same thing with Google Grand Central. Plus with Google Grand Central you could have your local phone number, which is what Grand Central is forwarding the call to.

I found the quality to be livable, but much like what I have experienced with my cell phone. There is often a half second delay in talking and being heard. Occasionally there are also lost packets, so you once in a while miss a word.

Application that Runs on Your Computer
In order for Magic Jack to work it runs a program on your computer. The application has some useful features like address book and a list of placed and received calls. The problem I have with it is that it pops to the front every time a call is received or someone on our end starts dialing. The popping up wouldn't be so bad if it didn't take keyboard focus when it pops up. I can be typing and all of a sudden I realize the last five words ended up in the Magic Jack window.

What would be more convenient would be for the Magic Jack to be able to plug directly into my router. Then it would not be impacted by other things running on my system, I wouldn't have to keep a computer on 24/7, and it would be a direct line to the router without having a middle man (my computer) to get in the way.

You could still have desktop features. A desktop application running on a host machine or even a web application could allow users to maintain their address book or whatever else is stored on the device.

No Caller Id
They advertise Caller Id, but I have yet to see it work on anything other than numbers I have set up in my address book where I have manually typed a name.

Service Down
After a couple of weeks of using it and convincing one of my cube mates to get it and making others strongly consider it we hit a snag. I check every morning that the service is running for my wife before I leave for work and that I haven't left a download going that would get int he way of the service. This morning I found that it was sitting in error 400. I rebooted thinking that something choked in Windows, but the problem persisted. This was very concerning since we had just taking our son to cub scout camp and gave the MagicJack phone number as the emergency contact number.

When I got to work remoted into my home machine and tried MagicJack's fix it tool. It reported that everything on my machine should be fine that I could connect to their server, but MagicJack was still not working. I searched and searched before that for a way to contact someone. At the end of the fix it I finally found that I could chat with someone via text online, but could not find a voice number.

I chatted with someone who had me check that the thing was plugged in. Annoying, but you have to ask. They then had me change my Primary DNS server address to one they gave me. I didn't care for that. I should not have to change my DNS server to work with their service. When I changed it I was dumped out of the chat. I tried pinging the address they gave me and it did not work. I set everything back up the way it had been previously and got onto chat again. I got a different person this time. They moved me to tier two support, but siad tier 2 would email me. I waited and got no response. My friend, who also has a MagicJack, called his number and got a number has been disconnected message. I called my number and got the same. That really concerned me, since I was at least counting on having a person be able to call and send me a voicemail that I could see in my email. Plus I could've sworn that one of the features of MagicJack was being able to receive voice mail even if you computer was off.

I got back on the chat with severe frustration. The person had me disable antivirus and firewall software, which leaves me open to attack and which had worked fine yesterday the way it was set up. They then tried to get me to open ports in my router. I begged them to tell me why this was necessary, since it worked with the same settings yesterday. I asked if they had updated the software to need a different port. I could not get them to answer my question. Below I have included the exchange we had. Note that it took an hour to have this interchange.

Chat Information You are now chatting with 'Maggie'

Maggie: Hello, how may I help you?

Brook: I chatted with a couple of people earlier about my service being down. I have now found that when people call my phone they get the message that my number has been disconnected.

Brook: My son is at camp today and we gave this number as our emergency contact number

Brook: What is going on?

Maggie: Please wait while I check that for you

Maggie: May I know if you are able to make calls?

Brook: No we cannot make calls

Brook: I have a friend in townt hat just got a MagicJack and his number is getting the same message.

Brook: It tells his callers that his number is also disconnected

Maggie: May I have the magicjack phone # please?

Brook: ###-###-####

Maggie: Please wait while I check that for you

Maggie: Please click the link to download and run the magicJack upgrade (applicable for both XP & Vista):


Brook: Shouldn't people get my voice mail instead of a disconnected message, even if my software isn't up to date or even running for that matter?

Brook: Still getting the error 400 after the upgrade.

Maggie: One moment please...

Brook: Still getting the disconnected message when I call the number

Maggie: Please disable the firewall and antivirus for now.

Brook: Already did all that

Maggie: Please check if your system clock is correct. Please disable any antivirus that may be running on your system and try again. If you are behind a network/external firewall or router, please open the following ports: magicJack uses ports UDP 5060 to 5070, TCP 80 and TCP 443. Go to control panel then click on Network connections. In there right click on your wireless connection and select properties, scroll down to Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) click it the click on properties. In there check the little circle that says use the following DNS Server address. In preffered DNS Address write in: then click ok, and ok. Now restart your magicJack.

Brook: People should still be able to call my number even if my software is not connecting or running.

Brook: My friend is having the same problem

Brook: We both worked fine yesterday

Brook: Is there a problem with your network in this area?

Brook: I changed the DNS server earlier today to that DNS server

Brook: It then killed my internet connection

Maggie: If you are behind a network/external firewall or router, please open the following ports: magicJack uses ports UDP 5060 to 5070, TCP 80 and TCP 443.

Brook: Why are people getting a number disconnected message when they call my phone. I was told that people can call my number even if my computer is off.

Brook: Is this not correct?

Maggie: Yes, people can call you if your PC is off, if you have activated call forwarding service

Brook: Was there an upgrade that would've changed something with MagicJack that makes it necessary to change my router configuration?

Brook: I am not at home right now to be able to do that

Maggie: Please contact us when you will be available at the PC

Brook: Was there an upgrade that would've changed something with MagicJack that makes it necessary to change my router configuration?

Brook: It worked yesterday

Brook: My friend's MagicJack worked yesterday

Brook: today we both are down and are at different locations

Maggie: We cannot say anything at that time, please contact us again when you will be there

Brook: Why can you not answer my question?

Brook: Who do I contact for a refund?

Maggie: May I know if the ports are open UDP 5060 to 5070, TCP 80 and TCP 443.?

Brook: Why can you not answer my question?

Brook: Was there an upgrade that would've changed something with MagicJack that makes it necessary to change my router configuration?

Maggie: No, there are no such upgrades to change the router settings. You need to change it manually

Brook: That is not what I asked

Brook: I asked if MagicJack had an upgrade that changed the ports that it needs to use.

Brook: Which now makes it necessary for me to change my firewall

Maggie: No, we don't have any upgrades to change the ports

Brook: Then since my router is configured the same as it was yesterday, as is my friends we should not have to change anything today to make it work.

Brook: Are you having a problem with your system?

Brook: May I talk to someone in tier two support?

Maggie: Thank you for your patience. I will transfer you to a higher level of support. Please hold while I transfer you.

Chat InformationPlease wait while I transfer the chat to the best suited site operator.

Chat InformationYou are now chatting with 'Jeanille'

Jeanille: Hi Brook!

Brook: hello

Brook: When people call my phone they are getting a message stating that my number has been disconnected

Jeanille: We are doing some upgrades, our engineers are working to get them completed as fast as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.

Brook: My friend's phone is also receiving that message

Jeanille: Please do try to make a call within a couple of hour.

Brook: Could you notify your tier 1 support of that so they don't waste people's times reconfiguring and breaking their routers and systems?

Brook: My experience of the last hour or so with them has been very frustrating

Jeanille: I apologize for the inconvenience Brook. Yes we will notify them. I am really very sorry.

Brook: A novice user would not be able to do what they were asking me to do.

Brook: My son is away from us and we gave our MagicJack number as an emergency contact number.

Brook: If there is a problem they have no way to contact us.

Jeanille: I understand you Brook. We are working on it and it will be fixed as soon as possible. Please do try to place a call within a couple of hour.

Brook: Was there an email sent out to notify us that the network would be down for hours?

Jeanille: No Brook since this will be fixed within a couple of hour.

Brook: This is my primary phone number. Being down for a couple of hours is a huge problem.

Jeanille: I know Brook, but engineers are working on it now as fast as they can.

Brook: Thank you for your help. Do you have a contact number for someone that can refund our money. My wife and I will be discussing what happened with your service and may decide we can not risk having your service.

Jeanille: We are able to refund you Brook. What you need to do is to send back the unit to us.

Brook: Send it back at my expense?

Jeanille: Yes Brook and you need to fill out an RMA form to get an RMA number.

Jeanille: Please click the link below


Jeanille: Is there anything else I may help you with today?

Brook: Will they also refund the cost of shipping to return it to you?

Jeanille: No Brook.

Jeanille: We will only refund you the total amount that was deducted in your account.

Brook: Thank you for your help.

Device Down
After this incident I have found several times that the Magic Jack has stopped giving a dial tone or various things. So far the solution they have given me is to plug it into a different USB jack. It has worked so far, so every so often I have to pull the device out of one USB jack and plug it into another.

No Phone Support
It appears that there is no way to get a person on the phone when you have problems.

Web Site
There web site appears to be little more than an big advertisement. There doesn't appear to be anything about new features that are coming and there is very limited tech support information.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Def Leppard

I was not interested in getting into heavy metal or hard rock music early in my teenaged years. When I was at a get together of friends somebody was telling me that I had to listen to Def Leppard and that they were great. I think they even threw in something about the drummer having one arm and getting his life back together or something. I don't remember much about the get together, who was there, or what was going on, but I think they were playing pool or something. I do remember the 80s style stereo they sat me in front of. You know the type. Colorful plastic front with light behind the plastic for the various functions and a couple that would light up to match the beat of the song. The tall speakers made of a particle board and some sort cheap, spoungie covering. I'm guessing the covering was to hide the fact that it was not really a huge speaker, but a huge box with a 6-9 inch midrange car speaker at the bottom of the box. If they had placed it at the top it probably would've been less likely to have little kids poke a hole in it, but that would cause center of gravity problems now wouldn't it.

They sat me in front of the stereo and popped in the Hysteria cassette. I was impressed. I think I sat there for hours. Initially I didn't notice anything too offensive and the beat was great. I was hooked. That eventually opened the door to me getting hooked on more of that style of music, much of it much more offensive. I think I have the heart of a drummer, so a beat really speaks to me.

I got books on Def Leppard and it sounded like they had really tried to clean up their lives. It sounded like they were making a break from drinking and drugs and their music didn't seem to have a lot of that stuff in it. As I looked closer at their music and as they made more music I found that although lacking drug references they did have plenty of references to sex. They also had some things that were belittling religion. For example the song Rock of Ages. They took the title of a religious song dedicated to praising the Savior and made a song that praised Rock n Roll.

An additional blatant, yet hidden slap on religion I was presented with years later. Somebody told me that at the end of the Love Bites the phrase "Jesus of Nazareth go to Hell". Initially I was skeptical that that was really there, since I knew tons about Def Leppard and had listened to Love Bites a million times, even though I found it to be possibly the worst song on the Hysteria album.

The guy who was telling me put in the tape and fast forwarded to the end of the song. Turned it up and as the song is fading a voice is speaking. The same voice that says "Watch out love bites." Right after the voice says that it fades a lot more, but you can still hear the voice, but it fades too much to be audible. As we turned it up we could hear the voice faintly saying exactly what he said. I have seen some posts online that say that in interviews with Joe Elliot and Mutt Lang, their producer, they say it says, "If you've got love in your sites, watch out Love Bites" and then the phrase in question, " sure does, bloody hell." I have tried tuning my ear in to make it that phrase and it just doesn't fit. I have included a sample of the part of the song with the phase that I used Audacity to amplify here.

Later in life still having not grown up I got free tickets to a Def Leppard concert. I had never gone to a concert before and was wanting to have the experience. After making a fool of myself with friends trying to get them to go with me I ended up going to the concert alone. The concert ended up being really hard to hear because inside of an indoor arena the sound just bounces around and it is worse when it is very loud. Whenever Joe Elliot or Def Leppard's opening act would speak they would be dropping F bombs.

The point is it should one should be able to see that if you are a Christian this band does not hold you values and neither does their music with out all the extra evidence I have detailed here.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A-1 Flavors

I love A-1 for seasoning meats, but it is way over priced. My wife found some on a clearance cart and instant messaged me at work to tell me that she found a deal on A-1 for half price. She is awesome.

It turned out that it was A-1 in various flavors. First let me ask, "Why flavors?" A-1 is perfect, other than its overpricedness, so why mess around with it. We purchased two of the flavors, Smoked Mesquite and Cracker Peppercorn.

The Smoked Mesquite tasted nothing like A-1. It was like a Mesquite BBQ sauce. No thanks. If I liked Mesquite BBQ sauce, which I do not, I could find it for a lot cheaper than A-1 sauce.

The Cracked Peppercorn tasted like A-1 with chunks of crushed peppercorn in it. Some might like it, but it was not great. It was at least tolerable as opposed to the Mesquite. At first it was runny like water. I shook it up a little and it was better.

I have tried the store brands that are positioned near A-1 on the shelves, but they were not even close to the A-1 formula. At least they were a store brand. These A-1 brand flavors were inexcusable.

Somebody please tell the makers of A-1 to lower the price, so more of us can buy it, and stop messing with perfection.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

RCA RP5130 512MB USB MP3 Digital Voice Recorder

RCA RP5130 512MB USB MP3 Digital Voice Recorder

-Good battery life.
-Is about the size of a cell phone. It fits in my cell phone holster.
-Easy to get files on and off of it.
-Multi speed playback.

-When you turn it off it loses that your settings like the speed you were playing at. So I ride to work and use it to listen to notes or podcasts at fast speed. I turned it off and don't use it again till the next day that I do the same thing and I have to re-set it to fast speed again.
-When you turn it off and come back it looks like you are on the track you left off on, but when you press play it returns to the first one in the folder.
-Bookmark button fell off in the first month I had the device.
-Can't seem to bookmark podcasts that I load on it.
-Interface is not intuitive.
-Occasionally it will flip into different modes. Maybe a button gets pushed while it is in my holster, not sure. For example, sometimes it will slip into just play one track mode. So I take off in the morning on my bike get everything set to play and take off only to find that the device stop playing after the first track and I have to stop my bike and fiddle with the device to get it going. Other times I will try to delete a track and notice that it has slipped into delete all mode. One time I did not notice until it was deleting everything on the device. Might have just been everything in that folder, but that was where the majority of my files were and there were 40 of them. Fortunately they weren't my recordings that I hadn't backed up yet.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I had heard of Chuck-A-Rama perhaps in LDS movies (like I had also heard of Hogi Yogi), but it always just sounded like a funny name and not a serious place to eat. That being said, I guess the name Stucky's also gives me a weird feel, even though I have eaten there.

Chuck-A-Rama appears to have started in Salt Lake City and only has a handful of locations in Utah and two in Idaho.

Anyway, I ate at Chuck-A-Rama for the first time. It was much classier than the idea that the name brought to my head. I guess I might have been thinking like a place with a clown or something like that. Nonetheless, the name is catchy and the place is not corny. It was a lot like a Ryan's or an Old Country Buffet with a western feel.

Food and Drink
There was a large selection of desserts, lots of sides, and a plentiful salad bar. On the other hand it was greatly lacking in fruits and main dishes.

It had a large selection of items. There was three or four tables of regular food (mostly side dishes and chicken prepared in different ways), a table of salad, and a table and a half of desserts including an ice cream machine.

A side effect of the selection or the lack of main dishes, when I was full I did not have a feeling of "that one thing" was great and I really want to have some more of that again. That sort of feeling usually makes me hungry to go back to a place later and makes the end of the meal perhaps more satisfying.

They had a few more drinks besides soda. They had a slushy machine, but it only had two flavors. The flavors were weird and a little strong. I think one was sour apple. In addition to the flavor, the machine seemed to be malfunctioning. The red was not slushy and the green was actually warm.

$9 for adults at lunch. I think it was $11 at dinner. Kids for lunch were $0.60 per year old up to 11 years old. I can't remember if the price was different at dinner.

I would go there for lunch during work hours every couple of weeks if the lunch price was $6 or less. At $5 I'd go almost every week. $9 for lunch is expensive and $11 for a buffet really seems high. I know this seems to be the going rates, but those prices keep me away. Fortunately this time I went someone else was kind enough to treat me to it.

Their website is very flat(, but did have the information I was looking for which was where their locations are. It took me a bit to find it since I first typed in They should probably have both domains.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Google Chrome

At first Gmail chat did not work in Chrome.  The next day it started working.  I did not install an update to Chrome, so i assume Google tweaked Gmail chat to work with it.

I find that frequently there are links I click on that just sit there and spin.  One that comes to mind most recently is in Facebook when you click to see more applications.  It then dynamically expands the list.  In Google Chrome it does nothing.  I had to switch over to Firefox to do what I wanted to do.  Could be the way Chrome implements Javascript.

Things I like...
When one tab has a link in it that spawns another tab the tab opens right next to the tab that spawned it and not at the end of the list.  Very help ful when you have several tabs open and when you are done with the spawned tab you want to go back to the parent tab.

Tabs run in their own process.  This possibly makes it more stable, since one rogue tab most likely will not take the others down.  It also allows you to kill a tab that is misbehaving without having to take them all down.

Tabs can be dragged out of the main app and made their own window.  They can also be dragged from their own window into the main app with the other collection of tabs.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Weber County Campgrounds

We recently moved to Utah and finally got around to trying out some Utah camping. We drove up Utah highway 39, since one of the campgrounds up there had been recommended. There were tons of sites along that road, but as we went they were all full.

We ended up finding a site at Weber County Campgrounds North Fork/Weber Memorial. It is at 1181 N. Fairgrounds Drive. The address on the slip says Ogden, but we went out of Ogden and past Huntsville. The office number is 801 399-8491 if this post does not deter you.

All of the campgrounds along that road seemed to have access to the river, so that could potentially be good.

There were a couple of sites that looked like they had potential at this campground, but all that was left were some really bad sites. Sites that had no shelter from the road.

  • Fairly decently spaced out sites.
  • Nice, but limited scenery. There was a steep mountainous hill across the road from our campsite. There were caves you could see and lots of evergreen trees.
  • There appeared to be a camp site you could get that could hold many campers, tents, or whatever if you had a big family gathering. It had a big open area. Not sure how they break it up or the cost. Our single site was $15.
  • Not much for the kids to do or explore. There was a cave up high that was nice to look at, but was a very steep to climb. We attempted it and I feared for the safety of my children and myself and brought us down.
  • Camp site we stayed in was right next to the road and a blind curve.
  • There appeared to be very little maintenance of the grasses and shrubbery. The campsite was next to the river, but you had to go down a steep path that was grown over with shrubbery, including thorns. Although the scenery up above the campsites was great, at ground level everything was covered with weeds.
  • Once we got to the river we found that there was just a tiny area for one person to stand. No place to sit by the river. As I looked across the river I could see an opening to a well landscaped campsite with a nice open access to the river. That side hand rocks that made a shallow area to gradually get in the river. Our side had a 3-4 foot drop off. It looked almost like someone had taken the rocks from our side and landscaped them onto the other side. I found out from the camp host that it was not available to us and it would used by their friends and family. She said that her husband was a lawn fanatic, so he had done it up nice.
  • Dusty and lots of bugs. Especially if you tried to explore. Pretty much the first mosquitoes I have seen in Utah were at this place.
  • The road going through the campsites was very narrow.
The kids seemed to end up having an ok time. I asked my son what he liked and here is what he listed. Setting up the tent, trying to climb to the cave, and eating outside. Trying to climb to the cave was the only thing on the list that we couldn't have done at home.

Any recommendation anyone has for camping around Ogden would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Anybody Else Getting Junk From Wal-Mart?

I seemed to be having more and more things I have to return to Wal-Mart because they are junk. Recently: Inflatable swimming pool that leaks air the second time we use it. Sprinkler that ended up being assembled upside down, so it sprayed at the ground (I blame myself a little bit for not looking at it more closely in the store, but it should not have made it to the shelf), and a Y splitter for outside faucet with independent shut offs on each side of the Y had one of the shut off knobs come off after a couple of weeks of use and water sprayed all over the place.

I do a large percentage of my shopping at Wal-Mart, so is this just a trend of merchandise in general or is Wal-Mart just selling junk?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Passage to Zarahemla (2008)

The movie was fairly well done and very enjoyable, but short and not entirely developed. At the end they had closed things up enough to close the film. A few other things would have been nice to get closure on and could have made the film better, but then they reopened a key part of the movie and created a little bit of a continuity problem.

Short answer, it was worth watching.

Juno (2008)

As I had feared this movie was a bit trashy. Even though there were many witty and funny parts in it, the girl was profane. Right from the opening scene you see a pair of panties hit the floor. Even though the vital parts are obscured or off camera what was going on was very explicit as was much of the talk in the movie.