Cable Ties

Since I had to send my iMac off to get checked out, I took the opportunity to re-do my workspace.  I have previously used Belkin’s cable ties for cable management, mainly because they’re big and colorful.  I read good reviews of Velcro’s ties, and the price was right, so I bought some.

2014-04-20 20.32.35

This isn’t the best photo in the work, but the Belkin is at top and the Velcro at bottom.  Note that the Belkin has that big flag to help you identify cables and remove the ties.  Removing ties is not what I want to do.  I looped both ties around my left pinky for this image, and handling the Velcro unit was much easier, as you loop the tail end of the tie through a loop at the head, which you can then Velcro to the outside of the tail.  After that, you just start making loops.  They’re easier to handle, cheaper, and I feel like they hold things more securely.  Add in the cost factor and it’s a no-brainer.

Going Knology for HDTV

I figure that I owed folks an update [because some of my friends are looking] on what it’s going to take for me to go HD.

I called Alan Davis at Knology [phone number available upon request; leave a comment and I’ll send you his number], and the differential pricing from where I was with Expanded Basic is +$9.99/mo to go to digital, +$9.99/mo to go HD, and then +$12.99/ea/mo for the two CableCARDs. “It’s expensive,” he warned me. [Yeah, a cable salesman who’s worried about charging the customer too much money. I really do like this guy.] So, when I look at the fact that I’m not going to be paying TiVo $20/mo. for the service, I’m essentially paying for the CableCARDs. I could do without it, but then I’d not have the dual-tuner goodness.

The lead time on the order right now will be a couple weeks. I should have this thing hooked up before the Super Bowl, then. 🙂

[Anyone need an old 19″ analog TV? I’ll move it for next to nothing.]

Going HD

Even as recently as a few weeks ago, when talking with Stephen about what they were going to do to replace the equipment they lost when their house was struck by lightning in August, I was saying, “I just can’t see doing the HD thing. Not only is there a capital outlay involved, but there’s a definite marginal cost of content involved, too.”

Yeah, well, I caved. Work took care of the capital for me with an unexpected bonus, from which I’ve bought a TiVo HD [with their offer to current subscribers of a lifetime subscription] that’s due to hit my doorstep tomorrow and a 32″ Vizio HDTV [okay, I haven’t bought it yet, but I’ve decided on it and will get it at Sam’s Club], amongst other things. [Thanks, Marty!] With my TiVo subscription costs going away [two TiVos at a multi-service discount runs me about $20/mo with taxes], I can justify it to myself.

I still haven’t decided if my non-over-the-air source of HD content is going to be DirecTV or Knology, the local cable company into which I’m locked in my neighborhood. I am leaning towards DirecTV mainly for their sports programming [sure, it’s a monopoly, but it’s a monopoly I want to tap], but I haven’t decided for sure. I will use over-the-air HD from the local providers and standard-definition from Knology [which I get for free, thanks to my HOA] in the meantime. Complicating factors will involve pairing up the TiVo HD with whatever receiver I have to use from either provider.

What kicked me over the edge? Well, it was the infusion of capital combined with the knowledge that 17 Feb 2009 is looming. Unless the WGA strike breaks the networks in the meantime, there’s too much network content that I enjoy in HD that I know that I won’t enjoy down-converted into 4:3, standard definition shots.

The other minor upshot is that I can slave my old [presently ailing, although hopefully back up to par] Mac mini to the new TV and offload the old Sony LCD I’ve been using on it since I got the new mini a few weeks ago. Between that and Screen Sharing in Leopard, I’ll be find to not have a traditional monitor slaved to that mini.

Air Hogs Storm Launcher

The Air Hogs Storm Launcher looks pretty bad-ass. I had my RC car phase. I would have had a model rocket phase or an RC airplane phase, but for the fact that both are really, really expensive. I’ve thought about doing the RC airplane stuff as an adult—most recently when I saw a kid flying a plane as I was driving to work; I wanted to stop and beg him to let me fly for fifteen seconds in the worst way—but I think I’d rather spend money on computers…

Once, Bitten; Twice, Very Pissed Off

BellSouth just lost me as a customer.

I got DSL through BellSouth back in January; twice in that time, their billing department has screwed the pooch and disconnected me for no good reason. Seriously: none. This second time, despite multilple calls and assurances, I was never able to see my billing information online, and I was only getting electronic bills, so … no way to get any warnings from them at all.

Once was fine: I was willing to deal with it. I hadn’t gotten around to canceling the cable modem [because I was using it for BitTorrent ;)], and around that time, my roommate moved in, and it was just easier to segregate our Internet connections [him: cable; me: DSL] because of what we were doing with them. But now … ugh. I can’t even call in to figure out WTF is wrong, because their billing department shut down 10 minutes before I even got home. Yes, it’ll be open tomorrow, but the only call I’m making to them is to tell them to kiss my lily white ass.

Interestingly enough, Knology has concurrently rolled out a higher level of cable modem service in my area—better even than the DSL performance. Yeah, I think I’ll upgrade…

Laridian Gets My Respect

Let me just quote their awesome email:

Dear Geoffrey:

We hope you are still enjoying MyBible on your Palm OS device. But it’s been so long since we’ve heard from you we need to ask a question! Do you still want to receive our emails?

We try to keep you informed regularly with update/upgrade information and other special offers on MyBible and related software. Yet we don’t want to bother you with unwanted emails.

To continue receiving our emails, just reply to this email but change the subject line to SUBSCRIBE or send an email to subscribe@laridian.com. If we don’t receive an email from you, we’ll assume you don’t want to receive emails from us.

Thanks!

Craig Rairdin
Laridian

P.S. Remember, if we don’t hear from you, you won’t hear from us via email going forward.

See, that’s the way you ought to run a railroad: if someone signs up for a product mailing list after buying from you, stop every once in a while and make sure that they’re still interested. It’s re-opt-in: I had to act to continue to receive email from them!

I acted, purely because I was given the opportunity to do so. They make good products. Laridian? Good company.

My Cingular Hell: Round Two

Last time around was the joyous time spent with bare-bones, knowledgeless customer service from Cingular; today was time spent in the Cingular store on University Drive. I entered, signed in, sat down, and people-watched. The folks there were extremely uninteresting, so I was glad that I only had to wait fifteen minutes to be told by a nice, competent young guy that he’d have to check with his manager on my phone. As Jeff first suspected, I have a SIM-locked phone, and the Cingular store was, well, singularly unable to help me.

“Well, who unlocks SIMs around here?”

“I’ve heard that there are places that can do it, but I don’t know who to tell you to visit.” I checked his visage for a BS alert, pondering whether a Hamilton would somehow convince him to proffer information. He really didn’t seem to know, though, so I smiled, turned heel, and left the store, choosing to drown my sorrows in retail therapy at Bed, Bath, & Beyond.

I now get to do the dance around Huntsville and Madison to see who can unlock my SIM. This is going to be … fun.

Thanks to my boy Chris (from L.C.), I was able to find a resource about unlocking my SIM. I will probably drop by the Cingular store again tomorrow afternoon—I’ll be around, as I’ve got some work to do at the office tomorrow.

Cingular is on the Verge of Losing My Business

In accordance with this month’s resolution, I’m attempting to rework my cellular phone plan. I’ve had this number for over five-and-a-half years—I know that because Dad called me on my cell phone to tell me about Mom’s stroke, and I know how long that’s been. So, I decide to do a little hunting…

cingular.com: You need to get new phone. I say BS. Come on, guys … a Treo 600 GSM/GPRS phone works with any GSM/GPRS carrier. It uses a SIM card. Don’t insult my intelligence.

Call Cingular. Wait reasonable amount of time on hold. Have CSR tell me that I need a new phone. I call BS on him—I was firm but polite—and tell him that I know that Cingular supports these phones, because they’ve sold them in the past. [They don’t sell them now because Treo’s now on the 650 mainstream on the I-won’t-use-it 700w on the bleeding edge.] I know people with Treo 600’s on Cingular. I tell the guy, “Come on. Don’t give me that crap.” Guy tells me that I just need to go into a store.

Okay, that’s fine. But really: why is Cingular’s first and second instinct to lie to me and tell me that I need a new phone? A new phone is going to cost them money—even if I sign a contract. I’m willing—although not too willing—to sign another contract if I can get a really good plan. [I need a low number of peak minutes, Rollover, free nights and weekends, and a data plan—that’s it!] Don’t tell me that I need a new phone when I have one I really enjoy using—let me save you money!

Thankfully, the nearest store is really close to home. I’ll hit it after the late-afternoon meeting I have tomorrow. They better not give me the run-around, because … well, would you want my loud, angry ass in your mall store? Yeah, me neither.

Treo Side Case

Does anyone have any experience with the Treo Side Case? The sleeve that came with my Treo 600 has seen better days—I have owned the thing for a couple years now, and the cardboard inside the nylon is shot—and I’m thinking about a new case. This looks like it would work on a belt—I’m not a fan of that; I’m geeky enough as it is!—or down in a pocket.