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where i live, i actually have a few choices for high-speed internet services.  it's actually been great having that feeling of choice in a utility (yes, i consider high speed internet a utility -- municipalites should as well and start offering it), especially when you generally (or at least i don't) have one for electricity, water, etc. 

i'd been a customer of services for a while.  they were a small provider servicing more rural areas [at the time] of phoenix-metro(and somewhere in missouri, which i found odd).  their customer service is awesome, their services great.  i was one of their first high-speed internet customers.  it was sweet -- generally cable internet is shared with some of your neighbors or whomever is on the same pipe.  being a first customer, there wasn't a ton of sharing ;-) -- i was getting amazing speeds.  and had a static ip.  and no blocked ports.  and could host web services.  i also was a normal cable customer of theirs.  overall, their price, service and product was far superior in my eyes to cox (one of my alternatives and most comparable).

well, argh...capitalism strikes.  a few months back it hit the news that bought cableamerica.  shart!  i knew what this meant for me.  but alas, there still were no better options in my area (left one option of qwest dsl).  well, the transition finally hit about 2 weeks ago while i was gone.  they sent out a letter prior to that saying 'we'll be testing the network this weekend and if stuff doesn't work, just reboot' -- which as a geek i knew was lay-people speak for 'we're transitioning the network finally, and all your crap is about to break...we're really not sure the impact, but hope it works...if it doesn't, reboot.'

well i was gone for the transition but when i returned my internet was kinda funky (working, but funky).  i rebooted my router (a snapgear, awesome little device and i recommend to everyone) and noticed the ip address changed.  smirk on face i knew bump one had occurred...you see cox doesn't offer static ip addresses to residential customers.  you *can* get one if you are a business customer (which by the way uses the same shared network, so essentially you are paying 3x for a static ip and no change in service). [note: my billing hadn't changed...i'm still being billed for a static ip -- this will be remedied this evening, but i had to call.]

today i hit bump 2 and 3.  try to use my pop account (which i rarely do since i've converted to web mail interfaces) and couldn't send outgoing mail (i have my own mail server).  argh.  yep, cox doesn't support any outgoing mail server but their own.  why?  acorrding to them it will 'drastically reduce the number of spam and virus emails originating from our customers.' -- wtf?!  just because of a different server name.  hey cox: outbound mail is outbound mail! unless you are filtering at the relay level (which i confirmed they aren't).

bump 3: turn on tv.  look what recorded programs are on the dvr.  wtf is this ui?  it's not the dvr ui i'm used to.  hmm...and my hd stations aren't working (kinda).  call cox.  'yes, there have been issues, we'll send a download to your box' -- that fixed it (except now i'm not getting some hd channels -- but i have a feeling that the cableamerica packages don't transition well and it will be an opportunity for me to be upsold on some channels).

throughout the process three services i depend on were not made aware to me (although having friends with cox service i kinda knew they were coming).  that is poo poo customer service -- you'll send me a letter about 'testing' the network, but not about how other things may change in areas of my service.

needless to say i've began the process with qwest dsl now that they have better speeds to my area...we'll see where that leads me.

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i just got a note from jamesb who is an AZGroups.com frequenter.  he reports that he got vista running on a vpc.  while some may have already done this, others have struggled still.  james pointed to a resource that helped him get it running using microsoft virtual pc (now free).

he used: vista on virtual pc

he noted to me that it is running on 812MB RAM and took >8GB of the drive -- oh yeah, and took about 14 hours to install...yikes.

just a reminder that vista on vpc isn't a good experience at all and you aren't getting the full avalon...er, um...WPF experience.  it may be good for minor testing, but don't judge your opinion of features/perf on that environment.

on a side note, the virtual cd-rom control panel that microsoft had been distributing (the tool that loads a driver letting you mount ISO images as drives) does *not* work on vista in my experiences.  argh.  the good news is that there is another free tool from slysoft called that is free and works on vista...it works a little differently in that you have to determine how many virtual drives you want upfront (versus just adding/deleteing easily in vcdrom), but it is just a few extra clicks -- nothing you'd likely be doing a lot.

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it's sad to say, but yes, i am knowingly (i think) about to be scammed on ebay.  i started looking around for some new geek stuff.  naturally i look to ebay for some ideas on pricing, etc.  i see this auction about to close in 20 hours with no bids and no reserve and an unbelievable deal (complete with pictures and everything).

being the skeptic, i look at the sellers rating (or more appropriately their 'feedback rating').  generally, as a rule of thumb, this can be a good measure of how active/new/etc the ebayer is.  this seller has a rating of 388 -- telling me they've been involved in *at least* 388 transactions on ebay (usually more, but ebay doesn't count them all).  so i bid.

i go to dinner and keep thinking about it.  i go back to the listing to see if i'm still the high bidder (which i know i am because i would have gotten an email).  still no bids...seriously...fish is starting to stink.  so then i decide to look deeper into the seller.  i actually *look* at the feedback list and the items involved in the transactions (new rule of thumb...do that).  the items are all langerberger bows/baskets.  hmmm...and i'm buying a laptop from this person...doesn't add up.

so i email the seller (through the ebay system -- never trust the links in the description) about my concern and click send.  we'll see.

WOW! -- no kidding as i am about to post this, i get this in my inbox:

The following is a notice from eBay Trust & Safety regarding:
Item Number - 110016850213
Item Title - 2.16ghz Dual Core IBM Lenovo Thinkpad T60 T34 Duo NIB
Our records show that you placed a bid on this item. We removed this item from the Site and cancelled your bid because it appears that the seller's account has been compromised and used by an unauthorized third party.

nice -- good to see ebay is on the ball -- whew...my bid (or more importantly, my money) is safe.  damn...that was a good price on a laptop :-)

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bravo i say!

in a recent decision, cingular has decided to tack on another $5/month to subscribers using older technology handsets on their network. some may think this is rash, and i'm sure people like my dad (who only turns on his cell phone to make calls, yet still gives out his number) will be upset. to cingular, it appears that's going to be okay. in business to succeed and provide best value to the mass of customers tough decisions have to be made. believe me, i learned this the hard way with my home builder. the cingular people have a right to be upset and should complain...but hopefully cingular will do the right thing -- offer them steeply reduced handset costs (dare i say even free cheap ones?) to replace the old ones. in the world of advancing technology, i think this is a good move technology-wise -- advancing their platform and broadening their scope of services to the masses...we'll see what kind of fallout will happen

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well i just wrapped up 12 consecutive days of conference attendance.  whew, i'm spent.  and i'm taking it out on my family...shame on me...yeah, the ones i haven't seen in 12 days.  sometimes that tension just gets wound up.  and no i don't mean taking it out on them physically, so hold off on calling the authorities...just, you know, stressed out and feeling behind...and they get the brunt of your bad attitude.  i'm working on it.

enough of the babble...that's not what you're here for -- you're still here right?

well, i have to say, i've witnessed several different types of conferences this past road trip and i've landed on what i think is the best kind.

first i attended some internal meetings...yeah, they were typical microsoft meetings with shiny slide decks and well-prepared messages...the ones you generally don't get a lot of depth out of because they are tailored to the least common denominator.  they're good, but not as depth as most like.

next was , my first experience at oscon and my first larger non-microsoft conference.  i posted my thoughts on the conference in general and how it differs from what i am used to, but i can say that the audience at oscon truly is different.  from robin hood unleashing the jair-hads on us, to the most infants i've seen at a technical conference (yes, i sat across from a guy who took a break to feed his kid in the stroller -- now *that* is dedication!), i saw it all.  without offending anyone (hopefully), the level of professionalism in the bigger arena is, well, different.  i can't say it is bad or better, just different.  there wasn't many CEO's walking around or other decision makers it looked like.  oscon is the geekiest of the geeks...man capri's and all.  it was fun though -- and much more energetic than other conferences.  my only wish is that microsoft had a booth there with some couches...i think some great conversations could have been had throughout the conference.  cost for conference plus tutorials: roughly $2500 (i can't remember).  my other wish is that i could have attended the executive briefing...it seemed odd that was sheltered given that some people that attended weren't executives either.  best speaker: anil dash.

within oscon was , a free conference within a conference.  attaching on to the 'open spaces' movement, a group of people (although it seemed like brandon was running the show) organized a room throughout oscon to hold impromptu sessions.  if you read earlier posts you may recall we hosted one as well.  we did not see many people from oscon (that is registered, paid attendees) attending oscamp sessions.  this could have to do with the lack of signage around it and i think maybe a better job (myself included) could have been done promoting that environment.  the passion at these conversations though were real.  remember jair?  i wish we would have hosted more and i wish google and others would have joined in as well (and apparently so did others). cost to attend: $0; number of people: varied; number of sessions: 30 (i think)

prior to oscon/oscamp was the portland code camp.  it was disappointing that it was cut to only one day as i signed up to present some sessions and because of travel would have only been able to do them the second day.  argh.  well, from what i monitored and talked to others afterwards, it was great...over 45 sessions to choose from, with no marketing, just code from real people, with real uses.  awesome. cost to attend: $0; number of people: 300; number of sessions: 45+

my last was the no fluff just stuff series.  i just wrote some reviews about them here, here and here.  I won't emit them again here.  this is a java-centric local conference.  there was no hiding that -- and that is there marketing as well.  it just seems so one-sided even for the non-microsoft community (er..um...open mouth insert foot -- that's what teched/pdc are tim).  but coming from a community who feeds off of claims of openness it seemed there could have been more meat.  i mean is java still that prevalent given the myriad of other open source options gaining signficant speed?  this was mediocre to me.  what amazed me is the number of people shelling out the dough.  not a single person at no fluff was recognized as being at the code camp not 2 months earlier.  cost to attend: $700; number of people: 100; number of sessions: 55

so i have to say, when you look at it from a developer perspective, code camps are the way to go.  free.  lots of people.  lots of choices.  did i mention free?  seriously, you may not get the sugar snacks in between sessions, the continentail breakfast, or the buffet lunch...but you do get real conversations, real passion, and choices to see a ton of information in a single place.  so i say to you: support the code camps!  attend them, promote them, and PRESENT at one!  think about it, do the math, look at the sessions...the code camps are significant and will only grow when people get involved.

my lowly 2 cents after 2 weeks of travel.