Gee, it’s nice to have internet.

Finally, here in the mountains we have real internet.

When I first moved here, we could only have dialup. That was actually OK because most business was being done on phones that were hardwired, and most documents were Faxed. 

Verizon

Then DSL came to town but the phone company wasn’t investing in maintenance or expansion. DSL worked pretty well for a number of years and really only presented problems when software manufacturers switched to download delivery. 

It could take 12 hours to download operating system updates. 

As the DSL connection degraded, the download times got longer. Eventually the DSL speeds we were seeing from Verizon were on par with the old dialup speeds. Sadly it wasn’t uncommon for my 4G connection via my cellphone to be faster.

Finally the DSL became unusable and Verizon’s “Tech People” told us the problem was our router, refusing to acknowledge the problem was in the phone lines.

Hughes net gen4 satellite internet

In desperation we switched to HughesNet Satellite. We didn’t change our router, and it worked fine at first.

Overall it is a very expensive solution and it’s fraught with issues. Forget using WiFi calling, we never were able to use Skype, or FaceTime, over the Satellite Link. We could however use those services occasionally on the 4G cell phones as long as we didn’t move very much.  

Satellite degraded over time too. Eventually we couldn’t stream music, or video, and we had to deal with datacaps on how much we could download in a month.

In the course of time I switched to a new router. While that expanded my WiFi range and sped up my internal network connections, it did nothing to correct the issue with satellite. 

To be fair, In general the service worked… just not as advertised, those snazzy commercials with grandparents watching their grandchildren’s recital? Oh Hell no!

5

Grandma & Grandpa would be eating cheap dry cat food to pay that bill as they ran through their datacap, and clicked on “Add Data”.

In the end HughesNet became unusable for anything other than email and some web browsing, if you were willing to wait for the pages to load.

I didn’t bother trying to download software updates, preferring to wait until I got to a place with cable modem connectivity.

The same became true of the other half, all software updates were done away from home in the workplace.

160111075230 attt direct tv 540x304

Add the cost of Satellite TV which was ever increasing, and well at some point the price vs. benefit of the service(s) becomes untenable.

We’d been hearing rumors about a Fiber Service coming to town. They have in fact come to most of the town but after a year of waiting for them to get to our area they still haven’t gotten here.

Then we heard that Spectrum Cable was up here with HD TV and internet. Turns out that the price was 1/3 what we were paying for DirecTV and HughsNet.

So boom! We now have a nice little cable modem running in place of the HughesNet device.  We still have DVR, and TV and the quality is good.  For the first time ever, the AppleTV can be used to it’s full potential. WiFi Calling works, so hopefully there won’t be any more repeats of the old Verizon commercials “Can you Hear me now?” While running around the house to find “The Spot” where the cell signal is strong enough to be usable.

Charter twc bh

100Mbs isn’t the fastest but it’s a big improvement over the last stats from HughesNet of 1-5 Mbs. 

An additional advantage is that the wiring closet is now devoid of two devices for the Satellite TV both of which generated a lot of heat in a fairly confined space.

This means that the router, switch, and hard drives will be happier.

Another odd thing I’ve noticed is that my network traffic is lower. My router isn’t having it’s IP address reconfigured every minute and in general the load on the whole system is lower.

We actually streamed a movie last night; Flawlessly.

Who knows? My little house in the mountains might be a place for me to work from home again.

Only time and the job market will tell.

 

Update 3/15/2017

Ah ha! 

We had to badger HughesNet to get someone out here to take their dish down. Turns out, they want you, the customer to climb up on your roof to retrieve this expensive transceiver.

Neither of us was climbing 30 feet in the air onto our roof to get this piece of tech. Of course had the installer actually done what we’d asked the dish would have been where we could access it in Winter to brush the snow off and we could have had satellite internet connection  all the time instead of only when the snow melted off the dish.

IMG 0740

But the much more interesting thing is the bubbled fused dirt and debris you can see on the business end of the transceiver.  All of that crusty stuff serves to deflect and degrade the satellite signals, both coming and going from the transceiver itself.

Of course since we couldn’t reach the dish, we couldn’t clean it. So now I know why the signal degraded over time. Even if we’d kept HughesNet we’d have been calling them for service or replacement of this unit.

I hate to even think what kind of fiasco it would have been to get them off their collective asses to fix this. Given that their tech support is tiered and we’d have no doubt been forced to work our way up the chain of command over weeks before we got to someone that knew enough to think about progressive signal degradation as a function of obstructions between the satellite and the dish much less as a function of granite dust or reflected heat fusing dust and debris on the focal point of the signal.

I hadn’t thought about it either until I saw this unit and scratched my finger across the lens.

Well, you learn something new every day…

Companies need to stay out of national politics.

Starbucks Logo

Credit Suisse – Is reporting that the Starbucks Pledge to hire 10,000 Muslim refugees is hurting the Starbucks brand and their sales.

There is no doubt there are people who are saying that this at its root is because Americans are racist. 

I tend to think not.

We have thousands of Americans still out of work. I think, as I always have, that Americans should be the priority when it comes to hiring in this country.

Starbucks recently posted a letter saying that they loved and would hire Veterans too, in a half hearted attempt to reassure the public that they are a equal opportunity employer.

Apparently, the public isn’t buying it.

As I scanned the Credit Suisse report a couple of other things came to mind.

Would a muslim refugee serve me, my cafe mocha and my double bacon egg & cheese breakfast sandwich?

What happens when you get a Veteran and a Muslim Refugee in the same shift, and they start arguing? 

In a way I’m dealing with the latter problem where I work. We have a guy who identifies as Persian and a guy who is Pakistani (I think) sitting near me. The Persian guy is quite adamant about doing business ONLY with other Persians, and daily, finds something bad to say about America or Americans. 

The Pakistani guy literally will not shut up about how awful it is that Trump was elected and that Hillary or Obama should be the president.

For him this is a daily crisis and he’s said that the military should take Trump out and put Hillary in. When another coworker pointed out that our Pakistani coworker is talking about a coup d’état and that’s not the way we do things in America, The Pakistani replies that perhaps America should do things that way.

Against the trials of dealing with pissed off customers, the constant bitching about Trump makes going to work a significantly less pleasant experience. I wouldn’t call it a “Hostile” work environment but I would say it’s moving that direction.

Add to that the Canadian customers taking pot shots on the phone, (Because they know we have to take it) and some days it’s really tough to maintain equilibrium. 

Fortunately I manage to ignore it most of the time but for those of my coworkers sitting closer to these two it’s far more difficult to ignore.

I can’t imagine going to a Starbucks to have a cup of coffee and just take a break, and having to listen to people behind the counter or at other tables having similar conversations,  because that isn’t taking a break, it’s exhausting.

Starbucks took a hit when they banned firearms from their premises. Some stores went so far as to refuse service to police officers. Which is why if you want a police officer you go to any other coffee shop.

Starbucks also took another hit when they changed their rewards program, and when they  discontinued their clever older style holiday cups, and again when their baristas started writing little political messages on your cup.

My point is that American companies, ALL American companies need to remember that their duty is to their customers, and shareholders. No company needs to, or should insert themselves into politics. They, like Hollywood need to shut up, sell their products, and take the money. That is all that is required of them.

Black Rifle Logo

I’ve been watching with amusement, the Black Rifle Coffee company’s website. They came out after Starbucks made their refugee announcement, saying they’d hire Vets. I don’t think they should’ve entered the political arena anymore than Starbucks should have, but I must admit it was a marketing coup on Black Rifle’s part.

Black Rifle is now in the enviable position of having a two or three week backorder on most of their products.

They were smart enough to capitalize on Starbucks missteps. Including having legal open carry at one of their flagship stores. Black Rifle is obviously more in tune with the sentiment of the “average” American than Starbucks. 

Since Starbucks has entered the political fray, I’ve found that it is easier to avoid them and their products. I’ll grant you it’s not really a conscious choice it’s just that between the noise, expense, hipsters, and Starbucks politics, I’m more likely to head to any of the myriad other coffee shops that provide faster service, and are easier to get into and out of.

Nike Logo

At 4:30 in the morning I’d rather head somewhere that I can exchange pleasantries with law enforcement, instead of wondering if I’m going to get mugged in an empty Starbucks parking lot while some hipster barista looks on wondering what to do.

I haven’t gotten to the point that I’m willing to give up my Starbucks card on my phone but that day may well be around the corner.

Microsoft Logo

It’s not an “Active” boycott on my part, and I suspect that it wouldn’t be active on the part of most other people I think it would just be the worst thing a company can face. A “Meh” whatever, “Silent” boycott.

Compaq logo

Silent Boycotts are much harder to deal with. If suddenly people simply stop seeking your products with no explanation, a company can beat themselves to death trying to find a cause.

WordPerfect Logo

Companies start thrashing around looking for the problem; Is it Quality, Merchandising, Advertisement, Price, Logos, Saturation of the market place, Brand differentiation, Relevance?

Wordstar Logo

Companies spend millions on each of these areas and if suddenly, nothing is working and they can’t gain or maintain market share then the company will fade into irrelevance. 

Palm Logo

Remember Compaq? WordStar? WordPerfect? Novell? Palm? Each of these companies faded for various reasons. But bottom line is that folks just stopped buying their products.

It’s like going on the third date and then the other person just stops responding to messages. You have no idea what you did wrong and you never will. You’ll also never have the opportunity to fix the problem because you have no idea where to start.

Novell

Apple faced this problem in the 90’s just before Steve Jobs returned to the helm and reenergized the company. I vaguely recall Apple stock trading for some ridiculously low price and considering maxing out my credit card to buy as much as I could. I wish now that I’d done it, but it was unclear if Jobs was going to be able to turn the company around and I deemed the risk was too great. Had I maxed out that card on Apple stock… I’d be lying naked on a beach somewhere.

Apple Logos

Starbucks, Apple, Microsoft, Nike, and other major corporations, should really take note, lest they find themselves on the receiving end of a similar “Silent” boycott. 

Meanwhile companies like Black Rifle Coffee, will be waiting in the wings to fill the void.

No interest in Watching Superbowl…

Super Bowl 2017 Top Five Upsets Of All Time

First time in years I haven’t been interested.

For many years, I’ve settled in Superbowl Sunday with beer, junk food and watched, relaxing and enjoying the entertainment.

This year, zero interest. 

I’m not even sure why.

I’ve been wondering if it was all the controversy over standing (or not) for the National Anthem.

Or was it that last years commercials were boring and Politically Correct to the point that no-one remembered them? 

Or that the half-time show was largely forgettable. 

Last Years game doesn’t stand out in my mind either.

I’m wondering if it’s just that I’m tired of endless controversies.

What used to be a fun diversion, and entertaining escape for 4 hours has become mediocre in it’s conformity.

Rather than watch something that I used to really enjoy, and be sad that it’s not the fun it used to be, I’ll spare myself the sadness and read a book.

It’s Official, I may be old

Sitting here in the early morning at work. I overhear things being said by co-workers. I’ve come to realize that with the 20s crowd I have absolutely no idea what their “important” issues mean.

The stuff they think is important is either something I’d consider totally irrelevant or something that I have no clue about at all.

Have I become so disconnected?

Is this what my  grandfather felt like? (No wonder he contented himself with “You kids, get off my lawn!”)

The news is all the same, many of the issues are completely alien and increasingly I find myself quoting Rhett Butler.

Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!

It’s not like I’m actively pissed off or anything, it’s just that I have no common ground. I do think that a lot of these people are spoiled little brats and that they could all benefit from a good spanking.

Oops, there is is again. Oldness!

I find myself wondering how we, as a society came to this place. 

Some would say it’s our overly permissive society. Others might say it’s the lack of discipline in our families, schools, and country. Still others would say it’s a combination of all of the above and would add that this is some kind of backlash against racist, misogynistic, patriarchal, society.

Although the latter is probably just a boilerplate comment that is tagged at the end of anything that isn’t right these days.

I like the old Southern way of describing issues with people, “That child ain’t right

In the old South, often a child could be “Made Right” with the application of a switch to the behind, and a good dose of hellfire and damnation from the minister’s pulpit on Sunday morning.

We don’t do that anymore. 

Perhaps thoughts like these are further evidence that I’m old.

When I was much younger than I am today, I had hope and optimism. I thought we as a people and planet were heading toward a future of enlightenment and unprecedented cooperation. I honestly thought that we’d all learn to live together and that in our unity we’d achieve amazing things.  It wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility back then, that by now we’d already have colonies on the moon and Mars. Nothing we could imagine was beyond our reach. 

When the Berlin Wall fell, I personally saw it as a bit of proof that the old paradigms were coming to an end and that we might have world peace, and prosperity would naturally come to all of us because we’d harness the collective intelligence and will of everyone on our planet.

I was naive and overly optimistic.

I didn’t factor into my calculations that humans aren’t always able to look at the big picture. I was optimistic because I was at the cutting edge of technology. I saw our increased connectedness as a means to unite us all and make sure that we all advanced into a bright shiny future.

I laugh at my naivety now. Once again I failed to recognize that the lowest common denominator is more often the dominant force in our world.

I guess Some Things NEVER change.

New Year, New Day

I’m dreaming of another one of these in the near future.

Had one back in the Summer and it was very good.

I haven’t had a chance to get back to the place since then. But I’m thinking this is something I’m going to treat myself to before the end of the month.

Been thinking about how easy it is to get caught up in the day to day grind and forget to take little pleasures. Whether it’s a nice meal, or simply finding time to be intimate with a lover, friend, or even yourself, time and life have a way of getting in the way.

I speak from experience, I’ve been moving at pretty much a dead run one way or another for the past 7 months. Either I’m fighting the clock to get to work, or I’m home from work tired as hell, trying to force myself to do chores, then on my days off, I’m driving 100 miles to the house in the mountains, spend a night or two, then drive 100 miles back to work.

There was a time when I drove 92 miles one way to work. I did this every day. The money was good and I actually enjoyed what I was doing for the most part.  

Days of being able to drive like that are gone, especially in Southern California. I used to be able to clock that drive to 100 minutes and I was moving the whole trip.

Now that kind of drive can easily take 2 hours sometimes 2 1/2 hours and there is zero predictability. Those kinds of drives are also exhausting. 

By the time I get to the mountain place I’m really beat and typicaly pissed off at the insanity of traffic. Then when I turn around and head back to San Diego I’m dreading the drive and it never fails to be a stone bitch.  So I start my work week exhausted.

I’ve come to the conclusion that this isn’t really working for me.

Like the alcoholic, admitting that I have a problem is the first step toward fixing the problem.

I suppose it’s best defined as a quality of life issue. I’m making enough money to survive, but not enough to make much headway. I’m also not in any kind of rotation for promotion. Which suggests, much as I hate the thought, I need to start working hard to find a new job.

It all loops back to the time issue and having enough of my wits about me to engage in such a job search after work. The other thing I’ve realized I’m fighting; my confidence is shot to hell. 

I’ve seen jobs that I’m probably qualified for, or well qualified for, but I hesitate to apply. 

It’s hard to come back from literally years of rejection. It’s hard to put yourself out there again because now you’re trained to expect rejection / failure / (the implied message) “You’re NOT GOOD enough”

All these things play in your head, and even with evidence to the contrary you’re still fighting that inner whisper of doubt.

I’ve realized that in a way I’ve been broken. (Perhaps I’m broken in a lot of other ways too) 

In retrospect a former friend was probably trying to be helpful telling me I’m nuts, unfortunately he woefully misjudged just how fragile I was at the time. Him trying to be “Helpful” was basically breaking the remaining shards of me, and those parts I’d managed to glue back together. He might have been right, but there’s a time to be right, and there’s a time to be gentle and kind.

So now I have to figure out a way back. I know that I’m the only one who can fix me, but that doesn’t mean that I know how to. I’m working on it.

My resolution this year is to climb back on the corporate merry-go-round so I’ve got a decent income. From there, the long term goal is to get back to writing regularly and carve out time to appreciate the things I have and figure out where I want to go from there. 

I’m also not going to allow guilt or fear to have as much sway over me as they’ve come to have during the past few years.

These sound like simple resolutions, I suspect that the actual work will be a lot harder.

My list is short but achievable. 

I hope your list is easier.

Welcome to 2017

As the new year dawns, I hope that you’re not nursing too bad a hangover.

In 20 days the new president will be sworn in, I’m sure that we’ll be hearing a lot about that in the coming days. 

There are going to be a lot of people that are very disheartened by this change, but the fact of the matter is very little will actually change.

Congress is already circling the wagons, and at the very least, one party has vowed to be obstructionist about any policies the new president might put forward.

Which means that the players will change, but not much else. 

If you’re one of those people who’s upset about the president-elect, I’d suggest that you don’t throw yourself off the 50th floor just yet.  I would however, strongly suggest that you settle down and realize that this is our political system.  If you don’t like it, or would prefer better choices for our leaders, (and who doesn’t?) Then make sure you’re engaged in the system, find a candidate to back, or run for office yourself.

I’ve often thought the I should run.  My Campaign Slogan would be “Hey I can’t do any worse! “

In the mean time I urge everyone to calm down and recognize that, it’s not raining fire, locusts, or frogs and it’s not the end of the world.

Who knows? 2017 might be a really good year, but only if you let it.

Happy New Year