Mon. Mar. 19, 2018 – Back from vacation, tired.

I feel like this is the first day back from vacation since it’s the first school day. REALLY should have worked on acclimating the kids to the time change….

71F with misty drizzle in the Bayou City. Glad I got at least a little done outside yesterday.

Shopping and IT work is what’s on the schedule here today.

I let all the fresh staples run down before our trip, and didn’t want to shop over the weekend. So I’m feeling like the house is empty and the family will starve 🙂

In somewhat local news, MORE people have been injured by package bombs in Austin TX. That makes more in the last week than in the whole country in the last year, if I’m not mistaken. WTF?

Isn’t a mail bomb an anarchist staple? There has got to be more to the story than we’re hearing. I’ll also make a side bet that there will be copycat bombings too.

And with that pleasant thought….

nick

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72 Responses to Mon. Mar. 19, 2018 – Back from vacation, tired.

  1. JimL says:

    30º and Sunny. Expected to get up to freezing today around lunchtime, then cooling off again. Doesn’t do to get overheated.

    Did NOT get to go skiing on Saturday – the kinder all decided to take a day off, and I was already whupped from the race on Saturday morning. It’s good to get out again and see how things work (and don’t work) after the winter hiatus.

    Speaking of (not) working, Microsoft broke stuff AGAIN with my printers. I used to be able to unplug a printer and plug another in and Windows just printed to the port. Now a change of printers requires a half-dozen reboots to get everything working again. What a pain in the butt. I spent an hour fiddling to get my stupid HPLJ1012 to print. Gaah!

  2. nick flandrey says:

    This is where a half dozen “just move to linux” comments go….

    except that linux doesn’t support a given printer at all, or only some of the functions, or only as PS or HPGL or some other limit….

    I am beginning (have done) to realize how much MS stagnated GUI development and while they made pcs widespread and relatively easy to use, they did so at the cost of freezing the UI paradigm. Like the querty keyboard, we’re likely stuck with the desktop/files/documents paradigm for a LONG time.

    n

  3. Ray Thompson says:

    Now a change of printers requires a half-dozen reboots to get everything working again

    Not my experience. I first go to the vendor’s site to download drivers and install. I then just plug in the printer. Not had an issue. However the printers have been very close in models, Brother printers. HP sometimes has issues with the drivers shipped with Windows so best to go to HP’s site first. Also HP tends to think you only will ever use HP printers and can get nasty if you install another.

    If you want real fun install drivers for a networked, not so common, office workgroup printer. Those can be a real pain when using IP printing and finding the right driver.

    The vendor technicians did the install at my church, used fixed IP addresses within the DHCP range thus causing issues. Even when I completed their documentation telling them the acceptable IP address range to use which they promptly ignored. Jerks. Then installed the wrong drivers so some features of the printer would not work. I had to resolve that issues as the installers could not figure out the problem. The installers also messed up the default printer in W10.

  4. JimL says:

    [rant on]
    Okay – “Just move to Linux” is great for people who don’t have to work with a set of software and hardware. Foul mouthings of inbred fish. Other curses.

    KMA if you think I want to dive through config files and “RTFM” when something changes and I have to deal with a new version of whatever ERP system upgrades we have coming. As it is, I know the next ERP upgrade will have been tested against our Windows environment and will “just work”.

    Have I mentioned how much I despise Linux message boards? “RTFM” is usually the politest thing said when they realize you don’t drink their kool-aid.

    Linux had a chance a decade ago. They blew it by being better than every other flavor of Linux, and “just us Red bunto with kay-deskbottom”. I have no time at all to teach 50 new users/year (turnover) how to do something on a platform they have no familiarity with. Or worse, they’re familiar with a different flavor and want to sell me on their flavor.

    Thanks, but no.

    I’d rather deal with a printer problem that I know will fix itself with a half-dozen reboots. Then I can gripe about it when the pressure is off. That’s not my enterprise environment. That’s my weekend gig, and I don’t have to use the printer at all. It just annoys me when a race director asks for a printout and I can’t give it to her “right now”.

    [/rant off]

  5. JimL says:

    @Ray,

    I have a half-dozen HP Laserjet 1012s. I swap them out as needed. This past weekend I put the trailer back together and must have grabbed the wrong printer. It hates to change printers like that. Add an unexpected update (on a metered network) and I just get annoyed.

    Most of the time it “just works”. But MS made it a lot harder by obfuscating the stuff I used to be able to just do. Now I don’t know what happens when I put in a replacement printer of the same make & model.

  6. nick flandrey says:

    I think it was Jerry Pournelle that said ‘with Apple everything is either easy or nearly impossible.’ MS has been applying that lesson for years.

    Funny thing is, just this last week (although I can’t remember the context) someone actually suggested REINSTALLING WINDOWS as a cure. Remember when that was the recommended solution to TRY FIRST??? No matter what your problem, first level tech support would suggest reinstalling windows. I had to travel with a drive and install disks because it actually worked most of the time.

    MS has certainly F’d up skype. The latest nonsense is wanting to unify EVERYTHING into skype, outlook, xbox, live, onedrive, all of it. Did it never occur to them that these things are separate for a reason? WhoTF wants their online gaming connected to their business outlook contacts list?

    n

  7. nick flandrey says:

    I have to laugh when MS partisans point to the lack of support that comes with linux. WHO ON EARTH gets actual support from MS? Is there anyone who doesn’t just google the problem? Are there people somewhere who call the MS support line and pay some lackey to tell them to check that their cables are all plugged in?

    That said, JimL’s experience is the same as mine. If you aren’t part of their club already, you aren’t really gonna get any answers. Typical ‘guru’ behaviour- hording information, is/was very common in linux circles. And no one really cares about your problem, they assume the problem is between the chair and the keyboard, not with their favorite toy…

    n

  8. JimL says:

    @Nick,

    I agree. They’ve been making it worse, not better.

    GE (one of our customers) now requires Skype for conference calls. Gaah!

    But MS was (until sometime around the rollout of Windows 10) the best at nearly everything. I almost NEVER have to reinstall Windows. But the little things (like that pesky printer issue) and integrated software (like Skype) just doesn’t help. Remember when they tried to integrate Internet Explorer with the desktop? They pulled it for a good reason. I don’t think the engineers from that era are still there. If they are, they must have been dumped in the basement.

  9. JimL says:

    I don’t get support from MS. I get support from Windows experts who know their stuff. They’re more common and less expensive than Linux gurus.

  10. nick flandrey says:

    I was just thinking about this the other day.

    I’d bet that most of us just open the box and (after all the updates) start using a new pc. Remember when you had to go thru and do dozens of performance tweaks, install helper utilities, change settings, etc?

    About the only tweak I make anymore is shutting off Aero on older pcs that never had the horsepower anyway. (and shutting off all the tiles nonsense on new machines)

    no managing page files or swap file sizes, no config or system file tweaks, no registry cleaners or uninstallers (unless things get funky somehow), no special disk tools….

    Finally computers are like cars. You just buy the pretty one that does most of what you want. No chauffeur/ mechanic, no special handling, very little routine maintenance, no special or arcane knowledge required. And yet, just like cars, all those things are available and even may be desirable for better performance/special duty.

    n

  11. nick flandrey says:

    Going back a bit farther, you needed to join specialist clubs, read specialist magazines and books, discover arcane knowledge on your own, build your own from parts, or know enough to specify parts, make decisions about math co-processors, add in cards, and all those things needed configuring…

    When is the last time anyone here set a jumper on a mother board or drive?

    Or configured a serial or parallel port address?

    and most here have higher than average experience with computers…

    n

  12. MrAtoz says:

    I wonder is the Austin bomber is another disgruntled libturd. Austin is not Kalifornicated enough, so blow it up.

  13. Ray Thompson says:

    Have I mentioned how much I despise Linux message boards? “RTFM” is usually the politest thing said when they realize you don’t drink their kool-aid.

    Years ago I tried to learn Linux. Installed on a spare machine. But anytime something did not work I was advised to RTFM by the gurus. I would then ask where is the manual. To which I was told if I did not know that I was too stupid to be using Linux.

    Another one of my favorite responses to download some library, compile the kernel, use some arcane series of commands (where one misplaced symbol would bork everything) and all would be good.

    Then there was the continual argument about which graphical interface to use, Gnome or whatever. And no matter which you chose some problem was supposed to be able to be resolved by changing to a different interface and I was an idiot for using that interface.

    I don’t get support from MS. I get support from Windows experts who know their stuff. They’re more common and less expensive than Linux gurus.

    And actually care about solving your problem. As opposed to Linux experts that seem determined to make others feel stupid. RTFM is not a seasoned response. And I suspect that those responding don’t know the answer themselves and RTFM is the best they can respond.

    I almost NEVER have to reinstall Windows

    I had to do a complete reinstall of windows on a three systems within the last couple of months. One was my wife’s computer. A windows update to fix the latest processor vulnerability stopped the machine from booting. The patch was pulled but it was too late. The system would simply not boot.

    Another system for a client had been compromised by malware. I could have spent hours figuring out the problem and removing the malware. But there were other problems and the simplest solution was to backup their data files and reinstall Windows from scratch.

    I did find it is possible to install a non-oem copy of windows using the OEM key on the computer case. Will not activate without making the call and reading the numbers and inputting the responses. Not a big deal.

    My personal system has not had a reinstall of Windows for over four years. Been through the W8, W8.1 and W10 upgrades without issues. Everything still works, printers, video, sound, mouse, keyboard, etc. System boots in less than a minute after getting past the BIOS screen due to the SSD.

    Linux may be “free” but there is a tremendous cost in terms of support. Getting drivers is sometimes impossible. Modifying an existing driver and recompiling the driver is not an option. Using a driver that is “close” and figuring out the right combination in some command line in a startup file is not viable. Unless you have a Linux propeller head on site that knows more than RTFM.

    Sometimes Windows irritates me, as does OS/X, as does IOS, as does Android. Linux never bothers me as I refuse to use Linux. Linux had their chance, their support blew it with RTFM for a manual that I could not even find unless I knew some cryptic command that required me to RTFM to understand the command to get a manual that was required to simply read the manual. An endless loop in my opinion.

  14. Ray Thompson says:

    When is the last time anyone here set a jumper on a mother board or drive?

    At least 10 years or more. As you stated, you open the box, plug in the cables (impossible to make a mistake), and you are up and running. You don’t even have install discs for software as you just download the software.

    Upgraded a computer at the church from W10 Home to W10 Professional. Went to staples and bought the upgrade. Installed the key, the system trundled, and the change was made. Used to require a complete reinstall of Windows.

    IOS upgrades the same way. Download from the device, some trundling, a reboot, and boom, the next version of the OS.

    I think that we are close to the point where you get the OS when you buy the system. Upgrades to new versions are good as long as you own the machine. Paid OS upgrades are going to become a thing of the past. Certainly Apple has done this with OS/X and IOS, Microsoft is starting to this with the Windows upgrades, Android does this with their devices. I am guessing the Chromebooks do the same.

  15. nick flandrey says:

    “I am guessing the Chromebooks do the same.”

    I was just told by a school district IT guy NOT to buy old chromebooks, as the new updates are hardware dependent and won’t install on older ‘books. Apple has done this a number of times.

    Frankly, windows needs to do this too, make a clean break with the past and backward compatibility for the NEW product. They ALSO need to continue providing support for the OLD product too, at least security updates. Vendors can continue to provide drivers. Fork the os. Too much legacy cr@p in windows. I’d bet there is still 16bit code in some of the libraries or core functions, and there might even be 8bit in there… I know I’ve got stuff still running in 32 bit versions (FFox, I’m looking at you.)

    n

  16. Ray Thompson says:

    Frankly, windows needs to do this too, make a clean break with the past and backward compatibility for the NEW product

    I think that MS is starting to do this as I have read stories about W10 not installing unless a newer processor is used. Or something along those lines. They should have made the cut at the W7 to W8 transition. I know a lot of people and businesses are running happily on W7. Only time they will upgrade is when they get a new system. At that time they can then run W10.

    Where I worked at my last job all the systems except one, my test system, were running W7. I saw no compelling reason to upgrade and would only do so when a new system was purchased. I advised my replacement to do the same.

    Alas, he did not listen and wanted to put everyone on W10 during the free upgrade period. He did and had multiple issues. Some drivers not working and some problem with the AV software. He struggled to get it working, gave up, and had to purchase the newest version. There was no gain by going to W10 as W10 provided nothing that was not already available. Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. work the same as they did under W7. A lot of effort for no gain.

  17. Ray Thompson says:

    I was just told by a school district IT guy NOT to buy old chromebooks

    Currently the freshmen are being issued Chromebooks. They will use this same machine all the way through school. Thus when they leave school the devices will be four years old. Chromebooks are so cheap that buying such an old machine would be stupid.

    I think the school should just give the students the Chromebooks at the end of their senior year. The task of having to take in all the machines, store the machines, then try and dispose of the machines is a lot of effort for a device that is probably not worth $20.00. Time wise the salary of the people involved to manage this process is more than that amount. They are low end Chromebooks, limited storage, average display that were probably less than $150.00 each brand new.

    I would never buy a used Chromebook. They are throwaway devices in my opinion.

  18. nick flandrey says:

    If you can get 20 for $25 it would be worth it….

    n

  19. Ray Thompson says:

    If you can get 20 for $25 it would be worth it…

    Only if it included the case.

  20. Greg Norton says:

    This is where a half dozen “just move to linux” comments go….

    except that linux doesn’t support a given printer at all, or only some of the functions, or only as PS or HPGL or some other limit….

    Apple runs CUPS (Linux print service) these days.

  21. Greg Norton says:

    I was just told by a school district IT guy NOT to buy old chromebooks, as the new updates are hardware dependent and won’t install on older ‘books. Apple has done this a number of times.

    Google deliberately sunsets Chromebooks after ~ five years, regardless as to whether the hardware is capable of supporting the latest version of the OS.

    For comparison, Apple is on a ~ seven year cycle with their laptops.

  22. lynn says:

    xkcd, “not available”
    https://xkcd.com/1969/

    True dat.

  23. Greg Norton says:

    I think that MS is starting to do this as I have read stories about W10 not installing unless a newer processor is used. Or something along those lines. They should have made the cut at the W7 to W8 transition. I know a lot of people and businesses are running happily on W7. Only time they will upgrade is when they get a new system. At that time they can then run W10.

    Microsoft does not support running Windows 7 on new Intel and AMD CPUs. They enforce this by cutting off access to updates.

    I’ve successfully run Windows 10 on machines dating back pre-2010. My primary desktop is a Q6600, the first “quad core” Intel Core series chip. Microsoft doesn’t seem to care if you want to run on older hardware, but you are on your own with regard to finding and installing the right drivers.

    Microsoft is all about selling the software. Surface is intended to keep the vendors moving forward on hardware.

  24. lynn says:

    “At $21 TRILLION, the national debt is growing 36% faster than the US economy ”
    https://www.sovereignman.com/trends/at-21-trillion-the-national-debt-is-growing-36-faster-than-the-us-economy-23157/

    No matter what, this is not a good thing. I wonder if Trump gets rid of the Deep State (starting with that money wasting Mueller), that the expenses of running the USA will drop ? Probably not enough.
    http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/379025-drudge-poll-three-quarters-say-trump-should-fire-mueller

  25. lynn says:

    I am beginning (have done) to realize how much MS stagnated GUI development and while they made pcs widespread and relatively easy to use, they did so at the cost of freezing the UI paradigm. Like the querty keyboard, we’re likely stuck with the desktop/files/documents paradigm for a LONG time.

    Hey, I like the desktop / files / documents paradigm ! Having that three letter to umpteen letter identifier as the file name suffix really cements what the type of a file is. One can move files between different types of operating systems and still figure out what the file is.

  26. lynn says:

    Dilbert, “activating crime scene cleanup drone”
    http://dilbert.com/strip/2018-03-19

    Nothing happened here, move along.

  27. lynn says:

    I’d bet that most of us just open the box and (after all the updates) start using a new pc. Remember when you had to go thru and do dozens of performance tweaks, install helper utilities, change settings, etc?

    I still build all of our desktops here at the office and at home. I just like to use my own specified parts. Laptops, I typically buy Asus.

  28. JimL says:

    I build and update my own PC, just because I love to do it. I buy used (off-lease) Dells or HPs for the kids and used Toughbooks for my business. Corporate is Dell desktops & laptops, backed up by HP servers & networking. All Windows.

    Phones and tablets are all Samsung Galaxy devices.

    I like standards that “just work” so I don’t have to. Well, except when I do and I get to gripe about it.

  29. nick flandrey says:

    In other unrelated news, I know someone who was killed doing this.

    “Horrifying moment two parascenders COLLIDE mid-air causing one to fall to her death on a beach in Mexico

    WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: Ursula Hernandez, 47 was rushed to hospital
    Ms Hernandez was pronounced dead in hospital following the crash
    The parascender plunged to the ground after colliding with another in the sky
    Incident happened on Saturday afternoon on a beach in Puerto Escondido ‘

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5517443/Parachutist-dies-colliding-mid-air-Mexico.html

    It’s not the first time someone has been killed, maimed, or crippled. I REALLY don’t understand how someone can put their life in the hands of some random operator, in a country with NO standards for anything, never mind safety, and enjoy it. I’m sure the odds are low, but the payoff is super low too.

    n

  30. nick flandrey says:

    See! It’s not just a ‘conspiracy theory’. . . DC lawmakers believe it too….

    ” DC lawmaker apologizes for anti-Semitic remark after blaming ‘Rothschilds for controlling the weather’

    A DC lawmaker found himself in controversy over the weekend after suggesting in a video published to social media that Jewish financiers were manipulating the weather.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5517135/DC-lawmaker-apologizes-antisemitic-remark.html

    OH, WAIT…..

    I don’t know which part of it is more mock worthy, his directly quoted words, or the idea expressed, or that he didn’t know about anti-semitism.

    DC city councilman… they couldn’t find anyone better? On the other hand, maybe he perfectly represents his constituents.

    n

  31. Ray Thompson says:

    I still build all of our desktops here at the office and at home

    I have built several, including my current system. Starting with the wife’s system I decided it was no longer worth the hassle. Warranty issues aside, it is easier to just open the box and turn it on. With a unified system from a vendor it is not a pissing contest as to what, and who, is responsible. I have had a component fail and the warranty from the vendor was basically “something else in your system made the part fail, tough”. It was a video card that I got stung.

    I can build my own system if I wanted to get the components from Newegg or MicroCenter. Having cut my fingers on more than one system case attempting to hide wires I no longer experience the joy of that BIOS screen appearing after installing the basic components. Once past that I would install the rest of the components such as disc drives and any add-on cards.

  32. Bruce Friend says:

    I have worked with Windows since there was Windows, Apples since the Apple II, Unix and Linux. I find I have to did for information about all of them. I run Ubuntu on my laptop and have not compiled anything from scratch for years. I run Windows 7 in a VM on it because there is no real replacement for Visio and everyone uses MS Office. I like LibreOffice and have not installed the latest which supposedly works better with MS Office files. Some things are better under Windows and some under Linux. Don’t do much with IOS anymore. Apple hardware is just overpriced. YMMV

  33. Ray Thompson says:

    I will leave all lesson plans on my desk in the white substitute folder. It includes class rolls and your schedule. The red emergency folder will be placed beside it in case their is a drill or other emergency.

    The above is from an English teacher that I will be subbing for on March 26. Even she cannot use the proper there. Wonder how she teaches students.

    I have worked with Windows since there was Windows

    I have worked with Windows since version 3.0, prior to that it was DOS. I have worked with OSes that no longer exist. Used MVT/Famous (I think that was the name) on a Z80 system, multitasking OS that sort of worked but had major memory management problems. I have worked with OS/X, IOS, and Windows in their current incarnations. Never was able to work with Linux although I had installed it and dabbled for about six months. Too difficult to get some hardware working.

    Today an OS is just a tool to get the software I need. I need Photoshop and Lightroom, available for Windows and OS/X. However I choose Windows because it the platform with which I am most comfortable. I can get things done faster. I could transition to OS/X but as you stated, the hardware is overpriced in my opinion.

    When I was looking for a laptop I looked at the Macbook Air, Dell XPS, and the Microsoft Surface. The Dell and the Surface exceeded the Macbook due to cost and software licenses. The choice between the Dell and the Surface eventually settled on the Surface. The combination tablet mode and desktop mode was the deciding factor.

    But I found that I rarely used the Surface without the keyboard attached. So when the Surface died after three years I got a Surface Laptop. I like it quite a bit and it was significantly cheaper than a comparable Dell system.

    But it is still just a tool that I used when on the road for Photoshop and Lightroom. The OS is just an extension of that tool.

  34. lynn says:

    I will leave all lesson plans on my desk in the white substitute folder. It includes class rolls and your schedule. The red emergency folder will be placed beside it in case their is a drill or other emergency.

    The above is from an English teacher that I will be subbing for on March 26. Even she cannot use the proper there. Wonder how she teaches students.

    Don’t worry, she got a proper schooling on Global Warming is going to kill us all, Black Lives Matter, and Guns are real bad.

  35. lynn says:

    “US installs 10.6 GW of solar in 2017”
    https://renewablesnow.com/news/us-installs-106-gw-of-solar-in-2017-605189/

    Assuming that the cost of maintenance does not eat the owner alive, this is actually fairly cool. But there is a cost to the electrical system of backup gas turbines that are rarely needed.

  36. nick flandrey says:

    Haven’t mentioned it because there are plenty of other places talking about it, but I saw the “children’s” school walkout while in Santa Fe. There is ample evidence that these walkouts were coordinated (beyond the obvious), and mandatory. There are many reports of dissenters who were punished, intimidated, or threatened.

    The indoctrination of the next generation continues. The education perhaps not so much.

    n

  37. Harold says:

    My wife, the TechnoPhobe, took a windows class way back in Win95 days and that’s all she knows. Don’t talk to her about folders or drivers because she gets angry. “The computer should just do what I want it to do without me having to learn all that crap.” is he battle cry. She was constantly getting her PC filled with Krep and Viri from drive-by web sites. I put Linux – Mint Cinnamon on her machine and she hasn’t had an issue since. I have ad blocker on her Firefox browser and a firewall set up and it just works. Yes, I did have a few moments settng up the Cannon multi-function printer / scanner but it is easier to actualy use than the same on my MIL’s WIN-10 laptop.
    Linux clearly isn’t for everyone but it’s all we use at home.

  38. ITguy1998 says:

    I started playing at the OS level around DOS 3.3. I did have copies of Windows 1.0 and 2.0 (Dad got them for me from his employer) I didn’t use it. I remember fondly modifying autoexec.bat and config.sys to optimize the way drivers were loaded into memory to get enough conventional memory available to play Tie Fighter (needed something like 602K.)

    I’ve continued to build my desktops, but this one may be it. I don’t play any game on it, and the most I do use it for is Turbo Tax. 90% of my surfing time is on the ipad.

    At work, we have both Windows and Linux – Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7, CentOS 6 and RedHat 6. We are beginning the process of upgrading to Server 2012R2 and Windows 10, CentOS7 and RedHat7. That will take forever and a day, as we are dealing with a classfied network, and it will be an RMF accreditation, and well, RMF sucks dead bunnies.

  39. Ray Thompson says:

    The computer should just do what I want it to do without me having to learn all that crap.

    Kind of sounds like my spousal unit. Clicks on something then bitches because it did not do what she wanted. She asks for my help, I try. When doing something I will tell her to do one thing, she does it, then immediately clicks somewhere. Then bitches at me because I told her wrong. To which I respond “you clicked like you knew what you were doing, you will thump me if I say you are wrong”. The icy glares starts in a few nanoseconds.

    She is however getting much better at ignoring pop-ups or calling me first to look at the pop-up. I have Norton and Malwarebytes installed on her system (and both of mine) so I think she is fairly safe.

    Only real issue in three years with her current system is the patch from Intel/Microsoft that borked her machine so it would not boot. Patch was installed without my consent, later removed from the patch list, but the damage had been done. System would start in Safe Mode but it was impossible to go back in time or remove the offending patch.

  40. lynn says:

    I know I’ve got stuff still running in 32 bit versions (FFox, I’m looking at you.)

    I’ve been running the x64 version of FireFox for months now. Recommended. Bring lots of ram.
    https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/59.0.1/releasenotes/

  41. paul says:

    I’m done with DirecTV.

    There were idiots bordering upon asshole status when I disconnected last summer. Yeah, sure, raise the rates, again, and when I call trying to get a discount, nope. “We can drop you to $80/month for six months plus taxes” from $142 including taxes. Ok, if that’s the best they can do for a customer of 18 years, just turn it off.

    Yes, I get it, they have a script.

    “But you owe us for six months remaining on your contract!” What contract? You put me under a contract when you replaced my DVR box a year and a half ago /and/ charged $100 for the visit? Wtf? Cheaper to pay the penalty and be done.

    “We will send a recovery kit so you can return your equipment”. Never happened. I called several times, kit is always on the way. I tried the chat on their website and I didn’t need to return the box or cards after all. I saved the chatlog, too.

    Something that really bugs me is that I was paying extra for HD. I did have some HD, like Food Network and NatGeo. I took the dish off of the pole, stuck up a $50 antenna from Wal-Mart on an extra 10 feet of pole and Hey! Local channels are in HD! And we have sub-channels too! I didn’t know about the sub-channels.

    Ok, locals in HD plus sub-channels in 720 or something that is plenty for B&W Beverly Hillbillies and Mayberry. For the price of an antenna and a week of tweeking the aim I get all of the networks from Austin. For free.
    I bought a Roku. Amazon Prime has good stuff. There are a lot of free channels, too. We added Sling Orange to get the college football. $20/month. When football ended, I switched to Sling Blue. $25/month. Because Nascar. 🙂 Actually, all we are missing from DirecTV is the ID channel.

    We have more to watch than we ever had. Prime plus Sling and everything is good.

    Now to why I’m done with DirecTV.

    We have a friend named Jerry. He didn’t answer his phone for a couple of days so someone drove out to the lake to check on him Tuesday noonish. He looked asleep… sitting in his TV watching chair. Vitals are good… one arm is slowly rising and setting as if he’s changing the channel. Big stroke. 74 years old. EMS took him to a local hospital and then he was moved to the hospital in Temple. In the process they lost his wallet. He died about 4am on Feb 14. I have his dog. The VA in Temple still has him in the fridge because of whatever…. no ID, no DD214 (his son is working on that).

    On Thursday we went over to clean the place out. Why did he have eight loaves of wheat bread and no sandwich fixings is a mystery. We stuffed the wheelie trash bin full. I pulled the DirecTV box, found a bill on the table, and called. Explained the situation and well, they are going to send a recovery kit. We took a day off and went back to pack his model car collection. Loaded that and his TV (generic 45″ flat) into my truck. You can stuff a lot into a 4 door Dodge pickup. 🙂 We bagged his clothes and they went into a couple of donation bins in town. The Harley was strapped to a trailer and a couple of folks headed to Edinburg. In my truck full of stuff and in Jerry’s truck.

    Edinburg? Well, my Mom is in a nursing home here and Jerry stayed in her house for a while rent free, just pay the utilities. He got tired of the Valley, moved back up here in October but left a lot of tools and stuff in the house. So, all that stuff, big tool boxes, were loaded up and dropped off near Galveston. His ex-wife and his son were very happy.

    We are done. We did more than any other “friends” did. That would be the ones that never showed up to help clean house….

    DirecTV? No recovery kit arrived. Their chat seems broken. On Facebook the best answer I got was to box his stuff and take it to a UPS Store. Right, first I have to find a box and then drive to Leander? About 50 miles one way and truck gets 12 or so MPG with a tailwind? Uh, no, sorry, but I don’t see the box being worth 2 hours of my time plus fuel at $2.20/gallon.

  42. dkreck says:

    You gotta love em. Just got my Echo back. Sent it in on warranty because it had a ‘rattle’ to the sound. Hooked up the replacement and ask to play some music. Sounds very ‘scratchy’ like on old phonograph record. Status on Amazon shows it was received for repair. Try later I guess. Last return took about a half hour with the chat bot. Try phone call this time when it shows it was returned to me.

  43. DadCooks says:

    I can’t find it at the moment, but I read somewhere this morning that satellite is losing customers faster than cable. Each is losing somewhere around a million a year but cable has many times the customers still so the percentage loss for cable is less.

    Yes, I hate Charter/Spectrum but there is really no other choice, particularly if you want internet faster than 7mbs. I keep on eye on streaming prices, but for the few channels we really watch the price break is still not there.

    I love it when a new person at the DirectTV kiosk in Costco gives me the “sell”. I then tell him I have an ancient grandfathered account with Charter/Spectrum that nobody will ever beat. I got wise a long time ago and refused all the “deals” that Charter/Spectrum offered. If I was ever to bite on one, after the “deal” time I would be paying 3 times what I am now for life. Gotcha Charter/Spectrum.

    BTW, the same way with my T-Mobile Family Plan. I have four phones, absolutely unlimited never throttled data, hot spot on each phone, true free International text/data/voice and I pay less than what most people pay for one limited phone.

    Remember, the are no good deals in cable or cell.

  44. Ray Thompson says:

    DirecTV? No recovery kit arrived

    Just toss it. What is Direct TV going to do? You’re not responsible.

    Had basically the same problem when my mother died. Called Spectrum and told them to cancel the account and come pick up their stuff. They said I had to bring the box to their office. I said no, not my problem. Spectrum said they would charge the account $400.00 if the box was not returned. I said no problem, I don’t care. Spectrum said they would send the account to collections. I said I don’t care, the collection company can pick up the box. Told them she was dead, if they did not want their box it was going in the dumpster. It did. I have no idea what Spectrum did with her account.

  45. paul says:

    The “wild” peach trees were in full flower yesterday. “Wild” as in sprouted from buggy fruit tossed over the fence. Today? Bare… just a bit of green leaves showing.

    But to the right, a redbud tree is suddenly in bloom.

    The mesquite are leafing. Hmm…. and it’s not yet Easter.

    The red oak out the bathroom door is budding. The various post oaks and blackjack oaks are just starting to bud. The elm trees are all over, some look dead, some have tiny leaves.

    No wildflowers yet. We could stand to have some rain.

    The thermometers say it is 77F. I’m cold. Oh, the thermostat says the humidity is 25%.

  46. lynn says:

    EMS took him to a local hospital and then he was moved to the hospital in Temple. In the process they lost his wallet.

    I wonder how many new credit cards that he has now ?

  47. paul says:

    I wonder how many new credit cards that he has now ?

    Dunno. Maybe they were happy with the $90 cash.

  48. paul says:

    Just toss it. What is Direct TV going to do? You’re not responsible.

    True. Just trying to do the right thing…. as it appears to me.

  49. nick flandrey says:

    The satellite sucks. The deals are bad, the channels are heavily compressed and there are real technical issues. Google directv audio lag sometime you need a rabbit hole to go down….

    It’s the only game in town though when you are out of town. My remaining customer has dtv with 3 hd boxes with harddrives and one other sd box for a guest room. His choices for internet are 512 Mbps DSL from ATT or semaphore and smoke signals. They still manage to stream the occasional netflix show, but it’s mainly dtv or blurays.

    n

  50. lynn says:

    I’ve been fighting with Shell (Citi) MasterCard fraud department for a week now. They keep on blocking my card because of too many transactions. My wife, my daughter, and I have used the same card for about 20 years now. I have talked with the fraud department about four times now.

    Today’s conversation after a bunch of rigmarole confirming that I am me. “Hey, you blocked my card at HEB last night.” “Yes, Texas is the number one fraudulent transaction state”. “So what ?”. “Did you buy some items at Amazon yesterday ?”. “Yes, about $150.” “Well, there were multiple transactions of $17, $54, $25”. “Yes, I guess that Amazon splits the transactions up and I bought 13 items”. “Oh. Well, the card machine at HEB is known for fraudulent transactions”. “You are kidding, this is a new chip machine.” “Uh, well your card is not blocked.” “So my card will work at HEB when I go next Wednesday ?” “Sure. Please call us back if there are any problems.”

    I wanted to call him something right there. I’ve been paying cash at HEB for last week or so since my card has been rejected each time.

    Maybe Discover wants my business. I pay off my credit card each month, I suspect that they want me to carry a large balance.

  51. lynn says:

    The satellite sucks. The deals are bad, the channels are heavily compressed and there are real technical issues. Google directv audio lag sometime you need a rabbit hole to go down….

    I was extremely happy with DirecTV until I got a new user interface forced on me. Now the user interface is slow, some of the buttons on the remote work different, and I am getting choppy audio. I already have hearing issues, I do not need this crappy audio.

    But the new user interface is very pretty ! Form over function.

  52. Ray Thompson says:

    Just trying to do the right thing…. as it appears to me

    As I tried to do when my mother died. I finally just gave up. Companies don’t seem to understand when someone dies the demands of the company are meaningless. Discover refused to close her account until someone paid the balance. Told Discover fine, I’ll dump the card in the Best Buy parking lot and let someone find the card. Not my problem. Then I hung up. I tossed the card in the trash. I don’t know what happened to the balance. Probably went to collections.

    I should pull my mother’s credit report. I bet it is trashed with a very low score. I doubt she will care.

  53. RickH says:

    I’ve been happy with my DirecTV for over 15 years, in 4 different locations (3 states). Current bill is about $80. No premium movie channels.

    I use it mostly to time-shift. Haven’t gotten the new interface auto-installed yet, will wait until they get around to it.

    But spousal unit and I are happy with the channels we got. Plus we have a Roku box for Amazon Prime and Netflix.

    Been working on the new Home Scientist site for the new owner. More about that when it gets closer. May need some ‘beta viewers’.

  54. paul says:

    The satellite sucks.

    I bought my first DirecTv dish offa eBay. Installed it all my self in’99. Sony hardware. Then I bought a 55″ Vizio about eight years ago and well, hell, now I need, really need, HD. So new hardware from some crappy provider and installed by DirecTv and Yes! I get to pay $100 to have that crap installed.

    It worked nice for a while. Local channels in HD even.

    The Sony stuff? The only time I saw the signal die was the day I had 6 inches of rain in 3 hours. Yep, half of the driveway in the yard, too.

    After going to HD, any rain killed it. And no, don’t blame the tree there…. this was happening when the dish was on the freaking roof. It was all cool with the Sony hardware. So, I’m gonna say that DirecTv has crappy hardware and they have compressed the shirt outta everything. All before Deathstar was involved….

    Every DirecTv dude that has been at my house knows their shirt. The problem is not on the ground.

    I had the package I signed up with. Added HD. Somehow I gained a DVR that we never used.

  55. paul says:

    Discover refused to close her account until someone paid the balance.

    Ahhhh…. I foresee interesting times for me. Mom’s nursing home? Hit her checking account? Oh , hell no. “We are not set up for that.” Hit her Discover Card? Yes!

    Cashback awards are growing. Mom has a credit balance at the moment. Because they take all of her income but for $60/month. So, after her SS and mil retirement hit at the beginning of the month, I send Discover a lot of money.

    Crazy.

  56. Greg Norton says:

    Maybe Discover wants my business. I pay off my credit card each month, I suspect that they want me to carry a large balance.

    I’m surprised Discover is still around.

  57. lynn says:

    I’m surprised Discover is still around.

    Why ?

  58. H. Combs says:

    My 10,000+ user international company is in the middle of rolling out a Win-10 image to all laptops. After a full year of fiddling with the image to find settings that break the least number of existing apps they had a release candidate. After pushing it out to over half our users we upgraded our VPN client from Juniper. Suddenly none of the Win-10 users could connect to our VPN. We spent weeks with juniper and MS third level support executing the code step by step until everyone agreed that the security model recommend by MS was breaking the new Juniper VPN client. So we either roll back Win-10 security or roll back the VPN client to the less secure version. We have millions invested in our Juniper / Secure Auth setup and don’t want to scrap that investment. I love Windows. It keeps so many people gainfully employed.

    BTW: Our RHEL Linux servers have years between reboots vs regular monthly reboots on our windows servers. No one gets rich supporting Linux because so little is required.

  59. Greg Norton says:

    I’m surprised Discover is still around.

    Why ?

    I’ve always associated Discover with Sears’ troubles, but it looks like Sears unloaded the operation when they had to restructure their card division in response to lawsuits in the mid 90s.

    Restructuring the card division was probably the beginning of the end of Sears IMHO. The auto centers were done within a few years.

    I didn’t know Discover processed JCB in the US. A lot of places on the West Coast take that card, especially in and around the big airports.

  60. lynn says:

    I didn’t know Discover processed JCB in the US. A lot of places on the West Coast take that card, especially in and around the big airports.

    My sister-in-law is an officer for a Discover subsidiary, Pulse. Her sub processes four billion transactions per day for Discover. I cannot even begin to comprehend that amount of data.

  61. Greg Norton says:

    We have millions invested in our Juniper / Secure Auth setup and don’t want to scrap that investment.

    The IPSec providers stopped investing in their clients about 10 years ago, pretty much surrendering the market to Cisco AnyConnect.

  62. Greg Norton says:

    My sister-in-law is an officer for a Discover subsidiary, Pulse. Her sub processes four billion transactions per day for Discover. I cannot even begin to comprehend that amount of data.

    Mainframes. They’re back and they’re p*ssed.

    TAMU West Texas has been working with IBM on graduating new mainframe programmers. We had one of their kids as an intern at CGI last summer, and companies were already recruiting her as a sophomore.

  63. lynn says:

    Mainframes. They’re back and they’re p*ssed.

    No, I think that it is a LOT of Unix boxes. But, it has been a long time since she and I talked about that. Or maybe the mainframes are running Unix (shudder).

  64. Paul H says:

    Nick “I know I’ve got stuff still running in 32 bit versions (FFox, I’m looking at you.)” Firefox has 64 bit out there, I’ve been running it for several months. WRT fixing Windows, I’ve had a couple of experiences where something borked it to the point of not booting, left it off for a couple of days, pushed the power button and there it was, seemingly self-healed; my son the MS guy says yeah, Win 10 does that if it possibly can, just takes time.

  65. lynn says:

    _The Girl at the End of the World_ by Richard Levesque
    https://www.amazon.com/Girl-at-End-World/dp/1491276932/

    A solitary book about a young adult plague based apocalypse, no sequel, no prequel. I read the well printed and bound trade POD (print on demand) paperback.

    A 15 year old girl survives a horrible plague with a 99.999% fatality rate in Los Angeles. Some of her fellow survivors are nice and some are not. This is the story of Scarlett Fisher living in a corpse strewn world, just trying to survive.

    My rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
    Amazon rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars (126 reviews)

  66. Marcelo says:

    @Lynn re: “Or maybe the mainframes are running Unix (shudder).”

    Mainframes have been running Unix systems for ages. Amdahl’s Unix was called UTS, Fujitsu’s UXP/M, and I assume other mainframe companies had their own implementations running on their specialised hardware.

    The Unix systems were/are able to run either as host systems using all the hardware resources or under a VM environment in which you could/can run proprietary systems and Unix systems concurrently.

    Way back, before the turn of the century, IBM had a big campaign demonstrating the cost efficiency of running their mainframes with many Unix systems in one box.

    It was this capability that stopped the death of IBM mainframes.

  67. MarkD says:

    I have had a different experience with Linux – I nearly always find the answers I need on the web, but I don’t deal with desktops, just servers. Printing is ugly in every environment from mainframe, to Unix and Linux, to Windows. It hasn’t been simple since the real old days, when you put your 132 characters in the correct memory location and sent the command to print a line.

    I think my blood pressure went up ten points reading about Citi. They sent us a new card once we had been with them a year, and it was immediately used fraudulently in Canada. Their customer disservice was epic, and I immediately cancelled the Costco Visa, because it was from them. Nobody gets me twice.

  68. Nick Flandrey says:

    My airline affiliated Chase card number has been stolen repeatedly. For a month, it was stolen even before I was able to receive and use my new card. I think the shortest time was 3 days…

    Someone with people in Mexico figured out their replacement number scheme, and was trying to use the number for fraud in MX. Weird combination of smart and dumb. Figured out the scheme, printed and encoded cards, but ran test transactions of 50c in MEXICO which was guaranteed to trigger the fraud algorithms.

    Chase was unable to stop them, so just put a blanket ban on charges from Mexico on my account. I’d have dropped the card after the second or third time out of annoyance, but it provides my airline club membership and gives me status on United which means short lines and free checked bags. I almost believed they were doing it to see if they could get rid of me. It’s a great benefit package that they don’t offer anymore.

    n

  69. Ray Thompson says:

    My sister-in-law is an officer for a Discover subsidiary, Pulse.

    I don’t know if the card network is the same as the shared ATM network PULSE. I was involved in the initial implementation of PULSE developing software for my bank holding company to access and use the network. Did all the code in a two month time frame. Holding company hired me then told me I needed to get it working. Not one line of code had been written.

    Interesting project. It was not serial programming. The system would get a request from PULSE or an ATM, then had to keep track of what was happening. Timing out transactions that did not get responses within a set time frame. Knowing what happened last and making certain the next response was correct. All this had to be kept track of, event driven programming, which I had never done.

    Even denied transactions because PULSE was down had to be kept as each transaction was money to the holding company. Many times my system would detect PULSE was down before PULSE even knew. Would store the transactions then have to forward them to PULSE when they came back up. Had to manage that also as I could not just blast all the transaction to PULSE as it would overload their system. Got chewed out on that a couple of times by PULSE.

    Fun project. Sold the software to four other holding companies in Texas and Louisiana. The holding company got paid, not me. Each sale was $50K.

    I immediately cancelled the Costco Visa, because it was from them. Nobody gets me twice.

    I have a Costco VISA. It has been compromised twice. Both times transactions were attempted in Mexico. My card was blocked and a new card sent. I have also had Discover compromised, my banks VISA compromised more than once. Not the card companies fault as the numbers just get guessed until they get a good number. Or someone steals the number from a transaction.

    The fraud detection is getting much better. I used the card in East TN, an hour later my wife attempted a transaction in TX, got blocked. Seems their fraud detection determines that you cannot get from TN to TX in less than two hours. Good for them. Called Citi (the Costco card) and got it all working again.

    I like the systems where you can stop a card from your phone, basically just shut it off. I keep my cards shut off until just before I use them. Thus makes it difficult for anyone to use the card.

    When my wife’s purse was stolen VISA took almost 10 days to get a new card to us. Happened on a Friday night. Discover had a new card in our hands by 10:30 the next morning overnight FEDEX. Good service. Discover is a good card company, just wish it was accepted overseas.

  70. Ray Thompson says:

    Chase was unable to stop them, so just put a blanket ban on charges from Mexico

    All the card companies I have used deny foreign transactions as a general operating procedure. You have to call the card company and inform the card company you will be traveling in a foreign country and the dates of travel. Outside of those dates the card will not work. Needed to buy my train tickets for Germany and needed to call the card company to allow the transaction for the day.

  71. lynn says:

    My sister-in-law is an officer for a Discover subsidiary, Pulse.

    I don’t know if the card network is the same as the shared ATM network PULSE. I was involved in the initial implementation of PULSE developing software for my bank holding company to access and use the network. Did all the code in a two month time frame. Holding company hired me then told me I needed to get it working. Not one line of code had been written.

    Yes, PULSE is PULSE. Discover used to be owned by Sears who sold it J. P. Morgan. Who bought Chase Bank. And then spun off Discover. Or something like that.
    https://www.discover.com/company/our-company/

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