Wednesday, 21 March 2012

08:46 – The Roku box is great when it’s working, but a royal pain in the petunia when it’s not. Around 6:30 yesterday evening, we had a short power outage that was long enough to cause the Roku to reboot. It took me more than an hour and probably 50 attempts before I could get it to reconnect. About half the time, it would pass the first of three steps in reconnecting, “Connect to wireless network”. About a tenth of the time, it would also pass the second step, “Connect to local network”. But it took 50+ tries before it would pass the final step, “Connect to the Internet”. What was particularly aggravating was that I was watching the AP router status screen, which told me that the Roku box was connected to the wireless network 100% of the time, with a very strong signal and at a high data rate.

I would have called Roku tech support, but I learned that lesson the day the Roku arrived, when I had similar problems getting it to connect (the dreaded 014 error). Never, ever call Roku tech support. Roku has the worst tech support of any company I’ve ever contacted, bar none. Their tech support reps are apparently in China, and do not speak understandable English. They work from a script, and their solution is always to demand that you reconfigure your entire network, despite the fact that the network is demonstrably working fine and that the problem is solely the Roku box.

If I ever need to replace this Roku box, it certainly won’t be with another Roku product. Roku sucks.


O’Reilly sent me the draft of the bio book index yesterday. In all the books we’ve done for O’Reilly, I don’t think I’ve ever made even one change to a draft index. For some reason, it just flummoxes me. They want suggestions about adding things that are missing. I can never think of any. They also want suggestions about things that are in there but shouldn’t be. I can never think of any. So I just emailed my editor this morning to say that I couldn’t find anything that needed to be changed.

Right now, I’m working on two web pages. The first is the “landing page” for the biology book. The second is the main page for the BK01 biology kit. Both of those pages need to be tested, up, and working by the time the biology book hits the stores a month from now. Which means I really need to get the biology kits costed out, so we know what to charge for them.


I talked to Barbara the other day about dropping our cable TV and VoIP service from Time-Warner, keeping only Roadrunner. The cable TV service is basic tier, which is essentially just the OTA channels. About the only use we have for them is when Barbara watches sports on weekends. We could get those for free with an antenna, and probably get a better picture. As to VoIP phone service, we’re paying something like $45/month for it, and probably use it an average of less than 10 minutes per day. Although it’s more common among young people, we have several friends who’ve already dropped their landline phone service and gone 100% cell. Given our very light usage, I thought prepaid cell phones would actually be cheaper. Assuming 300 minutes per month between us, which is probably high, prepaid cell airtime at $0.10 per minute would run us only $30, and we’d have the other advantages of cell phones, including each of us having a personal number and not missing any calls.

Barbara’s current cell phone is a Boost Mobile, for which she pays $0.10/minute, so I visited the Boost Mobile site yesterday, intending to order a second phone for myself. I found that, although Barbara is grandfathered in at $0.10/minute, the current prepaid plan is $0.20/minute. So I went off looking for alternatives and found Platinumtel.com. They get good reviews, we’re in a service area with a strong signal, and their prepaid service is only $0.05/minute. So I just ordered one of their phones for myself. If I like it, I may order another one for Barbara.