Friday, January 2, 2009

UPS Drops the Ball in Washington - Black Eye for Brown

I'm writing this post reluctantly because UPS has been my carrier of choice both as a shipper and receiver for many years but their performance the past few weeks has been awful. We had some snow in the Puget Sound area in December 2008 and some services were briefly disrupted. This was not a disaster; virtually no power outages, no fatalities and very few road closures. The mail was delivered every day and the shopping malls were open. UPS deliveries however came to a virtual halt.This is January 2, 2009 and I'm still waiting for packages, most shipped before Christmas. We had a small delivery today of 4 boxes but the bulk of a large shipment that I need to fill a PC order is still missing. I checked the tracking numbers again and most of the missing boxes are listed as ''in transit'' with 1/2/2009 as the revised delivery date. I decided to call and ask about the situation. The rep at 1-800-PICK-UPS told me that all the packages should be delivered today because that's what the tracking...

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

FIOS - Verizon - Vonage - Comcast

I signed up for Verizon’s FIOS Triple Freedom bundle a few weeks ago. Triple Freedom includes TV, Internet and Phone. The TV and Internet part of the bundle seems to be pretty good. Compared to Comcast, the Internet is a little faster the TV has many more HD channels to choose from. But compared to Vonage the phone part of the bundle was disappointing. There is no problem with the quality but the limited services and web control panel were an issue for me so I'm going back to Vonage for phone service.Verizon offers only three features with their bundle and any additional features cost extra. While it's nice to have caller ID, call waiting and voice mail, the most important feature for me is call forwarding or SimulRing which is included with Vonage at no additional cost. With SimulRing, I never have to worry about forwarding or un-forwarding calls to my cell phone. All incoming calls always ring both my land line and my cell phone and I can choose which one to answer when I'm in...

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Advanta Bank - credit card - rate increase

I guess blogs tend to evolve. This is supposed to be a technical site but sometimes one just needs a soapbox to shout from and vent some frustrations. Here's one now.I just received a notice from Advanta Bank that my interest rate will be going up next month. When I signed up for this account, I was offered a fixed annual rate of 7.99%. The new rate is going to be 22.59% plus variable rate index. According to Advanta, The Variable Rate Index for any billing cycle is chosen by us from among the London Interbank Offered Rates (LIBORs) published int the Wall Street Journal's Money Rates section during the three (3) months prior to the month which contains that billing cycle's Billing Cycle Closing Date. So I'm figuring they can pick the highest of the past 3 months and add that to the 22.59% and (based on a quick Internet search) that is about 3%.So, 7.99% to 25.59%. My first thought was that I had misread the notice and that it must be for default accounts or special advances or someone...

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Spam - CNN - MSNBC

This new wave of spam with the fake headlines and lists from CNN and MSNBC are really odd. I don't know how they've managed to get thru most spam filters but it just occurred to me how to track down the culprits.I noticed that the two news networks that are used in the headlines are pretty well known for their liberal bias. Also, the fake headlines usually allude to some spectacular mis-deeds by President Bush or John McCain.My conclusion? It's a right-wing conspiracy to keep all the liberals so busy reading e-mail messages and trying to remove viruses that they won't have time to vote on November 5th. 

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Pop-up blockers - toolbars - bundled software

I hate pop-up blockers. I've had three calls this week from clients that could not access certain web functions. They thought that either the web sites or their browsers were malfunctioning. All cases were solved by turning off pop-up blockers and/or uninstalling the toolbars that include pop-up blockers. It's not too difficult  to get users to turn off the built-in pop-up blocker with IE7 but when they also have ones from Google, Yahoo, Verizon etc. it can get a little tricky to help them by  phone.I've found that most people don't even realize that they have these toolbars. They often come bundled with other software and even when it's an optional add-on, the default setting is usually to opt in. Once the toolbar is installed, the default setting for most is to block pop-ups. So, a typical user that is downloading some useful software and just clicks 'OK' or 'Next' without un-checking and resetting anything ends up with pop-ups being blocked and not knowing why. All they...

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Google Affiliate Network - PC Pitstop - Optimize

Just the other day received an e-mail from PC Pitstop. I've been a long-time user of their web site so I usually read their e-mails because they have some interesting insights to offer. This message had a link to sign up as an affiliate to sell their products. Since I use their Optimize tool from time-to-time, this looked like a good idea. A few clicks later and I found that their affiliate program was being handled by DoubleClick Performics and that DoubleClick had recently been bought by Google. It's now known as the Google Affiliate Network.I decided to complete the process and was approved a day or two later. The web site control panel and the reporting tools look pretty good. I haven't 'sold' anything yet but it's easy to track the impressions and visits. This level of reporting is missing with a couple of other affiliate programs that I've signed up for. Looking for and signing up for new products and getting the link code also seems to be nicely configured.If you are looking for...

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Mac vs PC -- Democrat vs. Republican

This morning I read that Al Gore was buying some more Apple stock. Gore has been on the board of Apple since March 2003 so I guess it's good for him to buy stock in the company. With all the news about the primaries and the presidential politics also in the paper, I started to make some connections between people’s political leanings and their computer selections. Here's my resolution: not all Democrats use Macs but most Mac users are Democrats. Apple's market share is about 8% these days but there are some areas where you'll find mostly Macs and few if any PCs. Schools, movie studios, art and design studios, universities and Seattle are places you'll see a great share of Macs. Not coincidentally these are also areas that are pretty sure to vote for Democrats. Democrats like Macs for the sense of well being. Big Steve has put together a package of hardware and software that will take care of your needs and his solutions don't require you as an individual to make a lot of risky...

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Pocket PC - Windows Mobile - Sync Storage Card

I've been using a Pocket PC for 2 years and have tried many utilities and tools. One of the best ones is Pocket Controller Pro by SOTI Inc. All I wanted was a tool to sync my storage card automatically with my desktop PC (Active Sync won't do this). This program does so much more that it was a real treat to discover all the great utilities. The fact that it allows remote control of your handheld  makes it a great value. To download a trial or just check it out, click  PocketGear.com and search for 'SOTI' when you get  to their home page.

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Friday, August 31, 2007

DSL - Cable

I had two help calls today regarding lost Internet connectivity. There are lots of troubleshooting steps that can be taken but I've found that if the loss is sudden and there haven't been any changes on the user side that it can usually be solved by ''refreshing'' the IP with the provider. If rebooting the PC doesn't solve the problem, another quick fix is to disconnect power to the modem, wait for 60 seconds and then re-connect. If you have a router between your modem and PC(s) you may need to log into the web management of the router to ''release and renew'' your IP address.

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Hosted Exchange Update

I've been testing my Private Label Exchange Hosting and started setting up my first client and a test account for myself to work with. This has gone pretty smoothly but I found that Intermedia's user guide and knowledge base was geared to Exchange 2003 not 2007. I called them and got them to fix the domain connection problem I was having. The Outlook Web Access Interface looks great and I'm anxious to get familiar with it and offer this to my other clients. Contact me if you're interested.

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Verizon Fiber Optic Broadband

I have a customer who is connected to the Internet using Verizon's Fiber service. His connection speeds are very good - about 15 Megabit download and 2 Megabit upload. If you want to check your connection speed go to Speedtest.net. I checked for availablity at my address and got a negative response. It looks like the pricing is reasonable (about the same as Comcast) and the speed is great so I would recommend it to anyone that does a lot of Internet work or play.

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Exchange 2003, 2007 - Sharepoint - hosted Exchange

A client e-mailed me today asking about hosted Exchange server. He wants to be able to share Calendars and Contacts with his associates. I've been looking into that and suggested that we try using my provider, Intermedia. Sounded good to him so I signed up for their private label Exchange hosting. This gives me a control panel to sign up customers and also a small break on the price. I'm hoping it fits in with my other web and hosting services. I have a few other customers that might benefit by using Exchange for sharing and filtering their e-mail.

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