Generic update is generic…

So, just a generic update. The Oregon number (503-451-0714) got seperated from the Google Voice account I use day to day, for reasons.

If you have a (720) number for me, you have the current phone number that’s tied to my Google Voice/Hangouts that actually will ring me phones. If you don’t have the (720) number let me know and I’ll get it to you.

Prank Calls at the Motel 6

Something really odd just happened. I awoke to the phone ringing in my hotel room at about 10:15-ish. On the other end was somebody claiming to be from the hotel’s front desk and saying something about getting complaints about “loud parties in my room” or some such. I went silent on the line and just waited, and after a couple of “hellos?” they hung up.

I immediately knew it wasn’t the front desk. First off, the call audio was obviously not local.. even through this motel’s crappy PBX I could tell it was likely long distance, and even had telltale signs of Skype jitter in the audio. Secondly, I’ve stayed here long enough to have met all the front desk staff: they’re all old geezers, and this caller’s voice sounded like a juvenile punk kid. It also sounded vaguely.. familiar.

I sure wish I wasn’t asleep when the call came in. I now suspect it was the children at Madhouse Live.  It sounded like them, anyway.

OK, haha, very funny.  How droll.  And then I realized something that kinda creeps me out a little bit: they used my first name during the call.

Wait. How did they know my first name?

I walked to the front desk and had a brief conversation with the (old) man.  Turns out that our fun-loving telephone r0dent social engineered the front desk into releasing the name of the person in room 1xx using some story about somebody being ill.  Wonderful.  I informed the guy that we’d just been had, and went back to my room.

After sitting here for a few minutes, I now feel a little uneasy.  One of the downsides to having a unique first name is that it’s pretty easy to find me.  There is only one person with my first name: me.  Doing a simple Google search on only my first name gives you Everything You Ever Need To Know.  (Yeah, I’m aware that by posting this very article I’m making it worse..)

I’m fortunate: the caller could have been a phisher working a scam and not just out for a Fiber-Optic Joyride.  I also plan on making sure the hotel gets a little bit of an education on this and doesn’t fall for this flim-flammery in the future.

Oh, and a big apology to Madhouse Live (assuming that was in fact you) I didn’t provide a better show.  I was asleep.  Give me a little warning next time and you’d have had something legendary.  I could have slipped in to my “Big Dick” Stetson voice and gone all shit-howdy hick postal on you (which is probably what you expected when you called a budget motel in rural Oregon anyway, not some half-awake blogger geek).

Anyway, I’m going back to bed.  With the ringer on the phone switched to OFF.

Today’s rant.

Apple’s announcements yesterday? Color me unimpressed.

And another thing. All the analysts that are calling the Kindle Fire “not an iPad killer” are totally missing the point. If the Kindle Fire does 80% of what an iPad can do and costs 40% of the price, it is an iPad killer.

Just like Android hasn’t been an iPhone killer.

Current Smartphone Share


This is a telecom announcement.

First off, thanks to a lot of you beautiful, wonderful people  I’m back in some kind of financial position where things aren’t all screwed up.  You know who you are, and thank you.  Your help has gotten me to the point where I can get some of the things I need done without having to worry about digging out of a financial hole.

I also have a bit of a rant brewing about voice mail and how it is increasingly annoying.. so a few of you may notice some changes when you call me, including the fact that my phone will now ring more or less indefinitely if you are placed in a certain calling group.   This is not a bug, but a feature.. so if it happens to you it means I’m playing with my settings and not to worry.  If you really have to get ahold of me, just wait: or, if you can’t, send me a text and/or an E-Mail (as appropriate to your situation).

Heading rapidly towards obsolescence…

As a lot of you know, I’ve been playing with the phone since I was a child.. and that’s now multiple lifetimes in Internet time. I remember the cutting of crossbar offices to electronic, and the cutting of electronic switches to digital. I’ve seen “mobile phones” go from clunky two-way radio style devices to (now) 4G data handsets.

I would have never thought it would have come to the point it is at now.

As part of an upcoming move, I’ve been pricing my options. Where I’m moving, it looks like I have three choices: the incumbent phone company, the cable company, and the WiMax provider. So, I go to the web sites of the three companies to shop.

First, we’ll talk to the WiMax provider. The website shows me a coverage map, and it looks like I’m in good coverage, but I have some concerns because I’m not in GREAT coverage. However, I’m able to get the pricing and coverage information quickly and efficiently. A big A+ here. Of course, it’s just Internet and phone only (no TV), but the price looks right.

Then I go to the cable company’s website. It’s a little messy at first, because I already have service with them at my present address, and they don’t seem to want to price out my options for the new address. I load up Chrome’s “Incognito” mode, and it all works great. Boy, there’s a lot of packages, and the packages with Internet included area little vague at first what the available speed options are. But, with a little bit of bouncing between the individual unbundled service information page and the bundles, I’m able to figure out that a 15 down 3 up package with TV and an unlimited phone is around $100 on a promo, and the cost after the promo is clearly spelled out and easy to understand. An “A” here, and that’s only because it would have been nice if the bundles made it clearer what tier of Internet service was included without having to bounce between screens.

Then, I tried to check with the incumbent telephone company.

For starters, the website wouldn’t even load. Okay, I think, maybe Comcast is messing with the website (hehehe, “net neutrality” anyone?). So, I fire up the wireless modem and try that. Still no dice. I can get the basic information screens, but they don’t have any pricing and availability for the specific area I’m interested in. This is concerning for me, because where I’m considering moving to (Oregon City) there’s no guarantee that anything will be available. When typing in the address of the apartment, the website just returns a blank screen, an error, or just returns me to the screen with vague pricing and no specifics.

Okay, maybe their website was down when I tried. And sure enough, this afternoon the website SEEMS to load.. but there’s nowhere near the clarity of information present that the cable company and the WiMax provider offers. I want a package with Internet and phone service, no TV really needed, preferably something in the 8-15 Mb/s down range. The best I can figure out is that unlimited phone is $35/mo and that there is some kind of $14.95/month promotional price on high speed Internet, up to 7 Mb/s down. But I’m still not sure what the price on the high-speed is after the end of the promotion, nor am I clear if there’s any higher speed options available (and it’s worth noting that they DO advertise 20 Mb/s speeds in this market generically). They’d love to have me talk to an agent to give me more information!

I wanted to root for the phone company. I gave them a fighting chance to give me the information I needed in the format their competitors do, and in a way that saves me time. This is information services we’re talking about here, folks. If there ever was a product that you should be able to sell over the web it’s.. well, the web, dammit. Your competitors websites all would have let me order the services right then and there: just a credit card entry away.

The capper is when same phone company tried to engage me on Twitter after I posted a one-liner about the site not working. If I had time to “talk to an agent” about my needs, if I wanted to, they were merely a phone call away. That’s not what I wanted. I wanted the information on the web in a clear, concise format like both your competitors do.

After all, you’re an Internet provider now, right?