Mosaic

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Blog is Moving

I started this blog in Google’s Blogger which worked very well.  After a while I decided to move it to WordPress, which I did.  And WordPress worked great for a while.  Now I am trying to bring my two blogs together with my business website all under one umbrella – in the realm of SquareSpace.  If you haven’t seen SquareSpace you should check it out.  It’s an interactive online system for creating/publishing websites and blogs.

Going forward – content for this blog will now be found at:
http://amcc.squarespace.com/amcc/

You can update your RSS Reader with:
http://amcc.squarespace.com/amcc/rss.xml

Or, you can find it all at www.MillerManor.net

Regards,

Allen

Eric Korneau @ CiNPA

This is an excerpt of Eric Korneau’s talk tonight on Compliance at the CiNPA meeting tonight.  I did this mostly as an experiment to try out a service from QIK.COM.  This web site gives you an application for your mobile phone and space on their web site where you can 1) Stream live video and 2) Post the recorded video.

[qik]http://qik.com/video/1621942[/qik]

Skype

Since one of our daughters has been studying abroad this semester in Florence (aka Firenze) Italy – I set her and myself up with Skype.  This is a great service for low cost (and FREE) international long distance calling – depending on whether you are calling computer to computer or to/from a real phone.  Susan had been using the microphone and speakers built in to her laptop as her telephone.  Last month I hand delivered a USB headset to her.  Now, the sound quality of what I hear from her is superb.

One of the features of the Skype service is called Skype To Go.  The best way that I can think of to describe this is kind of like a calling card.  You get a special telephone number in your local area.  When your authenticated phone calls the special number – you are connected into the Skpe system and your account.  You can speed dial from a dialing diretory of your contacts.

The Skype To Go service has been working well and was a great resource.  Basically, I could call my Skype to Go number from my mobile phone dialing directory and then call Susan just by pressing the number 1 for my dialing directory.  I don’t need to enter an account code, nor a password, nor her telephone number.  Kind of convenient.  That is up until last week.  Now it seems like the Skype to Go feature is broken.  It seems like this has been down for quite a while for a system that is to be considered ligitimate.  I finally got someone from technical support to acknowledge that there is a problem – however they can give no idea of when it will be working again.

By the way, I just got set up for Google Voice.  Google Voice has many features including low cost long distance telephone calling.  It is not quite as simple to use from a mobile phone but at the moment – it does work – which is something that we can’t say about Skype to Go.

Do you believe this c**p? from Microsoft Office Live

About a year ago I was reviewing credit card statements and found that Microsoft had been charging me $39.90 per month for 7 or 8 months.  After wending my way through the phone system maze that is MS I found that the free Beta service I had signed up for called Office Live Small Business had ended its free Beta period and converted itself and me to a paid account.  I informed the guy I was speaking to that he may have converted himself but no one had converted me and MS needed to 1) stop these charges and 2) find a way to refund me for the previous ones.  I explained that all I had signed up for was a free service.  They did both stop the charges and issue me a refund, by the way.

Now, a year later and guess what?  I’m reviewing credit card statements again and I’ve got another 9 months charges at $39.90 per month that started about 3 months after last year’s charges ended.

After asking twice to speak to a supervisor* I spoke to a guy that at least sounded like he understood what I was talking about.

GET THIS – He reviews their notes and tells me this is my fault (he didn’t use the word ‘fault’)!  That a year ago they (and this is his word which I questioned him about and he reused) COMMANDED me to call them back at a later time because at that time their computer system wasn’t capable of completing the task.  I quizzed him on this and he stood fast insisting that if his notes said I was COMMANDED this then I must have been COMMANDED to call them back.

So, this company, that makes operating system software and application software INCLUDING Database software had to COMMAND me to call them back to remind them to turn off these c**ppy charges that I never wanted.  They didn’t have the computing resources to do their job so they were outsourcing to me!

And another point – if they had in fact COMMANDED me to do something – I can promise you that I would not have done it but I would have remembered that they COMMANDED me.

When I asked this supervisor if there would be any need for me to call them again next year he assured me that there would not be.

– – – – –

*supervisor – some people think that I am a little bigotted.  they think that I think that people of certain distant nationalities that staff help desks are ignorant because of their national origin.  this is far from the truth.  i know that these peoples countrymen (and women) are very bright because they are all here, in our country, getting higher education and becoming doctors and engineers.  its the ones that are left behind that are hired at 20 cents on the dollar by the hundreds of head counts to fill ‘technical support’ desks with no experience about the subject matter that they are supporting – they are just taught how to read a script from a notebook.  so, i am not biased against people by their nationality – but by their capability (or lack thereof) to represent the company they work for.

Back to USA & Windows Phone

We had a great time in Italy.  I’ve got a post of the trip at my other blog.  I like when you reenter the US and the Passport Control officer says ‘Welcome Home’.

I am also kind of glad to be back to my regular mobile phone.  I have been using a Verizon HTC Touch Pro recently.  For the trip, I got a Verizon Blackberry 8830 (think that is what it is called) Worldphone – so it would be easier to keep in touch with family and business at home.  When I returned home last weekend I took the BB offline and reactivated my Touch Pro.

Observations – I have a little more appreciatation for the BB system now.  I still prefer Windows or Palm since they are so much more open and more flexible as far as applications go.

What BB has going for it – in my opinion – is that it is VERY easy to use as a phone.  I’ve got a contact list with a few thousand contacts and I don’t have to access any special screen to get into lookup mode – all I have to do is start entering firstname, lastname or company and the phone does a FAST filtering of my contacts.  Also, for emailing and text messaging the process seems very efficient.  It’s just that doing other things becomes much more limiting than on my windows phone.

One feature of BB’s that I was unaware of – PIN messaging or BB messaging or whatever you call it.  This is like text messaging but here’s the deal.  With text messaging while roaming it costs something like 5 cents to receive and 50 cents to send.  BB PIN messaging between and BB’s regardless of the carrier and regardless of where they are in the WORLD are FREE.  My daughter, who is studying in Florence this semester shares an apartment with 4 other girls.  The other 4 girls all have BBs.  It costs like $1/min to make phone calls on these phones but they don’t use them for talking – they use them for BB messaging – FREE.  So, when I returned home from Italy last weekend, I had my BB reprovisioned on a different line on my account and then shipped the phone back to my daughter to use for the rest of her stay abroad.  Now she can use the BB messaging too.  And one more neat thing about our modern age – Susan is leaving Friday (today) to visit some other cities in Europe for her spring break.  I shipped the phone to her on Monday and she received it on Wednesday – even after one failed delivery attempt!  Pretty cool.

Ciao ( my Italy pictures http://bit.ly/exJ8I )

I crossed over to the dark side

About a month or so I gave up my Treo 700P that was working just fine for me.  I had stayed with the Palm o/s because of an application that is important to me and for which I had not found a suitable replacement in the Windows Mobile world.  Anyway, a month ago my brother found the replacement application for me and he turned me on to the HTC Touch Pro which he has been using.  I bought a Touch Pro and I have to tell you – it took me at least a week just to get a mental picture of where the various programs and utilities were. I did finally get it and I do like the phone a lot.  I have been a Palm user for a long, long time.  About two years ago I bought a Windows based phone and I was shocked at how STUPIDLY designed it was.  A large criticism of mine was concerned with silencing the phone.  It required using the stylus because the touch item on the screen was too small.  And, worst of all, giving the silence command made NOISE.  What engineer thought that this was a good idea.

Joyce and I are now getting ready for a vacation to Firenze, Italy.  I got Joyce a world phone (CDMA + GSM)  last fall. This week when I was talking to the Verizon guy to make plans to activate the international service it dawned on me that, especially because of my business, it would make a lot of sense for me to have a world phone too.  I had planned on using one of the inexpensive unlocked GSM phones we got several years ago for our travels.  We would just get a local country prepaid SIM card when we went and enjoy very inexpensive local calling.  We would handle international calling with a global calling card.  This worked pretty well for us making calls but it wasn’t very easy for our family to reach us.  It required international dialing which in our circles wasn’t second nature plus it was much more expensive when done ad hoc.

The global phone idea seemed to make a lot of sense for me being able to keep in touch with business back home.  Verizon had a couple world phones and I picked a blackberry that might be called a curve (not sure).  It was going to be $170 minus a $70 rebate and I figured for $100 it would be worth it to me to just use this phone when I travel.  I went to the Verizon store, picked out a nice looking Red phone and went through the stuff with the sales person.  When she rang up the sale she looked up and said ‘Oh, your phone is free!’.  That was a nice surprise.  She said she thought it might be because of a buy one get another one program even though the one I bought (for Joyce) was 5 months ago.

Oberservations – I have always been kind of anti BB – because of the fact that it is not an open system.  I liked the ability with Palm and Windows to be able to find tons of 3rd party apps. from independent sources.

I first tried something called AstraSync – which is supposed to be software to do wireless sync of email/calendar/contacts for a lower price than the BB enterprise server.  In the last several months I tried to install and configure this software for 2 other peoples’ BB phones.  I was unsuccessful in this endeavor and found AstraSync’s technical support to be worthless.  They only have user supported forums for technical support.  Now, with my BB, I decided to try this software again.  I actually did get it to start sync’ing with my phone which is farther than I had gotten before.  HOWEVER, the sync’ing ran for hours and when it completed it started sync’ing again.  There was an ever present twirling icon in the center of my screen indicating that the sync’ing was going on.  This was annoying AND slowed down the operation of the phone.  Since I have an Small Business Server running in my office – I downloaded and installed the BB server software.  I got this running and sync’ing in a well behaved manner and think life is now good.

While I still do miss having all the nice 3rd party applications for the BB phone – I do find that some of the things it does are extremely FAST.  I’ve got an enormous contact list and all I have to do is type in a couple letters of a first name or a last name or a company and the result is immediate.

I do still plan to go back to my HTC Touch Pro when I return from this trip. I’ll keep the BB for a foreign travel phone.