Archive for the 'Tech / Internet' Category


Your Life on the Net


Vonage Uses All of Downstream?

It doesn’t happen to many folks, but it does happen to some. And it’s a problem that is not easy to replicate on the tech support side of things…

You have a shiny Internet connection with gobs of bandwidth. You hook up the Vonage stuff and it works. But you notice that your download bandwidth has been murdered. As in, 90% of your available download bandwidth is being soaked up even when you are not using the phone attached to Vonage. Vonage is only supposed to use 90k in both directions at max. In my case a 6 meg download line that provided nominal bandwidth of 5.23 meg was being knocked down to less than .5 meg. Ugh. Called phone support which suggested that a new adapter would solve the problem. It didn’t. Then got in an email support march that wanted to send yet another adapter. That didn’t help. Then the email folks suggested that this was out of their control and that I should just go buy a third party adapter. Huh? One last phone call to tech support.

Kelly answered the call after I navigated the barely tolerable automated voice response system. I described the problem to Kelly. Kelly knew exactly what the problem is and apologized for the lack of help offered by previous reps. Apparently, there is some kind of DNS conflict that can occur between the Vonage box and some home routers. Mine was one of them. Here’s how Kelly told me to set up my Vonage box:

  • Assign a static IP to the Vonage adapter in the Vonage configuration manager.
  • In the same manager, assign a new primary and secondary DNS. We used OpenDNS
  • Click the apply button.

That’s it. Really. All is well.

Update: Not so much. Now my speed is back in the dumper and I am talking with somebody who has a thick Indian accent who wants to start all over. Her fixes were temporary.

Jason has remotely rolled back my firmware thinking that will solve my issues. He’s going to call back in four hours to make sure that all is still well.

Bill got involved late Tuesday. He tried a few things. But it was no help. He said that he had to bump me up to “Tier 2” support. They were unavailable, so he made an appointment to call me back on Wednesday. The time came and went with no contact.

It’s now Thursday.


Dell vs Dell

Well, it’s time to get my geek on. A few weeks ago I was ruminating on getting a new desktop computer for my office. I bought a Dell Dimension 4600 a little more than 6 years ago. I’ve run it 24/7 since purchase and have been generally happy with it. I know that the expected life of a desktop is about 3 years, so I am not upset over a HD replacement, memory upgrade or video card upgrade. It’s  Pentium 4 system running at 3gHz on XP Pro with maxed out RAM and is now showing it’s age. It also has an upcoming HD failure (again) and the watch battery has been replaced (a sure sign of doom), as well as signs that the power supply is getting wonky. This machine cost me around $2,000.

I ordered a new Dell this weekend. I got a system that features the Intel Core i7, 3G of tri-channel RAM, blah, blah, blah. I ordered an additional 6G of RAM from My total bill is about $850 to my door. It should be here in a week or so and I am already dreading the data transfer debacle. Hell, that never goes smoothly. Hopefully, though, I’ll have another machine that will blaze through another 6 years!


Oh Hubble, Where Art Thou?

The Hubble orbiting telescope has undoubtedly provided some of the most amazing astronomical images ever seen. Over the couse of its career it has produced a stunning amount of data by way of those images and observations. Did you know that you can actually access that data? Of course, it’s in its raw form… To beautify it you need to process it, which means subtracting a dark frame, a bias frame, dividing by the flat field, flagging bad pixels, combining multiple exposures to get rid of cosmic rays, performing a geometric correction… and if you want color, you have to do that for the other filters used in the observation, and then combining those using Photoshop or some other software. But if you are game, head on over to the master Hubble database and have at it. You are gonna need to get your geek on to even query the database, so be warned! BTW, images that are not at least one year old will not be available.


Default Password


Broken Rule

I’ve had a computer or two in my hands for a *very* long time. Let’sjust  say that I still have a TRS80 Model II (with cassette drive) in a well-padded and sealed box in storage… I manage to make my computers last, though. I try to buy toward the top of the heap when it is time for a new one and take care of the thing. That has usually meant an outlay of $2,000-3,000. The uber geeks always said that the computer you want costs at leat $2,000. It would appear to be no longer true.

  • Intel Core2 Quad Q8200
  • 4G of RAM
  • 640G SATA Hard Drive
  • 512M Dual DVI Output GeForce Video Card (have my own flat panels)
  • 16X Optical Drive Burner (adding my own second)
  • Integrated 7.1 Audio (have my own speakers)

Under $700. I’m not too thrilled about having to use Vista64 to take true advantage of the Quad and the RAM…


WP: I’m Sorry

As some of you may have noticed, this blog got “taken down” for a few hours today. The notice said that I had violated the Terms of Service of WordPress hosting. I’m not sure what I did to deserve that, but a few emails to customer support seem to have fixed things up. I do not know what I did wrong, so I do not know what to remove. But whatever it is, I’m sorry. I will now return to issuing sporadic effluvia from an addled brain.