dreamshark: (Default)
 So about a year ago I created an online account for Social Security so I could look up the information I needed at tax time. The login and password that I recorded no longer works. My "security questions" failed to get me in. Fortunately I was able to reset my password by having a temp password emailed.

When I logged in to create the new password I discovered the problem. THE F***NG PASSWORD EXPIRES AFTER SIX MONTHS. Remember, this is an account that I can see no reason to access more often than once per year. (I'm guessing that most people don't sign in to their online Social Security account very often). Why would they? So this means I'll have to go through the damn password recovery dance every year. 

And does it make my account safer?  Of course not. Anybody who can get access to my main email account can break into it, which is not exactly military-level secure. 
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
Working on cleaning the attic (which I still think I'm going to renovate before the end of the year). Started by getting rid of my lifetime supply of vintage computers, which Thorin kindly hauled downstairs for me and stashed in the van. I then drove them over to FreeGeek Twin Cities, over in the industrial end of Seward Neighborhood. I strongly recommend this option if you have old electronics, cameras, cables, chargers, and even small appliances to get rid of. I think I gave them 6 computers, and put the 7th (an iMac with embedded CRT) out in the alley for the City of Minneapolis to take care of. FreeGeek charges $5 for CRTs, but the city takes them for free.

While I was over there I also made a purchase - a sturdy old Hitachi receiver/amplifier/tuner, which I connected to my computer to drive the speakers that have been hanging on my walls since the last old amp died. I think it sounds better than the mid-range powered computer speakers I was using.
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
Even without the rest of the features, it really is a hell of a watch. It works fine right out of the box, but it is definitely worth taking the time to customize the available watch faces. Besides the time, widgets include date, calendar, moon phase, sunrise/sunset, weather, fitness summary, alarm, timer, stopwatch, battery life, world clock and stocks. You can also customize colors and in some cases the graphics. So I managed to spend at least 3 hours yesterday customizing the 10 watch faces currently available (you can switch between them fairly easily).

MOST USEFUL:  Modular, Simple, Utility.  With these 3 I have every "complexity" (a technical watch term) I am likely to want.
Modular Simple Utility

CUTEST. That has to be one of the animated faces. Mickey is not only cute, but usable. The Motion faces are visually impressive, giving you a choice of wobbling jellyfish, blooming flowers, or flapping butterflies, but thoroughly impractical. Not only are there no extra widgets available here, too many of the animations are basically white, making it hard to read the time (which often overlaps the animations). Mickey is pretty cool, though. In lieu of a second hand, he taps his foot once per second.
  Mickey AppleWatchMotion

MOST PERPLEXING. The Astronomy face is lovely, and you can play with it. But I'm not sure what the point of it is. The lower left corner shows an animation of the moon changing phases. It does not, however, show you what the current phase is. If you click on the icon in the lower right corner you get a top down view of current planetary positions in the solar system. This might be useful to some people, but not to very many. Oh, I see. Once you select the moon or planet view you can turn the watch stem to see the phases change or the planets move, with a popup telling you how many days you have progressed. Okay, that's pretty cool. But not something I'll need very often. The second face below is called "Solar" and is even weirder. It shows the sun's current position in the sky. Turning the stem moves the sun backwards towards dawn or forwards towards sunset, with a popup telling you how many hours you have moved. Oooookay. The 3rd one, "Chronograph" is so impossibly complex that I have yet to figure out what all the little dials are for. It kind of makes my head hurt just to look at it. I may just delete that one from the progression.
  Astronomy Solar Chronograph
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
AppleWatch AppleWatchMotion AppleWatchMickey
Reasons are complicated, involving Apple Pay and credit cards. Nobody needs an Apple Watch, and at this stage of the game it's really not much more than an expensive toy. But, oh what an intriguing and stylish toy it is. I've kind of wanted one for a while, but could not justify the $350 cost. But I have convinced myself that the astonishing new promo offer on my Discover card will easily pay for the watch with surprisingly little effort. We'll see how that goes.

If anyone was wondering, Apple has not lost its design edge. Opening the packaging (so often a tedious and frustrating part of modern life) was 10 minutes of pure pleasure. You slit the shrink wrap and lift the lid off the first elegant white cardboard box, and inside (like a Russian nesting doll) is an even more elegant white box made of heavy plastic. Inside that are various mysterious objects and oblong packages lightly sealed with little plastic protective strips stenciled with instructional icons that even I could understand. Those peel off easily, leaving small gleaming white and black and silver objects in various geometric forms. You pick up the watch and it turns itself on, silently pleading for an electric charge. The USB charging cable ends in a heavy white disk about the size of a quarter. When you bring the disk close to the similar-sized circle on the back of the watch they clamp together magnetically and the happy green charging symbol appears on the watch face. In just a few minutes the watch charges up enough to move on to the next step. Syncing watch with iPhone is no more complicated than scanning a QR code. It was the easiest electronic setup I have ever experienced.

I got the smaller watch with the Sport trim and a white sport band, which is made of a silky, rubbery material. The package came with 2 bands of different lengths. I suspect they think that the shorter band is for women and the longer one for men, but with my dinosaur bones I had to use the longer one. I see a slight miscalculation here. The long band fits me perfectly on the 3rd-to-last hole, so I'm happy. But surely there are burly men with much larger wrists than mine - I think this band would not fit all of them.

I've spent the last 2 days figuring out how this thing works. There are several levels of functionality, and some of them have a definite learning curve. But the first level takes no setup at all. If all you want is a smart watch, it's done. You don't even have to tap it to turn it on. Once it's on your wrist, it knows when you are looking at it and comes on by itself. The default watch face shows time, date, temperature, the next item on your calendar, and a couple of other items that weren't immediately obvious. One is the cryptic "Activity" icon that lets you access the built in step counter. The other is the World Clock - an odd choice, since by default it redundantly shows the local time. I think the idea is that you can customize it to show the time in one other locale. Having no need for that, I changed that widget to show battery life instead. So, okay, it wasn't a perfect display out of the box, but a perfectly usable one. I just made it a little better. There are a few other watch faces available, but none of the others display as much information, so I'll stick with this one. The one with the animated butterfly is cool, but it just shows the time. And the butterfly. Which gets old after a while.

There's a whole cluster of functionality that I can't explore because I don't know think I know anybody else who has an Apple Watch. If you DO have an Apple Watch and want to experiment with any of these odd features, let me know. 
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
Being forced to watch a 2-minute video to learn how to do something that could have been described in one sentence: "From Google Drive, open settings and click the box next to the Offline option."

The 15 seconds spent showing me how to get to Google Drive? WTF? If I didn't know how to access Google Drive, I would have no need to edit those files offline, would I? Idiots. The condescending explanation of what "offline" means? Okay, maybe there are some young people today who have never heard of that concept. Fair enough.
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
In a recent grumbly post about setting up a new computer I mentioned that I had spent a massive amount of time getting Internet Explorer to work even though I rarely use it, and [livejournal.com profile] minnehaha asked why I needed it.  Today I ran into another example of why. I was trying to submit a form on the American Airlines site about missing bonus miles. Using my preferred browser (Chrome) I filled out and submitted the form, only to get a message saying, "System Error. This feature is currently unavailable. Please wait a few moments and try again."

So I waited about 20 minutes and tried again (this time taking the precaution of saving the text I had typed in). Again, same failure. So I cranked up IE and tried one more time. Worked perfectly. Notice that the original error message said nothing about unsupported browsers. They probably had never bothered to test their stupid software with anything but IE, so they didn't even KNOW what browsers they supported.
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
Mostly, I love my new laptop. There's just one little problem and it is driving me nuts. I can find lots of indications online that many other people have had the same problem, but no solutions. It probably doesn't even matter, cause I pretty much hate Internet Explorer.... but every now and then you really have to have it.

Here's the deal. My laptop came with Windows 7 Professional installed, complete with Internet Explorer 10, which worked fine. Until the first time I rebooted, and Windows helpfully installed 60+ Important Updates. After the reboot, Internet Explorer was dead in the water, claiming "This Page Can't Be Displayed." Note that there is nothing wrong with the internet connection. Firefox and Chrome are working fine.

I finally gave up and restored to an earlier checkpoint before the Windows updates and IE immediately started working again. I unchecked the box in IE that says "update automatically" and rebooted. Again with the huge Windows Update. And again, IE was dead. This time IE itself had not been upgraded, but one of the dozens of other updates makes it not work.

I have tried every cockamamie suggestion I found online, and none of them have helped. Once IE is dead it is DEAD. I tried downgrading it back to IE9 and IE8. Didn't matter. With the killer update in the system, IE will not work on Windows 7.

Anybody familiar with this issue?
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
Isn't it always the way? You buy something expensive, and the new acquisition immediately starts demanding new stuff of its own.

I'm kind of amazed at what's out there, though - how teeny everything is getting. I deliberately decided to buy a laptop that was powerful but lean. Rather than lugging around the extra weight of an internal DVD drive and hard disk, I figured I would buy separate peripherals  and attach them only when needed. I was thinking of the 3TB Seagate drive (about the size of a trade paperback) or the noisy old DVD drive (about twice the size of the Seagate drive). Turns out if I want to I can buy a 1TB portable drive no bigger than my iPhone and an external DVD drive no bigger than an old-fashioned CD case.

But the first thing I need is a nice USB hub to plug all this stuff into. 
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
My beloved old General Nano is 6-1/2 years old, and is starting to get creaky. It's always complaining about "not enough virtual memory," and various drivers have subtly gotten corrupted over the years. So, for instance, I can still print from Word, but only if I bypass the spooler by using the little print icon on the toolbar instead of the menu option. It probably needs a complete reinstall, but let's face it, reinstalling XP at this point seems a little silly. I couldn't decide what to do, so I kept putting it off.

When I realized that all the new computers were coming with Windows 8, I got depressed. Then I started thinking about finally getting a real laptop for traveling, and it all fell into place. If I got a BUSINESS laptop I could still get one with Windows7. And it would be powerful enough that I could plug it into my home monitor and use it as my primary computer. But I hate laptops. Hate the tiny flat keyboards and the trackpad. The only time I ever had a laptop I liked it had a weird little eraser-head in the middle of the keyboard that let you move the cursor around without moving your fingers from the keyboard! I wondered if they still make that thing? Well, it turns out they do. It's still called the Thinkpad, but IBM has sold that division to Lenovo.

Anyway, I decided the Lenovo T440s was just what I wanted. 14" screen, full-sized keyboard, eraser-head AND trackpad, 8G RAM and 6 hours of battery life. Not only that, I could order it on Amazon using gift cards I bought at Office Max with my Chase Ink card that gives me 5x Ultimate Reward Points (I've become a travel hacker, y'see). So I ordered it, and it's here! I'm now trying to figure it out. It has a very peculiar approach to the mouse buttons, but it seems to be pretty customizable.

It has things I didnt even think about, but they're cool. A built-in camera and microphone (maybe I can finally learn how to use Skype!). A FINGERPRINT READER! It's astoundingly light - under 4 pounds. The keyboard feels great (although still flat).

First thing I'm going to do now is download Firefox and Chrome so I can stop using Internet Explorer. Then I'm going to figure out the mouse buttons.
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
A year or two ago somebody showed me a cool phone app that lets you identify a well-known building or view by just pointing your phone camera at it. Does anyone remember what app that is?
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
I am willing to pay for it. The kicker is, it must work on Windows XP. Anybody have any suggestions?
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
In case anyone was wondering, Open Office's database is NOT compatible with Microsoft Access. It's also an unstable POS that crashes approximately twice per hour.

I was able to import the data files from my Access-based programming database, and it even preserved the table relationships.  But the hard work of creating queries, forms and reports has to be done all over again from scratch.  The interface is similar to Access in look and feel, but with many many differences, and a noticeably diminished feature set. It is very slow going. 

Here's what I've learned so far:

1) Report generation has serious limitations. To generate anything remotely useful you have to download the Oracle Report Writer extension, and even that is pretty primitive. For instance, you can't generate reports from pre-defined queries.

2) When you add a field to a form, a label field is auto-generated and grouped into a single object with the data field. Until you ungroup them you can't edit the properties of either one. This is not intuitively obvious.

3) To add text to a form you have to create an empty label field, select it, open the properties popup, and then type the text you want to display into the "Label" field of the properties sheet.  (In Access you can just type directly into the label field on the form)

4) To get text to wrap inside a text field you do NOT select one of the "wrap" options from the format menu. Instead, you open the field's property sheet and set Text Type to "multi-line."  You don't want to know how long it took me to figure that out.

dreamshark: (Default)
I'm trying to find a better way of posting photos online and decided to give Picasa a try, since I'm already in the Google-verse. I was really just looking for a free place to upload pictures so I could link to them from other places, but Picasa wanted me to download their photo-manager, so I did.  I'm not sure, but I think the idea is that I can sort and label my pics on my desktop machine and then upload the whole album when I'm done with it.  That sounds promising.  I kinda hate working on things online through a browser - sooooo tedious.

I haven't gotten that far though.  I started up Picasa and it asked if it could go looking for pictures on my puter, so I let it go find them all.  Now I'm trying to figure out how I can access them through this new interface.  I was actually looking for the view that would let me see my pictures in the hierarchical folders I have them stored in. Haven't found that yet. I tripped over the facial recognition feature and I'm stuck on that now. 

I don't know about you, but the very concept of computerized facial recognition seems deeply creepy to me. I know it's coming and pretty soon no one will find it surprising when department store mannequins start greeting us by name, but I don't like it. On the other hand, refusing to use the feature to sort my photo collection won't make it go away, so... why not? 

OMG, this is amazing!  Picasa went through every one of my photos and pulled perfectly centered head shots out of every photo with faces.  It wants me to start labeling them with names, so I label my mother's wedding picture. A bunch more pictures of my mother pop up, ages ranging from 1 - 86, and on EVERY SINGLE ONE, Picasa's first guess is right.  I start labeling other family pictures, and pretty much the same thing happens. Occasionally Picasa mixes me up with my sister in childhood pictures. Oddly, it also mixes up my sister with one of my brothers (but never with the other two).  This is odd because I never thought of the two of them as looking alike, but I guess they do.  But for the most part, give it a couple of data points to work off and it's right almost every time. It's apparently learning as it goes, because when I confirm Picasa's guess on one picture, 3 or 4 more appear with the same label.  How is it doing this?

I still haven't figured out how to do what I was originally trying to do - make an album of my trip to St. John, label and order the pictures, and post it online.  Anybody have any quick tips?

Back to labeling faces!
dreamshark: (Default)
After several months of waiting, we're finally up on the screaming fast fiber to the home USI service!  According to the Qwest online bandwidth meter, we've got 27MBPS download and an amazing 30.3MB upload. The PS3 that serves as the hub of our home entertainment system reports about 15MB/sec.  So there's a 50% drop in bandwidth in the wireless trip from my router to the attic. This is about what I saw with Qwest, so no surprise.  I quickly connected to Netflix and started up a show. It loaded like lightning and looked great. Better than before?  I really couldn't say.

Now I have to call Qwest and drop their service. I certainly hope I didn't sign some kind of contract when I negotiated my current ISP arrangement. 
dreamshark: (backyard camera)
Networks that is. In my house. Really and truly, two networks (dreampark1 and dreampark2), each with its own path to the Internet. And neither one of them is that Fiber to the Home connection -- yet. Eventually the little Zyxel router that is running dreampark2 will be fed by the big honking fiber running down my street. But because of construction delays on that project, USI generously granted me two months of free WiFi service. Because my fast DSL connection has been disappointingly unreliable, I took them up on it.

It took me a while to set up the modem. First I scoped out the location of the two closest wireless access points. Turns out there's one less than 100 yards away, although there's not a perfect line of sight from my office window. Then I spent a day or two puzzling over the instructions for getting the cover off the modem so I could plug in the Ethernet cable. Okay, I didn't spend 48 hours on this task - I would pick up the instruction sheet occasionally, squint at the blurry pictures, scratch my head and walk away. Last night I finally buckled down and concentrated, and managed to get the modem plugged in and stuck to the back window. My concerns about line of sight were silly - the signal drills right through the back corner of my bedroom that's in the way and comes up with a constant 4 bars of service. Then I set up the little router with a new network address (default network addresses are for weinies), connected it to the modem and BLAM! The network was up! I didn't even have to enter a logon and password - apparently that was configured into the modem when they sent it to me.

Of course, that was too easy for me. I realized that I didn't actually KNOW what my logon/password were, and had to contact Tech Support to find out. Once I realized what they were using I decided to change it, and all sorts of hilarity ensued. Ultimately the nice person in the chat window gave up on reprogramming the modem remotely and gave me the Top. Secret. Password. so I could change it myself. I'm not kidding about the password. This company has a strangely schizophrenic approach to security. The password for the modem was the most insanely difficult password I have ever had the misfortune to have to type in. It's the only password I have ever seen that includes the vertical bar (pipe) character. On the other hand, the installer that brought me the Zyxel router "set it up" for me - leaving the password at "1234". I've since changed it to something noticeably more secure.

Anyway, the network is up and working. So next time that damned Qwest router goes belly up, we can just switch to the other network and keep on with whatever we were doing.
dreamshark: (Default)
This morning as I left for work I found USI's Ditch Witch boring a hole under our front lawn to connect the fiber cable. So Step 2 of the new network is done.
Coincidentally, I had to reboot my crappy DSL router twice yesterday to get the Internet connection working. The Internet connection light was on, but the DNS server wasn't propagating. This is not the level of stability I expect from a technology like DSL. I suspect something wrong with the router/modem, but since it works most of the time it's hard to be sure. I'm looking forward to getting free from Qwest. Or Century Link or whatever they're calling it now.
dreamshark: (Default)
PhotobucketThe first time the flyer showed up on my front porch I didn't see it until the deadline had passed, and cursed my luck.  Then another one showed up over the weekend with a deadline of Oct 7.  I called today and we're in!!

USInternet, the Minnetonka company that runs the Minneapolis wi-fi network has been laying fiber backbones through the city to feed into their wireless transmitters. They started with a major east-west backbone along 50th St.  (note that this article is from last February).  Now they are running a north-south spur, and for some reason have picked Pillsbury Avenue. It's true, they really are doing it. I've seen the machines squatting here and there on our block, drilling into the pavement like gigantic egg-laying wasps. 

Well, now they will be laying eggs into MY home wiring!  I called and signed up for 30Mbps ($30/month) and phone service with a lot of extras ($20).  They're coming next week to poke the cable through the wall, and by mid-November I should be able to boot Qwest out the door. For $50/month we'll have Internet service at 2.5 times the bandwidth I have now, plus phone service with all the perks I dropped a few months ago to save money.  AND free access to Minneapolis wi-fi from anywhere.

I'm so excited!

ETA: Found a more recent article about the project in my neighborhood.  Oh, that sucks. It looks like the whole thing just misses Blaisdell Poly. 

dreamshark: (Default)
Thanks to a response to my previous post about the PSN unpleasantness, I knew enough to perservere past the initial Netflix login failure. And guess what - in some mysterious manner, it works! Here's what you do:

  • Turn on your PS3 and navigate to the Netflix icon. Click.

  • You will be presented with a PSN logon screen, which of course is not going to work. But try to logon anyway.

  • After the logon attempt fails, hit the Circle (Back) button.

  • You may have to repeat this sequence a couple of times, but eventually Netflix just comes up. It's a miracle!

Since that's all I used the PSN network for anyway, I no longer really care how long it takes them to fix it. I am a little curious what "rebuilding our entire network" means. Are they rearchitecting the entire security system? Or just reinstalling the OS's on umpteen zillion servers?

I'm not terribly concerned about my data being compromised. I used a throwaway email address, a password that I only use for gaming-related sites (most of which don't involve credit cards), and a goofy login name. It sounds unlikely that the hackers got unencrypted credit card data, but in any case I didn't use my main credit card for this account. See, I didn't have a huge amount of trust in a network called PlayStation in the first place, so I didn't expose myself too much.

The only thing I'm a little worried about is those stupid password recovery hints that so many sites demand. I don't remember if PSN even asked for that. Those things infuriate me, because many sites give you only a few choices, almost all of which are in the public record! It's particularly infuriating when it's a financial site that might actually be worth going to some trouble to break into. Because it's so easy fora stranger to find out my mother's maiden name or the town where I was born, I usually go with "first pet" or something like that. However, I use the same pet each time (because otherwise I'm not going to remember it). If my "first pet" has been compromised I'm going to have to change my password reminders on a bunch of other sites.
dreamshark: (Default)
... was my new computer monitor. The Viewsonic lasted 4 years, despite a loose connection somewhere inside that required periodic whacks on the back to get all the pixels firing. But it finally reached the point where I had to whack it every couple of minutes, and even that didn't work every time. So I ordered a nice new Samsung from Amazon. It got great user reviews, so I was hoping for best.

Oh. My. God. I have never in my LIFE had so much trouble installing a monitor! Usually you just plug it in, connect the RGB cable and maybe fiddle with the buttons on the front to center the picture perfectly. This one took over two hours of constant frustration. It came right on when I connected it, but it looked like crap. The picture was washed out and text was almost too blurry to read. The setup instructions were useless and the menu buttons unusually difficult to use. Worst of all, the menu was full of grayed out items, stupid cutesy entries with "Magic" in the title, and Auto settings at multiple menu levels with little indication what they would do. The install disk supposedly had the driver on it, but gave errors when I tried to install the driver. If the promised user manual was on the disk I couldn't find it. I downloaded the driver from the Samsung site, installed, rebooted. No improvement.

I downloaded a little desktop widget called "Magic Tune Premium." (Are you tired of the "Magic" terminology yet? You will be.) Magic Tune does the same thing as the buttons on the monitor, but is way easier to use. The main thing I have set on monitors in the past is Brightness, but that setting was "not available." Instead, I had to make a choice from a menu labeled "Magic Angle" with settings like "Lean Back Mode 1" and "Standing Mode." I went with Standing Mode - just about the brightness and contrast level I like.

But the fuzzy text was intolerable. I tried setting after setting with no improvement. There's an Auto button on the monitor, but all it did was center the picture (something that could not be done using the position controls!) Finally, hidden on a tab called "Option," I found something called MagicWizard. Bingo! I launched that and the screen went crazy for a while - shrinking and expanding, going black and popping back on, and when it was done the picture was PERFECT. So... why didn't the Auto button on the monitor just do that in the first place??!!

Wow! The picture is perfect! I liked my old Viewsonic, but this is slightly better. Text is the sharpest I have ever seen on a monitor, and my photos look wonderful. I just want to sit and look at the screen.
dreamshark: (Default)
Anyway, I sure hope so. My screaming new 12Mbps DSL has been working fine for 3 months, except that every now and then I have to power cycle the modem/router. Nobody knows why. It has a 1-year warranty, so if it starts doing this more often than once or twice a month I can exchange it for a new one. I can live with that.

What I can't live with is - I finally looked at my magical self-paying phone bill and discovered they are charging me $65/month instead of the $40 they promised me. It took me a week or so to nerve myself up for the inevitable hour-long phone ordeal. And yes, it did take about that long. But I got agreement from "Matt in Des Moines,"  the first agent that I talked with, that I was being overcharged. He just didn't know what to do about it. He remembered waaaaay back to October, which was when I upgraded my service, that they used to offer this great $40/month for 2 years deal. They just don't offer it any more. So the agent that promised me $40/month was looking at a real offering, but managed to enter the order wrong.

The alert reader may recall that this was my second attempt to get my DSL upgraded correctly. The first agent entered it wrong a DIFFERENT way, resulting in my getting only 7 Mbps.  Anthony, with whom I talked on Oct 19, tried to correct the order but ended up signing me up for a different and much inferior promotional plan - FREE internet for one month! Followed by $65/month forever. Matt couldn't switch me to the program I had originally been offered because that program is no longer available so he didn't know what code to enter. Only someone in the "Loyalty Department" could fix this.

So I spent a while getting to know Dennis in the Loyalty Department. He was sympathetic, but kept trying to work around the problem by finding me a DIFFERENT promotional program that would be as good as the one I didn't get on my first two attempts. I kept saying that all I wanted was the deal I was originally offered. After two long breaks to check with a supervisor he finally came back with the secret code he needed to change my account back to "HSN for 24 months at $40/month."  Not only that, he was now adding the provision that at the end of the 24 months the "rolloff price" would be ... $40. Originally it was supposed to go to $65 after 2 years (a fact that had not been disclosed to me by Anthony, back in the previous paragraph. But that was the same deal Matt had quoted me, so it's probably correct).  So if it actually works this time, I should have a really good deal this time.

Being older and wiser than I was back in October, I asked for an email or letter confirming the price he had quoted me. "Oh, you'll get a confirmation email," he warbled.  But, I pointed out, the last confirmation email I got DID NOT CONFIRM THE PRICE.  "Right," he said. "That's kind of a problem with our confirmation emails."  By this time he had gone all geeky on me and confided that he actually had Comcast himself because Qwest didn't offer High Speed DSL in his area, and was starting to think of me as a buddy. So he compromised by sending me a personal email confirming the price he had quoted.  He also gave me 3 different confirmation numbers - one for modifying my account for the future, one covering the $25 refund on my January bill, and another one for the December bill.  We decided to leave the November bill as is, since it gave me that introductory free month of Internet. I guess I can't ask for more than that. 

Well, yes, I can. I sincerely hope that my Internet is up when I go home tonight.
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