Hoosgot? Yoosgot!

I’ve seriously gotten into Twitter, so much so that I’m using it from my shiny iPhone. Yesterday I noticed an announcement from David Sifry about his new service called Hoosgot. It’s the “return of the LazyWeb” whereby you can toss a question over the wall to Hoosgot, it will automatically pick it up and send it out “into the ether” where someone might know the answer might see the question and might answer it. I decided to give it a try.

I use Blosxom as my blog engine. I’ve used it since January 3, 2003, so I’ve got quite a time-investment in it. About two weeks ago I was trying to improve my Google-mojo when I noticed that all my story links that Google knew about all had the same title, “Joey Gibson’s Blog.” That’s fine if you are on the front page, but each story has a title that should be indexed with it. I set about figuring out how to get the story title to show up in the browser titlebar (which is essentially how Google titles articles when it indexes them), but after a few hours of trying to remember long-forgotten Perl, I failed. So yesterday when I saw the Hoosgot announcement, I gave it a shot. Within two minutes of posting a tweet directed to @hoosgot, I had a private tweet from Gavin Carr telling me the Blosxom plugin I needed. Within five minutes of that, I had my problem solved. That, my friends, is very cool, indeed. Hoosgot looks like something that could be very cool.

For those interested, the answer was to use the storytitle plugin. What’s also interesting about this is that Gavin told me he is a “happy user” of a Blosxom plugin that I wrote a few years ago called reading_room.

I Have iPhone. It Doth Rock.

FedEx man came to my house yesterday morning, bearing a box from Apple, via China, Hong Kong and Alaska. Inside it was my iPhone. Oh, yes. And I opened the box and saw the gleaming, black screen. Lust. I hooked it up and set about activating it via iTunes. After going through the whole process, I was told that it couldn’t activate it, and I needed to visit an AT&T store. Uncool. But, actually, we needed to visit an AT&T store anyway, because we needed to get my wife a new phone and switch her over to the AT&T network, so we could get a family plan. Thus, it wasn’t a tragedy that it couldn’t activate via iTunes, but it was sort of a downer.

So we went to our nearest store and got mucho help from a lovely lady called Carolyn. We got Tammy a new phone + accessories and got the account setup. Carolyn gave me a special code for activation, but since the account was already setup, iTunes didn’t need it any more. It still wasn’t instant activation; I got a message saying that my activation required “more time” and they would email me when it was done. It took about an hour.

So then it was activated and working. I got my number transferred from Verizon and I am happy. I played with it almost constantly for about three hours last night, whilst sitting in my luxurious, leather recliner. I was having DSL problems lat night, so it would switch between using my WiFi and the EDGE network without missing more than a beat. Nice. I love the integration between your contacts and Google maps, and the Safari browser is cool.

Now we just need Apple to give us a real SDK for writing real apps.

My Wife’s Getting an iPod Nano For Christmas!

I’m so happy! My wife is taking a ginormous step into the technology age: she’s letting me get her an iPod Nano for Christmas. In fact, she’s not just “letting” me get her the iPod. No, she actually chose the iPod over jewelry! This is huge news, people. You have no idea. She picked out the red one, which has the added bonus of helping people in Africa. Or something….

Tracking the iPhone

As I said yesterday, I’ve ordered my iPhone. This morning I had an email from Apple saying it was on its way, along with a FedEx tracking number. About 10:00 this morning, this is what FedEx told me:


and as of about 7:00 tonight, FedEx said this:


There may be a card in the box saying “Designed by Apple in California” but it’s fairly obvious that Apple’s products are “Built and Packaged for Apple in China.” But hey, as long as it gets here quickly, and it works, I don’t care.

I ended up at the Mall of Georgia today and to my surprise, there’s now an Apple store there. Had I known that, I wouldn’t have ordered the iPhone online. Oh, well. What was cool was that I actually got to touch one for the first time. Wow. They had five or six on a display table and they were all online and working. I was able to run Safari and play around with the multi-touch screen and the onscreen keyboard. It will take me a little bit of practice to type well with that keyboard, but I’m sure it will come to me. I’m looking forward to Twittering via SMS message like all the cool kids do.

iPhone on Order. Woot!

I’ve been lusting after the iPhone ever since it came out. Now I’m a-gettin’ one for Christmas. I placed the order about 5 minutes ago. Oh, yeah. I can’t wait. After running some numbers, I discovered that if Tammy and I both switched to AT&T, the family plan would only cost us $20 extra per month than what we were paying with our ancient calling plan with Verizon. That was the final piece of the puzzle that has allowed me to get the iPhone.

The Value of Being Open

There’s a little golf store near my house. I’ve now tried three times to patronize them, but each time I’ve been thwarted. The first time I tried to visit them, was on a Monday. When I got there, I discovered that they were closed on both Sunday and Monday. Strike 1. The second time, I went on a Wednesday. They closed at 6:00PM. Who closes that early any more? Strike 2. Today, I tried again. I got there at 12:30, only to find a hand-written sign taped to the glass: Bank + Lunch. Back 1:45 – 2:30.

Strike 3.

I guess I’ll just have to keep schlepping over to the PGA Tour Superstore for my golfing needs.

The lesson here is this: if you have a business you need to be open when your customers try to visit. I don’t care how good the store is, I’m not going to try a 4th time to visit them.

Back Up, Once Again

In case you’ve missed me, I’m back. The site has been down for a week and a half due to server problems. I host this site in the same rack as my company, on one of the spare machines, but last monday we lost a drive in our database server. I started moving the data to the spare machine, but while doing so, that drive also failed, taking with it my blog. Today I upgraded my test machine from an older copy of SuSE Linux to Ubuntu Fiesty (which is what all the machines are now running), and now the blog is back. Hooray!

For good, I hope.

It’s DCE, not DRM

George Orwell would be so proud of this. HBO‘s CTO recently said he no longer wants to use the term DRM, Digital Rights Management, for how they copy-protect their content. Instead, he prefers the term DCE, Digital Consumer Enablement (emphasis mine). Referring to a technology that limits what I can do with content as something that “enables” my use… well… that’s just double-plus good, isn’t it?

It’s My Birthday

Today’s my birthday, and now I can truthfully quote Dennis from Holy Grail

I’m thirty-seven; I’m not old!

That should make for hours of entertainment.

I last played golf about 20 years ago. For some reason, about six weeks ago, I started having the urge to play again. So, using money given for my birthday, I’m going to get me some golf schoolin’. My first lesson with the local golf pro is Saturday. I am supposed to play with some friends later in the month at Chateau Elan and I’d rather not look like a complete idiot. Hopefully the lessons will prevent that. 🙂

Right Now, I’m Dial-Up Boy

Last night, around 17:30, my DSL died. I had been using it up until 16:30, and everything was fine. But later, while I had gone out for a bit, it went Tango Uniform. I tried to get it back up before I had to go bowling, but nothing worked. I hoped it would come back up by itself while I was gone, but when I got home around 22:30, it was still dead.

I tried some diagnostics, but couldn’t get it going again. So I called BellSouth to see what was up. I ended up speaking to a guy called “Dave” (I doubt that was his real name, given his accent), until 01:30 this morning. It was not a fun discussion. I was getting a solid DSL light on the DSL modem, which meant that there was a hardware connection between me and the BellSouth network, but the failure was happening when the PPPoE handler in my router tried to login. It just didn’t work. I explained this to “Dave” and then the fun began.

When I mentioned that I had a router, “Dave” asked me the manufacturer. I told him it was a SonicWall, and he immediately told me that I would have to contact SonicWall for support. I told him there was no way this was a problem with the router. This setup had been working flawlessly for over a year. All signs pointed to a problem on their end, but he adamantly denied there was anything wrong over there. I humored him and hooked the DSL modem directly to my Mac, to take the router completely out of the picture. Same results. He did say that he had “reset a few ports” on his end (whatever that meant), but it still didn’t work. “Dave” finally “concluded” that the modem was malfunctioning, and they would have to send me another. Never-mind the fact that the modem’s self-test showed it was OK, that both ports were working, that I had hardware sync to the CO. No, the problem must be the modem. And so, I will be stuck without DSL for 2 or 3 days.

Now, here’s what’s interesting about this whole absurd affair. Three days ago, I put in an order with BellSouth (part of the “New” AT&T) to upgrade my DSL from 3Mbps to 6Mbps. The conversion was supposed to be complete on 01/24, but according to “Dave” it was complete on 01/22. Gee, why does that date sound familiar? Oh, yeah. It’s the same date that my DSL died. I put this question to “Dave”: Doesn’t it seem a bit suspicious to you that my modem up and died on the very same day that you say changes were made to my service on your end? He stumbled over that for a second, and then “confirmed” that the modem was the cause of the problem, and did I want them to ship me a new modem? When I placed the order for the speed upgrade, I asked the person directly: Do I need to switch out the modem and/or will there be any sort of outage for the upgrade? She told me specifically: No, the modem is fine, and you won’t see any outage.

So, where do we stand? I suspect that the modem I had was not capable of handling the increased speed. I can’t verify that, but that’s what I think. Rather than admit that they screwed me by not telling me there would be an outage until I swapped out modems, they cover it up with a story that my modem has just mysteriously died, and they would send me another. For free. Yes, for free. I could be completely wrong on this one. Perhaps when the new one gets here, I’ll hook it up and be back in DSL bliss, but my gut tells me that won’t be the case. I had hoped to test my theory today, by going to Best Buy and buying a 3rd-party DSL modem, but guess what. You can’t. You can buy cable modems all day long, but no DSL modems.

So, here I sit, dressed as Dial-Up Boy, the inferior sidekick to High-Speed DSL Man. My shiny Mac Pro doesn’t have a modem… but my iBook does. So I ran a phone line to the iBook and got a regular PPP dial-up connection to BellSouth established. I then shared the connection, and after figuring out what I needed to do to get routing working, I now have full Internet access from my Mac Pro, via the iBook’s modem connection. I did have some routing problems, but my friend reminded me that I have two Ethernet ports on the Mac Pro, so I hooked one cable directly between the Pro and the iBook, and the other from the Pro to the router. Now packets bound for my LAN go out en1 and packets bound for the Internet go out en0 and get routed through the iBook, to it’s modem, then to BellSouth-land, and then out into the wild. Slowly. But they do get there. Very, very, slowly.

01/24/2007 17:14 Update: The replacement modem arrived today around 16:00. I quickly unpacked it and hooked it directly to my Mac, just to leave the router out of the equation for the moment. As I (mostly) expected, the new modem did exactly what the old one did: not connect. So, I called tech support, this time getting a very friendly woman, supposedly called “Deborah.” Within about 2 minutes, she had determined that there was a problem on their end. She then gasp! consulted a line engineer. Between the two of them, within about 4 minutes they had determined that my line had not been provisioned properly when they “upgraded” me to 6Mbps. They flipped some switches on their said and then BLAMMO! full-speed, 6Mbps DSL, baby!

I knew that I needed to put the modem into “bridge” mode, so that my router could handle the PPPoE stuff, but I wasn’t sure how to bridge it. She walked me through it and after a restart of the modem, I moved my cables around and now all is right with the world.

What this means, of course, is if “Dave” had consulted a line engineer two nights ago, I might not have had to endure two days of dial-up hell. Thus, “Deborah” gets an A+ for support, while “Dave” gets a D.