Category: Tech

Running out of gas

I’m so awake that Benadryl couldn’t put me down. That’s sad.

Halfway through the second round of tests for this semester. Had a Japanese test last Thursday which I did pretty good on, an east Asian civ. test on Monday which I did pretty good on, and still to come are a Chinese history test in a couple hours, a music history test on Friday, and a comp sci test next Wednesday. The Chinese history test has eaten up the lion’s share of study time as I had to read two pretty good-sized books cover to cover. I guess I’m ready for the test, but I’m not quite sure what the outcome will be just yet. As for the remaining two tests, I’m not worried about them, but I’m not overlooking them either. Beyond that, I have three papers to write this month, one of which is a Japanese research paper and an accompanying oral report. All are due in about four weeks, then it’ll be about time for the last round of tests. I think I can get out of here in December with decent grades, although I suspect there will be a slight drop from last spring.

Last week I had to go ahead and get signed up for spring classes in Lincoln. Even though I’m still planning to study abroad, the application process is taking long enough that we won’t have the final yes or no from the other school until well after registration here has opened. Next time around (and forever onward, I suppose) I’ll be taking a lighter class load. Studying for five tests has cut far enough into my schedule that while it’s technically still possible for me to work, the coursework leaves me not wanting to waste the spare time I do have on further activities which require actual thinking. This a problem considering I need the money to keep going to school, and my overall GPA isn’t quite high enough yet to apply for the upperclass scholarship. At this point it’s almost worth it more to take the path of least resistance and risk setting graduation back a semester rather than drive myself broke (already done) and insane (getting there) just to finish school.

One thing I will be doing starting next spring (or this fall if I somehow end up not studying abroad) is getting an apartment off campus. The convenience factor is starting to lose ground to the desire for things like my own shower and the ability to eat breakfast before 1030 on weekends.

Also, I would like to add that Windows 7 is excellent. Probably even more excellent is the fact that I bought it for $17 at the school bookstore. That’s how you stop software piracy on a college campus – make the product so cheap there’s no reason not to buy it. Too bad the CDs are the bookstore are still way too expensive. I was around here when Napster was a big thing, and if you’re still selling music at the same jacked up prices now as you were ten years ago, even if those prices are technically cheaper due to a decade of inflation (how the hell does a Snickers bar cost a dollar?), you’re pretty much begging for people to not buy CDs you paid money to be able to stock.

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… And the “not so much” things for this week

Now the bad news:

1) My financial aid for the year got pulled. Basically, I was dismissed from school 9 years ago for failure to maintain satisfactory academic progress – an assessment I don’t dispute – and that came back to bite me in the ass when the school went to audit who all was receiving aid this fall. The kick is, although I am technically in good standing with the school for having successfully applied for readmission, I didn’t actually do anything to reverse the situation I was in on campus. The on campus/off campus distinction is important – although I have a full year’s worth of credit transferred in from the community college in Omaha, that does nothing to either help or hinder my progress in Lincoln.

So the short version of this little story is that I rushed down to Lincoln the day after finding out and filed my appeal. I stated that in the interim, I had been slowly racking up transferable credits at another school and that the situation would simply correct itself after 3 months now that my head’s screwed on straight. The committee who oversees these things looked at my appeal and approved it on the condition that I take at least 10 hours’ worth of classes in the fall and pass them all. Fine, they’re all softball classes anyway.

In the meantime I’m looking at private options for the fall term as I think it’s going to be a little tough for me to scare up $7000-$8000 between now and the fall, and I think I’ll be okay in that department. This is just a giant pain in the ass to deal with.

2) The price of the new iPhone. Ok, first of all let’s get something straight here – I realize I’m not the target audience for this contraption. I greatly prefer text messaging to phone conversations, I don’t care one way or the next if I can surf the internet and/or check e-mail when I’m on campus and probably 5 minutes away from a public terminal anyway, and most of all I don’t want to pay $50 or more a month for phone service. Especially when I can get a Skypeout account for like $3 a month. I just jumped on Sprint’s SERO plan, which gets me 500 minutes of talk time and unlimited text messaging for $30 a month. In the whole quest for cell phone service to replace my company phone which is soon going away, that is hands down the best deal I found. By far. That’s the kind of cell phone customer I am. So having said that…

The new iPhone is going to cost $199, whereas the old one used to be $399. Basically a 50% discount. This looked like a really sweet deal, and I was just about ready to take the plunge… then the details started coming out. To wit: the data plan is going to be $10 more a month, and you have to pay $5 extra to get the 200 SMS package that used to be included. Do the math – or better yet, don’t, because it’s already been done:

Steve Jobs himself said the primary reason people weren’t buying iPhones was because of the cost. In response, Apple’s and AT&T’s bean counters diligently moved beans from one pile to the next until they could come up with the biggest crock of shit farce I’ve seen so far – a phone being advertised as “half as expensive” that carries a higher total cost of ownership than its predecessor.

Steve, you are one crafty son of a bitch, but do you really think that’s going to make people jump in line? The iPhone was too expensive before, so now that it’s even more expensive that should fix the problem?

Really, come on.

Uh, I guess the only other thing I don’t like this week is that somehow the Yankees managed to climb out of the AL East cellar. Pinstriped bastards!

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Shame on you, Newegg

So the DVD burner in my computer is finally taking a shit. I paid $30 for it and got two years of use out of it, so no complaints there. Last night there was $150 sitting in my Paypal account as a result of me selling my World Of Warcraft account. I had intended to leave the money there and slowly build on it so I can put together a new rig for school in a couple of months, but I can’t very well go without a CD drive in my computer. I figured, it’ll just be one less thing for me to buy later.

So the first place I looked was Newegg. I found what I wanted (a burner capable of burning dual layer disks and Lightscribe), and checked out. I told Paypal to use my balance on hand to make the transaction, and accepted it. Then, five minutes later, I got this e-mail:

Unfortunately, PayPal has not sent us confirmation that you have completed your PayPal transaction. This means you have not confirmed your payment to on the PayPal website. Therefore, your order xxxxxxxx can not be processed.

We welcome you to contact PayPal to resolve this issue, then reattempt to order with us. Alternatively, you are welcome to attempt to reorder through and select a different payment method.

Sincerely, Customer Service Team


I checked my Paypal account, and still had $150 sitting there. Did I miss something? Surely not, I order most of my company’s equipment through Newegg and am quite familiar with their checkout procedure. So I went back and tried it all again. Five minutes later, the same e-mail (with a new order number) showed up. Newegg is not taking my money, and blaming Paypal for it. Dumb.

So I went to Tigerdirect instead and found a comparable burner around the same price. I ordered, and used my Paypal account. Great success. The money’s gone, and my order status says “shipped”.

Congratulations Newegg, you just lost a sale! I welcome you to contact Paypal to resolve your issue.

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Who wants an update?

I took a road trip a few hours west of Omaha today to go attend a conference for Nebraska telephone companies, the chief focus was on what phone companies need to do in order to stay in business over the coming years.

Aside from a few changes here and there to allow for internet service and other random crap, the technology behind the telephone hasn’t really changed since about 1980. This is a problem, because the rest of the telecommunications industry has. Internet service is getting faster and faster, high-definition TV is going to be a way of life in less than 5 years, etc etc.

Enter FTTH – fiber to the home.

This shit is all over the place in Japan. If you ever talk to someone over there and they tell you they have a 100mbps internet connection, guess what? They’re not lying. Where we’re at right now we can take fiber optic cabling and put any imaginable amount of bandwidth on it and still not max it out. Right now where I work we have a ring of gigabit ethernet connecting all our communities back to our NOC that is all fiber based – if a gigabit turns out not to be enough eventually, we’ll just switch all the converters out with equipment capable of passing traffic faster than that. Access to the home is going to get nuts, too – gigabit passive optical networks (GPONs) are under development that will allow for 2.5gbps down and 1.25gbps up, or something as simple as a symmetric 622mbps connection.

So what are you going to do with that kind of bandwidth? Well, voice over IP has already taken off. That’s just one possibility, but the amount of bandwidth required for VOIP is peanuts even today. How about your TV service? A high definition stream requires about 16mbps of bandwidth, which automatically puts it out of the range of people on DSL connections, and it will not be accessible by cable modem customers until providers start coughing up more bandwidth than they already do. Consider: if the average household has 4-5 TVs, and HDTV is going to become standard on television sets manufactured after 2009, you’re looking at 70mbps going out the window if every television in your house is tuned to a different channel. The cable modem I just bought last week can’t even handle half of that.

The reason this is going to effect telephone companies is simple: you can do anything on an IP network that a local telco can do, plus a hell of a lot more. We supply cable TV and phone/DSL server the old fashioned way right now. That’s going to change in a year or two, but in the meantime if somebody comes into our town and lays fiber everywhere right under our nose, they just killed us. They have a future-ready telecommunications network with endless possibilities while we’re still stuck in the stone age.

So the moral of the story is… watch out, because in the next few years there’s going to be fiber everywhere, and it’s going to turn telecom upside down.

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So a day after posting that longass walk through I found a program that not only integrates Service Pack 2 but also goes through and lets you cut out all the crap you don’t want off your Windows CD. Shit. I’ll still be posting more parts to that as I get the time, since it’d be nice to have a walkthrough for the hard way too. 😉

That program can be found here:

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