30 July 2008

MSN - You Suck!

Subtitled: Help me find a new broadband service!

BTW, LinkSys and Microsoft, I'm not too happy with you either. Warning, customer service rant below.

#pragma BeginRant [redundant]
The problem began when I decided to move the DSL modem & Router from one side of the room to the other. Everything worked fine before, but post-move no internet connection through the router. The net worked when bypassing the router and other systems were visible on the network. So individually, the net service and the router functions seemed to work, but not together.

We're on Qwest/MSN today and I'm not at all happy with their service. The call starts with a robot playing 20 questions. When finally plugged into a human being the call was answered with an accent that says "Thank you for calling India. Please hold a moment while I find my place in the script". And you just know this isn't going to end well.

I walked through the symptoms with "Bojo" and she pronounced the problem was not their problem and instead I should call LinkSys. Since I opened the call with this as a given, I was annoyed. I finally asked Bojo "Are you saying you have absolutely no information on how to set up a router with your service?" She said "yes". That is a bald face lie since it's on their website.
I pressed on with her "supervisor" who of course follows the same script complete with apologies but no actual solutions.

Bottom line here, I've never been happy with MSN (we're better than AOL) since signing up and I'd love to find a "real service". Any suggestions?

The LinkSys call wasn't much better. Second clue the call was answered in the far east (after the accent) was his complete acceptance of a well known cartoon character pseudonym as my name (hook, line & sinker!). Other info he asked about was the model & serial number of the router and when did I buy it. He went off to talk it over with his supervisor only to return to say (in effect) No Tech Support for you. But then went on to say "but for $29.99*, we can pass this over to advanced tech support and they can make it work like new". I called BS on him... if it was working fine 5 minutes ago and now it's not... the problem is not something that needs a firmware update to fix. That was it, no suggestion that help might be available on their website, just $29.99 please.

At that point my motivation switched to "how much of their time money and resources can I waste?" That cost them several more minutes of rant on the poor state of customer service all (and corresponding groveling apologies that solve nothing) and how the actual cost of poor customer service extends far beyond the $40 spent on this device, damaged reputations and resulting effect in terms future products not bought, and stocks not invested in.

The final insult is that the root cause likely resides with Microsoft's Windows Firewall preventing access.

So QWEST, LinkSys, and Microsoft - You're all on my pooplist**. While you saved money in the short term by terminating my service calls without solving my problem. In the long run you've hurt yourselves. I will permanently discount the future value of your products based on the poor customer service and absolutely never invest a so much as a plugged nickel in any company that won't stand behind their products.

#pragma EndRant

* IIRC, the router only cost $39.98 to begin with so in effect they wanted me to buy it again.
** While I have a vocabulary to keep up with the best sailors (heck I was one), I choose to keep it clean here.

28 July 2008

ePostal entry

Just sent my July ePostal entry off to Captain of a Crew of One for the July ePostal contest... kinda reminded me why I gave up Cricket in pubs ;-)

Here's the pertinent stuff:
Class 1: Ruger 22/45, iron sights.
Range: 11 yards (range minimum)
Total shots: 80 (eight 10 round magazines)
tie breakers:
Highest scoring single shot: 50 (double bull)
Non scoring shots: 12
triples: 5
doubles: 2 (7, and bull)... er, 3 double bulls so mebbe that should be 4. (doubt it matters)

Throwing darts, it always seemed one number was elusive. Same thing here. I probably spent 3 magazines trying to hit the 15. I finally decided the liners were good enough and gave up. Note, throwing darts, there are metal wires that force the dart one way or the other and these clearly would have gone the other way. Sometimes the dart will hit the wire square enough to throw it back. We played that if the thrower is quick enough (and dumb enough, remember this is flying projectile with a sharp point) to catch the rejected dart before it hits the floor, they could throw it again without penalty.

But following the general "if it touches the line it counts" scoring, I'll take it. Surely someone, (Anyone, Everyone?) can do better than this, it's like putting 6 in miniature golf (pick up the ball and move on).

This would have been easier with someone along to call the shots.

Geez I suck.... But who's next?


PS, we played a Cricket variant in the pubs. Normally the game requires once a thrower hits a number 3x, he starts keeping track of how many more times the number is hit before the opponent closes out the number. The larger sum wins the game. But that requires math which is problematic after a pint or 4.

Instead of keeping score after closing out a number, we simply added doubles, triples and 'slices of the pie' (all three darts landing in any single wedge). But a dart could only be counted once. So a triple 20 on the first throw could either be counted as 3x20's or one triple, but not both. By far the hardest was the pie wedges.

27 July 2008

IBM Carbine - Range Report

The IBM Carbine and I made a trip out to the range today. The first Aw (&@* moment was realizing I forgot a magazine for the rifle. Ok, so we'll be in single shot mode today. (Magazines are normally stored in the range bag* so I don't worry about having magazines. Still I should have checked.)

The target was set out at 50 yds. First step in sighting in is to find the hole so we start close. First off, a couple shots to verify functionality. High and right at the 1-2 O"Clock position. Ok, so I needn't have worried about being on paper. I pushed the sight down as far as it would go. Still high. Still more shots, now aiming low to try and lower the shots.

Here's a 5 shot group at 50 yards using Aguila ammunition off the bench. At first glance it appears there are only 4 holes. The second hole from the bottom is a double. 5 shots within 2 7/8". If we write off the flyer, it's 4 within half that span and 2 nearly within the same hole. I'll blame my aging eyes as the weakest link in the system.

We ended the session with a couple shots at the 300 yd gong. Raising the sight to the 3rd mark, and switching to handloads (12.3 gr VV N110 behind Hornady 110 gr FMJ bullets) the shots were landing slightly high and about 18" right. Correcting by aiming low and left should have worked, but the last shot sounded and felt anemic. I thought I saw the shot hit the dirt, but it failed to eject the brass. I was reluctant to shoot it again until verifying the barrel was clear (it was).

In all, a nice shooter. No I wouldn't take it to Joe's Boomershoot, but I'll cherish it as a piece of history. And every piece of brass was recovered for reloading.

* Dang! Midway USA used to offer the bag as $50 list and $24.99 on sale. Now it's $59.99 list on $39.99 on sale. At $25 it was a good deal. $40, eh.... I'd put it at the low end of "fair deal".

24 July 2008

She's here and she is sweet!

IBM M1 Carbine Serial number 389xxxx.

A few dents and dings but otherwise in very good condition. Looks like a sticker was peeled off the stock. Range report over the weekend.

Update: (more pics)

First the sticker mark on the stock. Anyone know what that said?

Second: The IBM etching on the barrel

23 July 2008

Annnn-ti-ci-pa-a-a-shun is makin' me wait!

Today's CMP missive advises the IBM Carbine is now with FedEx for priority overnight delivery...

T-~12 hours and counting! Good thing I have the morning off the day-job (tm).

New baby-pics tomorrow!

21 July 2008

Not quite the Para Ord Golden ticket...

... but a pretty hot wood & steel ticket none the less.

I just got off the phone with Jennifer at CMP. A Service grade IBM Carbine is headed to a new home here at the SandCastle.

Most readers here know the story.. during the WWII war effort many companies switched production from their primary business to making war supplies. Several "small machine" companies: Underwood (Typewriters), National Postal Meter, International Business Machines (IBM). IBM - what red blooded certified computer geek could resist.

Not only that, in high-school when my friends were flipping burgers, I scored a job for a fairly large company as a computer operator on a pair of 370/158 mainframes. Note this predated the original IBM PC when all computing was on mainframes or mini-computers.

Given that there were only about ~1000 each Service and Rack grade - this was going to be a lottery among those that could time the mail service to get the orders in on day 1. But what the heck, you can't win if you don't play. Each entry only costs 42 cents.

Order books opened on July 7th. Figuring a Sunday and a Holiday and 3 days from the west coast, my order went into USPS on Thursday July 3rd. They sent an email on July 10th saying my order was in (but no guarantees). This morning Jennifer called to say the order was on hold.. I had ordered a sling and oiler as with the M1, but did not include shipping on the sling & oiler. Silly me, figured they could throw it into the same box as the carbine and save the shipping. Turns out it doesn't work that way. Still $17 is still less than I paid for a sling & oiler from the gun show.

Stay tuned for pics when she arrives!

20 July 2008


Tam, while converting CDs to a more modern format notes she's a Rush fan.

Brought back memories. I wasn't a fan at first but a good friend Ray was. I'd heard a couple songs which were ok, but Geddy Lee's voice takes some getting used to. Ray had an extra concert ticket and practically begged me to go.

I finally gave in. "What the heck, it's only $6.50 and I'm not busy that evening anyway".

They put on a great show that lasted nearly 3 hours and made a die-hard fan.

I bought the T-shirt, but couldn't wear it - The smoke* was so thick in the air that the smell got embedded in the shirt and reeked for years.

RATS! I carefully saved all my ticket stubs from the concerts over the years. But this one is missing.

*Not from me, I never partook of the evil weed.

Moving Pictures tour June 6th, 1981 at the Oakland Coliseum.

A few years later, Ray turned me on to Saga. But that's a story for another day.

16 July 2008

SoCal approach, You're the greatest!

LAX from 9500 ft:

We recently had occasion to fly from San Luis Obispo (SBP) to San Diego (MYF). The direct course line is out over the Pacific Ocean and just barely clips the west side of the LA Class B airspace. But it's far enough from shore to make the family a little uncomfortable. I know there are ways to transition the LA Class B, but I'm unfamiliar with those. I asked another pilot and a CFI, but not having the TAC chart, it all ended up with a lot of hand waving.

Filing IFR is my usual plan for dealing with the LA airpspace, but SBP is in a RADAR hole and IFR delays can be... long.

AOPA's flight planner showed deviating to the East only added about 5 minutes flying time. I figured that was a better bet than an airspace bust.

Departing SBP we contacted Santa Barbara approach for flight following. About 20 NW of Van Nuys, we were cruising at 9500 ft. SoCal controller asked about our plan for transitioning the LA airspace. I honestly fessed up "I'm unfamiliar so we are going around the East end over Ontario...." and quickly added "But if you have a better idea, I'm all ears!".

"Stand by, I'm working on it.."

He came back a few minutes later with "Can you navigate direct VNY, Direct SLI?" The simplicity of the question stunned me for a second. Is that all? Is this a trick question?
I replied with a hearty "Yes Sir!"
He explained "The next controller is going to clear you for the C@$%&&# (garbled) transition. Smile and nod. It's just what I told you." (He actually said that).

"Thank you Sir!" Woo Hoo!

Sure enough, a frequency change and the next controller came back with "Nxxxx cleared into class B via the Coliseum transition, maintain 9500." Yee Haw... we're cutting straight over the top of LA.

15 July 2008

... And the Green flag drops to start the race!!!

The engines have been started, the racers are on their grid spots and ready to run.

I suppose it happens alot... after reading other blogs for some time, the urge to have a spot of my own. To rant about the things that bug me but also to highlight the things that go well.

Like any other blog, I'll be commenting on the things I care about: Flying, Guns & shooting, cars, music, computers and maybe even some sailing. How long will it last? Who knows... probably until it stops being fun. When the spam and effort to deal with it becomes too onerous, when I dread opening the email, when I just don't care anymore, I know it will be time to pull the plug.

... And the Green flag drops to start the race!!!