A Tale Of Two ISPs, (or… As You Don’t Like It Very Much)

Short version… we moved.

That might be enough information right there to explain my extended absence, the dead weblog, the missing newsletter, my MIA status on the Think Sideways boards.

Long version…

… we had an opportunity to get back to a place we missed, to our family, to our people, and the window on that opportunity was already closing when we discovered it, so within four hours of my husband finding it, I was on the phone hooking things up to make it happen.

No, we hadn’t actually been planning to move… but we’d started thinking about it.

One week later, everything that could be signed WAS signed and we had gotten rid of 66% of everything we owned, because we were going to a place that was half the space for twice the price, and we had too much stuff for the house we were in. We still have a house to either sell or rent, and we still have to go back and take care of that, but we needed to move fast, and Matt and I have proven to be adept at making opportunities happen.

So about three days after we signed all the rental stuff, on Thursday, March 5th we boxed, packed, and moved ourselves (acquiring an astonishing variety of bruises and scars in the process), and drove for close to nine hours on one tank of gas each (he drove the moving truck, which had a really big tank, and I drafted the truck, and got 43.5 mpg out of a three-year-old Chevy Cobalt, thank you very much, and we did it without stopping for so much as a bathroom break. I had three sips of water on the way, and the kid and I sang 100 Bottles of Beer on the wall at one point to stay awake and alert.

We didn’t even let anyone but my daughter and son in the Air Force know we were moving until we’d already done it—and them we let know the day before we moved. It was a big surprise to my husband’s folks when he called them from here. 😀

In THEORY, everything was ready to go when we got here. Electric and water were on—we’d transferred them the day we got the okay from the rental place. I’d transferred phone service, had an appointment for Internet to be hooked up the Tuesday after our arrival on Friday, and we were bringing our Dish box so we could watch hockey.

Friday, March 6th, my daughter and her husband came over, and the truck that had taken us three days to load took two hours to unload. We spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, getting started on the boxes, and by Monday, there were recognizable spaces in the house, though my office was Extra Box Central.

And the electric and water were spiffy.

Internet? Not so much.

AT&T sent out a guy on Tuesday, March 10th, to hook us up to phone service, and when he didn’t mention our online service, we asked about our DSL.

DSL? He didn’t have a work order for that.

After some calling around, he and we managed to get him a work order. But at the same time, he discovered that the phone line to the house had been cut, so he came back the next day and dug us in a new one. And he hooked us up for Internet. Our modem would be arriving by UPS on Thursday 12th, we were told—sorry about the confusion.

Thursday, no modem. We called customer service. Oops, it was still en route. We’d have it Friday by five.

Friday? No modem.

Matt sat on the phone with the the United Nations of AT&T for over an hour, discovering that while AT&T customer service had us in their system, AT&T tech support had no record of our existence, no record of a modem being needed (or sent), no sign that we were in any way due for anything except being put on hold a lot, which they did a SPECTACULAR job of doing, by the way, while frequently sending Matt back to customer service, who sent him back to tech support…

Wearied of the AT&T run-around, he called Comcast, and set us up for an appointment. The earliest they could have someone out was Tuesday the 17th.

I did what non-secure business-critical online things I could to keep in the loop on HollyShop and Think Sideways (while Margaret and Craig kept things actually running) while parked in a chair at Books-A-Million (YAY! Millionaire’s Club… free hot-spot internet!), but what I dared to do was very limited. I don’t know what sort of security they have, and I didn’t feel like taking any chances to find out.

Tuesday 17th dawned, and the Comcast guy showed up right on time. Awesome.

Starting working with our wiring.

Only there was a problem with the cable.

Long pause on our end.

The cable into the house had been cut by the same sidewalk repair doofus who’d also cut the phone line. They were going to have to send out a guy to dig in a new line.

He came on Friday 20th, at about 7 pm, worked for three hours, and mostly had the line dug in, but not buried. He’d be back on Saturday, he said, and we’d also have the cable modem guy back on Saturday, and he’d hook us up.

Saturday it rained like a bastard all friggin’ day. Nobody came. Nobody could come. Weren’t nobody going to do nothing in THAT weather.

People get finicky about working with wires and electricity while standing ankle-deep in water beneath a sky that’s opened up on top of them like God’s Saint Bernard when he stops holding it in…

Go figure.

MEANWHILE, we were still calling on and waiting for our modem from AT&T (Yes, we were keeping all our options open. Are you kidding? You see how well this is all going?)

In THEORY, our DSL modem from AT&T was being overnighted to us, and would arrive on Monday, March 23rd.

And in fact, it showed up at around noon. Guess what the UPS guy said.

“Gee, I sure hope they sent you the right one. They almost always send the wrong one out to this area.”

With a heart heavy as lead, Matt set up the modem.

It didn’t work.

But that was okay, because Comcast had the modem guy coming out between 11-2 to hook us up.

Nevertheless, Matt called tech support. At least this time they’d heard of us. They informed him that the line wasn’t supposed to be provisioned until 6 pm that night because it was a new order, and that we’d have to wait until then to try it. Matt nicely let the tech guy know that the order had been in since March 3rd. A bit nonplussed, the tech guy said just to wait until 6 pm to try it, and if it didn’t work then, they’d troubleshoot it.

The Comcast line guy came out and buried the rest of the line. The Comcast modem guy missed his 11-2 appointment, and we called, and they had no record of the appointment, even though I’d called earlier to confirm it, and they’d had a record of it then.

They set up a new appointment. Today. Tuesday March 24th. 11-2.

Deeply unhappy, we decided that we were probably never going to get working Internet.

And then an astoundingly perky-sounding AT&T guy called and said he was outside manually reprovisioning our wire (an unscheduled house-call—holy crapnoids, Batman), and would I please check to make sure the modem was plugged in correctly.

I did, and it was, and not too many minutes later, the thing lit up like Christmas. The AT&T guy cheered. (Honest to God, he cheered. I’ve never seen a phone guy get too excited about anything, so this is worth noting.) I cheered. I called Matt on the cellphone and HE cheered.

He was out getting stuff for dinner because Becky and her husband Tony were dropping by for dinner, but when he got home, he did the whole advanced router set-up thing to secure our system.

And this time, finally, it worked.

Online at last.

No more Books-A-Million hot spot. No more total media blackout.

The Comcast guy is coming today. Well, that’s the theory, anyway. Yes, we’re going to have him set up the cable modem, too. We’re going to test both services for at least a month, and then we’re going to choose one.

After which, the one we didn’t choose will no doubt prove to have been the superior service. That seems to be the way this has been going.

Meanwhile, the Rangers have turned into a team that has apparently heard of hockey, have fired the abysmal Renney and hired the promising Tortorella, have gotten Avery back (their stupidest recent mistake, aside from hanging on to Renney and Pern way past their expiration dates, was letting him go in the first place)… and we haven’t seen a single game of their turn-around.

After the AT&T and Comcast debacles, we’re too afraid to call Dish.

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The Sad Truth of Voter Fraud

Someone discovered that the IP logging that was supposed to work on the poll I set up wasn’t working any better than the vote tallies at the bottom, and sat running up the numbers on the courses he or she wanted.

I was watching the tallies pretty carefully, and while the numbers changed, the percentages didn’t. And then all of a sudden, several courses pulled massively ahead, and, miracle of miracles, about 70 more votes were cast than had people actually visiting that page.

In EACH of the two surveys.

And again, suddenly out of nowhere, the constant frontrunners in each of the two surveys had fallen far behind leaders that had added about … wait for it … about seventy or so new clicks behind the miracle come-from-behind leaders.

So the survey is closed. I’ll go with the numbers I posted yesterday for now, while I consider the fact that it was important for me to hear from each of you. And I still want to. And how I wish I could kick the someone who decided that his or her vote should drown out the voices of everyone else off the site.

Got a couple of important truths from this. One, go with a paid service for doing polls and whatnot from now on.

Two, don’t try to get along with buggy software, ever.

Three, not everyone who hangs out on my site is one of the good guys. Something I forget, and shouldn’t..

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My site was cracked this morning

The affiliate program, iDevAffiliate, one of the worst-supported pieces of software in human history, was cracked, and a phishing scam was inserted into a hidden file that directed people to what appeared to be a Skype website.

I deleted the phishing scam, but because iDevAffiliate does not support their software, I also deleted the affiliate program, in order to protect people’s information and to prevent any sort of recurrence. The iDevAffiliate program will not be back in any form. If you are or were an affiliate, please delete your links.

I don’t know at this point if there will be any sort of affiliate program in the future. I’ve let a lot of people down, and I’m not sure how to fix that, and I’m not sure how to prevent something like it from happening in the future.

I’d like to add that Jorge Catena, owner of Downtownhost.com, immediately responded to my SOS and within about two minutes had deleted the phishing folder. The problem came not from the host, but from very bad software.


Jorge Catena recommended JRox.com Affiliate software, and JRox looks like it could integrate user data from the iDevAffiliate database. It doesn’t look like it will integrate commissions. It does look very well supported, which would make it much less likely to be hacked.

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Cool Tech


A couple of times on your site, you’ve mentioned the usefulness of things like the BlackBerry. Being able to write your ideas down wherever you are, whenever you get them. I stumbled upon this little gizmo on some forum, can’t recall which, but it seems to do a hell of a lot better than the BlackBerry–it’s an actual laptop, so far as I can gather. It’s not a “media-rich” system, but it does the two most important things writers need: Internet and OpenOffice. It’ll cost around two hundred dollars, and that’s one helluva deal given AlphaSmart’s low-end word processor costs fifty dollars more and comes with not even half as much functionality. Admittedly, a three-hour on-the-go charge is no fun, but it’s a fair exchange given how much stuff you get to run with it.

The article mentions that it may hit mid-August. Cool tech anyhow.

Thanks to Paul A, who sent this to me.

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Finally back to work

Writing of any variety hasn’t been going too well the last few days. Stress doesn’t go away when things start looking better, because the possibility that they’ll get worse again always exists. But I’m making nice progress on the type-in of the Green Magic proposal right now. It feels good to be writing again.

I finally got a desktop client to work with my weblog, too–the WordPressDash widget. I’ve never bothered with widgets–always found them kind of silly and pointless. But WordPressDash makes it possible for me to post to the weblog without having to open anything or log in. The reason I had so many posts the first year I started blogging was because I had my desktop client open and I reported progress as I was writing. It was a lot of fun, and kept me going. I might find myself sliding back into that format.

Oh, and I know what next Friday’s Snippet is going to be. An excerpt from the Starving Rat Scene in HAWKSPAR.

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Second day of migraine

No writing done. No weblogs read. Head is screaming. Thought I’d go ahead and update WordPress to the newest version, got the following lovely message:
Fatal error: Cannot redeclare register_sidebars() (previously declared in /path/to/writingdiary2/wp-includes/widgets.php:15) in /path/to/writingdiary2/wp-content/plugins/widgets.php on line 22

This is an across-the-board error–doesn’t matter what template I use. I have no clue how to fix this, and I can’t make any changes in the sidebards until it’s fixed. Anyone else updated to WordPress 2.2 and found (and fixed) the same error?

Or if not, does anyone have better, less buggy blog software to recommend?

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WOW! Found a new Scrivener thing

Took me a while to get a couple of plot cards I liked, and while I was working on them, I accidentally clicked a button in Scrivener that opened a whole panel I’d missed before.

Scrivener Inspector

The panel opens with the blue I button in the top righthand corner. Yeah, a little obvious. What can I say?

In this panel, you can see and rewrite your current plot card, decide whether the page will be exported, will retain formatting with export, and will have a nice little page break before (nifty for separating chapters but keeping scenes within chapters together). You can also make notes to yourself, the sort of revision notes I was going on about in Plot Clinic, for example.

The document is to the left, the entire plot outline is still to the left of that.

All I can say is, “Oh, wow!”

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