15:46:00 by Joe, Categories: General

I realize I haven't written anything on this blog for quite some time...
This mainly had to do with rather big changes in my life: After over 20 years in Southern California, I moved to Austin, Texas for a new job last year.
Lots of new technology to learn, and I am now getting immersed in functional programming with Scala.
I intend to post more about issues I come across on that journey.
And of course, I continue to be outdoors. No big mountains in central Texas, though. I have to travel to other states for that.


  22:32:00 by Joe, Categories: General

I haven't had political spam in quite a while, the last time was a Dem Congressperson in Massachusetts, and a Republican judge in Texas who lost her primary race.
Now, the idiot and disgrace to every American Donald Trump has bought a spammer's email list and spammed me with a donation solicitation email. It showed up in my Yahoo email account, which I don't use, because it only gets spam. He used a recipient name which isn't my name, but has the same initials and last name (a person with the name lived in Albuquerque and apparently died earlier this year.)
I have seen spam using that name for a while in my Yahoo account.
Of course, as with all the stuff this idiot Trump writes, it is big in simple words and very very small in actual substance. Actually, there is no substance at all. Trump is all simple, capitalized words and no substance.
Examples from that spam:

We are going to start winning so much that you are going to get used to winning!

We have a HUGE opportunity to win!

So, Trump bought an email list from a spammer. Which of course makes him a spammer as well.
Spammers like Donald Trump are the scum of the Earth! They are not even human!


  11:13:00 by Joe, Categories: General

Over the last weekend I did my 3rd hike from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the North Rim and back to the South Rim.
They say the first time you don't know what it's like; if you do it a second time you are crazy.
What does doing it a 3rd time make me? I don't care, I still love it!

This certainly isn't for the faint of heart.
It is 46 miles, with over a mile in elevation change.
From the South Rim to the Colorado River it is 9 miles, from there up to the North Rim the North Kaibab Trail runs for 14 miles.
The elevation change from the South Rim to the Colorado is 1 mile. The elevation change to the North Rim is over 6000 feet.

The whole hike took me 4 1/2 days.
My itinerary and a couple of notes:
Day 1: Hike down Bright Angel trail to Bright Angel camp.
The unusual part: No water at the 1 1/2 and 3 mile resthouses. They say it's for winter only.
Day 2: Hike up the north side to Cottonwood.
Water there, and at Manzanita reststop (also at Roaring Springs, but didn't go there.)
Ribbon Fall was closed for a tribal ceremony, which was announced on flyers all over the place.
Day 3: Hike to the North Rim (YEAH!) and back to Cottonwood. 14 miles.
No water at Supai Tunnel for the winter, which is expected.
There was water at the North Kaibab Trailhead, but only a trickle came out of the faucet.
Day 4: Hike from Cottonwood to Indian Garden.
Had some rain on the hike. Reminder to pack a rain poncho.
When I got the permit, the rangers called this an "agressive intinerary", because it is 11.5 miles or so. Of course, they only see hikes between campgrounds, not if a hike is a round trip which ends up at the same campground, like my day 3...
Day 5: Hike out.
Still cloudy, but no rain. Nice hiking weather.


  17:37:00 by Joe, Categories: General

Today my laptop with Win7 on it asked me if I wanted to upgrade to Windows 10.
I clicked on 'No' (actually, I was more like "f-ing hell, NO!".)
But this POS update program started to download it anyway...
So, the first thing I did was to kill the process with Task Manager. I control what is downloaded, not Microsoft!
Next, I decided to get rid of that idiot program altogether.
It is called gwx.exe. GWX presumably stands for "Get Windows 10" (X being the Roman numeral for 10.)
Of course, simply deleting the file didn't work, since it is owned by TrustedInstaller, and even as Admin, it is not deletable.
But of course, there are always ways to get rid of things. Rebooting into Safe Mode, and then deleting it, would be one way.
A quick Google search resulted in a faster way. This webpage explains it in detail. I like the nice touch at the end of the page &#59;)
Microsoft still hasn't learned that this kind of stuff is a big no-no! Idiots!


  15:34:00 by Joe, Categories: General

I've written about my mis-adventures with AT&T before on this blog, but my recent episode tops it all...

My U-Verse DSL Modem (a Motorola/Arris NVG589) started to reboot at random times, several times a day. This was on-and-off for a while, but in August, this was a daily occurrence.
Apparently, the modems reboot when they lose synchronization with the servers in the AT&T switch building. Shouldn't happen here, I'm only 2000ft or so from the building.
Needless to say, this made Internet usage pretty much impossible. Downloads failed, watching video failed, browsing failed.

So, a technician came out, couldn't find anything, and left. A few hours later, the modem rebooted again, I called AT&T support, another technician was scheduled; lather, rinse, repeat...
The modem got replaced several times, which didn't improve anything, either.
Technicians were scheduled nearly daily to look at this.

At one point, a technician moved my outside connection to a different hardware (they call it "port".) That improved things a little bit (2 daily reboots instead of 4-5...) It also resulted in me being assigned a new IP address (that became important later in the month.)

Since this didn't get fixed, I decided to file a complaint with the FCC. That gave this issue much higher visibility. All of a sudden the technicians had pressure from their management.
Of course, some technicians don't quite like that, and resist it...
BTW, getting calls from "AT&T Office of the President" is much nicer than having to call their tech support line all the time, and having to explain things over and over... (phone # and passcode for 2nd-tier support is a bit better.)

Towards the end of August, one technician claimed he couldn't find anything in the outside wiring, so he "concluded" that the problem had to be with the wiring inside the building. Very convenient, because that would mean it was no longer an AT&T problem, but a problem of the apartment management. I asked him for a written statement, but he said (not surprisingly) that AT&T doesn't do that... So I would have to take his word for it...

Obviously, that guy didn't understand that I never just take somebody's word for it.
And very important, his own actions proved that the outside wiring was the problem: I said above that a technician earlier had moved my outside connection to different hardware. Now, this technician moved my connection back to the previous hardware. My proof of that is that I got the old IP address back. Since DHCP works by mapping MAC address (essentially a hardware serial #) to IP address, getting the old IP address means that the DHCP server saw the old MAC address.
Having all the log files from my Linux box is a good thing &#59;)

Of course, things got worse again, 4-5 reboots in a day. Next day, another technician came out, also trying to claim that the inside wiring was the problem ("I have been doing this for 20 years", yeah right...) I presented him with my proof that the outside wiring is the problem, he then left, saying he "has to call his manager", and never returned... These guys don't like customers with a clue &#59;)
I filed a second complaint with the FCC...

And then a miracle happened :)
A few days later, a young technician came out, a guy who probably didn't yet have the "f-you" attitude of the older guys who are "doing this for 20 years"...
He spent 2-3 hours on the box at the curb and the box next to the building, put me on yet another hardware at the curb box, and a different line to the box at the building.
I admit I was skeptical, but lo-and-behold, the reboots stopped.

So, the problem was in the outside hardware and wiring all along, and most of the AT&T technicians are just completely incompetent and try to avoid doing the actual work of fixing problems.
Getting the one good guy is hit-or-miss (mostly miss.)

This episode took a whole month to resolve. And I think it would have not been resolved at all if I hadn't been persistent and hadn't filed an FCC complaint. Companies like AT&T don't fear anything more than having their incompetence made visible.
Incompetence, thy name is AT&T.


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