[movies] The Fog of War

I was surprised at how good it was. He (Robert Macnamara) says a lot more things that
pacifists would say than you would expect from what he’s spent his
life doing.

Another unusual thing was that the “deleted scenes” section of the
DVD was about as good, and in some places more interesting, than the
regular video. It’s about another hour, so leave 2.5 hours for
watching the DVD rather than 1.5.

My grand scheme for consolidating communications bills won’t work

Originally posted to speakeasy.net.

I’ve just been through two experiences with the Speakeasy/Verizon
interface in the Boston area, and find the results disquieting.

What I was hoping to accomplish was to get Speakeasy naked DSL,
transfer my land line phone number to my cell phone, and stop paying
Verizon for the POTS that I don’t use very much, which breaks for
several days every year or two.

I called to order the naked DSL, and was told there was no problem; it
would take two install appointments and $6 more per month and a $99
installation fee. So I signed up, and COVAD came and installed a
line, and Speakeasy sent me a new modem.

The log for the install reflected that the line had been provisioned,
but there was a problem with the voltage.

After I pinged Speakeasy about the problem a week later, they called back
and said they were cancelling the order, because it seemed that my CO
didn’t have the right equipment to provide naked DSL.

Meanwhile, my current DSL line broke, and I was using dialup for over
a week. The details about this outage are at this
entry.

For this purpose, note that during the DSL outage I was using the Verizon POTS
line for several hours a day for dialup access to the internet.

So this means that not only can I not cancel the POTS line completely,
I’m nervous about even going to the minimal charge (3-4 times the
$6 that the naked DSL would have cost, had I been able to get it).

How do other people deal with this? I know there are ways to use a
cell phone as a modem for internet access; is there one that works
particularly well at a cheap price point in the Boston area? My
current service is T-Mobile with a pretty generic Motorolla phone, but
if I were saving money per month over my current Verizon + T-mobile
service I could afford to buy a better phone or change cell phone
service.

Is there any possible way to reverse the decision about the naked DSL?
It seems like a lot of all these problems may be Verizon’s business
plan to sell their own DSL — if someone threatened to expose this
(they’d need better cooperation from Speakeasy than I’ve been
getting), could the CO equipment suddenly become adequate?

It looks like the only widely-used broadband access in Boston that
doesn’t depend on Verizon is Comcast cable broadband. If you don’t
also pay for cable TV, this costs roughly what speakeasy DSL does for
less service (I actually use the ability to run servers and have a
static IP). But does anyone have Covad plus cellphone working with a
LINUX system for a noticeably lower price than I’m currently paying
for Verizon + t-mobile + speakeasy?

DSL Outage finally over

My Speakeasy DSL line went
down sometime during the day of Sunday, May 1. It finally came back up at
about 2 PM on Monday, May 8.

It was a little bit hard to get sympathy from people once they
realized that my phone was working and I had a dialup line for
internet access. But really, a lot of things I do depend on having my
not only the high speed, but the static IP address. Here’s the
list I emailed a friend on wednesday of the horrible week:

  1. I can’t email anyone whose ISP rejects mail from servers
    with dynamic IP addresses (which includes my sister),
  2. the mailing lists that live on my machine don’t work for anyone
    but me, and they don’t work very well for me because of (1).
  3. The script that updates my website doesn’t work because rsync
    expects something it doesn’t have.
  4. Nobody who usually gets music off my home computer (which would
    be more people than usual because of (3) can get at it, and I
    have to email them.
  5. And all my browsing has to be over this dialup, which is ok for
    lots of things, but one of the things I should be doing is
    finding pictures for the covers of my books, and that’s really
    slow.

Why so long to fix

DSL runs on the same technology as the telephone system, so you
would expect it to take the same amount of time to fix if the line
gets broken.

My Verizon telephone service goes down every year or two and
usually takes between two and three business days to fix. This is
longer than you want to be without phone service, especially when it
happens over a weekend, but is a lot shorter than the six business
days and one and a half weekends it took them to fix the Speakeasy DSL
outage.

The obviously relevant difference is that when my phone breaks, I
can call Verizon directly, explain that if they need access to the
phone closet I need to ask my neighbor for the key, and they tell me
when (within one day) the repair person will come and I get the key.

When the Speakeasy DSL broke, I called Speakeasy, they placed a
trouble ticket with COVAD, which placed a repair call with Verizon. I
have a log of all the “communication” that
happened between Speakeasy and Covad. From my point of view:

  • I called to report the problem on Sunday, and was told the break
    was before the building, so they probably wouldn’t need access to the
    phone closet.
  • On Tuesday, a Verizon employee showed up at 4:30, and asked for
    access to the phone closet. I called the neighbor whose apartment the
    closet is in, who works at MIT, about 10 minutes round trip by car and
    20 minutes on foot. She would have been happy to give me the key if I
    went there but she wasn’t going to be home until 6:30 or so. The
    Verizon employee said that after 5 it was unlikely he could fix the
    problem because nobody would be in the office, so someone would come
    “tomorrow morning”.
  • On Wednesday, I called Speakeasy at 5, having waited around all
    day with the key but with nobody showing up. He said Verizon needed
    me to commit to being at home for two days. I reluctantly committed
    to being home on both Thursday and Friday, but asked that the
    “escalate” because it seemed like the problem should have been fixed
    by now.
  • On Friday I called at lunchtime to see if they thought there was
    any chance at all that Verizon would come that afternoon, and it
    turned out that Verizon had still not been told that I had the key to
    the closet, and that they would call back with a new commit time from
    Verizon. They called back saying that Verizon would come before 3 on
    Saturday. I had plans for Saturday afternoon, but managed to find a
    neighbor to leave the key with.
  • On Sunday morning, the neighbor said that he had not seen
    Verizon. I called, and was told that Verizon doesn’t really come on
    Saturdays, and that they would be there before 5 on Monday.
  • On Monday at 11 AM, Verizon arrived, fiddled in the phone closet,
    and determined that they needed to also fiddle in a manhole. They
    needed to find a policeman to direct traffic around the manhole, but
    did so after lunch and fixed the problem by 2 PM. Note that at this
    point I had spent all or part of 5 days under what I took to calling
    “Verizon House Arrest”. Everybody who had dealt with Verizon repair
    knew instantly what I was talking about.
  • On Tuesday evening, when I was running a rehearsal, Speakeasy
    called to see if the problem was fixed. I said it was, but that while
    I didn’t have time to talk now, I thought their system needed some
    improvements, and I’d be happy to discuss it at some other time. They
    assured me that there was no possible way to improve communication
    with Verizon and hung up.

Another possibly relevant difference between getting Speakeasy DSL
fixed and getting a Verizon phone line fixed is that it may well be
part of Verizon’s business plan for selling Verizon DSL to make fixing
rival DSL’s difficult. If Speakeasy had fixed their system so that it
was clearly Verizon losing relevant information instead of Sepakeasy
or Covad not transmitting it, they would then be in a position to make
this claim through the legal system, and I would be happy to assist
them.

However, I think if Verizon’s lawyers got hold of the log of this
trouble ticket, they wouldn’t have any trouble claiming that they
weren’t responsible for this delay.

[publishing] Pieces added, May 11, 2005

Dowland’s
“In this trembling, trembling shadow”
is the next piece in “A
Pilgrim’s Solace”. We did it at the Cantabile Renaissance
Band
last night and it was wild and wonderful both rhythmically
and harmonically.

Fantasia
25
and Fantasia
26
are from the Phalese “Bicinia”, which I’m gradually going
through. I wouldn’t have gotten to these two for a while yet, but
John Tyson wants to play them at a Memorial Day workshop with Matthias
Maute, so I did them as a favor to him. I don’t have a duet partner
at the moment, so these are untested unless John’s gotten around to
playing them. So as always, let me know if there are problems.

[pdas] OpenZaurus 3.5.3

Flashed fine.

Attempted to set default font to larger size and was unable to run
the console. So it’s back at a 7 point font that’s completely
illegible for anyone over 40.

Attempted to run route commands that worked with 3.5.2 and get
device not found error. Will look at website to see if I did
something before that.

No, doing what the website says in the order I’m sure I did it last
time is not establishing USB connectivity. Ping is hanging and ssh is
saying:

ssh: connect to host zink port 22: No route to host

So I guess it’s busted, since I can’t read the console on the
zaurus and I can’t log in from the desktop. I’m trying to log a bug
on the console, but I’m having trouble reproducing the problem — now
it isn’t crashing, but it also isn’t changing the font. Update: it crashes if you change the font in the
default Settings => Appearance, but just ignores it if you do it in
the terminal settings.

I’ll see if the mailing list can help.

Update, May 12: No response from the mailing list.
I have to decide which distro to reflash from before I finish the
gothic romance novel (Mary Stewart’s “The Ivy Tree”) I’m reading and
want to get back to the Trollope Parliamentary novels. It looks like
going back to theKompany makes more sense than going back to OZ
3.5.2. TheKompany doesn’t work as well in landscape as OZ does, but
I don’t do that very often, and I think if I had Opera working
(theoretically possible on OZ but I never managed it) I would actually use
browsing. Also, being able to contribute the the OZ project pretty
much requires running the current version, so going back to 3.5.2
isn’t going to accomplish that.

[cantabile] Plans for the May 10 meeting

The next meeting of the Cantabile Renaissance Band will be on Tuesday,
May 10, at 7:45 PM at my place.

We have pretty much abandoned the twice a month idea, and just
meet every week, being aware that there are some people who want to
come regularly who can’t make it that often.

Rather than send out these announcements and the reports on what
we’ve done at the meetings to the whole list, I will send them to
people coming regularly or semi-regularly, and post them on the blog
for anyone interested to read. I will continue to post announcements
on an intermittent basis to the list. And I will
post any irregularity in the schedule, although it might make sense
to check before coming if you haven’t been in a while.

In any case, for this meeting, we’ll get back to our Dowland of the
week. The next one is “In this trembling, trembling shadow”.

We may also do some of the things that fell off the playlist at the
Walk for Hunger, like the Vecchi “Il Bianco e Dolce Cigno” if we have
enough people for a five-part piece, and “Vive la Serpe”.

I think the DSL problem is finally fixed, so everybody should get
this one.