Goodbye Vonage!

Today I can hold my head high, for I am finally rid of Vonage. It started back in Jan. ’05. I wasn’t using a landline at my apartment and I saw the need for something other then ye’ ole cell phone. I ordered the service and eagerly awaited the new equipment that was due any day. I got the Linksys PAP phone adapter / router and set it up for it’s maiden voyage…. Vonage.
My first impressions were that the audio quality was not great, but the 20 something dollars a month that included long distance was well worth a few shortcomings. As you may have calculated, I had Vonage for just over 2 years, so no one can accuse me of not giving Vonage a fair trial.
During that two year span I made many calls to many places. There was never any perfect call. Many were perfectly fine, but most were annoying. I always heard an odd hum/hiss on my end, no matter what phone I used. I could also never get used to the frequent lag I experienced. It kinda felt like those IM sessions when you say something and while your waiting for a reply you say something else and next thing you know you are carrying on two conversations at once. Mo matter what I tweaked or tried, the Vonage line just wasn’t cutting it as a landline replacement, I can totally see using Vonage lines for a fax line or something secondary, but for everyday use I think Vonage has a ways to go.
Aside from the quality of the service I need to rant a little bit about the customer service side of things. Two things stand out most in my head on this topic.
First, After a year and a half of service my Linksys Phone Adapter / Router craps out on me. I call Customer Service which is very obviously in India and explain my predicament. I am notified that I need to purchase a new Phone Adapter to get my service back up and running. Now this thing came free when I signed up and free is great, but the replacement Linksys Phone Adapter was full retail price @ about 100 bucks. I wasn’t having any of that. I wasn’t expecting to get a second free one, but I didn’t expect to be charged 100 bucks for it. So I did the next best thing, that’s right, I bought one on eBay. Now, at this point I have spent about two weeks without Vonage service and have in hand my used, but newly purchased Linksys PAP thingamabob. I promptly hook it up and call India to get a little help getting it online. They check some stuff and then let me know that since the device had previously been used for another line, on another account, they needed to have an engineer do some stuff before they can get the phone back online. Great! I think, a few more minutes and problem solved. Hardly. They notify me that the engineer will need 72 hours to complete the task. WHAT!? I accept the only offer given, hang up from India, and wait. 72 hours, plus or minus, later I call back to India and actually am able to get my VOIP back on track. It was a long and tedious process, some of it self inflicted I guess, for a stupid Linksys PAP thingamabob.
After that experience everything went back to normal and I continued using my sub par service. Now fast forward to March 20th 2007. March 20th was the day I called to have the service finally disconnected. Mel and I had moved into the house and Verizon had delivered that sweet, sweet fiber to the side of our abode. We had glass, we didn’t need VOIP. So I call India and break the bad news that I will no longer be needing their services. The CS agent was happy to assist but they pulled something I have never seen before. They notified me that my automatic billing date had just passed, the 18th, and that since I was paid up until April 18th I should hold on to the service until then. I declined and asked that the prorated amount be credited back to my account. They would not do it. DID YOU HEAR ME??? THEY WOULD NOT DO IT!!! WTF!? I didn’t freak out and I kindly insisted that someone at Vonage surely gives refunds for services not used. I mean surely they can’t just bill you and keep the money if you change your mind a day later, can they? Well, I am sad to report that they did. I talked to two or three more people in India and they confirmed that I may not cancel my account and have the remainder of my money back. So I set a reminder and lucky for me I was able to get the account canceled today and they won’t be getting any more of my dang moola!

The moral of the story…….. DON’T USE VONAGE!

By the way…….
I am also glad that I didn’t buy any of their stock at the IPO a while back. I wouldn’t have seen a return on that either!

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Goog 411 (1-800-GOOG-411)

A while back I found 1-800-FREE-411, it’s a free ad supported 411 service. I love it, but it doesn’t work with Nextel, so I was SOL until today. I ran across GOOG-411. It’s a free 411 service and you can use it from any phone, for now at least. No more 411 charges!

1-800-GOOG-411 – OR – 1-800-466-4411


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WHAT THE HELL!?!?!?!?!?
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Polls are open

Happy weekend everyone!
It has come to my attention that one of my statistics modules may not be working as it should. You see, a couple of weeks ago I noticed that my site stats went from 30-60 hits a day to 0-2. I thought everyone had just become bored with checking in since the house news was slowing. Now that may be true, but it may also be a software issue. To find out I have added a poll on the left of the screen.

Please cast your vote.

If I find that the software is broken, well, I need to get on the ball and add content more often to keep everyone entertained and coming back. I would actually like this site to go somewhere one day and your feedback is a very important part of development.

Thanks in advance


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Building Blocks

I stumbled across this nifty puzzle game that has consumed my lunch break and more so far today. The object is to use blocks to build the shape outlined in the Top, Front, and Right views. The hard part is trying to do it with the amount of blocks given in the problem. Fun stuff!

Green = complete but imperfect
Yellow = perfect

Try it out HERE


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As if BASE jumping wasn’t extreme enough

As if BASE jumping wasn’t enough of a rush, these guys managed to take it to a completely different level. It’s not extreme anymore, it’s simply freaking NUTS!

Catapult BASE Jumping

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Snow Mower on Snowmass

So last week I decided that it was indeed time to get cracking on the hunt for a lawn mower. The grass was starting to get out of hand and well, I didn’t want to say hello to our new neighbors with eight inches of grass underfoot. So we looked everywhere; online, Lowes, Home Depot, Southern States, Ace Hardware, etc. We almost bought a self propelled, but a couple of people, whom will remain nameless, gave me a bunch of guff about buying self propelled. You know, the “What?, why do you need that? You lazy or something?” So last Friday we were in Lowes and were within moments of buying the self propelled model anyway when something came over me and we decided to save a hundred bucks and propel the mower ourselves. Now I’m sure the peer pressure had something to do with our decision, but I feel fairly confident that the savings played a larger role. We lugged it home and I was looking forward to Saturday, for I was going to get outside and play, I mean work in the yard with my new toy, I mean tool.
Fast forward to 7:30 Saturday morning. Mel wakes up and promptly gets my attention. I open my eyes and, wait, what?……it was a winter wonderland outside. Snow covering everything, including the stupid grass I was going to mow. I think I saw on the news that we set some kind of record for latest spring snow. So I guess I should have bought a snow mower or something, because the new mower just sat in it’s box on the front porch with nothing to do.
I was glad to see the snow, but was equally glad to see it go. Sunday was back to normal and we got some mowing done and began the process of gathering up the car sized pile of leaves and pine needles. A job that is far from over and should have been done months ago. Lazy old owners.
It’s kind off cool that we had our first snow shortly after we moved in to our house on Snowmass Rd. It kinda fits don’t ya think?

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Pencil Carving

Someone took a lot of time and patience to produce this kind of work. I have come up with a new extreme sport……

Extreme Whittling! – Check It Out

I wonder how many times this person cut themselves making these things. I mean really, X-ACTO knives are freaking sharp and there’s little room for error.



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Retro 8 Bit

Retro in the computer and gaming world is only a mere few years ago. I still remember getting my NES for Christmas back in the 80’s. I was sitting on the floor, in front of our big old tv with legs that would go on the blink until you stomped on the floor really hard, playing Super Mario Brothers for the very first time. Boy what a day! I think I died on the first Goomba a half a dozen times before I got the hang of the controls. It was 8 Bit gaming at it’s best. A simpler time, when you had a four way control pad and two buttons, it was high tech. After some use you’d have to blow out the NES cartridges to get them work. Boy was it grand. Now we have all these new fangled CDs and DVDs loaded with games that sometimes look more real than real life itself. Heck, my PS2 is looking mighty old and monolith like, it’s the first generation, not the new skinny version. All of this rambling about old school gaming does have a point however. I ran across a website that has a bunch of the great 8Bit NES games that you can play in your browser. Pretty awesome in my book.



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Extra Life Radio

I am not even sure how I found this particular podcast, but I have found it to be one of my favorites. Now, the odd thing is that it centers around all things nerdy. Web comics, comic books, movies based on comic books, superheros, and whatnot are the standard fare. Why odd you ask? Well I am not much of a superhero, comic book, animated movie kind of guy. I am a bit of a geek in my own right, but not in that way.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
I do enjoy the discussions about video games, not that I play very many, but it’s often where the tech conversations get started. The web comic part of the community is actually starting to grow on me,
EXTRALIFE and COMMISSIONED are two that I check daily. They also happen to be the works of two of the main voices on Extra Life Radio. Bottom line, these guys are funny and are worth a listen, so check em out. EXTRALIFE RADIO or you can find them in the Podcasts section of the iTunes music store.


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