The cord has been cut!

The cord has been cut!

About two weeks ago, we made the hard disconnect of our cable TV and internet service with Comcast, this was due to their high rates and the need to lower our monthly costs.  The return of the equipment to them was painless and quite quick.  I came home and placed an order for FIOS (Fiber Optic Service) to our home for Internet only.  I have had service with Frontier Internet before and they were the company I ordered from again.   After placing the order, I was given an install date of today, September 1st.   This meant that we would have no Internet in the apartment for a while.  With only the data allowance on our phones, we were able to squeak by with minimal use.

One of the first things I did, was hook my HDTV antenna back up to the TV so we can recieve over the air broadcasts. 

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Cutting The Cord (Soon)

Cutting The Cord (Soon)

We are soon to face some changes in our household which will make some difference in the way we view television shows.  I will not go into those changes exactly, but one of them is that I plan on soon making the switch away from having a DVR cable/box and just going straight to Internet streaming of video.  Over the last several years, the cable industry has seen a sharp decline in the amount of subscribers, and a trend toward online video.  WIth this trend, they have started to get in the game so to speak by integrating services within their packages.  For example right now, our provider, Comcast (Xfinity), now allows you to log into your Netflix account through their DVR.  This to me, is a sign that they are starting to move into that area some.  Our DVR in fact, does not use any storage, instead it marks

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A Techies Dream

A Techies Dream

I think just about any techie secretly dreams of, or already has a hybrid type of smart home.  I have been toying with various ideas over the last year or two about how I could make our home more automated.  When you think about smart homes, you might think about similar technology to Star Trek or futuristic shows.   I think we are now at the point where we can add some of these things in our lives.  For example, I have a wishlist of items I would like to use to automate our home just ever so slightly and still make it very landlord friendly:

  1. Phillips Hue Smart Lighting system
    • You can control the lights with your phone or computer, changing the colors of the light, dimming to certain levels, or scheduling them to turn on/off at certain times with optional gradual dimming to full light or to no light.
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Google Rewards and Maps Questions

Google Rewards and Maps Questions

Once upon a time a couple of years ago, I signed up for a program from Google that would pay you for surveys that they would send out to you in the form of their Play Store credits.  Sometimes, you could get around $0.10 or $.08 and rarely $1.00 per question depending on their systems.  This often turned out to be a nice incentive to purchase apps on the Play Store for free since they were paying you in the form of credits.    Since I signed up on 12/9/13, I have amassed a total of $80.89 in credits with the last survey taken on 03/31/17,  Not every survey paid anything.  Eventually, in March of this year, the surveys stopped.  

 

With Google stopping the survey flow, it was not alarming to me, they have gone months sometimes 6 months or so between questions.  As it is a free thing

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Sometimes computers show their age. :)

Sometimes computers show their age. :)

I worked 6 days last week with Sunday being my only day off until Friday, so I decided to get a lot of things done with my computer and other items Sunday.  About a month ago, we picked up at Goodwill an Android TV Box for well under what it should cost.  In short - the Android TV box turns your TV into a media streaming system.    I hooked it up and it worked for about a week then died.   With it costing less than a meal at a fast food place, I didn't feel too bad about it.  In came my Raspberry Pi though to the rescue, one of the main features I loved about the Android TV Box is it hooks up to your TV and you can load a program on it called Kodi which lets you connect to your network and play music files stored on

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The importance of backups my story

The importance of backups my story

A couple of weeks ago, I was working with my system and my backup drive which is separate from the computer was starting to act strangely.  I knew this was a sign of impending doom so I scrambled to recover what I could as the drive would work for about 2 minutes after boot up, then go down.   The amount of storage on the drive is roughly 650GB of data.  In this data set, I have every music CD we own backed up to the server and our family photos, wedding photos, and lots of other items which are not easily replaceable.   I have backed up this drive before to a smaller drive so most of the data is still intact so I was glad to have this.  After taking inventory of what I have lost, it was an acceptable loss of mostly program files I downloaded and a few

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My new phone and troubles

My new phone and troubles

Three weeks ago, I wrote about my new phone number, and switching over to Cricket Wireless.  I wanted to share some info about how their company works and how so far, they have started to lose me as a customer.

The phone I bought is the one you see in the picture.  It is a ZTE Grand X4 phone.  The main selling point for me appealed to my inner security geek with it's fingerprint scanner.  The minute I saw it on their site, I knew that is the one I wanted.   When we made the switch, I happily brought the home and enjoyed knowing that I had enhanced security on my phone.  About a week ago, I started to lose the ability to receive certain security messages from Google.  They send them in as a "Short Code" SMS or one that would come from a number like "548187"  Regular messages

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Advertisements on Devices

Advertisements on Devices

As a consumer, I have always been bombarded by advertisements in print, on the radio, TV, and even movies.  With the advent of the Internet and ad-blockers, I was prompt to install one and have been spoiled by how 'clean' the web appears without advertisements.   When we started having smart phones come onto the scene, it was immediately a new avenue for advertising revenue for the developers of applications and Google (for Android), and the increase of advertisements in apps has become a nuisance.   I think most of us are used to or have become so numb to them invading our apps that we do not care about them that much.  

I have never and will never place advertisements on my web site for any reason. 

At Christmas time, I was at family member's house and they were complaining about how their phone would blare advertisements at night

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Tinkering with a small computer

Tinkering with a small computer

A quick primer on the Raspberry Pi for those who are not familiar with it.  This is a small credit card sized computer which runs on 5 volts of electricity and allows you to use it as the core computer in projects, or even a project itself.   Students all over the world have used them to create robots, while hobbyists have attached cameras to them and turned them into a wildlife cam which connects to a network and sends photos to their email.   Others have used them to create full fledged arcade machines capable of playing 100's of games all inside of a standard arcade cabinet.   The array of projects available to this little computer is only limited to the owner's imagination.

At the price point of $35, the cost of ownership is welcoming for those on a limited budget.    My work has partnered up with a company which uses

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Why I have made the permanent switch to Linux

Why I have made the permanent switch to Linux

Since I have moved to the Portland area, I have experienced several hardware changes - my laptop died which had Windows on it, my spare computer I was using died, and so I was left with my current system which is an older system, but still quite capable.  Windows 10 runs on it fine and there are no issues with it.  With that said, the change to Linux has been more or less motivated by how much I have grown in it.  When we moved to Portland, I started working at my job which dictates that you have 'command line' experience in Linux.  Having run a web hosting company in the past, I had that experience, and was able to get around in Linux, but I never really gave it much thought for daily use on my end.  This changed with my job.   While we use Windows 10 there, we

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My history with computers

My history with computers

cocoii

TRS-80 Color Computer II

When I first started using computers, I was 12 years old in 1984.  That was a magical time for me and I have very fond memories related to them.   It was then, that I remember us going to Radio Shack at the mall and my parents picking up a TRS-80 color computer II with 16K of memory and it hooked up to the TV.   It came with a tape drive to play cassette tapes which held programs and was at the time, a very amazing system.  It was this system where I started to learn how to type and became immersed in the wonders of being able to manipulate the computer to do what I wanted it to.  Along with this system, I had a text adventure game called Bedlam which was about waking up after having a frontal lobotomy in an insane asylum.  While I

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Ten things I learned as a traveling technician

Ten things I learned as a traveling technician

In my brief time as a traveling repair person for point of sale systems, I picked up a few neat tricks along the way that I thought I’d share:

1) You can pretty easily walk into the back of the store without being noticed.
2) No matter how many times you set the inventory alarm off with your tool bag of tools, they never give a second look. This goes with #3 below
3) If you look like you know what you are doing, they leave you alone.
4) You can be researching on your laptop how to repair a product, and people think you are filling out the paperwork on it.  Nobody ever thinks twice.
5) If you have to take an extra hour to repair something and make a mistake, they do not know any different and it looks like you are working.
6) The back of department

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The hack that changed everything...

On Saturday May 24th 2014 at 1:49 it all began. The starting of an attack by a hacker on my accounts starting with PayPal. The first email came in:

Verification code to reset PayPal password

Dear Keith (redacated), To reset your password, enter this verification code when prompted: 039066Sincerely, PayPal

This email was sent by an automated system, so if you reply, nobody will see it. To get in touch with us, log in to your account and click "Contact Us" at the bottom of any page. Copyright © 2014 PayPal, Inc. All rights reserved. PayPal is located at 2211 N. First St., San Jose, CA 95131.

PayPal Email ID PP1773 - 31cad866ee69d

I did not request this at all. Every two minutes these came for a total of three times. This set me on high alert! Someone was unsuccessfully attempting to get into my

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