Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Gone Google? Google gone!

I lost Google yesterday.

Actually, I didn't lose it. It was taken from me.

An afternoon storm caused a power outage. The outage corresponded to a very loud pop from the next room, the room where all the Internet hardware is located. When the power came back on, the Internet didn't.

Now, losing Internet for a bit isn't really that big of a deal. It's even softened a good bit when the phone still can connect, so I wasn't completely cut off. But, home Internet is more of a big deal now that I've added some smart devices around the house.

"Hey Google, turn on the air conditioner."

"OK Google, turn off the kitchen light."

"Hey Google, what's the weather?"

That doesn't sound like much, but when you get used to it, it's kinda jarring when it's gone. And Google was gone.

Rebooting the system a couple of times didn't help. I own my own router. But swapping out the router -- twice -- didn't fix it. It was the modem maybe? I own my own modem. But swapping it out didn't really make any difference. So, I contacted Comcast. Actually drove to the local office -- not a full company store, but still a Comcast location -- and spoke to them.

The nice lady said they'd be able to get someone by on Thursday. Not this Thursday, but next Thursday. 10 days later.

Time to try another tactic. I added a Comcast modem to my account, and walked out with it under my arm. Here's my thinking: An issue with my service takes 10 days to get a tech to come by. But a new hardware setup, a Comcast-provided device, gets priority.

Got home and though it took an awfully long time to navigate the menu system and wait on hold and then wait for Michael (that was his name) to finish the setup the store didn't finish, I finally got back up and running. Took a couple of hours overall, but that included my own troubleshooting, a trip to Comcast, then the whole new hardware setup. But, as I said, I was back up and running.

Google was back! I no longer had to reach over and turn on a light switch if I wanted light.

I actually said, "Hey Google, I missed you."

It actually replied, "I missed you, too."

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

The Tomb of the Unknowns

Proclamation on Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 2019

Issued on: May 24, 2019

Whether on the battlefields of Bunker Hill, on the beaches of Normandy, in the jungles of Vietnam, or in the mountains and deserts of the Middle East, brave Americans of every generation have given their last full measure of devotion in defense of our country, our liberty, and our founding ideals. On Memorial Day, we humbly honor these incredible patriots and firmly renew our abiding commitment to uphold the principles for which they laid down their lives.

As a free people, we have a sacred duty to remember the courageous warriors who have made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that our great country would endure. It is our responsibility to strive to ensure that their noble acts of dedication to our country and the cause of freedom were not in vain and to comfort the families they have left behind, who bear the heartbreak of their loss. We must ensure that the light of our Republic, and all for which these most honorable Americans willingly died, continues to shine forth brightly into the world. As President Lincoln said in 1863 during the dedication of the Gettysburg National Military Cemetery: “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.”

As we approach the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we proudly commemorate those heroic and honorable patriots who gave their all for the cause of freedom during some of history’s darkest hours. Thousands of selfless members of our Armed Forces perished on the beaches of Normandy. They bravely gave their lives to pave the way for the Allied liberation of Europe and ultimately victory over the forces of evil. Their historic sacrifices and achievements secured the future of humanity and proved America’s strength in defending freedom and defeating the enemies of civilization.

Those who rest in the hallowed grounds of our country’s national cemeteries laid their lives upon the altar of freedom. Today, as we unite in eternal gratitude for the sacrifices of these extraordinary Americans, let us also offer a prayer for lasting peace. Let us renew our steadfast resolve to work toward a peaceful future, in which the horrors of war are a distant memory and our families, our communities, and our Nation need no longer confront the sorrow and pain of losing our beloved sons and daughters.

In honor and recognition of all of our fallen heroes, the Congress, by a joint resolution approved May 11, 1950, as amended (36 U.S.C. 116), has requested the President issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer. The Congress, by Public Law 106-579, has also designated 3:00 p.m. local time on that day as a time for all Americans to observe, in their own way, the National Moment of Remembrance.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 27, 2019, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time when people might unite in prayer.

I further ask all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day.

I also request the Governors of the United States and its Territories, and the appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct the flag be flown at half-staff until noon on this Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control. I also request the people of the United States to display the flag at half-staff from their homes for the customary forenoon period.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand thistwenty-fourth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand nineteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-third.

DONALD J. TRUMP

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Pluto TV

I think I have a new favorite cord cutting app. Pluto TV is one I've had for a bit. It always had something interesting on it, but now they've got a lot more.

If you aren't familiar with Pluto TV, it's a live linear streaming service. What that means is that it's kinda like cable TV in that there is stuff playing on different channels at different times. It's just like traditional TV in that way, except it's streaming.

Now, it's not the same channels that you'll find with Comcast, Spectrum, or any cable service. But it does have a lot of content that's similar. They have added content from Viacom recently to their list of Pluto TV channels.

Content from MTV, Comedy Central, BET, Nick, CMT, Spike -- yes, Spike is back -- and others join the lineup that has included more and more movie, including some pretty good films. There's also news streams from CNN, CBS, NBC, Newsmax, Sky News, and others. I love the MST3K stream, the Rifftrax stream, and so much more.

Rather than try to list everything they have, and considering that what interests me might not interest you, I'm gonna suggest you check it out. Go to their Website or go ahead and download the apps to your phone, tablet, or streaming device -- including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, and others -- and give it a watch.

If you're a cord cutter, or looking to cut the cord, give Pluto TV a shot. You might like it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Brothers O'Toole

Harvey from Bad Example and IMAO asked me a question the other day.
Just wondering if you're familiar with this movie?

The Brothers O'Toole (1973)
https://www.neatorama.com/2019/03/17/The-Brothers-O-Toole-1973/

I'm only marginally familiar with 70's western comedies anyway, but I've never heard of this one. You?

Harvey
I'd never heard of the movie, so I looked it up. I was intrigued by the cast:


And more.

Now, I'm perfectly aware that a good cast doesn't always mean a good movie. But, hey, it might be a gem. So, I started looking for it.

Nuthin'. Nuthin' at all.

Oh, there were pages about the movie, but no way to watch it. At first. Finally, Amazon had it available for streaming and on DVD. And, the DVD was on sale, for cheaper than a streaming rental at the time, so I bought the DVD. It came in last week, I ripped it out for iTunes and watched it.

Eh. It was okay. It was no Blazing Saddles. It wasn't even Support Your Local Sheriff, but nice enough with moderate humor.

The first hour a case of mistaken identity of a con man for a wanted felon, and easy mistake as John Astin played both characters. The last half-hour was the con men brothers trying to run a scam.

Not a great film, but nice enough. It's a heckuva lot better than some movies that I paid more for. So I'm happy to add it to my library.

Am I recommending you get it? No. But I'm not recommending you avoid it either. If you like 70s western comedies, you'll like it. Don't expect Blazing Saddles. But expect a smile or two.

Oh, and why did Harvey ask me about it? Well, he knows I like movies and that I might just have known about that one. I didn't know about it, but now I do.

Will I watch it again? Maybe one day. But I've got over 100 movies in my library that I haven't watched. I need to play catch-up first.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The smoke-filled room


Sir, thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to settle a dispute. The year 2020 is upon us. We are to choose the servants that shall be the standard bearers for the top offices.


And what say you?


Sir, I want to go on record as saying that Elizabeth Warren is our best chance to defeat Trump.


No, no. Corey Booker. That's who we need to run.


You're both crazy. Kamala Harris is those two put together.


What about Bernie?


Beto O'Rourke! He's unstoppable!


You mean unless he runs against Ted Cruz?


I've had it up to here with you! I'll...


Still your tongues or I shall remove them!


If I might, sir. How did we ever find ourselves in this situation? Surely the ... um, shall I say Forces of Light ... did not intervene. The current officeholder is not one that would be chosen by ... Him. Is he?


Of course not. But, as you recall, our standard bearer in 2016 reached an agreement with me personally. Her soul for the presidency.


You've agreed to that type of bargain before. What happened?


She was unable to fulfill her end of the bargain. One cannot offer what one does not possess.


That, sir, is why I suggested Bernie Sanders last time. He didn't offer anything. He has been a willing puppet for years, and would have been a wonderful addition to our lineup of former officeholders.


And do not forget, we must also select the vice presidential candidate.


I suggest Kermit Gosnell. He has proven himself.


Isn't he still in jail? Killing babies wasn't as cool then as it is now.


I suggest Hat McCullough.


He's a South Park character. He's not even real.


Neither is Elizabeth Warren's resume. He'd be perfect for her.


I have considered and I have decided. We shall not intervene.


But sir! We must select candidates who represent what we stand for.


Those in leadership of the party have proven their methods of selecting the presidential candidate meet the standards upon which we insist. They have not let us down in the past. I trust them to select candidate that will do our bidding.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Wrapping it up with FreedomPop

A while back, I was researching cell phone service for a lady from the church. When I last mentioned it, she still hadn't made up her mind. I figured she'd go with Xfinity Mobile, but she instead upgraded her AT&T flip phone to an inexpensive Samsung smartphone.

During that research, I became much more aware of what options there were for Android devices. I even decided to get an Android device, which I mentioned some time back.

I still have my iPhone with stuff for my day job on it. But I have my Android phone for stuff like ... well, whatever it is I do when I'm not doing my day job. I have been using FreedomPop service with it. That was one of the services I checked into for the church lady. Commenter Slapout was also using FreedomPop, and I need to see how things are going with him. For me? Well, I'm ready to wrap it up with them.

Their free service has minimal data. If you don't use much data, that's not a problem. But, I'm one that uses data. So, I went with one of their special deals, and tried a 2 GB data plan. That was more than I would use, so some rolled over every month. I've got lots available. Well, relatively speaking. Several months. I don't often pull out the phone and use data when I'm away from a reliable WiFi source, so I don't really use all that much. Just more than the free plan.

Anyway, the price is going up. For the next six months, it works out to a little over $20/month. That's not bad, to be sure. But, the price is more in line with traditional cell phone services. And with traditional cell service you don't have to use a special phone or text app like you do with FreedomPop.

I could drop to a 1 GB plan for less than half that, so I might go that route. But if not, I'll be writing about Google Fi in a future post. But, I'm planning on dropping my paid FreedomPop service. Funny enough, I still have a free FreedomPop service. I ended up ordering two FreedomPop SIMs a while back, so I put one in my Moto e4 -- the one that's now a paid service -- and another -- the still free service -- in an old Samsung Galaxy S-something.

The downside of the free service is that if you don't use your phone every so often, they'll suspend service. No charge to restart it, but it is a pain. And you lose your number. So, there's that. I'm not faulting them for it. I mean, it's free, right? And if I kept the number and never used it, they'd be carrying it on the books and I'd just be tying up an otherwise useful number. So, that's not a complaint on my part, just a recognition of the facts.

So, after a year of FreedomPop, my thoughts? It's ... okay.

It runs on AT&T if you bring your own unlocked GSM phone (I did). If you use one of theirs, it's a Sprint CDMA phone. And Sprint doesn't have good service where I live. Neither does T-Mobile, for that matter. But I get good Verizon and AT&T service. So, the BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone) option works for me. Oh, and they are all refurbished CDMA Sprint phones. There are some Samsung Galaxy S7 phones, and some Motorola Moto X phones, so there are some good phones, just no new phones.

If you have a good quality phone, there's never any reason to call customer service. I've never had to deal with customer service, but I've read some stories. But, from my experience, I have no experience. I chalk that up to having a good phone. Which is why I chose the BYOP option. I knew the quality of the phone going in. It was a good phone and everything worked. So, no customer service calls were necessary.

Let's see. What else? Oh, yeah. The apps. Using their VOIP service, you go through their own phone and text apps. You can't use the default apps on your Android (or iPhone; I tried that, too). Which is a pain to get used to. But, the stuff works most of the time. Yeah, I had a couple of times where I couldn't place a call or get a text. But, I've run into that with Verizon on an iPhone X. So, this is no worse than that. Not a deal-breaker.

So, bottom line. Would I recommend one? Maybe. If you want a cheap service and can put up with ads (the free one is ad-supported), and don't use much data, this is actually not a bad way to go. If you want all the bells and whistles, this ain't for you.

Whether or not I'll keep the paid service, I don't really know. I'm keeping the free just to have a backup. I've set an alert on my phone to remind me to place a call every so often, so I don't lose the number (again) with the free service.

But, if I do go drop the paid service and go elsewhere, it'll be something around the same price, and that works more like a standard cell phone service, with the default phone and text apps and everything.

I know you can hardly wait to find out what I'm gonna do.

And we'll close on that cliffhanger.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Washington's Birthday 2019

George Washington

Every year, I do this. Or something like this. I'm doing it again this year, because it matter. You know what today is, right?

If you said "Presidents Day," you need to be beat with a stick. With knots in it so it hurts really bad. And, if the stick breaks, another stick needs to be used. Until we're all out of sticks. Because you should know by now that it's not "Presidents Day."

Today is Washington's Birthday.

Now, I know, you know, we all know that George Washington's birthday is actually February 22nd. That's this coming Friday. But, there is a federal holiday called Washington's Birthday, and it's to honor George Washington. And the name of that holiday is ... Washington's Birthday.

So, why does everybody call it Presidents Day? Well, not everybody does. I don't. And, I hope, you don't either. But there are a lot of folks running around loose that call it Presidents Day. But that doesn't make it Presidents Day. It's still Washington's Birthday. And they're idiots.

This day is set aside to honor the first President of the United States, George Washington. He was instrumental in the founding of this nation, and if anyone deserves a holiday, it's him.

Washington's Birthday was the fifth national holiday established, after New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. It was one of the holidays picked for a Monday observance in 1971 when they started screwing around with federal holidays, and making some fall on a Monday. Along with Washington's Birthday, the holidays Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day were also moved to Mondays. The first four holidays and Veterans Day kept their regular days. And, the newest holiday, Birthday of Martin Luther King (that's the real name of that holiday by the way) is one of those Monday holidays.

If you want to be one of "those people" that are always correcting others for things ... you know, like I'm doing right now ... and you want a link to throw at people, use this link to United States Code 5 U.S.C. 6103.

Why am I like this about Washington's Birthday? That's the wrong question. The right question is: why aren't you?

George Washington has his own day. He shouldn't have to share it with Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan, Millard Fillmore, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, or any of the others. And Americans need to recognize that. It's not often the government gets stuff right. This is one of those rare times. Don't let regular folks screw that up.