Thursday, April 12, 2007

YGAMS.COM sizeing the Internet based on index footprint size.

My most recent programming project YGAM.COM is a Statical analysis engine utilizing and normalizing search results returned from Yahoo, Google, Ask, MSN, and Search index engines.

The YGAMS's normalization values are re-calculated and updated daily.
Today's YGAMS normalization calculations indicate the Internet to be about 6.44Billion indexed pages after statistically removing a whole lot of duplication.

Check your Internet footprint and compare your YGAMS score with friends and family.

YGAMS Statistical Engine is great tool for the trivia buff.

What is the most used single letter? A
What computer company has the largest Internet footprint?
#1 Apple~63M
#2 HP~58M
#3 IBM~41M
#4 Dell~28M

Collectors should find this tool helpfully in their research, particularly in determining overall popularity of an item or subject.

YGAMS the game is in the works, till then have fun with this advanced preview of this new Statical analysis engine. Needless to say this Beta copy has a distinct lacking of fluff at this time. I hope to expand the website with more fluff and trivia, as soon as I return from TAX hell, as it is that time of the year again.

The current YGAMS Beta has been optimized for use with the current generation of Internet enabled wireless phones and PDAs. This version looks best on a very small screen or in a tiny window. This YGAMS Beta has only been tested with the Cingular 8100-8525 and 8100 Verizon 6700, at the time of this muttering. I would really be happy if people out there with internet enabled cellphones and PDA's would use these urls: HTTP://YGAMS.COM/?WIRELESS or HTTP://YGAMS.COM/?PDA one time so I can identify the incoming header and screen-size information sent by other phones. If you do not have an Internet enabled PDA or cell phone feel free to pass these links on to any one who might have one or knows some one who does.

Comments and Ideas are welcome ....

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Computer Collectors and Collecting

I have been interested in and collected Computer Collectables for most of my life, storage costs and concerns along with moving costs has cost me much of my collection over the years and I am not alone.

I regularly hear sad stories of fellow collectors passing on and their collections were sold as scrap or worse yet, priceless collectables dumpstered along with the rest of the junk. In some cases the collections are broken up and sold on eBay, often badly listed or listed as a generic unknown.

What follows is a string of conciseness on the subject of Collectors and their collections, for those interested I have started a separate Blog on this subject from the viewpoint of a publisher and developer .

While most collectors enjoy showing off and talking about their collections, few have the desire or resources to build and maintain a website for their collections. Those of us that do have a strong desire to share online, have already started a webpage or three :)

There are many that have small collections of but are happy to contribute pictures and stories as long as they do not have to maintain anything themselves.

There are some young and energetic people that want to contribute but know not how.

more thoughts on this later .....

Monday, March 12, 2007

What time is it .... here and now

Who the Phd who came up with the idea to change Daylight Savings Time (DST) again!

Ok, I understand the idea is to move 1 hour of daylight from the morning hours where the children do not need it, to the evening, where it can be better utilized in an energy efficient manner for the betterment of mankind...... Rrrrrright ?

When I first heard of this idea my first question was, what about all the computers and timers that are DST aware? The official party line has been, we had so little real problems with Y2K, because of the upgrades and upgrades made then, changing the rules will somehow be accounted for. Ok.... if You say so ......

Let me take a moment to look back to Jan 1, in 2000, I along with many other Technologists were on call New Years Eve 1999 to monitor the great Y2K switch over. Here in my town, the Emergency Management Team had a full crew in the bunkers prepared and drilling for the possible end of the world. I had set up an automated remote monitoring system that pinged several critical points on the internet recording any disruptions or changes in timing should they occur, and watched and waited. The only excitement in my house was when I saw IBM going down unexpectedly at midnight. While, expected by everyone directly connected to IBM or its customers or anyone for that matter who cared to check their scheduled maintenance announcements. It was a shock to me, it sure appeared to be a serious network crash, and it did coming back on line immediately.

So, when this idea of extending DST came up, I was not surprised to see most people have assumed it would not be a problem. On the other hand I took a wait and see attitude.

Well the time has come and gone. I was pleased to see the vast majority of my technological tools and toys handled the switch over properly, but alas several did not, as too was expected.

About 50% of my Microsoft based computers updated to DST properly on Sunday night.
While the NT and 2003 servers updates properly, the Win2000 servers required DST to be turned off and time to be changed by hand. I fully expect to have to fix it again in November. In one case I was asked to open a hole in a corporate firewall so that an old Unix box that has been running in total isolation since it was lasted updated in 1999 for Y2K could be connected to the internet and get its clock fixed. There were ans still are good reasons to put the system back into isolation again.

The only DST based problem to blind side me, occurred with my DirectTV HD DVR. It should have not been a surprise. This TiVo based system runs a flavor of Linux and I added a second hard drive shortly after I got it. I should not have been surprised the automatic update from DirectTV did not take. Oops my bad :-)

I understand the good people of the European Union have taken a wait and see approach to this problem and will not begin, their experiment in time, until 1am on the last Sunday in March.

I happened across this link on WebExhibits about daylight savings plan Incidents and Anecdotes which covers the subject well.

Feel free to add DST related stories and comments .....

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Total Lunar Eclipses - March 3 2007

March 3 2007, there was a total Lunar Eclipse viewable to most of the world. Here in central Ohio, totality occurred at Moonrise / Sunset about 6:16p local time. We expected to experience totality about 6 degrees just a little above the horizon followed by the return of the sun as the moon made its climb in the eastern sky. On the other hand, the good people of China on the opposite side of the world witnessed the first half of the eclipse at sunrise with the moon setting in the West. On August 28 2007 we will have that opposite situation during a second total lunar eclipse of the year. The eclipse in August will occur at Sunrise / Moonset and will be viewed in the western sky here in Central Ohio, and at sunset over in China. What made this eclipse a bit more interesting here was the fact that here in the Midwest USA we were socked in by clouds and light snow flurries. Any chance of getting a picture of it was slim to none, unless there was a miraculous momentary break in the overcast.

Long before we had any idea what the weather was going to be like for this event, Bill Kramer, the famed eclipse-chaser and I had made plans to photograph this eclipse. I had wanted to photograph it sitting nicely in the sky over a covered bridge in the area in the foreground. Alas, it did not look like the weather was going to cooperate with either of our plans. As sunset drew near, communications were established as we both watched the satellite images and weather radar looking for any hopeful indication, that there was a chance of a small hole between the two converging fronts moving through the area. Much to the surprise of our wives we decided to make a last minute dash.

At this point, I should note that MrBill normally does not chase Lunar eclipses. It is the Solar ones he travels around the world to photograph. But if we could by any chance appease the weather gods into providing us but a brief glimpse to capture. It was most likely going to be the only picture taken in Ohio or most likely the only one taken in the Midwest. So off we went, heading Southeast out of Columbus down State Route 23, and sure enough we found a small break in the two cloud layers. At a public rest area halfway between Columbus and Chillicothe we captured a few pictures. The cold wind, combined with the vibration of the trucks going by on teh highway did not help MrBills long lensed camera setup. I, on the other hand, captured two usable shots taken at full auto between wind gusts on my old Minolta Dimage 7hi. The high point of the event was when a young man pulled up and asked us what the cameras were for and we both pointed to the sky. We got a "Wow" as he pulled off to the other side of the rest area, where we noticed several others were standing in the lights of the service building pointing at the sky and then back at us, off away from the lights. Considering the news stories about rest area sexploits, I am not surprised that our presence at a rest stop with cameras on tripods with long lenses was not disturbing to some when we arrived and began setting up. Shortly after dropping me back off at my house, MrBill found himself blocked in by police and fire trucks. A walk around the block revealed; yet one more photo-op for the night ....

Who can resist a good car crash :-)
No one was seriously injured and it should be noted the two cars parked inside will need body work. It looked like the Mustang pulled out in front of the Camaro and got it's nose cut off. The then out of control red Camaro tried to push two cars out the back side of the garage. Sorry that picture did not come out, they had turned off the emergency lights by the time I got over to that side.

"The same old New AT&T, little has changed" followup

This is a follow up to "The same old New AT&T, little has changed" muttering I posted here in early February, exactly a lunar cycle ago. Since my last muttering on this subject, I reluctantly paid the AT&T - Cingular overcharges, but I am not quite willing put this incident to rest yet. It should be noted that the new statement from AT&T did not reflect any credits, not even the $50 disgruntled customer credit that had been offered.

On the way home the other day, I went by the Cingular shop where this all began, only to find it is now a T-Mobile shop. I stopped in to find the same owner operator, and asked him what happened to Cingular. He told me that when AT&T took over he dropped them like a rock. When I pushed him for a reason, he would only say that he did not agree with the New AT&T quota system that expected him to push extra services and packages that the customer often did not need or want. He refused to treat his customers that way. When I dropped the line "We don't card, we don't have to care, we are the phone company", he chuckled and said exactly.

Last night on the TV news I saw a piece about AT&T raising the rates on directory assistance to $1.75 per number. If you call 411 (directory assistance) and ask about more than one number, then each number will be charged separately. So the old rule of a 3 number limit per call seems to have been raised, now asking about 4 numbers will now cost you $7 on your phone bill for the single 411 call.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The same old New AT&T, little has changed

Having just gotten off the phone with the customer service department of the new AT&T yet one more time, the first thing that comes to mind is the old Lilly Tomlin bit, "We don't care, We don't have to care, We are the phone company!"

As a Technowledgest by vocation (it's not just a job, it's a lifestyle), I have been an early adopter of many new technologies; especially in the area of personal communications. A little over 2 years ago, when AT&T wireless merged with Cingular, I was lured by the media hype and lower prices into moving from Nextel to Cingular for my cell phone service (3 phones). The only problem was it took took over a month and numerous calls to get SBC to fix the busy - no answer - call forwarding on my home office ISDN line to roll to the Cingular number and not the old Nextel number. After that was fixed, things went smoothly for several years. I was happy with the savings, and the steadily growing pool of rollover minutes were great.

Then I busted the screen on my phone.

The local Cingular store where I had set up my account was little help other than to offer to sell me a replacement for my originally free phone for $150.
I did discover after a bit of research if I put my "SIM" card my mom's phone, it worked just fine with my number. This arrangement solved my personal communication needs until I could pick up a replacement phone. I found one later that night new, in the box (sans SIM card), for $50 on eBay, I put in my SIM card in it when it arrived and life moved on.

Just before Christmas 2006, the replacement phone began to get flaky. The screen would go blank until I physically abused it, at which point it would work again for a while. By this point my contract with Cingular was over and I was on month to month plan. So I headed out to look at phones again. This time I was looking at the new generation of Smartphones. My neighbor had a Verizon 6700 Smartphone and was complaining about loosing the stylist out of its storage spot in the antenna, and was also having problems with the magnetic clasp on his belt pouch. The magnet kept turning the phone back on somehow (I will mutter more about that elsewhere) so that was out.

I took a brief look at the other providers and Sprint's deal looked good, but in the end I got suckered by the media hype and decided to stay with Cingular for several reasons. I ended up getting a Cingular 8525 on eBay. Here is a short list showing my thoughts and reasoning:

1. First was the fact that it worked with my home and office WiFi along with several coffee shops in the area.
2. I was told by the sales person that the 3G data plan was optional and not required.
3. I have literally many thousands of minutes of rollover time I did not want to loose.
4. Although Sprint was spending a lot of advertising dollars trying to tell me they were faster and in more cities, it did not matter to me, as I had all the services I needed here in Columbus, Ohio.
5. The fact that AT&T was purchasing Cingular did bother me. I had problems converting from old AT&T local service to the NEW AT&T local service when SBC took them over because I was an Old AT&T and not a current SBC customer. The sales person at the local Cingular store assured me that as long as I did not use my new-phone discount to purchase the phone and purchased it outright without discount, I would not be locked into a contract extension.

With the idea that the New AT&T was going to solve all my current and future needs, I went to eBay and purchased a used phone that would not lock me into 2 more years.

When the phone arrived, I put my Sim card in and the phone worked just fine, as did the WiFi. I decided to hold off signing up for the data service until after Christmas and only used the Data side of the phone with free WiFi hot spots and my WiFi DSL service at home also purchased from AT&T. When I got my first bill, I had an 18 cent data charge I did not understand. I called the Cingular customer support to about this charge. I was told at that time I was being charged because I did not have a data package yet. I tried to have the data portion of the phone turned off at that time, but they refused. So I attempted unsuccessfully, as it turns out, to add a data package at that time. I tried both online and through Cingular's phone support to find out what if any data charges I could expect. At first the website said I had none (YET) and the Customer support person was also little help. On Jan 2, I called again in an attempt to verify my service. I told them again about the 18 cent charge and was assured that as long as I paid the $39.95 for the current month, the weekend delay in getting the service turned on should not be a problem. I was assured that it would all be taken care of and if I did not see the correct charges on my next bill, to call back and customer service would be able to fixed at that time.
Well, the next bill arrived with not only the $39.95 charge I was expecting to see but an additional $164.48 in data charges.

Considering I had been warned that there might be some billing problems and was told on the previous contact that I should to call Customer service to get things straightened out if this should happen back on Jan 2.

I called today when the bill arrived and had one of the most unsatisfying experiences I have ever had with AT&T.

The bottom line is, they the new AT&T does not care what I was told, when I called previously.
It seems that the result of my first call was to automatically put me on a 10 cents per K plan and I was stuck with the $164.48 in data charges accrued between Thursday Dec 28 2006 when I first called Cingular and Jan 02 2007 when the New AT&T got the order straighten out and entered correctly. I guess the rules changed New Years Eve or something ?

When I got the bill on Feb 6, I called and complained as directed. The customer service rep said they were sorry I was not happy but there was nothing they could do about it. After I threatened to cancel my AT&T home phone, my ISDN home business line, and DSL service over this problem did they offer to give me the standard $50 disgruntled customer discount on my next bill, but would not make any adjustment to the existing bill.

At this point I was hot. First, I considered setting up an ATT-SUCKS.COM website and decided to Google it first. I soon discovered that the reason I saw so little joy from the Cingular/At&T customer service people was due to the fact that they just did not care. There are thousands of pissed off customers threatening to take their business elsewhere every day. Hell, they are even ripping off our service men in the Middle East with a 32 cent a minute rate to call back home from the safety of the PX. If they call home using a calling card from a public phone booth on the streets, where AT&T does not have an exclusive contract, it costs them less than a nickel a minute . I digress ... Google it yourself ... it is shocking what AT&T is doing to our troops in the Middle East....

Ok, where was I ... Oh yes, bogus AT&T-Cingulars wireless data charges. To help put this in perspective, compared to the 10 cents per 1K Cingular feels they can charge for their gold plated service, most Internet providers would charge but a few dollars. To charge $164 for 6 days of email access should be criminal. The contract price for unlimited service for that period of time is about $10.00, not 16 times that! The young lady on the phone pointed out that I was lucky to get it corrected in less than a week, because if it had not been corrected, my extra data charge for the month would have been about $365, so I should not be complaining. This on top of my normal phone package costs for one month!

Bottom line is that between the four phone bills I pay each month, (AT&T and SBC still have not managed to combine their billing systems yet) I am paying AT&T several thousand dollars per year and this $164 charge is more important to them than keeping my business, or their good name.

I guess it is time to switch back to one of the cable companies for my internet and look closer at VOIP solutions. When my wife gets home and I tell her about this go around with AT&T's customer support, the "I told you So's" will begin and will not end for a long time to come. She has said all along that the New AT&T was just as bad, if not worse, than the old AT&T and I was just deluding myself otherwise. Come to think about it, I will just pay the bill and keep quiet....

"We don't care, we don't have to care, we're THE Phone Company AGAIN!"

till later ....