F 1 D 0 -- 2001 11 22 at 14 45

Phone Cards.

They cannot be honest and cost effective, can
they?  Each company I've used has a dozen different
kinds.  They have a connection fee one, which hits
you for 1.00 for each call plus 5c each minute.
They have a low connection fee one, which hits you
for 50c each call plus 8c each minute.

Then they have a plethora of no connection fee cards.
They have one for 12c a minute to USA and Canada.
I don't buy that one.

They have one for 8c a minute. I *do* buy that
one. It isn't the best one for me.

They have one for 5c a minute. I get that.
They have one for 3c a minute. I really want that!

Ah, but the honest part?

Well, the 3c and 5c cards frequently charge 8c,
sometimes 12c a minute.  How do you know? Well,
the robot comes on, and says, "For this call
you have 400 minutes."

Very Nice. That's what I want to hear.

After 3/4 of an hour, a male robot comes on
to say "You have one minute remaining on this
call."  Yipes!

So you talk quickly, and make a note on the
card to call for customer services.

I've learned to call only during business
hours.  Once you call, put your pin in, and
then go to speaker phone.  You'll need to
wait about 20 minutes, perhaps longer.

But an operator comes on. I use Global Millenium
Telecom cards.  This is important!  Other brands
don't have a person answer.

The Apple card has only a voice mail service,
where the robot asks you a dozen questions, and
records all of your answers.  It doesn't phone
back, but quickly gives you a number to remember.
When you dial back, and type this number in, 
it tells you, "We found nothing wrong with
your card, and your billing is correct. Thank
you for choosing Apple Card." Or something.

Feh.

After this operator took my number, she came
back, confused, and needed it again.  This 
happened a few times.

Ah, my appraisal of the situation is wrong.

My call was picked up inadvertently by three
different human support girls.  Because of
how these cards are marketed, they don't 
speak english as a first language. It is a
better thing that they speak Cantonese, Urdu,
the Persian/Armenian language (I should know
this, but forget right now).  

French and Italian are NOT important, 
really.  Around here such people speak
good English.  The languages needed are
where the card users have trouble with
telephone english.

In due time, my very own girl came back, and
told me she refunded 2.00 to the card!  Yay.

Was it worth the wait? I dunno. But I don't
like it when they short change me.

The 8c cards don't seem to do that.  But you
go through them so quickly.

I've had good luck with the Pyramid Card. It
is also about 3c a minute. The good thing? It
has not over charged me.  The bad thing? You
only get 30 days from first use to expiry.
You heard right.  If you don't talk 333
minutes in a month, your remaining minutes
just vanish.

I went to see Sanderson Taylor last night.
I'm going back there now.  They're nice.

They have a computer which has been a problem
to back up. The files had a corrupted creation
date, and the CreateCD program wouldn't save
the files.  

I'm thinking if I were writing a program to
back up files, if the file dates are wrong,
I'd save today's date or something.  No. Not
this one. It just skips a file with a bad date
like the data is corrupted.

Oh, I could have fixed the files by hand. But
there were hundreds like this.  Hundreds!

So I needed a program which would do a filedate
adjustment on a directory RECURSIVELY.  After
numerous hunts online, I went to the SIMTEL
archive, and found FILEJAM.  There were others
that looked good, but this was the only one
which fit the bill.

It installs easily enough. Oh, it is shareware,
so you could be seeing me rant again in a month
about what this program does when it thinks you
are a deadbeat. But for now, it did what it said:
It let me set a directory, and then took 10 minutes
to alter 500M of small text files to a fixed date.

I felt a date of 2001-01-01 at 101am was a reasonable
date to use.  We'll see.  It could haunt me. It is
almost binary, isn't it?

Finding this jem was hard. But using it was nice.

Then I ran Adaptec's Easy CD creator to burn a 
backup copy of this stuff.  It's about time. I
hear it was months since they did anything even
close.  So I feel good.

Today I got a call from Nathan, as they're 
changing the At Home network to Rogers.com and
this means altering mail, news, and other configuration.

Joy oh Joy.  Nobody is going to like this. Their
technical support line will be hot from overuse.

Nathan wanted to know if I knew the name of
the news server.  Roger's has always just called
it 'news' and their program does magic to find
the real thing. This is *not* a help.

I went onto Unix, where I could use a utility 
called NSLOOKUP.  Funny, as useful as it is,
they don't make it accessible.  The place it
lives is /usr/sbin so to run the program, you
have to type /usr/sbin/nslookup
each time.  Wow.  I have to work sometimes.

Name Server Lookup.

This program begins by using its own local
copy of names. That's enough to direct me to
rogers.com - and from there, I tell it to
show me roger's name server.  I use THAT as
my default source of info, and poof, maybe
I can find the news server.

Sorry, Rogers is out to lunch right now.
Please call back later. Click.

Uh, there are many people who have been advised
to convert their systems over.  All will be
experiencing mild to moderate psychic pain.

Me? I'm leaving mine as it is until it freezes.
It will.  But by then, they'd better have 
the new servers up and running.

Actually, I don't do internet News any more. I used
to.  But since people decided the internet was a
good place for free advertising, I just dislike
having to talk that way.

Internet News is not news, really. It is more
like a public forum, where everyone, even the
brain dead, can get a say on some topic. Any
topic.  There are zillions, or at least hundreds,
of newsgroups.  I suppose I should see what has
become of my old news service.

If you are curious, visit
www.google.com 
and choose GROUPS.  From here, you can search
and see what people used to do with the news.

I'm off to Sanderson Taylor again. They have
a computer that needs to be picked up and 
installed. That's a good thing for me.

That's all I know.