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.