Verizon Sucks

verizonI see I have a lot of Verizon visitors and I figured I would express my displeasure with Verizon just for you. You should be flattered.

#1 reason why Verizon sucks?  I can’t send “verizon.net” people email from my mail server.  I spent an entire day trying to communicate this to Verizon support and I got absolutely nowhere.  The people with the accents kept asking for my Verizon email address or my DSL phone number no matter how many times I told them I wasn’t a Verizon customer.  I asked for the phone number for their NOC who handled their mail server.  Confusion.

Their web interface doesn’t work either.  I am not using my mail server to browse web sites and use their white-listing page.  My mail server is in a dark server room dutifully sending and receiving email 24 hours a day.  Fighting SPAM and Viruses and doing a damn good job of it, but Verizon won’t accept my email.  I receive the email from the nice web interface telling me that everything is okay, and when I reply to that email, my email is returned 7 days later never being able to make an SMTP connection with Verizon.Net’s servers.

I resorted to opening a ticket with my upstream provider, and they had no luck in helping me.  They suggested I reach out to Verizon customers and have them complain that they can’t receive email from me.  Can’t say as I know any Verizon.Net customers, nor could I email them asking them such a favor.  They were able to telnet to Verizon’s listed MX and issue simple telnet commands, so they assume that any of their IPs would be able to do the same.  Well I try from my mail server and other machines, and all I do is time out.  I just sent anther letter to my provider, but it’s Verizon that needs to provide me support.

Anyone from Verizon, please respond to this post and help me deliver mail to your customers from my customers.  Thanks.

#2 reason why Verizon sucks?  They advertise FIOS constantly on my TV, but it isn’t available in my area.  Comcast dominates the Philadelphia area and Verizon finally won against the powers that be to start installing FIOS in the Philadelphia area.  Where do they start?  In the suburbs.  If I could get FIOS to my location, my connection speed will increase 100 times and I will pay absolutely no more money per month for my connection.  That’s substantial for me.

I just got Comcast Internet installed at a new location and it blows away my high priced connection.  It is an eye opener, but Verizon has been teasing me for so long.  I need new copper run for my local loop, but an insider told me that they won’t run new copper, they want to install FIOS – well it’s not available in my area, and I have to deal with outages and bounces … That makes Verizon suck!

Bottom line, hey – Verizon, install me some FIOS and let me deliver email to your mail server, and we’re golden!  Thanks again …

Two out of Three ain’t bad; 10.5.7 Mac OS X Update Failed

mbp10-5-7mbp15-10-5-7mini9-10-5-7 Out of the MBP17, MBP15 and the Dell Mini 9, the MBP15 wins with no issue, but I’ll tell you about the others.

By the way, if you didn’t know, “MBP” is short for MacBook Pro. I have the silvers w/matte displays. Bring back the matte and firewire Apple! =)

Let’s start off with a complaint, cause that’s what I do. I use MenuMeters for the Mac. I was made aware of its existence by it being on one of the OSX386 Project distributions. Anyway, because I’m running it, I see activity on my Mac that others are oblivious to … I like to know why something is taking so long, or if there might be a problem. So the complaint is, it takes me a while to figure out that the Mac is downloading updates. 10.5.7 was a kinda big one, and when the Mac is downloading that long and I didn’t initiate it, I’d kinda like to know about it. I think Apple should notify you it’s doing so, that’s all.

Pictured is the 3 About This Mac windows after I was all done. They all made it without any serious perspiration. I started on the MBP17. After the update, the 17″ screen remained gray. It did automatically boot twice, but after the second boot went nowhere. I waited an ample amount of time while I saw nothing happening. You know, I’m used to having to wait when I don’t have my meters. So then I started Googling on the Mini 9 while it downloaded its update. After reading a bunch of the obvious posts from people that shouldn’t be allowed access to computers, I decided to unplug everything from the MBP17. External screen, external hard drives, external keyboard and mouse. Lo and behold, MBP17 solved, and the screen hopped right over when I plugged the 24″ back in.

I let the Mini 9 run its own update and it did a fine job, although on the final boot, the graphics were horrible. The screen could not be seen at all. So, I fired up the MBP15 so it could download its update and I could Google what was up with the Mini 9. I was expecting something might have happened to it since I read what the update did and there was something in there for video. I just figured I would boot via CD and reinstall the kext files, etc, but I skipped Google entirely and went straight to the MyDellMini.Com Forums … There was a forum about the 10.5.7 update and apparently it’s been out for a while. I just got it this morning, weird … One thing in the forum was the noticing that although we were all there discussing something that shouldn’t work anyway, regular Mac users all over the place were having 10.5.7 update problems … same as I described above with the MBP17. There’s articles from Macworld and Computerworld out there about using the Mac as a firewire device, etc. Work arounds for the update problems. Anyway, I digress.

Fix for Mini 9 was what I expected and even easier than I had thought it would be … I went to the trouble of hooking up the external CD/DVD drive, etc, but all I needed to do was start in Safe Mode and rerun the Dell EFI proggy … I got the latest (1.2a5 I think), popped it on a USB stick and shoved it into the Mini 9. Let Finder unzip it, ran the program and off to the races. Mini 9 is fine, and that rhymes three times. Whoops! Four.

Leaving the MBP15 for last, it gave no problems what-so-ever … Nothing external about it, and nothing weird going on with it …

From what I heard (read) while surfing around, this is the last release before Snow Leopard. How anyone would know that, I don’t have a clue.

So there you have it, Meatloaf would be proud. “Baby we can talk all night, but that ain’t gettin’ us nowhere.” (or maybe Utopia would be proud, the band on Bat Out of Hell, Todd Rundgren, Kasim Sulton, Roger Powell, Wee Willie Wilcox). I always say Bat Out of Hell is Utopia with Meatloaf fronting. Good luck on your own 10.5.7 update!

Web 2.0 and oh, nice to see you …

Web 2.0: Gaetan sent an invite to my email address to follow him on twitter, so I signed up finally.  Honestly, I had actually been meaning to sign up with twitter and facebook … My older brother is terrified of facebook, he thinks Rupert Murdoch is after him … I’m particular in the information I share but let’s be honest, if someone like Rupert Murdoch wanted the goods on you, guess what?  He’s going to get you …

There are so many times that I think of something to blog, but I never get around to it.  I think of the situation, the story and everything, but then I don’t get to it.  Or, maybe the paranoia of what I would be posting and the opinion that may come of it, or too much information shared …  Blah, tough living in this day and age, isn’t it?  The age of immediate consequences from something you may post online.  The Internet is everywhere and immediate.  Anyway, here are the current events:

Hosting: There have been several instances in the hosting area that have devastated me. One, I had a disk crash on a machine that I never thought the disk would crash.  Like, I had it in my mind that that was a pristine machine and I didn’t have to worry about it.  It’s where all my stuff was and where I could just ssh in or sit at its console and update code on the fly … No backups.  Gone. Now I have everything important on RAID5 and my personal machines have Time Machine running.

Verizon is a huge thorn in my side.  My last mile is Verizon.  Verizon is copper.  Verizon wants to run FIOS (fiber) in Philadelphia.  Comcast rules the video market in Philadelphia.  Seems contacting politicians is the only way Verizon FIOS will come to Philadelphia.  There is nothing more than I want right now is FIOS to be in Philadelphia because my connection speed would greatly increase immediately.  How this affects me now is that Verizon doesn’t want to run any new copper, they only want to run FIOS.  I have had a terrible time as of late with my connection and this is the problem.  It happened the first time in May and was dormant until Christmas Eve, from then on it was daily bouncing until the last copper pair change.  Verizon has been on site over 3 times.  It’s too late, the customers that this affected the worst have already found other solutions.  Not cool Verizon, not cool at all.

Octane: Sound for Octane continues, but with almost every venue having house sound installed, I can’t rememer the last time I needed my PA.  For that matter, the last time I had the PA in the trailer, the trailer was burglarized for one bass bin and one monitor.  They took nothing else although much was in there as well as all the band’s gear that was strewn to just the outside of the trailer.  Makes absolutely no sense.  I still haven’t been able to sell the truck since replacing it with the van and trailer.  I should try that on eBay again.  While Octane remains booked fairly steady for a band in their position, there are weekend nights that I am sitting home.

Fosterchild: I have mixed Fosterchild a couple times since the lineup change and circumstances warranted it.  It was a welcome change from the norm.  Apparently we’re going on tour soon!

Out On the Town: I have started working with the paper again. This time I am doing the layout on the computer.  Another reason for my Mac purchase. (Still steamed about that one [previous entry], but I will survive.  I have rationalized some things away.)  Hopefully this will help with the ultimate goal of sitting on my ass the rest of my life.

Windows: I found out that MS Access doesn’t scale, or self sustain.  Don’t know how to put it, but left to its devices, a web site utilizing an MS Access database will cause ASP to hang on a Windows Server.  The database needs to be regularly reorganized.  I can tell you for a fact that this will not happen on any other platform.  Thanks again Windows!  Way to mess up everyone’s life on your server cause you can’t handle something and don’t report on it either.

Health: My health is getting better. I had my last cigarette September 27th, 2008 at 10:45pm.  This was right before Octane’s first set (acoustic) outside at The Whiskey Tango.  During the set, pressure mounted in the center of me chest and by the end of the set I was getting sharp pains.  I didn’t go out for a smoke after the set, I took it easy but sharp pains came and went and I generally didn’t feel right.  I was getting scared and I decided that I thought I should go to the hospital.  I spent the weekend in the hospital while they did all sorts of fun tests.  All tests were okay.  I then went back to have a camera shoved down my throat and that turned up acid damage in my esophagus, stomach and duodenum.  I was told to take 4 Prilosec daily.  The anesthetic for the tube test was wild, like snapping your fingers, test done and two and a half hours went by.  I haven’t smoked since and have started dieting and exercising.  I may get a Brazilian and wear a bikini or thong to the beach this summer?  … and everyone knows how I love the beach.

The Whiskey Tango: I went back to work at The Whiskey Tango May 20th 2008 to fill in the open nights with Octane and to do the off nights.  Ronnie quit to go work for Spellcaster down the shore for the summer with more nights.  Since then The Whiskey Tango changed ownership and management and those off nights aren’t happening anymore.  Status there is up in the air right now.

Coding: I recently updated some old ASP pages I did way back in the day for the Bigg Romeo site.  That was fun.  I am progressing on new web development projects and I am very excited about that.  Also thinking of ways to further promote the hosting through a better interface.  The new trickles in slowly anymore and Verizon isn’t helping with the departed.  Here’s hoping FIOS comes through.  They are sure to support that endeavor more than they’ve helped me now, right?

OH! and the biggest thing about all of this is that anything new will be in a new location!  All the servers, routers, switches, computers, etc. will be moved to a brand new location.  We will be moving but still don’t know when yet.  I am hoping for A.S.A.P., but that’s me.

That’s all I can think of right now.  Any questions?

Apple, on its way to crap.

Of course it’s only my opinion, but to me, that’s all that matters.  Self centered?  Maybe.  But I think I am the person to determine what I find acceptable to me.  What follows is my short assessment of what I have observed in the recent months about the cute company called Apple.

imac-oldAn eon ago, I bought the lamp shaped iMac.  At the time I was interested in any and all operating systems and alternatives to Microsoft at all costs.  I found the iMac on eBay for $1200.  I found no use for the machine other than using it to logon to chat networks and utilize the machine that way.  I didn’t like the way the text editors worked in that their keystrokes were completely foreign to what I am familiar.  All that aside, I didn’t use it all that much.  One day, the hard drive was gone – I replaced it with an IDE drive I had and got the machine working again.  Had to use those “star” tools to get in there and such, but I was able to get everything working as it should.  Sorry for this tangent, but I wanted to explain that I am not new to Apple, I just tried it out and didn’t get “into it” at the time.

I don’t know how, but over the course of time I became more and more accepting of the Mac and was getting used to seeing many of the examples of the things I was getting into done on the Mac.  Mostly web development and programming stuff.  I also do graphics and video stuff, and the Mac is heavily used there as well.  YouTube came popular and the Mac became popular on there as well as many people started making their movies obviously on a Mac. So I decided to give it another try with the latest and greatest Macs.

macbook-blackI was shopping a particular web job and I was thinking of getting back into the publishing of a local paper here in Philly and I thought that I should move toward the Mac.  I especially liked some text editors that were now available for the Mac so I researched it up and decided on the Black Mac.  It had everything I thought would be satisfactory when it came to development, portability and enjoyment from one machine.

So I start tweaking out the machine and then I determine that the built in iSight camera makes an 8k whistle while recording a video.  The microphone itself is fine after testing in GarageBand, just in iMovie when making a movie and it is determined that the auto brightness of the camera affects the squeal.  I made a movie about it and posted it on YouTube. For me this is a deal breaker as I had planned to use the machine to make videos for YouTube.  I haven’t yet, but I am leaving the option open. I had noticed this squeal/whistle on YouTube members videos, but thought it was something that they must have done to cause it.  Either leaving the speakers on while recording or some such option that they wouldn’t have noticed that I surely would have.  No, it’s just a faulty piece of hardware, so I took it back and complained.

I first called Apple and went through their tech support.  That took a long time and eventually I went to level 2 support.  While it wasn’t resolved, I figured it was the problem and made the YouTube video and from the responses in forums et al., it didn’t seem there was any relief.  Because of other issues, I decided to return the Black Mac and get a McBook Pro.  The tech support guy from Apple was supposed to call me on Thursday (what the wait was, I don’t know) and mentioning Thursday to you without telling what day it was that I called doesn’t matter, cause Thursday is as arbitrary a day as there is from whatever day I was calling originally.  It has never been resolved.

mbp17So after calling ahead to the Apple store, they said they had in stock the MacBook Pro 17″ with the high res screen upgrade.  While this is the case, it was not.  The high res screen upgrade was $100 on the web site.  The one the Apple Store had in stock was the one with the upgraded screen, hard drive and CPU making it the most expensive iMac sold (and I venture to say EVER sold) but they’re much cheaper now and you get more.  I wanted to up to 4G RAM, but I would have to pick up the machine the next day.  I obviously wanted to leave with the thing.  I also got the Apple Care, an extra keyboard and mouse (both wired) for when I put the big screen dual monitor setup into play.  That works out well by the way.

So, this was two trips ever in my life to the Apple store.  First time to purchase the Black MacBook and second time to return it and upgrade to the MacBook Pro.  Both times I hooked up quickly with someone and was taken care of, it seemed like a normal store-like experience although an Apple store is nothing normal.  They waived the “restocking fee” on the Black Mac due to the faulty camera whistle squeal thing.  A defective MacBook.  It took a while for me to convince the “expert” that there was in fact an 8k whistle (I RTA’d it).

The MacBook Pro has performed as a champ.  Lots of nifty features to it and it’s blazing fast.  The screen is incredible.  Using split screen works wonderfully.  I’ve developed several web sites on it as well as produced the publication on it twice thus far.  My only complaint as of this date is the lack of keys.  There are many keys I would like to use for when I am SSH’d into a machine where use of the F keys would be nice without having to alter my MacBook Pro keys but I have had to do that.  The Page Up/Down situation where most times the Fn option works, but many times it does not and some files online tend to be a bit large so it’s a time waster.  So that’s it really, is the keys … they could have added another row or something I think.  I think it would make a lot of people happy.

Okay, maybe I have more than one complaint. My second complaint is my biggest.  About a month later, all the Macs were upgraded.  Doesn’t matter that I spent all this money on this particular machine.  It’s past 14 days.  Sorry.  The new MacBook Pro comes with 4G of RAM now.  Sigh.  To me, it’s bullshit that I wasnt’ notified that this was the case before I spent this much money on something.  I can’t even sell it to buy the new one as people can get the new one themselves.  I would feel guilty duping someone.  I can’t believe Apple doesn’t give a crap that they basically ripped me off.  Thank you, please give us more money.

apple-iphone-3gMoney aside, I was happy with the nifty bells and whistles that Apple has with their ease of use and their commercials, etc., and was into the iPhone and couldn’t wait until I could renew my contract to get one.  That’s 18 months between AT&T renewals.  I was getting farther and farther awat from Microsoft and their horrible ways, their monopoly and their power over me to use particular hardware and software to accomplish various things. Blah!

So boom!  I get the iPhone and immediately after another iPhone user checks it out he says the Home button is messed up.  So I check it out and mess with it and once again, who wants to take something back that they just got.  I try to justify that it works fine for me even though once and a while it doesn’t work.  Maybe it needs to be worn in?  More rationalization.  Reality; it’s not working properly, return it.  I take the iPhone back to AT&T the very next day.  After signing in and waiting, AT&T will swap it but I will have to pay a 10% restocking fee. (On a defective iPhone that I got 24 hours ago).  So instead of paying that, I drove to the Apple store to save the 10% restocking fee.  On the way over, I used the iPhone to call Apple and verify that AT&T couldn’t swap my phone and that the Apple store wouldn’t have a problem.  Yeah, they would take care of it.  AT&T doesn’t hold as high a standard in excellence or some crap like that was why it was explained that I would have had to pay a restocking fee with AT&T.

I get to the Apple store and I don’t have a “reservation” so I am going to go “standby” to wait for a “technician” … Uhm, what?  My phone broke – give me new one – I say bye bye.  Nope.  Not even close.  I stood there for over an hour.  Yeah, I browsed a little bit first, but for being such a huge store, there isn’t a lot there.  Remeber I told you it was a weird store?  Let me explain.

In an Apple Store, there’s nothing higher than your waist.  The entire store is tables.  You can see corner to corner nothing blocking your view in the entire store.  There is merchandise hanging on the walls closer to the back wall which is lined with their customer service-ish type counter.  There is a table with iMacs on it where kids can mess with them.  You sit on rubber balls if you’re so inclined.  And the tables further towards the back have shelves with the keyboards and mice on them.

The counter is where I paid for both MacBooks and where I stood to finally talk to Eric about my iPhone. I had already decided while waiting that I wasn’t going to buy an accessory for the iPhone.  I was upset with this incredible wait.   I even had a guy come up to me and ask if I needed help and I said that the girl took my name, etc. and he said oh, okay.  So, he had nothing to do, but I was still standing there.  At one point, there was about 6 Apple employees standing in and around the iMac that they used to “book” people and some were just BSing and another was texting on his iPhone (I bet his Home button worked).  That sort of broke up after some time, then I saw the girl who took my name leave with her coat on taking her break.

Finally the overly happy “concierge” as they call them, said that Eric would be happy to deal with me.  Eric said that my Home button problem wasn’t as I described “defective”.  I told him that anyone who held my iPhone agreed it was defective and every iPhone in the AT&T store and the Apple Store responded differently than the iPhone that I got yesterday.  He said that may be the case, but the button worked.  And I said not all the time.  And he said that it wasn’t broken, that he could have a technician look at it.  I said what is a tech gonna do?  It’s defective and gave some examples about broken things and he finally gave in to granting my request for a replacement.  It was far too much work, effort and emotion to reach the desired result that in my opinion was obvious.

So why my title to this anecdote?  I stood in that Apple store watching the activity going on and had much time to think and observe.  I saw many people come and go with problems.  I saw people being schooled about using Macs, one an elderly woman.  I don’t know, is that free?  Maybe, or maybe you can purchase courses via their website?  I don’t know, I wasn’t looking for a course.  Anyway, I started hearing the silly problems.  Then the trivial.  I started thinking that more and more people are going to be buying the Macs due to the nifty bells and whistles and the commercials.  Where Macs for the most part have been the choice of developers and high end graphics people, now elderly women are “learning” how to use Macs and the general population as whole are starting to buy Macs.  They’re told that they’re much simpler, etc., but the fact remains that the gen pop as a whole ain’ta so smart when it comes to these technical thingamabobs.  There will be more of the silly and trivial problems.

Then, with my problem is the quality.  Eric kept telling me that the Home button worked and that there was no “spec” for it being deemed defective or not.  I was like “spec?” are you kidding me.  It’s not a spec, it’s obviously defective.  Touch every iPhone in use on the planet and then touch mine.  I’m sorry, I didn’t know when I bought it cause I never had one before and I wasn’t familiar enough about the Home button to know the difference.  Now I’m a Home button expert.  But the other ssues is that it’s proprietary.  What’s plastic may be cool cause it’s all Apple baby, but it’s plastic and it does break.  You can’t go to CircuitCity or Best Buy and fix it up, you have to go to Apple or you have to ship to Apple.  What to do if there’s no “spec” on whether your Apple hardware is defective or not?  Well, if Eric had his way and I would have accepted his answer, I would have been out a lot of money, again.

They got me on the MacBook Pro and they almost got me on the iPhone.  How many people don’t put up a fight or know enough to know that they’re in the right?  Having more and more people show up to Apple’s stores and not taking them in a list order or something or having a better mechanism to address people is going to seriously crush them.  It’s soured me big time.  If anyone knows anything about retail, you make the problems go away first. What would have happened if I had started to share my own opinion with those other Apple customers?  What if I were to go down home negative and start pointing out the obvious?  When that little ol’ lady says she’s just trying it out to see if she can do some things on the computer, maybe I can chime in that she could save a substantial amount of money if she went to Best Buy.  Old people like saving money.

Finally, YES!  This is just my opinion.  These are certainly things I feel strongly about, but these are things I choose to live with … Because my result is favorable, I can rationalize and accept certain things, but the more the same thing happens, the more that I think that I might think differently in the future.  Here’s hoping that Apple can change for the better and not keep screwing people like me.

Gas Prices

It’s one thing that gas prices change a lot, but the higher the gas prices go, the more they slow down the pumps. This annoys me. Much. It’s not like it’s my imagination. It takes much longer to pump expensive fuel than cheap fuel. This is certainly by design. Much as computers made the taxman ask people to come by the next day for their tax return even though it was done and printed 5 minutes after they left. The taxman couldn’t justify his fee given the time that the results were made available. When computers were originally placed at airline counters, a delay was built into the programming because of all of the reports from the staff that they didn’t trust the results since they were so immediate. Programmers had to build in the “think” time so that the results would be trusted. In this fast paced world, seems “the man” has to slow things down so there seems to be a value in it. It just makes me more impatient and fuels my impulse to announce this to the world.

Thank you, Don Imus

Instead of wasting time on irrelevant shock jock, black leaders need to be fighting a growing gangster culture.

By JASON WHITLOCK – Columnist

Thank you, Don Imus. You’ve given us (black people) an excuse to avoid our real problem.

You’ve given Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson another opportunity to pretend that the old fight, which is now the safe and lucrative fight, is still the most important fight in our push for true economic and social equality.

You’ve given Vivian Stringer and Rutgers the chance to hold a nationally televised recruiting celebration expertly disguised as a news conference to respond to your poor attempt at humor.

Thank you, Don Imus. You extended Black History Month to April, and we can once again wallow in victimhood, protest like it’s 1965 and delude ourselves into believing that fixing your hatred is more necessary than eradicating our self-hatred.

The bigots win again.

While we’re fixated on a bad joke cracked by an irrelevant, bad shock jock, I’m sure at least one of the marvelous young women on the Rutgers basketball team is somewhere snapping her fingers to the beat of 50 Cent’s or Snoop Dogg’s or Young Jeezy’s latest ode glorifying nappy-headed pimps and hos.

I ain’t saying Jesse, Al and Vivian are gold-diggas, but they don’t have the heart to mount a legitimate campaign against the real black-folk killas.

It is us. At this time, we are our own worst enemies. We have allowed our youths to buy into a culture (hip hop) that has been perverted, corrupted and overtaken by prison culture. The music, attitude and behavior expressed in this culture is anti-black, anti-education, demeaning, self-destructive, pro-drug dealing and violent.

Rather than confront this heinous enemy from within, we sit back and wait for someone like Imus to have a slip of the tongue and make the mistake of repeating the things we say about ourselves.

It’s embarrassing. Dave Chappelle was offered $50 million to make racially insensitive jokes about black and white people on TV. He was hailed as a genius. Black comedians routinely crack jokes about white and black people, and we all laugh out loud.

I’m no Don Imus apologist. He and his tiny companion Mike Lupica blasted me after I fell out with ESPN. Imus is a hack.

But, in my view, he didn’t do anything outside the norm for shock jocks and comedians. He also offered an apology. That should’ve been the end of this whole affair. Instead, it’s only the beginning. It’s an opportunity for Stringer, Jackson and Sharpton to step on victim platforms and elevate themselves and their agenda$.

I watched the Rutgers news conference and was ashamed.

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke for eight minutes in 1963 at the March on Washington. At the time, black people could be lynched and denied fundamental rights with little thought. With the comments of a talk-show host most of her players had never heard of before last week serving as her excuse, Vivian Stringer rambled on for 30 minutes about the amazing season her team had.

Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that the comments of a man with virtually no connection to the sports world ruined Rutgers’ wonderful season. Had a broadcaster with credibility and a platform in the sports world uttered the words Imus did, I could understand a level of outrage.

But an hourlong press conference over a man who has already apologized, already been suspended and is already insignificant is just plain intellectually dishonest. This is opportunism. This is a distraction.

In the grand scheme, Don Imus is no threat to us in general and no threat to black women in particular. If his words are so powerful and so destructive and must be rebuked so forcefully, then what should we do about the idiot rappers on BET, MTV and every black-owned radio station in the country who use words much more powerful and much more destructive?

I don’t listen or watch Imus’ show regularly. Has he at any point glorified selling crack cocaine to black women? Has he celebrated black men shooting each other randomly? Has he suggested in any way that it’s cool to be a baby-daddy rather than a husband and a parent? Does he tell his listeners that they’re suckers for pursuing education and that they’re selling out their race if they do?

When Imus does any of that, call me and I’ll get upset. Until then, he is what he is – a washed-up shock jock who is very easy to ignore when you’re not looking to be made a victim.

No. We all know where the real battleground is. We know that the gangsta rappers and their followers in the athletic world have far bigger platforms to negatively define us than some old white man with a bad radio show. There’s no money and lots of danger in that battle, so Jesse and Al are going to sit it out.

**To reach Jason Whitlock, call (816) 234-4869 or send e-mail to jwhitlock@kcstar.com. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com

It’s my Birthday!

Forty one today, forty one today. I’m the same age as the Superbowl.

I’m surprised that I haven’t updated my site, my bLog since September … I guess I have poured much of my offline time into my online vLogs on the OctaneCrew site … I’ve found talking into a camera much easier than doing this typing thing, but once all the video is recorded, editing can become a lengthy process …

So what’s new since my last post in September? Happy New Year!

Web Hosting: Nothing much new in the hosting world. I’ve been trying to get hold of Savvis to renew my contract. Three years has finally come and gone in December, but getting hold of my account representative has been more than difficult. I finally got him on the phone about a week ago and haven’t heard back yet. This has been the worst response from Savvis to date. I think their sales force is not as professional anymore, or I got the one guy who doesn’t keep up on things … I got a quote from them about a year ago for $250 less per month, but I was told I couldn’t renew my contract until it was up. When talking to my rep last week, he tells me the price has gone up. If this is the case, I will be switching companies, no matter how much the hassle.

The main Windows server crashed beginning of October. The machine went on its merry way into Lalaland … I was able to put the drive into an external enclosure and suck off the data onto a new installation which made the switch fairly transparent to those who just use web services … The mail handled by FreeBSD kept flowing, and the registry infomation that the Windows products keep there was able to be saved so no renewing of passwords, etc was necessary … What a relief that was …

Octane: Much the same as they continue to play every weekend on the Philadelphia club circuit. They did have a highlight November 30, 2006 when they appeared on the Opie & Anthony satelite XM Radio show where they played on the “walkover” … a deluge of CD orders poured in that I dutifully got out in the post … They were just on again yesterday morning, and again, the CD orders are coming in from across the country …

The crew is starting fresh in that the crew that I inherited when I started with the band are all but gone. The last remaining guy has given notice and will be done as soon as he can be replaced or he gets sick of waiting for us to find someone. My son started coming out to shows and he has fell into duties that he’s never done before … Of course this means I have to do much more work than before … It’s not been fun the last couple weeks … Hopefully we’ll find some new crew that can get the job done as before …

Father-in-Law: My father-in-law Edward Walter Andrews passed away January 2, 2007. He was born in December 29, 1925 … He had a building of fluid in his chest a week or so before Thanksgiving and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. He never came back out of the hospital. I thought for sure that he would have come home. For my children and I, that was the last that we’d ever seen him … My wife went daily to visit him in the hospital … Again, I thought for sure he would get past this … He was a big burly cement finisher … Never thought that it would get the best of him …

Since I’d known him, he didn’t work … Already retired … He did keep himself busy though … You couldn’t keep him away from tinkering with something … When I was dating my wife, he’d help with the car if there was a problem, or I should say the “report” of a problem … Like my wife would mention that I was having a problem with my brakes … While sitting there waiting for her to come out of the house, out he would come, “Problem with the brakes?” … and you would want to blow it off and say yeah, but I know about it and I am taking steps to rectify the brake trouble. “Pop the hood.” … oh no, well, I will humor him … He checks the brake fluid level and stuff … “Need to bleed the brakes” and then we spend the next 30-45 minutes bleeding brakes and it’s fixed … He wouldn’t take no for an answer when it came to fixing things … While the brake bleeding went well, sometimes everything didn’t go as planned …

Once we moved into our house, there were things around the house that were broken and I would sometimes come home to find my father-in-law working on things … I would ask my wife why he was here, and she would say that she told her mother of the problem and he came over to fix it … So, sometimes the fix would be quick, other times he would explain to me what the problem was and make frequent trips to the hardware store getting what was needed and trying the next steps on to fix the problem … While we may not be able to use whatever he was fixing at the time, eventually he’d get the right thing from the hardware store and off we’d go …

I guess I should have mentioned that he was hard of hearing, so in these processes, you would say something to him, and his reaction wasn’t always such that you’d know if he heard you or not … It could have been lack of hearing or determination, not sure which so that added to part of the mystery … He would sit at family gatherings and be in his own little world … While everyone is discussing something at some length, he’d blurt, “Th’say it’s gonna rain tomorrow.” or he’d comment on a sports player playing on the team that was playing on TV … He was a Philadelphia fan …

Although very silent while in the family gatherings, you could catch him beaming at his grandchildren … Not knowing what was going on in his semi-silent world of his head, but he was entertained by his grandchildren … From across the room, he would make gestures to catch the children as they would fall … Ah, he was a character … My wife would laugh when telling me of things that her father would do … He was a price watcher, often going to 3 different supermarkets to catch the sale at each one … Often times, haggling on prices when prices aren’t for haggling … Being concerned with parking spots on a street etc … Having conversations with people and when they’d gone lean down and ask, “Who was that?”

My kids have lost their Pop and we took the kids to the viewing, mass, interment and luncheon … While the 8 year old broke down at the end of the viewing, the 5 year old was just about at comprehension … There was debate on whether the children should have attended and I was adamant about them going … They hadn’t seen their Pop since before Thanksgiving and never visited him in the hospital with all the tubes in him … They needed to see him sleeping in his casket and laid to rest … They did want to visit him in the hospital, but my wife also expected him to come back home as well … I still can’t believe that congestive heart failure won him over as well … I fully expected him to live forever …

Well, that sums up my major life since my last post. If anything else comes up, I will update.

It’s more than a mail server

So, I attempted to upgrade my mail server … it didn’t work …

Actually, it started out as an idea for me to start another mail server from scratch … I wanted to create a test email server so I could learn more about all the interaction that goes on … As I was researching this, I determined from my reading that it would probably be very simple to upgrade the existing mail server … You know, the one that’s serving thousands of actively live email addresses, whether email is stored on the server or forwarded … I have upgraded plenty of servers in place and have never had major issue … This changed yesterday …

Normally what I’m upgrading is PHP … They update PHP on a pretty regular basis, and it ain’t no thing to cvsup to the latest ports and deinstall, reinstall to the latest and greatest … but with the mail server, this is a bit different … there are many dependencies … I can usually handle this very well too … I can backtrack failures or Google errors and find a fix …

Up until yesterday, I have always paid a consultant to work on my mail server … Email is not something to take lightly … It is the most exploited thing on the Internet … Too much SPAM and Viruses to think that I could handle all of this on my own … So for years now, I have had someone else do the thinking and I do the tinkering … Because of all the tinkering I’ve done myself, and I’m pretty proud of myself that I setup authoritative name servers and an inline firewall all doing multiple amounts of graphing, etc … I thought that I was at the point where I could handle the email server on my own …

All that seemed to be required was that I bring the ports tree up to current and then compile the new programs … Since this was something I wasn’t familiar with, I figured I would let portupgrade have at it and upgrade all the ports that needed upgrading … That’s why it had sounded so easy to me … I also figured I had all the time in the world to do this as the active system would remain active until I rehashed and restarted the services … Not the case …

First thing to fail, the MySQL server … When it’s portupgraded, it stops the MySQL server … So that was the first problem that immediately ceased mail flow … I started the “new” MySQL server and all seemed well … but then things just degredated from there … Now it was a race to compile the programs and get everything in sync once again … The phone kept ringing, but I didn’t have immediate answers … I wanted to try to fix it before I talked to anyone … One hour became two … Then two became four … I didn’t have much sleep, so I was purty tired …

Once I got to the point that everything was finished compiling, out of the hundreds of ports that were checked and upgraded, there were three that didn’t make it … cronolog, fastest_cvsup and maildrop … Two of those stopped the operation of webmail as well as normal mail flow … cronolog stopped apache from operating and maildrop, well, it’s a mail server so something called maildrop was probably pretty important, eh? So I attempted to deinstall, reinstall those programs … When they didn’t work (and maildrop took some time to fail) I Googled to find answers … Those answers were not readily found … I suppose in retrospect, it’s because maildrop is probably not as popular as PHP or apache …

So, I am dead in the water … I could continue to tinker my way through and make it work, but there was two things going against me … The major one, there was a bunch of people that wanted their email … After all it was a Monday, and Monday is the most important (busiest) day … Man, when I screw something up, I do it right! The second thing was, no matter how I got it working, I would not feel confident that it was done right … That’s the most important thing to me … Again, email is something that I don’t think should be messed with or taken lightly …

I resort to turning my mess over to the consultant … Now normally I book time with him … We schedule a time and I open up the firewall, etc and we get it done … Him proceeding with the necessary steps and me babysitting in case he needs to restart the machine or something goes goofy … There’s been only one time that I can recall that I actually had to help him … Most things just worked when he did them … Anyway, by the time he straightened out what I had brought the mail server to, it cost me $200.00 … I figure it probably cost me more due to the fact that people couldn’t get their email … but it’s working now, and that’s all that matters I guess …

The problem is that I don’t understand the mail server … There are many programs working in concert to facilitate the flow of mail and in that process weed out the bad mail and forward the good … The good thing is that I understand the mail server more after this experience … Where I left all of the thinking to the consultant and Mr. Bernstein, knowing the steps in which to rectify the situation I have a better understanding of what’s going on … The other problem is that the mail server isn’t just a mail server … It’s a web server, and imap server, pop, smtp, etc and a bunch of applications talking to one another again, to facilitate the flow of what is to be determined as good email …

This brings me back to the beginning … I am going to set up a parallel mail server … One that I can break and not affect the masses that depend on the mail server … In doing this, I will be able to learn more about all of those applications that work together to stop the bad people on the Internet … There are many ways to do this, and I would like to get more of them in place … The more I can do on my own to figure out how to make it work, the better off I will be in providing this for other people as I will actually know what’s going on … That is becoming more important to me as the cost of running the mail server starts to hit my wallet more … While it’s all Open Source programs, they’re getting much more sophisticated since the baddies are getting that much more sophisticated … I don’t want SPAM … I want to stop it … I could certainly pay someone to make that happen, but that goes beyond the scope of a working mail server … That goes into to custom stuff, and that’s what I want to pursue …

If you’re someone that relies on my mail server for mail, sorry about yesterday (Monday, September 18th) … I had nothing but good intentions in bring the mail server up to date on the applications processing the mail … portaudit was informing me of application that contained vulnerabilites, and I wanted to get them fixed … I just didn’t want to spend the money for a simple portupgrade … Well, now I know that all things that may seem simple aren’t always so simple …

This goes back to things I have said in the past, and they certainly ring true by this example … It may be very easy to set something up … There are many people out there setting up hosting servers that are all encompassing and selling cheap hosting on them … $1/mo., etc … They’re very easy to put in place, either by paying someone to do it or by using a basic understanding of server setups … Where the important stuff comes in is in the ability to maintain that server/application … Vulnerabilities pop up all the time … Microsoft and Apple have facilitated an automatic update feature to solve this … Every once in a while, my iMac tells me, “Hey, you need to update this piece of software!” and I do it … The Microsoft guys, I manually check on a regular basis, sooner if I know something is up, and that’s due to having one machine that still checks and informs me if there’s something going on …

So, I want to get to know my mail server since I have been working on a control panel of sorts that is keeping track of many things for me … The more I update it, the more things are revealed that I was unaware of … This is just things that people were able to get out of me for free since I wasn’t paying very close attention … The more I got this working, the better handle I got on things, and with the mail server also keeping a database, I want to tap into that and merge that into the control panel … If something can be queried, it can be updated and eventually I will be able to get my application running the entire network … I work on this as time allows … The more and more I work on it, the more and more I get to a hands off solution … But I digress …

Back to School

Well yeah, I haven’t posted in a while … Sometimes I would think about when something in particular came up that I thought would be a neat topic to discuss, but I just didn’t get a round tuit … I think I used to have one, but I don’t remember where it is … and yes, by my standards, I have been busy …

The vLog … I have been creating vLogs for the OctaneCrew site … Got into this when monitor guy Alex started it, and I thought it was a much better way to share thoughts than typing up a storm such as I’m doing now … Then light guy Dave made a vLog of which he’s the video guy and he set our standards much higher … I have got into some pretty interesting video editing …

Octane has been working and working and we just came off a fun weekend … They played 3 all original shows … Friday they opened for Staind, Three Days Grace and Soil at The Electric Factory … Sunday they opened for Three Days Grace and Blackstone Cherry at House of Blues in Atlantic City … Saturday was an extended set at The Grape Street Pub in Manayunk … I guess in all instances I was on some pretty neat boards … Staind travels with the PM5D and HOB has a 5K … Grape Street has an A&H ML something or other … HOB sounded awesome …

Have been watching Eagles preseason … They look good … I remain, as always, optimistic and I will leave it at that …

Saw the season premeire of House last night … Still a good TV show so let’s see where they take it this year … Lost starts October 4th …

October 5th is the date I am supposed to be able to renegotiate my T1 contract and you can bet your booty that I will be on the phone first thing in the AM … I have been paying a T1 cost that is outrageous and was locked in three years ago … They would not renegotiate the contract until this one was up … I am in the process of determining if whether since they did this to me that I ought to switch providers … My opinion was that since the price dropped a couple hundred dollars per month that they should have renegotiated me at that time … Instead they told me that I had to wait and there was no recourse but to pay the contracted amount whether I stayed with them or not … Meaning, I could drop them at anytime, but I still owed them the contracted monthly payment … Funny thing is, one of the prices I got about 8 months ago was from them so I attached that email and sent it to my account representative saying that those two should talk … They stuck to their guns and continued to extort the additional money from me …

I cleaned up my hosting database substantially … All the domains that I no longer hosted I removed from my database … All the billing history, all the customers that no longer existed … While I tried to collect from them, it never happened so I decided to strike it up as a loss and to concentrate on those people that are part of the program and do pay as scheduled etc … I wrote a bunch of code in the last week to straighten out my DNS according to my domain database and removed all the discrepancies and found some things that were not right … Sometimes people get things by me, and this code stops that easily by painting a very clear picture of what’s going on … I need to expand this into email and actual disk residences, but DNS is certainly going to stop the traffic …

To sum up those last two paragraphs, with the T1 pricing and the coming and going of hosting customers, hopefully this will once again even out … I have been paying a lot of money to keep a connection active that isn’t necessarily supporting itself … For whatever reason, those people utilizing the service have chosen to stop what they’re doing or go elsewhere and I don’t claim to know exactly why … I can only assume … First, I can assume that someone else is cheaper … I have tried a 1&1 site for a little while … I have even started moving my domain registrations to another registrar … The second thing I could think of is service and where I try to be awesome in service, there are those times that my SmartJack got wet or I have had things such as my DNS server crashing … All interruptions were fixed as soon as possible, but for the 1 year uptime, that 1 hour makes all the difference … So what you were up 8,760 hours, that one hour was when I *really* needed my email … I changed the DNS servers at 1&1 and am pointing everything to me … I didn’t like 1&1’s interface etc, and I don’t like their junk mail … Back to the original reason I started hosting, to be able to do things my way …

Anyway … that’s an update on what I’ve been up to, maybe I will be able to get back to posting here regularly? That would be special …

Motorcycle Riding Class Part 1

I took the first riding portion of the class this past Sunday afternoon, June 4th … It was 1:30 to 6:30pm … They take you through the necessary controls of the motorcycle to be associated with and stressed those parts that shut the power to the motorcycle as well as cutting off the engine … A couple things have changed … There is no longer a “kill-switch” or a “kick-stand” on a motorcycle … Motorcyclists don’t kick or kill anything these days … They’re now the engine cut-off switch and the side-stand … The other important control is the clutch … Pull it in to remove power from the rear wheel …

Since I have been riding my Nighthawk for several weeks, a lot of it was review … I got confused as to where I was supposed to drive the bike at times as their cones are tiny … They’re about 2″ high … There are lines all over the course, and I’m not always sure what lines I’m supposed to be staying inside of … For the most part, you follow the person in front of you … Some of the exercises are difficult in that you have to gain some speed, but a lot of the other people aren’t gaining speed … I tried to take it slow … I thought that that’s what they want me to do?

I could tell that there were some people that never rode before in the class, and there were some that had ridden before … In fact I and another guy rode our motorcycles to the class … We didn’t use ours, we used their small ones … 125-250cc bikes … In one of the first exercises, a girl went down … I think she held on to the throttle handlebar as she went down cause the engine revved and the bike started to spin a little bit … They spoke with her for a while and got her a different motorcycle and she got right back on … I thought that was great … Some people may have given up right then and there …

The most difficult exercise of the day was the quick stop … You had to get going to about 15MPH in 2nd towards cones at the other end, and once your front tire crossed the cones you had to shift into first and stop using both brakes as quickly as you could … Once in 2nd, you had to maintain throttle and be in a normal riding position covering nothing … Once you cross the cones you have to squeeze with both hands and press down with both feet … When I ride, I’m always covering something, so this was a bit difficult, but this is one of the things that is on the riding test … It’s to simulate having to quickly stop if something comes into your path while riding … I have the luxury of practicing this on my own bike until the next riding lesson which will be next Sunday when we’re tested …

We all made it through to the next class, so that’s a good thing … This Wednesday is the final classroom which will culminate into the written test … 50 questions of which you need to get 40 correct … Then the final riding class/test the following Sunday … If I pass both tests, I get my Class M license … Again, anyone can take this course … All you need is a Class M learner’s permit which costs $10 … Eye protection, gloves, boots acceptable for riding (leather that covers the ankle), jeans and a long sleeve shirt … They provide a motorcycle and a helmet … Go to http://www.pamsp.com/ to check it out …