In Search of the Ellusive Piss Pot

“And when he wanted to go back, down to earth,
the earth was an overturned piss pot
And he was all alone…”
Tom Waits – Children’s Story

Here we go again, back to Boston in another life, when I was a waiter at one of the restaurants there and had a friend named Jack.

Jack was a waiter too, but he always seemed to be on the edge of getting fired. Somehow he managed to stay, though, week after week and month after month. Jack was always very entertaining, in between customers, lots of jokes and stories. Smoking cigarettes, stealing food, laughing. We made pretty decent money there, but Jack was always broke and switching apartments.

Every night after work, we’d all go out on the town. 11:30 pm to 5:00 am was party time. Then we’d get up the next afternoon in time for work. Lots of times after work I’d be standing at the bar gabbing to Jim, the head of Jack’s crew.

“Look at Jack”, he’d say, “Can’t afford a pot to piss in and there he is buying drinks for the house…”

Sure enough, Jack would be there laughing and slapping…
“Waddayou drinkin’ man? Johnny, set em up! Suzy, git over here! Wadda ya drinkin’? Haw Haw!”

Jack and I worked the same job and made the same money. Even with all the late nights, I had so much I didn’t know what to do with it and had to stick it in a savings account. Jack was always broke. One time after yet another eviction, Jack needed a place to stay. I had a summer rental on the Cape so I told Jack he could stay in my basement apartment in Cambridge. When I got back a couple months later, my window was opened and the tv was gone. I said, “Jack, you left my damned window open!” “Oh”, he said, “I’m sorry man.”

A few weeks later he came over to me at work, grinning from ear to ear. “Hey man, I just quit! I’m outta here! I’ve got this great job starting tomorrow. We drive around different states and when we get to a town, we all get out and sell stuff. Then we get back in the car and go to the next town. It’s all expenses paid! I’m gonna be rich!”

“Uh”, I said, “You already quit?” “Yeah!” said Jack. “I’m outta here!”

“Well, good luck then.” I said. “Call me when you’re in town.”

I never saw Jack again, but I never forgot him, you had to give him that much.

Whatever he’s doing, I hope he still has his sense of humor. I hope he still likes to take chances.

And I kind of wonder if he was ever able to afford that piss pot.

56kb here I come! Uh, maybe not.

Since I don’t really need the 20 mb cable connection for internet, and I’ve used up all my promo prices with Comcast, I thought, “Hey, I could see what my old host Mindspring has to offer!”. Put in my address….low and behold, I qualify for a 56kb connection, which was very speedy about 15 years ago, but now? Nah, I’ll keep paying the cable company. Geez.

A New VPS and Prestashop Rambles

Okay, here we are with the same ol’ stock WordPress theme. Eventually we will tinker with it, but for now Prestashop and our new VPS are consuming all the time available. (we’re even too damned busy to make the links affiliate links).

We stuck with Pair Networks for around 15 years. They were perfect back in ’96, and as far as I can tell, they still are, pretty much. They’re just way too expensive and don’t offer all the add-ons that the new kids on the hosting block are coming up with. And a lot of the add-ons they do offer are expensive, while the new kids offer them for free. But enough of that; they’re a good host; I just moved on, maybe I got bored.

The first host I moved to was Cloud Web. Actually, I’m still there. They use a “cloud based software” on their servers, which as far as I can tell, your site is spread over several servers, possibly in virtual environments. If something crashes a server, your site is still up. Basically, for my money, their quality is great, their support is top-notch, their price is cheap and my sites are always up. It’s still a shared environment, but what the hell? It “just works”.

My larger site (2000 products on static pages) seemed to work fine on Cloudweb, but I was nervous that it was just too cheap for such a big site. I was rebuilding the site in a subdirectory using Prestashop, and I worried that I’d end up with a slow database full of 2000 products on a shared server. They offer very inexpensive VPS packages, but they’re unmanaged. Not that I mind “unmanaged” when it comes to my office servers (uh, I’m the manager) but for my main business site? Yikes.

So for the larger site, I took a queue from the Prestashop forums and tried out a fully manged VPS on Hostgator. The name “hostgator” and the tacky gator cartoons turned me off in the past, but in the Prestashop forums, everyone seems to like them for a Prestashop host. What the hell; I use “godaddy” for my domains. So what? I’ve gone tacky; (I used to just be sleezy).

Anyway, I’ve got 30 gigs of space, 2.4 gigs of processor and .75 gigs of RAM for ~$50/mo. I actually tried their business package first, around $11/mo with a Free SSL Certificate (!!!) but I got nervous about the shared server thing. So now I’m on a VPS. I’m root (the power, the power), I can create new sites with new cpanels and we be super fast. My other smaller sites are doing fine on Cloudweb, so I’m leaving them. My big site’s got a big fast home. I should mention, and this shocked the hell out of me, both Cloudweb and Hostgator will move your sites from your old host to your new one for free. I guess that might be standard with hosts these days, but I’m used to having to do everything myself from the command line. Weirdly enough, they moved all my databases and they still worked!

So we’re about a third of the way transferring 2000 products to Prestashop in the subdirectory. It’s easy enough that employees can help, so I figure another month or so. I like a ton of things about Prestashop. For one, it’s the first database e-commerce system I’ve seen that didn’t look god-awful commercial. Designing your own look is fairly easy because all the designing is CSS and all the complicated stuff comes from modules, most of which are already developed and either free or somewhat inexpensive. Why move such a large static site to database? Because it’s only getting larger, putting off the inevitable, and the third-party shopping cart I am still using until September (Americart) has few of the features my customers want. And their support is iffy. (If they know the answer you’ll get a response.) For $300/year.

Furriners. We like furriners. We like Euros. Prestashop (a European shopping cart solution) easily translates your entire site to a bunch of different languages. I’ve even got a module that tells where a visitor is from and automatically switches the site to that language. Assuming I have it set up. In other words, if you’re from Somalia or Nigeria, I hope you can read ‘murican. Actually, I think I have Prestashop set up to keep bad countries full of con artists and terrorists out. Uh, like go away.

That’s enough for now. I just moved this site to the new VPS just to see if I could do it. Yep, it worked, even the wordpress database. Fun is over, work beckons….

Everyone Else’s Gmail

This isn’t as bad as Earworms, but it’s really starting to bug me.

I got an email from Google telling me that someone was trying to retrieve my password and to ignore it if it wasn’t me. I get these all the time.

This time, though, it had the 7 other email accounts “associated with my account”. No, it wasn’t as simple as a period separating the names like everyone in the forums on the web is claiming. If I’m assholeme@gmail.com, I’m not just getting asshole.me@gmail.com and ass.holeme@gmail.com and ass.hole.me@gmail.com’s mail.

That’s at least understandable. No. I’m getting mail meant for asskicker@gmail.com, 002345ass@gmail.com, holeshit123@email.com, etc., totaling seven.

The worst part of it is, I’m not getting any good porn or pics or anything. Just boring personal messages and a ton of crap from verizon, car dealers, etc.

I filter everything that comes in. But more keeps coming.

Unfortunately, I would just kill my account and open one with a ridiculously long name, but my account is actually being used for some critical companies that I need and would be hard to change.

So for right now I’m just burning and saying to myself, “at least is wasn’t an earworm”.

Tom Joad’s Farewell

Seeing the extreme right wing governor of Wisconsin and his Republican cronies trying to crush cops, firemen, teachers and other public workers, I recall Tom Joad’s farewell speech in “The Grapes of Wrath” :

“Maybe it’s like Casey says. A fella ain’t got a soul of his own, but only a piece of a big soul, the one big soul out there that belongs to everybody. And then it don’t matter. Then I’ll be all around in the dark. I’ll be everywhere…Wherever there’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a company thug beating up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad, and I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready…And when our people eat the stuff they raise, and the houses they build, I’ll be there too.”

(to those historically challenged, “The Grapes of Wrath” was made back during the Thirties, before we had anything like company provided health care, 40 hour work weeks or child labor laws, all of which you can thank the American Union Movement for and none of which would exist if people like Gov. Walker ran the country)

Fivebean VPS

Okay, I’ll admit it; I have “just a little” problem with boredom from time to time. My most recent boredom “project” is “Textpattern”:http://www.textpattern.com on a vps account with “Fivebean”:http://fivebean.com/account/aff.php?aff=120, hence the title, but I’ll get to that later.

A couple of months ago I was reading up on Windows Home Server. It’s actually pretty neat. Among other things, you can basically take an old outmoded computer, load it up with various hard drives you have sitting around and install Windows Home Server on it. Once installed, you can unhitch the monitor and run all the configurations you need in your browser from any other networked computer. What I like about it is the media server for streaming music and videos throughout your LAN (and over the internet), and the ability to install client software on your Windows computers on the LAN and have them auto-backup to the hard drives on the Windows Home Server.

But two things kept me from jumping on it: (1) it runs a little over $100 for the operating system and (2 – and more importantly) it would probably only consume around 2-3 hours of boredom time because it’s all too easy.

So instead we try to use linux to accomplish the same thing.

Since I’m most familiar with the ubuntu 9.10 desktop, I used the ubuntu 9.10 server for my home media server. I’m using “DYN-DNS”:http://www.dyndns.com/ to point one of their domains at my home ip address, so I was able to set up the new media server with a domain, basic postfix package, etc. Then I found some neat streaming content software called “MediaTomb”:http://mediatomb.cc/ which was extremely easy to set up. I ripped a bunch of my cds and copied them to the new server, made up playlists for them with Windows Media Player on the various windows machines on my soho LAN, and bingo, easy music everywhere. I’m still working on getting dvd playback, and I’m not able to backup up all the windows machines to the new server, but I’m auto-backing up the important one to “Backblaze”:http://www.backblaze.com/ . Etc., etc., etc.

Which brings me to “Fivebean VPS Hosting”:http://fivebean.com/account/aff.php?aff=120 . I stumbled across the link in one of my forums and decided to check it out. For those who *don’t* have too much time on their hands, VPS, virtual private server is just another way to host a website, if that’s what you want it for. One difference of virtual over shared hosting is that you’re on a machine with 3 or 4 other accounts in your own private virtual environment. It’s similar to installing something like Virtualbox on your home or work computer so that you can install a different operating system on it and access that OS anytime without rebooting. On Fivebean and other vps hosts, there are a small number of virtual accounts, each running their own operating system and directly connecting to the internet.

With virtual hosting, you pay for exactly how much RAM and disk space you’re getting and you don’t get any more. So (if I understand this right), if 4 people have virtual accounts on one server, and one of the people starts a runaway process that would normally slow down or crash an entire computer, it actually only slows down/crashes his virtual account. If he signed up for 256 megs of RAM, that’s all he can abuse with a runaway process. On a shared server with 8 or 10 (or more) hosting accounts, activity on any of the accounts can slow the whole machine down, thus slowing down everybody on the machine.

Shared hosting might be antiquated, but I have several business domains in that environment and it’s working fine; I’m on a quality, pricier host with an excellent network setup. I really only opened an account with “Fivebean”:http://fivebean.com/account/aff.php?aff=120 to check it out and because of the aforementioned boredom factor. (So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised)

That said, with a vps, you’re root, not just a login. Hell, I’m root on my home and work computers, so that’s not a huge thrill to me, but it does allow me to choose my operating system and install exactly what I want.

Soooo, I chose Ubuntu 9.10 server because that’s what I’m used to. You select it as one of the choices from the Fivebean web interface and it loads up already installed. I should mention, my initial Fivebean account was “bean” level with 128 megs of RAM at $6/mo. In reality, that’s fine for a file server or a mail server, but I really wanted to run Apache2 with PHP and MySQL. I soon found out that I needed more RAM. So I upgraded to a “Starter” account with 512 megs of RAM and 50 gigs of disk space for $15.20/mo.

I installed my web-server software following this “excellent tutorial”:http://www.howtoforge.com/perfect-server-ubuntu-9.10-karmic-koala-ispconfig-2-p3 . Actually page 1 has really good advice for setting up the basic server. But beyond that, I installed only what I needed for the web. I pointed one of my unused domains toward my new experimental server and adjusted the basic configuration in the Fivebean web interface called “Moxie”. Moxie is very easy and allows you to do all the basic stuff you need. If you want something more complicated and easy to configure like cpanel, you can add that, but for me, Moxie was enough.

I needed a mail server for sending messages from the site I was going to build, and I chose postfix, which I’ve set up a bunch of times at home. However, since this mail server was not going to be behind a firewall, I set up sasl authentication, for safety’s sake and that was a touch more complicated. I ran into a few glitches, because of the complexity, most of them because of typos, but I eventually got it running. The easiest basic tutorial I recommend is “here”:https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Postfix . If you don’t want to waste time setting up your own mail server, go with shared hosting or something similar. But as I said, the original goal here was to consume boredom time, and postfix worked very well toward that end.

Next, and finally, I needed something to put on my shiny new web server. I decided to go with “Textpattern”:http://textpattern.com/ because I was a little familiar with it. “A little familiar” is no stretch. I have no problem installing it, but I never really got used the the txp markup that you need to master if you’re going to do anything beyond the very basic. Actually, the very basic works pretty well, as this site can attest.

But as far as the boredom project goes, Textpattern is a good starter. Particularly when you want to turn it from a blog into a commerce site with a shopping cart and products. As it turns out, there is an excellent shopping cart “plugin”:http://textpattern.org/plugins/953/yab_shop for Textpattern which actually works.

So I set up the basic server on Fivebean with Apache2/MySQL/PHP and Postfix. Then I created a single empty table database in MySQL using basic code (just google it; it’s easy). Since I’m root on the machine, I called the database textpattern and it’s location was ‘localhost’. I loaded up the unzipped textpattern download to my web server and ran the setup script from a web browser. As usual, it found the empty database and populated it, and set up perfectly ready for me to customize it. I downloaded the Yab_shop plugins and stuck them in the plugins area and hit the install button. Bingo, the installation of the plugins were trivial, and there were no errors.

I had to use the Yab_shop forum “thread”:http://forum.textpattern.com/viewtopic.php?id=26300 to get it up and running because I’m not really familiar with customizing textpattern, so that consumed some time (yes!) but I eventually got it working.

It interfaces easily with Paypal, and I added merchant services to my account there, so I went about making that happen. It involved an easy tutorial from Paypal on how to create an ssl certificate if you’re root on your own machine (yes! again – thanks Fivebean). And the rest is history as they say.

So far I’ve added one product. It worked fine originally, but I wasn’t getting the test orders mailed to me, which goes back to the trouble I had initially getting postfix to work, but it all works now. Because I actually work, which consumes quite a few hours in itself, this boredom project lasted about 2 weeks. But I’m not done yet! I have to add a bunch of products to my new ecommerce site, promote it, etc. and start making money!

The Tivo that tried to Bite the Dust

Back in 2nd grade my favorite time of day was “Show ‘n’ Tell”. I’d get to expound on the boring little details of my life that nobody cared about. In Show ‘n’ Tell I had a captive audience.

“My dog got in a fight with a woodchuck this mornin’. There was blood everywhere! I never seen so much blood!”
“Eeeeouuuuu.”
or
“Yesterday my dog found a dead skunk covered with maggots. After he rolled in it awhile, boy did he stink!”
“Eeeeeeoouuuuu..”
or
“Last week my dog started humping the milk man’s leg. Does that mean he’s a homo?”
“That’s just about enough, Mister!!”

Nowadays, we don’t have Show ‘n’ Tell, but we have blogs. Of course the “captive” audience that follows a blog kind of relates to how good the blog is. In other words, the old “if a tree falls in the arctic and there was nobody to hear it, did it really make a noise” maxim can certainly apply to blogs.

But this is about a Tivo, not about dead blogs. As I pass through life I’ve noticed that there are certain pleasures that I care about. Some are “reel nice ta have”; others are “uh, get yer goddam paws off that”. I’ve noticed that if necessary, I can live without beer and women, but when it comes to coffee or Tivo, you’d better keep your paws off!

Sooooo, to my endless consternation, for the past few months my Tivo has been actin’ up. Ever so gradually, it started getting slower and slower. First the little beep that you hear when you click the remote was late in arriving, then voices on recorded shows were out of sync. Then it would take awhile to refresh a screen. And finally, the damned thing would freeze up and I’d have to unplug it to reboot.

“Just buy a new one”, said my partner. “They’re cheap.”

Yeah, true; the last one I got her, a TivoHD, was free if you prepaid the $12.95/month subscription for a year in advance. But we don’t like to throw out perfectly good machines when they can be fixed. So I check around the Tivo site and find that I can send it in for repair, and I think they charge around $250. Hmmmmm….. Then I went to “Weaknees”:http://www.weaknees.com/ and found a whole bunch of information.

Weaknees sells drives for your particular model of Tivo that come complete with the operating system pre-installed, step-by-step instructions and even the Torx T-10 screwdriver that you need to accomplish opening your Tivo and putting the new drive in. But of course, we didn’t know that we necessarily needed a new hard drive. But they have a whole section of the site that lists symptoms and probable causes. In my case, they said 99% of the time those symptoms mean a failing hard drive.

Okay. Sometimes I have weak knees, but other times I like to hack around and enjoy hours of free entertainment. So I went to “msflive.org”:http://www.mfslive.org/ “Must have tools for Tivoholics”. That sounded like me. They have developed Tivo software tools for linux and windows and have step-by-step instructions so that you can take your original Tivo hard drive and transfer everything to a new drive to replace it. They even have tested the available drives so you know which ones you can use in your particular model of Tivo.

I won’t do any step-by-step stuff here, because they do it so much better. Suffice it to say, any Tivo information you need is at Mfslive and Weaknees.

But we promised a Show ‘n’ Tell segment. Basically, I bought a Torx screwdriver at Home Depot, a Western Digital Terabyte hard drive from “Newegg”:http://www.newegg.com/ and proceeded to open the Tivo. (Okay, it was a little scary.) But not to worry, because it is so well manufactured that everything just comes apart and goes back together like butter. Not like some computers I’ve built from parts.

The Windows version of mfslive seemed a little complicated to me (meaning there was more I had to read) and the linux version seemed simpler, so we went with that. I downloaded the linux boot disk they have available, burned it to cd and took my newly removed Tivo hard drive plus the new Western Digital Terabyte drive I bought downstairs to my computer that has SATA drives in it (my Tivo Series 3 needed SATA connections).

My Dell server downstairs is super ez to open and had my two existing SATA drives right in front for ez removal. All I did was take the connectors off those drives and hook them to the Tivo and the new drive. Then I booted from the linux boot disk I got from Mfslive.

It was basically very easy. Once you boot and use the simple commands to tell which drive is which, there is another simple command to copy everything from your old Tivo drive to the new one. But honesty compels me to relate that I ran into a couple of glitsches.

The first time, I hate to admit it, but I rushed and committed a typo in the command. I left out a ‘ – ‘. That’s a space, a dash and another space.
and there was some kind of error message. But I thought maybe it worked anyway, so I put the new drive into the Tivo and fired it up. I got a blank screen from the empty drive. Oh well.

Went back downstairs, re-hooked it all up, fired up the boot disk and proceeded to type in the *correct* code. That worked fine and it told me that I had 37 minutes to wait. A half hour later I went back and the monitor was blank. Huh? It turned out, the Dell blanks out the screen after a few minutes as a “screensaver” when you’re in the command line. I could hear the two hard drives still working, so I figured it was indeed a screen saver that was enabled in the BIOS. I should have waited a good hour for it to finish, but Nooooo, I’m in a hurry and I tapped a key to turn off the screen-blanking after 40 minutes and screwed up the copying right before the end. Oh well, maybe it missed copying some program that I don’t care about. Nope. Got it up in the Tivo and it only boots half-way.

Okay. Downstairs the third time. This time I realize that I could care less about all the shows recorded on the old hard drive. I saved the ones I cared about to the computer long ago. So this time when it boots up to Mfslive, I type in the command that just copies the essential operating system and skips the recorded programs. That takes only a couple minutes.

Lo and behold, the new terabyte drive goes easily into the Tivo and boots up successfully. But is the speed issue solved? Or will the Tivo keep freezing up even after all my work? Click, click, beep beep. Yep, resolved. New fast Tivo, new terabyte hard drive ready for 1400 hours of shows that I’ll never watch. But I’ll happily get my Mad Men and Breaking Bad fixes speedily and unencumbered by freezes.

The whole process was really much easier than my incompetence suggests, but I’ve always felt that Show-n-Tell should follow the truth to some extent, and not leave out the blood and maggots. (but if one wants to *add* a little blood and maggots and humped milkmen for artistic license, well….).

If I wasn’t in such a rush, the linux version of Mfslive would have worked the first time, and if I wasn’t too lazy to read the Windows information, that might have been easier too. But for most Tivoholics, I realize that Weaknees is your savior. They put out a fine product, extremely documented, and they even send you the Torx screwdriver. If you’re still scared, you can send the unit to them and they’ll even put the thing in for around $50. The Tivo hard drive really couldn’t be any easier to replace.

Reflections on a 7th Window

Or, if Vista is the new Windows ME, does that make Windows 7 the new XP?

Well, “Vista ha been very very good to me.” I ain’t complainin’, plus it was free. But I had the 32 bit version on my pc and decided I needed to try something in 64 bit that was maybe a little newer. After all, Vista 32 could only see 3 of my 4 gigs of RAM, and my dual core processor could easily handle a 64 bit os.

So I tried the “release candidate”:http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/get/download.aspx on an older machine first. That went all right, but I guess the machine was really old because I had trouble finding a lot of the drivers (32 bit version of Win7). Then I mistakenly put a “theme” on it, not realizing how sluggish that would make it, finally gave up and put XP back on the machine. The peanut gallery which actually uses that computer was getting very restless and I thought I heard a couple of threats. Put that mess back in the closet.

Fast forward to my Dell Poweredge with a 3.0 ghz cpu and 4 gigs of RAM. Let’s see if the results are any better on a newer machine. I should mention that changing a Windows OS has become increasingly easier. It’s gotten almost as easy as my ubuntu machine, where I just copy my home directory to a networked drive, wipe the hard drive and slap on the new os. In this case, I’ve been using “Acronis”:http://www.acronis.com/ to back up my documents folders. And since I moved my domain email over to “Google Apps”:http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/group/index.html, there’s no fussing around with trying to recover all my Outlook Express contacts and past emails. Everything is stored on a free gmail account. And the way I’m filling it up, I imagine I will be dead about 30 years before I run out of space. So for the new install you just stick your backed up folders on a network drive, stick the new Windows on, and copy it all back. Of course, reinstalling certain applications which assume from the get-go that we’re all pirates, can always be a little chancy, but I was willing to take the risk. Besides, occasionally getting to scream over the phone at someone from Adobe can be somewhat entertaining, if you happen to be a little weird.

Anyway, the Release Candidate of Windows 7 lasts until next Spring/Summer, plenty of time for me to evaluate it. The install went very well. This time, with this version, you can actually leave it to do its own thing. When it installed itself and rebooted for the last time, I found that it was asking me if I wanted to join a Homegroup or Workgroup. Since I have all kinds of different operating systems running on my LAN, Workgroup is the correct choice. (Homegroup is easy, but the only computers that it recognizes are Windows 7 machines). Anyway, I normally configure my network settings manually, but this time I didn’t have to do anything. It quickly found all my machines, including the one running Linux and all its shares. Amazingly, Windows7 found 64 bit drivers for every piece of hardware on the machine except for my old Canon scanner. I clicked around the Canon site and couldn’t find 64 bit drivers for that particular machine, but within 20 minutes I received notice that Windows had finally found them. All my hardware set itself up, even the print servers on the LAN.

Anyway, the bestest thing I like about Windows 7 so far? Its networking, by far. No configurin’, no losing shares and having to reconnect, everything is just there, all the time. And it’s quicker. I have a gigabit LAN, but I’m guessing the 64 bit drivers made a difference on the network adapter. The whole machine is running pretty fast, or maybe it’s getting to see all 4 gigs of RAM, or maybe it’s just that I don’t have a lotta crap loaded on it. Another bonus, it’s finally got Windows Explorer set up logically where I can find things. It’s hard to explain, but everything is very intuitive. Trying to help other people in the office find things in folders on XP has always been frustrating. I’m thinking if I give them all Windows 7 (we never did migrate to Vista), it will be a lot easier.

Did Somebody Move Me to the Old Fart Side of Town when I Wasn’t Looking?

It’s pretty bad when I have to look up my login and password here. What’s it been, six months? More?

Anyway, Comcast came by today to swap out my modem because my area had been upgraded to Docsis 3.0, meaning I could enjoy 50/10 mbps internet (at $139/mo? No thanks) or 22/5 mbps internet at $10 more than I’m paying now (yeah, ok). Which is pretty hard to figure out anyway, since with their digital voice phone and HDTV, I get so many discounts that figuring out the monthly bill is pretty much impossible.

So, that would make it time for the obligatory “Yawn, ho hum” post about a speed upgrade. I guess, since it wasn’t all that long ago that my connection crawled along at 9600 baud and the upgrade to 56 kb was so exciting, that “Yawn, ho hum” for the various megabit variations had some possible meaning.

!http://www.elburro.net/images/ComcastUltra.jpg!

Not that long ago? I guess I’m not counting the 8 years of George Bush that I’d like to pretend never happened, so in that sense, yeah, I was grinning from head to toe over 56kb not all that long ago.

But someone must have moved me to the Old Fart side of town when I wasn’t looking, because this time, it truly is “Yawn, ho hum”.

I’ve finally gotten to the point of having way more bandwidth than I have any possible use for. I didn’t think that would ever happen.

Checklist:
*VOIP?* it worked fine at 8/2
*Videos?* Once a month from Amazon? I’d usually rather read a book. Tv? Premium channels? In reality I’m starting to feel like Tony Soprano because all I seem to watch is World War II and Civil War docs on the History Channel.

*Music?* ditto
*Software downloads?* Aha!! Every geek’s dream, But what is the reality? Uh, every six months I download the new Ubuntu. And if it took all day rather than 10 minutes it makes no difference to me.

*Website uploads?* 5 megs up is great, but 2 megs is pretty good also.

*Web server?* Yeah, 5 megs up would be nice, but it’s against my TOS. Besides the point, having to pore over the access attempt logs whenever I’ve opened up a server is more stress than normal people like to handle who live on the Old Fart Side of Town.

*Plenty of bandwidth for 5 computers and 2 Tivos?* Yeah, but 8 megs had plenty too.

So I hate to say it, but I’m asking myself, “how the hell did I get here?”. All I can remember is seeing all this excitement over the web these past few months about Docsis 3.0 coming to a Comcast near you. And thinking, “hell, I prob’ly need that.”.
And when I went to their site to pay a bill the other day and decided to check on any specials in my area I see the Ultra (22 megs) and whatever the 50 meg plan is. “Hmmmm, mebbe I should give-em a call?” And next thing you know they have an installer coming over to bring my bright shiny Docsis 3.0 modem.

And I looked at it. And it is indeed bright and shiny. And I downloaded 3.5 gigs of Windows 7 to try it out and it took a few minutes…..

And I made lunch, and worked on some crap, and…..

Suddenly it’s night and I think there’s some kind of WWI thing on the History Channel.

I hate to admit it, but I’m thinking I need a new hobby.