Archive for category Tech

Windstream Soundbytes

So I talked with someone who should know what they’re talking about with regard to Windstream. Not naming names because it isn’t important to do so anyway. Here are are some of the more interesting (though predictable) things that he mentioned:

1. Windstream’s biggest customers are AT&T and Verizon
Telcos buy backhaul from other telcos when it comes to providing cellular service. As long as Verizon and AT&T continue to rule the roost in the wireless biz, Windstream will continue to get a fair chunk of change per month for T1s and fiber Ethernet connections to cell sites in their footprint. In many cases other cellular providers also have to use Windstream for backhauling their cell sites, which generates even more revenue for Windstream, which isn’t particularly forgiving when it comes to T1 pricing either. Read the rest of this entry »

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Picasa Slideshow -> YouTube? Not so fast…

You’d think that going from one Google product (Picasa) to another (YouTube) would be quick and painless. However when it comes to exporting slideshows to YouTube, I must say, Au Contraire…at least from the Mac version of the desktop photo manager, which by the way is 100% awesome. There is a fix, however…

The problem in my case had to do with embedding videos into the slideshow. You see, when Picasa exports a slideshow it takes advantage of some of the more esoteric specs of the MPEG-4 container, saving video clips, unmodified, with their accompanying audio alongside the photo slideshow, which includes your music track, captions, etc. So you get multiple video and audio streams “neatly” packaged into a single MPEG-4 container. Cool, right?

Right…as long as you have something that won’t roll over and die when it sees a multi-stream, multi-resolution container file coming down the pike. Read the rest of this entry »

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Looking back on today’s communications outage

UPDATE 4: Added a Kerrville Daily Times link for a new article on how 911 is handled. Lots of good information there.

UPDATE 3: Added another news source. Swamped by homework so tweets will have to wait, but other than those I think I’ve got all the online info on the outage linked from here.

UPDATE 2: Added another couple of news sources, corrected one of my usual typos…some how I forgot to add a “not” into the paragraph about Wal-Mart taking credit card transactions. Sorry for the confusion. Also modified information based on an article from the Fredericksburg Standard Radio-Post. The link below takes you to the subscriber-only version of the article; the non-subscriber snippet just makes the paper look bad (very little info).

UPDATE: Added some more news articles, (still) working on collecting all tweets about the incident, revised some information for accuracy (originally wasn’t sure about CricKet and Pocket, but they too were taken down by the outage…DSL was also apparently iffy in Kerrville).

Granted, I wasn’t in the area when it happened, but since I have plenty of family and friends down there I’m certainly going to talk about it! Read the rest of this entry »

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State Of The Internet, Fredericksburg, TX

Interesting stuff happening lately about internet service in this area:

  1. My mom saw a Verizon truck in the county fair parade today (I didn’t go; saw no need and was tired). The truck has “High Speed Internet coming soon!” or similar painted on te side. This is DSL, not FiOS (Verizon always refers to their fiber offering by its trademarked name). However from what I hear Verizon’s DSL release is just a ploy to drive up the sale cost of their system here; Fredericksburg isn’t a large metropolitan area, and there are too mayn bridged taps and other phone system anomaies here for DSL to reach beyond a small part of town. At least that’s what the scuttlebutt says. My prediction: Verizon offers some flavor of DSL to folks who can currently get Windstream DSL, then sells the system to whoever will take it, using the “we have DSL in our central office” argument to jack the price up slightly above what the system is worth.
  2. Bee Creek Communications, the local our-hands-are-tied-and-if-anyone-competes-with-us-we-lose wireless ISP, was in the parade today as well. They also have a third-of-a-page ad in the paper advertising free installation to new customers until September 15th. A few years ago an installation with similar equipment would have run you around $220. The problem here is that their network is already over capacity in some areas, they’re spread too thinly in terms of manpower and their speeds are the stuff of yesteryear, barely competitive with satellite internet (though their monthly transfer caps are higher). The service also requires a two-year contract with a $125 early termination fee. If you want a one-year agreement service will run you another $10 per month. In short, don’t buy. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Perfect Set Top Box

So I’ve got some crazy ideas about launching a fiber-optic triple play operator somewhere. Or maybe someone else has those ideas and I’m just throwing in my own ideas. Now the hardest “play” would be TV, once you’ve got all your infrastructure in place. Internet is pretty much a given, as is VoIP; just white-label a solution from someone who already does it well (VOIPo for example, or so I hear). But with TV you have to not only make deals with all your content providers, but also figure out how you’re going to get video from point A (the content providers) to point B (subscribers’ TVs). Cable providers have fallen down on this a bit with utterly crappy set top boxes. Sat providers are a good bit better, as are TelcoTV providers (like U-Verse and FiOS) though, except in the case of FiOS, a better set top box goes hand in hand with lower picture quality. Which is unfortunate.

So the big question in my mind is, how would I design the perfect set top box, from both a consumer and a provider point of view? Here are some specs I came up with: Read the rest of this entry »

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The Latest Look at Pocket

Last Saturday I grabbed a UTStarCom CDM7025 with a month of service for $39 plus tax, plus $5 in “Value Pocket” funds from Pocket Communications’ retail outlet in Boerne, TX. Today I returned the phone; reception on that particular handset was poor and there wasn’t a comparably-priced model in stock at my Fredericksburg HEB Pocket kiosk. In the interim though I learned a few things about the company, stuff that’s changed since I last used their service more than two years ago…

  1. Pocket can now “flash” phones at all of their locations, as long as their software is working correctly. The price: free. The upside: you can take your old name-your-CDMA-carrier phone and plunk it down on Pocket’s network without having to shell out for one of the company’s own phone models. The downside: you may not get data access on a non-Pocket phone, depending on the model.
  2. Pocket’s roaming option, available for 19¢ per minute or $5 per month for 50 minutes, mainly picks Verizon as the out-of-area provider. This hapens whenever the Pocket phone can’t pick up a “native” signal, not just if you’re out of Pocket’s licensed service area. This is a good thing in areas where Pocket doesn’t have towers, but at that point you’re limited by how good your phone is at receiving signals.
  3. The UTStarCom 7025, even with its pull-up antenna, was bested by my parents’ Nokia 2126i internal-antenna Tracfones in the reception department. So if you want a Pocket phone with good reception for $39, consider your options narrowed. Read the rest of this entry »

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1TB for $54.99

UPDATE 2: The 1TB Hitachi drives are back on sale for $64.99 after a rebate which will expire on the 31st. Not 5.5¢ per GB, but not too bad either. No promo code though.

UPDATE: Newegg (prematurely as far as I can see, I might add) ended the coupon promo, and the Hitachi drives are now all sold out. Nice run though. Still, Newegg has some cheap drives, like this Seagate 1.5TB $109.99 beaut’. Just remember that life’s a little slower when you want more bits for the buck, that drive runs at a mere 5900 RPMs.

Want some cheap internal storage? Don’t mind using Hitachi for said storage? Then check out the below:

But wait, it gets better. In addition to the $10 mail-in rebate, you can get another 10% off with the coupon code hddsale15.

The result: a full terabyte of storage for a mere $54.99 shipped after rebate. That’s a teeny 5.5¢ per GB.

Just keep in mind that the window of opportunity for the rebate and the promo code ends at midnight on Monday the 17th. After which things are back up to normal with 1TB drives bottoming out at about $75.

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