An Alien in America

An alien's perspective on life and everything else

Archive for August, 2007

It’s happening again

Posted by nickxyz on August 28, 2007

Every year around this time, well actually, weeks before this time, all retail stores of all kinds, all business, pretty much everyone… gets in the “back to school” frenzy.

Back to school in the US unilateraly declares the end of summer. To possibly alleviate the psychological impacts to this strenuous facette of American society, sales are declared everywhere. One can save bundles not just on school supplies or school uniforms, but also on clothes in general, any type of jewlery, travel, even cars… (????) everything under the sun.

Is there truly an improvement of the personal state of mind possible by indulging in all these end of the season activities? Or could it just be an elaborate scam by US corporations to drive up sales mid year?

Any further theories and hypothesis are welcome


Posted in Daily Insanity | Leave a Comment »

Vonage – Part 3

Posted by nickxyz on August 19, 2007

As of this past Friday we no longer subscribe to Vonage service.

Starting at about the beginning of this year, my phone calls to overseas began to drop, had a horrible voice quality and repeated re-dials didnt’ really help the situation either. Studying the FAQ section of Vonage, there was a suggestion to specifically set QoS for the voice transmitting ports on the VoIP router. Sounded good, so I did that. That alleviated the problem for a few more weeks (see previous post) and I almost thought we were through with the issues.

About 3 months ago, the issues started to re-surface. My international calls quickly turned into a marathon of how many words / how much conversation can one fit into each conversation segment before the line droped again. Each segment also started with each party continually repeating “Hallo…. Hallo…. can you hear me?” It always was a unilateral conversation. I heard them, but they never heard me. Another re-dial attempt.

About 4 weeks ago, said problem now also increased in frequency when making local or US calls. The quality degraded quickly on pretty much every single call.

While it most likely is not attributable to Vonage as a service, I am fairly confident it is due to the broadband technology I am using here at the house. Although we have a cable modem, the provider does not guarantee dedicated bandwidth for each user. Instead, all users on the same neighborhood block share the available bandwidth. Logically, the bandwidth available for each user starts to decrease at certain times of the day / week when more and more neighbors start to surf the Internet. Quite a few in my neighborhood also work from home during the day as do I on certain days.

Unfortunately, my current provider is the only one I can get at the house. Can’t get DSL at all, which guarantees dedicated bandwidth for each user. From conversations with other Vonage users utilizing DSL / ISDN, their quality of calls is very close to regular landline quality…

Result: Experiment closed, moving on… back at AT&T

Posted in Daily Insanity, Techno Geek | 1 Comment »

Robin Hood – Season 2

Posted by nickxyz on August 19, 2007

Since Robin Hood Season 1 finished on BBC America, something on Saturday afternoon is just somehow missing. BBC America does do a re-run of all the episodes, but…. I already own the entire series on DVD…

Couldn’t find anything else on the web about Episode 2 becoming available in the US, so I just wrote BBC America directly. Received an answer within 24 hours, sharing that the station plans to air Season 2 in the spring of 2008 on BBC America. While great news, that is still about another 6 months off.

Does anyone know an Internet service such as that records BBC One off of the UK channel lineup? Supposedly, they are going air Season 2 this fall already.

Posted in Entertainment | 1 Comment »

The Internet Crashed

Posted by nickxyz on August 10, 2007

Truth or fiction???

Youtube: The Internet Crashed

Posted in Techno Geek | Leave a Comment »

My Pirates Booty

Posted by nickxyz on August 10, 2007

My better half took a stroll this week through an antique shop (more by accident than planned, as he is not the “antiquing” kind usually) and found an old steamer trunk. As the good person that he is, he calls me right away, since I have been looking for an old steamer trunk for eons now. He describes it and I need to have. Veni, vidi, vici 🙂

Now my new treasure chest sits out in the garage awaiting restoration… it is gigantic, has metal bracings all around and this trademark “hump” at the top within the lid that makes it look just like a pirate’s chest. It appears that at one time it also had some dark blue felt like fabric all around.

The inside is absolutely huge with original compartments and dividers. Granted, I don’t think that all of them can be salvaged, but the majority I think can be restored. Or maybe build all new ones from some kind of nice and sturdy wood…. not sure yet.

Research on how to best proceed with the restoration of this new jewel will begin this weekend.

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