April 30, 2003
Speakeasy DSL

Speakeasy's self-install DSL kit rocks. I placed an order on April 24th, and I was on-line today, April 30th. Heck, it probably worked yesterday, but I didn't have a computer at the new place to make sure.

Nothing like getting 1.1/768mbit ADSL provisioned in 6 days. Iím getting more like 1.3mbit down and 690mbit up. Iíll have to power-cycle the modem and see if itíll train-up at a faster upload speed.

My last Speakeasy install, lo some 2 years ago, wasn't quite this slick. It was nearly this slick, but not quite. Heck, the CLECs and Covad might just have a shot at this.

In other news, I spent 25 minutes on hold to talk to someone at PacBell/SBC DSL today. Why? If you have Covad based DSL and want to change your termination date, you still have to, gag, talk to someone at SBC DSL. The SBC POTS support guys won't even touch your apparently radioactive call. 25 minutes? To talk to a support rep? Funny thing was, they tried to sell me on other SBC products. Reminding the poor support person that I'd spent 25 minutes in the queue, and therefore that there was no way in hell that I'd use any more SBC services than I had to -- I was thankfully spared any high-pressure sales pitches.

Posted by jk at 10:26 PM
ADT Home Alarm Systems

I suspect that most ADT home alarm systems are crap. These cheaply installed wireless systems seem like total pap for the perpetually frightened Columbine Nation.

Iíd wager something good on this. Well, Iíd wager something short of getting arrested at the very least. Iíd bet that any idiot could prevent a good number of ADT systems installed in older neighborhoods from calling the central reporting station. Most people wonít pay attention to a wailing alarm, and theyíre probably easy enough to destroy quickly anyway.

How can you defeat all that cozy feeling of safety, ahem, that $32.88/month gets you? Just pick up the house phone and call someone. Itís often that simple. Break into the house, walk right past the keypad and pick up the phone. Once the klaxon goes off, smash whatever makes noise, then ransack the place to your heartís content.

Iíd suggest listening in on the call and make sure that you can hear the alarm system frantically trying and failing to place calls to the mother ship. If you donít hear high speed DTMF dialing, well, congratulations. Youíve run into a system that has been installed correctly, or one that uses an alternative connection technique Ė cellular or radio Ė to call the central station. Run.

I've now seen two ADT home installs where the telephone line seizure wiring has been installed incorrectly. Itís a slightly tricky thing to do in an older house with a hodge-podge of telephone lines of varying pedigree and vintage going this way and that. I donít think itís a good excuse, thought, as it is painfully easy to test that the telephone by-pass is working correctly.

How can you tell if ADT has sold you a nearly worthless alarm system? Pick up the phone and listen to the calming hum of your friendly 350hz and 440hz dial tone. Place your system into test mode, often CODE+5. Trip a sensor. Cancel the test mode, often CODE+1. If the line goes dead, wait 20 minutes and call ADT. If they got your test mode, you are OK. If, instead, you hear nothing but quick DTMF dialing and lots of clicking over your dial tone, youíve been taken for a ride by some meat-head ADT installer.

As you might gather, what is supposed to happen is the ADT alarm system is designed to seize control of the telephone, hang up, then dial the central station. What Iíve seen, however, is that the alarm system is just like some idiot picking up the phone and trying to dial while you are already on the line.

Iíve re-wired both ADT alarm systems Iíve come across to work correctly. It will be really interesting to see how Lawrenceís system is installed. He's got a turn-of-the-century with a really screwed up telephone wiring plan.

Iíll have to write up a little guide on what Iíve done to fix my systems sometime soon. In the meantime, call ADT and complain. Honestly, for what they charge, this is more their problem than your problem. You didnít get suckered into the ďextended warranteeĒ for a system that you do not own, did you?

Posted by jk at 10:10 PM
April 28, 2003

Google's competitors are starting to crank up their crawling:

Over the last few days Scooter/3.3 has zipped through my site Quovadimus.org, registering 2247 page views. This is just the latest in Scooter's more aggressive crawling since the Yahoo purchase. I'm even seeing Scooter on kalucki.com, where there is very little public content.

Yesterday Microsoft got in the act. For the first time I noticed MicrosoftPrototypeCrawler (How's my crawling? mailto:newbiecrawler@hotmail.com) check in. They hit the home page and all of the pages directly off the home page -- but very little beneath that. Just 226 hits, all clustered in a few hour period. Looking back over a few months of logs, it looks like they visited a little back on the 17th and 18th as well.

Posted by jk at 07:42 AM
April 27, 2003
McSweeney's vs They Might Be Giants

Caught the show at Stanford today. Never seen anything quite like it. Great stuff.

We had Dave Eggers, Sarah Vowel, Don Novello, and some author who the far-more-literary audience knew and loved. Sarah gave a reading that I had heard on NPR, but was really great in her patter and impromptu stuff. Don Novello did some of his Laszlo Toth stuff and a slide show based on plastic resin chairs. I was reminded how much that I miss Spy. Dave Eggers read a short teen-age-boy-angst-sorta-short-story that confused the three women in our group. "Do boys really think like that?" Er. Well. Umm.... The "other author" read a story about a girl's bangs. TMBG did background music and songs during and after each reading.

After an intermission, TMBG came out and rocked out for quite a bit.

A long show. A great show. I don't need to see it again for a while, but I hope they keep updating the show and make a little cottage industry of the whole thing.

And, lighting guys, enough with the spotlights shining directly into the crowd. That sucks.

Posted by jk at 08:00 PM
April 25, 2003
Interior Paint

I've learned more about paint recently than I ever cared to know.

In summary:

* Behr paint (Home Depot house-brand) sucks. Professional painters will actually refuse to paint with it. My brother foams at the mouth at its mere mention. Behr has great colors though. We basically picked colors from the Behr chart, then translated 'em into Benjamin Moore.

* Benjamin Moore is your standard good-paint paint.

* ICI and Kelly Moore are probably a half-step below Benjamin Moore, but I could never find anyone who had used either and BM for a good comparison.

* Pratt and Lambert is the top of the top end.

It's much easier to pick colors with a full color deck from the paint company. We had four decks, three from BM, and and old ICI deck. The "consumer" deck from both companies were almost worthless. You want the complete deck that shows all the subtle variations and isn't oriented towards the garish.

I've put up 10 "swatches" or "brush-outs" on the wall, each with two coats. I'll have to agree with the pros: BM goes on much better than the Behr. Behr covers poorly and drips all over. If you are paying for labor, Behr is absolutely false economy. If you are DIY-ing, just spent the extra ~$3/gallon and save yourself some aggravation. I haven't tried PL, but I have a can of KM to do touch up on our old place. We'll see.

A one-third-sized roller cage and foam roller is a great way to put up swatches. Simply dip the end of the roller into the quart can and go. Avoiding the whole roller tray scene is a big time and paint saver.

House of Color on 24th street has been great. Go to the middle-aged guy. He's forgotten more about paint than you'll never know. Once I had a young guy make a quart, and he didn't mix the paint long enough. Annoyance.

Posted by jk at 08:00 AM
April 17, 2003
Olivia Newton-John

There is a buzz in certain circles about a certain August 24th performance at Davies Symphony Hall.

Myself? I didn't even know that Olivia Newton-John still had fans, never mind that she still toured.

Posted by jk at 08:38 AM
April 15, 2003
The Constant Wife

It must be spring! ACT has put the axe-grinders away and switched over to lighter fare.

Let me reinforce my near-illiteracy: I'd never heard of Somerset Maugham before tonight. Or, if I had, I'd forgotten. Apparently he's a big thing. Or was. Something.

The cast was great, except perhaps the sister. (Note: the hand-wrist affectation looks, well, affected.)

The Constant Wife was exceptionally accessible, but had some substance behind the obvious.

Posted by jk at 10:00 PM
Izzy's Burger Spa -- Closed

Izzy's in Auburn appears to be closed. I drove by on Saturday, April 12th and the burger stand with the improbable name was closed. Restaurant fixtures were moved around, and the place looked a bit cleaned out.

Bummer. After 7 years of driving by, I never bothered to stop in.

Posted by jk at 05:54 PM