- Verizon Network - I still think this is the best
- World Phone - (GSM capabilities for Europe, etc.)
About a year ago I was reviewing credit card statements and found that Microsoft had been charging me $39.90 per month for 7 or 8 months. After wending my way through the phone system maze that is MS I found that the free Beta service I had signed up for called Office Live Small Business had ended its free Beta period and converted itself and me to a paid account. I informed the guy I was speaking to that he may have converted himself but no one had converted me and MS needed to 1) stop these charges and 2) find a way to refund me for the previous ones. I explained that all I had signed up for was a free service. They did both stop the charges and issue me a refund, by the way.
Now, a year later and guess what? I’m reviewing credit card statements again and I’ve got another 9 months charges at $39.90 per month that started about 3 months after last year’s charges ended.
After asking twice to speak to a supervisor* I spoke to a guy that at least sounded like he understood what I was talking about.
GET THIS – He reviews their notes and tells me this is my fault (he didn’t use the word ‘fault’)! That a year ago they (and this is his word which I questioned him about and he reused) COMMANDED me to call them back at a later time because at that time their computer system wasn’t capable of completing the task. I quizzed him on this and he stood fast insisting that if his notes said I was COMMANDED this then I must have been COMMANDED to call them back.
So, this company, that makes operating system software and application software INCLUDING Database software had to COMMAND me to call them back to remind them to turn off these c**ppy charges that I never wanted. They didn’t have the computing resources to do their job so they were outsourcing to me!
And another point – if they had in fact COMMANDED me to do something – I can promise you that I would not have done it but I would have remembered that they COMMANDED me.
When I asked this supervisor if there would be any need for me to call them again next year he assured me that there would not be.
- - - - -
*supervisor – some people think that I am a little bigotted. they think that I think that people of certain distant nationalities that staff help desks are ignorant because of their national origin. this is far from the truth. i know that these peoples countrymen (and women) are very bright because they are all here, in our country, getting higher education and becoming doctors and engineers. its the ones that are left behind that are hired at 20 cents on the dollar by the hundreds of head counts to fill ‘technical support’ desks with no experience about the subject matter that they are supporting – they are just taught how to read a script from a notebook. so, i am not biased against people by their nationality – but by their capability (or lack thereof) to represent the company they work for.
About a month or so I gave up my Treo 700P that was working just fine for me. I had stayed with the Palm o/s because of an application that is important to me and for which I had not found a suitable replacement in the Windows Mobile world. Anyway, a month ago my brother found the replacement application for me and he turned me on to the HTC Touch Pro which he has been using. I bought a Touch Pro and I have to tell you – it took me at least a week just to get a mental picture of where the various programs and utilities were. I did finally get it and I do like the phone a lot. I have been a Palm user for a long, long time. About two years ago I bought a Windows based phone and I was shocked at how STUPIDLY designed it was. A large criticism of mine was concerned with silencing the phone. It required using the stylus because the touch item on the screen was too small. And, worst of all, giving the silence command made NOISE. What engineer thought that this was a good idea.
Joyce and I are now getting ready for a vacation to Firenze, Italy. I got Joyce a world phone (CDMA + GSM) last fall. This week when I was talking to the Verizon guy to make plans to activate the international service it dawned on me that, especially because of my business, it would make a lot of sense for me to have a world phone too. I had planned on using one of the inexpensive unlocked GSM phones we got several years ago for our travels. We would just get a local country prepaid SIM card when we went and enjoy very inexpensive local calling. We would handle international calling with a global calling card. This worked pretty well for us making calls but it wasn’t very easy for our family to reach us. It required international dialing which in our circles wasn’t second nature plus it was much more expensive when done ad hoc.
The global phone idea seemed to make a lot of sense for me being able to keep in touch with business back home. Verizon had a couple world phones and I picked a blackberry that might be called a curve (not sure). It was going to be $170 minus a $70 rebate and I figured for $100 it would be worth it to me to just use this phone when I travel. I went to the Verizon store, picked out a nice looking Red phone and went through the stuff with the sales person. When she rang up the sale she looked up and said ‘Oh, your phone is free!’. That was a nice surprise. She said she thought it might be because of a buy one get another one program even though the one I bought (for Joyce) was 5 months ago.
Oberservations – I have always been kind of anti BB – because of the fact that it is not an open system. I liked the ability with Palm and Windows to be able to find tons of 3rd party apps. from independent sources.
I first tried something called AstraSync – which is supposed to be software to do wireless sync of email/calendar/contacts for a lower price than the BB enterprise server. In the last several months I tried to install and configure this software for 2 other peoples’ BB phones. I was unsuccessful in this endeavor and found AstraSync’s technical support to be worthless. They only have user supported forums for technical support. Now, with my BB, I decided to try this software again. I actually did get it to start sync’ing with my phone which is farther than I had gotten before. HOWEVER, the sync’ing ran for hours and when it completed it started sync’ing again. There was an ever present twirling icon in the center of my screen indicating that the sync’ing was going on. This was annoying AND slowed down the operation of the phone. Since I have an Small Business Server running in my office – I downloaded and installed the BB server software. I got this running and sync’ing in a well behaved manner and think life is now good.
While I still do miss having all the nice 3rd party applications for the BB phone – I do find that some of the things it does are extremely FAST. I’ve got an enormous contact list and all I have to do is type in a couple letters of a first name or a last name or a company and the result is immediate.
I do still plan to go back to my HTC Touch Pro when I return from this trip. I’ll keep the BB for a foreign travel phone.
I've got a couple customers that have some remote staff. They would like to have a voice mail box for these people in their Response Point system. They would also like to be able to manually forward calls to these remote users - as in the case where the receptionist answers a call at the main office and tells the caller 'please hold while I transfer you to whatshisname'.
I have tried this out using my Aastra system. I don't know if it works the same or differently on the other brands. Here's what I have found - in case you can use it.
I create the user on my system. I configure the call forwarding for this user to send the calls to his external telephone number. Here’s where it gets a little quirky. If I do not assign this user to a telephone in the RP system – if I answer an incoming call and then park it – and then forward it to my remote guy's “extension” – I get an error message that says “Sorry, that extension does not exist or is out of service”. By the way – if I call in to the RP system and request that users extenstion – then the call DOES forward without any error message. The workaround for the quirky part is – if I have enough slots on phones on my system to assign this remote user to one of the RP phones – then I can do what I want which is – answer an incoming call – park it – and then forward to the remote user's “extension” and the call will forward outbound without the error message.
Do you have any pet peeves?
Every once in a while I am reminded that I have one or two. This past week I was setting up some new monitors for a customer that wanted to enter the 2 Screen world with their office computers. I've been using two monitors on my desktop computer for quite a while and I would never want to go back to a single monitor. I remember when 15" CRT monitors were considered a nice size. My monitors are 17". When I went to my supplier to pick up monitors for my customer I had thought I would get him pairs of 20" wide screen monitors. My salesman told me to get 22" wide screens - that they cost less than 20's!
Anyway, I am off the subject.
This pet peeve has to do with the way they wrap the monitor DATA CABLE. This has to be a result of some misunderstanding between cultures of the west and east. Someone in the far east heard a word from the west - the word was probably "twist-tie". The person in the far east didn't know what twist-tie meant and was embarrassed to ask. They looked it up in their dictionary - did not find it - and decided on their own that it meant - wrap a data cable so that it would be completely sanitized and sterile when it was received and that it would be a pain-in-the-a** to unwrap. Once one eastern company saw that the first company was doing with the cables they decided to copy the first because after all - they are masters of copying. Next everyone was doing it.
If you are not sure what I am referring to - check out this photo. In case you can't make out all the detail - there are:
- 3 twist ties
- 2 end caps
- 2 rubber bands
- 1 plastic sleeve
- 2 special wrappings for the connectors that are bound by the rubber bands.
It takes several minutes just to unwrap this single cord.
This one took about an hour on the phone with Verizon technical support. I had been using another cell phone to send a text message to the Blackberry. The message was received, the status light flashed red, but there was no audible alert. Of course since the phone had only come out yesterday - the tech. support person had not seen one yet. She read through her manual - which had a lot more pages than my manual - and had me try a few things. None of these things had any effect on my issue.
Finally, I found a setting in the SMS alert menu that DID NOT AT ALL sound like it was related. I figured this was enough reason to try it!
The setting I am talking about is - NOTIFY ME DURING CALLS. This setting seems to say that Yes means sound the alert if I am on a call and no means do not sound the alert if I am on a call. The way it worked for me is that when I am NOT ON A CALL - I only get an alert if this item is set to YES. If it is set to NO I get no alert when not on a call.
I have to imagine that is going to be a large problem for Verizon Storm users. I hope that they are quick in coming out with a fix for this.
Episode 004 of the Response Point Podcast will be recorded via live conference call on Tuesday 11/9 at 7pm eastern time.
I am planning on doing a one-on-one chat with Richard Sprague, of the Microsoft Response Point Team. During our talk I will quiz Richard on several items included in the 2 next waypoints on the Response Point Roadmap that was discussed recently in the Response Point Town Hall Meeting.
This episode will be conducted via public conference call. You are invited to call in. During my one-on-one chat with Richard the lines will be muted. After we cover the planned material I will unmute the lines for anyone interested in asking questions or making comments.
To access this conference call - dial (can anyone really DIAL anymore?) 1-218-486-1616 and enter 30961 for the access code.
As always, if you wish to phone in or mail in you questions ahead of time - you can call 888-852-2158 and say PODCAST to the automated receptionist or select extension 401 to record your question or email to Allen at ResponsePointPodcast.com
This conference call will be recorded and available for download and podcast here and in the iTunes store.
This felt so good when I solved it (like a good bm) that i just had to follow it up with a blog post.
A new client of ours (Financial Services company) has a T1 line that handles their voice and data. They mentioned that their Internet is slow. I spoke to the ISP who told me this customer's bandwidth is maxed out. They have 500k upload and it is being saturated. After checking the applications that they typically use in their business I found that they have an ACT database that is hosted in the cloud. I spoke to the technical support people for the hosted database and they told me that for the number of users this account has the most bandwidth they should be using is 190k. Furthermore, they told me that if the browser connection to the database is closed the utilization should be zero.
With this information in hand I started to do some investigation. This office is not too big and the people there are very cooperative and they said I could do some testing during office hours.
One colleague suggested using a Calyptix UTM device for its bandwidth monitor. I do use these devices but the bandwidth monitor graphic is not really useful for this study - not enough magnification (see insert).
I had recently read about the TOMATO firmware that can run on Linksys routers. I grabbed an old Linksys router from the gadget warehouse (the newer versions don't work with Tomato) and installed the firmware. The bandwidth monitor in the Tomato router was perfect (see insert). This Tomato display is from the actual problem network. The green stuff at the bottom is download activity which was not the problem. The blue stuff averaging 700+k is the outbound problem.
Next I asked everyone to shut down their ACT web sessions. There was no change in the activity when I did this.
Next I disconnected a single workstation from the network. I saw a dramatic drop in the outbound activity. I thought I may have found the problem workstation. HOWEVER, after I waited a short while, with that workstation still unconnected, the activity RETURNED to the high level!
I reconnected that computer and disconnected another computer. I saw similar results. Activity fell way off but then returned to the high level.
At this point I decided I would have to take some more disruptive action so I told the business owner I would return to do more testing when the office was closed.
Last night, after our trick or treaters waned - I went back to the office.
I removed all the workstations from the network and then connected just one. I saw the high level of outbound activity. I then put to use two tools. I used WIRESHARK to capture an interval of traffic. I then sorted the traffic on Destination IP address and found one external IP that was the bulk of the traffic. I next used Sysinternals TCPVIEW. This utility enabled me to see applications/processes that were running along with what resource they were accessing. I spotted my external IP address in the list and found that the CULPRIT was AFPW.OUTLOOK.SERVICE.EXE. This was buried several folders deep in an Act Web folder on the computer. When I killed this process - VOILA - my outbound traffic utilization dropped to zero!
On Monday I will contact the ACT database people to find out if this errant process is even related to what they are doing or maybe just left over from some earlier and now unused installation.
from the SMB DUDE blog
Posted on October 5, 2008 by harrybrelsford
At our party inside the musuem, early last night we named:
- SBSer of the Year: Susan Bradley
- RPer of the Year: Allen Miller
- SBSer of the Year - Special Posthumous Edition: Bill Hunt
Thanks everyone and congrats to Susan and Allen!
Thank you - thank you - thank you.
This just in - it arrived in my morning email - I am being considered for Who's Who. Well, not actually Who's Who but Who's Who Among Women in North America! This is, and I quote, "considered by many as the single highest mark of achievement.
The from email address is Nominationwhoswho [firstname.lastname@example.org]. And if this doesn't tell you something, just hover your mouse over the link to the convenient online form available at www.montclairwhoswho.com and you will see the real link to www.bankruptcyadvice1.com.
Now I know many online scams are difficult for even the techies to fathom out but, come on, I mean really, has someone really fallen for this piece of drek?
Our daughters are mostly back to college for the fall (#3 starts tomorrow). I got her twin sister a new laptop this summer because the old one had too many miles on it. I picked up an HP that was priced attractively at one of the big box stores. Since she would be in a two person dorm room with limited counter top space - I thought a wireless printer might be a good compliment. It didn't have to be on her desk next to the laptop - it could be across the room on her dresser. She could share the printer with her roommate so they only needed one printer between the two of them
I purchased the laptop and printer in our home town before she went away to school. I configured the wireless printer connection and got it working. When we got her to school I reconnected the computer and printer to make sure they were working. So far all is good.
Now, a few weeks in to the fall quarter I get a call from the daughter. She says - Dad, the wireless printer will not print for me wirelessly - it will only print with the usb wire. AND, sometimes in the middle of the night when I am in bed the printer will start printing jobs for people I don't even know!
Nice going HP. You continue to keep up the long time image I have of your multi-function printers. Just who at HP thinks that a printer device should need software that takes 45 minutes to install?