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11/10/11

  04:11:52 pm, by The Dreamer   , 881 words  
Categories: General, Wireless/iPhone, VoIP, WiFi, Safety & Security, Cox HSI, AT&T DSL, Broadband, Amazon Kindle

Cox Cable was a no show today....

This afternoon's tale starts on Tuesday, November 8th.

At about 9:30am, I get an email from Cox about Wednesday's EAS test for 2pm EST....shouldn't be a problem, won't be home and nothing should be recording then...

Then at about 11:30am, I start getting pages that my Cox connection (among other things) has gone away. Well, the other things were because without Cox...there's no DNS or NTP...so things that tested or depend on that also failed. Though monitoring from work just showed Cox down.... At least I still have DSL....tweak some stuff back to being DSL centric, and bounce my cable modem a few times.... I had switched away from being DSL centric after a recent significant DSL outage.

Eventually cable service comes back, and I think all is good. Though I don't notice that not everything in nagios has cleared. And, when I come home...I find that I still have no Cox internet service.

I turn on the TV to see if I'm at least getting a signal....but I only checked the channel that was default...didn't check further. I then get on with Cox to find out why my service is down.

Strange that I often have trouble right around bill due time. But, I use EasyPay, so they automatically get paid. And, this month the auto-pay date is November 9th. New bill came out around October 27th (in fact later when I got confirmation that they had processed the payment, that's what it said). Always interesting that they allow so little time between sending the bill to when it needs to get paid. Its probably to keep us from dropping services between getting the bill and paying it. Like dropping Movie Pak....a while back they moved BBC America to the Movie Pak, so I had to add that to my service quickly....but sometime later they moved it back to the Variety Pak...so I should probably drop the Movie Pak...but I never seem to get around to it. I don't watch anything else in the Movie Pak (but at least I do from the Variety Pak.)

But, I check and account is current. I also got alert from bank of the pending charge too.

So, I get on with Cox support to find out what's up or not....and after they get my account information, come back saying a technician call is needed and say the earliest is Thursday between 1-3pm. Ok...then I'm asked if there's anything else, and I'm disconnected.

Seems like that's one way to avoid the National EAS test....

I had turned the cable modem on and off a few times, with longer off times, and checked connections and such...to no luck, but couldn't recall if I left it on or off overnight. When I get up...there's still no Cox Internet service. I restart the cable modem, and presto...I have service.

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11/03/11

  10:16:49 pm, by The Dreamer   , 178 words  
Categories: General, Healthcare

Eyeglass Prescription Nov 3, 2011

Today I had my latest eye exam....

Updating the progression of prescriptions:

2003: OD -5.00 -1.00 075 OS -8.00
2005: OD -4.25 -1.00 080 OS -7.00 -0.75 045
2006: OD -4.50 -1.00 055 OS -6.50 -1.00 035
2008: OD -5.25 -1.00 060 OS -7.25 -1.00 025
2009: OD -5.00 -0.50 050 OS -7.00 -1.25 030
2010: OD -5.50 -0.75 050 +1.25 OS -7.00 -1.00 040 +1.25
2011: OD -5.50 -0.75 050 +1.50 OS -7.00 -1.00 040 +1.50

Now I'm conflicted...do I get a new pair of glasses this year, to make use of this year's vision insurance benefit. Or wait until next year...where I'll have next year's vision benefit and FSA money available. Or both.

Been thinking sunglasses, the slight change in reading power would make more sense in regular pair....but regular pair is currently fine, though could probably use a spare. Except that again...new pair being slight new script would not be the spare.

Could go new lenses I suppose....and then sunglasses next year?

:hmm:

Probably won't be in a position to decide if there's going to be anything this year until like near Christmas....

Full story »

10/30/11

  06:01:42 pm, by The Dreamer   , 349 words  
Categories: Healthcare

My new CPAP, and final download from the old?

Today I finally got around to setting up my new Intellipap AutoAdjust Travel CPAP Machine with SmartFlex.

Not much to write about setting it up...except that I couldn't find the power cord for it, so I just moved the cord from my old CPAP over to it...saves me digging around behind my headboard anyways. And, there was some question of where on top of my night stand to put it, and how to orient it. Even though I bought it with its integrated humidifier, I opted to not use it...on my current night stand set up (perhaps when I get around to buying the new one...and/or I become more comfortable with the unit...I'll position it such that it'll be easier to slide the tank in and out.) In the meantime, I'll just stick to my HC150 external humidifier.

The only annoyance I found, was that the online DME didn't include the clinician manual with it, and didn't set it up to my prescription. My (current) prescription is 7.0 cmH20. They noted that they had set it to Auto 4.0-20.0 cmH2O....but, they had gone into the menus, because the factory defaults are auto 5.0-15.0 cmH2O....

I did a quick test fit, was surprised to find air blowing already, and it was so quiet. I knew I had enabled auto-on, but didn't expect it to come on so quickly and silently...compared to old Respironics machine. The auto-off was a little more annoying, but I guess that's expected. Wonder what I should set Tubing Length to....choices are 6' or 10'. I'm using a 6' tube, but there's a 2' tube between the machine and the humidifier...and there's also an extra bit of tube (with a quick connector) from the end of the 6' hose to the mask elbow. Guess I'll go with the 10' setting. I suppose I could dig out my cmH2O gauge manometer to verify its pressure.

But, looking forward to first night on it....

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10/28/11

  11:37:01 am, by The Dreamer   , 331 words  
Categories: General, Healthcare

Sleep Apnea disqualifies you from being a bone marrow donor?

Somebody pointed out that having Sleep Apnea disqualifies you from joining/staying in the National Bone Marrow Registry.

Even though they say 80% of marrow donations are done using an apheresis (think plasma or platelet donations)....

The explanation is:

Patient and donor safety is our top priority. Donor guidelines are developed by our Donor and Patient Safety Monitoring Committee. The committee is made up of medical directors from NMDP donor, transplant, apheresis and collection centers, a donor and a patient.

The primary risk associated with sleep apnea is related to marrow collection, which is a surgical procedure. Registry members must be able to donate either marrow or peripheral blood stem cells, depending on the needs of the patient.

Regulating anesthesia is more difficult in patients with breathing. After surgery, marrow donors may require narcotic pain medication, which can further depress breathing. In patients with sleep apnea, even a small amount of anesthetic sedation can cause decreased airflow.

Despite the risk, some registry members express their willingness to assume the risk in order to help a patient. While the NMDP appreciates the courage and compassion that motivates them, it would be unethical for the NMDP to allow donors to do so.

To learn about other way to help patients and their families, visit http://www.marrow.org/HELP/index.html?src=tabinvolved

Of course, the explanation then raises the question of other disorders, such as narcolepsy and/or idiopathic hypersomnia....who also can respond differently to anesthetic or pain meds.

Regarding your questions about narcolepsy or idiopathic hypersomnia disqualifying a donor, it would best be considered on a case-by-case basis to determine the extent to which it affected breathing, and what impact it might have on the ability to donate.

So, there you have it...if you have sleep apnea, they tell you to go away... But, if you have some other condition of similar or greater risk...they'll let you in....because not waking up from anesthetic is okay if you keep breathing?

Though one also wonders if they fully understand what sleep apnea can be?

10/27/11

  06:56:53 pm, by The Dreamer   , 420 words  
Categories: Stuff, Software, Computer, DVDs / NetFlix, Boxee

I closed my Stamps.com account

I decided today is the day to close my Stamps.com account. It was triggered by something unrelated....

I had pretty much decided that it I was going to close my Stamps.com account around mid-year, but I kept thinking that I might need it still and then I kept forgetting to do it (before the automatically monthly charge around the 20th takes place.)

When I called, they noted that I had had my account since 1999....guess that's about right...also the year that I started NetFlix (another thing that I'm starting to wonder about.) For a while before than, I had been paying for a postage meter.... Stamps.com used to be a lot cheaper by the month than the rental of a postage meter, by quite a bit...though sometime ago the edge closed, but there were other advantages to having Stamps.com then. I also lived closer to a post office, and was active selling on half.com and ebay. Though proximity to a post office was important to being a seller....

But, when I upgraded my computer back in December....the end for Stamps.com came up. The Stamps.com-branded labelwriter that I could print single stamps on demand with wasn't supported beyond Windows XP. (wasted a sheet of NetStamps somewhere years ago....printed a whole sheet of first class postage, but only used one....figured I'd use it while computer was packed up for move, etc. But, don't know where it went to.) I may someday buy a new labelwriter (been thinking of a new label maker...though perhaps I'll just buy new labels for my current ones), but to keep my stamps.com account useful wasn't enough of a reason to do it now. But, I'm just about at the point where I'm going to pull the plug on the old computer (TARDIS)...and use the space for something else. Providing it doesn't end itself for me first. I've already replaced a drive in it since 'retiring' it. And, its making drives noises again...

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10/24/11

  07:19:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 450 words  
Categories: Appliances

Finally set up what will likely be the last coffee maker I ever have....

Link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002LAREDS

Near the end of August, I started an experiment to kick caffeine....but not chocolate. :lalala:

To replace coffee, it was either decaf coffee or second+ tea leaves (quick steep and throw first cup out)... For first thing in the morning it was dependent on how many times I had made tea from my current set (or how long they had got left out)....or relying on my coffee maker to automatically brew a pot in the morning.

I was also running low on my good tea from Boca Java...and I'm still getting automatic shipments from Boca Java. And, I had switched my Boca Java shipments to send decaf.

So during the work week, it was mainly decaf in the morning...tea in the evening...and on weekends...tea all day.

But, then it happened...another coffee maker bit the dust...on Monday, September 26th.... After some mourning, I decided to buy a new coffeemaker using Amazon Prime (and one-day shipping) and some Amex points. It arrived September 30th.

I went with a Black & Decker DLX1050B as my last coffee maker.

I still had coffee left when my next auto delivery from Boca Java arrived....this time holiday (halloween) flavors in decaf....and I still hadn't gotten to setting it up.

But, having a moment while making supper, today...I decided it was time to set it up.

As I was setting it up...I decided that this would be the last. Because I now see that Boca Java has tea available, and while there are some good decafs for the occasional consumption, I'm not liking it for regular consumption.... Though for now its easier to have decaf waiting for me when I wake up in the morning, than tea. But, perhaps someday it won't matter which is easier...or something.

Probably a lot of pressure for a Black & Decker coffeemaker....though not surprising, since my original coffee maker...of nearly 16+ years was a Black & Decker SpaceMaker. It could go under cabinet, but I never got around to getting the necessary spacers to make it go under the cabinets of my home in Medicine Hat. And, its simple shape made it work sitting on my counter, with various supplies sitting on top of it. But, the new spacemaker models aren't shaped that way....so when it finally came time to replace it...I had gone with the Mr. Coffee machine for its form, and when that died.... form became less important, so I got the KitchenAid one...and now that its gone, form ceased to be a matter...so I'm back to having a Black & Decker coffeemaker.... for now.... :cool:

Hopefully, Boca Java will come back with my favorite...Green Tea Passion. Though they seem to be doing bagged teas, rather than loose teas.... hmm....

10/08/11

  12:42:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 2750 words  
Categories: General, Healthcare

QHDHP, HSA and Chronic conditions

This month is annual open enrollment at work....time to review plan changes and make selections for January 1st, 2012. This year, premiums have jumped up a lot...particularly for single people. The implication is that for the last few years, they had drifted from the mandate that employer pays 95/55 of the health insurance costs (95% of single, 55% of family). Guess that means they had been paying more than 95% of my cost? Because my BCBS Plan A premium jumped by 44%. Plus every 3 years they renegotiate plans...and this was the year they did that.

Other than the premium jump...which was much greater compared to previous years (which hadn't jumped up as much as I had seen with previous employers). There were only a few changes this year.

The coverage on the 3 plans (A, B, C) have all stayed the same. All plans are PPO, Plan A has a 20% co-insurance rate versus 35% co-insurance rate for Plan B (in-network, all are 50% for out-of-network)...and Plan A has higher co-payments than Plan B...and higher deductible. New next year, is that BCBS will be offering Plan C (QHDHP). Other changes, is that Coventry and PHS have now merged, and United Health Care is now the 3rd provider option (though technically there were 4 provider choices last year, with addition of UMR... a sister company of UHC, but with a smaller network...and Coventry and PHS not yet merged.)

When I first started, they were HMO, PPO, QHDHP plans....and I had gone with PPO, even though all my providers were in network. When I had first moved to the US, I had started on an HMO plan...and it was bad. Like the time I went out of my way to go to what was supposed to be a Quest collection site for labwork, instead of letting my doctor do the labwork on site. And, end up getting fully charged for using an out of network lab, because the site had cancelled its contract with Quest the week before (but I had called Quest the morning of the test...so they shouldn't have misled me)....I complained, they apologized....but I never got the refund they said they would do.

Using Quest was only part of the HMO plan, so switching to PPO was good. Though later things changes to where if the practice where your primary has their own lab, the lab is automatically considered as in-network....so there was further savings, but I stayed with PPO because. Later they brought Quest in for PPO with some providers....I just picked the PPO provider that didn't use Quest.

Anyways....in my current job...Quest had jumped into the plans....though its optional. And, the Quest collection site isn't anywhere that can be reached on foot (and I'm kind of down to just the one foot now)...and the doctors in my area won't participate with Quest. At first it was part of the HMO, later it extended to Plan A & Plan B (since all 3 plans are PPO now). But, its still optional, and the labs that my doctors do use are in-network.

When I started, I went with BCBS....because I hadn't established relationships with local doctors, but BCBS had the larger network...both in state and out of state, and with relatives scattered around the country/world....access to a large out of state network was important. Plus now that I also attend conferences, conventions and such...it is hopefully less of a worry.

But, when they switched from HMO, PPO, QHDHP to the Plan A, B, C naming....I switched to Plan A. Which was at first explained as the HMO plan with PPO features. But, now they just say all 3 are PPO plans....just different cost structures.

I never really considered the QHDHP option...because I never really understood FSA/HSAs in the beginning....wasn't until 2009 that I started using an FSA. And, the steep deductible scared me (still is scary). Though one thing that intrigued me at this job, was that the prescription plan on the QHDHP/Plan C option was different from the HMO/PPO/Plan A&B one. The A&B plan was co-insurance, no deductible...the typical 3 tiers with some extras classes. When I started, it wasn't an issue...since most of the stuff I took was either generic or preferred brand (well, when I first moved to Kansas I was on Prevacid, which wasn't a preferred brand....but primary switched me back down to Prilosec which is generic. Though can't help wonder if my health taking its turn for the worse didn't start when that change was made...and now that Prevacid is available as generic....:hmm:) Anyways...Plan C's prescription plan was co-pays after deductible, which was the kind of prescription coverage I bad before I came here. Not always a good thing though...since $10 co-pay for generic.. where as I have a couple of generics where the 20% co-insurance is less...some generics I've had fill come out to $0.92, $2.02, $3.53, $1.58, $1.39....on the other hand...the co-insurance on branded meds were costing me much more than co-pay....and the worse ones were yet to come.

So, in open enrollment 2008 (for 2009), I decided that it was time to see what all this FSA business was about. I went with a minimal contribution....$300 for the year. Well, I didn't know at the time, that combined with the results of my first 'free' Healthquest screening from work and my annual physical (Well Man Exam) that I'm not supposed to be sleepy all the time, have experience that surge in weight gain during the summer, fall asleep easily during the day, including at least one uncontrolled nap each day.... I just knew that in 2009, co-insurance was change from 10% to 20%, and co-pays were going up.... But, I had my first sleep study in December 2008. I got initial setup that month...so 10% co-insurance versus 20% was a good thing, plus deductible was less, and already met, in 2008 than in 2009.

But, because of the OSA dx, I quickly met my deductible (which had gone from $50 to $150) and spent my entire FSA amount in the first week of 2009.

So, in open enrollment 2009, I decided that I should put more into FSA....but I didn't expect that I would have the same kind of major expenses that I had, so I increased my amount to only $1200. This was even though I had an accident in august of 2009, and it had cost me quite a bit. But, it was the accident that kept on giving....When I got my teeth cleaned in Jan 2010, it was discovered that I had cracked some teeth in the accident....so the $1200 was gone in a couple of months.

Meanwhile...in 2010, I was introduced to Provigil and Lunesta. The co-insurance on Provigil was about $380 a month, and Lunesta was about $112 a month. Plus then I had an accident in November of 2010, and another sleep study in December. What I discovered though was what happens when I hit my co-insurance maximum for 2010. I still have to pay co-pays...but after than everything is covered in full. While reading over the plans on co-insurance maximum, I saw that the prescription plan had a separate co-insurance max of $2850. I wasn't going to reach it in 2010, with the Provigil costs....and Lunesta didn't count towards it (even though they said if you had tried two other prescriptions before it, they would...which I had....they did require my pharmacist to call in to get permission to fill it, even though they would already know that I had been on prescribed 3 different ones before it. Though I guess 2 of them were off-label? Though the PDL only lists one drug for the class, which I had been on, and only generics...they have no preferred brand.) Provigil is also alone, as the preferred brand....though it is quite different than the other types of stimulants (Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, Dex, etc.)

So, in open enrollment 2010, I considered switching to Plan C. They still keep telling everybody that Plan C/QHDHP is only for super healthy people. But, because of the co-pay structure of the prescription plan (after deductible)...I wondered if it might not be the better way to go.... It would take 1.5 months worth of Provigil to meet the deductible..and then I would only have to pay a $30 co-pay. Maybe sooner, depending on what else happened at the start of the year. I didn't know I was going to break my foot in November 2010. What I did find out was that one of my meds was capped at $20 a month (Singulair), where as it would be $30 co-pay with Plan C. The Plan C prescription plan didn't have the specialty tiers for things like diabetes, asthma, anti-cancer.... and it wasn't like I was on Xyrem or something super expensive. Though I had looked, and Xyrem is on the list of specialty meds, so its a $75 co-pay.

But, I had missed the open enrollment presentation (because I had gone to the NN Conference) and I didn't have a lot of answers on why they only consider Plan C for super healthy types....and not somebody like me.

The other problem is that with an FSA I can spend all the money I plan to put into it before the money is actually in it. While with an HSA, the money needs to be there first. They did say the first year is the hardest.... So, running out of time, I quickly locked in my discount status, staying with Plan A & BCBS and other stuff...and went with putting the out-of-pocket maximum of Plan C into my FSA (which is less than the current maximum that I could put into an FSA.) I had skimmed the networks of the other providers...to see if my current doctors were in, and whether they offered any other choices that BCBS didn't....

Well, I spent all my FSA for this year in about 4.5 months...and only because I switched to only submitting the bigger claims after I got my tax refund.... Though this year the the deductible did feel more painful. It had gone from $150 to $300...but I also didn't have the big expenses early in the year...so it was a bunch of little things where I had to pay the full discounted amount... Not sure where I stand on reaching co-insurance max this year for health ($1400)....

Had I still been on Provigil...I would've reached co-insurance max on the prescription plan around July...but as I had been warned at the NN Conference, I would build tolerance to it...and it stopped working in spring time.....where I was then switched to Ritalin.... And, I quickly built tolerance to that....so at the end of August I was switched to Nuvigil....which seems to be working better, and apparently its the other isomer that is in Provigil that we build tolerance to. I briefly tried Provigil again between refills, and it did little for me.

Problem with Nuvigil though is that its the non-preferred brand...so it doesn't count towards my co-insurance max....though I'm about $1000 away, so I probably won't hit it this year....even if I could've gotten the override (having tried Provigil and Ritalin before, should've met the tried two other drugs from the PDL first....also the co-pay coupon from Cephelon apparently doesn't work. Just as the co-pay coupon for Lunesta didn't work. They both say they won't work with plans that are state/federal government funded....so no discount for us poor state employees).

The other change this year is the prescription plan for Plan C has changed...its more like the Plan A&B one, except adjusted to fit the QHDHP. So instead of co-pays after deductible and continuing after out of pocket max is reached. It is just co-insurance after deductible and then 100% when out of pocket max is reached. And, tier 3 drugs count towards the out of pocket max (as do drugs on the anti-cancer tier).... Also with Plan C, there's no co-pays to see doctors....so once out of pocket max it reached....they're covered 100% in full. Didn't seem a huge deal before 2010...because PCP and sleep doctor were in the same medical home, so $25 co-pay for either....the only specialist where I had to pay $45 co-pays were related to physical therapy...and I didn't do that this year (though wonder if maybe it would help my walking issues since broken foot incident....maybe next year if things continue to worsen...)

Given how quickly my FSA went this year, and my current projected expenses (and the changes this year)....it shouldn't be that hard to reach the $1500 deductible or the $3000 out of pocket max in 2012...so it'll be interesting to see what it is like to have things covered 100% in full after that point. Especially since the current co-insurance on Nuvigil + Lunesta x 12 is more than the out of pocket max. I had considered asking about Nuvigil sooner, because paying 60% of it (non-preferred brand)...instead of 35% for preferred brand)....is about half the 35% I pay for Provigil. But, when the Provigil stopped working, doctor wanted to try Ritalin instead first....which did work in the beginning....but it didn't seem to matter to insurance on when I did get to be on Nuvigil. I decided that I would more strongly consider the switch to Plan C.

The fact that BCBS offered it was certainly a big factor, since I had concerns over network last year. And, during an open enrollment presentation..somebody asked why Plan C didn't work even if they hit the out of pocket max in the year (and all the money they put into the HSA)...

for an individual/in-network
Plan A has $300 deductible + $1400 co-insurance max & Rx has $2850 co-insurance max (where tier 3 doesn't count towards it)
Plan B has $150 deductible + $3000 co-insurance max & Rx has $2850 co-insurance max (where tier 3 doesn't count towards it)
Plan C has $1500 deductible -> $3000 out of pocket max & Rx works with the same deductible/out of pocket max (and tier 3 counts).

So sounds like if you know you're going to be out of pocket more than $3000 in a year...plan C is the way to go.

Plus with Plan A & B, the co-pays continue after the co-insurance max is hit. Plan A is $25 (Primary/Urgent Care), $45 (Specialist) and $100 (ER). Plan B is $20 (Primary), $25 (Urgent Care), $40 (Specialist) and $100 (ER)....there's an advantage for families, where co-pay for children is $10 (Primary) or $25 (Specialist)....

In addition to no co-pays with Plan C (versus Plan A)....there are two other differences, the Manipulation Therapy (IE: Chiropractor) is reduced to max of 26 per year (from 30). And the Durable Medical Equipment maximum is lowered to $1000/year (from $5000/year).

Since I just got a new CPAP machine this year, I don't anticipate my DME expenses to be more than $1000...in fact the new machine plus supplies this year shouldn't break the $1000 mark. But, who knows what the future holds.

So, since United Health Care is a new provider this year....I started to think that I should check out its network as to whether to stay with BCBS or not. In the first open enrollment presentation, I didn't stay for the HSA presentation. Because I was at first thinking that I would stay with Plan A, and this time put the $5000 max into FSA....before healthcare reform lowers the max to $2500. But, in the time between the morning presentation and the afternoon one, I started the research on Plan C/HDHP/HSAs, etc. And, decided I wanted to hear the HSA presentation.

Fortunately, they did that one first in the afternoon session.

So, I instead looked at the HSAs associated with the 3 providers....and decided that BCBS would be who I would go with.

The BCBS HSA has a maintenance fee that falls between the other two (close to the low end, where the high end one is significantly higher...and the one for UHC). The interest rate structures differed, but all were insignificant for low balances. The other two, offer maintenance fee elimination with a minimum balance. The lower one waives off at $3000, the higher one waives off at $5000....there's differences in investment options and additional fees. BCBS HSA has a lot less in the additional fees area. And, what investment options it offered seemed ok.

But, given that I'm expecting to hit out-of-pocket max (which is the contribution max for the HSA)....how much the HSA will cost for little or no balance weighed in. Though I will probably build some of my HSA over time...since initial expenses will be before the HSA is sufficiently funded, and I may or may not chose to use HSA funds to meet all my later out of pocket expenses.

On the additional side, I opted to go with $600 for a limited use FSA (Dental and Vision....I have one dental related prescription, and I anticipate the buying a new pair of glasses every year to be a trend that continues indefinitely.) I kept my Vision insurance.

Now to see how 2012 goes....

  09:56:46 am, by The Dreamer   , 1201 words  
Categories: Home, Appliances, Healthcare

I got a new Panasonic Electro Thermo Pot

It was back in November, 2006 that I got my previous Panasonic Electro Thermo Pot. Which compared to previous ones that I've owned, seemed perfect in almost every way. They only minor problem was the it default to 210F208F as the temperature when plugged in, but after its 6 hour off timer it was 185F. For me, I would've preferred it be 185F all the time, and off timing didn't really fit my usage. So, I had plugged it into a timer to be on for a few hours in the morning and then in the evenings. (so it was off for 8 hours during the day, and for 7-9 hours over night....shorter on weekdays than weekends....6 hours might have worked, but remembering to use it ... especially in the morning....not happening...)

As a lined pot, it was likely to last forever....but it does have one thing that wears out....the pump.

About a year ago, it started making a lot more noise and sometimes working harder to get water out....so I started thinking that it would be time to replace it.

Then about 6 weeks ago, I started into my experiment of cutting caffeine out of my diet (strange time, since I had recently stocked up on large amounts of a caffeine, and even still had some orders that hadn't yet arrived.) Jury is still out on whether the change is helping my EDS (Excessive Daytime Sleepiness) problem. The jury is confused in part from the switch from Methylphenidate to Armodafinil as my daytime stimulant (I was on Modafinil before the switch to Methylphenidate)...

Anyways...with the cut of caffeine....it meant no more coffee in the morning (I did get some decaf, but it really is no substitute...and then my coffee maker quit working.... the heating element went, like the previous one.... the old black & decker had lasted forever, but the rubber parts had gotten old and weren't sealing like the used to, and the mineral buildup was getting to a problem.... coffee cleaner helped, but with the bad seals it wasn't a pleasant operation, especially making sure I won't have to taste the cleaner afterwards... I got a new Black & Decker coffee maker, but haven't gotten around to putting it into service yet.) So, I switched to drinking tea....I do have real teas...but had learned from watching Dr. Teas a few years back...that you want to rinse tea leaves and discard as part of getting the tea leaves ready to make tea. And, the rinse benefit is it cuts the caffeine...and of course, the subsequent cups won't have the caffeine.

I hope Boca Java gets back to selling tea....though I should get the coffee maker set up again, before my next membership selection arrives with more decaf (getting some of the seasonal flavored ones later this month). I especially hope they bring back Green Tea Passion back before I run out.

So, not only was I use my thermo pot most every morning to make tea instead of coffee....I found that I was now using it in the evening to make a second, third, fourth cup from the old tea....though more recently I've started experimenting with herbal teas, and sometimes a different one in late evening than earlier in the day. And, the old thermo pot was starting to make its angry noise more and more often.

So, only about a week into my experiment, I pulled the trigger and bought an new one.

My old Panasonic Electro Thermo Pot was an NC-EM22P (2.2 Quart) purchased on November 18th, 2006 from NewEgg.com...don't recall how I thought to get it from there, but I strong suspect iGive was the motivating factor...at various times it offers some kind of ability to search the iGive stores for products...and that was probably a time where it worked. These days searching has become worse....they are all into the fuzzy, and no longer into the exact. And, adding more and more keywords doesn't refine searches.... it just makes it more annoying, because it doesn't seem to care after a point. Could be the downfall for Amazon at some point. IE: if I'm searching for 2TB drives, I don't want 1000 hits where most of the results are for drives smaller than 2TB....and if I really want to see what all 2TB drives there are...I have to go through all the hits...etc.

But, I didn't have this problem with finding what new Panasonic Electro Thermo Pot to get, because I had already found the ones I would likely get and put it in my wishlist. I did a quick search in case a new model had come along, but wading through the rice cookers, breadmakers, slow cookers, coffee makers, etc. that polluted the result set I didn't see anything newer...available with Amazon Prime. So, I ordered the Panasonic NC-EH30PC Electro Thermo Pot on August 28, 2011.

This new one is a 3 quart. Not sure it was the thing I should've gotten...with the increased tea drinking, I was running out of water in the 2.2 quart one faster as well. Though refilling it from my Pur water pitcher was easier....one pitcher would get it back to the max line or close to it. Takes a bit more to get the 3 quart topped back up. There's a 4.1 quart model, which I had also considered. Though it was probably good that I just went with the 3 quart one. More capacity means its bigger...namely taller. The lid opening on the 3 quart barely clears the underside of my kitchen cabinet.

This new Electro Thermo Pot also has some changes from the previous model....it has an extra temperature setting. The old one did 210208, 185 and 140....wait why do I keep saying 210 instead of 208....probably because my very first hot water pot did 210....think that was a Tiger, was a gift I got when moving out of my parents for the second time (and to the US)...spring 1998. Pretty sure the Zojirushi I got to replace it did 208 as well. (according to Quicken, I got the Zojirushi in June of 2002)....the Tiger wasn't a lined, and finally got replaced then it had rusted through....the rust didn't stop me from using it before that point...

Anyways...the new Electro Thermo Pot does 208, 190, 180, 140....and defaults to 190 on power as well as after 6 hours (don't use the 6 hours much, since I still use the timer). The other new thing that threw for at first, was that the temperature setting light flashes if the water in the pot is hotter than that set point, which will be the case after (re)boil.

I had a vague recollection on the different temperatures as being relevant to what kind of tea...but on the previous model, I had found it was mainly 185 that I want for tea than 208. Though with 190 vs 180 now...its not so clear...except that the manual mentions green tea with the 180 setting.

Quick internet search.... suggested is near boiling is for black tea/rooibos, 190 for oolong, 180 for white tea, 160 for green tea, but no recommendation for herbal teas...and to just experiment, but most work in near boiling.... I try to not be so obsessive now...so 190 is probably where it'll stay all the time....and I do have at least one kind of each tea near by. Most from Boca Java....but starting to get other teas now....

08/31/11

  06:16:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 964 words  
Categories: Software, Computer, Storage

Crashplan Evaluation Update

In the continuing evaluation of CrashPlan, I hit a snag last weekend. The servers were down...and everything stopped... not only could I test the online functionality that morning, local backups between my home computers also stopped. And, many of them required me to give the service a kick a time or two, before everything would work again. My laptop, the only computer I'm currently backing up to Crashplan hadn't backed up in nearly 48 hours....kept saying it was offline, but restarting the service finally got it to see that it wasn't. I had to reboot some of my Windows computers due to software upgrades, so I hadn't noticed this problem at first.

Wonder what the availability of the service is...does this thing happen often? Is there a notice somewhere, explanations, etc....or is my Enterprise IT background affecting my expectations?

Then last night I hit a new snag. In redoing the RAID5 on Zen, I went and recreated the old partition as a full 3TB...and its used for Windows Image Backups and Oops!backup. And, the remaining space ~1.1TB got made into a new partition that I set aside just for CrashPlan. Its a bit more than what they offer for their seed option.

I have a lot of media files that I've accumulated over the years...some organized, some not....but duplicated on different systems. And, some of those systems are getting old, and lately...I seem to spend more time/money on backups and maintaining... than replacing or migrating those systems. But, the main problem is the duplication of files among my different home computers.

Now I had originally looked at Crashplan (and other in the cloud solutions) as something to do backups of my laptop data, and not be tied to my home network, etc. And, then grew to being offsite backup for my important media collection, especially all those pictures and videos I've taken over the years (most of my traditional format is lost, water damage...someday I should sort through that)...and everything else as I become more and more digital. IE: when I did the closing on my mortgage....I signed lots and lots of papers for mortgage company, but my copy was just a CD-R. Seemed all the SA people I spoke to, said Crashplan was the one...though when I first raised the idea around the local IT crowd, Carbonite was mentioned. But, Crashplan supports Linux, and that's important...since I'm running a Linux laptop.... though cloud backup and my laptop was original more of an issue when I was thinking of getting a Windows 7 laptop (at the time Windows 7 had changed something that broke smbclient from talking to it, but smbclient has since updated to work again....so I can still do backuppc on my home network....)

So, initially I pointed Zen and 4 other computers to the 1.1TB Crashplan volume. Zen is just backing up my profile directory (default), which is less than what I have Oops!Backup protecting (since not everything crams into the My Documents/My Pictures/My Videos/My Music...and even those that do...aren't organized much and dumping them in with other unorganized data would just make things worse....but I had intended to get everything off of TARDIS onto Zen....though I don't know where I left off, and don't know how to get back.) So, obviously all of TARDIS is one of the other 4 computers. Figure I want lots of backups of that system for when it finally packs it in....plus I'm strongly considering a Mac to replace it. And, it likely won't have the kind of storage (initially) that TARDIS has now. I also pointed Gumby to it, it has a couple external drives...where I know there's duplicate files between them (I treat one drive as archive and the other as active media...and I haven't cleaned up the active drive in some time. And, I still make copies to a couple network shares....one of which is still from TARDIS. (one of the things that didn't make it to Zen, because the DVD media center app doesn't work beyond XP....even though the service part is Java) Someday I'll upgrade to Blu-Ray and retire the old DVD player....

And, then I pointed box to it (because it happened to throw up a SMART warning the other day, and I'm not ready to do anything about it) and a local for my laptop.

Well, last night I was checking the laptop's backup progress....it does take a long time to push out my home directory on the laptop to CrashPlan central. And, saw that the local backup had stopped because the destination was full. Hmmm. Didn't expected it. Thought the service did data deduplication? But, I stopped it. Only I clicked the button next to the destination, rather than the button much lower down on the dialog (which required me to expand the dialog to see it). This resulted in ~1.1TB of data going poof, and all the other computers to lose it as a destination. I only wanted my laptop to stop going to it. So, slowly...Zen, TARDIS, and Gumby are working on backing up to it again.

I then got to wondering that the data deduplication feature I thought Crashplan offered. I found out that its only deduplicating per computer, not per account. That's going to be a problem now....since I'm pretty sure given that my backuppc pool is ~4.1TB (of 5.5TB) right now..that a 1TB seed disk is going to help much...and its even worse since it hardly does any dedup...the kind that I need.

While I would backup less to Crashplan than backuppc, with the duplication of data between different home computers not getting deduped....I could end up needing more than 5.5TB to backup all my home computers to the cloud.

Guess I'm going to have to go back and figure out what I want in cloud backup....

08/23/11

  08:24:32 am, by The Dreamer   , 1100 words  
Categories: Hardware, Software, Computer, Storage

Oops!Backup, Crashplan and RAID5 OCE on Zen

I may have mentioned that I've been trialing Oops!Backup on Zen....the 30-day free trial period ended last week, and a few days before it ended. I went and bought a license. But, not the 20% off that I found an email for after I had gotten the license....wonder if the 120-day guarantee still applies.

Because on Saturday my system crashed....it was acting weird, and the desktop had gotten messed up...figured explorer had crashed on me, and not all my systray icons came back. So, I logged out to log back in. Except instead of the login screen after the black one....I watched the bios boot sequence :??: And, it got stuck. So, I had to powercycle to get it to try again.

Starting to question my decision to go with HP. Especially since they sold me an extended warranty that doesn't apply to the computer that I bought it with... :## At least Dell did good with its extended warranty service....they replaced my Dell monitor that died under the Dell system warranty, even though I bought the monitor after I got the computer + warranty. (The Dell 18" LCD was a step down from the 21" CRT that I had....but it's an LCD!)

Anyways....things eventually came back up and everything seemed fine....until the hour, Oops!Backup failed with "Oops!Backup encountered an error while versioning your files. Please try backing up again. (4043)". So, I tried it again. And, again.... I think the software needs some kind of self-repair?

It continued to not work for a while, so I tried looking online for an easy fix....found nothing. So, I fired off an email to support. Didn't really expect much, given that it was Saturday night. But, got an email on Sunday to download and run a tool to collect logs and send them the result. Almost the size of a typical explorer :>>

But, then I didn't hear anything until Tuesday morning. The explanation is that a particular metadata XML file has been corrupted or tampered with for some reason.

First I'm to make sure that I didn't tamper with it, and that I'm not continuing to tamper with it.... umm, sure blame me.

So, I'm to delete it, exclude it, backup, re-include, backup....and then what?

A backup takes a really long time....a lot of stuff has changed since Saturday night. Current attempt has been running for over 30 minutes....though the backup destination is busy with other things as well (more later).

No joy. :`(

It had said the metadata XML file that was corrupt was the one for the _gsdata_ under Documents. Digging around, I eventually found where the error logs are kept...and see that its now complaining about _gsdata_ under Pictures. Wonder if its more that there's a race every hour when GoodSync is running and sync'ng my Documents/Pictures/Music/Videos folders or it was just the crash that killed it. Or, if there's any need to have _gsdata_ backed up by Oops!Backup

17.17GB of changes with both _gsdata_'s excluded.... Another 70.75MB after including them back. Guess we'll see in 37 minutes if its all fine again.... U-(

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Now instead of subjecting some poor random forum to a long rambling thought, I will try to consolidate those things into this blog where they can be more easily ignored profess to be collected thoughts from my mind.

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