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09/16/10

  08:04:17 am, by The Dreamer   , 565 words  
Categories: General, Amateur Radio

iGive: Now supporting Sunflower CASA

Since I discovered the Causes application in Facebook, I've been doing the bulk of my regular monthly charity donations using it. Where each month a different cause. The list of 10-11 charities that I support using the app has varied over time. December is the exception, because I donate to a number of special causes through more direct (such as EFF, ASAA, Narcolepsy Network) And, there are also others that I support over the year, either through planned regular or other special one time (such as a monthly donation to Amnesty International, the quarterly to PlanUSA for my sponsored child [in Nepal], Shay's walk for March of Dimes, recently Toby's ride for MS).

But, before there was facebook and the Causes application, there was iGive.com. Originally, I had been invited to join the service by a friend with MS to support an organization that provides assistance to people with MS. iGive is like other online shopping sites that give percentage 'discount' on purchases...before iGive, I was using Stockback...where the percentage was invested in the S&P500. I even got the card, but shortly after that the bank became Chase and the program switched to another card provider (the program also went away and then came back...I didn't though). There are others that are more direct about cash back, etc. But, iGive is the one I stick with. Meanwhile, I now donate to MS related causes in a more direct way (even though it appears that some years I do quite a lot of online shopping through iGive.com, that results in much larger donations than I would make going the direct route).

I made the first switch while I was living in Columbus, Ohio....I switched my supported cause to "Adventures for Wish Kids" (now known as "A Kid Again"). And, then when I moved to Manhattan, KS...I looked for a more local like cause to support using iGive. iGive allows you to add causes to support if they don't already have it listed, so I created a listing for Make a Wish Kansas. Apparently over the my time here so far, I've raised over $300 through shopping for them (possibly more and all, because Amazon.com iGive purchases are reported anonymously...and I do a significant portion of my online shopping using Amazon.com now, due to Prime.) However, iGive does require that the charity be contactable before they'll release the funds to them, etc. And, apparently they have been ignoring emails for some time. So, the pending checks haven't been sent.

Now back to Facebook...the causes application seems to be ending its run. (Guess I'll have to find some other way to donate soon, apparently its not a sustainable Internet resource... [they aren't getting rich off of it] and, probably the fact that the causes application prompts for [and requires you to make an election, not assume a default of none...] for adding a percentage TIP to the application for you donating to your favorite causes.... this is one case where I never TIP).

So, to support Sunflower CASA by doing more than just play net control for the annual CASA Bike challenge, my September cause is/was Sunflower CASA. But, word is that they will be shutting down their Causes application page at the end of this September. So, I made my one last donation yesterday using the Causes application, and switched iGive to (try to) support this cause now. :lalala:

09/14/10

  11:51:46 am, by The Dreamer   , 687 words  
Categories: Wireless/iPhone, Travel, VoIP, Networking, AT&T DSL

My Broadvoice Outage

Yesterday, I was at home....staycation....when I heard my cellphone ring, and while it was ringing I heard a text message come in. But my home phone, which I was sitting next to, remained quiet.

I have my Broadvoice VoIP service set to simulring my cellphone, so that I'll have the option of answering calls to my home number when I'm not at home. But, name display doesn't carry to the cellphone, so I also have call notification send an SMS with that information. Actually, its more interesting in that I have the SMS go to my iPhone, and the simulring is of my regular cell phone (during a work day, the iPhone is usually dead around 5pm...but I need to be available 24x7). The future of having a smartphone is up in the air, but I'm considering an IPX7 phone to replace my current regular cellphone....

Anyways....I didn't recognize the number (and there was no name for it), so I ignored the call...and it didn't leave me a voicemail. I then picked up my home phone...and got fast busy. Hmmm, wonder when it stopped working?

I tried the usual troubleshooting, reboot ATA, reboot router, modem, disconnect/reconnect, switch from using DSL to Cox, etc. No dice. Checked my account portal, no service outages reported. Tried emailing support to make sure. But, got no response (until after I had resolved the issue on my own).

I'm using BYOD service....when I had originally signed up, I had a D-Link DPH-540...but it wouldn't switch between work wireless and home wireless...at all. No WiFi between home and work, so no expectation of that kind of roaming. But, it didn't just work when I went between the two networks. And, there were other issues.

Since I neglected to get either of the ATAs from my previous VoIP providers unlocked (ATA-186 from Vonage and something else from Lingo.) I went looking for an unlocked ATA on eBay. I originally got a Linksys PAP2, but what I really wanted was the Sipura SPA-3000.... Anyways, I initially set up the Broadvoice service on the Linksys PAP2 and all was good then.

Later I scored a Sipura SPA-3000, and switched to that. The Sipura SPA-3000 has the capability of using a landline either via dial code, as a gateway to VoIP or as backup. The latter two reasons were why I got it. In the event of an Internet outage (or power outage), I wanted to still have phone service...and I was paying an arm and a leg for landline service, but not using it for any other reason...except that naked DSL wasn't available when I moved here. And, I wanted DSL.

I had toyed with the gateway option....being able to call from work, and then relay out to VoIP, in case the urge to call my parents or something when I'm working late ever strikes. It never did, though I've played around with options over the years. I had tried Skype, Fring, Packet8 services....but never actually made the real call.

Anyways..the Sipura SPA-3000 worked well the few times that having it fall back to landline was needed....

Though later, I did switch to naked DSL. So, no more fallback. But, I left the SPA-3000 in place, unchanged...because it was working....

Well, this morning I got up....and I still have no phone service. So, I decided that it might be time to dig out the 'old' Linksys PAP2 and see if that would work.

I did. Didn't even have to remember how to get to the admin interface...forgot that it has a user and an admin, and that default URL is for the user interface. So trying to login as admin wouldn't work. I knew what admin password I had set on it, but I couldn't remember what the user password was (once I realized that was what it was prompting for). Anyways...plugged it in, and it just started working immediately.

Later I verified that all the settings were still right.

Now I'll be able to make (and receive?) phonecalls from my home phone... :cool:

Wonder if I need to shop around for another backup ATA. :hmm:

09/12/10

  01:07:11 pm, by The Dreamer   , 939 words  
Categories: General

Finally rolled my retirement to new job

Well, back at the end of June, nearing my 4th year with Kansas State University, I decided it was time that I rollover my old retirement funds to TIAA-CREF with my new retirement funds.

I don't remember it being quite the hassle before, or there being fees ($75). But, I guess that's what I get for doing an Rollover IRA with TD Ameritrade.

I vaguely recall my first rollover, when I started working in the US it was a contract to hire situation, where while I was contract I was an employee of another company...and my benefits where from that company. When I finally became a full time employee, benefits switched over. So, having a whole lot in my first/old 401k, I rolled it over. It was a hassle, because they didn't direct rollover...but cut me a distribution check, etc. But, I was able to straighten in it out and the whole of my first 401k joined with my second 401k.

Move forward to spring 2006....have been laid off a few months from my now previous job. And, I'm watching share counts within my 401k drop faster than they did when I was an employee. Not share value, but fractional shares going away with no explanation on the statements. Guess that means they don't want me to stay with them....gotta find me somewhere else to put my 401k.

Since I had two online brokerage accounts, E*Trade and HarrisDirect. Except that E*Trade then acquired HarrisDirect, so I then got TD Waterhouse (which then became TD Ameritrade). Now the only reason I had E*Trade, was because it was a requirement to participate in my previous employer's ESPP. OTOH, it was HarrisDirect that I was able to get to handle my ESOP. After I was laid off, I had a limited time to exercise my remaining ESOP....so I got TD Waterhouse handle that.

Being happy with TD Waterhouse, and mixed about E*Trade....I decided that I would consolidate to TD Waterhouse/Ameritrade.

So, with that move...I decided that I would park my 401k in a Rollover IRA at TD Ameritrade. I picked a few funds, applied a pie chart and tweaked the purchases to whole shares and minimal cash left over. I couldn't go 100% into funds...unlike 401k/403b/etc. plans. $45,826.33.

At Kansas State University, they have a mandatory pension plan....where after 1 year of service, you are forced to contribute 5.5% of your salary to one of the two available providers (ING & TIAA-CREF)....I went with TIAA-CREF. For my 5.5% mandatory contribution, I get a match of 8.5%.

I had intended that this would the when I would also seek to rollover my rollover IRA to TIAA-CREF. But, I kept putting it off....

Finally, back in early July, looking over the mid year statements...I decided that I should see about making it happen. I checked with TD Ameritrade, and found that for transfer out to external for my IRA...I needed to initiate the transfer with the external. So, I checked with TIAA-CREF, and opted to schedule a meeting to review my investments and do the paperwork on doing the rollover.

I was interested to know that most of the recommended funds were already the ones I had, though the mandatory plan has fewer choices than the voluntary plan. Where the latter is where my additional contributions to retirement would go above the mandatory 5.5% (+8.5%). Some of the recommendations were the same, others were different. I opted to go with the recommendations (with minor tweaks, due to fund restrictions) for both plans. And, then it was wait for my funds in the TD Ameritrade Rollover IRA to move.

I watched and I watched, but nothing was happening. Eventually I got letters from TIAA-CREF saying they were being ignored. Eventually I contacted TD Ameritrade to ask what's up. And, they responded that they don't accept external requests so they were ignoring TIAA-CREF and they weren't going to tell me. :??:

But, they did at least tell me what I needed to do to make it happen. It was liquidate my holdings and then instruct them to make the transfer. So, I sold everything in my Rollover IRA...resulting in $40,008.06. And, then asked them to do the transfer. In the response they wrote that they are sending a reject letter to TIAA-CREFs request, and doing the requested transfer by check draft.

Later the account disappeared online, and Quicken couldn't deal with that....had to remove and readd.

And, then I got notification that a check for $39,933.06 was being drawn up :hmm: and later that it had been sent by First Class Mail. So, they hit me with a $75 fee somewhere.... :**:

I had considered giving up on this whole process, but when I learned it was TD Ameritrade that was giving me the run around in this process...it made me more certain that I needed to complete it. Wonder what I'm going to do with my brokerage account now?

I guess I kind of expected that I would get a notice or something from TIAA-CREF when they got receipt of my money...but was online checking my various accounts (this month's statement for my Commerce Bank account had landed, and I realized that I hadn't hit all the other sites to get my recent statements....) When I got on to TIAA-CREF, I saw that my balance was high, which suggested that the voluntary part had funds now. Found that it happened on September 7th, already have a dividend for one of the funds on the 8th....

Got a paper statement from TD Ameritrade the other day too...since online access went away once they closed it. Nothing on it about the missing $75. Last entry is the Delivered Transaction of $40,007.78.

Oh well....

09/09/10

  11:30:11 am, by The Dreamer   , 294 words  
Categories: Healthcare

I have seasonal allergies

I've known that ever since I moved to the US/midwest. Though I don't know if I would see myself moving back to Canada/southern Alberta in the near future....

But, I have always been curious as to just what I'm allergic to. Though I've never had an allergy test, the doc just prescribed some stuff...Zyrtec and Rhinocort. And, that made things tolerable.

Though Rhinocort was expensive, tier 3...high copay. So, I wasn't refilling it as often as I should. And, I was getting my Zyrtec from Canada....since it was available OTC & generic (Cetirizine) long before it was the case in the US.

Healthcare costs might be a compelling reason to move back some day. :hmm:

Then I was out of work, and then new job has different insurance (and co-insurance instead of co-pay)....plus allergies seemed different here than there. But, I stayed with Zyrtec...but hadn't pursued getting a new prescription. Plus Zyrtec is now available OTC and generic...and isn't covered by insurance anymore. Insurance won't pay for other allergy choices either....consider it a lifestyle medication.

I did Flonase for a while here there...and the newer brand version from the same company (forget the name, just recall that it was tier 3...so high co-insurance)...though more because of my breathing/OSA issues.

Anyways....now I'm seeing a specialist for sleep stuff....and he had me do an allergy test. Was surprised that it was just a blood test.

Later I got a phone call, saying yes I'm allergic to a bunch of seasonal things....take Zyrtec and Singulair.

Though I didn't get a summary letter, since I was curious as just what exactly.... So, toady I asked for a copy of the results.

For "Allergens, Zone 11": I'm allergic to Kentucky Bluegrass, Johnson Grass, Alternaria tenuis, White Oak, and Wormwood/Sagebrush.

Yay? |-|

09/06/10

  07:41:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 5 words  
Categories: DVDs / NetFlix

DVD: Kick-Ass

09/05/10

  12:06:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 493 words  
Categories: Software, Computer, Networking, Cox HSI, AT&T DSL, Broadband

doing the transparent proxy thing

In the morning, I will open like 50 tabs in firefox...for the sites I check out every morning. And, going through my caching proxy helps. But, there are things that I can't get to using the proxy, so I will toggle off the use of proxy in firefox.

But, then I don't remember to switch it back on later....

Additionally, there are devices on my home network that I think could benefit from going through squid, but they don't offer easy ways to make that go.

So, the answer was to investigate transparent proxy. Which I finally got around to doing this weekend.

I added two new ports to my squid.conf

http_port coxtport transparent
http_port dsltport transparent

went with new ports for transparent separate from the existing ones, and two so that one squid cache handling either gateway....

I did a lot of googling around to figure out the iptables to add to my Sveasoft Alchemy running WRT54GS routers.

This is what I've settled on (for cox gateway):

iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -i br0 -s ! box.lhaven.homeip.net -p tcp --dport 80 -j DNAT \
     --to box.lhaven.homeip.net:coxtport
iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o br0 -s lhaven.homeip.net/24 -d box.lhaven.homeip.net -j SNAT \
     --to coxgateway
iptables -A FORWARD -s lhaven.homeip.net/24 -d box.lhaven.homeip.net -i br0 -o br0 -m state \
     --state NEW,ESTABLISHED,RELATED -p tcp --dport coxtport -j ACCEPT
iptables -A FORWARD -d lhaven.homeip.net/24 -s box.lhaven.homeip.net -i br0 -o br0 -m state \
     --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -p tcp --sport coxtport -j ACCEPT

Full story »

09/01/10

  08:37:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 419 words  
Categories: General, TiVo HD / Premiere / Elite, Storage

TiVo HD 2 will be blank soon....

...I am now doing the process of removing the old 500GB My DVR Expander from it, which'll surely leave it blank. And, then it'll be the process of bonding it with the new 1TB My DVR AV Expander.

There was some thought on when I was going to do these upgrades....I hadn't worked it all out though, in the beginning. At first it was going to involve me getting the additional 1TB My DVR AV Expanders in separate Amazon Prime transactions. The gist was one to arrive today, and the other to arrive in a couple weeks when I'm taking the whole day off because I have a doctor's appointment in the afternoon.

But, as I was looking at the cart and the timing of things...I decided to just go ahead and get both at the same time. There's a risk that later I might not find a suitable time, though the bulk of the fall season premiere rush isn't starting until later this month.

I considered doing one this morning before heading into work...though its a lengthy process and I not really a good point in the whole thing to leave for work during. So, I deferred to after work. I wasn't sure what evening shows would need to be scheduled around, and what unwatched content I would need to tackle first. Though I considered staying a little late, so that I wouldn't have time this evening before I had to go out again. But, I opted to rush home instead so that I could do one machine (didn't check the ToDo list on TiVo HD 1, just intended to get it done before I had to go out again...which if there were scheduled recordings, it would be done before that. And, because there wasn't anything on the ToDo list for today for TiVo HD 2....I'm doing it now (that I've returned for the night).

I wasn't sure leaving it to Thursday night would work (non-TV things plus there are shows in the ToDo list for Thursday), and fairly certain that Friday night wouldn't work. So, at first I figured if not tonight it might be the weekend before I get to it. Of course, then I remembered that the first Wildcat game is this Saturday....a big thing. And, it would be on TV somewhere...so I'd want to be watching it somewhere (though likely through the TiVo Premiere...but I would be distracted from doing upgrades).

Anyways...it would've gotten done at some point. But, instead it got done tonight. :wave:

  06:48:16 pm, by The Dreamer   , 277 words  
Categories: TiVo HD / Premiere / Elite, Storage

TiVo HD 1 is blank....

...there's supposed to be like 100 hours of HD programming on it, but that's what happens when I try to add 500GB of storage to it.

I finally upgraded the external storage from 500GB to 1TB.

I remember thinking about doing this last summer, except there was were a few shows that I hadn't gotten around to watching...and there wasn't time until the start of the fall season to get to them. As it happens a couple of them were still on my TiVo HD....

But, having gotten the new TiVo Premiere and putting a 1TB My DVR Expander AV on it. I found myself thinking about whether I would do this upgrade this summer.

There was tons more shows on both my TiVo HDs, but I had spent almost a week downloading all the older shows, that someday I should get to, using TiVo Desktop...(and some transferred to the TiVo Premiere). Thinking that there then would be a time that I could afford to lose everything on the TiVo HD to have the 500GB external storage exchanged for a 1TB....

And, after the 500GB came off, the TiVo HD was empty. But, now I got the 1TB on to it....so now I have capacity for up to 165 hours of HD (from stock 21). That should help avoid the crunch I ran into last winter...when I did have shows disappear from my TiVo because I had filled it up sufficiently for that.

I peeked at TiVo HD 2, and there's one show that is new since all the transfers....should be quick enough to watch it. Nothing in the ToDo list for today...so I might tackle it later this evening....

:wave:

  10:25:38 am, by The Dreamer   , 616 words  
Categories: Home, Appliances, Safety & Security, Healthcare

Surround Air XJ-3800 Intelli-Pro Spare Filter

Link: http://www.amazon.com/o/asin/B000K3GK4M/00--20/

Soon after owning the Surround Air XJ-3800, I found I didn't like it and had plans to eventually replace it with something else.

That's because it uses a metal grid that require periodic cleaning, and that cleaning requires significant dis-assembly, cleaning, thorough drying and a difficult reassembly process. It is the difficulty in reassembly that reminds me each time that I hate it. >:-(

Well, as I blogged here, "I bought another air cleaner", I did. &#59;D

But, it was still a working air purifier...so I couldn't just toss it (plus there are others sitting around not yet tossed out). So, I moved it to another spot where I someday would like to have an air purifier...but can't yet afford the specific want that I want for that location. Figured I'd at least use it until such time that it needed a consumable replaced.... plus the location is by the entrance. :P

Well, last month it finally started flashing replace filter. So, it seemed that the end was near for it. Some time later it started flashing the clean metal grid. Seems that the end should be even sooner now.

Though I did recently pick up a few cans of Oreck AirCell cleaner, which is what I use to help clean the metal grid of the Surround Air XJ-3800. And, I think I would miss having an air purifier at this location now...but it is still far off in the future that I would actually get the desired air purifier....especially since new air purifier is >10x more expensive that a new filter for the XJ-3800.

And, I was on amazon.com recently looking to buy a bunch of things...to shoot for what will hopefully be the last time I need to get a shot on Wednesday before work (have an appointment next week, that might decide that there'll be another 3 months or something)... and I felt that there was one more item that I toss into my cart for Prime Delivery. Actually, after I had placed the order, I remembered that there was something else that I had been thinking of getting....and while getting that, I threw in the filter.

That one extra item was a CFL Bug Light. Starting to get dark again...and been wanting to get a bug light for some time, though I'm sure it'll be many years before the CFL that I currently have outside burns out. OTOH, it was part of the first order to replace the CFL in the kitchen. Of course, that CFL has been in service longer than the 4+ years that I've been living here. It was among the ones that I had brought with me from Dublin, OH. Occurs to me that I should've gotten more...there's one bedroom that I still haven't switched from incandescent to CFL. And, the one in my bedroom is starting to show its age. All my inside CFLs are full spectrum.

Anyways...this part of the Amazon.com/Prime shipment arrived one day early....so this morning before going to the doctor's office...I took the Surround Air XJ-3800 apart for cleaning and the replacement of its filter. Now back...I struggled for a while to get the silly grid to go back on to its frame, and then went to install new filter.

It wasn't coming out of the plastic easily for some reason...then I noticed that there's a chunk missing from the gasket and the bag is stuck to the spot of exposed adhesive....hopefully it'll still be sufficient. But, after this...it'll probably be the definite end for this air purifier (whether I have a new one lined up by then or not...) )-o

Wonder how to tell if the UV bulb in it is still working and effective? :?:

08/29/10

  09:02:47 pm, by The Dreamer   , 5 words  
Categories: DVDs / NetFlix

DVD: Avatar

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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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