Categories: "Home" or "Appliances" or "Broadband" or "AT&T DSL" or "Cox HSI" or "RoadRunner" or "Furnishings" or "Healthcare" or "Outdoor" or "Safety & Security"

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03/17/13

  03:10:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 1773 words  
Categories: General, Computer, Home, Windows, FreeBSD, VirtualBox, Quicken/TurboTax

Did my taxes for 2012

Like I do every year, I bought TurboTax Premier Federal + E-File + State 2012 as a PC Download from Amazon.com back on Jan 18th, in part due to sale email from TurboTax. But, probably should've waited, because its cheaper now. Not sure why PC download is so similar in price to buying PC/Mac package. And, wasn't sure if I would still be on a PC.

In fact, I haven't had a physical Windows machine for almost 10 months now. Last year I did my taxes in a Windows XP VirtualBox VM on orac, since I had evolved to running Quicken in different XP VirtualBox VMs and using Dropbox to house my Quicken datafile. My first XP VM was on my laptop....and I spent part of Gallifrey One 2011 getting Quicken up and running in that VM and recovering my Quicken data. Where it seemed the best place to put the file was in my Dropbox. Have since adjusted things to make that work better to mostly cope with the locking issues between Quicken and Dropbox. I set up the one on orac which is where I did 'Windows' for about 9 months, and still use on occasion due to the lack of USB 2.0 support for VirtualBox on FreeBSD.

Though on zen, I have a Windows 7 VM (and still own another Windows 7 copy that I don't know where I'm going to put to use, just as I have a couple copies of XP still...been planning to put the 64-bit XP one into a VM on zen...but it hasn't happened yet.) Perhaps when I finally do get my Mac, I'll use some copies there.

Anyways...I would fire up TurboTax now and then, to see it get updates. Always thought it strange that after it said it was done that it would say that it was restarting TurboTax, but not. So, I never did more than see what updates it was getting.

But, I had intended to start my taxes last weekend...where DST began, though that turned out to be a bit of a weird weekend so I didn't get to it. I had actually intended the weekend before DST, but that also didn't pan out. But, seems tradition has been 2nd or 3rd weekend of March lately.... It is also for some reason the weekend that they always bring down HRIS for upgrades. As it happened this year, I did want to go on there and check something....

So, Friday night at 10pm I fired up TurboTax to see what updates, there were a lot. Been kind of unsettling lately...especially after the IRS Notice I got last year, which I dealt with using the services of Tax Resources...but it might have been a variation of a TurboTax bugs -- "Federal 2010: Customers with certain 1099-R retirement distribution codes" or "Federal 2010: Qualified Pension Conversion and Rollover" -- so I probably should've gotten TurboTax to take the heat for it.

Of course, TurboTax has had other issues in the past, and yet I stay with it year after year....

Full story »

02/08/13

  04:42:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 307 words  
Categories: General, Healthcare

The result of my latest Eye Exam

So, since my Narcolepsy Diagnosis, I've been having vision problems...since September. I suspected that some of it was due to my medication, and I did find that I was right...but learned from Facebook before the NN Conference in October that what I was experiencing was more associated as a side effect of my stimulant than the other. I might be starting too strong with it in the morning.

Making a change on that front, brought about an almost immediate improvement....and while at the conference, I learned of another thing to adjust and that also made for a pretty quick improvement.

However, I still felt that my prescription had changed...but didn't feel like I could get an eye exam and new glasses done in time for LISA, so I put it off....except I guess I put it off too long...because I finally got the eye exam today....but, I'm off to Gallifrey One next week. Not enough time to get a new pair of glasses. Manhattan, KS needs an 1 hour place....though do they do computer progressives in an hour? No, I need my own time machine.

So, here's the updated progression...

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
2013: OD -4.50 -0.75 040 +1.50 OS -6.75 -0.75 010 +1.50

With the updated equipment at there...they could show me very quickly what my vision is like with old prescription and new prescription, and how things compare with and without the reading power.

The large improvement in my right eye, seems to have contributed to generally poor vision distance and computer.

How will I survive now through Gallifrey One ??? We shall see...perhaps :roll:

Wonder if this will be the year to finally get prescription sunglasses, hopefully I won't be buying 3 pairs of eyeglasses in one year...to only have one good pair still. Though the big change also means I don't have any spares....

01/06/13

  04:28:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 401 words  
Categories: Home, Safety & Security

Better Late than Dead?

On account that I was out of town over Christmas this year, I delayed the annual Christmas present to my home.... The gift of new smoke detector batteries.

I decided that I would do it New Year's day instead. But, when I went to replace the smoke detector batteries, I discovered that I had neglected to purchase a 4 pack. So, eventually I remembered to order a 4 pack via Amazon.com...evidently the same item that I had ordered previously....but in mid-November before last Christmas....

So, I finally got around to doing it today....and I hadn't done a full test of my home security system in a few months, and since the siren detector will always alert the monitoring company unless I'm doing a sensor test. It seemed like a good time to test things. Might be the only activity some of the less active locations get, to make sure they're working.

It was hard to test the motion detectors, since my main keypad is seen by both detectors and the test requires that the detector 'clear' before seeing the new motion event and recording the test success. And, the detectors don't have any visual indication normally that they've seen anything. The activity light is only active a short while for initial configuration. I actually prefer the sensor this way....not like other people's systems where its always active, so you get tempted to see if there's a way to get past it and not be seen by it :>>

A second keypad is on my wish list....though not entire sure where I would put it for the most benefit but not get in my way. The handset version might be better, except that I already have enough trouble misplacing other things around my home...I wouldn't want to be misplacing this.

Later I also decided that I should replace the batteries in my CO detector and test it...just to complete things.

Always interesting that it has a peak reading...though not ever high enough to have gone off. But, every time that I've looked at it...its always read 0. Wonder when there is CO?

Full story »

12/21/12

  04:08:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 983 words  
Categories: Digital Photography, Software, Travel, Home, Windows, VirtualBox, Quicken/TurboTax

Quicken 2012 Premier One Step Update started failing....

Earlier this month my Quicken 2012 Premier stopped being able to get updates from Discover, Target, Commerce Bank and my Credit Union. But, only on one computer. I run Quicken 2012 Premier in a VM (since I no longer have any native Windows hardware around), and I have my quicken data file in Dropbox so that I can keep my records up to date whether I'm at home or on the road.

This actually came about when zen died, I needed to get my records updated and keep them updated (and later be able to do my taxes...as things dragged out.)

So, I had reinstalled Quicken 2012 Premier into the Windows XP VM on my laptop, since zen died a couple days before I went to Gallifrey One...and I did the Quicken recovery while I was at Gallifrey one.

Later when I was home, I repeated the process into my Windows XP VM on orac. Orac became my main home computer while zen was out of commission. But, eventually I got zen going again, and it was time to set up a new Windows VM on there. Not being able to locate the other copy of my WXP SP3 OEM image (that I got just before they stopped selling them)... though later I found I have a Windows XP - 64-bit OEM CD. Wonder what was I thinking? Anyways...I had bought a Windows 7 Professional Full, during the attempt to revive zen as Windows 7 Professional. (I should finish that post someday...) And, I intend to rebuild old zen into the Windows 7 VM on new zen, but that's been dragging.... But, I did get Quicken 2012 Premier installed and moved to mainly working from there. Though I still have the option now to do Quicken updates when I travel (rather than try to keep notes on what I've spent, etc. and then forget or lose notes by the time I get home)

Which reminds me....I didn't update everything after last trip....hmmm, darn...I have less cash than I thought I did, hopefully it'll be enough to cover incidentals during my next trip....

Anyways the recent problem seemed timed with my return from LISA '12, the Sunday following...updates for 4 of my accounts stopped working. Though now it seems that KB2761465 released on December 11th (during LISA...so it had applied before I finally got around to using Quicken....I initially started it up to let Eye-Fi do its stuff....except I keep forgetting to unpack my digital cameras -- guess I can do that now. :yes: ) Though when I'll get to posting pictures online again...who knows. That part of zen rebuild hasn't happened yet, though I should work on getting the data replication working again at least....

But, the error with Quicken kept pointing to something wrong on my end, like check the time (nope...and NTP is using 4 servers...which in a poster session is the minimum in an unreliable environment for reliable time keeping. And, I do see that 1 of the 4 servers has gone away...) Or if I'm on XP, check if root certificate update is installed. Well, it works on XP....not on 7.

Kind of annoying having to go to XP on Orac to do One Step Updates....etc. So after a week, I decided that the problem wasn't going to fix itself and Quicken was still pointing to my connection as being the problem. But, 7 other accounts were updating fine....though it was also going much more slowly...

I had been seeing complaints about slowness recently online....though the hits for connection errors were old and/or unhelpful.

So, since the world didn't end today...I decided that it was time to investigate more in depth....

I eventually did notice in Windows Event Log, Schannel errors - Event ID 36888 that seemed to coincide with failed attempts. Which didn't yield much in helpful hits online...at first.

But, this seemed to indicate some kind of SSL connection problem with Quicken...so I compared the security settings of IE9 on Windows 7 and IE8 on Windows XP. There were some differences...like though more in that IE9 has more security options like TLS 1.1 and TLS 1.2 (though it had TLS 1.0 unchecked...so I checked TLS 1.0 ... its was checked on XP and it was the only TLS option. Both SSL 2.0 and 3.0 were checked on XP, but I didn't feel that was necessary...though I tried it at one point.) That didn't help.

But, eventually, I saw that the Event 36888, Schannel was giving a fatal alert 43...which I then found to mean TLS1_ALERT_UNSUPPORTED_CERT. So, I did a packet capture to see where it was connecting to and tried connecting there myself. Well, those sites worked...though I was trying them in Chromium on FreeBSD. And, they also worked in Chrome on Windows 7. But, finally when I tried in IE9, they didn't work. The troubleshooter was no help. But, it was in IE9 that I confirmed that I could get to sites that had the same issuer cert for an intuit/quicken domain. So, there was something specific to the sites.

Finally, I decided to connect to the problem site using openssl to see what its sending during the negotiation. Hmm, its doing TLSv1. Well, I turned on TLS 1.0, wonder if TLS 1.1/1.2 being on causes problems. During my search, I had read somewhere that TLS 1.2 enabled would prevent SSL 2.0 from happening...enabled or not. Wonder if it also prevents TLS 1.0?

Answer...YES....TLS1.2 is causing problems.

Unchecking it (so SSL 3.0, TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 are the only ones checked). Fixed all my connection problems. I did updates of the accounts individually first (my credit union, then Discover, then Target, though Target failed with a different error because I had tried disabling and the reconfiguring Discover and Target...and Quicken hadn't relearned all the extra security passwords needed yet.

Then, I tried updating all the accounts at once...at first it seemed that it was going to go slowly still. But, once it updated one of the problem accounts, it suddenly started them in bunches and in a blink it was done.

:cool:

12/08/12

  04:13:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 429 words  
Categories: General, Software, Home, VirtualBox, Quicken/TurboTax

TD Ameritrade, IRS, Turbo Tax and Audit Protection

In what turned into the continuing saga of Finally rolled my retirement to new job... I get notice from IRS that I owned them taxes for my IRA rollover plus interest and that unless I provide document to the contrary, I was to send them payment or arrange a payment plan....

At first I wondered what the heck was up... and why would TD Ameritrade report to the IRS differently than what they had reported to me, and that I had filed in my return. TD Ameritrade reported the distribution from my Rollover IRA, but not that it went to a qualified retirement account. And, reviewing my Turbo Tax data, no other documentation was needed for to document such. And, checking with TIAA-CREF, they said no tax form was needed from them and that they had nothing to issue for it.

I then struggled with how I would file an appeal, when I remembered that I get the Audit Protection service every year I've been filing with Turbo Tax. So, I open up a case with the Audit Protection company (Tax Resources). They then ask me to send some forms giving them permission to access my return data with the IRS, along with the TurboTax data file, and granting them power to represent me on this matter. Plus copies of the forms I had gotten from TD Ameritrade. Later they ask if there's some kind of confirmation letter when TIAA-CREF received the rollover, which TIAA-CREF was able to send me a new copy to forward on.

After many months....I get a call that the matter has been resolved and that I'll get an official letter from the IRS in a couple of weeks. But, we're done and hopefully we'll never have to talk to each other again. &#59;D

Pages: 1· 2

  03:52:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 515 words  
Categories: Home, Safety & Security, Healthcare

Home Security

After years and years, of saying that I'm going to do it....I finally did it....I got a home security system.

Last couple of years, my HH had been getting particularly disturbing....I thought about doing it then, at least I got my locks rekeyed, which helped on the anxiety level after any particularly disturbing HH.

I had kind of registered the idea that I would definitely get a home security system if I should get a Narcolepsy diagnosis and open me to its particular treatment option.

Well, I got the Cataplexy Dx on May 15th, and the Narcolepsy Dx on July 12th. And, eventually I was to start treatment....July 26th.

After the Cataplexy Dx, I ramped up my intent to get a system. I noticed that AAA offers a discounted package with Lifeshield. So, I opted to get that package for my condo. Along the way, the base package was more than adequate to cover the basic exit/entry points. But, I opt to get a bunch more sensors to provide extra coverage around my medication fridge and medication safe.

It doesn't get me much of a discount off of my condo insurance (since the main structure is covered by a master policy from the HOA) to get any real savings for a security system, it needs to be cellular backed. The cellular gateway option is like $270, so the pay back is there...though it is on my list of addons to get.

But, it sure has helped with piece of mind and my sleeping.

Pages: 1· 2

08/22/12

  10:33:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 296 words  
Categories: Home, Appliances, Furnishings

Finally got a new shower head....

Ever since my first Chicago TARDIS....I've been wanting to get a new shower head at home...a dual head one...like the Speakman's that were in the hotel rooms there.

But, I've also wanted to get a handled shower.... But, then I impulsively got a newer shower shelf that wouldn't work on my current shower arm...so having to replace the shower arm, would mean time to get a new shower head... and so, after much putting it off, but constantly researching the subject. I then spotted this shower head.

...and decided to purchase it. Since it also solved the idea of being able to shower late at night without turning the light on (still haven't gotten around to figuring out to separating the bathroom light from the bathroom fan.)

It took a few weeks after I got to finally to do it, but one Sunday morning I after showering that I decided to tackle the project. In turned out to be quite an effort to do, so I christened the shower by showering off the sweat I had worked up in installing it.

First problem I ran into was my shower shelves I had weren't designed to accommodate a shower hose....so I had to get a new one....eventually.

Pages: 1· 2

07/21/12

  07:26:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 1104 words  
Categories: General, Travel, Home

Transit Service comes to Manhattan, KS

This was originally going to be a longer, and possibly angrier blog post about transit service finally coming to Manhattan, KS.

But, it needs to come first before another post that I've been writing in my head...so I need to get something out.

The background, is that back when I lived in Medicine Hat, which at the time was about a 35k population...though it has its cyclic population factors....the main being summer army training activities, and the influx of british soldiers. But, it was nice small city with a town like feel...and it had a wonderful bus system....5.5 routes. Well...4 of the routes were really 2, two buses on the routes...and downtown terminal crossings. Then there was a route that ran between the two malls, so didn't ever go to the downtown terminal. And, a part-time route that went to the community by the airport. They were probably 50k population in real numbers...but there's also a large chunk of the population that give their primary residence as being across the border where auto insurance is cheap...being a no-fault state.

One of the ideas that brought me to Manhattan, KS was that its kind of like Medicine Hat. Well...it does have the huge population swing....when the 23k+ students are here and then aren't. And, it was an under 50k population city. But, the big surprise was there is no bus service here....which is kind of problem since I don't drive. Though it did have much better walk-ability than where I was before in Columbus, Ohio.

Anyways...finally being over 50k in the 2010 census....a bus service could finally be created. And, there had been a few proposals on what it would take form of when it started. Eventually, the paratransit service (ATA Bus) expanded into doing fixed route public transit service that has finally arrived. ATA used to stand for "Aging Transportation Agency", but now it stands for "Area Transportation Agency".

The service was started with funding from federal, state, county and private funds. There was originally a proposal to seek city funding, but the city rejected it. So, the service went ahead with private funds....which causes the first problem with the fixed route service in Manhattan, KS.

City wouldn't allow bus stop signs to be put up. So, where the stops are exactly...is pretty much only known to the drivers. And, in some cases...it is only known to the specific driver. There have been numerous times where I was missed or nearly missed, because a driver stopped (or didn't stop) in a different place than expected.

There are like 3 places where the bus driver might stop in the College Ave United Methodist Church parking lot.... two are in front of the church, but one is where the driver hairpins entering the parking lot and pauses only long enough to quickly open and close the doors at the street entrance. And, doesn't really look around to see if anybody is standing running from the entrance of the church screaming because of this.

There are also at least 2 places for the stop in the Ace Hardware parking lot....usually its kind of in front of "Alex's Affordable Eyewear"...but once when it was running late....it just came in straight off Hosteller Dr and went straight to the exit to Bluemont Ave, and then just quickly opened and closed the doors for a split second and then took off without looking around.

Where the bus stops are shouldn't be a game where only the drivers know where they are (and they can move them when its suites them) and penalize anybody that didn't guess right.

Which brings us to the second problem with the ATA Bus service.

While running late could be understood....providing the drivers still stopped in their efforts to get back on schedule, instead of not picking up people waiting for the bus. Even the people that have ridden before, so know where the stops should be.

But, there's also the problem that if the bus is running fast...they don't care. There have been numerous times where I've been waiting at the CAUMC stop...and having an Atomic sync'd watch...know that I was there before the scheduled time....only to have no bus ever show up, because they were probably early. Except to make things worse, if you call to complain...they'll claim that the bus was there exactly on time, ignoring if you tell them that you've been waiting there 5 minutes before that time. Or that the stops have no shelter from the rain or the sun...and its 102 or hotter.

Otherwise...the service has been great, and I hope it gets better.

Pages: 1· 2

  06:13:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 1047 words  
Categories: Stuff, Healthcare

Glasses are fixed

The previous posting How to check your PD, was a prelude to ordering a replacement pair of glasses online. Which seems to have turned into a mini-review of 3 online companies....

First: Given the hassle of getting dental costs reimbursed by my limited use FSA, for dental and vision expenses.... I was worried that I may have put too much into FSA this year.... So, I decided that I would probably be looking at getting a pair of prescription sunglasses this year. Somewhere after I've had time to adjust to my new progressive eyeglasses.

Which hasn't been going so well...so I was considering that a LASIK evaluation help spend down my FSA. And, plan on next year's FSA paying for that.

But, lately...the progression of my disease now has me falling a lot lately. (the latest casualty being my Casio Waveceptor watch....had thought it being atomic, solar and metal, would mean it would last forever....or more than a year or two. Alas, I fell yesterday and broke it. :..( )

So, anyways...back to breaking my glasses recently.... I found myself looking online for a temporary replacement...the damaged pair were semi wearable, but eventually to fully fix it...it would require a transplant. So, I checked a couple of online sites. Now, until this time, I have pretty much only been only dealing with one company for my online purchases of eyeglasses -- 39DollarGlasses.com But, now and then, I'll see listings on deals.woot.com for 'cheaper' deals. And, now I was thinking more cheap for this temporary/spare pair.

After pricing things out quickly...the base cost (frames + conventional single vision lenses) is rather negligible when you start piling on things like "As Thin As Possible" lenses, Free Form / Computer Progressive, and Anti-Scratch, UV Protection, Anti-Glare, Water Repellent coatings. It more comes down to how much the different companies charge for those options. That decides which is the better deal. As it happened, EyeBuyDirect has a first time customer discount that put it ahead of staying with 39DollarGlasses for this order.

Later, I poked around online to see where I could get the frames of my first pair could be had. And, there were a couple of places that still had the now-discontinued frame style, and I went with LensesRx.com.

This is where the mini-review part kicks in.

In all 3 cases, I normally go for the free USPS delivery option. Which is Priority Mail. And, with 39DollarGlasses.com and EyeBuyDirect.com, it was just with regular Delivery Confirmation service. This means the letter carrier can leave safely locked up in the mail lockers outside my condo. And, I'll have my new glasses when I get home from work. With LensesRX.com, I was order just frames, no lenses....for $99.95....(first pair were like $350, the temp/spare that I got were $170.)....they opted to send it with Signature Confirmation. Which meant that I came home to an orange-ish delivery notice instead of the frames.

That was a Friday...July 13th. Since Saturday, July 14th was the day for the Virtual 5K walk/run for Narcolepsy Research...I decided that I would adjust my route to swing by the post office to pickup the frames. Except I got off to a late start, and by the time I got there...they were closed.

Pages: 1· 2

07/02/12

  04:29:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 440 words  
Categories: Stuff, Healthcare

How to check your PD

Since I seem to have this problem recently, that seems to lead to unexplained damage to eyeglasses....I thought I should acquire some cheap spares. Like using offers that appear via deals.woot.com or such sites now and then.

But, I had a bad experience before, because my PD wasn't right.

Now, I had noticed that there was a different PD measurement listed on my prescriptions that I've been getting from Eyecare Associates....which are probably right, but I thought I should see if there was some way to check for myself.

Searching the Internet, I found these instructions.

Self measure PD in front of a mirror: you need a mirror and a MM ruler.

  • Stand with you face about 20 cm (8 inches) from the mirror.
  • Close your right eye and look only with your left eye.
  • Place a ruler flat against the mirror and align it horizontally with the millimeter scale pointing up.
  • Look over the top of the ruler and align the zero mark in the center of your left pupil.
  • Open your right eye and close the left, but do not move your face or the ruler.
  • Read the millimeter measurement corresponding to the center of your right pupil.
  • Repeat the procedure several times to make sure you have a consistent measurement.

But this is rather difficult....well, there's another procedure:

  1. Hold the mm ruler on the bridge of your nose for stability. Pretend you can look through the mirror (X-ray vision) to see the horizon far away. This keeps your eyes from rotating in toward your nose.
  2. Point your face [nose] straight into a mirror.

    --- CLOSE your left eye to avoid parallax error. ---
  3. Align the ruler's zero to the center of your right pupil. The pupil is the black spot in the middle of the eye.
  4. Without moving the ruler, close your right eye and open your left eye.
  5. Read the millimeter line under your left pupil (careful -- backwards in mirror!).

    --- Keep you face "square" to the mirror to avoid parallax error. ---
  6. Repeat two or three times to confirm accuracy.

Using this second procedure, seems to confirm the PD on record for my prescription from Eyecare Associates.

65mm.

That's kind of a big difference than the number entered at Lenscrafters (62mm). Probably explains why buying glasses from anywhere other than Lenscrafters had always been a disaster. Which they don't use in the store, rather marking PD locations on the demo lenses and making the pair from that....within an hour.

Time to see if a few $9 pairs will really work....well, they'll end up much more than that, because I'll add in things like anti-scratch, anti-glare, high-index and progressive....and maybe I'll tint one.

2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 ... 25

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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