Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Governor Calls Arizona A State Of Losers?

OK, it wasn't exactly like that but, at the Democratic National Convention, Janet Napolitano (the governor of Arizona) stands up and states that: "Barry Goldwater ran for president and he lost. Mo Udall ran for president. He lost. Bruce Babbit ran for president. And he lost. Speaking for myself, and for at least this coming election, this is one Arizona tradition I’d like to see continue." I know that's only supposed to be a cheap shot at Republicans, but it's hard to listen to that and not hear "Arizona is a state of losers and failures. Let's keep it that way." It just seems that our governor has no respect for the history and accomplishments of Arizona. We've done some great things in this state but all the governor can come up with is that she hopes Arizonans keep losing. Thanks.

That's not even the end of it. She then goes on to criticize McCain on the economy. That's great coming from a governor whose policies put Arizona $2 billion in the hole and her solution is just to borrow money and raise taxes. Who doesn't understand the economy?

It seems to me that our governor and the whole Democrat National Convention is all about rhetoric and nothing of substance. I suppose the Republican National Convention will be the same way but that only makes it more disappointing. Will we ever see real substance in politics?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Does Your Vote Count?

I was listening to Ron Silver this morning on Sirius (Indie Talk, channel 110) and he was chatting with a caller about how people vote. The crux of the conversation is that many people don't vote for who they think is the best candidate. They vote for a candidate they think can win. It was agreed on the show that this was an awful thing that happens far too often. I agree 100%. People today are being taught that if they don't vote for one of the major parties (Democrat or Republican) that their vote doesn't count. This is patently false and I'll tell you why.

First, you don't have to win an election to influence change. The change may not be immediate but if candidates start seeing significant blocks of votes for people that support specific issues, they will start looking more seriously at those issues. Do you think there was change in the Republican party when Ross Perot caused George Bush to lose his re-election? I guarantee they immediately began trying to determine how to win those disaffected Republicans (and independents) back. The change may not be immediate and it may not be as much change as you hoped for, but change can happen. However, if you just line up with one party or another, how will anybody know where your true convictions lie?

I submit that your vote counts less if you submit to the pressure of voting for a major party when your convictions tell you to vote for more of a fringe candidate. The parties don't care nearly as much about the votes they have as they do about the votes they don't have. Look at McCain and Obama. They are trying their best to appeal to independents and moderates. They already have their party's votes, they need votes outside of their parties to win. You don't need them, they need you.

If you want change, vote your conscience. If you want a more balance political system, vote your conscience. If you want our elected officials to truly be accountable to the voters, vote your conscience. If you want America to be truly great, vote your conscience. We are not sheep. We are independent members of an independent society. I we want to keep it that way, we MUST vote our conscience!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

T-Mobile @ Home Experience

About a week and a half ago, I signed up for T-Mobile's @Home phone service. For those of you who don't know what that is, it replaces your current home phone for $10 per month. Here's how it works: Instead of plugging into your phone line, it plugs into your internet connection. It is a voice over IP or VOIP service similar to Vonage, or the phone service offered by your cable company. It was such a good deal (I was paying $30 per month for dial tone and voice mail, now I'm paying $10 per month for dial tone, voice mail, caller ID, and free long distance) that I decided to go for it.

I got my startup kit on Wednesday. It came with a router (plugs into your internet connection and has regular phone jacks as well as internet jacks in the back) and the new Dect 6.0 phones I ordered (these phones don't interfere with wireless networks). It only took two days from order to reciept so I was pretty happy.

The installation directions were simple. First plug the router into your broadband modem or into your existing router. I already had a router so I just plugged it in there. Second, plug your phone into the router. Third, you're done! So, in just a few minutes, I went from boxes to complete setup. Then the trouble started.

I asked T-Mobile to switch my home number to the new phone service. They told me it would switch over at 9:00 AM on Thursday. So I waited. After work on Thursday I got home and found that the line still hadn't activated. I waited some more. On Friday afternoon, I finally called up tech support to see what was going on. I was told that it can take up to 7 days for the phone service to switch over. So why ask me what day and time I want it switched if it can take up to 7 days? Also, you'd think with all of the small print items I had to agree to that it could have been mentioned, but no, I had to call tech support to find out. OK, so I wait.

On Sunday afternoon, the line switched over. I noticed the blue light on my router (which lights when you've got an active phone line) came on and my new phones worked. Woohoo! Everything is good in the world. Well, for a couple of hours anyway.

So, a couple of hours into my new service and the blue light goes off and my phones go dead. Not cool. I unplug the router, plug it back in and everything comes back. OK, just a glitch, no big deal. Well, a few hours later it does it again. By the time I notice it and restart the router, I've got voicemail. Well, at least that's working. I try calling tech support but, after being on hold for about 15 minutes, the phone cuts out in mid-call. I keep hoping the problem will just go away but it doesn't. By Wednesday I'm really frustrated. OK, time to get serious.

Fortunately, I'm a bit of a geek. I fire up the configuration program for the router and start disabling all of the services I'm not using. I cut out the wireless (I'm using my original router for that) and just about everything else except for the phone lines. No good. It still cut out every now and then. However, I did notice that it cut out more when I was using the internet. Hmmmm... So I started to think that maybe my original router was the issue. So I unhooked my original router and hooked everything up to the new router. OK, now nothing works. No internet, no phone, no wireless, nothing. I mess with the settings and finally, after a couple hours of fiddling, I get the internet back. Once that's done, the wireless and phones turn back on. It's Wednesday afternoon and FINALLY everything seems to be working.

Well, it's now Thursday afternoon. As near as I can tell, everything is still working. It looks like the problem was my old router. Couple that with overwhelmed tech support (I'm sure I'm not the only one who had issues) and it made for a very frustrating week. My suggestion to T-Mobile is to set up a better online help system with forums and other collaboration tools to help customers who can't be on hold for 15+ minutes. However, even with all the setup woes, the system now works and seems to work great. The voice quality is good, I love having caller ID, and I spent a couple of hours last night chatting with family in different states. So, while the setup was a headache, I now have more features for less money. Overall, I'm quite happy.

****** UPDATE ********

It's been a couple of weeks and everything is still good. I have had zero disconnections. Everything just works. I don't think about my phone service any more. I don't worry about phone service. I just enjoy the features and the smaller phone bill. It's very nice and I would recommend it to anyone.

In fact, if you are interested in signing up, my T-Mobile representative would love to help you out (this is probably just for the Phoenix, AZ area). She gave me permission to post her contact information here:

Shannon Gohler
Major Account Executive
T-Mobile USA
(C) 480.720.9952
(F) 480.638.2851

Just tell her you got her information from Jeff's blog and she will take good care of you.