Product Reviews

Astound Vs. Charter

So I finally broke down and bought my first “Video on Demand” movie last night from Astound cable. It was so cool, I would have to say it was like I was watching the DVD. I ordered a pizza, and I could just pause the movie to go pay the delivery guy.

Astound also has DVR capabilities, like TiVo. I don’t think the software on for the DVR part is as complicated as TiVo, but it works. You can search by actor or anything, just channel, date, title. I have run into a few glitches, but a hard reset of the box gets things running again.

As far as internet, I don’t know, I have heard from many people who have Astound that their internet goes down a lot. The only time mine has stopped working, I first got an email from Astound telling me when and why, at least 3 days in advance.

Charter on the other hand, the internet was down pretty much 3 times a week, and my cable modem needed replacing. When I called to get a new one, they said “Come pick one up”. I said “Come bring me one, I didn’t break it, It is just defective”. I heard when you bring a defective cable modem back to Charter they just put it back in the rotation without even fixing it, so six months down the road some schmuck will get a bad cable modem. How nice is that?

As for the cable, Charter didn’t have DVR or VOD. When I called to cancel, that is why I told them I was canceling. The guy (from some call center eight states away) was like “But we might have that in the next year, please stay!!”. Sorry, get with the times please. And once I think about it, Astound’s digital cable navigation system is like light years ahead of Charter’s.

I am also pretty sure Astound customer service is local, which is cool too.

Charter should focus more on local than big picture. They will end up falling into the same pit as many companies before them. Astound can deliver the same services, plus more, and deliver them better. Before I switched I was a devout Charter guy, now I would have to say Astound all the way. Oh, and BTW – It is cheaper!!

Astound Broadband

Charter Communications


McCarthy Beach State Park

What a small and crazy world. Back in March, there was “game night” for some guys at work. We ended up heading downtown after. Sometimes at the bars, there are girls that walk around with little mini-tablet pc’s asking if you smoke or not. If you say yes, they scan your drivers license and you get a free zippo (whoo hoo!). Anyways, I said yes even though I don’t smoke, just to scam the zippo.

Now, I get snail-mail spam from Marlboro. To make a long story short, there is a magazine that comes, called “Unlimited”. Crazy enough, in the mag, they have a list of “Best Camping” spots.

from “Unlimited”:
McCarthy Beach State Park: “Bunk out here and you’re right by Sturgeon Lake-rated one of North America’s top beaches by Highway magazine. Huge pines around the campsite ($10 a night) make for great hikes”

It is about time the good ol’ Iron Range gets some props. 🙂


Email Limits

Well, there is Google’s Gmail (1 GB), and then this week Yahoo decided to say..”Hey wait, instead of 4 MB, lets give our users 100 MB”…Now MSN is going to up the ante, but they haven’t said how much yet. BTW, all three of these are “free” web based email clients. You could always pay Yahoo or MSN for more space, but who wants to do that. Maybe people should just clean out their email boxes? Or maybe archive it off to CD? 10 years from now, no one is going to look at their email they got about “10% off at Best Buy” or “New Polos at the”. Anyways, I say store as little as possible online in your email box, because sooner or later the email server that you go through (Yahoo, MSN, Google, etc) will just start snooping and sending you ad’s related to your email. If you want to have a big email box, buy a Win2K3 server and install Exchange 2003 Enterprise, register your domain, and away you go, practically unlimited email size. Below is part of the article from, I haven’t put a link because I think their site is off and on anyways.

from betanews:
Redmond executives have been mulling over how to respond to the storage frenzy, and are set to unveil a plan that will go into effect in July.Although still in beta testing, the launch of Google’s free Gmail service heated up the competition by offering customers a whopping 1GB of e-mail storage. Yahoo! fired back this week by boosting customer inboxes to 100MB and unveiling an updated user interface, which Microsoft called “quite good.”

“We have been intentionally quiet over this period, as we formulated our plans, and waited to see the Yahoo response, feeling it would be best to see how strong Yahoo’s counter would be before going public with our own,” Blake Irving, corporate vice president of MSN’s Communication Services group, told employees.

Microsoft hopes that by giving customers enough space, it can move the media focus away from storage as a key selling point and reduce the emerging threat posed by media darling Google.

“We are going to respond in a big way and will eliminate email storage as an issue for our users,” said Irving.

Product Reviews

Yahoo "DoEverything" Bar?

Well, I caught wind of a beta Yahoo Toolbar. Now they are adding spyware protection to it. What next? Will it start writing programs for me too? That would be nice though…I think the beta run is over though, too bad, I would have tried it. Hopefully it works well

Yahoo Toolbar (Beta)

Yahoo Toolbar (Plain Old)


The API War

I stumbled across a very, very good article by Joel Spolsky on Microsoft and the “API War”. It discusses how Microsoft is not focused on developers as much as they say they are, and they aren’t focused on the desktop, even though they say they are. Very good reading.

How Microsoft Lost the API War


Save the Pirates. Arrrr Matey…

Ever wonder what it would be like if the government would just keep their noses out of copyright issues? What if artists just wanted to play music because they loved to play music? Or maybe actors just gave shows because they are good at acting and people loved to watch them? Wouldn’t that be nice? Well, Cory Doctrow gave a talk to Microsoft Research group about DRM (Digital Rights Management) on pretty much that whole topic. He says that Microsoft should “make a record player that will play an record” – read the speech, you’ll understand. Well, anyway, I found the speech very interesting, here is the link…

DRM Speech to Microsoft


Laptops in Meetings

I received an email from Microsoft, one of their daily or weekly “Microsoft News” emails. One good link that I saw was “7 rules for using laptops in meetings” By Jeff Wuorio. It really makes sense

Here is the link – enjoy

7 rules for using laptops in meetings



Wow. So I finally did it. Started blogging. I remember back in the day having an “online journal”…Does that count? Used a database and update it daily. Wasn’t as “sophisticated” as some of these blogging websites now, but it worked. Hopefully I can share information with as many people want it. Only time will tell….