Category Archives: Life

Welcome to Cingular. Your money is very important to us. Please hold.

A few months ago, I bought my girlfriend Jamie a phone for her birthday. I had been using Sprint for years, but decided to try Cingular and their Razr phone. I received a corporate discount on the service, the phone, and they waived the activation charges. I kept it for less than a week, and I’m still regretting walking into that store at all.

When I bought the phone, the guy said I would not have to pay activation charges, and put that into the account info. He also said I’d have to return this within two weeks in order to get all charges dropped. As I was leaving a few days later for a trip back home to see my girlfriend, and wanted to try the reception there, I felt this was reasonable.

I took the phone home and waited a few hours, as I had to wait until the thing was activated. After several hours, I still couldn’t place a phone call. I’d be redirected to their automated line. The quality of that call alone was so bad I could barely hear what they were saying.

I decided to concentrate on the Razr itself. It’s a very nice looking phone, but the software was so horrible that I couldn’t stand using it. Motorola seems to be quite bad in this regard, and I’m choosing to stay away from Motorola phones for the foreseeable future. Anyhow, I decided that this whole thing needed to go back, but I didn’t have time to deal with it that day.

I left for a couple of days and then came back and returned the phone and cancelled the service. I had to talk to a person on the phone at Cingular, who was trying to get me to stay with them, offered me things, etc., but I said no. I then confirmed from both her and the employee at the store that I wouldn’t be billed a single thing. They both said that all charges are dropped and not to worry.

A month and a half passes. I get a call from a collections agency. Cingular wanted my wallet.

I called up Cingular and dealt with them for a bit. They were persistent, but not as persistent as I was. They claimed that I only had 3 days to return everything in order to not be billed for activation charges, rather than 2 weeks as the sales person told me. Furthermore, due to my corporate discount, I didn’t have to pay activation charges. Finally, the lady on the phone looked this up and found that, yes, there was a note saying I didn’t have to pay activation charges. They were just going to try anyway and hope that I wouldn’t notice/remember. Thanks guys, you really made me want to go back to you someday.

That phone conversation was in early November. I thought I was done, honestly. I received a letter with a “Sorry” and a “Due: $0” written on it. And a check for something like $17, which I’m sure is a trap. So that was it, right? Nope, of course not! This morning, I received a phone call. Cingular apparently hasn’t informed the collections agency that I no longer owe them anything, and the collections agency wants to know where the money is. I told them the story and they’re checking up on it, but I imagine this battle is going to begin again.

Another company on my personal blacklist.

One whole year!

Wow. Today (Sunday, Nov. 27th) is Jamie and my one year anniversary. How time flies. It doesn’t feel like more than a few months ago that we met and nervously started going out. Unfortunately, I spent the day travelling back home (I was visiting for Thanksgiving), but we had a nice lunch and dinner yesterday, and she’ll be coming to spend some time in a couple of weeks. And despite the annoying distance, we’re still doing just fine. Yay, go us!

Hacked

My old server, which I’ve slowly been moving away from over the past few months, was hacked just a couple of days ago. I found this out tonight and though I think I’ve cleaned it, I have been busy moving the final things to my Linode box, namely mail and one website owned by my grandpa. I’m really hoping that this goes smoothly, but if anybody can’t reach me by e-mail for a while, this is why. At least now I have a good excuse for moving the remaining things.

*sigh*

New website goodness

I’ve finally moved chipx86.com, my blog, and my gallery to my linode server from a fairly slow and now saturated DSL connection back home that my whole family uses. The main move happened last night, though today I realized I forgot my blog. Oops. I took the opportunity to install WordPress instead of Movable Type, and then imported my existing blog entries and set up a nice redirect setup for old blog entries. So far, so good! 🙂

The next step for me is to finish the layout I’m working on and slowly apply it to the gallery, wiki, and blog. This should be a real fun exercise.

Update: I apologize to Planet GNOME for taking over the world. Hopefully we can get this fixed soon.

I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar.

Okay, Serenity absolutely rocks, and if you haven’t seen it, you should. Preferably after watching at least a few episodes of Firefly first. It surpassed my expectations and I felt it was a good ending to the series. That is, if it’s really an end. Part of the credits indicated that they have reserved the rights for two more movies.

Largely, Serenity felt to me like a very long episode of Firefly, although more movie-like. Unlike the series, I think there was more action than quiet crew times. Still, I loved (almost) every moment of it. The audience laughed and cried through the movie, and to me, that makes it a success.

Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug

This weekend has been generally not a good weekend, but up until now, it was just annoying, not problematic. I guess it’s not that problematic, but well…

I’m sleeping at work tonight.

I decided to do one simple thing tonight. I would walk out of my apartment and get Chinese food from the restaurant right next to my apartment. It’s like a 2 minute walk from my door, if that. No big problem, right?

First, I need to grab the wallet. This is important, as I must pay. Keys, hmm.. Nah, don’t need keys, I’m only going next door. I’ll be back in 10 minutes. Open the door, lock it, close it behind me. Wait, lock it? CRAP!

So I called the main office for the company that owns the apartment complex. Turns out they’re stationed in Texas, are are evacuated at the moment. Goody. Fortunately, they had backups. Lots and lots of unconnected backups. I reached one of them, no clue where it was, and they said I can expect a call soon from someone at my complex who could unlock my door. Great! I’ll just wait then.

45 minutes pass.

Called again, got someone else in a completely different state. She explained the whole problem, and the process for getting my door unlocked. First, a person at one of these offices sends an e-mail to someone at some other office. An e-mail. Great. Hurray for instant communication. Eventually, someone gets that e-mail, picks a person from the apartment complex in question, and calls.

Now, one of these two things didn’t work out so well, as it was almost three hours before I gave up. I decided to head to work and just get work done overnight, and sleep during Monday afternoon.

Next time I’ll know better than to think, “Keys? Nah, I don’t need keys!”

IBM Woes, Take 3

I foolishly thought things wouldn’t get any worse than the entire system shutting down (not even locking up, but shutting down, and not through the OS, just, boom, dead) on any ACPI call, but I was wrong. It turns out that the battery doesn’t charge unless the power cable is plugged in AND the laptop is off. If the machine is on, the power cable won’t be used, and the battery will just drain.

Gee, that’s the best $700 motherboard I’ve ever been forced to purchase..

My laptop is useless right now. The work I planned for Galago and the notification stuff this weekend will not get done, and I won’t be available for contact much until after next week (assuming IBM can get it right this time.)

Update: Tacking on another wonderful issue. The laptop just stops recognizing the keyboard and trackpoint randomly, requiring a complete shut down. Unfortunately, the On/Off button, which you normally hold down to force a shut-off, doesn’t seem to always work, especially not when the keyboard isn’t working, so you have to pull out the battery.

IBM’s not winning points

So it seems that the new motherboard IBM made me pay $700 for is locking up, and Linux is giving me confused ACPI errors I never had before. Furthermore, Linux no longer detects that I’ve plugged in the laptop power cable until over a minute after I plug it in. This is the exact same install as before they upgraded the motherboard. I didn’t even send them the hard drive, so I know it’s not the install. Nothing’s been upgraded, software-wise. I paid $700 for a faulty motherboard (it seems) and warped plastic.

I’m not happy.

Don’t cry over spilled soda

A little bit of explanation as to why people haven’t been able to get ahold of me much lately…

Last week was a crappy week, and I won’t get into all the details of it, except for one part that’s needed for this little story. I was at work, with my laptop sitting next to my monitors, and I was dealing with some annoyances. During this, I had my earphones on, listening to some music on my Rio. I stood up for a second, I can’t remember why exactly. Since I had my earphones on, the cord of course pulled up with me. What I wasn’t aware of at the time was that it was wrapped around a full, newly opened can of Mountain Dew, which proceeded to spill over my keyboard.

This didn’t ease the day any. I cleaned up what I could, knowing that the keyboard was going to be sticky in a couple of days. The next day, I called IBM, whose tech support was superb from past experiences. I told them that the keyboard was sticking and also that my monitor is leaving these vertical light streaks. They sent me a box and I sent it back to them with the laptop.

So I was without a laptop for a few days. My desktop computer wasn’t even configured for a dual-head X session, didn’t have anything except a default Ubuntu desktop on it, and barely any non-base packages. I essentially made my laptop the main computer. Rather than deal with configuring the desktop fully, I decided to relax during the nights and play World of Warcraft and such.

So on Wednesday, I got a call from IBM about the laptop. They said they detected a spill inside the laptop and would have to replace the keyboard and motherboard. They said they would have to bill me $700 for this. I was in shock. It was under warranty and I certainly didn’t expect a fee like this. I asked if it was necessary, and they said liquid could short circuit it later. BS, I thought, it was working for days. They could just wipe whatever off, and there wasn’t that much that spilled in. However, they informed me that either they fix everything and I pay the money, or they don’t fix anything and they just send it back. In which case, my warranty would be useless. After a bit of grumbling, I gave them the billing info.

Today, I received my laptop. I looked at the check list. Replaced the plastic, the motherboard, and ran a virus scan. Huh, virus scan.. I didn’t leave a hard drive in there. Oh well. Wait, nothing about the screen? I had to check, so I performed my usual test. I powered it on and opened up a window. Streaks. Great. I used it a bit longer and realized something else. The right-hand side of the laptop’s plastic is warped. If I put my hand on it to type, I can hear and feel it creak. Too annoying to ignore.

So once again, I called up IBM and explained my frustration. They wanted me to duplicate the problem on Windows, thinking it was a Linux problem, but I assured them I already went through all this with the last person and we confirmed it was the LCD. They’re going to send me a box and I’ll be sending the laptop back to them, again. They tell me I won’t be billed for this one, so I’m going to hold them to that. What was interesting is that they claimed that they were going to escalate my problem to a higher priority division where it would get better care. They’re probably just saying that to ease concerns, and I hope that’s the case, because the idea of them having a division that would handle hardware better than the default level worries me.

I won’t be online much again for a week after Tuesday. This means no Galago, notifications, etc. development, unless I get things running on my desktop box (which is the plan). I will be checking e-mail while at work. If people want to send patches, please do 🙂 Otherwise, I’ll get back to development on stuff when I have a working system put together.