The House

What’s blue and white and still not working?

My internet connection.

SO here’s the scoop

5 days until cutover:
I call AT&T, tell them I’m moving and need to transfer my Static IP DSL service on the 30th(Monday). Tech says no problem it’s all set. I am pleasantly surprised at how little of a hassle it was and that it was way smoother than any other interaction I’ve had with them.

Saturday, 2 days until cutover:
We’re planning on doing the actual moving Sunday morning and plan to spend Saturday packing and planning. However at 3am Saturday morning, the internet connection drops, leaving me unable to contact many of the people who may be able to help us move. It sucks, but ok, we can work around it. I still have enough people to get by with and have ways to contact most of them. Since we asked to be connected on Monday, maybe they had to disconnect the old line the day before in order to get their stuff in place. Maybe they cut it on Saturday rather than Sunday because nobody works on Sunday. I get that, I can understand it. While annoying, it’s still better than my previous interactions with them.

Sunday,move day, day before cutover:
We move on Sunday and realize that we never actually checked to see if the house had any phone cables in it. It didn’t. Fortunately my father-in-law knows a bit about phone installation and was able to help me wire up a stub for the AT&T guy to connect to.

Monday, 1 day after move:
AT&T shows up, runs cable, says service will be enabled withing X hours. yippie.

Tuesday, 2 days after move:
Connection is there, but my ip address has changed. “crap,” I think, “now I gotta update dns entries for our sites.” But I can understand this, perhaps my old static ip was tied to the network near my old apartment and didn’t reach this area. I can buy that. So I change my DNS entries… and they don’t work. I look again and I apparently mistyped the IP because the new DNS entry doesn’t match the external IP on the router. So I change it again. and 20 minutes later the external IP has changed again.

They had me on a fricking dynamic IP. For the non techies out there, large ISPs only have a limited number of ip addresses, and more often than not don’t have one for every customer. Since few customers stay online 100% of the time, they can take addresses away from people not using them and redistribute them as needed. This is called a Dynamic IP account. For people who run servers from their homes, keeping the same IP is important, so when your computer goes to connect to, it needs to be able to find the right IP address. That’s why I pay extra for AT&T to guarantee me the same IP address. That is why I am pissed. While there are ways to get around this (dyndns) but they’re a pain in the ass an not an option for me since I run an IRC server as well.

So I tinker around, thinking maybe *I* did something wrong- maybe my router was reset and it cleared the static info. I dig around with Jackie’s help and find the original documentation and try to set up the networking listed manually. No dice. Then I remember that yes, they did manage the info via the PPOE settings, and that just required a user name and password, which is what I was originally using. I switch it back and get yet another dynamic IP. I should point out that my static IP range was 75.x.x.x, while the dynamic stayed in the 66.x.x.x range- this made it easy to keep track of what was going on.

So I call them up and surprise surprise, they screwed up. See, they don’t really transfer accounts so much as shut off the old one and create a new one. The tech didn’t bother to notice I had a static account and replaced it with a dynamic account. I’m livid at this point, and tell them that it needs to be switched back. “Ok, I’ll put in the order. It’ll be ready in 10 days.” Now, this should NOT take 10 days from a technical point of view, this is all red tape causing the delay. But WTF can I do, so I say hell with it and go along with it.

At some point my father-in-law comes back over to help with the baby gate and notes that the technician illegally ran the line through the neighbor’s yard. While I’m half tempted to yell at them to fix it, I just wanna get a connection up and running again so I can actually write about the house.

Saturday, 5 days after cutover (timeline gets a little fuzzy here)
Connection is still flaky, but generally working. I call to check on the status of the static IP order, and find out it was never placed. They’ll get right on that.

Sunday, 6 days after cutover
Connection goes down at 7:37am. Completely. It does not come back. Jackie calls tech support this time. Flames, brimstone cries of the undead ensue. Eventually I take the phone and find out there’s still no mention of a static order of any sort for our account. Guess what? They can’t do anything about it because “orders” isn’t open on weekends. They agree to send out a tech to look at the line since they can’t see the modem from their end. He should be out between 8am and noon on monday

Monday, 7 days after cutover:
Connection begins working again around 7am- I think to myself “great, maybe they just took it down to switch over to the static IP- finally I can get my stuff up.” Nope, still a dynamic IP address. I call AT&T to get the static IP address set up and let them know the connection is up. They say hold off until the technician confirms it’s not an issue. ok. I’ll call back later. I spend my time waiting for the technician looking for any other ISPs in the area on

Technician comes out, nice guy, doesn’t see anything wrong, says he’s seen this behavior before when switching from dynamic to static, but the business won’t fess up to it. Whatever. At least the wiring was good, presuming that both the installer and the inspecting tech were both competent. While he was tooling around, I found out that Cyberonic, my ISP from DC, covers this area (they didn’t in grand rapids or rochester hills). They resell business class Covad lines to residential customers. I contemplate switching over to them, but figure it would be too much effort since I’ve gotten this far. I’m not even sure they’d have a decent plan in this area.

So he leaves and I call AT&T back and get the static all set up. She also said the static IP would be in place tomorrow. Just as we’re finishing she informs me that since I don’t have a contract, my payment will go up to $70 a month from $55. “WTF, this isn’t my screwup- you guys said you could transfer service, then you pooch it, then you want to charge me for it??”

“Oh, no,” she says, “When we transfer service, we don’t transfer contracts. If you want the original rate, you’ll have to sign up for another year of service.”

This is where Jesse snaps.

“You know what? Fine, make it the month to month price, because it’ll take me about 3 weeks to get covad in here.” She was a bit shocked by that statement, and the conversation ended awkwardly. I think she was supposed to ask if I was please with my experience but she knew the answer.

I then spent 10 minutes looking through DSL reports for ISPs in the area and narrowing down their plans- turns out that Cyberonic offers the same plan I had in DC for $60. Lets compare the plans side by side:

AT&T Cyberonic
Download speed 3meg 6meg
Upload speed 386k 768k
IP address 5 static 5 static
Stability False True
Cost $55/mo $60/mo

I call up cyberonic, phone is picked up on the 3rd ring. I tell the technician that I’m interested in their plan, I get signed up, cc infos taken, etc. The entire call lasted 22 minutes and 28 seconds. I was never transferred once, my call was never dropped, the technician never once said “I don’t know,” and they were going to do a hotswap on the line and cancel the AT&T DSL for us since we obviously can’t have 2 DSL services on the same line. The transfer should take place in the next 7-14 business days.

I’d like to point out that AT&T still hasn’t got their act together as of this morning (Thursday), and dropped my connection while I was beginning a deployment for work. That was real awesome btw. Thankfully my neighbor is allowing us to use his wireless connection until we get it straightened out. If the issues aren’t resolved by switching to cyberonic, I’ll have the neighbor report the cable crossing his yard and they’ll have to come out and redo it (this is my backup plan).

The good news is we’ve moved our blogs to I’m still in the process of converting them, but expect to be done by next Monday. The only site that will still point to my static IP is, for my streaming music, IRC server, etc. We’ve also decided to move all of our pictures to flickr, so expect to see broken images for a while.

I really want to thank for in all of this. I highly recommend them for any domain name purchases or hosting. They’ve been handling our domain names for years now, and their service is outstanding. I’d also like to thank our new neighbor Bobby for being one hell of a cool guy.

I’ll keep you updated on how things go. Hopefully I’ll start writing about the house soon.

*UPDATE 2008-07-14*
Cybronic called and told me they’d be sending a technician out tomorrow to verify the lines. Hopefully I should have a working connection soon.

*UPDATE 2008-07-16*
My bad, it was wednesday. Connection is up now and I’m back online with a static IP!

ow… ow… ow…

So, we’re in the new house as of yesterday- AT&T just finished the dsl line, and everything is up and running- well, except for the 200 boxes that need unpacking. If the site goes down, let me know- AT&T didn’t bother telling me that my static ip was gonna change- I suppose it makes sense, but my gut instinct is they gave me a dynamic IP instead and it’ll change in the next week or two.

During this move I managed to drop something heavy on my toe, re-injure my heel, and generally exhaust myself. I had to stay home today because both feet hurt if I walk for more than 3 minutes at a time. it’s double the fun running across the yard after Ian. Speaking of which, he loves his new room and goes crazy in the yard (and the sandbox and sprinkler).

OH, and I owe some big thanks out there:

General- he’s helped us move damn near every time- thank you. He was in Chicago the day before and helped us move on 3 hours of sleep.

Ed- I haven’t seen Ed in 6 years, and he jumped at the opportunity to help. Now that he’s only 15 minutes or so away, we’re gonna get together and get the guitars out.

Lee- brought a 2 and a 4-wheel dolly- that made moving SO much simpler, not to mention helped us get rid of some of this delicious cake.

Jeremy- helped move many many boxes despite being jet-lagged from being in California last week.

My parents- my dad packed that truck so full that I’m convinced we wouldn’t have fit it all if I had done it. My mom also helped and more importantly, kept ian entertained.

Ken- Jackie’s dad showed up late to the party but stayed till midnight helping us get a baby-gate in place over the stairwell as well as running cable

Jackie- for not freaking out more than me. That helped a lot 🙂

Ian- for being relatively well behaved, despite not knowing WTF was going on and freaking out when we took his bed apart and took it away. Once he saw the empty apartment, then the empty house, he put the two together quickly.

I don’t think there was anyone else, but if there was, thank you. I’m absolutely totaled, and would be in much worse shape if you hadn’t helped.

Closing Time

So we’re finally closing on the house. We close on the 27th, and take possession on Sunday the 29th. We have a lot of work ahead of us.

The Todo list goes something like this after moving everything and getting settled:

  • [X] Change locks
  • [X] Build child door over stairwell
  • [_] Replace broken glass panes in both bedrooms
  • [_] Clean out bird nests in vents in roof, add screens outside

Next up is things we should do over the next 2 months:

  • [_] replace latch/fix front storm door
  • [_] replace leaky pipe over utility sink
  • [_] Install faucet on utility sink
  • [_] Add railing to stairwell
  • [_] Replace front steps
  • [_] Replace bathub hardware and reseal bathtub
  • [_] fix/replace leaky sprayer on kitchen sink
  • [_] install no-backflow spigot in back of house

Items that we’ll need to buy immediately:

  • [_] Foot coverings for furniture (bed, dressers, crib, couches)
  • [\] stairwell door, hinges and latch
  • [_] staplegun
  • [_] screen
  • [x] shop vac
  • [x] dehumidifier
  • [\] Two brooms [1 already]
  • [\] Two mops [1 already]
  • [\] Two mop buckets [1 already]
  • [_] Trash bags
  • [_] Trash cans
  • [x] Duct tape
  • [_] Fiberglass ladder
  • [x] Garden hose
  • [x] 2-3 plungers
  • [_] Biggest multi-pack of Chlorox wipes that you can find at Costco/SAMS
  • [_] Biggest multi-pack of paper towels that you can find at Costco/SAMS
  • [_] Biggest multi-pack of TP that you can find at Costco/SAMS
  • [_] Door chains
  • [_] Pole/type door locks if they fit your doors.
  • [\] Light bulbs [already have big box of energy savers]
  • [_] Duster on a stick (for cobwebs)
  • [x] Lawnmower
  • [x] Heavy Duty Extension Cord

Anything else I’m missing?

We hates them, yess prescious, stupid fat banks….

So jackie and I put in an offer on a house march 19th. The sellers agreed on… lets say the 25th of march. So we should have a house, right? Not so fast. Our offer was less than what was owed on the mortgage, so they had to get THEIR bank to approve the short sale. One delay after another. Every 1-7 days they give us another excuse. I’m getting really pissed at this point and needed to vent. 3 damn months to decide whether or not to take the money we’re trying to offer them.

AT&T disappoints yet again.

So my father in law has been going on for years about how great Ameritech/ SBC/ AT&T’s new broadband service is gonna be once it was activated. I personally like the idea of having fiber to the curb, so I’ve been looking forward to it for a while.

A few months back they sent a rep out to let us know they were offering ‘U-verse’ in our area. I wasn’t home at the time, so Jackie got information and said I’d get back to them. I didn’t bother since we’re looking for a house. I figure I can look them up after we find a house.

Well, they came back Wednesday. They had already been by when I got home, and Jackie told them to come back later. I hadn’t been in the door more than 20 minutes when they knocked again. I then listened to them go through their spiel about how they were going to save me money by charging me more per month than I was paying already. ($30 phone+ $30 DSL + $15 static IP < $59 TV + $30 fiber) I managed to get them to understand that I didn't want the TV or telephone service- just the internet connection. I also asked them one question that proved to be their undoing: "How much will a static IP cost?" I asked that question 10 minutes into the 2 hour conversation- most of the time was spent with the rep on hold with AT&T's customer support, who gave the following responses: * What's an IP? * What's a static IP? * You mean dynamic IP? * Yes, we have those, it's an extra $15/mo for DSL * We don't have those. * You can change the setting in your router so your computer has the same address. * We don't have those in Michigan. The first five we receive several times, the 6th I was told by one of their "technicians" who didn't get that I wanted the router's external ip to be static so I could host this site. Finally the rep called a friend of his who was a "technology director" and found out they didn't offer them in Michigan. I told them that was a dealbreaker and bid them farewell. Two hours later, they came back- apparently he called someone else and was told that U-verse does in fact have static IPs, and they're $15/mo. That would bring the total price to $45/mo (once I cancelled the TV portion), where as now I'm paying $45/mo + $30/mo for a phoneline I don't use. Quite a deal, right? Sign me up. He tells me that the form he has doesn't cover the static IP and I'll have to call in the morning to have them append that to my order. So the next day I call to have this set up- and guess what? After 3 hours standing outside talking and now 30 minutes on the phone, they decide they do not in fact have static IPs available for U-verse customers. I ask the phone lady to call the rep I talked to and figure out who's right. after another 5 minutes on hold, she says his source was mistaken, and he will correct whoever he talked to. So I cancel the service I just signed up for because it didn't provide the only feature I requested. I'm not sure what's more disappointing:

  • The fact that NO ONE seemed to know what a static IP was
  • The sales rep was given the run around just like us customers
  • They apparently don’t offer this very simple service
  • The fact that most of the support people couldn’t find this information
  • They charge $15/mo whereas Jasnet charged a one-time $15 fee
  • That the sales rep probably misled me to get the sale so he could get a comission
  • So, if anyone knows of an ISP in Madison Heights, MI that offers a static IP, decent upload speed, no blocked ports all at a decent price, please let me know.

Stuff we’d need for a house.

So jackie and I were thinking, “when we do get a house, what will we need?” so we’re gonna make a list.

  • 55 gallon outdoor garbage can
  • shovel
  • snow shovel
  • rake
  • lawnmower
  • Drill
  • office chair

I’ve been quiet.

So I’ve been quiet the last few weeks- mainly because I’ve been keeping busy. As a lot of you know, I have many little side projects that I never seem to get done. So here’s a quick update:

– Ruma has been put into stasis since the other devs don’t have the free time and neither do I. if anyone wants to take up development of it, I’ll be happy to give them access.

– got about halfway done and then I lost interest. I just couldn’t get into designing the input forms for jackie, and she wasn’t looking forward to having to manually re-enter her recipes.

– Ian now has a guitar so, I’m trying to teach him how to be gentle with it. It’s a $30 first act guitar, so not a huge loss if he destroys it.

– I’ve been working on an rpg battle engine in ruby and tinkering with gosu a bit. I doubt it’ll go anywhere, but usually once every 6 months I debate creating it. I’m about to burn out on that as well.

The big news is jackie and I have been looking for a house for about 2 months now and we put an offer in on a house that’s about 10 minutes from work. The people have accepted our offer, but since it’s for less than what they owe, they have to get the bank to agree to a short sale. If they don’t want to take the loss, we’re sorta screwed and may end up looking elsewhere.

Since it’s our first house, we’re getting a FHA loan to help us get the best deal. The big issue here is they can demand things be fixed (like a leaky roof) before they give the go-ahead. Since it’s a short sale, the bank may not be willing to take more of a loss on the cost to have the repairs made.

I’m fairly optimistic about this house- it’ll require very little work to give it livable (from what we see) and hopefully nothing will be wrong with it. I’d almost like to hear that the roof has another 5 years left on it since that’s our biggest concern. If it needs to be replaced the sellers may do it themselves to save costs and do a shoddy job.

The best part about this particular house is it has an unfinished basement, and I’ll be able to build a large office to house all my hobbies. That’ll make jackie happy since they usually are messy or take up a lot of space. The bigger the office, the longer it’ll take for the hobbies to spill into the rest of the house 🙂

Regardless of the outcome, a house in in the plans, so I added a new house category.

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