Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Organized Chaos

I usually pride myself on my organizational skills combined with my technical prowess.  But I get humbled every time I try to do something that appears to be simple -  like send a video from my phone to someone, or download it to my PC.  Now, I must admit, I complicate things by having non-integrated solutions (vs the ease by which Apple users spout their iphones, Macs, and icloud).  Instead, I have a Nexus 5 Google Phone (Project Fi) interfacing with a Window's 10 Touchscreen Laptop.

Attempting to be frugal in data usage, I have tried to configure my phone to avoid cellular data uploads and/or sends without the Wifi network.  Even this month I seemed to inadvertently consumed close to 1/2 Gig with an innocent sharing of one 3 minute video taken from my phone (an SVP Cincinnati Fast Pitch coaching session).

Then getting back to my office - I tried to understand where all the automatic backups for my phone were stored - Google Drive and/or Microsoft One Drive.   Then I innocently tried to connect my Nexus 5 phone via USB to the PC hoping I could just copy and/or transfer any files from the phone to the PC.  That ended in a 2 hour troubleshooting with no result.

Also I wanted to figure out when I delete a photo or video from my phone (to conserve space) - does it disappear in the cloud?   I have so many backups of pictures the redundancy in multiple external drives would cause you to go crazy.  Like the photo drawer at home, I've said someday I will try to organize all this stuff.

The real answer is what happened today.  Just do whatever the minimum it takes for the task at hand (e.g. send the video) and defer all that organization stuff for another day.  The definition of organized chaos.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Wisdom in Red

It's hard not to reflect on politics the day after the "Peaceful Transition of Power" Presidential Inaugural day.  Just after watching Frontline's documentary "Divided States of America" this started chapter two of potentially another eight years of divisive politics. I pray that President Donald Trump and the two parties can find ways to compromise.

The Inaugural speech was short (which is good) and what quote most resonated with me was:

" It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American flag."

Somehow the word "red blood of patriots" was a dramatic way of showing that we are all the same and we should focus on being freedom fanatics for the rest of the world to see. While we need (and should) constantly focus on improving our Nation (and it's problems), I believe protectionism is a form of isolationism. I believe our purpose collectively as a Nation is not about our selves - but setting the example of what freedom can do for it's people to the rest of the non-free World.

It's not about Nationalism - it is about Worldism - maybe that is misspelled - it's about Wisdom.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Invisible Monthly Costs

The start of 2017 has been busy - too busy too blog.  But on a rainy, chilly, and dreary Saturday - why not start the first blog of 2017 whining. 

In an effort to clean things up (the classic get organized resolution), I decided to eliminate monthly costs of subscriptions or memberships that I have not been actively using. Or evaluate the year-to-date use to determine if it is worth the cost.

It is so easy to establish a monthly charge to a credit card (or direct debit to checking) and forget about the "forever charge".  Or even prepay a plan that automatically renews at the higher non discounted rate.

Examples include Sirius Radio, Netflix DVD, Netflix Streaming,  FiOptics extra boxes, magazine subscriptions, Amazon Prime, gym or dining memberships, computer stuff (Carbonite, Office 365, Cloud Data plans), AAA membership, On Star, Verizon extra data plans (e.g. tablet access), FiOptics internet speed, Charitable monthly giving,  even loan payments.

The frugal hint for the day is to set up a calendar reminder when plans expire (or renew) so that you can avoid this hidden inflation.  

So ...... here is my long story (and now gripe) about reviewing my FiOptics plan with Cincinnati Bell.

It all started with a lucky technical glitch when my DVR box stopped working and would not complete the boot cycle.  After calling tech support a technician was assigned to come out.  But given my relentless desire to troubleshoot, I decided to unplug everything and use my second DVR box (which was working) to systematically determine if the problem was my network configuration or one of my own complicated hardware integration switches.

The short answer to that solution was..... the adapter plug for the DVR box was defective.  WOW - go figure.  Now I understand why they ask you to directly plug the DVR box into your home outlet (vs an extension cord). 

Now for the gripe.   The above story provided the incentive to return my second DVR box (which we never use) to get the $15/mth off of my FiOptics monthly billing.  But the "need for speed" caused me to add $10/mth on to the plan to increase my data speed from 30 MBS to 50 MBS.  Sounds good right?

NOT!   I have been monitoring my download speed for the past two days only to discover my speeds are ranging from 5MBS to 37MBS with most of the time at about 10MBS.   THIS IS RIDICULOUS.  The general public is paying at least $29.99/mth (that's only if you are getting the promotional discount) for a download speed that they have no clue if they are getting and no ability to monitor the provider for proper quality control and value confirmation.

SO..... as Bob Edwards would say "What are you going to do about it"?   Stay tuned.