Around 8 AM Sunday my dial tone went “Buh-By!” and none of my phones worked. They were getting juice but no dial tone. I have Verizon FIOS and called the support line on my cell phone.
The phone company put a box on the outside of my house so with the tech on the line I disconnected my house and plugged an old phone into the test jack. Instant dial tone. Swell.
What’s wrong with my house phone cabling? Well… what’s not wrong with it?
Dad and I used to run phone and network cabling for contracting jobs and Dad would always run the cables to a closet. Each of those runs were terminated on a 66 block. Dad never liked the 110 block, he was an old timer that way.
When we cabled up my old house we did the exact same thing: straight run to the basement closet for each line, terminated on a 66 block. The phone company was on that block too and a few punches later and the whole house worked. The network cabling went the same way and the hose phone closet was an organized thing of beauty.
Not so much with this house and the closet is a horror show and somewhere there’s a short. There’s no block mounted and all the phone lines are twisted together. I’m going to have to run new cable and that’s going to mean cutting holes into some walls. This is going to suck wind loudly but maybe I can use this to finally wire up the second floor as I wanted to for years.
I’m not sure how it happened but my blog has been possessed by Android smart phone posts. I’m pretty sure I have an add_filter('the_content' , 'my_function') WordPress post in my head waiting to get out. Or at least a post about a small plugin.
When is a phone not a phone?
After Lily’s Note II came back to life we realized that her phone developed an odd condition. It stopped being able to make or receive phone calls. To fix this we called up Verizon on Sunday and spent waytomuch time with some nice people trying to make it work.
Did you know that Verizon’s tech support can with your permission remote desktop into your Android smart phone? I had no idea and it’s weird seeing someone else run apps and make menu selections. That didn’t really solve anything and eventually Lily and I were told that they’re escalating her problem to engineering.
Me: Engineering? That’s great, let’s get them on the call.
Verizon Support: Oh no sir. They will call you back in 24 to 72 hours.
That went over well. I asked them to create the ticket anyway and to see if we could visit a local Verizon store and swap out the LTE SIM card as that was suspected to be the problem. That didn’t solve anything but at least we got out of the house.
It’s all part of a Grand Plan, I’m just not privy to it
While at the Verizon store I took advantage of my upgrade option and purchased an iPhone 5. I then had them put my number on Lily’s not-a-phone Note II and she got the new iPhone 5. Seriously, that happened.
Lily and I commute into Manhattan together so as soon as she got her Note II smart phone I was playing with it. It’s got good battery life, the display is fantastic, and with a 1.6 Ghz quad core processor it is fast and zippy. I used it to tether my laptop during out commute and it worked fine. I told Lily that I’ll get one for myself from Costco.
Lily: That’s just not acceptable and we can’t have the same phone. Why don’t you get the iPhone 5?
Me: Sure I- What?? I’ll spray paint the back of it red. You’ll never mistake mine for yours. And I don’t want an iPhone.
Lily: You just don’t understand. Get the iPhone 5 and we’ll switch numbers.
Me: . . .
I don’t claim to understand but years of conditioning have done me in. In another dozen years I’m going to be like Marvin in RED.
Monday morning I called Verizon back with “Nice one! Now when can you get me my replacement phone?” and on Thursday FedEx delivered it. This new one actually can makes and receive phone calls.
Yeah but what about the Note II?
It’s a great smart phone. The one I had before it was an HTC Thunderbolt and it’s night and day in comparison. My old phone was giving me well deserved grief and was working very poorly. This one is fantastic and works like a charm.
There is one draw back though. This phone is ginormous. The screen is 5.5″ diagonally but that doesn’t convey it properly. Think of using the iPad Mini as phone and you’ll get the idea. You have to operate it with both hands or you will either hurt yourself or drop the phone. It’s just too big and my hands are too small.
Lily got the Note II because she likes the big screen and battery life. I was leaning towards the Maxx HD (32 hour battery life!) but the Note II’s 4 core CPU makes the phone really zippy and the battery life is not bad even after abusing it.
So I took her phone with me to drop off the kids at Chinese school Saturday morning. That was her idea so I can see if it’s too large for my pocket (it’s not) and if I like using it (I do).
While there I saw a flower and took out her phone to take a quick snap. The Note II phone was dead. Dead as in 100% no lights, not responding, removing the battery did nothing. Naturally I did what most grown up men in my situation would do.
IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. IT'S NOT MY FAULT.
I killed Lily's new phone. It committed suicide and the lights don't even come on.
Sometimes you plan on buying one thing and end up getting something slightly different.
As part of my job responsibility, I provide support after hours. It’s not something that happens frequently because the first and second level support is really good. If a problem is escalated to me during my personal time, I don’t question it because I am treated as a last resort.
Last month I had a problem that started at Sunday 5 PM-ish and lasted till just after midnight. My home office line is a pair of cordless phones with old batteries and they kept dying on me. The rotten phones only had speakerphone on the handsets and not on the base station!
That was last month. This past week Lily had all day meetings and was working from home. The same thing happened to her so today we got a replacement at Costco.
Her: That model has a base speakerphone and a total of 4 cordless phones.
Me: Yes, that’s true, but we’re looking for just one cordless phone and speakerphone base station.
Her: It’s $65.
Me: Yes, but it’s got three more phones. What are we going to do with the other three?
Her: It’s $65. On sale. Best Buy’s would probably be more expensive and this one is normally $80.
So we got this unit. it’s a discontinued AT&T phone but it works well. I’ve put the three spares in the kids bed rooms and the guest room. I haven’t said a word to the kids, I wonder how long it will be before they notice?
It’s a neat phone. I kept getting “Messages available” even though there was none on the base station. It was from Vonage; the phone got the message notification that I had messages and was letting me know. Cool! The old ones never did that.
That was easy. I ordered Vonage yesterday and my V-Portal arrived today.
All I did was plug the Internet port into my FIOS router and my wireless phone into the phone jack. Once it acquired an IP address, it downloaded a firmware update and rebooted. That was it and I was off and running.
Before I converted to FIOS, my Optimum Triple Play came with a phone line via the cable modem. I had the regular house line with Verizon and a home office line with Cablevision.
I used that line strictly for work. It was the number that the NOC would call in the middle of the night when I had to provide support. That way only myself and Lily got woken up and the rest of the family did not get disturbed.
Since I discontinued Optimum Online, I lost that line. Going forward Lily and I plan to use a second line for both work and personal use.
Today I ordered the second line with Verizon. It came out to $44.99+tax each month and had the Verizon Freedom Essentials plan. No international calling but calls to the US and Puerto Rico were bundled in. A quick check with Vonage’s web site and I called back Verizon and canceled the order. I ordered the Vonage World plan for 24.99+tax per month and that includes calling internationally to 60 countries.
For anyone that has been under a rock for the last 6 or 7 years, Vonage provides a box that connects to your network and does VoIP. One end of the box goes into your LAN/Internet connection, the other end goes into your telephone. No Internet connection means no Vonage.
There are several things I like about Vonage.
Caller ID and call waiting. Vonage looks like a regular phone and has all the usual features that you expect these days.
Transcribed voicemail. You setup in your Vonage dashboard your voicemail so that it’s not only accessible form the web, you also get a transcribed e-mail with the WAV file as an attachment. I can have that go to multiple e-mail addresses so both Lily and I know when someone left a voicemail as well as the text of what they said. It works, I’ve already left myself a voicemail and got a kick out of the e-mail that soon followed.
Call forwarding and SimulRing. Call forwarding is one thing, but ringing multiple lines can be cool. There are times when we’re expecting a call and we don’t want to miss it. Now we can forward the call to ring both our cellphones. After 30 seconds the call will go to voicemail.
Network Availability Number. If your Internet connection goes down, you can have a standby number for forwarding to. No Internet connection? No problem, just forward to your cell phone. This forwarding will only occur when the Vonage box falls off the network.
My Vonage V-Portal (the hardware to provide a phone jack) is arriving tomorrow so I expect to beat up the service a lot.