October 29, 2007

GoDaddy E-Mail Cost Me 7 Hrs on Saturday

Living simply means choosing a good deal and sticking with it - in the words of my father, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Less daily strife that way, and of course, there's always more than enough to do on the "to do" list, anyhow.

Then again ....

On Saturday, starting at 5:07 pm and ending right before midnight, I plugged away at getting my two business emails (one for writing, one for law) back to where they would load in Outlook. Something that they had been quietly and efficiency doing for over three years without a hitch - until Saturday afternoon.

I played with the tools, etc. on Outlook, expanding the time before timing-out, etc. No dice.

I called GoDaddy, since it was their two emails that were failing. I got a human who speaks English on the line. I gave him the error messages. He said it's not them. Call the ISP.

I called the ISP. Human, English-speaking techie tells me it's not them. Call the AntiVirus folk.

(Somewhere in here, I surfed for the error messages, went to the Microsoft Support page and read all about what to do. I'm already doing it.)

I then communicate with the Norton AntiVirus folk by an online chat room with (assumedly) a human whose native language is obviously not English. There are long gaps in typed conversation, where I'm wondering if my words are being fed through an online translator, or if a manual tranlation dictionary is being used. And, by long gaps I mean: Long. Gaps.

After I can't tell you how long this all took because I've blocked this out of my mind, I'm told that Norton has corrupted files, and while I could just un-install and reinstall the software, why don't I just upgrade since the registration is expiring in 20 days anyway?

I surf sites and find options to Norton AntiVirus -- I choose a Kaspersky product.

I call the K people, talk to a human in sales, and get the upgrade. This is after I uninstall both Norton AV and the software for their chatroom with its scary "remote control" feature that I had to install in order to get to Norton tech support on a Saturday.

(Remember -- these are business emails, I have to have them up and running asap.)

I install the new antivirus software.

It doesn't work. I trying calling back, and learn that while sales has real humans, tech support has another one of those chat room thingies for the weekends.

I consider drink.

I install the newbie again. This time it works. I go through all the hoopla of choosing my options, putting it my protective info.

It's been hours.

I go to the GoDaddy website to check and see about my email there -- can I pull anything up from there, that's been held in limbo while being blocked on my computer? I'm expecting an email from a writing client, is it in here?

Well, what do you know.

GoDaddy has an email service. Complete with POP -- they want you to use GoDaddy for all your email addresses. And, they've got some fancy spam filter. And, there -- starting with my first tests around 5 pm, hours and hours ago -- are all my missing emails. They've been setting in the Approval/Disapproval Spam box all this time.

I turn off the GoDaddy spam stuff and everything -- including all 28 test messages showing time stamps spanning 7 hours -- goes frolicking over to Outlook.

Wouldn't it be nice if someone at GoDaddy had told me they were going to do this new feature? Wouldn't it have been nice if the human I called at the beginning of all this had known anything at all about this?

GoDaddy was once a good deal, but GoDaddy may have to Go.

October 26, 2007

Skype - Is It 4 U?

Skype (rhymes with "type") advertises unlimited calls to anywhere in the US and Canada for $3.00/month (calls between Skype users are free) and now that WiFi is so widely available, Skype is offering its own cellphone too. For $99.00, you can buy a Skype Phone and use it anywhere there is a WiFi connection to make calls via your Skype account without having to turn on your computer.

Yes, Virginia: that's amazingly cheap phone service (national and international) from your computer and now, from a cellphone, too. Free if you call Skype users. Yes, free. Wow.

Yep. Skype calls are free between Skype users in the US or Canada. If you buy the "Skype Unlimited" package, for $30 a year, you get unlimited Skype calls to any landline or cell phone within the US or Canada. Regardless of whether they've ever heard of Skype or not.

International calls are usually cheap, but you have to check the country. You may end up paying a little over a dollar a minute for some remote locations; then again, you can call Paris for 2 cents a minute. It all depends.

What's Skype? How can they DO this? According to the company's website:

"Skype is available in 28 languages and is used in almost every country around the world. Skype generates revenue through its premium offerings such as making and receiving calls to and from landline and mobile phones, as well as voicemail and call forwarding. Skype, based in Luxembourg, has relationships with a growing network of hardware and software providers and is an eBay company."

Is Skype for you?

1. There are expectations that Skype will face attacks similar to Vonage as the Big Phone Companies try and fight to keep their hold on the marketplace. Patent infringement suits against Vonage are threatening bankruptcy according to the sages over at Business Week, for example.

2. Internally, things are in flux at Skype. Its CEO resigned on October 1st; no new Big Kahuna has been announced. There's an interim guy at the helm right now who hails from EBay -- both Skype founders and its "technical wizard" have jumped ship. And, EBay recently has announced that its taking a hickey on its purchase of Skype back in 2005.

3. Companies are coming alongside Skype, as well.

On October 17,2007, a partnership was announced between MySpace and Skype - now MySpace friends can chat with each other. (Skype also sells WebCams as well as Headsets in addition to its new Skype phone.) In addition to the MySpace alliance, some big guns are being Skype-friendly.
For example, at Walmart, you can buy a General Electric called the "2-in-1 Internet and Standard Phone" for $149.98. The 2-in-1 connects to both your broadband connection and your home phoneline. The 2-in-1 lets you makes Skype calls or regular phone line calls, your choice. It has caller ID, a headset, and a speakerphone. The old VOIP problem with 911 service is solved here: that second line lets you access emergency services even if the Skype line is in use.

As for whether or not you should try Skype, why not read thru the Walmart GE 2-in-1 phone reviews? One guy is claiming to have saved $1000/yr in phone bills. Then, too, there are reviews over at CNET, and a good review of Skype overall at VoipReviewsOnline.com.

For info on Vonage and VOIP in general, check out my January 25, 2006 post "VoIP - What About Those $25 Vonage Ads?"

So, is it for you? Well, there's the outlay for the new phone (or phones if you buy the new cellphone, too) but that lower monthly bill each month might balance things out at the get-go, right? Quality of the calls is supposed to be good, too.

One bad thing no one has mentioned: with the use of a webcab, Skype is offering us the ability to chat with each other just like the Jetsons -- but no one's selling that Fully Made-Up and Great Hair Screen that Jane Jetson used early in the morning. I know that I, for one, am very interested in hearing about THAT product appearing in the marketplace.

October 24, 2007

Personal Post 7: Analog Clocks

Over the weekend, I put "desk-sized old-fashioned clock" on the list and thought this would be easy. I needed a clock face with the actual hour hand and minute hand, 12 and 3 and 6 and 9 (if not more) for my desk.

Yes, I have the other kind: I can ignore them too easily. In my head, 11:41 just gets noted.

When I look at a clock face with hands pointing the way, I start realizing the passage of time - perhaps this is a sign of age. Whatever.

At any rate, you cannot believe how hard it was for me to find a small, simple analog clock. Lots and lots of digitals - for everyone in the family. A good variety of wall clocks with analog faces.

Finally, at Target, on a clearance shelf: a small analog clock - quartz - with roman numerals and no second hand or alarm. Ten bucks.

I took it and ran.

October 23, 2007

Personal Post 6: Natural Cold and Flu Remedies

I'm coming down with a cold and thought I'd share my research with you on cold and flu remedies:

1. The Herbal Stuff
An article at About.Com suggests using zinc lozenges; astralagus; echinacea - specifically echinacea purpurea; ginseng; garlic; and elderberry. They've got the research and links to support their advice, if you want to read up on all this.

2. Home Remedies
Over at HomeRemediesForYou, they recommend the homespun treatments like getting lots of rest, drinking juices, getting some sun, taking in garlic, drinking warm water with lemon and honey in it.

3. The WebMD Approach
WebMd has a few natural remedies to suggest, too. They include blowing your nose often (they even give instructions); lots of rest; gargling; taking a steamy shower; using a salve (I prefer Vick's VapoRub); and sleeping with an extra pillow under your head for drainage purposes.

Okay. What am I going to do?

I'm going to rest, drink lots of hot liquids as well as fresh-squeezed orange juice, sleep with the extra pillow, use Vick's VapoRub, get some sun, take garlic, and the echinacea -- and yes: I'm also taking Tylenol DayCare because I've got to get work done and I cannot type and simultaneously blow my nose and see the screen with watery eyes. So far, though, this Tylenol stuff hasn't done a darn thing.

I'll update in the comments which things seemed to help. Already, I can tell you: Puffs with Lotion ROCK.

October 22, 2007

Have You Had a Bad Reaction to MSG?

MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) is added to foods as a taste enhancer. The FDA says MSG is safe, except for some folk to take too much of it, or those who suffer from asthma.

At MSGTruth.Org, there is a long research list that begs to differ. There's also NoMSG.com, a consumer group site battling against MSG; MSGMyth.com, a reference website compiled by Debbie Anglesey; MigraneWeb.com, which has a section of its site dedicated to MSG; and the British watchdog group's FedUpWithFoodAdditives.Info's fact sheet on MSG.

Yes, it's controversial. A nice, concise summary of that controversy is found on the British fact sheet.

For those who have had a reaction to MSG, there's no debate. Also called "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome," reactions to MSG can range from feelings of nausea to migranes, dizziness, and heart palpitations. It can trigger asthmatic attacks. And, it's not a quick response/recovery: it takes a good couple of days to bounce back from an MSG reaction according to the University of Illinois Medical Center.

There are those that argue that long term effects of MSG can include Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, Autism in children, Diabetes (I and II), and obesity in children and adults. (Yes, MSG is argued to cause you to want to eat more.)

Both sides can agree on one thing: too much MSG will cause bad reactions in humans. The FDA report suggests that amount to be around 3 grams. And, with the growing list of foods containing MSG, perhaps it's not too hard to imagine that more and more people are getting excess MSG in their diets ....

From MSGTruth.Org, a partial list of common foods with MSG (go to link for complete list):

McDonald's French Fries
KFC® fried chicken and most of their other products
Progresso® Soups - all of them
Kraft® products nearly all contain some free glutamate
Planters® salted nuts - most of them
Accent® -this is nearly pure MSG
Braggs® Liquid Aminos - sold at Whole Foods
processed cheese spread
supermarket poultry or turkeys that are injected or "self-basting"
flavored Ramen noodles
boullion - any kind
flavored potato chips
soy sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Parmesan cheese - naturally high in free glutamate

From Rense.com, a partial list of ingredients that all mean the same thing, MSG has been added, quoting from Excitotoxins - The Taste That Kills by Russell Blaylock, MD:

Monosodium Glutamate
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
Hydrolyzed Protein
Hydrolyzed Plant Protein
Plant Protein Extract
Sodium Caseinate
Calcium Caseinate
Yeast Extract
Textured Protein (Including TVP)
Autolyzed Yeast
Hydrolyzed Oat Flour
Corn Oil

And, if that's not enough, there's also the ingredient "natural flavor" or "natural flavoring." Yep, you guessed it: another synonym for MSG.

Personally, I believe MSG is bad for me and I avoid it. I know enough to know that Panda Express Gourmet Chinese Food takeout causes me to feel terrible the next day -- but my real testimonial comes from some flavored Kettle Chips (Maui Onion) that I splurged on, even though I usually avoid fried potato chips. Bad reaction (including dizziness, which was scary), and the cause? MSG.

October 14, 2007

Ground Beef Warning - Huge Oct 2007 Recalls

Topps Meat Company just went out of business after 67 years because of its massive recall of beef patty products - the second largest beef recall in US history. Other beef recalls are happening right now, but they pale by comparison to Topps' recall of one entire year's production of product.

If you have ground beef products in your home, you may want to check the Web before using them. Go here:

FDA - FSIS site
FSIS List of Recalls

If you're wondering what's happening, there's a good article written yesterday by Stephen Hedges at the Chicago Tribune on what's what.

October 13, 2007

The HALT Program: Wish It Were Nation-wide

The HALT Program comes out of Tennessee and I wish we had it here in Texas. Heck, I wish it was operating in every state, in every community.

HALT, "Humans and Animals Learning Together," is a non-profit program supported by the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. It's been a very successful program since its inception in 1987.

HALT puts foster kids together with shelter dogs who need some behavior training before they can become adoptable as pets. The dogs have all the necessary screenings (medical and otherwise) prior to teaming up with their "student trainers," who likewise have been prepared with training classes, etc.

While the kids can't adopt their trainees, both get a lot out of the program. The dogs learn skills that they need to be better adoption prospects.

The kids learn skills like patience, discipline, responsibility. And, they also get that unconditional love that dogs so freely give.

Amy McRary recently wrote a good article about HALT for the Knoxville News Sentinel. It's worth the read.

For more info about HALT, visit its website and look at its link to coverage in Southern Living magazine. The SL article has a lot of nice photos.

October 10, 2007

Retiring in Mexico

More and more news reports are covering the rise in Americans retiring in Mexico. This is due in part to the lower cost of living, as well as the lower costs of medical and dental care and nursing home expense. It's also due in part to the Mexican people themselves: their loving attitudes toward family, and friendly acceptance and assistance to expatriates, makes Mexico a welcoming place for many Seniors.

For more information on retiring in Mexico, check out these sources:

The People's Guide to Mexico
ExpatForum - Mexico
Transitions Abroad - Mexico
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