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Blog Archives for March 2010

Premium Text Messaging

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 - Comments (1) in Life, Rants

Verizon is a bunch of criminals! Other carriers might do this too, but I only have experience with Verizon Wireless. The prices they charge for text messaging are a total scam, but then there are premium text messages.

Apparently third-party companies that offer crap like horoscopes and jokes-of-the-day send you useless text messages and then bill Verizon $10 per month on behalf of you. So what does Verizon do? They bill you for it! The greatest part is once they get your number they sign you up for their service. They send you an initial text that looks like spam and expect you to text them back with "stop" or something to cancel. If you ignore it like you're supposed to do with all spam, you get a recurring charge on your Verizon bill.

I recently spoke to a Verizon rep about this because Rachelle got one of these messages and she (the rep) admitted to me that it's a scam. I asked why Verizon plays along with these companies since they're the one charging their customers on behalf of these companies and she didn't really have an answer for me.

I'm completely astounded that it's legal for 3rd party companies to add a significant charge to our bill without our expressed permission, simply because we didn't tell them not to. This happened for the first time last year because of a Facebook application. Apparently when you add this app (not sure which one it was) it takes the "I agree to give this app access to my information" confirmation button as an agreement to sign up for their service and a $10/mo charge. We sorted this out back when it happened and had Verizon put a block on all premium txt messages for all our phones.

Rachelle got what looked like another premium txt last week and got on the horn with Verizon right away. The first rep said it was indeed a premium text and to text back "stop." She asked why she got it since we have a block on all our phones and the rep said we needed to dial *228 to reprogram the phone before the block would work. I called back because *228 failed and the rep I spoke to says the block was on and we didn't need to do anything for it. She also said this latest message was just spam, not an actual premium txt. I love how you can get completely different information from different customer service reps...

 

Snow Blower Maintenance

Sunday, March 7th, 2010 - Comments (4) in Life

A couple of weeks ago we had a ton of snow fall over a couple of days. While I was using the snow blower on the driveway one side of the auger broke and wouldn't spin. I found out there was a bolt through the driveshaft on that side fixing it to the auger and that bolt had sheared off due to how heavy the snow was. I did a temporary fix of sticking a piece of roundbar through the hole and bending it to stay there which allowed me to finish the driveway, but I needed to do a proper fix.

snow blower auger

snow blower hack

Once it warmed up a little I took a closer look and found that there is a bolt connecting the auger to the driveshaft of both sides. I was under the impression this was a bad fix done by the previous owner, but I guess that's just how this blower was setup.

I ended up stealing a couple 2"x1/4" bolts from work guessing they were the right size. They were! Hopefully this will hold up more than the piece of roundbar.

snow blower fix

I also took this opportunity to grease everything. There are 5 or 6 zerk connectors all over the business end of the blower and I put as much grease in as I could. In the Spring I'm going to change the oil and look closer at everything before I put it away for the rest of the year.

Cube Movies

Monday, March 1st, 2010 - Comments (2) in Life, Movies

Last week I read a story on Slashdot about a new Riddick movie (awesome). The discussion on this article lead to the common complain about current movies, they suck because special effects are used to supplement lame storylines and bad acting.

One of the comments mentioned a science fiction movie called Cube that is basically the opposite. This movie was filmed in a single 14'x14'x14' set with very few special effects. There are actually 3 Cube movies and I happened to see all of them recently.

I totally agree with the Slashdot commenter about Cube being an awesome sci-fi movie. The premise is a bunch of people wake up in a 14' cube room with a door on each face (including ceiling and floor). Each door leads to an identical cube room, however some rooms contain traps designed to kill whoever enters. So the whole movie is them trying to figure out who put them in there and how they can get out. This is a low budget movie with a great plot; it makes you use your imagination.

Cube

On the contrary Cube 2: Hypercube was a colossal turd. I happen to enjoy bad movies so I still liked it, but most people probably wouldn't. In its defense, it did elaborate on the concept of the cube and add some interesting twists. They did try to answer a few of the questions raised and never answered by the first movie but it was rather lame. 

Hypercube

The third film, Cube Zero, is supposed to be a prequel to the first one or so I've read. They didn't really bring in anything we didn't see in the first one which was disappointing, but there is more story revolving around how and why people get in the cube. On the IMDB forum for CZ, there are a lot of posts about whether a character in this movie is the same character in the original Cube. It's not the same actor or the same name (their names are printed on their jumpsuits), but his mannerisms and some of the lines he says are almost identical.

Cube Zero

So if you're a fan of science fiction movies I definitely recommend seeing at least the first Cube movie.