July 10th, 2008

Calvin (Animated)

Vonage Phone Offer!

Forgive the commercial nature of this message, but this is a truly great offer, and as I was one of the early adapters, switching to Vonage for my primary home phone in 2003, I'm more qualified than most others to have a non-partisan view of them.

Once in a while, Vonage makes some sweet offers that help both the referrer as well as the new customer in a grand way. Their current offering is two months of free service (about a $50 credit) for both the new customer (you) as well as the referrer (me)! Plus... if you order Vonage service before the 15th of July, Vonage will waive the $29.99 activation fee!

I know it's a little scary to contemplate abandoning your "land line" in favour of a digital phone, but I've held hands with quite a few people as they cut the "Ma Bell" cord, and they're all still very happy they did it!

So, what's involved with switching to Vonage? Why is it better than your cable company's digital phone service? What things should I be aware of?*** I've helped many make the switch to Vonage. If you're interested in making the switch, I offer my free help to you as well! (I hate the phone company!!)

You simply need:

  • An "always on", wired high speed internet connection (such as Comcast, Bright House High Speed or Road Runner)
  • Telephone handset(s) -- Hint: You can even use your existing wiring* without making any major changes!

    Once complete Vonage's application form, they'll put the ball in motion.

    In almost all cases you can keep your phone number when switching! Vonage will contact your current land line provider and let them know that you want to switch providers.

    Vonage will mail you your internet/telephone interface (several are available, including a wireless hub!) You get to choose the one you want (most are free) when you sign up!

    Plug your high speed internet source (i.e. cable modem) into the router, plug your existing computer into one of the ethernet ports and plug a normal telephone (corded or cordless) into the telephone outlet plug on the router.

    Play the waiting game as your old service is turned off and Vonage service is turned on! It typically takes three days to completely transfer service over.

    Once all your service is cut over, *let's power ALL your phones in your home with Vonage! Here's how: Cut or remove the outside telephone feed (d-mark) from your house circuit (normally in the basement, in a utility closet or outside your home) -- mind you, that if you can not do this, talk with me for further information. Now take an RJ-11 telephone cable/cord (if you don't have one, get one at Home Depot or any other store with phone accessories) plug one end into the telephone port on your Vonage router, and the other end into an existing wall jack. Every phone plugged into the same circuit (normally every phone in your home) will now have Vonage dial tone!

    Gosh, that's it?? Well yes and no. At this point you will have ordinary telephone service - calls come in and you can place calls as well! -- But with Vonage, there's a lot more you do and can choose from!

    Here's one of things that makes Vonage far better then Time Warner or Comcast Digital Voice services -- just look at some of the 25 free calling features on Vonage phone include:

  • Voice Mail & E-Mail Voice Mail
  • Call Forwarding or "Multi-Ring" Call Forwarding
  • Caller-ID with name
  • Anonymous Call Blocking
  • Local area-code-less dialling (within your own area code!!)
  • Do Not Disturb mode
  • ... and more!

    But wait, there's more! Ask Comcast or Time Warner if calls to the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy and across the United States are free all of the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!!

  • Unlimited local and long distance calling in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico **
  • FREE calls to land-line phones in Italy, France, Spain, UK, and Ireland **

    You can completely configure your Vonage service by logging on to Vonage's secure account management webpage -- you can see who's called you, who you've called, check your bill, pay your bill, listen to your voice mail and more!!

    So, are you ready to make the plunge to Vonage? If so, click on the offer below.

    Remember, I've been through this with many other people and each and every one of them wishes they made the switch earlier! Imagine the savings in long distance costs, let alone the outrageous local 'Ma Bell' land-line bill!!

    ** With the $24.99/month "Residential Premium Unlimited Plan" (their standard plan)

    *** By switching to Vonage, your telephone service will depend upon your internet connection. If it goes down (network or power outage), it will not work. I personally have my cable modem, router and cordless telephone plugged into a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), which will keep it all working in a power outage situation. You can purchase a UPS for cheap at office electronics stores, such as Office Max, Best Buy or Staples. (It's a good idea to have one for your personal computer anyways, as they isolate you from brown outs and power spikes!) Also, E-911 service on Vonage is different than that on land lines -- read all the fine print to understand it completely (you will be reminded about this when you sign up).

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    Keep Walking

    A church newsletter in my blog?? Say it ain't so!

    I found the interesting article below in the Falls Church News-Press. Pay close attention to the section I've outlined in red about the American Family Association (AFA). A breath of fresh air from a somewhat conservitive source...

    Anything But Straight: The Pro-Family Scheme
    Written by Wayne Besen
    Wednesday, 09 July 2008 20:39

    The last few weeks have shown that so-called pro-family organizations are some of the most useless, money-sucking scams in the world. With real families suffering from economic hardship in America, a declining birthrate in Europe and Google doubling the price of daycare for employees, the only thing right wing family groups want to discuss is their bizarre and all-encompassing fagela fetish.

    Recently, The Brooklyn Paper, had a huge headline, "SPLITSVILLE: Brooklyn divorces up 30%." The article cited a number of reasons including, "when the economy tanks, so do many marriages."

    One would think this would alarm so-called pro-family organizations and they would be out in force repairing marriages - or at least looking for economic solutions to take the stress off couples. Unfortunately, as I walked around my Brooklyn neighborhood, I saw not one representative from the American Family Association.

    Well, I take that back. I did encounter one of the group's representatives on CNN Headline News as we debated a Heinz mayonnaise ad in the United Kingdom that featured two men kissing. I'm sure the children of these broken marriages in Brooklyn will feel much better knowing Heinz pulled the ad and they can have gay-free mayonnaise at both mommy and daddy's separate houses.

    A new study by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University showed that in 2006, for the first time in U.S. history, a majority of births to women under 30 - 50.4 percent - were out of wedlock. New York Times columnist Bob Herbert points out that, "By comparison, when John F. Kennedy was elected president in 1960, just 6 percent of all births were to unmarried women under 30.

    One imagines that this report might have startled "pro-family" organizations and they would have put their millions of dollars towards stopping this trend. No such luck. Instead, they are investing huge piles of money and manpower to pass anti-gay marriage amendments in Florida, Arizona and California. The upshot for "pro-family" groups is that if heterosexuals keep screwing up marriage, by the time gay people finally win the right nationally, we won't want to use it.

    "Evangelicals of the older generation have become obsessed in almost a technical psychological sense in opposing gay rights," David Weddle, a professor of religion at Colorado College told the Colorado Springs Gazette. "The irony is that homosexuality is not a biblical theme."

    Right wing organizations and their flocks want to be taken seriously, but their priorities and actions are reprehensible. For example, a middle school teacher was fired in Mount Vernon, Ohio last month after preaching in the classroom, refusing to remove his Bible and burning crosses onto the arms of pupils. You read that correctly - he seared crosses on the body parts of impressionable students, as if it were a gang ritual.

    Surely, reasonable people can agree that such behavior is inappropriate in the classroom. But, oh no, some of the yahoos in Mount Vernon believe their religion places them above the Constitution - so they are holding demonstrations in the town square. I wonder if these zealots would have the same reaction if a teacher were burning a Stars of David or Muslim crescents on the forearms of students?

    A recent New York Times magazine article, "Childless Europe," explored why certain countries in Europe are losing population. The hopelessly out of touch Pope Benedict chimed in with his typically sunny advice. "Europe is infected by a strange lack of desire for the future," the Pontiff said. "Children, our future, are perceived as a threat to the present."

    Instead of selfishness, as the Pope implied, it was the traditional values of the Pope that contributed to the problem. In societies that either offered a safety net or where men shared the burdens of child rearing, women were having more babies. However, when educated women were stuck at home and forced to do all the work - such as in Italy - they chose to have less children. Will the Pope now call on men to help out more at home or for countries to ensure daycare for families?

    Finally, the Wall Street Wonder, Google, plans to raise the amount it charged for in-house day care by 75 percent. Under the revised plan, parents with two children in Google day care could see their yearly bill increase to more than $57,000 from around $33,000. This crushing blow to the family drove a few employees to tears.

    Was the American Family Association in Silicon Valley raising hell and standing up for families? No, they ignored grimacing parents, so they could punish Ronald and Grimace by launching a boycott against McDonalds for supposedly having a gay agenda. Maybe the delusional scolds at the AFA thought they saw rainbow color fries, in much the same way they once accused the cartoon character Mighty Mouse of snorting cocaine.

    Right wing organizations can be considered many things - but certainly not advocates for the family. They inhale money, exhale anti-gay pollution and have done absolutely nothing for the traditional families they claim to represent. It seems the more such groups proliferate, the more the family deteriorates.

    Nice writing guys!!
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    Atari Logo

    Would you like to play a game?

    In 1978 Atari was working on a new chip set for an all new high end video game system. Ray Kassar became the new CEO of Atari and decided that Atari should produce a line of computers to compete against Apple in the home computer field. It was decided that the new chip set was to be "frozen" and used only for the new computer systems. Atari's all new computer division was born.

    Atari would introduce a new line of personal computers based around the MOS 6502 8-bit Processor. Using the new graphics/audio chip set the computer would come packaged with graphics and sound never before seen in a personal computer system. Capable of producing up to 128 colors using the CTIA chip (Colleen Television Interface Adapter) and later updated to 256 colors using a GTIA chip (General Television Interface Adapter) and with a maximum resolution of 320 X 192 the new line of Atari computer systems would have spectacular graphics for a system released in 1979.

    The Atari 800 case was designed by Kevin McKinsey of Atari's industrial design group, he wanted to give the Atari computers a warm familiar and friendly look. The new Atari 400 and 800 computers would look very similar to a standard home typewriter. The Atari 400 and 800 got their number designations from their original memory configurations which were 4K for the 400 and 8K for the 800. Also the Atari 400 and 800 were nicknamed after some very well endowed secretaries named Candy and Colleen.

    The Atari 800 was designed to be an expandable system with its easily removable top case cover. The original run of Atari 800's had two little plastic latches that you could turn to unlock the top case then you simply lifted it off to reveal the internal system bus slots, a total of 4 slots were available from 0 through 3. Slot 0 was reserve for the OS card, slots 1 through 3 were used for RAM card originally, but many inventive 3rd party companies produced not just RAM cards, but RAM Disc cards, 80 column video cards and even a modem interface card. Later models had the cover closed with 2 screws with washers.

    The original Atari OS personality card and Atari 8K and 16K memory cards were packaged into nice plastic/metal cases, this caused an overheat problem in the 800's, service centers received bulletins to remove the boards from their cases and discard the cases when systems came in with overheating problems, later Atari 800's were released from the factory with their OS and RAM cards not packaged into these little cases.

    The front of the Atari 800 was equipped with 4 controller jacks which were compatible with all of the Atari 2600 joysticks, paddles, and keypads. These jacks were analog and digital input and output ports and were used for many functions. One company called Corvus designed a hard drive interface which used ports 3 & 4, another company made a modem which plugged into ports 1 & 2, other company's made Real Time clock cards and other companies made robot arms, and Atari itself later had a science lab kit called Atari Lab which could measure temperature, light and sound. Analog magazine, an old Atari 8-bit computer magazine even had a home-brew project to build a voice synthesizer for joystick ports 1 & 2. The Atari 800 was a very versatile and usable computer system.

    The Atari 800 computer was sold from 1979 through 1982 and was then replaced by the Atari 1200XL home computer. Boosting 64K it was to be the all new future of Atari computers. Unfortunately it had no expansion slots, no external bus connector and lost 2 of its 4 controller ports.... It was a bomb, Atari 800 sales actually increased because people ran out to buy an Atari 800 before they were all gone.

    During the development of a new lower cost Atari computer system to replace the Atari 800, a new motherboard was designed, this new all in one motherboard replaced the seven (7) boards that made up an Atari 800 computer. This new motherboard was nicknamed Collette and was a one piece 64K version of the Atari 800, it was never sold.

    Atari also developed a 64K RAM card for the Atari 800 to replace all 3 16K RAM cards, this card too was never sold.

    Although the system is now almost 20 years old, the Atari 800 is still one of the most powerful, useful and versatile 8-bit home computers ever produced. Even though it has limited memory capacity and a slow 1.79MHZ 8-bit processor, many tried and true Atari users still fire up and use their Atari 800's to this day.

    Now you can enjoy the complete Atari experience! From games to programming languages without having to go out and drop a few hundred on one of the original antiques! I've always hosted a number of Atari-800 emulators, ROMs and software packages -- but today, I re-focused my efforts my incorporating two huge Atari-800 mirror sites (which are rapidly vanishing)!

    Check out http://atari.chazhome.com/ today and download the Atari Emulator for Windows (all 656K) and install it. To get you started, may I suggest that you download the following files:

    The Windows Atari Emulator

    The Atari-800 O/S Rev. B ROM

    The Atari-800XL O/S ROM

    Disc #1 - Game Loader D.O.S.

    Disc #2 - A sampling of games!

    Note: Some games require Atari-800 emulation, others require Atari-800XL with Basic turned OFF or ON.

    After you install the emulator and assign the ROM imges (a one-time thing), just assign the "GAME LOADER MENU.ATR" as DISC 1, and "GAMES001.ATR" as DISC 2, then hold down "shift" and press "F5" to perform a cold boot on the emulated Atari.

    You will now see a menu of games from the first games disc.

    I'm sure after you get this running, you'll be back for more!

    Use your numkeypad for joystick functions (if you don't have a joystick), or depress F12 to activate/deactivate mouse control (it's not as easy to work as a standard 8 position Atari joystick, but, hey -- you're playing M.U.L.E. again!) Drop me an e-mail or telephone me if you get stuck... Enjoy!

    Bonus! Guess which Atari 8-bit game featured this song!

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    Keep Walking

    Announcing: The Wireless Internet Assigned Numbers Authority

    As the wireless mesh grows, many of you have been clamouring for static IP and proper remote management of your node. CommunityWireless has been working to this end and is pleased to announce the Wireless Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, a new registry for the wireless space!
    free, unrestricted, broadband internet?

    Registering with Wiana gives you a cryptographic address certificate, which is automatically utilised by our current hardware / software solution. By integrating these signed adresses into thier designs, Mesh administrators can ensure nodes are who they claim to be! What's more, built in to the service is the facility to remotely manage your node, and set up your policies and restrictions, ensuring full node security.

    The best part of all, it's free!

    Also over at Locustworld, our new MeshAP hardware solution is now on sale (and it's selling even more rapidly than we had anticipated!)

    Welcome to Community Wireless :: The Internet Re-born

    What is Community Wireless?

    CommunityWireless.org is an umbrella organization - representing the needs of the emerging community networks

    In short we represent a global dream... and it's out there. Happening. Right now.

    Using 'off the shelf' and license-free Wireless LAN technology (802.11) various groups and individuals are embracing bandwidth and content, and sharing it with their community.

    But it's not restricted to Internet access, just think of the possibilities;

    * Neighbourhood Groups and Local high-speed P2P Networking
    * Neighbourhood Watch/Surveillance using X10 and USB devices
    * Community game servers
    * Connectivity to Rural/remote sites, previously limited by cables.
    * High speed Video Conferencing
    * High speed Mobile content
    * Localised 'Open Access' TV and Radio stations (streaming audio/video)

    The list goes on! It may seem like hot air, but it is very real.

    It’s the Organic Internet. The Internet re-born. The Internet the way it should be;

    * Free from the restrictions of ‘Corporate’ thinking, and Revenue strategies.
    * Free from ‘profit over performance’.
    * Run by the users, for the users.

    And all it takes, is like-minded individuals and groups to open up their Network and spare bandwidth, to anyone and everyone.

    Due to some replies from cowfusior on my blog here, I thought I'd post this information about, as well as a link to CommunityWireless.

    Community Wireless - The Internet Re-born... this will rock your world and scare the crap out of all media corporations, communications coporations and even some governments!! [Take that RIAA!!!]