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Scott's Column
Money 95 vs. Money 2000, Cable Modem

December 1, 1999
By Scott Lewis

This month was not what I expected. I abandoned Money 200 for Money 95 (4.X). I got my cable modem back, lost it again, and have it for a while. And work is under serious pressure.

Money 95 vs. Money 2000

I recently read an article about the Y2K issue. One of its points was that people should check to see if their personal finance software is Y2K compliant. This has been the one thing I have told people for months. I don't use any software that depends on the date, except Microsoft Money. And I upgraded to Money 2000 a couple of months ago to account for it.

The article even mentioned that Microsoft claims all of its versions of Money are Y2K compliant. I mistakenly never checked this. I just assumed MS Money 95 (also know as 4.0 or 4.1) was not Y2K complaint.

Money 2000 is a step backward in a number of areas from Money 95. I won’t get in to all those things here, but suffice it to say if I had know Money 95 was safe for the end of the millennium I would not have upgraded.

So how to downgrade. I exported my checking and saving accounts to QIF format. Then I installed Money 95 and imported those accounts. The balances where all screwed up. I started over with a new Money file. This time I imported one at a time. First the checking account. Everything was fine. Balanced to the penny. But while importing the checking account in asked me about my saving account, and I let it create it. When I imported the saving account the balances were all messed up again.

Start over again. I create an empty saving and checking account. Import the checking account data, and look at the savings. All the transactions there are transfers between the accounts. I delete all the transactions from the saving account. This messed up the balance in the checking account. Now I imported the savings data, and low and behold, everything balanced to the penny.

It turns out that all the transfers between the accounts were exported with each account, and since they were linked to each other it caused a double entry upon importing.

Now I am up and running with Money 95, and much better off for it. Does anyone need a copy of Money 2000?

Cable Modem Back (Or Not)

My cable modem was out for ten days. From October 26 - November 4. This caused last months articles to come out a week late.

I was very disappointed with Paragon (my local cable company) in resolving the issue. At first they had me change a setting on my computer. It was trivial, but it seemed to work. But not for long. Then I called again and things got worse. I was able to sporadically get e-mail, but unable to send it. Most everything else just timed out. They sent a technician to my house on the 4th day. He didn’t find anything wrong with the signal to my house. He told me to call it back in and tell them what he said. I did this and they had me try resetting the modem. This completely stopped the service. They sent the technician back to my house and he found the same thing... nothing wrong. He went to the node and tried to connect from there without any success. O.K. The node is down. Everyone going through this node is down.

For the next 5 days I called and got the same answer, "There is a technician working on it and it will be fixed today." Yea, right! Finally I asked to talk to a supervisor. He could not tell me what was going on, and scheduled a technician to come to my house again. Even though they should know this was a problem with the node.

The day the technician was supposed to come the cable service was working. It has been fast reliable. But it was very disconcerting. My wife was not able to get e-mails from work associates that use her home address (she does not have e-mail at work). And I was sick for a major portion of the time and was home without the ability to stay in touch with work or do any kind of gaming online to relax.

Then on Thanksgiving I lost service again. I had notice a couple of error on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, but didn’t pay much attention to it. Thanksgiving it was painfully slow, if it connected to anything at all. I called it in Friday morning. They said they would call back to tell me one way or another what would be done. Friday afternoon rolls along and nobody calls. I call back, and they tell me that a technician is working on it and it should be fixed in a couple of hours. I go out shopping. Come home and try it out. It seems to be working well. My download speed was very fast. About an hour later I get a call. They ask about the trouble. I run tell them it is working fine, and even run their speed test while the guy is on the phone to be sure. Everything is fine.

He tells me that the service could be intermittent over the weekend and I should call immediately if I have any problems. Sure enough Saturday morning it is down again. I call and they tell me that they will try to get a technician to call me but it may not be until Monday, due to the holiday weekend. Not Good.

Monday rolls around and nobody calls and the service is terrible to non-existent. I call Monday to see to complain about my service. The rep acts like I never called. I tell him that I called it in over the weekend and he should already know the problme. He tells me he is going to escalate it to a level three technician and I should get a call soon. Tuesday comes and no call.

I call them Tuesday and ask why no one is doing anything. This guy seems genuinely concerned that I haven’t been contacted. He transfers me to a Technician Manager for the Road Runner service people (as opposed to just a cable TV technician). I tell her the story and that I don’t like not even being called. She gives me her personal cell phone number, and has a technician call me in les than 15 minutes ot schedule a time to be at my house. He actually arrives 5 minutes ahead of schedule (no waiting for me). He has two other technician meet him there so they can explore all possibilities with my home.

Nothing is wrong with my house, and they all leave to continue working on it. They should not have to return to my house to fix it.

As of this writing I am waiting to here. I have been contacted to tell me it is being worked on, but I don’t have an estimate for its repair. Being a programmer and dealing with server problems myself I find this kind of feedback very comforting. I would rather here that they don’t know than an incorrect estimate that gives me false hope.

Unless he is out-and-out lying, which I have no reason to believe, I at least know the problem is being investigated. And I am not getting the usual "it will be fixed today" crap only to find out that it won’t be fixed.

They prorated my bill last month for the loss of ten days, and I expect the saem this time. I did look into ADSL form Soutwestern Bell. As it turns out, I live 18,600 feet from the central office. I need to be within 17,500 feet to get ADSL service. And they tell me it will be at least a year before they will build another central office clser to my house. By that time I will be building my house and will be wondering what will be available there.

I will keep you posted as always.

Working past the freeze

Work has been a nightmare. Our production web server run one instance of Express Server to deliver out web content. It runs another instace of Express for database loads. Since this is the fastest server we have at our disposal it provide us the fastest load times. Unfortunately the server started crashing during loads, and it even effected the web instance.

We are currently trying to reconfigure the server to get it up and running stable. This means we had to use our production server that feed our client/server applicaton as our web server as well. This is our slowest server, and now our users are feeling the pain.

Hopefully we will be back to normal soon. We have been told that we need to give up our production server (that feed the client/server app) because of some residual value. They are going to provide another server, but we have to share it with another group. I don’t like the sound of that. If they had just ordered our servers we requested 9 months ago in a timely manner this would not be a problem.

Life goes on.

Conclusion

That about covers it this month. I downloaded The Phantom Menace. It was an interesting exercise. I don’t know why the movie industry is worried about this kind of piracy. I already paid to see this movie twice. And will buy it when it comes out on DVD. That is assuming it will. My brother-in-law says he saw an interview with George Lucas where he said that he would not release and of the Star Wars movies on DVD until all six were available. Since the sixth movie is only due out in 2005, and it would be at least until 2006 that it would make it to sales/rental, I think he is making a huge mistake. By that time I will have seen it on HBO, Showtime, USA Network, TNT, etc., etc. I will have lost interest in buying it. If he wants my to buy it on DVD he better release it at the same time as VHS. I will not buy the VHS version.

In fact, it is this very kind of dealings that cause piracy. The quality of the movie I downloaded was terrible. But since I already saw it, I was able to enjoy it. Also, the time it took to download it (it was around 500MB) and the lack of quality means no body is making money off this. If they would release movies at a faster schedule it would bury pirates.

So listen up George, you are causing piracy be maintaining, and amplifying, bad business practices. Wake up!

Enough ranting.

Until next month.

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