Archive for May, 2008


I have been using Ameritech/SBC/AT&T; Yahoo DSL for close to 6 years now. Overall I have been very happy with the service. It rarely goes down, which to me is the single most important aspect of Internet service. I get my emails as fast as Outlook will pull them down (which never taxes the line based on Outlook’s performance). I get to Web sites and the performance is very acceptable for me and the people who share it here at White Light Computing World Headquarters.

I started out with the 784kbps service, which was a big bump from the 144kbps service I had with Voyager before they decided to stop offering DSL. A few years ago I upgraded to Pro (1.5 to 3.0 mbps) and last year to the Elite package which promises between 3 and 6mbps service (readers might recall my post when I upgraded last year: AT&T; DSL Tries to Increase 25%).

When I moved up to the Pro service I tested out the DSL Speed at 1.2 to 1.3 mbps. Every time I tested it, no matter the time of day, no matter what day of the week, I always got 1.2 to 1.3mbps. I called the tech support and they told me the distance from my house to the central office was further than the recommended distance. I figured this was pretty good since the best I was ever able to get on dial-up more than a decade ago was 26kbps (yes I am serious, even with a 56K modem). According to the phone company I live in the oldest phone infrastructure in the state of Michigan despite the fact that my house was built in a new neighborhood just 14 years ago.

Over the last few years I have complained periodically about the performance of the line hoping they would move the central office closer to my house via the infrastructure, or put in some line boosters. I mostly complained around the time I renew my annual contract. Last year they promised me if I moved to the Elite version that I would definitely get better performance. Nope, still at the 1.2 to 1.3mbps speed. I complained at least twice since the upgrade. Apparently not loud enough.

A couple of weeks ago I get a sales call from AT&T; Yahoo asking me if I would like 6.25 mbps. I told them I would love to get the low end of the Elite service I have been paying for. You see, I have finally wizened up {g}. The gentleman told me the old modems were the problem. All I had to do is get the new service and purchase a new modem and I would be set to rock and roll. Hmmmm, new modem is the problem. So I decline and talk to tech support to see if I can get a replacement modem. I ask about the specs and they tell me they cannot find anything about the upper limits. They proceed to tell me it would be easy to get the latest technology for something like US$79.99. I get shipped back to sales again. I Google the DSL modem I have and the manufacturer’s site tells me it can go as high as 8mbps. Back to tech support.

Smelling the rat I get escalated to second level support. Interestingly enough it takes the second level tech about 60 seconds to have an “aha” moment. In my “record” I was still tagged at Express speed which means Ameritech/SBC/AT&T; have throttled my performance to max out at 1.5mbps. He updates my record and tells me to test the DSL speed again. Holy cow, over 5mbps!!! More than triple the speed I was getting minutes before when the first level techs told me the modem was old and I was too far from the central office one more time.

Back to sales to get my monetary adjustment. First level sales said the best they can do is two months credit because I did not complain enough to them over the three years they were throttling my speed. Two months!?!?!? How about $120 per year since this is what the difference is between the Elite plan I have and the Express plan I was throttled to get? Nope, the best I should hope for is two months, and actually I should consider this a “generous offer.” Seriously!?!?! Customer service has never been one of the phone company’s strong points. You would think the alleged competition would make them treat customers like human beings, but no, they treat them more along the line of the necessary evil people who pay to keep them in a job.

Moving to the “supervisor” offered me $100, credited to me over the next few months. This happens to cross over my contract year so if I bail to cable or another provider I will not even see the entire credit. Total crapola.

So the moral of this story is to test out your speed performance and ensure you are getting what you paid for. If you are getting the run around you can ask for level two support and ask them to check your record to ensure it is set correctly. I am still considering my options as far as if I should go after AT&T; Yahoo to get a full refund. I am normally anti-lawsuit, but this one really is something they should be called out on. If they are doing it to me, they are probably doing it to a lot of others. I have also considered giving a call to the local news station and getting one of their consumer reporters on the case just for grins. Fortunately for them I have been buried in work and have not had a moment to think about this since I got the “speed boost” a couple of weeks ago.

Another Life Lesson learned thanks to the folks at the New AT&T;.

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I decided I needed a break this Sunday morning and came across a link from a friend that sucked me in for a little time:

I have never been a huge jigsaw puzzle fanatic, but I found this interesting and really think the technology and code behind this site has to be interesting. You can link to puzzles on your own site or blog, and even load up your own pictures. Fun idea.

Keep enjoying the Memorial Day holiday weekend if you are here in the USA, otherwise, keep enjoying your weekend {g}.


On May 1, we announced the speaker and session lineup for Southwest Fox 2008.

Menachem Bazian, Rick Borup, Craig Boyd, Bo Durban, Mike Feltman, Toni Feltman, Tamar E. Granor, Doug Hennig, Andy Kramek, Andrew R. MacNeill, Barbara Peisch, Cathy Pountney, Rick Schummer, Alan Stevens, Rick Strahl, and Christof Wollenhaupt.

It was even harder selecting from the outstanding list of proposals this year than it was last year, and Doug, Tamar, and I are very excited about the sessions being presented this year. There are some killer topics such as taking advantage of GDI+ in your VFP applications, creating custom report controls, profiling and refactoring code using the VFPX Code Analyst tool, using WMI, taking advantage of the Sedna Upsizing Wizard, using Ajax and jQuery in Web applications … the list is long and exciting!

More details can be found on the Southwest Fox Web site and our blog.

Registration is now open, so be sure to sign up today for a fun three days in Phoenix in October. Even better, if you register before July 1, you save $75 on the registration and get a free pre-conference session, a $99 value.

We’re looking forward to seeing you in October! Only 165 days until we meet in Mesa…



I seen Igor Vit has the sessions posted and registration opened for the Prague VFP DevCon 2008.

July 1-3, 2008
Czech Technical University

Looks like he has set up a terrific line up of sessions and speakers! Mike and Toni Feltman, and Christof Wollenhaupt have English sessions. Martin Haluza (XFRX fame), Ivan Arnold, Štěpán Bechynský, Michal Bláha, Pavel Celba, Srdjan Djordjevic, Jan Dudek, Petr Hojný, Michael Juřek, Milan Kosina, Norbert Kustra, and Milan Štoček will present in Czech.

Check out this great conference, which leads in attendance every year as far as Fox conferences.



Tracking tracking is critical to developers who bill by the hour or need to show how much time they worked on projects for clients. White Light Computing 1.0 (a.k.a before-Frank {g}) was a series of simple entries into QuickBooks Pro. All the entries flow directly to the invoices sent to the customers. I have the software running on my machine so this really was not a big deal and the time entry in QuickBooks is easy to use for the most part.

On to White Light Computing 2.0 stocked with a full-time employee and the need to track time so the overhead of administrative headaches does not drive me crazy. I had four requirements:

  1. Easy to use.
  2. Reasonably priced.
  3. Integration with QuickBooks to avoid the duplicate entry.
  4. It could not be TimeSlips which personally I tried in a former job and it stunk.

Frank made a recommendation of TimeTTracker from R&F; Consulting based on some experience he has with the product. I contacted the vendor with some questions about the integration with QuickBooks, how the data synchronized between TimeTTracker and QuickBooks, and how I would get the settings from QuickBooks (like customer lists, billing items, etc.) to TimeTTracker on employee’s computers. The sales person was very nice and very responsive. He even answered my technical questions about the software, the language it is written in (“old-fashioned, but fast C++/MFC”, developer’s words not mine, but I told him I prefer “mature” technology too {g}), how it works with the SQL Server Compact edition, and how this would not conflict with the my existing SQL Server installation.

The process did not start out real smooth. I cannot say for sure what went wrong, but after the initial install of TimeTTracker my ActiveSync to my Treo broke. TimeTTracker has a Windows Mobile component to keep track of your time and it synchronizes with the desktop component. I think this is cool, but don’t anticipate using the phone to track my time. Still this was frustrating. So I spent a few days (linear time not actual time) fixing ActiveSync, and reinstalled TimeTTracker. Everything worked the second time around.

I have to say, this program is a winner. The synching of customer lists, items, etc. is smooth. I add something new in QuickBooks and jump to TimeTTracker and tell it to synch. Seven seconds later everything is up to date. The actual time entry is easy to use and has a killer feature called “templates” where I set up a template with the employee name (me), preselected customer, item (determines the rate), and whether it is billable or not. Now all I have to do is pick the template, pick the date, enter in the time and description and save. In QuickBooks I had to pick each setting each time I entered in time for a project. This is going to save me a lot of time each week.

I export the QuickBook settings to an XML file and send it to Frank who imports the settings into his copy of TimeTTracker. He exports his time and sends it to me once a week. I import the file into TimeTTracker, review and clean up entries, then upload them to QuickBooks for invoicing.

The entire process is slick and will save me a ton of time. The license for the QuickBooks version is only US$90. If you don’t need the QuickBooks integration you can pick up the standard version for US$40. There is a version for Microsoft Office Accounting too. I have only been using this product a week, but it has made my administrative life better.

Nice recommendation Frank, thanks.

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I have used AVG Technologies anti-virus for several years now based on a recommendation from a friend when I got fed up with Norton. AVG is nice and unobtrusive and has saved me from several virus sent to me by spammers.

Currently I use the AVG Anti-Virus Network Edition v7.5 for all my production development laptops and the Small Business Server 2003 box. It rocks. All the updates come to the server and are pushed to the laptops. I can schedule things in one place and I am assured that all the laptops will conform to the schedule. Not pure magic, but definitely pure pleasure.

Last week I was working on my test machine and noticed my subscription expired. This one machine is using a single license of AVG Anti-Virus v7.5 so I hit the AVG site and purchased a single license, which is good for two years. My five pack on the network edition is all used up and I didn’t feel the need to purchase another 5 licenses that will expire this November.

The new license is for AVG 8.0. Lately I have hesitated to upgrade to the latest and greatest of things because I have found I battle changes/bugs more than enjoy new features. AVG has proven to me to work well in the past so I decided to take the shot. Worse case, I only have to uninstall on one machine.

The install went fine, but for some reason the program could not reach the update files. I tried many things to set the proxy through the firewall without any luck. Hardware issue – well you know how much I love this stuff. I posted a trouble ticket on the AVG site. A couple of days later I get an email with some suggestions, but none of them worked. I responded to a couple of questions and waited a couple of days to get some diagnosis files to run with the AVG diag software. I ran the diagnosis config and it is able to email the results to AVG. Interesting how I can email to their domain, but cannot get the download files. I guess if the diagnosis file did not make it to the tech support folks this would reveal something they needed to know {g}. This revealed a problem with the ISA Server firewall running on the server. Apparently AVG changed the update sites and my firewall was blocking them. The settings were pretty easy, and once they were cleared on the server everything worked fine.

Their email tech support is very professional and very helpful, but definitely a little slow in between emails. I am just glad I did updated the one license before treading the updates for the network edition. I definitely would not have appreciated five machines being without proper AV protection for a week.