What I know about FiOS…

…will fit in this post.
If FiOS is available in your neighborhood, Verizon has already installed the fiber infrastructure and run fiber to a junction box. The home install involves a tech running the fiber from a nearby telephone pole into your house, installing the terminal that converts the optical signal to coax, POTS and (maybe) Ethernet, and setting up your cable box and router. This will take somewhere between three hours and forever. My install was closer to three hours, though (of course) I handled the router setup myself.
You may have seen some forum complaints about having to dig up the yard; that’s probably not applicable anywhere in MA since our old neighborhoods all have phone service coming off poles rather than buried lines. The customer premises equipment includes the fiber terminal, a backup battery and A/C power supply. The tech will want to locate all of that close to where the fiber enters the house, which is presumably also near where the cable TV coax comes in. The terminal will need to be close to a power outlet and your main phone junction box. We installed ours in the basement next to the breaker box. I was worried that I’d have to fish twisted pair through the wall to get the network signal to an upstairs router, but the coax output allowed me to use the existing cable TV wiring. The provided router has a coax input as well as a built-in 4 port 10/100 hub and 802.11g access point so you don’t have to go through any abnormal gyrations to get your computers hooked up.
I’ve had two complaints in the last 18 months: the install tech forgot to put the backup battery in during the initial install, so we had a beep in the basement for 24 hours or so until someone could come out and install it. Then, a couple months ago, my router flaked out and Verizon overnighted a replacement. No service outages or DNS hiccups, as far as I can recall. I also have a minor gripe in that Verizon redirects failed DNS lookups to their own search engine, which is kinda uncool. The wireless may or may not be a bit flaky. I have a running issue with my Chumby’s clock losing time and not updating via NTP, which I can fix temporarily by rebooting the router. Still haven’t figured that one out yet, but there it is. Our laptop and other wireless devices work just fine.
As for phone service, the phone does ride the light wave into the house, but it’s not really VOIP; 911 works normally and there’s an LED labeled POTS to represent phone status on the terminal box. The backup battery provides phone service for up to 4 hours (as I recall) in case of a power outage.
Definitely count me as a happy customer; it’s faster and more consistent than the Comcast cable we had in the old house, and the phone, cable and Internet all come on one bill without having to go VOIP.

Cell phone obsession II: The contract goes to…

After a little more research and hand-wringing, we popped over to the Apple store this weekend and walked away with an iPhone. I was leaning towards the BlackBerry Bold until I figured out that I’d have to pay the business data rate to have access to my business email, which would have negated much of the savings that motivated me to move to AT&T in the first place. I think the centralized administration and big-brotherly nature of the BlackBerry architecture provides an advantage for businesses that need to manage a herd of devices, but for little ol’ me, that stuff sounded like a pain in the butt.
After a couple days in my pocket, I think I like it well enough. Phone-feature-wise it’s probably not as good as some others, though I must say the voice quality is a big step up from my Q. That may just be GSM vs CDMA, though. The web browsing, however, blows just about everything else away, and having an iPod in there as well sure is nice. Apple clearly traded off features for a “humane” interface, and I find myself forgiving some gaps in functionality because it’s just so much fun to look at. I’m getting used to the keyboard, and I think after a few more days I’ll be as fast as I was on my old phone.
The thing is about as grippy as a wet pumpkin seed, though. I actually like it better in the case.

I, for one, welcome our new Communist, crypto-Muslim overlord

In case there’s any doubt in your mind, let me state for the record that the title is a JOKE, a HUMEROUSHUMOROUS JAB at some of the more PATHETIC attempts at political smears. Besides, anyone that’s heard him talk knows that he’s a Setian.
I had no trouble exercising my francise today. Precinct 4 in Canton apparently didn’t get the memo about massive turnout. Or maybe all my neighbors decided to sleep in a bit. At any rate, I was in and out of the school gym in less than 10 minutes. I spent more time sighing over the uncontested state and Congressional races than I did standing in line.
As of this writing, the presidential race is unfolding more-or-less as expected. FiveThirtyEight.com projects more than 300 electoral votes for Obama, which shouldn’t surprise anybody. In the end, I voted for him. Well, it wasn’t so much a vote for him as it was a vote against the emptiness of McCain’s campaign. I think Obama will have trouble delivering on his promises, and the thought of a Democrat president with a fully Democratic congress gives me both the heebies and the jeebies. But after the last eight years, my bottom line is: bad Republicans, no White House.

Cell phone obsession

My contract with Verizon ends this week, and the battery on my Moto Q is about to go to its little Li-Ion reward, so I’m in the throes of my biennial obsession with cell phones. I’ve been a Verizon customer for about six years (three phones) and I don’t have any particular complaints…except that we pay two cell phone bills. Elise is stuck with ATT; they were nice enough to plop a microcell in the basement of her hospital so her phone works in the ORs. If I switched to AT&T, we can go to a family plan and I’d probably save enough in the first year to pay for the phone I’d have to buy. That’s a pretty compelling argument. If it wasn’t for the whole

thing, I’d be set.
So while I agonize about that, anybody got any smartphone recommendations? Due to some changes at work I’m no longer feeling the need to stick with Windows Mobile for the sake of political correctness. However, I gotta have Exchange integration. I admit that I’m now addicted to the whole email-in-the-pocket thing. I use that quite a bit, and I tend to do a fair bit of web browsing (mostly Google Reader) on the train. My major functional gripe with the Q is the lack of multiple vibrate alerts, or some way to differentiate text message alerts and calendar reminders from incoming email.
I downloaded the BlackBerry simulators for two new models (the Storm on Verizon, and the Bold on ATT) and they look pretty slick. The Storm in particular looks sexy, but I’m not sure it’s sexy enough to justify the extra recurring expense.
So besides the BlackBerrys, and what’s-it-called from that company in Cupertino, anything else I should consider?

Halloween: in the bag

We lucked out with nice weather on Friday night, and enjoyed a nice evening with our friends over on Cheever Street. Clone Commander Cody (Andrew) and Dora the Explorer (Maggie), moochin’ sacks at the ready, raided the neighborhood.
I put a few pics in the gallery, which also cover last weekend’s school Halloween party and the Friday morning Halloween parade.