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Messages - The Gorn

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1
Discussions - Public / Adventures in Phone Number Porting
« on: December 16, 2017, 08:44:30 PM »
I hereby declare myself a phone number porting ninja. I just rearranged my cell numbers and in the process resolved a long standing pain in the ass issue with my main business number I've had increasingly for several years.

I did everything I set out to do. But I found as a by-product that website information from random nobodies is often complete misleading horse shit.

First of all, my cell phone setup looked like this for the last year and a half:

- Business phone number on a BLU HD 6 smart phone, which is an increasingly wheezy and slow 2014 design running Android 5.0. No path to upgrades. And (since I didn't know what I was doing when I bought it) extremely skimpy 8 GB memory for apps, which turned out to only be 5.6 GB available after the OS's needs. I constantly ran out of room to install apps and I was constantly chasing memory use with a memory optimizer. (on that version of Android you can't transparently use an SD card as part of system memory, and when apps upgrade themselves they always move back into the limited phone memory.) I had had this phone number since 2000 when the line it was on was a Sprint line that was part of a dual ISDN data pair. After I got rid of ISDN I kept the number as a landline, I had it ported to Time Warner cable a few years ago, and then onto a Straight Talk cell account.  The BLU phone is extremely awkward to use for normal calls because of its size, so I always had to use an earpiece which worked OK but was one more piece of junk.

- Personal cell number, on a cheap $13 Verizon prepaid flip phone. 300 min or texts/mo for $15+tax, which was all I needed. I had the cell number since 2012 and several people in my life have the number.

Here's the deal with the two phone numbers. I had placed my business number on my websites for years, and also the phone number had started life as a land line. So in the last couple of years I would easily get 10+ spam calls a day on that line. Constantly: business loans, payday loans, marble mouthed Indian scammers, scammers with "arrest you if you do not respond" scam calls, electric providers, etc.

My business line was almost unusable for incoming calls because I never took any rings seriously due to the spam. And the existing apps I found did not do a great job of handling or detecting spam calls. Example: Should I Answer? app. It worked OK but got in the way every time a legitimate call came in.

My personal cell line has always been extremely quiet and only very rarely did it receive spam - usually misdialed calls. I've never publicized that number, ever, and only a few individuals have it.

I recently also upgraded my smart phone to a Moto G5 which has been exceptional, and is much easier to handle and carry and much better battery life and performance than the BLU HD. I realized after using it for a couple of weeks that I was not using the flip phone any. But I still had that suck business number on the nice new smartphone.
I want to keep the business number because it's registered with credits cards and with tax agencies as a point of contact. But it had gotten useless for incoming calls.

Here was my idea:

1) Move the business number off of Straight Talk onto a Google Voice account. Google charges $20 one time for porting in. This would spam proof the number, and also, GV has really good controls for things like ringing the phone only during business hours of the work week if you like.

2) With my smart phone now presumably dead with no plan, move my personal cell number from my cheap flip phone I stopped carrying, and onto the smart phone and onto a new plan.

3) My smart phone now has a *private* number with no record of spam, and I stop needing to manage two different cells. So I stop looking like a drug dealer with a burn phone, or a married man having an affair using a second cell phone.  :P >:D

That's the goal. Here's how it went.

The main issue with porting phone numbers turns out to be acquiring the account number for the existing cell service. That account number is not easy to acquire as an end user in certain situations with some providers.

If I move off of Straight Talk, I need to know the account number, plus a PIN that you set as a user in their web dashboard, in order to have a successful port. Same for any provider.

The old phone number provider won't respond if the PIN or the account number are incorrect or invalid.

So, I ordered a new Straight Talk SIM card set from Walmart ($0.99) and once it arrived (so I could port to the smart phone ASAP) I got to work.

I found some conflicting info about Straight Talk's account ID. The preponderance of information seemed to say that your account number for porting purposes is the current carrier's SIM card number (actually the last 15 digits of it.)

I went into Google Voice, paid my $20, and initiated the port using the SIM card number as the account number. This was around 1 AM.

By 9 PM the following evening my smart phone was inactive and my Google Voice account showed the ported business line. Yay! So I guessed right.

The REAL challenge was porting my phone number away from Verizon.

This is where I ran into absolute website bullshit from lying bullshitters and idiots.

The issue with Verizon Prepaid is that VZW makes it almost impossible to speak to a customer service rep as a prepaid customer. Their phone system runs you in circles with canned rote recorded bullshit. And, with prepaid you never receive a paper invoice or bill with an account number. Also, the web interface does NOT show an account number.  You need to ask one of those impossible-to-reach customer service people for your account ID.  In theory.

So I first tried to figure out the account number on my own. One idiot stated that you could open the page source of your VZQ user profile page, and your account number would appear in the source code. I found this, a 10 digit number. ALso the same idiot said you append -00001 to the end of that number.

Great, so I used that to try to port into Straight Talk from VZW.

Fail. After a day and a half my phone account on ST was showing "port in progress."

I got on chat that evening and found that my provided account number was incorrect and therefore the other carrier rejected it.

Fine. So I ran the poor guy at the other end through several account numbers. It turned out that they could re-submit the request in real time and tell me the result in a few minutes.

The other idiotic guesses I found online (which VZW all rejected) were:

The phone number (area+number).
The last four digits of the number.
I also tried the web site source code value without the -00001.

Nothing worked. And one of these tips was written by Verizon staffers on their community forum site!  >:(

Later that evening I found instructions on how to get through to a VZW prepaid wireless rep in a real phone call. You have to enter certain numbers at specific times in their "script". (Note to the board: if you want these instructions offer me something of value like a paid gig. :P I worked hard to find this, damnit!)

Once I got that number, I called, was connected in a few minutes to a nice lady, and I got the account number.

For VZW Prepaid it's a 12 character sequence with a leading alpha. Nothing in the number matches any info I found anywhere in my possession.

Clearly Verizon wants to lock in prepaid customers. Jerks.

I got on chat again with Straight Talk, and after a lengthy assed wait because of their system, provided the "good" account number.

The rep had apparently looked at my ticket and asked me "are you sure this is the right number" because of the false tries. I made it clear that I wasn't guessing this time.

They applied the number at like 2:30 in the afternoon. They said it cleared OK and that my phone should be working by 4 PM. It had a signal and I was able to make a call by 3:30.

I felt pretty good about wading through all that crap and achieving a desired result.

2
Discussions - Public / Re: Stock photo sites
« on: December 13, 2017, 07:13:35 PM »
I am not following what kind of photos you want. Here are very neat nature pics. If you want to use those as a background.

Yeah, you're pretty much out of it.  >:D :P

You get any corporate annual reports? Sure you do. The images in those reports of cheerful corporate life and cheerful employees and grateful customers and happy children whose lives are blessed by the company's operations are stock photos.

Not landscapes, not screen savers, not background images in place of a background color...

They're images typically used to create a specific emotional impression for an ad or something. They're called "stock" because they are in an inventory of images for rent and multiple people may buy the same image for their use (meaning license the use of the image.)

If you use a stock photo you lift from a website without paying for it, you can get sued for big money by the real owner.

Sorry, my snark setting is sky high. Look outside your tech silo once in a while, there's daylight out here. :P

3
Discussions - Public / Re: Stock photo sites
« on: December 13, 2017, 07:46:17 AM »
Agreed, been there, done that with the pricing. The last web site that I had was professionally done and I did have to pay for all the graphics. But it did look nice. Did it buy me anything? Not really because the business concept was not as sound as I thought it was.

You live and learn.

Fotalia is a good high quality cheaper alternative to iStockPhoto.

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Discussions - Public / Re: Stock photo sites
« on: December 12, 2017, 05:26:21 PM »
Pictures are like everything else in life - you get what you pay for. If you want nice graphics and photos you have to pay. Bottom line. Sure you may find some free ones but for the most part they will never be as good as the ones you pay for. 

The gold standard for online stock photography is iStockPhoto. Their pricing is stratospheric - they're now part of Getty Images. And their images are the best of all the sites. The images that it's difficult to find at economical cost are people in specific situations or showing certain concepts. iStockPhoto has a wide range of such photos.

Really high quality images at high resolutions can individually cost $50+ and a lot more for web use rights.

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Discussions - Public / Re: Stock photo sites
« on: December 11, 2017, 09:58:34 PM »
The payment includes administrative shit plus royalties to the original photographers. Someone who created the stock photos benefits if you buy them.

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Discussions - Public / Re: Stock photo sites
« on: December 11, 2017, 07:33:19 PM »
Ok, that's clearer. She or you probably really want some staged stock photos of business group events.

The sites CanStockPhoto and Fotalia are really good for the money. Fotalia is the better one and CanStockPhoto is really better for drawn web illustrations.

The sites I mentioned (Death to the stock photo) are more ponderous artsy images and won't be "fun".

At the very low end you fund an account with like $10 to $30 on one of these sites and that provides you with some credits to download images. Lower resolution images are fewer credits, and thematically and artistically "better" images require spending more credits.

I would recommend one of those two sites just to save time. You can zero in quickly on good stock photos on a stock site whereas you may spend hours dicking with Google image search and find that the best images are copyrighted.

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Discussions - Public / Re: Stock photo sites
« on: December 11, 2017, 06:33:36 PM »
Google these sites for completely free, no-strings high quality stock photos:

Unsplash

Death to the stock photo

These photos are more artsy than business-conceptual.

Also, on Google image search, you can limit image searches by Creative Commons license types. In other words you can limit found images to those marked available for non commercial use.

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Discussions - Public / Re: r u Sending Xmas Cards this year?
« on: December 11, 2017, 05:09:22 PM »
Sending one of those popup cards would be a very alpha move. Yes, you'd have to like the person a lot. They would really impress.

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Discussions - Public / Re: Stock photo sites
« on: December 11, 2017, 05:06:36 PM »
Rather than do a core dump of my valuable wide ranging knowledge on the subject, why don't you explain what your specific end purpose is for the photos? Be real specific, not just "web site".

Some sites are better than others for particular needs. And what people think of as stock photographs varies widely. Since you aren't in the web designer club you'll need to splain what you are looking for.

I'm not being snarky. I could spend an hour writing up what I know.

10
Discussions - Public / Re: Are All LED TVs Pretty Much The Same?
« on: December 10, 2017, 08:05:22 PM »
We have a bunch of TV's at work and I've noticed during soccer games that some team colors have very noticeable ghosting of the players. Some kind of persistence issue related to the refresh rate or perhaps the type of screen?

It might be the video technology. The MPEG. The same data loss that makes some scenes with uniform background colors blocky.

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Discussions - Public / Re: r u Sending Xmas Cards this year?
« on: December 10, 2017, 08:04:06 PM »
I agree that cards are special but it adds up with time and money.

Everybody says they don't have the time, of course. The default communication today is none - depersonalized - and if you send anything send a stupid emoji and act like you really did something when all you did was type some shit.

So, receiving a card marks your relationship with someone as special. Because it seems to be so inconvenient to send cards today.

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Discussions - Public / Re: r u Sending Xmas Cards this year?
« on: December 10, 2017, 06:28:22 PM »
I look for the bargain selections. Like "Shoebox" humorous cards which are by a Hallmark division but are much less elaborate than the Hallmark branded cards with sequins, sparkles, and embedded music players.

But even a generic card from a packaged box of 50 identical cards feels pretty special to receive anymore.

Years ago in Cincinnati I lived next door to a freelance artist who did card designs for Gibson greeting cards. He was one of the first people to turn me on to "Beavis & Butthead" - he even put in to a contest to draw for "Ren and Stimpy".

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Discussions - Public / Re: r u Sending Xmas Cards this year?
« on: December 09, 2017, 11:32:26 PM »
We do.

Greetings and celebrations need to be exceptional, unusual, unexpected. Otherwise how do you even know  they are celebrations?

Another f*cking emoji someone sends me on Facebook? Easy. Common. Effortless. I know they put no thought into it.

Doesn't mean f*ckin' shit. Has no emotional impact. Yeah yeah, I need to get back to my porn and my Drudge Report. 

A signed greeting card is a 6 sigma social event today. Exceptional, unexpected, welcome.

14
Discussions - Public / Re: Are All LED TVs Pretty Much The Same?
« on: December 05, 2017, 05:12:13 PM »
^ I'm thinking that high refresh rates (well over 72 HZ) are mandatory for LED's and flat screens because the flat screen imaging stuff has no persistence.

Cathode ray tubes had persistence in the phosphor - it would glow for a little while after being hit by electrons - so 60-72 HZ was perfectly adequate. The LEDs basically go out instantly once you stop applying power, so a high refresh rate has to take place to make natural looking motion.

This is more expensive than a lower refresh rate LED flat panel because you need faster processors and electronics to refresh those millions of pixels.

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Discussions - Public / Re: Are All LED TVs Pretty Much The Same?
« on: December 04, 2017, 05:16:12 PM »
The thing that's missing is the refresh rate. It really becomes obvious when you are watching anything that involves motion, like sports, or action movies or anything that's moving.

A point worth noting and I'm glad I never bothered with the black Friday TV deals.


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