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Discussions - Public / Adventures in Phone Number Porting
« Last post by The Gorn 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.
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FTE, Job and Career Discussion / Tax Law Favors S-Corps & LLCs
« Last post by benali72 on December 14, 2017, 04:02:08 PM »
The new tax tax (assuming it passes) favors S-Corps and LLCs.  Pass-thru taxes are less than individual taxes.

So if you have the option and haven't incorporated, you should seriously research this.

See http://slate.com/business/2017/12/why-youll-want-to-turn-yourself-into-a-business-under-the-republican-tax-plan.html
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Discussions - Public / Re: Stock photo sites
« Last post by ilconsiglliere on December 14, 2017, 03:21:49 AM »
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

ha - otherwise known as corporate propaganda  >:D
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Discussions - Public / Re: Stock photo sites
« Last post by The Gorn 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
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Discussions - Public / Re: Stock photo sites
« Last post by unix on December 13, 2017, 05:51:07 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.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/tj_simon/11617256636/in/photostream/
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Discussions - Public / Re: Stock photo sites
« Last post by The Gorn 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
« Last post by ilconsiglliere on December 13, 2017, 05:04:06 AM »
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.

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.
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Discussions - Public / I just found out about HyperLedger
« Last post by ArnoldW2 on December 12, 2017, 10:28:11 PM »
I was watching a video called "Gold: The Once and Future Money" by Jim Rickards.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=dL6ivMCw4GA

The video is very worthwhile, but it's main topic is NOT why I posted this message.

Near the end of the video, Jim Rickards mentioned "HyperLedger Fabric".  He said:
"There's something called the permission type of ledger fabric ... released July 2017 by the Linux foundation.  This is the future of blockchain.  BitCoin's a dead end.  The current blockchain architecture is a dead end.  HyperLedger Fabric ... is the future of the blockchain."

I had no idea what he was talking about.  So I did some googling.

Most web sites I found had descriptions that were suitable only for Dilbert cartoons:  Lots of business buzzwords and little to no substance.

Even the best three web sites gave me only a vague idea of what HyperLedger Fabric is about.  They seem poorly thought out, but I think that's only because it is still in the earliest stages of development.  In spite of their flaws, I am beginning to get some understanding.

What do you all think?


Video:
Hyperledger Fabric Demo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgFthehLNJ4



Video:
Hyperledger Fabric Explainer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=js3Zjxbo8TM



Key Features of HyperLedger Fabric
   • Channels for sharing confidential information
   • Ordering Service delivers transactions consistently to peers in the network
   • Endorsement policies for transactions
   • Bring-your-own Membership Service Provider (MSP)

http://www.hyperledger.org/projects/fabric
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Discussions - Public / Re: Stock photo sites
« Last post by The Gorn 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
« Last post by Richardk on December 12, 2017, 05:20:15 PM »
Thanks for all the feedback! She discovered Unsplash just before hearing back from me but appreciated the recommendation and felt good about her choice. She has a budget and is willing to buy something if it meets her needs.
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