Monthly Archives: March 2016

Already Not Impressed With Frontier – Please Give Me Verizon Back!

I feel like I’m in a vehicle, hurtling down a mountain road with no brakes, no steering wheel, in short no control!

I’m one of those poor souls who are being forced into a new telephone company, after Verizon sold their Florida assets to Frontier.

Dear Public Service Commission, you did us no favours!

I’ve been a happy Verizon customer for over 40 years, with the last 4, being a FIOS customer. When I heard about Frontier taking over, it didn’t take but 60 seconds to read countless complaints from other states where this has taken place. Not reassuring at all!

So I get the mailer to create my Frontier user ID. Fine, how hard can that be? Well, it took over 30 minutes!

Screen shot of the Frontier website

Screen shot of the Frontier website

For starters, their web designers have decided to block a users ability to use the context menu or Control-V to paste in your password.

In this day in age where a strong password is important, this prevents me using my password manager and my normal 32 character password!

OK fine, I type in something far less secure and continue on…

Next, they want a mobile number. No, you can’t have it! It’s a required field though, so I just put in the home phone number for the service I’m paying for with them. Then a menu comes up giving me the ability to accept or decline marketing calls to the number.

I decline

At which point, my number is erased from the “required” field and I am not allowed to register! I tried several times to get past this road block, before finally putting in a completely fake, all Zero phone number with my proper area code, and then accepting advertising. This only worked after they decided to throw out a Captcha verification to make sure I wasn’t a robot.

Now, it lets me register

Next, it wants to verify my email address. Fine, it’s a simple thing, and completely understandable.  I click for them to send me an email with the link.

But the email never comes. Turns out that Frontier generates so much spam email, that my mail provider was blocking them from my mailbox! This took a trip to my hosting control panel to actually white-list their domain so the mail can get through.

The mail comes, I click on the link, and it just takes me back to their main site. No indication that my mail has been verified.

I close the window and open it again, and they once again complain that I need to verify my email.

Fine, I ask for another email. Click on that link, with the same results. It took several attempts before their web site acknowledged that my email address was verified.

It won’t let me set up billing and other needs at this point, as the hand-off doesn’t happen until tomorrow. This is the only thing so far that makes any sense.

I’ve read many complaints of double billing during the hand-over, with Verizon continuing to bill when you’re no longer a customer, and Frontier trying to calculate partial months to get you into their billing cycle.  This could be a disaster for those of us on a fixed income.

So far, my experience has been terrible with this company. I’m scared to death of huge price increases after my current Verizon contract expires next year (If they even honour it!)

I may have to change to Bright House cable, and I hear they’re even worse…

 

Oops, That Kernel Didn’t Work!

Being security conscious, I try to keep everything up to date. This includes the Linux kernel that is the heart of our systems.

In keeping with that, a few weeks ago I changed all of my Mint 17.3 machines to the kernel recommended in the kernel chooser.

Kernel chooser

Kernel chooser

As you can see above, I’m running the kernel recommended by Linux Mint. This went well for all but one of my machines. My bedside, 4 processor, 8 gigs of RAM machine seemed to run fine for a week or so, but I found that when running certain software packages; the computer would completely freeze. Anything to do with video or graphics would freeze at random times with no warning.

Scouring the logs was pointless, as the freeze happened before anything was logged.

At first I blamed a new wireless keyboard / mouse combo that was purchased at the same time. Putting a USB set back in, proved the wireless was not the cause.

Searching the Mint and other forums showed that many people were having the same problem I was. A combination of the processor type and graphics card seemd to be to blame.

By this time I had already removed the previous kernel, so it was time to put it back!

Open your Update Manager, click on View, and then select Linux kernels

In my case, I re-installed the 3.13 kernel that had been working flawlessly before. Of course if there are notes about security issues or regressions that could impact your system, then chose another.

Installing a different kernel

Installing a different kernel

Next you need to edit the GRUB config file, as I was booting quietly, not displaying the boot menu. To do that, simply drop to a terminal and edit it with your favorite text editor. I use medit

$ sudo medit /etc/default/grub

will open your text editor in super user mode.

Edit grub

Edit grub

Editing Grub

Editing Grub

You’ll see in the above example, I’ve commented out, using the # symbol, to have the boot process ignore the two commands at lines 7 and 8. Doing this, will now let me see the grub boot menu at startup. Save and close the file, and then, it’s very important that you tell grub that you’ve changed it. Do this by issuing the command:

$ sudo update-grub

Now it’s time to reboot. When you do, at the grub boot window, arrow down to Select previous Linux version, and select that.

Once you’ve booted up, and after you are satisfied that there are no issues with the new kernel, you can then go back into the update manager and un-install the previous kernel that was giving you fits.

Note: After much experimenting, I was able to upgrade to kernel 3.16, and maintain a stable machine!

 

Upgrading My Old Raspberry Pi Kodi To A Pi Model 2

My  Kodi has been working quite well since I got it up and running on a 3 year old Pi a couple of months ago. Little things were bugging me though, when using the web interface,

With a movie running, pressing Stop in the web interface, took a couple of seconds to stop the stream, and then I would lose my connection between my desktop and the Kodi box. Also, only two people could stream at the same time, say one on the main TV and another watching on a phone. The third person trying to watch, would pretty much kill it.

No problem though, as Pi’s are so cheap, I replaced my B+ with a newer Model 2 with 1 gig or RAM an 4 processors.

Upgrading is easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Backup current Kodi using the OpenELEC settings menu
  2. Install the OpenELEC built for the Raspberry Pi 2 on a new microSD
  3. Boot up the new machine, and do a restore!

It was not a surprise that the backup took about 15 minutes on the old Kodi, but once I had the new one set up just right; backing up the Pi 2 only took about ~60 seconds!!

Any issues I’d had with my first generation Pi, are gone with the new one. With the Pi 3 just being released, I may even upgrade yet again in a couple of months.

The old model B+ Pi will not go to waste however, as my next project is some automation for my goat web cam!