Friday, January 22, 2016

ZTE Wireless Home Phone

Company
& Product
Review

 

This blog entry is about Consumer Cellular and the ZTE Wireless Home Phone device.

The primary purpose is to help others avoid the back-and-fourth Consumer Cellular CSRs and I went through to get the ZTE operational.

The ZTE also is used by AT&T, U.S. Cellular, and at least one other company.

First of all, the product is Chinese.

When I received my first ZTE unit the antenna and its connector were separated. A call to Consumer Cellular quickly had a replacement unit on the way. The defective unit was returned to Consumer Cellular in a pre-paid Priority Mail envelope.

Once the number transfer (from ATT to Consumer Cellular) was complete - within a few days - I tried to use my Uniden DECT 6.0 cordless phones via the ZTE.

Each time I tried to activate the ZTE by entering my account information, the automatic voice response was "Your activation code is not valid."

I emailed Customer Service explaining what I had done and the results.

A Customer Service Representative (CSR) called me (on my Consumer Cellular cell phone) and worked with me for a half hour or more, then said he was escalating the issue and would call back.

After waiting for a call back for several hours, I sent another email to Customer Service. This email included all the information on the underside of the ZTE, including

    IEMI # Unit Serial Number SKU Model ID and FCC ID

I did not know to

  1. Open the battery cover
  2. Remove the battery
  3. Remove the SIM card (exposed when the battery was removed)
  4. Remove the SIM card, and
  5. Write down the SIM card's ID

Within a few minutes of sending the email, a CSR named Shari R. called - again on my cell phone.

The first thing Shari R. told me was that the clue to my problem was the IEMI number; it failed to match what Consumer Cellular had on its computer. Apparently when the replacement unit was shipped, the data in the Consumer Cellular database was not updated.

Shari R. told me to give her the last 4 digits on the SIM card - and then told me how to find it. Getting the battery cover off is a challenge, and getting the SIM card out also is challenging, but with a thin blade, anything is possible.

With the SIM card information in hand, she updated the database and we tested the ZTE to make certain it worked.

This time, when I entered the activation code it was accepted.

Shari called me via the ZTE. It worked.

I called my wife's cell. It rang and communication was established.

THE POINT OF THIS EXERCISE

The point of this exercise is two-fold:

  1. To give Sari R. and most of the other Consumer Cellular CSRs who worked with me, recognition for their effort and a Gold Star for their patience and professionalism
  2. To advise both CSRs and users that to expedite problem resolution, the CSR needs to know all the information about the unit - any unit - that may not function to specification; in the case of a ZTE, all the information previously listed.

The ZTE is not a perfect option, but it is functional.

My main complaints are (a) a "fast busy" while the cordless connects to the ZTE and (b) the delay between the end of the "fast busy" and the dial tone. Neither issue is present on the corded phone that also is connected the the ZTE. My cordless phones are old Uniden DECT 6.0 devices and that may account for the "fast busy" and delay before dial tone - although I don't think the problem will be eliminated with newer wireless devices.

My set-up is shown below, with both the cordless remote base unit and the corded phone connected to telco ports 1 and 2 on the back of the ZTE. The ZTE can be accessed by any cordless phone in the house.

Why the corded phone?

In the rare event of a power outage, the cordless phones are useless.

The ZTE has a battery with roughly 3.5 hours of talk time.

The corded phone gets its power from the ZTE battery - it used to be powered by the phone company Central Office. I tried the corded phone with the ZTE disconnected from the AC and it had a dial tone. Interestingly, there is NO "fast busy" or delay before hearing a dial tone with the corded phone, ergo my suspicion that those are cordless-to-ZTE problems.

The vertical black box in the background is a modem/router.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Opuscula

Cutting the cord

 

REMEMBER WHEN THE FEDS "broke up" AT&T into a bevy of Baby Bells?

Remember how long it took for the Baby Bells to congeal into the "new" AT&T?

When if comes to copper leases, AT&T has little competition, and it prices its product accordingly.

Still, AT&T has competition in the air.

Not only cellular phones, including its own brand, but VoIP - Voice over Internet Protocol - from companies such as

VoIP Telephony Vendor Sampling










Home SystemsBusiness Systems
1-VoiP1-VoiP
AxVoice8x8
BroadvoiceBroadvoice
LingoJive
OomaNextiva
Via TalkPhonebooth
VoiPoRingCentral
VonageVonage

Above information from Next Advisor and is not "all inclusive."

Unlike Ma Bell's copper landline, when the power goes off, the telephone system also goes off unless the user's Internet connectivity (router, modem) has a back-up power supply. The landline phone gets its power from the telephone company Central Office; if power goes out to a business or residence, the phone still works.

There is another option: cellular.

When cellular, or mobile, telephony was new, phones were bulky and service areas were limited. Back in 1949, AT&T introduced the first mobile service in the U.S. Not many customers could afford the roughly $175/month the mobility feature cost. The phones were a bit pricy, too.

The problem with current cell phones is they are, for some, too small and often the clarity falls short of the land line phone.

Is there a compromise?

Turns out there is.

Consumer Cellular (and AT&T as well) has a device that essentially turns a landline phone into a cell phone. Consumer Cellular, hereafter "CC," customers disconnect their phones from the copper leash and connect one phone to CC's ZTE Wireless Home Phone Base

According to CC, the device can be used with either a landline phone or a cordless phone. It may be connected to the base station of a cordless phone system.

The problem with the CC (and AT&T) device is that it needs AC to operate, The unit does include a stand-by battery, but if a power outage longer than 3 hours, the battery may fail. Unlike a cell phone battery that can be charged in a vehicle, the ZTE is charged only from AC.

On the other hand, CC customers HAVE cell phones else they probably would not be CC customers.

CC's ZTE manual reminds that cordless phones need AC to operate and even though the ZTE device has a 3-hour talk time battery, if the power is off, the cordless phones are useless. (The regular cell phones will, like Mighty Mouse, save the day.) Alternatively, hang on to the old POTS copper-leashed telephone and plug it into the CC device.

THERE ARE DRAWBACKS

CC's user manual warns that

    The Wireless Home Phone Base is not compatible with data or messaging services, home security systems, fax service, medical alert systems, medical monitoring systems, credit card machines, IP/PBX Phone systems, or dial-up Internet service. May not be compatible with your DVR/Satellite systems, please check with your provider. DSL customers should contact their provider before transferring a phone number to ensure uninterrupted DSL Internet service.

    The Wireless Home Phone Base cannot be used to make 500, 700, 900, 976, 0+ collect, operator assisted, or dial-around calls (e.g. 1010-XXXX)

There is another problem. To make an international call, the user has to dial a "401" area code number and follow the bouncing ball - sorry, prompts. That number can be programmed into the cordless phones, but listening to prompts after having an excellent ILD service provider for years will be hard to accommodate.

IN REAL LIFE

Consumer Cellular brags in its tv ads that it has good U.S.-based customer service. I would say that is an understatement.

I went back and forth with CC CSRs via email before deciding to buy the ZTE device. When the unit arrived, by Priority Mail, I started to set it up only to find the antenna and the connector that connects the antenna to the device, was broken off.

I called CC and explained the problem, CC sent a replacement unit out the same day and I had it the next day. (Unfortunately the letter carrier wedged it into my mailbox and it took more than 5 minutes to extract it.) The new unit seems to work OK; this time the antenna and the connector remained together. (Lousy engineering, but the ZTE is from China - 'nuff said.) CC included a Priority Mail SASE to return the failed unit.

Once out of the box, connected to AC and the ON/OFF toggle in the ON position I noticed I already had voice mail - I assume a welcome message.

I opened the Quick Tip Guide to Page 11 and read about Voice Mail. (Yes, Virginia, I DO RT*M). I did as instructed and entered my account number - it was shown in BIG LETTERS on my "Thank you" letter. The voice on the other end told me that number was not valid. Checked the number and tried again. Same thing. Emailed CC. Today is Sunday. Monday (Jan.18) is a (yet another) federal holiday so I don't expect a response until Tuesday.

I got a call from a CC CSR telling me that the problem was that the phone was not yet activated. She activated the phone.

On Wednesday I got an email from CC Service that the number transfer (from ATT to CC) was completed. I tried the phone. I could call out (make a call) but I could not RECEIVE a call.

Called Customer Service on my CC cell phone. Turned out CC Service had been a tab premature; the number transfer was only half completed. A very helpful CSR checked and we tested the phone.

Later on Wednesday I got my second call from a CC CSR telling me that "by 9 p.m. you will be able to make and receive calls." Given that it normally takes 7 to 10 days for a landline number transfer I was skeptical. Once again CC's CSR was premature. But then my account number ALSO was not recognized. Once the number transfer is complete - no ATT dial tone - I will try to activate the ZTE again and test making and receiving calls. (Meanwhile a corded phone still is connected to the ATT jack.)

IF THE POWER FAILS

The problem with cordless phones is that if the power goes off, the phones don't work.

But the ZTE has a 3-plus hour talk time.

OK, the ZTE has power but not the cordless phones.

What to so?

The ZTE has two (2) connectors. One for the cordless phone base and one that is "unassigned." A POTS corded phone will be connected there in the event of a power outage so I'm covered if the lights go out. (Florida Power and Light has pretty reliable service, even when the winds blow.) Consumer Cellular warns customers about power outages and cordless phones.

The "spare" connector could be used for an answering machine - albeit CC does not recommend that - providing the answering machine can be set to answer before the fourth ring. Since I cannot always get to a ringing phone before the fourth ring I'll pack the old answering machine away and let CC answer the phone.

It has been an experience. Documentation could have been a little better, and one CC CSR did give me incorrect information, but over the course of ordering and installing the ZTE device and porting the house number from ATT to CC, all CC personnel have been helpful and friendly sounding. (I have no idea what went through their minds when they saw yet another email from me.)

AND NOW, THE REST OF THE STORY

After spending too many hours on the phone with pleasant CSRs without resolving the problems, I sent a final email, this time including all the information no one asked for before. The email fell into the hands of SHARI R..

She got suspicious that something was amiss when the MEMI code failed to match want CC had on its computer. She fixed that, but the problem remained.

Next she had me remove the units battery cover and the battery, exposing the SIM card. "What are the last 4 digits on the SIM card" she asked. When I read them to her and she compared them to the CC computer information she found the problem.

She updated the CC computer to recognize the SIM card in my ZTE box, then we made test calls to assure I coulee make and receive calls via the ZTE unit.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Opuscula

Never in
PC America

 

A COUPLE OF ITEMS THAT may have been missed by the biased media.

Male refugees banned from German pool over harassment complaints

Imagine if someone tried to ban anyone, even someone with a reputation of ill repute, from going anywhere and doing anything in the Politically Correct U.S. Someone, the ACLU or similar organization, would be up in arms; if the banned person was a "person of color," Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, et al would be calling for stet-blocking rallies and tv press conferences.

Then, in liberal Europe, we have

DENMARK

In Denmark if you live off the state (called Kontanthjælp) you spend your own money first, if you have cash, no Kontanthjælp. The Danish rule applies also to immigrants, that's the deal, its not some kind of fascist scheme. So Denmark asking something from immigrants who have money.

Switzerland

Switzerland seizing assets from refugees to cover costs

Refugees arriving in Switzerland have to turn over to the state any assets worth more than 1,000 Swiss francs (£690) to help pay for their upkeep, the broadcaster SRF has reported.

Syrian refugees bypass Switzerland for EU states

Switzerland has a stricter asylum policy compared to elsewhere in Europe.

Swiss negotiating sending refugees back to Turkey

Swiss migration authorities are negotiating an agreement wherein Turkey would take back refugees who had travelled to Switzerland via their country, according to Mario Gattiker, head of the State Secretariat for Migration SEM.

Europe

Hungary has declared a state of emergency and sealed off its southern border with Serbia, which has for the last several weeks served as a shortcut to Germany. Those who disregard the barricade and try to enter Hungary anyway are being detained—something that neither the refugees nor Hungarian officials want. The result is chaos on the Serbian side of the border, where thousands of migrants are stacked up like overflow dolls that wouldn’t fit into a toy chest. Serbian officials are panicked and outraged. Riots are breaking out

MEANWHILE, IN THE U.S.

At Our Border, Better to Be Syrian than Mexican

President Obama has said that the United States will accept as many as 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year, which begins on October 1. And, amid foreign intelligence reports suggesting that 2 to 5 percent of this pool of refugees might be affiliated with the Islamic State, Americans are trying to sort out whether they’re feeling accommodating or alarmed. If those estimated are accurate, we could be preparing to welcome to our shores between 200 to 500 potential terrorists.

Cubans Flood Mexico in Bid to Reach U.S.

Cuban migrants, fearing the gate will soon close on their easy access to legal U.S. residency, have been surging by the thousands through Mexico in a bid to touch soil in southern Texas.

The surge was prompted by the detente between Washington and Havana, which restored diplomatic relations in December.

Cubans arriving on Mexico’s southern border say the change they consider most imminent is an end to the fast track to legal U.S. residency that their compatriots have enjoyed for generations. The so-called dry foot provisions of the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act allows migrants fleeing the island who make U.S. landfall to apply for asylum and all but certainly obtain a green card in only a year.

“There are thousands more on the way behind us,” said a 38-year-old father of three who was among a dozen young Cubans who turned themselves into Mexican immigration officials last week in Tapachula, a city near the Guatemala border, to obtain papers allowing them to continue northward toward the Rio Grande.

“The idea now is to work hard and to live like a human being,” the engineer said of his plans once the couple reaches Miami. “I don’t need to be rich. I want to live free and feed my family, that is all. In Cuba it’s impossible to aspire to anything.”

Facing possible Cuban immigrant influx, Miami-Dade schools ask for federal funding

The Miami-Dade County school district faces a possible influx of students coming from Cuba and wants the federal government to provide additional money to help educate them.

Board members on Wednesday unanimously decided to ask for more funding for schools, where almost 4,000 Cuban students have enrolled in the last six months alone. No number was attached, but Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told the Miami Herald the cost to educate incoming students could be “upwards of $40 million.”

“This should not force a financial crunch on our school system,” he said. “This can be avoided if our federal government takes action.”

The Pew Research Center says there has been a 78 percent increase in the number of Cubans arriving in the country over the last year. Local municipalities and social service agencies are in preparation mode as an estimated 8,000 Cubans stuck in Costa Rica begin to move towards Mexico. The assumption is that many will end up in the U.S., where Cubans enjoy special immigration status that eases the path to legal residency and citizenship.

“This is not going to be the Mariel boatlift,” Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado said in remarks to the school board. “But they’re coming, and they want to come to the City of Miami.”

The school district’s request is only the latest coming from South Florida. Three Miami Republicans have sent three separate requests to President Barack Obama to draft a plan to deal with the increasing number of refugees. The mayors of Miami, Hialeah and Doral have also said the federal government must step in with additional funding.

Meanwhile

Here's a map of every state refusing to accept Syrian refugees


Monday, January 11, 2016

Opuscula

Question for Obama:
How do criminals
Acquire their guns?

 

A QUESTION FOR OBAMA: How will your executive order over-riding states' rights on gun control keep fully-automatic assault rifles and other weapons out of the hands of criminals?

It's a funny thing, but when guns are bought legally and later used in a crime - such as the San Bernadino attacks by a couple of Muslims, the media are all over the fact that the guns were purchased legally.

But when the guns are acquired illegally - that is, in my state, when a purchase record cannot be found (all gun purchases are filed at the state capital) - the media are quiet.

HERE IN SOUTH FLORIDA, particularly in Dade County (Miami and surrounding area) and Fort Lauderdale in Broward County, shootings are common place. There were three Saturday night in Miami alone. Most of the drive-by shootings are black on black. Cuban criminals, while sometimes involved in assaults, most often prefer theft of property and taxpayer dollars. That is not to suggest that there are no Anglo criminals on south Florida's streets.

But the shootings beg the question: Where are the shooters getting their guns, the preferred being fully automatic high powered rifles and automatic pistols with extended magazines (clips)?

They can't buy them at the local gun stores and pawn shops without the sale being registered. They cannot buy them at gun shows without the sale being registered.

They CAN steal them from their legal owners (and modify the gun from semi- to full-auto) and the CAN buy them from other criminals who "acquire" the weapons from unidentified sources (including, directly or indirectly, the U.S. government).

Since many, if not most, of the shootings I hear about in south Florida fail to tell me the weapon was legally purchased, I have to assume the guns were acquired illegally.

Obama's executive order does nothing - zero, zip, nada - to prevent illegal acquisition of firearms.

It is as effective as the Federal government's ban on the illegal importation, sale (and manufacture) of addictive drugs - from ethical pharmaceuticals to the neighborhood meth lab. (To be fair, the U.S. Coast Guard does a pretty good job of interdicting some drugs bound for the U.S.)

Where is Obama's executive order banning illegal immigration across all borders - not just the U.S.-Mexican sieve. Cubans, too many who are criminals, easily make it to the U.S. and, once in, can visit Cuba and return to the U.S. legally as often as their ill-gotten gains allow.

Obama apparently is trying to go out on a high note by issuing unenforceable executive orders, perhaps to lessen the debacle of "Obamacare."

Executive orders should be enforceable; his are not.

Executive orders should be citizen-driven; his are not.

Executive orders should be temporary in nature; his are not intended to be temporary until Congress can convert the order into law.

All Obama's executive order on gun control accomplished is to rile the right and pacify the left; it will have no practical impact on guns in the hands of criminals; it is, bottom line, a farce.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Opuscula

Why I don't
Travel by train

 

I'M PLANNING A three day trip to NOLA, Crescent City, The Big Easy, a/k/a New Orleans.

I REALLY like to travel on the rails. When I visit the kin overseas I usually travel by train. There the trains are clean, run on time, are generally comfortable, and have free Wi-Fi that I don't use. (Even some buses have free Wi-Fi - that I don't use.)

But in America - I travel by car or plane.

For short (4 or 5 hours on the road) trips, the car is fine. I have transportation when I get to my destination, and there are no hassles with TSA and I don't have to be at the airport 2 hours before my flight - assuming the flight (a) arrives on time and (b) departs on time. Sitting for hours on the tarmac is not something I enjoy, either. Been there, done that.

But, since the Spouse dislikes sitting in the car for "n" hours and since the distance between my southern Florida residence and NOLA is somewhat more than 5 hours distant, we are flying.

Strictly FYI. We booked everything - flight, hotel, and rental car - using the Spirit Airlines web site.The bottom line - $550 - was less expensive than booking via Expedia, Hotwire, Priceline, and similar sites.

But because I like trains more than planes (not true, I LOVE light planes - 2 to 12 set aircraft), I checked out Amtrak.

To ride the rails from my town to NOLA and back would cost me - economy class a/k/a "Value" in Amtrak-speak - a few cents less than $540. Then I would need to book lodging and rental car. Remember, for $550 - roughly $10 more than the just train fare - I booked air fare, lodging, and rental car.

The Spirit flight from FLL to MSY is scheduled for 2 hours and 5 minutes (plus two plus hours to get to the airport, park the car, and get to the departure gate). The flight back - MSY to FLL - is only1 hour and 43 minutes.

Granted, Spirit's Airbus A320 is not as comfortable as a train, but for two hours I can tolerate sitting inside the tube. The flight overseas is much longer and no more comfortable.

Not only would Amtrak do more damage to the budget, but by the time we got to NOLA the three-day mini-cation would be over.

It seems that the "used to be" Amtrak map had a train from south Florida to Jacksonville and from Jacksonville another train to NOLA. But no more. The current map, downloaded from the Amtrak site, is below; note you can't get there (NOLA) from here (southern Florida) by rail.


There WAS a route from Jacksonville FL to NOLA back in 1971. When and why that stretch of rail was abandoned by Amtrak is beyond me; perhaps storms made the route unsafe or perhaps it wasn't profitable - but aside from a very few routes, what Amtrak routes ARE profitable?

For all that, there's something appealing about riding trains with famous names. The run to NOLA has portions on the Silver Meteor (FL_DC), the Capitol Limited (DC-Chicago, and finally. famous in an Arlo Guthrie song, No comments: Links to this post

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Opuscula

Obama's got it right
About guns - almost

 

President Sneaky finally - finally got something almost right.

That is, I agree with his premise, but not his practice.

By the way, I am a gun owner and have a concealed carry license, but I just passed on an opportunity to join the NRA. (I'm a geezer but I didn't join AARP.)

Obungler is proposing to use executive orders to control gun sales. :

First thought: He is doing something Congress should have done years ago.

Second thought: Does the federal government have the right to trample on the States' prerogatives (with a national law - from POTUS or Congress)?

The president wants to require a five-day waiting period to buy a fire arm.

According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence,the following states have waiting periods before a firearm is delivered to the buyer:

StateWait PeriodComments
California10 daysAll guns
DC 10 daysAll guns
Florida3 daysHandguns
Hawaii14 daysAll guns
IllinoisSee belowSee below
24 hoursLong guns (rifle, shotguns)
72 hours Handguns
Iowa 3 daysHandguns
Maryland 7 days) Handguns
Minnesota7 days Hand guns & assault weapons
New Jersey 7 days Handguns
Rhode Island7 days All guns

THE PROBLEM

The problem with waiting periods is they apply only to gun dealers.

If someone has a gun I want, say a Rossi Model R97206 .357 magnum with 6" barrel, and I connect with the owner outside of a gun store or gun show, we can make the transaction sans waiting period and background check. This, and simply stealing guns, is how criminals and juvenile-soon-to-be-criminals acquire weapons.

It is the misuse of firearms by criminals and criminals-in-the-making - murders in increasing numbers and drive-by assaults becoming commonplace - that prompt Obama's executive order threat.

In Florida, the background check to purchase a handgun is weak. The buyer fills in a seller-provided State form giving basic personal information and assures that the buyer complies with state law.

The information goes to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) where the information is reviewed and should be checked. No fingerprints, no mug shots; just the buyer's word.

Acquiring a concealed carry license (permit) is a more serious process. In addition to answering the usual questions applications must be fingerprinted by a law enforcement agency (city police, county sheriff). The prints are checked by the FDLE against an FBI database. The process can take two to three months.

I failed to hear the tv talking heads mention anything about restricting assault rifles, the AK-47s and AR-15s that seem to fall into the hands of drive-by shooters.

There is nothing wrong with an AK-47, AR-15/M-16, Uzi, or any other "assault" weapon providing it is not, and cannot be, converted to, a fully automatic weapon. I'm not certain the AK-47's 7.62*39mm or the AR-15's 5.56*44mm NATO round are suitable for big game hunting (although the AR-15 can be acquired in "big game" calibers), but does any hunter need a 30-round magazine (clip) to stop a deer? (If the hunter is THAT bad a shot I don’t want to be anywhere near the shooter.)

A number of states ban "assault" weapons and a few ban high-capacity magazines..

The knock on fully automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines, in my mind, applies equally to pistols and long-guns (rifles and shotguns).

While I hate to admit that Obama did ANYTHING right in his years in office, I have to give him a A-for-effort but an I for incomplete since his proposed executive order falls short in many respects.

I don't know of any way to absolutely preclude person-to-person gun sales (or to prevent gun thefts) nor am I sure that gun control should be a federal issue; the federal government already has usurped states' authority in too many ways.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Opuscula

I spy,
You spy,
We all spy

 

SOME ISRAELIS ARE UPSET because presidential hopeful Donald Trump admits - image that, an honest candidate! - he would be "open" to having the U.S. spy on other nations and their leadership.

Dumb Donald. Doesn't he realize that, like "passing gas," everybody does it but nobody admits it.

Didn't the U.S. recently admit it was listening in on phone conversations between UK leaders and others?

Opps, caught in the act


24 Oct 2013: 35 world leaders 'had their phones monitored by US spies'

Hours after Angela Merkel confronted President Barack Obama over allegations that her personal mobile had been tapped, new documents showed that US surveillance extended to dozens of other heads of government.

The White House told The Telegraph the US had never monitored David Cameron's communications but would not give the same assurance about other leaders.

30 October 2013: US spy chiefs defend wiretapping of foreign leaders, mass surveillance programs

Appearing Tuesday before the Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander defended the NSA’s blanket surveillance programs, including its wiretapping of the heads of governments of US allies.

The intelligence chief’s testimony came amidst a mounting international diplomatic crisis following revelations that the NSA tapped the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel for more than ten years, part of a surveillance program that also targeted at least 34 other government leaders. Trans-Atlantic tensions were compounded by reports that the NSA recently spied on 70 million telephone calls or text messages in France and 60 million in Spain in the space of one month.

Both instances above were admissions by the the Democrat's Obama administration.

Even now Israel's prime minister complains that Obama's people are spying on him.

Not just spying

The U.S. has, as do most "major powers," a few former "major powers," and a few "major power" want-to-be's, contingency plans to invade not only states deemed to be hostile, but friendly states, too.

Of course the only reason the U.S. would invade a friendly country - say England - would be if suddenly that country was taken over by unfriendliness. When members of People's Revolutionary Army of Grenada looked like they might get the upper hand on the island, then-president Ronald Reagan sent in the Marines.

25 Oct1983: Invasion by the United States

The overthrow of a moderate government by one which was strongly pro-communist worried the administration of (Republican) President Ronald Reagan. Particularly worrying was the presence of Cuban construction workers and military personnel who were building a 10,000-foot (3,000 m) airstrip on Grenada.

The island's president had stated the purpose of the airstrip was to allow commercial jets to land, but US military analysts argued that the only reason for constructing such a long and reinforced runway was so that it could be used by heavy military transport planes. The contractors, American and European companies, and the EEC, which provided partial funding, all claimed the airstrip did not have military capabilities.[9] Reagan was worried that Cuba – under the direction of the Soviet Union – would use Grenada as a refuelling stop for Cuban and Soviet aeroplanes loaded with weapons destined for Central American communist insurgents.

Democrat or Republican, American, Israeli (Pollard), or any other friendly or not-so-friendly government, everyone spies on everyone else. It's the nature of government - and corporations, too.

The fact that "The Donald" candidly admits he would continence spying on others proves he is not a politician - or at least not the typical politician if Obama and his predecessors are any indication.

I'm certain Republican contenders far from Trump's commanding lead in the polls (who polls whom?) and the Democratic contingent of presidential hopefuls will raise a hew and cry that Trump is unfit for the presidency because he has the audacity to admit he would - gasp - spy on both friends and foes alike if it will enhance America's safety.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Opuscula

Good books spoiled
By ignorant authors

 

I recently complained about books by popular authors that are replete with errors of fact.

As examples, moving the University of South Florida to Miami (it's main campus is in Tampa); Another author who wrote about a no-goodnik who used a ".38 Beretta." I suspect the author didn't know there are .38s and .38s - S&W Specials for wheel guns, and .38 Super for the few semi-automatics that fire this caliber. I scoured the WWW and the only Berettas I found associated with with ".38" fired .380 ACP. The .380 ACP and the .38 Special S&W bullets are not interchangeable nor are the common .38.Special and the less common .38 Super.

The same author insisted on referring to semi-automatics as -automatics. There is a big difference:: with a semi-automatic, the trigger must be pulled once to fire one round; an automatic is akin to a machine gun - bullets keep firing as long as the trigger is held back (or until the magazine/clip is empty or the barrel warps).

There ARE .38 Super SEMI-automatics. Taurus made a nice .38 Super, but it no longer is produced. .38 Super seems to be a less than popular caliber.

A Cheaper Than Dirt advertising magazine has 12 pages listing nothing but ammunition in small type; in all 12 pages,.38 Super appears three (3) times compared to .38 Special that appears 13 times. Cheaper Than Dirt caters mostly to semi-automatics; .380 - a semi-auto caliber - has 13 entries.

In the same novel I learn that cop cars have red flashing sirens . I've seen red (and now, blue) flashing lights, and I have heard sirens of many types, but I never have seen nor heard a red flashing siren . Is it red because its siren sound embarrasses it?

The same author wrote that, at a fictional press conference, "flash bulbs went off like small rapid-fire explosions." Nice turn of phrase, but press photographers replaced bulbs with strobes by the 1960s. Someone - author, researcher, proofreader - failed to do their job - or was thinking of old monochrome movies such as the original Front Page.

I have never in my years as a "journalist" seen any professional photographer use bulbs. Too slow, too dangerous. Strobes replaced blubs on film cameras and some digi-cams.

Later on in the same book, the author, an Okie from Tulsa who apparently never SAW a firearm, has a character ask if a potential killer used a ".35-gauge sniper-scope rifle?"

There are so many things wrong in this one sentence. First, rifles are measured either in caliber (U.S.) or millimeters (elsewhere), not in "gauge" which is the measure for a shotgun bore. Dave Cushman has a web page that lists bore sizes from the monster 4 gauge (OD 1.2") to the small 67 gauge (OD 0.537"). Akin to wire and hypodermic needle sizes, the smaller the number the bigger the wire diameter/needle length. Worse, our author claims the gun is a POINT 35 (0.35/100) GAUGE. If 4 gauge OD is 1.2 inches, in my mind I'm picturing 0.35 gauge with an OD of a battleship's 16-inch gun.

I've seen sniper scopes MOUNTED on rifles, making them a "sniper-scope equipped rifle," but I've never seen a "sniper-scope rifle."

I am so frustrated at this point that I may never finish the tale.

Then there is grammar - or lack thereof

Grammar is another irritant. Someone put something "in" their pocket; correctly, they put something "inTO" their pocket. When I was in grammar school, a/k/a elementary or primary school - anyway, about third grade - the teacher graphically explained that "a boy jumped INTO the pond and joined other boys (already) IN the pond." I assume the boys were "skinny dipping," hence the absence of girls. (It was a different time with different mores, and the water was cleaner.)

The use of "over" is over the top when writers use it as a substitute for "more than" or "greater than." While I am certain followers of Fowler will disagree, "over" only means "above" something, even figuratively ("over the rainbow").

Whatever happened to "ly" endings that turned an adjective into an adverb? Your Dictionary provides some good examples of adverbs and when they are needed. A very common error that people make is to say "I ran to the store quick" or "He runs very quick." This is not the proper form of the word "quick." In both of these sentences, "quick" is modifying "ran" and "runs." Those words are verbs, and need to be modified by an adverb. Therefore, the appropriate form of the word to use is "quickly.". Gooder grammar - yes, I wrote that - is becoming a thing of the past. Again, I blame the misuse of adjectives as adverbs on sloppy proofreaders, the last bastions of proper use of the language.

 

A web search for .38 Super semi-automatics, both new and used, failed to find even one Beretta .38 Super. The caliber was missing from Beretta's own site. The most common .38 Super semi-automatic currently manufactured is from Colt


Friday, January 1, 2016

Opuscula

The unbiased media
And candidate Clinton

 

THERE IS A RUMOR GOING 'ROUND that the media is liberal, pro-Democrat, and is managing one candidates PR.

I'm aghast. Say it isn't so.

As a former - as in "When Hector was a pup" - newspaper reporter and later editor, I always considered the NY Times' promise "All the news that's fit to print" to be all inclusive. (As a former newspaper printer, I know that in reality it was "all the news that fit," but I also knew that good reporters got the point of the story in the fir)st (few) paragraph(s) - if something had to be "cut" it was at the end of the story - or should have been - "supplemental information."

I'll admit that different reporters report different things from the same source. On the local level, that makes sense; the audience is interested in news of it's town and people, but national outlets, such as ABC, CBS, Fox, NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, et al, would seem to be reporting the same thing.

But they don't.

Case in point: Hilary Clinton's infamous emails, sensitive, classified, self-serving, and just plain chatty are all fodder for today's "journalists."

At the close of the 2015 calendar year, the Feds released a chest-banging apology for failing to meet a judge's order on the number of Mrs. Clinton's emails to be released monthly. The "holidays" were blamed for the missed target.

All of the media covering the email story reported the reason for the delay. But then, there is "the rest of the story."

The following information was pulled from the WWW on January 1, 2016.

CBS News
State Department releases more Hillary Clinton emails marked "classified"

3rd para: As in previous email releases, the current batch of emails includes some labeled "classified." That, however, does not indicate that the information in them was classified at the time Clinton sent or received them.

CNN
More Hillary Clinton Emails Are Released, but State Department Falls Short

Avoids all mention of sensitive or classified emails.

Fox News
State Department releases over 3,000 Clinton emails on New Year's Eve

Paras 5 & 6: The latest batch of 3,105 emails includes 275 documents upgraded to "classified" since they landed in the former Secretary's personal inbox. That brings the total number of classified docs found in the emails to 1,274. A State Department official told Fox News on Thursday that two of those emails were upgraded to "secret," while most of the others were upgraded to "confidential."

The newly released emails reveal Clinton and one of her closest aides, Jake Sullivan, had an exchange in September 2010 that showed considerable confusion over her email practices.

NBC News
State Dept. Releases More Clinton Emails, Misses 2015 Quota

3rd para: Portions of 275 documents in the batch were upgraded to classified, though they were not classified at the time they were sent to Clinton's personal email, according to the State Department. In total, 1,274 of her emails were retroactively classified by the government before their release.

NYTimes:
More Hillary Clinton Emails Are Released, but State Department Falls Short

Talks of sniping at Obama flunkies, but never uses words "sensitive" or "classified" in re her emails.

Politico
More than 1,200 Clinton emails now deemed classified

Leads with: The agency released roughly 5,500 more pages of emails from the private email account that Clinton exclusively used during her four years at Foggy Bottom, with an additional 275 messages now upgraded to classified, bringing the total number of retroactively classified emails that moved through Clinton’s unsecured server to 1,274.

USA Today
State Dept. releases more Hillary Clinton emails

Never mentions any sensitive, much less classified, emails.

EVEN KNOWING how the media works, I am amazed that only TWO (Fox and Politico) of seven national media outlets mentioned the reason the emails are being produced:: to identify sensitive and classified information that then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton had on her prohibited private email server.

Now if Donald Trump had even one compromising email on a server he controlled, imagine the hew and cry the five outlets that appear to be working as part of Mrs. Clinton's PR campaign would be making.

Unbiased media.

Believe that and I have a bridge to sell you..

A FINAL THOUGHT on "retroactively classified" emails. While the emails were on Mrs. Clinton's prohibited private server no one had permittedaccess to them and thus, none of the emails were classified at any security level. Her server was less secure than Defense Department or even State Department servers, yet we know many government servers have been compromised and information stolen. "Retroactive classification" only means that the emails were classified AFTER being pulled from Mrs. Clinton's server.