Excellent Customer Service from Carlson Pet Products

I bought an Extra Tall Walk Through Pet Gate from Carlson Pet Products today only to find, that it did not fit my standard 36″ doorway. The box claimed it was supposed to include a 6″ and 12″ extension so that it fit most doors, but without the 6″ extension, the gate was too narrow, and with it, the gate was too wide.

I was left scratching my head for a few minutes until I decided to measure the pieces. Carlson makes extensions in 4″, 6″, 12″, and 24″ widths, but the smaller extension I had was 9″. How could this be? I stopped scratching and decided to give the company a call.

I spoke to a nice gentleman who informed me that they had a bad run at the factory that produced incorrectly sized extensions. He took my name and address and they’re sending the correct 6″ extension for free. Overall it was a plesant experience and I was only on the phone for about 2 minutes.

Fedora 10 on MSI Wind with Wireless

MSI Wind U100-432US

I got my new MSI Wind U100-432US on Friday. After starting it up and updating the BIOS, I installed Fedora 10. Since many netbooks don’t have CD/DVD drives and I already had a network server set up to do network installs from, I made a local copy of the Fedora 10 base repo via rsync before it arrived. I then found a utility called unetbootin to make a bootable USB drive that I could start the network install from and it worked great. I basically installed it and plugged in the USB drive, told it I wanted Fedora 10 i386 network install and selected my boot drive. unetbootin copied the image files from the Fedora repo and made my USB drive bootable. I then restarted and installed Fedora 10 in a matter of minutes over my local network.

After the install, everything seemed to be working except the wireless. I was able to find out that the wireless card was a RaLink card instead of RealTek like I had expected. That caused a change of plans. I was having trouble tracking down drivers for the RaLink card and was having issues trying to build from source with WPA support. In the end, I found a repo that had the drivers already there and it simplified things. My system was a mess after that so, alas, I booted from my USB drive again and did a clean install.

Here are the quick and easy steps to get wireless working on a MSI Wind U100-432US:

1. Install Fedora 10

2. Post install, run a yum upgrade to get your system up to date:

sudo yum upgrade

3. Once you’re up to date, install the RPM Fusion repos

sudo rpm -Uvh http://download1.rpmfusion.org/free/fedora/rpmfusion-free-release-stable.noarch.rpm http://download1.rpmfusion.org/nonfree/fedora/rpmfusion-nonfree-release-stable.noarch.rpm
sudo rpm --import "http://rpmfusion.org/keys?action=AttachFile&do=get&target=RPM-GPG-KEY-rpmfusion-free-fedora"
sudo rpm --import "http://rpmfusion.org/keys?action=AttachFile&do=get&target=RPM-GPG-KEY-rpmfusion-nonfree-fedora"

4. Install the RaLink 2860 driver which is compatible with the RaLink 2790 installed in the MSI Wind U100-432US

sudo yum install kmod-rt2860

5. Reboot

After the reboot, if you click the Network Manager icon, you should see wireless options that were previously not there.

No Snow

Photo by charlottedallot
Photo by charlottedallot

I’ve decided I’m going to stop relying to the weather forecast for snow. We’ve had two storms in the past week that “showed up late” (almost 12 hours in both cases) and then amounted to nothing. We were supposed to get snow earlier this week and we got ice, sleet, and freezing rain instead. Today we were supposed to get about 6″ of snow. Now that it’s all said and done, we have a dusting, with an icy crust on top. You’d think with all the fancy computers and predicting technology we have now, they could at least be a little more accurate with what they spew out on the news.

Plesk 9.0 Mailman Fix

This morning somebody posted on the Plesk Support Forums that they had a fix for the Mailman issues in Plesk 9.0. They suggested symlinking the mm_wrapper file to the location it should be. On my server, Plesk had a mm_wrapper file at

/usr/lib/plesk-9.0/mm_wrapper

To put it in the correct place run:

cd \var\qmail\bin
ln -s /usr/lib/plesk-9.0/mm_wrapper mm_wrapper

So far, the test emails are going through and being sent back via Mailman with no errors.

Why Newspapers Are Failing

Newspapers wonder why subscriptions are down. They wonder why they can’t make any money and why more and more are going bankrupt. They’re using a flawed business model. Unfortunately, they’re not the only ones using that model.

My local newspaper subscription ended today. I only received the Sunday paper for the ads and coupons. The Sunday paper itself was always a bit on the thin side with ads and coupons varying at times, sometimes with hardly any. It only includes a few sections: Front Page / World News, Local, Sports, Money, Real Estate, Entertainment, Automotive, and Classifieds. Of those sections I only read a few and sometimes, only an article or two of those sections.

Recently I’ve been finding more of my news online. From independent sources that do not skew an article one way or another and give you all the facts instead of just the facts they want you to know. I don’t have money to buy a new house so I skip the real estate section, same goes for entertainment. If I want to see a show somewhere, I look up my options online. I do usually check the local section, but despite the fact they publish a local section for my county, I always get a local section for another county meaning the news in that section is never local.

I’ve also found that the time I invest in cutting coupons plus my annual subscription for the paper outweighs the savings I actually get from those coupons. Doesn’t make good fiscal sense does it?

Now to the failed model that is killing newspapers: when demand drops, they raise prices to make up for it. Couple that with the fact they haven’t figured out how to use the internet and you have a dead industry. When I received my paper today it included a letter from the Circulation Director noting a deal they were having to lock in 2008 rates if I pre-pay for 2009.

Because of the economy raising prices on raw materials and lack of demand for the paper in general, they need  to raise subscription rates from $1.50 to $2.00 for Sunday and from $0.50 to $0.75 for daily papers. This baffles me because the newsstand price of the Sunday edition was already $1.50. When I lived closer to Philadelphia, we got a newspaper in a larger market that had double the amount of news and ads for only $1.25 on Sunday… and that was the “out of area” price because we lived an hour outside of the city.

When I moved to the Harrisburg area, I never liked that the local paper cost me $1.50 on Sunday and was quite lacking. But now, because of lack of demand it will be $2.00. No Thanks! Maybe they should look for ways to provide better content for a cheaper price. If the Sunday edition was only $1.00 for what they offer now, I might be more inclined to keep my service.

The Best Hot Cocoa Recipe Ever

Since its been getting colder recently, I’ve returned to my winter tradition of drinking hot cocoa. You might ask how I have a recipe for this since most people just dump a packet of power in a mug and pour in hot water. If that’s what you’re drinking, there’s a whole new world that only costs a few cents more.

First, what you’ll need:

  • Hot cocoa mix
  • Ice cream (Mint or Vanilla works best)

The process:

  1. Boil water. Make sure it’s nice and hot… boiling, not steaming is preferred.
  2. Empty a packet of hot cocoa mix into the mug then fill halfway with boiling water
  3. Stir hot cocoa so it’s thoroughly dissolved
  4. Add one scoop of ice cream
  5. Top up mug with boiling water
  6. Stir ice cream until completely dissolved (repeatedly dunking ice cream with the spoon is for 30-60 seconds should be sufficient)

What you’re left with is hot cocoa that you can drink almost right away without having to wait for it to cool. The ice cream makes it very creamy and flavors it nicely if you choose something other than vanilla. Ice cream without added ingredients (nuts, fruit, chocolate chunks, etc) works best. If you use mint chocolate chip, you end up with unmelted chocolate chips at the bottom of your mug. Try it once and you’ll be hooked. I guarantee it!

UPS Takes My Package On Tour

I’ve been scratching my head since I got this tracking number Wednesday night. I had ordered a new card reader from Amazon.com and paid the $3.99 overnight shipping for Amazon Prime members hoping to receive the package on Friday. Amazon shipped the package Next Day Air Saver from a warehouse about 10 miles from my house. This is where things get strange.

I checked the tracking Thursday morning expecting it to see it in the local sort facility waiting to go out for delivery Friday, but instead, it had been placed on a plane and flown to the UPS hub in Louisville, KY! By Friday morning it had come back to the regional sort facility, but too late to get to my local sort facility to go out today.

Curious about the UPS holiday schedule, I looked it up only to find that as long as my package went out on Wednesday as either international or Next Day Air, it would be delivered on Friday.

Wednesday, Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve
Delivery of air and international packages only. No UPS Ground pickups or deliveries today. Pickup service provided for air and international shipments via UPS On-Call Pickup service, at all UPS Drop Boxes or if prearranged by Tuesday, Dec. 30. (Next Day Air packages picked up today will be delivered on Friday, Jan. 2.)

Friday was originally reflected as the delivery date before it was diverted to Louisville. Friday morning it was showing “On Time” with a delivery date of Monday, January 5th. Oddly enough UPS somehow managed to get the package to my door today. I guess maybe it was just a glitch with their tracking system.

Parallels Plesk 9.0 Breaks Mailman

For those of you out there that use Plesk and Mailman, if you have not yet upgraded to 9.0, hold off. Once I upgraded to 9.0, Mailman stopped working. Any email sent to the lists return with this error:

Hi. This is the qmail-send program at xxxxxxxxxx.com.
I’m afraid I wasn’t able to deliver your message to the following addresses.
This is a permanent error; I’ve given up. Sorry it didn’t work out.

<xxxx-xxx@xxxxxxx.org>:
preline: fatal: unable to run /var/qmail/bin/mm_wrapper: file does not exist

This has been noted on the Parallels Plesk forums and a few tickets have been opened with Parallels, but no response so far. This seems to be the same treatment we get every time Plesk is upgraded. Parallels breaks things and then expects you to pay for them to be fixed. Its a horrible business model and a lose-lose for Parallels customers.