Categotry Archives: Skill Level: Easy


Amazon Square Trade, Cell Phone Repair, and Fraud Charges



My Samsung Galaxy S5 had a usb charging port problem after 18 months. I had gotten a SquareTrade policy when I bought the phone, since they are half the price of At&t’s protection plan.

I did NOT have enough battery power to do a factory reset, so I sent the phone in minus the SD Card. HUGE Mistake. A mere week had gone by after I sent the phone in for repair, and oh! What’s this? A charge from Microsoft Xbox on my account? I have never owned an Xbox, let alone opened an account. I called Microsoft Xbox at (800) 469-8269 and said, “Umm, I never bought an Xbox, what’s going on? They had opened an account using my gmail spam email, that day. Sure enough, my credit card was linked to this account. They removed the credit card, but could NOT say what the charge was for….hmmm.

I called my bank, and cancelled the my credit card. Oh but wait. There were more surprises in store.


They tried to change my Facebook password. Twice. But since I have dual layer authentication (something you have, plus something you know. Like an atm card and a pin.)

And I permanently lost about 6 weeks of emails from my regular gmail account.

But the fun was not over yet. When they returned the phone, it had been factory reset.

Then, I started getting a Sim Card Error. We traipsed lazily into the At&t store, and got a new Sim card. Nope. I still had no service. So we put a friend’s Sim Card in my phone. Nope, not going to happen. We put my Sim card into their phone and it worked as advertised. So the phone has a bad Sim Card Reader. Nice.

Round 2 of dealing with SquareTrade. I spoke to their “offshore” tech support person, and he said that someone would be calling me in 20 minutes (on another line.) Sure enough about 1/2 hour later, the phone rang, and this time it was good old American based tech support.

I explained the issue (again). Since the failure occurred less than 30 days after repair, this was covered. So my phone went to Los Angeles (via Memphis) a second time. I am still waiting.

Lesson learned. If you are going to send your cell phone in for repair, doesn’t matter if it’s SquareTrade, or someplace else. Save yourself some grief, do screen shots of your screens, save them to the micro sd card (or email them to yourself), and nuke that phone (factory reset) before it leaves your hands for repair, if at all possible. I could have gone to Batteries Plus and gotten a 2nd battery and done the wipe before shipping. But hey, I now have 2 batteries.

Enjoy my technological impairment!



Comcast’s blazing Internet Speed (NOT!)



I was recently forced into a $100 cable modem upgrade from docsis 2 to docsis 3 modem, because Comcast apparently never told anyone that they had ended support for Docsis 2 modems. (Why they couldn’t email all their existing Docsis 2 modem users and tell them, is beyond me).

When I called to activate the new modem, the agent told me that I could get a promotional price for 1 year, of a speed at 100 mbps for an additional $5/month. Okay. I’ll give it a try. I had been without internet service for 4 days while I hunted down where to find the new Docsis 3 modem. I asked the agent for 4 days credit since I was completely down. The person said they would credit my account. ($1.67/day x 4 days = $6.68. How much do you want to bet that doesn’t happen?)

I waited. The upgrade NEVER happened. I called a second time, and the agent said that the work order was never submitted, and that she would take care of that for me. Thank you!

I waited again. And of course you can guess. Upgrade never happened. I called a 3rd and final time to cancel the upgrade, and go back to the performance starter with 7 meg down and 1 meg up for $50/month (unbundled. I am over-the-air with Mythtv because the cost of cable tv is too high, and you have to use their set top boxes. Can you say, ouch?)

Once again, Comcast’s offshore tech support, proved to be inept at handling a simple customer request. (Which would have actually made them more money).

You can understand my stance on the proposed merger of Time Warner Cable and Comcast. They seem intent on discovering new lows in the customer service (they are NOT mutually exclusive) arena.

At a minimum Comcast could do the following:

1. When an order is placed, the customer is given a customer order number to reference.

2. An email copy of the order is sent to the customer.

3. On the day the service is to be performed, the customer is notified via email. If the order is NOT completed on time, the Customer should contact Customer Service with the order number, and ask for a status update.

4. Once the order is completed, the Customer is notified via email, that the order is now complete. Any further questions or comments, should be directed to Customer Service.

5. In the event the order is NOT completed on time, then appropriate action to expedite order completion is taken by Customer Service.

None of these suggestions will ever see the light of day, but it would vastly improve the Comcast Customer Service image, and at least give a semblance of a we can help attitude, rather than: “How sad. Too bad. Now leave us alone” attitude that seems to permeate Comcast’s Customer Experience.

Share your Customer Service experiences with the Federal Communications Commission on Proceeding 14-57 (TWC/Comcast Merger)



How to adjust the skip time during playback in mythtv


skip forward/back setting in mythtv

Thank you jya_ from #mythtv-users ( for identifying the location to change the skip time for playback using mythtv.

By default, mythtv skips 30 seconds FORWARD using the Right Arrow Key (->) symbol, and skips 5 seconds BACK using the Left (< - ) symbol on the keyboard. I wanted to change the skip back time to 15 seconds instead of 5...but where did they hide the setting? The adjustment is in mythfrontend. Navigate to the settings from mythfrontend: Setup -> Video -> Playback Groups -> Default

Your screen looks like:

skip forward/back setting in mythtv

Or whatever works for you. Thanks jya_.



How to update the google talk / hangouts plugin for Linux


This threw me for a loop! Literally.

I wanted to use Google Hangouts, but it told me I needed to update the plugin.

I downloaded the plugin, installed it, fired up hangouts again, only to be told, I had to update the plugin again! The screen looks something like this:

Google Hangouts Plugin

What the? I just installed the plugin! How could you tell me I needed to install it again?

I did a sanity check.

apt-cache policy google-talkplugin

I got back the following:

Version table: 0
500 stable/main amd64 Packages
*** 0
100 /var/lib/dpkg/status

The page Google had sent me to, was trying to install the version 3.10 plugin. That isn’t going to work.

apt-cache policy shows me the installed version, 3.10 and the current version in the repo. 4.9!

So I told it to get the latest version in the repository.

sudo apt-get install google-talkplugin

When I redid the apt-cache policy it showed:

Version table:
*** 0
500 stable/main amd64 Packages
100 /var/lib/dpkg/status

and behold!

hangouts plugin



How to setup Kindle on an android based device


I am a n00b when it comes to the Kindle world. When The Narrow Road came out with their e-book version, I was eager to read. As I discovered, there are no posts on how to set up an Android based device for Kindle.

The following assumes you have an account with

1. Download and install the Kindle application from the Android Play Store. Sign into the Kindle application.

2. We need to get some information from the Kindle Application. To access the settings, you will see 3 horizontal lines (see picture below) in the top LEFT of the screen (it is depicted on the top right here, but the 3 horizontal lines are what you are looking for in the top LEFT.). Press that, and it will open up the menu.


3. We want to access the settings, so again press the settings button (see screen above).

4. The information we are after is Send to Kindle Email Address (highlighted in Red Below.) Write that down, we will use that later.


5. Now we want to login to our amazon account. Go to the dropdown menu under your account (see below), and LEFT click on Manage Your Kindle.


6. Click on Personal Document Settings on the left (see red highlight.) We want to add Add A New Approved Email Address.


7. Add the email address you will be emailing the document from.

Otherwise, you will get an email saying,

Dear Customer,

The following document, sent to you by could not be delivered to your Kindle because the sender is not in your Kindle approved e-mail list.

(Been there, done that)

8. And now…..remember that email address we wrote down in step 4? Now we compose an email with the attachment. (Note for Kindle books we want to email the book as a mobi attachment to the address obtained in step 4.)


9. Et voilĂ :



Comcast removes clear qam channels from their system


comcast channel scan


The nation’s largest cable tv provider, Comcast provided clear qam (or local channels in High Definition withOUT a cable box) over their cable system. Apparently, that has now come to an end.

A channel scan today yielded only 2 channels. Both Comcast info-mercial channels.

So if you were counting on tuners like the hdhomerun to tune and record cable channels, those days are ended.

Comcast could NOT be reached for comment.



Why doesn’t bash aliases work over an ssh connection


I had this problem years ago. And it cropped up again, a few days ago. I didn’t write it down then…

Symptom: bash aliases work if I am logged in as a local user. However, if you use ssh to gain access, the bash aliases are gone!

What’s happening? Actually it is very easy to fix. You simply need to add the .profile file to your home directory. The profile file is something that is executed each time you login. It is like the old Windows autoexec.bat file.

Here is the text for the file, and an addition I made to make life easier. Using a text editor of choice (gedit, nano, or….vi) create a .profile file.

# ~/.profile: executed by the command interpreter for login shells.
# This file is not read by bash(1), if ~/.bash_profile or ~/.bash_login
# exists.
# see /usr/share/doc/bash/examples/startup-files for examples.
# the files are located in the bash-doc package.

# the default umask is set in /etc/profile; for setting the umask
# for ssh logins, install and configure the libpam-umask package.
#umask 022

# if running bash
if [ -n "$BASH_VERSION" ]; then
# include .bashrc if it exists
if [ -f "$HOME/.bashrc" ]; then
. "$HOME/.bashrc"

# set PATH so it includes user's private bin if it exists
if [ -d "$HOME/bin" ] ; then
# add /sbin to the path so we can use things like ifconfig
# without have to do sudo or getting
# bash: ifconfig: No such file or directory
# PATH="$HOME/bin:$PATH"

After you create the file, log out, and back in again, and the bash aliases will work over ssh.


How to: Install Skype on 64 bit Debian Wheezy


It is NOT as easy as it would first seem. Some magic wand waving (oh yes — Hokey Pokey again!) is required.

Download Skype for Debian 7 (multi-arch)

NOTE: if you are using Ubuntu or Linux Mint, you will need to download the Ubuntu Multiarch version, instead.

Debian Skype

1. What is multi-arch? Multi-arch supports the 32 bit libraries needed to run Skype or even Boinc. So first we need to tell Wheezy (Debian 7 — 64 bit) that we need this support:

Linux 3.2.0-4-amd64 #1 SMP Debian 3.2.41-2 x86_64 GNU/Linux

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386

Normally, you would just get a prompt.

2. Now update the system:

sudo apt-get update

and it should find all the necessary components for the 32 bit support. Yup, Skype even on a 64 bit system, is a 32 bit application!

3. I found it necessary to run upgrade after doing the update, this differs from what other sites say.

sudo apt-get upgrade

4. Let’s install Skype!

sudo dpkg -i skype-debian_4.1.0.20-1_i386.deb

Or whatever version you download.

5. If you end up with um-met dependencies like I did, Don’t Panic!

Simply tell Linux to fix the dependencies:

sudo apt-get install -f

Repeat step 4 (above)

6. Q.E.D.



Stabilizing an atheros ar9485 (ath9k) connection in Linux (Wheezy)


If you search the internet, one of the issues that seems to come up a lot, are connectivity issues with the atheros AR 9485 card.

I am configuring a new laptop, an HP Pavilion G6-2323DX for my Mom. I ran into many issues that caused me to have to do hokey pokey.

This is pure hokey pokey. But it does work.

The operating system I am using is Debian/Wheezy V 7 RC 1 (64 Bit)

If you do a uname -a I get back:

Linux AnnLin 3.2.0-4-amd64 #1 SMP Debian 3.2.41-2 x86_64 GNU/Linux

Let’s just step by step check things.

1. let’s see if Linux see’s the card:

lspci | grep Wireless

You will get back a line like:

02:00.0 Network controller: Atheros Communications Inc. AR9485 Wireless Network Adapter (rev 01)

That means Linux sees it, but of course it is NOT configured.

2. Let’s see if the driver (ath9k) is loaded. We will use modprobe.

modprobe ath9k

if the device driver is loaded, it will just return a prompt. That’s a “good thing” as Martha would say.

3. Let’s look to make sure the wpa-supplicant programme is installed. The WPA supplicant provides wireless protected access (encryption) for our connection.

dpkg -l | grep supplicant

and you should get back:

ii wpasupplicant 1.0-3+b2
amd64 client support for WPA and WPA2 (IEEE 802.11i)

We’re good!

4. Now let’s modify /etc/network/interfaces

cd /etc/network # go to network interfaces
sudo cp interfaces # make a backup copy
sudo nano interfaces

You will get back something like this:

# This file describes the network interfaces available on your system
# and how to activate them. For more information, see interfaces(5).

# The loopback network interface
auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

#define the network interface for the wireless lan card
iface wlan0 inet dhcp
wpa-ssid MyHome
wpa-psk MyPass

wpa-ssid is the name of the wireless network you are trying to connect to. wpa-psk is the password for that network. Yup plain text!

The iface line defines wlan0 so it has access to the internet, and gets it’s ip address dynamically (dhcp).

The card interface is STILL not up!

5. Bring up the interface!

sudo ifdown wlan0; sudo ifup wlan0;

you will get output that looks like:

ifdown: interface wlan0 not configured
Internet Systems Consortium DHCP Client 4.2.2
Copyright 2004-2011 Internet Systems Consortium.
All rights reserved.
For info, please visit
Listening on LPF/wlan0/20:16:d8:e5:32:b4
Sending on LPF/wlan0/20:16:d8:e5:32:b4
Sending on Socket/fallback
DHCPDISCOVER on wlan0 to port 67 interval 8
DHCPREQUEST on wlan0 to port 67
bound to — renewal in 37985 seconds.


Install wicd (Wireless Interface Connection Daemon)

sudo apt-get install wicd

once that is installed, REMOVE the gnome network mangler!

sudo apt-get purge network-manager-gnome


Reboot the machine. After re-booting bring up the interface.

sudo ifdown wlan0; sudo ifup wlan0;

It should look like this:



now go back to /etc/network/interfaces and remove (or comment out with a # in front the wpa-ssid, and wpa-pskid for the wlan card. so just: iface wlan0 inet dhcp and whatever else was there — just not the wpa information.

cd /etc/network # go to network interfaces
sudo nano interfaces

9. Restart the network:

sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart

you will get back something like this:

[….] Running /etc/init.d/networking restart is deprecated because it may not[warnnable some interfaces … (warning).
[….] Reconfiguring network interfaces…Internet Systems Consortium DHCP Client 4.2.2
Copyright 2004-2011 Internet Systems Consortium.
All rights reserved.
For info, please visit

Listening on LPF/wlan0/20:16:d8:e5:32:b4
Sending on LPF/wlan0/20:16:d8:e5:32:b4
Sending on Socket/fallback
DHCPRELEASE on wlan0 to port 67

this basically makes sure we don’t have any errors in /etc/network/interfaces


Reboot once again, and this time the interface should come up automatically. Screensaver engagement should not knock the connection offline.

And that’s what it’s all about!

I have to thank 3 people for all their help. Joe, Loni and Frances.


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