The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

One ringie-dingie, two ringie-dingies

Yesterday was a busy day. One of the things I accomplished was setting up my new phone. I established a Vonage account and phone. A simple feat with large repercussions. It's all in the hopes of reducing my monthly bills. Being retired, I find myself on what is known as a "fixed income". I have learned that this term actually means "I'm darn near broke." In order not to reach actual brokeness, I have imposed some cost-cutting measures.

Just like our government.

Well, not quite. I haven't just argued about the cost-cutting, I have actually done some.

Being retired means you learn to do things you once did as a callous youth making minimum wage (or close to). You learn to appreciate the fine dining available at 4 PM when the "Early Bird" menu rules. You learn to wait for movies to come to HBO or Showtime rather than go to a theater when they first come out. You find yourself wandering through flea markets as entertainment and not buying anything. This last prompts you to consider cleaning out the garage and bringing the stuff that you never use to the flea market to sell. You wisely decide that would entail work and remind yourself that you are retired. The garage will keep until after your funeral.

I had something like Vonage a number of years ago. AT&T offered it then. Since I was an employee at the time, I was offered a chance to test it for them as a subscriber. It was free during the test. It worked out quite well. After the test phase was over, I kept it, switched my old Bellsouth number to it, and used it until I moved to Sebring where it was not available. The nicest thing about AT&T's offering was that AT&T picked up the tab so my phone service was free. But AT&T, in its inscrutable wisdom, decided that it didn't want to be in the VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) business and dropped the service.

This left me few options except for Vonage or our local phone company, Century Link (nee Embarq). Have you looked at your phone bill? A simple $35 "landline" phone service is $52 per month. The difference is all fees and taxes. Add in DSL service and the bill doubles. There will be fees and taxes on the Vonage bill too but not as much. And Comcast provided the cable modem for a modest cost which allowed me to dump the DSL.

I am comfortable with electronics and computers so I knew all the terminology involved in setting up the Vonage service. One needs to be able to pronounce "&*^%^%!" and "$%$#$%!" along with several other similar technical terms in order to install such things. Having served in our country's Navy, I had a good foundation in this terminology which has been honed by over 30 years in the telecommunications field. And golf, of course.

I found I had little need for that knowledge, however, a child could have done this quickly and easily. Not having a child available, it took me a bit longer than expected.

I have a friend* who is an even tighter tightwad than I. He bought one of those Magic Jack thingies. [Is this the number I dialed?] Both use the same technology, VoIP, but they do it differently. Magic Jack requires your computer to do much of the work and that means the computer must be running in order to have phone service. Vonage (like AT&T's) does not need that, its adapter works directly off the cable modem or DSL.

The quality beats Magic Jack hands down. On the other hand, Magic Jack service costs less than 1/12 what Vonage does. There are trade-offs that must be considered.

Within a few days, I will call Century Link and ask/tell/order them to remove their service. And then go out and celebrate. Maybe I will even have a fine meal after the Early Bird menu is no longer available. Nah, probably not.

* a friend is anyone who does not avoid me on a regular basis

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