Monday, July 22, 2013

Weird charges from Boingo

I need to use Boingo (a wifi service provider) in Newark airport for about five minutes on Thursday and the same again in three weeks.

 On the advice of a frequent flyer friend I decided set up an account in advance, to avoid having to fiddle around with credit cards and other annoyances at the airport. The online registration process seemed easy. You simply went to their website and chose one of three service options and paid for the option you chose in the next page.
Here's the options page:

Needless to say I chose "Boingo Unlimited". The "as you go" option has the look of something that could get expensive very quickly ($10 and $20 per connection??). The "global" option was more than I needed for two 5-minute connections in Newark.

On I proceeded and chose to pay with PayPal. This move was an excellent idea, as Paypal sent me a receipt by email immediately. Somehow, mysteriously, inexplicably, I was now paying for the Global option. $59 a month!!!

 Needless to say, I immediately opened a dispute with Paypal and got on the telephone to Boingo, whose employee bowed and grimaced and apologized. I would be transferred to the "Unlimited" option and the balance of the $59 would be returned to my Paypal account.

But this leaves me with a really bad taste in my mouth. I know I didn't choose the $59 plan. I greatly fear that this is happening to hundreds, maybe thousands, of people around the world. Many of these people will pay with a credit card and won't see the huge charges until their next statement. Many others will be paying on corporate cards and the charges will go unremarked for months.

One last thing troubles me. Why does wifi in the terminals cost so much? Why can't the Port Authority provide free or at-cost wifi? Boston can do it (and does). I'd even be happy to use an advertising-supported service. But existing costs for commercial airport wifi are outrageous, and maybe even (as I found!) duplicitous.

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Workaround for dreadful Vista Search Engine

I can't believe how awful the Vista search engine is. That's not to say it doesn't find things quickly (it does); it's just that it doesn't find anything I want it to find, and it doesn't allow me to refine my search. Two things drive me around the bend:
1) It doesn't update its indexes, meaning that if you search for a string in a document that you've moved or deleted, it'll find the old location and give you an error when you click on the document.
2) If you press "return" (as I *always* do) after typing in the search term, it'll churn everything on the hard drive, finding files that have no connection to your search, and send ten (or thirty) seconds doing it.

I finally found my solution: install a new search engine! In my case, I've been delighted by "File Locator Lite", available for free at You have to pay for the pro version, but I've seen no need for it yet, as I'm not doing massively complicated searches. What I like about it is that you can narrow your search to particular drives or folders and by size and date. You can also do a regex search for strings in the title or in the document.

Much better than the Microsoft search engine, and a great replacement.

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Gníomhartha na nAspal os Ard / Acts of Apostles Aloud (In Irish)

Glad to announce that my recordings of selected scriptural items are gradually going back up. First is the Acts of the Apostles, available here.

Áthas orm a fhógairt go bhfuil mo thaifid de leabhair an Bhíobla á gcur suas arís. Ar dtús: Gníomhartha na nAspal, ar fáil anseo.

Brian Ó Broin

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Insíonn Fiona Scéal Goldilocks

Sound and Video out of Sync with Adobe Flash

Had an old laptop (eMachines M5305) hooked up to the TV for internet viewing. It worked fine until last week, when audio suddenly began to precede video in the Flash plugin by 1-2 seconds. More seriously, the machine also began to overheat and randomly shut down.

After trying a system restore and failing to repair the video I realized that the problem lay with Flash, which had updated to the 11.7 version from 10.3. Even after a system restore, it refused to roll itself back.

This meant I had to completely uninstall Flash from the machine, by following the steps on this web page:

Then I had to go to Flash's website to get the 10.3 version. This is stored here: Scroll down to "Flash Player Archives" and choose the Windows version released on 6/11/2013.

After you have unzipped the download, you'll have several executables to choose from. Be sure to read the readme.txt, which tells you which one you need. Since I use Firefox, I ran the version for Netscape (which is the generic name for Mozilla Firefox, I believe). There are also standalone and IE versions.

After I had installed this I discovered that my sound and video were synchronized again. Problem solved.

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Sunday, July 07, 2013

Edward Snowden agus Sceithireacht

Bíonn an deartháir mór ag faire i dtólamh, cluasáin na ngníomhairí dírithe ar ár gcuid guthán baile agus oifige agus bíonn ceamaraí spéire agus sráide dár siarleanacht ar an talamh, ach bhí Brian Ó Broin ag faire fosta. Céard a sceith Edward Snowden, and cad iad na himpleachtaí dár saoirse féin ar an idirlíon?

Edward Snowden is on the run with three laptops full of America's secrets. NSA, CIA, and GCHQ programs such as PRISM have been blown wide open. The Chinese don't want him, the Russians don't know what to do with him, and Spain admits to fearing the wrath of America if they let him through their airspace. But behind the drama, what exactly is at stake? What is the American government doing, and how much government monitoring is too much?

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