Verizon FiOS: The Installation

Posted on 2008.02.03 (Sunday). Filed under: Coffee, Entertainment, Food and Beverage, Hardware, Internet, Service Providers, Speed Tests, Technology, Television, Verizon FiOS | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


I just did two speed tests, to test a theory about whether or not Microsoft Internet Explorer would be slower or faster while browsing the web versus Mozilla Firefox. The speed test at 3:47PM GMT is MSIE, the other is Firefox.I wasn’t expecting a big difference in results, and I wasn’t shown one either. My boredom got the better of me, I suppose.

I was finally able to get some pictures on the exterior of my home, without the presence of rain a few moments ago. Now, with the sun high in the sky, though, I still wasn’t able to get my camera aimed towards a few other things I wanted to show, such as how the line looks running from pole to home, or a close-up of the box on the pole either. C’est la vie.

Anyway, all that aside, I’m going to attempt to take you through what happened here on the 29th day of the year.I had been up late the preceding night, and was about to go to bed at 3 or 4am. I thought to myself, usually I wake up from such a late sleep around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. No good; I stayed awake instead. I knew Verizon would be here between 8 and 12, and they had called twice to confirm the guy would arrive a few minutes after 8 on the day of the installation.

This didn’t work out as it was supposed to, he got “held up” and was “a little behind”, finally arriving around 10:20am or so. I was a bit peeved at first, but having experience in customer service, told myself he must be stuck with some disgruntled customer or some unexpected event during the course of a routine maintenance call befell upon him. I wish I would’ve asked him what took so long, being that we got along great during the course of the install, but I never got around to it.The installer’s name was Fabio, and he was more than happy to walk into a home where we offered coffee, cake, breakfast, and whatever else. He said he had already eaten some toast before he got here, and downed a huge coffee a short while before, as well. This worked out great in my book, because I had one Keurig K-Cup left, and I didn’t want to give it to anyone!

I greeted him at the door, and introduced myself, and my grandmother. I told Fabio to follow me, saying “I have a lot of ideas, and I was wondering what you thought — You can either help me out here, or kick me in the ass and push me outta the way, but I just wanted to run this by you first.” He followed me into the back room of the house (the den–where I’mtyping this right this moment), and I showed him what I had. I pointed out that from this room, we would be able to connect to the first splitter in the house (for TV) over an existing wire that used to run into the old television in here years ago, the two Ethernet cables running to my computers, a line running to the main telephone box outside, and a wall socket that was available.

He was very open to my suggestions, and wasn’t pushy, and wasn’t a “know-it-all” who had to see for himself. I was surprised that he took my word for what it was, and worked with me 100%. I was expecting to show the technician what I wanted, and to hear him give me a run-down on what he thought would be better. I was expecting him to investigate all that I had explained, and to make sure I knew what I was talking about, by checking all the lines I was speaking of, and making sure they went where I said they did. That just didn’t happen.

When I explained to him where the lines run, and that we could tap into everything back here, he was more than happy to accept it all. Sometimes, I understand that a tech 100_0557must investigate the matters to be sure of what he’s doing, but at other times, I’d much rather someone believe in my ability to know what the hell I’m talking about. I guess I sounded good. His only question was about the cable line I had running to the first splitter. Since that cable ran clear across my house, from one side to the other, he said that they should really use RG-6 cable (the new standard) instead of RG-59 (RG59 on top, RG6 on bottom in right-side photo) which is what I had. He agreed to try it, but I could tell he had his reservations. (From Wikipedia: “[RG-59] Generally has poor shielding but will carry a HQ HD signal or video over short distances. Not legal for use with any CATV or MATV system.)

He went out to his van after we discussed all this, picked up a wiring schematic, and began to peruse the telephone poles. I stood outside for a good minute having a smoke, before I decided that its too cold out for being without a coat, and went inside. Fabio spent about 15 minutes out there walking up and down the street. I began to think to myself “this guy is lost”. Turns out, that the diagrams they provided him at the garage were wrong, and the boxes he needed to connect to weren’t where they were supposed to be. He told me it should be on one of the 2 poles across the street from my home and there wasn’t anything there.

He went on to further explicate the diagram to me, pointing at poles and boxes. We both came to the conclusion that it should come off a third pole a bit further from my home. That being said, he climbed up there and poked around, coming down just to tell me that its definitely one of these two boxes on this third pole, but the boxes are improperly labeled and they’re still not where they belong on the diagram. So, he called a supervisor to come down to rectify the situation.

100_0551 - CopyWhile we waited for the arrival of a supervisor, Fabio began to work on drilling holes in my den, to run the two wires the ONT (one to the battery back-up, the other is the coaxial line for the TV and Internet), and installing the ONT on the outside of the home.The drilling process was, at the least, entertaining. He had three separate drill-bits, all of which seemed rather dull to me (and it took a while). Not his fault, and I can understand Verizon wanting to save money and not buy a new set of bits for the entire fleet. (good bits can get !&@*ing expensive) They get the job done, that’s all that matters.

So there you have it, I now have two holes in my house. I really don’t understand why these companies don’t fill the holes with silicon or some type of caulking. I can’t call it bad business on Verizon’s behalf– Cablevision didn’t do it either, when they put a hole in my home for the VOIP that I had. In fact, it was completely unnecessary for Cablevision to do that, as their modem was inside the house, as is the spot where the outside box terminates. Instead, Cablevision ran a wire from inside downstairs, to inside upstairs, to outside, to come back inside downstairs. ON TOP of that, they drilled a hole clear thru my wall here in the den, in the middle of the room, and did not even secure the jack to the wall! The guy just left it loose, hanging there. At least Verizion had the decency to stick the holes inconspicuously in a corner, behind a chair, out of the way and out of sight, and where he did have to insert a splitter, he secured that to the wall, properly!

After that, he went to the van and pulled out some RG-6 cabling, enough to span the width of my home. He decided that the RG-59 wire I had running, which I mentioned earlier, really needed to be replaced, so that’s what this was for. He gave the cable to me, and went downstairs to pass it up to him through my air-conditioning vent (where I had already ran some of my own Ethernet wires previously), and I ran this thru my ceiling to where the first splitter was.

The ONT installation was rather painless, he made 3 or 4 small holes in the brick to insert the plugs that accept the screws to mount the plate that secures the ONT to the wall, and that was it. (is that a run on sentence?) It’s a beautiful looking piece of technological advancement, at least, on the inside. The outside is rather plain looking, and until I got used to it over the past two or three days, I thought 16c65f40it were a bit of an eyesore on the house.

The photograph at the right shows you the inside of the ONT. This photograph comes from Daniel Bricklin’s website (used with permission), where he has also documented his own FiOS experience back in 2005 in Newton, Massachusetts. By the way, in mentioning Mr. Brickln, I should also state that it was his write-up on the installation which prompted me to do my own. Mr. Bricklin is one of the co-creators of “VisiCalc, the first computer spreadsheet program as we know them today.” -Some of you might find his history, details about VisiCalc, and other things, quite interesting on his website, and I suggest you browse through it.

As Fabio finished drilling holes and secured the battery back-up to my wall, he received a call from his supervisor who had arrived, and was outside checking the poles in his bucket-truck. He wasn’t up there too long before hydraulic fluid began to leak from the truck, bringing his bucket-riding to an end for the day. However, in his short while up there, he was able to ascertain what was what, and told Fabio and what we had already thought — that the line must come off the box we were talking about earlier.

He went off on his merry way, and Fabio began to string the lines along as directed, to my house. He used 165 ft. of fiber optic cable in total to get to my home from the connection on the pole. He explained to me that when he came to the home with the wire, that the drop we already have for the existing copper connections would not be able to be used, as it bends about four or five times around the house. I didn’t argue about his having to add a new drop on my upstairs dormer, as I had read before that this type of line shouldn’t make ANY bends, if at all possible. So, he finished running the fiber, and installing the new drop, after I had okayed it.

(This is where I had wante d to take a picture to show the drop to the pole, but the sun was blotting out view… but you can see the new drop and how it isn’t bent anywhere, just kinda curved from point a to the gutter to the next fastener).

100_0549 - CopyAfter everything was laid down, he handed me the set-top boxes so that I could begin moving TVs around and VCRs and DVD players and 100_0549 - Copy (2)whatnot, and changing them. I was more than happy to help, and I suppose he was quite relieved that he had some assistance. I placed those all where they had to go, and prepared them to be set-up. While I was running around the house doing that, I stopped out to meet him by the van where he was making up some wires or whatnot, to have him create some RG-6 lines for me that I needed.

By the time I finished replacing any RG-59 that I could with RG-6, he had finished hooking up the dial tone outside to the ONT, and he went to lunch. (He hooked this straight to the box that comes into the house, the original box, and didn’t use the crap Cablevision setup).I took his battery operated screwdriver to put pilot holes for the router, and then affixed it to the wall where I wanted it, as he ran around the house finding all the RG-6 I had installed, and putting the BNC connectors on the ends (that’s the part that screws into your cable inputs on the TVs and stuff).I borrowed his stapler and cutters back and forth, getting everything pristine and proper how I liked it.

He had ran into some issues with getting a signal for his laptop to do all the activations and details, so there was a bit of a pause in operations until that finally began to work. Your cable company will come in and install things, and then the customer calls the company and they turn it on from their office. Some satellite providers will call it in, and have the office activate it for them while they’re here. With Verizon, some things are called in and confirmed, and the activations for all the boxes, router, and phone porting are done by the technician on his laptop, which really wastes some time. If their office was prepared to do that sort of thing, he could be moving on to the next step while they did that, but.. they don’t. The tech apologized to me for the long wait in the activation process, and confided in me that he hopes Verizon begins to do these things remotely, because spending 6-8 hours on a triple-play installation really makes him feel unprofessional in the eyes of the weary customer who would typically exclaim “Six to eight hours??!!”

We had a problem getting the HD DVR to work in the upstairs bedroom. It wasn’t receiving a good enough signal to work. Fabio explained to me that the DVR’s are usually100_0556 very sensitive to a clear signal, and that we might not be able to use that upstairs. Verizon prefers to use the customer’s existing wires where possible. The problem with the signal upstairs was that half of the wire running towards it was a very very old RG-59 wire that has been here since 1980, when Cablevision was first installed in my home… and it had went thru some walls, small holes, and a few things were installed since then (like Central A/C and some extra Natural Gas pipes) that made it impossible to replace in one day. I switched the set top box to a standard, and it worked just fine up there. (later on I came back into the bedroom upstairs armed with a signal-amplifier that Cabelvision had provided me with, and this made that HD DVR box work just fine)

Once that was sorted, we came downstairs and he plugged a pen-drive in my laptop, which ran a program to automatically configure the new Actiontec router. I then had to go to the FiOS website to be “optimized” for their 20/20. (it edits some things in the registry–and it IS necessary). I was getting 6Mbit upload until I “optimized”, then I was able to get my full 20/20. Also, I noticed that Mozilla Firefox 3 Beta 2 that I was running, was not compatible with the Windows Registry settings or something, because I could not achieve full upload with it. I had to use MSIE or regular Firefox 2. (I prefer Firefox over MSIE any day of the week.)

At about 7pm, finally, everything was done, and I was happy. Please see the pictures below that show where the wires were running, what everything looks like, and to get a better understanding.

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Verizon FiOS has arrived, and so has the rain!

Posted on 2008.02.01 (Friday). Filed under: Entertainment, Internet, Optimum Online, Service Providers, Speed Tests, Technology, Television, Verizon FiOS | Tags: , , , , , , |

Well, I am very satisfied with my Verizon FiOS installation, which occurred on the 29th of January, 2008. The tech was supposed to arrive between 8 and 12, and he did get here at about 10 o’clock. A nice guy, open to all my suggestions (as mentioned in the previous post here) about where I thought I’d like everything installed. (And that is where it was installed)

They spend about 6-8 hours on a Triple Play service establishment. (Phone, Television, and Internet). Much more than I would like, more than the technicians would like. Anyway, I wanted to put some pics up here showing the install, but it has either been night time, or raining when I’ve wanted to get pictures of the ONT and the wire drop that he hung.

With that, there isn’t supposed to be rain tomorrow, and I will try to get to those pictures. If you have any questions about Verizon vs. Optonline, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below, and ask.

I do, however, have some speed test results, for now, below:

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FiOS in less than 24 hrs.

Posted on 2008.01.28 (Monday). Filed under: Entertainment, Hardware, Internet, Optimum Online, Service Providers, Speed Tests, Technology, Television, Verizon FiOS | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


So, we received a phone call from Verizon yesterday asking that we make accessible all things which the Verizon FiOS technician needs to access. The ethernet wires, the coaxial into-the-house (although I have an idea of relocating that), the televisions, and the telephone wiring (which I believe I want to switch around), I suppose. I tidied up all my horrible-looking, dangling telephone and coaxial cable lines earlier this morning, as well. I figure if it looks somewhat neat, the next guy would feel a bit more obligated to do something neat as well.

Right now, as it is, I have my cable modem in the basement connected to the first splitter off the incoming coaxial cable. From there, the CAT6 travels to my D-Link router upstairs here on the first floor, and from there it goes back downstairs thru the air-conditioning duct along fifty feet of CAT5 to my main computer, and about two feet to my desk right here.

The telephone. My telephone (one of three lines), which is VOIP comes from the cable modem downstairs, across fifty feet of narrow/thin telephone wire, to this same room, where it exits thru the wall and out to the telephone box on the side of the house, which in turn goes back into the house’s internal telephone wiring. It seems rather redundant for it to go from the basement, outside, to a box, and back to the basement — but as this house was built in 1932, and there are two separate telephone lines running through the walls, Cablevision decided for the sake of it all, to do it this way. I suppose the box outside always worked, so why not do it that way, rather than run new wires to the main telephone connections inside.

The coaxial cable. At the moment, there is a very old and beat-up cable coming from outside to the first splitter in the basement. From there it splits off into the cable modem and a signal amplifier. From there (the signal amplifier) it goes to a 5-way splitter, dispersed to different televisions in the house. There are two unused coaxial cables there. One comes into this particular room, and the other goes to my garage.

What I have thought would work best… I did a lot of thinking about how this will all run. I’ve decided that the best way to do it, would to have their stuff installed right here in this room. It would be advantageous to do so, as it would be in a drier place, more accessible, and running on newer wires. Also, having the wireless Actiontec router that Verizon supplies on my 1st floor, rather than basement, would be a bit more beneficial in granting me more “useable” range; I want to use my laptop wirelessly on the 1st and 2nd floors, I don’t care about it being used in the basement.

The total schematic running through my mind is as follows:

(Mind you, the ONT and Router are not the same things, but as both are being used to provide all the incoming services, I refer to them as one unit)

  • ONT/Router –> Ethernet cables on 1st floor (den) –> 2 Computers
  • ONT/Router –> Telephone jack on 1st floor (den) –> Box on outside of house –> Internal phone wires.
  • ONT/Router –> Unused coaxial cable on 1st floor (den) –> First splitter off old coaxial-in –> televisions.

I am hoping that all the above can be achieved. It seems that this would be the best way to install everything, I wouldn’t need two routers or a wireless hub/repeater, and it’d all be someplace I can keep an eye on it.

Some photographs, before/after my wiring cleanup.. for the hell of it:

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WindowLoom1 WindowLoom2

Notice anything that I did not mention?

Less than 24 hrs for FiOS. I can’t wait!

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Number crunching & brain numbing computer games

Posted on 2008.01.22 (Tuesday). Filed under: Gaming, News, Optimum Online, PC Games, Service Providers, Strategy, Web Games | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

So, I’m an avid EVE-Online player, and since my Optimum Online internet connection has been less than trustworthy this past week, I’ve had to find other things, less dependent upon a stable connection, to play.jim data center1

My good friend Jim (pictured at his datacenter on the right) has set up a game called Black Nova Traders on his personal website, for private play amongst friends.

It’s not a bad game at all, and it has killed countless hours of boredom. Its built on the idea of the older “Trade Wars“, with an updated spin on things and web-based. From their own website, this is the description:

“BlackNova Traders is a turn-based space strategy game where you start off with minimal resources which you must use wisely to make money, money is power. As the game goes on you upgrade your ship, make alliances and colonize planets to produce more money in your quest for top rank and domination.”

I was off to a slow start there, not being able to figure out how anything works, to becoming dominant and shooting at planets that have decimated me. Oops. – With my billions of credits I have accrued, however, it hasn’t kept me out of the game for long. Which is the good thing about this game; you can get back up as fast as you got knocked down. Right at this moment, I’m all out of turns, so I’ve turned to the blog for occupation of my encephalon.

Figuring out the numbers in Black Nova Traders isn’t all too difficult; you’re messing with percentages and production values, and that’s about it. If you’re interested in installing your own copy, Black Nova Traders is an open-source project, and you can get all the information you require at their forums.

top After days of playing this game, and looking for ways to keep busy while out of turns, I turned to another web-based strategy game called Earth: 2025. I couldn’t particularly get all into it, as the turns only re-tick every half-hour, and I was going it alone. I’ll get back to it at some point, with some more people, if possible. That particular game, though, gets more involved with numbers, and lots more management from spies to industry to residents, military, etc. One step in involvement above BNT, and just a tad bit brain-numbing.

Now, let’s take a step back from these web-based games and look at something that has forever boggled my mind. Hearts of Iron II: Doomsday. Wow. Just typing the title of the game sets off little neurons in my brain shouting “Oh no! Not that!”.

hoi2dd boxshot Hearts of Iron II is a grand-strategy game, by Paradox Interactive. It’s somewhat of a legend in the community of grand-strategy gamers, but I have yet to ever figure out the first damned thing to do within this game. You can play as any country in existence (circa 1936), and do almost anything imaginable with your country. You control everything, down to politics, single battalions of troops, all naval units, air units, the infrastructure, diplomacy, and taxes. I’ve installed the game at least six or seven times on my computer over time, since it has been released in 2006, and still, it beats me. Every time, I install this this thing, telling myself “This game can’t beat you. It’s a computer game for crying out loud, you should be able to figure it out”, and I just don’t get it yet. I’m bound to try it again later this week, after having taken three months at least, off from it. In fact, I challenge anyone reading this blog to try the damn thing, and if you can figure it out and teach me what the hell I’m doing wrong, I’ll kiss your feet (granted that they’re healthy, clean, and free of any unfavorable scents). There are tons of numbers to crunch in this particular game, and it is the specific reason for the title of this posting. ARGH. My brain hurts just typing about it.

Other games I’m looking into trying, currently consist of:

Earth: 2025 (again)

Lost Empire: Immortals

City Life 2008 (not sure about this one)

Star Trek Online (developers laid off on January 18th... Hoping its picked up again)

Dark Orbit

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Coffee anyone?

Posted on 2008.01.18 (Friday). Filed under: Coffee, Food and Beverage, Gadgets, Lifestlye, Tea, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

I’ve become such a coffee lover lately, it’s ridiculous.

File_028, 3/16/05, 10:57 AM,  8C, 4610x5948 (1147+1692), 112%, New Rick,  1/20 s, R110.6, G94.6, B123.0

What would I have ever done, had one of these fine Keurig machines not walked into my life? I’ve seen them for ages. My sister had one, then she got one for my brother-in-law’s office, then my friend obtained one… and I thought I was supposed to be special?

Finally this Christmas I received one from my friend, Jennifer, and its been probably the most used gift I’ve ever received.

I went though the variety pack in under 4 days. That’s 18 k-cups. Teas, coffees, hot-chocolate, whatever- all gone in under 4 days.

I stumbled upon a website (click) that sells packs of 24 and 25 for a more appealing price of $9.99 – $10.49 per case. (At Bed Bath and Beyond I was paying $9.99 for 18, or $7.99 with their 20% discount coupon that comes in the mail at least three times per month, and on top of that, 8.625% NY Sales Tax) With 6 cases, you also get free shipping, and as the company is not in New York.. hurray, I don’t pay tax, either.

This time ’round, I’ve ordered Kenyan AA Extra Bold (my favorite thus far), Sumatran Blend Extra Bold (seemingly as good as Starbucks’ own Sumatra blend), and Hazelnut Dark Roast (Hazelnut has always been a good flavor, but I never thought it were strong enough –now it is–), and split the other half of the bill with Jennifer, who ordered Decaf Green Tea (she’s pleased), Sleepytime Herbal Tea (I tried it, I liked it, and it actually put me right to sleep– she says she enjoys it, but it’s only good on occasion), and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters’ “Our Blend” (which is a light blend –her preference–) that she gives many blessings.

For those of you who’ve never seen such a device, you really need to check out some of the demonstrations on the manufacturer’s website. (click)

Anyhoo, there isn’t much else I can say right now, I’m being tantalized by all this talk of coffee, and I must secure myself a cup before any act of God might taketh the opportunity away from me, such as getting struck by a bolt of lightening, hurricane, blizzard, or even worse, a power outage!

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FiOS is Coming

Posted on 2008.01.17 (Thursday). Filed under: Entertainment, Hardware, Internet, Optimum Online, Service Providers, Technology, Television, Verizon FiOS | Tags: , , , , , , |

Well, the Verizon FiOS representative just left my home no less than ten minutes ago.

FiOS service will be installed in my home on the 29th of January. Phone, TV, and 20/20 internet.

It came to a total of $200 ±$4-6 per month, incl. all taxes and fees; the price is guaranteed for two years, with a couple things, which may have once been perceived as goodies, which are nowadays almost essentials. (HD boxes, DVR, battery backup for phone–which OOL does not provide–, the installer will stick all the boxes on the televisions.. etc.)

Personally, I’d rather do my own home installation, install my own boxes, configure my own computer, and run my own Ethernet lines. So, we’ll see what happens on the 29th when this guy gets here. I already know where I want the ONT box, and I hope this guy upholds the same standard of workmanship that I do.


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Optimum Online 30/5 BOOST vs. Verizon FiOS 20/20

Posted on 2008.01.17 (Thursday). Filed under: Entertainment, Internet, Optimum Online, Service Providers, Speed Tests, Technology, Television, Verizon FiOS | Tags: , , , , , , |


So after two weeks of deliberation with the family and whatnot, a representative from Verizon is coming today to explain his product. I’ve decided that while OOL has an excellent customer service support center, and has only been down perhaps three or four times in the last eight to ten years that I’ve had it (that I’ve noticed), it might just be time to move on.

I do a lot of file sharing and use the internet pretty much around the clock. I’ve patiently been waiting for FiOS for two years now, just like many other people, and it was finally laid on the poles back in October. I called at the time, and the lady there told me it usually takes two months after you’ve seen all the trucks in the neighborhood, before you can connect. Well, I’ll be damned if she wasn’t correct.

OOL offers me 30mbit download speeds, and I’m able to get those, on occasion. I’ve done some testing over the past two nights and I’ve gotten as high as 25 and 4…

But more often than not, I’ve been getting 9 and 4…. I guess they win an award for the most stable upload speeds.


So, it’s great that I can achieve an UP TO speed.. once in a great blue moon, but not often.

From what I hear, FiOS is much much more consistent with its speeds. And the extra 15mbit upload is going to help me with many things. Sometimes I want to share videos with friends, or pictures… and it’s quite aggravating at times that I can’t get these fukin’ things out faster!!

So once this guy gets here and explains his products to my not-so-technologically-savvy grandparents… who for some reason think that a fiber optic cable has to be installed throughout the house for them to be able to watch television after this thing is installed (grr… I give up)… we’ll see if I’m biting myself in the ass or not.

My uncle has FiOS and he has no complaints about their customer service and uptime. On the contrary, I’ve read many complaints from others on the internet that FiOS billing dept. and customer service sucks. Am I being too greedy in my need for more speed? Am I turning into one of these typical “instant-gratification” freaks? We’ll see what happens… My guess is that typical of human nature, the only thing I’m going to see about FiOS service is the negative shit, because we all have been there and done it before — when things are going great, we enjoy the moment and live for it. When things go bad, we complain, and bitch, and moan, and groan all month long about it. What-ev-er!

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Posted on 2008.01.17 (Thursday). Filed under: Internet | Tags: , , |

In the spirit of a “first-poster”, this here, is my first post. First!

I’ve long avoided anything that is new, or present, or “in”, or whatever… Somehow, the idea of blogging has always stuck in the back of my mind. I can’t be sure why… perhaps it’s because the fucking things barrage me from every direction and every website I’ve visited. Devblogs, MySpace, FaceBook… the fukin’ things are all over… and I’ve got shit ten times more interesting to post than most, anyway.. so why the hell not?

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