Life: October 2005 Archives


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Sam has posted more pictures of the kids.

Christian Carnival XCII is up at World of Sven.

New evidence has been unearthed about the political context of Jefferson's infamous "wall of separation" language. [HT: SmartChristian]

There's a new article in Nature about two new techniques for deriving stem cells. These both sound pretty interesting. Some people are claiming that they get around the ethical objections. If they're successful and do get around the ethical objections, we might expect less pressure from those who want to destroy embryos for stem cell research. I doubt it, though. Alternative techniques in the past haven't stopped those who are single-minded in getting this one so far unsuccessful area of research to be federally funded. See Sun and Shield for discussion by someone who understands the science better than I do.

A little while back, Eugene Volokh had an extended disussion of the New York Civil Liberties Union's attack on military recruiting. Most of his post is great, but I think one element is especially worth highlighting. The general sort of approach he's criticizing has an "Any Stick is Worth Beating the Military With" sort of approach. Normally, they'll complain when affirmative action in its two main forms is not applied. The two main forms are lowering requirements for getting in and going out of your way to try to increase the representation of underrepresented groups by targeting those groups and appealing to them in specially designed ways. If someone isn't doing that, then they aren't pursuing diversity. Yet now they're complaining that military recruiters are targeting minority students, as if that's somehow bad.

Brief customer service gripe

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I use SBC Yahoo DSL, and the last time I had to deal with their customer service, it ended up being (shockingly enough) a pleasant experience. This struck me as so unusual that I wrote about it at the time (elsewhere). So, in the interest of fairness, I now have a customer service gripe regarding the same service.

My wife and I both need to use VPN (Virtual Private Network) software to access our work remotely, and I haven't been able to get this to work from home. I recently tried it from elsewhere with my laptop, and it works fine. So I concluded the problem was the firewall in the DSL modem, and today talked to SBC tech support. It turns out they know that the firewall in the DSL modem they sold me as part of my original package does NOT work with VPN software. So they are willing to sell me another DSL modem at the full price which WILL work, and won't replace my existing DSL modem which I've had for more than 30 days.

I tried to convince them they ought to replace my existing modem for free, since (a) they knew it wouldn't work with VPN when they sold it to me in the first place, yet didn't bother telling me that, and (b) it took me more than 30 days to figure out that the problem was with the DSL modem rather than with the configuration on my end. But they refused, and explained they have a disclaimer in their service agreement that says that they don't guarantee the DSL will work with any outside software. Fine, but this is worse than a non-guarantee: According to the tech support, they know that the DSL modem they sold me won't work with any VPN software using IPSEC protocols. So they effectively can guarantee it won't work. But did they tell me that? No.

Oh, well. Now I have to go buy a modem which will work. I'm not going to buy it from them, though.

That concludes my gripe for today. And I have to say, this rather outweighs the positive experience I had last time. I'm not very happy with SBC right now, so when my contract is up I'll probably go elsewhere.

UPDATE 11-14-05: To make matters even worse, it turns out that the SBC tech support people have no idea what they're talking about. I found someone who uses the same setup as me at my work and has no problems connecting to the same VPN I use. As a result, I figured out that it was just a matter of reconfiguring the firewall on the DSL modem SBC had originally given me to get the VPN to work. So I didn't end up having to buy a new DSL modem, etc., as SBC had told me I would. That's good, I guess -- except SBC's tech support shouldn't have told me I had to buy a new one when I didn't. So now I'm even more frustrated with them than I was before; if I'd listened to them, I would have wasted $100+ replacing something that didn't need to be replaced.



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