Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

FIOS TV Signal Issues

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Chat Subject: FiOS Television (No Picture / Picture Quality)

Your Question: I’ve had no TV since last week. New set-top box arrived. I installed it, and auto-activation failed. Details are: RF Check: MoCA TX RATE (151 Mbps) IS LOW.

A Verizon Service Representative will be with you shortly. Thank you. (19:07:04)

Agent Dig has joined. (19:10:14)

Dig : Chat ID for this session is 03071174364. (19:10:14)

Dig(19:10:29): Thank you for contacting the Verizon FIOS technical chat support. We thank you for your patience in reaching us. In order to pull up your records and assist you better, May I request you to confirm the telephone number , name and address on the account.

F J SCONZO(19:10:54): xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Dig(19:11:09): Thank you for the information .

Dig(19:12:09): I see that the box failed to activate , am I correct ?

F J SCONZO(19:12:19): Correct

F J SCONZO(19:12:39): It is currently displaying a picture, but the picture quality is very poor.

Dig(19:12:49): I apologize for the inconvenience caused .

Dig(19:14:19): Let me go ahead and see where the issue is .

F J SCONZO(19:15:55): The last support representative said “I assure you that the set-top box once receive will work as you expect. I am 100% confident about it, you can trust my word on it.” But it is not working.

F J SCONZO(19:16:00): Thanks for looking into the problem.

Dig(19:16:15): I apologize for that .

Dig(19:17:40): So now you have picture on the TV, however the quality is bad ?

F J SCONZO(19:17:50): Correct.

Dig(19:17:55): Okay .

F J SCONZO(19:18:10): The image is very pixellated, and different parts of the screen update at different times.

F J SCONZO(19:18:25): Also, the sound is delayed at times and not in sync with the picture.

Dig(19:18:35): Let me go ahead and run some advanced commands on the box that should fix the issue .

F J SCONZO(19:18:46): Please proceed.

Dig(19:21:41): May I know the serial number of the box that has an issue, it would start with < M > ?

F J SCONZO(19:23:41): It is M00000XXX000

Dig(19:24:36): Thank you .

Dig(19:27:06): I have already send out the commands .

F J SCONZO(19:28:11): The picture still looks bad.

Dig(19:28:31): Well the commands are still in process.

F J SCONZO(19:28:56): okay

F J SCONZO(19:29:41): Okay, the set-top box just shut off again.

F J SCONZO(19:29:56): And is now restarting…

F J SCONZO(19:30:26): The display on the box now shows “–:–” instead of the time or channel.

Dig(19:30:31): Correct .

Dig(19:30:41): Please wait for some time .

F J SCONZO(19:30:51): Okay, now it shows the time.

F J SCONZO(19:31:16): The Verizon menu appeared on the TV, saying “Press MENU to watch FIOS TV”

F J SCONZO(19:32:57): Should I press the MENU button on the remote, or continue to stand by?

Dig(19:33:46): Please wait .

F J SCONZO(19:33:56): Okay. I will wait.

Dig(19:34:06): Thank you .

Dig(19:35:36): Mr Sconzo, may I request you to now check and see .

Dig(19:35:46): I am sure the issue should be now fixed .

F J SCONZO(19:36:01): The set top box display is completely blank.

F J SCONZO(19:36:11): Should I power it on first?

Dig(19:36:26): Please turn it off and turn it back on .

F J SCONZO(19:37:16): It is back on, but the picture and sound problems persist.

Dig(19:37:31): Oh. Okay .

Dig(19:38:01): May I request you to unplug the coaxial cable from the box to the wall jack and replug it back .

F J SCONZO(19:38:16): SURE

Dig(19:38:56): Thank you .

Dig(19:39:16): Just to let you know, in case the chat gets disconnected due to any issue at either end, please re initiate the chat through the same channel or call our FIOS phone support at 1-800-837-4966, whichever is convenient to you.

F J SCONZO(19:40:26): I disconnected and reconnected the cable, again.

F J SCONZO(19:40:31): The picture is looking better now.

Dig(19:40:41): Great!

Dig(19:41:16): I am sure that you should never face the issue again .

F J SCONZO(19:41:31): Thank you.

Dig(19:41:36): I see that your email address is Shall I go ahead and send you some quick troubleshooting tips for your future reference?

F J SCONZO(19:42:01): Sure thing.

Dig(19:42:31): Thank you .

Dig(19:42:46): Is there anything else I may assist you today?

F J SCONZO(19:43:21): No thank you. My family is happy to have their television programs are available again, after a weekend and several days without them.

Dig(19:43:31): Oh. Okay .

Dig(19:43:46): I am really sorry for the delay .

Dig(19:44:17): However you should never face this issue again as Verizon always wants a happy customer .

F J SCONZO(19:44:31): Great. thank you.

F J SCONZO(19:44:41): Have a good day.

Dig(19:45:01): Our goal is for you to be completely satisfied with the service you have received and that you recommend us to your friends and colleagues. I am glad I could help. Additional help on all 3 FIOS services is available on our website You can also make use of the Verizon In Home Agent for your Windows and Mac computers which is available for download .Please navigate to this website and click on the link Get In-Home Agent to download and install it. This software would help you in troubleshooting basic issues that you face with your FIOS services before you contact us. Thank you for choosing Verizon and have a nice day.

Dig(19:45:12): To Save/Print the chat session:

Please click on “End Chat” and scroll down to the bottom to Print/Save.

Please click on “Exit” to end the chat session.

[ At this point my ten year old son Peter began typing in my absence, and the conversation that follows is pretty amusing… ]

Dig(19:48:47): Is there anything else I may assist you today?

F J SCONZO(19:49:22): no

Dig(19:49:37): Thank you for choosing Verizon and have a nice day.

F J SCONZO(19:49:57): you too

Dig(19:50:22): It was pleasure assisting you .

F J SCONZO(19:50:37): thank you

Dig(19:50:57): Take care Mr Sconzo .

F J SCONZO(19:51:57): you too. you helped us a lot. now we can watch American idol

Dig(19:52:02): Great!

F J SCONZO(19:52:12): bye

Dig(19:52:22): You and your family have a great day .

F J SCONZO(19:55:12): i hope you have a nice day too

Dig(19:56:07): Thank you for your complement .

Dig(19:56:37): You made my day .

Dig(19:56:53): You are the most patience and polite person I ever worked with !

A Brilliant, Creative Mind

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

An article about my grandfather, Thomas Sconzo, published in The Suffolk County News, March 18, 2010.


PATCHOGUE — Where anyone else would see a normal kitchen table, Tom Sconzo of Patchogue sees an opportunity. “This [kitchen table] is where I do a lot of work,” Sconzo said, as he reached under to a cleverly designed series of attachments on the underside, pulling out boxes. “If I want pencils, I grab pencils. If I want pads, I got pads. It’s neat in its way.”

Tom Sconzo, 87, is the retired former owner of Bayport-based Sconzo and Sons Aluminum, a manufacturer and installer of storm doors and windows that closed up shop in the 1990s after serving the community for nearly 50 years.

Husband to Connie, a father of five, and grandfather and great-grandfather owns more than 100 patents, and is the inventor of countless other devices for which he is the originator, but has not sought to make his intellectual property.

“I’m always thinking of something to do, whenever I pick up something. I’m always thinking it could be done different; done better,” Sconzo said.

In his beautiful lakefront Patchogue home, Sconzo is never far from one of his inventions. Suffering from arthritis, Sconzo has a hard time opening pull-top cans. He pulls out a repurposed pipe that has been hammered down and drilled into an elegantly designed can opener, with each small hole and crevice serving a specific and helpful purpose.

Down in his basement, Sconzo shows off a complex mechanism he designed and built— attaching a light bulb to his oil tank so he can know whenever he’s running out of heating oil.

Outside, he brings out a leaf blower to which he has since attached aluminum railings so the leaf blower stands up on his own, making it unnecessary for him to bend down to the ground and pick it up when he does yard work. Sconzo has added similar devices to his rakes and snow shovels, allowing him to do work around his home well into his 80s.

“Having a machine shop where he had all types of machines (lathes, metal planers, drills, etc.) made the process a little easier to build proto-types,” said Frank Sconzo, recounting his childhood memories of his father.

“Most of what he did at home was done in his easy chair in the living room. He sat and drew; he sketched, he thought. He would draw an idea out many times, watching television and sketching his idea. That was the way I saw him come up with ideas,” said Frank Sconzo.

Sconzo’s are long lasting, including the rollers that are used in convenience stores—where hotdogs and other foods are cooked—are based on a design improvement by Sconzo.

His finest achievement, though, is the patent for the Prime Seal Storm Window. “I came up with an idea for [insulating] gates. It was rated the tightest window ever made,” he said.

“The Prime Seal Storm Window was the finest storm window made anywhere in the world. It was heavy-duty, air tight and guaranteed to last a lifetime,” Frank Sconzo said.

These days, Sconzo has long since ceased making money off his inventions, and now he simply builds and improves to make his and his wife’s lives easier. “I sit and I think, I just can’t help it. I’m weird that way,” Sconzo said.

(click for larger size)
excerpt from Suffolk County News

Forclosures in Southern California

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

Families’ treasured homes are forclosed; very personal belongings are left for the landfill, lawns turn brown and pools turn into green mosquito-breeding lagoons. A very sad state of affairs.

Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

I’ve been meaning to watch Randy’s last lecture for some time. Today I found an hour to spend (being on vacation) and really appreciated it. You will too – but if you don’t have an hour to spend, watch the “Reprisal on Oprah” which clocks in at about 11 minutes.

Full Speech: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams (1:16:27)

Repirsal on Oprah (11:32)

Here are some choice quotes from the speech, in no particular order:

  • Have something to bring to the table, because that will make you more welcome.
  • Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals.
  • When you’re screwing up and nobody bothers to tell you anymore, they’ve stopped caring.
  • Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
  • Brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things. They also separate us from the people who don’t really want to achieve their dreams.
  • Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you.
  • Don’t bail – the best gold is at the bottom of barrels of crap.
  • Get a feedback loop, and listen to it.
  • Don’t complain; just work harder.
  • Decide if you’re a Tigger or an Eeyore
  • Get others to help you:
    Karma – tell the truth, be earnest, apologize when you screw up, focus on others – not yourself.
  • Apologizing has three parts: 1) I’m sorry 2) it was my fault 3) How can I make it right?
  • Be good at something: it makes you valuable.
  • Work hard… People ask him how he succeeded and earned tenure so early; he explained “call me at 10pm on Friday in my office and I’ll tell you.”
  • Find the best in everybody; no matter how long you have to wait for them to show it.
  • Be prepared: “luck” is where preparation meets opportunity.

Steve Jobs’ Commencement Speech at Stanford

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Steve gave this speech in 2005, but I’ve never heard it until now. I came across it at Zen habits, which I read regularly.

Here are the highlights from his speech, found on YouTube:

  • You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.
  • Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.
  • For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”
  • Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t … [live] with the results of other people’s thinking”
  • Stay hungry, stay foolish.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates at D5

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

Bill and Steve appeared together during the All Things Digital executive conference (D5).  Walt Mossberg and Karen Swisher led the discussion with questions.

It was amusing to watch Bill and Steve avoid taking shots at each other (for the most part). They discussed each other’s roles in how technology has advanced over the last three decades. They also discussed partnerships, competition, regrets, mobile technologies, visions of the future, several references to “cool things” Apple is working on that Steve couldn’t talk about, and took questions from the audience.

I also found it humorous that Steve dressed in sneakers and jeans, while Bill wore dress pants and a button-down shirt, emulating the company images found in the recent Apple ad campaig: Mac guy and PC guy.

Unfortunately, the videos are split into eight segments. The first, which shows footage of two of them in their earlier years, is not part of the interview. The remaining seven segments are all pieces of the interview. To just get a brief synopsis of the “best moments”, view the highlight reel.

Here is the link:

Meetings for Developers

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Just had to post a quick note about my schedule at work today.
3.5 hours of meetings == -3.5 hours of coding.


Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” — Unknown

“You fight how you train.” — Unknown

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” — Jim Rohn

“Those who achieve the most are not the most skilled, but are those who concentrate long after the others have given up.”– Unknown

“Our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” –Confucius

“Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.” — Orison Swett Marden

Gichin Funakoshi:
“The true value of the martial arts is not in 100 victories but in the perfection of the character of the students.”

“In all things, one must have a clear mind.”

“Karate begins and ends with courtesy.”

“You must be deadly serious in training.”

“Train with both the heart and soul without worrying about theory.”

“No one can attain perfection in Karate-do until he finally comes to realize that it is, above all else, a faith, a way of life.”

“You may train for a long, long time, but if you merely move your hands and feet and jump up and down like a puppet, learning karate is not very different from learning to dance. You will never have reached the heart of the matter.”

“Spirit first, technique second.”

WordPress Buzzz

Friday, February 9th, 2007

I just finished installing wordpress on my GoDaddy hosted site. It was a very simple process – and having an FTP client made copying the site files easier, especially since GoDaddy doesn’t provide shell access to my account. That fact prevented me from dropping the tar file on the server, then extracting it. I couldn’t even write a CGI to un-tar because exec is not permitted with GoDaddy’s hosting account. I suppose I could have checked for a perl module to un-tar or un-zip, but it was easier to just grab SmartFTP.

I’m hoping to see what all the buzz is about WordPress. Many people have recommended it so I figured it’s time to try it. I’ve used PHP-Nuke in the past, and also just played with Google Pages (which required me to use framesets to incorporate those pages into my domain.)

I already like categorization – I can add a category without leaving the wordpress post page (unlike PHP Nuke where one needs to visit the categories admin page.) So far, so good.