Going back to FiOS

I’m not sure why these guys operate this way – they’re more than happy to lose me as a customer and then throw huge discounts at me to get me back. If they’d just give me a good price I’d love not to have to go through this rigmarole. But after being with Cablevision for 2 months I checked Verizon’s pricing and it beat my current deal with Cablevision.

FiOS digital voice with number ported for free; 25/25 Mbps internet; HMDVR free “forever” plus a second HD STB, Showtime, Movie Channel and Flix. Since I already had the battery thing installed last time I had FiOS they gave me a fair discount. Basically the whole package for $87/month + tax, price locked for 2 years, no contract. Not as great of a deal as I’d had with FiOS originally, but it’s pretty good, and FiOS’s service is definitely better than Cablevision’s. I’ve heard Cablevision was rolling out their “DVR plus” service with all programs recorded “in the cloud” rather than on the actual box, but it’s been two months and I haven’t heard of it coming to Long Island. So basically 2 years later Cablevision’s service is exactly the same while Verizon has iPhone apps to control the DVR and use the phone as a remote, plus DVR that’s much faster and just generally better service.

On a side note, I noticed tonight I was having problems trying to stream Netflix to my Wii. I tried loading netflix.com on my laptop and that also didn’t work, it said “couldn’t find server movies.netflix.com.” I tested this via dig on my linux box and sure enough, movies.netflix.com isn’t resolving against the default Cablevision nameserver ( – getting a SERVFAIL:

[evan@lunix ~]$ dig movies.netflix.com

; <> DiG 9.3.6-P1-RedHat-9.3.6-4.P1.el5_5.3 <> movies.netflix.com
;; global options:  printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: SERVFAIL, id: 17569
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0

;movies.netflix.com.            IN      A

movies.netflix.com.     232     IN      CNAME   merchweb-frontend-1502974957.us-east-1.elb.amazonaws.com.

;; Query time: 2129 msec
;; WHEN: Sun Apr 24 01:23:58 2011
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 103

I tried the same query against Google’s nameserver ( and it resolves correctly:

[evan@lunix ~]$ dig movies.netflix.com @

; <> DiG 9.3.6-P1-RedHat-9.3.6-4.P1.el5_5.3 <> movies.netflix.com @
;; global options:  printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 43718
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 2, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0

;movies.netflix.com.            IN      A

movies.netflix.com.     300     IN      CNAME   merchweb-frontend-1502974957.us-east-1.elb.amazonaws.com.
merchweb-frontend-1502974957.us-east-1.elb.amazonaws.com. 39 IN A

;; Query time: 34 msec
;; WHEN: Sun Apr 24 01:37:26 2011
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 119

I set my router to resolve against rather than whatever Cablevision provides and now it works. I’m not sure if this is related to the big EC2 disaster of the past few days but it looks more like Cablevision’s fault than Amazon’s or Netflix’s.

2010 Hyundai Sonata – 1 year later

In 2005 I bought a 1999 Subaru Forester. I had previously owned a 1997 Subaru Impreza Outback, and while it was a fun car, it had awful transmission problems – I think we ended up getting it replaced. After the Impreza I vowed never to get another Subaru. The AWD is great in the snow (at the time I had bought the Impreza I was living in Albany, which is snowy enough that AWD makes sense) but it was just too expensive to maintain. Despite my vow, I somehow ended up buying the ’99 Forester in 2005. This was a pretty versatile car – decent on gas, big enough (but not too big), and AWD for the snow – and I got a decent price for it. It was pretty good for a while, I think we got about 2 good years out of it before it really went downhill. The transmission went and I kicked myself for having bought another Subaru. I brought it to my mechanic and he basically said it would cost more to fix it than the car was worth, so I ended up driving it for 3 more years with a blown 1st gear and with it burning oil.
Continue reading “2010 Hyundai Sonata – 1 year later”

Speed comparison: Optimum Boost vs Verizon FiOS

Optimum Boost advertises 30 Mbps down, 5 Mbps up. Here’s a speed test I just ran at Ookla’s SpeedTest.net:

(My desktop is plugged into the router, the router is plugged into the Arris cablemodem.)

Here’s one of the last speed tests I did with Verizon, on 2/15. I had the 25/15 internet package:

(Desktop was plugged into 8-port Linksys 100 Mbit switch, the switch was plugged into the FiOS/ActionTec router.)

Continue reading “Speed comparison: Optimum Boost vs Verizon FiOS”

Back to Cablevision (upcoming downtime)

So the credits are finally wearing off my FiOS bill. I was paying $49/month for about 8 straight months for all 3 services plus HBO & Cinemax (a ridiculous price) with great phone & internet, plus HMDVR and 2 boxes. My most recent bill was $127 which includes a $40 credit that ends this month, so next month’s bill will be $170 or so.

Cablevision’s been beating down my door for weeks to come back, but they couldn’t come close to the deal Verizon had given me so it was easy to fend them off. But after this recent bill I gave them a call and signed up for the Optimum Triple Play. They have a special deal for people coming back from FiOS: $69/month for all 3 services plus Boost (30/5 Mbps) and a DVR. I added another box and HBO and it came to $100.30. So as of Friday I’ll be on Cablevision and this website will probably be down until I find a new home for it – maybe WordPress.com.

Who pays the most tax? Who pays the least tax?

Why do I care? Maybe I don’t. But this is fun anyway.

Go to the IRS.gov website to the SOI Tax Stats page.

Download one of the Excel spreadsheets under Basic Tables: Returns Filed and Sources of Income. I used All Returns: Adjusted Gross Income, Exemptions, Deductions, and Tax Items for 2008.

Look at spreadsheet columns I through N. I & J show the amount of taxable income in each bracket and the number of returns in that bracket. M & N show the number of returns that had tax and the total amount of tax in each bracket.

At the top of column J, the number is 5,652,925,474. Dollar values are in thousands, so this is about $5.6 trillion of taxable income earned by US taxpayers in 2008. At the top of column N it shows that to total tax paid by all these people is 1,031,580,923, or about $1 trillion. So of all the taxable income earned in 2008, 18.2% was paid in federal income tax.

I added a new column, to the right of N, and in cell O10 entered the formula =N10/N$9. Then I formatted the column to show results as a percent. Column O now shows the percentage of tax paid by each income bracket:

I then added another column to the right of I, and in cell J10 entered the formula =I10/I$9 and formatted it for a percent. Column J now shows the percentage of the population (of taxpayers) in each tax bracket:

With these extra columns it’s pretty easy to see where the tax revenue comes from. Cells P23 through P28 sum to 33.24% of revenue. J23 through J28 sum to 0.8% – meaning that the top 0.8% of taxpayers (those with over $500k taxable income) really do account pay 33% of the tax in the USA. The next 62.2% of tax revenue is paid by 54.5% of the population – those between $40,000 and $500,000. The bottom 44.7% of the population pays 4.5% of the tax revenue.

The different population segments are color coded below:

It’s interesting (and strange) that the 13,400 people who made over $10m in 2008 contributed more revenue than the bottom 54.7% – 59,000,000 people.

The table with my additions is available here:

Continue reading “Who pays the most tax? Who pays the least tax?”

Thank you Cabinetparts.com!

A couple of weeks ago the hinge on one of the cabinets in our kitchen broke. I took the door off, unscrewed the hinge, and went to Home Depot to try and find a replacement. No luck. I went to a local hardware store, same deal. I was annoyed, and worried I’d never be able to find a replacement. I headed home.

I looked at the broken hinge and found imprinted on it, in tiny numerals, was “32.260-01”. It also had “blum” imprinted on it, which I assumed was the brand name. A long shot, but I entered “blum 32.260-01” in Google. I was thrilled to see that while there were no organic results, there was a paid link for CabinetParts.com. I clicked through and found the exact part I needed. They were a little more than I’d hoped to spend, but since I had no idea where else I could go to find them, I was happy to pay it. I got the part a few days later and it was exactly what I needed. Cabinet: repaired. So, hooray for them!