Add a Spot of Mint in Your Life

Dish Network, struggling to make a go of satellite television service, decided to enter another difficult business, mobile telephone service. They bought the FCC mandated bits of Sprint that T-Mobile could not keep, bought some small wireless carriers for bodies and kit, and bought $30B of 5-G spectrum at auction including what came with Sprint.

Almost 3 years on, they have yet to realize revenue from that $30B in spectrum. Their deal with the FCC required them to have coverage over 70% of the country’s population by 2023 summer.

With $30B of spectrum assets in inventory, the company’s market capitalization is only $8B as I write this. Major brokerages are neutral but Dismal Wizard is feeling abandoned.

Since the acquisition, our prepaid monthly service has been grandfathered in. Chat bots have replaced the live Wisconsin support people that made Ting unique. The live support operators that picked up on the third ring, were pleasant to work with, and could actually help. This service plus T-Mobile fulfillment put Ting at the head of the pack.

The virtual network continues to operate on automatic. Same great T-Mobile service delivery as always. But there are signs of trouble. Dish are decommissioning the Ting web app at the end of February. Without prior communication. DW learned of this when he, by chance, opened the app on his mobile and saw the “I’m going away” message.

Dismal Wizard dropped by Edgar to see what Dish had to say about itself. Not much, lots of Dixie whistling. After 75 years on this planet, you can name that tune pretty quickly. Oh, and they keep issuing debt securities. Dismal Wizard feels seawater sloshing about his ankles. Time to go for a swim. So we did, to Mint Mobile after an exhaustive 5 minute study of Read on to learn about the new kids.

Personal Computing Technology Video

Introducing Channels DVR

In the beginning there was ATSC 1.0 off air. With Dismal Wizard’s return from Rhode Island to Virginia, we installed a TV antenna and set up our first TabloTV DVR. Ten years later, ATSC 3.0 has been rolled out. ATSC 3 continues with the 8VSB waveform but has changed the protocol data unit formats to allow additional video codecs to be used including the recent H.256 codec. These changes allow more on-air channels than were possible with the original ATSC 1 codec suite.

The ATSC 3.0 signal has 2 parts, a bootstrap sent periodically that describes the signals available in the channel and the various program frame streams. The receiver listens to the bootstrap to determine what is available and what can be decoded.

After the break, I describe the changes we made to move to ATSC 3.0 here at Dismal Manor.

Home automation Home Economics Technology

Keeping Warm in 2023

This post grows out of some remarks exchanged with a UK household. UK folk (like US folk) are notorious for overriding their home heating automatic controls, generally a waste of energy. In this post, we’ll examine the economics of Dominion’s Time of Use home electric tariff supplying energy for our dual fuel heat pump plus gas furnace home heating. This analysis will examine energy use of two strategies, burn natural gas myself or let Dominion Electric Power burn gas and deliver electricity.

Of necessity, this is a somewhat complex topic that is influenced by local climate, the local utility, and the scheming of the local legislature. In the US, a mix of Federal and State law govern electric power but building codes are local. Here in Virginia, our winter climate is similar to that in much of the UK (0C to 10C daily swing).

In this analysis we looked only at utility steam-electric power as the best home heating and cooling options for our region are electrically operated. Home photovoltaic power is becoming increasingly common in our region but its use for home heating and cooling would require high-end equipment with storage.

Citizenship Personal Computing Technology Twittering

Mastodon, the New Kid in Town

Featured image by Eugen Rochko at Github used in accordance with the AGPL

Dismal Manor Gang has pitched its social media camp at Mastodon.Online. Mastodon is a new federated social network similar to Twitter in many ways but improved in important ways.

Home automation Technology Zero Carbon

Smart Thermostat Upgrade

For many years, a Nest Learning Thermostat has controlled heating and cooling at Dismal Manor. About a year ago, I replaced the Nest Beta program edition with a current production Nest Learning Thermostat. In mid-April, we had a surprise run of hot days so I decided to change from heat mode to cool/heat mode. I made the change, found the thermostat calling for cooling, and hot air coming from the registers. What’s up, Nest!

Personal Computing Technology


TeXmacs is a technical writing system for use by scientists and engineers. TeXmacs is a reimplementation of Donald Knuth’s TeX document preparation system that offers a unique advantage, the ability to embed interpreted computing language sessions using tools like Octave, Python, Maxima, etc. To learn more about using TeXmacs in a MacOS environment, read on.


Just One Phone?

Many of us have just a mobile these days. Dismal Manor has not adopted that strategy for a number of reasons.

  • Mobile phones are failure prone.
  • Mobile phones and “land-line phones” are not equivalent.

So we have one of each. Just recently, T-Mobile was hard down in Norfolk Virginia. OOMA VoIP was fat, dumb, and happy but nether matches the 5-nines reliability of a plain old central office switched line. And neither is equivalent to a switched line.


WeatherFlow Tempest Weather Station

The Dismal Manor Gardens have a new accessory, a WeatherFlow Tempest weather station. This post introduces the device and the company. Our little device includes a rain fall sensor and a lightning sensor that supplements the live sensors (greyhounds). We get a pretty good idea of the amount of rain that has fallen and the amount of nearby lightning.

WeatherFlow collects, refines, and analyzes meteorological data, produces refined data from it, and produces near-cast forecasts using national forecast guidance with the local data.

WeatherFlow offers several applications of its refined observations and model results. Interestingly, the example applications do not require a local sensor as they use near-cast offshore conditions and activity specific models to make judgements about the suitability of the forecast conditions for the several sailing sports and fishing.


Please Ticket Software Problems

These questions are too deep to answer here. I think two things are at play.

  1. Google or the Duck can provide instant gratification
  2. Too many products are unsupported so Google and the Duck are the only game in town.

I think the young folk who entered the trade in the microcomputer age are resigned to dealing with unsupported and community supported products. It wasn’t always that way and some products come with robust support even in 2021.

Today, I dropped by church to update the campus WAN network settings in preparation for Cox retiring the address segment our house network was on. Being an old codger, I asked myself if I was satisfied with my backup. I wasn’t so I tried to cut a new one. It didn’t save. I tried to change my WAN address to the new values provided by Cox. They didn’t take.

Backups worked when I last did maintenance in early July, so I return home, tail between legs, to see what the buzz was.

Home Economics Home Remodeling Technology

Dismal Manor Goes Electric

Well, part way, we have a Wallbox EVSE. A VW ID.4 lead sled is on order and the black forest elves are tinkering away on it as I write. In Order Locked limbo awaiting on the boat state.

So, in this post, I want to write a bit above EVSE shopping, and evolving plans to de-carbon Dismal Manor which currently has gas hot air heat and gas hot water.