Matrix Movie VOIP, Senate GOP Mayhem and Sweat Lodge Deaths

Let’s start with a cool – yet funny –  advertising talk at productreporter….

An Independent Wonders About The GOP

For the record, I’m an independent.  This means I vote for the right person in a particular job – regardless if Republican or Democrat.  Yet lately, I have serious concerns about what the GOP is attempting, blocking passage of unemployment benefits.  A few days ago, WFMT radio news announced that Illinois hit 10.5% unemployment.  Great non-profit website talking about the plight of US unemployed at unemployedworkers….   Perhaps they plan on passing it just before Christmas.  This way, they allow everyone a NICE Christmas present.

Vonage Again

Let me leave an update to my blog article last week. I did reach another good technician at Vonage (it’s the luck of the draw – same as Comcast). We conducted some tests and I replaced the cable, between the modem and V-portal. Pack loss is now minimal, with the testing tools at and . The voice quality is good.  Let’s review what Vonage finally recommended:

  1. A firmware update push to their Vonage portal.
  2. I replaced the cables between the V-portal and Motorola Cable Modem, along with the cables from the V-portal to the computer.  The replacement cables were Belkin from Wal-Mart.

I did ask an ex-Motorola electrical engineer on the cables, on what could cause a packet loss.  He mentioned one of two things:

  1. A connection problem with the cable (i.e. – corrosion).
  2. A cable has an improper bend (i.e. – broken wire).

I still  have strong ethical business objections to Vonage locking people into a year’s worth of service.  You do this by imposing a stiff cancellation fee, costing about half a year’s service with you.   This is probably more than twice what both ATT and Comcast charge for cancellation.  This is OK – if and only if this practice is public knowledge.

I have issues with Comcast mentioning to take up my concerns with Comcast management and now following through.

In a way – I’m lucky.  Comcast has their hubs in Elmhurst and Chicago, which is less than 30 miles from me.  I’m also a short hop from a Commonwealth Edison facility.  Remember a few years ago, with all the talk about using the electrical grid to deliver Internet connection?  What became of that?  I would love to have Commonwealth Edison become a competitor to AT&T Uverse or Comcast Cable.

Yet That’s Not The Root Cause

Here’s the thing.  I decided to pray about the situation and  be shown the root cause of my Vonage VOIP packet issue.  Now I can’t say this is the result of prayer, in which God or angels are speaking to me.  It might also be my subconscious speaking.  But I hit upon the answer.

Imagine you were part of the Matrix, as shown in the movie’s namesake.  Imagine that the bad guys with sunglasses were computer geeks.  Imagine that you go to them, every time the Matrix is “not quite right”.  So one software geek wearing sunglasses says it’s a firmware issue.  He upgrades the latest firmware and reboots the Matrix.  The problem resurfaces after a couple days.  The second geek suggests to replace the cable and reboots the Matrix.  Everything is fine.  All your tests show 0% packet loss – for a couple of days.  Then another geek with sunglasses says they need to program the Vonage device.  Then they reboot the Matrix.  The problem is solved, for a couple of days.

See the pattern here folks?

  1. Paint the Matrix device blue and reboot the Matrix.
  2. Put a picture of George Washington on top the Matrix device and reboot the Matrix.

In case you don’t see the pattern, I didn’t call the geek squad with sunglasses, when the problem resurfaced.  Instead I conducted 2 tests.

  1. I first rebooted the modem then the Vonage device.  Everything was running fine and tests showed 0% packet loss.
  2. Next time packet loss resurfaced, I just rebooted the Vonage device. Everything was running fine and tests showed 0% packet loss.  I have now conducted this same test a number of times.

I talked to a ex-Motorola electrical engineer and asked what he thought.  Our suspicions fell upon the Vonage device itself.  Is it cache getting filled up?  Is it a timer issue?  My friend through out some possibilities.  Couple this with the fact that Comcast shows 0% packet loss, remotely pinging to my Motorola Modem.

So the solution is NOT in making a fix within the Matrix, but rebooting the Matrix itself.  I’ll be very upset if this is a known Vonage issue.  Can the V-portal cause packet loss?  Look at the Wiki article at en.wikipedia.or…: “Packet loss can be caused by a number of factors, including signal degradation over the network medium, over saturated network links, corrupted packets rejected in-transit, faulty networking hardware, faulty network drivers or normal routing routines.”

I did follow up with Vonage tech support and shared my findings.  I’ll be conducting more tests.

Cool Tech Trick:

Let me share a cool trick with and  If you use the Ping Plotter free version, it  combines both a trace route and ping, with a refresh every few minutes.  Just set the URL to the server used by the Ping Test website.  Cool, right?

Another Tech Mystery:

Here’s another mystery.  Currently I connect Comcast -> Motorola Surfboard Surfboard SB5101 Modem – > Vonage V-Portal -> Computer

  1. If I try to eliminate the Vonage V-Portal for tests, I can’t connect to the Internet via Comcast -> Motorola Surfboard SB5101 Modem – > Computer, without rebooting the modem
  2. If I perform action #1, then I can’t connect to the Internet via Comcast -> Motorola Surfboard Surfboard SB5101 Modem – > Vonage V-Portal -> Computer, without rebooting the Modem, followed by rebooting the Vonage V-portal.

Here’s what my electrical engineering friend said:

“If the modem was locked to a defined IP address talking to the Vonage, I would have expected it to restart communication with it, after a reboot.  After all, the modem should know it’s address.  It sounds like the Vonage is dependent on the modem for communication initialization. The modem must not look for other addresses. Interesting that the modem stops talking to all other devices.  I’ll have to mull that one over for a bit.  It sounds like there is a conflict with it, that the modem doesn’t know how to handle. The handshake between the two devices is correctly reset by the recovery reboot sequence you did, starting from the modem then going to the Vonage.”

Note to Myself (for future testing):

Google Voice + Gizmo5  = Magic Jack clone travel kit? (see

Arizona Sweat Lodge

Did you hear about the folks conducting a lodge in Arizona, where 3 people died and many got sick?  I talked to a Native American friend who runs lodges about this and he mentioned the Arizona leaders covered the entire lodge in plastic.  Another who knows even a little about lodges – or for that matter, basic science – knows that you would suffocate if you can’t get air.  My friend just covers his lodge with plastic around the base.  What are their leaders thinking?  It indicates two things:

  1. Their leaders don’t know anything about Native American lodge building practices.
  2. Their leaders don’t know anything about basic science (i.e. – physics, chemistry, and biology).

A Twitter Trick

Someone tried to play a trick on me.  I follow people either based upon select targeted keywords, or someone who is following me.  I happened to follow someone who is in the same niche I’m in.  He mentioned we should critic each others work.  Here’s the issue.  He sent me a direct message.  However, he wasn’t following me back.   I couldn’t send him a direct message. If I reply to his message with @XXX, he gets free publicity.  I was not born yesterday.

Randy Kemp




4 thoughts on “Matrix Movie VOIP, Senate GOP Mayhem and Sweat Lodge Deaths

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