Moar Will Have To Wait

In the mail this week was a letter from my ISP, Suddenlink. They had Good News!™ They were magically increasing my Internet speed for FREE! FREE!!!!! I should have known something was awry when the letter said that I was going from 150 Mbps to 200. I never had 150. It also noted that I now had a 550 GB monthly allowance on data.


When I signed up for my original plan, there might have been a cap – I honestly can’t remember – but it was high enough, especially compared to the maximum theoretical speed, that I wouldn’t ever realistically run into it. I certainly never have.

But still. A cap. A meter. A pair of digital handcuffs. Something that restricts me. I hate that. It’s like the speed governing chip on my car. Am I ever really going to drive it more than 135 mph? Not on purpose. But knowing that the engine could do much more and is being artificially limited because of some nanny-minded bean-counter just itches. I do the occasional Netflix binge. I move big data files to my remote servers. I work from home on occasion. Add to that the newly announced Wi-Fi calling from AT&T and my shiny new 1TB Dropbox plan, and this data-cap thing gets a tiny bit worrisome, even beyond the itch.

Yes, I will have another, please.I hopped online to read about the change (burning my now precious bandwidth to do so) and learned that Suddenlink has rolled out Gigabit ethernet to my town. Huzzah! Never mind that my router would probably cook an egg at those speeds or that I doubt I’d ever use the burst (or be talking to a server that could provide it), it’s more. It’s more than more, it’s MOAR in the parlance of the day. And moar is better. And it’s only $100 or so a month.


I’m already paying $100 or so a month.

I called Suddenlink. The automated system can’t connect my phone number with my account. Doesn’t matter, the service people always make me repeat all of that information any way. I say “representative” five more times until I stop to listen and say “add or change services.” Ten minutes with something worse than hold music. It’s hold music interspersed with cheerful people shouting how awesome Suddenlink is.

Martin answers the phone. Martin looks up my info. Martin tries to sell me the cable and phone bundle for $60 or the cable only bundle for $50. “Now which of those sounds better to you.” I tell Martin that the last thing I need is another thing in my house ringing and that I haven’t had cable for 5 years. I hear the three-ring binder softly close with a whuff of disappointment. Martin looks at my account again and says it looks like the plan I’m on is no longer offered and that for only about $20 more each month, I can get Gigabit ethernet with the 550 GB cap. I say the letter I got has a 550 GB cap. Martin tells me, no, I have a 450GB cap.


I tell Martin that I’ll have to research my actual usage with their system and then decide what to do, but in the meantime, what is the new price of my 200 Mbps service? “About $75.” “Great, let’s do that for now, then.” “I’m sorry, but I can’t change that for you, I’m going to have to send you over to our retention department.”

The hold music and Stepford community players return.

Jared answers the phone. Martin has told Jared… nothing. I go through the entire story again. Jared says he can get me Gigabit for $120 or 200 Mbps for $75. I clarify the data caps. He notes that I can buy additional data up front for a small additional fee. I pass. During the hold music I’ve done a quick scan of my usage history and it’s not so bad. I can probably deal with 450 GB, especially for $30 less each month.

Somehow, my inner CFO and CIO teamed up and hit my inner geek with a bar of soap wrapped in a sock. “$30 a month is $360 a year. That’s a big chunk of a PS4.” “Ok, fine, 1GB speed. Do you have the backbone in place? How many devices are going to need that speed? Most of the house is on Wi-Fi. The 550 GB cap is silly for a connection that fast.”*

My inner geek slinks away in defeat. Moar is better, but moar will have to wait.

*I have more to say on both the data cap and how I decided I was probably ok within it, but that’s a story for another post.

Hello, #GartnerSYM!

I’ve just arrived in Orlando, Florida for one of my favorite events: Gartner Symposium. I’m here with about 11,000 of my closest friends to geek out on all things IT. My plan of attack this year is a little nebulous, but if you’re looking me up from one of my Tweets or other postings, you’ll find less IT stuff and more “other” on this site.

The About and Resumé links above will give you a decent overview, but if you’re also here in Orlando and are intrigued (or even just moderately amused), let’s connect! Send me a message through the Gartner event app or tag me in a Tweet (@raytoler).

I’m looking forward to another great #GartnerSYM and hope to meet a lot of new folks this year.

No Sound from the SQ-80?

Just a short post that I hope will find its way into the search engines in the hopes that it helps someone in the future. My Ensoniq SQ-80 stopped making any noise a month or two ago. As it turns out, I ran into an RTFM error. Except that I bought this synth second hand and didn’t have TFM.

The SQ-80 Master Settings Page
The answer was right in front of me…

Earlier today, I was on the excellent Ensoniq Resource page and found not only a PDF of the original Musician’s Manual, but several other manuals and schematics as well. Had I been smart, I would have scanned through it first. I went the long way, but in the interest of Internet time, here’s a choice bit from page 18 of the user guide:

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you don’t have a CV Pedal plugged into the SQ-80, you should NOT leave this parameter set to PEDAL=VOL when you turn the unit off. If you do. the next time you power it up, the SQ-80 will set the “straight synth” volume to zero — it won’t make any sound. To get the volume back to normal, just go to the MASTER Page, select this parameter and set it to PEDAL=MOD.

Of course, I took the long way around and, in fairness, would not have turned to the Master Settings page information first. But once I knew where I was looking, there it was!

It’s been a long time since my Ensoniq OS chops were strong, but I’m glad to have this synth back in the mix!


Last week, I embarked on an organization and purging binge I have dubbed “Organizatiageddon.” The end goal of this is to have my studio cleaned up and functional, the rest of the house decluttered, and nearly all of the unpacked cardboard boxes sorted and out of the garage.

I’m a proponent of the “One Home” approach to organization – everything has a single place in which it lives. When you need it, you use it, then immediately put it back in its home. Putting this in practice, however, is not always easy. To quote Andie in Pretty in Pink, “that’s a beautiful theory.”

I’ve attempted this many times in my life, but I tend to be a stacker. After a few weeks, I end up with piles of things that I had to defer due to other things taking priority. Sometimes it’s a more important task; sometimes it’s a Dr. Who marathon. But the end result is the same: piles of things scattered around the house that end up getting shuffled each time I need to use the space. Or worse, company’s coming over and I move lots of piles to a different room to “clean up.” That’s how the studio got out of control.

One limiting factor of the “One Home” approach is that you have to have enough homes. I’ve long had a dream of neatly organized storage. The kind you see on Pinterest. The kind that makes you look at your own clutter and just know that a crew from Hoarders is going to be showing up any day now.

When reaching my latest “Something must be done!” moment, I realized that the primary thing that keeps me from attacking the problem is this: I don’t have sufficient homes. I have plenty of storage, but it’s mostly U-Haul small boxes or big  (70 quart) storage tubs. Cardboard is the greater evil – out of sight, out of mind. I have no idea if I was accurate when rushing to label boxes while the movers were taking them to the truck. The problem with the plastic tubs is that I end up being too coarse with my sorting. This one is “electrical,” that one is “computer,” and those are pretty broad categories.

I needed better granularity. More specific sorting. USB cables, unbalanced patch cables, balanced patch cables, audio snakes, soldering supplies, GoPro stuff… this requires lots of smaller containers.

Now, I’ve bought plastic containers before, but they’re expensive and there are never enough in stock at the store for what I have in mind. If only there was a place where I could buy them in bulk. Oh yeah… Amazon. And it was a perfect storm because I paid off my student loan for grad school in June. I decided to use what I had been paying monthly to do a bulk purchase of containers.

There are now 92 new Sterilite containers in my house of various sizes from 6 quart to 70 quart, and all with locking lids. I did end up going over budget, but I didn’t want to give myself an excuse. I also made an impulse buy: 400 velcro cable ties. The keyboard racks are still a little messy, but they’re so much better than they had been.

Last weekend I got the studio cleaned up. It’s probably 80% there, but I’m waiting on some gear that’s out for repair before tackling the last bits. The living room is full of containers. Eventually, most of them will go in the garage. I’m processing one box at a time; I don’t move to the next box until I’ve completely emptied the current one. I’ll probably need a new shredder by the time I’m finished.

I estimate another few weeks before I have the majority of it handled, but my approach is finally working. I haven’t gone into vapor-lock-avoidance mode because of an overwhelming number of things that must be dealt with and no place to put them. Things are getting homes.

Organizatiageddon is upon them!

Zen Meditation 1 Revisited

Three years ago, I posted Zen Meditation 1 to my Soundcloud page. As outlined in my initial blog post about it, the piece almost didn’t exist as anything other than a stream of consciousness noodle, soon to be forgotten. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t see a lot of value in it and assumed that nobody else would either.


Over the last several years I’ve come to realize that the music I’ve written only for myself, the tracks that I didn’t think anyone else would connect with and that had no identifiable market or audience, is the music that people almost universally latch on to and enjoy most. I suppose it may be the most “true.” That truth comes through in the music in a way I don’t necessarily understand.

When looking at my page today, I noticed that Zen Meditation 1 had a play count of 500. Five hundred! It’s not a platinum album. It’s not even a blip on a chart. But for something that I didn’t think would be listened to at all, 500 plays is nothing short of amazing. It also has the widest global distribution demographics in my listening stats.

It is the single most-listened to track I have on Soundcloud.

Clearly there’s a lesson here, not just for me, but for anyone creating something that they want to release to the world. Write things that are true. Paint things that are true. Create for yourself, because those are the things that will connect. Maybe not with the audience that you thought you were looking for, but with the audience that’s looking for you.

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