Heartbreak – Five years on

Five years ago, my wife and I lost our second child to miscarriage. Seventeen days later, I wrote a post entitled "Heartbreak." I haven't written anything longer than a Facebook status update or reply on the subject in the years since, but that should not be misconstrued as willfully ignoring the loss or trying to gloss over it. The pain today is more muted than immediately following the loss, but, as I suspected then, one never truly "gets over" such a significant loss.

In the five years between then and now, there are plenty of stories to tell, such as how my wife and I suffered when month after month passed and every pregnancy test came back negative. How we remained committed to having another child, despite trying for over a year with no success. How my older daughter told me that there was "a baby in mommy's tummy" during a routine call on the drive home. How my wife and I prepared for the worst when she started spotting again during the third pregnancy. How we waited in the emergency room waiting room for what felt like ages while we waited to find out if our child was alive or dead. How I burst into tears of joy to hear a fetal heartbeat that proved the baby was alive. How my stomach sank when my wife told me to call an ambulance when the pain of contractions knocked her to her knees. How we celebrated together approximately 30 minutes later when we welcomed our new child in to the world in the back of an ambulance parked one mile from our home.

We are tremendously blessed to have two beautiful, smart, strong-willed daughters. Though parenting is exhausting work, it is also richly rewarding and I do not take this opportunity for granted. These children are a blessing from God and I cherish them, even on days when they're especially demanding.

By the grace of God, I remained true to my pledge to not abandon my faith, though that resolve demanded much. I wish I could say I had spent my youth building a foundation of study of the Bible and spiritual disciplines such a regular prayer to prepare me for such a devastating loss. Though I squandered so much time in adolescence and adulthood, God held firm to me while I worked through my grief. I am immensely grateful He continues to do so. Though there were days I wish He'd let me go, I am so very glad He did not relent.

Work and family responsibilities demand I write shorter pieces on those very rare occasions when I do write, but I will close by once again giving all credit for my ability to persevere to God. In my own strength, I would have turned away from the suffering instead of working through it. I can't imagine enduring the emotional torment that my wife and I–and every couple trying to conceive after a miscarriage–faced before our younger daughter was born without supernatural aid. I pray I can at the very least encourage someone by telling my story, even in fragments spaced five years apart. If nothing else, I remain committed to respecting the life that was lost as well as the lives of our two daughters to whom we strive to show even a dim representation of God's abounding love.

Sporadic packet loss for last month with Mediacom Internet service

I had planned to post the following on the Mediacom Support forums, but was unable to register an account after triple-checking my e-mail address and requesting a new verification e-mail 5 times over the course of an hour. So I'm posting this here for public view:

 

I signed up for Mediacom service around 6 months ago. Once the setup was complete, service was flawless until early December.

Starting around December 3, we started experiencing sporadic packet loss, most noticeable during online gaming and watching videos online. The connection would drop for 2-5 seconds then resume. This resulted in "rubberbanding" in first-person shooter games like Team Fortress 2, where my character would freeze then reappear 20 steps back from where he started.

I decided to buy a new router for $50, hoping it would resolve the issue. It didn't. I had the same issue on both routers.

The problem gradually grew more severe, so I called Mediacom and they sent out a tech.

The tech said the levels were off, so they would send a second tech out to adjust the levels. I heard nothing back from Mediacom for 3 days, so I called back.

I learned then that the second tech had come out (I received no follow-up call or e-mail when the second tech came and went) and adjusted the levels. Unfortunately, the second tech did not resolve the issue. I scheduled a third tech to come out.

While waiting for the appointment, the issue grew worse. At one point, the connection would occasionally drop completely until I called Mediacom and used the automated system to restart the modem and restore service. Turning the cable modem and router off and back on did not resolve the issue.

 

I later discovered that the cable modem was reporting T3 and T4 timeout errors. I checked the MAC addresses referenced in the logs and discovered one address belonged to my cable modem and the other belonged to a company that sells ISP head equipment.

The third tech came out, checked the levels, checked what he could check on site, replaced some fittings, and things were better–for a while. Then the issue returned again.

I replaced the network cable connecting the cable modem to the router with a known good cable. The issue persisted.

I purchased a second cable modem a Zoom 5341J, for $70 (my first, a Motorola/Arris Surfboard 6141, cost $90) but didn't immediately install it when I received it because the problem subsided for a while.

Unfortunately, the issue returned yesterday (1/6/16). I installed the Zoom modem last night, called Mediacom to provision the new modem, got back online, and went to bed shortly after.

I discovered today that replacing the cable modem did not resolve the issue. The new modem, out of the box for less than 48 hours, is reporting the exact same errors (T3 and T4) as the first modem.

I have now spent $120 in additional equipment to fix an issue that all evidence suggests is the fault of Mediacom. I have spent hours upon hours troubleshooting an issue that has persisted, albeit sporadically, for the last month.

I had AT&T U-Verse Internet for years and the U-Verse service was rock solid for almost the entire duration. (The only reason I left is because they refused to offer a reasonable price for service.)

I am nearly at my wit's end with this issue and strongly considering returning to U-Verse, even if it means paying more, because Mediacom and AT&T have a duopoly on Internet service where I live.

My wife and I use our Internet service for wi-fi calling (Republic Wireless and, soon, Google Project Fi). It's one thing for a game to lag once in a while or a web page to fail to load. It's quite another for us to be unable to drop phone calls or not even receive calls because our Internet service has dropped while we're not constantly paying attention to ping tests.

I really liked Mediacom's service when it was stable. Signing up was easy and, even though it took several calls to get Mediacom to honor the original deal and remove the cable modem rental from my monthly bill, customer service was polite and helpful (eventually).

But I pay too much for a service that has proven so unreliable. Considering the lengths I've gone through to identify and troubleshoot the issue, I don't think it's unreasonable for Mediacom to escalate this issue and provide at least a partial refund on service.

Puyo Puyo Tetris released in Japan, import sales open

Will the ultimate puzzle game mash-up see a release outside Japan? Possible, but unlikely. The last Puyo game to get a US release was Puyo Pop Fever for the DS in 2005.

You can click here to watch the trailer for Puyo Puyo Tetris.

If you'd rather not wait (likely in complete futility) for PPT to get released outside Japan, consider importing the game instead:

Remember that the Wii U and 3DS are region-locked but the Vita and PS3 are not. If you choose to purchase the Wii U or 3DS versions, you'll need Japanese hardware to play your import.

Why King is a terrible, terrible company

I originally posted the following elsewhere:

So the company that cloned Bejeweled 3, slapped a coat of Candy Land on top, and earns 6 figures a day through what some (including myself) would call player exploitation has trademarked the word "candy" and are already vigorously defending said trademark. Yes, you read that correctly. King, the makers of Candy Crush Saga, are well on their way to becoming more hated than Zynga (which is quite the task, I assure you).

For those that don't follow the games industry (which, I would guess, is most of you), I ask that you spend a few minutes, Google "candy crush saga trademark" and read up on this mess. And if you're looking for games to replace Candy Crush Saga, please let me know and I'd be happy to suggest titles NOT developed by a company that is a cancer on the games industry.

King is a horrible, horrible company that found success in cloning games and launching off the work of others and is now abusing the horribly broken US trademark system to ensure others don't launch off their success. (But in reality, they're mostly bullying legitimate developers, like Stoic Studio, developers of The Banner Saga.)

It's like someone making a clone of Pac-Man called Eat Those Candy Dots, trademarking the word "candy," and then seeking to block a developer from naming their game I Love Candy (disregarding the fact that the gameplay centers around a dinosaur chasing small dogs through a candy factory).

Trademark bullying is terrible under any circumstances, but trademark bullying by a completely unoriginal clone factory like King would be comic if it weren't so sad, pathetic, and enraging.

Candy Crush Saga is a clone of Bejeweled 3, Bubble Witch Saga is a clone of Puzzle Bobble, Papa Pear Saga is a clone of Peggle, Farm Heroes Saga is another Bejeweled clone, Pet Rescue Saga is a clone of SameGame.

I'm not opposed to clones that iterate on game design, even if said iterations are minor, but cloning a game and THEN tacking on a free-to-play pay model (which is, more often than not, obnoxious at best and exploitative at worst) is rotten enough. Sending lawyers to then harass legitimate studios is infuriating.

Related links:

http://www.joystiq.com/2014/01/20/candy-crush-devs-candy-trademark-approved-for-publication/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2014/01/23/candy-crush-saga-tries-to-crush-the-banner-saga-in-bizarre-trademark-saga/

http://www.idigitaltimes.com/articles/21579/20140121/candy-crush-saga-maker-trademarks-king-taken.htm

http://www.businessinsider.com/king-on-pac-avoid-and-scamperghost-2014-1

And you can find a hundred more related articles with enough spare time and Google.