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.

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“Access forbidden” error on Straight Talk

My wife and I recently switched from a basic phone plan with AT&T to Straight Talk’s unlimited talk, text, and “web browsing” plan. Almost from day one, we’ve repeatedly encountered an “access forbidden” error message when trying to pull up a web page in Chrome or the default Android web browser. Other apps that require Internet access also fail to connect (e.g. Amazon AppStore, Google Play Store, Facebook, etc.). The issue is not constant, but I encounter it approximately half to two-thirds of the times I move out of wi-fi range and into an area with HSPA+.

And it seems I’m not the only one with this problem. The following threads were posted to the Straight Talk Wireless Forums starting Sept. 22 and on:

Galaxy Nexus (ATT-sim) Web access forbidden

Access Forbidden

Access forbidden issue – a look behind the scenes

“Access Forbidden” each time I try to use the internet

“access forbidden”

Access Forbidden

“access forbidden” (internet over 3G)

There are similar threads on other sections of the ST Wireless Forums and all posts are met with the same response: A user claiming to represent ST asking the customer to contact them via private message.

Customers on other forums have reported the same issue:

 access forbidden

“Access Forbidden” message in browser

Having a very weird issue with data and phone?

It’s apparent this is a widespread issue and I’ve yet to find one fix that works consistently (or at all). Straight Talk has not provided a public explanation or solution, suggesting they either are unwilling or, more likely, unable to resolve the problem.

It’s possible that this issue is not specific to Straight Talk, but also affects other AT&T MVNOs. It’s not unreasonable to suspect that AT&T is purposely crippling their MVNO users’ data to push them back toward a post-paid plan with a subsidized phone, higher cost for the consumer, and greater profit margin for AT&T.

I’m strongly recommending that all Straight Talk customers that encounter this issue file a complaint against ST with the Florida Office of the Attorney General. Until customers put pressure on Straight Talk to resolve this issue, they likely won’t put any pressure on AT&T and we likely won’t see a solution.

How to play Soma Bringer on the Nintendo DS in English–legally

Want to play one of the greatest action RPGs ever but can’t read Japanese and don’t want to break the law? Then read on for instructions on how to play Soma Bringer for the Nintendo DS–legitimately.

Step 1: Buy a flashcart. If you have an original DS or a DS Lite, I recommend the R4 DS Revolution. If you have a DSi or DSi XL, I recommend the Acekard 2i.

Step 2: Buy a copy of Soma Bringer. You can purchase a new copy from Play-Asia.com (recommended) or a used copy on eBay.

Step 3: Back up your Soma Bringer cartridge. This step is a tad complicated, but there’s an excellent step-by-step guide over at RomUlation.

Step 4: Download the Soma Bringer Open Translation patch. You can read more about the patch at its official thread on the GBATemp Forums.

Step 5: Apply the patch to your Soma Bringer backup file. Instructions are included with the patch download linked above.

Step 6: Copy the patched Soma Bringer backup file to your flashcart.

Step 7: Insert the flashcart into your DS and play!

How I Spent Last Year’s Gift Money (2010 Edition)

Merry Christmas, everyone!

I wanted to thank everyone for their wonderful gifts this year. I heard at least one family member express a desire to know how my wife and I spent our gift money, which reminded me to post how I spent the gift money I received last Christmas (2009) and on my birthday earlier this year.

Click past the break for a list of items I purchased with gift money this last year.

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Local Dragon Quest IX event a success


While Gamestop may not be my favorite company, I have to give credit where credit is due: Today’s Dragon Quest IX event was much more fun than anticipated. More people attended than I expected, most of the attendees were adults, and the children that attended were all very well-behaved. I didn’t attend all 4 hours of the events, but the time I did spend there was very enjoyable.

I had wondered how Dragon Quest IX’s Tag Mode would see any use in America. Now I know. While most Americans are highly unlikely to come across any other DS owners with DQIX in Tag Mode during their travels, “magnet” events such as this can be surprisingly successful, even in smaller metropolitan areas.

If you missed today’s event, don’t worry: There will be another DQIX event at Best Buy locations next Saturday (August 7) from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. And if you don’t already own a copy, you can purchase Dragon Quest IX from Amazon.com for $34.99 with free Super Saver shipping.

Port forwarding configuration for Borderlands online play

While hosting public Borderlands games, a few people have told me they’ve had trouble hosting games that other players could join.

I opened the following ports on my router and was able to host public games:

  • 7777 (TCP, UDP)
  • 27900 (UDP)
  • 28900 (TCP)
  • 28902 (TCP, UDP)
  • 28910 (UDP)

Consult your router’s documentation for instructions on opening ports as methods will differ according to router manufacturer and interface.

Fatal Frame 4 fan translation available, patches game on the fly

Bummed that Nintendo has no plans to localize Fatal Frame 4 (Japanese title: Zero: Gesshoku no Kamen) for a US or Europe release? Be bummed no longer.

A team of translators and developers have released a fan translation patch that allows English-speaking Wii owners to play Tecmo‘s and Grasshopper Manufacture‘s critically acclaimed horror game in their own language.

What’s particularly impressive about this fan translation is that it can patch a retail copy of the game on the fly, meaning that Wii owners will not need to “softmod” their systems or venture into legal “gray areas” to play the game with English language text.

To play Fatal Frame 4 in English, you’ll need to purchase Zero: Gesshoku no Kamen from Play-Asia or another retailer, download the fan translation patch, and install the patch according to instructions available on the translation developers’ site.

Aside from being great news for English-speaking fans of the Fatal Frame series, this patch opens a host of new possibilities for fan translations. With a 100% legal method of translating in-game Japanese text to English, other popular Japan-only Wii releases could receive their own fan translations.