Alarms

I did a
quick search for complaints about Northstar and got numerous hits. However, I
then did the same thing for the two major companies, ADT and Brinks, and guess
what. Yep, same deal. Over 100 hits on each of them just on ripoffreport.com,
which tries to be reputable. The last link in the list below is probably the
most telling, because it reveals that home security companies all use the same
tactics. As the man says, the home security business is really based on fear.


The complaints about Northstar are also interesting. Once you factor out the
sales-roach tactics that they share with ADT and Brinks, the complaints come
down to people not taking the friggin’ contract seriously. At least Northstar
was offering $45 a month for the length of the contract. I wish we had gotten
that in writing, because it’s a commitment the others don’t make.

 

By the
way, the current system the ADT offered me was so cumbersome that the guy wanted
to install it in a closet with an enormous battery. Uh, no thanks. This is a
house, not Fort Knox.

 

http://www.northstaralarm.com

http://www.yelp.com/topic/austin-anybody-know-northstar-alarm-system

http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/338/RipOff0338837.htm

http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/north-star-alarm-services-c141113.html

 

http://www.ripoffreport.com/searchresults.asp?q1=ALL&q4=&q6=&q3=&q2=&q7=&searchtype=0&submit2=Search!&q5=ADT+Security+

http://www.my3cents.com/productReview.cgi?company=Brinks+Home+Security

http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/390/RipOff0390866.htm

 

RE: DONALD ROYALL (WDRUA)

Ok. I live under
a mile from the Fort Bend county line so can you send the plates to the Clay Road
Annex?

 

From: White-Petterway,
Amelia (Tax Office) [mailto:Amelia.White@tax.hctx.net]
Sent: Tuesday, May 05, 2009 07:39
To: royall@conchbbs.com
Subject: RE: DONALD ROYALL (WDRUA)

 

IM SORRY THE PLATES DO READ W5RUA, THAT WAS MY MISTAKE  WHEN I
TYPED THE EMAIL IM VERY SORRY.

 


From: Scott Royall
[mailto:royall@conchbbs.com]
Sent: Monday, May 04, 2009 1:22 PM
To: White-Petterway, Amelia (Tax Office)
Subject: FW: DONALD ROYALL (WDRUA)

 

Amelia,

 

Did you
re-check those plates?

 

Scott

 

From: Scott Royall
[mailto:royall@conchbbs.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2009 14:34
To: ‘White-Petterway, Amelia (Tax Office)’
Subject: RE: DONALD ROYALL (WDRUA)

 

Amelia,

 

A couple of
issues:

 

1.      If those plates indeed read
“WDRUA,” they are useless to me. I requested (and was granted)
“W5RUA.” I have the printed receipt as proof. That is an Amateur
Radio callsign, and you can look it up at FCC.GOV or QRZ.COM.

2.      I am disabled, and texasonline.com
mentioned nothing about picking up the plates. (I was charged $40, and the
plates should come to me at that price!) I could redirect the plates to Clay Road, and have
my driver collect them.  However, nobody has monetary authority on
my behalf. I am disabled, not a vegetable.

 

I request that
you please re-check those plates. If they do not read “W5RUA,” they
are worthless and you need to follow whatever procedure you have for telling Austin they royally
screwed up (pun notwithstanding). Can you do that for me?

 

D. Scott Royall
(W5RUA)

 

From: White-Petterway,
Amelia (Tax Office) [mailto:Amelia.White@tax.hctx.net]
Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2009 10:25
To: royall@conchbbs.com
Subject: DONALD ROYALL (WDRUA)

 

Special plates have arrived, please visit our website at www.tax.co.harris,tx.us

to find a location close to you. Plates are now located at
the DOWNTOWN

LOCATION, but can be forwarded to a different location.
Please bring current

proof of insurance and registration information when picking
up plates. An

additional fee may be charged (Additional fees may include
exchange fees are

or pro-rated registration fees). Forms of payment are cash,
check or moneyorder

 

AMELIA
PETTERWAY

 

SPECIAL
PLATES

OFFICE
OF
LEO
VASQUEZ

HARRIS
COUNTY TAX ASSESSOR-COLLECTOR

OFFICE:
(713) 368-2720

FAX:      
(713) 368-2729

EMAIL:
AMELIA.WHITE@HCTX.NET

 

 

 

 

 

RE: DONALD ROYALL (WDRUA)

Ok.

 

From: White-Petterway,
Amelia (Tax Office) [mailto:Amelia.White@tax.hctx.net]
Sent: Tuesday, May 05, 2009 07:39
To: royall@conchbbs.com
Subject: RE: DONALD ROYALL (WDRUA)

 

IM SORRY THE PLATES DO READ W5RUA, THAT WAS MY MISTAKE  WHEN I
TYPED THE EMAIL IM VERY SORRY.

 


From: Scott Royall
[mailto:royall@conchbbs.com]
Sent: Monday, May 04, 2009 1:22 PM
To: White-Petterway, Amelia (Tax Office)
Subject: FW: DONALD ROYALL (WDRUA)

 

Amelia,

 

Did you
re-check those plates?

 

Scott

 

From: Scott Royall
[mailto:royall@conchbbs.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2009 14:34
To: ‘White-Petterway, Amelia (Tax Office)’
Subject: RE: DONALD ROYALL (WDRUA)

 

Amelia,

 

A couple of
issues:

 

1.      If those plates indeed read “WDRUA,”
they are useless to me. I requested (and was granted) “W5RUA.” I have the
printed receipt as proof. That is an Amateur Radio callsign, and you can look
it up at FCC.GOV or QRZ.COM.

2.      I am disabled, and texasonline.com
mentioned nothing about picking up the plates. (I was charged $40, and the
plates should come to me at that price!) I could redirect the plates to Clay Road, and have
my driver collect them.  However, nobody has monetary authority on
my behalf. I am disabled, not a vegetable.

 

I request that
you please re-check those plates. If they do not read “W5RUA,” they are
worthless and you need to follow whatever procedure you have for telling Austin they royally
screwed up (pun notwithstanding). Can you do that for me?

 

D. Scott Royall
(W5RUA)

 

From: White-Petterway,
Amelia (Tax Office) [mailto:Amelia.White@tax.hctx.net]
Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2009 10:25
To: royall@conchbbs.com
Subject: DONALD ROYALL (WDRUA)

 

Special plates have arrived, please visit our website at www.tax.co.harris,tx.us

to find a location close to you. Plates are now located at
the DOWNTOWN

LOCATION, but can be forwarded to a different location.
Please bring current

proof of insurance and registration information when picking
up plates. An

additional fee may be charged (Additional fees may include
exchange fees are

or pro-rated registration fees). Forms of payment are cash,
check or moneyorder

 

AMELIA
PETTERWAY

 

SPECIAL
PLATES

OFFICE
OF
LEO
VASQUEZ

HARRIS
COUNTY TAX ASSESSOR-COLLECTOR

OFFICE:
(713) 368-2720

FAX:      
(713) 368-2729

EMAIL:
AMELIA.WHITE@HCTX.NET

 

 

 

 

 

TATN ’09

Angela,           

 

I
appreciate your invitation to attend Texas Assistive Technology Network ’09,
and it was very kind of you to waive my entrance fee. However, I have given the
matter much consideration and have regrettably decided to miss this year. Yes,
the fact that my presentation was scheduled for the last half-day of the
conference was a factor. I live far enough away from ESC to require that I
leave home very early to get there in time to set up for the presentation, and
my caregivers haven’t had to deal with that level of expectation in several
years. In truth, though, I was already reconsidering my attendance before your
call for attendee registration arrived. The remainder of this email will
explain why.

 

One of
the things I have learned over the years is that the assistive and augmentative
communication market is split into two segments. One is the medical
rehabilitation field based largely in hospitals and other institutions that are
trying to restore the ability to communicate to their patients. This is where
the established AAC vendors spend a good deal of their advertising budgets, and
where many SLPs prefer AAC products that can be applied to patients with a
variety of disabilities at various levels. This is logical enough from the
perspective of the SLP, because he/she probably only has a limited knowledge
about computers. Anything that simplifies the amount of information that has to
be known is seen as a positive thing.

 

The
other segment of the AAC market is the one you are the most intimate with,
naturally, Special Education.  This is actually the segment where an
"unknown" vendor like me stands probably the best chance on gaining a
degree of acceptance simply because educators are generally more open to new
ideas. Yet, in practice, the two segments of the AAC market are similar in that
they have gateway mechanisms that control the entry of new products. In
education, the state has a list of recommended AAC products, for example. Moreover,
many school districts have specialized technologists intended to evaluate new
ideas. It is unfortunate that these technologists are supposedly too overloaded
to meet with people they don’t already recognize. One of my hopes in attending
TATN has been to meet some of the gatekeepers in an environment where they
could see what I had to offer.  Yet, none has revealed themselves to me in
my two years at TATN.  I have no doubt they’re there, but they’re stealthier
than a Romulan Warbird in full Cloak!

 

The
reality is that I attend TATN in dual roles. Yes, I am nominally a vendor, but I
am also a product of the Special Education system. Arguably, I am one of the
few "pure" success stories in the sense that I totally left the whole
rehabilitation community behind and was able to be a cog in the corporate America
machine for 14 years. Great, but lay-offs ended that seven years ago. A skeptical
person could reasonably ask if I’m still relevant. I still try to keep up
with technology, but I haven’t done much intense programming in years. Admittedly,
being scheduled for the final half-day at TATN was disappointing in another
sense, because it didn’t give me an opportunity to reconnoiter my
competition in the vendors’ room. That’s not your problem, of course, but
it does make my position more difficult. Even as an observer of the Special
Education system and the role of disabled people in society in general, it’s
becoming harder for me to keep up. I actually hope that I am missing important
AAC advances; otherwise, disabled people are going nowhere fast!

 

I think
you are familiar enough with the story of Xpress-It to know that it was
purpose-built. My bosses informally gave me a set of requirements that current
AAC solutions did not meet. I have noticed that major AAC providers have made
efforts in the past two years to get near what Xpress-It does so there is movement.
However, they still have a long way to go because they are re-inventing
underlying tools that are in Windows and Xpress-It depends on. I announced in
my blog late last year that any further development of Xpress-It would be only
for my own needs, because I’m not seeing any commercial interest in it. I
know you suggested marketing it to an independent vendor, but that would create
a real dilemma for them. Given that Xpress-It approaches the AAC problem from a
totally different vector, it would require a vendor of other products to
essentially have a split personality. He would have to make a decision about
which approach is “right” for any given customer. I may be cynical,
but I don’t think an independent distributor is going to even want to make that
choice. Thus, I’m not really clear that my attendance of TATN is doing
anybody any good. My presentation last year seemed well received, but there was
no follow-up interest. That’s sort of consistent with the overall problem
of how AAC products are used in the education system. Namely, there’s never
going to be advancement toward more flexible AAC until there is demand for it. It
would be great if the end user (student/student’s parents) did the demanding,
but they usually depend on the educators to direct them. That means nothing
much is going to change until end educators really put pressure on the
technologists (and we know how likely that is).

 

Ironically,
this email is a miniature version of what this year’s presentation would’ve
said.

 

Scott