Archive for January, 2008

TD Ameritrade external bank authorization

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

So, TD Ameritrade, welcome to the future.

I initially opened an online broker account with Datek many years ago. Datek was acquired by Ameritrade in 2002. And then in 2006 Ameritrade aquired TD Waterhouse and is now called TD Ameritrade.

Why is this history important? Because I recently tried to transfer some funds out of my TD Ameritrade account to my bank account. But the transfer was rejected. I was asking for an amount that was much less than my cash balance, so that wasn’t the problem. (Moving some recent dividends to a higher yielding interest rate account.) In the email from TD Ameritrade rejecting the transfer, they said that I had to call customer service and verify the bank.

This was strange, as I had already verified this bank information and had previously made successful transfers from TD Ameritrade into this bank account. But, I wanted my money, so I called TD Ameritrade customer service. After 20 minutes on hold (again, wanted my money) waiting for an agent, at 7:00pm, I got through to an agent. I told the agent about my situation attempting to access my money. They initially were a bit confused, as they saw that both bank accounts tied to my TD Ameritrade account had been electronically verified. But then he must have found something related to this recent issue, and said that he needed me to personally re-verify my bank information. This is where I find the verification process to be a bit lacking.

I appreciate the concern to make sure that the bank account I am trying to transfer my money to is really mine, but two pieces of the required information were not exactly appropriate. First, they wanted to know my employer. Hmm. Since I have had an account for something like 7 years, and being a part of Generation X and the Internet revolution, I have had multiple jobs with different companies; through my own doing and employer mergers. So I told the agent my current employer. (Though I don’t ever remember telling TD Ameritrade who any of my employers were. Maybe they get it from my credit report???) The agent said something like, “Um, is there something else.” So I went into a reverse chronological list of my previous employers. Somewhere in there I must have hit the right combination, as the agent went on to other questions.

One of these other questions was where is the bank that I am trying to transfer to located; the city and state. Well, before the Internet, this would have been potentially easier to answer, but not necessarily. But now, since this particular bank is an Internet-only bank, it makes it really hard to answer. (A brick-and-mortar bank may still be hard, as there are banks with branches in multiple states, for instance.) I tried to tell the agent that I didn’t know. He offered this advice, “Well, where do you go to see a teller.” My reply was basically, “Well, there are no tellers. I use an ATM and the Internet to access the bank.” Eventually, I got it “right” with the agent by looking up the information on the TD Ameritrade web application bank information. My guess is that TD Ameritrade figures this out from the bank routing information. Which me, as a plebeian customer of the bank, would have no knowledge of where geographically the bank routing information defines. (Yes, I am a geek, but not really a bank geek.)

But, after all this, my bank is verified again with TD Ameritrade and they are (per their online app) sending me my money.

at&t International (not) SMS messages

Monday, January 21st, 2008

SMS Intl $0.25 Msg OutCheck your at&t bill. I had noticed an item on my bill, “SMS Intl $0.25 Msg Out”. Initially I thought that I had somehow sent an international SMS message. And it cost $0.25, which is much more than $0.00 for the first 100 domestic SMS messages in my “package”.

Next month my bill included this item too. Since I mostly send text messages to Twitter, I thought that the Twitter short code may be causing the charge. (Because how does Twitter make money, by the way?) So I stopped sending SMS to Twitter.

So this time, on my December 2007 bill, I again noticed the “SMS Intl $0.25 Msg Out” charge and called customer service. I asked the agent if they could tell me what SMS messages were “international” since they weren’t marked on my call detail. She said that she would take a look. Moments later, she returned and said that these charges were due to a billing problem. The billing problem was incorrectly marking domestic SMS messages as international. She said that they announced this billing issue a couple of months ago and were performing automated updates to fix the problems, but it was difficult and they didn’t get all of the charges reversed. She was able to credit my account for all of the charges from the past three months that were incorrectly marked as international SMS. She also made the off hand remark that I didn’t use SMS very much. I said that that was because they started getting charged $0.25 per message so I cut back. She said that that was a good point. 🙂

So double check your at&t bill.

I got me some comment spam from Nina Moric

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

So, my sleepy little blog, published from Iowa (and the spotlight has left Iowa for another 4 years, as the Presidential caucuses are now over and all of the candidates and the news trucks that follow them have rolled out of the state by yesterday afternoon), got a comment from Nina Moric!

Here is what she had to say about Grindhouse:

Nina Moric | | IP:

Hi there…Thanks for the nice read, keep up the interesting posts about coming attractions..what a nice Saturday .

Yeah, right.

I did a Google search on “wwedivasws” and found this post, “Bill Nighy Spam“. I added a comment there about my post from “Nina”.

Sansa Express Upgraded

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

Sansa Express in Windows ExplorerI have been using my SanDisk Sansa Express for about 4 months now. I still really like it. I used the MP3 player feature while running until the ice came to Iowa. Now I use the radio feature to listen to the audio portion of the television shows.

One of the features of the Sansa Express is that it can be expanded by adding a Micro SD card. Yesterday I picked up a 2 GB Micro SD card. But when I installed it into the Sansa Express slowed way down and was very unresponsive to input. Also, when plugged into the USB port with the external memory installed in the Sansa Express, Windows Explorer didn’t show the “External Card” node, just the “Internal Memory” node. Hmm. At first I thought that I may have gotten too much memory; maybe 2 GB was too much.

I went to the SanDisk site for the Sansa Express. I noticed a link on the right side of the page that said “Firmware Update“. This location provided a link to download the Sansa Firmware Updater program.

I noticed that before running the updater, the firmware on the Express was at 1.1.1. After running the firmware updater program, which went very smoothly, the firmware was updated to 1.1.5.

Now, with the updated firmware, the Sansa Express display was very responsive with the extra 2GB added. User input was also very good. And, when the Sansa Express was docked into the USB port, both the “External Card” and “Internal Memory” nodes were available.

I now have an MP3 player with 3 GB of memory!

Me on Christmas 2007 morning

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

Me opening my Asus Eee PC 4GHere is a picture of me opening my Asus Eee PC 4G.

I knew that I was getting it. Nancy wanted to get me a laptop for Christmas, since my last one died early in 2007. I had been reading about the Asus Eee PC. I showed Nancy that she could order it from She did. It arrived in October. Newegg’s return policy for laptops allows 30 days from delivery, so she had me open it and make sure that it worked. Once I verified that it worked, I had to repackage it. Nancy then whisked it away and wrapped it up.

I have been using it for a bit over a week now. I like it a lot. I am a Linux geek, so the Linux OS on the laptop is perfect for me. It is amazing small and portable. I have pretty much gotten used to the small keyboard. The “shift” key on the far right is a bit farther out than I am used to, and I keep pushing the “up” arrow key instead. The small screen is very sharp. This makes the small screen quite usable. And with the solid-state flash drive, it boots quickly.