The online home for Greg Leedberg, since 1995.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Another Graduation!

I graduate from Cornell tomorrow!

I have to say, this has been a great year doing my master's degree. I think coming to Cornell was one of the best decisions I've ever made. The program was everything I hoped it would be. I was really challenged, but got to work on great projects, with amazing faculty and other bright grad (and undergrad!) students. It's a great environment here for computer science and I would highly recommend the program. And, I think coming here really helped me with getting a job. Cornell has an excellent career services... it was primarily because of them that I got interviews with companies like Microsoft and Google. And even though the job I ended up accepting at Raytheon was found through other means, I really feel that being here helped there as well.

It might be unforutnate but I did learn here that, at least to a certain extent, your opportunities in life do depend on lot on what school you went to. At least during the immediate post-graduation period. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that. It's really hard to get into (and survive) a school like Cornell, so it's very true that people here are rather good. But at the same time, I know for a fact that if you really look at people at less-obviously-good-schools, there are a lot of really good people there as well. I was at a state school just a little over a year ago. Am I completely different person now that I'm at Cornell? No. But I think I got a lot more attention during my job search because of it. In the end, I think that everyone knows that there are plenty of good people at non-Ivy League schools... but, being at a top-ranked school helps validate your skill to a prospective company without them having to investigate you in-depth. This is just my personal observation, take it as you will.

So, I'm graduating. I'm grateful for all of the friendships I formed here at Cornell... both with other MEng students, undergrads, and of course a few stand-out professors (most of all my MEng project advisor). It was a great experience. Now I look forward to the opportunities ahead of me at Raytheon. I'm very excited about everything ahead of me, and am thankful for and happy with everything that is now behind me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

New cell phone!

I just set up a new cell phone and cell phone plan, and also successfully ported my old number to my new phone -- after almost a week of constant calls to support lines. I figured I would add to the static online regarding number transfers gone wrong. At least mine turned out okay. :)

So, my old provider was Virgin Mobile. They're a prepaid service. I still have a high opinion of them. If you don't have the money for a >$40/month plan, or don't talk enough to justify one, I think Virgin Mobile has very decent pricing and fair policies (unlike just about all of their prepaid competitors). But, now that I am finally going to have a job, I figured I could afford a monthly plan, and that not having to constantly track my usage (which you do when you're paying 25 cents a minute) would be worth the extra money. So I decided to switch to Verizon (the only carrier with a somewhat decent network, no matter what Sprint/Cingular customers say to justify their purchases).

I wanted to port my old Virgin Mobile number. It's not that I have tons of people who call me all the time and that it would be impossible to tell everyone about a new number. But, there's enough people I'd have to tell that it would just be easier if I didn't have to and everyone could just keep using the same old number. So, I got my phone and activated it on a Thursday. Worked great, I could make outgoing calls just fine, incoming calls were, of course, still going to my old phone. The estimate for how long a transfer would take was 3 hours to a day. Thursday evening, I called Verizon just to see what the status of my port was. They said it had been delayed, but that Sprint (the company providing network access for Virgin Mobile) said it should be transferred hopefully 10/11am the next day. Fine with me.

Around 2pm on Friday, it still hasn't transferred. I call back. Verizon says that it has been delayed, but the Sprint has not given a reason. My transfer gets escalated at both Verizon and Sprint, and I'm told Sprint has 24 hours to respond to the escalation. Fine with me.

So, I call back around 2pm on Saturday. Still no transfer. Verizon tells me that it's still being delayed and that no reason is being given. So, Verizon submits a trouble ticket to Virgin Mobile so that my transfer can be looked at by a human, and maybe a reason can be given. The bad news -- Virgin Mobile and Sprint will have to jointly discuss this, on a conference call, and those only happen at 1pm on weekdays. So, I should call back around 3pm Monday to see what's happened. Now I'm starting to get annoyed. Not with Verizon (they're doing all they can) but just with the entire process.

Monday 3pm can't come fast enough (as I'm starting to run low on money on Virgin Mobile prepaid account so soon I won't even be able to answer calls unless I put another $20 on the account, which I don't want to do at this point). When I call, the customer support person I talk to can't find any trace of the trouble ticket, and no updates have been made to the file for my transfer. This time, I am actually talking to someone in the port center at Verizon. He's very helpful, and says he will re-submit my port request, to see if this regains Sprint's attention. Apparently, Verizon sends the request to Sprint, who approves it at the network-level, then they send it to Virgin Mobile, who verifies my account information, who then sends a confirmation to Verizon, who then makes the network-level change. The process is getting held up by Sprint, so Virgin Mobile isn't even getting the request. At any rate, I'm told to call back in about 2 hours to see how the re-submitted request is doing.

So, around 5pm Monday, I call Verizon again. This is the first time in the entire process that I got someone who I felt didn't know what they were talking about, and wasn't very helpful. She first told me that I should have told Virgin Mobile prior to initiating my transfer, and that that could have messed it up. No, I don't think that's true, since Virgin Mobile answers that very question on their website. She then tells me that it's probably fine, since transfers usually take 2 - 5 weeks. I also know that's not true. In all the documentation I have, it gives the 3 hours to a day figure, and even online, I've found references to it happening as quick as 2 hours, and the longest I found online was it taking 7 days. So her 2-week minimum was quite off. But, I decided to call Virgin Mobile anyways, just to see what was going on on their end.

So, I call Virgin Mobile, and they are actually quite helpful. They confirm that, no, you aren't supposed to call your old carrier first before doing a transfer. They look into it, and find that they indeed never received the first request from Sprint, but did receive the new one just sent out that afternoon, and have even authorized it (i.e., sent a confirmation to Verizon). They tell me to call Verizon and make sure they've received the confirmation.

So, I call Verizon back, and talk directly to the port center again. It turns out, they did just receive the confirmation from Virgin Mobile. It probably would have taken effect by Verizon within an hour or two. But, I told the representative my sob story, and how for the last half hour I've basically been passed around and (occassionally) fed false information. So, she managed to activate my transfer right there with me on the line. My first incoming call was from a Verizon representative who probably got more thank-you's than ever before. :)

So, in the end, it all worked out okay, and only took 6 days from the time the first request was sent. That's still faster than landline transfers which take over 20 business days. I wish it had gone slightly smoother, but I was impressed, on the whole, with the helpfulness of both Verizon and Virgin Mobile. Even though I am leaving Virgin Mobile, I still think they are a great service for people with special needs, and I look forward to using Verizon in the future. I'm not too fond of Sprint, though.