Archive for the ‘Comcast’ Category

The New Home Saga: Comcast Rising

Posted: October 25, 2016 in Comcast, Xfinity

So, SPW and I moved into some new digs. It was a really long distance move… one whole block. As part of the move, had to handle the essentials.

TV and Internet.

As we are bereft of choices where we live, we deal with Comcast, because Century Link sucks. Have their infamous triple play. Pay way too much for it, but that’s the way it is. I don’t have man y complaints on the service itself… the TV is clear, the internet is blazing fast, and our service is reliable.

My issues come pretty much anytime I have to call them. Or change anything. Or breathe wrong.

The most recent snafu came with the move. I started the process online and never quite finished, mainly because I was waiting to make sure all the inspections were approved and whatnot. I got a call from the fine folks at Comcast offering to set up our move. I was told since we were only moving  a block, staying in the same neighborhood, same municipality, hell, same side of the street, we’d be able to transfer our DVR recordings and our telephone number.

OK, good.

Come Sunday, the tech showed up and something got messed up. Our DVR wasn’t able to be transferred and they gave us a new phone number. I asked about this and the basic gist of the reply was “Too bad, so sad.”

So, basically, Comcast lied about being able to keep our phone number. So all the time I spent changing addresses with various accounts and banks and utilities and whatnot has been a complete waste of my time because I have to go back and do it again.

I guess since I’m a nobody, my time isn’t valuable. But what I really REALLY like is our old phone number back.

I guess there’s no chance of that. Because I don’t matter.

The good service

The good service

xfinity_comcast_logo

The not-so-good service

Now, before you think this is just another Comcast/Xfinity rant, it’s not.

I will just say that they (Comcast) could get some lessons in keeping customers happy if they just talked to the Fruit.

I’m not talking Fruit of the Loom, though.

I’m talking Apple.

Now, many folks think I’m just a mouthpiece/fanboy/unabashed Jobsian. Do I like Apple? Yes. Have I consistently gotten good product from them? Yes. Are they perfect?

No. They are not perfect.

I’ll get this out there that the Macs I own work that much better than the Windows machine. It takes our Windows 7 laptop  some four minutes to boot from cold. The Mac Book running OS-X Mountain Lion can do it in under 30 seconds.

Big difference.

Now, Supportive Partner Woman and I are both on our third generation of iPhone. We typically eschew the “S” models and upgrade every two years. Currently, we are both running iPhone 5s with 32GB. It’s a good, dependable phone, but it is not without its issues. That’s why I don’t get the Android vs. Apple debate. Recognize that both products have plusses and minuses and go with it. Do I like how my iPhone works with the rest of my tech? Yes. Is there some Android features that I wish it had? Yes. I’m not going to hate on one because I happen to own the other. That’s kind of foolish.

SPW had noticed in recent weeks that her battery had gone haywire. One minute it would show 19%, the next minute it was shutting down. She’d plug it in and 90 seconds later, it would be back in the green. Add this to the fact that whenever we’d go to back it up, it wouldn’t always detect the phone. My phone? No problem.

So, we booked an appointment with the “Genius” bar at the local Apple Store. We were a couple minutes late (blame the traffic and a long line to check in), but we were directed to wait for a “Genius”. We kind of got lost in the shuffle, but eventually, we were helped by a nice young man named Ian. He had the hipster vibe that many of the “Genius” team seem to cultivate. He ran a couple of diagnostics and announced that while the battery checked out, there was apparently a glitch in the software and proceeded to give her another phone. No fuss, no muss. Just simple service without pulling teeth.

What a concept!

To get the same result from Comcast/Xfinity, well, it would take a lot of phone calls and histrionics and threats to switch to satellite.

So, to sum up, Friday was a pretty good day.

In other news, got my blood work back (thanks, Barb!) and it was looking pretty good. A1C is still higher than what is considered normal, but it’s that level without insulin (and it’s pretty much the same as what is was before surgery WITH insulin). My cholesterol is improved… all values (save HDLs) right in the middle of normal range. In fact, most of it is disgustingly normal. It’s an improvement.

Everything seems to be healing up with my toes. I look forward to being back at it on Tuesday after the stitches are removed. I have a lot to catch up on.

Hope you all had a great weekend… it’s off to make dinner for myself and Supportive Partner Woman. Making roasted buffalo sirloin (for her) and roasted chicken breast (for me). Should be yummy!

Song of the Day: We Care a Lot – Faith No More

Currently reading: The Tenth Justice – Brad Meltzer

It's like a modern interpretation of the Tower of Orthanc... without the orcs.

It’s like a modern interpretation of the Tower of Orthanc… without the orcs.

So, many of you have probably read of my struggles with a certain cable and internet provider. Two days ago, I was ready to storm the Comcast Center in Philadelphia… HQ of the Evil Empire. Every time I’m in the City of Brotherly Love, I keep looking for Saruman looking out from the undistinguished building. And the architecture isn’t really inspired. It’s kind of like a blocky, 974 foot phallus.

Fitting, seeing as it’s the HQ of a company that likes to give you the shaft at most opportunities.

I’m writing today, though, about a generally positive experience I had with Jared, a member of  Comcast’s Executive Care Team. See, apparently my post on Tuesday ruffled some feathers at Comcast and they were quick to call me and ask me to return their call.

I waited until yesterday morning, giving myself a night’s sleep to cool off. My call was answered by a real, live human being who didn’t sound like he was somewhere in Bangalore. Jared listened as I explained my situation, was very quick to apologize for the manner in which I was brushed off, and in about 15 minutes had restructured our plan so we wouldn’t have to pay more for less service.

In other words, real world math. Best part is I’ll still get BBC America (Doctor Who) and NBC Sports (Formula One).

I really hate having to bitch, but sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease. In this case, I was assisted by someone who was courteous and professional. If I had to hazard a guess, Comcast keeps the good ones in reserve. At least my story had a better resolution than this one.

Map of last night's route

Map of last night’s route

Last night I managed to accomplish a goal of mine. I managed to walk the perimeter of Red Rose Commons (local shopping center) while on my break from work. I’ve done the half loop in many forms, but this is the first time I’ve done it and managed to do it in under 30 minutes. It was a big deal because I wasn’t wearing my Beasts, but rather my NB 857 trainers. Feet still felt pretty good and no sign of any blistering. I can deal with that. It seems that my ill effects from Saturday’s New York excursion have gone away. Other than my sunburned head, of course.

My other accomplishment dealt with my mom’s old KitchenAid mixer. A few years ago, she forgot it was plugged in and while pushing it back on the counter, she managed to turn it on while the dough hook was in the bowl. To make a long story short, mixer went *boof* and we had to get her a new one for Christmas. I took possession of the old one, figuring I could look into fixing it.

Stripped and broken gear, surrounded by a LOT of grease.

Stripped and broken gear, surrounded by a LOT of grease.

I did some research on and off over the last couple of years and I found that I could probably repair it, I would just need time and parts. I finally got around to tearing it down on Monday. I found, under the greasy nightmare, that the design had functioned as intended. A nylon worm gear had stripped and broken. The fact this item was designed to fail kept the mixer from serious damage and made it very fixable. So, went to Amazon, ordered a gear assembly, a gasket, and food-safe grease. Grand total for the parts was about $18 including shipping on the gasket. It should sell between $100 and $120 after it’ all fixed up. It’s a KitchenAid, after all.

So, there you have it. Accomplishments mixed with some actual service from Comcast. A pretty good day.

Oh, and in case the good service from Comcast wasn’t enough of an apocalyptic harbinger, I got an email triumphantly informing me that Sinbad was going to be at the Keswick Theatre and I should “Act now” to make sure I got tickets. Now, nothing against Sinbad… I always found him to be amusing, but if you’re datamining a profile of me, I’m pretty sure Sinbad’s not on the radar. I think this is a sign that the smart computers are getting ready to take over the planet.

Better start watching Doomsday Preppers for some tips on how to survive the end of civilization.

Song of the Day: You Dropped a Bomb On Me – The Gap Band

I'm sure this is what it's like when they aren't trying to sell you something else you don't want or need.

I’m sure this is what it’s like when they aren’t trying to sell you something else you don’t want or need.

Ahh, yes. It’s now time for the yearly Xfinity rant.

Today’s cause was when I called to drop our voice service. Basically put, we don’t use the home phone. At all. I figured, “Why pay for it?” So I called to drop the service.

The “helpful” person on the end informed us that the price would increase if we dropped the service.

Let’s see… drop service, price goes up. Must be that new math, because that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Apparently it does in Xfinity world. Not sure I’d want to live there. I figure down is up, left is right, etc. In Xfinity World, Richard Nixon was probably a Democrat.

“So, Brian,” you’re probably saying, “Why on earth do you stick with them? Why don’t you get a dish?”

The answer there is Wanda, evil queen bitch of our HOA. Erecting a dish would require Wanda approval and I never wanted to deal with the hassle. Now, I’d take some hassle if it meant I could tell Xfinity to get bent. See, that’s how they get you. They have a monopoly. Granted, that’s the only way they get any business. It sure as hell isn’t their stellar customer experience. The other reason I stay with them is that when everything works, the Interwebz is blazing fast and the reliability is above average. I have a lot of devices connected to the Web at home (three computers, two tablets, two smartphones, three other digital streaming units and an Xbox. Oh, and a printer. It handles the traffic admirably.

But is that enough?

See, I’m OK with paying for a lot of the stuff I don’t use. Basically, I watch Formula One racing and Doctor Who. One is in the “sports tier” and the other is in an extended digital tier. I don’t watch BET, Univision, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, QVC, HSN, and Root Sports. I don’t watch much network TV. I don’t use the music channels much, nor MTV, VH1, or CSPAN. I seriously don’t watch CSPAN II. And I don’t need three (???) CBS feeds. I can only watch CSI on one channel at a time. I don’t even use ESPN or Comcast Sports Net anymore. It would be easier to list the channels I do watch than those I don’t.

And apparently, if you’re a long-term customer, they won’t give you one of those $79 Double Play options. They will give you a whopping $20 off your bill. Thanks, guys. And if you just want the Interwebz, be prepared to cough up $75 a month. To look at pictures of cats.

Where does it end?

When will they have enough money?

Greetings to all!

I’m proud to report that I’ve discovered another way to get a workout.

Yard work in the heat.

It makes you sweat, but you still manage to make the yard look better. It’s a win/win! Speaking of yard work, many of you might remember the tale of Wanda, the evil bitch queen of our HOA. Got a missive from her complaining about weeds around our air conditioning unit.

Weeds we had already pulled.

Sigh.

So, I started on Thursday with my latest Xfinity run-in. This time, the internet was down. I called Comcast and talked to a rep who seemed to be less interested in solving the Mystery of the Missing Internet and more interested in getting me to subscribe to HBO, Skinemax and whatever other overpriced crap they can foist on you.

No, if I wanted to upgrade my package, I’d have called that department, or spoken to somebody regarding TV. All I wanted was the Internet to work. That’s all, folks. Also, when scheduling a repair appointment, don’t hold that appointment hostage to whether or not I want to buy a service protection plan. That’s kind of bush league, guys.

I also managed to hit the driving range twice this weekend. Saturday was far more entertaining. There was a guy in a bad toupee (I know, there is no such thing as a good toupee, so calling it a bad toupee is redundant. It was seriously heinous, though. If there were war crimes trials for bad hairpieces, this bad boy would be guilty of crimes against humanity.) all by his lonesome in a stall about four spots behind me. After every shot, he’d say (loudly), “Now that’s a golf shot!”

To himself.

My first thought was, “Well, no shit, Captain Obvious…. You’re hitting a golf ball with a golf club. Of course it’s a golf shot!”

My second thought was, “I can’t make this stuff up.”

Now, I finally got around to finishing the mulching. So I’m a little behind. My advice is to not spread mulch before you go to the gym to get in a strength training day. It tends to make things a little sore all around.

On to the meat of the post, though. It was a good day in that I got my first donation for the 5K. So, a huge thanks to Janet for breaking the shutout. Your kindness and generosity are greatly appreciated. Anyone wanting to join Janet in backing my 5K bid can do so by visiting my Avon fundraising page.

We’re getting to a point of the year where it’s easy to backslide. It’s so hot and oppressive that it’s easy to not get your work in and stay in the air conditioning. If you really want to stay in the AC, go to your local mall to walk. Many malls have information about how far one lap of their building is for the walkers and it helps break the humidity. You’re still that much farther ahead of the guy on the couch.

I’m going to do better with my writing this week. I’ve slipped a little of late and I’m not happy about it. Hope you have a great week and stay comfortable. If you must be outside, remember to hydrate. It’s important.

Song of the Day: If I Had No Loot – Tony! Toni! Toné!

Good morning (it’s morning now… might not be by the time I finish, so deal with it, ok?)! Hopefully this finds you well. It’s 54 degrees and raining today, which makes it feel like a Monday. The 54 degrees is fine… perhaps a little chilly, but it’s the rain that causes the problems. It’s kind of hard to go for a walk in it, especially if you have to worry about your feet getting too wet.

Monday, the real Monday, started off with a whimper. It’s a tight schedule day… gym appointment at 7, at work by 8:30. I got dressed, ate some breakfast (Cheerios and a banana, if you’re keeping score), and went out to the car. I should say a few words about my car. It’s a 1999 Oldsmobile with only 101,000 miles. It can be, shall we say, temperamental? It decided not to start… not because there was a problem, but because the security system was having a bad day. It’s not a good system… it basically senses a chip in the key and decides whether to start or not. If it doesn’t start, you have to wait around for an hour until it resets. Sigh. It doesn’t do this often, but it always seems to be while I’m in a hurry. So, I had to grab Supportive Partner Woman (sports editor extraordinaire!)’s ride, go to my session, come home and pray the car started. It did, but that was my morning shot to hell.

We’re doing a new proof of concept at work that’s had some hiccups… that pretty much blew the main part of the day. In the evening, I drove SPW to our hometown so she could participate in a class reunion meeting. I killed time at Barnes & Noble while she did reunion stuff, then we went home. Such an exciting life, you know?

So, since Monday was shot to hell, Tuesday has become the new Monday. At least for this week. I’m so looking forward to the evening when I have nothing planned.

In the Seriously, dude? files for today, had a phone call and a letter from Comcast. The purpose of said missives were to inform me that my cable modem would soon not be able to handle the full array of internet services the Xfinity offers. Of course, they would be happy to rent us a new modem. Of course. Seriously? Did they learn nothing from me? I tried to update my modem a few months ago and all I got was a piece of colossal excrement from Motorola.

It just seems that anymore, the inmates are running the asylum. Take my driver’s license renewal. I made a mistake and wrote the check for $29.00 instead of $29.50. Rather than call and say, “Hey, you messed up,” they mailed it back to me (costing them $0.42 in postage, making me write a second check for $0.50, which probably cost them around $8.00 to process. Net profit on that $0.50 was around -$7.92. Glad they got basic economics figured out. And these are the people running things?

People ask me what happened to me. I used to be totally fascinated by the political process. I was a poll worker, a judge of elections, worked phone banks, whatever was needed. I would attend political rallies. I was versed on the issues and thought that it mattered who was elected… that my candidate would be the better choice. Anymore, I see the elections as nothing but a choice between two unpalatable options. Politics has always been a dirty business, but lately it seems that the country has been completely polarized with no willingness to even listen to another point of view. Hollywood gets a few things right, and politics can be best summed up with the following quote from the 1990 release The Hunt for Red October:

 Listen; I’m a politician which means I’m a cheat and a liar, and when I’m not kissing babies I’m stealing their lollipops.

Only problem is, they aren’t just stealing lollipops. The politicians and all of “official” Washington are stealing our country. The two-party system is a failure and has marginalized those who don’t fit in either party’s mold. Economist Jeffrey Sachs writes in his book The Price of Civilization that:

The main reason for America’s majoritarian character is the electoral system for Congress. Members of Congress are elected in single-member districts according to the “first-past-the-post” (FPTP) principle, meaning that the candidate with the plurality of votes is the winner of the congressional seat. The losing party or parties win no representation at all. The first-past-the-post election tends to produce a small number of major parties, perhaps just two, a principle known in political science as Duverger’s Law. Smaller parties are trampled in first-past-the-post elections.

Tim Holden – I’d think that $174,000 a year would make him a little busier

Barring the emergence of a viable third-party, it seems to me that the best way to shake things up is to institute term limits. When guys like Arlen Specter spend 30 years in office, suckling at the collective teat of the people, there’s a problem. I grew up in the old 6th district of Pennsylvania which was “represented” by two, count them, TWO people. In 40 years. The current occupant of the office, Rep. Tim Holden, has these examples of groundbreaking legislation as his legacy. His predecessor, Gus Yatron, was even more ineffective. In 22 years, he sponsored 15 bills, none of which were made into law. There was one resolution condemning human rights violations in the former USSR, though. Earth shattering stuff.

So, in short, make sure you vote. Even if it involves holding your nose and voting for the candidate who stinks slightly less. If the elected officials aren’t getting it done, throw them out. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I still believe these people work for me, not vice-versa. Don’t think that you need to vote Republican or Democrat, either. There’s no law that says you need to vote for either Mittens or for the current occupant. Take the time to learn about an alternative, whether it be an independent or Libertarian or Communist, even. Vote for who you want… it’s your vote, not Candy Crowley’s or Wolf Blitzer’s or Anderson Freakin’ Cooper’s vote.

Anyone remember Gus Hall?

The Comcast saga continues.

After I actually got decent customer service, Teh Interwebz worked fine for a couple of days. Sunday through Tuesday. Wednesday morning, it was jacked up again. So I called them. When I finally got a live person, I explained the issue, stressing that they were out on Sunday and I still think the problem lies with the modem. As I was on the phone, the modem rebooted itself and things were working. I was told to call back if it happened again. It did. 10 minutes later. I called, spoke to someone different, who insisted on setting up a service appointment. For Friday. Two days with intermittent (at best) Internet service. I reluctantly agreed, still thinking it’s the modem. When I finally got off the phone, I unhooked the modem and reattached the old one. I tested the circuits and no anomalous voltage readings. I let it power up, the AirPort’s green light winked on and the Internet was back.

It’s still back on.

With my (supposedly) EOL Linksys modem from 2003 or 2004.

I have to wonder if Comcast gets a kickback from Motorola on these “recommended” modems. This thing is a piece of shit and I will be taking it back to Best Buy tomorrow. Lord help them if they give me crap about it being open… Admiral Furious might set sail. I might need bail money, so if you have a couple bucks to spare, I’d appreciate the help.

Chicken skewers… all kinds of yum.

Just kidding. I’m gradually getting back on the healthy eating train. Yesterday, I made some chicken skewers for lunch that turned out yummy. I’ll post my marinade recipe below. I usually alternate the meat with slices of green pepper, sweet onion and tomato. I will use mushrooms, too, if I have some in the fridge. I like to get the grill heated up, spray the grates with cooking spray, then back the beat off as soon as I put the skewers on. This allows the meat to get some grill marks and a bit of a sear without overcooking the meat.

I’m on the hook to work Saturday night. Hoping for an unexpected day off, as SPW’s cousin’s daughter (one of our pseudo nieces) is having a birthday. Gotta love that the child likes Legos.

Back to the regular workout schedule next week… I have sessions on Tuesday and Friday. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve missed the usual setup, with two or three other people. It should help to shake me back out of the funk I’ve been in.

I’m going to wrap it up for tonight… Hope you have a great evening and a better day tomorrow. I leave you with my marinade recipe.

Garlic & Herb Chicken Marinade

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian-style seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, combine the water, vinegar, oil, garlic, thyme, Italian-style seasoning, poultry seasoning, rosemary, salt and ground black pepper. Mix well and put in a heavy zipper bag along with your chicken breast pieces. Don’t let it go more than 5-6 hours for maximum flavor.

Song of the Day: The Secret of my Success – Night Ranger
Currently Reading: For Love of the Game – Michael Shaara

Quote of the Day:

Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon. Doug Larson