Scripting News for 7/17/2006

DaveNet and Scripting News in OPML in zip archives. 

Nick Bradbury on River of News. 

This Blaugh bit about a theoretical move by Microsoft to “own” RSS pointed to a domain that no one owned. A social experiment? For $8.99, I said WTF and grabbed it. 🙂 

One of the things I asked Senator Edwards to do at our meeting in Palo Alto in April, was for him to support BitTorrent with non-infringing applications. As you know, I’m a big believer in P2P distribution over the Internet, and we need more safe applications of BitTorrent. I’m told that they will put up their first BitTorrent application tomorrow. Honestly, I didn’t think they’d do it, historically the Democrats have been very close to Hollywood, and they’re scared of BitTorrent. If they actually do it, they deserve our thanks. 

Friday’s Ze Frank explains why bad design is so important. I couldn’t explain it better myself.  

My dance with Comcast 

There’s a lot of construction going on in my neighborhood, so from time to time someone accidentally cuts a wire that knocks out Internet service in my apartment building. When that happens, we go through a silent dance, a sort of virtual lottery — who’s the lucky S.O.B. who gets to call Comcast to report the outage.

You’d think in this modern age they could figure it out themselves, but they require one of their customers to call. So on Saturday, for the eighth time in less than a year, I called them and went through the miserable dance.

First I have to convince them it’s not the modem, because every time they’re absolutely sure it is my modem, even though the seven times before it wasn’t. I ask them to check the other customers in my building. It seems about four times out of five this really pisses them off, because I get a lecture about how I have to make an appointment, and give up a day of my time so they can have a repairman visit, why I don’t know. So I usually say goodbye at that point, and try again. More often than not the second person is sympathetic, and we test the other modems in the building and (surprise!) find out that either they all failed at exactly the same moment, or there’s some other problem that has nothing to do with the modems. Even so, before they’re willing to investigate, I have to make an appointment.

This time I tried a different strategy. I declined to make an appointment. I said that one of my neighbors would likely call in an hour or so, and they could make the appointment. I feel I’ve already made my contribution to Comcast today, as if they were a charity, by giving them an hour of my Saturday morning. That was all I could afford right now. So I went down the street to Starbucks to check my mail (I bet they don’t use Comcast) and when I came home, the Internet was back on. I’m left guessing whether or not it was a random event, or if they decided, while they were waiting for someone else in my building to call, to see if they could find the outage themselves, and reboot some router or whatever.

Now, Comcast has the best TV commercials. I’d pay them money to just keep producing the commercials. But I’d also pay them to get out of the Internet service business and let some other corrupt monopoly have a go.

8 responses to this post.

  1. I agree about that commercial. What’s amazing about it is I crack up every time I hear the wonderful little wimp sing “Lookin’ for a monkey, lookin’ in the highway.” Every single time.

    I have Comcast TV and internet too and I’ve had my beefs with them, but it’s now been a long time — maybe close to a year — that I haven’t had to call them about any kind of problem. One thing I do hate a lot: the inyourfaceness of the onDemand promo channel. OnDemand itself I now find I can’t live without.


  2. After the previous Comcast technician labeled the dedicated cable to my modem, both on the outside of the house and in the basement, so it wouldn’t be cut again, the cable was cut and my modem line was inexplicably added to another apartment’s line, on a three-way splitter.


  3. The Comcast dance is maddening. Once their technician concluded that I needed to get a new ethernet card for my laptop since the “4 green lights” on the modem signaled their service was OK (it wasn’t). Imagine if I didn’t know better.

    I wonder if there were ever be a telecom company I don’t hate.


  4. re: the “4 green lights”

    True story.

    Phone tech guy: How many lights do you see?

    Me: “THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS” (in my best Patrick Stewart voice)

    Phone tech guy: I don’t know what that means, but I’ve heard it before.


  5. Posted by heavyboots on July 17, 2006 at 9:26 am

    Comcast is slightly worse than Cox. But they’re both the same in that it’s always at your end.

    “When’s a good time to schedule an appointment? We’ll send someone out to check your line.”

    It’s equipment down the block, not me! A couple summers ago some piece of equipment started to go bad (or one of my neighbors started experiencing repeated DOS attacks) and it took two months for service to resume normally. During that time (usually when the humidity got high) I would go through periods of 98% packet loss to the device directly upstream from the modem. Of course, DSL is worse in my area so I’m stuck with cable at the moment.


  6. I haven’t checked out the terms of service yet, but Comcast has a commercial offering with a sales office in Livermore. I know if the service goes out, at least I have a named contact to call.


  7. Posted by David Mercer on July 17, 2006 at 11:33 am

    I’ll second the ‘comcast is slightly worse than cox’ feelings above. I moved from Cox to Comcast territory (Tucson -> Oakland) in February, and I thank whatever diety there may be that I haven’t had to interact with Comcast more than the few times I have. At least Cox has systems to detect when there is a group outage, which from your (and others’) tales Comcast lacks.

    Getting Comcast to cancel my TV service and remain just an Internet customer was quite a feat. They do indeed seem to not value their customers time at all. If the dsl in my neighborhood was anywhere as fast as Comcast, I’d have been gone already.


  8. […] And here I was all prepped to take the blame for this failure, too. […]


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