The Great Comcast Swindle

Discussion in 'Computer Science & Culture' started by Tiassa, Aug 20, 2014.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Last week my internet service collapsed. Around 2200 hours, the network went dark. No worries. After a couple days I learned that it would be back in no time. That is to say, sometime between 0300 and 0600.

    Naturally, I was furious. The thing is that I'm not the account holder, and don't walk around with the requisite information—e.g. other people's Social Security numbers—in my pocket.

    Eventually, I was informed by snail mail that Comcast was upgrading its service and we needed a new modem.

    And that was enough to improve my mood according to the, "That makes perfect sense!" standard.

    Unfortunately, the new modem came with incomplete instructions. No, literally, I figured that out while on the phone with the tech desk. The kind gentlemen kindly ran me through several steps that weren't in the instruction manual while insisting that they were. I nearly exploded all over him, but (A) I need internet access, and (B) there is a link to the instruction manual in the modem software. Unfortunately, you need internet access to get to that manual.

    Convenient.

    But we did get the thing running. And here's the result: You get a really good ping, with awesome download and pretty damn fine upload times. But that's all for naught. From the time you enter an address to the time it begins accessing that site, the circle spins for at least five seconds, which is considerably slower than the former modem. Additionally, while the Comcast speed test tells you your rates are awesome, your real rates are a trickle; once connected to a website that previously came up in under five seconds, you wait while the page assembles as if you were on an old 56k dial-up.

    The new modem is not compatible with my wireless router; it has a wireless router built in.

    Except that built-in wireless router sucks. With a wireless device sitting four fucking feet away from the modem, you might as well change careers. You could make a fortune as a bookie managing wagers on whether or not a device will actually reach the internet. In the last four hours, I have managed to access exactly three web pages. If this post goes through, that will be four.

    There is no wireless access outside my bedroom.

    This is what Comcast calls an "upgrade".

    Meanwhile, they are installing hotspots that have a malware capability of overriding your computer's settings. Every time I arrive at my brother's house, where my laptop is set to automatically log into his home network, the local Comcast hotspot overrides my autoconnect and forces me to logon to a weak hotspot; the computer represents the difference as 67-80% for the home network when I'm sitting on the back deck, versus 25-39% for the hotspot.

    In order to access the home network, I must actually delete the uninvited hotspot autoconnector. No, really. I have to erase the thing.

    And then it reinstalls the next time.

    It would seem that what Comcast is trying to do is force us off our home networks. If that's the case, they must necessarily have a business model for making even more money by then charging for the hotspot access. That is, the access that they are trying to force people to use by overriding their system settings.

    And, yes, it would seem this is legal. Comcast has the right to program your computer for you, so that you are bound to them.

    Even the wired computer takes forever to spin up the internet.

    Gosh. Thanks, Comcast.

    I mean, I understood when I found out the new modem was all I needed to fix the problem. Unfortunately, nobody at the office mentioned that fixing the problem meant wrecking internet access so badly that we're now searching for a new ISP.
     
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  3. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

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    The auto-login is part of his router actually... and yours - all Comcast gateways (the modem/router combo) have the xfinity wifi public network on by default, so anyone (and I mean anyone) with a Comcast account can use YOUR internet connection to do... whatever they damn well please.

    Your best bet is to simply log into the Comcast gateway, disable the wireless broadcast (and wireless entirely if you can) and change it's internal DNS to point to Googles DNS - 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 - comcast DNS sucks balls.

    Then, hardwire your wireless router to the comcast gateway, and bobs your uncle

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    And yeah... unfortunately, Comcast and Verizon seem to have enough money (and a large enough chunk of the market share) to sorta do whatever they damn well please... it's bullshit IMHO
     
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  5. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

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    Tiassa, is the foul thing an Arris gateway? Roadrunner just perpetrated the same sort of BS on me, and it took a month to get it squared away.
     
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  7. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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    Slow New Connections
    Slow load time might be due to your new modem having a different unique MAC address for the network connection. This means the IPa that was assigned to your previous connection would have changed and any traffic shaping based upon your surfing habits was likely lost with that previous IPa.

    So it will likely be slow to begin with as you got to a few website and it starts polling which your favourites are and where you download the most. You should find that certain websites will then start picking up speed through caching. (You can concern yourself about "what information is being tracked and by who" but you already probably know that answer with various revelation by whistleblowers/troublemakers)

    Roaming Logins (using someone elses wifi)

    The way those systems are usually setup is that a small amount of bandwidth is reserved for roaming connections by the general public, it's not suppose to affect your connection. (although if it's being operated through an Asyncronous connection it will have performance issues on your ping's, true Syncronous systems are expensive but if an ISP uses them it shouldn't cause ping problems)

    It's possible the modem upgrade was to apply a "syncronous" compatible device, if that is the case then disabling Wifi (while a smart security move) will likely not have any significant effect on your modem/routers connection speed.

    My Home Network
    Currently my network consists of my ISP's wireless router sitting about 45 meters away in a different building (it's my connection, it's just the cable company couldn't extend the connection via cable any further. I intend to cable the distance with CAT6 it in the near future)

    In any event it was a long range for any single computer to connect (or any other wifi related smart device), so I decided that I would rig up a Wifi bridge using a TP-Link 300Mbps Wireless N Access Point, I've then got old Cable Router plugged into that which is then connected to all my computers, consoles etc

    Using this sort of setup, I reduce all the problems with wireless collisions (when devices interfere with each other) since they all connect through that one wifi device. (However the area I am in is heavily polluted with neighbouring Wifi setups.) The drawback of course is that my connection has more "hops" than someone connecting directly to their modem, although I have the capacity to run 2-3 different firewalls. (It's important to make sure you use the 802.11 spanning tree's when dealing with multiple hops otherwise you can end up with a network performance degrading to data falling into a blackhole of undelivered packets.)
     
  8. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    I feel your pain but I remember when they made you change your TV sets so that the new companies would be able to hook you up to their "plan". Old TV sets wouldn't receive the digital signals of the new TV companies and therefore no more "free" TV. That, to me, was one of the worst times I ever had to deal with for I had just bought a 65 inch Mitsubishi rear screen projection TV just before all that went down. That was an expensive lesson and I'll never forget it either. While I could use an adaptor to view the old TV companies I couldn't view any of the new cable ones.
     
  9. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    So, dump Comcast and get Clear. I get wireless internet AND a free mobile internet USB stick for $40 a month.
     
  10. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    So Much for Brief

    Brief Notes (including extraneous annotation for those so inclined)

    (1) The gateway is SMC D3GNV.

    (2) I am now encouraging the homeowner to dump Comcast. The challenge here is that it is bundled with our cable television and a telephone land line we don't use, but are required to have in order to get internet "service" and cable television signal delivery.

    (3) I would agree that Comcast, Verizon, and a couple other companies like Clink[sup]†[/sup] can pretty much do whatever they want and expect to get away with it. There's a great line somewhere in Good Omens, by Gaiman and Pratchett, about the "warranty" on a microcomputer so viciously written that the demon Crowley sent a copy of it down to his bosses in the netherworld, with a handwritten note telling them to learn from the example. It included a statement to the effect that you can't complain, and should feel damn lucky if the product you just bought is even in the box. And I'm pretty sure that if we review the boilerplate customer contracts carefully enough, we can find a similar clause, that despite giving a company money in exchange for services, we have no right to expect actual service delivery.

    (4) We expect that this weekend we will have enough of a brain trust gathered (two or three brains with technical experience or, in one case, training) to devise and implement the necessary solutions to help the homeowner bolster the argument for staying with Comcast because it's such a pain in the ass to change service providers with no guarantee of improved service. In other words. Even still, I'm not looking forward to the lecture on how easy it is to overcome the router difficulty without documentation; that lecture will come from an associate who actually works in the tech industry writing user documentation for the various products and solutions his employers provide. It's a pain to sit through, but whatever. My associate, actually a family member, does not seem to comprehend the concept that people should not need to be career techies or computer scientists in order to achieve the basic functions of a (cough!) "plug and play" technological world.

    (5) I also wrote the topic post in the middle of a temper tantrum; what was slaying me at the time was having spent hours getting this thing working when, in fact, the documentation did not tell me I could not without outside help. In other words, I did everything okay, according to the instructions given. What the instructions omitted is that after the modem is in place and functioning, it must be polled externally before it can access the internet. So what happens is you reach point "2E" in the instructions—

    E. Test your Internet connection on your Wi-Fi device

    Open a web browser (i.e. Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, Firefox), and try to access a site, such as www.xfinity.com.

    —and nothing happens. The troubleshooting advice is to simply repeat the steps that aren't working, as if fulfilling a functional definition of insanity is somehow a sane idea.

    The problem is that what they give users is not the actual user installation guide, but the supplemental wifi quick start. I'm pretty sure the helpdesk tech heard me choke on his words when he said it was in the manual, and I'm pretty sure he figured out that part of the problem when I started reading back the instructions to him and he quietly realized we were working from two different documents; he was never rude, did excellent work, and was likely embarrassed when he realized that I didn't actually have the necessary documentation because the company didn't issue it. Because after I started reading the instructions back to him, he didn't return to the line about this or that supposedly being in the manual. Everything was actually set up correctly, physically. We just lacked the information that what we needed was to be pinged specifically from Comcast, and then here's the kicker (colloquially literally)—once we were done, he needed to kick me over to the telephone desk so that they could ping the phone line, also required in order for the service to work. Hours spent working on this, and then we get it running, and then my internet access goes dark and stays that way until this morning. The fact that I could actually reach Sciforums at all, make it to the CS&C subforum, attain the new thread page, and actually post the topic post was the most successful network venture I had achieved since, technically, the day before. (Mid-evening until three in the morning.) Okay, this particular note isn't brief, but I guess the vaguely amusing and overlong footnote at the end shouldn't stick out as the largest portion of the post.

    (6) The helpdesk tech accidentally made a false promise; when I described the service outages apparently related to pulling large portions of the network for software upgrade, he agreed and actually said that wouldn't happen once the new modem was up and running. Unfortunately, that appears a false statement. But, hey, he's the front line, and didn't even know his employers were generating these frustrated and frustrating calls by withholding necessary documentation. Nearest I can figure is they were hoping to generate paid service calls.

    (7) Sadly, we have at least four major service providers up here—Comcast, Frontier, Clear, and Clink—and they all would better serve the world by flatbacking for a living. They're very nearly as awful as Belmark Homes, who built my mother's house. Every routine service contractor who comes to that community is horrified by what he finds; everything is substandard. These places should not have passed inspection. Hell, they're actually illegally built[sup]‡[/sup]. Regarding point (3) above, not only do I agree with my colleague about the tech firms, it would seem that pretty much any company large enough to complain about job losses incurred by responsible behavior can do whatever the hell it wants.

    (8) Remember, though: Corporate accountability and the requirement of fulfilling its service contracts are bad for the economy. This is why Comcast and so many other companies get away with these ridiculous confidence swindles.
    ___________________

    Notes:

    [sup]†[/sup] While it seems somewhat obvious to me at first sight, I am uncertain whether or not the custom has emerged outside the Puget Sound area. We have called the current stadium used by the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders FC by many colloquial names over the years, though I'm the only one I know who has pretty much always called the place, "The Clam"; and, yes, that's a foul joke about vaginas based on a hilarious topview concept drawing that showed a stadium settled in landscaping, complete with well-placed shrubbery, resembling a pornographic view of female anatomy. The (ahem!) "crowning jewel" came when someone finally got team ownership and the local officials in charge of this obscene public-private (ahem!) "partnership" (rejected by voters, implemented by the legislature, anyway) to notice that the facility, already being built, could not generate enough capacity under any circumstances to host a Super Bowl. A solution was engineereed in rather quite impressive time. Visible as a clock tower from the outside, they added end-zone cheap seats, open-air bleachers that many fans consider an honor. To add this to the pornographic-looking artist's concept resembling a vagina with trimmed pubic hair actually added the missing clitoris. To the other, the landscaping is different; mons pubis is actually a parking lot instead of a shrubbery.

    At any rate, I tell that story because it's hilarious, and I can still refer to the stadium by that profane nickname, and while I'm the only one I know who uses it, even strangers know what "The Clam" means, though many would assign the term for the fact that the stadium was, originally, supposed to look something like a clamshell open to the sky. It is, of course, fair to note that the stadium, as built, doesn't actually look like that. It was just a freaking hilarious moment in an otherwise morbid local political controversy.

    The stadium opened as Qwest Field, a name we all loathed nearly as much as SAFECO Field. (SAFECO bought naming rights for twenty years, blowing a hundred twenty million or so off their bottom line, and then suspended their employees' annual bonuses, which were merited by their performance numbers, because the executives spent the cash and busted up the numbers; not only did the executives give themselves bonuses, but as I recall they also decided to give themselves raises for being so goddamn cool. Even though SAFECO is now subsumed under Liberty Mutual—the same executives who bought naming rights also bought another insurance company, refused to reconcile the rates because it might cost them customers, and the resulting hemmorhage wrecked the company—we're stuck with the name, so we all just call it by the obvious nickname, "The Safe".) So a lot of people just called it "Seahawk Stadium", and "The Clam" seems to be a colloquialism that people get immediately even if they don't actually use the term in either context.

    Qwest is no more. They were bought by another company, just in time for the new owners to put their name on the stadium and watch the Seahawks begin their gobsmacking run that would lead to the Super Bowl. We loathe the name, though. Century Link Field is even worse than Qwest Field. But it does offer us an obvious nickname. The C'Link, or Clink. It's obvious, I've heard it used once in the national broadacsts, and it even has a bit of a menacing sound. And it makes for a much nicer and more accurate name for Century Link, the wholly inadequate telecom company.

    As I said, I don't know how far or deeply the custom has rooted outside the Puget Sound area, and it really isn't that important, but I adore the clam story because, yes, we really are that f'd up up here some days, which actually makes loving the community one has always called home a little less of an exercise in masochism. Really, we're all messed up, but at least up here we're messed up in a generally fun way. Well, except for the cops. They're a lethal threat to everyone in the state, which is f'd up in a terrible way, but that really is beside the point.

    [sup]‡[/sup] My favorite is the gas-heated on-demand hot water system. The technician arrived, set about his job, and two minutes later came to my mother, scratching his head, looking sheepish. "Where is it?" he asked, fearing he was the dumbest service technician on the planet. "Upstairs, in the closet of the second bedroom." You would have thought I just murdered his child in front of him. Not that he had children that I know of. Have no idea how old he actually was, but he looked about fifteen. Everything about the location I described to him is a building code violation. And it turns out the subcontractor might possibly have installed "refurbished" gear instead of new, and that had not yet gone through the refurbishing process. My second favorite is going on right now, as it will result in a stupid assessment for homeowners to pay. The subcontractor who installed the automatic sprinkler system did so wrongly, with the result that it doesn't work anywhere in the community. I happened to be walking into my mother's house when an agent of the newly-hired contractor intending to fix the system stood in a neighbor's front yard, talking to his boss. It was the most desperate conversation I have heard in a long time. His boss, as near as I could tell from this end of the conversation, could not comprehend what his employee was seeing, as the employee repeatedly iterated versions of, "Well, yeah, I know. But I'm actually looking at it right now." He was struggling to remain calm in the face of his boss' apparent disbelief. The actual problem: The original subcontractor did not appropriately seal the connections in the system, with the result that pipes came apart underground, and now the entire system is fouled with sand and gravel, and more water is lost to the breaches than actually makes it through the system. Again, add the clause, "Consider yourself damn lucky if the product we provide works, or is even there at all." Not that it would be stated so explicitly, but there has to be a reason—aside from corporate accountability being bad for the economy—nobody is serving prison time for these frauds perpetrated.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2014
  11. Balerion Banned Banned

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    Ugh. They're buying Time Warner, which means my service will get even worse, somehow, and they'll data cap me.
     
  12. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    18,835
    You can still get free TV; they are just digital channels instead of analog ones. Here in San Diego we have 37 over the air channels.

    Well, you never could view cable-only without cable.
     
  13. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    36,471
    Something, or Maybe Something Else ....

    Either the news got a little better, or I'm missing a really obvious headline.

    The FOXA deal to acquire TWX was withdrawn August 5. The stock is in the sort of chaos that has FBR Cap. Markets lowering its price target to $85.00 and rating TWX outperform; Zacks targeting $77.00 and rating neutral; Wunderlich raised its price target twelve percent to $93.00 (in 2015) and call the stock a buy, also noting word that the Warner Bros. arm of TWX might be preparing to purchase XES, which would by this outlook be "merged with Machinima, the video game/user generated content oriented YouTube network that is partly owned by Warner Brothers", which would put the Halo property in TWX's hands; Topeka Capital Markets reiterated its sell rating on TWX. And it turns out earnings beat estimates be sixteen and two-thirds percent, which isn't bad for a company that is supposed to be coming apart at the seams, and has a $0.3175/share dividend slated for disbursement on September 15.

    The above I'm just taking from the latest edition of a newsletter I've never heard of; Robbie Landis is simply summarizing the ratings news pertaining to TWX for a site called InterCooler. As we're aware, I'm hardly a proper financial analyst; to wit, I have no idea why one would issue a ratings summary on Wednesday, but I can also imagine it has something to do with the actual business cycle, because otherwise I would have presumed reports on Friday afternoon or, in these days of increased after-hours trading, Saturday morning. I would also look to the Motley Fool; while the weirdness going on with HBO drew a lot of buzz over the last couple days, Tim Beyer reflected Tuesday on how the situation appears to help TWX:

    Before we get into specifics, it's important to remember that today's version of Time Warner stock is different from the one I purchased in 2011. That stock was burdened with quarter after quarter of declining growth in the publications division. Revenue fell 2.4% in 2013, leading to a 19.8% year-over-year decline in operating income.

    Now, Time, Inc. is an independent company, just like another former subsidiary: Time Warner Cable. Cashing in on its best properties has become easier for the newly unburdened entertainment group. In Q2, for example, adjusted operating income rose 17%, in part due to a 23% jump in adjusted profit at HBO.

    The "new" Time Warner reports results from three primary segments: Turner and related cable TV properties, HBO, and Warner Bros. Profit gains in each helped push Time Warner stock up 26% over the past year, and within spitting distance of new highs. What catalysts can investors expect over the next 12 months? Here are three that stand out ....

    All of which is not to lecture any damn thing about TWX, but simply to reiterate that I might be missing a really obvious headline: I cannot find, in the wake of the FOXA withdrawal, any headlines or analysis of a new purchase offer or potential courtship.

    Which means you might be lucky enough to stick with service that merely sucks.

    Good luck on that.

    Or else I'm missing a really obvious headline, which would be embarrassing, but my relationship with financial and investment news is a curious one; I'm not a terrible predictor by any means, but not nearly as good as I can be with more political aspects of society, which in business news has more to do with executive chess than the investment markets. But I have no reliable method to justify those sorts of analyses. And in all that, yes, it's true I can miss a headline or lede that should stand out like God's Final Message to His Creation. All of this is a disclaimer against the potentially inevitable embarrassment.

    Either you're getting "lucky" insofar as you get to stay with the back alley suck service your carrier provides instead of getting even worse, or I'm missing something really, really, absolutely embarrassingly obvious.

    To the other, inevitability has me calmer about the rolling blackouts of internet service in my area; maybe I'm just weary of giving Comcast so much attention.

    Sigh.

    On a side note, I was talking to my father a couple weeks ago about how awful his internet service is; he currently has one carrier available, and adjacent landowners have not come together yet to agree to allow the competitor, Wave Broadband, to build the necessary physical infrastructure. I get Wave's point; economics of scale are prohibitive until the committed customer base is available. As a result, he's stuck with Clink. And so we were running through the various headlines about the internet sector as I tried to answer his questions about why Clink sucks so badly, and at some point he said something that you and I might hear regularly, but is unusual for him insofar as he has literally tuned out of the outside news. If I happen to talk to him today, it is all but a guarantee that he would have no idea what I was talking about if I said, "Ferguson, Missouri". And he doesn't mind being out of the loop; in fact, he prefers it. Which is why it stands out so much in my mind that the former Reagan capitalist and Perotnoiac said, "What I don't get is why the internet—it seems so vital to the economic infrastructure—isn't a utility."

    The point on this occasion simply being that it would seem things are bad enough that this issue, which actually comes in a different context—net neutrality—when it penetrates my sphere is self-evident to this guy, who is hardly unintelligent, but who is by choice estranged from the news, and who in my youth disdained public utilities as an offense to the private sector, and therefore the economy, and therefore our society, because it was just too communist. Then again, he's hardly a hardliner on those issues anymore. I think he doesn't realize he's become some mix of seemingly contradictory elements (inevitable socialism, necessary libertarianism, and some context of a small "d" democrat) that is, in fact, rather quite enlightening to explore, especially in terms of the contrast and transformation. But even to him, it stands out as virtually self-evident that something is terribly amiss with how the internet works these days.
    ____________________

    Notes:

    Anderson, Kyle. "Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) Stock Plummets as Fox Deal Falls Through". Money Morning. August 6, 2014. MoneyMorning.com. August 21, 2014. http://moneymorning.com/2014/08/06/...twx-stock-plummets-as-fox-deal-falls-through/

    Landis, Robbie. "Weekly Research Analysts' Ratings Changes for Time Warner (TWX)". InterCooler. August 20, 2014. InterCoolerOnline.com. August 21, 2014. http://www.intercooleronline.com/st...ts-ratings-changes-for-time-warner-twx/68063/

    Beyers, Tim. "3 Reasons Time Warner's Stock Could Rise". The Motley Fool. August 19, 2014. Fool.com. August 21, 2014. http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/08/19/3-reasons-time-warners-stock-could-rise.aspx
     
  14. Balerion Banned Banned

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  15. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Indeed ...

    ... I stand corrected.

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    Plus, I just got this from a friend via FB.
     

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