Google Fiber
Apr 14th, 2016 by Ken Hagler

My apartment got Google Fiber yesterday, so I got it set up last night and cancelled my Time Warner internet service today. I get twenty times the bandwidth for $50 less per month. Google also allows their customers to plug in the box themselves instead of making them wait at home all day for an “installer” as cable companies do, and they even let people pick up the box from their office if they wish. That was a particularly nice touch, as I live just a few blocks away and normally walk past it a few times per week.

In addition to getting an Internet connection just as fast as my gigabit Ethernet wired network, I get about a 166 megabits per second over WiFi, which my AppleTV uses. The difference is pretty noticeable with Netflix and YouTube.

There is one aspect that could use improvement. The Google Fiber network box doesn’t have a bridge mode, which means I couldn’t use my old router. That required a certain amount of hassle with updating things on my network.

Clueless Cable Company
Nov 1st, 2014 by Ken Hagler

Yesterday around noon I signed out of my company VPN and fired up my VOIP software for a telephone meeting, only to find that the software (Jitsi) was unable to log in to my SIP account. A quick hardware check showed that no cables were loose and the indicator lights on my cable modem and router showed normal operation, so I launched Safari thinking I’d check my router’s admin console to see if I could find the problem.

Instead, I got a “notice” from Time Warner Cable telling me they were planning to improve the speed of their service in the near future. I had to acknowledge the notice, and after a lengthy pause (to make sure I saw it, apparently), it disappeared and everything was working normally again. The morons had actually highjacked my Internet connection just for that! I’m quite certain this was their idea of a sensible response to the impending arrival of Google Fiber in my area.

Clearly cable companies have no idea how to handle competition when they can’t just bribe politicians to give them a monopoly. I’m certainly signing up for Google Fiber the moment I can do so, and while it’s certainly nice that their service is much faster than what I get from Time Warner Cable, the fact is that I would still switch even if their service was the same speed, just to get away from a company run by idiots who think that interfering with my connectivity like that was a good idea.

Why cable TV no longer makes sense
May 6th, 2014 by Ken Hagler

On average, Americans get 189 cable TV channels and only watch 17. In a blog post on Tuesday, Nielsen reported that on average, US homes receive 189.1 TV channels, but viewers only watch 17.5 of those channels. [Ars Technica]

The average I watched was maybe three. That’s why when I moved I dropped a cable TV subscription in favor of buying an Apple TV. It’s much cheaper to buy just the shows I’m actually interested in via iTunes.

Monopolies can do strange things
Oct 26th, 2012 by Ken Hagler

When you’re protected by a government-granted monopoly you can get away with doing some really strange things. Case in point: when I called Time Warner Cable to arrange for my cable service to be moved, they started out being very helpful and saying that would be easy. Then when I told them the new address was in Austin, suddenly they said they couldn’t transfer service outside of California. I had to disconnect my service, then call up the number for Time Warner in Texas (which the California representative didn’t know) and set up “new” service there–even though I’m just getting the exact same cable modem service I already have.

For added strangeness, I have to take the equipment in my apartment (a cable modem and cable TV box) to their nearest store or I’ll be charged “equipment fees.” Strange, they seemed perfectly willing to carry those boxes out to my apartment when I was setting the service up.

Amusing sales pitch
Jun 24th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

While trying to get my cable modem speed upgraded, the cable company salesman tried to pitch me their home phone service for $30/month. When I pointed out that I’m currently paying $5/month for Skype, he said that their home phone service wasn’t VoIP, so it would work when the Internet connection was out. In other words, I should pay six times as much for their service because the other service they’re already providing is so unreliable. I guess cable service salesman is one job that requires a good sense of humor.

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