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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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