How to speak Comcastian

Man, I wish I found this back when I had troubles with Comcast.

I couldn’t tell you the aggravation I’ve experienced with the fucking morons working at the customer tech support department for issues I needed which eventually got to a network tech. The senior or networking individuals however, are a completely breed of folks because the ones I dealt with were usually quite experienced and extremely friendly. The trouble is getting past the initial ignorant and usually rude schmucks (who think themselves as the gurus of all IT knowledge) reading from a script and manual and on to someone of a higher caliber. The most recent troubles involved some horrible packet loss on our connection. After a fair bit of detective work, we figured it was from a shotty connection from our cable modem to one of the next hops on our network (which did not have to do anything with our cable line itself). So, many months ago we called up Comcast support with our problem and we explicitly tell them the problem is *not* with the cable line, but in their network center. So, the thick-accented Indian fellow decides that the proper solution was to send out a cable tech to diagnose our line. Turns out our line was fine (what a surprise) and the tech says it’s not the line so he promptly leaves to go masturbate in his van before his next gig.

In all fairness to the cable tech though, there was a fairly attractive Mexican girl who lived downstairs and according to the chickie, she enjoyed hanging around without underwear on while wearing short skirts.

So we placed a call into Comcast again letting them know that we were correct and there was no problem with the cable line, yet we had a internet connection that was dropping between 25-45% of our packets. Which for a gamer, network admin and pr0n downloader was completely unacceptable… So, what does the next thick-accented Indian chap do to fix our problem? Why you guessed it, send out yet another cable line tech. So this goes on for about 2 or three more times over a period of a couple of months at which point my roommate and I had enough. I call up Comcast and just as the phone tech was about to say he was going to send out another cable tech, I stopped them and in the most berating fashion possible, I asked to speak with their supervisor. Supervisor comes on and I explain my situation to which she recommends:

Wait…

Wait for it…

Yes, a cable tech to diagnose our line!

I think I must have burst a blood vessel in my brain when I heard this. So, at this point (after wishing I had the Darth Vader grip of doom) I ask to speak with a networking person in as calm a manner possible. So 15 minutes later, I get one of the networking folks working in one of the local data centers I think. I proceed to explain our situation to the guy and he puts me on hold for a few moments as he goes to do his thing and test my connection. As it turned out there was a faulty network device somewhere on our network segment which the networking guy told me would be replaced within a few hours. Since then, our packet loss went back down to 0, the latency stayed at an all time low and Jada Fire and I became good friends yet again.

Anyway, if any of you tech-minded folks out there ever need to have a new modem purchased from a store enabled or are having some issues with your connection, the following advice from a stwrtpj on Slashdot is a breath of fresh air.

The key to working with Comcast is to have some basic technical knowledge of cable internet. Once you show you know the lingo and you know the basic technical aspects, you’ll either get the support person to “talk up” to your level immediately or switch you to someone that knows. Most support people have at least heard some of the terminology, usually enough to know if they’re in over their head and need to route you to someone else.

For example, if you buy your own modem, NEVER say “I need my new modem INSTALLED.” Say “I need my new modem PROVISIONED”. 95% of the support people will know right away what you need and won’t bother asking you about Windows and you’ll be online 15 minutes later.

Know how to get to the status page of your modem (usually http://192.168.100.1/ [192.168.100.1] but may vary depending on model). Know that your downstream signal needs to be between -10 and +10 dBmV. Know that your downstream SNR should be above 33. Know that your upstream power should be between +30 and +50 dBmV. When my signal dropped because of a splice in the line gone bad, I didn’t tell Comcast “my internet don’t work”, I told them, “my downstream power is -16, which is out-of-spec, I need a tech to take a look at this”. I had a tech out the very next morning and was back online by the afternoon.

Also, whenever you have a problem, BEFORE you call do the mantra of restarting your cable modem, router, and computer. Even if you know this will not fix the issue, do it. Then take the router out of the loop and do it all over again. Then when you call, tell them you did all this already. This will save time.

In all the times that I have had to call Comcast for technical issues, not once did the subject of Windows ever come up.

I suppose it may just work for any of the cable companies out there. Though from my personal experiences, Comcast is just one of the most horribly run cable companies out there. Luckily, I’m going back to Cablevision at my new place whom I have always had great dealings with.

Integrating service pack files in to base install

I was looking for ways to slim down some drive space on my laptop and found a very nifty procedure for merging Windows XP SP2 into my base install.

I’m not sure if I am the only person who does this out there, but out of habit, I keep a copy of the i386 directory for XP (or 2000 on my work machine) on the C drive. This way if I have to install something or remove some stuff, with a registry change:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\
SOFTWARE\
Microsoft\
Windows\
CurrentVersion\
Setup\
SourcePath :: Change to drive i386 is located

I can have XP just nab the files it needs rather than hunt down that pesky CD. I also keep an uncompressed copy of the Service Pack files on the same drive as well. So it turns out that is you simply go to the i386/update directory of the service pack and run this command:

update /integrate:X:[path]

Where X is the drive and [path] is the path leading go the i386 directory, the updater will update all of the files in there to Service Pack levels. ๐Ÿ™‚

So on my machine, I have the i386 folder right at the root of the C drive. The command I typed was:

update /integrate:C:

Thirty seconds later, I had a spiffy SP2 enabled base install of XP on my system freeing up a good 300mb of space.

If you also want, you can get rid of any Service Pack archives and uninstall files within the Windows directory as well. Doing that sloughed off a good 1.5gb on my laptop.

Of course if you want to try this out, make sure you backup anything important. Then again, most of you probably already know this little tip. ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, hazaa hazaa

Have you hugged your system administrator today? Well, sure that may seem a little odd, but today is System Administrator Appreciation Day and let me tell ya folks, I am sure glad a day like today exists. We’re a very underappreciated bunch ya know. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, if you’ve noticed that you’ve never really fallen prey to viruses at work. If you have noticed that you rarely have problems with your e-mail. If things are usually pretty smooth PC-wise at work, go up to your System/Network/E-Mail/LAN/Database/(Insert computer term) Administrator, say “Thanks” and/or shake their hand. If you’re so inclined, give them a hug (watch out for those silly lawsuits though). If you really want to show your appreciation, a nice present or free lunch (or dinner) always warms our hearts in that same way as getting those fresh new speedy servers to play with. ๐Ÿ™‚ To quote ThinkGeek:

Sysadmins – the backbone of the backbone of our new global reality. 21st century technological sorcerers you might say. Sysadmins are equally at home deftly maneuvering through tangled infestations of PBX and networking cables to find a faulty jack as they are battling against the latest, most vicious viruses that hit the email scene. They are veritable unsung server room heroes!

Sysadmins come in all shapes, sizes and varieties (though some might suggest there is a general tendency on the shape question to possess a bit of ‘mirth’ around the midriff). Moving along, it’s important for the good of the entire Universe to spend a few moments each day and grok your local Sysadmin. Economies and governments depend on it! Believe us, the only thing worse than neglecting your local Sysadmin is incuring his/her wrath. A Sysadmin with realized wrath distribution potential is even deadlier than hyper-killing ninja bunnies unleashed on a colony of legless mice on Valium. It’s just not pretty.

Oh yeah… Let me tell you about that wrath folks. We can be a very very mean bunch. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Holy storage Batman

I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I had some problems accessing my Yahoo! e-mail this morning. I just got back from a meeting to check my e-mail and I was presented with a page that informed me of the new services. Needless to say, I was shocked:

Welcome to the new and improved Yahoo! Mail Plus.

Thanks for being a loyal Yahoo! Mail user. We’ve made some great changes to Mail Plus, effective immediately! You’ll have all the features of your current Yahoo! Mail Plus account, and many more รขโ‚ฌโ€œ at no additional cost*!

Here’s even more to love about Yahoo! Mail Plus:

* No graphical ads
When you’re using the Mail web interface, your experience will be even more enjoyable.
* Streamlined interface
Makes using your mail even easier.
* Virtually unlimited storage
A whopping 2GB means you should never have to worry about managing storage again! Keep thousands of messages, photos, and documents รขโ‚ฌโ€œ think of it as your online archive.

So thanks again for choosing Yahoo! Mail Plus to keep in touch, and we hope you enjoy the additional services now at your fingertips. For more information, please visit our Help page.

Yes, I am one of those folks who paid for the Plus account and have generally been pretty impressed with the better service compared to the time when I was a free user. As of this moment, the service seems a little more sluggish than normal. However, it may be because of the new services available. I am very very happy that I do not have to see ads though. I couldn’t tell you the amount of times that an ad for dating or certain drugs has come up while my boss was near me.

As far as the extra storage space, I could personally care less about it because my account never went past 5mb of the 25mb limit I had in the first place. Now’ it’ll be 5mb of 2gb that gets used.