Sunday, August 15, 2010

Living Without Cable

Thursday there were storms and cable service got knocked out for our whole neighborhood. There are times when Comcast delivers an inconsistent product, you might say, so I was not entirely surprised to find the Internet inaccessible. But this time there was no television, either. We had power, lights were on, but no TV or Internet.

Friday afternoon we were still without service and I called them. They confirmed that were was a big outage, and that they were working on it. Friday evening I drove around the neighborhood to see if there were any trucks. You know the answer to that one, there was nothing within a half mile of my house.

I confess, normally when we lose our service I jump onto a neighbor's wireless network and use that. It's not as good, the signal is weaker, I'm not even sure if it's legal but at least I can check my email and stuff. This week, the neighbors were cut off, too. So a couple of times a day I went to MacDonald's and caught up using their wireless service.

I didn't miss the television, to tell you the truth. I don't watch it much. I recently bought a couple of books by Charles Bukowski and have been sitting around reading. There are also lots of things I can do on the computer that do not require the Internet, papers I'm working on, stuff for work, stuff for the band.

It wasn't that bad being cut off from the world. It was just like it used to be, in most ways. The one thing I did miss was being able to Google up any piece of information at any moment. Instead of knowledge we now have information, did you notice? Somebody asks, who was that guy who played Gomez in the Addams Family, and nobody can remember, that's a three-second Google job. Without Google, you just shrug and talk about something else. They call this the "flattening of knowledge," people may have broad knowledge of everything from quantum entanglement to some actor's bizarre fetish, without understanding anything or knowing anything in depth. Our world comes in bite-sized packages, that's just how it is, and without TV and Internet you have to chew it yourself. And some of it is kind of tough.

Saturday morning I saw a Comcast truck stopped at the corner, so I went out and talked to the guy. He said the whole neighborhood had no service, and he was working on it. Then he drove away.

One good thing about Comcast, there is almost no wait-time when you call now. One other thing, the people who answer the phone don't seem to have had any training. I got every kind of answer from them, and received every kind of treatment from respect and empathy to sarcasm. They can't tell you what the problem is, what's being done about it, how many people are affected, or how long it will be before your service is restored. One day they said service had been eighty-eight percent restored in this area, and the next day they said it had been fifty percent restored, like maybe they make up the numbers or something, do you think?

This morning I looked out and there was a Comcast truck parked beside a pole across the street, with a cherry-picker going up. I went out and talked to the guy. He looked tired. He was looking for the problem. After a while he drove around the corner and went up on the next pole. Then another truck came, and they worked on the two poles. I had the TV turned on so we would know if we had service, and suddenly we heard voices from the living room. I looked at the router, and the red light had stopped blinking. It came and went a couple of times, and now everything is working again.

Once they got here, the problem was diagnosed and fixed within an hour. I have to wonder why it would take three days to get a guy here to look at our problem.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"who was that guy who played Gomez in the Addams Family,"

John Astin, former spouse of Patty Duke, is currently heading the drama department at Johns Hopkins.

His son, Sean, played Sam Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

August 16, 2010 8:32 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Did you know that, or did you look it up?


August 16, 2010 8:44 AM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

Our Comcast complaint: We have been without any service since Thursday. When I called, I got the same sort of answers Jim got. This morning, my wife called and, after getting the same answers, she noted that people in our immediate neighborhood DID have service (something we did not know over the weekend). The nice person on the other end of the phone then said he would check, and a few moments later informed us that our neighborhood WAS ok, and that there must be a problem just specific to our house. Of course, with the backlogs, no one will be able to fix it until tomorrow.

Comcast ought to instruct its phone people -- all of whom have been very nice -- to check particular locales, rather than giving generalized answers. It seems pretty clear that the information is available to them. This experience is making me think about Verizon. (I missed Donovan McNabb's debut on Saturday night. Rats.)

Insult to injury department: I had planned to do work at home this weekend, via remote access. But since our internet was down, I could not do it, so I went downtown to my office. That worked out fine on Saturday, but then on Sunday, I discovered that my connections at work were out of order -- apparently due to the proximity of my office to the W Hotel fire. Arrgh!

August 16, 2010 11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew all the John Astin facts, although I checked before posting to make sure he was still at Hopkins.

David, got home from a week and a half at the beach lat night and all our Verizon stuff was out: cable, phone, internet. (Bizarrely, the DVR still taped shows but we couldn't watch cable realtime.) They won't come to see us until Thursday.

August 17, 2010 10:42 AM  

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