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Screw Technology, Give me a Horse and a Dog!

That was my dads philosophy, and it did pretty well for him.  He was the son of a Chicago industrialist brought up on a Montana cattle ranch, and preferred spending his summers as a fire spotter for the forest service to the hustle and bustle of the big city.  An accomplished chemist with his own business, he was still more comfortable in a pair of button fly Levis than one of his three piece brooks brothers suits.

Recently my wife decided that we needed a blue ray player to stream our Netflix movies.  Im not quite sure why the little red envelopes we get in the mail twice a week aren’t good enough, but it might have something to do with the scratched ones we get every now and then that we can’t watch.  I prefer sports and with our Comcast deluxe pimp package I get just about every channel and game there is.

I decided to order an LG entry level player($89) for her Christmas present.  Getting around to hooking it up I noticed that it is a hardwire only version.  I ask tech support at LG what to do, and they tell me to get a router.  I asked Comcast what to do and they told me the same.  I told the girl at Radio Shack exactly what I needed and she sold me a router for another $84.  Coming home I tried to set all of this up and although there was internet connectivity at my desk, and my computer recognized the router, it kept saying “no internet connectivity.”  Being an internet marketer, and social media buff, I knew it was not anything to do with my internet setup.  This is where the real fun begins.

I called Comcast because they are my internet provider, and TV cable provider.  One might assume that they could help me with this issue.  Being that the router I bought was at their suggestion (if I understood the barely intelligible tech support non-english speaking person) and I was not familiar with setup steps.  After explaining that I was following their direction to several other not native English speakers, it was related that my issue would require being transferred to the “extended tech support service” that was offered by Xfinity.  This is now a half hour into my third call. Xfinity has a menu stating that if you wish to discuss a plan with a sales person press 2….  I did not wish a sales person so I did not and my call was dropped after a half hours wait.  On the next call it was obvious that the sales person was the only route available, so #2 was pressed.  The line was answered by an obviously bored but seemingly intelligent person that actually was able to communicate in the language of the country that I was calling from. That seemed nice so I explained again (for the fifth time) what it was that I was trying to get accomplished.  She understood and assured me that if I bought a service plan from them a tech support specialist would get on my computer and effortlessly correct all of my mistakes miraculously rendering my blue ray television stream operational.

After one minute the little badger was making noises like they had misunderstood my requirement and could not really help me, but he kept asking questions and extending his time like he was attempting to justify charging me for his time.  After a half hour of bull, he had me out in the livingroom looking at screens and configurations, the wonderful line I have on my iPhone from ATT went dead and I lost him.

Having left him my phone number (God forbid the spam calls I will be getting now) I waited for his callback.  AT&T was not cooperating and it was 3 minutes before I got a signal back at my home (near downtown of a major city).  I called back and finally got an older gentleman who had some actual knowledge of the technology and to whom English was his native language.  He listened for about 30 seconds and said “you can’t do that.”  So after 8 phone calls, one router, one service contract and Blue Ray that  wont work, I’m back to square one.  I get to spend the whole next day trying to get all of my money back.

Moving forward, I noticed on my Netgear swag that they have a “Wireless solution tho make your tv a smart one.  Wanting still to get my wife her movies, I order the damn thing only to read the reviews and find out it doesn’t have a great reputation on for linking to Net.flix.  On further review, it also doesnt have an interface that will hook up to my older (6 whole years) television.  Now I get to try to cancel or return that freeking thing too.

I am now ready to yank the freeking home entertainment center out of the living room and replace it with a fire circle.  We have room for a few granite boulders and some sand, and I can take the furniture out and replace it with larger granite boulders to sit on.  Id have to cut a large vent in the ceiling, which might be problematic during the rainstorms we apparently are not going to have this year, but what the heck.

How did we ever manage to entertain ourselves without constant input from electronic devices.  Did we actually have to talk with each other rather than texting across the table?  When I went camping with my kids for some 20 years we often didn’t even bring a boom box.  What happened to sitting around the dinner table with the family and talking? Being an internet marketer and social media “expert”  I spend 9 hours a day staring into this freeking screen, but when my girls are over we talk for a couple of hours and they are off to the next spot to text from.

Give me a horse and a dog.

 

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Stop Comcast from blocking Netflix

It’s as brazen as it is outrageous. At the very same time that the FCC is deliberating the fate of our open Internet, cable giant Comcast threatened to block Netflix from delivering streaming movies to Comcast’s own broadband customers.

Without strong net neutrality rules, companies like Comcast can demand fees from innovative companies like Netflix in an attempt to choke consumer freedom and coerce users to adopt its own video services instead.

Tell the FCC: Don’t let Comcast block Netflix. Support the strong net neutrality protections President Obama promised during his campaign.

Comcast only relented after it was able to extort a fee from the company that supports Netflix’s movie streaming service, Level 3. According to the AP, 3 asserts “the fee violates the principles of an ‘open Internet.’ It also goes against the Federal Communications Commission‘s proposed rules preventing broadband Internet providers from favoring certain types of traffic.” 1

It’s a critical time to speak out about this. After stalling for months, the FCC is poised to exercise its power and issue net neutrality regulations at a meeting scheduled for December 21. We expect FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to release his draft plan for protecting an open Internet in advance of that meeting — as early as this week.

There is only one Internet, and consumers should be allowed to access any legal website, service or application on any device of their choosing (whether they’re accessing the Internet wirelessly or not). Furthermore, broadband providers cannot be allowed to employ paid prioritization schemes to give favored network access to some websites or services over others. And finally, the rules must define the terms in a way that avoids the huge loopholes favored by industry and rests on sufficient legal basis.

Tell the FCC: The big cable companies and telecoms will destroy our open Internet if you do not regulate strong net neutrality protections.

Clearly the big telecom and cable companies feel confident that the FCC will bend to their will, rather than protect consumers and preserve our open Internet. What makes Comcast’s behavior even more outrageous is that in addition to the FCC’s pending decision on net neutrality, it also must rule on Comcast’s bid to buy NBC. Without tough and binding FCC rules, will Comcast ensure that NBC content is available online to its subscribers, but video streams from other channels download at a slower rate or not at all?

This is about more than getting movies via Netflix instead of Comcast. It’s about the ability of media monopolies to decide what information we can access via the Internet. Will Fox News stories be carried in the fast lane while Democracy Now! is relegated to slow lane or perhaps blocked altogether?

 President Obama campaigned on a platform that included strong net neutrality provisions. It’s time for his FCC to deliver.

1 “Web delivery firm says Comcast taking toll on data,” Associated Press, November 29, 2010.

 

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