Saturday, June 25, 2011

(RSS) Feed Me, Seymour

sonovista, my friends! if you're one of the few who has bookmarked the Schnauzer Logic podcast feed in your regular podcast player (XML Feed) you may have noticed that a new file showed up this morning with the title "(not) Episode 82". this is a test run of a bunch of new studio hardware and software. gone is the old Mac Quad G5 and the original G4 Cube, both of which have been replaced by a single Mac Mini and a Behringer USB Digital Audio I/O box. the result is a show that uses about 1/10th of the actual power (watts), allowing us to join the ranks of GREEN podcasters, and also keep the studio much cooler.

for not having done a show for 14 months, i was actually surprised how easily i slipped back behind the microphone and into the role of fast-talking host. and it was fun!

the next step is figuring out whether we can get anyone to come back into the studio on a regular basis... John DeKoven has already said 'yes', and Jason is most likely a definite 'no' (due to his new job as West Coast Entertainment Reporter for ABC Radio Network News). and everyone else is an unknown at this point, but we'll see. its been a while since i did any kind of extended show by myself (and it requires a different kind of rhythm than doing a show with co-hosts). but '(not) 82' felt pretty comfortable, so a solo-run is certainly a possibility.

stay tuned

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

This is why Comcast/CableCARD Support is so Awful!!!

(UPDATED: June 22, 2011) sonovista, my friends!!! so today i received my new TiVo Premiere XL box and went about getting it all set up... now this is my 4th TiVo to use a CableCARD (the thing you need so a TiVo can get subscription and premium channels) and i know that in order for it to work on Comcast here in northern california, the card needs to be both Activated (connected to my account) and Paired (a second-level encryption scheme used to protect the HBO and Showtime-type-channels).

a post on the TiVoCommunity suggested it might be possible to bypass the challenges of getting a customer service representative to understand that a CableCARD is not a cable box, and that 'hitting it with a signal' isn't the same as "Pairing" it to set up the decryption chain, but after 3 attempts at, i gave up and decided to use their online chat service (as recommended on the activation page) - here is the transcript


Live Chat Status:
Analyst DiosdadoJr is here and your issue status is: working

user ROBIN has entered room

analyst DiosdadoJr has entered room

DiosdadoJr> Hello ROBIN_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is DiosdadoJr. Please give me one moment to review your information.

DiosdadoJr> Welcome to Comcast Self - Install Kit Activation support! It is a pleasure to have you on chat. I hope you haven't waited long to be assisted. How can I help you today?

ROBIN_> hi - i need to both Activate and Pair a cablecard for my new TiVo - i tried using the online tool a couple of times, but it doesn't seem to be working (i still don't get any premium channels or a lot of other channels as well)

DiosdadoJr> It would be my pleasure to assist you in activating your service from my end and make sure that it is working fine before we end the chat session.

ROBIN_> thanks!

ROBIN_> i'm on the cablecard activation screen - what info do you need from me?


DiosdadoJr> "Let me pull up your account first. Can you please verify if this information that you entered prior to the start of the chat is correct: Customer's Name: ROBIN GOLDSTEIN Account Number:xxxxxxxxxxxx

ROBIN_> yes

DiosdadoJr> Thank you. While I pull up your account, may I have the make and model of the the cable box as well as its serial number?

ROBIN_> its not a cable box, its a TiVo Premiere

ROBIN_> so its a cablecard, not a box

ROBIN_> do you have experience with activating -and- pairing a cablecard?

DiosdadoJr> Yes I have Robin.

ROBIN_> excellent!!!

ROBIN_> it can be confusing if you've never done it before...

DiosdadoJr> Can I have the customer s/n # of the cable card?

ROBIN_> the Card S/N is xxxxxxxxxxxx


DiosdadoJr> Robin just to confirm from your end is this an additional cable card or will this replace another cable card?

ROBIN_> additional cable card for a new tivo box


ROBIN_> still there?

DiosdadoJr> Yes Robin I'm still here. I'm in the process of activating the cable card on my end.

ROBIN_> thanks


DiosdadoJr> I will now take the neccessary steps to activate the cable card Robin.

ROBIN_> thanks!


DiosdadoJr> Robin I have sent the activation signals to your cable card, can you check for channels now?

ROBIN_> i'm getting some channels (thanks) from the activation, but no premium channels. i believe the cable card also needs to be "Paired" using the Card ID, Host ID and Data ID info (as i recall from past experience)

DiosdadoJr> Do you have that information Robin?

ROBIN_> yes:

ROBIN_> CableCard ID: xxxxxxxxxxxx

ROBIN_> Host ID: xxxxxxxxxxxx

ROBIN_> Data ID: xxxxxxxxxxxx

DiosdadoJr> Thank you for that information Robin.

ROBIN_> cool


DiosdadoJr> I have already activated your cable service, and its already up and running here in my system, just in case after 45 minutes some of the expected channels are still not appearing please do contact this number 1 888 270 6445 for the activation update.

ROBIN_> so you've entered the Host ID and Data ID info on your screens?

ROBIN_> it usually doesn't take anywhere near 45 minutes to get the premium channels


DiosdadoJr> Just to recap what we have done today, I was able to successfully activate your cable service from my end and it is working fine now.

ROBIN_> no, that is not correct

ROBIN_> it appears my cablecard is not correctly "Paired" though it is "Activated"

DiosdadoJr> Yes Robin that is just the maximum time we give.

ROBIN_> ok - just to be clear, this was not a successful resolution of my issue. i would like to say it is, but my card is not Paired and i'm not getting the premium channels like HBO

DiosdadoJr> Robin I have actually sent the pair hit signal to your cable card.

ROBIN_> i believe you - its just not working

DiosdadoJr> Well Robin if you still have some issues regarding subscribed channels not loading, feel free to call our National Video Activation center for resolution & advanced trouble shooting regarding video activation.

ROBIN_> is that the 888 number above?

DiosdadoJr> Yes it is Robin.

DiosdadoJr> Thank you for using Comcast and have a nice day.

ROBIN_> you too - ciao


so i then called the 888 number (above) and got hung up on 3 times! finally i called another comcast number and got straight through to a fellow (i wish i remembered his name) who understood that a CableCARD is not a cable box and has to be both authorized and paired and within 10 minutes (literally while i watched the screen and waited) everything was working great.

bottom line: time spent on getting my CableCARD activated and paired by Comcast - over 90 minutes (online, in chat, and on the phone) - time spent once i got to talk with someone who actually knew what to do - 10 minutes.

(for the record, i then had to call TiVo to activate the new box on my account - i wanted to do something 'tricky' and the regular customer rep couldn't help, so i called TiVo's HQ, got passed along to a second level rep and he took care of everything in about 10 minutes. so, TiVo, yea, Comcast, boo)

next up... trying to change the replaceable head in my electric toothbrush - wish me luck!

Wednesday Morning Update - June 22, 2011
so after i posted this on my @SchnauzerLogic twitter feed, i received a number of directed tweets from @ComcastMelissa offering to handle the issue directly. i thanked her and noted that the final CSR (who goes down as the unsung hero of this fustercluck) was knowledgeable and apologetic and got it all taken care of 'tout de suite'! she then asked for my account info, via direct message, so she could pass it up the chain in customer service, and this morning i received a phone call from another very nice woman who was equally apologetic and mentioned that she had read through the transcript and was going to be working with the CSR managers to make sure everyone had a refresher course on CableCARDS and the like... she also made an offer of 'good faith' in connection with my account (not necessary, but a clear indication that "Comcast Cares"!)... so all is good and working well... if only a call to customer service could do something about the quality of the programming!