Friday, October 05, 2007

We're not the only Comcast victims!

A friend forwarded this story to me...Bob Garfield, a columnist from Advertising Age has started a blog called

Comcast: the saga continues

The problems continue: our phone service died completely for a couple of hours last week (apparently all Comcast customers in North Portland were out). And the on-screen guide occasionally goes wacky, with the text colors blacking out a bit like an old guy losing his hair.

And the DVR generally stops recording a couple of minutes before the end of each show. For most network shows, it's not a problem as all you lose is commercials...but some of the fabulous HD programming on OPB gets cut off :-(

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Comcast's fabulous HD DVR

I have to say I wasn't all that pleased with the HD DVR Comcast supplies. The interface is seriously 10 years behind Tivo's. It's like DOS compared to Windows. But at least you could (a) record 2 shows at once, and (b) record in HD (Tivo's HD DVR is about $800!).

Unfortunately, our first HD DVR lasted 2 weeks before it cooked itself. Locked up completely, wouldn't even respond to the Power button on the front.

A DIFFERENT Comcast installer came out to replace the DVR, and this guy was smart and quite competent. Even left us an optical cable to connect the audio to my surround sound amp so that we'd get true Dolby 5.1 from shows that were in 5.1.

So it's not ALL bad...let's see if this DVR can last more than 2 weeks though...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Comcast incompetence? I'm not the only one who thinks so...

A co-worker (having heard my recent rants about all my installation screwups from Comcast) found this today. The article in Consumerist starts with:

"Let's face it, you are probably smarter than your last Comcast technician—at least, you probably think you are."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Comcast service - some things never change

A number of years ago I had Comcast for my cable TV and internet, and after numerous outages, bad experiences with repair folks who took 3 visits to fix a problem, and hours (literally) on hold with their customer support, I swore never again to do business with them.

But now they have a pretty good price on a package of HD cable, broadband, and VOIP phone service--saving me about $25 a month over the combination of Qwest, DirecTV, Tivo, and DSL NW. So I figured hey, it's been 10 years, they've probably got their act together--and gave them another chance.

My first clue should have been when I tried to sign up for the service on their website, and it crashed on what was probably the last page....every time.

My second clue should have been when I called customer service, and after spending about 10 minutes having them get everything typed in on their side, the phone call got cut off.

Third time was a charm, and when I called back I got us scheduled for an install--all is happy warm and fuzzy, right...

...until the installer showed up.

Late, of course.

After we picked up all of the clipped bits of wire and cable staples he'd dropped in our yard (presumably for our 10-month old son to pick up and put in his mouth), I discovered that in fact we weren't getting a high-def picture. And the HD portion of the onscreen guide didn't work.

Checking the wiring, I found that the installer had not hooked up the new Comcast box to the high-def connection on the back of the TV. Luckily, everything on the Comcast DVR and the TV was well-labelled, so that an amateur like me could connect it easily, and I didn't have to call in a professional like the Comcast installer.

Something tells me we're just getting started. Some people never learn (i.e., ME).

UPDATE: our ADT alarm system is beeping....why? Because the Comcast installer didn't hook it up to the new phone system like it said to in the work order. So they're sending out another installer to finish the job.

It's not's Comcatastrophic.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Motorcycle trip to BC, Idaho, Montana...

This picture is looking down on Osoyoos, B.C....after a fabulous twisty climbing road on the bikes!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

How the British build motorcycles

This is damn funny!

Watch carefully, and you can see them pouring in the traditional oil leaks. Thanks to Sports Car Market magazine's e-newsletter for finding this.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Giant Pink Bunny on Italian Hillside

You can't make this fluff up!

A 200-foot long pink bunny rabbit has been built on the 5000 foot high Colletto Fava mountain in northern Italy's Piedmont region.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Very Manly Wedding Cake

Fellow BBQers, all those who believe vegetables are something you FEED TO things you eventually want to eat, have I got a cake for you:

Yes, it's the Meat Cake! And with mashed potato frosting too!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Yapta - getting money back when airfare goes down

There's a new startup out of Seattle called Yapta--they're jumping into the fare-comparison pool along with FareCast, Kayak, etc. You visit websites such as Expedia, Orbitz, or the airlines' sites and "tag" fares you want to watch. OK, not too much new yet...

Here's their twist: they continue to watch the fares for you AFTER you buy the ticket. There's a rule in the airline industry called the guaranteed airfare rule--if you buy the ticket directly from the airline and the fare drops, you can get a refund.

Read more at the blog of Business 2.0 Magazine's Erick Schonfeld.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Great customer service from Advanced Data Solutions

I contacted a company called Advanced Data Solutions today for some consulting assistance regarding some RAID 5 drives in one of our servers, and I have to say, I was very impressed with their service. Turns out, their business consists of data recovery procedures, where they work to extract data from your troubled drives--not consulting services (which is what I needed). But rather than just saying "we don't do that sir" and ending it there, the person I talked to transferred me to one of their experts (Joe), who took the time to walk me through some of the considerations and give me some excellent advice. For free. For someone who wasn't a customer.

That made an impression on me (as did Joe's advice)--great job ADS, and thank you!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Chief Beer Officer???

OK, I've heard of CTOs, CFOs, CIOs, CMOs, and C3PO...but this one's new to me:

Four Points by Sheraton has recently appointed Scott Kerkmans as their CBO. Yep, Chief Beer Officer. He's 27, from Colorado, started his own magazine called Draft, and is a certified beer judge.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Kegulator

So you're planning a party...maybe Super Bowl, maybe 4th of July, or maybe it's the May 2-4 weekend (Canadians will understand), and now it's time to go fill the fridge. You're stuck with that terrifying question of how much beer to get--too little and your friends will call you a cheap bastard and never show up again, too much and you're stuck with a whole bunch of beer your friends like but you'd never drink yourself.

Now, there's a magical solution: The Kegulator!

Just tell it how many people are coming, and use the sliders to size up your friends' character...and there's your answer!

Canadians please note: you'll need to use your miles-to-kilometres converter (X 8/5) to get the correct numbers for your latitude & attitude).

Friday, February 02, 2007

I'm on Tahitian TV!

Yeah, that's what everyone calls the glass coffeetables in the overwater bungalows, where you look down and see the fish. Or a honeymoon registry guy clowning around.

In other news, David & Rodney & I did have lunch next to the president of Tahiti, at Hotel Bora Bora. And we got a better table in the restaurant...guess it's all in who you know :-)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Well, that's one way to save weight

After several jugs of Chianti, the MV Agusta engineers may have come up with a winner...or not!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

There's no business like Snow Business

Portland is really beautiful in the snow. The down side is that Portlanders FREAK OUT when we get 1/2" of it! Everybody stays home, the MAX commuter trains get delayed by 30 minutes (how can THAT happen? are they stopping the trains to PUT ON CHAINS????), and the city grinds to a halt.

Canadians would be laughing at us...if they weren't so polite.

Pictured: the view today looking over the Park Blocks, 1 block south of TheBigDay.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Wanna buy a hat? Only $75 million and it's yours

Hat Island, that is...also known as Vatu Vara Island, in Fiji.

Boy, if only I hadn't spent so much this year on Christmas lights... :-)

Thanks to Aruna, our resident Fiji native and honeymoon expert, for spotting this.

More details in this story from There's a slide show there too, but be warned: the site is HORRIBLY slow--and put your safety goggles on, cause they're going to hammer you with an avalanche of ads.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

My friend Cliff turned me on to compact fluorescent (CF) light bulbs--they save a substantial amount of energy (see Seth Godin's blog posting entitled How many bloggers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?). I'm using them in a few places in my house--places where the lights tend to stay on a lot, like the driveway light that stays on all night...some hallways...etc.

I tried using them in the lights outside our front door (which are controlled automatically by an X10 home automation system), but somehow that's like Crossing the Streams, and the bulbs just fry in a day or two. So I gave up on using them for the X10-controlled lights.