Home Networking and Broadband Argggghhhh!


Home Networking and Broadband Argggghhhh!

I’m going to be so glad when Dynacenter has a product! I’ve been down for two days at home and Connie has been telling me about it.

  1. First of all, the only error diagnostic is that you can’t browse or connect. The modem is completely unhelpful. Just a bunch of blinking lights and who knows where the manual is. Reminds me that to be successful, there has to be an easy out of band way to connect to things. Ideally, a cable modem should have a telephone line connection to so it can dial out for help.
  2. Then of course, half the 800 numbers that AT&T has published in their various documents don’t work. And, they don’t list themselves in 800-555-1212. You in fact get three 800 numbers in that directory for places in Florida and California that you can’t even dial. Only way to find the number is to either watch a TV ad, or search the good old paper yellow pages. BTW, the number is 877-824-2288. I’m sure all this will change now that Comcast has bought AT&T Broadband of course 🙁
  3. So, then you get to stay on hold for hours. Particularly since yesterday, Tacoma and Spokane had widespread outages. So, the first call yielded the fact that I was supposed to have gotten a new modem in the mail and lots of mailing about it. No surprises that they can find me for my bill, but not to get a new modem. Apparently, the Motorola Cybersurfer we got three years ago is obsolete (I’ll have to do a google search to figure out what they’ve change in their infrastructure. The only way to get a new one fast is to actually drive to north Seattle. Only took an hour of my life. The woman said, please bring a bill. Took about an hour to find a paper copy. Said, don’t bother bringing the equipment. I asked her a few times if they would actually have stock.
  4. Well, I got there and boy, what a scary place. Not exactly a friendly retail environment. More like visiting a communist post office. Anyway, the woman there was nice. Wanted the modem and scanned it. That’s just a reminder that like flying (I have to do a blog entry about that) that you have to bring everything with you. I got a modem and a “virtual technician CD-ROM.”
  5. Back home, I unwrap it all and plug it all in, the various lights go blink, blink, I can see a new DNS server etc., but no joy on Internet or mail access. So, I actually read the freaking manual (RTFM is the term). No joy. Even install their virtual technician thing. And, that think fails to load. So, off to another phone call.
  6. OK, the very nice woman, says, oh, I see the cable modem (so they have a pretty good management system), but it is not registered. She says, please start a browser and type, “http://ras.s1.att.com” or something like that. Huh? Then, you get a magic screen asking for a 20 digit account code and a pass code which is the last six digits and it works. Seems as though, you need to actually register the modem in order to make it work and I asked her how are you supposed to know the magic URL (reminds me of how the hotel broadband connections work) or the magic account codes.
  7. Then you have to turn the modem off and on and she has to wait for her system to update.
  8. As I sit here and meditate, seems like it will take years for them to amortize what they just spent on me for another cable modem (since they only lease the thing for $3/month incremental, so even it just costs them $50, it will take 18 months to work that off) plus my phone calls which I’d estimate at say another (3 calls x 15 minutes), must be another $20. No wonder, this is such a hard business

In any case, it is interesting to think about how this should have all worked. It is also clearer to me why folks like Intel would dearly love 802.11 WiFi to just work. I’m decent at computers. I can’t imagine someone who is actually going to have to do a self-install with an older machine.

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