Time Warner Cable — Another Step or Two Backward

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It has been nearly 5 months to the day since the last time I wrote about a Time Warner Cable so-called upgrade.

 

On early Tuesday morning of this week at 3am, all our DVRs had started the long process of downloading new software to its boxes.  Unlike past upgrades that lasted approximately 1 hour, this update took a mind-numbing 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete.  This is certainly the longest update time that I have seen since the major upgrade last year, but even that wasn’t even that long.

 

So, now after the upgrade the ODN version is currently at 7.3.0_29.  Your version on your machines may be later or older than this depending where your area is in the upgrade cycle.  I will discuss my experiences with the above mentioned version.

 

The first thing I noticed when turning on half of my boxes after the upgrade was that all of the channels were blocked because apparently these boxes had the rating block enabled of “Not Rated”, “TV-Y”, and “TV-G”.  I did not have these set but somehow they got enabled after the update.

 

After fixing this issue, the next thing that one will notice is the fonts have changed.  The new font appears to be the same style and size font used when the menus and guide are set to their high-definition equivalent.  While it may save some space in the operating system by using the same font, the end result is that on the standard definition screens such as the guide, the font looks way too big and too thin to actually be readable.

 

What is worse about this is that this font makes letters and numbers sometimes run together with the poor spacing that this font has.  Certainly in the guide, titles and descriptions are cut off or require multiple pages to view properly.  Why they changed the font is beyond me when the old font was fairly easy to read except for being white or blue on black.  This newer thinner font is just worse for my old eyes.

 

Next thing is with the guide.  When you set up a recording of a show, the old “REC” is no longer next to the show’s title and is no longer highlighted in red  instead  a set of red dots show up next to the show’s title.  The title is no longer highlighted so it makes it more difficult to tell if a show is set to be recorded or not.  However, the reminder for a show is still shown in purple across the show’s block like it has previously done.  It seems that this was either an oversight or a change for the next upgrade.  Certainly, they are making it more difficult to know what is being recorded,

 

When pressing the guide a second time to exit, there are now 2 columns of how arrange guide channels.  The previous 5 options are still there with the new ones of “Movie Channels”, “Sports Channels”, “Kids Channels”, “News & Info Channels”, and “Latino Channels”.  While these lists seem exhaustive, the latter one only lists 2 channels in my area!  For now it seems that while convenient to have these categories, right now some are just useless in their current format.

 

Nothing has changed when pressing the “A” button on the remote control; however the “B” button has made significant changes.  No longer when pressing the “B” button are you greeted with 3 or 4 options as you were previously.  Gone are the “What’s Hot” and “Genres” options along with the “In-Progress” option if you were watching an On-Demand show on DVR and wanted to continue it on that unit or another in your house.  The only option available now is the search option with the same keyboard layout as previously available.   The biggest change with this option is that as you enter characters it tells you how many things match what you have typed thus far.  Of course, this is inaccurate as just entering one character gives just a small handful of results.  Whether this was used just for internal testing or nor is hard to determine, but like Google search which says it finds millions of matches to your search request, this result number is just an arbitrary number and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

 

The only plus to the search is that little dollar signs “$” show up when a show is a pay-per-view show that requires a purchase.  This is handy to know what not to pick in my searches.

 

The most missed option when pressing the “B” key is the “In Progress” option.  Where it was just a simple one key press is no longer that simple, one must go the On-Demand portal channel and get to that option there.  Inconvenient and undesirable is the way I seen that change.

 

Overall, this new update was one step forward and three steps backward.  The new font looks awful in standard definition.  The search mechanism no longer as good as it was.  The guide has just little dots to indicate what is going to be recorded.  These changes alone make this guy one disappointed customer.  I have not been happy since the new interface was implemented and now it is just getting worse and not better.

 

I am still waiting for that free whole house DVR setup that was promised 4 years ago and I think we are all waiting for cloud DVR recording to save space locally on the units which are severely limited with space anyway.  It is time to get real updates not these previously discussed downgrades.  Once again shame on TWC for a job poorly done.

 

My score:  4

 

Summary:  Too much needs improving at this point.  TWC Navigator has back pedaled a lot of previous features and made things unreadable and just more difficult overall.

 

 

Unlucky 13th Millionaire Season?

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This week premiered the 13th season of the show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

 

Judging from how this season looks, it should be its last.

 

First off, Cedric the Entertainer is out as host.  In a way, this is a plus because he really wasn’t that good on the show anyway.

 

Now enter Terry Crews.  If you have never heard of him, he was a former football player, but he is probably best known as the guy from the Old Spice ads.  He is also a movie and TV actor.

 

Now he can add game show host to that resume, but this is not something he should be proud of.

 

After watching the first 6 episodes (it is being double run locally with 2 ½ hours between the shows), I have realized that this guy is noisy, very loud and noisy at that.  Every time the guy says “Let’s Play Millionaire”, the camera zooms in on him as he yells out that phrase.  Honestly, this gets more than annoying especially after every commercial and every new player is introduced.

 

As far as the game itself goes, gone is the long table from last year that both Cedric and the player stood at.  I expect that it is used as a lunch table again.  Now the contestant and host stand at podiums facing each other.  Even though they look like they would have monitors on them, it appears that either they are not used as such or going to be used later as those.  For now, the questions appear as they always have on a large screen between 2 sections of the audience.  I wish they would go back to the chairs back in the Regis Philbin days but I don’t expect that to happen at all.  As far as the rest of the set goes, it is still the same look that has been there since the show’s inception on network television.

 

The only major change to the show is in the lifelines of the show.  Gone is one of the “Jump the Question” and in its place is a new “+1” lifeline.  This lifeline allows the contestant to bring down to the stage a person that the contestant brought with them.  This is great as long as the person has someone brought somebody with them as some people have no audience member with them.

 

Also gone from the show, are the category names for the first round of questions.  They were sort of stupid and added nothing  to game play value.  To me, this was the only positive change to the show.

 

Now finally, back to Mr. Crews and his wardrobe.  On one recent show, he wore a white shirt that had a red collar and matching red pants.  This looked absolutely horrible unless you are a clown.  I seriously expected him to pull out a big red nose and giant shoes to horrific.

 

The worst thing overall is that this show is being double run in many parts of the country.  Some places are running the episodes back-to-back while others like locally are running them with a break in-between.    Either way, once a day is more than enough of this annoying host.

 

If this show expects to make it to a 14th year, here are my recommendations:

  • Scrap the tired set. It really needs a refreshing.  Certainly with all the money saved by not giving away the million dollars could be used to make a new set.
  • Start a completely new game format. Yes, this is what the game is known for, but it can be tweaked to a completely level.
  • Polish the host to not being annoying. There are certainly plenty of game show hosts that are unemployed who could use the work or return from retirement.  It is time to get somebody who can make this show be like those of game show heyday of the 1970’s and 1980’s.  If you remember those days, you will appreciate what I am saying here.

 

When I wrote this review last year of this show, I complained that the contestants were mostly black players.  This is not the case this year as there has been a fairly good mix of race and sexes of the contestants.  If there was one shining point to this season, this would be it.

 

Last year, I gave the show a score of 5.  My score this year has dropped because of the above mentioned complaints.  This show has much room for improvement since it has taken a couple of steps backward this year.

 

My score: 3