Breaking News: Spectrum Finally Lands…with a Thud!

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Breaking:  I interrupt this blog to bring the following post.

Spectrum has arrived as the new provider replacing Time Warner Cable (TWC).  

While their ads are touting it as something new and better, it is really crap.  I am hear to cut through the clutter and reveal the current truth of this provider.

On the surface, the only major changes seem to be just the rebranding of the name.  However, for those who previously had Charter as their provider may not be happy with what the TWC moniker brought to them.  Even worse, is what has been taken away from TWC users.

I found my first problem last week after the changeover when I could no longer get one of the channels I had previously been receiving on our DVRs.  So I decided to call and see what they could do for me since rebooting the box didn’t solve the problem.

And now let the nightmare begin.

After speaking to 8 (yes, 8) different people over the course of 1 hour and 40 minutes, I had no solution to my problem.  During the time I was on the telephone, I think I was left in limbo as the phone rang back a couple of times and someone else answered.  Each time I had to explain my problem again and again.

Some of the people were techs, customer service, and even one was just a general operator.  Some also identified themselves as employees of Spectrum while others identified themselves as employees of Time Warner Cable.  Apparently, this company is still severly fractured as the results that I received were embarrassing at best.  To make matters worse was that I asked the same question to every person I spoke with and got at least 3 different responses.  Nobody seemed to know a solution and were just guessing at a possible solution.

I finally ended the call with someone in billing and I really expected some sort of credit to my account for the frustration I recieved, but no such luck.

As far as customer service goes, they failed worse than TWC ever did.

However, the loss of one missing channel was just the beginning.

It seems that Spectrum has 3 levels of service: basic, silver, and gold.  To receive the most channels, you need the gold package.  But if you want the following channels among others:

  • Esquire
  • The Word Network
  • Jewish Life Network
  • Disney Channel West
  • Nick 2
  • New York News 1
  • CNN International

You are screwed as these channels are no longer available in any Spectrun package.  So someone is paying nearly as much as previously but with fewer channels.  In fact some channels that used to be part of TWC basic package requires the Spectrum gold package to receive them.  As far as I am concerned, Spectrum has taken a major step backward in cable service. I like to call this classic “bait and switch”.

They are also promoting their internet service now with starting speeds of 60Mbps.  In the past, I was paying extra for the TWC turbo speed.  With that service, I was averaging about 25Mbps.  After the switchover and rebooting my modem (my choice to reboot), I was getting at best a top download speed of about 38Mbps, nowhere near the 60Mbps that they are promising.  I decided not to make another phone call and waste more time with air incompetent employees.  I have been testing my speed daily and I seem to be averaging about 28Mbps, only a slight increase from the TWC service.  Maybe it might be better at say 2am, when I used to do some of my internet surfing, but I haven’t done that in months.

I cannot speak for how the phone service has gotten better or worse since I don’t have that feature.

By checking out the Spectrum Facebook page, it seems they are bombarded with complaints from around the country especially from former TWC customers.  Apparently, I am not the only dissatified with their service.

Given that the only other choices in my area is satellite and with no competition, Spectrum has to be my service.  I am hoping that the service improves and that the channels removed will be replaced and that the internet speed improves.

Currently, I have reservations of recommeding Spectrum service.  

It may be a new day according their television ad, but the dark storm clouds are prevalent.

My score:  2. (based upon current level of service)

Congratulations to the NEW Couple?

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Yesterday, Charter Communications completed its acquisition of Time Warner Cable and its sibling Bright House.

 

While for TWC this change may be a slight upgrade in service, it seems that it might be a big downgrade for Bright House; at least that is what I see from how Consumer Reports have reported the 3 different services.  While I cannot report on Bright House or its customers, TWC seems that this might be a plus.

 

So while no changes will happen in the near future, I expect that very soon all those annoying TWC commercials will be replaced by talks of the Charter merger.  Along with that, I expect to start seeing changes in how we receive our service.

 

First changes I expect is saying goodbye to the words “Time Warner Cable” off the guide along with that weird blue swirl thing.  Just getting rid of these is a start to prove that TWC does not exist anymore as is.

 

Over the next couple of months, I expect that the entire guide will change (for the better, given how their other guides look).  This change will include the elimination of the dull looking guide along with a complete renumbering of the channel numbers.  While this may seem like an inconvenience, it may be in the long run a big plus.

 

I also expect to see a much faster internet service and hopefully more fulfilling experience.  Given what I have read the service that Charter offers for the same price as what I pay now means that my service would go from 15mps to 60mps (on average).  This is a much worthy upgrade if it really happens.

 

Overall, everything I have said here is speculation given what I have seen on Charter’s website in their areas already being serviced by them.

 

Given that the DVR service here has not really been upgraded since last November, any upgrade and bug extermination would be much appreciated.

 

As always I will keep you informed of changes to services (at least as I see them here in the Portland Maine area).  I am optimistic that big things and good things may happen in the very near future.

 

Fingers crossed for a better cable and internet.

Broken Windows — March 2016

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Writer’s note:  I had planned on writing a different blog post this week on why I didn’t go to the Maine caucus a couple of weeks ago, however I feel this blog post is more fitting for my current situation along with many other people as well.  I plan on writing the intended blog post in the very near future, when my computer is much more stable.

 

As a member of the Windows Insider club, I put myself and my main computer on the line for the fast ring of Windows 10 updates.  Up until the most recent update, everything has been fairly smooth as far as functionality is concerned.

 

For those who don’t know what I am talking about, let me briefly explain.  Fast ring updates are pushes by Microsoft to release beta (or in their own imprint at the bottom of the screen “Evaluation Copy”) of new versions of Windows 10.  Comparatively, slow rings are more stable versions of the operating system, but still may have some bugs.

 

Everything was fairly well and good with my computer until last week when I installed Build 14279 of Windows 10.  Since installation I have had nothing but trouble.  Honestly I felt I have not seen so many problems since Windows ME many years ago.  Back then, you prayed that the computer would not crash while using it, but usually happened at least once per day.

 

Well, I have experienced just one huge crash yesterday when I received the blue screen of death with a “Memory Management” error.  I had thought given that I saw a funky frowning face with a countdown timer that my computer had somehow been infected by one of those horrible viruses.  Microsoft really needs to change their blue screen of death to look less like a virus and more like the old dark blue screens from older Windows versions.

 

Besides the awesome crash that I have experienced, here are some of the other problems that I have noticed.  This is not an exhaustive list just what I have experienced firsthand:

 

  • Unable to sign into Xbox live. Makes playing games like solitaire impossible.
  • Live tiles not working. Most of these tiles when you hit the start key are not flipping or updating to anything at all, in fact one of them is missing.
  • Web pages not loading in Chrome. While Firefox really don’t have this problem, it is like Microsoft is showing its hate to Google by impairing its browser.  I don’t use either Internet Explorer or Edge because these are really not good and I have never recommended them.
  • The Weather Channel application does not work at all. Up until this build, this program seemed to work fairly well, but now just refuses to work.
  • Microsoft Store does not update programs correctly. Some updates in this program want to update over and over again.
  • Notification icon does not update when new mail is received.

 

If you don’t have this build, I don’t recommend it.  If you do, let’s pray that the next update fixes some of the above mentioned problems.

 

Ironically, Microsoft had sent a feedback survey shortly before I started writing this that asked if its users like me had experienced lockups or crashes with this build of Windows.  Sadly when I clicked on the link, it crashed before I got to answer the survey.  I guess they will never get my opinion unless of course someone reads this blog.

 

I can now congratulate myself that I got through this post without having Windows crashing today.  Will I be so lucky next time?

 

 

My Review of Windows 10

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This week’s post is all about my experiences with the Windows 10 operating system.

 

After a friend told me that I could create a disc and install the operating system that way, I decided to take the plunge.

 

First let me say that I was using Windows 7 Home Edition and I was rather happy with it, but knew at some point soon that this would become yet another unsupported operating system joining my Windows XP machine.

 

First let me say that Win 10 is a work in progress.  It is by no means perfect and does have bugs.  Some more of an annoyance, some could probably be avoided.

 

I have yet to see any blue screen of death scenarios yet as this is a good sign that the OS is somewhat bulletproof.  That pretty much ended a few operating systems ago and hopefully won’t come back again.

 

However, this OS does yearn back to another Windows version well hated and that was Windows ME.  As that operating system seemed like a beta product, so does Windows 10 in some regards as I will explain in a bit.

 

Installation

 

When I first put in my newly created installation disc in the cd drive, it churned for a couple of minutes before it loaded and was given the option to install the new OS.

 

After I decided to continue with the installation, a little graphic kept spinning for about 20 minutes while checking my system for any potential problems that would happen with the upgrade.

 

When the churning was finished, the installer only saw that the only program that would be uninstalled would be the “Media Center” program.  Now to many people, losing this program would be no big deal, but because I have a USB TV card that I use on occasion, I felt that losing this program may be a huge loss.  However, I researched and found that there were plenty of alternative programs out there that are “better” than what the Media Center program was.

 

So I decided to continue and let the installation go on and uninstall this program.

 

Now the real fun began.  The churning of the installation watching slowly as a circle slowly grew with each percentage completed and the computer rebooting a couple different times during the installation.

 

Time passed…and more time passed.

 

Minutes turned hours and the installation was still churning slowly for a total of a mind-blowing 4 ½ hours when the installation finally completed.  I have never seen any installation take so long and was wondering why this seemed to take forever and then some.

 

However, I would soon find out what really happened behind the curtain.

 

The First Time

 

When this program started up for the first time, it asked me to input a 4 digit PIN.  As far as Windows is concerned, this is your new password.  While this seems better, it opens it up to being much easier hacked than a lengthy alphanumeric password.  However, maybe simplicity is where they are heading to.

 

The desktop at startup looked pretty much the same as the same wallpaper and icons existed as before the update.  However, the taskbar included new icons for a new desktop flipper, Microsoft Edge (the new slim browser – sorry no add-ons allowed with it), and an icon for the Microsoft store.

 

The most notable icon on the right side of the taskbar is the “Action Center” icon.  When some notification is presented, this icon lights up and just gets annoying until the icon is pressed and cleared out.

 

I will say that the startup process was cut in half with this operating system.  However, my security software was uninstalled during the installation.  Apparently, it was not compatible with the new OS.  I do feel that the installer should have warned me ahead of time if it was going to uninstall this vital software before continuing and give me the opportunity to not to install the OS.

 

It is no wonder why this upgrade took so long as it was uninstalling incompatible software, but I still think that warnings would still have been appreciated.

 

Overall, the experience with the new OS has been pretty smooth.  Both Chrome and Firefox load faster and my internet connection seem a little perkier.

 

This doesn’t mean that all was completely flawless.  When I went to install Microsoft Bingo, at one point of its installation it stated that it was at “Step 40 of 9”.  Certainly while this laughable, bugs like this could have been avoided with a little better programming.  This really makes the OS look more like a beta product than a finished product.

 

Sound familiar?  To me this sounds like the way Windows ME performed as it acted more like a beta than a finished product.

 

This is why I am part of the Windows Insider group.  This group allows me to get sent to my computer the latest builds of the OS as they become available.  However, this process is not without its problems.  I see in my list of available updates, the latest build however it has yet to be installed for about the last 2 weeks.  The way they deliver updates now is similar to how the file sharing services worked of years gone by.  You got files delivered in pieces hoping that eventually you got the whole file.  Hopefully, Microsoft will realize how dumb this idea was and change it back to how updates were previously delivered.

 

Finally, the start menu is back for those who had Windows 8.  It sort of looks like the child of the old Win 7 start menu and the Win 8 start screen.  I find it too busy constantly flipping tiles and for the most part I just ignore it.

 

I have also found a couple of my games don’t work anymore even though they were not uninstalled by the OS installation process.  I expect that a future OS patch may make them work again.

 

Conclusion

 

If you have Windows 8/8.1, I recommend upgrading now.  If you have Windows 7 like I did, the picture is a little cloudier, but I decided to take the plunge as I saw this as the future and that at some point it will be required no matter what.  If you are hesitant on this update, you have roughly a little less than a year to get this update free.  Since this is the “last update” according to Microsoft, this is basically a no-brainer.  If you own any other older operating system and your computer is capable of running Win 10, then I would get this version from your local retailer as soon as possible.  I don’t expect that this product will remain on shelves for a long time or go on sale because it is available online.

 

Overall, I am fairly happy with Windows 10. It does have bugs and quirks, but it certainly better than Windows ME was years ago.

 

My Grade:

 

Installation:  3 (Depending on what software you have installed, it could be faster than the 4 ½ hours it took on my computer. Just don’t expect to be forewarned of everything it decides to uninstall on its own.)

 

User Experience:  7 (Not perfect, but work in progress.  I expect it to improve with time.)

 

Windows Update:  4 (Seriously, this is NOT Napster.  Don’t make us get our updates like it is.)

 

Overall:  6 (Yes, it has its problems.  However, so hasn’t all the Microsoft OSs?  I expect frequent updates to fix problems, if you can get the updates.)

 

This OS may not be a 10, but when is Windows 11 coming out?  Or will that be called 12?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Deal That Died…

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It is officially dead.

 

The merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable (TWC) is history.

 

The federal regulators ended this possible merger by saying that the combined company would be too big.

 

Mostly, the combined companies would have over 30% of the total television market and over 50% of the broadband market in the country.  While the television amount is not that large, the broadband amount may have spooked the regulators to throw out the merger.

 

However, I believe that with so much competition out there that those broadband figure is way too high.  With so many getting their content on so many different devices and with so many different services, I think that this number is wrong.

 

While many have complained that the service would have gotten worse, I believe that the combined companies would actually have improved both the quality of service and quality of how it is delivered.

 

Anyone who has been a long time reader of this blog knows that TWC has had many problems with their recent upgrades to their service.  Many times the cable boxes freezes up and must be restarted and just as often channels just come up blank requiring a reboot as well.

 

Certainly the boxes could stand a complete program rewrite.  To those who remember the old blue & white screen system may recall that rarely did the cable box need to reboot.  Ever since they changed to the black version, problems have been epidemic.

 

While I haven’t reported any recent changes to the software in the cable boxes, the only significant change that I have noticed is that the guide now can go up to about 14 days in advance for most channels even though after about 7 days, the guide just gives generic descriptions.  This is a small step forward to getting full cloud guide and DVR service, but I expect that someday it will happen.  I believe that if Comcast and TWC had worked together, the software process would have been updated more frequently and been much more stable.

 

Now there is rumor that TWC wants to merge with the smaller company of Charter Communications (CC).  Since CC is a much smaller company, I think that this merger has a much better chance of going through.

 

But before we start thinking this is a done deal, the truth is that this is a lousy deal for those who have TWC service.  From a couple of checks of different areas, the number of available HD channels and channels in general are significantly less for CC when compared to TWC.

 

Does this mean that TWC will lose many of its channels when this sort of merger takes place?

 

My answer is quite possibly and the chances are that the number will drop significantly.  However, on the plus side, the CC DVR system looks more advanced and much more user-friendly.  If we could keep the channels and get CC’s DVR service, it would be a better combination.

 

But that is just my opinion of what I would like to see happen.  Reality usually would bring us the crappy TWC system for everyone and that would be mean that we would all lose.

 

While this entire merger idea is still in its earliest phases, I am slightly optimistic that this would be more of a positive than negative.

 

In the meantime, there are 2 other mergers that may meet regulators roadblocks as well.

 

The first is the possible merger between AT&T and DirecTV.  This one like the Comcast/TWC merger may have the same problems as these are two large companies that may create a monopoly in one category or another.  I don’t see this merger happening at all.

 

The other, which I have discussed in my other blog, is the Staples/OfficeMax/Office Depot merger.  While Staples claims that such competitors are companies like Amazon and Walmart, I don’t believe that this sort of logic will hold any water whatsoever.  Yes the 3 office supply stores are dying and must do something to survive, but in reality they should just admit to their death and become part of the retail history landscape.

 

Overall, any merger of that involves large companies never have a very good chance of happening.  The government wants to keep monopolies from happening, but sometimes misses what could be something good for all involved.

 

Then again, when has the government ever gotten anything right anymore (or ever).

New Year, Old Problems?

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Well, here we are at 2015.

 

Did you notice any REAL differences from the year that past?

 

If you answered no, then you came to the right place.

 

If you answered yes, then you really came to the right place.

 

First off, let me say that this post is being placed into both of my blogs as I am only writing one year-end summary this year instead of two.

 

For those of you who read the annual report that I posted last week while I was off, let me say that I am more than disappointed by the results.

 

On the “Staples” and “Rants” blog, it seemed that more people were interested in my relationship with Tanya going south rather than most everything else.  It was sad that she decided to block me from all social media after her marriage.  Apparently, she never really cared about me whatsoever.  I am not the least bit surprised by that at all.

 

Both blogs also saw a lackluster number of comments to each.  Even though I limited the period for comments to 30 days after a post has been made, it still seems that I should have received more comments than I did.  Maybe it was because some people decided not to post rude comments as they knew they would be deleted anyway.

 

For all the bad things that my report stated, I am proud that the blogs continue to gain followers.  Granted the numbers are not huge yet, but I really would like to see the number close to 100 followers by this time next year.

 

Now onto the breakdown of each blog:

 

First we have the “Staples” blog.

 

The biggest topic of the year without a doubt was hacking.  I predicted the Staples hack about a year ago and by year’s end, Staples finally admitted that it was indeed hacked into.  However, their claim is that only about 115 stores were affected and a little over a million customers were affected.  I believe that Staples will eventually come clean with the real numbers as I believe that this was indeed a full company wide hack job.

 

I expect that hacking will continue to be a major topic in 2015 as companies will continue to do stupid things that will allow hackers to do their dirty duty.  With hacks such as the celebrity hacks and the Sony hack is only the beginning of something much bigger that will happen.  I really hate the idea of having to report this stuff as it just gets to be monotonous and just gets to be downright boring.

 

Besides the ongoing hacking scandals, I plan on discussing other topics as well.  My upcoming calendar includes (subject to change):

  • The continued decline of RadioShack.
  • The Night That Changed Everything.
  • org – Good Idea or Agenda driven.
  • Charity begins at home.

 

Along with these topics, I plan to continue my own story of my decline with the Staples Company.  After all, that was what this blog was originally set up as.  I don’t think I have actually strayed from my original goal, I just have taken many detours along the way and made several stops through this journey.  I am a long way from the end as if to say that there will actually be an end.

 

Now onto the “Rants” blog:

 

The major part of the blog this last year was dedicated to the continued decline of the Time Warner Cable service and how their so-called upgrades have caused more harm than good.

 

Certainly the political scene is scarred nationally and here in Maine by the onslaught of the republicans winning both the governorship again and taking control of the US Senate and the US House.

 

Probably the most popular topic of the year was my discussion of why I didn’t attend my high school reunion.  My belief is that some people can relate to what I am talking about and therefore I am continuing my story with a few more parts this year.

 

Television also was a topic of interest as well.  Some shows were complete failures while others have shined brightly.  Amongst my favorites are “Gotham”, the pre-Batman series and as I have mentioned before my absolute favorite show “Girl Meets World”.  This show blew me away with the Christmas episode reunion.  This is the way to do a reunion show and if you liked the older “Boy Meets World” series, the Christmas episode is a definite must-see.

 

I am less excited for the series “The Flash” as this show seems like it hasn’t completely broken away from the shadow of its birthmother of “Arrow”.  The crossover episodes were fun but the Flash may become a flash in the pan if the show doesn’t get more interesting.  They certainly have the villains from the comic books, but this show reminds me of the campy 1960’s Batman series.

 

Speaking of that series, it finally got its video release in 2014 in somewhat of grand style.  While this nearly $200 Blu-ray box set contains all 120 episodes and other special treats, it still is missing some episode content.  I still recommend this limited edition set despite its flaws.  A cheaper DVD box set also exists without all the extra products, but I still would ante for the better set while it is available.

 

So what is in store for 2015?  Here is a brief rundown of my possible topics:

 

  • The continuing story of why I didn’t attend my high school reunion.
  • TV Hits and Misses of the Season.
  • The biggest obituary of 2014 that was not reported.
  • Tag, Like, Share: A Dumb User’s Guide to Facebook failures.

 

Overall, 2014 saw its share of hatred against me.  From one person who wrote that I was a bad person and then stupidly liking that statement to the people who decided to unfriend me on Facebook and then not even having a logical reason why, this last year was a year of idiots showing their true colors.

 

I expect a better reception this year as things should get clearer in some aspects of my continuing drama and the drama of the rest of the world.

 

Speaking of getting clearer, next post will have my annual predictions as I once again bring out the crystal ball and look back on how I did last year and make new predictions for the year.  After that, the two blogs will hopefully separate into their own stories for most of the year.  I continue to plan on writing each blog on alternating weeks with the next post to be next week to both blogs.

 

Until next time, enjoy 2015.

 

 

 

 

More Problems with Last TWC Update

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This week’s post is going to be pretty short for this holiday week.

 

Last time I discussed the many changes (and not good ones at that) with the latest Time Warner Cable Navigator update.  However, 2 other changes happened as well which I noticed over the past week or so.

 

Both of these changes are noticeable if you go into the guide and select a show.  Scroll down to the “All Showings” item and hit select.  At this point, you should see a listing of multiple showings for that particular title if available.

 

The problem is that now if you scroll down this list looking for a particular episode by its title (assuming it is a series that you have selected), the titles no longer show up in the little window in the upper left corner as you scroll down the list of airdates.  So this feature now is of absolutely no use anymore whatsoever.

 

To make matters worse with this feature is that if you scroll to an item that is listed as having a calendar date say “10/6” as opposed to a day such as “Tuesday”, and you hit select to set that item up for a recording, you will find that not only can you not do it but the box will LOCK UP!  Of course, you can just hit the EXIT key and after 2 or 3 presses you will exit the guide completely meaning you have to start all over again.  I have noticed, however, there are times that the “C: key does the same thing as well.

 

I believe in both cases that these are bugs in the current update and should be addressed immediately.  It is sad that TWC uses many of its markets to test its software before rolling it out nationally.  We subscribers are NOT beta testers.  It is unfortunate that TWC believes that its software doesn’t have any bugs.  Either they are really stupid or just ignorant.  Don’t ever bother calling customer service for any of any issues with the Navigator software as they know nothing and they never offer any real solutions, not even their technical people can help.  Yes, it really is that bad.

 

Hopefully, I will report soon on a new update before I pull out the rest of my hair from my balding head.  I don’t have much left anymore.

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