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)

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Some Endings…(and some that SHOULD Be)

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Here we are well into 2017 and this is my first post to this blog of the new year.

I had decided to wait long enough for the political dust to settle, but I figured that everyone is so polarized that I could be waiting forever.

Certainly, 2016 was not a fun year as my health took a major step backwards and I had several longtime friends decide to no longer want to be friends, some who were friends over 30 years.  Apparently, they felt that I was too polarizing for them.

I also didn’t want to offend any friends if I could help it.  As an examle, one of my friend’s father had passed away.  I decided to make neither a comment or leave an emoticon as I felt that the last time I made any comment I was blasted by one of their family members as I felt that the picture was funny.  Unfortunately, I decided not to let my feelings known in this very sad occasion.

It was best that I kept a fairly low profile when my health started slipping.  At this point, I still am not out of the woods regarding my health and therefore haven’t been writing much.  It is for this reason that I will not be offering any future annual predictions.  However, I will give the results of last year’s predictions.

So here are last year’s predictions and the results:

  • The Dow will slip to a low of 9,000. (No, didn’t happen.)
  • JCPenney will file for bankruptcy and close all its stores. (No, didn’t happen however the future of the local one is questionable as I write this.)
  • Sears/Kmart will close at least half of their remaining locations before going out of business by year’s end. (Not yet)
  • OfficeDepot/OfficeMax will shut all their locations to allow Staples to buy the company and satisfy the government. (Nope)
  • Playboy will have centerfolds again by September after suffering a huge drop in readers and its main focus will be on getting celebrities to pose for the pictures. ( They have returned so I was only about 5 months off..so I am calling this partly yes.)
  • Nickelodeon will replace all its programming with imported teen shows similar to what happened to Teen Nick over the past few years. (No, but the future of the network is in jeopardy.)
  • Star Wars 8 will be delayed as a major accident on the set causes filming to cease. (No, but the death of Carrie Fisher may slow down the next one.)
  • The Muppets will not see a second season. (Who really thought this mess would not get cancelled?)
  • The Voice gets cancelled. (Despite no big name winners, this show still slugs along.)
  • A new format superseding Blu-ray will be introduced, but will fail as it will not be embraced. (If you call Ultra 4k a new format, then it has not been a huge seller yet, but then again 3D discs are becoming scarce.)
  • MTV, CMT and VH1 will merge into one station. (The future of these Viacom stations are questionable at this point.)
  • Windows 10 will experience a widespread update problem that causes updates to fail for weeks. (Although some problems have existed, updates have been not interrupted much.)
  • Kylie and Kendall Jenner will both get pregnant. (As far as I know, this didn’t happen yet unless a big bombshell happens.)

Out of 13 predictions, I am calling 6 halves and only 1 fully correct.  I may bring predictions back in the future if people request it, otherwise they are history.

Now onto other topics:

“Girl Meets World” has officially been cancelled by Disney Channel.  After 3 seasons, this show has been tossed to the curb.  While I haven’t finished the last 4 episodes, I have no idea how this series will end.

I have read that there is an effort to have this show be revived somewhere else.  One of them was Netflix.  I don’t think this would be a good choice as this show is more of a linear show and not one that could be watched in some random order.  Since I don’t have this service, I cannot think that this would be a great move.
Another option would be to put this on Freeform or as I like to call it the “Harry Potter” network since these movies are always on.  They have 3 series “Switched at Birth”,”The Fosters” and “Pretty Little Liars”, all of which are soon ending.  The problem with putting the show on this network is that there are only 2 comedies and neither are what I would call family-friendly.  Unless this network revamped its entire lineup, this show would never have a chance.

My choice would be to put this show on Friday nights on abc, preferably at 8:30pm – the slot currently occupied by “Dr. Ken”. The best thing about putting this show on Friday is that it’s predecessor was on that night for several years.  Hopefully, this could happen and save this good show.

However I cannot say the same for “Riverdale”.  If you grew up in the 1970’s, then you might remember the Archie cartoon series or if you are older you might know the comic book series.  Unfortunately, this show is not a thing like it’s pedigree should be.  This show is more like a fanboy sick fantasy than a really great show.  This show has it all: murder, interracial relationships, lesbian kissing, and sex, just to name a few.  This is where the show has many of its problems.  Like many shows of this type, it all starts with a murder and the show goes downhill from there.  The only difference is that this show uses the Archie comic characters as the basis of the story.  Like “The Muppets” from last season, this show deserves to die quickly and not be rebooted at all.  My score: 1

This show has absolutely no redeeming value and it’s sick lesbian kiss between Betty and Veronica was just too much to unsee.

Finally, I want to discuss the current state of the Time Warner/Spectrum merger.  Here in Maine, it has not happened yet.  We have been promised an updated program guide and still no changes.  Ads are still running with the TWC moniker and no indication of the Spectrum name can be found.  Rumor is that changes are supposed to happen by the end of this month.  The only changes to date is to the phone app, which is nothing more than rebranding the TWC app with the Spectrum name.  I really expected more than this especially after all these months since the merger.

To wrap up this post: 

  • My predictions have ended.
  • “Girl Meets World” has ended.
  • “Riverdale” should end.
  • Time Warner Cable should end it’s name locally and embrace its Spectrum name.

Finally, 2017 will be a year of anniversaries, 3 of them none that are overly happy.  Two will be discussed in my other blog, the third in this one.  The first will come next month.

My next blog post here will be the start of my Florida trip from last year.  It won’t be a boring travel log, but rather a look at interesting things along the way.

Until next time, comments are always welcome here or my Facebook page.

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.

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).

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.

Feeling the New Pain from Time Warner

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This week Time Warner Cable upgraded (downgraded?) their lineup here in New England.

 

This was not a minor reshuffle.

 

Consider it more of throwing multiple decks of cards up in the air and having them land wherever.  Then take this deck and put them together not by decks but by card rank instead.  Then take a few of these small packs and stack them and deal them out as any card game at all.

 

No matter what you will either make people angry, win every time, or nobody win ever.

 

Unfortunately, with TWC we got the latter answer.

 

Yes, once again TWC screwed up with its new improved lineup.

 

Certainly, everything is fine up to channel 99.  Most of these channels haven’t changed in years and some have never changed since cable was introduced to the area nearly 40 years ago.

 

Beyond channel 99, good luck.

 

While the channels are grouped by types such as news, kids, sports, etc., the logic of the grouping within each group is horrible.  Forget alphabetical order or any order at all, the stations seemed to be assigned their number positions totally at random.  This makes it even more difficult to figure out what channel you are looking for.

 

Of course, you could read the small foldout card that was mailed to you to see what channel you are looking for.  Again, good luck for that as the print is so small that it is almost impossible to read especially for those with old tired eyes like mine.

 

Then there are the local channels.  Forget about putting them in numerical order by their station id unless you think 8 come numerically before 6.  Did these people graduate kindergarten?

 

We also have the continued problem with standard definition vs. high-definition.  Now it seems that it is completely an all-or-nothing option.  I can’t tell you how many times I have had to change the resolution manually just to see the picture properly the way I want.  If you need to read about how to fix the resolution, search for “high definition resolution” on this blog.

 

Finally, there is the remote control.  Many of the buttons no longer point to the right resources when a button is pushed.  Many of the channels that existed before now just give information to turn to a different channel to learn how to program the remote to set it to the right channel.

 

Seriously.

 

Should the customer need to do so much work for so little benefit.  I think they should have kept the stations pointed to by the remote alone.  Given that we are paying for remotes now, then this should have been a given.

 

Last but not least, TWC wants to raise their rates by about 14% next month.

 

So let’s summarize:

 

  • Fewer choices for channels
  • Mixed up order for channel
  • Remotes that point to the wrong channel
  • Higher bills next month

 

Isn’t it time that TWC was sold to Comcast?  It can’t get worse but it may improve.

 

We can only hope.

 

 

 

 

“Wheel” and “Deal” and TV Guide too – 3 Anniversaries

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In celebration of TV Guide’s 60 best game shows of all time, I decided that this would be the perfect time to throw in my 2 cents or more into the fray.  In this week’s post, I look at 3 anniversaries and my connection to 2 of them.

 

First off, let’s say happy 50th anniversary to “Let’s Make a Deal”.  It turned 50 on March 1, 2013 and the series had the original host Monty Hall guest on the show along with model Carol Merrill.  The bad news is that the show has never been on consistently during all 50 years, therefore 50 years isn’t a true anniversary, just an anniversary of when the show began.

 

Way back in 1984, I was in Florida when this show was just beginning to start its tapings at the then Disney-MGM Studios.  A visit to the set from above was part of the studio tour at the time.  Honestly, I was surprised by how small the set actually was when compared to the many other game show sets that I have visited over the years.

 

My thought is that the current set must be fairly small as well since the show is filmed in standard version and not high definition.  If it was in high definition, the set probably would look extremely small.  Let me say that I loved the original show, but have never really watched the current version to any extent.

 

Next up is “Wheel of Fortune”.  They claim an anniversary of 30 years this season.  Again, this is a bit of stretch in the opposite direction.  The show actually has been around since 1975; however the night syndicated version has been around for 30 years.  So they are half correct or just don’t want to admit their real age.

 

My connection with this show was that back in the summer of 1983, I was in Burbank, California when the show was taping the first episodes of the nighttime version of the show.  I was there for episodes 3, 4 and 5 of this new version of the show.  At that time, it was taped at NBC studios and since the show was fairly new in this edition the tapings went a little longer than normal.

 

Here are a few tidbits about the show at the time:

  • Host Pat Sajak sometimes had to stop taping and have a redo when he forgot that he was doing the nighttime version of the show and not its daytime edition.
  • The puzzle board at the time required that each letter be put on the board individually which meant that it took about 5 minutes between puzzles for a new puzzle to be loaded.  To be fair, all the contestants had to turn their backs from the puzzle board during commercials and until each round began.  When the board became a bunch of monitors this was no longer necessary.
  • It took about 3 minutes to push the puzzle board from out behind the curtain where the letters were loaded onto it.  It also took that long to get it behind the curtain as well.
  • The conversations between Pat and Vanna White were ad-lib at the end of the show.  Nothing was scripted about what was said to each other during the end just told how long they had before they would be off the air.
  • The final spin of the wheel that Pat did sometimes landed on bankrupt.  In the last few years, the final spin has been edited only to show a perfectly landing dollar amount spin.

 

What bothered me most about this season is that the opening of every show had some little clip from the past.  Some were funny, some were just stomach churning and some were best left forgotten.  I guess you have to take the good with the bad.

 

Finally, we have the 60th anniversary of TV Guide.  This is the only true birthday so to speak despite the fact that the magazine went from a digest edition to a tabloid edition a few years ago.  Not only did it lose its size, but it also lost its thickness and many of the more enjoyable features such as alphabetical listing of movies, local channel listings and other desirable features.  Otherwise, the TV Guide is still a must-have even though the internet provides much more information.  Just having the listings on paper is the most important thing.

 

Next week (possibly) I will put in my 2 cents on that list of 60 top game shows and talk about a few that I liked that are missing from that list.