AT&T “Ghost” Connection

THE SCENARIO
Some of you have heard my various gripes about my home connection over the past year (while the rest of you had the good sense not to read when I start bitching about it). When I work from the house I’m stuck with AT&T Wireless GSM service, which despite the nifty commercials (I’m in Bumfuck Egypt… and I just found the internet) is somewhere between dialup and communicating with two soup cans attached by kite string.

This is of course only true when used in a poor line of site location (aka – “my house”). Everywhere else it is just as good as being plugged into a t-3 line, but I live in one of the few spots in the Dallas / Ft Worth metro that it sucks to use it. It’s been such a pain to work from home that there are people at Starbucks that probably think I’m an employee there.

CONFLEECTS? We don’t have no steenkin’ confleects!
I’ve long suspected there was an internal conflict between Vista’s network software and the AT&T Communication software required to run the nifty little plug-in wireless modems. I’ve purchased 6 wireless cards in less than 1 year, trying to find a combination that worked well, and spent hours on the line with AT&T support when the freezups and conflicts occurred, always with them assuring me I couldnt connect without their fine AT&T Communication Manager software running the thing. Various reps there have blamed the issues on everything but global warming, but never their product.

ACCIDENTAL “GHOST” CONNECTION :-)
A few minutes ago I shut off the AT&T Communication Manager from the “Processes” tab of Windows Task Manager because both Firefox and Vista were in “Not Responding” mode. Had to shut them both off that way… if I try shutting down AT&T CM off via the “Applications” tab it locks up my entire computer and forces me to do a hard shutdown.

I accidentally restarted Firefox before re-starting AT&T Communication Manager. Shoulda given me a failed connection when my homepage opened up. No such thing. Right now I’m online… and have the best connection here to date. The only thing visibly running in my apps tab is Firefox… no AT&T software.

I gotta write all this down so I can try to recreate this connection. Got here accidentally, but if I can run this without their POS software I gotta feeling life in the kingdom just took a huge step toward “less frustrating”.

I'm Rob Jones... and I approve this message.
I'm Rob Jones... and I approve this message.

God Fines Charter Cable for Defying Laws of Time and Space

GodAP Wire – March 10, 2008
Today a spokesman for God disclosed that He has abandoned his longstanding laissez faire position on telecom companies and fined Charter Cable $3 billion for defying the laws of time and space, and failing to report previous incidents in which they violated rules of Physics and/or Nature.

Representatives for Charter Inc. said they are appealing, although when informed The Almighty in uncharacteristic humor said “To be honest, no they aren’t”.

Sources close to God say this may be the first of many such fines, and warned that other companies known to break universal laws are hereby on notice.

 

OOPS!

OK, honestly I didn’t mean to cause such a ruckus. To be truthful I’d about decided God didn’t hear my prayers ever since Angelina Jolie married someone else. [Seriously, Brad Pitt? Strip away the fame, talent, charm, chiseled abs, money, smile, cool hair… ummmm… never mind.]

Still I dutifully say my prayers, and whaddaya know… God is finally getting around to my SOBs God Oughta Smite list, starting at the top. Cool. You can have the 72 virgins waiting in heaven my friend, just gimme a good old fashioned God that’ll smite first and ask questions later.

Granted, I haven’t always wanted to see Charter get hit with boils and sores (ok, my first preference… I’m old school, but the $3bil fine was not a bad touch). Their cable internet is great compared to AT&Ts “Tin Cans Connected by Kite String” wireless program. Honestly, I was gonna compliment AT&T marketing on the kitschy name until I discovered my aircard box really did contain 2 empty Campbell Chicken Noodle cans and 17000 ft of kite string.

ADVERTISEMENT:

At AT&T Wireless

DISCONNECTS ARE NOT AN OPTION !

[They are now a standard feature]

I did call to say this was not what I expected when I saw the word “wireless”, but the guy on the phone had a point about string and wire not really being the same thing. For the record, you have no idea how much RAM it takes to get a good signal using string as a medium.

Frankly I would have skipped AT&T wireless in the first place had Charter been able to find my house when I moved here, but I was informed they didn’t service this location.

Really?

If I lived in rural Arkansas this mighta made sense. I live in the center of the Dallas – Fort Worth metro area. You can’t swing a wireless modem on kite string without hitting a CEO of a multinational company. I’m 10 minutes from one of the busiest international airports in the world. Even more important, I drive past a freakin Charter Cable riser on my street. I just happen to be ONE house from the end.

[Teachers note: That last sentence *will* be on the test.]

So despite also having another Charter cable riser maybe 500 ft away… somehow Charter decided “OK, we stop here”, and apparently had no intention of ever supplying service to the last 4 or 5 houses. I called them several times, met with the city. They service the newer houses in the entry, but nothing could convince them to provide same to the existing houses at the end.

Well, nothing but new construction. I sold an acre to a nice couple and they built a big new house next door. As construction was finishing, they announced they were getting cable Monday. Huh? [For a second I thought my prayers had been answered, except maybe the Brad Pitt funeral thing.]

Striking While the Iron is Hot (and other myths)

I don’t know how they rediscovered it, but I wasn’t taking chances they’d lose my street again. Signed up online, called to set up an install. Worked skillfully thru the voicemail, got to a human. THAT is when I discovered they hadn’t really found our street… just the one house at the end. Argh.

Fortunately the young lady (who’s kind smile could be clearly heard despite the fact she was working a mind-numbing job that’d test the patience of Job, who probably works there too) told me there was an available fix. Obviously the new house had been scouted out and mapped by Lewis and Clark Inc, the vendors that discover new houses for Charter… so she’d just call the SomethingOrOther Dept and have them activate a search to see if the cable came by my house.

Now I was about to object as nicely as possible (hey she’s been nice) when I realized there was not a nice way to say this was an inane policy and the silly wonder-scouts could easily be replaced by a cable route map overlay and a link to Google.

While I pondered how to word this, wondering all the while which overpaid “VP of Dumb Things” came up with this gem… I listened to sold-on-hold, featuring an enthusiastic voiceover pro extolling the virtues of Charter.

IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP:

When someone’s on hold, waiting patiently as somebody enforces Rule 782 from “Policies That Make Us Look Stupid”, they don’t wanna hear how wonderful Charter is. Obviously another brainchild from the guy that keeps his brother-in-laws Lewis and Clark gainfully employed despite available technology to do the job cheaper and instantaneously without dispatching a pickup truck that sleeps two.

As these thoughts silently accumulated, the phone went dead. Oops.

OK, starting over from scratch.

Welcome to Charter Customer Service !

· Dial 1 to be hung up on in English…

· Dial 2 if in Spanish…

· To be subjected to endless commercials, please hold.

Flustered this time. Got lost twice in voicemail hell, but finally got hold of another guy. Nice as could be. He was genuinely happy to hear from somebody that’d just been left on hold for 10 minutes (or an eternity, you do lose track) before being wordlessly disconnected. It might have been an answer to HIS prayers he was so cheerful .

Folks, that job may suck, but apparently Charter hires pretty nice guys for it, or else provides some pretty illegal hallucinogens in *huge* grab-all-ya-want bowls.

In the end he too called the Lewis & Clark Employment Dept, (queue more music, more commercials)… and got back just before I decided whether to put the gun in my mouth or to my temple. He promised to have Lewis and Clark out next week to verify my address exists and ascertain if there is cable nearby.

With all the kindness I could muster I asked him to open Google maps. Amazingly, he did. I pointed out that I am in the 2nd house from the end of the road, and they have an appointment Monday to install cable at the house on the very end, adjacent to me, and immediately south. The cable is coming from the north.

My question:

Did he really have to send techs physically to my house to verify Charter is not in violation of physical laws that require a solid cable to pass point B if on a line between Source A and Destination C? Had they been having a problem with that recently?

Answer: I know it sounds odd, sir, but that is Charter Cable policy.

Alllll-righty then. Get ‘em God. OK to spare the worker bees, their job’s already Hell, but nail the bosses. Amen.

Oh, by the way Lord… about AT&T….

presidentrob1.jpg

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I’m Rob Jones, and I approve this message.