Archive for category Random

Wanna go green? Start with business practices!

Its about time I dust this blog off! I have had 3 post ideas in my inbox for months and never sat down to write them! So lets start with going green.

These days it doesn’t matter where you look, you will find a reference to going green. CFL light bulbs, ‘green’ household cleaners, ‘green’ billing practices, etc. Green is as much a buzzword as it is an actual attempt to save the environment. Well in this post I’m going to do what everybody else does and use the ‘green’ initiative as an advertisement to further my cause.

Here’s the real point. Why are companies asking me to go ‘green’ and sign up for e-billing for their service while AT THE SAME TIME their marketing department is paper-mailing advertisements addressed to me by name asking me to sign up for SERVICE I ALREADY HAVE? First of all, that advertisement is going straight in the trash recycle bin. Second, this is an annoyance to the customer and as a software person its a disgrace. Why can’t different groups communicate just enough to check if someone has a service before sending an advertisement? Surely you could do the math and prove if this is rolled out nationwide the cost of developing software to check the customer database before printing ads would pay for itself in no time.

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DIRECTV Install Rant

While I’m at it, I’ll rant some more.

Last night I came home to find that the televisions in my apartment were no longer receiving signal. I have AT&T U-Verse which uses a set top box at each TV. In my installation, the set top box connects to an IP home network over coax (Home PNA). A quick bit of troubleshooting showed that the set top boxes were not receiving a signal on that coax.

The router they provide feeds the signal in the coax network, so I checked the router’s web status page. It showed 0 HPNA clients. So my first troubleshooting step, unplug router, unplug receivers, re plugin router then receivers. A few minutes of boot time and still not recognized receivers.

Then I think what else could have happened. I realize a new neighbor moved in to the apartment adjacent to mine over the weekend. Perhaps they got television service connected. So I went across the hall and asked. Sure enough they had a DIRECTV installer out that day to setup their satellite service. He left their apartment with a non-operational install stating he didn’t have the proper equipment.

So now I’m 99% sure this guy broke my TV. Why? Because when my U-Verse was installed the AT&T’s installer walked me through the process and showed me that in my closet there is a panel where all of the coax cables for my apartment and the adjacent apartment meet in one wall. The adjacent apartment has the same panel in the same place so if both are removed you can see from one closet into the other.

I told my neighbor that I would open my panel and take a look to see if it is an easy fix for me, otherwise I will call U-Verse support. As I was taking off the panel my neighbor returned to tell me that there is a bunch of wires coming out of the wall in his closet and he invites me to come take a look.

When I looked I was surprised to see about 10 coax cables all coming out of his access panel and not 1 is connected to a splitter or any other device. So this DIRECTV installer disconnected all of the wiring for my apartment and my neighbor’s apartment and then left for the day.

This installer definitely needs better tools! I know the AT&T U-Verse installers had tools to connect to a coax jack in the wall then identify which wire in the panel is the other end of that jack. If the DIRECTV installer had used a tool such as this they would not have disconnected my unrelated service!

My neighbors apologized (although it was not their fault) and stated that they would tell the DIRECTV installer to correct the mistake when returning. I have my doubts so I called U-Verse technical support and asked them to schedule a service call to repair my install for the day after the DIRECTV installer was supposed to return.

I know technical support has questions they have to ask to troubleshoot a problem but I explained the problem exactly in this manner then they still had to ask me what lights were on, on my modem, on my receivers, etc.

We’ll see if the DIRECTV installer corrected the mistake when I get home tonight!

See Comments for updates from me.

Yahoo! Flickr Rant

I hate just plain ranting but I can’t stop myself on this one.

I have internet through AT&T U-Verse. Prior to this coming February all subscribers received a free upgrade to Flickr Pro. This increases the maximum upload thresholds adds services like more photo collections/sets, etc. I have used this service extensively for my photo organizing.

This December I read that in an effort to cut cost AT&T would be discontinuing this offer for a free Flickr Pro account. I debated it and decided that I would pay the upgrade fee myself. So I went to the Flickr site and it gave me a message stating my account would expire in February but if I upgrade today then I will receive 2+ months free until that expiration date then my 1 year would kick in.

Instead of buying immediately I asked a family member to gift me a Flickr subscription for Christmas. On Christmas Eve I received the gift code and entered it to my Flickr account. First thing I notice is that the 1 year took effect that second, so my account showed that it would expire 12/24/09!

You can imagine I was quite disappointed to find that the subscription took effect instantly rather then when my current service would expire.

I emailed Flickr support to ask for an account credit. Please read their reply (minus agent’s name).


Thank you for contacting Yahoo! Billing.

I understand you are contacting us regarding your Yahoo! Flickr Pro gift

Unfortunately, we cannot issue the two months free as your subscription
is a gift and you have not paid for services.

I do apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Billing. If we can provide you
with any further information, please reply to this email.

“You have not paid for services” ?!?!?! What? I stole this? I got it for free? No it was paid at the same rate as any other customer.

Needless to say I have sent a follow-up email expressing my disappointment with their decision and reply.

See Comments for updates from me.