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I am on TV right now. Or, at least, I think I am. I don't know, because Comcast is the most miserable tech company I've ever had to deal with.

Err, actually the second most miserable, but only by a nose.

Some time ago, i got contacted by producers from the Oprah Winfrey network. They were shooting a segment of "Our America" about polyamory. I pointed them to some friends of mine, who they liked so much they set up a camera crew in their house for weeks. They also filmed a smigeon of zaiah and I, and... Anyway, I was curious to see how it all turned out.

The show was set to air today, something I didn't realize 'til this afternoon. So zaiah went down to the Comcast Worker's Dormitory, Public Relations Orifice, and Meat Processing Plant to pick up a cable box. We plugged it in. Went through a lengthy process on Comcast's miserable Net-site to "activate" the box, whatever that means. Web site said "OK, now activating your cable box, please wait 45 minutes."

Which is a little weird; in 45 minutes, Russian organized crime can infect 250,000 American PCs with malware, so taking 45 minutes to program a cable box seems inefficient. But whatever.

Then the Web site said "Success! Your cable box has been activated."

It lied.

Connect the box to the TV, nothing. Okay, bad cable maybe? Go outside the house, in the rain, diddle with the cable connection. Nothing. Replace the cable. Nothing. Run a known-good cable through the window into the house. Still nada.

Take the cable connector out of the wall. Looks good. Replace the cable that came with the cable box, the one that goes from the wall to the box. Still nada.

Call tech support. "No problem, we'll reset your cable box. Should take ten minutes."

10 minutes later, I'm 10 minutes older but no closer to working cable.

Move the cable box around the house in a bizarre game of whack-a-cable-outlet. Nothing works anywhere. (Seriously, who uses cable any more, anyway?)

OWN is not available streaming over the Internet; presumably, Oprah, who is, like, the richest woman in he world or something, isn't getting enough fees to allow Net streaming.

Okay, back on the phone with tech support. "We can't see your cable box."


Okay, fine. Move it to a different cable outlet. "We still can't see it. You're on a TV show, you say? About polyamory? What's that?"

The inevitable "what is polyamory?" conversation over, we start playing this whack-a-cable-outlet game again. No matter where we go, the tech says "I sill can't ping your cable box."

Go back online to Comcast's miserable activation page on Comcast's miserable Web site. "You have 1 cable device (1 not activated)."

Apparently, it will tell you "activation successful" even if the device in question is disconnected, turned off, shot repeatedly with a 12-gauge, and buried in a lead-lined box outside of Roswell, New Mexico beneath a crumpled up ball of aluminum foil and two empty cans of baked beans. When the Web site says "activation successful," that doesn't mean that the activation was successful, you see...it simply means that enough time has passed that the Comcast Central Babbage Engine should have been able to align the gears and pulleys to the right configuration to activate the box.

zaiah is still on the phone with the tech this whole time, while our dinner slowly turns to charcoal and then catches fire on the stove. The tech is being really patient (and curious), but nothing works.

Finally, I yank the cable out of the cable modem, which we know works on account of I was able to communicate through the web-net on the Internet-tubes to the Babbage engine that runs Comcast's Net-site, and plug it straight into the cable box.

"Oh," chirps the tech, "your cable box is defective. Please bring it to your nearest Comcast cable Box Redemption Center and place it on the redemption line."

Which might have explained why when zaiah picked it up from the Comcast Worker's Dormitory, Public Relations Orifice, and Meat Processing Plant the person-unit behind the counter mentioned casually as if in passing that she'd plug the box in and make sure the blinkenlights came on because "we've had a bunch of bad boxes lately."

So after four plus hours of work, we were unable to see the show. We had several friends over who were also on the program, because, like, who the fuck has cable nowadays anyway?

If you could even begin to feel one one-hundredth of the depth of my frustration and rage at Comcast right now, your monitor would catch fire.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Wesley Fenza
Mar. 6th, 2013 12:19 pm (UTC)
Will you be at Atlanta Poly Weekend? We'll be bringing a DVD of the show.
Mar. 6th, 2013 12:42 pm (UTC)
This is why piracy wins. People that don't know what the fuck they're talking about like to harp on price points and morality, but the simple fact is that piracy is often an overall better experience, even if you ignore the price factor.

I was also going to suggest that you find somebody who recorded it (and pirate from them!), but it looks like that's already been covered.
Mar. 6th, 2013 07:41 pm (UTC)
Indeed it is. I am actually considering writing a letter to Ms. Winfrey describing my ordeal attempting to pay money to watch her show legally, and ending it with "and the experience sucked so bad I'm torrenting it. No love, Franklin."
Mar. 6th, 2013 01:03 pm (UTC)
I *knew* it!!!! Your voice is very distinctive. But you didn't tweet about the show so I wasn't 100% til now. It was a great show sorry about the cable fuckery
Mar. 6th, 2013 03:09 pm (UTC)
Is there an online version of the show? I was in the air all day yesterday getting home from the west coast.
Mar. 6th, 2013 07:44 pm (UTC)
Not that I can find. There are trailers online, but that's it. As a proud new Comcast customer, I have Comcast Xfinity, which lets me watch TV channels that I have paid for on my computer...except OWN ("We're sorry, the Oprah Winfrey network is not available online"). I imagine they haven't given Ms. Winfrey enough money to add another private jet to her fleet or something.
Mar. 6th, 2013 08:00 pm (UTC)
If a copy of it should (*ahem*) ~accidentally~ end up on the net or in your hands, please let me know :)
Mar. 6th, 2013 04:56 pm (UTC)
I've been a Comcast victim. I know your pain. Super Dave Osborne RECORD PAIN! That's why I am a DirecTV customer now, and for the past 10 years. They offer the OWN channel and 24 to 48 hour service by relatively tech savvy personnel.
Mar. 6th, 2013 07:36 pm (UTC)
I feel so strongly about not supporting Comcast that when my housemates told me they wanted to switch our business DSL to Comcast to save money, I said that I would instead pay for the whole bill myself even though it's 1/5 of my rent. Thankfully, they hadn't bothered to check whether comcast serviced our house before arguing with me about it for a month... we are luckily in an area they don't serve.

Another thing I hate about Comcast - an "unlimited" service which actually has a cap on how much you can use it, and a company which doesn't hesitate to report grandma to the RIAA with no attempt to intervene.</p>

I spent a year tethering my phone after spending 4 months having no Internet (not slow internet - none) and building a faraday cage around my modem with tinfoil, only to be told by the last tech that the nearby radio tower would prevent functional service regardless. That guy ruled, but the rest of Comcast can die in a fire

Mar. 6th, 2013 10:30 pm (UTC)
tell me more about this cap...

and reporting Grandma...
Mar. 12th, 2013 06:30 pm (UTC)
It's been awhile since I researched it, but here are some past articles about the cap:

the RIAA story is old, but it stuck with me due to the many levels on which it was ridiculous: http://betanews.com/2005/02/04/riaa-sues-deceased-grandmother/
Mar. 12th, 2013 06:33 pm (UTC)

(as a means of comparison, our ISP speakeasy sent out an email about copyright infringement that described how it was possible that someone else could have done it and then went into great detail about proper network security and how to use https://www.torproject.org - thus earning my undying love and affection for many reasons ;)
Mar. 6th, 2013 07:44 pm (UTC)
Too bad you didn't get suzmonster as your tech.:)

Mar. 7th, 2013 02:08 am (UTC)
Oh, dear. If The Wife™ would allow, I would unplug that cable in a fast heartbeat.

You know, speaking of Cumcast bitching, here's a thought tech geeks would understand: Are they truly a cable provider anymore? After all, a cable used to be something you could plug into a telly and get shows; the coax was stuffed full of telly signal just waiting to be received and viewed.

Now, every cable customer (except for the "Limited Basic" folks that only get something like 30 channels) must have a box. That box, as you note in the OP, is essentially a proprietary internet decoding doohickey.

Except for 30 channels of content, Cumcast is now in the proprietary internet dissemination biz . . . which may or may not be a description that matches their monopolistic mandate.
Mar. 7th, 2013 04:53 am (UTC)

i don't know if these link helps, but i found this:



ohh, i think i found you! correct me if i'm wrong but is that you in 1:41? :D

i'll look and dig some more. i have the same problem. i refuse to buy cable tv because the prices are just insane. let me know if i can be more of a help!

Edited at 2013-03-07 05:04 am (UTC)
Mar. 7th, 2013 06:00 am (UTC)
i *definitely* hope this whole show ends up online somehow, someway. i was really surprised when i saw/heard you (in a good way) in one of the clips (before reading this post). what i did see looked really good and respectful of the people involved...
Mar. 7th, 2013 02:27 pm (UTC)
You shouldn't fuck Comcast in any orifice; you don't want to risk the resultant infection.
Mar. 9th, 2013 02:34 pm (UTC)
Just wanted to say, i'm still in love with your mind. Even frustrated, you have me rolling on the floor. :D

I recorded that episode, btw, with no clue that y'all were on it. Guess i'll have to watch it now.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )