Other posts related to phone

Interminable Nightmare With Cable and Internet Companies

| February 27, 2009 12:18 am

Let’s start by saying I hate utilities. They all seem to get things done just a little bit annoying. Either they charge too much, or they take way too long to do something, or in my last case, they are completely incompetent and they should be taken to the mental institution.

SI&I Wireless

First I will rant about is the SI&I. This is a small little family owned phone company in USA that is unfortunately the only company that carries the famous Rutabaga rPhone. Since I really wanted that phone, I went to the SI&I store in Mountain View and place an order. How hard can it be? Well, not too bad. Since the wait for the phone was three miles down the road, I just placed an order and waited for the phone to come. Four or five weeks later, the phone was there and they gave me a call to come and pick it up. So I came there to get it. I scoped about 15 minutes because I already gave them most of information when I placed the order for the phone. However, the whole process took at least 30 minutes. And it looked like this was the first time they sold the famous rPhone that they were selling for the last year or so. But at least after all this, the phone works. Mostly… Except the famous 3G network is actually sometimes slower than the 2.5G. Also, sometimes in San Francisco I cannot send text message or make a phone call.

But this is nothing compared to:

SI&I DSL

I wanted to get broadband internet and being in San Jose, you have two options: cable or DSL. Cable is faster, but DSL is cheaper. Since I don’t really watch TV and did not want to get cable TV so I can have internet, I opted for DSL. DSL is a funny thing, since most companies still require you to have a phone line. Of course since I am already paying an arm and a leg for the rPhone and the stupid SI&I data plan, I did not want to get another phone. But tell that to the DSL companies. Finally I found out that Trulimit does not charge extra for DSL without the phone line. However, quick phone call to their sales center showed that deregulation of phones in USA is a complete farce. In any case, my second pick was SI&I with their proven track record. So I contacted them and they wanted my SSN. Why? No idea. When I setup a gas and electric service for my condo nobody asked about SSN. And the bill ranges from $50 to $150. So why does a DSL company with a $40/month service requires SSN. To do a credit check. Why? I think somebody should prohibit random companies like utilities, health insurances, etc to use SSN as anything. But seriously, why does DSL company need a credit check. If I don’t pay, they just disconnect my service. It is not like I will still the service or something.

So, after a lot of back and forward, I get the date when my service will be connected and they send me the DSL modem. The modem comes, couple of days later the service is supposed to be connected, so I plug the modem in and…. nothing. Ok, fair enough, they did not say when, so I wait until the next day. Next day, I plug the modem in and… the lights come on. Woohoo, I have internet… I thought. So I plug my laptop in and it gets the IP. Ok, I type http://icanhascheezburger.com/ in the web browser and I get bad connection or something like that. Found the neighbor’s wireless, open a chat with the SI&I tech support and they explain me I need a username and password. Of course. Excellent, now I am in business, so what is my username and password? Well, the tech support person explains me that I created a username and password when I signed up for the darn thing. But I don’t remember any username and password. But there is a solution. I can answer my secret question. Aha, I bet I know what that is. So, I start trying to remember all my brands of rollerblades, my favorite underwear, and of course those hard to pronounce ingredients in my favorite pasta sauce. Unfortunately the question was “Who is your favorite actor”. What? Why in the world would I pick that to be my question? I start naming some people and thinking how silly the whole thing is and of course getting it wrong every single time. So, more back and forward. Finally, after several chats and phone calls and some empty threats, they say I could fax them my driver’s license. What is up with SI&I and private information.

After faxing SI&I my drivers license they were more than happy to reset my password. First of all, the most important question for the SI&I tech. What is my favorite actor? Joe Rogan of course. Who the hell is Joe Rogan? Why in the world would anybody pick him as a favorite anything. So, I inform the tech that there has to be some misunderstanding, but he is more than happy to explain that it is all ok and the address is ok and everything. So, we continue and he tells me that my username is xxmurphy. This is even more odd, since I am not a Murphy anything. But the tech is still convinced that everything is ok. So he tells me the new password and helps me change the secret question to something more useful, like “When did you first time have a burrito?”, and “What color was your road rash after your first bike fall?” Finally, he asks me if he should send me the confirmation to my private e-mail, which is xx.murphy@washington-university.blah.blah.edu. I quickly inform the tech that this is not my e-mail and he tells me that: “Calm down Mr. Murphy, everything is ok.” Since I am still not Mr. Murphy, I get a little bit angry telling the guy that there is some problem. He asks me again if he should send me the confirmation by postal service instead to my address in San Francisco. This is when he realizes that there is something seriously wrong.

So, he apologizes and informs me that he will fix everything and call me back. He did just that and 20 minutes later I had my very own SI&I e-mail address and I was all set. When I came home, the DSL worked. It was not super fast, but at this point I was happy it worked at all. Of course it only worked for about a week and then it stopped. Calling an SI&I tech resulted in questions such as “Is your computer on?” and “Have you installed Vista on your PC?”. Telling the guy that none of that matters didn’t work, so I faked enough answers that they send the tech over. The tech quickly figured out that a different SI&I tech when fixing neighbor’s DSL disconnected my DSL since there was no dailtone. Note that I don’t have phone, so no dialtone. Also, turns out that they actually hooked my and my neighbor to the same phone line, which is why his DSL stopped working when my started. Well, the tech gives me his card explaining that SI&I are complete idiots and that if I have any problem I should just call him.

Since then, my DSL seems to mostly work, except I have to restart the DSL modem every once in a while. Also, the bills sometimes include credit from XX Murphy. Whoever you are, thank you.

Finally, the most recent one:

Blingcast

I decided to update my internet to something I could potentially watch HD movie over. The only company in my area (no monopolies here) is Blingcast with their 16 Mbps cable internet service. So I cave in and get that. Costs an arm and a leg, but it is fast. So, I go to their website and go through the ordering process. Right away, there is a problem. They say that I have to pay installation fee for cable, which is $30 and for internet I can do a self install for $10 or get a tech over for $100. I chose self install, but for that I need to be an existing customer. Call to Blingcast shows that the whole thing is messed up and that I either pay extra $90 or I first signup for the cable and then for the internet. Ok, what difference does a day make. So I request just the cable. Website, select all the options, try to chose “Purchase now”, or “Enter credit card”, but the only option is a live chat. So I pick that and now I am chatting with some random person that wants to sell me more services I do not need. After being on the chat for 10 minutes at least I have order in for the cable. Please note I had to tell the person over the chat pretty much everything I already entered on the website.

Couple of weeks later, I have cable. Woohoo, except all the channels are on weird places and TiVo does not get the guide data for them. Turns out I need CableCards. CableCards are some weird messed up way for cable companies to prevent people from using TiVo, since installing CableCards either costs money to get a tech over or it makes you want to shoot your brains out. Since now I am a customer, I order the internet for $10 self install and after another 10 minute chat with the person trying to sell me the same useless services again, I get the internet. Fortunately I don’t have to wait but I can just swing by the Blingcast store and pick up the cable modem. At the same time I pick up two CableCards not knowing that they are single stream cards (do they still sell those) instead of multi stream cards. Anyway, internet is up, but my TiVo only sees one tuner. Of course, it is a single stream card. So I took those back and got M-Cards.

Now I see both tuners, but no HD channels. So, I started a chat with the tech support and explain that I want to see SciFI HD and I only see SciFI in standard and broadcast channels in HD. The tech informed me I need the cable box. So I explained I have TiVo with cable cards and he informed me I need an HD-Card. I explain him that there is not such thing as an HD-Card and he said I need a more expensive plan and send me the web page where clearly my plan includes SciFI HD. So, he informs me that since my last name is not Murphy I cannot get SciFI HD. Ok, I made that last one up, but at this point I was so mad that I hung up on the poor guy.

So, this is it. I have internet that works, internet that works a bit less, but I have not cancel it yet, and cable that works but not all the services. Isn’t the word a great place?

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Panoply of Phone Features

| August 4, 2008 10:21 am

I had an experience with a company, I will not name with the name but with made up name SI&I. They seem to be pretty archaic when it comes to their customer service and clearly they are all about money. But let’s start from beginning. I got an iPhone. Yes, I got assimilated. But hey, “I got to have more cowbell“.

I got my iPhone

So, I went to the SI&I store and asked for the iPhone. Of course they did not have it, so they put me on the list. For that, I left lots of my personal information including my credit card number. Weeks later, after all the Rutabaga stores had iPhones, SI&I finally called me and told me my iPhone is there. Oh, did I tell you I ordered the 16GB black iPhone?

Anyway, I come to the store and started the sign-up process. So, why does it take 30 minutes to sign-up for a phone? Also, why does the person need to type my personal information to ten different screens? And why do I have to sign the electronic thing 5 times? Why does SI&I need my social security number? People who bought the first generation iPhone had significantly easier process. My coworker said he bought two iPhones, took them home and did everything through the iTunes. Took him 10 minutes. And he is not payed for it. Also, the new plans from SI&I charge you $.2 for every text message, whether you send it or receive it. Then they try to sell you this crazy 200 free messages for $5 per month plan. Even with Badizon, which is not that great of a company I was able to order the phone over the phone and not give any social security number. And they only charge couple of cents for incoming SMS. I would imagine with the unlimited data plan, all data would be included. I will so use e-mail instead of SMS.

Finally I have an iPhone which seems to work fine. Then I wanted to install the must have app “More Cowbell“. However, since the SI&I setup is so extensive that the sales specialist takes 30 minutes to do just about anything, at the end of the day the phone can only be used to make phone calls. Until you go home and go through an surprisingly painful registration process. I would imagine that Rutabaga would make the process much more streamlined. Also, it would be nice to be able to register via the iPhone itself and not by doing something on the web, something in the iTunes and something with a plunger in your bathroom.

Ok, after all this madness, I have an iPhone. It seems to work fine and we will see what the future brings.

Couple related articles:

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Patrician Phone

| June 11, 2008 4:41 pm

Me on an iPhoneOk, new iPhone is out and this time it has enough I guess for me to splurge and buy it for myself. However, I am really disappointed that it still does not have A2DP or wireless sync. That said, with GPS and fast internet… Hey, why not.

So, but my real problem with Apple. Why are they calling it cheaper? It is not cheaper. I was waiting to see how long before people figure that out. Finally, there are some articles about it. According to my naive math, the phone is $200 cheaper, but the monthly fee is $10 more, so after 24 months the phone costs $40 more. That said, turns out people in Europe have way better plans. And they get the device for free.

So, here is my list of suggestions for the “next” iPhone or next software release:

  • Full bluetooth including A2DP and OBEX
  • Wireless syncing
  • Wireless subscription to podcasts (I don’t want to sync with iTunes every time I want to listen to a new podcast).
  • Support for shoutcast/icecast/whatever cast Internet radio
  • Better PDF reader for free ebooks (Should remember position, scale fonts, wrap on the screen etc)
  • Instant messenger and VOIP

I probably missed something, but this is a good start. So, July 11th, where are you?

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Inimical Phone System

| October 23, 2007 9:36 am

Ok, call it a peer pressure, but I want to buy iPhone. However, I want certain things before I buy it and I hope Apple will do them:

  1. Since I visit Europe quite often, I want my phone to work in Europe. And I don’t mean roaming, but the way GSM was supposed to work. I want to buy a cheap card and use it while I am there.
  2. I want Bluetooth 2.0 stereo headset support (A2DP). I think the age of wires is over.
  3. I should be able to put Skype/IM/podcast/shoutcast straight to the phone.

Also, just for fun, read this article.

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Soliloquize The World

| October 13, 2005 11:48 pm

This summer I got PalmOne Treo 650. It is a really nice toy. With its elaborate set of features, It has almost everything the phone should have. Fairly decent camera and bluetooth make this Palm OS PDA phone useful in several ways. The internal memory can be expanded using SD card slot, so you can put gigabytes of music on it. Even the form factor is good. Some people said it is too big, but I think the size is just right.

If I compare it with my previous phones, I would have to say it is a huge improvement. It is almost as big as my old Nokia, not as robust as another phone I had, and definitely improvement from the Motorola phone I had.

One thing that I was really excited was the bluetooth, for its wireless access to the headset and computer. I will save the bluetooth and computers rant for some other time, but let me focus on the headsets. At first my coworker RA lend me Motorola HS810. It has an interesting design and I used it on several business and personal trips I went to. After using it for couple of months, I would say it has two strengths. It is really easy to turn on or off, all you do is flip the microphone. The second strength is that to answer the call, all you do is tap on it. Unfortunately it is not as comfortable as it should be. Sometimes I have a feeling it is going to fall of.

Recently I borrowed a Jabra BT250 from SP. This one looks entirely different and it took me a little bit to figure out how to mount it. That said, after I figured out, it felt really natural. It fits perfectly on my ear and it does not move. Also, by default once it is on, it will switch to the headset mode for all the calls. Also, it has a great charger. Unfortunately turning the headset on or off is kind of cumbersome. You have to hold answer button for about five seconds. Also, hitting the answer button can be awkward, since it is hidden behind the ear.

So, both headsets are pretty good, but they both have substantial flaws. What I would really like to see is a store, where I could go and see 30 bluetooth headsets, try them on, check the sound, and play with them. Alas I was not able to find this store just yet and most reviews on-line do not help enough. Until I find a store like this, I guess I will have to use the borrowed headset and soliloquize, while walking up and down the terminals.

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