[Zagreus] oh geez

edited December 2001 in General Discussion

Comments

  • edited December 1969
    Since I moved to Seattle (15 months ago) I've been trying to get a broadband connection. The problem is, unless you want to pay $60/month (in my book that's not a good price for consumer service) your options are two: DSL through Qwest or a cable modem through ATT. And that's been the logjam, Qwest has a deal with Microsoft that makes MSN pretty much the mandatory ISP, and that means their DSL is Windows-only. Meanwhile the @Home mess kept me from signing up with ATT.

    So I've been waiting for ATT to start taking new customers for that network they're building, and finally today I got through. I was going through the registration process, when I got to the system requirements. Guess what?

    It's Windows only.

    $%#*$*(#(*#%^#%$*)#_(&*(#%^^%@& !!!!!!

    What consummate bullshit. So now my choice is a crappy dialup connection, overpriced DSL through rickety ISPs that will probably be out of business in six months, or assimilation by the Borg. Wheee.

    Mark
  • edited December 1969
    Re: oh geez

    So I've been waiting for ATT to start taking new customers for
    that network they're building, and finally today I got through.
    I was going through the registration process, when I got to the
    system requirements. Guess what?

    It's Windows only.

    AT&T's cable internet is Windows-only? Are you sure about that? They do have a "configurator" application that is Windows-only, but the service itself shouldn't be -- you ought to be able to connect with a Mac. (I suppose the flavor of AT&T cable internet available in your neck of the woods might be different, but it sounds wrong to me.)
  • edited December 1969
    Re: oh geez

    AT&T's cable internet is Windows-only? Are you sure about that?
    They do have a "configurator" application that is
    Windows-only, but the service itself shouldn't be -- you ought
    to be able to connect with a Mac. (I suppose the flavor of AT&T
    cable internet available in your neck of the woods might be
    different, but it sounds wrong to me.)

    To order the service in my area you have to designate your operating system. The choices are WinNT/2000 or Win95/98/XP. End of story, at least for now.

    Maybe they'll get around to offering it for *nix and Mac. Or then again maybe they won't. I guess I'll have to wait and see.

    Mark
  • edited December 1969
    Re: oh geez

    To order the service in my area you have to designate your
    operating system. The choices are WinNT/2000 or Win95/98/XP. End
    of story, at least for now.

    Maybe they'll get around to offering it for *nix and Mac. Or
    then again maybe they won't. I guess I'll have to wait and see.

    Mark

    im quite sure it works for mac. i was on the old @home service with my mac and they switched me over to the new network within 3 hours of @home going down. this is down in oregon but im pretty sure it's the same up in seattle. you may just have to give them a call and order through a person rather than off a website. this sounds more like a problem with how it is presented on the signup page.

    -kalli
  • edited December 1969
    Bah!

    i was on the old @home service
    with my mac and they switched me over to the new network within
    3 hours of @home going down.

    Curse you! Theoretically, they have completed the switchover here as well, but there are still "network problems" in pockets around my area, and guess whose home is in a pocket? Grr... I haven't had net access from home for 11 days now.

    Sonsabitches.
  • edited December 1969
    [b]I don't do business with AT&T any more[/b]

    I used to love AT&T. They were the best. They had the best customer service, they had the clearest, most reliable, reasonably priced long distance service... now they just suck dead bunnies through a used gas filter backwards.

    I'm through using AT&T products after they shafted me for digital cable, charging me for service that never happened, never giving me the promised free PPV movies, and being completely unresponsive to outages. When you call the AT&T broadband offices here in San Jose, there's always an option "press # to hear current outages", and *EVERY SINGLE TIME* I have pressed that number, the message I hear is "we are aware of several outages in the ... San Jose Area ... and our technicians are working on the problem."

    Had AT&T Worldnet dialup service last year, too. Not for long. Get this ... when I had Worldnet service, the only way to find a customer service number on the Worldnet site was to go to the special Worldnet customer service pages. To get there, you had to sign in. I had a problem with my account, because some CSR had changed my password, and disconnected me before telling me the new one. I noticed the ridiculous catch 22, and went to file a complaint to their webmaster. After wading through several pages looking for contact info, I finally found a link to a "report an issue with the site" page... with verbiage like "We value your opinions and know your internet service is important to you, blah blah blah." Clicked on the link ... nothing happened. 404 error. Page not found.

    I am SO through with AT&T.

    I now have DirecTV satellite service, and an ISP that is in no way affiliated with AT&T (except that it was a part of the monopoly in the good ol'days). I recently found out that a huge reason for my overwhelmingly positive experience with SBC Pacific Bell was that they were whacked with a class action suit this summer that fined them something like 40 million for DSL service "wackyness". I guess I get to find out how long it takes them to forget that lesson ...

    _/ C

    p.s. BE A RESPONSIBLE CONSUMER! It's hard to find creative alternatives to monopolies, but it's worth it when it works out.
  • edited December 1969
    Zag...

    Since I moved to Seattle (15 months ago) I've been trying to get
    a broadband connection. The problem is, unless you want to pay
    $60/month (in my book that's not a good price for consumer
    service) your options are two: DSL through Qwest or a cable
    modem through ATT. And that's been the logjam, Qwest has a deal
    with Microsoft that makes MSN pretty much the mandatory ISP, and
    that means their DSL is Windows-only. Meanwhile the @Home mess
    kept me from signing up with ATT.

    So I've been waiting for ATT to start taking new customers for
    that network they're building, and finally today I got through.
    I was going through the registration process, when I got to the
    system requirements. Guess what?

    It's Windows only.

    $%#*$*(#(*#%^#%$*)#_(&*(#%^^%@& !!!!!!

    What consummate bullshit. So now my choice is a crappy dialup
    connection, overpriced DSL through rickety ISPs that will
    probably be out of business in six months, or assimilation by
    the Borg. Wheee.

    Mark,

    I have this picture in my head that you're like alot of my home-based clients... you're skilled with your computer but you don't bother looking under-the-hood too much. No, that's not meant as an insult, and if came off as that, I apologize. I only mention it so you don't get offended when I tell you that you don't need to worry about any sort of platform requirements when it comes to DSL or Cable... the 'platform requirements' are simply a way for them to not deal with support issues. But technically it'll work just fine.

    The ONLY possible snag is if the Cable/DSL modem they send you is USB based OR a PCI card. Meaning it's supposed to connect to your machine via USB (which requires special software that's only out for PC's nowadays) or it's supposed to go inside your PC in a card slot (which also requires special PC only driver software). *BUT* 99% of the connections to DSL/Cable is via ethernet, and if you've ever plugged your computer into a network then you're all set.

    Many times, I've had a client 'fake' their sign-up... claim they have a pc and all that and then when the installer shows up at the door, let them in, have them look at the mac, and then freak. The client then takes the parts and equipment from the installer and sends him on his way to his next job. Then the client calls me and we walk thru the installation over the phone. It's no big deal, really... if it's cable, usually you don't need to do anything... just plug it into your computer and go. The IP is served via DHCP meaning it's automatically programmed for you. DSL might require a few more steps, but it should still be no big deal.

    I offer you my services, Mark, so go for the cable service and get ready to get connected to some blazing hi-speed access. If you can choose, get the 'self-install' kit and the rest should be a cake walk. We can pick a time to chat when it's convenient for the two of us.

    Go for it, I mean, what do you have to lose?

    Take care....

    - Miguel / FW



    Bungie Sightings
    image
  • edited December 1969
    Re: I don't do business with AT&T any more

    I used to love AT&T. They were the best. They had the best
    customer service, they had the clearest, most reliable,
    reasonably priced long distance service... now they just suck
    dead bunnies through a used gas filter backwards.

    I am beginning to agree with you, but the hassle of switching to another service, and the options available in my area, make me inclined to see this particular glitch out and hope for the best down the road. But this plan may not last much longer. Here's why:

    I spent about two hours on the phone last night, mostly on hold, getting to a first-level and then a senior tech, only to be told that (a) there are no outages in my area and (b) they couldn't seem to find my cable modem's MAC in their database, so they would have to escalate to "Task: Provision" -- essentially dooming me to at least another day of no home service. (The Provisioning crew is supposed to call me "in 12-24 hours" from last night at 11:30 or so. The tech was very nice and sympathetic, but he also said it might take them a couple of days to call, since they are so backed up with this transition from @Home. Then, after they call, who knows how long it will take them to get my modem back into their system....) What is especially frustrating is that nothing on my end or in my area has changed since Saturday, when I first got a senior tech on the line -- but she told me that it was a server problem in the area, and either didn't get to the point where she could see that my modem wasn't provisioned properly, or didn't notice it. My guess is that this has been the problem all along for the past four days, but they were focused entirely on server and gateway problems and didn't bother to look for other explanations in my case.

    I'm going to look into DSL, but frankly that's a losing proposition around here too, since I believe everything depends on Ameritech for the wire -- and Ameritech is worse than any other utility company I have ever dealt with.

    FWIW, we haven't had any issues with our AT&T digital cable, other than the fact that my town doesn't get the Food Channel or C-SPAN. But we only wanted the bare minimum service. I'm thinking of going for a dish at some point, but Mrs. Bloodrain is resisting.
  • edited December 1969
    Re: Zag...

    No, that's not
    meant as an insult, and if came off as that, I apologize.

    Free:

    Something I've learned the hard way is, if you ever find yourself prefacing a comment with the phrase, "Now, I don't mean to give offense," you should simply not say what you were intending. It will most certainly give offense.

    Of course the network is not platform-specific. Give me some credit; @Home and others have been signing up Mac users for years and years, and how stupid would I have to be not to know that? But if the company offering the service wants to put artificial barriers in place, they can do so. Can I go behind their back and acquire the service even so? Maybe. Do I want to do so if that means I won't receive even the most basic customer support? I'm not so sure.

    I posted this to share the frustration of running into one more example of modern corporate stupidity. ATT is pretending that a service that should be available for anyone with an Ethernet card is actually restricted to one platform; I found that ludicrous and outrageous and thought it was interesting enough to share with friends. Now I regret the whole thing. I share an anecdote and end up defending myself. What fun.

    Mark

  • edited December 1969
    ick!

    Free:

    Something I've learned the hard way is, if you ever find
    yourself prefacing a comment with the phrase, "Now, I don't
    mean to give offense," you should simply not say what you
    were intending. It will most certainly give offense.

    Of course the network is not platform-specific. Give me some
    credit; @Home and others have been signing up Mac users for
    years and years, and how stupid would I have to be not to know
    that? But if the company offering the service wants to put
    artificial barriers in place, they can do so. Can I go behind
    their back and acquire the service even so? Maybe. Do I want to
    do so if that means I won't receive even the most basic customer
    support? I'm not so sure.

    I posted this to share the frustration of running into one more
    example of modern corporate stupidity. ATT is pretending that a
    service that should be available for anyone with an Ethernet
    card is actually restricted to one platform; I found that
    ludicrous and outrageous and thought it was interesting enough
    to share with friends. Now I regret the whole thing. I share an
    anecdote and end up defending myself. What fun.

    Mark

    I never figured you'd end up defending yourself. I was sincerely trying to help. Your original message showed frustration and I was trying to alleviate that. Since you didn't spell out that you knew the barrier was artificial, I thought I would spell that out for you. My bad, I'm sorry.

    - Mig

    Bungie Sightings
  • edited December 1969
    Zag on the Rag?

    Hailz!

    Yo! Freewill! You can give me all the free, usefull advice you want and I promise I won't spit in your face.

    N8
  • edited December 1969
    Free Advice:

    Hailz!

    Yo! Freewill! You can give me all the free, usefull advice you
    want and I promise I won't spit in your face.

    N8

    Use a spellchecker. It's "useful". ;^)

    You're a grumpy old man and your facial hair tickles, but we love you all the same! ;^)

    Ratbert #CP#
  • edited December 1969
    Chicago Ameritech DSL

    I'm going to look into DSL, but frankly that's a losing
    proposition around here too, since I believe everything depends
    on Ameritech for the wire -- and Ameritech is worse than any
    other utility company I have ever dealt with.

    Keep in mind this is only one case, but I had the pleasure of helping my bro-in-law hook up with Ameritech back in October. They live in Wheaton. The short of it: the hardware install/hookup was sweet; their web services suck. I don't know exactly how long they waited, but when I got there, Ameritech had called earlier that week to say the line was ready (they did it all without needing access to the inside of the house). He had chosen a do-it-yourself install (which I didn't know even existed) and had a box with all the hardware there ready to roll. Sure enough, after about 20 minutes on a Saturday night, we had the modem (external, pleasently enough) up with full tree of green lights. Now, keep in mind that the whole do-it-yourself box came from SBC, not Ameritech. The directions were clear and easy.

    Next step: connect to the Ameritech LAN website and sign up for the real service. Problem: the site was down... and had no obvious message as such. So we called tech support (also by SBC) and got a very helpful and frank tech who said the website has a lot of problems but that it should be up in a day or so. Sunday came and it was up and we were able to sign up just fine (finally). Reconfigure the PPPoE software, reconnect, and we are on the internet for real.

    Next step: Set up e-mail, etc. Problem: You got it... website down. Or at least their user database was unable to access their records. It took several hours on a Monday morning before we actually saw a real error message instead of just a lack of server response. This problem was not fixed before I left later in the day and he was left to finish that part off by himself.

    From the little testing I did have time to do, the performace was as advertised at 768k (or whatever the faster offering is), I believe, although my bro-in-law said they are quite close to the CO.

    image
  • edited December 1969
    Re: Chicago Ameritech DSL

    Keep in mind this is only one case, but I had the pleasure of
    helping my bro-in-law hook up with Ameritech back in October.
    They live in Wheaton. The short of it: the hardware
    install/hookup was sweet; their web services suck.

    Well, as you can see, I'm back. AT&T must have fixed my connection some time this evening, because before dinner it was down and now it's up. (Next stop: the Billing Department! "How much free service you gonna gimme?!")

    My experiences with Ameridreck when I was having DSL installed in Evanston are almost a Greek tragedy or a Russian comedy or something... I won't go into it here, but suffice to say that I will never buy DSL service from them. They screwed up my non-Ameritech DSL service a couple of times (since they of course control the actual wire).
  • edited December 1969
    DirecTV vs. AT&T Digital Cable

    'round here all the AT&T commercials about how AT&T is a better value than satellite is a bunch of hooey. My DirecTV service (just under $37) costs LESS than the bottom-of-the-line AT&T service we were getting (just under $44), INCLUDING local channels, and six months of free Showtime (and TMC and FLIX).

    And all the hardware & installation were free. And there is no tariff for the reciever. Part of the AT&T monthly charge is an absurd $7.95/mo for the box. AT&T's false advertising also claims that you can hook up more than one TV to watch digital programming without paying more. Wrong. In San Jose, you can hook up a splitter to a second TV with the wires, but you need an A/B switch to switch channels, and you don't get digital channels. To hook up a second TV for digital channels, or to tape one show while watching another, you need to pony up another $7.95 for a second converter.

    What's more, the picture is *much* cleaner on DirecTV, even on channels that were available digitally on AT&T. They dropped out all the time on me, with gross MPEG artifacts that the AT&T Motorola reciever seemed to take forever to recover from. DirecTV has interactive features that AT&T digital doesn't have. The DirecTV interactive programming guide is much cleaner, less obtrusive, and has more features. And did I mention the dozen extra channels I get (stuff like MuchMusic, Oxygen, Fox Movies, Noggin, Nat'l Geographic channel, Biography channel -- all that stuff costs extra with AT&T), did I mention that? Not to mention adult programming channels, which weren't available at all on AT&T.

    The only downside for me so far has been that I lost UPN and WB access. Well, not lost, I just didn't bother to hook up a UHF antenna just to watch Buffy, Enterprise and Special Unit 2. Oh, and all the cable programming is aired at Eastern time zone times. Only minor issues for me, one solvable with a piece of wire, and one, if or when it becomes an issue, solvable with a VHS cassette.

    _/ C


  • edited December 1969
    More DirecTV raves here... lotsa info...

    'round here all the AT&T commercials about how AT&T is a better
    value than satellite is a bunch of hooey. My DirecTV service
    (just under $37) costs LESS than the bottom-of-the-line AT&T
    service we were getting (just under $44), INCLUDING local
    channels, and six months of free Showtime (and TMC and FLIX).

    And all the hardware & installation were free. And there is
    no tariff for the reciever. Part of the AT&T monthly charge is
    an absurd $7.95/mo for the box. AT&T's false advertising also
    claims that you can hook up more than one TV to watch digital
    programming without paying more. Wrong. In San Jose, you can
    hook up a splitter to a second TV with the wires, but you need
    an A/B switch to switch channels, and you don't get digital
    channels. To hook up a second TV for digital channels, or to
    tape one show while watching another, you need to pony up
    another $7.95 for a second converter.

    What's more, the picture is *much* cleaner on DirecTV, even on
    channels that were available digitally on AT&T. They dropped out
    all the time on me, with gross MPEG artifacts that the AT&T
    Motorola reciever seemed to take forever to recover from.
    DirecTV has interactive features that AT&T digital doesn't have.
    The DirecTV interactive programming guide is much cleaner, less
    obtrusive, and has more features. And did I mention the dozen
    extra channels I get (stuff like MuchMusic, Oxygen, Fox Movies,
    Noggin, Nat'l Geographic channel, Biography channel -- all that
    stuff costs extra with AT&T), did I mention that? Not to mention
    adult programming channels, which weren't available at all on
    AT&T.

    The only downside for me so far has been that I lost UPN and WB
    access. Well, not lost, I just didn't bother to hook up a UHF
    antenna just to watch Buffy, Enterprise and Special Unit 2. Oh,
    and all the cable programming is aired at Eastern time zone
    times. Only minor issues for me, one solvable with a piece of
    wire, and one, if or when it becomes an issue, solvable with a
    VHS cassette.

    _/ C

    I have DirecTV as well and, like yourself, and very very pleased with it. The price is also about $40 for me. And I'm getting *SIX* HBO channels. I can watch HBO on both East and West coast, which means if I miss a program I have 3 hours to catch it again. This has made my viewing habits much easier on my schedule, believe you me. If you're a fan of Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Oz, Sex and the City, etc., it really makes it easier to catch these shows.

    One thing to keep in mind, is that there's also MPEG compression artifacts in the DirecTV stream, but I can live with that since my local Time/Warner digital cable (which I ALSO have in only one room, the bedroom... soon to be canceled) even though it *should* be cleaner, isn't. DirecTV, even with the slight artifacting, is still better. It's only in 'smooth' and 'dark' camera shots that the artifacting can get really annoying but that's few and far between.

    Since it *is* satellite, it requires line-of-site with the equator, which was no problem from my rooftop. Rain, thunderstorms, and heavy snow can disrupt the signal, but it's only affected me a handful of times. Annoying, but no biggie. There are supposedly 'shields' you can buy that minimize this affect (some fabric that gets wrapped around the dish) but I never tried it out.

    As for the problem you have with the timezone thing Carch... are you saying that the box's built-in show directory is listing playtimes for movies and shows in EST? If so, I'm pretty sure that's an editable setting. Just go to your main menu and poke around. You can set your timezone somewhere in there, I'm fairly certain.

    Also, Carch, if you lost some local channels, keep an eye on your channel selection profile list... it took a while but I eventually got back UPN and WB. The inclusion of local channels is a political thing, and I know that DirecTV has to convince those local broadcasters to allow inclusion. It has to do with advertising bucks, yadda yadda yadda. It looks like it just takes time before it eventually gets added. A year or so ago, DirecTV behaved more like a regular satellite dish provider, and could legally not offer any local channels. Thankfully, some FCC roadblocks got overturned, and now DirecTV can compete with local cable companies.

    Other benefits... if you buy another box, you only pay $5 or so extra, the satellite dish can accomodate 2 cable runs. There is no 'rental' charge for the box itself, and you can purchase such a box for approx. $99. If you happen to get an HDTV DirecTV box, which I'm currently investigating, you don't pay any *extra* monthly charges for the HDTV channels, which completely floored me!! However the box itself is an expensive one time fee... about $600. That floored me too! :-) Also, keep in mind that with HDTV DirecTV you are very likely getting more HDTV channels that what you can probably get if you bought an HDTV antenna for your local channels. HBO comes in HDTV, as does certain PBS shows, and plenty of the major networks show as well. For instance, with the WTC tragedy, even though NBC broadcast shows in HDTV, their special antenna was gone, so if you were getting the signal via antenna, you no longer had it here in NYC, however DirecTV gets the HDTV signal direct from NBC, so those users had no such interruption.

    My RCA DirecTV box came with an RF remote unit... meaning you can control the box from all parts of my house. No need for an A/B switch and all channels are still digital. The benefit here is that you can have the box wired to more than one tv and can control it from different rooms. Of course, that means all tv's show the same channel, but that's not so bad considering. RF is a very cool upgrade to regular infrared, which requires line-of-sight. This is all better than what Cable here can provide.

    Also, you can buy DirecTV/Tivo combined units (something I'm also looking into) and have a super-easy way of recording all your favorite shows automatically. The Tivo units nowadays come with over 30 hours of recording time. Amazing stuff! If you're willing to hack, you can increase that to some insanely amount of time... like 120 hours or something. Folks, I think, have also been dumping those recorded shows back to their computers, somehow... since the Tivo boxes are just Linux boxes with a 30gb hard drive. The one downside I've read about these combo DirecTV/Tivo units is that the menu for the on-screen programming is much slower than the straight-ahead DirecTV unit, since it has to access a much larger database of shows and stuff, so I've read. Still, to automatically tell it to record any showing of Enterprise or Buffy and have it, without fail, record it for you til the end of time is a pretty nifty feature. :)

    Cable is still only good for one thing: internet access. :-) So I'm not getting rid of my cable modem anytime soon, but my tv viewing is DirecTV all the way!

    - FW/MC


    Bungie Sightings
  • edited December 1969
    Re: More DirecTV raves here... lotsa info...

    One thing to keep in mind, is that there's also MPEG compression
    artifacts in the DirecTV stream, but I can live with that since
    my local Time/Warner digital cable (which I ALSO have in only
    one room, the bedroom... soon to be canceled) even though it
    *should* be cleaner, isn't. DirecTV, even with the slight
    artifacting, is still better. It's only in 'smooth' and 'dark'
    camera shots that the artifacting can get really annoying but
    that's few and far between.

    My in-laws have DTV and I recently installed an S-video cable for them. The picture improved by a very noticable amount. All snow was gone, which we really never even noticed before untill we installed the S-vid cable. The graphics on the guide are tons sharper. I really didn't think the cable would make that big of a difference since I thought the TV resolution was already maxed out for most things. But I guess I was wrong. Their picture is crystal clear now. I'm not sure if it's at all related to what you are talking about, though. I'll have to look with a critical eye over Christmas.

    The only thing I dislike is how it goes out during big rain storms. That's quite frustrating, especially if you are trying to get severe weather updates! This is where you can really see that you're getting digital video as the decompression tries to work on incomplete frames :)


    image
  • edited December 1969
    Re: More DirecTV raves here... lotsa info...

    I have DirecTV as well and, like yourself, and very very pleased
    with it. The price is also about $40 for me. And I'm getting
    *SIX* HBO channels. I can watch HBO on both East and West coast,
    which means if I miss a program I have 3 hours to catch it
    again. This has made my viewing habits much easier on my
    schedule, believe you me. If you're a fan of Sopranos, Curb Your
    Enthusiasm, Oz, Sex and the City, etc., it really makes it
    easier to catch these shows.

    DTV is a definite maybe at this point, especially since my local cable rates are slated to go up by as much as 7%. DTV is offering monthly rates of $31.99 (+$6.99 for local channels), and I think it comes with free hardware and installation, so it's definitely on the list of possibilities. I don't much care about HBO, since I haven't had it in years and years, but my wife would be very happy to get the Food Channel again, since cable in our town doesn't carry it (for no good reason I can discern).

    Speaking of TiVo, my dad has DTV/TiVo and he just hacked his TiVo to allow 80 hours of recording. He swears by it.

    We'll see.
  • edited December 1969
    [b]another satellite success story...Dish Network[/b]

    I, too, have dumped my cable for TV purposes (still have internet through it) and went with Dish Network, on a recommendation by my good friend Norman. (eph!)

    The reson behind the switch was the lack of 'digital' in their (comcast) digital cable offering. I had just gotten my Surround Sound system up and running, with help from my good friend Greg (nate!) and wanted to get some full surround sound action going on from something other than DVDs. I ordered the digital cable and they installed it the same day my good friend Tom (muff!) was staying at my house. I turned the box around with S-video and optical cables in hand only to find 3 RCA jacks. I called and asked what was up, they said that s-video and optical out weren't popular enough for them to offer. (!)

    Got the dish installed the next week. The installer placed it on the roof so that you can only see it from the back of the house (which was a request of Mrs. Spam.) We got two receivers installed, a 'regular' one for my office and the PVR (Personal Video recorder...think TiVo) downstairs, both with S-vid & optical out.

    I pay $55/month for the whole system, which includes about 125 channels, the 6-HBO package, all 7 local channels and sports-alternate channels. (about 25 theme-based music channels, too)

    Only HBO broadcasts it's feature films in full surround, (Band of Brothers was simply awesome-sounding) but even the pro logic on regular TV seems to sound better.

    We're addicted to the PVR, we get about 35 hours of rec time, we use the on-screen guide to set up recording. We've gotten into the habit of starting to watch shows at about :15 past the hour so we can fast-forward through the commericals. There's even an option to have the receivers control your VCRs via infrared, so programming them is just as easy now.

    The only inconvienience we have is that you have to watch what you are PVR/VCR-ing...you can't splice the satellite cable like you can regular cable-TV. This is only a problem when Mrs. Spam wants to watch something and tape something else at the same time and there's a hockey or baseball game on that i want to watch. So, we're thinking of getting another PVR box for the enclosed porch we're building. ($5/month and price of the box)

    All of this, and it is only about $14 more expensive than what i would have gotten with the digital cable, and that includes the $10 cable modem surcharge for not having cable TV.

    Highly recommended.

    SoS
  • edited December 1969
    Couple notes...

    One thing to keep in mind, is that there's also MPEG compression
    artifacts in the DirecTV stream, but I can live with that since
    my local Time/Warner digital cable (which I ALSO have in only
    one room, the bedroom... soon to be canceled) even though it
    *should* be cleaner, isn't. DirecTV, even with the slight
    artifacting, is still better. It's only in 'smooth' and 'dark'
    camera shots that the artifacting can get really annoying but
    that's few and far between.

    The DirecTV signal I'm seeing is pure as the driven snow compared to the crap I got with AT&T digital cable. While it is still mpeg encoded, the DirecTV receiver treats the signal differently while acquiring it ... it doesn't show you a partially generated frame. That was what drove me crazy with AT&T. If there's a glitch in the signal, I can handle a stop-start stutter, but with the Motorola box, it would go black, restart, and fill in with the signature MPEG block decompression pattern. Yuck!

    Since it *is* satellite, it requires line-of-site with the
    equator, which was no problem from my rooftop. Rain,
    thunderstorms, and heavy snow can disrupt the signal, but it's
    only affected me a handful of times. Annoying, but no biggie.
    There are supposedly 'shields' you can buy that minimize this
    affect (some fabric that gets wrapped around the dish) but I
    never tried it out.

    Big storm here tonight, and we had no problems... but then our installer said we were extremely lucky ... our signal strength on all transcievers was over 90 (the manual says 66-80 is "good".

    As for the problem you have with the timezone thing Carch... are
    you saying that the box's built-in show directory is listing
    playtimes for movies and shows in EST? If so, I'm pretty sure
    that's an editable setting. Just go to your main menu and poke
    around. You can set your timezone somewhere in there, I'm fairly
    certain.

    The issue for me is that with cable, cable network shows are tape delayed so they show at their advertised time. For example, The Daily Show on comedy central airs at 11 and 1 EST normally, With Cable, it shows at 11 and 1 AM here on the left coast as well. On DirecTV it airs at 8 pm and 11 pm. Charmed shows at 8 PM normally, on DirecTV it shows at 5 PM. Makes it a bit hard for me to catch those prime-time shows (or pre-prime-time, like Buffy on FX at 6 and 7). I'll probably end up getting a Tivo or Ultimate TV before long.

    Also, Carch, if you lost some local channels, keep an eye on
    your channel selection profile list... it took a while but I
    eventually got back UPN and WB.

    Did you do anything to help make that happen? I'll definitely be writing the local affiliates and DirecTV, but I doubt that my little voice will make a difference.

    Course, I have a friend who has a hacked DTV system, and he gets everything. Probably even UPN & WB. Not worth it to me... plus I want to give my dollars to a company that's providing more bang for the buck, and is nice to its customers.

    _/ C

  • edited December 1969
    Re: Couple notes...

    Big storm here tonight, and we had no problems... but then our
    installer said we were extremely lucky ... our signal strength
    on all transcievers was over 90 (the manual says 66-80 is
    "good".

    Question about installation -- will they have to punch a new hole in my house? Or can they figure out a way to run the line through where my cable comes into the house?

    Re WB and UPN -- According to the DirecTV site, the local channels in my area include the WB affiliate, but not UPN. I don't think I care very much, but I am curious as to how the decision gets made. I have to think the affiliate, as well as the network, has something to do with it.
  • edited December 1969
    Re: More DirecTV raves here... lotsa info...

    My in-laws have DTV and I recently installed an S-video cable
    for them. The picture improved by a very noticable amount. All
    snow was gone, which we really never even noticed before untill
    we installed the S-vid cable. The graphics on the guide are tons
    sharper. I really didn't think the cable would make that big of
    a difference since I thought the TV resolution was already maxed
    out for most things. But I guess I was wrong. Their picture is
    crystal clear now. I'm not sure if it's at all related to what
    you are talking about, though. I'll have to look with a critical
    eye over Christmas.

    Aye, S-Video seperates the video signal into its Chroma and Luminance values. Think Color and Brightess. These are usually combined ("Composite") and they interfere with each other. It makes a difference that's also dependant on the quality of the TV and its size etc. Face it, plugging in svideo into a tv that's already in the crapper is not going to help much. :) But yes, usually it works wonders.

    The only thing I dislike is how it goes out during big rain
    storms. That's quite frustrating, especially if you are trying
    to get severe weather updates! This is where you can really see
    that you're getting digital video as the decompression tries to
    work on incomplete frames :)

    This is interesting, because I think Carch and I are experiencing different stuff. When I get DirecTV dropouts, the screen just blanks and then pops back on a second or so later. Longer if it's really bad. I've never seen any incomplete frame weirdness. However, on my Digital Cable TV setup, I get that all the time, which is what I think Carch and I are disgusted with.


    Bungie Sightings
  • edited December 1969
    Re: Couple notes...

    The DirecTV signal I'm seeing is pure as the driven snow
    compared to the crap I got with AT&T digital cable. While it is
    still mpeg encoded, the DirecTV receiver treats the signal
    differently while acquiring it ... it doesn't show you a
    partially generated frame. That was what drove me crazy with
    AT&T. If there's a glitch in the signal, I can handle a
    stop-start stutter, but with the Motorola box, it would go
    black, restart, and fill in with the signature MPEG block
    decompression pattern. Yuck!

    I'm talking about something different albeit related. Ever watch a compressed quicktime movie of say... a moving dark background? The compression results in some very subtle banding issues... the worst situation is when you're watching a very low-contrast talking-head image... like a soldier's face in Band of Brothers in the semi-dark. The compression falters here and you start to see 'ghost' images of the face... almost like trailing after-images of the face. Very subtle and maybe most people won't notice it, but I know my wife does on occasion and I can pinpoint it each and every time it happens.

    If you're definitely not seeing this, then maybe something else is going on. I wonder if different boxes have different mpeg decoders. Mine's an RCA unit, about 3 years old.

    Still, as I implied, it's no biggie for me. I've conditioned myself to accept that only my DVD's give me the absolute best quality image. That assumption may have to change once I get this new entertainment center dream of mine setup. Only a few more days! :: rubs hands all evil-like :: muhahahaha!

    Big storm here tonight, and we had no problems... but then our
    installer said we were extremely lucky ... our signal strength
    on all transcievers was over 90 (the manual says 66-80 is
    "good".

    Wow, you are lucky. My signal is definitely in the 'medium' range.

    The issue for me is that with cable, cable network shows are
    tape delayed so they show at their advertised time. For example,
    The Daily Show on comedy central airs at 11 and 1 EST normally,
    With Cable, it shows at 11 and 1 AM here on the left coast as
    well. On DirecTV it airs at 8 pm and 11 pm. Charmed shows at 8
    PM normally, on DirecTV it shows at 5 PM. Makes it a bit hard
    for me to catch those prime-time shows (or pre-prime-time, like
    Buffy on FX at 6 and 7). I'll probably end up getting a Tivo or
    Ultimate TV before long.

    That's really weird because here in NYC... well maybe I'm a bad example because I live in EST, so everything matches up for me. I thought when they hooked up a DirecTV connection to a house, they would only allow the local air-based channels to be accessible on your box. So in other words, I get WPIX, the local NY WB station on my DirecTV. And I figured on the west coast, you would get the local San Jose (you're hometown? I forget) WB tv station. If not, maybe it's related with the stuff below.

    Did you do anything to help make that happen? I'll definitely be
    writing the local affiliates and DirecTV, but I doubt that my
    little voice will make a difference.

    No, I just waited. Actually, I forgot all about it for a bit and then checked it out and there it was. Consider that I was a subscriber before this all happened, so I saw each major city's set of local channels appear (but greyed out... only accessible if you lived in that city) over time. I immediately got access to NBC, ABC, CBS... FOX came a day or so later, and then it took a month or so before I got UPN/WB. The cust support person I spoke with when I first signed up said it would take time with the smaller stations to work out a deal that would make both sides happy. Like I said, it's all about advertising dollars. Since the local WB channel would be providing the raw video feed to DirecTV, my assumption is that they'd have no way to tell their advertisers just how many more 'hits' they're getting, so no empirical method to adjust their ad rates and the like. Probably DirecTV and these local channels have to work out a fair deal on a city by city basis. Maybe some local channel stations are asking for too high a price and so it's a stalemate. I'm sure writing to both parties would help in some way.

    Course, I have a friend who has a hacked DTV system, and he gets
    everything. Probably even UPN & WB. Not worth it to me...
    plus I want to give my dollars to a company that's providing
    more bang for the buck, and is nice to its customers.

    Aye, I assume a hacked DirecTV setup means I could get all the major air-networks in all time zones. Meaning just like a traditional big-honking Satellite Dish arrangement. If you're a real TV nut and lived on the west coast, it means watching all the major shows before anyone else in your area. Look at it another way, you'd have a chance to catch the uncensored Sat Nite Live before there's a chance for them to correct any goofups. :)


    Bungie Sightings
  • edited December 1969
    Re: Couple notes...

    Question about installation -- will they have to punch a new
    hole in my house? Or can they figure out a way to run the line
    through where my cable comes into the house?

    Most cable installers are independant crafty dudes. You can usually request something like the above and they'll be accomodating. Give them a tip beforehand and it smoothes it over real well. At the very least they can drill a new hole right next to where the existing hole is and minimize the damage.

    Re WB and UPN -- According to the DirecTV site, the local
    channels in my area include the WB affiliate, but not UPN. I
    don't think I care very much, but I am curious as to how the
    decision gets made. I have to think the affiliate, as well as
    the network, has something to do with it.

    Spot on. Nothing preventing it from happening hardware-wise. It's all bureacracy stuff.

    Bungie Sightings
  • edited December 1969
    [b]Re: another satellite success story...Dish Network[/b]

    [quote]
    The only inconvienience we have is that you have to watch what
    you are PVR/VCR-ing...you can't splice the satellite cable like
    you can regular cable-TV. This is only a problem when Mrs. Spam
    wants to watch something and tape something else at the same
    time and there's a hockey or baseball game on that i want to
    watch. So, we're thinking of getting another PVR box for the
    enclosed porch we're building. ($5/month and price of the box)

    [/quote]
    Something that may be of convenience to you down the line... your satellite is probably a dual LNB which is just a fancy way of saying it can provide two independant cable runs to two seperate boxes... now first off, I noticed that in the DirecTV/Tivo combo boxes I was researching that many offered to accept the two cables... so that you can tape one channel and watch another. Even better, I've noticed that you can do 3 different things at the same time... watch a previously recorded show, let someone else watch a channel on a different tv, and you can record *another* show at the same time. Pretty damn nifty.

    But, beyond that, if you ever get a hankering to get hog-wild with the boxes, you don't have to buy more satellite dishes... you can get a Diplexer, which is a box that can split the signal of your satellite into many more than just two. An added bonus is that it will also merge a regular VHF/UHF signal with the satellite signal. Here's one source for these switches:

    http://www.multidish.com/multiswitch_diplex.htm

    Oh, btw, here's a great source for TIVO hacks:

    http://www.9thtee.com/tivoupgrades.htm



    [url=http://bs.bungie.org/]Bungie Sightings[/url]
  • edited December 1969
    It will work on Mac with no problems

    Just signup. It'll work fine.

    As Free said, the only possible snags are a modem with a USB connection, or an internal cable modem. However, *every* modem made with a USB connection also has an ethernet jack built in, so no problem there. And the internal modems aren't an issue, because the cable companies don't use them, they're too expensive.

    As for your concern about customer support, no worries. Connection on a computer with Mac OS 8.5 and up is fully supported.

    -Mori
  • edited December 1969
    Hang in there...

    I had been having the same issue until last night. Was getting to the DHCP server just fine, and getting a lease, but the network wasn't routing anything coming from my modem. I tried a bunch of different IP's on my IP block, didn't make any difference. Tech support was no help, and I couldn't figure out what the hell was going on...

    Turned out to be exactly what's happening with you, modem's MAC wasn't in the system. The network routes traffic based on the modem MAC's, so if they don't have it in the system, no routing for you. Took them a few days to fix it once I let them know what was going on, but they got the job done.

    -Mori
  • edited December 1969
    Re: More DirecTV raves here... lotsa info...

    This is interesting, because I think Carch and I are
    experiencing different stuff. When I get DirecTV dropouts, the
    screen just blanks and then pops back on a second or so later.
    Longer if it's really bad. I've never seen any incomplete frame
    weirdness. However, on my Digital Cable TV setup, I get that all
    the time, which is what I think Carch and I are disgusted with.

    For the most part, it's blanked. But several times as it's going down or coming back, I've seen video artifacts.


    image
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