Sunday, July 05, 2009

It’s Craptastic

Or is that Comcraptic? I never remember. All I know is on June 29th, we had the TV service we wanted. All 5 TV’s (4 in the house, 1 in the garage for workouts) could view any of the channels from 2 to about 70 or so. The Series 2 Humax branded Tivo could record any channel, and I could watch a different channel by using the tuner in the TV itself. Pure analog bliss. We could get a “season pass” to House on channel 42 (I am still catching up on older years as I just discovered House this year). We could even watch TV in the kids rooms upstairs if we wanted to. It was the American Couch Potato Dream.

Then, on July 1st, (in some areas) Comcraptic decided to change all that. Down came the dreams of watching House chow Vicodin while humiliating some clinic patient. Channels above 39 just up and went away. Not even a “hey idiot, you need a new box now, bwahhhaaahaha” on the screen for those channels. The reason? Who knows – it could be that they want to free up bandwidth on their cable infrastructure so that they can get more people to buy on demand movies. It could be that they just want people to have to pay them more to have more TV’s in the house. It could even be that they want to take over the DVR market from Tivo. I don’t know, and I don’t care. A few months back they had contacted my wife and told her that this would happen. At the time, they said they would send us “boxes” that would allow us to survive the changeover without losing access to Gregory House and Cuddly – oops, I mean Cuddy – in the process. They also stated that it would not change our billing (which was a lie – check our bill and see!)

These boxes turned out to be a couple of DCH-70’s with M-cards in them. M-cards are cable cards that allow multiple streams, but these boxes are locked to one stream. They also had three of the "DTA” boxes which I believe is short for “Doesn’t Televise Anything”, while DCH must be “Disturbingly Crappy Hardware”. We spent a couple of hours hooking all these things up yesterday so we could get back to watching Thirteen spar with House. As with anything to do with Comcraptic, I figured, “It’ll never work”, but tried it anyway.

So, we followed the directions to hook all the stuff up. We wrote down all the serial numbers of the boxes, the host ID’s, and even the MAC addresses. We turned them all on. We went to the website and it only listed the two DCH-70 boxes. Not only that, but they didn’t even show a serial number that was even close to the same format as what we wrote down. It appears that, even though the instructions say to get the serial numbers of the boxes – they mean the serial number of the m-cards somehow. So we clicked to activate them and were rewarded with a “thanks, now go wait 45 minutes” message.

After we waited, and waited, and went to dinner, and waited, we finally decided – OK 6 hours should be more than enough. My wife called the number which was proudly displayed by all of the TV’s hooked to the “DTA’ boxes:


Appearances to the contrary, this means that “at least the device can output an NTSC signal over cable”. Its even a useful one as it gives the phone number. Hurray!

So she got “Agent J” on the phone who said, “There is an outage in your area and it may take 24 hours”. This translates from the fairly opaque helpdeskese into “My shift ends in 5 minutes and I know our shit doesn’t work but I want to go home.”. Needless to say it has been over 24 hours now and it still doesn’t work. The two TV’s hooked to the DCH boxes show this:


We press “OK” and get this rewarding message:


According to the instructions, you press OK and it will activate. Actually no, the instructions say to push the “on demand” button and then go buy an on demand test movie that is supposed to be no charge but will “activate” you. However you can’t do that – you have to get past this blue stuff first – and I think we may have worn out the batteries on the remote pressing OK. It’s nice to know that I can watch thousands of free shows whenever Comcraptic gets around to saying I can though.

Now, the channels seem to work on those two main DCH boxes. At least 2 – 42 or so for sure as I have tried those. But since it won’t “activate” the other three TV’s just say to call Comcraptic. We’ll do that again later, hopefully before shift change is due. If we do get it fixed, we’ll have to then be transferred to the bilking dept. so we can request a pro-rata refund for this lack of service.

Oh yeah – and then I need to go to the store and buy a newer Tivo that can handle a cable coming from the back and getting glued to the stupid DCH box’s infrared receiver so the Tivo can change channels again. At which point I will have ONE tuner instead of two so can only watch what the Tivo records. Progress at its best, in fact, its Craptastic!

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