My Cable Modem Works!

After 4 calls to Comcast, I was getting frustrated. A tech can’t be sent out for a while, at least, it will be more than a week before my schedule can facilitate a tech’s schedule. I decided that the only thing left to do was get a new cable modem. I’ve had mine for three years, so maybe it went bad. While we were running around tonight anyway, I stopped by Best Buy and bought a new Motorola Surfboard modem.

I got home, put the new modem inline, and called Comcast to get it configured. Believe it or not, I finally got a male (the other four calls were women) who understood not only how Comcast’s network works, but how to troubleshoot a network problem. (See my post about being told to call Microsoft to get a new IP address below.)

This turned out sort of weird. I put the new modem inline, then called. While we were troubleshooting, I explained my setup. I have a Hauppage WinTV USB2 unit. My cable comes into the room, and goes to a splitter, which goes to the cable modem and the WinTV unit. It’s been like that for years, and I haven’t had a problem. Well, go figure, I should have thought of this myself, but the tech told me to take the splitter out of the loop. Every single time in the past I assumed it couldn’t possibly be something, no matter how trivial, I got bit in the butt, and this time was no different. Well, while he was adding the MAC address and C/S number for the new modem, I prayed. I rarely do while I’m troubleshooting. I claim to be a Christian, but like most 21st century Americans, prayer is mostly reserved for meals, particularly pious times, and trials and tribulations. But I prayed for the cable modem issue. I really need my Internet connection. Anyway, when it was over, I asked if I could have my old modem put back in. He said it was; my account was showing my old modem. I checked the front, and sure enough, it was the old one (Motorola Surfboard 5100 instead of the new 5101.) That was weird. I’m not sure how the old one got back in place. I boxed the new one and told my wife we can get our $80 back; we troubleshot to a much cheaper component.

I’m just glad to have it back. I wrote a while back about my work laptop dying, and I had to send it back. Well, just as I was leaving for the day, I saw a new box in my supervisor’s cube with a New Egg packing slip. I pulled it out, and sure enough, it was my Toshiba laptop! Now I can get it set back up to take on my upcoming business trip.

Technorati Tags: Comcast,cable modem,network troubleshooting

Traumatic Tech Support

Ugh, my Comcast high speed Internet connection dropped offline yesterday afternoon. I’ve gotten to the point of not calling right away, just in case the outage is temporary (outages have become very rare with Comcast.) I finally broke down and called after my connection had been down a few hours. The call ended up lasting 40 minutes and ended up with me really needing a drink. Here is the situation I called with: my Motorola cable modem had Power, receive, and send lights on. Online was not lit, and PC Activity flashed on and off. The rep said that my cable modem was offline. I could figure that out. Internally, my network was fine. My computers could all see each other on my network, so I knew my router was fine. The rep wanted me to connect my computer directly to the cable modem. Her assessment of the situation was this: "because I had a router, (which has been in place for 3 years without a single problem), I lost my IP address." She told me I have to call Microsoft to get another one. After Microsoft gives me another IP address, I can call Comcast back and they’ll be able to get me back online.

I tried explaining to this woman how DHCP networking works. I told her that I have an IT degree, and have been supporting my own computers and helping others out as well as working professionally in IT for more than 10 years. I have NEVER had to call Microsoft to get an IP address. I’ve never had to call Microsoft period. She said something about the OEM has to give me an IP address. I said that I’m the OEM; I built the computer myself (OK, I slapped some parts together and installed Windows XP on it, I didn’t manufacture and solder my own chips.) I tried telling her that my router has nothing to do with Comcast assigning an IP address. Comcast’s server sees the MAC address of my cable modem and leases an IP address to me. The lease expires and renews automatically and my router has absolutely nothing to do with it. My router has my computer’s MAC address cloned anyway, so even in the bad old days when Comcast didn’t allow routers they would never have known the difference on their end.

After realizing that I could not get this woman to understand how Comcast’s network actually works, I finally allowed her to schedule a tech to visit me so that they can apparently call Microsoft and get me an IP address. As soon as I got off the phone, I called back and got a support person who understands how DHCP networking works. She found the problem right away: my signal was gone. That sounds more realistic. She even found a closer appointment to get a tech out to fix the problem.

Seriously, assuming Microsoft trains their support personnel better than Comcast does, I would have gotten laughed at.

Comcast, if anybody from your corporate training is reading this, I think you are idiots! How can you let somebody on your tech support lines without even the most basic understanding of how your network ACTUALLY works? II don’t blame the woman, I blame the trainers. She did work very hard and was very patient with me, but had no clue. Idiots! Do your jobs. Where was this woman’s supervisor? I could hear somebody in the background behind her. Don’t tell me the entire call center thinks that my IP address comes from Microsoft. I should have told her I’m running Linux on an Apple Macintosh just to see what kind of response I get. Does Microsoft still give out IP addresses, or do I have to get a teleconference with Mark Shuttleworth and Steve Jobs to get an IP address? What if I was running SuSE or Debian? How about my iMac with Mac OS 8? Who do I call in that case (It’s actually running Jaguar, and is in my in-laws’ basement as we expected our house to be sold by now.)

This happened last night, and I still need a drink. Train your people, you Comcast boneheads. I once saw a job posting for a Comcast training position. Is it still open? I need a solid paycheck, a benefits package, and the authority to flog people.

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My current job requires a lot of travel. My wife is OK with it. However, as sort of a travel newbie, it seems to take me forever to get a trip booked. I have a disadvantage of being a contractor. My company gave me a corporate Visa and I’m told to take care of my own travel, and I will get paid back. No problem there. One thing I’m finding is that being a contractor puts me at sort of a disadvantage. The organization that I’m contracted to has it’s own travel office, with different standards. I can only book a hotel within government per diem rates. In the location I’ll be spending quite a bit of time at in the near future, I’m having a lot of trouble finding a decent business hotel within per diem rates. The last trip, I was able to get justification to stay at the Springhill Suites by Marriott. That was nice! Very nice, large room. It cost a lot more, but I was able to justify it as "directed by customer" so my company can bill for the increase and everybody is happy.
I’ll be gone for a week coming up. I went to to find a room. Most of the hotels in that area that come back within my price range have terrible reviews. Some people say the hotel was great, others say it’s dirty and smells like mold and has people yelling in the halls all night. I’m not going for that! For my week-long trip, I had a lot of trouble finding a hotel within my price range close to the meeting location, but I did find an oceanview suite 20 miles away. Well, I can turn my gas receipts in, so as long as traffic isn’t too bad, I can deal with it. Since I have an oceanview suite, I’ll just take my family with me. The location is within 5 to 6 hours of driving, so I’ll just rent a car for the week on my corporate card.
I had to go back today to book a trip for one night. That same hotel was out of per diem for the time frame. Doh! I couldn’t find anything on that sounded good for this trip. Last night, I saw a commercial for I decided to give it a shot. I found a 3 star hotel near my needed location for $79 a night. After I booked it, the room came up as a Holiday Inn. That is very nice! Maybe I’ll use Hotwire again in the future. I’ve never quite had the guts to try, but maybe for my next trip I’ll give it a shot.