Downgrading my Cable TV package, again

"Last week I called Comcast and requested that they downgrade my cable television service from the Digital Classic package to broadcast channels only. This is a rather fun conversation to have with the Comcast folks. Their procedure seems to require that they escalate the call at least twice to give a couple of supervisors a chance to talk the caller out of this decision. Despite their efforts, I prevailed and the service has been downgraded. This downgrade will save us about $50/mo."  William Grady, October 2008

When I wrote that in October 2008, I thought that I was downgrading my cable forever.  

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Desktops & Wi-Fi

A couple of weeks a friend was telling me about a problem with her home computer. She said that she had internet access through her cable company and she has been connecting to the internet with a laptop for the last couple of years without incident. Recently she got a new desktop computer and started running into problems. She has not been able to get the desktop to connect to the internet. After reaching out to cable company, she was told a tech would have to come out at a rate of $150+ per hour to get to the root of the problem. She decided to hold off on that to see if there was...
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Connecting a Second Router

I currently have one Linksys WRT54G wireless router located on the first floor of my house. My primary desktop is currently connected to it via Cat5.

I am trying to extend the coverage of the wireless signal in my home. I have read a couple of articles that indicate wireless signal works best when the router is on the upper floors, so I am looking at adding another router. As it stands, the existing signal strength rates at about 50% to 55% and does not really climb any higher in the rooms where I am likely to be using the wireless. Additionally, there are a couple of rooms where I am lucky to get a signal at all.

I was looking around for hints on how to actually connect the second router. It turns out that Googling 'how do I connect a second router' gets you many different opinions on the way to go, but I did find a some useful information. One such link was a good response to a Tom's Hardware post entitled, "How, exactly, do I connect my 2nd router".

The Tom's Hardware response looks like the way to go in my case and I will be giving it a try in the next few days. I just have to run some Cat5 up to the second floor, which should be entertaining.

Connecting to the Internet

Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I have seen quite a number of articles that discuss Comcast and Net Neutrality (or their lack of). As I have said in the past, I currently have a Comcast cable modem running at 6.0 Mbps. I also have Comcast Cable TV service that costs about $65/mo. The issue that I am starting to have with Comcast is that believe that they have a vested interest in keeping my connection speed configured in a way that prevents me from fully enjoying streaming video online and ultimately canceling my Cable TV subscription.

For example, if I try to watch streaming content on Joost or Netflix WatchInstantly, both services hang or get a little choppy after a few minutes. I used to think that they problem was with the streaming content provider, but more recently I have started to wonder if the issue is with the way Comcast brings the content to me.

Ideally, I could go with another company for my internet service. The problem is that my only choices are: Comcast Cable or DSL (Verizon, Earthlink, etc).

I do not want a land line phone, so DSL is going to be a problem. Even if I did want one, as I wrote yesterday, Earthlink DSL does not really make any sense for me. I think that Earthlink is just a value added reseller of the 768 Kbps DSL service that Verizon will happily sell to me for half the price. The "value added" in this case being some type of magical compression technology that allows the Earthlink marketing folks to sell the DSL as being a 1.5/3.0/6.0Mbps service.

The problem that I have with compression is that I remember a time about ten years ago when the modem hardware hit the logical limit of 56k and there were no more dial-up modem upgrades coming out (with the exception of just making the modems smaller). Many of the dial-up ISP's offered "compression" technology with theoretical speeds of 2 or 3 times faster than 56k. I simply did not find this to be the case and this did not leave me with much faith in compression as a true speed boost.

I need more options.

Why does Earthlink still send me mail?

About four years ago, I upgraded my internet connection from Earthlink DSL (768 Kbps) to Comcast Cable (6.0 Mbps) . Since then, every month or two, I receive mail from Earthlink asking me to come back.

While I appreciate that Earthlink might not know what kind of service I switched to, I still have to ask why they spend money trying to get me back. Unless they think that I switched to dial-up, how can they even try to compete for my business?

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