Thursday, May 27, 2010

Some things never change

It's been years since I had cable TV, and thankfully as long since I had to deal with Comcast. But the allure of faster broadband has been tugged at me, since we're now watching more streaming TV (Netflix, etc) and my once-fast 1.4Mb Earthlink DSL now feels like a 28.8Kb modem on a noisy line. So I checked into the much-hyped Comcast Xfinity and within minutes was reminded of why I'm thankful it's been years since I had to deal with them.

Lame Encounters of the First Kind: The offers for Xfinity broadband on their website are targeted at existing Comcast customers. Prices for new customers are not shown.

Lame Encounters of the Second Kind: Calling their sales department I was forced to "Press 1 for..." repeatedly because the IVR kept trying to determine my non-existent Comcast account.

Lame Encounters of the Third Kind: After getting through to a human (Paula Perky, Sr. Manager, Comcast Chirpiness Dept.) I was informed that there are NO new customer incentives at this time, unless I want to sign up for a "bundle" of broadband plus TV and/or phone. I'm not interested in their cable TV or phone services; just broadband. And so apparently that makes me El Douchbago Numero Uno to their marketing department. No amount of cajoling was able to extract anything from Paula, who cheerfully told me that they'd love to have me as a new customer at full price.

The prospect of once again dealing with these clowns gives me a case of the hives. If they're this screwed up when trying to get me as a new customer, I can only imagine how bad will it be once I'm under contract with them. I'm sitting here asking myself: Do I really need faster broadband?
in reference to: Welcome to XFINITY | TV & Movies | Internet | Voice | Choice and Control | Subscriber Extras | Buy Online (view on Google Sidewiki)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mobile video at Dayton Hamvention 2010

For my first visit to Dayton Hamvention 2010 I thought I would try to use mobile video and share the event with folks who couldn't attend. Being a Google OS my Droid of course offers YouTube, and there is also Qik, a social sharing app.

The value of Qik is that (like Kyte on the iPhone and Nokia platforms) videos recorded with Qik are instantly uploaded to my Qik channel. YouTube requires large videos be uploaded over the Droid's Wi-Fi connection. (I don't understand why they do this, but it's probably some sub rosa agreement between Google and Verizon to help reduce mobile network load.)

While recording at Hamvention I found Qik to be balky and unreliable. I lost a few videos because halfway through the recording Qik would stop itself without warning. For short videos it worked OK, but the longer the video the more likely it was to glitch. Furthermore; on more than one occasion Qik just died completely and I was forced to reboot the Droid.

I like the idea of immediate video posting, and hope that Qik will resolve these issues. Unfortunately until they do so I can't risk using it except for videos which I don't really care about.
in reference to: Qik | Record and share video live from your mobile phone (view on Google Sidewiki)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hamvention, Day 1

After dire warnings about thunderstorms and tornadoes the flights were uneventful.  I've had bumpier rides flying over the Sierra Nevada mountains in wintertime. 

Dayton itself is best described as sub-rural (as opposed to sub-urban) and spread out.  It reminds me of areas I've been in Eastern Tennessee.

Hara Arena, the traditional site of the Dayton Hamvention, is...interesting.  It's a very outdated facility with old linoleum walls, water-damaged ceiling tiles, and a smell of age.  I wonder really how much use it gets outside of Hamvention, because apparently Sierra Radio Systems had the same booth last year (#406) and a plug-strip they accidentally left behind was still here.  I've worked a lot of tradeshows in a lot of places, but this is the most unusual.

Staying at a hotel downtown.  Nice enough, but they rented the adjoining room to a bunch of teenagers.  I had to call hotel security at 12:15am to complain, and an hour later they're still making a ton of noise.  So much for their much-touted "Executive Floor".  Management and I will be having a chat tomorrow morning.

Strange Sightings: They have a bank here called "Fifth Third Bank" -- we're not sure what that means.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hamvention 2010

I'm going to tweet from Hamvention 2010, and also try my hand at some live video using Qik.  (The video service, not the powdered chocolate milk.) My video feed will be at and if I'm shooting video it will appear here in real-time.