THDP31 Houston We Have a Problem

Houston, TXWelcome back to The Help Desk Podcast. This is our 31st podcast and I really want to say we REALLY appreciate your following us.  First thought here is that I am beginning to think I have a dark cloud over me since November.  I had an apt with a family that wanted Ed and I to help them get some of their assisted technology working for their son.  Very cute kid.  Very nice family.  We’ll talk about that appointment the next time we get together.

On my way home though I was in traffic, came up on a red light at a major intersection near my home  and the people in front of me stopped a little abruptly so I stopped likewise and sure as heck the van behind me wasn’t watching and rammed me.  I get out and I am angry.  I yelled what the heck did you do (censored for our G-rating)?  I said pull out your insurance and she steps back into her vehicle and said “this is a no-fault state,” and it looked like she was going to go.  I quickly informed her that she was going nowhere and I called the cops.

Later in this podcast I am going to talk about what I did the past two weekends. It’s beginning to look like I am on a path of destruction.   I hope not.  But it does seem like I get more and more obstacles thrown at me as I try to maintain a weekly podcast schedule.

I am beginning to think it takes a special breed of podcast listener to listen to all the episodes of The Help Desk Podcast.  Our first podcast was published ….well now that’s actually a good question isn’t it?  I guess officially the first podcast was published on December 21st, 2013….the same day as our second podcast BTW.

Technically the first podcast which was called “So You’ve Lost All Your Data….You do Know it’s Your Own Fault Don’t You?-THDP1” was published 11/04/2013.  The second podcast was called “How Will You Back-up Your Data-THDP2” and it was technically published 11/05/2013.  Why the technically?  We actually published these two podcast five time each between 11/04/2013 and 12/21/2013.

Ok, I didn’t know what I was doing at the time.  (I’m sure there is a portion of people out there that still shares that sentiment) but let’s think positively here ok??  What….you are POSITIVE I don’t know what I am doing………..  But seriously folks, those first two podcast I was experiencing what you could call an attack of the perfect podcast.  Nothing sounded good to me so I would do it over again.  At the time I didn’t really realize they would stand as actual episodes…I never really thought about it at all.  All I knew was I had to try again.  You probably remember me alluding to this as time went on, or sometimes I mentioned it in conversation with Ed or a guest interview.  In fact I wasn’t happy with the final product until my wife Patty told me if I rerecorded on more time she would leave me.  Thinking back on it right now, I would like to think she was kidding.  Let’s just say I never tested her resolve.

So anyway, like I was starting to say:  it takes a special breed of podcast listener to listen to every episode of The Help Desk Podcast.  It’s not like I have ever been able to get out a podcast weekly…every week.  Heck, we have only averaged 3 podcasts per month.  I’m not especially proud of that.

But please remember we are not full-time podcasters.  Ed is the Information Technology Director at a school district locally and I am under contract to the largest school district in the state.  In other words we work for a living.

If you have listened for any length of time to The Help Desk Podcast you know that in June I underwent total knee replacement surgery.  And I tried to podcast through that.  Now, I am waiting to get my hip replaced in December.  Basically I waited too long to get my knee replaced and in the interim I screwed up my opposite hip.  And I’m trying to podcast through that also.  It’s been a rough year.

Two weekends ago I thought I would try to help out with yard work.  I was feeling pretty good.  I was walking without my cane for probably close to 50% of the time at home so I was confident I could do it.  We have a good sized John Deere yard tractor and I was in the back yard going uphill and maneuvering around an apple tree when I hit a tree stump head-on.  How fast could I have been going?  Not real fast I would guess.  But wow!! Did that screw up my hips.  Missed work Monday…I couldn’t walk at all.  No matter the painkillers.

Greenfield Village Halloween CelebrationThen last week Patty and I went to Greenfield Village for their Halloween walk around the village.  If you have ever been there it is an experience.  We have traditionally went there every year.  Except…..last year because of my knee.  So we went.  The walk is about 2 miles I would guess.  Looking back now I say that I had fun.  But at the time….well, let’s just say it was an experience.  At least that one wasn’t quite as expensive.  No lost work.  Just sore.

I love that Halloween thing at Greenfield Village.  Going over the covered bridge.  Seeing the headless horseman.  Walking past the working farm and taking in its olfactory delights (as it were).  Memories of growing up near and on farms in Romeo.  You used to get a lot more goodies than you do now.  I remember when we got a couple of Dracula Beanie Babies.  Anyway….back to the subject.

All of this introspection was brought on by the fact that we picked up a new listener from Wyoming.  That leaves just Montana, North and South Dakota and Vermont. We now have listeners in 46 states, The District of Columbia, and The Armed Forces.  Globally we have listeners in 59 nations.  We thank all of you for giving our podcast a try.  We hope we continue to earn your listenership.  We may not be the most regular podcast in the world….(do they have medicine for that??) but we try to get out 4 podcasts per month.  All we can promise is to try.  All we ask in turn is that you try to hang in there with us.  We will try to make it worth your while.

Now I need to get something off my chest.

Houston, We Have a Problem:

I’m sitting here recording this podcast waiting for the Brighthouse technician to arrive to figure out what is wrong with our brand new cable modem/router.  I left work early today because we had a 4 to 6 appointment window.  Of course, the technician blew right through that window.  It is now 6:30 and I just called Brighthouse to ask what gives with the appointment and then ….oh my, miracle of miracles, the technician called to tell me he was running late and “he wanted to be sure to let me know about this and he will be there shortly.”

Yep, he was definitely being proactive.  25 minutes after the appointment window.  I have been tweeting every so often starting out with “Brighthouse sucks!!” and then go on about how little this company cares about providing service.  Of course, this will all change when Comcast buys up Time Warner (assuming the federal government allows the takeover to happen).  I know this will all change because Comcast tells us so.  As a matter of fact, our elected officials also assure us all will be well.  They know this because Comcast has spent millions (if not billions) in the last year to be sure they are properly educated according to the Comcast way.  I wish I knew how much money Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon have spent lobbying for this takeover and also the subsequent change of how the FTC and the federal government can and will regulate Internet service going forward.

Oh but you say Comcast (as a part of the takeover) will be required to create a new and separate entity to supply cable services to Michigan and other sections of the country.  BTW, Comcast will own (at least) 75% of this company.  Comcast as going away gift has is also going to saddle this new entity with billions in debt.  Even if this new company wanted to conduct expansion, maintenance and research and development it wouldn’t be able to afford it because of all its debt.

Then after five years Charter Communications will be offered first dibs on buying this new entity.  If they do not exercise this option then Comcast gets the entire company and then we will be Comcast again.  Does anybody out there know the definition of monopoly?

If the FTC is listening to me……. I am not so naïve to think that a super large corporation like Time Warner and by extension BrightHouse Cable will actually give a hoot about their customers.  They couldn’t care less if I am happy with the service they supply me or not.  Cable goes out four to 7 times per week…no problem (these outages are not by and large long outages but they do occur and they can last for 1,2, 3,….hours).  I have found that most of these outages occur during the daytime during business hours.  No big deal you say because you are at work.  Well, not this last summer when I was at home recuperating from my knee replacement surgery.  What about people that work out of their homes?  It doesn’t matter…they don’t care.  BrightHouse Cable has no competition in Livonia.  A monopoly. The sort of monopoly granted utilities BTW but we won’t go there this week.

I want to end this by saying I have no gripe with the telephone people at Brighthouse.  They couldn’t help me but that wasn’t their fault.  Also the technicians that came out to essentially pull the battery out of my super-duper router/modem and then reboot it again.  They were nice.  I do have a gripe though with having to leave work 2 hours early to sit around my house during the appointment window that was not adhered to anyway.  My window was 4 to 6 and they showed up at approximately 6:45.  You would think I would get a call around 6 when they knew they weren’t going to make it on time.  No call until I called wondering what is going on.

Is this just sour apples?  Maybe.  Is this just making a mountain out of a molehill?  Maybe.  But this outage did represent parts of 3 days that I could have been publishing this podcast on time.  They don’t care.  Where else can I go?  I can’t get DSL because of distance from the office and subpar (read analog) wiring.  Ya know, this gives me an idea for a future episode:  Broadband Internet available in Livonia.

THE END

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