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2003-10-29 18:25:49.226524+00 by Dan Lyke 8 comments

Aaargh. Helped a friend get her Comcast cable-modem working last night. Remember when this stuff was easy, you went to the network adapter and clicked "Obtain an IP address automatically"? Well, now they've got some stupid install system which appears to exist solely to make you click through the service agreement. Although the actual mechanics are hidden, in the process of tracking down that their registration servers are woefully underpowered and prone to crashing we discovered that it's just a bunch of web pages displayed in a browser window which tries to hide that fact from you.

Over an hour on the phone with tech support because rather than making the user experience easier, you morons made it harder than you could admin. I'd love to know what sort of business processes led to the decision to implement that crappy install.

[ related topics: broadband Work, productivity and environment ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: Comcast made: 2003-10-29 18:33:43.555739+00 by: Bryant

My mom just got Comcast, and they installed that crap on her iMac. I brought her my old iBook, which I had planned to give to her, and a new Airport base station. I hooked up the iBook and Comcast's DHCP server gave her an address without any fuss; the configuration transferred over to the Airport cleanly.

I'm not at all sure Comcast's cruft is needed, although there might well be regional variations.

#Comment Re: Comcast made: 2003-10-29 19:00:53.566669+00 by: Dan Lyke

Once we got the authorization completed we deleted the installed software (especially because it kept screwing with net settings) and things worked fine.

The trick seems to be that whatever the proxy server they install (sas.r2.comcast.net or something similar) is needed to register a MAC address of some sort. Once that's done it's just a DHCP connection.

Of course in the process I had to go through two tech support guys, including being a little forceful with the second that if the error we were seeing had something to do with IE 5.5 they were bozos and I was going to get publicly nasty, to get through their slow server with its "unable to connect to backend database" crap.

Anyway, the upshot is: once it's working uninstall their stupid software. And yes, this is yet another Microsoft[Wiki] tax, we have to have some latest version because their IT department is some service they buy from India and not considered an integrated part of their business. Bastards.

#Comment Re: Comcast made: 2003-10-29 19:33:29.435847+00 by: starbreeze

that shit is a pain in the ass to uninstall too. same with verizons. when i got rid of verizon dsl, i called them because the uninstall wasn't working and they said it was a 'known bug'. i reformatted :) and then they continued to bill me 6 months after i cancelled the service, because of another bug in their system that didn't shut off billing with the service. and because i moved (why i cancelled the dsl), i didn't realize the statements were still coming to my old address, and being automatically withdrawn from the checking account. go me.

#Comment Re: Comcast made: 2003-10-29 19:40:54.354771+00 by: Justin Mason

'I'd love to know what sort of business processes led to the decision to implement that crappy install.'

Probably the same kind of thing that decides that web UIs should pop up in a separate window, full screen, with no scrollbars -- because 'users don't understand how to scroll'.

#Comment Re: Comcast made: 2003-10-29 22:15:03.00334+00 by: Bryant

Interesting. It'd have to be... ah, it's probably the cable modem's MAC address, since I swapped in a different machine with no problems. What a kludge.

#Comment Re: Comcast made: 2003-10-29 22:21:57.10476+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, what was really bizarre was talking to the guy giving me some spiel about how Windows 98 was the oldest of the supported versions and maybe we should upgrade it and all that crap while he's saying he can ping the modem, and I'm thinking "if you can ping the friggin' modem, why are we having this conversation?"

#Comment Re: Comcast made: 2003-10-30 16:24:59.292253+00 by: other_todd

hmm. I'm certainly not going to say a good word for Comcast on principle, but we didn't go through any of that stuff when they installed the cablemodem here. Of course, they may not quite have been Comcast then - it's hard for me to keep track of the changes in the cable company here. We still connect through attbi.com, so that implies Comcast hadn't taken control when we hooked up.

I'm also curious if some of this is because we use a separate Linksys router (so my wife can get wireless in the house), which is set to hold those connection/domain settings, and do the things like "get the IP address automatically." I'm naive about this networking stuff. Is some of the installed software you're complaining about meant to perform some of the same functions my router is performing? If so, that would explain why we have exactly zero software related to the cablemodem installed on any machine. Just the modem and the wire. Every so often it gets a little confused and I notice the activity light isn't blinking and I power-cycle it. That's the only maintenance it's ever needed.

#Comment Re: Comcast made: 2003-10-30 16:53:50.831278+00 by: Dan Lyke

Todd, that's the way it was when I set it up, and that's the way it should be should be. And, yes, getting a router for my friend is an immediate need, if nothing else just for the firewalling capabilities.