Monthly Archives: June 2011

At War with Comcast

Dear Comcast, recently you introduced your new Interactive Program Guide for cable television service in our area. Now if it were merely a matter of me not liking the aesthetics of it, or the readability, I can understand that I’m just be picky. Change happens, sometimes not for the better. And just for the record, the aesthetics and the readability suck, in my far less than humble opinion.

Functionality may be where the problem(s) lie. But let’s talk positive first. The Program Guide can now DVR programs more than a week into the future. Closed captioning is now available on our HD television and it was not before. These are both good things, and I thank you and praise you.

As I implied earlier, the Guide is extremely difficult to navigate, and the website and instructional videos are really not much help if I’m being honest. The sleep timer is gone, so no more watching TV ’til I fall asleep. And it takes four steps to DVR something now where it used to take two. After a few days, by hit and miss, I got the gist of how things worked. But things began to go downhill, and out of my control, very quickly.

The DVR began to only record just a few minutes of a program the first night the Guide was installed. The first attack took out three programs recorded in one hour – one one hour show and two half-hour shows back to back at the same time. It did it to those same shows the next week. In the week between various programs suffered the same fate.

And then there were the other ‘fun’ things that occurred since the Program Guide was installed. On Demand has been intermittently working. Occasionally some channels would say that we’re not authorized to watch them. For instance, we would get the same message for The Cooking Channel, Cartoon Network and G4 that we get for a pay channel like Cinemax that we do not subscribe to.

I did not sit and take this by the way. I am a complete evil bastard when it comes to talking with customer service. However, since The Bride used to work for Comcast, I tried my damnedest to be polite and calm, just in case I was speaking to someone we/she knew or used to work with. Just for the record, since June 7th, I have logged fourteen total calls to Comcast for various problems.

Sunday night, the shit hit the fan, as they say. The season finales of “Game of Thrones” and “The Killing” did not record at all. There were other programs that didn’t record or only recorded a few minutes of that night, but those two hurt me. When I tried to calm down, and watch them OnDemand, my blood pressure shot into the sky. OnDemand wasn’t working either.

I was on the phone to Comcast immediately. I had had enough of this crap. Through gritted teeth I carefully explained the problems to the customer service representative, and a technician visit was planned for the next day. This was last Tuesday. Long story short, Comcast sent a guy who looked like a Russian mobster from “The Sopranos,” with a very thick (almost to the point of hysteria) accent to match, to my house to change out the cable boxes. I was told, and after he said it several times I understood, that the problem was fixed.

That night, and the next three nights, the problem reoccurred. I called the cable company again, all calm out of the question. I was no longer polite, I was no longer understanding – I was what is probably gently referred to as ‘the irate customer.’ Yet another customer service representative talked to me slowly and softly, as if I was on the ledge of a tall building and threatening to jump. I was told that I wouldn’t being paying for the service calls, I would receive a discount on the DVR bill and that a technician would be at my home on Monday.

After a weekend of the intermittently functional DVR giving us incomplete recordings if at all, the technician arrived Monday. He asked a lot of questions, fiddled with some wires and then went outside to call his supervisor. You want to know what the bottom line was? “It’s a software problem, and they are working out the bugs. Yeah, it sucks, but there it is.”

The technician left. Unharmed. And about a dozen more blood vessels in my forehead popped. The problem continues. And I’m looking into TIVO.

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French Fry Diary 241: Freedom Fries

French Fry Diary 240: Cool Dog Cafe’s New Dipping Sauces

Random Tater Pic of the Day #7

Peter Falk 1927-2011

Award-winning and prolific actor, Peter Falk, of screen and stage, passed away yesterday in Beverly Hills, after being treated for Alzheimer’s disease in recent years. He was 83.

Falk was most closely identified as the television detective Columbo, which he played for decades, but he had a lengthy career on television and in film for years before then.

He holds a fond place in my heart as he appears in my favorite movie of all time – The Great Race. As Max, he was the comic stooge to Jack Lemmon’s Professor Fate, prompting such wonderful lines as “The Great Leslie escaped with a chicken?” and “Push the button, Max.”

Falk was nominated for multiple Oscars, Emmys and Golden Globes and even won a few. His other memorable movie roles include those in Murder, Inc., Pocketful of Miracles, The In-Laws, Robin and the Seven Hoods, The Brinks Job, The Princess Bride and Wings of Desire.

For all that, it still comes back to Columbo, which despite what might be thought was not actually even a TV series. It was part of NBC’s “Sunday Mystery Movie,” which alternated originally with “McCloud” and MacMillan and Wife” in the two-hour time slot every Sunday night. Peter Falk wore the dirty raincoat and asked suspects “just one more thing” in one form or another for over thirty years.

We have lost one of the great ones. Peter Falk, we’ll miss you.

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French Fry Diary 239: Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Marlton NJ

RIP Gene Colan

We have lost another one of the great comics legends. Last night artist Gene Colan passed away, from complications of liver disease. He was 84.

His contributions to comics are numerous. Without Colan, Marvel Comics would be a less fascinating place. His unique style and groundbreaking work on amazing comics like Howard the Duck and The Tomb of Dracula, as well as Daredevil make him one of the legends of the industry. His interpretations of Iron Man, the Sub-Mariner, Batman, Captain America, Wonder Woman, and Night Force among others will not be forgotten. Gene Colan will be much missed.

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French Fry Diary 238: Trader Joe’s Baked Hickory Barbeque Potato Chips

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast for 6-22-2011

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live in a real comics and gaming store in West Berlin, NJ – All Things Fun! – co-hosts Ed (Schism) Evans, Allison (Grounded) Eckel and Glenn (Flashpoint) Walker discuss the new comics out this week in two fun video segments, now in high definition, and also available on YouTube. See it here!

The first segment includes discussion of the following topics: The Death of Spider-Man (with the Ultimate Avengers and the New Ultimates), the week in Flashpoint (with Lois Lane, Kid Flash, the Outsider, and the Reverse-Flash), Paul Cornell’s Action Comics #902, solicitations that don’t match the real books, no fingers, and “re-jigger” is Trademark 2011 Allison Eckel.

The discussion continues in segment two including: More mismatched solicitations, Batman and the Outsiders #40, James Robinson pulls a Grounded, Ed’s leftovers, “Schism,” Green Arrow #13, Batman: Gates of Gotham #2, Ed’s indies, Glenn’s quick comic rundown, Allison’s kids comics, Young Justice #5, Ed’s trades, be careful with your Light Saber Torches, the Used Game Auction, and will Glenn ever stop twiddling his thumbs?

Be sure to check out the All Things Fun! website, and the All Things Fun! Blogs, by Allison and Glenn, and ATF! on YouTube.

And be back here every Wednesday morning at 11:30 AM EST to watch the new broadcast, and thereafter throughout the week!

And Happy Dead Spidey Day, everyone!

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French Fry Diary 237: Trader Joe’s Hash Browns