Who will be the next blackberry?

There was a time when to send a message you would pay a man to carry your note to its destination.

There was a time when you could take your note to the post office, and they would take your note to its destination.

There was a time when you would write out your message on a form and the man at the telegraph office would transmit your note to the telegraph office near its destination.

There was a time when to make a call you would pick up the earphone, and talk into the mouthpiece and ask the operator for the person you wished to speak to.

There was a time when to make a phone call you would pick up the receiver and turn the rotary dial to send pulses down a cable to a robot in an exchange that would rotate to plug in the digits and complete the connection to your destination.

There was a time when to make a call you would extend the antenna on your phone, punch in the digits and press send.

There was a time when to send a message you would type the message on your blackberry and press send.

There was a time when to make a call you would ask siri to call that person and their face would appear on your iPhone.

There was a time when to call someone you would move your eyes to the call icon and say the name of the person you want to speak to, and their face would appear on your head up display.

There was a time when to call a group you touched your implant and thought of their names and their images would appear in your minds eye.

There was a time when it started to be weird… I just can’t remember when it “started” to be weird.
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Why the hell is there an MTA tax on my cellphone bill!

The last time I checked, there was absolutely no cellphone reception on the New York City Subway. No phone calls, no Internet access nothing!

Yet hidden away on my cellphone bill is a tax code for the MTA. I was on a call with AT&T a few weeks ago, to perform my yearly check to see if I have the best deal on the service I consume (if seems that unless you call them around once a year, the charges you pay start to either rise or at least don’t take advantage of newer plans). I asked the usual questions:

1. Please look at the service package I have, am I getting the best deal you offer for these services?
2. Is there some new way of configuring my bill to lower the costs?
3. Can you confirm that my minutes that I pay for are close to what I use?
4. If I were to move to your competitor would they offer me a better deal? And would you like to just compete proactively to save me having to do that?

The result is always a reduction of some part of the plan, same or better service, but with a lower price (and it seems they always waive upgrade fees if I choose to upgrade my phone more often than once every two years)

I do the same thing with cable, home insurance, car insurance and banks. Just 15 minutes every couple of months saves many hundreds a year (and yes I do like GIECO).

Anyway while I was on the phone with AT&T, since the call went so well and was quick I thought I’d ask about some of the taxes on the bill. One was labeled MTA, I was sure it wouldn’t be the Metropolitan Transport Authority for New York City, as they offer no cell service. But I was wrong, it is them! Just a few cents every month, but since there are millions of cell users in the area, this is a big ticket item on their budget.

I’m sure it’s a hangover from the days when cables ran through subway tunnels, and they have just kept it going.

Here’s hoping that’s the reason and they are not in fact investing in cell phone services on subways.

Can you imagine how annoying it will be if everyone has to shout over the noise of the trains at each other.

And of course since the emergence of reality TV, where everyone shouts into their speakerphone (so the camera can pick up both sides of a conversation), everyone below the age of 30 feels the need to always answer their phones that way.

If you want to look really stupid, try walking down a street shouting into the screen of a cellphone. It actually makes people who talk into a Bluetooth headset seem sane by comparison.

So now imagine these same reality TV saturated phone junkies screaming into their slab of glass on the subway platform or even the subway, it will not be pretty.

If the number of fights per month on the subway system increases dramatically, I suspect that will be a good indication of the ability to make calls while down there.

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Piracy – Dealing with a niggling issue of the internet this decade.

There are many cultural transformations taking place right now, due to the pervasiveness of the internet. Many established business practices are changing either to take advantage of the internet or because the internet is forcing them to change to survive.

Media companies, of all types have had to find new ways of working. Newpapers (the ones that have survived so far) have had to find ways to make money outside of just printing copies on paper. While movie companies and the music industry are slowly moving from terrified laggards towards embracing the possibilities of online distribution. Slowly but surely cinemas are moving to digital distribution of films, actually getting out of printing and shipping celluloid, and instead downloading high res digital copies directly to the cinemas.

The end of the movie rental shop is upon us, as people move from browsing shelves to browsing the itunes store. The people who prefer to “own:” or “pickup” a DVD from a video shop are slowly aging to the point where they don’t visit the shops often enough to make them viable.

The issue of piracy has been with us since people would listen to a new opera and hand write the words and music they heard to sell on the street. Every child and student from the 60’s onwards has “bootleg-ed” and today there are millions of copied movies available for download from the internet.

The challenge is that if movies are placed outside of the range of a potential viewer, then these viewers will find other ways to get them. This applies to price, censorship, regional availability or any other limiting factor. I’ve tried and failed to get movies downloaded onto a multitude of devices from many sites (a range of on-demand services and amazon), and if it wasn’t for itunes and the i-range of apple devices I would probably have given up and carried on either buying DVD’s and ripping them to my computer (legal) or if I couldn’t get them that way downloading them from the internet (illegal).

I still have an issue getting non-us movies legally in the US. I really like a lot of the output of the UK, France and Australia, but it can be really difficult to get these online. I have a multi-region DVD player (not called a DVD player as the title DVD actually is protected but if you don’t use the name its legal, go figure!) and purchase disks from other countries for this purpose. But many TV shows just are not available, and it’s really frustrating. I’d be happy to pay to get them online, but the possibility of selling a license to a company in the US at some point in the future, stops companies allowing us to do this, even when they haven’t sold a license for viewing in the US! (and often never will)

The point here is that if you make it easy for people to get movies legally , nearly everyone will. But when businesses makes it difficult then people will take the path of least resistance.

The same goes for the music industry. Pandora, spotify and their ilk are really great. They allow you to listen to music whenever you have the internet. But there are times when I don’t have the internet (travelling abroad, driving in the boonies, on a plane or a subway) and for these times I do download music. Again I use iTunes for this. In the old days I used to buy CD’s and have nearly a thousand of the buggers. The space they consume is horrendous, and so I now prefer downloading songs from iTunes. The new service from apple called iTunes match is fantastic. It has allowed me to create a library of all the music I own (CD’s and downloaded from itunes) and use it on all my i-devices at a very good bitrate, and I can download the ones I want to listen to dead zones. I can afford my music and so see no reason to pirate.

But that’s the issue; I choose to get my movies and music legally, because I like the services available and the quality of the product.

I came to my conclusion to be legal because it works for me. If I couldn’t afford music or the music I wanted wasn’t available to me for regional reasons or censorship or age related reasons I may well have made another choice.

Wake up media industry, think like a consumer, make it easy to be legal and people will.

When you use the law to fight your consumers you actually create a sub-culture that thrives in “putting it to the man”, and you actually create more piracy. Play nice.

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Extreme Laziness 101 – Home Automation

Living in a New York City Apartment has many positive aspects. Personally I have become very used to doing without stairs, and doormen are possibly the best people in the whole world (except my wife of course). And it’s great to have service people doing all the service-ey things that come with a house.

But there is also the downsides of apartment living, the most obvious ones being REALLY expensive car parking and absolutely no spare storage space.

But there is one apartment living pain that just cannot be tolerated, and that is the fact that very few lights are hardwired into the ceiling with a wall switch. This means that you end up with dozens of lamps plugged into wall sockets. So turning the lights on when you get home at night can easily turn into a major enterprise, not unlike watching Doctor Who running the Tardis. With lots of rummaging under tables and pressing foot switches. Add to this that to start with you are performing this in the dark, you can see the issue.

There are ways around this. The easiest way is to get remote controlled lamp controllers. There are many of these on sale, and I think I’ve tried most of them. The issue is that when you plug little blobs of tech directly into wall sockets, they are at the whim of the quality of the power supply. So every year or so they break, and when you try and replace them, you find that the model you have been using is no longer available and so you end up replacing the whole lot. Only to find a year later the same thing happens again.

A few years ago I came across a model that was rather inexpensive and so I had no expectations that it would age any better than any of the others. I have been pleasantly surprised. I think they are now on their fourth year and all elements are still working perfectly.

What I didn’t know until very recently is that these devices are actually built on a standard that is now being followed by quite a few vendors. This means that I can actually add other bits. Which I have just done.

I now have two wall switches in the network along with five plug in lamps. And I have five remote controls that allow everything to be switched from every possible place in my apartment.

And probably the most important part of this whole thing, is that it all works simply.

I’ve just found a dongle that when plugged into the mac or pc will allow me to control all my lights from my iphone. That dongle is in the mail from Amazon as I write this, so is a project for a couple of weeks time.

What I’ve also found out is that I can control the air conditioners from the same automation network. And it turns out I may even be able to get a front door lock that integrates into the system, which in theory means I should be able to lock and unlock the front door from my iphone. I say in theory, because I suspect that my wife may have an opinion on that, and that opinion may not be in line with me turning out apartment into a borg ship.

Still I’m loving the light control we have.

If anyone is interested in automating their lights and maybe a little more, the system I’m using is based on the z-wave standard, and there are loads of choices available from amazon. The main lumps I’m using are from Intermatic and the model is an HA101K, and I’ve added a few wall switches are remotes from GE.
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iphonemania is upon us again

Predictions on the big Apple announcement on Wednesday.

Okay, it’s a fact, I’m a techie. I consume, use, enjoy and even care about , technology.

And every year at this time, one of the most interesting tech companies has a big event where they announce (but not release) the next iteration of their phone.

How different will the 5 look?

Yep wednesday is Apple iphone 5 day. And I want to put my stake on the ground as to what I suspect will be announced.

Having absolutely no insider knowledge, this is just where I suspect it will be going.

– Slightly faster
– Slightly bigger
– Slightly more batter life
– Slightly less glassy
– Slightly less compatible with previously used attachments
– Slightly more cloudy
– Slightly improved user interface

These will all be good improvements to what is already a really good pocket computer.

What I suspect they will also do is add a bunch of what can only be called “Meh” stuff.

Such as Near Field Communication (NFC), which will be presented as the future of cashless paying, but will in effect be the future of crime, both theft and identity theft.

And they may well have a siri upgrade, so there will be a reason for more celebrities to get paid for adverts touting a technology that only works rarely and is still many years away from primetime.

We’ll probably also see a new set of integrations with cars and other devices, that will sound great, but won’t mean anything for nearly everyone.

Also we will see the announcement of the release date of the next iteration of the phones operating systems (iOS6), which has been in beta for a while, so every techy pundit has already written about the new features. But it will be cool to see this out.

What we won’t hear is that the ability to make a call and not have it drop out has improved. It’s already pretty good, but not perfect. And just like every other smartphone the iPhone is a great pocket computer and a mediocre phone.

This was still the best phone I ever owned, at least to make phone calls….

Still like every other smartphone user in the world, I (and/or my wife) will be watching this launch and will probably upgrade very shortly.

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Partial Response, Maximum Likelihood

In the early 1990’s a very cleaver little formula become popular in computing and telecommunication fields. This little formula was called partial response, maximum likelihood (PRML), and it was able to identify the digital data stored in a very weak analog signal.

That might sound rather boring, but PRML was one of the turning points for stored and transmitted data. All of a sudden the amount of data that could be stored on a hard disk grew exponentially. Before PRML a big hard disk would have been 80MB, and it was limited because the space needed to store a bit of data was large due to the strength of the magnietic field needed to write a strong enough data bit. but as soon as PRML hit the streets a weaker magnetic field could be used and the space needed to store each bit was reduced dramatically. This allowed the capacity to jump up to 120MB, 250MB then 500MB and then 1GB, now drives are hundreds of gigabytes and often multiple terabytes per 3.5 inch disk (with multiple platters in each disk drive).

And as the capacity was growing, but the size of the disks stayed the same, data transfer rates also grew dramatically. This allowed Microsoft and others to create much larger bloatware. If it wasn’t for PRML maybe we would never have seen the paperclip in word, or be able to store just such an immense amount of porn and pirate movies on the internet.

And of course PRML was responsible for much more than just hard disks becoming massive. Another amazing PRML child was the digital cellphone. Before PRML cell phones were analog which meant that the quality of sound you heard in your ear was full of pops and whistles and people saying “hello can you hear me, this fu&*ing piece of Sh$t phone gaaaaaahhh”. And the phones themselves were much larger to deal with the much higher transmission powers.

But since PRML the sound you hear in your ear is crisp and clear, as it’s digital you either get a sound or you don’t. And with PRML checking every bit to work out if it’s a one or a zero amongst all that static and interference on the radio spectrum what you hear is clean. Of course cell phones still drop calls (yep, a lot less than decades ago, but still enough to drive us nuts). But when a call quality is so low that PRML can’t work out the signal, what you hear is silence, rather than the person at the other end screaming expletives into the mouthpiece.

As I’ve basically grown up with PRML, I’ve discovered another even more valuable use for the technology.

I use my own version of PRML on conversations people have with me. It’s so much easier than listening to every word. Now I just listen to the odd bit of a sentence and my PRMLing brain fills in the missing bits.

I find this process to be perfect, and I’ve convinced myself that I never miss anything important.

I suspect my wife does not totally agree…..

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Social Media = Domesticating a Wild Animal?

All organizations now have some sort of a digital strategy and “social media marketing” as part of their plan.

It seems like a no-brainer – Facebook and Twitter accounts are free and we can use the interns and “young employees” along with a few extra cycles from the PR guy.  It’s Win-Win.  Free advertising.  No foreseeable downside, right?

Example For Your Review: A major college football program (Arizona State), and their conference which generates more than a quarter of a billion dollars per season (The Pac 12), learned the hard way that it isn’t always “Win-Win” with no downside.  The program recently had its pre-season “Pac 12 Media Days” and scheduled press conferences with Q&A for each team’s head coach, including ASU’s new leader Todd Graham.  “Use that interweb social media stuff to promote the event!” was the likely command from the 60+ year old university leadership to the underpaid 22 year-old running social media for the school, along with, “Do your Tweeter thing and get us some new viewers!”   The young social marketer thought it would be a great idea to get fans involved in the Q&A by allowing them to tweet questions directly to the coachvia the #AskASU hashtag during the televised event in front of a room full of media.  Well, what occurred was what is known as a “hijacking” – In this case, fans of ASU’s new coach’s previous team (the Pitt Panthers), took this opportunity to ask their former leader a “few” questions about the circumstances of his abrupt and unexpected departure last December.

You see, less than a year after being hired to a 5-year contract by Pitt (and unbeknownst to his employers), Graham took another job to coach the Arizona State University football team.  He informed his team and Pitt via a text forwarded to a Pitt football administrator.  Graham took a lot of heat in the national media, especially in football-crazy Pittsburgh.  Ridiculed during his 1-year Pitt tenure for his use of football platitudes like “high-octane offense” and panned for throwing his players under the figurative bus, there was no love lost between the coach and the Steel City.  He also called ASU his “dream job” after saying the exact same thing about his previous employer 12 months earlier.

The Twitter “question” queue was completely dominated by Pitt tweets and included:

Coach when you mentioned speed speed speed, were you then hinting at how fast you would be leaving Pitt? #AskASU

Coach G, you do realize that allowing transfers without penalty is only a privilege for Penn State students, right? #AskASU

#AskASU coach, what are your thoughts on having more wins than Joe Pa last year? Will you use that for your next dream job?

What genius catchphrase will you invent this year that’s bound to be taken so seriously by the students in Tempe? #AskASU

Coach, would you leave Penni if an opportunity for a “dream” wife came along? #AskASU

#AskASU so how do you feel about email breakups

Coach Graham, I know what it feels like to be unfairly vilified. You have my support. #AskASU #PennState#Misunderstood [Eds. note: That’s a fake Mike McQueary account.]


#AskASU Coach,aren’t you glad you don’t have those pesky Steelers hanging around YOUR cafeteria

Have you put your house on the market yet? #AskASU

Hey Todd, my grandmas cat passed away, can you text her the bad news. I dont have the heart. #AskASU

Coach Graham- How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop…or do you just quit licking and leave half-way? #AskASU

—————————–


Todd (aka Fraud) Graham: Did social media help get him labeled as “the devil himself?”

-Win-win?  No downside?  Maybe not.  This hijacking was so thorough that news outlets saw how high it was trending and wrote stories about it and the coach in question.  His status as a pariah and example of what’s wrong with college sports is now complete.

Trying to use social media to promote your company or organization is a little like trying to domesticate a chimpanzee or tiger… it’s a only a matter of when you’ll get bitten so think about the risks and prepare for the good and the bad that comes with this “free” marketing/PR.

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What does the Apple US court win against Samsung mean for geeks?

I think we all remember the days before the iphone, when phones made phone calls and occasionally the odd email and text message. Unless of course you were a hardened business blackberry user using your thumbs to tap out badly written emails, or under the age of 20 when of course your cingular form of communication was txting, having already decided that all verbal or other written forms of comms were inferior.

But since the iphone, things have changed dramatically. Now we all use devices that would have made gene Roddenberry give an “I told you so” holier than thou nod.

There was a time (between the end of the analog cellphone networks prevalence and the iphone) where calls could be completed without dropping. When phones had aerials that actually worked well. Maybe they were somewhat large and stuck out of the top of relatively large lumps of technology, effectively irradiating out heads. But they did allow us to make a call from ring to goodbye without redialing.

Now we trawl the world’s data resources and hold video calls all from a slice of glass and metal that slips lightly into any pocket or handbag.

iphone vs Android… let the battle commence

Do we care who makes that lump of tech-porn? Not really!

Whatever device you own becomes your passion, and you will fly it’s flag. Well maybe with the exception of RIM, as they seem to have drifted slowly but surely away from the mainstream doggedly sticking to the idea of only doing the things that work really well and avoiding all the crazy fun stuff… A sure death sentence.

The simple fact is everyone else did copy Apple. They (Apple) changed the definition of a phone. It became smaller, lost it’s keyboard, lost it’s full size antenna, got a full device sized screen, got a home button and became a computer in your hand and pocket. And some of the nuances around pinching and stretching along with the cute bounce at the end of scrolls are sweet, pure apple.

I’m sure there are other ways to make great tech devices, but given the current level of technology proficiency, Apple exploited what’s possible today to the max. And that makes it very hard for others to compete without copying.

Apple bet the bank on a device, which is just a screen you touch. It worked and they deserve huge credit for an amazing array of innovative ideas that are bundled into their i-devices. But maybe there are better ways of moving forward, and maybe forcing others to invest in innovation rather than replication will make our tech dreams come true.

I’m impressed by Android and the new Microsoft user experience, but not impressed enough to change from my iphone/ipad/apple tv life.

But I can’t wait for the next paradigm shifting tech. Maybe it will be google’s glasses which seem to have been preempted in the book Daemon by Daniel Suarez (a must read for all who love tech)

But just maybe Gene Roddenberry had the answer there as well. Maybe a little golden gadget pinned to your tunic will be the next device. Just tap it and talk to your computer, Kith and Kin. Gene already got rid of the screen, and the keyboard, and I didn’t see any aerials on those guys and gals in any of the myriad of Trekkie TV series or movies.

Maybe the family of Mr. Roddenberry needs to preemptively sue Apple for a few Billion.

the dreamer of flip phones (communicators) , pads (tricorders) and beyond….

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Tv programming is a vicious cycle of delusions.

When I was growing up there was a total of three tv channels to choose from. We had a little black and white tv and that’s the one I saw the first man take the first step on the moon with.

Now that was a cool tv moment that stuck with me. My memory today is of my dad waking me up in the middle of the night and in a very excited voice, telling me again and again that I was going to see something I would never forget. I worked, I’ve never forgotten it.

A couple of decades later my favorite band wrote about “thirteen channels of shit on the tv to choose from” a phophecy that has lead to today where there are literally thousands of unbelievably crappy channels of tv available. And now with the power of the Internet that amount of total unadulterated useless crap being broadcast is growing at an exponential rate, thanks to the likes of YouTube, Hulu and their ilk.

The problem is, that it’s really expensive to make excellent broadcast quality material. And every channel needs to fill the spaces between the adverts with something to stop viewers channel hopping. So they do it in the cost cost efficient way they can.

So we end up with reality tv, game shows, opinion shows, chat shows and anything else where the cost of production can be limited to as few cameras and back end staff as possible with the maximum broadcast time, and the minimum number of retakes.

Even channels that used to broadcast the news,and now filled with opinion shows, where so called pundits interview a couple of so called experts on a topic of so called current interest.

And even these shows really just look at what’s on their competitors shows to see what to discuss. It’s got to the point now when opinion shows just discuss the opinions of other opinion shows. It’s to the point where bill o’reilly spends all his time critiquing Rachelle Maddows and she spends all her time critiquing him. It’s nuts, but cheap.

All they really care about is filling the spaces between paid ads. But of course now In the world of digital video recorders (DVR’s) many of us have the technology to entirely skip the ads. And the tv channels use an outmoded technology to measure viewer numbers that is both inaccurate (my guess is always much higher than reality) and ignores viewer ad skips.

So we’re in a world of bullshit, with media companies are desparate to fill their millions of channels with any kind of cheap programming to get viewers, just so that can convince advertisers to fill the minutes in between with paid for ads that we all skip. It’s a vicious cycle of delusions.

And as the quality of shows continues to decline, the need to delude gets even greater. Who would have thought that the word housewife could have be transposed with train wreck. But if you watch any of the housewives of new York or new jersey or atlanta etc, you would be left instantly with the idea that every housewife in the US is both incredibly rich and totally mad.

Add to that reality shows about everything from the po-lice in every tiny town, to people who run pawn shops to toothless swamp people. Then add in hugely long shows with thousands of people who have no idea how to sing (interspersed with the odd bit of talent) and time fillers about people who are totally bonkers and fill their houses with every piece of garbage and packaging that they ever consumed, and you are actually left with a situation where the ads are actually better viewing than the bits in between.

I’m thinking of designing a DVR that only records ads. What with the likes of GEICO and some of the excellent medical disclaimers, I think we have reached the place where the production quality and scripts of tv advertising is evidently better than the programming.

who can forget the drug that cures restless leg syndrome, but leaves you with a severe case of gambling and sex addiction…., awesome. (116)

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The global issue of crappy telco service.

Before I go off on a rant about the awful history of telco service, I want to state for the record that today I have brilliant, perfect service from Verizon FIOS. I’ve had it now for over three years and have never had a single issue. I’m still very afraid of the quality of service I may get if I have an issue, but so far every single conversation or correspondence I’ve had with Verizon FIOS has been awesome.

But I have to say, my experience with telcos over the past three decades leaves me with a continuing sense of foreboding.

I think I’ve tried just about every option in terms of technology and telecommunications provider in the New York metropolitan area and across the UK, and (not counting my current provider), they have uniformly been stunning in their ability to make seemingly simple things really complex.

Let me give you an example from about a dozen years ago. I had just moved into a new house in the UK, and needed a phone line and internet connection. At the time the best Internet speeds were available on something called ADSL (For some reason they felt the need to use an acronym of Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line). To get ADSL the telecom provider (in the style of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 lets call them AS), needed to schedule an installation.

At the duly appointed time, an engineer knocks on my door to come and install the ADSL connection. He asks me where the cable comes into the house.

Well it turns out he’s just the inside man, and the outside man needs to come first to get the cable to the house before inside man can do his job. So he goes away and schedules outside man. The next day outside man comes along in a van, knocks on my door and asks me where the hole is that he needs to run the cable from to the house.

Well it turns out hole digging man needs to come along and dig a hole before outside man can run the cable. So outside man goes away and schedules a call with hole man.

So the next day inside man comes along again and asks me where the cable is, I explain the situation and he promises to go away and give hole man a call. So the next day hole man comes along in a truck and knocks on my door and asks where the hole should be dug.

Well it turns out that hole man cannot dig a hole until spray can man comes along and marks the right place for him to dig his hole.

So the next day inside man comes along and looking rather sheepish asks me how it’s going. I explain and he goes away and says he will call everyone and get this sorted.

After that things got a little silly, with spray can man (in a larger truck), hole man, outside man and inside man randomly turning up in the wrong order until eventually there is a mark, a hole, a cable and a box installed inside my house. Only to find that a special man is required to solder the connection inside the hole (which is now filled in), so spray can man, hole man, solder man, outside man and inside man all come along once more and do their magic.

Now I have a box inside my house, but it turns out the maximum distance allowed between my box and the exchange has been exceeded by about 5%, so the exchange will not authorize it to be connected at the exchange end and tested.

At this point (several weeks into the operation) I lost my cool and started calling everyone I can think of. Eventually I got through to the office of the chairman of “AS” and they said they would look into it.

The next day a 40 foot 18 wheeler truck turns up outside my house, and the “area engineer” comes in. He calls the exchange and says “why don’t we just connect it up and see if it works”. Well they did connect it up and it did work.

Problem solved, it only took a month and an unbelievable amount of people and resources.

This may seem like an extreme example, but I would suggest from my experience, it’s actually the normal. If you don’t believe me, then try one of the following.

1. Ask Time Warner (NY) to install two cable cards in two TiVo boxes (a service they offer, but no one seems to know how to do)

2. Try and make a change to your AT&T phone service (there are at least a million ways to configure your phone bill)

3. Ask Virgin (UK) to transfer your phone number from one house to another (just tried that one in the UK, they say they can do it, until you try)

It can’t be this hard, but it seems that every single telecoms company in the world has chosen to make it incredibly tortuous to do business with them.

Maybe Verizon FIOS will turn out to be the perfect telco, only time will tell. (68)

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