Request for comments!

(Now that I think about it… that title seems too self serving.)

I hate Time Warner. In general, I abhor the fact that cable companies quite often have pseudo monopolies in what ever locality they happen to be operating in (I’m shaking my fist at you FCC), but TWC holds a special place in my heart… one that makes me want to burn them to the ground. Between their price fixing, ever increasing bills, ridiculously ignorant and useless customer service, and general “fuck you world” attitude, they have firmly supplanted OCZ and Tiger Direct (sorry can’t find the link to the TD rant) as my most hated companies. I’m sure many of you out there have had similarly appalling experiences with TWC so I won’t turn this into a pity party, after all, I did file this in my “Technology” section.

I desperately want to replace TWC with Netflix, Hulu and OTA HD TV. More importantly, I don’t want it to inconvenience me so much that I get as frustrated with my own setup as I get with TWC. I’d like to have a unified system that can time shift live broadcasts and access streaming content but am having some serious issues finding a system that qualifies and need some help.

My requirements

  • Relatively small form factor
  • Capable of accessing and viewing live OTA HD TV
  • Capable of time shifting live TV
  • Able to access generic streaming content, preferably able to bookmark streams
  • Plugin or application ready with Netflix and Hulu addons
  • No subscription fees (outside of the streaming services)

I’ve been looking at solutions for months and haven’t found anything that makes me truly happy. Slingbox should really be used with a unified service; BoxeeBox doesn’t have great application/plugin support; Apple TV and Google TV exist for comedic value only; Myth TV doesn’t have official support for Netflix or Hulu and I don’t want to spend as much time trying to fix the streaming services as watching the content I want to stream; XBMC has the same problem as Myth TV although the community seems more responsive to updating their plugins. Insultingly enough, the closest I’ve come to an acceptable platform is PS3 and Xbox 360… the only thing I’m missing there is time shifting for OTA TV.

I’d really appreciate any advice or setups you guys have come up with!

Archangel / April 16, 2012 / Technology / 5 Comments


Long time no post… sorry… lots of life has happened and I should really get on this… maybe a summary post will be incoming. Anyway, to my topic.

I know all of my friends know about SOPA and PIPA so I won’t go into the discussion about it. My opinions of them are harsh and I’m more than a little offended that alleged conservatives in the House and Senate support the bill. That said, I actually wrote a letter to my Congressperson and Senator yesterday (via email) and received a very disappointing reply from my Senator (Kay Hagan – who happens to be a Democrat, which also surprised me).

Anyway… I’ll just give her reply here. Note: I am posting this as a fair use quote and recognize the rights Kay Hagan may have or claim on this text.

Dear Friend,

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns regarding the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011, more commonly referred to as the PROTECT IP Act of 2011. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this important issue.

On May 12, 2011, the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (S. 968) was introduced in the Senate and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. This bill would allow the Attorney General, or an intellectual property rights owner who has been harmed by an Internet site dedicated to infringing activities (ISDIA), also known as a rogue website, to take action against that site. A site would be designated as an ISDIA if their sole purpose is to facilitate copyright infringement, or promote or sale of counterfeited American works.

A recent study suggests that copyright piracy alone costs the American economy as much as $58 billion a year and countless jobs. I strongly support the goal of reducing the theft of intellectual property that is so important to North Carolina’s economy, including our budding film industry, which is why I and 40 of my bipartisan cosponsors originally cosponsored this legislation last July.

As with all proposed legislation, legitimate concerns have been raised about some of the specific provisions in this bill. I believe that supporters and opponents of the bill, all of whom agree, after all, on the need to combat the theft of American intellectual property, should work together to address those concerns. As you may know, the Senate is scheduled to begin consideration of this legislation later this month, and I intend to approach the debate and amendment process with an open mind. Through a full and robust debate, I believe we can improve the legislation, ultimately reaching an agreement that will protect intellectual property without limiting innovation and creativity or creating unintended consequences.

Again, thank you for contacting my office. It is truly an honor to represent North Carolina in the United States Senate, and I hope you will not hesitate to contact me in the future should you have any further questions or concerns.

Archangel / January 19, 2012 / Technology / 1 Comment

Archangel / September 14, 2010 / Technology / 2 Comments

Life is… interesting.

It has been more than 2 months since my last post, and I’ve been pretty busy. Fortunately, I’ve been busy enough to keep my nose out of the news for the most part so I don’t really have any comments on politics today 🙂 However, all of my former posts still apply.

I’ve spent entirely too much time on my new computer. The damn thing has been rebuilt, almost completely, twice now, but I think its finally done. I put all the parts into a new Antec Three Hundred case. I don’t have any windows or lights in this one, much like my last Lian-Li, but it looks just as sexy. I bounced around the idea of the Antec Nine Hundred Two, but I didn’t think I’d like all the flashiness and I think it was the right choice. The case is clean and I’m damn happy.

As for the guts of it, I did finally get the memory working. The 4th kit I got from OCZ did work and I’m able to run at advertised speeds. Actually, right now I’m running the i7 @ 3.96GHz and the RAM at 8-8-8-24, 1440MHz, 2T CR and I’ve never had a better experience on a computer before. I did have one last hiccup: the PSU I won at QuakeCon a few years ago died just a few weeks after I put it in service. The computer stopped waking up from sleep (it wouldn’t even respond to the power button) and eventually stopped powering on at all unless I toggled the main. I replaced it with an OCZ 750W and all is right in my world (of computers).

Since my last real post, Theresa and I adopted a dog from the SPCA. She’s a Husky/Hound mix and her name is Lita. Theresa has a bunch of pics up on Facebook, I’ll try to get some in WPG2 sometime soon, but feel free to check them out on our profiles. She’s very playful, although not always that friendly toward other dogs, and my apprehension for getting her was completely unwarranted. Theresa and I didn’t need any help being happy, but Lita is a very welcome addition.

The biggest change in my life actually happened today. I’ve accepted a job at another company and will be leaving Cisco in less than 4 weeks. Better details might be provided later, but some of my team members may be exploring the same company so I don’t want to put any details out there that could hurt them professionally. Suffice it to say, my frustration with my business unit grew to a point where I was already starting to look for other jobs internal to Cisco, so when I was cold called by the head hunter I was willing to listen. The company ended up being a pretty good fit and they’re willing to pay me a salary commensurate with my experience and ability (at least that’s what I’m telling myself), something Cisco seemed to be lagging in with no signs of that changing anytime soon.

Archangel / August 3, 2010 / Personal, Technology, Work / 0 Comments

OCZ Technology

During my freshmen year of college, I asked anyone who would listen to never by from TigerDirect (as best they could) again because of atrocious customer service that led me to being out nearly $800 (which I did eventually get back by having my credit card issue charge backs). Now, I’m going to ask anyone who will listen to avoid buying OCZ products. Since I built my new computer, I’ve had nothing but trouble with their RAM and their customer support feels like I’m talking to a high-school nerd who has next to no knowledge of actual computer hardware.

If nothing else, you shouldn’t buy their products because the quality has suffered dramatically from their fabrication and product line changes. Out of 3 kits of RAM (9 DIMMs) I’ve had 1 usable kit (4 DIMMs actually failed). While that is technically a 44% failure rate, the failure rate to me is 67% since I’m forced to RMA the whole kit.

The above says nothing about the quality of the actual working RAM. At the exact factory specifications (8-8-8-24 @ 1600MHz), the RAM performs as expected. However, if loosen the timings a bit (9-9-9-26 @ 1440Mhz) the RAM is remarkably unstable – even with a background in electrical engineering I can’t come up with a bullshit excuse for that one. I might also mention here that you have to know something about how RAM works to really even get what you want out of this. The auto-detect settings from the SPD is 7-7-7-18 @ 1066MHz, 1.50V. While you probably won’t damage the RAM by just playing with the ratio to get it up to full speed, you certainly won’t get it stable…

As a personal favor, I’m asking that anyone who reads doesn’t buy OCZ again because of their terrible customer service. No matter how you try to get help, they send you to their expert forum to sift through an amazing pile of crap to try and get help. If you’re lucky, someone approved by OCZ might reply to your post in a week… if you aren’t… some jackass who dicks around with settings once in a while will make an erroneous recommendation that will not only waste your time, but the OCZ approved members will want you to respond to before they help. Not only that, but they’re not likely to read everything you actually bother to type and may repeatedly ask you to do something that you’ve clearly already done or ask for information that you probably provided in your last reply. The worst offense to me was that they recommended that I run my RAM 8-8-8-24 @ 1066MHz and expected that to be acceptable to me (assuming it was stable).

Once you dig yourself out of that pile of crap, its on to their email based RMA process where some new jackass will try to debug the issue again. Expecting this, I tried to head the issue off and explained all of my testing and gave a link to my forum thread… yeah… why bother working when you can waste your customer’s time? This particular person did ask me to do something different, however. He wanted me to make sure I got through at least 6 passes of memtest86+ on each individual stick of RAM… because I just have all the free time in the world. Obviously, I didn’t get through the process without killing myself, but the whole thing seemed very anti-customer to me.

Unfortunately, I got to experience the process a second time. The RAM I received via RMA actually failed worse than the first kit I send back. Either their product is super fragile, or they’ve just stopped caring altogether. This time around, I used the RMA directions from the first case to contact their support system again (it turns out that they don’t really care about the forum, they just tell everyone to go to it). I gave the exact test case that failed (an individual kit, 3 DIMMs, 8-8-8-24 @ 1600MHz) and requested that since this was an RMA for an item received via RMA that they pay the return shipping. I get a response back suggesting that I might have a problem since I’m using all 4 slots on my motherboard (I actually have 6… triple channel memory kit and all… except I told them I was only using 3 DIMMs) and I should try testing again at the stock speeds. I actually hung my head in resentment for a couple minutes. I tried again to explain the test and this time receive the notification that my RMA was approved. I replied with the required details, but included at the top another request for OCZ to pay return shipping. I received my RMA # without them even telling me to fuck off and ship it myself.

Sometimes I wonder if I have a tone of voice or a way of wording things that just makes people not want to help me. Between this and experiences like me trying to buy a house, I seriously question whether or not I should just go hide under a bridge somewhere. That, or I was Chairman Mao in a past life…

Archangel / May 14, 2010 / Technology / 4 Comments