Spectrum: the infuriating and the seemingly-competent
Friday, April 10 2020
Gretchen managed to get through to someone at Spectrum today in an effort to turn off the useless television part of our cable package. She was momentarily speechless when the Spectrum guy told her that we would be charged the entire $180 price of the AppleTV we'd been sent. "But what about the fourteen day trial?" Gretchen asked. Evidently the rules at Spectrum are that if you break the clear plastic wrap, you've bought it. The fourteen day trial means nothing. And, unlike with nearly every other business in America, the customer is most certainly not always right. It didn't matter how much Gretchen threatened to destroy Spectrum on social media, the guy on the phone would not relent. There's a reason Time Warner cable was such a hated brand that they were forced to change their name. Without any other way to dispose of the cursed AppleTV, I listed it in the Facebook marketplace at a price of $135, which was a bit optimistic.
Both Gretchen and I agreed that part of our problem with AppleTV was that it was clearly technology designed to control us. For example, the alphanumeric virtual keyboard displayed on the screen is a single line of letters, making it much more difficult to navigate than a keyboard comprised of several rows. Why had Apple done this? Gretchen thought it was to coerce us into using Siri, the voice assistant. But once you've turned that on, you've got Big Brother there in your house listening to everything you say. Hell, it probably does that even when you have Siri disabled.
Despite our troubles with Spectrum Cable, Gretchen had been impressed by the competence of the people she'd dealt with in the Spectrum Wireless division. Today she took delivery of a brand-new cellphone for use with Spectrum Wireless. She then went about the work of transferring her service from Verizon (a company that will continue to provide her service as a subcontractor). Gretchen liked her new phone, a Samsung Galaxy A10e. [In researching its specifications, I would find that it's actually a less-capable phone than her old one, a Samsung Galaxy S7. It has half the RAM, a third fewer pixels on the main camera, and a lower-resolution screen.]
I was so unproductive in my remote workplace that I began to fear I might be falling behind on the things I need to do. Fortunately, this feeling has motivational power and will, at some point, prevent me from bouncing around between news sites reading the lastest on the ongoing pandemic. Among the non-work-related things I did today was install a new Asus TR-AC1750 B1 router in the teevee room, where it replaces a five-port gigabit switch. I tend to think of all WiFi routers being essentially interchangeable, but the signal coming from this one was much better than anything I get from my various five-year-oldish Netgear routers (all of which run open source DD-WRT firmware). The proprietary firmware on the Asus TR-AC1750_B1 is good enough for now, but I made sure to buy a router that will accept a DD-WRT firmware.
The weather was cool (and occasionally cloudy) enough for me to make a fire this afternoon. I hadn't salvaged firewood for weeks and we were down to our last stick of the indoor woodpile. So I set out with my backpack and saw for another just-in-time salvaging run west of the Farm Road, bringing home a pack of mostly-dry skeletonized oak that weighed 134 pounds (including the weight of the pack itself).
Another non-work-related thing I did was make a meme, which ended up being shared eight times (pretty good for a non-Suzy-Fauber meme). I thought the plotting of the increase in coronavirus cases in the United States resembled the famous picture of troops raising a flag on the island of Iwo Jima in World War II. So I used transparent layers to show one on top of the other. Since the flag pole in the Iwo Jima picture wasn't sloped as steeply as the contagion curve, I dispensed with the pole and rotated the flag slightly so the curve could be the pole.
Today's coronavirus meme. Click to enlarge.
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