Monthly Archives: June 2008

Firefox 3

I downloaded the portable version of Firefox 3 the other day to test out the new browser.  It seems to work fine and offers what seems to be, a speed boost over Firefox 2 when it comes to loading websites.  I personally didn’t measure this, but it does feel faster.

The first thing I notices was how many of the add-ons I use that are incompatible.  A few notable plug-ins as of this posting are:

  1. All-in-One Sidebar
  2. Auto Copy
  3. Exch (a currency coverter)
  4. Fingerfox
  5. Google Browser Sync (this is a biggie)
  6. Google Pagerank Status
  7. Google Send to Phone
  8. Google Web Accelerator
  9. Minimize to Tray
  10. Tab Effect
  11. Tab Preview
  12. Tabbrowser Preferences

Some of these plug-ins are totally unnecessary (tab effect), while others have become integral in my decision not to use Internet Explorer.  The other thing I was surprised about is the Noia 2.0 Extreme Theme is currently not compatible with Firefox 3.  I am sure some, if not all of these add-ons will be updated in the near future, but others such as the Google Browser Sync will not (according to Google).  A suggestion is to use Mozilla Weave, but at the time of writing this the site is down and I can not test it to post my opinion.

My general opinion of Firefox 3 is that its a bit of an improvement over V2, but I people should give the developers a bit more time to get their plugins running before you make the switch permanently.  Hopefully this happens in weeks rather than months.

Time Warner Cable Complaints


I have some real complaints about Time Warner Cable. I could go on and on, but I think I am going to vent today on one item in particular. The 8300HDC cable box.

Firstly, I should point out that this box is made by Scientific Atlanta (Cisco). I am not sure of the details of the hardware and software relationship, but my guess is that with proper software support the box would work just fine. This, sadly as anyone who has this box knows, is not the case.

This box seemingly is everything you would want in a cable box. It has dual tuners and can record HD and SD video. It also supports the addition of an external hard drive for increased storage. I have not tried this yet, so I am unsure if the external HDD is supported in the sofware provided by Time Warner Cable. At first inspection, it seems to be a perfectly capable cable tuner.

This is where the illusion ends. The 8300HDC crashes all the time. Most often when it is recording HD streams (one of the main advertised functions of the box). Also, the box tends to reboot itself at least once a week. When it reboots, it does not turn itself back on, so my windows media center is unable to record anything. This provides me with alot of long all black avis with no sound. There is nothing I can do about this as I contacted Time Warner and was told that with DIGITAL cable this behavior was perfectly normal. They stressed the digital. This makes zero sense to me, but displays their blatant disrespect for their customers intelligence.

Aside from crashing, another complaint is that the firewire port seems to be disabled. I have no way to test this for sure, but after trying channel changing via FireSTB to no avail, I have given up. Previously, I had FireSTB working on a Motorola DCT-6200 with no problems at all. Again, I have no way to test this for sure but when I asked Time Warner they told me the firewire port is unsupported.

Due to this frustration, I decided to dump the 8300HDC and opt for a HD Tivo instead. The HD tivo gets great reviews and is continuously praised on a number of podcasts including CNET’s Buzz Out Loud. I went to and bought one. When it was delivered to me, I plugged it in and tested it out on analog cable only (more on this later). The box worked very well. I only wish that I could have actually used it.

I called Time Warner Cable and asked the tech if they had cable cards for use in Tivo. She replied that they did and that I could pick one up at the local Time Warner Office. I also asked if they had the dual tuner cards just like the one that is currently in the 8300HDC for rent. I was told yes, and that I could get that at the local office. I proceeded to the local office. I explained my situation with the box and the crashing and that I wanted a cable card for my new Tivo. The clerk had no idea what a cable card was, but offered me a new 8300HDC in exchange. I proceeded to show the clerk the card in the box, and asked if I could just have that one as it was exactly what I wanted. She said she would check. Another guy came back and said that there are no dual tuner cable cards and that I could only have one single tuner card. After some arguing, I was ready to get my 2 single tuner cable cards installed by a tech 30 days later. Then they told me the price differential. It was going to cost me $30 more per month for the cable cards and I was going to have to pay the tech $50 to plug the cards in to my Tivo. I was confused. I already had the 8300HDC WITH a dual tuner cable card inside of it for $30 less than what I would get less equipment for?!?! I questioned this, and it was explained to me that the cable box was part of my package deal, and by not having the box, I was breaking my package. I would thus have to pay more.

This seems like a scam to me. But who am I to complain to the cable company, they obviously do not care what I think. So, I took their offer of an exchange of the 8300HDC and went home. I boxed up my HD Tivo and sent it back to is great by the way. They paid for shipping both ways, and I greatly appreciate this type of customer service. Time Warner Cable could really learn something from regarding customer service.

Now one more thing. Why is it that I am forced to have this box at all. QAM delivers digital cable very nicely with no box at all. My TVs all support QAM as well as the tuners in my computer. QAM works great, supports HD and Dolby Digital and takes much bandwidth than analog signals. Why is Time Warner cable not supporting QAM. I understand they dont want to put premium channels on QAM. I am ok with this. But why not ESPN, Food Network, HGTV and other channels that are included in basic cable? Is it becasue they are scamming us into thinking we have to have a cable box, and that if we want to watch tv in more than one room they can collect a rental fee per television? I think so. Marketing people are so transparent. Again, a scam in my opinion.

I assume that FIOS does not support QAM either, but as soon as it is available in Brooklyn, I am switching to FIOS. When you couple the fast internet speeds with the hassles and the blatant disrespect for my intelligence by Time Warner, I feel it is time to fire Time Warner as my cable privider. Bad Time Warner, Bad.

An At&T Cellular Broadband Story

Since Starbucks is now offering free WiFi to users of At&T Cellular Broadband, I thought I would try to take advantage.  I was particularly interested in the option as 3G does not always work as advertised when I want to use the internet at Starbucks in New York City.  There are a number of reasons for this, but mostly I think its due to the nature of the large buildings.

Anyway, I have a Dell XPS m1330 laptop with an integrated cellular modem.  It is very nice.  There is nothing ugly sticking out of the computer which means there is nothing to break as well (I have broke a number of these add on cards in the past).  When I heard the news of the free WiFi, I decided to give it a try.  To my dismay, it didnt work at all.  Rather, when I tried to login, I was presented with the typical login screen any user would receive.  I gave up and decided to call AT&T a few days later.

I called the 1-800 number for customer service, and after being transferred 3 times, I was connected to a laptop/notebook specialist.  Along the way, my story must have been mangled, because the tech just thought I wanted to know how to use WiFi, not how to connect to the hot spot service for free.  I explained to him what I wanted to do, and I was quickly told that I could not do that as the AT&T communication software was not compatible with my computer.  I found this hard to believe as there is an AT&T sim card in my laptop that works just fine already, but I took his word for it.  I did try to argue that since I am paying the same as other customers for the same service that I should be entitled to the same free modem the other customers get which allows them to use the service at Starbucks.  He told me this was not an option with no explanation as to why.  I pay the same and get less because I provide my own hardware which they give for free (I even signed the same 1 year contract)….

During the conversation, I was told the reason my hardware would not work was that the AT&T communication software would not work with my computer.  As I stated above, I didnt totally believe this, so I gave it a try.  It works fine.  There seem to be no issues at all connecting to 3G.  In fact, the software is quite a bit better than the software provided by Dell.  I have not yet been to Starbucks to test the free WiFi, but I can see no reason why it will not work.  I will post more regarding my experience this evening when I goto Starbucks to work on some motion analysis data.