Web Rants Raves and Intriguing Topics

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Customer Service... (Cable Company)

I have another story about the move into our new home. This one deals with the fun part of every move changing and setting up the utilities and services to the house.

For the most part everything transferred over just fine. Except for one part… Cable service. Now one wouldn’t think this would be a complicated matter.

1) We already had an account with Cablevision
2) The former owners of the house also had Cablevision for cable service
3) We were moving from one end of the Village to the other

Seems pretty simple and probably happens many times per week.

Well it turned into a hugh complicated mess… go figure...

When we moved to New York we signed up for cable television and cable internet access. Everything was great, we had very few problems. When we were set to move into our new house, they told me it was going to be a breeze. They checked to make sure there was already a hook up there. The girl was friendly and mentioned that the previous owner had recently shut her account off so transferring us over was no problem, someone would be over the following Friday to set everything up… Oh boy…

The same day that I called they shut off the account at our apartment. Not a big deal since we would be moving the next day anyway. After we moved I decided to check out to see if the cable worked. It did… Sort of... The basic cable worked but our digital boxes were useless. The Internet would also not work yet.

I called them on the day they were to come out to work on the cable and they said that it was the following Friday they would be coming out… Great.. I had to get the Internet up and running for Holly to be able to do her work!

So I call customer service. Talked in circles for a while with a person who was clueless and finally got the supervisor who was nearly as clueless at the rep I was speaking with… Grand…

She insisted that I could not get to the internet without having the tech’s come out to set up the equipment. I told her that I have been a computer tech for eight years had am very capable of setting up this end, nothing needs to be adjusted here, it’s on the cable company side that a line of information needs to be changed to make it see our modem.

She insisted that she knew better. So I entered this line of questioning:

Matt: So what you are telling me is that I don’t have any cable access right now, that is why I can’t get to the Internet.
Supervisor: Yes.
Matt: So I also can’t see anything on cable until they come out here?
Supervisor: That’s right (sounding smug)
Matt: So explain to me why I’m watching CNN over basic cable, in my house that has no cable connection. Supervisor: (long pause) I’m not sure.
Matt: So I can receive information from the cable company, this tells me that I’m connected. The modem that I have has the Mac Address: (whatever the hell it was) and should be able to have YOUR team connect it to this account.
Supervisor: (sheepishly) I’ll have to do some checking and call you back.

Needless to say I never got a call back, but I had the Internet running an hour after I was off the phone.


This seems to be the running theme with our cablevision company. For three months we were fighting with them over the billing. It seems that they created a new account for us and never cancelled the old one. Then tired to charge us for the cable boxes that were never returned…

I swear it was like pulling teeth with these people. After four months of fighting we finally have everything figured out but it was a royal pain.

I dealt with the technical issues at the start but Holly dealt with the billing issues. It was a team effort and we finally prevailed. It seems like the old saying of: “the customer is always right.” Has been changed to “the customer is always wrong and we will screw them over whenever possible.” Sad that it feels this way, but it seems more often than not that this is the case.

Please feel free to comment. I’m curious about how others are experiencing their customer service with other companies.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Judicial Breakdown...

The new hype is about the death penalty out in California. Apparently a pair of doctors were to observe the process of Michael Morales who was to be put to death by lethal injection for torturing, raping and murdering a 17-year-old girl 25 years ago.

A federal judge ordered the officials at San Quentin State Prison to have licensed medical personnel take part in an execution. These doctors refused to take part because of ethical considerations. They were of the understanding that they were there to observe.

The whole reason this came about, was because of a study done on post mortem toxicology reports of past executions. In these studies there was a concern that the condemned may have felt pain before they succumbed to the lethal cocktail of drugs.

Felt some pain...


I suppose this may be offensive to those opposed to the death penalty, but if there's a fraction of a second of pain before death for someone who tortured, raped and murdered a 17-year-old girl, I'd say that's not enough!

What happened to the days of the gallows, Guillotine, the axe wielding headmen in the hood. Of course I can't leave out the Electric chair. Obvious pain involved in these methods of execution.

When they use lethal injection now it's a breeze! Oh the fellow may be nervous and upset about being sentenced to death, that's only natural. They give him/her (must not be sexist) a sedative and put the poor person to sleep, then give a series of drugs to stop their breathing and then the heart.

What is wrong with the judge that felt this was a good reason to have medical personnel involved. Above that, if doctors don't want to do it because of their oath then there should be trained professionals that don't take an oath that get paid pretty well to do it. I'm sure there are plenty of medical school drops outs that would take the job. For that matter, transfer Dr. Jack Kevorkian out of Michigan into San Quentin. Why not have the best of the best take care of the rest...

Please feel free to comment on this one. This couldn't be more ridiculous in my opinion.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Radicals and the Pacifists…

There has been many comments in the news of late about the cartoonist depictions of Mohammed with a bomb under his turban. Like most everyone I thought it was pretty stupid to publish something like this. But the irony of the whole thing is that the Muslims were upset that their religious symbol had been depicted as a violent terrorist that they decided the only way to react to it was with violence.

Hhhmmm… let me get this straight. You, as a people, are upset that a stereotype was placed upon you as being violent terrorists. So to prove to everyone that this couldn’t be farther from the truth, you decide to riot and ransack buildings of a foreign nation. Because we all know, the Danish government had everything to do with what their press decided to publish.
That was my first impression of the situation.

I then heard Steve Inskeep interview Ahmed Aub Laban a Muslim activist in Denmark.

Muslim Society Official Explains Mission Against Cartoon

Morning Edition, February 8, 2006 · Protests against cartoons depicting the prophet
Muhammad have led to a number of deaths and damage to Danish missions in several countries. The Danish cartoons came to worldwide attention in part because of Ahmed Abu Laban, the religious director of the Muslim Society in Copenhagen.
Steve Inskeep talks to Laban.

I highly recommend checking out the audio. What caught my ear in this interview is that he sent the cartoons to multiple locations around the world trying to get support. However, a number of the cartoons were images that had never been published. What's that about?

Ahmed: We do not put them up here. We don’t like to put oil on fire...
Steve then asks him specifically about these cartoons were “…offensive in part because they depicted the Prophet Muhammed as violent. Do you think it is appropriate that people have protested those cartoons by burning embassies and killing people?”
To summarize he denounces all attacks and violence and says it is not what should have been done. It is counterproductive to their cause.
Steve: Do you regret that this has gone so far.
The answer surprised me.
Ahmed: The same way the Mr. Ford would regret that he produced a nice car and it has been used in the wrong way to kill himself or to kill someone else.
Steve: So you are not to blame?
Ahmed: No, no no.

So I wouldn't be to blame for yelling fire in a crowded movie theater if I saw fire in the film? Am I far off on this?

The only place I had heard it mentioned, in all of the broadcasts about this issue, about there being cartoons that were distributed that had not been published, was from on this broadcast. Why is that?

And why would you send something out like that which would put people into a frenzy of rioting and not feel badly about the outcome? Then compare it to an inventor of the automobile. I can barely see the correlation. It’s a stretch at best.

Anyway, I don’t understand the issues dealing with the Muslim/Islamic people. I have nothing against anyone based on their religious beliefs. They could believe the moon is made of cheese and worship the giant rats that live there, I don't care. If they don’t bother anyone with your beliefs and respect that others may have different beliefs. To each his or her own. Why is this so hard to live with?

On my way in to work the other day I heard a news story about an explosion over-night at a Shiite Mosque in Iraq. This was a very holy special place for the Shiites and it was bombed…

This made me start to think. (something has to, might as well be this...)

A long time ago, people used to be persecuted in the Christian faith as well. The Coliseum had the mazes where Lions would hunt the Christians, many wars were fought about Christianity as well. Where have those days gone? Why doesn’t this happen anymore?

Aside from the brainless hick that decides to burn down Baptist churches in the south, you don’t get to hear about many problems between the different religions in the United States. Maybe I’m wrong. I could be living in my own little world. I like it here.

At some point they have to realize that there’s more to life than fighting about who’s God is better. It reminds me of the kids in school saying “My Mom can beat up your Mom!” It’s the same mentality. It’s a little more entrenched in the psyche than that, but still the same.

Feel free to comment on any of my rants. I’d like to hear other’s opinions as well.

I thought this would lighten the mood of this post a bit... Hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Rants, Raves and Intriguing Topics...

This will be my first parallel posting. I've had a number of ideas for topics to put out on the blog and thought that I'd prefer to leave the Long Island Engel Home to more family topics and events. I’ve created a new blog called Rants, Raves and Intriguing Topics where I’ll discuss events in the news that move me, new technologies or just something that I need to just rant and rave about. Hopefully it will be entertaining and thought provoking. I welcome all comments as I discuss anything and everything.

My first topic will be about BioDiesel and an article / news video clip from CBS News.

I've been doing some research lately on BioDiesel. I mentioned in a previous message about some of the research and my method of getting the information. Since then I've been getting a lot of information on the BioDiesel industry and how it appears to be growing more and more.
To give you a practical view of what BioDiesel is and what it does here’s a good

A quick definition of BioDiesel: BioDiesel is derived from nothing less than vegetable oils. It can be pretty much any kind of oil. Extraction from soybeans is the most common, but there are others that tend to have a higher yield per acre that may be making a better option in the near future.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not much of an activist. I’ve never been into the tree hugging thing. Although I like trees in general, I’ve never met one that seemed to need a hug. Every now and then I hear something on the news or on NPR that piques my interest. BioDiesel is one of them. Although I don’t own a Diesel powered vehicle, the concept of BioDiesel makes me consider getting one.

The process of making BioDiesel is fairly simple. So simple in fact that you can make your own in your own garage. Yes, I said your own garage. If you don't have a garage you could make it in a shed if you like it takes up about as much room as a furnace and a hot water heater. Here's a
link on how to make your own.

Holly and I were watching 60 Minutes the other night and saw a clip about global warming. This reminded Holly of a clip she had recently seen about a group of high school students who built a BioDiesel vehicle after school in their shop class. You can read and watch it here. There are many companies racing to become the leaders in BioDiesel production. I've found one that I think could be a viable company to invest in. I may discuss this at a later time. What I find enlightening in this news article and video, is that a group of troubled high school students that everyone else had given up on were responsible for building a vehicle that can run completely on fuel derived from vegetable oil. The following excerpt from the article sums it up pretty well:

"We made this work," says Hauger. "We're not geniuses. So why aren't they (the Automotive Industry) doing it?"

Kosi thinks he knows why. The answer, he says, is the big oil companies.

"They're making billions upon billions of dollars," he says. "And when this car sells, that'll go down — to low billions upon billions."

Recently General Motors (GM) has been putting out advertisements that say their vehicles will work with BioDiesel. What’s not so well known is that any Diesel vehicle made after 1992 can run on B100 (100% BioDiesel).

A number of states are requiring that all diesel fuel sold be a mixture of BioDiesel; At least 3%. Many are keeping the amount low where others are making it a B20 20% Biodiesel 80% petrol diesel. Some municipalities are requiring all road crew vehicles, bus lines and school buses to use the “green fuel”, as they like to call it.

Many people are saying that this is a great concept, but (there always has to be a but in there somewhere), there is a belief that there could never be a total switch from petrol diesel to BioDiesel because the production could never meet the need. There just isn’t enough space to grow enough crops.

Even so, reducing our dependence on foreign oil is an attractive reason along with pumping money into our own economy.

I’m continuing to research more about this. If you are curious I can post more information at a later date. Feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts on this. I welcome the opportunity to chat about it.

Topics like this one will be posted on the new blog (
Rants, Raves and Intriguing Topics) Feel free to check it out!