yay networking and remote access!

Two cool features that I unlocked today, despite knowing about them for a while, were networking and remote access. I had heard of LogMeIn for a long time and even used it in one of my classes at Rice last year, but I had never realized the true potential of it. I set up a LogMeIn account for myself this morning and tested it out at work. I was very impressed by how well the technology works and though its no Windows Remote Access, I did not have to fiddle around with port settings, security settings, firewalls and the like to get it working. Thus, at lunch at work, I took the liberty to remotely install SVN on my computer and start to set up a web-based SVN system through WebDAV. I’m planning to couple this with my DynDNS account that I created a few days back and hopefully soon I will have a computer that’s hosting a variety of different servers running.

Second was home networking. I hadn’t previously had success while trying to use Windows 7’s Homegroup feature to get my home network in place. Seems like it was an issue with the way Hubert had created the Homegroup that prevented this. Just a few moments ago I created a new Homegroup following a really easy article on Neowin. It took less than 10 minutes to do and I was able to set up my own libraries and share data out of the 5 partitions I have in an organized manner. The library feature is pretty nifty, too. This time the Homegroup read/write permissions actually worked and I was able to copy a bunch of data that I had on my laptop over through the network. The speed certainly left something to be desired, but this beats the USB flash drive system any day of the week!

That’s all for now. I haven’t checked the ability to share files that aren’t in a library and this did seem to be the problem earlier. So perhaps the problem is still there, and just hidden away. Hopefully not!


I’ve been riding the Microsoft high for the last week or so, so it was only fair that they would let me down and really screw up. Oh well, thankfully I’m not a Microsoft fanboy, so I will go ahead and call them out on their faults.

This story has to do with the Windows Installer framework and how poorly it is designed. On or around October 14th, Microsoft released a “critical security patch” that fixed SQL Server 2005–KB970892. Great… I always keep my patches up to date–or try to–so I went ahead and downloaded it. I didn’t actively do it, of course, since Windows Update takes care of all that. Unfortunately, the update was poorly designed and kept failing. All the time. Every time I opened my start menu, the little “Updates will be installed on shut-down” shield was winking at me. I didn’t realize it was the same update over and over again, and thought that perhaps updates are being triggered by each other, so that different updates are being installed.

However, a visit to the Windows Update page showed that the same KB970892 patch kept failing. With the descriptive error code of “Unknown error”. Awesome. If I had been a lazier, less obsessive person, I would have ignored the problem and let it fix itself. However, I decided to use “teh Google” to help me out. Apparently I wasn’t the only one with the issue. Apparently lots of people were having the problem. Solutions ranged from registry fixes to starting/stopping SQL services to many other random options. All suggested by third parties, since Microsoft didn’t think this was big enough to address. Even on their own damn forums.

The option I chose, that was marked the answer on one particular MSDN forums thread, involved downloading the Microsoft Windows Installer Clean Up utility and getting rid of all the installers for SQL Server products. This seemed like a viable solution since I haven’t and don’t plan to ever use SQL Server, so I set about my business. Now, a word of warning (unfortunately from hindsight). Just because it is called a “Clean Up utility” doesn’t mean that is what it does. I thought “clean up” had to do with cleaning up temporary files and the like that were generated on program installation. In actuality, clean up means to actually delete the installer files for the products you choose. Why anyone would want to do this is something I won’t understand, but why the utility is called clean up is something I’m pissed off about now. Very.

So I went through and removed all the installers for SQL server, inadvertently. I then happened upon a post later in that thread saying that following those steps broke Office. Hmm… interesting. I opened up Microsoft Word and sure enough I was greeted by a flurry of installer dialogs followed by an error message saying that Office wasn’t installed for this user. No Office. Fine… I’ll just repair it, right? Wrong. No repair allowed. Apparently you need to have the installer for SQL server to repair Office. Okay, gah, I’ll just uninstall and reinstall it. With a flashy new computer, the process is going to take 15 minutes tops.

Strike 3, I’m out. I can’t uninstall Office either, using the installer. Apparently to uninstall Office, you need to have the installer for SQL Server 2005. The logic here was beginning to baffle me. How many freaking dependencies did I have to fulfill to remove a freaking program? I Googled and found Microsoft-provided instructions for removing Office 2007 manually. There was an automatic utility I used first that seemed to succeed but I still wasn’t able to install Office since it was apparently still “installed”. But not for me, for some mysterious user that didn’t exist, so I wasn’t able to use it.

I used the manual-manual instructions, finally, and backed up the registry and set about deleting files here, there and everywhere. It took about 30 minutes to do and once I was done, I restarted. And the freaking SQL Server 2005 update was still sitting in Windows update, accompanied by a “Microsoft Office 2007 System Update”. WTF? I just went through and REMOVED MS Office… how the hell could I now be getting an update for it? Nonetheless, I selected both to install and it seemed to… WORK! I restarted my computer and guess what? Failed update… again.

Getting thoroughly annoyed, I decided to try and use System Restore to restore to before I had tried any of these shenanigans. No deuce there, either. Apparently system restore depended on some file that had been removed, and hence kept failing. I was under the impression that system restore files were stored in some alternate location so they could be used to usefully recover from a system “failure”. Apparently, not. So now I’m left with a computer with a mysterious version of Office 2007, an update for a program that doesn’t exist and a major headache.

Microsoft’s installer framework has baffled me. It seems like a ridiculous prerequisite for an installer to depend so heavily on another component such that it cannot even uninstall a program. I mean…. any program I install should be completely uninstallable, right? If I remove ALL Microsoft Office products, it should handle all the dependencies and remove EVERYTHING, not leave things here and there. This is nothing new, of course. If you install Visual Studio 2008 and then the service pack, you cannot actually uninstall the IDE without manually uninstalling the service pack first. And they don’t even tell you that… the uninstaller just goes through a process and then fails with a generic error message. Ridiculous.

Thankfully, I had made a backup of my entire registry before I set about removing any installers. So my plan of action tomorrow will be to restore the entire registry and hope things work from there. Of course, I’m not hopeful, since I have technically removed all the files for the Office installation now, so having the registry recovered is probably going to create a ton of deadlinks. Whooptee doo daaa!

On another note, I started re-watching Lost. I figured if I started now I would be all refreshed by the time the new season rolls around next year.

windows 7 launched!

I’ve been following a lot of tech news sites of late and feel like it would be worthwhile writing my responses to them on my blog rather than lost forum posts. 🙂 This one’s in response to Five Ways Windows 7 Could Become another Vista on PCWorld.

Actually surprised to see one of few articles on PCWorld that isn’t glorifying Apple at the expense of Windows 7. It seems most people ignored the whole “devil’s advocate” section of his article just so that they could come here and show off their virtual biceps.

With regards to UAC, I was one of the few who was happy to have it from Vista itself. I always feel better knowing exactly what’s going on with my system files and who wants admin access and why. The result being that I’ve gone nearly my whole life and definitely my whole life on Windows Vista+ without getting a single virus. People keep attacking Windows for being insecure, but the fact of the matter is that you have to do at least a stupid thing or two to expose a hole that cannot be easily patched by Microsoft.

Regarding drivers, with Vista being around for a couple of years, most driver development has been geared towards that platform, and hence will be compatible with 7. With MS dropping XP support in a couple of years, it would make sense for device developers to focus on the Vista/7 target platform.

I disagree with the point about performance improvements. I think at least between Vista and Windows 7, Windows 7 has been much faster and much more stable all the time. I ran Vista and Windows 7RC off the same machine to test this, in a dual boot environment. Even with the Windows 7 install booting off an external HDD through eSATA, it was far and away mindblowingly faster than Vista. In fact, after two months of using both, I realized the majority of my time was spent on Windows 7 so I went ahead and upgraded my Vista installation to the RC. I’ve been using the RTM edition since around September and just got done installing it on my powerful new build. The boot time is literally on the rate of seconds right now, which is ridiculous. Of course, this is because its a new computer, but compared to a clean install of Vista, the difference is absolute and large.

Windows 7 is indeed expensive and I would feel the bite if I wasn’t an MSDN subscriber. It would be nice for them to make the price lower. But you’ve got to see at the same time that Microsoft cannot contend with Apple in the OS pricing model. Apple knows that for 99% of the purchases made for their OS, they will have made a hardware sale. Apart from the few Hackintosh builders out there, OSX only runs on Apple hardware. So they can afford to drive the price down really low because they’re going to be making a sale of a MacBook, iMac or Mac Mini. Compare this with Microsoft, who will make very few retail sales of the OS since the vast majority of the PC market purchases pre-built computers. Microsoft has made most of its money from OEM sales to the likes of HP, Dell, etc. and these prices are low so they won’t recover the costs of development. Retail buyers will feel the pinch. However, look at any professional software and you will realize that Windows 7 isn’t that ridiculous. If users are willing to shell out thousands of dollars for the Adobe Creative Suite and other specialized applications, the price tag of just about $130 on an OS doesn’t seem to ridiculous.

Direct upgrade from XP was never going to be possible and Microsoft was adamant about this from the beginning. Users who thought that MS were just joking around really shouldn’t have and should have prepared for a migration well beforehand. They can continue using XP, of course, but I would personally migrate while Microsoft still supports the XP platform since it’ll likely be a lot harder later.

iMac? $1601.37 reasons I will not switch anytime soon!

Anyone who knows me will know that I’m not the biggest fan of Macs. I’ve had the pleasure of using an Apple iMac quite consistently during my time working in the Marketing & Communications department at Rice University IT and thoroughly enjoyed using it for web-design and graphics development, two of my responsibilities that were made easy by iMacs. I always knew Macs were a bit pricey, but only when I actually began setting about building my own computer did I get an idea of how much.

As many of you may know, Apple released their new line of Mac computers today. They released MacBook Pros, the good old iMac and a Mac Mini or two. Among their new offerings were two iMacs built on the latest Intel quad-core chipset–the Nehalem architecture’s LGA 1156 offerings (the Core i5 and i7). These babies start at a price of, wait for it, $1999! This is daylight robbery, in my opinion, and I’ll take it upon myself to prove exactly that.

First, to gain even ground, let’s look at a spec-down of the two computers at hand. I’m going to compare the price of the components of the computer I build with an equally spec’d out iMac. Here we go:

iSohummm Edition

Processor: Core i7-860 2.8 GHz
Motherboard: ASRock P55D Pro
RAM: Corsair XMS3 2x2GB 1600 MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics Card: Gigabyte GV-R467ZL ATI Radeon HD4670 1GB
Hard Drive: 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black (7200RPM)
Optical Drive: 22x Samsung DVD+R 8x DVD+RW 16x DVD-ROM 48x CD-ROM
PSU: Corsair TX650W
Case: Antec Three Hundred Illusion
Keyboard-Mouse: Microsoft Wireless Desktop 6000 v2

Apple iMac 27-inch

Processor: Intel Core i7-860 2.8 GHz
Motherboard: UNKNOWN
Graphics Card: UNKNOWN ATI Radeon HD4850 512MB
Hard Drive: 1TB UNKNOWN (7200RPM)
Optical Drive: 8x DVD±R 8x DVD+RW 6x DVD-RW 8x DVD-ROM 24x CD-ROM SuperDrive
PSU: UNKNOWN (but apparently >365W)
Case: Apple 27″ IPS-enabled Monitor
Keyboard Mouse: Apple Magic Mouse + Wireless Keyboard Bundle

A total difference of $2380.42 – $779.05 = $1601.37. Hence the title of this post. “But what about your display!” you scream. Well, I’m going to be using my HDTV as my primary output for a while (until a decent LCD offer comes around). That cost me ~$854 after taxes and a 3-year warranty from Fry’s. And it has S-IPS (that’s Super IPS, for those who’re wondering) technology, supposedly. And it’s about $15 inches bigger (only diagonally, though) than the iMac computer. So the question is… is the all-in-one functionality+magic mouse+a slightly better gfx card worth a whopping $800? Or is Apple taking its dedicated user community on a ride (again)?

To better answer this question, I want to highlight a few details I picked up on while customizing my cart:

  1. Upgrading from the Core i5-750 (2.66 GHz) to the Core i7-860 (2.8 GHz) costs $200 on the Apple store, before taxes. The retail price of an i5-750 on Newegg is $199 and that of the i7-860 is $289. The difference is $90. Apple is charging its customers $110 extra to make this upgrade (remember, the mobo+everything else does NOT need to change to enable this since both are on the LGA 1156 socket), over the retail cost, before taxes.
  2. Upgrading from one 2x2GB memory kit to a 2 (in essence, buying another 2x2GB memory kit) costs $200 on the Apple store, before taxes. The retail price of the most expensive 2x2GB DDR3 SDRAM kit at the 1066 MHz clock speed on Newegg costs $87.49. The price difference is a whopping $112.51 extra that Apple is making from its consumers. Unless their original mobo only has 2 memory slots (which is kinda scary to begin with) and they need to do a mobo upgrade to support the second kit (did not appear true for any of the P55 boards on Newegg).
  3. And here’s the kicker–Apple charges an upgrade price of $250 for a 2TB hard-drive from a 1TB offering. That’s $70 more than the most expensive 2TB 7200RPM SATA drive on Newegg! And that is to upgrade from a 1TB, which usually retails for around $90. So, Apple is charging consumers an extra $160 approximately, to upgrade their HDD from 1TB to 2TB than it should cost.

What does this mean? It means that Apple is not only charging a ludicrous premium on their i7 offering, but they are at the same time charging HUGE premiums on upgrades. I’m going to be in the market for another TB and another 2x2GB kit of RAM come Black Friday, and I don’t expect to spend more than a total of $150 on that (did I mention that my mobo also has onboard RAID support?). That’s more than Apple is charging than market to upgrade from a 1TB to 2TB.

It’s crazy. I’ve not been making many friends with Mac fans over the last couple of days (especially on a certain CNET article) but the fact remains that these prices are heavily, heavily inflated. The iMac, I understand, is targeted towards home and home business users, compared to the Mac Pro, which is targeted towards business users and professionals. I shudder to think how much one of those will cost, after being loaded by one of the higher end i7 chips. Probably well into the $4000’s as a base price.

I’ll admit it here and once. If that Mac was available for around $1500, I’d seriously consider getting it. The cost would be just about $700 more than what I’ve spent currently to get into a seriously hard-to-upgrade, all-in-one machine with a sexy display. The best part would be I could use bootcamp and run Windows 7 off of it. But at this price, it would make more sense for me to upgrade all my components to their max (getting a 58xx video card, getting the $999 i7 chip) and I reckon I’d still just about break even.


at&t comes through!

I thought it was only fair to give AT&T U-Verse its due after bashing it so much. My U-Verse connection was installed last Thursday by a very polite guy who hit his time range (10am sharp on a 9-11 am range) and left in about an hour. This minimized the amount of time I had to take off of work, which was great. The end result was the parking of a massive device known as a “gateway” which supposedly decodes the VDSL signal into TV and internet. Speaking of internet, my bandwidth got doubled to 12mbps for the same price so that’s fairly awesome.

TV is good! The DVR service is cool in that I can remotely schedule it from a web browser/iPod Touch App. So in case I have forgotten to set the DVR to record a show, I can fix that problem fairly easily. One gripe I do have, and one that is not local to AT&T, is the whole scenario of sports blackouts. I had my first encounter with them when I tried to watch a Rockets preseason game on FSSW. I get the channel, but the Rockets game is blacked out here in Austin. Supposedly because the Spurs are our “home” team. Couldn’t choose a worse home team if I had picked one blindly–I despise the Spurs.

Anyways, with no league pass available on U-Verse and the Rockets sucking enough to only have something like 6 games broadcast nationally (and all of those on NBATV meaning I can’t watch it anyway), it looks like I’ll have to follow the Rockets via the good old online live stream. At least with a 12mbps downlink I shouldn’t have any buffering problems!

I suppose that’s it for now. I should’ve been asleep a while back but my college habits haven’t faded away yet.

at&t rant partially repealed

So an update on the AT&T U-Verse situation. Today I gave them a call at around 8.30 in the morning and was transferred to a very helpful lady who just happened to be working with both AT&T U-Verse and AT&T! Apparently a cancellation order had been placed for my internet on the 15th, somehow. Don’t know how that happened… perhaps it happens automatically if they detect the presence of an AT&T HSI account? The AT&T service rep didn’t know how that happened, either.

Anyways, so it was confirmed that my AT&T HSI account would be cancelled on the 15th, and that my TV was installed on that day. The lady also scheduled my internet installation for that day so that I wouldn’t have to pay an installation fee on another day. So if all goes to plan, I will be getting my TV+Internet through U-Verse on Thursday, and have my old AT&T account cancelled (that will have a rebate check of about $18 worth of credit from the previous snafu).

Oh, did I mention that I’m going to be getting 12mbps for $45. That’s the price I was paying for 6mbps DSL earlier. Hopefully cable will stand up to DSL. Oh, I’m also going to be getting a $100 rebate card in addition to the $200 I’m supposed to receive for applying online. So hopefully I should be getting about $300 back and will have Internet and TV all ready to go this weekend. That rebate check will also help me with my expenses for my new computer. 😉

Yay for good news!

at&t: where logic is shunned

As all of my loyal readers (aka nobody) would know, I recently sprung for AT&T U-Verse to fulfill my television needs in capitalist America. I already outlined my problems with AT&T in a previous rant, but today things took a turn for the worse.

When I reached work today, I had two calls waiting from… Saturday. I don’t know why AT&T called my work phone before calling my cell phone, which I had listed as my primary phone. It makes me shudder, to be honest. This appears to be related to the way they fudged up my AT&T High Speed Internet order a couple of months ago to not list my apartment number. We all know how that story went…

So, I had a voicemail waiting for me which asked me to “please call us back at ###-###-#### to verify some information.” Of course, what information was to be verified was not outlined, and of course when I called back the number above, they didn’t have a clue either. Finally, we guessed that it had to do with the fact that I had an existing AT&T High Speed Internet (HSI) connect, that wasn’t compatible with U-Verse. Fine… I could deal with that. Except, now, I was told that U-Verse couldn’t cancel my account that I would have to do it myself or the U-Verse installation crew wouldn’t be able to do their job on Thursday.

First of all, what the hell? Let me get the two companies involved here: AT&T and… AT&T. They’re both the same freaking company. As a consumer, I don’t give a rat’s hairy ass that U-Verse is a cooler sounding name with more marketable features. I have internet, I want TV. Through the same bloody company. I shouldn’t have to cancel and start a new account to achieve this simple task. It feels like infighting between the heirs-to-be of a rich businessman’s empire. Nobody knows squat about business so they resort to squabbling with each other. The worst part is if I hadn’t called back to “verify some information”, my installer would come in on Thursday and tell me that, “Oh, well I can’t do it now.”

The story doesn’t end here. I, in an online chat with AT&T U-Verse, determined exactly what I needed to do. After determining that I had to go to AT&T HSI to cancel my DSL account and then sign up for an internet account through AT&T U-Verse HSI (the confusion NEVER ends with these guys) I asked the support person what the offers were for U-Verse internet. She (or he… I can’t tell for obvious reasons but I feel like the name was Joan) said that I would need to get in touch with AT&T HSI for any offers since I had internet through them. WHAT? I was told to call up AT&T HSI and ask them for offers on AT&T U-Verse HSI?! Is that allowed? I thought they were separate entities!

To confirm that I actually had the information I needed, I got in a chat with an AT&T HSI rep. to review all the details. He said that I would have to contact AT&T U-Verse to figure out the details. I told (or rather, typed) him quite curtly that, “U-Verse asked me to get in touch with you and I would prefer not to enter an infinite loop, at this point.” He then told me to contact their tech department by phone call. Oh, but their offices are only open when I’m in office. Brilliant.

My decision: I’m going to send them a curt, angry email tonight. Last time I sent them a curt, angry email I got a phone call back within 15 minutes that fixed everything. Looks like its time to do that again. And if I don’t get a response, I will just have to call them and sound exasperated.

I didn’t know TV was this freaking hard to get!


building my first computer

As a computer geek, one of the many things missing from my unspectacular resume is the building of a computer for myself. I’ve always been of the “buy it assembled from HP” mindset and it has stood me, personally, in good stead over the years. However, now that I have some disposable income, I realize that HP’s customization options just do not cut it. So I decided to finally make the leap and make my very own computer.

I’m not an avid gamer, although I enjoy the occasional sports title. Hence, I will not need to build a computer that looks like it has been put through a composter and then spray painted by a neon-color afficianado. Neither will I need to drop about $2,000 on a machine that’ll probably become outdated in a matter of months. My budget for this computer is about $700-800 and I am hoping to end up with something that outputs video smoothly to my 1080p HDTV and where I can play a decent cricket, basketball or soccer game or two (or three?).

I have already began the process of acquiring parts. Here’s a snapshot of what I’m looking at:

Intel Core i7 Processor
1-2 TB of HDD space hopefully in a RAID array (not RAID0) of some sort
at least 512 MB of dedicated VRAM

I suppose these are the main components. The motherboard is another expensive piece but I won’t start looking at that until I have decided on a processor.

To get started, I have already put in two orders for a couple of components:

Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel
antec03 antec04antec02antec01


  • External 5.25″ Drive Bays: 3
  • Internal 3.5″ Drive Bays: 6
  • Expansion slots: 7
  • 3x120mm fans, 1x140mm fan
  • PRICE: $74.94 shipped

After thinking long and hard about what I wanted to buy in terms of a case, I came down to a choice between an NZXT case, a RAIDMAX Smilodon and this Antec. The Antec was slightly pricier but I figured with more drive bays and 4 fans, this product will hopefully last me a little longer.

Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TB



  • Capacity: 1 TB
  • Cache: 32 MB
  • Rotational Speed: 7200rpm
  • Interface: SATA 300
  • PRICE: $84.99 shipped

Seagate and WD are my two targets for hard disks and with Seagates still receiving bad reviews for drive failures, I decided on the Caviar Black and was just waiting for a good deal. This is currently sold out on NewEgg (cost $94.99 shipped when it was available) so I figure I got a deal. The coupon I used at SuperBiiz only gave me $10 off my total, though, so I am going to wait for later in the build stage before getting this guy a buddy to RAID with.

That’s all for this update. Hopefully my packages will be arriving in a couple of weeks!

BUDGET REMAINING = $540.07-$640.07


ready, set, rant!

It has been a bloody long time since I have made an entry into this blog. My French Euro Trip series has been abandoned with 3 days to spare. Any enthusiasts can see the rest of the photos in my Facebook album. If you’re not my Facebook friend, then I probably do not want to share any more of the details of the trip with you, anyway. 😉

So the subject of this post is, quite simply, “rant”. A number of things have annoyed me in the last few days so I have decided that instead of keeping them all in my head, I will transfer them over to teh interwebs where they will stay published forever (or until a server crashes, or I delete it, or something). Without further ado, let the bashing begin!

1. Satellite TV in general, DirecTV in particular

I know satellite TV is still this kinda new thing (yeah, right) and I was excited to see all the discounts I could get on a new DirecTV installation. So, last week, I finally decided to take the plunge on getting TV in my apartment and signed up for a DirecTV account. I think it was actually around 10 days ago. I was able to get about $21 off on their “new user” discounts in addition to a $10 discount for using a referral code from someone at NI. So I was saving a sweet $31 a month for 12 months, and getting TV at about $40/month. Or rather, going to get all this. Of the several appointment days available, I decided to choose the Saturday 8am-12pm slot, since I was gonna be at work the rest of the time.

My first mistake, perhaps? Turns out Saturday is a super-busy day (who woulda thunk it?). So naturally, DirecTV’s local field office should have been a little bit better staffed, right? Wrong. Pity me, who woke up at 8am, excited for the smell of new TV. It wasn’t until 12.15pm that I felt miffed enough to call and when I called, I was told I would be called within 20 minutes. I received a call from the local office to confirm that a technician was present. I told them quite curtly that there was no technician present, while reminding her that it was already 30 minutes past my rather-large-time-range appointment. She said she’d call back in 20 minutes but only a fool’d believe her. I was a fool.

Luckily I was able to get a lot of stuff done in the mean time, such as getting a “permission form” signed from Riata that allowed me to get a satellite in my patio, as well as getting some batteries from the Food Mart nearby and figuring out a rent check error with Riata. I also figured out rent/expenses issues with Hubert at that point.

Still nothing. I called DirecTV again at around 1.30pm and asked them, in kinder terms, “What the hell?” They told me they’d get in touch with their local office again (with whom their only method of communication happens to be, wait for it, …. email). This time the local office called me, apologetically, saying that the technician was late (no, shit!) and that he’d be there in 35 minutes. I got some other errands done and finally the technician arrived.

And after waiting for more than 5 hours for him, our meeting lasted less than 5 minutes. Apparently the satellites are located in the “southern sky” whereas our patio can only see satellites in, well, the rest of the freaking sky. So, no DirecTV. I called and cancelled and checked Dish Network’s availability. Looks like they used to be in the “northern sky”, which would have been perfect, but they are now operating in the “southeastern sky” area. So no Dish. So… no satellite. Humph. I have sold my soul to AT&T (see next gripe).

2. AT&T U-Verse: An arm and a leg for TV

After my failure with satellite and my ever-growing appetite for television (in particular, trash TV) I decided to look at my options. Basically it was down to the two “cable”-esque providers: Time Warner Cable and AT&T. I wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of dealing with either of them, to be honest. I have heard very bad things about TWC and I have experienced very unprofessional behaviour from AT&T. I don’t think I ever disclosed the shenanigans that took place when I first moved to Austin and tried to get my own Internet.

Basically, to save some time, I decided to order my AT&T internet from Houston a few days before I reached Austin. That way, I hypothesized, I would minimize the amount of non-Internet time. As it happened, AT&T’s dysfunctional website decided to eat my apartment number and hence the modem+router never got delivered. When I tried to call them to ask them to call FedEx and have it redelivered, I found out that their phone department and internet department is not connected. This is absolutely ridiculous, in my opinion. What’s the point of having a tech support line for online orders, then?

Once I got all that cleared out and billing time came around, I received two bills–one for the account that was never created and one for the fixed account. To make matters worse, the second account took me for a business and hence charged me nearly double. A long phone call later, everything seemed to be figured out, but I’ll be keeping an eye on my next few billing cycles.

Anyways, I finally brought the wallet out for AT&T U-Verse and went with a pretty expensive plan that is supposed to give me $200 cashback after I activate. At this point, you are probably asking me why I fell for the AT&T trick again, and I have no valid response. I am hoping that somehow the stars will align and everything will miraculously work. Unfortunately, there has already been a slight issue, since right after I placed my order, the confirmation page said, “If you have an AT&T DSL service at that location, that account will be cancelled.” I immediately opened up a tech support chat window to figure out what’s up.

Turns out AT&T has TWO SEPARATE INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS. It’s as if they are purposely inventing stuff to confuse the consumer further. I have an AT&T High Speed Internet account, whereas since I’m going with AT&T U-Verse for TV, supposedly my account will be transferred to an AT&T U-Verse Internet account. I foresee further issues.

That’s it. I grew tired after those two rants, but I was planning to rant on the Indian cricket team. Then I realized that I never really cared about the ICC Champions Trophy, so I didn’t care that India got knocked out early. I am a little unhappy, though, that I will miss out on the opportunity to watch/DVR the Twenty20 Champions League or India-Australia ODI series later this year. Oh well, I guess Dish/DirecTV are saving me some money, after all.