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I seem to have been consigned to the deepest circle of Internet Hell. Pity me.

Actually, I am typing this post in my own home. I’ve got internet on a computer here for the first time in over 15 months.

And yet I’m not happy. And therein lies a convoluted tale of woe.

Last week I decided to knuckle under and get cable internet from Cox Communications. We haven’t had internet at home since we flooded, and Xy really wants it for job-related stuff. (I of course am a confirmed net junkie but I’ve been getting my fix at work.) I was skeptical of Cox for a number of reasons, but there aren’t too many alternatives round here.

I tried ordering Cox over the phone but kept getting trapped in infinite voicemail loops. So I tried their website — filled out the form and got a message that our address doesn’t exist. How extremely peculiar. Fancying myself to be smarter than Cox, I entered the address across the street. That worked, or seemed to. I scheduled an install for Friday last, one week ago today. Just internet, hold the television, hold the phone. I congratulated myself on beating the system, and I guess I felt pretty good about it. But pride goeth before a fall.

Friday rolls around, and the installer guy shows up across the street. I flag him down and explain we’re at 215 not 216. He calls in to the office and gets the OK to go ahead. He’s fixing to make the install. Visions of internet dance in my head. Then the office calls back and says forget it. He’s to depart immediately for his next appointment, no explanation, and I’m to call tech support.

So I call. They say the installer shouldn’t have left. They’ll send him back. I wait a couple hours and eventually call back. Now they give me some song and dance about our home address not being in their system. Seems I didn’t outsmart anybody but myself. They have to check the line out or something. Don’t ask me, I didn’t understand. They say they’ll call me back.

A few days later, they did call me back, said everything checked out, and we arranged for another install.

Thursday morning (yesterday) I met the installer at our house. He climbed up the pole and fiddled with the box.

Cable Guy

I wasn’t too happy with this guy. I asked him to fish the cable through a hole in the siding of our house, conveniently cut by the electricians who are currently rewiring our house. I asked him to install the cable through the baseboard in my office. He refused to do either, saying it was too difficult, and drilled a new hole in the siding and through the wall. He left a pile of sawdust on the floor. I said I wanted to use the cable modem I purchased during my evacuation to Indiana, which Cox says is perfectly acceptable, but he said I had to use the one he had brought with him. He had to make a number of phone calls and do a number of tests. All told the install took almost three hours, at the end of which he said I was good to go.

I sat down in front of my poor little iMac, which hasn’t seen the internet since we came back to New Orleans. I tried loading a web page. “Hold on,” I said, frantically clicking my mouse, “I’m not able to get out on the net!”

“I just do hardware,” he said. “I can’t help you with software. You need to call tech support. Goodbye.”

I was on the phone to Cox as I watched him drive away.

And now I’ve spent the better part of the last two days on the phone with tech support.

Cox put me through the paces, couldn’t resolve the issue, and finally told me to call Apple. I was extremely skeptical but I did so, just to humor them. I fully expected that Apple would just laugh and tell me to call Cox. But they didn’t. They charged me $49, put me through the paces, which included re-installing the OS and creating a test user account and rebooting while holding down arcane key combinations and sacrificing a chicken at midnight and other secret techniques which I may not reveal under penalty of death. And finally, after I’d been kicked up to Tier 2, they told me to call Cox.

Cox is sending a technician out on Sunday to try to wrestle my iMac into submission.

So how am I connecting to the net to write this post? No, I’m not using my Crackberry as I’ve been known to do in the past. I’m using Xy’s laptop. The Cox connection is a little dicey but it works.

This machine is running Windows XP. I began to think there might be a Mac-specific issue. I checked out a Mac laptop from work and tried it here at home: no connection. Aha! It must be an anti-Mac conspiracy! But then Michael came by with his Mac and connected instantly, so that blew that theory all to hell. The problem seems to be a hardware conflict between the modem and my particular iMac. Or maybe it’s something else. I really can’t figure this out.

What’s even more maddening is that my iMac actually is experiencing intermittent connectivity. It’s extremely sporadic and marginal, just a few bytes at a time. If I run a set of ten pings, half of them might be returned. Or four or six. I even got nine one time. And iScrobbler has actually leaked a few backlogged tunes to my profile. If none of that makes any sense, it’s probably because all this fiddle-farting around has driven me crazy, and I’m now babbling incoherently.

Just for kicks, I disconnected the cable from the computer and hooked it up to the TV. Yup, the full range of basic channels is coming through, even though I am supposed to be getting internet only, thus revealing a dirty little secret of the cable industry: They can’t control the pipe. No wonder cable theft is running rampant.

Published inGeeky


  1. Dude,

    Get Bellsouth DSL. The Coxsuckers suck major ass, as you’ve discovered. The DSL works most of the time. Of course, it depends how far you are from the central office. You should be ok. Give it a shot.

  2. Jedd, I had BellSouth DSL before Katrina and was quite happy with it. I opted for Cox this time around in part because BellSouth has been exceedingly prickish since the storm. But also because I’ve heard the waiting list is forever. Oh, and they won’t sell you DSL unless you get a landline which of course we no longer have and don’t want to pay for. That’s annoying too. But they may be getting a call from me Monday.

  3. I vote for speakeasy DSL without a landline. Or if you stick with Cox, I should come over and see if I can get your iMac on the web. I’m good with them macintoshes.

  4. Ray Ray

    I have BellSouth wireless DSL, and had it set up within a week of moving to a new apartment not far away from you, in the Bayou St. John area. It works fine, generally, although I have the moderately priced package and it’s slower than what I had with (about $15 more expensive) cable broadband elsewhere. But it’s not as if I’m playing elaborate video games interspersed with videoconferencing with people in Vietnam or something. You have to wait a bit longer for photos and such, but I’ve found that I won’t die while doing so. I don’t have to deal with the cable ripoff of charging you more for Internet service if you don’t get cable, and the intstallation fees and waiting around for installation like a heroin user waiting for a fix, not to mention being treated like a junkie, as you were.

    Doesn’t Verizon offer wireless service too? Anybody know?

  5. Carmen Carmen

    We opted for Cox back in December 2005 to get phone, cable, and internet. Since we weren’t customers pre-storm (and were driven by the same lack of BellSouth access, being we live in Broadmoor) they also told us our address didn’t exist in their database, and they would first have to send someone out to photograph the house to make sure it existed. That took about two weeks, the installation less than one. Which was pretty good, considering we had it by NYE.

    I’m still waiting for BellSouth, btw.

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