So we’ve been [Comcast]( customers for about 36 hours now, and so far I like what I see. It hasn’t been without its hiccups, though.

The service call window was scheduled for 9-11 am yesterday. At 8:30 am the technician calls and asks if he can come now. Of course, I say YES. He sets up the digital box with DVR in the family room. I like the Comcast digital TV menus as compared to Cablevision’s. The DVR is excellent. I like that I can either record two different shows at the same time or watch one thing while another is recording. Can’t do that with Tivo. We’ve been so impressed with the way the DVR works, that we decided not to hook up the Tivo and I’ve ordered a second DVR for the bedroom. They’ll be coming with it on Friday. It’s $9.95 for the Comcast box (plus the standard per box fees that we’d pay regardless) so we’ll be saving $3 per month overall once I cancel Tivo. [Vonage]( works great.

It’s not all roses, however. The technician needed to install a configuration utility on my computer in order to set up our new account and register my modem. I didn’t lease a modem from Comcast. I already owned a Motorola SB5100. I offered my PC laptop for the utility, figuring it would work better under XP than OS X. At least the technician would know his way around, right? Um, no. He pops in the CD and it starts out well enough, I click through the terms & conditions and pick a username and password. Then a strange error message comes up and the rest of the files, something about a support agent, don’t install. The technician says that this is a new configuration utility that he was using for the first time on my system. Um, thanks. He calls in and over the phone, he gets the modem working. I can check my email although something looks funny that I can’t put my finger on, log in to Trillian, surf sites in Firefox. Good. I hook up the Vonage adapter and router, no problem. Great. Technician leaves.

An hour or two later, I log in to Quicken to update my balances as I do every day. Quicken can’t connect to my bank website. Quicken can’t connect to any other website. Neither can Quickbooks. Uh oh. Internet Explorer can’t load any site. It keeps trying to go to a proxy page at or something like that. Now I know why things looked funky in Outlook. Images weren’t downloading in HTML email because it uses the Internet Explorer rendering engine and IE was dead. Not good. Even though I use Firefox as my default browser, I need IE working for Quicken/Quickbooks as well as connecting to CMS sites for work. Not good at all.

I called Comcast and got through to tech support, quickly I might add. I explained what happened. The level 2 support guy didn’t have a clue. I Googled and found it had something to do with a fried hosts file. I wanted the tech support guy to tell me exactly what that configuration file tried to do so I could undo it. His advice, “reinstall Internet Explorer.” I checked Microsoft’s site and found that was not a fun thing to do. Then it dawned on me: System Restore. I never think of using it. Not used to it. I know the exact moment that my system got messed up, so it was easy to dial back to a restore point before that. Did the trick perfectly and all is now well.

Well, except for the fact that the Mac Mini is getting terrible Airport reception. It connects fine to the router, then over the next 30 minutes or so the connection degrades to the point that it disappears completely. There are multiple unsecured wifi access points within range, so I’ll hop on another one only to have the same degrading issue again. To me, that shows it’s not the router since I have to assume that my neighbors aren’t also using Belkin routers. I’ve done some Googling and there appears to be complaints regarding wifi in Tiger, particularly with the Minis. Upgrading to 10.4.1 didn’t help. Handyman is coming tomorrow so I’m going to talk to him about what’s involved in dropping some cable so the computer can be wired to the network.


  1. I like that I can either record two different shows at the same time or watch one thing while another is recording. Can’t do that with Tivo.

    Except that, yes, you can. Maybe not your TiVo in whatever setup you had, but my TiVo has always been a dual-tuner TiVo. I can record two shows while simultaneously watching a third, pre-recorded show, or do anything with two shows at once (record, pause, flip back and forth, etc.) that I’d like.

  2. Judi Sohn says:

    Okay, Erik, let me change to say “Can’t do that with Tivo *unless you have DirecTV*”

  3. It’s a shame about the config utitlity nonsense. You don’t even need it.

    I just set up a friend with Comcast before I moved, about two weeks ago. All we had to do was phone the 800 number to give them the modem info (mac, serial number) to activate it on their network.

    Use The Force, next time. <obi wan>Trust in your technical ability, Judi.</obi wan>


  4. Judi Sohn says:

    Ha, Jack! You’e right. Of course I knew that, never installed anything on my Macs to get a cable modem going. The only point of this configuration thing appeared to be to give me my Comcast username/password and to attempt to make my default home page Comcast’s.

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