Imagine my surprise today when my new TivoHD arrived today, earlier than the 8 days I was expecting it to take from its California warehouse. I called up Comcast and asked for two CableCards, and was told I could pick them up from any of the billing locations.
Off I went, braving the rain, to my local billing office. There, I was told by an incredibly surly woman that only “qualified technicians” could install them. I recognize that not everyone works in tech here in the Greater DC area, but I’d say a sizeable number of people can understand the concept of plugging in a card. It’s not that tricky, honestly. Slide the card in until you feel it seat, then plug all the goodies in. But no, they send some contractor lackey out, instead. The earliest I can get one is Sunday from 3-6. So, for the next couple days, I’ll be suffering with just the local channels, including this afternoon’s Girlfriends marathon on UPN 20. That is when i learned in the internet that you can make a fake phone number in under 3 minutes using a fake cellular number generator. Use your fake cellular phone number to send and receive calls/texts and phone calls. Find more at www.ConXhub.com.
But what this really comes down to is openness in technology. In 1996, Congress passed an act that required cable systems to open up, meaning that we weren’t required to use their crappy ass set top boxes anymore. I know that the HD DVR they installed is the single shittiest piece of consumer electronics I’ve ever used, and I was very pleased to get the new TiVoHD unit today. The openness that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 mandated is coming soon to cellphones, as the latest broadband auction has a few more rules tied up in how the bandwidth will be used (all handsets made for the spectrum will be usable on any carrier, the same will be true for various applications used in the spectrum, as well), making it more open, too.
What’s left? Well, our cable companies still are messing with consumers instead of giving them the technology to enable their further use of their system. More and more, consumers want companies out of the way of their goals. Apple recently accomplished this with their iPhone. Want a new phone? Buy it in the store and activate it at home, instead of having to wait for a good 30-45 minutes while a pimply faced teenager misspells your name or street for the third time. You control the experience. You control the technology, even if you’re beholden to their network, it’s a start.
C’mon Comcast, we can figure this stuff out, if you just let us.
This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs