edoceo

July | 2009 | Edoceo's Blog

Comcast DTA Conversion – Epic Fail!

This has to be the poorest planning of a technology roll-out we have seen in the last 10 years.
This posted is dedicated to Brian L. Roberts CEO of Comcast who let this fiasco happen on his watch. For the record Edoceo holds no shares of Comcast and David Busby (our owner and author of this post) has sold any/all of his.

First Fail

Folks from Comcast show up at our building (5 unit walk-up) just before noon to drop off the new DTA boxes. No announcement, no pre-notice was given.

Was given two boxes for my unit. I told the Comcast guy that I could take the devices for the other units – he refused. I informed him that I own two units in this building and needed at least four devices – two for me and two for the tenant I lease to. He flatly refused. The devices need to be set for the tenant account. Apparently this Comcast ass-clown could not get it through his thick skull that as land-lord of the unit I’m providing them service and that when my tenant moves out the Comcast service will remain and I will continue to pay for it.

Summary of Issue One: Comcast will not give devices to the person who pays-the-bills only to the person that some dip-shit delivery boy thinks pays the bills cause his instructions are to give the devices to “the tenant”. Be-dammed that when the tenant moves they’ll have to come deliver more boxes for my new tenants or that the existing tenant currently has no obligations to Comcast what-so-ever. Stupid!

Now we have these devices – each of which consumes 24W (120V * 0.2A) – at total of about 210kWh per year. In Seattle this will cost roughly $12/yr per device ( 24W * 24h * 365.25d / 1000 = 210.385kWh/yr * $0.05844/kWh = $12.30/yr) – price per kWh is yearly average. That’s $12/yr for each device – our building has (at this time) four devices – once properly squared away we will have 10 devices. As these devices are constantly on we will be drawing an additional, constant 2A and have a total yearly increase in power consumption of 2103kWh. Let’s save the conversation of the environmental cost of >2000kWh for another time. Either way – each device now costs us, the consumer, and additional $12/yr.

Second: When we call in the system asks for a 16 digit number on the front of the box. Both of our boxes are missing this number. We enter our phone number – but Comcast cannot find my account.

On to activation of said devices. Did I mention that before calling we had to have all devices plugged in, connected to the TV and powered-on? Well it’s true. After completely setting up the hardware it’s time to call the activation line (888-634-4434). Our first call was a 1316h and took 17 minutes. They couldn’t find our account – because our building has one account (for bulk TV) and each tenant has their own accounts for Internet and Voice (to re-cap: bulk-TV in the building for 5 units, 2 sepearte accounts for Internet (me and one other) and one for Voice (me, but not for long)). So then they found us by address, and I had to call a different line. Then my damn iPhone ran out of battery.

Third Fail: Cannot find account, cannot properly sort these devices when given to individuals who have service on bulk account. CSRs not properly trained for this circumstance.

I waited to charge the phone, then called back at 1607h – waited 7 minutes for a person to get on the phone who I could not understand so I had to hang-up and call again. Now Marcy is helping me. Oh! She cannot find my account – so I explain to her how the “bulk services” work and ask her to connect me. ( I cannot connect myself because I don’t know the account number or phone number the account was setup on as it was done by our HOA more than 10 years ago ( Comcast will also not share that information with us ) ).

Ok, now time to wait. Disconnect the DTA from power while waiting with crummy (and very static-y) MoH. Can’t we get Mozart, Brahms or Bach – why this crappy “new age” shit?

This time on hold – six minutes. Ends with with us having to start all over! So, we enter our phone number. Then the system asks if we are a customer (shouldn’t you already know? – my IVR is that smart). When prompted about new DTA activation we are taken back to the system from part one (above) to start process again. Then the system told us they were overloaded and we had to try again.

Fourth call to Comcast regarding the same issue. As soon as our call was answered we ask for supervisor – not playing around this time. 31 minutes on hold to find I have to call back into the bulk/commercial department (800 316 1619)

So we called that number, which again couldn’t find us because the original phone number for the account had been lost. Couldn’t find us by address but this CSR was very helpful in trying to find our account.

Now, finally we have an intelligent tenacious person to deal with. She attempts to signal our DTA boxes with no success. Still a dead box, still no TV activity. Our options conclude with trading in the boxes for new ones at the service center on Monday or waiting for a Tech to come to us on Wednesday. We chose the Tech.

Check back here in four days to find out the results!

Here is a summary of what Comcast did wrong and how most technology providers do it right

1) Unannounced technology upgrade? Epic Fail. Users like to be told a well ahead of time about change.

2) Couldn’t give me devices for all units I own and pay for service on – poor decisions on management let to failed execution by staff.

3) CSRs poorly trained to handle bulk-account situation.

4) IVR and PBX system did not have sufficient capacity to handle the flood of calls from the roll-out. Everyone knows that change brings in phone calls – lots of them.

5) Process and IVR system poorly designed which frustrates clients dealing with issues from parts 1 through 4.

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eNom & SBS Instant Certificates – Not 99% Browser Compatible as Claimed

eNom, one of our favourite registrants, resells SSL certificates – as many other registrants do. One of the providers is SBS – Secure Business Services. SBS’s offerings claim 99% browser compatibility. Our research shows otherwise.

After installation of these certificates and the necessary gd_bundle we saw SSL exceptions on the following browsers: Firefox on Linux, Safari on Mac, Safari on iPhone, Blackberry Browser. So after five minutes of testing it appears that 99% browser compatibility is a false claim.

The other certificates offered by eNom and SBS, while more expensive, are still not recognised with these very common and popular browsers (maybe not the most popular, but > 1% for sure).

If using eNom to purchase SSL certificates simply bypass the SBS certificates and choose another option. The GeoTrust certificates appear to be more compatible. If you need a refund on the SBS Instant certificate use the eNom ticket system – calls to sales or support will simply direct you to the ticket system.

In an odd twist of fate, while helping our client re-issue using GeoTrust the eNom portal was having odd problems on checkout – would not recognise our option of ‘Outside Hosting’ (error said we needed to get hosting) and the initial view of the CSR submission page told us the CSR was invalid (the CSR we had not yet generated or submitted).

What is going on over there eNom? I’ve been a client for close to ten years and your service level seems to be dropping off. Please advise.

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Liberty Names of America is a Fraud!

If you own domain names or have your information visible in the WHOIS records of a domain you may get unsolicited letters from Liberty Names of America. These letters are titled “Domain Name Expiration Notice” and solicit the reader to renew the domain name with Liberty Names. Do not do business with them.

This document from the United States Federal Trade Commission should clarify things: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2003/12/domainreg.shtm.

The letter is not a bill, although it has the look of one. Complete with return envelope and detachable stub to enter credit card information on. Only small print, in the third paragraph indicates This notice is not a bill.

Also notice the rates that Liberty Names charges – $29.00 for one year of registration? GoDaddy, eNom and others charge less than $15/yr. Liberty Names is a 50% increase in cost with no discernible benefit

Liberty Names – What Really Happens

One of our clients, a few years ago, had their domain with GoDaddy a perfectly reputable service. The client received this letter from LNOA and due to two factors ( a) lack of experience with domain registry and b) fear of losing their domain ) they provided the requested information to LNOA which then transfered the name to their services. The signed letter to LNOA is the only authorization they need to charge the merchant card provided and to transfer the domain name into their system.

It took a few weeks to process but LNOA then assumed control. During this process the Authoritative DNS information was changed. Records were not properly transfered. Of course after that other services for the domain stopped. The web-site was not resolvable, email’s could not go through, etc. DNS is critical to the operation of any domain, changes have far reaching impact to the domain.

After this debacle the LNOA team would not communicate with us because we could not accept email at the domain (because LNOA had destroyed MX records). They would only communicate with the address in the WHOIS record – which we also could not adjust because LNOA had control of this information too. We had to fax proof of ownership to them and wait six days for processing!

At this point LNOA has control of the domain name, the DNS records and the WHOIS records. The ability to communicate with the domain in question was lost due to the steps LNOA had taken with our DNS and WHOIS information. The client’s web-site is down (well, not resolvable) and email communications do not exist. For all intents and purposes their business is not on-line.

Finally, after many frustrating days of working with LNOA we were then able to transfer the domain name back out of their incredibly low quality services to Edoceo’s preferred registrant: eNom. This transfer took roughly six days to complete – eNom sent the transfer request the day we submitted it – we had to wait five additional days for LNOA to actually process and release the domain.

To add to all that, our Client had opted for a five year renewal and paid Liberty Names roughly $100. This amount was not refundable.

In short, doing business with Liberty Names of America is a bad idea and their methods border on fraud.

Summary

  1. Client responds to Liberty Names solicitation of Domain Name renewal
  2. Liberty Names takes Client’s money and assumes control of Domain Name
  3. LIberty Names completely fuck’s Client by destroying DNS and WHOIS records
  4. Client looses all presence and ability to communicate on the Internet
  5. Edoceo works with Client and Liberty Names to un-fuck the situation and transfer name to eNom.
  6. Client resumes operation on the Internet after 16 days of down time.

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DNS Changes & Twicler the CUIL Search Robot

Over the past few days we have been helping a client consolidate their servers onto one single system, to save on co-lo/hosting charges. New system acquired we began to migrate sites onto this single eight core Xeon / 12GiB server (Ubuntu Jaunty 64bit)

We performed an audit on the front side, to ensure that some sites were no-longer used. Spoke to staff, viewed various logs and grep’d source code. Certain we had everything we began to move sites. All the while watching logs to ensure that sites move properly and traffic tapers off then stops all together (on a 1h TTL in the DNS sometimes this can taper to next to like 2 hits/h in less than 2.5h)

After moving we continue to tail log files on the deprecated servers, to catch any last/missed resources. After all other traffic had stopped for over five hours only one remained: Twicler.
All the requests were typical HTTP/1.1 robot style requests, just to a very old IP.

Speculation: Cuil may have internal caching DNS servers that hold IP information for well beyond the TTL from the authoritative NS.

Wild Speculation: We’ve head that the Twicler (Cuil robot), like other search robots, makes multiple passes on a site. So then it would appear that with the first pass it is caching the site’s IP address and using that for subsequent passes. I wonder then what impact moving a site’s IP has for the Cuil algo.

Oh and if anybody cares the robot came from 216.129.119.X

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