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Charter is Broken

For years I was a customer of Charter Communications, but not anymore. Years ago, when I was a Caltech student, I signed up for cable TV and Internet. Charter had a special cable modem service could get on the Caltech network. It worked but was never  very fast or reliable. Once I graduated from Caltech, I switched to Speakeasy, and soon after, Charter stopped partnering with Caltech.

Over the years I kept my digital cable service and even added the premium channels. Sometimes the Video-on-Demand channels would abruptly reset the cable box, but for the most part I enjoyed having a wide selection of movies and shows like The Tudors and Dexter available any time.

A few months ago the Video-on-Demand channels became spottier, and in August my cable stopped working altogether. I called Charter’s tech support twice, only to be told by the agent that there was an outage in my area, they did not know when the outage would be over, and that my account would be credited once the outage was over. The agents told me to wait a week or two. Weeks later, I called again only to be told by a machine that there was an outage in my area with no predicted end time.

In the last few days I tried again. This time a machine went through the process of sending data to my cable box with no success. I spoke with an agent who was vague about technicians all being busy with a Video-on-Demand outage. She said she would put me through to an outage callback hotline, but the forwarding failed because the system couldn’t get my contact information.

Today, I tried to log into my online account and may have entered the wrong password several times. As a result, I was temporarily locked out. When I chatted with an agent online, she said that she couldn’t find any record of my online account and couldn’t reset it. I would have to create a new online account, even though I’ve had an online account for years.

Finally, I took the plunge. I called again, this time to terminate my account. The agent expressed surprise that the outage had lasted so long and offered to reduce my services if I wanted (I don’t have much time for TV anyway) and to send a tech when one was available (whenever that would be), but I stood my ground and have now severed my relationship with Charter.

I look forward to saving around $1000 a year. I might sign up for Netflix and take advantage of their online streaming, which is way cheaper.

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Tone deaf

I always thought I might be tone deaf because, despite years of piano lessons, I still can’t identify notes. Sometimes I can’t distinguish pitch, and I absolutely cannot control my voice to match a note when I sing. However, on the online tonedeaf test, I scored 83.3%, which is considered better than normal. I guess I’m not tone deaf.

My lunch sucked

I ordered a sandwich that was supposed to be roast beef and turkey on rye with Russian dressing. The cafeteria was out of roast beef, so they offered to make the same sandwich with extra turkey instead of roast beef. Well, what I got didn’t have Russian dressing, or if it did, it was way too little, and the bread was a stale and barely chewable French roll. The cheese also tasted nasty. The only good things were potentially the pickle spears and the orange slice, but unfortunately, I dropped them on the floor before I could eat them. Finally, I gave up and just threw away the remnants of the sandwich. I’m strangely upset about this lunch.

I just realized something about myself: I collect skills. If I were a demon from Charmed, I would be the one who collects others’ powers. Just being able to replicate others’ powers at will, without removing them from the original owners, would be good enough for me.

Getty Villa

Back in May I joined the Caltech Y on a trip to the Getty Villa near Malibu, CA. The Getty Villa is was inspired by the Villa of the Papyri, which was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Of course,  I looked up more information about the villa in Wikipedia.

The Villa of the Papyri, located in the ancient town of Herculaneum, belonged to Julius Caesar‘s father-in-law, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, and sat halfway up the slope of Mount Vesuvius. When Mt. Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, the villa, along with the rest of Herculaneum, was buried in ash. The remains of the villa were first excavated in the 18th century.

Since the Villa of the Papyri has not been fully excavated, the Getty Villa is partially based on other ancient Roman houses. True to its origins, the Getty Villa houses ancient Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities.

News of the Day

I like to procrastinate by browsing CNN, LA Times, BBC, Google News, and other news sites. Sometimes I find a headline, not always the most prominent, that interests me, and I use Google to dig up more information. I figured, why not do something with this research? So, here goes.

25-year-old LPGA golfer found dead

Erica Blasberg, 25, was found dead Monday morning in her home in Henderson, Nevada. An unknown person placed a 911 call. Her father stated that it looked like she had taken her own life, but the circumstances of her death were “very, very strange.”

Blasberg was a highly decorated collegiate golfer at the University of Arizona. After turning pro, her success has been mixed. She posted four top-10s in eight starts on the Duramed Futures Tour, but she never finished higher than 94th on the LPGA’s money list. However, she was successful in getting endorsements from Puma, Casio, and other companies.

It’s always sad when someone young, apparently healthy, and promising dies so suddenly. Suicide? Murder? For now we’ll just have to wait and see. At least one website is taking note a disgruntled fan who submitted questions through Blasberg’s website, but that’s just speculation.

Interesting fact: Blasberg was nicknamed “Skip” in college because she didn’t know how to skip.

I knew about Wikipedia in college, but I wish it had been as mature then as it is now. I was reviewing the article about bitwise operations, and the thought crossed my mind that I could have benefited from such a comprehensive resource when I was in school. When I was in college, that particular article didn’t exist. The first version was written a month after I graduated, and it was much less comprehensive.

In a month or so I’ll be back in school with much more Internet power at my fingertips. This time I won’t be a full-time student, though. I’ll still be working full-time, and I’ll be taking one class at a time online.