More Cable Modem Woes

For the longest time it’s been tough going with my high speed Internet service. Who knows why, but without warning, usually in the middle of the night, poof – no service.

I figure I’ve called Comcast 8-10 times about this problem. In the beginning, when the cable service would mysteriously reappear, I would cancel the service call.

The past two times I let the techs come. They’ve found some loose connectors and things like that. When they were done tightening and tweaking, they told me everything would be all right, and left. But, of course, it wasn’t all right.

I tried to figure out the problem myself. My cable modem, an older Best Data model, doesn’t have a diagnostic screen. I looked for some info about it online and found it only supports an older cable modem protocol (DOCSIS 1). Maybe that’s the problem?

Yesterday, I went to Comcast to lease a new modem. I figured $3 more per month would be worth it for the peace of mind.

No sooner had I installed it than it failed! This morning, with stormy weather surrounding us, my cable Internet service went kerflooey. As of this hour, it’s still out.

My guess is there’s something outside, between the pole and the house, that is affected by weather. Most of the outages come on cold nights. Today’s outage came while the cables were undoubtedly swinging.

Whatever it is, I need the cable guy. I called Comcast and made arrangements for a visit on Monday (I’m going to Nashville tomorrow). If I ever get service back, I’ll report on how it went.

The Trip Continues

Getting to Philadelphia was no problem. It was leaving that seemed to be the sticking point.

I had a long layover in Philadelphia – over an hour and a half. The Embraer Regional Jet to Atlanta was in on time. We boarded on time. And then the announcement.

The pilot came on from the cockpit to tell us thunderstorms around Atlanta were going hold us up. It would be an hour until he found out when we’d be!” And, since the gate was needed for another plane, he’d drive to a quiet spot for us to wait.

I’d like to tell you the passengers protested, or the wait was interminable or some other tragic story of passenger pain, but it wasn’t that bad. We left Philadelphia about an hour and a half late.

I actually found the plane, an ERJ170, reasonably comfortable. Just like the Dash-8 I took from New Haven to Philadelphia, this plane had plenty of legroom in narrow seats. The interior was spartan and somehow European. The interior actually reminded me of a Fokker-100.&#185

Is it just me or is it weird to be on an airplane designed and built in Brazil?

The trip to Atlanta was bumpy, but uneventful. Getting off in Atlanta was another story. The terminal looked like a mall on the weekend before Christmas. It was jammed – as busy as any airline terminal I had ever visited.

Helaine had found a great deal for a medium size car from Avis. That ended up being a Chevy Malibu. It is possible there is a car that has less style, but I doubt it. It looks like it was designed and built with absolutely no anticipation anyone would actually want to own one. They were right.

My hotel is the Hilton Garden Inn – Perimeter in one of the many exurbs that ring Atlanta. This is actually a fairly nice hotel and a good value. And, along with everything else, there’s free high speed Internet service (though not enough signal at the desk in this room to use it from there).

This evening (a late evening) I joined Mark and Annie, both of whom I worked with at Channel 8, for dinner. I left it up to them and we went to Ted’s… owned by Ted Turner and featuring Bison meat!

We all had Bison burgers, which were very good. I also had New England clam chowder (could have been warmer and larger, but it was very tasty). This being Atlanta, Coca Cola’s world headquarters, I broke down and had a Coke, which was served from the glass bottle.

Next stop was CNN, where Mark and Annie now work. This is interesting because there are familiar views in the CNN Center that I’ve seen for years.

Visiting CNN at night, there were no on-air types to be seen. Most of their nighttime programming is from New York or Los Angeles (Larry King).

Actually, that gave me more of an opportunity to look around. Their newsroom, directly behind the news set, may be the most photogenic TV space I’ve ever been in.

Busy day. I’m going to bed.

&#185 – The Fokker 100 is a small, though older, regional jet. USAir used to fly them to Buffalo. They were quite comfortable, except for the low ceilings. They were low enough that I once asked a flight attendant if her assignment in this particular model was penance for something she had done?

Another “Phishing” Expedition

The term is “phishing.” A phony email is sent, purporting to be from a company you do business with, asking for private information. I wrote, only a few days ago, about a bogus note from Bank of America. Tonight, it’s Citibank!

Dear Citibank Account Holder,

On January 10th 2004 Citibank had to block some accounts in our system connected with money laundering, credit card fraud, terrorism and check fraud activity. The information in regards to those accounts has been passed to our correspondent banks, local, federal and international authorities.

Due to our extensive database operations some accounts may have been changed. We are asking our customers to check their checking and savings accounts if they are active or if their current balance is correct.

Citibank notifies all it’s customers in cases of high fraud or criminal activity and asks you to check your account’s balances. If you suspect or have found any fraud activity on your account please let us know by logging in at the link below.

I’m not a Citibank customer, so I knew immediately this was bogus. Even if I had missed it, Popfile called it spam. Good job!

The last time I put one of these up, McAffee Virus Scanner stopped some people from getting to my site, so I’ve eliminated the link in this one – it’s phony anyway!

Today’s phishing expedition originated with email sent from an account on, a high speed Internet service provider (like cable modem or DSL) here in the U.S. The link on the email opens a form that looks exactly like a Citibank form (in fact, it’s probably taken from their site), but it sends the posted data, including credit card and pin, to a site in Korea!

We’re rapidly approaching email meltdown! How long can commerce survive in this untrustworthy environment?


01/11/04 10:38 PM – I have just reported this incident to Citibank via their weblink. I’ll let you know if they respond.

The Worm My Dad Sent Me

My dad loves his computer. I think, like his son, he is obsessed with this unbelievable access to nearly anything. But, he is not a sophisticated user. And, in his defense, that puts him squarely in line with the vast majority of other computer users.

Earlier this evening, my dad received the official looking email on the right from Microsoft. With all the viruses and worms going around, Microsoft was proactively sending out a patch to fix yet another weakness. Except, the message wasn’t from Microsoft.

I wouldn’t know any of this, except, sometime after 10:00 PM Thursday, I received the very same email. But, to me, something looked fishy. Microsoft doesn’t email software patches! In fact, though I’ve registered all my Microsoft products, I don’t think I’ve ever received anything from Microsoft.

I ‘opened’ the email up and took a look at the code. I could see the path the message took to get to me. It originated somewhere on Adelphia is a cable TV provider with high speed Internet service and my dad is a subscriber.

I looked closer.

The originator of the email was there… not in name, but in IP address. Though we type or email to, these ‘people friendly’ addresses are translated into the raw IP numbers (the equivalent of street addresses) before they’re sent on their way.

The IP address was my dad’s.

I said, “You know not to open unexpected attachments.” He said, “It was from Microsoft.” And, of course, to him that’s what it seemed.

The writers of this worm, which I’ve since learned is Win32.Swen.A, knew no one would execute this program unless they were tricked. And, it’s a damned good trick. The email message looks legit.

In the past I’ve gotten similar messages posing as security queries from PayPal. Send us your login name, password and credit card.

Enough is enough. It’s time we changed our methods of email.

As it stands right now, this network of networks, designed when only those invited could get on, is too trusting. If you say you’re someone, the Internet inherently believes that. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

It’s time for a new mail protocol which will verify the sender is who he says he is. Maybe we can cut down on, or even eliminate, spam while we’re at it.

It will be a painful transition, because the mail programs we now use aren’t up to the task. But, we have gone beyond the point of hoping the Internet will cure itself.