Comcast Coughs Up Free A/B Switch

Update: This A/B switch episode finally ends with today’s post, third in a series that began with Sentient Life Not Found via Email at Comcast, then progressed to Found: Sentient Life at Comcast before ending up here. It  started when Eric Stark wrote in his May 23 Stark Ravings column in the Lancaster Sunday News, Preserving over-the-air HD requires the right hardware, that Comcast would furnish a free coaxial A/B switch to customers.

A/B switch (left), instructions, three coaxial cables and splitter (right)

The switch arrived yesterday and it works as advertised. It came with a splitter and three cables, plus some mounting screws and Velcro if you’re into that sort of thing (I didn’t use them).

Why you need this switch is to get back the the unscrambled HD channels for local broadcast networks that were stomped on by the mandatory “digital transport  adapter” most customers are getting.
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Posted in Comcast, Public Relations, Rants | 3 Comments

Found: Sentient Life at Comcast

Rhonda from Comcast Corporate is one nice lady. Between the phone message she left last night and the pleasant conversation we just had, it feels like I’ve been thanked for being a Comcast customer about a zillion times. She promised to have an A/B switch sent to me right away, and will call to follow up in a few days. Also, she gave me the corporate number anyone can call if they really want a human being to solve their problems: 215-665-1700.

Background: Things went haywire in a hurry when I asked customer service a question by typing instead of talking (see previous post). Why, I wondered, couldn’t I get an intelligent response to a simple query via email? I am one of those who prefer to communicate with businesses by email. I’ll only pick up the phone if email doesn’t work, or if I’m in a hurry for an answer.
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Posted in Comcast, Public Relations, Rants | 1 Comment

Sentient Life Not Available via Email at Comcast

This email thread is classic Comcast. You have to read the whole thing.  In the interest of full disclosure: I have copied it word for word and made very few changes, except for flipping it so that it’s in chronological order top to bottom, removing some extraneous lines, deleting dire warnings from Comcast about not publishing their embarrassing emails, bolding some parts for emphasis, and changing the Comcast employee’s name to “Diane”.

Submitted to a help form at

I”ve just read that Comcast will provide a free coaxial a/b switch so that I can get my free local HD channels despite the digital transport adapter. If so, please tell me how to do this. Can one be delivered to my address or must I go to my local Comcast office?


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Posted in Comcast, Rants, Uncategorized | 2 Comments


Recently I’ve been studying Stoicism. The Stoics had an exercise called Turning the Obstacle Upside Down, which is supposed to give you a new, shiny, positive handle on the situation, but which in practice just  makes the cat really mad.

I applied the inversion technique recently when I had a problem with a rain barrel, but the problem (leak) became much worse because the lid came off. The inversion stratagem also seems to have backfired when inadvertently applied to my car some years back, a VW bug which stubbornly refused to corner like sports car despite my best efforts, after which it refused to be right side up.

So I’m going back to the book and revising my approach. Perhaps the Stoics didn’t mean literally to turn my problems upside down.

From now on I’m leaving them right side up, and standing on my head. Already things are looking different. For example, my nose runs and my feet smell… no wait, you’ve  probably heard that.  

But when I look up I can see stars, even in the daytime. My viewpoint is very down-to-earth. And I’m becoming quite level-headed.
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Posted in Cars, Cycling, Education, Philosophy | Leave a comment

Mild Peptic Disturbance Leads Area Man To Choose WordPress

Last year I was forced to learn to fend for myself again after the evaporation of a really good job, one of the most enjoyable of my life, working with good people.

This picture has nothing to do with WordPress, Drupal or Joomla. It does have 3 of my favorite things in it, though.

This picture has nothing to do with WordPress, Drupal or Joomla, but it does contain three of my favorite things.

It had been introduced as a temporary layoff, but it didn’t stay temporary… the sort of situation that gave rise to the expression “temporary by permanent” by the late, great Dick Rankin, a man with more aphorisms than a swarm of aphids, a man I was proud to call my father-in-law.

So I went down to the shop to dust off my Web-site making tools, sharpen and adjust and oil them up and all that… but then thought better of it.
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Posted in Code, Development, Humor, Wordpress | Leave a comment

CUPRAP II: PR Survival Tactics at Temple

Temple UniversityIn CUPRAP One, I promised some specifics from the speakers at their recent workshop . Millions are struggling with how to implement social media in business, and I found that– for the most part–  these expert communicators for academic institutions have a good handle on the transition. Here are some key points from remarks by Ray Betzner, assistant vice president for university relations, Temple University and vice president of CUPRAP:
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CUPRAP and the Perfect Storm, Part I

The Great Recession plucked me from a marketing position earlier this year and flung me back into the world of freelance. This unexpected change has had its good and bad aspects; one of the good is a more flexible schedule. Thus, last week I was able to attend the fall workshop of CUPRAP*, a statewide association for college and university communicators, in Bethlehem, PA.


It gave me the opportunity to see firsthand how public relations professionals are coping with the confluence of two major events—a severe recession and the rise of social media. A perfect storm has been brewing, one of tighter budgets, leaner staffs and a steep learning curve for new media.
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Posted in Education, Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, twitter | 1 Comment

Has Twitter’s Epic Fail Begun?

Twitter FAILing?

A friend and business associate asked me what I thought of Michael Schutzler’s recent post  #twitter bullshit math? If you don’t have time to read it, here’s the abridged version: once the novelty wears off, Twitter will be nothing more than a cool way to follow celebrities.

He asserts that amassing a high number of followers is often worthless. About the silly “rule” that you must follow anyone who follows you out of courtesy, he writes:
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Posted in Marketing, Social Media, twitter | 1 Comment