Looks like Comcast has begun introducing data caps

I just received this email this morning. My plan was formerly unfettered. I note the spin placed on the data cap they are introducing.

I expect that if you choose to use their streaming service you’ll find the cap doesn’t apply to that data?

When I check my current usage, it tells me that “Note:enforcement of the 250GB data consumption threshold is currently suspended”

Which is it? 250 GB or 300GB?

 

Comcast Service Announcement

Important information regarding your XFINITY® service.


Dear XFINITY Internet Customer:

At Comcast, we recognize that our customers use the Internet for different reasons and have unique data needs. Starting December 1, 2013, Comcast will trial a new monthly data plan in this area, which will increase the amount of data included in your XFINITY Internet Service to 300 GB and provide more choice and flexibility.

What this means for You

The vast majority of XFINITY customers use far less than 300 GB of data in a month. Based upon your recent usage history, it appears this new data plan will have no impact upon you, and you won’t need to do anything, or change your Internet usage. If you are not sure about your monthly data usage, please refer to the Track and Manage Your Usage section below.

We want our customers to use the Internet for everything they want and your service will not be limited to 300 GB. While we believe that 300 GB is more than enough to meet the Internet usage needs of most customers, Comcast will automatically add blocks of 50 GB to your account for an additional $10, should you exceed the 300 GB included in your plan in a month.

In order for our customers to get accustomed to this new data plan, we are implementing a three-month courtesy program. That means you will not be billed for the first three times you exceed 300 GB included in the data plan during a 12 month period. Should your usage exceed 300 GB a fourth time during any 12-month period, an additional 50 GB will automatically be allocated to your account and you will be billed $10 for that data and each additional 50 GB of data in excess of 300 GB during that month and any subsequent months your usage exceeds 300 GB.

Please note that this is a consumer trial. Comcast may modify or discontinue this trial at any time. However, we will notify you in advance of any such change.

For more information on all our data usage plans, please visit www.xfinity.com/datausageplan/expansion

Track and Manage Your Usage

Comcast provides you with several tools to easily track and manage your data plan:

 

 

  • Data Usage Calculator – Estimate your data usage with this tool available atwww.xfinity.com/datacalculator. Simply enter information on how often and how much you typically use the Internet, and the calculator will estimate your monthly data usage.

 

 

  • In-Browser Notices and Emails – We will send you a courtesy “in-browser” notice and an email letting you know how much of the data included in your monthly plan you are using.

If you have any additional questions about the new data usage plan, please visitwww.xfinity.com/datausageplan/expansion

Thank you for being an XFINITY Internet Customer.

Sincerely,

Comcast

Which is Better, UPS or FedEx (SmartPost)?

So, I’m a member of Amazon Prime which means that anything that ships from Amazon comes automatically with 2 day delivery. This is pretty sweet.

A couple of days I shot a note to Amazon because I was a bit disappointed that one of my orders did not arrive when it was supposed to. It arrived two days later. This is not a big deal but I found it a bit annoying that clearly the delivery service (FedEx SmartPost) was – according to their tracking information – basically sitting on the package at their facility (local to me) for two days. Amazon no longer seems to send out mini-surveys asking when shipped items have arrived so I wanted to let them know that one of their shippers appears to be sleeping on the job.

As I look back at some previous orders it seems that UPS has been consistently on time while FedEx… well maybe not so much.

The funny thing is, partly due to their advertising efforts and partly due to past experience, I hold FedEx in higher esteem of the two.

In what turned out to be a kind of mini-test, I ordered two items from Amazon on Wednesday. It happens that one (25 LB Uninterrupted Power Supply) was shipped via UPS, the other (2 lbs Brass couplings) shipped by  FedEx Smartpost.

You look at the tracking information and you can see that the FedEx package actually arrived in Marietta before the UPS package arrived in Roswell. Both of these points are the last hops before delivery. The UPS package arrived today a bit after 3 pm and is sitting here beside me. The forecast for the FedEx package is to arrive maybe sometime before 8 pm on Sunday (two more days).

I’m glad I’m not counting on the second package being here for the weekend…

Fastlane Stained Stainless Steel handle – a small miracle

After a few months of going around with Endless Pools and the folks at DesJoyaux, the DesJoyaux folks hit upon a workaround if not a solution for my issue with the handle on my Fastlane turning a black color.

As you can see from this “Before” picture the handle (and portions of the stainless steel cage below that protects the impeller) was a murky black color. I was unable to wipe it off to any meaningful degree yet enough would come off if you touched it to get on your hands or your bathing suit.

Several weeks ago, Billy Fowler from DesJoyaux said he thought he had hit upon something that might be of use and suggested two cleaning agents to try. He very generously offered to take back any chemical left if I found them to be ineffective which tells me that he is standing behind his research.

Basically I dumped some of this “StainFree” product from “Natural Chemistry” into a bucket with about a quart of water, donned some rubber gloves and used a rag to wipe the handle. After two or three swipes I saw the stainless steel shining through! It’s much more of a chemical reaction than an elbow grease effort. If I soaked the rag and basically squeezed it around a discolored portion of the handle the improvement was immediate. A bit of rubbing helped a bit but as soon as the chemical was spent there was no amount of rubbing that would improve it any more.

 

Here is the after picture. I cleaned the handle, pulled the top off the unit and replaced the sacrificial anode (which was designed for  outboard engines) with a much smaller one but which was purchased from Endless Pools.

Now the question remains: Is this a permanent fix that resolves a one-off issue or will I need to periodically revisit my stainless steel pieces?

Message to Elan Financial (They Manage EmigrantDirect’s Visa)

I sent the following (in two parts) to Elan Financial. Am I being unreasonable?

I am writing to express my dissatisfaction thus far with Elan Financial services who are managing my EmigrantDirect Visa card.

1) When received my first statement in January I immediately went to the Elan Financial website and signed up to have my bill paid in full each month from my bank account. According to a recent exchange I had through this messaging system I apparently should have been aware that, even after having double checked that the payment date was showing as February 6 (two weeks in the future), Elan’s system would not actually make the withdrawal since, inexplicably, this is not enough time for a financial institution in the 21st century to set up such a connection.

I saw no indication on the website that I was to ignore the listed payment date and go ahead and send in what to me would seem to be a duplicate payment via snail mail.

I am astonished that a financial company, managing the credit card portfolio for an ONLINE ONLY Banking service, is incapable of both setting up a funds transfer in under 6 weeks and is further incapable of communicating that fact on the website through which the financial arrangements are being made.

2) A few days ago I received a letter from Elan welcoming me and letting me know that I should activate my card and that my reward rate would be at 1% – no mention of the 1 1/4% that I signed up for and am ostensibly receiving. This was a bit confusing since I have actually been using the card for a month and a half now. Has Elan reneged on the original offer? Is Elan unaware that I am using the credit card?
3) Coincident with the above welcome letter I received a notice from Elan’s collection department whining about my not having paid my first bill. This in spite of the fact that I have been in contact with Elan via this secure messaging system and had clearly set up my account to fully pay my bill fully two weeks prior to the first due date. Can it really be that Elan’s various departments have no contact with each other nor do they have access to my account records?
4) My first attempt at crafting this secure message on the Elan website was lost when the website timed out after 15 minutes of “inactivity” and did not even retain a draft of the message. I again emphasize the primitiveness of a system, in 2013, that would be so unyielding as to not allow the customer a chance to either confirm that they are still using the site or to at least provide a mechanism to retain the work in progress. The page literally vanishes and is replaced with one showing that the session has expired. Also Elan’s website limits these messages to 3500 characters but does not actually tell you this until you submit and then doesn’t tell you by how many characters you have exceeded the maximum.
5) My recent communication with Elan regarding the minimum amount of points required to obtain a statement credit resulted in the unhelpful response that I should phone the rewards department during business hours. Ignoring the fact that the reward website needs to actually say what the minimum rewards amount should be rather than simply responding “You do not have enough rewards points to purchase this item”, I emphasize again that it is no longer 1980 and that email is a common and acceptable way to communicate. One of the reasons I deal with an ONLINE BANK is so that I can communicate asynchronously and not waste my time on hold waiting for a representative to get around to working with me.
I need the following from you:
1) Acknowledgment that my bill will be paid by your online system as it currently indicates that it will on March 6
2) Acknowledgement that my rewards rate is at 1 1/4% as was agreed upon with my initial application
3) Acknowledgement that I will not be fined or assessed any fees as a result of my trusting Elan Financial’s website when it indicated it would withdraw funds through a system that I, in good faith, set up weeks ahead of the payment due date.
4) Confirmation of the number of reward points required to redeem a statement credit.
I await your reply,
Marc

I Vote for Mars 2016

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Olympics. But I have no illusions that it does anything positive for the economies of the hosting countries. In fact I suspect that the ultimate cost to a country of the Olympics is far, far greater than any space mission would cost if they could be bothered participating. I just get peeved when folks start trying to tell me that the Olympics (or any new stadium for that matter) will do anything but suck money out of a city.

Just be honest, these provide entertainment, not prosperity, and we can all get along..

FAIL Blog: Pictures and Videos of Owned, Pwnd and Fail Moments

via School of Fail: I Vote for Mars 2016.

The Oatmeal Rules! Lawyers… the ones we hear about anyway… not so much

I’m sure you’ve already heard about this item, where the creator of “The Oatmeal” (Matthew Inman) executed a wonderful, creative and philanthropic smackdown on a small-minded stereotype-producing lawyer that had originally been retained to represent the interests of someone who was not quite above board in his handling of Intellectual Property – most notably “The Oatmeal” content published without consent.

Check out the full story here (on Philip Defranco’s site – jump to 1:08 if you’re impatient) and the final result here. Basically Matthew took an attempt to abuse our sometimes sorry legal system to not only suppress his gripes about having his work used without his permission, but to also try to extort $20,000 from him on top of that. Then the representing lawyer went hog wild and tried to sue everyone and everything associated with the debacle.

Brilliant and creative people are always such a refreshing breath of fresh air. Especially when they put the smackdown on people who epitomize all that is wrong with an archaic and badly out of touch legal system.

 

Zodiac iAqualink items – Response from Zodiac

As a follow on to this, Mat at Pool Tech let me know that Zodiac has since released a fix to correct the concern above so that you are able to trust “Service Mode”. I do not know if they received any other notifications other than mine (via Pool Tech and via my own mailing to Zodiac) but I’m pleased that a potential safety concern was addressed so rapidly.

Now if they could direct some effort toward my lighting issue.

I *did* receive a response from Zodiac’s customer service almost immediately that indicated they’d cursorily scanned the email and did not really take my point:

Thank you for your suggestions. Your comments have been forwarded to our engineering department.

As far as the lighting goes, we don’t have the logic for your specific lights included with our system. Unfortunately, we can’t provide functionality for every light on the market. We only have the most popular programmed in our firmware.

The reason the water temperature isn’t shown at all times is because the reading won’t be accurate. The temperature in your plumbing is going to change more quickly than the temperature in your pool water. This is why the temperature is only shown when the pump is on and the water is circulating.

Thanks again for your suggestions.

So I clarified for them:

I’m working with my suppliers to see about swapping out the lights for another one but it’s looking like the holes in my pool are not going to be compatible.

With respect to the temperature suggestion. I am not suggesting ongoing temperature readings while the pump is off, but only reporting the last accurate reading (pump was on for at least 3 minutes). For myself, knowing what the accurate water temperature was 2 hours ago is sufficient for me to make decisions about what I want or need to do. If I see it was at 76 degrees and I’m going to swim when I get home I know I’m going to activate the heater. If I see it was at 84 degrees I know immediately that I won’t be needing the heat the pool just doesn’t cool down that much over a few hours and so the readings. This ballpark just saves me the 3-5 minutes waiting for the temperature to settle down.

Thank you for responding,

 

Marc

Unfortunately I don’t know that it will go much further than this. I’ll post if I’m able to achieve any progress / satisfaction.