• The sad state of support

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    So the other day Xfinity updated their streaming app on the various Roku devices I have in the house. One day the devices allowed me to watch Comcast
    [See the full post at: The sad state of support]

    Susan Bradley Patch Lady/Prudent patcher

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    • #2387707

      While reading your rant I’ve been nodding so often that, had your article been any longer, I would have nodded my head off.

      At first I thought it was my advancing age causing me to get crankier. But you made me realise that it’s not me, but the support for all kinds of technology devolving to deplorable levels.

      Thank you for enabling me to wholeheartedly agree with you.

      1 Desktop Win 11
      1 Laptop Win 10
      Both tweaked to look, behave and feel like Windows 95
      (except for the marine blue desktop, rgb(0, 3, 98)
    • #2387722

      They don’t provide better support because… they do not care

      They do not care about us. They do not care what we think. They do not care what we want

      All they want from us is that we buy their product. They provide ‘support’ because it’s a tick box to tick off, to show what a spiffingly great company they are (to get us to buy their product). They do it at least cost, with poorly paid personnel, often in some faraway land and with a tenuous grasp of the English language, who usually just follow a set menu of questions until they hit the point where their computer system simply shrugs and gives up, and after that you’re on your own

      The only help desk I’ve ever encountered that actually provides a useful service with staff who know what they’re talking about, is American Express. I’m pretty sure that American Express don’t care about me, or what I think, or what I want either, but at least their help desk is a prime example of how these things should be (but never are) organised

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    • #2387745

      Excellent and timely.  I’ve been having the same issues with the idiot support staff at Spectrum/Charter.  I go through Charter’s online webmail and get the message “Error occurred loading messages from server.”  I have called their tech support staff at least a dozen different times (because they haven’t figured out the root cause of the problem in the past year) – only to be told repeatedly by front line staff that it is MY fault not theirs and that I don’t know how computers work.  I worked in the computer field for over 40 years (before PCs existed) until I retired earlier this year.

      Yesterday I finally got a hold of a senior tech support staff and told I had their low level staff tell me I was at fault, I didn’t know what I was doing, etc.

      He was able to figure out my problem for the time being at least and understands that the server is on their side not mine – and he would discuss telling customers they don’t know what they are doing should happen.  Whether or not this actually happens is to be seen.

      Thanks for letting me vent.

      Custom Build - Intel i5 9400 5 Core CPU & ASUS TUF Z390 Plus Motherboard
      Edition Windows 10 Home
      Version 22H2
      OS build 19045.3086

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    • #2387748

      I have had the same problems with my Roku Premier.

      Getting very frustrated.

      Fortunately, I can still stream through Chromecast from my laptop, or phone,  to the TV in the den which does not have an Xfinity box.

    • #2387755

      I recently just wanted to ask Comcast a technical question (just a question!) and every time I called, the automated menu would immediately say, “Ok, we are going to restart your modem. Call back after 10 minutes if the problem is not fixed.” I could not stop them so just had to hang up and call back. I finally had to say some non technical problem such as billing or web support to get past that modem restart/callback. Incidentally, ATT does the same thing. Seems both companies just want to frustrate you so you will give up calling!! Believe it or not there are actually responsible, customer caring companies out there that after hearing the menu options will let you say agent or representative or punch zero and put you directly through to a live person.

      And then their are those are those horrible companies that hide their customer service number so you cannot even call them and you have to do an internet to actually find the number.

      4 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2387758

      I deal with Xfinity(Comcast) here in my little part of central Florida.  I was a young teenager when they first began stringing cable from the utility poles in my home town.  There was at that time an exclusive agreement between the city and the cable company that there would be no competitive cable company allowed in the city.  I can’t remember the name of the company then.  There is still only one cable company in town, now owned by Xfinity.

      Fast forward to today, in most of the service area, those old cables are still in use.  Xfinity is slowly working on upgrading their infrastructure, but during the rainy season, (now) when a scattered shower passes through, I often loose signal strength.  Something(s) somewhere(s) is no longer watertight.  Typically after signal loss such as this, I reboot the modem and everything is good again.  On one occasion it was obstinate, and a tech had to re=provision my router to get a signal coming my way.

      As for service, it has generally been good, and I’ve been for the most part pleasantly surprised.  I had this issue back in 2019, through which I was impressed with the level of service.  Last month I had a lightning strike that killed my modem.  Xfinity sent a tech the next day who checked the signal at the box on the side of my house, everything was good.  I told him that I had installed my spare modem and was back online, everything was good.

      I got billed $100 for that tech call.  I got through to billing on their service number and explained that the tech was checking their equipment after a lightning strike, and didn’t have to do anything on my end of the connection.  She took off the $100 charge.

      As for streaming devices, I have a couple of Amazon Fire TV Sticks, and a single (free) Xfinity Flex.  They all work fine.  I don’t have any streaming subscriptions other than Amazon Prime, and a friend has a spare Netflix family plan account that I use.

      What it boils down to is that it appears that poor customer service can be a “local” issue.  I have the Xfinity area supervisor’s business card with his company and personal cell number and instructions to call him if I can’t get a future issue resolved to my satisfaction.

      Always create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates; you may need to start over!
      We were all once "Average Users". We all have our own reasons for doing the things that we do with our systems, we don't need anyone's approval, and we don't all have to do the same things.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2387760

      ….And it’s still broken the next day.

      Susan Bradley Patch Lady/Prudent patcher

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2387762

      The problem with “Tech Support” these days is that there is NO “Tech Support”, but rather phone jockeys, half way around the globe reading “scripted responses”.  You’d be better off talking to the wall!

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    • #2387771

      I just typed about 200 words, realized I wasn’t logged in, selected all and clicked copy and it all disappeared.

      Comcast is nearly impossible to connect to for tech support, and that is quite intentional. I use them because they are the only game in this building. I have to fool, lie, type “*” and say “agent” many times and usually takes 2 or 3 calls before I get in. Daytime I can just call sales and have them transfer me. Nights or weekends is hell. Recent example – needed to give them a Mac addy for a different modem I now wanted to use. They keep offering to send over a tech (so they can make boucoup bucks), or reset my modem (previous modem was disconnected). They are run by MBAs who follow the 80% rule and simply don’t care. They know that for most folks they are the only game available.

      - Thinkpad P15s Gen1 20T4-002KUS, i7-10510U, UEFI/GPT, 16GB, Sammy 500GB M.2.
      - Win 11 22H2(current, 1 mo behind)(WuMgr). HP laserjets M254dw & P1606dn, Epson 2480 scanner. External monitor Dell s3221QS for old games.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2387780

        Comcast is nearly impossible to connect to for tech support, and that is quite intentional.

        Perhaps there are regional differences, I can’t say.  If I have an unsolvable issue from my end, I call the support number.  This always, without fail, connects with the AI interface that will walk me through what I’ve already done, and then call me back within ten minutes, or send me a text to which I can reply.  I know beyond doubt that I am not going to be able to speak to a real human until after this first phase of tech support, so I don’t even try.  I can wait ten minutes.

        However, after the callback/text, when I confirm that the issue was not resolved, without fail, on the callback I get, “I’ll connect you with an agent.”  On the text, I get, “An agent will call in (so far, always less than ten minutes).”  When I do speak to an agent, they are located here in the US.  The agent that had to re-provision my modem (details in the link) was in Tennessee.  I’ve also on occasion spoken to agents in Atlanta and Jacksonville.  I’ve never been connected to anyone from a foreign country.

        All told, I’ve had pretty decent support.  My only alternative for broadband is DSL at 4Mbps.  I switched from that to Xfinity during a no-fees promotion.

        Always create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates; you may need to start over!
        We were all once "Average Users". We all have our own reasons for doing the things that we do with our systems, we don't need anyone's approval, and we don't all have to do the same things.

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        • #2387816

          Thanks, I will do that next time.

          - Thinkpad P15s Gen1 20T4-002KUS, i7-10510U, UEFI/GPT, 16GB, Sammy 500GB M.2.
          - Win 11 22H2(current, 1 mo behind)(WuMgr). HP laserjets M254dw & P1606dn, Epson 2480 scanner. External monitor Dell s3221QS for old games.

    • #2387773

      We’ve had to deal with Comcast/Xfinity and as bad as they are – Verizon for a copper wired phone is a lot worse! At least with Comcast, someone answers the call within 5 minutes. Granted we can’t always understand what he/she is saying because of the accents.  My husband spent 2 1/2 hours (in 2 different stints) on his cellphone trying to talk to a person and getting them out to check the outside pole. Yes, that is where the problem was. Fortunately in over 32 years here, I think we’ve last phone service 3 times and each time it was something at the outside pole.

      That is one reason why I will NEVER switch to Verizon for cell phone service, tv or internet.

      I will not switch to Comcast for phone service (cell and VOIP).

      Unfortunately, there is no competition in most parts of the US. You have to decide which is the lesser of two evils for the service you need.

      Got coffee?

    • #2387779

      We have had Verizon FIOS ever since the neighborhood was wired for fiber, maybe 25 years ago.  The only time we have issues is when the power goes out or a modem failure.  I’ve had to contact support maybe two times for some niggling issues and they were able to diagnose everything remotely.  For television, I have a cable card tuner hooked up to a PC with a large hard drive for recording programs.  Never had any issues.

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    • #2387784

      When I first signed up with my then ISP in the UK they had a brilliant technical support team based in the UK and who (a) were technically skilled people and (b) went the extra mile such as phoning me on my mobile when I was out one day to say they’d realised what my problem was as discussed a couple of hours earlier and had checked my setup from their end and fixed it so that when I got home it should be working ok – and it was.  Then they closed the UK Support centre and outsourced it abroad where (a) they were not technically skilled and (b) if the problem wasn’t resolved by rebooting the system then they were out of ideas.

      Most frustrating of all, however, is the point Susan and others make, namely that the last people to be told when there is a known issue are the very Support staff who will be dealing with the phone calls asking for assistance with that issue. That simply shouldn’t happen!

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    • #2387803

      I was excited to read this article…not because of the poor customer service issue (nothing new there!), but because of the revelation that I could stream Xfinity TV on my Roku w/o paying $7/mo for a cable DTA device. Unfortunately, my bubble burst when I read the Terms of Activation. While currently “free”, once the beta ends, this service will come with a fee. Of course, only Xfinity knows when the beta test will end.

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      • #2387811

        It’s been in beta for FOUR YEARS.  Bottom line I would go for it (assuming they fix it on these older devices) Activate the Xfinity Stream Beta App on Roku – Xfinity Support

        I seriously doubt they will charge and trust me if they even try they will earn my wrath.

        Susan Bradley Patch Lady/Prudent patcher

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        • #2387951

          I seriously doubt they will charge and trust me if they even try they will earn my wrath.

          My experience is that Comcast\Xfinity won’t give a hoot about your wrath. They certainly didn’t give a hoot about the wrath from hundreds, if not thousands of customers who screamed bloody murder when they moved Turner Classic Movies (TCM) out of the big HD bundle into the extra cost add-on Entertainment and Sports package for an additional $10\mo. a couple of years ago.

          That ridiculously named Entertainment and Sports package had 30+ channels of which all but 5 or 6 channels were sports that the vast majority of TCM fans would never watch (even many sports fans wouldn’t watch them!). And, other than TCM, the handful of entertainment channels were channels that hardly any one watches. Just to rub more salt into the wound, a lot of the sports channels in the ad-on package also were already in the HD bundle. So Comcast was double charging for those!

          Irate customers posted hundreds, if not thousands, of messages to the Comcast support forums. Comcast’s response, after the initial boilerplate “we’re trying to provide the best service to our customers” was to start deleting any messages about TCM.

          Moving TCM from the big HD bundle to the E&S add-on package for an additional $10\mo. was a pure, greedy, selfish money grab. The really sad thing is that the primary audience for TCM is folks ‘of a certain age’, many of whom are on a fixed income, many of whom watch almost nothing else on TV.

          Oh. Sadly, I refused to bite on the extra $10\mo. so unfortunately we no longer have TCM, one of the few treasures left in the TV world. I’m hoping TCM somehow will enter the streaming world and then I would be happy to give them my $10\mo..

          Susan, can you tell you touched a nerve here? 🙂

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    • #2387824

      I was excited to read this article…not because of the poor customer service issue (nothing new there!), but because of the revelation that I could stream Xfinity TV on my Roku w/o paying $7/mo for a cable DTA device. Unfortunately, my bubble burst when I read the Terms of Activation. While currently “free”, once the beta ends, this service will come with a fee. Of course, only Xfinity knows when the beta test will end.

      I can only speak from my own experience.  I cut the cable box out seven years ago and bought a digital tuner that uses a cable card.  I think I pay $5/month for it but it gets all the Verizon FIOS channels that I watch.  I use a Hauppage app that works with Windows 10 and their digital tuners which is quite good.  the app is programable and works as a DVR on the PC.  I am limited only by the size of the hard drive in terms of recording.  The PC is also used to stream all the other things I watch on select services.  I used an Amazon Firestick for a while but prefer the PC interface and the fact that I can record.

      I set up the Hauppage app this past spring when I decided to move on from Microsoft Media Center which was running on a Windows 7 PC.  Hauppage support was great in resolving a couple of issues and responded by email within 24 hours.  Their app is well maintained and they respond to bugs with frequent updates.  As I recall, I maybe paid $15 for the app which was reasonable.  I already had the tuner.  I think if you buy a new tuner, you get the app for free.

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    • #2387838

      , I would also say that AT&T/Direct TV was intercepting my cell phone calls when I was on the phone with Comcast because I got a call yesterday advertising the advantages of DirectTV and there were several ads on TV tonight about switching over.

      All calls are listen by ad bots and big companies. I am surprise that you did not that. I have to use a burner phone to prevent this from happening since they got rid of all the pay phone in my neighborhood.. I change phone numbers and phones ever two weeks to avoid being send ads…Plus have to use a voice modifier to prevent tracking by voice. I use to work for the phone company to create the listening groups before computers. There were full 3 floors of 300 people each listen to all calls coming in and transcript it. Now with computers it is much easier. Have only a floor of computers listing and recording all calls. Good luck with Comcast…All their phone support never lead to getting things fixed from what I recall.

      • #2387841

        The phone call to support was done on the AT&T cell phone  The call from DirectTV was on the landline provided by Comcast/Xfinity.  No, they weren’t listening, this was pure coincidence as they just rolled out faster service in the area and are robocalling.

        Susan Bradley Patch Lady/Prudent patcher

        • #2387937

          It seems you are not a believer. Try this since you most like have a smart phone with several apps like twitter, or facebook, keep repeating some word every 10 minutes or so for over an hour  (IE a beverage-Mountain Dew, grocery item – apples, or item you are planning to buy – new car).  Soon you will be getting ads for that item within  a day or so on your phone… If they are not listen, why did you get the ad?

          • #2387950

            I’m not.  They’ve been calling all week even before this issue.  Like I said they recently rolled out an upgrade in the area and are robocalling.  This wasn’t the first call.

            I agree that there is a transference of info from the app on the phone to the web site as I’m logged into both locations,  but I’m disagreeing that AT&T would have called my Xfinity land line given that the name of the account of the one service is not the name of the account on the other (nor is the address the same), nor would I want to live in a world where I’m changing phones all the time.

            Susan Bradley Patch Lady/Prudent patcher

      • #2387935

        I know about that. Working at phone company you need to make profit and selling people private conversation is a big money maker. Plus the workers get to listen to some nice conversation but now with video and photos that gets you a bonus view. There is a whole section for those put away and shared with only a few select view. Susan seems not to be believe that. I wonder if I should look for the recording to proof to her how the real world operates.

    • #2387855

      “Customer Dis-service” seems emblematic of modern economic trends in many ways. It used to be “the customer is always right” with corporate reputation being of high concern and value in the marketplace. Not to say things were all peachy back then, but over the years the consumer has morphed more into a commodity – to be mined for profits or reduced costs in whatever ways possible. A few examples: disposable products that are cheaper to discard and buy again rather than being engineered to last longer or be supported via repair (planned obsolescence); the disappearance of quality user manuals and instructions; the advent of automated call centers; the increasing difficulty in finding phone numbers for contacting companies and talking to a human; the off-shoring of “support” and so on…

      These things are all costs centers that are being quickly abandoned to improve profits – along with any direct engagement with their customer base. The thinking seems to be that customers are costly when they are treated well, I guess. Long live rentier capitalism? “Pay the rent then leave me alone”?   (rant done…) 😉

      Win10 Pro x64 22H2, Win10 Home 22H2, Linux Mint + a cat with 'tortitude'.

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      • #2388373

        Capitalism only works for customers if there is genuine competition. There is no such thing in many fields now, and that is the reason there’s been so many mergers – to reduce competition.

        If there is no real competition, the customer is stuck with few options, and as companies cut expenses for more profits, the support services get to a level just enough to keep the profits coming in…

        Capitalists will give you only just enough so you don’t rebel. After all, giving you more only makes them poorer! How could they afford a space program otherwise? 😉

        You are ALWAYS the product in a capitalist world. Freedom is only an illusion.

        Now, there are companies that don’t fully adhere to pure capitalism rules and DO care about their customers. Those are pebbles in the shoes of the big corporations.

        Thankfully, I work for one. I care for the customers that needs our technical support. We have limited resources, but do our best!


    • #2387860

      Support, like privacy and freedom is a thing of the past.

      You’ll love this one… Corsair make a product called iCue. After several years, bugs have not been fixed. The product is 2.2GB in size, runs 24 processes and regularly fails to detect attached devices requiring a complete uninstall/reinstall. Corsairs response – deafening silence.

      And this one – Corsair will refuse to honor a product warranty if you don’t have a cell phone. I’ve a PSU and a AIO cooler fail. My only option – buy new ones.

    • #2387921

      Comcast/Xfinity has been a total *** for years..no better case against quasi-monopoly. I found a way out through ATT Uverse after a year frustration with C/X..far from perfect but way way better..almost went back to C/X 2 years ago for pricing, but C/X quickly showed that despite the reps sincere assurances they’d turned over a new leaf..it was still a totally broken system. Looking forward to 5G ending their local monopolies.

      [Moderator edit] edited for language

    • #2387940

      My experience with customer support even with internal company help desk is erratic at best. I have those I am not sure what language they were speaking, I have had script readers, and general purpose morons.

      I had one internal desk mental midget insist the problem was a hardware problem on my end claiming my router/modem was bad. Dimbulb (more like burnt out) would not listen to me when I said other equipment was able to reach the internet through the same router/modem and rebooting did not fix the situation. I was not going to do something I know was pointless and stupid because that is what the script said to do which I already done anyway before calling. It turns out the problem was the company vpn needed to be reconfigured and I had no idea how to reconfigure it. Comcast and the other slum lords of customer service have strong competition from others.

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    • #2387958

      The best support for Comcast\Xfinity used to be their community support forums. You could easily search and find topics on just about any subject from service and email outages to complex connectivity and internet issues. There was an extensive sub-community of expert volunteers who were quite knowledgeable and patient about working with folks who asked for help.

      Unfortunately C\X ‘updated and improved’ the community forums a couple of years ago. Now they are a pale shadow of their former self. The search function alone, to find posts on your particular problem, isn’t nearly as good as the old one was. And so many of the familiar volunteer experts are either gone or no longer are participating at the same level.

      Very sad.

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    • #2387994

      Unfortunately C\X ‘updated and improved’ the community forums a couple of years ago. Now they are a pale shadow of their former self.

      So much for cloud sourcing heh? Cheap customer service at the small expense of a web server or 2 and a forum for the occasional dissatisfied customer. Asus went that way a couple of years ago too.

      BTW an alternative for some of the communication companies for the DIYers would be DSLReports forums.


      Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2388379

        Good to point DSLr, the comms company I use has a tiny subforum for customer issues staffed with employees. As the DSLr crowd is more technically minded, the issues tend to be “edge cases” that the support drones don’t know how to handle. The few employees staffing the subforum are especially suited for those special cases and can solve complex issues!

        I must admit that the Big Corp I use for TV/Internet has better support than I expected, and a hard to find but very helpful “Directors’s office” contact point. I was able to send them a vulnerability report about their modem/Wi-Fi/router blob, and the issues got fixed…

        I have many reasons to dislike the Corp, but support and service quality aren’t part of it!

    • #2387995

      If only…

      xkcd: Tech Support

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    • #2388028

      Sadly, this sort of thing has been growing for a while. About twenty years ago, the Compuserve software on my computer developed some kind of problem and I called CS tech support. After listening to my problem, the tech “support” guy at the other end immediately recommended uninstalling and reinstalling the software, starting from scratch. He suggested no troubleshooting steps, nothing to look into, but moved at once to the most radical step possible.

      I said to him, “But then I would lose all the emails I’ve accumulated over the years, including business correspondence, appointments, bills and invoices!”

      His reply was a laconic, “Sorry.”

      I hung up and eventually found the solution myself, which did not involve reinstalling the program or losing anything.


      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2388141

      Typically, calling tech support is a huge waste of your time.  My preference is to solve or resolve the problem myself through experimentation and searches.

      Last month I could no longer logon to my bank account, a bit scary.  Multiple levels of support had no solution and never called me back even though a “ticket” was created.  I had to figure it out myself via experimentation to recover.  At least support admitted they were having problems with the blotched technology “upgrade” the bank had initiated.

      Windows 10 22H2 desktops & laptops on Dell, HP, ASUS; No servers, no domain.

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    • #2388312

      It’s still broken by the way.

      Susan Bradley Patch Lady/Prudent patcher

    • #2388369

      When you contact any support for any reason, here is a checklist for getting assistance:

      • Put your problem in writing without drama.
      • Address the information to someone who can do something about the problem.
      • State the purpose of your note.
      • Provide complete documentation including problem, names, addresses, phone numbers, and dates.
      • Provide the remedy you would like to see applied and if necessary, ask for alternative solutions.
      • Ask when the problem will be rectified.
      • If one means of communication doesn’t glean a response, try another means of communication. There’s email, snail mail, contact portals, phone (last resort). Move up the food chain. Set a time for a response and if none is received continue up the food chain or change mode of communication.
      On permanent hiatus {with backup and coffee}
      offline▸ Win10Pro 2004.19041.572 x64 i3-3220 RAM8GB HDD Firefox83.0b3 WindowsDefender
      offline▸ Acer TravelMate P215-52 RAM8GB Win11Pro 22H2.22621.1265 x64 i5-10210U SSD Firefox106.0 MicrosoftDefender
      online▸ Win11Pro 22H2.22621.1992 x64 i5-9400 RAM16GB HDD Firefox116.0b3 MicrosoftDefender
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    • #2388409

      A while back we attempted to simplify the general problem of excess complexity

      with a very straighforward formula:  C = (n^2 – n) / 2

      “C” can be visualized as the number of line segments that connect

      “n” points in a plane e.g.

      3 points are connected by 3 lines;

      4 points are connected by 6 lines;

      5 points are connected by 10 lines;  and so on.

      Now, “n” represents the average number of Windows “processes” that are executing,

      as displayed by Windows Task Manager.

      “C” approximates the number of possible interactions

      or contingencies between 2 executing processes.

      Then, compare the explosion in complexity “C”

      with the well documented deterioration of education systems

      in America e.g. “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America,”

      by Charlotte Iserbyt, a former official with U.S. Dept. of Education.

      With complexity increasing exponentially,

      and technical skill steadily diminishing across the board,

      it really should come as no surprise that

      Tech Support staff are simply unable to troubleshoot problems,

      much less solve them.

      That’s also another very important reason why websites like askwoody

      will increase in their relevance and importance, with the passage of more time.

      3 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2388657

      Still broken, now the word is a “cert expired” and is causing the issue.

      (which doesn’t make sense if it works on newer Rokus and not older ones)

      Susan Bradley Patch Lady/Prudent patcher

    • #2388871

      My favorite example of tech support is AT&T which tells me to report a non-functioning landline telephone/internet connection by calling AT&T on that telephone or to contact them at their internet site. Some years ago Earthlink internet access failed and their tech support claimed that it was my computers, my modem, my router, my in-house telephone wiring, AT&T’s wires, etc. After two weeks of this, I dropped Earthlink. At least, that time I could vote with my money.

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