Friday, May 22, 2009

Wrung out and tar’d.

That sentiment just about sums up my day today. It’s 7:47 pm now and I’m sitting here at my desk with a fresh pot of coffee and basking in the cleanliness. After the day we had, cleanliness is something to admire.

Chris and I started our day out today at Alliance One in Farmville, replacing some old gear with new gear. I won’t bore you with the details because I’m pretty much the only one who will care and I was there, thus I do not require a recap. Here’s a few photos from our day I thought I’d share.


No, that’s ok Tommy. You take pictures. We need pictures. I’ll just stand here with this fifty pound rack while you take pictures. Wait, get me from my good side!

Basically what we are doing is taking all that nasty mess you see below and installing it properly in a rack, (that thing Chris is holding above) with the exception that it’s going to be 22 feet in the air, suspended on an I-Beam. Ugh. We’ve got two of these locations to replace within the manufacturing plant and one new one to install.


Guys who do work like this (above) is why guys like me have jobs. That orange mess of wire you see is fiber optic cabling. That semi-yellow wire is the cat5e cabling. I could go into about 30 different code violations just in this one box you see here, but it’s not worth it. They love us over there and we get all the fix-er-up jobs as they budget them in.


Chris neglected to tell me when he surveyed the site that we were drilling in to the structural mounting beams for the entire facility. These aren’t 1/8 thick I-beams. These turkeys are 10 inches wide and half an inch thick of solid tempered steel. For the record, had I known this I wouldn’t have brought a drill; I’d have brought a mig-welder and been done with the whole mess in a matter of seconds. As it was, we went to town on these beams, taking turns on the drill. We burned up the first two bits in 30 minutes flat… and by the time I was done today that third bit that I babied along (cause it was my last one) isn’t good for much more than making a wind chime.


We were bored waiting on the scissor-lifts to charge again. The client forgot to charge them completely for us so they gave out on us about halfway through the morning. Working in a 26 foot ceiling with two dead lifts makes it a really long day!


ROFL. I had a towel on under my hard hat all day so I was able to keep my face mostly clean throughout the day. Chris didn’t have that luxury, so he’s looking a little dirty in this one. It’s good honest sweat and dirt though, the best kind if you have to have it.


I posted this one in fairness to Moose. If I’m gonna post dirty nasty shots of him on the web, I might as well accompany it with my own ridiculous photos.

After being delayed with dead lifts, broken bits, and other tempered steel beam construction related issues, not to mention a fiber fiasco that’s going to make testing this network a real party (read as not), we ran over our timeline. The only feasible way to get this job done on time so we can do the other job scheduled on Tuesday is to work tomorrow too. So, we boys is workin’ on Saturday this week!! Chris and I tried to wrangle Eddie and Tim into helping but both were already on the way out of town by the time we left the job site for the day. Besides, it is a national holiday so someone might as well get some time off.

This was going to be my first year attending a NCBBA Annual meeting (another client and also an organization to which I belong) but it seems the fickle finger of fate has other plans for me. If we don’t get this job finished we won’t be able to do it until next Friday because that’s the only day the plants is shut down and the lifts are free. So, go to the beach and take another week to get paid on the job, or get it done on your day off. You can guess which one we decided on. The good news in all this is the client was on-site to see the problems, so we’re not going to have a hard time with the overtime.

Well, I need to go update the job ticket on our service desk, so I’d better get to it. You all have a great memorial day weekend! Think of me while drinking cute fuzzy drinks with straws in them.

(And leave the occasional comment dangit) I get all kinds of phone calls about the blog, but no one ever leaves comments on it. This of course isn’t really a comment-worthy post, so I’m just generalizing. Share your thoughts, speak up, tell me a joke, etc.


Meet Paco

For those that like snakes, I’d like you to meet Paco, a Honduran milk snake. This is feeding day.

snake 026

snake 027

snake 028

snake 029

Yes, that was a rat.

Ok, back to work.


A little bit of old, in a little bit of new.

This is how the rest of my first Friday and Saturday at the new house went. We had our first home-cooked meal on Friday, pork chops...mmm. Sadly there were no pancakes on Saturday morning. (It's your fault Joe. You forgot to text her to make breakfast) Instead I made breakfast and apparently made enough noise in the kitchen to wake an army. ( I forgot the kitchen shares a wall with the master bedroom. I'll know better before singing aloud when I think I'm alone in the kitchen.)

Most of Friday afternoon and Saturday was spent in the garage working on the various projects I wanted to complete. I can't do anything big until I get a work bench built and I need to get the extra cash to build the bench, so it's gonna be a bit before I get to making desks and cabinets anytime soon. Anyway, on to my projects:

This is a 1930's Stanley breast/belly mounted drill (Shown below). It's been in my family since, well, the 1930s I suppose. Stanley didn't even make tools until 1928 when they opened and bought out another company, but this particular adjustable breast-brace didn't appear until the 30's. The reinforced and strengthened shank came even later, so I'm ball-parking this drill at 1936. Dad left this to me when he passed away. There are two of them, identical in size and shape, and in serious need of tender love and care. I remember seeing these in the wood shop growing up. I played with these things for hours as a kid. I've also got some braces (another kind of drill) but I haven't worked on those yet.

There is a conscious battle I fight when considering whether to leave the tools in their old rusty condition, because that's how I remember them and how they looked when Papa used them, or refinishing them to a newer glory and preparing them for another generation of Jordan men to craft with and enjoy. In the end I reconciled myself to the fact that Daddy and Papa wouldn't have taught me how to refinish and care for them if the didn't consider it worth doing, so I began in earnest with the restoration.


I started with simply breaking them down, lubricating the parts, and examining for signs of rust. Unfortunately some of the working parts had seen better days. Taking off the 80 year old saw dust revealed some serious rust. The chuck was overly rusted as was the grip. The teeth of the gears were a little rusty but in fairly good shape. Most astounding was the bearings inside the shank that allow the chuck to spin; they were immaculately sealed so I didn't open the bearings up, figuring there was no point in messing with something that wasn't broke.


A few tools from Lowe's (Air Compressor, Bench Vise, 440 grit sand paper, and wire wheels for my drills) made surprisingly quick work on getting the rust off. A wire wheel on a drill will do much less damage to metal than sandpaper, which actually scratches much deeper, so I was able to reveal the original manufacturer's stamp without damaging the metal.


Disassembling the chuck was interesting. I've never seen this kind of chuck design and it was seriously corroded with rust. I had to be really careful not to hit this too hard with the grinder or I'd just toss the pieces across the room and they'd scatter apart. I can't exactly order replacement parts for thing thing...


A little bit of farm tractor paint, stove paint, and a LOT of sanding and wire-brushing later and we have a really pretty drill again. The level is still good inside the housing and the maple handles are in great shape, though they need a little linseed oil to protect the wood.


And here is the finished product. Now all I have left to work on is getting my bit set cleaned. I've actually got the original bracing bit set that was made for this drill, created back in the late 1920's. The adjustable drill style itself, shown above with the two cogs, is (from what my research tells me) from a design patented in 1915 by the company that later became known as Stanley tools.


So don't ever let anyone fool you that Stanley tools don't stand the test of time. These drills have been in my family, and been used not just stored on a shelf, for almost a century and are still in wonderful shape. Are they a little bulky? Yes. Are there "better" ways to work with wood today? Probably so. There is however a bond you can only get with your wood working when you're working with old tools like this. You can feel each bite of the tooth in the wood, know how the wood is reacting to your touch or your pressure. These things aren't possible at 2400 RPMs on a drill press. The feel and tactile response you get from sliding a hand-planer down a boat joiner can't be recreated in my electric Makita. It's just different.

In staying with my desire to work on some project related things, I went to work on Amy's cast iron. Her Dad gave her these and they'd already been outside for quite awhile when she got them.


As bad as that looks, it's not really as bad as you might think. Though the rust is dominant all over the surface of the pan, you can still see the sheen of the oil trapped in the pores of the iron. This means there's too much grease cooked into the pan for the rust to be able to take hold deep within the iron, so there's probably no pitting of the surface inside.


Talk about sweat; holy crap I was tired and covered in rust when I got about halfway through this turkey. I locked it in the bench vise, turned on my iPod and set to work with a passion to see this thing come clean again. Most of that rust you see on the side is cast off from the wire wheel as it turns through the hard thick layer of crud that builds up on cast iron pans. You can, however, see a few places where I've had to eat through to the iron itself to get clean, especially near the edges of the bottom.


Getting the inside this clean took about 30 minutes, but you can see that I was right in my first guess; there's no pitting on the inside of the cook surface. That's the good news. The bad news is that there's no longer any oil inside it either to condition the iron. Trying to cook with this pan right now like it is would ruin it in a matter of minutes. It's amazing how temperamental cast iron can be.


I forgot to get a picture of the pan when I finished it, but there are a few steps between the photo above and the finished product. First I took 440 grit sandpaper soaked in vegetable oil and fine-sanded the inside of the pan. Why would you sand in vegetable oil you say?

Cast iron gets hot when you grind on it for an hour with a steel brush at high speed, which is good. I needed the pores of the iron to open up a little bit. Ideally wet sanding is great for metal, but again we're working with iron, so if I get the pan hot and apply sand paper soaked with water then I'm reintroducing the option of rust to all the places I just got the rust out of. After wet sanding it, I let it dry and then hand-washed it with soap and water after it was cool, the slathered it in oil and baked it at 300 degrees for an hour to temper the pan again. The first run through darkened it back up a little but it took on a bronzish color, so I coated it again and baked it again for another hour later on that evening. It's probably going to take 4 or 5 sessions with each one to get them to have a good slick non-stick surface again. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

This picture was me, after 5 hours mowing grass, but before I got covered in rust and iron. Amy will tell you I whined like a baby about my sunburn, but I deny it vehemently. I took my sun burn like a man! Besides, I always get burned one time each year. It seems I need that to get a good base tan. Now I'll be good to go by next weekend when I have to go mow the grass again.


All in all it was a good time. Amy already thinks I spend too much time in the garage and not enough time in the house with her. She told me if I get a couch to put in the garage where she can sit and read her books, she'll hang out with me out there, so that's next on my agenda of garage items to pick up. It would be worth it to be able to spend more time with her and still be able to get things done around the shop. So far I have a work bench, a desk for her office, and a tool rack for the gardening tools to work on for her. My self-imposed tasks are installing a retractable drop-cord in the garage ceiling so she can charge the truck's generator at night and a parking ball for the hood.

To say it simply, I had the best weekend I've had in a really long time this past weekend. Spending time with a woman like her is a blessing. She, like most women, deserves better, and I deserve less, so I'm happy to be as blessed as I am.

Now, I'm off to bed. I've got a job in Farmville tomorrow for a tobacco company and that's going to take all day. Then I have to spend Saturday at the beach for the NCBBA Annual meeting, and the probably try to come back Saturday night so i can catch up on the work I haven't yet been able to do this week. Monday is a holiday so that's going to mean my staff is off and I have to take up the slack, which will mean absolutely NO time to get anything caught up because I'll be too busy handling day to day stuff.

Nite all. Hope you enjoy the pictures.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Recap on the last week.

   Well, I'm sitting here in my chair finally taking a few moments to myself before Kim comes over and we have a Gray's Anatomy marathon, accompanied by Krispy Kreme and coffee. I just wanted to take a moment or ten to write on my blog and try to recap the last week or so. It's been a doozy here in Greenville. I won't say I'm productive but I am busy. It's a shame the two aren't direct corollaries of each other, then I'd be rich already. If sweat equity could be cashed in like a 401K I'd happily pay the government its share and go retire on some island by now.


Since the bank won't accept accumulated sweat as a deposit on a house or a new car it seems I'm back to the grindstone. I hope today turned a new page in my work career. As I was walking up the stairs a few moments ago it occurred to me that I have finally accomplished something I've been trying to do for years; as of today I have put together my dream team. Tom started with us full time today and he has always been someone I've wanted to work with. He's got the vision and the excitement that I possess for success but he's also got a great customer-facing attitude and a strong ability to politic on the fly when necessary. I think he's going to be a welcome addition to our team. This also marks the last time I have to hire someone who makes more than me! lol. That's my next goal; to be enough of a business person to take this team I have and to put them to work in effective ways that make all of us more money, deliver quality and satisfaction to my customers, and to grow the business into something much larger and independent than it is now. We're branching out into new services, increasing the ability to deliver current services while decreasing the sweat overhead required, and streamlining our processes. The next step is trimming the fat; analyzing existing overhead items that can be cut out, perfecting our processes, and making room for growth without sacrificing accountability to our customers.  So... that's been my last week, and truthfully will occupy most of the upcoming weeks too.

Now I'm off to write a few more posts about non-related stuff.

The Personal take on the last week or so...

The personal side of life has been great too, if somewhat physically exhausting lately. Now that Amy has the new house, her son, and her practice to contend with, I've tried to make it more of a possibility for me to go see her rather than trying to have her come see me. My partner has agreed to the new hours I'm working, at least on a trial basis, and we'll see how that goes. Basically I work Tuesday-Friday, then work Saturday and Sunday of that weekend, then work Monday-Thursday straight through. I pull a ten day week straight and then take off on Thursday night to see Amy. I return on Monday back to work sometime around noon, so I lose a day and a half every other week and work all the alternating weekends. I'll have to see how it goes, but this past weekend was the first time we've tried it and it was great. If she comes to see me we only get late Friday night, Saturday, and a very small part of Sunday together, not even a real 48 hours. If I go to see her I get twice that amount of time, which in matters of emotional real-estate is a reason enough for me to do the traveling.

I got in this past Thursday and got to see Paco, the new snake she's got. He's pretty if you're a snake person. She called me out on my last post about her snake so I'll include the caveat that I like snakes ok, but I'm just not a snake person. I somehow remain unconvinced that I'll remain that way for long... the dangers of dating a vet.

Friday was a great day for me. Amy went off to work and I went to diner for an early breakfast, stopped by Lowe's for some tools, and returned at 8:30 in the morning to mow the yard. It's the first time I've had a yard that I can in any way feel is my own responsibility to care for and maintain, so it's a nice step in the right direction for me. Silly me assumed that 3/4 of an acre would take me 2 hours or so. Not true. It should be noted that the contractor who built the new house was a good contractor, however his primary skill lies in landscaping golf-courses.... take that into consideration when trying to calculate how long it takes to mow that much golf course! It's the most beautiful yard with thick lush green grass that grown like a bean pole in a fairy tale. Ten days saw the grass grow 12 inches. Five and a half hours later I was done, sunburned, and thoroughly exhausted, but the yard looked good.

Friday afternoon saw me working in the garage, something I'd wanted to do since I first saw the size of it and thought of all the fun things I could do there. I spent the afternoon breaking down some of the antique tools my great-grandfather passed down to me and working on saving Amy's cast iron pans.

Read the next posts for more info...

Monday, May 18, 2009

First Blooms of 2009

First Blooms of 2009, originally uploaded by alornmage.

I uploaded a few pictures of the first blooms in my garden this year if you'd care to check them out. Just click on the photo to visit them on Flickr.

If you want to share this image, the img location is:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Two Funny Jokes

Ok. Both of these were too funny not to share.


The new Somali Pirate Hat, available in stores now:



That’s funny!


The Economy is So Bad…

  • CEO's are now playing miniature golf.
  • Jewish women are marrying for love.
  • Hotwheels and Matchbox stocks are trading higher than GM.
  • McDonalds is selling the 1/4 ouncer
  • Parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their children's names
  • A truckload of Americans got caught sneaking into Mexico
  • The most highly-paid job is now jury duty
  • Dick Cheney took his stockbroker hunting
  • People in Africa are donating money to Americans
  • Mothers in Ethiopia are telling their kids, "finish your plate, do you know how many kids are starving in the US ?"
  • Motel Six won't leave the light on
  • The Mafia is laying off judges
  • And finally...
    Congress says they are looking into this Bernard Madoff scandal. Hey, great! ...  the guy who made $50 billion disappear is being investigated by people who made $750 billion disappear


That’s some funny stuff. Hope you laughed.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Suddenlink Sucks- Won’t Fix Known Issue for Three Months!



Ok. If you wonder what that picture is, it’s my internet connection taking another nose dive for about the 50th time tonight!

I’m tired of working with customer support and now I’m going to take this to the next level. I seem to have real luck with the “Insert name Here Sucks” style posts if you look back at the rants I did on PowWeb, Fox8Fox14, and Vonage that got immediate attention from customer support. So, while I think the word “sucks” might be overkill (at least for now), it will garnish the Google ranking I’m looking for, probably get some DIGG traction, and maybe gather the attention of those at Suddenlink who need to pull their heads out of their rear-end and get this problem fixed. Most people find out in the end that I’m NOT the kind of guy to screw around with Customer Support for long. If they don’t fix the problem I’m pretty quick to get someone on the phone who gets paid enough to listen to me yell at them until the problem IS fixed. And I’m a document nazi… I take notes, write things down, organize…


Why are you complaining Tommy?


Let me start by explaining that I’m NOT your average home user. I own and operate an IT company that services the cable, fiber, satellite, and DSL industry. I do professional installation on T-1, DSL, DS3, VSAT, FIOS, and cable connections.  I don’t want a pat on the back or anything, but I just need those at Suddenlink who read this that I’m not a net-tard at home with too much free time on his hands who can’t torrent fast enough. In fact, I was TRYING to work until I finally had to give up entirely because the web server I’m trying to connect to in order to work on a client’s web site can’t authenticate me because my connection keeps going down every 30 seconds, so now I have absolutely nothing to do except sit here and watch my connection flutter while I steam between the ears at customer support. I’ve spent three months trying to work through proper channels, and have gotten nowhere so now I’m taking this story to the blogosphere.

My Story Begins

On February 17th I had been experiencing severe speed issues for almost three weeks. At first I attributed it to just a bad week with the ISP, but after three weeks it needed to be addressed. I called Suddenlink and went through the usual mumbo jumbo with technical support that everyone has to. Is it your jack? Is it your router? Must be your computer. How old is your modem? etc. We moved my cable modem from room to room, tried wired and wireless, replaced the RG-6 cabling, replaced the Cat5 cabling to the router, replaced the Cat5 cable between the router and the modem, and basically went through everything possible to remedy my connection issues with no success. I started pulling bandwidth tests and noticed I’m getting anywhere between 1-3 mbits and I’m paying for 8, to the tune of about $120.00 per month for internet and television. I originally ordered the absolute highest package they had at the time, though they’ve since increased to a 12mb package. So, naturally we scheduled a technician to come out.


Tech 1:

I’ll have to apologize for not getting all the technician and support representatives names, but I just didn’t think of it at the time. Anyway… Technician 1 was supposed to be here on the 20th of February, so I waited around all day working at home, or trying to, so I could meet this guy. I finally called and got informed “the tech said no one was home.” WHAT? I was here ALL day. Ok fine, let’s schedule another tech and this time I want a phone call when he’s coming. I’m going to be here but I want this guy on the phone to tell me when he’s here so we can be sure he’s not going to the wrong door or something.

Feb 23rd: The technician they sent out was very nice, very courteous, and completely stumped. He took a look at my speed tests and suggested replacing the cable between the modem and the wall. Ok.. we cut a new cable,  tested it for dBm loss on his T-Berd costtester, plugged it in place and rebooted. No change. The speed was no better, no worse. We tried connecting direct to the modem, connecting via wi-fi, etc. The end result was that he suggested I buy a new cable modem! Really? You serious? You think cable modems just kinda get slow after they get old? Dude, it was pushing 8 megs solid for the last FOUR years and now it just cant’ handle more than four megs? It’s not a 1960 Chevy with a burnt valve, it’s a modem!

Ok..  so now I’m a little miffed but not at him. He’s just doing his job So I did as I was asked; went to Suddenlink, purchased a new cable modem, stopped by Staples on the way home and got a new WRT54G router because I was pretty sure that would be blamed next. I came home, installed my new modem and router and called to get it provisioned. Guess what… no improvement.  Now I repeated the entire phone call except I had to add the “it’s not my equipment” line to my story to get someone to take me seriously.


Tech 2:

March 2nd: After another flurry of support calls I get a guy from maintenance, and as I understand Suddenlink’s hierarchy there  are Level 1 Techs, Level 2 Engineers, and Level 3 Maintenance, or so I’ve been told. So, I’m getting a guy from maintenance. I’m thinking we’ll get something accomplished now. This guy arrives at 0750 in the morning. Good GOD I didn’t want to see someone at that hour. I answered the door in my PJs and we talked about the problems.  He breaks out his T-Berd and checks the connection from my jack to the building. No problem there. How about from the building to the Tap? (the tap is the connection at the street where this node and others feed into the main line). Yup. That’s good too. So I suggest in my  nicest southern manner “Hey, how about checking from the tap to the head end?” He disappears again for a few minutes and comes back in and tells me  “Yup. That sucks.” I Swear to God those were his exact words. He was pulling less than 1 mb at 7:50 in the morning. I don’t usually even have problems at this hour, rather it’s the evenings when my speed really sucks and what I’ve been complaining about all along. He tells me he’s quite sure it’s an MTS issue, meaning it’s something that’s got to be fixed in Suddenlink’s main switch location and nothing we can fix on my end at my house.

Brief Mini-Lesson: Cable Modem Terminology


The image above shows a normal cable internet configuration: A “node” is a group of users. It could be 50 or it could be 400 depending on where you live in a town or city. I’m not sure what Suddenlink’s node average is, but it is typically a neighborhood, community, or some substantial group of users.

Many nodes plug into one CMTS (Cable Modem Termination System) located back at the cable company’s switch room. One CMTS can handle up to 1,000 users.

Many CMTS’ plug into one HFC (Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial) to go out to the internet.

It might be plausible to have 400 users on a node in a retirement community because older netizens don't use the net that much, however I would imagine it would be much less users in a community like mine because we’re all middle age tech-geeks that LIVE on the net.  (END OF LESSON)

Being the doggedly persistent person I am, I decided to call Suddenlink the next day and check on the process to see what’s happened. Nothing. Nothing has happened. There were no notes about the MTS issue. So, truly miffed, I got on the phone with a Supervisor and explained to him that the issue was on the MTS end and that they needed to fix it. He wanted to know who informed me it was an MTS issue.. so I told him… “your engineer did. Duh.” He really wasn’t happy that the suddenlink engineer admitted it was their fault. Now he KNOWS they have to fix it and he knows I know they have to fix it. I asked how long I could expect before I could have my node transferred to another card in their switching office. I was basically told (and this is true) that they can’t simply unplug my card without unplugging an entire neighborhood. I told him I’ve done multi-thousand DSLAM user installation and I’m familiar with the headaches involved, but I wanted SOME kind of date. He told me I could expect it to be at least two months before anything happened.

March 25th: Email Begins

Having discovered for myself that this isn’t working, I get frustrated after a few more weeks of poor connectivity and decide to try to email customer support about the problem and maybe get a fresh perspective. This is the email I sent to Suddenlink on the 25thof March via their web submission form.

I've been having major internet troubles now for over two months, all documented in my account history. It took me almost a month to get the maintenance department to admit it's an MTC issue on Suddenlink's end, requiring my local node to be moved to new line cards on Suddenlink's end. Repeated calls to customer support have gotten me nowhere. I'm paying for 8 MB of service each month and for the last two months, I've consistently gotten less then 1-2mb. (also documented by your technicians). 1) I'd like my internet bill credited substantially to reflect this poor service. 2) I'd REALLY like to get my internet speed back! I've purchased new hardware from Suddenlink as requested, made myself available for repeated visits to my home, all of which confirm the problem is on your end, not on mine, and the last call I had with a supervisor resulted in him telling me that it would possibly be MONTHS before my service was corrected. This is absolutely unacceptable. I've been a paying customer for over four years and I expect to have this fixed in the proper manner. I'm running out of options except to contact the BBB, but I really don't want to do that either. Prior to this incident, I've ALWAYS been a huge fan of Suddenlink, but lately this customer service stinks!

March 29th: Email Response From Suddenlink

I got an email back from support 4 days later. It reads as follows:

Dear Tommy Jordan,

My name is Chris and I am the supervisor for the online department. I apologize that you have had to go through these problems with your internet service. I noticed that you have called in several times in February and March, so instead of applying a few minor credits to your account, I credited your internet for a full month. You now have a $31 credit for your internet service on your account now. If there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know.



I-Care Supervisor

Ok, I was credited for a month, which I truly do appreciate, but this says nothing about actually Fixing my problem. The “anything else you can do for me” part is to FIX THE PROBLEM! Considering the speed I was currently suffering, prior to that email… it’s a good thing this wasn’t over the phone. Here’s my speed from that same time frame (below). Hint: If that Download number isn’t VERY VERY close to 8.0, I’m not happy!


March 26: Tech 3

It’s now the 20th or so of March and it’s been three weeks since my last technician came by to stare blankly at my problem, so I called again to check on the problem. I’ve heard nothing, been emailed nothing, not been called, nothing… So, I get technician number 3 on the 26th. He comes out and again is very nice, very courteous, very knowledgeable and basically can’t do squat.  It’s not his fault; he checked the connection and said “well sir, there’s nothing further I can do from here. This will have to have an engineer come out or someone from maintenance. I informed him that I knew he couldn’t do anything, I knew it wasn’t his fault, and I thought that Customer Support was wasting his time and mine by sending a tech out. This guy completely understood the MTS issue, agreed with it, and left without being able to further assist in getting my connection working right.

Tech Support Gets a Rest

I decided to wait it out for a few weeks at this point, assuming that maybe someone was actually working on my ticket and that they would be getting this handled sometime in the near future. I really used to LOVE Suddenlink and I just hoped that maybe some supervisor was doing as he said he would and attempting to remedy my problem. I managed to wait until about the 20th or so of April and called again. The lady on the phone pulled my ticket and told me there had been no activity on it since the last time I called. Ok.. now I’m really kinda pissed, not at her, but just in general.

So, guess what we’re doing… again? We’re getting maintenance back out here to look at the problem. I just told her what the problem was, like i told the last technician and the three previous people I’d spoken to on the phone, but customer support can only do what they’re allowed to do and all she was allowed to do was get me another maintenance guy. (Whew.. at least it’s not a new guy from tier-1 support, right?)

Not being able to scream at this nice lady, I decided to take it out on the customer support email department, hoping maybe someone would respond who knew how to actually escalate problems to the proper department.

So I sent this email:

April 16th, 8:23 PM - Email To Tech Support

Chris, (Or tech support)

Thanks for the email you sent a few weeks ago. I do appreciate the credit on my account. I’m writing tonight to see if maybe you can help me further. I’ve gone as far as I can with telephone support and don’t know where else to turn.

It’s now the 16th of April and I started tracking this problem on the 17th of February.  I’ve had engineers to my house, the maintenance department, various technicians, etc. One of them slipped up and told me he knew very well it was an MTC issue that had to be escalated and most likely wouldn’t get fixed for quite awhile. When I told the Suddenlink supervisor that, he wasn’t too happy, but I sat here with the engineer running the T-Bird who tested the network and he agreed…it’s nothing on my end at all.

Synopsis of the problem: I’m an IT engineer.. so I do this for a living all day long every day. It’s not Rocket Science.. it’s Torrent traffic.

I maintain a home office in addition to our main office downtown. If I work from home, as I do some days, my internet service is up around where it needs to be when I start in the morning; somewhere between 6-7 mb. (Look at the attached PNG file for clarification). Throughout the day, traffic is fine. Basically its fine because everyone is at work, school, etc.  Around dinner time each night, and I mean EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, my connection starts to suffer, most noticeably around 7 PM and later. At 8 PM, I’ll get 1.32 mb. By midnight, I’m down to less than 1 on most days.

It’s to the point now that I can’t even watch anything online, much less actually get work done after 7 PM.  (It’s pretty bad when you can’t watch Hulu because your connection times out and you’re paying for 8mb service!!!). Forget trying to FTP files to servers, perform remote service on other computers,  design web sites, or whatever else I might need to do that evening. Based on usage patterns and time of day, you and I both should be able to deduce it’s torrent related. You’ve got 200 students (or however many) on this node bit-torrenting their tails off all night after they go to bed, or when they’re playing xbox, or whatever, but its eating my bandwidth to death and there’s been absolutely NO remedy for months now.

I called tonight to check on my service ticket…. Nothing. No news, no changes, etc. I had to call because every night this week, EVERY night, about the same time of night, my network crawls to the point that I can’t even send out http requests to web sites.  I only know I’m online because Skype takes very little packet traffic to remain connected. Basically the net gets so slow I can’t load a web page… ANY web page. This continues for about ten minutes, after which the network stops altogether, the cable modem loses signal, and then it resets itself automatically and the speed is back up again for awhile, before slowing down again within the hour. No, it’s not my computer. I have two computers in the house and other net and wifi appliances and it happens across the board.

Your own engineers have verified that the copper to my building is experiencing very minimal loss, much less than expected. The SNR is fine on the copper outside, inside, and to the tap. I purchased a new cable modem through you guys because they told me it had to be that. There’s another $50.00 I didn’t need to spend. I replaced the router as well, updated the firmware, and then replaced the firmware altogether with DDWRT to get better access to my net statistics. I’ve done everything your support personnel have asked me but the problem hasn’t been fixed at all. The ONLY fix for this is to move my account (and most likely those geographically near me) to another node… at least that’s what your Suddenlink customer service supervisor told me the last time I talked to him. His words were “Well, Mr. Jordan, it’s most likely going to take months for that to happen.” What I want to know is WHY? Obviously my network node is overloaded. Ok fine, put me on a node that’s NOT overloaded so I can get the bandwidth I’m paying for. I’m paying for the next-to-highest package you have and getting HORRIBLE speeds.  To top it all off I have to deal with customer support people on the phone who think everyone is a 65-year old grandmother who’s never used the net. I get really tired of telling them there’s no need to reboot my computer just so you can verify what multiple engineers have already told us both…

What can I do, who can I talk to, where can I go to get this fixed? I even looked at dropping cable altogether after about 8 years of service because the quality is so disgustingly poor, only to find out that Embarq’s pricing is HORRIBLE for similar speed packages. I’m out of options here. Please help.

Best Regards,

Tommy Jordan

This is the attachment I sent with that email: (Click it to see it full sized)


April 21st: Response from Suddenlink

This is the response I got. Remember, at this point I’ve been reporting this issue for over two months. This is week 9 AFTER I reported it, but closer to week 13 since it actually started becoming a problem.


Hello, this is Chris again. When I am looking at the bandwidth graphs for your node, I noticed that there is an extreme spike of bandwidth usage in the evenings. This would explain the speed issues that you are having in the evenings. I also noticed that a work order was setup by a dispatcher in your local office for maintenance to be done; however this order still hasn't been closed out. I emailed that dispatcher, as well as the plant manager (the dispatcher's boss) to see if we can get an idea as to when this issue may be fixed. Once I receive a response from either of them, then I will notify. Unfortunately as of right now I am unable to do anything given the problem. Hopefully they are working on a resolution to this problem as we speak. In the meantime, if you have any other questions please do not hesitate to contact me.


I-Care Supervisor

PS: Chris… You’ve yet to notify me of anything… Thanks buddy!


April 22nd: Maintenance Returns

On the 22nd of April I get yet another Maintenance guy. I’m going to skip the part where I repeat the last five service calls. They’re starting to go something like this:

  • Tommy: My internet is broke.
  • Tech: Let’s reboot your cable modem
  • Tommy: (thinks: Damn. I never thought of that… ok)
  • Tommy (says) Ok.
  • Tech: There. It still slow?
  • Tommy: Yup. Why don’t you check the cable at my building.
  • Tech: Ok. (returns 2 minutes later) Cable looks good.
  • Tommy: Yup. Why don’t you check the cable at the tap.
  • Tech: Ok. (returns 5 minutes later) Your speed sucks! That’s a problem!
  • Tommy: (wondering if I’m in Dante’s 8th level of IT hell)
  • Tommy: Can you call somebody to get this fixed?
  • Tech: Yup. I’ll open a trouble ticket when I get back to the office.
  • Tommy: Ok
  • Tech: (Leaves)
  • Tommy: (Bangs head on table for a few minutes before returning to my internet misery)
  • Tommy: Calls to see if he opened a trouble ticket. Nope! So I opened ANOTHER ONE!


May 5th – Call to check Status

I called May 5th and spoke to Andrew. It should be noted that this guy has been the most sincerely awesome customer support guy I’ve ever dealt with from Suddenlink and if I knew how I’d hire him right away from you to work for us instead. He’s been very understanding and made every effort to request a team leader each time he’s seen this mile-long list of ticket notes.

I told Andrew I was calling to check on the status of my support ticket. He clicks some keys and tells me that ticket was successfully closed on the 22nd of April.

WHAT! Holy St Peter on a Stick! Who closed the ticket, I asked him.  He informed me the ticket was closed by the tech who went on the last call, on the 22nd.

I informed him that it most definitely was NOT to be closed and I had it reopened. So, guess what I got… another technician!

May 8th- Technician Number 5

So, three hours ago the technician shows up, and again we go through the whole process. I informed him that I need someone to come by here at about midnight, not 5 in the afternoon, because the problems don’t start severely until peak-time, usually after 7 or 8. He checked the connection here on the cable modem and got a rocking 12mb downstream. Ok.. let’s connect the cable modem and see what we get. I sat here with him on both my computers and my iPhone and ran speed tests on the network…

Here’s a few hours ago:

And again a few minutes ago:

Then I showed him the stats I’ve been aggregating for the last THREE months, shown below for the benefit of any Suddenlink staff who might read this page.

IP DATE Down (Megabits) Up (Megabits) Latency Server Miles to Server 2/17/2009 14:17 5.02 0.53 22 Washington, DC 250 2/17/2009 14:18 5.68 0.52 96 Hamilton 750 2/18/2009 19:36 1.16 0.51 141 Greensboro, NC 150 2/19/2009 17:31 1.33 0.52 102 Greensboro, NC 150 2/19/2009 18:18 1.99 0.52 356 Greensboro, NC 150 2/20/2009 8:56 6.86 0.52 287 Greensboro, NC 150 2/20/2009 8:58 7.49 0.52 286 Greensboro, NC 150 2/22/2009 23:45 1.85 0.51 350 Greensboro, NC 150 2/23/2009 11:51 6.71 0.52 288 Greensboro, NC 150 2/23/2009 15:46 4.77 0.52 283 Greensboro, NC 150 2/23/2009 21:12 1.96 0.5 450 Greensboro, NC 150 2/24/2009 0:10 2.49 0.5 291 Greensboro, NC 150 2/25/2009 16:39 2.49 0.52 385 Greensboro, NC 150 2/25/2009 20:31 2.53 0.51 403 Greensboro, NC 150 2/26/2009 18:19 3.93 0.52 291 Greensboro, NC 150 2/26/2009 20:15 0.93 0.49 407 Greensboro, NC 150 2/27/2009 11:09 2.93 0.52 280 Greensboro, NC 150 2/27/2009 16:56 5.78 0.52 306 Greensboro, NC 150 2/28/2009 2:12 6.6 0.52 309 Greensboro, NC 150 2/28/2009 21:02 0.55 0.35 610 Greensboro, NC 150 2/28/2009 21:04 0.69 0.35 701 Greensboro, NC 150 2/28/2009 22:15 0.48 0.34 896 Greensboro, NC 150 2/28/2009 22:19 1.19 0.51 117 Greensboro, NC 150 3/1/2009 12:39 5.22 0.53 75 Greensboro, NC 150 3/1/2009 23:09 1.26 0.43 153 Greensboro, NC 150 3/2/2009 9:56 5.85 0.52 74 Greensboro, NC 150 3/3/2009 0:20 1.91 0.51 396 Greensboro, NC 150 3/3/2009 19:24 1.64 0.5 381 Greensboro, NC 150 3/4/2009 20:08 0.32 0.21 566 Greensboro, NC 150 3/6/2009 7:31 7.14 0.52 302 Greensboro, NC 150 3/6/2009 20:11 1.32 0.46 1439 Greensboro, NC 150 3/11/2009 14:28 2.95 0.51 85 Greensboro, NC 150 3/17/2009 0:26 2.04 0.43 135 Greensboro, NC 150 3/18/2009 12:23 7.09 0.52 95 Greensboro, NC 150 3/19/2009 10:00 4.82 0.52 87 Greensboro, NC 150 3/24/2009 23:37 0.62 0.44 116 Greensboro, NC 150 3/25/2009 12:34 3.6 0.49 73 Greensboro, NC 150 3/25/2009 13:23 3.7 0.48 73 Greensboro, NC 150 3/27/2009 14:09 6.98 0.52 283 Greensboro, NC 150 3/27/2009 20:28 1.48 0.48 95 Norfolk, VA 100 3/31/2009 8:08 7.87 0.53 60 Norfolk, VA 100 4/6/2009 22:56 2.16 0.41 74 Greensboro, NC 150 4/10/2009 17:10 3.1 0.22 282 Norfolk, VA 100 4/16/2009 19:50 2.84 0.32 754 Greensboro, NC 150 5/6/2009 16:14 5.26 0.36 24 New York, NY 400 5/6/2009 16:15 2.03 0.44 155 Morristown, TN 350 5/6/2009 16:16 5.18 0.24 43 Atlanta, GA 450 5/6/2009 18:06 4.71 0.43 488 Greensboro, NC 150 5/6/2009 18:10 12.09 0.5 397 Greensboro, NC 150 5/6/2009 18:11 4.86 0.49 438 Greensboro, NC 150 5/6/2009 18:13 6.12 0.49 435 Greensboro, NC 150 5/8/2009 17:14 4.49 0.5 367 Greensboro, NC 150 5/8/2009 17:33 5.5 0.5 496 Atlanta, GA 450 5/8/2009 18:21 7.45 0.51 309 Greensboro, NC 150 5/8/2009 18:22 7.77 0.51 300 Greensboro, NC 150 5/8/2009 18:23 2.63 0.51 73 Morristown, TN 350 5/8/2009 18:24 7.56 0.51 37 Atlanta, GA 450 5/8/2009 20:31 3.94 0.52 312 Greensboro, NC 150

As we’re talking, he tells me that he’s going to put me on PingPlotter back at the office and track my connection over the range of a couple weeks. AMAZING I said… I use the same program! Here’s your ping plotter stats from yesterday:

suddenlink speed

Those red lines… yeah those are all the times i completely lose connection to Suddenlink over the period of about five minutes… in FIVE minute between 2:01.00 and 2:05.50 I’m losing about 60% of all traffic from the modem. What else in the name of all that is holy can I possibly do to help you people remedy this problem.

What IS the problem Tommy?

The problem, for the 487th time is that the node my building is connected to has become overrun with users or at the very least with data. It’s too full. Basically there are too many people using the net and not enough speed to go around. There are two plausible scenarios to remedy this:

  1. Implement traffic shaping in an extreme manner and deprioritize torrent protocols, meaning those guys who are downloading porn and movies all night cant use all the available connection the rest of us are paying to use! They won’t EVER do this and I can’t blame them. ComCast tried this and almost got sued out of existence.
  2. Split the node I’m on up and put it on a less-congested CMTS at the head-end. This is a big pain in the rear for Suddenlink and I don’t envy them one bit all the headache it’s going to be to do this, however at this point, I no longer care how much of an inconvenience it is for them. I’m paying for quality service and I think three months is long enough to wait.

So, like I did with the other posts from previous customer support nightmares, I’ll keep this post updated for better or for worse and let you know how it goes.

Now, I’ve been at this for 3 hours, spewed 4,813 words, and missed half my Friday night ranting about Suddenlink. I’m going to email this link to customer service and go watch my DVR since I can’t actually get any work done because I can’t stay connected long enough!



Update 5/11/2009

Well, to be fair to Suddenlink in all this, I think it only right to post an update. After I made this blog entry I posted it on, the local newspaper’s web site to see if I could get the attention of Suddenlink locally. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I’m not alone in my gripes with Suddenlink over this issue. However, I think it fair to state that I didn’t always have poor service. Sometime in January it just went to absolute crap, seemingly overnight. I used to host the gaming sessions for our Tuesday night gaming group, host the 8 man conference call, run 4 messengers, check email, and game all at the same time with not one but TWO computers (since April played and Skype’d too). All of the sudden… crappy connection.  Back to the story:

One of the members on the Reflector forum made a comment that I should make my post on in the Suddenlink section because Suddenlink people kept an eye out on that forum, and he was nice enough to give me a link straight to it. I did, and that’s when things got interesting.

If you’ve read the comments to this post, you’ll see that I did indeed get the attention I was looking for. A gentleman by the name of Pete Abel, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications was kind enough to comment and inform me of his intention to help out. To his credit, he’s still waiting on a response from me as I only got the email this afternoon and haven’t had time to write him yet. I’ll do that later tonight.

Out of the blue tonight a Suddenlink technician shows up at my house and asks if he can fix my Internet problems. Well, not knowing what else to say I said SURE.. c’mon in!  He informed me that I started experiencing T3 and T4 errors on the 8th of May and that’s when my problem started. I courteously informed him that no, my problems did NOT start on the 8th. I called tech support and asked Andrew to put me on PingPlotter on the 8th of may. THAT is why he was seeing no errors before that… because they weren’t tracking my modem before I asked them to. I never did get him to understand this. I think he thinks I’m just an idiot with a little lingo under my belt. Basically the T3 and T4 errors on my modem mean that my cable modem is losing packets. The modem has a processor that’s supposed to account for that, which it can do when there is only a small amount of data lost. This would be the T1, T2 level. When it gets to T3/T4 it means the modem is losing so much data that it can’t put the data stream back together and it just has to reset itself. This explains my sudden dying and then amazing return speeds I’ve been experiencing. It also explains why it starts cycling again 15 minutes later every night all night.

  1. Modem reboots and starts processing packets.
  2. T1/T2 errors in the data stream are being self corrected by modem.
  3. Packet loss gets to be too much… T3/T4 errors start happening.
  4. Modem can’t take it.. takes a nose dive and resets.
  5. Repeat Steps 1-4 until I want to bang my head on a table for three months.

Amidst the checking of my wiring the technician informs me of the Suddenlink internal speed test site, which is the one we’re “supposed” to use. Well, I’d like to make it known that no tech I’ve ever spoke to even KNOWS about this internal speed test site. I’m pretty sure you can call Suddenlink customer service and ask for the Speed test site and they’ll tell you www.speakeasylcom (which we all know DOES fluff it’s ratings!)

Anyway, for those of you who Do want to use it, you can find it here:

Suddenlink Official Speedtest Server

Like most technicians, be bashed a little on my usage of, with the standard “they’re a commercial site trying to make ad-revenue so they fluff their statistics. They’re not accurate.” Rather than argue the point with him I just let him proceed to do his job, which he set right to pretty quickly. When I explained that suddenlink recommended he told me the same thing about them. What’s the deal with techs hating speedtest sites.

So, he cut a new RG-59 coax cable for my cable modem and tested it out. We got crappy connection still… about 2.91mbits at 6 PM in the afternoon. So he plugged in his laptop and checked it on his side. I never saw what the results were, but the basic consensus was that we hadn’t replaced my coax cables the first five times I had techs out. For the record, we DID replace my cables before but another technician had swapped them back out again later and we never swapped them back.

Once we were all completed and all his tests were done, we checked it again on my laptop. I didn’t get the records for proof because the Suddenlink site has a crappy reporting process, but we landed 2.92 the first time, 3.3 the next time, then 5.1. According to the technician I’m losing 20% of my signal because I’m testing via wi-fi. (Pardon me, but I call bullshit.) I’m eleven feet direct line of sight from a 70 milliwatt antenna, not the standard 30mw crap that comes off the shelf. I reflashed the router to DDWRT a few months ago to try to correct this issue already. Basically my router is putting out twice the antenna power it’s supposed to be. I can pick up a strong signal from the pool 150 feet away through a building! It’s NOT my wireless signal. Let’s just assume that if we can technologically invent 3G and 4G wireless networks that deliver 5 megs to my phone, that my wireless router technology is sufficient to broadcast eleven feet… ok?


So, now what? I have no idea. I’m definitely going to email Mr. Pete Abel and see what he can do to correct this issue because here is what I got out of the guy who came by tonight:

  • Speedtest servers can’t be used because they’re never right and only suddenlink’s internal server is correct, but customer support doesn’t know the address of that one so you can’t ever get the url (until now, you’re welcome very much).
  • Wi-Fi signals suck and you can’t expect to get a signal even when you’re within 11’LOS of your router.
  • If I’m paying for 8MB and consistently get 4, that’s all I’m supposed to get. (Not kidding. He said that…)

Let me tell you what I think:

I think I get a freakin’ bill for 8mb of service! I want 8mb of service guaranteed or else I want you to change the damned name to 4mb like it used to be and take the price back down! 7.97? ok. 7.55? ok. Less then 7 Consistently? NOT OK. I asked him tonight if I could upgrade to the 12 mb service. Sure! So, if I upgrade to 12, what do I get?

8 MB plan with 4mb consistent to meet the TOS standards = 50% of what I’m paying for? So it follows that:

12mb plan with 50% consistent would equal 6mb using the same billing plan. So if I DO upgrade to 12, I get 6? WAIT A DAMNED MINUTE! I’m ALREADY PAYING FOR 8 that I can’t get NOW!

Grrr.. maybe Mr. Pete can help. Here’s hopin!

PS: RIGHT now I’m getting:

And here are my stats for the last 24 hours in case Suddenlink needs to see them:


More updates to follow…