Hotwire Communications Fails

It has been about a month since Hotwire Communications came to install their new service in our house in Boca Falls. We are finally throwing in the towel and having DirecTV reinstalled.
For past blog posts on Hotwire in Boca Falls, please see:
Hotwire Communications Problems; Hotwire Problems Continue; Hotwire Communications Update
We have had problems with the service almost every day. The problems ranged from brief glitches in the picture to the service not working at all. Hotwire staff have been to our house roughly 10 times. On at least two occasions they were in our house for hours, disrupting our lives.
Sometimes their efforts would result in brief improvements. On other occasions it would be worse after they left. At one point we were told the problem was in their central equipment and that was then fixed. The problems continued. Every day I hear from more residents unhappy with them, with many asking that we install Netgear Router systems instead.
I have requested a technical explanation, and the response has been silence. At this point we have the opinion that Hotwire Communications is not only incompetent but dishonest.
On the technical side, consider this 2008 Motorola press release. It indicates that Hotwire would be using Motorola equipment for the network and the home. I don’t know what they’re using at the center of their network, but the equipment in our home is not Motorola. We have a router from Alcatel/Lucent and a switch from “Trendnet”. If it was a Motorola brand router, we could have used Motorolas Router login instructions were we to try and alter any settings. Our set top box is branded ADB.
One theory as to why it works so poorly is that Hotwire chose to use cheap equipment. Another theory is that the whole idea of IPTV (internet protocol television) is fundamentally flawed. More likely we’re somewhere in the middle – that IPTV is difficult to deliver well, and Hotwire is not competent to do it well.
For an interesting if somewhat dated reference, consider this (pdf): Stephen Davies: Secrets to Successful IPTV Deployment
I love this quote from it:

We may never know why the Hotwire Communications setup in Boca Falls has failed. But we do know it has failed. The dishonesty comes from their failure to let us know ahead of time that we’re their guinea pigs. If they had been honest about that up front, our HOA might not have fallen for it.

Chow Thai in Sandalfoot

We eat lunch at Chow Thai about once a month and we like it. The interior design is pleasant but maybe a touch busy.

The lunch comes with soup and salad. Today’s soup is chicken and rice. Great flavor with a robust broth and strong hints of ginger.

Main courses we ordered today were sweet and sour chicken …

And shrimp red curry …

We both ordered edamame instead of fried wonton for an extra dollar.
Both meals were very good. The shrimp could have had more vegetables with it but there was enough shrimp. The rice was also a little dry. But these are minor quibbles about an otherwise nice meal.

9 Truths About Julia and the Obama Campaign

The Obama campaign has a new angle on the election, presenting the Life of Julia. Below are 9 truths about this questionable story.
Age 3 – Head Start
The Head Start program supposedly helps Julia “get ready for school.”

Truth: There is little evidence that kids in Head Start do better in school. The center-left Brookings Institution reported that “children’s attendance in Head Start has no demonstrable impact on their academic, socio-emotional, or health status at the end of first grade.”
While Brookings concludes the program needs to be reformed, there is another view. The federal government has had over 45 years to get the program right, spending billions a year on it. Let’s rip the band-aid off now. Education and care of children is primarily a matter for families. To the extent that government is involved, it is a local and state matter. Federal involvement is inherently more wasteful and less effective.
Age 17 – Race to the Top
Race to the Top allows Julia to better prepare for college?

Truth: Race to the Top is a small program which does little for schools. The total spending of about $4 billion is spread unevenly over the nation’s roughly 50 million school children. That’s $80 per child when we spend something like $10,000/year. It also increases the already-excessive emphasis on testing, even for pre-schoolers.
Age 18 – College
The Obama campaign claims it’s helping make college more affordable.

Truth: The $10,000 tax credit over four years amounts to $2500 per year. But the cost of many colleges has increased by more than $2500 in the past four years. Pell Grants suffer a similar problem – they don’t provide that much money and not all students can get them. According to government statistics (Excel), half of applicants were denied and the average grant was $3700 in 2009-2010.
The harder truth is this: “Colleges and universities increase tuition to capture increases in federal and state financial aid.” So says Minding the Campus.
Age 22: Surgery
Julia needs surgery and, thanks to President Obama, she’s covered by her parents’ health insurance.

Truth: Unfortunately for Julia and her family, her father lost his job and his health insurance insurance two years ago. Her mother works, but her low-wage job doesn’t provide health insurance. While President Obama blames this on former President Bush, his own policies have utterly failed to get the economy going. His presidency has been little different from the Bush years, with Race to the Top being a follow-on to No Child Left Behind, continued wars, deficits and reckless federal spending.
If, on the other hand, Julia’s parents both have jobs with health insurance, Julia probably did not qualify for the Head Start program and other education programs mentioned earlier in the story because her parents make too much money. And with co-pays, deductibles, and the rapid increase in the cost of medical care, Julia paid as much for her surgery today as she would have 10 years ago without insurance.
Age 23 – Jobs
Julia gets equal pay because of “the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act”

Truth: This would be funny if it wasn’t so sad, and it’s perhaps the most glaring sign that the Obama campaign doesn’t get what’s going on in the country outside the DC Bubble.
From the AP – 1 in 2 new graduates are jobless or underemployed

A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don’t fully use their skills and knowledge. Young adults with bachelor’s degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs – waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example – and that’s confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.

Julia is starting her career as a barista at Starbucks, part-time without insurance. And statistics show that despite decades of federal efforts, the wage gap persists with women making 80% of what men earn.
Age 25 – Student Loans
Julia gets lower interest rates on her student loans.

Truth: This Julia is amazing. First her family is so poor that she’s in head start and getting all kinds of assistance for being poor. Then her parents have jobs with health insurance so they can’t be all that poor. But she gets federal aid for school so they’re poor again. Then she gets a job as a web designer after college so she must be doing well, but now she can’t afford to pay her student loans without help. This is making me dizzy. After she finishes school, she will need to know how much she would have to repay, using a student loan calculator she would be able to set up a repayment plan for herself.
On the substance of the proposed cut in interest rates, it will save Julia a whopping $7 per month according to the Wall Street Journal.
Age 27 – Birth Control
Despite four years working full-time as a web designer, Julia needs government help to pay for birth control.

Truth: Web designers make an average of $62K. Maybe Julia can come up with the $300 or so a year that it costs. But even more stunning is that an awful lot of health insurance plans covered birth control before Obamacare and it’s required by 28 states. Julia probably would have birth control coverage in her health care package regardless of Obamacare. Web designers often work for tech companies that tend to be more progressive.
Age 31: Pregnancy
Julia gets free health care for her pregnancy

Truth: We again see Julia flipping back and forth from a successful web designer child of successful parents to a poor struggling waif who needs government to take care of her. She’s been working full-time as a web designer now for eight years now. Wasn’t the health care package from her job covering all of this long before Obama became President?
Age 42: Julia Starts a Small Business
Julia starts a web business and gets loans from the Small Business Administration

Truth: Since when do web businesses start with government loans? This one really bothers me because I started my own web business. Web businesses are generally inexpensive to start up. And there’s no shortage of venture capitalists willing to invest in web businesses. Julia now has 20 years of experience in web design, and one would hope she saved some money along the way. Why can’t Julia fund her own business? Why can’t she find financing in the private sector.
The government loan thing is particularly disturbing given the President’s history with Solyndra, a government loan gone bad. And the SBA has had its share of problems.
The Obama campaign’s Life of Julia is just another in a long line of political junk stories from both sides. At least Joe the Plumber was a real person, even if flawed.

Hotwire in Boca Falls – Update

Latest Update as of May 7: Hotwire Fails
Here’s more on the problems with the new video service in Boca Falls:
I heard from Hotwire today that they did an equipment upgrade last night. They are monitoring the situation to see how it is working.
Last night (before the latest upgrade) we continued to experience glitches. It was not as bad as before but still substantial. Our main TV worked, but it displayed “artifacts” roughly once every 2-5 minutes. Another TV stopped working and we had to reboot the box twice to get it working again.
As of early this afternoon it appears to be working better but in the past good moments like this have been followed by more troubles. We will see.
We also continue to hear more complaints from other residents of Boca Falls unhappy with the video quality.
For past articles, see:
Hotwire Communications in Boca Falls
Hotwire Communications – Problems Continue