Island in the Net

A personal blog by Khürt Williams, full of inchoate writing on photography, coffee, and geekery.

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Tech companies suck

I am having a tough time dealing with technology companies this month.  First it was Verizon DSL.  A few weeks earlier I had called them up and upgraded to the their faster DSL offering; 3MB/s for $32.95.  I received an email confirming that I had-been upgraded to the faster speed.  Each day I for a couple of weeks I checked my connection speed at dslreports.org. Never once did my speed exceed the previous 1 MB/s.  In fact my connection was slower than before.  When I called Verizon DSL tech support, they ran some kind of test that showed that indeed my speed was nowhere near what was promised.  However, as the tech suggested, my speed was with within spec because what was promised was speeds “up to 3MB/s”.  After arguing with tech for about 15 minutes I asked for customer service and cancelled my DSL.  I then called the local cable company and was told I could get 7 MB/s service for $29.99.  So far my tests have shown that they are delivering on their promise.  Yesterday, I also cancelled my Verizon Long Distance and switched to the cable company’s Digital Telephone (VoIP) service.  So far so good.

Recently I upgraded my wireless network to 802.11g.  I bought a new Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G WAP and router and upgraded most of the wireless network cards as well (WUSB54G Wireless-G USB adapter, WPC54G Wireless-G PC Card).  The one hold out was the TiVo for which I had to find a compatible USB Wireless-G card.  In the mean time I switched my network over to WPA2 for wireless security.  After browsing around the TiVo web site I decided on the TiVo Wireless G USB Network Adapter.  The TiVo web site claims:

  • Easily connect your TiVo® Series2™ DVR to your 802.11g or 802.11b wireless home network
  • Enjoy TiVoToGo™ and Multi-Room Viewing transfers, Music and Photos, Online Scheduling, and more
  • Eliminates the need for a phone line, if used with a broadband connection
  • Optimized wireless performance with your TiVo® Series2™ DVR
  • Real brushed metal base; flip-up antenna with TiVo badge
  • For use with a TiVo Series2 DVR only.

Stupid me.  I made the assumption that since this is a newer 802.11g device that it must support WPA or WPA2.  What a surprise I had upon trying fruitlessly (for about an hour) to get this device on my wireless network.  Upon calling TiVo tech support I was advised that the TiVo recording device and 802.11g adapter support WEP only.  When I complained that nowhere on the box nor the TiVo web site is this explained I was actually advised to lower the security of my entire network to WEP (crackable in about 3 minutes with freely available tools) or search Internet new groups for a workaround or hack!!!  So now I have a $60 paper weight.

After poking around the newsgroups for a while; evidently the lack of WPA support is a sore point with some long time TiVo owners with some level of network security intelligence; I was advised to look into a network bridge – specifically the Linksys WET54G Wireless-G Ethernet bridge version 3.  I called Linksys to confirm this but the tech (sounded like he is in India ) could had no knowledge of the product although I advised him that the PDF documentation on the company’s web site states that is does.  None of the local retailers (CompUSA, Best Buy, Circuit City, Office Depot) carry the WET54G so I search on-line.  Amazon, Buy.com and ZipZoomFly all carry the WET54G but no mention is made of what version of the product is offered for sale.

When I sent and email to Buy.com requesting information on what version of the WET54G they offer for sale I got this useless reply.

Thank you for your interest in Buy.com and its diverse offering of merchandise. As we carry a vast inventory, we do not have any additional technical information other than what is available in the product descriptions shown on our Web site. However, you can contact the manufacturer directly for additional technical and compatibility information.