They’ll make the right decisions.

The right marketing communicates the benefits… by getting the right information into the hands of the right people. It is not dependent on expensive and impressive advertising campaigns or slick PR. If you believe that your customers are intelligent, it’s a matter of finding them and providing them with accurate, in-depth information. They’ll make the right decisions.

– Guy Kawasaki, The Macintosh Way, 1990.

I recently rediscovered a book that inspired me a lot in 1990, shortly after my first child was born. I was the owner and creative director of a small graphic design and marketing studio in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. The only full-time employee was me, though my sister-in-law worked for me part-time while she studied art at Central Michigan University. The whole business had come about because I’d bought a Macintosh Plus computer in 1986 which had gotten me into the then-new field of “desktop publishing.”Somewhere in the midst of my Mac obsession, which included subscribing to two monthly magazines – Macworld and MacUser – I started learning about the crazy people who’d created this marvelous toy: the original Mac team. Among these enlightened souls was a man who had the nearly impossible job of convincing software developers to create programs for a platform that had no user base at the time: Guy Kawasaki, who was Apple’s “Chief Software Evangelist.” After Guy left Apple in 1987, he moved on to help found ACIUS (a software company that produced an elegant Mac database called 4th Dimension), and he also wrote a book called The Macintosh Way, which had the unsubtle subtitle “The Art of Guerilla Management.” In it, Guy described what made Macintosh – and Apple – different and allowed it to succeed despite long odds against it.

Guy explained that “The Macintosh Way of doing business means doing the right thing and doing things right…. It is a way of doing business for people who are foolish or brave enough to try to make a difference in a world of mediocrity.”

The easy choice as a marketer is to do what everyone else has done. Run the same campaigns, or copy what your competitors are doing. In my experience, the best marketing is the type of evangelism that Guy Kawasaki inspired me to do for myself and for my clients over 25 years ago: tell your story to the right people proudly, inspire people to not just buy a product but to share your dream and vision, and create lifelong fans who will, in turn, do much of your marketing for you. It’s not easy and it can be risky, but when done well, marketing evangelism is effective and long-lasting in a way that traditional advertising can never be.


I held off on this post because I wanted to make sure my internet was working correctly. It’s a been almost a week, so I’m going with “yes” at this point.

After about six weeks, seven tech visits and dozens of phone calls and contacts via @comcastcares, I left work early one day last week to meet yet another ACI (Comcast’s contractor in southeastern Michigan) technician at my house. This time, though, he wasn’t there to replace the coax from the pole to my living room for what would have been the fifth time. Instead, he told me there was a Comcast tech – in an Xfinity truck, no less – down the street, working on a pole. The ACI tech had asked him what he was doing and the Comcast guy replied that he was there on a trouble ticket for my house… along with some others.

Turns out squirrels had gotten into things, as they are prone to do, and chewed up quite a bit of coax and other yummy things. This, of course, is what I suspected weeks ago. To have been proven right, and that the problem was never actually in my house at all, was somewhat satisfying, though I’d have preferred that Comcast fix it right away.

After the Comcast tech finished up, all three upstream channels are now well within acceptable power levels, and the speed test looks like this:

2016-07-27 18.09.00
That’s better.

I will say again that every tech that came out to my house was pleasant and professional. The ACI guys, to a man, knew the problem wasn’t between my house and the pole, and griped to their dispatchers when told to replace the coax again. But they never were unpleasant with me or my wife. The whole thing took too long to fix – far too long – but eventually, it’s fixed. Comcast has given me a satisfactory service credit for our troubles. I’m satisfied.

But if Comcast is serious about improving their customer service, as they say on the ads running on television right now, they need to look into how a simple problem like this one caused all that wasted time and effort and frustration. If I wasn’t sure their internet product was superior, I’d have tried AT&T or even satellite. I knew plenty of friends who have. Of course, when you’re basically a monopoly, maybe there’s not much incentive to really improve.

Still not fixed, Comcast.

Here’s an update on the Comcast Xfinity “high speed” internet issue I’ve been having for weeks now. A technician was out last Friday (June 24). I took the day off from work to be at the house. I showed him the maxed out (54 dBmV) upstream power levels and he agreed that was the most likely problem. I also explained that the exterior coax from the pole in my backyard to the house and then into the living room had been replaced within the last month by another tech.

He called a supervisor who brought a meter to test at the pole. They both were convinced the problem was not in the house (not the modem, not the existing coax). The tech called that in and was told to replace the drop on the pole. He argued a bit that that was a waste of time, but in the end they replaced the drop anyway. No change. He then told me the problem would require a “line call” and that he had set that up. It was mid-afternoon at this point, and my understanding was that that would happen yet that day.

In the evening, the upstream power levels and speed test seemed to have improved. Although no one ever came to my house for the “line call,” nor did I get any notification that they had, I thought perhaps it was done somewhere else in the neighborhood, since the readings were better:

Screenshot 2016-06-24 22.45.21
June 24th, about 10:30 p.m.
Screenshot 2016-06-24 22.43.39
This is what the speedtest results should look like, if everything’s working correctly. June 24th, about 10:30 p.m.

Unfortunately, by the next morning I was back to having two of the three upstream channels blasting away at 54 dBmV again and I couldn’t even get a song to stream without interruptions every few seconds. Video is, of course, impossible.

I had been contacted by @comcastcares after my tweet last week, and I told them the tech appointment had been scheduled. That representative said he or she would check with me via Twitter DM after the appointment, which they did. When I told them about the line call, he/she said they would check on it and I gave them my account number. Never heard anything that evening or over the weekend. Tuesday evening (June 28), four days later, another @comcastcares rep contacted me, wanting to set up another tech visit.

comcastcares conversation

I haven’t replied to that yet. I’m afraid they’ll want me to unplug my modem again, or send another tech out to replace the coax or the drop again. I don’t want to take more time off from work, especially when it doesn’t appear to have anything to do with anything in my house, and the original line call apparently was never done.

I want to make clear that everyone I’ve dealt with at Comcast over this issue has been pleasant and professional. I’m not trying to bash the company; in fact (full disclosure) I worked for Comcast for a year back in 2006. I’ve been a Comcast customer for many years. I’m generally very pleased with the service.

But this is ridiculous. At this point, I’ve been paying for “high speed” internet for several weeks that is anything but. And to add insult to injury, I have to watch commercials every night on Fox Sports Detroit  where Comcast brags about how much their customer service has improved.

Here are this morning’s upstream power levels and a speedtest that never completed because it couldn’t finish the second upload (IPv6) test. Also, the speeds are abysmal:

Upstream 6-30 820am
Friday, June 30 at 8:20 a.m. Not acceptable.
Speedtest 6-30 826am
Friday, June 30 at 8:26 a.m. Upload IPv6 froze at 50%, not that it was doing that well before that, either.

I’m going to contact @comcastcares again, both replying to the message from Tuesday and with a new tweet. I’ll update if anything happens.

Hi, Comcast. Please fix this.

UPDATE 2: 6:25 p.m.

Comcast called around 2:00 p.m. Not sure of the time, I was out riding on my bike. When I got back, there was a voicemail. I called and talked to Robert in the Central Division. Robert was very pleasant and professional. He had me disconnect the modem and reconnect the line directly, avoiding the splitter. When the modem rebooted, it immediately reset itself again. Robert could tell, however, that there was a definite signal issue. He set up an appointment for this Friday at noon. So I’ll just have to deal with it going up and down for the next five days. Fortunately, I can use my phone as a hotspot, which works for what I need the computer to do, but my wife and daughter, who watch video a lot, aren’t going to be very happy, I’m afraid.

To be consistent, here are the upstream readings and a successful speed test, done after reconnecting the splitter:

Screenshot 2016-06-19 18.21.47
Pretty much the same problem. Two channels at 54.00 dBmV. Not good.
Screenshot 2016-06-19 18.22.42
A lucky speedtest. 125 Mbps down, 23.7 up. Let’s see how long that lasts.

UPDATE: 1:35 p.m.

Thought I’d check on another potential problem area: the splitter. It was installed along with the new line a month ago, but who knows? Maybe it’s defective. So I eliminated it and connected the line coming directly into the living room into the back of the modem. Only a slight change from the upstream power levels:

Screenshot 2016-06-19 13.06.48

Then tried the speedtest. It started well, then basically gave up on the download part of the test at about 75%:

Screenshot 2016-06-19 13.36.56

ORIGINAL POST (12:45 p.m.)

I’m going to assume this is a problem. In fact, I know it is. I was on chat with a Comcast tech last night. I gave him the tech information which was similar to that shown below, but we went through the “unplug the modem/router” and “hard reset the modem/router” procedures, anyway. Restarting the modem (its the Arris TG1682G provided by Comcast for its Xfinity X1 service) generally helps for a few minutes. Then it often goes into a cycle of resets before settling down and then working reasonably correctly and then not working at all.

The issue is pretty obviously (to me, anyway) outside of the house. Something’s making it necessary for the modem to blast away at top power levels upstream (the 54.00 dBmV shown in the screenshot below), and I’m guessing that’s at the pole or beyond. A tech came out about a month ago and rewired the outside from the pole to the house and then into the house, so that’s all new. There’s one line coming from the pole, it goes into the living room directly, splits once to go to the modem and cable box. Shouldn’t need top power to send upstream, IMHO.

You can see by the Speedtest screenshot that the upstream really isn’t working at all. That was the third attempt to do a test; the first two failed on the upstream test completely. (As an aside, the download speed, while pretty cool compared to just a few years ago, isn’t what I’m supposed to be getting, either.)

Comcast was supposed to call this morning between 9:00 a.m. and noon. No call yet, it’s 12:45 p.m. Thought I’d post this here so everything’s in one place in case another Comcast tech eventually gets in touch with me.

Screenshot 2016-06-19 12.36.03
54.00 dBmV is full power on most cable modems, including this one. Shouldn’t be doing that unless something’s wrong on the line.
Screenshot 2016-06-19 12.07.03
0.28 Mbps is not good.