[FoRK] Hating Scientific Atlanta / Time Warner Cable

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Tue Feb 1 18:49:47 PST 2005

This is a rant.  You were warned.

I HATE Scientific Atlanta.  I've had a Scientific Atlanta 8300 HD DVR 
for about a month now, and it is the most worthless piece of 
technological trash that I have ever provided a roof and power for.  
Even that's being generous.  Seriously, this embarrassing piece of crap 
is the worst piece of tech I've ever used in my life.  Really.

Now, there are pieces of tech that I have, frankly, loved.  My Mac 
laptop.  OS X.  Python.  TiVo.  Not to say any of these things are 
perfect, however I do *love* them.  These are pieces of well-designed, 
usable tech that you'd have to pry my cold dead fingers off of.  
They've got their warts, but on the whole it's quite clear that the 
designers gave more than a flying fuck about their customers.  And 
there are many pieces of tech that I'm quite fond of;  while not 
perfect, I (for example) am quite fond of my Samsung SPH-i500 that I 
recently nabbed off of EBay.

However this "DVR" is a complete pile of steaming shit.  It's an 
abortion from concept to execution.

Basically, my complaints break down into two categories.

(1)  The "user interface" is the most unusable, unfriendly, useless 
design I've ever encountered.  The specifics are too numerous to list 
here in detail, but suffice it to say that most functions that one 
might expect to perform (such as, say, looking up some show in the 
future when you don't know what day it's on --- or even if you do) are 
either impossible or so difficult as to render the task untenable.  
It's just bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.  It doesn't even work well as a 
smart program guide, much less cable box interface, much less DVR 
interface.  I would say it's as if it were designed by a retarded 8 
year-old who had never seen a TV, much less a VCR, much less a DVR --- 
but that would be doing the retarded 8 year-old a grave injustice.

(2)  THE DAMN THING DOES NOT WORK!!!!  Seriously, there are so many 
things just flat broken that I can't list them all, but here's a few... 
  First, a LARGE percentage of the time it fails to record scheduled 
recordings.  My girlfriend and I just got back from a 4-day excursion 
to New Orleans and, despite having painstakingly scheduled a dozen or 
so shows for the duration (and double checking right before leaving for 
the airport) it only recorded *1* of them!!!  In fact, when we got home 
it was recording two shows we had *not* scheduled (and ignoring two 
that were, in fact, sitting right there in the "to be recorded" queue) 
--- and we had to hard reset the box in order to get it to stop 
recording those bogus shows and switch to one of the scheduled shows to 
catch the last few minutes!  And this is by no means an isolated event. 
  Other favorite bugs:  it often leaves items in the "to be recorded" 
queue past their expiration;  the equivalent of TiVo's "season pass" is 
only good for the duration of the current scheduling window (a measly 
two weeks) so you constantly have to reprogram your favorites;  there's 
no show-by-show selectivity, priority, etc.;  etc. etc. etc.  The box 
periodically shuts itself off for now apparent reason.  It periodically 
refuses to come on for no apparent reason.  Whenever a scheduled show 
comes on it kills any recorded show you might be watching and jumps you 
to realtime.  Etc. Etc.  Geez, gawd, it's a piece of crap.

Based on discussing this with other owners of the same unit, I believe 
this is just a fundamentally PIECE OF SHIT product rather than a 
defective unit.  Scientific Atlanta should be ashamed, and Time Warner 
(and any other cable company shoveling this shit into the consumer 
channel) should be ashamed.

This is SO bad that I'm tempted to swallow my hacktivist pride and pay 
Rupert Murdoch his outlandish vig just so I can have TiVO HD DVR via 
DirecTV.  I *will* be sending this piece of crap back to Time Warner 
and canceling my service, and I urge any other customers inflicted with 
this loathsome box of technological feces to do the same.  Only if 
enough of us do this kind of thing will these "service providers" and 
their vendors realize that we aren't going to just sit back and take 
whatever crap they send our way.

You hear me, http://www.sciatl.com ?  You hear me, 
http://www.timewarnercable.com ?

Bad companies.  Bad.


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