RTP Faces of… Redux

In Faces of…Rebuilding Together Petaluma you had a photo preview of some of the volunteers at Rebuilding Together Petaluma’s (RTP) May 3rd workday.  Behind the photos (or should I say behind the cameras) were photographers documenting the action and setting up the group photos…



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NOTE– Also check out the RTP YouTube video:   RTP MAY 3, 2014



Faces of…Rebuilding Together Petaluma

Yesterday, Rebuilding Together Petaluma (RTP) volunteers once again fanned out across the city to work in some of our parks or to help qualifying homeowners with critical maintenance needs.

Unlike past years, this time I rode along with RTP’s Victoria O’Riley to the various sites as opposed to focusing on one or two work locations.  This gave me an insider view of the logistics and planning required to support all of the projects. It also gave me an opportunity to get a bit of a “global view” of the efforts throughout the City…and the volunteers.

In a few days all the photos taken by RTP volunteer photographers will be available and I will pass on the links for those who would like to see them.

In the meantime, I offer a quick selection of photos taken during my  travels with Victoria…



















The Internet of Everything–Tech Support…conversations with a robot

There is much talk and buzz about the Internet of Everything where in the very near future all of our material possessions and items in our environment will be connected to the Internet to better service and facilitate our lives…or so they claim.

The extreme Internet of Everything advocates envision drones delivering our purchases and robots driving our cars while we passively go along for the ride…viewing our virtual worlds on Google Glass…

Human On Board

Human On Board


As a taste of this imminent brave new world, I offer this transcript of a recent text “conversation” I had with a customer service “representative” of a cable company regarding installation of a cable box.  I was trying to resolve an issue–THE NEW BOX DID NOT WORK–and I could not get connected to a live person (a.k.a. human being) on the telephone.

No Signal!

No Signal!


Instead I was directed to an online web chat service support site.  I saved the transcript and offer it to you below. The “conversation” is a bit awkward as the exchanges sometimes crossed in the back and forth.  I think there was a human being…somewhere…on the other side of this conversation…but I am not so sure anymore!

However, I think you will get the drift…

…and by the way, I eventually did convince the company to sent someone (as in a human being, and not a robot) who found that the trouble indeed was not of my doing.  They found an old trap in the line outside the house.  See the photo at the end of this article


Customer Support: What is your issue?

Frank: My Issue: we are trying to connect our new cable box.

Customer Support: Hello, Frank.

Frank: hello

Customer Support: Oh, all right. I can help you with that. No worries, Frank.

Customer Support: You have reached the right person, and I’ll assure you that together, we can resolve your issue today.

Frank: we need to talk to a real live person

Customer Support: I am a live person, Frank.

Frank: tried phone number 888-270-6445 was no help

Customer Support: Have you tried 1-800-934-6489, Frank?

Frank: not going to listen to another phone robot

Frank: can someone call me

Customer Support: Sure thing. May I ask if this box is your second one?

Frank: Something appears to be wrong on your end

Customer Support: Oh, have you installed it already?

Frank: yes it is installed and a signal has been sent

Frank: we are receiving weird channels—-not ones we have subscribed to

Customer Support: I understand. Will you please give me the serial number of the affected box?

Customer Support: This is located at the back or bottom of the box and it usually starts with letters M, P, G, T or S.

Frank: now a whole bunch of different channels are coming in so someone must be doing something?

Frank: PAFR06166588

Customer Support: Thank you for that. How about your other box, Frank?

Frank: we took the first box back yesterday and we were given this box as a replacement we were told that something was wrong with the first box but i think something is wrong on at your end.

Customer Support: No problem. Frank, I would be happy to walk you through some troubleshooting steps that have been proven effective in resolving this type of problem. Is that alright?

Customer Support: I have not received any response from you in a while. Please let me know if you still require my assistance. Thank you.

Frank: okay

Frank: we have only basic cable now a lot of other channels are showing up but not the basic cable that we pay for

Customer Support: Cool. Will you please check on your wiring? Kindly make sure they are properly connected from the box and TV to the wall outlet.

Customer Support: I understand, Frank. Thank you for the information. Will you please make sure the cable wires are tight and secure?

Frank: obviously we are connected correctly if we are getting channels

Customer Support: All right, Frank. This problem is caused by signals from the network that have not synchronized well with the cable box. I will need to send a command to refresh the cable box and its signals.

Customer Support: Frank, is the box on?

Frank: Yes

Customer Support: Will you please give me a minute to do this task?

Customer Support: Thank you for waiting. I have successfully sent the signal to your equipment and I am glad to tell you that your equipment responded positively.

Customer Support: Will you please check on your channels?

Frank: still the same

Customer Support: Alright, kindly turn off your cable box and unplug it from the power outlet. Then, wait for 10 to 15 seconds before plugging it back and turning it on again.

Frank: okay

Customer Support: Please keep me posted, Frank. Thank you.

Frank: we’ve done that and nothing changed

Customer Support: Thank you for doing those steps, Frank. I’d like to inform you that it may take 3 to 5 minutes for your channels to load one by one.

Customer Support: What channels are you getting, Frank?

Frank: lots of channels——but not the ones we pay for

Frank: also getting a lot of radio stations which we do not subscribe to

Customer Support: I see. Thank you for the heads up.

Frank: we are not getting 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9 — the channels that we pay for

Frank: someone needs to call us—-someone who can really DO something

Customer Support: Will you please give me 2 minutes to review on your channel line up. Frank?

Customer Support: Would you like a tech visit instead?

Frank: we’ve spent 2 whole days messing with this – we are very upset and disgusted

Frank: only if it’s free

Customer Support: I understand where you’re coming from, Frank.

Customer Support: Please do not worry about any technician fee, our priority is to have the equipment fixed as soon as possible.

Customer Support: Oh, I’m sorry. This case is a failed Self – Install, Frank.

Customer Support: There will be a possible charge, since the installation you did didn’t work for your cable.

Frank: i’m not paying

Customer Support: You belong to the West Market, Frank. You may check your channel line up.

Customer Support: I want to ensure your issue is addressed. Can you let me know if you still require support please?

Frank: we still require support

Customer Support: Were you able to check on your local channel line up, Frank?

Frank: yes, and the channel numbers have not changed

Customer Support: All right, Frank. Thank you for checking that one out. I’d like to inform you that this is a FAILED Self – Installation and what we need is to have a technician come over and install your box properly for you.

Frank: that’s fine, but I’m not paying for that. I already installed it per your instructions!

Customer Support: This will be determined by the technician, Frank.

Frank: no no no—–don’t come here if you plan to charge me

Frank: the problem is on your end not ours

Customer Support: All right, Frank. I respect that. I’d like to inform you that since you did the installation yourself, the issue with your channels is caused by this. What needs to be done is a proper installation by a professional.

Frank: that makes NO sense we are getting channels just not the ones we paid for.

Customer Support: Something went wrong with the installation that’s why you’re having these channel issues – missing channels.

Frank: but there is something wrong at your end why can’t someone call us on the telephone

SESSION TERMINATED by me…the human being, aka, the customer

Note–The issue was resolved two days later by an on site service team–without any charge.  The trouble was in the cable line…not my installation of the cable box…