Comcast http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/3763/all en-US 10 Productivity Tips for IT Professionals http://www.wisebread.com/10-productivity-tips-for-it-professionals <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-productivity-tips-for-it-professionals" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000051456322.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This post is brought to you by <a href="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289%7C726%7C2738&amp;k3=disclaimer&amp;k4=&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fbusiness2.comcast.com%2Finternet%2Fbusiness-internet" rel="nofollow">Comcast Business</a>.  Follow us @<a href="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289%7C726%7C2738&amp;k3=disclaimer&amp;k4=&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fcomcastbusiness" rel="nofollow">comcastbusiness</a>.</em></p> <p>We all know that technology can be a distraction &ndash; about half of workers admit to <a href="https://harmon.ie/press-releases/collaboration-social-tools-drain-business-productivity-costing-millions-work">wasting at least an hour a day</a>, mostly on email, social networking and texting. But we can turn the tables and increase our productivity by using tech tools to keep track of time, collaborate, and stay on task.</p> <p>If anyone understands these tools and how to use them to improve productivity, it&rsquo;s an information technology professional. A typical IT pro may spend the average day juggling endless help requests from users, installing emergency software patches, researching new products, and replacing hardware -- with all tasks flagged as urgent. Many IT pros also travel from one worksite to another, keeping track of client needs and upgrade schedules on the go. It&rsquo;s only natural that IT pros use what they know best to be efficient. Here&rsquo;s what IT pros can teach us about getting more done with the help of tech.</p> <h2>1. Get a Second Monitor</h2> <p>&ldquo;When it comes to productivity, there's almost nothing that compares to having a second monitor,&rdquo; says Scott Kendall of <a href="http://www.outhouseit.com">Outhouse IT</a>, citing <a href="https://www.dell.com/downloads/global/products/monitors/en/dual_monitors_boost_productivity_whitepaper.pdf">research showing</a> that using two monitors can help workers get so much more done it&rsquo;s like adding dozens of work days to the year. If you can&rsquo;t have two, upgrading to a larger monitor also increases productivity.</p> <h2>2. Use the Cloud to Store Files</h2> <p>Instead of saving files on your hard drive, or even a flash drive, use the cloud to store your files. Gregory Go, CTO of Killer Aces Media, advises that &ldquo;using the cloud for your files does three important things: you can access the files from anywhere, on any device, you can share and give permission to others to make edits and collaborate, and you don&rsquo;t have to remember to bring your files with you or even to save your changes because it does that automatically.&rdquo; You are also saved from the dreaded system failures that could result in lost files on your computer. Google Docs, Dropbox, and OneDrive provide simple, easy to use cloud services for your documents.</p> <h2>3. Find the Best To-Do App for You</h2> <p>According to app-ranking website <a href="http://thesweetsetup.com/">The Sweet Setup</a>, to-do lists &ldquo;should be beautiful to look at, easy to organize, and have an understandable hierarchy.&rdquo; There are plenty of good free task-manager apps for Android or iPhone. Some IT professionals like using <a href="https://appsto.re/us/3wopy.i">Wunderlist</a> ($4.99 per month for pro) to compile and share to-do lists, while others prefer <a href="https://appsto.re/us/xNOiI.i">Todoist</a> ($29 a year for pro) or <a href="https://appsto.re/us/ahkPD.i">Any.do</a> ($2.99 per month for pro). All of them store your tasks in the cloud, which eases collaboration (you can share and assign tasks to others) and allows you to access your lists from anywhere.</p> <h2>4. Stay on Top of Software Updates</h2> <p>You might not think of regular updates as a productivity hack, but you should, says John Barlow, an IT professional in insurance.</p> <p>&ldquo;Often new versions will incorporate new features that save time or money. Example: New versions of Windows can zip and unzip files, a function we used to have to download a separate program for.&rdquo;</p> <h2>5. Organize Your Contacts Effectively</h2> <p>Address books are fine, but if you don&rsquo;t remember the name of the person you need to e-mail, scrolling through an alphabetical list is a time waster. The free <a href="https://appsto.re/us/QGb61.i">Humin app</a> pulls contact information from your emails and social networks, and lets you search your contacts based on when you met them, where they work, or other factors, and shows you what connections you have in common. It&rsquo;s like a social networking system for your private contacts file -- perfect for IT pros who need to interface with a lot of people and don&rsquo;t have time to sort through business cards.</p> <h2>6. Keep Yourself on Task</h2> <p>Many technology professionals report using programs to help them avoid the distractions of the Internet, their phones, or even competing work tasks that can distract them from the job at hand.</p> <p>&quot;I use Strict Workflow as I have zero willpower on the Internets,&rdquo; says software design engineer Gareth Morgan, referring to the <a href="https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/strict-workflow/cgmnfnmlficgeijcalkgnnkigkefkbhd">Chrome extension</a> that sets a timer for 25-minute periods of focused work, punctuated by five-minute breaks.</p> <p>Aaron K., a software engineer in the advertising industry, uses segregated browsers to stay focused.</p> <p>&ldquo;I use two separate browsers at all times, one that is open while I'm working and has my work in it. The other is for personal stuff. I close it frequently and have it set to remember my tabs, so when I need a mental break I can open it up and pick up where I left off,&rdquo; he says.</p> <h2>7. Know Where Your Time Goes</h2> <p>Just like a financial budget is destined to fail if you don&rsquo;t know where your pennies and dollars go, you need to track your minutes and hours in order to make effective use of your time. Some IT consultants need to bill every minute of work to a specific client, making time trackers even more vital.</p> <p>Aaron K. uses the free desktop <a href="http://getklok.com/">Klok app</a> ($19.99 for pro) for time tracking. The app offers <a href="http://www.getklok.com/cloud/index.html">Klok Cloud Sync for Mobile</a>, so that you can store project lists online and time work in the field using a mobile device. Wisconsin IT guy Brad T., prefers the <a href="https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/task-timer/aomfjmibjhhfdenfkpaodhnlhkolngif?hl=en-">Google Chrome plugin Task Timer</a>. Build manager Erik Purins swears by team time tracker <a href="https://toggl.com/features">Toggl</a> (free or $5-$59 per month for pro) to help him build weekly reports of how he spent his work hours. Whether you&rsquo;re using it on a phone or desktop, Toggl syncs to the cloud in real time so that you know how much time you&rsquo;ve spent whether in the field or in the office.</p> <h2>8. Streamline Repetitive Tasks</h2> <p>Help desk analyst Ryan S., finds himself copying and pasting the same information over and over in response to client requests. He says he couldn&rsquo;t live without the <a href="http://download.cnet.com/CLCL/3000-2384_4-10153066.html">free Windows clipboard utility CLCL</a>, &ldquo;a huge time saver.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;It allows me to pull up the last 30 items copied to the clipboard, as well as create templates for phrases and, in some cases, entire troubleshooting processes that I frequently use. Those templates can be assigned to hot keys and inserted with a keystroke,&rdquo; Ryan S. says.</p> <h2>9. Communicate Efficiently</h2> <p>No one hates a lengthy meeting more than a busy IT pro, and long email chains are almost as bad. That&rsquo;s why they turn to collaboration apps such as the free <a href="https://trello.com/">Trello</a> ($8.33/month for Business Class), which shares to-do lists and tracks tasks across teams, and <a href="https://slack.com/">Slack</a> (paid versions range from $6.67 to $12.50 per month), which allows teams to share messages and documents in a continual group conversation. Because both apps are cloud-based, you can access or search your communications from anywhere.</p> <h2>10. Take Notes Strategically</h2> <p>There are lots of note-taking apps out there, but many pros still prefer to simply email themselves reminders, to-do lists, and other information. The <a href="https://appsto.re/us/_M3gw.i">$1.99 app Captio</a> makes emailing yourself a one-click affair, ensuring that fewer thoughts fall out of your brain before you have time to record them.</p> <p>In the end, technology can be a help or hindrance when it comes to productivity. Those who take control of the tech in their lives by using the proper tools are more likely to avoid the distracting downside of our constantly wired environment and get more done.</p> <script type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8" src="http://vc.cdn.fm/video_conversationalist/system/published/opportunity/89732726/289_2738.js"></script><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-productivity-tips-for-it-professionals">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-skills-that-will-be-obsolete-soon">9 Skills That Will Be Obsolete Soon</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-make-facebook-productive">10 Ways to Make Facebook Productive</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-buy-microsoft-office-and-other-free-alternatives-to-pricey-computer-software">Don&#039;t Buy Microsoft Office! And Other Free Alternatives to Pricey Computer Software</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-things-it-people-wish-you-knew-about-computers">13 Things IT People Wish You Knew About Computers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-back-to-school-iphone-apps">10 Back-to-School iPhone Apps</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Productivity Technology Comcast Tue, 22 Dec 2015 17:38:42 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1625205 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Reasons Your IT Person Is a Super Hero http://www.wisebread.com/9-reasons-your-it-person-is-a-super-hero <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-reasons-your-it-person-is-a-super-hero" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000023720909.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This post is brought to you by <a href="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289%7C689%7C2366&amp;k3=disclaimer&amp;k4=&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fbusiness.comcast.com%2Finternet%2Fbusiness-internet" rel="nofollow">Comcast Business</a>.  Follow us @<a href="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289%7C689%7C2366&amp;k3=disclaimer&amp;k4=&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fcomcastbusiness" rel="nofollow">comcastbusiness</a>.</em></p> <p>Most help desk staff or other IT professional don&rsquo;t wear a cape to the office. That&rsquo;s just for, you know, formal occasions. On an average Thursday, they may sport a Clark Kent-esq &ldquo;Bazinga!&rdquo; -shirt. Or something.</p> <p>But that&rsquo;s just their secret identity. The truth is, when it comes down to it, every IT pro is a super hero. If you&rsquo;ve ever worked in an office, you&rsquo;ve probably called upon your IT guy or gal to display one of the following 9 heroic acts.</p> <h3>1. They can save your bacon. That is, your data.</h3> <p>Every day, an IT professional somewhere is heroically extracting an annual report, an important thesis, or hundreds of precious family photos from the hard drives of dead computers.</p> <p>When Markos Moulitsas, author of the blog The Daily Kos, called an IT pro named Carlos to his home because his wife&rsquo;s computer died, Carlos not only rescued photos of Markos&rsquo; children from the PC, he also<a href="http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/01/18/826258/-True-Stories-of-A-Computer-Repairman"> helped him appreciate what it means to be free</a>. All in a day&rsquo;s work.</p> <h3>2. They can teach you how to protect your own data.</h3> <p>Ryan Dube remembers all too well the anguished face of the graduate student who<a href="http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/guys-files-happened/"> didn&rsquo;t back up his thesis</a>, and lost it all. Even superheroes can&rsquo;t save every victim from his own foolishness.</p> <p>&ldquo;If there is anything I learned during those early years of working with computers (and the people that use them), it was how critical it is to not only save important stuff, but also to save it in different places,&rdquo; Ryan writes. Ask your IT pro to teach you how to best back up your files. Then do it.</p> <h3>3. They can field a stupid request without giggling.</h3> <p>From requests to change the weather, to users who don&rsquo;t know where to find their computer&rsquo;s restart button, IT guys put up with a lot of<a href="http://www.datamation.com/career/article.php/3896526/Top-8-Funny-IT-Helpdesk-Requests.htm"> ridiculous requests</a> with -- mostly -- straight faces. That kind of patience has got to be a super power.</p> <h3>4. Unlike a doctor, they can cure a virus.</h3> <p>Viruses can cause a host of problems, the least of which is loss of user data and productivity. The main consequence of not removing viruses is the spread of even more viruses. If a virus goes unchecked, it can infect an entire corporation in seconds, essentially shutting down the business.</p> <p>Wisconsin IT professional Brad T. has delighted and amazed dozens of clients by getting a virus off a computer and making it seem like it was never there. Brad recounts, &ldquo;I had one user lose his entire email box, approximately 10 years of work, because his PC was infected and broadcasting spam across the internet, causing the email provider to permanently delete his email account to protect their systems.&rdquo;</p> <p>&quot;I am rarely able to save 100% of the user&rsquo;s information each time I fixed an infected PC, but computer guys know tricks to get the raw data back and recover it in time for a deadline,&rdquo; Brad says with a modest smile.</p> <h3>5. They can be real-life heroes.</h3> <p>Winston Chen was the head IT pro at his company -- well, as the Chief Technical Officer, he was the head of <em>everything</em> tech -- before he quit to develop an app that turned a disabled child&rsquo;s life around. In fact, according to the child&rsquo;s mother, Winston&rsquo;s Voice Dream reader app has<a href="http://qz.com/232200/this-software-guy-accidentally-designed-an-app-that-is-saving-my-dyslexic-son/"> made life better</a> for many blind and dyslexic people.</p> <h3>6. They can translate the stuff you say into real computer terminology.</h3> <p>By patiently asking questions, a good IT pro can figure out that the &ldquo;thing&rdquo; that disappeared from your desktop was your browser, and that when you say your computer is &ldquo;kaput,&rdquo; you actually mean it froze (and probably just needs to be restarted).</p> <p>But why not help him or her out by learning the<a href="http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/basic-computer-terms-shopping-pc/"> real words for the parts of your computer</a>? Calling the operating system by name is the IT equivalent of bringing in doughnuts -- although the doughnuts wouldn&rsquo;t hurt either.</p> <h3>7. They help despite being heaped with abuse.</h3> <p>Picture Lois Lane pummeling Superman with her fists as he carries her, flying, through the air. This should give you a pretty good picture of what it&rsquo;s like to help people who are a little resistant..</p> <p>&ldquo;Computers are not easy to fix. Even for me,&rdquo; writes Rick Castellini on<a href="http://helpmerick.com/why-good-computer-guys-get-grumpy-sometimes.htm"> HelpMeRick.com</a>. Fixing them doesn&rsquo;t get any easier if the client is complaining about how long it takes, refusing to pay attention to instructions, or asking for free service.</p> <h3>8. They help when you when you have absolutely no idea what you&rsquo;re doing.</h3> <p>You thought your laptop was dead when really the<a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/talesfromtechsupport/comments/3agab9/i_resurrected_my_friends_computer/"> screen was set to dim</a>? Spent hours every week doing a task manually that your spreadsheet software could<a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/talesfromtechsupport/comments/3agnfb/ticket_dead_mouse_125_signed_po/"> automatically execute in minutes</a>? Your IT professional can set you straight.</p> <h3>9. They can help you start to know what you&rsquo;re doing.</h3> <p>Do you know these<a href="http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-things-you-have-to-know-to-be-computer-literate/"> 10 basic things required to be considered computer literate</a>? If you don&rsquo;t, ask your IT Pro a few questions next time he or she comes to fix your computer. Maybe next time you can fix the problem yourself!</p> <script type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8" src="http://vc.cdn.fm/video_conversationalist/system/published/opportunity/89731689/289_2366.js"></script><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-reasons-your-it-person-is-a-super-hero">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-productivity-tips-for-it-professionals">10 Productivity Tips for IT Professionals</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-things-it-people-wish-you-knew-about-computers">13 Things IT People Wish You Knew About Computers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-gadgets-every-it-professional-should-own">8 Gadgets Every IT Professional Should Own</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-apps-for-the-tech-challenged-traveler">7 Apps for the Tech-Challenged Traveler</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-save-on-smartphone-costs-while-traveling">8 Ways to Save on Smartphone Costs While Traveling</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Technology Comcast Tue, 29 Sep 2015 11:00:28 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1572251 at http://www.wisebread.com 13 Things IT People Wish You Knew About Computers http://www.wisebread.com/13-things-it-people-wish-you-knew-about-computers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/13-things-it-people-wish-you-knew-about-computers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/computer_problems_000021826479.jpg" alt="Having problems with the computer" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This post is brought to you by <a href="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289%7C671%7C2046&amp;k3=disclaimer&amp;k4=&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fbusiness.comcast.com%2Finternet%2Fbusiness-internet" style="line-height: 20.7999992370605px;" rel="nofollow">Comcast Business.</a>  Follow us <a href="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289%7C671%7C2046&amp;k3=disclaimer&amp;k4=&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fcomcastbusiness" style="line-height: 20.7999992370605px;" rel="nofollow">@comcastbusiness</a>.</em></p> <p>You might only get this joke if you&rsquo;re an IT pro: To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the IT pro, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be. Maybe it can&rsquo;t be helped that you see the world and the computer differently than your clients do. But wouldn&rsquo;t it be nice if people at least understood a few basic realities about the device they&rsquo;re asking you to fix? We asked the experts what they wished people knew. Here are their responses.</p> <p>1. &ldquo;I wish they knew not to open attachments in emails from people they don't know, especially after I've told them a million times.&rdquo; &mdash;Nicholas Roderique, IT Consultant at Information Innovations, Inc.</p> <p>2. &ldquo;That rebooting really does fix many, many, <em>many</em> problems.&rdquo; &mdash;Scott Kendall, Outhouse IT.</p> <p>3. &ldquo;Google it! 95% of the answers we give you we look up on Google! Do some research, you might be able to find it yourself!&rdquo; &mdash;Martha Ezell, higher education information technology department.</p> <p>4. &ldquo;I wish people knew how fast heatsinks can accumulate dust. Every spring/summer there's a huge influx of &lsquo;my computer shuts down/gets really slow when I play games, etc.&rsquo; &mdash;Nathaniel S., IT Professional.</p> <p>5. &ldquo;Please don't use your work computer to look at porn or illegal activity. We're required by company policy and in some cases by law to report it if we find it (and we do find it, even if you delete your browsing history). Plus, it's very awkward for us.&rdquo; &mdash;Brad T., IT Project Consultant.</p> <p>6. &ldquo;Yes, the computer does need to have all of the updates and patches for its operating system and the programs it runs installed on it.&rdquo; &mdash;Aryeh Goretsky, ESET Security Research.</p> <p>7. &ldquo;The difference between log off and shutdown...&rdquo; &mdash;John Barlow, IT professional in insurance.</p> <p>8. &ldquo;Don't just tell me your computer has an error on it. Write down the exact syntax of the error message. Being able to understand what the problem is can be an ordeal, especially when the end user lacks the vocabulary to convey the issue clearly. If there is an error message, write it down, take a picture, something.&rdquo; &mdash;Chris Alford, Information Technology Manager for a call center.</p> <p>9. &ldquo;When you say you've &lsquo;restarted two or three times,&rsquo; ... we can check. And we know you're lying.&rdquo; &mdash;Ryan St. John, IT consulting/tech support.</p> <p>10. &ldquo;I wish people knew that their computer running like crap and taking forever to boot up has nothing to do with the Internet. No, your web browser going opaque, and having a spinning circle doesn't mean your Internet is slow. It means it's time to upgrade from your Windows XP-era dinosaur.&rdquo; &mdash;Eric Sheppard, IT pro for an internet communications company.</p> <p>11. &ldquo;Your monitor is not a computer. And your computer is not a hard drive.&rdquo; &mdash;Mat Hanson, IT professional in the mining industry.</p> <p>12. &ldquo;Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Clear out your temporary files and caches. And if you're not sure what you should do or how you should do it, your IT professional will be more than thrilled to show you how.&rdquo; &mdash;Brad T., IT Project Consultant.</p> <p>13. &ldquo;I really wish folks would understand that their hard drive can die with no warning &mdash; that data is extremely vulnerable and backup is so important.&rdquo; &mdash;Michael Kautzman, IT Professional with a managed service provider.</p> <script type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8" src="http://vc.cdn.fm/video_conversationalist/system/published/opportunity/89730671/289_2046.js"></script><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-things-it-people-wish-you-knew-about-computers">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-15"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-productivity-tips-for-it-professionals">10 Productivity Tips for IT Professionals</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-gadgets-every-it-professional-should-own">8 Gadgets Every IT Professional Should Own</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-reasons-your-it-person-is-a-super-hero">9 Reasons Your IT Person Is a Super Hero</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-apps-for-the-tech-challenged-traveler">7 Apps for the Tech-Challenged Traveler</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-save-on-smartphone-costs-while-traveling">8 Ways to Save on Smartphone Costs While Traveling</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Technology Comcast Thu, 28 May 2015 12:00:08 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1438859 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Gadgets Every IT Professional Should Own http://www.wisebread.com/8-gadgets-every-it-professional-should-own <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-gadgets-every-it-professional-should-own" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000040902748_Large.jpg" alt="Two professionals watching 3D printing" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This post is brought to you by <a href="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289%7C671%7C1997&amp;k3=disclaimer&amp;k4=&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fad.doubleclick.net%2Fddm%2Fclk%2F289950907%3B116588121%3Br" rel="nofollow">Comcast Business.</a>  Follow us <a href="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289%7C671%7C1997&amp;k3=disclaimer&amp;k4=&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fcomcastbusiness" rel="nofollow">@comcastbusiness</a>.</em></p> <p>If you didn&rsquo;t love technology, you probably wouldn&rsquo;t have gone into IT. But how to separate the gadgets that can truly help you with your job from those that would just be really, really cool to own? Here are eight purchases that you can totally justify as workday-enhancing &mdash; if not directly work-related.</p> <h2>1. A Smartwatch</h2> <p>Aaron Gross, Milwaukee IT pro with marketing firm Bader Rutter, never goes to work without his<a href="https://getpebble.com/"> Pebble Smartwatch</a>. He likes being able to check his notifications without pulling out his phone. It also helps him stay on schedule at work. &ldquo;Even if my phone&rsquo;s in my office and I'm in the server room, my wrist goes off and I make my meeting,&rdquo; Gross said. Of course, there are other smart watches on the market (you may have heard of a certain Apple product). If your company issued you an iPhone, you might appreciate the way the Apple Watch works as &ldquo;a symbiotic iPhone companion,&rdquo; as<a href="http://www.cnet.com/products/apple-watch/"> <em>CNET</em> put it</a>. But Gross said that at $99, his Pebble has been going strong for a year and he&rsquo;s still pleased with it.</p> <h2>2. A Great Pair of Headphones</h2> <p>Work in a noisy environment? Find yourself away from your desk too often to be tethered by a headphone cable? Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless headphones are equipped with noise-canceling, and pair with your phone or iPod via bluetooth. <a href="http://www.digitaltrends.com/headphone-reviews/sennheiser-momentum-wireless-2-0-review/"><em>Digital Trends</em></a> likes it for its &ldquo;near-flawless wireless performance&rdquo; with an &ldquo;impressive battery life,&rdquo; perfect for powering you through long work days.</p> <h2>3. A Customized Desk</h2> <p>As an IT pro, your workstation is like your home. Or at least you may spend just as much time there. Would you put a standard-issue couch in your living room? Then why use the company-issued keyboard? If you use your handheld devices so much that you&rsquo;re more comfortable with screen typing than push-button typing, it&rsquo;s time to try the<a href="http://gearnova.com/glass-computer-keyboard/"> Bastron glass keyboard</a>, a smooth piece of glass with keys displayed in blue or pink lighting. More old school? The<a href="http://www.qwerkywriter.com/"> $309 Qwerkywriter USB keyboard</a> looks and feels like a real typewriter and is available for pre-order after a successful Kickstarter campaign. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h2>4. A Portable&nbsp;Mobile Charger</h2> <p>The best gadgets on earth are nothing but diving weights if you&rsquo;re on the road and can&rsquo;t charge them. Need to power up your phone while you bike to work? Make your laptop last through a flight? Bring a mobile-first charger. <em>Digital Trends</em> lists the<a href="http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/best-portable-battery-chargers/"> 25 best external batteries</a> which range in price from $15 to $100 depending on weight, capacity and looks. Does your team expect you to respond on weekends and vacations, even if you&rsquo;re camping? Better pack a solar charger like the &nbsp;RAVPower 15W Dual-Port Solar Charger &mdash; <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2015/01/23/ravpower-15w-solar-charger-savior-battery-pack-keep-your-gadget/">recommended by <em>Engadget</em></a> &mdash; which you can use to charge a device or external battery pack.</p> <h2>5. A High-Tech Coffee Maker</h2> <p>You could always get a coffee maker for your cube with a timer on it so your first pot is fresh and waiting when you walk into the office. But what if you get to work at different times? Wouldn&rsquo;t it be great if you could schedule your brew from your phone on your way to work? Or from the middle of a particularly tiring meeting? The new<a href="http://www.cnet.com/products/smarter-wi-fi-coffee-machine/"> Smarter Wi-Fi Coffee Machine</a> promises just that, allowing you to dictate the number of cups and the strength of the brew you want waiting for you.</p> <h2>6. A Hybrid Laptop</h2> <p>IT project consultant Brad T. likes to use a laptop that can convert to a tablet, like the<a href="http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/Surface-Pro-3/productID.300190600"> Surface Pro 3</a>, for field work, because it enables him to complete documentation as he walks through company facilities. "I could do it more fluidly because I didn't have to find a place to either sit or a work surface before I did my paperwork,&rdquo; he said.</p> <h2>7. A Fitness Tracker&nbsp;</h2> <p>If you spend long hours in front of your computer, it&rsquo;s easy to forget to get up and move around. A high-tech way to remind yourself is by wearing a fitness tracker. <em>The</em><a href="http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-fitness-tracker/"> <em>Wirecutter</em> just spent 10 days</a> testing trackers and deemed the<a href="https://www.fitbit.com/chargehr"> Fitbit Charge HR</a> the best of the pack. Wearing one of these, you can track not just your workouts but floors climbed and server rooms traversed. You can even use the alarm feature to remind yourself to get up and move after a certain amount of time at your computer.</p> <h2>8. An Unlosable Umbrella</h2> <p>If you tend to move from one facility to another during the workday, you may find yourself leaving important items at far-flung work sites. And no one wants all the gear you carry from the office to the parking lot to get soaked. Enter the <a href="https://www.bluntumbrellas.com/xsmetro-tile">Blunt + Tile</a>, a rugged umbrella that comes equipped with a <a href="https://www.thetileapp.com/">Tile tracker</a>, which you can locate using your smartphone. It&rsquo;s the first smart umbrella that will &ldquo;make sure you&rsquo;re never caught unprepared again,&rdquo; explains <a href="http://www.gizmag.com/blunt-tile-bluetooth-trackable-smart-umbrella/34328/">gizmag</a>.</p> <script type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8" src="http://vc.cdn.fm/video_conversationalist/system/published/opportunity/89730671/289_1997.js"></script><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-gadgets-every-it-professional-should-own">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-17"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-productivity-tips-for-it-professionals">10 Productivity Tips for IT Professionals</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-things-it-people-wish-you-knew-about-computers">13 Things IT People Wish You Knew About Computers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-reasons-your-it-person-is-a-super-hero">9 Reasons Your IT Person Is a Super Hero</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-apps-for-the-tech-challenged-traveler">7 Apps for the Tech-Challenged Traveler</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-save-on-smartphone-costs-while-traveling">8 Ways to Save on Smartphone Costs While Traveling</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Technology Comcast Wed, 13 May 2015 12:00:07 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1422222 at http://www.wisebread.com How Will The Comcast/NBC Merger Really Affect You? http://www.wisebread.com/how-will-the-comcastnbc-merger-really-affect-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-will-the-comcastnbc-merger-really-affect-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/Picture 8.png" alt="Comcast NBC Universal logo" title="Artist&#039;s rendering of Comcast/NBC Universal logo" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="179" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It&rsquo;s a deal that has been in the works for over a year, and it&rsquo;s finally going ahead. The FCC has approved the merger of NBC Universal with Comcast, meaning that the cable giant will now own 51% of NBC, and have stakes in CNBC, MSNBC, Bravo, Telemundo, and <a href="http://www.jdoqocy.com/click-2822544-10932227">Hulu</a>.</p> <p>When anyone sees news like this, they immediately starting thinking of a monopoly. &ldquo;This business is too big, and that&rsquo;s a bad thing&rdquo; is what I&rsquo;m hearing from many people around me. And as I work in the cable industry, I hear it a lot.</p> <p>But is this really something to lose sleep over? It&rsquo;s time to take a quick look at the questions people have, the facts, and the speculation, to see what this merger actually means to the general public. After all, AOL and Time Warner merged in 2000 and the world kept turning. But since then the Internet has become something of a necessity and this deal does impact that to some extent.</p> <h3>1. Will Prices Go Up?</h3> <p>That&rsquo;s the most common concern I hear, and it seems that it&rsquo;s the most common one floating around on the Internet. With a merger comes a giant company controlling costs and sticking it to all of us. And Comcast has not exactly had the best feedback when it comes to prices and raising rates. But the bottom line is that the FCC is ensuring that Comcast does not withhold any of its networks from other providers, such as Dish Network or DirecTV. It must also offer these networks at a reasonable cost.</p> <p>Plus, Comcast has stated that six out of every seven networks on its cable systems will have absolutely no affiliation with Comcast. What that means is that, for the time being, Comcast is not going to start pushing prices up on you because it could risk losing you to one of those other providers. That goes for the Internet, too. I see rates going up by the usual annual amount, but I do not see your bills doubling overnight. The fear of &ldquo;cord cutting&rdquo; and &ldquo;cord shaving&rdquo; (which means cutting complete or partial cable services) will keep everyone's prices in line. Well, for now at least.</p> <h3>2. Will Internet Access Be Affected?</h3> <p>I don&rsquo;t see it happening just yet, although Senator Al Franken and many others predict this is the end of net neutrality. Basically, the FCC has not given Comcast/NBC the kind of power to take control of the Internet, although who knows what could happen in the future. Yes, Comcast now owns <a href="http://www.jdoqocy.com/click-2822544-10932227">Hulu</a>, but that was already becoming a pay-service with the advent of <a href="http://www.jdoqocy.com/click-2822544-10932227">Hulu Plus</a>, which is home to many of the shows you want to watch anyway. I went to watch <em>V</em> online recently, but I missed the first episode of the new series, and it wasn&rsquo;t available on ABC&rsquo;s site. Comcast had nothing to do with that decision; it&rsquo;s just something that the networks themselves decide. In short, the FCC has stipulated that this merger must not result in unfair market prices. Even better, the merger means that Comcast must now offer affordable, stand-alone Internet access so that we, the viewers, can access videos without having to purchase cable TV. And that is a good thing.</p> <h3>3. Will Sports Channels Be Cheaper?</h3> <p>I don&rsquo;t care that much for sports channels, but I know millions of Americans do. And now the Comcast/NBC corporation can go up against Disney&rsquo;s ESPN, which has a monopoly on most sports, and bring prices down. It&rsquo;s very possible that you could see the cost of your sports packages taking a nose dive over the next year.</p> <h3>4. Will Only Comcast Subscribers Get NBC Shows?</h3> <p>You really shouldn&rsquo;t worry about missing <em>The Office</em>, <em>30 Rock</em>, <em>SNL</em>, <em>Biggest Loser,</em> or any of your other favorite NBC shows. Once again, the FCC has made it quite clear that Comcast must provide reasonable access to its shows for distribution by other providers. You will not see NBC disappear from your local channel lineup if you have Dish Network or DirecTV.</p> <h3>5. Will Comcast Subscribers Have a Hard Time Finding Non-NBC Shows?</h3> <p>This one&rsquo;s even more bizarre. Some people think that Comcast will favor its NBC shows and programming over shows not owned by Comcast. Well, imagine how many people would cancel Comcast if that happened? If you suddenly have a hard time finding your favorite shows because Comcast has buried them or made them tough to access, you&rsquo;ll leave. But just to make sure, rules have been put in place to ensure Comcast does not discriminate against video programming that it does not own. For the time being, your lineup should not be affected.</p> <p>Of course, I&nbsp;am not privy to the dealing going on inside the boardrooms of these huge companies, but I think it's a little too early to panic just yet.</p> <p><em>How do you feel about the merger? Worried? Are you cutting the cable anyway? Let us know.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-will-the-comcastnbc-merger-really-affect-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-alternatives-to-cable-tv-that-will-keep-you-entertained">8 Alternatives to Cable TV That Will Keep You Entertained</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-finally-canceled-comcast-cable-before-it-hurt-more-than-my-wallet">I Finally Canceled Comcast Cable…Before It Hurt More Than My Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cracking-the-infamous-mcdonalds-monopoly-game">Cracking the Infamous McDonalds Monopoly Game</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-netflix-and-hulu-to-play-on-your-tv">How to Get Netflix and Hulu to Play on Your TV</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/want-free-hbo-or-showtime-just-ask">Want Free HBO or Showtime? Just Ask.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Entertainment Financial News cable tv Comcast hulu Internet Monopoly Sat, 22 Jan 2011 02:31:40 +0000 Paul Michael 474632 at http://www.wisebread.com I Finally Canceled Comcast Cable…Before It Hurt More Than My Wallet http://www.wisebread.com/i-finally-canceled-comcast-cable-before-it-hurt-more-than-my-wallet <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/i-finally-canceled-comcast-cable-before-it-hurt-more-than-my-wallet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/comcast_large.jpg" alt="Comcast store" title="Comcast store" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I have written about my sketchy relationship with Comcast before, including a popular article about <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/last-night-i-threatened-to-disconnect-my-cable">threatening to cancel cable</a> to get a reduced (but still excessive) bill.</p> <p>I would love to report that my relationship with Comcast has been a rosy one since then, but alas that&rsquo;s not been the case. Not even close. The prices have continued to rise, the customer service has been sketchy, the services have had troubles and outages beyond the norm, and the billing statements I received never matched the ones I saw online. That caused no end of confusion.</p> <p>However, the latest gem from Comcast happened around six weeks ago. I say that because I can&rsquo;t pin a specific date on it &mdash; all I know is that it was around that time that I noticed problems. It was also the same time we got new neighbors.</p> <p>Specifically, we were getting some very annoying disruptions in sound and picture throughout the day. Sometimes the sound would cut out every 30 seconds, for about 1 second at a time. Sometimes it was more spread out. The picture would pixilate, then return to normal.</p> <p>We had experienced occasional problems like this in the past, but they were rare. To have it happen time after time was odd. I figured it would go away &mdash; it was probably just a problem in our area. When I called Comcast, a recorded message said there were issues in our area anyway.</p> <p>But after a few weeks with no subsidence with this issue, it was still going on. I was confused, and once again I called Comcast to get a recorded message indicating service problems. &ldquo;Wow, they&rsquo;re having issues&rdquo; I thought, and like the ostrich that I am sometimes, I stuck my head in the sand.</p> <p>That weekend, I decided to blow the winter dust off my lawnmower and give my front and back lawn the first cut of spring. I took the small gravel driveway from the garage to my back garden, with the intention of taking the padlock off the gate. That&rsquo;s when my foot caught on something and I went flying face-first into that same gate, scraping up my hand and my head and landing pathetically on the floor.</p> <p>What I caught my foot on turned out to be a wire going from the cable box on the side of my house to the cable exchange box in the neighbor&rsquo;s back yard. After some swearing and a little hydrogen peroxide, I came back to the scene to investigate the huge wire. I&rsquo;d had Comcast since I moved into the home in 2002, and this wire had never been there before. Very odd. Was the new neighbor stealing my cable?</p> <p>Well, no. And the reason I know is that this wire was providing the feed to the cable box, it wasn&rsquo;t someone tapping the feed. And besides, it would be much easier to tap the exchange directly. No, this was a brand new wire.</p> <p>I whipped out my phone, grabbed a few pics (below) and called Comcast customer service immediately.</p> <p><img width="299" height="500" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u11/imag0060nt.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p><img width="500" height="299" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u11/imag0061yr.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p><img width="500" height="299" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u11/imag0062s.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>As it turns out, they had no idea what it was. I called on a weekend, and they said they would send someone to my home on Monday to investigate. I stressed that this was a wire just flying loose above ground, and that it was clearly not just a tripping hazard but was no doubt the cause of all the service problems we&rsquo;d been having.</p> <p>On Monday morning, Comcast called to say that my wife needed to call them back to let them know she would be home for the appointment we had scheduled. Why? We made the appointment the day before, we specified the time. Anyway, my wife called back, stayed home, and Comcast decided not to show up anyway.</p> <p>We called back requesting a new service appointment. We were then told that we could be charged for this call out if it was considered unnecessary. What?! A loose wire running across the main path between my front and back yard, a path used by two young children (3 and 5) is, in my book, something that needs immediate attention. Not according to Comcast. And by the way, my monthly bill is not exactly small. Including Internet and Phone, my Comcast bill is around $180 per month. And that includes a special promotion I&rsquo;m on. When that expires, my bill will be closer to $220! For that kind of money, I want decent service.</p> <p>After no luck with Comcast to resolve this wire, and the increasing costs being directly proportional to the decreasing customer service, I decided after 7 and a half years that I would call it quits. I met with a representative from DirecTV, told him what I was getting from Comcast and asked if he could beat it.</p> <p>He could. Oh, how he could. My new bill will be around $80 less per month than the &ldquo;special&rdquo; I&rsquo;m getting from Comcast. The only difference &mdash; I won&rsquo;t be getting the Starz movie channel in that package, which is $10 a month to add on. No worries. And next year, when my introductory offer ends, I&rsquo;ll still pay $50/month less than I pay on the Comcast &ldquo;special.&rdquo; Plus, I get way more advanced technology, including an HD DVR that holds 400 hours (as opposed to 60 with Comcast) and can be hooked up to every TV in the house. But I will miss On Demand and a few other cable luxuries.</p> <p>What bugs me most about this is that Comcast is a GIANT of a company. They have no real competition, being the only cable company in Colorado and several other areas. They say satellite is competition, but it&rsquo;s a different technology. If you want cable, with those great services like On Demand, you have to choose Comcast. They know this, and they abuse that knowledge. So much so that they are now hemorrhaging customers at an increasing rate. And when you lose a customer who has been with you longer than most people are married these days, you have big problems.</p> <p>I should have been easy to keep. Comcast should have jumped on that dangerous wire (which is still there at the time this article was published), they should have apologized, they should have made good, they should have done a lot of &ldquo;customer service 101&rdquo; things. They could have said &ldquo;hey, we are really sorry about that, we&rsquo;d like to pay your cable bill for two months to make up for the poor reception and dangerous wire.&rdquo; They could have given me a TV package upgrade for one year. The second doesn&rsquo;t really cost them anything at all anyway &mdash; they just open a feed. As I used to work in the cable TV industry, I know what they can do. Instead, they basically just decided I wasn&rsquo;t worth it. Is it any wonder Comcast recently won the <a href="http://consumerist.com/2010/04/congratulations-comcast-youre-the-worst-company-in-america.html">WCIA (Worst Company In America)</a> award after twice being runner-up?</p> <p>And that&rsquo;s why I&rsquo;m writing today. Take from this what you will, but what I say is that you should not have to put up with the kind of BS that huge corporations like Comcast dish out on a daily basis. You are not just a number in a spreadsheet, you are not a statistic. If you&rsquo;re getting rotten service, vote with your hard-earned dollars and take your custom elsewhere. Don&rsquo;t feel trapped and told feel useless or apathetic. Sure, DirecTV doesn&rsquo;t have all the bells and whistles of Comcast Cable, but man, they are about to have the chance to make up for that with how they treat me. And if it doesn&rsquo;t work out, I&rsquo;ll try Dish Network. If that fails, I&rsquo;ll figure something else out.</p> <p>Bottom line, you are the customer and you have rights. Not just that, you have power. If every single disenchanted Comcast customer left for DirecTV or Dish Network today, Comcast would have a huge problem on their hands. They may have to lower their prices, or improve customer service. The power lies with us. And we can choose how to use that power.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-finally-canceled-comcast-cable-before-it-hurt-more-than-my-wallet">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/last-night-i-threatened-to-disconnect-my-cable">Last night I threatened to disconnect my cable</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-will-the-comcastnbc-merger-really-affect-you">How Will The Comcast/NBC Merger Really Affect You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-youre-being-a-terrible-customer">8 Ways You&#039;re Being a Terrible Customer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-retailers-with-the-absolute-best-customer-service">7 Retailers With the Absolute Best Customer Service</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-refund-when-something-is-non-refundable">How to Get a Refund When Something Is Non-Refundable</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Entertainment cable bill Comcast customer service Tue, 25 May 2010 13:00:03 +0000 Paul Michael 98238 at http://www.wisebread.com Want Free HBO or Showtime? Just Ask. http://www.wisebread.com/want-free-hbo-or-showtime-just-ask <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/want-free-hbo-or-showtime-just-ask" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2507062583_1d4a8a0226.jpg" alt="HBO" title="HBO" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Premium channels come with premium prices. Usually, between $10 and $20 a month, depending on the channel and your cable/satellite company. But here's something that applies across the board. They're usually available for free.</p> <p>I used to be employed by one of the big premium channels, and I can tell you right now that there are ALWAYS deals going on. The basic idea is one that drug dealers and razor blade companies alike will use time and again &mdash; get you hooked with a free sample, and then hope you come back for more later on, at full price of course. So, they'll do deals with you, via your cable/satellite company, to try them for free. Many people will cancel after the free period (this is called &quot;churn&quot; in the biz) but a good percentage will stick around because they like it, or they forget to cancel it. The latter is the most common reason.</p> <p>Right now in my zip code all FIVE premium channels have something special going on. I just got my mother-in-law a great deal &mdash; six months of HBO for free from Comcast. And all I had to do was call and ask for it. In this digital day and age, activation is instant and can be done remotely. Ten minutes after reading this article, you'll almost certainly have a free premium channel that you didn't have before.</p> <p>Just give your service provider a call, or use live chat if you prefer, and ask what special offers are currently available for the premium channels. If you're met with any kind of resistance, simply tell them that someone you know in the area got a deal for 6 months of free HBO, or Showtime, and then see what happens. As these deals are always going on, you will get offered something.</p> <p>If that fails, then the good old fallback is to say you'd like to cancel your cable or satellite service and go elsewhere. The customer service rep is usually authorized to give you a special offer as part of a &quot;save sale,&quot; which can also net the customer service rep some extra cash for keeping you around as a customer. And it makes good sense. It's far less costly to retain a current customer than to try and find a new one, and it doesn't really cost the service provider, like Comcast, anything to do this. They're already piping the feed through, they just have to turn it on at your end.</p> <p>Give it a try today and see how you do. Remember, insistence and determination is the key. No one wants to give you something for free at the drop of a hat. But a few minutes of your time can get you a few months of free entertainment.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/want-free-hbo-or-showtime-just-ask">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/last-night-i-threatened-to-disconnect-my-cable">Last night I threatened to disconnect my cable</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-will-the-comcastnbc-merger-really-affect-you">How Will The Comcast/NBC Merger Really Affect You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-8-best-ways-to-stream-tv-and-movies-for-free">The 8 Best Ways to Stream TV and Movies for Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/now-its-easier-than-ever-to-cut-the-cable">Now It&#039;s Easier than Ever to Cut the Cable</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-finally-canceled-comcast-cable-before-it-hurt-more-than-my-wallet">I Finally Canceled Comcast Cable…Before It Hurt More Than My Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Art and Leisure cable Cinemax Comcast DirecTV Dish DishNetwork movies Starz Mon, 22 Feb 2010 17:01:43 +0000 Paul Michael 5398 at http://www.wisebread.com Last night I threatened to disconnect my cable http://www.wisebread.com/last-night-i-threatened-to-disconnect-my-cable <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/151947_superman_imposter_1.jpg" alt="Super phone" title="Super phone" width="212" height="300" /></p> <p>Sit down, relax, and let me tell you a story. A story about how you get to be a hero, and how to get your cable company begging on all fours like a dog.</p> <p>See, I got my cable bill last night. It was not a shock, or a surprise. I know what I&#39;m paying, and I know I&#39;m paying too much. Way too much. Compared to either Dish Network or DirecTV, Comcast (or your own cable co., they&#39;re all the same) is undoubtedly the most overpriced way to watch TV and get Internet service.</p> <p>After seeing substantially cheaper offers, free equipment and all sorts of additional cool stuff, I had reached my breaking point. Why should I pay almost 50% more for almost exactly the same service? This is not the life of frugality I am preaching.</p> <p>So on behalf of Wisebread (and for my own selfish reasons) I called Comcast. I said right out I wanted to disconnect my service, and was not interested in any offers to make me change my mind. Of course, that&#39;s all I was interested in. I don&#39;t want to go through the hassle of returning equipment, stopping service, and setting up a new account with a new provider. That&#39;s way too much work. I just want more for less.</p> <p>After taking my account details, the customer service rep then went into SAVE SALE mode. You know it, I&#39;m sure. It went something like this.<br /><em><br />CSR: Why do you want to disconnect sir, is it because of the high price? (wow, talk about an admission)</p> <p>ME: Yes.</p> <p>CSR: Getting too much for you? (again, this is way more than I was expecting already)</p> <p>ME: Yes, I can get a much better package somewhere else for what I&#39;m paying now. I&#39;d just like to disconnect please.</p> <p>CSR: I should let you know, as you are a loyal customer I can offer you some very special deals right now.</p> <p>ME: Oh, really? (acting surprised and delighted) What would they be?</p> <p>CSR: Well, for what you&#39;re paying now I can upgrade you to the GOLD package (two movie channels, not one) plus I can hook you up to Comcast Digital Voice with unlimited long distance. That means you get rid of your QWEST phone bill, saving you around $30 a month, and no longer pay for long distance calls.</p> <p>ME: Sounds ok. But these other offers I&#39;m getting offer free DVR.</p> <p>CSR: Let me talk to my supervisor (I am put on hold for 5 seconds)</p> <p>CSR: Yes, we can offer you free DVR equipment. All you would need to do is pay for DVR service. </p> <p>ME: Ummm, if I can get FREE service too, I think that would be something I can go with.</p> <p>CSR: Let me check (I am put on hold again, for 10 seconds)</p> <p>CSR: Yes, we can do that. </p> <p>ME: Is there any charge for installation of any of these services?</p> <p>CSR: Yes, the digital voice is $49.95</p> <p>ME: Ummmm</p> <p>CSR: I can waive that!</p> <p>ME: OK, I&#39;ll do it.</em></p> <p>So, here&#39;s a quick summary. I was on the phone for 10 minutes.</p> <p><strong>Before</strong> I started, I had Comcast Digital Cable Silver (Around $78 a month) and High Speed Internet ($43 a month). I also got my phone through Qwest for another $30 a month, and that had no long distance. <strong>Total = $151 a month.</strong></p> <p><strong>After</strong> my 10-minute call, I had upgraded to Comcast Gold (2 movie channels) plus High Speed Internet, also got my phone service through Comcast (dumping my $30 Qwest phone bill) with free installation, I got long distance free, plus a DVR with DVR service and free installation. <strong>Total = $129 a month.</strong></p> <p>The moral of this story. Ask. It never hurts to call and see if your provider can do something to keep you around. It costs them a lot of money to acquire new customers, it costs a lot less to keep old ones. They will always try something. If they can&#39;t lower your price, they can most likely add services for no extra charge, like the DVR.</p> <p>Now, go forth and call your own providers. And let me know how you get on.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/last-night-i-threatened-to-disconnect-my-cable">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-finally-canceled-comcast-cable-before-it-hurt-more-than-my-wallet">I Finally Canceled Comcast Cable…Before It Hurt More Than My Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/want-free-hbo-or-showtime-just-ask">Want Free HBO or Showtime? Just Ask.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-youre-being-a-terrible-customer">8 Ways You&#039;re Being a Terrible Customer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-retailers-with-the-absolute-best-customer-service">7 Retailers With the Absolute Best Customer Service</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-refund-when-something-is-non-refundable">How to Get a Refund When Something Is Non-Refundable</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs better deal better service cable cable bill Comcast customer service haggling price negotiation save money Tue, 10 Apr 2007 16:51:25 +0000 Paul Michael 484 at http://www.wisebread.com