Categories
football rant tech

Doomed by the dish

So it’s the biggest college football weekend of the year.
And I’m missing all of it.
I am not doing so willingly.
Friday, we had some thunderstorms in the area. Nothing too bad, though the rain was intense at times, and we had a few lightning strikes here and there. But it’s rained much worse, and we’ve had lightning last longer.
Our DirecTV satellite dish system became inoperable at some point Friday afternoon. Two days later, still nothing. It would seem, after all the troubleshooting I’ve done, that the problem is the dish is out of alignment.
My bride thinks the disalignment began with the severe cold snap we got last month, which brought in some ice, and we lost the satellite signal for about a day. She thinks, and I can’t find any fault in her logic, the weight from whatever ice collected on the dish was enough to begin the process, and wind since has steadily moved it more until it’s just off enough that we’re getting nothing.
Except last night.
At midnight.
When we were turning in, and I just kicked on the satellite receiver for the heck of it.
This morning, nada. Nothing. Reset all three receivers. Zip. Zero. On startup, the receivers never get beyond 0% in receiving the satellite signal. I’ve checked cables on all the receivers. I checked the cables in the OnQ box upstairs. My friend Drew suggested I disconnect one of the satellite lines from the multiplexer in the OnQ box and hook it directly in to one of the receivers, to rule out the multiplexer as the problem.
So I lugged my JVC 13-inch television, and the attached receiver, from the study, upstairs to the OnQ box, and plugged it in directly. Still nothing.
So, having ruled out everything else, it has to be the dish itself.
This is what was determined yesterday afternoon, when, after 24 hours of no signal, I called DirecTV technical support. (Note: If you have to do this, never waste time with the first-line customer service reps. All of the ones I’ve spoken with have been pleasant, but they’ve got limited knowledge, and your best bet is to ask them to connect you to “second-tier tech support”, where more knowledgeable folks reside.) The tech rep I spoke with, after I explained to her everything I had done to that point, said it sounded like everything had been ruled out but the dish itself. So she scheduled a technician to come out to the house to get up on the roof to realign the dish.
Thursday.
Thursday.
Just in case you didn’t catch that, the tech is coming on Thursday.
Thursday, January 4th. After which there is only one bowl game of any significance, the BCS Championship Game.


So if I get to watch any of the big bowl games tomorrow, it will only be due to Brent’s generosity in inviting me over to his place. I’ll get to watch the bowl game I care about the most, LSU vs Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, over at Drew’s. (Which isn’t bad, since we all went to LSU, Drew and I were in ROTC together, and it’s always fun to watch the games with fellow alumni.) Still…Thursday?
Apparently the technicians don’t work on Sunday, and I can’t begrudge them a day off during the week. They’re not working on what is likely the second-biggest football day of the year (after Super Bowl Sunday, of course), since it’s New Year’s Day, and I can’t begrudge them having that day off, either. Likewise, no techs are being scheduled on Tuesday the 2d, as that’s the National Day of Mourning for President Ford. I can’t begrudge them that, either. And since Wednesday is the first day available after three straight days of unavailability, it’s booked solid when I called on Saturday afternoon. So I’m left with Thursday.
And while I can’t begrudge the techs the above three days off, I’m still left with the feeling that this all stinks. The timing absolutely sucks. At no point did anyone from DirecTV say, “Gee, you’ve been a customer of ours for nearly a decade. Let’s see how soon we can get someone out there.” Which would of course have made me deliriously happy, but we can’t always get what we want, which is someone out right now to fix the problem.
Because the problem is about twenty feet up, on the roof of our second-story home with a steep, pitched roof, and I have no ladder taller than eight feet. And while I don’t fear heights, the prospect of getting on the steep, pitched roof while it’s as windy as it is today–provided I had a ladder taller than eight feet–isn’t very appealing.
I know what those of you who know me are probably thinking: Why don’t you have Verizon’s FiOS TV, anyway? You have the fiber optic for Internet and phone, why not for television, too?
A good question, certainly, and the answer is this: because earlier this year, midway through January and before FiOS TV was available, my bride placed an order with DirecTV for two of their new satellite receiver/DVR units, and this locked us in to a new, two-year contract with DirecTV. Even though we were long out of our original contract. That’s why we don’t have FiOS TV. (And please don’t think I blame my wife in any way. The receivers these new ones replaced were old, and sucked, and we wanted DVR capability in the study and bedroom.)
I’m seriously considering looking into what it would cost us to break that last year with DirecTV. I’ve been looking at TiVo units direct from TiVo, because, despite the company’s problems, their product is still the best DVR available, and all others pale in comparison. There may be a hefty cost for a switch now, but I’m wondering if it would be worth it to never again have to worry about being doomed by a unaligned dish.