Random: Throwing 'Bows at Nintendo's E3, at the NBA Playoffs, and at Comcast

Comcastic Billing

Yesterday I conducted the monthly ritual of paying my Comcast cable/internet bill. It’s a long, drawn-out ritual. A ritual in which you cannot pay by credit card without going through a lengthy account/card verification process spanning over a month or two. A ritual in which you deal with Comcast’s labyrinthine phone system that forwards you to a call center based on the area code you dial from, even if you’re a) using a virtual VOIP number or b) using your cellphone which may not be in the same area code. A ritual in which no one can help you figure out your lost internet account details to pay online because just having your account number isn’t good enough (a stranger might, uh, pay your bill for you!).

Oh it’s pure bliss. For a while I had a good phone number to call in order to get straight to automated billing, but now it forces me to enter in the phone number on my account, which forwards me to Dallas. Thanks. I know when I don’t hear that Tennessean twang when they pick up that Comcast has struck again.

So last night I call up, get bounced around a lot, and finally talk to some guy who is willing to help me out. The whole time I’m trying to get forwarded to the automated billing system by way of backdoor, because Comcast charges you to pay using operator assistance.

The guy takes my account number since I don’t know what phone number is on my account. He asks if I have two modems. Of course I don’t. He tells me I’m being charged for two! Awesome. No wonder my bill is so high (and my internet is about $90/mo).

The guy’s very helpful and complains about how shitty the software they use for order entry is. I totally relate and can imagine some really disgusting EGA screen with anal-retentive error checking and no software-programmed ability to deviate from standard operating procedure, which I clearly needed.

Anyway he seemed to be really competent and got my billing straightened out through the system. He fixed it retroactively back to February when I got my service installed. That meant I owed quite a bit less. So much in fact that I don’t have to pay this month and I still have $42 credit on next month’s bill.

Then the dude asks if I ordered regular (6mbps) or premium (8mbps). I told him premium and he told me I’d been on regular. Great. Well done! That turtle family on Comcast’s ads, the Slowskys? Is that a dig at ripping off the customer?

Anyway the problem got resolved and later when I was downloading, I got 1,100KB/s off Microsoft’s site, the fastest I’ve ever seen from home. Plus 420KB/s off a torrent. Wow! Now that IS impressive!

Then the dude chatted with me about traveling in the Mediterranean and in the Middle East since he used to be in the Navy and noticed that I was in the Army. He was pretty cool. Julie insists he was gay and was hitting on me.

This is probably because girls are weirdly obsessed with gay boy sex. =)

Nintendo Steals E3

Shigeru Miyamoto

Yesterday at lunch I watched the Nintendo pre-E3 conference via GameSpot’s live internet feed. Shigeru came out as an orchestra director at first. Then Reggie Fils-Aime came out and showed people playing various games using the new remote. He stressed the importance of having fun while gaming, and reaching out to the broader market. He asked if the audience knew anyone who HADN’T read a book or watched a movie or seen a TV show. Then he asked if they knew anyone who hadn’t played a video game.

Engadget has the best coverage of the event, including some quotes and the best photos I’ve found of it.

Words used a lot were “we/Wii”, “disruption”, “fun”. Nintendo wants to make games more interactive and more appealing to non-gamers.

Near the end, it was one of the most surreal things I’d ever seen when Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo President Iwata, Reggie, and a guy from the audience all got on stage to play doubles tennis. Whoever the ball was coming to would swing their remote like a racket and they had some sustained rallies. Shigeru of course looked totally crazy the whole time and it was just bizarre in general to see grown men giggling and swinging at the air. But it looked totally fun and I was pretty intrigued by it.

Link shooting a bow using the nunchuk and remote looked neat too.

Link drawing a bow in Wii

Now gaming industry shills are demo’ing all the wares and are reporting it to their blogs. What’s interesting is how quickly people are able to learn Nintendo’s new control scheme, and how universal and broad the appeal seems to be for the games.

I was pissed that they refused to give a price for the Wii or precise availability. Also there was little detail on the virtual console that promises backward compatibility. I would like to see Nintendo have an awesome online center for downloading classics and having rankings and creating a robust community.

In a way I see the DS as being Nintendo’s true future. If they can make a wide enough variety of games for it, and push it onto the non-gamer, then it’d truly be hit. I’m just throwing it out there, but how about a cellphone/voip phone and ipod built-in?

Bottom line: I’m really happy to see Nintendo appealing to gamers and non-gamers and looking for creative new ways to reach them. I don’t know if it will succeed but that kids-only gaming reputation Nintendo had (that kept me away lately) seems to be dampening.

Also, Nintendo is up about $2/share from where I bought. =P

NBA Playoffs

Did you know Jalen Rose has a web site? I’m sorry, I meant he had a shitty web site! The “a rose that grew from concrete” theme is so clever. Jalen is flamboyantly flaming and straight-street, both at the same time. And have you seen his court reporting? “HELLO I AM JALEN THE ROBOT. I AM VERY EXCITED TO COVER THIS GAME. CARMELO ANTHONY’S BATHROBE SUIT IS HORRIBLY 99.58380208…CLICK CLICK WHIRR MALFUNCTION MALFUNCTION”

I don’t know what Stackhouse is doing. Somehow he keeps being interviewed by TNT and I think I speak for all Dallas fans in saying I wanted to kick him in the balls for rebounding the ball at the end of game 1 and then running back to the 3 point line instead of driving while down by only one basket.

Slate diced up Kobe. I loved his childish behavior towards Raja Bell. And his pouting by refusing to shoot the ball and shouting at his teammates. What a champ.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CY0rLlkHEg

I’m convinced either Bill Walton uses knee pads during contract re-negotiation or Satan loves watching Bill do commentary on basketball games. Because I don’t know how this rambling, senile buffoon continues to be a voice on ESPN/ABC. He makes a game completely unappetizing as he rants about non-existent things, similar to Will Ferrell’s Harry Caray impression from Saturday Night Live but without the funny.

I’m soooo rooting for the Mavs. But can they keep shooting above 40% against the Spurs? They really should’ve won game 1. I was pretty damn nervous the whole two games!