General Technology

Don’t use Neighborhood ISP – A review

I have been with Neighborhood ISP, based out of Orem, Utah, for almost a year.  It has been hands down the worst experience I have ever had with a paid service of any kind. If you are looking at what they offer and think “wow high speed for such a low price?? it’s just too good to be true!” IT IS. It is absolutely too good to be true.

Never a great experience

Our connection was never stellar. I sent regular emails to them about connection speeds, both up and down.  Sure, I’d have a week here or there where things were great. Nothing to complain about. But most the time it was far, far below their advertised speeds.

But the price was great, so I stuck with it.  Whoops.

From bad to worse

Then the last few months (Aug-Oct 2013) it became abysmal.  Regularly less than 1mb download speeds.  I sent repeated emails with screenshots of our connection speeds (through their suggested site of, see below). All I got in return was regular excuses.

Excuses, excuses

“We are currently working on the issue effecting your speed and hope to resolve it soon” – Aug 25
“More work is being performed tomorrow on the wireless facility tomorrow.” – Sep 4
“We believe there are a handful of speed issues related to our switch to a new fiber line which has not occurred on your wireless facility yet. You should soon receive an e-mail from our infrastructure team about this upgrade process over the next few days.” – Sep 20
“we are trying everything we can to resolve the issues. Our field technicians are working solely on this issue as there are still a few customers remaining that this is happening to. … We take speed issues very seriously and I have escalated this e-mail chain to our Director of Broadband Services.” – Sep 24 (never heard from the Director)

[[While writing this post I couldn’t save a draft because of no connection. Lets see how often that happens]]

I made a call and they said that the “new tower would be done Oct 21” and there wasn’t much they could do until then. So basically being told “don’t call us until then”.  Weeks of additional sucky internet ensued.

I called again around Oct 21 when I was trying to work from home (trying being the key word here) and couldn’t get web pages to load. I worked with the tech to determine it was not my router, but a UDP vs TCP issue on their end.  An issue that “only 2-3 people on this tower are experiencing”.

Come to my house… please!!

I couldn’t even get them to come out to my house and check things.  They did come out once to replace something on my roof, but they were doing that for everyone in the area already due to the upgrades that were supposed to make everything better. Oh, I made the appointment, waited around for all afternoon on Saturday, and they never showed up. I wrote to complain and they said we weren’t on the list, even though the email chain I responded to had their confirmation of the appointment. They came a few days later.

In my last email to them I pleaded “Come check my POE [their equipment], check the wiring, switch my equipment out, find out what makes me special to have such terrible connection issues. Point me to a different tower, it can’t get any worse”. Nope, no offer to come out to the house, other then to remove my equipment if I wanted to cancel my service.

[[no connection, no save again]]

Why am I still here?

I have no idea why I subjected myself to such pain and stayed with them for so long.  My wife texted me several times to curse their name, even my children noticed enough to regularly complain.

One of the reasons I wanted to go with Neighborhood ISP (other than the too good to be price for the speed) was to support the local guy. I have given them chance after chance after chance to make things right.  Only responding to emails with excuses is not a way to make things right.

Credit where credit is due

Now to give credit where credit is due, I was always treated very well.  Their techs on both the email communication and phone calls were always very courteous. They gave me credit for the last month or two since my service was not what they promised.  They have also promised to refund my installation cost because of their not being able to provide good service.  Props for that.

Slow, slower, slowest

Here are some of the screenshots I sent to plead my case. All I got in response was excuses.

Sep 9

Sep 19

Oct 24

The above 3 images took about 5 minutes to upload (Oct 24 10pm). So I thought I’d check my speed again. At the moment I can’t even upload the screenshots of my current speeds.

Finally got them up (10:30pm)

First try, the upload speed didn’t even register
Screenshot 2013-10-27 21.36.22

Second round, it wouldn’t even connect. Left it trying for more than 5 minutes
Screenshot 2013-10-27 21.48.57

Just switched to connect through my phone because I couldn’t even get the page to save and I didn’t want to loose my work. (11pm)

Final Warning

This is a final warning. If you came to this page looking for a review of NeighborhoodISP take my advice and stay clear. Some day they may get their act together, but if there are problems the above should make it abundantly clear that you will not get anything but excuses from them.

Even if they get their act together with their speeds, their customer service is abysmal. Saying that you take speed very seriously in general, but taking no action for the individual customer suffering with minutes of load time per page is the big problem. I as an individual did not matter to them.

Again, this is hands down the worst customer service experience I have had with any company. As full disclosure, I did tell them that if they couldn’t get things taken care of I would make sure to post about my experience and ensure that any place that had reviews for them got a negative review.  They didn’t seem to care.  Responding with yet another set of excuses, no offer to come to my house to look into things, and the offer of a refund.

Do yourself a favor and look elsewhere. You have been warned.


Three Presentations

I have spent the last month working on three presentations to give at an internal conference at work.  Two on jQuery (intermediate and advanced) and one on Designing Faster Websites.

I have a new respect for those who give presentations.  It takes many many, many hours to come up with 45 minutes worth of thoughtful information.  Making sure you have the right content, making sure it is accurate and timely, putting it in an order that makes sense, making sure it is in a pleasant format that the audience will be able to consume easily, creating examples, tossing in humor or other elements to break up the constant stream of information you are trying to provide, etc, etc.  All that and I haven’t even had to go through the discomfort of actually presenting them yet.

Unfortunately due to this being an internal conference I won’t be able to put the slides up here when I’m done. It’s not like these subjects haven’t been done to death or anything, I’m just putting a spin on them that is more specific to those that I work with and the work that we do.

Yes, this was a lame little post to at least have SOMETHING on the blog this month.


Searching for an HD Video camera… an excercise in pain

ce24057-lWith some upcoming trips I thougt it was time for us to move to the world of HD video recording.  I bumped into a sweet deal at Costco on one and so picked it up (can’t remember the model… a Canon something or other).

Got it home and loved the quality of the video when plugging into the HDMI port and watching on my HDTV.

That’s where the fun ended.

When you save off the video from the camera it saved with a mt2s extension which is in a AVCHD format (yes those lovely acronymns of confusion).  There is most likely nothing on your computer that can read this format.  There are very few programs period that can read this format.  Most of the programs that CAN read this format, cost you some coin… sometimes some serious coin.

Our current video situation is using the video mode on our Canon S2-IS, that is 640×480 @ 30 fps.  The main issues I have with this is it’s not wide format, and can only go for 1GB at a time, or about 7 minutes. BUT… I can pull the video off of the camera and instantly watch it as they are simple .avi files which most computers have several programs that can read (my personal fav is VLC).

The fact that I had to download the video, and then run it through some converter (that I apparently need to pay for) before being able to watch it really bugged me.  I tried several freebies and all of them produced choppy results.  Even the esteemed iMovie on my work MacBook Pro came out choppy.

Not to mention the conversion process for a 2 minute video was like 30 minutes.

flip-ultra-hd-02aThis was plain unacceptable to me so I returned it to Costco (love their return policy).  A few weeks later we picked up a Flip Ultra HD.  This little unit has the advantage of being small, shoots 720p (for better then 480 quality, but not the ginormous size of 1080), shoots up to 2 hours of video (all at once if desired) and saves as .mov files for instant viewing.

The disadantages are it has no zoom (well 2x digital zoom, but yuck!) and no image stabilization. I thought I could live with this, but the image stabalization is REALLY getting to me.  Every one of our videos is incredibly shaky.  It also just seems to randomly skip frames or something, which I need to contact their customer support about, as it’s really bad.

So again, I am left wanting in the HD video market. Is it really THAT hard to come out with a useable product?  Something that has decent features including the ability to watch the videos I take without paying for additional software and goign through hours of conversion processes?

If anyone knows of something out there that has a decent 10x or so zoom, image stabalization, the ability to record for longer then 20 mins at a stretch (most photo cameras that do video have this type of restriction) and that I can watch as soon as I copy it to my comptuer, let me know.  I’d love to give some company my money, but no one seems to be ready to take it.