Tuesday, June 06, 2006

HD6: Return of the Dish

Another chapter, and hopefully the last, in the HD saga. A technician came out this morning and replaced a few components and yet again reaimed the satellite dishes for even better signal strength. All seemed well, but with an intermittent problem, what does that prove? And sure enough, an hour after he left, the problem reared its ugly head. (Or headed its ugly rear?)

I called Dish and they scrambled to get someone back out today since I was already home for the day. The CSR this time said something about bad cable grounding. The owner of the local business with which Dish contracts, who was the one to install this system in the first place, along with his "apprentice", came out and frowned thoughtfully at the receiver.

It's so hard to tell the tale in this situation. They can't really diagnose a problem without having the information they need, but they're in such a hurry they don't want to listen, they want to jump to the end. I make an effort to tell them everything they need but not belabor the things they don't need; I do this kind of thing on computers myself so I know what I want to hear when I'm on the other end. But the Dish folk are always too harried for that.

In almost no time they dismissed the "cable grounding" possibility and concluded the DVR itself was bad. Apparently someone else was having the same problem earlier in the day and he hears tale of many more. I didn't want to hear this -- the idea of waiting a week to spend five hours setting up timers again in hopes it'd solve it and not knowing if it would did not appeal -- but I had been afraid of that anyway. After all, I'd not had the problem with DVR #1 at all, but had it within hours of installing DVR #2. Of course, the intermittency meant that two days without a problem was not unheard of even with DVR #2, and DVR #1 had only lived a day and a half. So who knows?

He was on the phone with Dish for a half hour trying to arrange an RMA, and somewhere along the way, perhaps at the prompting of the Dish folks, they tried replacing the shiny silver box that I had been curious about since the problem first appeared. "It's the only thing that hasn't been replaced", they mused, though of course several other things hadn't: the cables, the dishes themselves, and our location, most notably. It didn't help.

Then on a whim they replaced the cable leading from the wall to the shiny silver box -- the one that had been there since we moved in, leading to the old Dish receiver. Still on hold with Dish arranging an RMA, the technician's eyes lit up. Somehow, he concluded, this was it. He swore he was 99.9% confident this would fix the problem. The old cable "looked ratty".

I agreed with him to cancel his ongoing RMA-related efforts. The fact is, if the problem recurred, I could easily do the RMA myself without him involved. So the logical course was to give this solution a trial, and if it failed again, I could move on to RMAing on my own.

It's been about two hours since, and I've been watching live HDTV ever since, flipping channels, watching some awful stuff, and not the slightest hint of the problem. Could this finally be it? Hope tenuously extends its blossoms, timidly seeking the sunshine. Or is it a trap?