Referral links

Unlike other ads on this page, the two links below are to services I use - if you're looking for a new SIM or broadband connection I can personally recommend them, and these are specific referral links that I can get bonuses from if you sign up, so please use them :-)

Get a free giffgaff Sim Broadband from £5.99 a month with an included wireless router when you sign up to Plusnet - terms apply

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Why do I pay for music streaming on WE7? And why On-Air On-Sale (OAOS) is a good thing

Shortened link to this page if you need it - http://goo.gl/x0OsF or on twitter feel free to retweet me instead

(Note: This article was posted on April 16th but was drafted before the announcement from Spotify about limiting 'free' users to 10 hours/month and each track no more than 5 times)

Those who follow my blog (or twitter feed) will have heard me talk about a dissatisfaction with the media industry and their attempted heavy-handed techniques towards their customers in relation to activities surrounding the UK Digital Economy Bill (DEBill). If you missed it, it's here.

As part of that I mentioned that it's actually almost pointless illegally downloading music these days because of the availability of free alternatives such as Spotify and We7, and to a lesser extent Youtube (which generally requires higher bandwidth for comparable quality). Now We7 and Spotify are both free-to-use, and they do this by playing you adverts periodically (we7 allow you to build up credits towards ad-free days) but both of those two streaming services provide subscription options (Roughly £5 for use on a computer, £10 to also include mobile use because the music publishers insist on extra charges for mobile use - I actually disagree with the mobile charging, but think charging for OFFLINE use - mobile or otherwise - would be more palatable and worth paying for ...) but why would you bother paying for any subscription?


  1. You get rid of adverts. Maybe not a killer reason for the casual listener but as someone who often streams for several hours a day it's significant
  2. I want to give something back to the artists etc. who choose to make their music and I feel the service is worth paying for in order to support its continued operation.
  3. I like being able to listen to lots of new music to preview before purchasing. We7 has not reduced the amount of music I pay for (actually it's probably increased it) but it's allowed me to make vastly more informed decisions about what to buy. In fact I know I'm not the only one who's LESS likely to buy music if it's not available on the streaming sites.
  4. In the case of we7 they have a fantastic policy of trying to make as little as possible available only to paying subscribers. for example the recent Jessie J and Claire Maguire albums were available free on We7 but subscriber only on Spotify. At the time of writing only Adele's 21 has been subscriber only (blame XL recordings...)


So that's why for me it's worth the subscription fee, plus We7 are UK-based (Oxford) so as someone based in the UK I'm supporting a British company and they don't need installation of a proprietary cross-platform application since it's flash based (which can be a positive or negative!).

On the related second topic of the "On-Air, On-Sale" (OAOS) policy from Universal and EMI in January which happened (whether coincidentally or not) in the wake of a screwed up UK release of Britney Spears' "Hold It Against Me" it's important to note that it applies to streaming services - which means tracks should be on Spotify/We7 etc. as quickly as they appear everywhere else. It is another good anti-against piracy from the industry and also prevents cover versions of tracks being released in the so-called "pre-release window" and taking sales away from the original artists. And despite the likes of Gaga's high-budget videos still appearing I do wonder if the importance of music videos will decrease with OAOS since tracks are getting publicity/sales through other legal mediums even before a video is available. People are now immediately able to click and buy when they hear something instead of getting a primary music fix via exposure to videos on TV or YouTube and then having to go out and make a physical purchase as was the case in the past. Reducing video importance would likely help balance out the extra publicity big acts get from spending money on videos, thus ultimately helping the independents despite what Chipmunk seems to think. On a related note the increasing amount of product placement being used to finance music videos is possibly making the ad-funded services from We7 etc. more acceptable to a wider audience.

To make sure the music industry doesn't start to feel complacent with my comments in this article, one thing I really don't appreciate is a recent trend to release more "special editions" of albums a year or so after initial release. If you've bought the original at release time (as a loyal fan of an artist would) then you feel let down if a new version of something you bought is released with a few extra tracks. You either do without, shell out for a new CD, or download the extra tracks (which may cost as much as a new CD if it's a 2CD edition). Ke$ha, Gaga, Taio Cruz, Alexandra Burke and Pixie Lott are all artists who have done that sort of thing in the last year or so. It will end up encouraging you not to bother buying and just stream where you'll be able to get the 'new versions' at no extra cost. Not very sensible when the record labels would rather encourage you to buy rather than stream product that you want to listen to repeatedly.

In the interests of openness, other streaming services are available - I just haven't used them (other than last.fm for scrobbling) :-)

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Netgear's technical support- case study in incompetence

I had to post this transcript of a conversation I've had with Netgear support over almost six weeks trying to get an answer to a question about having problems creating an IPv6 tunnel using one of their routers. The level of technical non-support was shatteringly poor from a company that should understand networking equipment. I hope this blog serves as a warning to others - I will not purchase any Netgear equipment in the future.

After the last response I gave up since their vague response left me unconvinced they understood enough to ever give me the answer I wanted - "other features that support the use of IPv6" is sufficiently vague to not be a useful answer. The summary of faults I have with the support in general are:


  1. The first reply said "it may require a few email exchanges before we can resolve the issue". OK I accept that many people may not supply all the information to let them resolve first time round but I didn't think it was because of incompetence from the support team
  2. At one point I got an "we will close the ticket if you do not respond" after the previous response said "The next level support engineer will update the case and you will be notified"
  3. The level 3 (I think) support didn't seem to understand the difference between TCP port 41 and IP Protocol 41 so I felt the need to give this networking company a lesson in TCP/IP and point them at the appropriate RFC. I didn't really get the feeling I was dealing with anyone with a significantly better level of expertise.
  4. Their final response of "Please note that this router does not have support for IPv6 and other features that involve the use of IPv6." doesn't really give a direct answer to the question - I want to know if they block a specific IPv4 protocol that happens to be used to encapsulate IPv6


Netgear's responses are in italics in the transcripts below. After the last response below I posted this blog entry and sent them a link to it. I have excluded any 'template' information from their signature blocks including references to their 'Knowledge Base' at http://kb.netgear.com

A particular piece of such template information was; "Did you know that NETGEAR provides support for your home networking devices and PCs? One-stop solution! No need to call multiple vendors* for support. If you would like to learn more about the NETGEAR GearHead services please click on this link http://kbserver.netgear.com/kb_web_files/gearhead/home.html". I don't think I'd get that desperate!

On a positive I did get to use a reference to XKCD 806 ("Shibboleet") in a support request.


2/6/2011 5:45:00 PM
Hi, I have a WNR1000v3 (N150 Wireless Router) provided by my ISP.

I'm tying to setup IPv6 connectivity using a tunnel over IPv4 from Hurricane Electric but am so far failing to get any traffic through it.

To elimibate one possibility can you confirm if my router is blocking protocol 41 (the IPv6 in v4 encapsulation protocol) and if so how do I configure it to pass it correctly?

Many thanks!

Stewart...
--



2/9/2011 4:24:00 PM
Dear Stewart,

Thank you for choosing NETGEAR. My name is Mandeep and I will be your support engineer. I appreciate the opportunity to assist you.

I understand that you want to set up Ipv6 connectivity using a tunnel over IP v4 on the NETGEAR WNR1000v3 wireless router. I apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced. Since we are doing this online, it may require a few email exchanges before we can resolve the issue. Please be assured that I will do my best effort to help resolve your case in the least amount of time.

Regarding the concern, please note that WNR1000v3 router does not supports Ipv6 feature.

I believe this answers your query. If you need any further help, please email us back so that we can continue to work on a solution.




2/16/2011 4:54:00 PM
Notes added by 2673
Dear Customer,

This contact is with reference to your Online Case Submission mentioned in the subject. This is to inform you that your query has been replied to and there is has been no update on the case since then.

I appreciate your efforts with us. Please note that your case gets auto-closed through an automated system after 7 days of inactivity. So that your case does not get closed without resolving your query, kindly update your case as soon as possible at your own convenience.

If you have not received the answer to your query yet, please login into support portal using the link – http://my.netgear.com and click on the 6th option, i.e. ‘Online Support Submissions’. You will be able to see all the cases that you have ever logged using the support portal. Click on the linked case number to view our response to your query.

Kindly follow the suggested troubleshooting steps for your query, and check if that resolves your issue. If your issue still persists, please click on ‘No’ under the question “Was your problem resolved with the information provided by the NETGEAR representative above?” and submit your reply with the details on the consequent screen.

If your issue is resolved, please click on ‘Yes’ (instead of ‘No’) under the same question to close your case. When you select ‘Yes’, your case will be closed and a separate e-mail containing a survey link will be sent to you to measure your customer support experience. Please try to fill in your valuable feedback and send it back. We would love to hear your feedback about the support you received so that we can use it to improve the quality of service that we offer.

Regards,


Mandeep Kaur
Technical Support
NETGEAR, Inc.
http://my.netgear.com



2/16/2011 5:54:00 PM
Hi, while you seem to have understood my question by saying "Ipv6 connectivity using a tunnel over IP v4" you have apparently not answered the correct question by saying my "router does not supports Ipv6 feature."

I know it doesn''t support IPv6 natively, the question was whether it blocks RFC2473''s protocol 41 over IPv4 or is it only able to route TCP, UDP and ICMP over IPv4?



2/18/2011 9:51:00 PM
Dear Stewart,

Thank you for choosing NETGEAR. My name is Mandeep and I will be your support engineer. I appreciate the opportunity to assist you.

Regarding the concern, I would request you to let us know the Serial Number and the Date of Purchase of the router so that we could assist you further.

Once we receive this information, we should be able to determine our next action.

Sincerely,

Mandeep Kaur
Technical Support
NETGEAR, Inc.



2/20/2011 9:59:00 PM
Why do you need a serial number when you didn''t for the first reply you gave? I''m asking for some information on product features, or is that in some way specific to the serial number instead of just the model? It would be nice if you would just answer the question since the experience so far will result in me never purchasing a Netgear product again in the future ...

In the interest of progressing to an answer, the serial number is **REMOVED FROM BLOG**. I have no specific purchase date as it was sent out by my ISP for an FTTC trial - it was received in the middle of January 2011.



2/21/2011 6:16:00 AM
Dear Stewart,

Thank you for choosing NETGEAR. My name is Mandeep and I will be your support engineer. I appreciate the opportunity to assist you.

Based on the complexity of this case, it may be appropriate for me to seek additional resources. I recommend escalating your case to the next level for further review and response. I strongly believe that you will be contacted at the earliest.

This message is for your information only. There is no additional action needed from you at this time. The next level support engineer will update the case and you will be notified.

Again, thanks for choosing NETGEAR and we appreciate your continued patience. We will get back with you shortly.

A system generated e-mail will be sent to your e-mail address to inform you that we have responded to your inquiry. Please DO NOT REPLY to the e-mail sent to your e-mail address. Instead, if you want to reply to the message above and have additional query, please click "no" when the system ask you "Was your problem resolved with the information provided by the NETGEAR representative above?" When you select YES, your case will be closed and a separate e-mail containing a survey link will be sent to you to measure your customer support experience.

Thanks again for choosing NETGEAR. Have a great day!


Sincerely,

Mandeep Kaur
Technical Support
NETGEAR, Inc.

***Please be aware that your case will auto-close after 7 days of inactivity***


2/27/2011 2:10:00 PM
Notes added by 2673
Dear Customer,

This contact is with reference to your Online Case Submission. This is to inform you that your query has been replied to and there is has been no update on the case since then.

I appreciate your efforts with us. Please note that your case gets auto-closed through an automated system after 7 days of inactivity. So that your case does not get closed without resolving your query, kindly update your case as soon as possible at your own convenience.

If you have not received the answer to your query yet, please login into support portal using the link – http://my.netgear.com and click on the option ‘Online Support Submissions’. You will be able to see all the cases that you have ever logged using the support portal. Click on the linked case number to view our response to your query.

Kindly follow the suggested troubleshooting steps for your query, and check if that resolves your issue. If your issue still persists, please click on ‘No’ under the question “Was your problem resolved with the information provided by the NETGEAR representative above?” and submit your reply with the details on the consequent screen.

If your issue is resolved, please click on ‘Yes’ (instead of ‘No’) under the same question to close your case. When you select ‘Yes’, your case will be closed and a separate e-mail containing a survey link will be sent to you to measure your customer support experience. Please try to fill in your valuable feedback and send it back. We would love to hear your feedback about the support you received so that we can use it to improve the quality of service that we offer.

Regards,

Mandeep
Technical Support
NETGEAR, Inc.
http://my.netgear.com



2/27/2011 4:05:00 PM
Hi,
I just got a reply asking me to reply or the case will be closed. The most recent non-reply from you after I gave my serial number said "it may be appropriate for me to seek additional resources. I recommend escalating your case to the next level for further review and response." and finished with the oddly worded "I strongly believe that you will be contacted at the earliest." This is a generic product information question and should not require continual bouncing of communications to get a useful answer.

To me your last response sounds like the action to be taken is on YOUR side, not mine now so why have I received the ''7 day'' message? I have no knowledge of the escalation process, it''s not defined in the email, so I cannot POSSIBLY do anything.

Can you please get someone with a vague degree of competence to read through this thread, understand how unhelpful you''ve been so far, and perform whatever escalation it is that your assistant has told me needs to be done because me experience so far only reminds me of http://xkcd.com/806



3/1/2011 6:28:00 PM
Dear Stewart,

Thank you for choosing NETGEAR. My name is Mandeep and I will be your support engineer. I appreciate the opportunity to assist you.

I apologize for any inconvenience this issue has caused. Regarding the concern, please note that we have forwarded the case to the concerned department and will get back to you as soon as possible. Your patience and cooperation will be highly appreciated.

Please feel free to contact us again if you will require further assistance.

Sincerely,

Mandeep Kaur
Technical Support
NETGEAR, Inc.





3/4/2011 1:09:00 PM
Notes added by 2487
Dear Stewart,

Thank you for choosing NETGEAR. My name is Anand and I will be your support engineer. I appreciate the opportunity to assist you.

I apologize for the delay in the response. Please note that our Level 2 has advised us the below mentioned information:

1. Home series routers like WNR1000v3 have the capabilities of VPN passthrough.
2. Answer to the question “whether it blocks RFC2473''s protocol 41 over IPv4 or is it only able to route TCP, UDP and ICMP over Ipv4?” is that by default ports are not opened so you can just go ahead and open the required port on the router and "YES" it is only routing TCP,UDP and ICMP over IPv4 by default.
3. Follow the below steps to forward the port on the router:

1. Connect a computer to the router using any one of the 4 available ports.
2. Open a web browser like Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox or Safari.
3. Access the router's GUI by typing 'http://192.168.1.1' or 'http://www.routerlogin.com' in the address bar.
4. When prompted for Username and Password, please enter 'admin' for the Username and 'password' for Password.
5. Click on Port Forwarding under Advanced. Click on 'Add Custom Service' button.
6. Specify any name for the service (PORT1).Select type as TCP/UDP.
7. Specify the Start and the End Port as 41.
8. In the server IP Address specify the ip address. Click Apply.

Please do visit http://kb.netgear.com for any technical queries regarding NETGEAR products.

I hope the steps above will help resolve the issue. If you need any further help, please email us back so that we can continue to work on a solution.

Sincerely,

Anand Gupta
Technical Support
NETGEAR, Inc.

***Please be aware that your case will auto-close after 7 days of inactivity***




3/4/2011 1:41:00 PM
I seriously do not understand how a networking company can fail to understand what I''m asking. I''ll go back to some basic internet networking education to help you.

IP is a protocol used to send packets from one system to another over a network.

There are other protocols layered over IP that allows connections to be made. These include TCP, UDP, ICMP and many others. They all have numbers associated with them (Full list at http://www.iana.org/assignments/protocol-numbers/protocol-numbers.xml)

The concept of a ''port'' as you''ve described it to me is a TCP/UDP concept.

My question is regarding Protocol number 41 on the IANA list. THIS IS NOT THE SAME AS TCP/UDP PORT 41 despite the reply you''ve sent me. Protocol 41 is the standard IPv6-over-IPv4 protocol as described in the RFC I gave you. I can''t possibly make the wording any clearer than I have already.

Can you please get someone who properly understands networking to give me a clear response, instead of yet again wasting my time with a stupid answer.




3/7/2011 3:37:00 AM
Dear Stewart,

Thank you for choosing NETGEAR. My name is Mandeep and I will be your support engineer. I appreciate the opportunity to assist you.

Based on the complexity of this case, it may be appropriate for me to seek additional resources. I recommend escalating your case to the next level for further review and response. I strongly believe that you will be contacted at the earliest.

This message is for your information only. There is no additional action needed from you at this time. The next level support engineer will update the case and you will be notified.

Again, thanks for choosing NETGEAR and we appreciate your continued patience. We will get back with you shortly.

A system generated e-mail will be sent to your e-mail address to inform you that we have responded to your inquiry. Please DO NOT REPLY to the e-mail sent to your e-mail address. Instead, if you want to reply to the message above and have additional query, please click "no" when the system ask you "Was your problem resolved with the information provided by the NETGEAR representative above?" When you select YES, your case will be closed and a separate e-mail containing a survey link will be sent to you to measure your customer support experience.

Thanks again for choosing NETGEAR. Have a great day!


Sincerely,

Mandeep Kaur
Technical Support
NETGEAR, Inc.

***Please be aware that your case will auto-close after 7 days of inactivity***





3/15/2011 5:29:00 PM
Notes added by 2487
Dear Stewart,

Thank you for choosing NETGEAR. My name is Anand and I will be your support engineer. I appreciate the opportunity to assist you.

I apologize for the inconvenience caused to you. Please note that this router does not have support for IPv6 and other features that involve the use of IPv6.

I regret to inform you that this is a product limitation.



Sincerely,

Anand Gupta
Technical Support
NETGEAR, Inc.

***Please be aware that your case will auto-close after 7 days of inactivity***





Since you appear to be unable to grasp the concepts I am talking to you about (IPv4 protocol 41 is, as the name suggest, an IPv4 protocol, and your response of 'features that involve the use of IPv4' is sufficiently vague and meaningless to be wasting my time again.

I have therefore taken the entire transcript of our discussions and posted them online as a warning to anyone considering purchasing a Netgear device and expecting technical support. I shall not be purchasing any future Netgear equipment.

Should you wish to forward it to your management team, the blog is at http://goo.gl/A6i4U

Regards,

Stewart...
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