Polska Brain Jelly

Media Center Update: Pain in the Ass

by on Mar.31, 2010, under TV

I just finished spending several hours re-editing all of the channels on my Media Center PC.

Again.

Suddenlink decided it was going to restructure its channels.  That’s fine, they gave plenty of warning and they even sent out a nifty new guide in the mail.

I was pleasantly surprised to see an alternative channel listing in the guide for TVs that don’t grab the correct channel mapping.  This is perfect for me since Media Center doesn’t quite get everything mapped out correctly.  It also, for some unknown reason, doesn’t grab the HD channels at all, I have to add those manually.

Not a problem now, I’ve got a channel map!

I’m glad Suddenlink doesn’t make actual maps because they would probably guide people off of cliffs or into major bodies of water if they did.

About a week before the official March 22 transition the HD channels went dark.  I figured they were switching things early so I went ahead and manually added the new HD channels.  Out of the five I manually added, I received two.

Again, cutting Suddenlink some slack, I figured they were in transition on moving everything over and eventually the signal would come back.  I could live a week without the three HD channels I wasn’t getting since we don’t frequent those very often.

March 22nd comes and still no HD on those three channels.  I become worried that I didn’t enter them correctly, so I delete them and re-enter them.

No joy.

Surely Suddenlink isn’t having that hard a time transitioning over.  I decide to find out and give them a call.  After waiting on hold for forty five minutes (they were having some issues with the transition) I get a rep.  I ask if they are having problems with some of their broadcast HD channels because I was only receiving two of the five.  She says not that she knows of but she will send a signal to my box to check it out.  I inform her I have no box, that I’m running a Media Center PC and just need to verify the alternate channel mapping.  This totally baffles her and she puts me on hold to ask someone what to do.

I’m getting a sinking feeling at this point.

She comes back and says she will schedule a technician to come out and check on things.  I tell her that it probably isn’t necessary to send someone out but she says she can’t do anything other than that.

They fortunately had an opening for the next day.

The next day the tech comes out.  I explain the problem and he starts checking things out.

Before this point, I hadn’t tried to do a channel scan on the TV itself.  My TV actually has a very good built in tuner and maps everything perfectly.  While he’s checking the cable connections and signals in the back of the house, I start a scan.  About ten minutes later, all the channels, including the HD channels are found.

That sinking feeling is getting worse.

The tech says the signal isn’t great, but it’s not bad either.  I tell him that the TV is picking up the HD but not the MC PC, and ask him if the flyer that Suddenlink sent out with the alternate channel mappings was accurate.  He went out to his truck and grabbed a sheet of paper and compared it to what was on the flyer.  He said that everything matched.

At this point he said that since the signal wasn’t as strong as it should be I might look at replacing the old line (and it is old, crappy coax) and that should take care of the signal problem.  He called in a request to have the lines on the pole checked to make sure they were okay and said that would take a few days for that crew to come out and work the order.

After the tech was on his way I decided to wait for the pole check and see if that would help.  I checked periodically the missing HD channels hoping that the problem was up there and once fixed the channels would come in.

A week later, I decide they either didn’t fix anything and weren’t going to, or nothing needed to be fixed.  I resigned myself to replacing the cable in the house.

Before doing that though, I wanted to check the signal strength since I was getting two HD channels.  I hook up the coax to the TV and use the built in signal strength indicator.  All of the HD channels showed the same strength.  It wasn’t full strength, but it wasn’t off by much.

This piqued my curiosity.  I couldn’t grab the actual channel mapping from the TV, but I could use the software that came with the tuner.  So I install WinTV 7 (uhg) and have it do a channel scan.  Lo and behold, it picked up all of the HD channels.  And the three that I wasn’t getting after manually adding them?

That’s because Suddenlink didn’t print the right channel mappings.

Yep, all this time I was working off of faulty information.

I appreciate Suddenlink sending out a heads up on the switch, and even sending out an alternative channel guide.  I have to wonder how hard it is to PROOFREAD the information for accuracy.

I certainly hope this is an isolated incident and that they aren’t truly this incompetent.  Checking through other channels and the flyer, there are a lot of channels that are mis-printed.

So now that I have the correct mapping, I’m going to scan the corrected flyer and post it for reference.

On a side note, just for giggles I checked out Silicon Dust’s channel guide.  For the past few months they didn’t have the local line-up.

True to form, I could have saved a lot of time and effort checking their info first since they now have the updated local line-up.

Update: I’ve posted a scan of the alternate channel guide with corrections.  There is a link in the header to the page with the scan.  Enjoy!


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