Thursday, December 04, 2008

Verizon DSL tech support = fail


Quick rant...
A while ago, I started looking into what bit torrent is. I'm still not 100% sure I can explain it well, but I have a rough idea. Yes, there are a lot of people who use it to "share" "illegal" songs, and movies... But there are also a lot of people who use it for legal sharing. I had bit torrent working on my imac at one point long ago, but barely used it (found the interface confusing). I also know that it can be dangerous as far as viruses, and other nasties... it's sort of like the secret underbelly of the internet. (wikipedia here).
Well, a month or so ago, I tried to find a TV show on bit torrent. It was called "History Hacker" (a good show, but sadly the History Channel did not pick it up). I found it on one of the torrent sites and tried several times to download it. Nothing. I've since tried a few more torrent clients, and have had no luck at downloads. I kinda gave up on it all.
Well, the other day, I decided to try out a screen saver that I've heard alot about... called Electric Sheep. It creates these fantastic animations in these incredible fractal like movies.
I downloaded it, installed it, and tried running it... no luck.
I started digging around tonight on the electric sheep website looking for some sort of troubleshooting section. I found something that caught my eye... a "port test". Turns out, My port is blocked. Now, I'm a geek, but I'm not an ubergeek. Ports scare me because I don't know too much about them, and I don't want to go opening up my computer to unwanted attacks.
I then realized this is why my torrents were not working either (I swear they worked before, so I don't know if my ISP (Verizon) blocked them without me knowing, or somehow 'flipped a switch'. I thought, it might be worth a call, to see if I could find a nice tech support person to walk me through at the very least, an explanation.
Well, that was a mistake.
First attempt... I get a man with a heavy Indian accent,who starts with asking me some basic questions. (I had already made sure I was talking to the MAC tech support). I tried to explain the problem to him. Well, long story short, he had no idea what I was talking about. I didn't really get angry with him. I realize this is not a typical tech support question, but still. Then... he starts asking me "what virus protection program are you runnig?" Not to sound like a smart-a$$ I asked "This is the MAC tech support right?" (He didn't even get my joke). I realized this was hopeless. I asked if I could talk to someone else. Well, he didn't like that. He got snooty with me, and said "I was about to explain this until you interrupted me"... I apologized, and said "Oh sorry, go ahead" - Then it became comical. He floundered. He started telling me that when I "installed Verizon, that they automatically installed and ran a virus program on my computer called "VISS" - yeah right. I again asked to talk to someone else. He said he'd transfer me. Then a minute later, he came back on the line, and said he can't, that I should just call back again. ugh. I did.
Tech support two... (again heavy Indian accent) - he couldn't understand me when I recited my phone number to him. before I even got started, I made sure he was a mac person, he assured me he was. I asked if he was familiar with Bit Torrent... He asked me 3 times to repeat that... then he asked me to spell it (I assume so he could google it). ugh. This was going no where.
Finally, he fessed up, and said he understood my question about blocked ports, but said I would have to call back during daytime hours, to talk to "premium tech support" and that I should go through the billing dept to get to them. Right.
So, after a good hour spent surfing the web, and 30 minutes of wasted phone calls to Verizon, I'm still stuck here with no idea if I want to try and teach myself this, or just let it go.
Maybe I'll give "premium tech support" one more try.
If an ubergeek happens to find this blogpost, can you just tell me in the comments: Is there any real danger to going into my modem setup and opeing up port(s)?
I found http://portforward.com/ and could prob do it myself, but it sounds scary.

1 comment:

Tim King said...

Hey, Cyen. I ran across this post, because I was searching for blog posts about Verizon (because I'm thinking of switching from RCN to Verizon).

I don't know how much of an ubergeek I am, although some people would call me one. (You can check out my web sites and draw your own conclusions if you want.) Take the following for what it's worth:

As long as you're selective in opening your ports, you should be okay. That is, open only ports that you know are for specific services that you use and know about. Because the biggest danger lies in crackers getting in through services that you don't know about and haven't approved and aren't using.

Cheers,
-TimK