I wasted my entire stupid day troubleshooting this stupid Arris modem

So I’m living elsewhere temporarily while my apartment is being demolished. I’ll be here until it’s rebuilt. Who knows when that’ll be. But that’s not the point. The point is that I have Time Warner Cable here and I’ve had the chance to use Road Runner for an extended period of time now. I’ve used Road Runner at friends’ homes several times in the past and had opportunities to do speed tests and the like, but I’ve never had the chance to use it on my own terms, with my own computers and home network equipment. I’m very upset at somebody — I know not whom — about a grievous oversight in the instruction manual for the DOCSIS 3.0 modem/router TWC gave me. The trouble is that I don’t know who to blame. It’s an Arris TG862G. Frankly, I had never even heard of Arris before they gave me this thing. The installer, who mentioned, by the way, that he has FiOS at home, said that the device is both a modem and a router, but that TWC doesn’t let customers change the SSID or the passphrase on the network, so if a customer wants to change that information, he or she must use his or her own router. I didn’t really care, since I do have my own router and I figured I’d just have to live with a suboptimal home network split on two different subnets (192.168.0.xxx on the Arris router and 192.168.1.xxx on my router). I didn’t think I was able to have TWC put the Arris in bridge mode since the TWC connection is on the account of the owner of the place in which I’m living (though nobody else will be using the connection). I figured I’d either do the 2 subnet thing or I’d simply use my own router as a switch and actually use the Arris router as a router. I figured I’d decide once I logged into the web configuration pages on the Arris and saw what features it had. If they compared favorably with my own router I’d just go ahead and use the Arris and use my own router as a switch (I have a real 24-port switch, but it, along with most of my stuff, is in storage until the apartment is fixed)

Anyway, the reason I’m angry is because either Arris wrote bad instructions or TWC made a slightly modified firmware for the Arris modem with an annoying feature. The manual says you can access the web GUI at, which of course is similar to most routers. I connected my computer directly to the Arris via Ethernet cable with nothing else connected to the modem but the coax cable and the AC adapter. I set my computer to get an IP address automatically to rule out the possibility that some pre-existing configuration on my computer was causing problems. I typed in the address, waited… and it timed out. After trying all sorts of other combinations (,,,, etc…) I finally figured out today (2 days of web searching later) that you can only access the web configuration GUI if you unplug the coaxial cable from the Arris modem first. If you have the coaxial cable plugged in and you try to access, it’ll just time out. The fact that this isn’t mentioned in the manual is a major oversight which caused me a huge pain in the neck. All I wanted to do was access the port forwarding settings page, which should be the simplest thing in the world but because I lacked this simple bit of information I had to go on a wild goose chase of searching through forums and support pages, none of which actually mentioned this. Hopefully posting this information will save somebody a bit of time configuring his or her Arris cable modem/router in the future. I just wish I knew whether it’s Arris that made this feature or if it was an adjustment that TWC does to the units they send to customers. I know that Comcast uses this same modem for some of their customers, so I’d be interested in learning if they also suffer from this “feature”.

P.S. The connection tests about 35Mbps/5Mbps to test sites in the NY/NJ area.

I’ve done some speed tests using Optimum Online

I’m on vacation with my family today and the place where we’re staying has Optimum Online service. I’ve never used this service, but I remember there were rumours several years ago about shit service and crazy policies about P2P throttling.

These are the same people who have a TV commercial that claims they are the only ISP in United States to offer 100MB/s service. Yes, they actually explicitly write “100 MB/s” in the commercial. There is no ambiguity in those units; they denote megabytes per second, not megabits per second. This is a blatant lie. OOL does offer 100Mbps (read megabits per second) in some service areas, but not 100 MB/s. They’re just doing that because they think that most people will respond to the capital letters and the exclamation point in the commercial, rather than the actual measurement, which is incorrect. That and the fact that they assume (probably correctly) that even the people who do realise that the usage of the capital letters makes their commercial a lie either don’t care enough to hold it against Cablevision or are in a position where Cablevision is the only non-ADSL ISP available.

But because of the rumours about insane throttling on all service tiers to low speeds as well as the false advertisements, I’ve always had a mild dislike for Cablevision in general and OOL specifically. I also think it’s stupid that the Internet service is called “Optimum Online” while the television service is called “iO”. Time Warner has a separate name for their Internet service and call it “Road Runner”, but at least they’re consistent about it; they call all three of their services “Road Runner”. Verizon also calls all three of their FTTH services — TV, Internet, and phone — “FiOS”. I don’t think Verizon even has a catchy name for their ADSL service; I’m pretty sure it’s just “Verizon ADSL” or “Verizon High-speed Internet”.

My point is that having two names is acceptable, but having three separate names is asking too much of the consumer. Most people can’t even answer the question “who is your ISP?” so asking a person to remember three names for the same company as well as which specific service each name refers to will just cause confusion. Plus “iO” is a stupid name anyway. It’s almost as bad as “XFINITY”.

But I did some speed tests here and they’re consistently good. I was tempted to test some bittorrent downloads and I did for about 10 minutes but I soon started to feel guilty, seeing as it’s not my connection or anything. It was just a linux ISO though so there’s really nothing to feel bad about at all. It looks like these people have the 15Mbps/2Mbps plan. I was able to download at 1.4MB/s on the linux ISO but the speed soon dropped to about 200KB/s and remained stable. I’m sure that’s not throttling though; it’s just a bad configuration on my side, I think. I was curious to see how long the speeds would be sustained, but I really felt too self conscious running a torrent client on a stranger’s connection so I closed it.

On the other hand, I was able to download consistently from my FTP server at home at about 1.7MB/s, even while it was busy seeding ~1000 torrents. This is why FiOS is so great. While they don’t explicitly allow you to run any type of server from a residential connection, there’s nothing stopping me from running an FTP server. I ran it on port 2121 just to be safe, but on dslreports I read that they don’t block it even if you do run it on port 21. My IP address at home barely ever changes either. It’s a bit like the Earthlink connection I used to have, where running any sort of server was formally forbidden but, in practice, even port 80 was open and I could host a tiny website for years, without having to change the DNS information more than once or twice a year since the IP address always stayed the same.

Verizon don't seem to care that I use my full bandwidth 24/7. Who needs to pay for hosting when FiOS residential service is this fast?

My conclusion from today is that I wouldn’t mind terribly if I had to live somewhere in which Cablevision was the only ISP. The channel guide menu on the STB is a bit slow to respond, but I bet this is because it’s an old SD STB they have here. This is the first time I’ve ever used OOL or seen iO TV, so I wouldn’t know if the Scientific Atlanta 4200 is still being given out on new installs or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised if newer boxes have a firmware update or something with a nicer-looking guide. This guide is faster to respond than the guide on the HD STBs from Time Warner Cable that I had, but slower to respond than the Verizon FiOS STBs I currently have. The selected line on the guide moves less than one second after you press the up or down arrow with this iO TV STB, whereas with the TWC boxes I had it was at least one second or even slightly more between the time the user would press a button and the time the selection bar on the screen would actually move.

I had a dream that was sort of about FiOS

I dreamt that I was riding in a city bus, looking out the window, when I spotted an advertisement on a phone booth that announced,

At long last FiOS 1 coming to the New York City area on 12/10/2010!

I knew in my dream that December 10, 2010 had already passed. I think it was still March in my dream. I was confused as to why I hadn’t yet noticed that FiOS 1 was now available, seeing as the sign suggested that I could have been watching it for more than three months by then. I was bit angry.

I love FiOS, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t ignore the explicit message embedded in this dream. That is, the logo for FiOS 1 New York that was on the sign in my dream looked exactly like this:

Now, I would never go back to Earthlink for Internet service. Road Runner itself is not available here, but Earthlink was my ISP through some kind of arrangement with TWC. Not that they were unreliable or anything — they were the perfect ISP in nearly every way — it’s just that they hadn’t upgraded the speeds they offered since 2001. If TWC increased the upload speed on their Wideband service here in NYC, I would consider switching to it, even though it’s still more expensive than 35/35 FiOS service, which is still the fastest package available here. In parts of Long Island though I think Verizon has introduced 100/25 service or something like that. At least that’s what those commercials with “real” customers with those dumb Long Island accents seems to indicate. Paying more for Wideband if it had comparable speeds to FiOS is worth it, if you ask me, to get NY1. Wideband upload speeds just aren’t fast enough to compete with FiOS though at this time.

Now, having said that I would never switch to any other ISP as long as they don’t upgrade their offerings, I have to admit that I miss New York One like I miss my first edition holographic Charizard. The several times I had been in homes in New Jersey in which the owners had FiOS, they all had a channel called FiOS 1. I’ve read in forum posts online that some FiOS customers in New York City get the Long Island/New Jersey FiOS 1 channel, but I don’t. As a result, I have no real replacement for NY1. There’s channel 460, which is NBC New York, but that’s not so much a dedicated local news channel as a variety show/elaborate promotion of tourism. They tend to spend entire half hour programming blocks profiling some local fashion designer or visiting “hot NYC restaurants and nightclubs” or some such rot. It’s not a channel that you can turn on for 10 minutes before leaving home in the morning to find out about the weather and what the top local news stories are.

Weatherscan on channel 49 solves the weather problem, but there’s still no dedicated local news channel. I think my dream counterpart and his puzzlement at the lack of a New York version of FiOS 1 (or even reception of the LI/NJ version) reflects my conflicted feelings about the loss of NY1.

Of course, I could always get TWC for cable TV service and keep FiOS for Internet service, but that’s impractical for two reasons: it would be at least twice as expensive as a package deal and TWC cable TV was about the most unstable service around during the last two years or so that I had it. The STBs were rubbish, even after multiple replacements, and would crash like clockwork nearly every day during primetime, taking as long as 20 minutes to turn back on after a crash, every Sunday at midnight the EPG data would run out and it wouldn’t update until Monday night, even after many forced hard resets, Pay per view and even free videos on demand would fail to load far more often than was acceptable, and the picture quality really was inferior, at least to my untrained eye.

One point on which to praise TWC cable TV service though was the fact that there were at least a dozen, perhaps two dozen, free non-English, non-Spanish language channels. There were several CCTV channels, a few Korean language channels, at least one Arabic channel, and quite a few others. I think RTN might have been free too on TWC, though I’m not sure. On FiOS all of those require a subscription, even CCTV, which I always assumed was free with all TV service providers. TWC also had a much better selection of pay-per-view movies on demand. TWC updated their Sundance, IFC and foreign language film sections very frequently; FiOS doesn’t even have a foreign language movies section, let alone an independent films section or a documentary section.

Since well before I even had FiOS here I’ve read over and over again that FiOS 1 is supposed to be coming to New York sometime before the end of 2009. This is getting to be a little bit disappointing.

My Internet connection is so damned fast though. I really can’t even take my own complaints seriously when I think that I actually have a 35/35 Mbps connection. That’s not a lie. In fact, it’s a little bit faster than that. I can download at a sustained 5.0MB/s and upload at a sustained 4.0MB/s. I still don’t believe it. I was on 8.0Mbps/384Kbps on Earthlink cable and ~2.5Mbps/512Kbps on Verizon ADSL before this.