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Comcast absolutely doesn't give a shit about it's customers. They couldn't care less about my problems.

Comcast stared blocking outgoing port 25 traffic. You can only send out mail on port 25 if you are sending to comcast's own mail servers. This is a pain in the ass for many customers because it makes it very difficult to use non-comcast email. So at home, I have a server that accepts incoming email for johnmasone.com. It doesn't send email directly, it relay's all mail through comcast's SMTP server. So I'm very much inline with their rules, though technically they don't differentiate between incoming and outgoing mail servers... an incoming only mail server doesn't send anything, so if these blocks are really about preventing spam like they say, they I am very much inline with the spirit of the rule.

So starting Friday March 28th, my port 25 became blocked almost completely. I could send out to comcast's mail serves (actually I assume this is the case. I don't use comcast email so i could have been completely blocked). I went online to comcast's tech support chat, and here is the hilarity that ensued:


[21:05] John > Can't send or receive email

[21:10] advanced_tool_log > user John_ has entered room

[21:10] advanced_tool_log > analyst David has entered room

[21:10] David > Hello John_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is David. Please give me one moment to review your information.

[21:10] John_ > hi

[21:10] David > I apologize and would be happy to assist you in correcting this.

[21:10] David > Are you getting an error message? If you are what does it say?

[21:10] John_ > as of this morning, i am no longer able to send mail or recieve it

[21:10] John_ > port 25 is blocked in both directions, except out going to comcast mail servers

[21:10] John_ > i am unable to send mail through any of my email addresses


[21:11] John_ > and i'm unable to recieve any mail at all



[21:11] David > what email program are you using?



[21:11] John_ > apple mail


[21:13] David > I have reviewed your account and determined that our Customer Security Assurance team has placed a block on your connection, preventing the use of Port 25.  This block was put in place because we have received complaints that a PC connected to your modem has been compromised and is being used as a Spam zombie.  In other words Spam is being generated from one or more of your computers without your knowledge. To restore mail service, we require that you reconfigure your application to use Port 587 and you enable authentication. This link has walk throughs for reconfiguring common email application:

http://www.comcast.net/help/faq/index.jsp?faq=EmailOutlook_Express18537



[21:14] David > For your incoming server you would want to use port 110



[21:14] John_ > oh WAAAAAIT a minute



[21:14] John_ > i have NO pc's at all on my network, only Macs


[21:14] John_ > there is ZERO chance that a computer on my network is a spam bot


[21:14] John_ > tell me how i can get this port 25 block lifted ASAP


[21:15] David > I apologize, we cannot lift this block but once you convert to port 587 you will be able to send and receive with no issues

[21:16] John_ > this is completely unacceptable, you have to remove the block

[21:16] John_ > i'm paying for internet service, and i can't even sent email.

[21:16] John_ > i don't use comcast email, i use email through my own websites


[21:16] John_ > this has to go over port 25



[21:16] John_ > that is how smtp works


[21:18] David > I apologize for the inconvenience if you are accessing a different smtp server you can contact them for an alternate secured port as port 25 is unsecured and has been blocked on your modem


[21:18] John_ > ok well how can we unblock it


[21:18] John_ > if i specifically have been blocked, then i can be unblocked

[21:19] John_ > if there really is spam coming from my network i will work with you in every way i can to identify and stop it, but in the end i need prot 25 opened up

[21:20] David > I apologize we are unable to do this. Like I said converting to a different secured port will resolve this and protect everyone from spam


[21:20] David > Is there anything else I can assist you with today?



[21:21] John_ > you have yet to help me with my first proble



[21:21] John_ > m



[21:21] John_ > why is my INCOMING port 25 blocked also?



[21:21] John_ > how could that possibly effect spam?



[21:21] David > Your incoming mail should be set to port 110



[21:21] John_ > undertand something



[21:21] John_ > i am NOT using COMCASTS mail servers



[21:22] John_ > i am not talking about pop



[21:22] John_ > i am talking about SMTP


[21:23] David > Again, I apologize but the port has been blocked and you will need to re configure for a different port.


[21:23] John_ > incmoing smtp mail can ONLY come in on port 25



[21:23] John_ > does comcast want me to continue being a customer?


[21:24] John_ > if so, then we need to figure out what needs to be done to get my port 25 opened again.


[21:24] David > Do you have a mail server set up at your home?



[21:24] John_ > yes for incoming email



[21:24] John_ > outgoing email all goes through comcast, or other mail

servers (until yesterday)


[21:27] David > Any personal email should come in on port 110. If you are running an online business or mail server at your home this wouldnot be allowed in our terms of service for residential high speed internet

[21:27] John_ > i don't run any outgoing mail servers at home, all my outgoing mail goes through YOUR mail server. i only recieve email


[21:30] David > what is the smtp server name?



[21:31] John_ > that i send through or recieve through?



[21:31] David > that you receive through


[21:31] John_ > johnmasone.com

[21:33] David > I apologize. You would need to contact your webhost for an alternative port

[21:34] John_ > you clearly do not understand what i am saying to you because none of your answers are relevant


[21:34] John_ > i'm going to start over



[21:34] John_ > i am having two problems



[21:34] John_ > first problem is


[21:36] John_ > my port 25 is being blocked for inbound traffic. This means that i can't recieve mail on johnmasone.com, which points to my comcast IP. This is not buisness traffic, this is not an outgoing mail server, this is a computer that JUST recieve mail and thats it. This block has NOTHING to do with spam because it is blockign INBOUND connections which could not possibly be used to send anything at all.


[21:36] John_ > my SECOND problem is...


[21:36] John_ > i can no longer connect to any outbound SMTP servers except comcast's

[21:36] John_ > so i cannot send email from any of my email addresses which are hosted on 3rd party servers, LIKE my business email address, which is hosted on a server in a data center in michigan

[21:38] John_ > And note that both of these problems started TODAY. Yesterday, and for years and years previous, i had no problems at all.

[21:40] David > Your other outbound SMTP servers would be able to provide you with an alternative to the unsecured port 25 as we provide port 587 you could contact them for this. Our user agreement also bars the use of mailservers on the account

[21:41] John_ > First of all, you understand that either port 25 or 587 can be secure or insecure. Second, i am not running an outbound mail server, i'm just recieving mail. Third, you said that I am blocked because spam was detected coming from me. I'm telling you that is impossible, so lets talk to the security team, go over their logs, get this settled and have them unblock me

[21:42] David > I am sorry once you are blocked this cannot be unblocked.


[21:42] John_ > i'm sorry that is simply untrue. you are lying to me


[21:42] John_ > i am a systems administrator myself, i know this is not true


[21:43] David > Our security department will not unblock you.


[21:44] John_ > this is not acceptable. i am willing to work with your security department to make CERTAIN that no spam is coming from my network. But telling me 'once your blocked you can't be unblocked' is completely bullshit and you know it

[21:45] David > They determined there was too much traffic and closed the port. You can call 1-856-324-2025 to speak to our security assurance group if you has additional questions

[21:46] John_ > is there a specific person i should talk to? an extension?


[21:47] John_ > also is there some sort of reference number?


[21:47] John_ > trouble ticket?


[21:47] John_ > etc?



[21:47] David > That number will get you right to the security group



[21:48] John_ > ticket number, anything like that?



[21:48] David > There is no trouble ticket for this



[21:48] John_ > can you make one?



[21:49] John_ > i want record of ALL OF THIS



[21:49] John_ > because i do not trust comcast



[21:49] David > I apologize I cannot



[21:49] David > I will note your account for you


[21:50] David > Again for your residential comcast email you can easily convert to port 587 with the instructions on the link I gave you

[21:50] John_ > i am nost sending comcast email, the link you gave me is of no use to me

[21:51] David > You can contact the security assurance and your other email providers for alternatives


[21:51] John_ > ok



[21:51] John_ > i will do that


[21:52] John_ > i am unable to copy text from this chat window, is there a way i can get a transcript of it?

[21:53] David > You can always highlight the text of this chat, and then Copy and Paste it into a document such as Microsoft Word, or Notepad etc.  You will also be given an opportunity to either Print or Copy the entire transcript at the end of the session after you are given a chance to fill out a survey.

[21:54] John_ > thats what i mean, i cannot highlight the text. it doesn't let me select any text in the chat window. but as long as i can print it that will suffice.

[21:54] John_ > ok i beleive we are done here. I'd say things but you really haven't solved my problem. Hopefully the security people can.




Note how he absolutely doesn't give a shit. Also note how he seems to have no idea that SMTP both sends and receives email. All he understands is basic "send through smtp, check through pop" client side stuff. Also note that at first he says I'm blocked because of SPAM complains, THEN later on he says I'm blocked because of too much activity.

Another fun part is the end. So this online survey, once you fill it out, there is a submit and a view transcript button. If you submit the survey, the transcript is gone forever. I guess thats their sneaky way of making sure people don't post this crap in their blogs. I had to contact them again Monday, talk to a supervisor, and have him look up this transcript in the big comcast database of unsatisfied customers.

Stay turned for Part 2 of the story, which is when I actually called the Comcast Customer Security Assurance Department. I was actually foolish enough to think "OK let me call these people, they'll straighten this mess out" HAHA ...

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Part One of this story.

So at this point, things get a little sketch. I called Comcast's Customer Security Assurance team. Unfortunately it was a phone call, so no transcripts. And I called with the idea in my head that they were going to solve my problems, so I didn't think to try and record the conversation.

So I got right through to a human very fast. It was a guy with a very stern voice. I told him that I was having problems with port 25 being blocked. He told me to wait while he looked up my account. Then he came back and before we could even get into my port 25 problem, he proceeded to scold me because my port 80 was open. Port 80 is the port web traffic goes over. He went on and on and on how port 80 was forbidden. I asked him if he had bothered to look and see what was running on port 80? All that is there is a a redirect to this web site (hosted on my real collocated server) and a personal bookmark page (that you can't see because it's password protected). He said no it didn't matter what was there. Just having port 80 open was a strict violation of their TOS. You can't do ANYTHING on port 80.

This is completely absurd. What possible reason could they have to ban this? It can't be for excessive bandwidth use. An average gzip compressed web page is maybe 10K. Compare that to something like bittorrent use. Web traffic is an insignificant drop in the bucket. I could see if I was running a real enterprise website, in that situation the could take issue with it. But its a PERSONAL bookmark web page, and a redirector to this very blog that no one even reads. WTF.

So then we got to the port 25 mess. This guy was a complete dick. He absolutely didn't give a shit about anything I was saying. Most of the time when I asked him something, he wouldn't even respond until I was like "well, are you going to answer me?" Again with the 'no port 25 use at all'. I said I don't send anything I only receive. No port 25 use at all. How could my accepting incoming mail possible pose any kind of risk to anything at all??? "its not my job to argue with you about the rules, it is what it is". He told me "it is what it is" several times during this phone call. Again he told me once you are added to a port 25 block, there is no way to get it unblocked. I told him thats bullshit, there is no such thing as a router that on adds new rules, and doesn't let you delete or modify existing rules. I then went on to tell him if it's a policy thing, then lets talk to whoever we need to talk to, we'll make sure my system is secure, and get port 25 unblocked. He told me HE is the guy that makes the decisions. Unlikely. He again told me that once a block is made it can't be undone. Again he told me "it is what it is".

During this conversation he also brought up the spam excuse. I quickly interrupted him to tell him there is no way a single spam has ever been sent from my system. I've got all macs. He then went on to tell me that macs can get viruses and spam bot infections too just like pee cees. I told him thats complete bullshit. I don't know if I told him he was talking to a mac tech or not, but there has yet to be a single OS X virus live on the internet. Only 'proof of concept' viruses made on a test computer. He's completely full of shit. But he also doesn't care. Every comment I made, was followed by silence. He had nothing to say. His job seems to be to scold/intimidate comcast customers. He had zero interest in my what my problems were, or how we could solve these problems. He was only there to yell at me and send me on my way. If I treated my customers the way this guy treated me, I would NEVER get any call backs. I would be out of business.

There was much more absurdity in this phone call but it was 5 days ago and I just don't remember it word for word. I sure wish I had recorded the conversation, then I could have typed it out word for word. I also wish I took the guys name. But I'm sure he's trained to be a dick & intimidate customers he talks to.

BUT the good news is RCN is available in Stoneham now. So I can switch to an RCN package that has internet twice as fast as our current comcast plan (10 MBits down), more TV channels than we get now, and a static IP address that doesn't get ANY ports blocked at all, all for $10 LESS than what we pay for comcast. Then I can run my little bookmark page, and host my personal johnmasone.com email in peace, without getting random port blocks, and without being told any server automatically means business, business if forbidden on residential internet. Comcast can lick my balls.

I also found this great group on Facebook: www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=15135185550
Join it if you hate comcast!! hahaha.

- - - I hate posting this article because I know there was more stuff that I'm forgetting about this phone call. But oh well this is all I can remember.

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So apparently my Jury Duty headaches are never going to end.

So First I got called to jury duty April 9th in Lowell.

I requested a transfer, and got changed to April 10th in Woburn.

Then I got a letter in the mail regarding my April 9th jury duty in lowell. I called them up and they had no record of any transfer to Woburn, even though I have right here in my hand, a card saying ""your juror service has been changed to the time and date below ... April 10th, Woburn Courthouse..."

So even though their records show Lowell, I want Woburn and have the card that says Woburn, so I decided I'll just go to Woburn.

So now, 7 days before my jury duty, I get another transfer notice in the mail, saying my jury duty has been changed AGAIN to lowell, April 17th. I never requested another transfer, so I don't know what the fuck is going on with these people, but it is seriously pissing me off, and stressing me out.

So I again requested another transfer to Woburn today, but that was denied. So NOW, I have to write a nice long letter, with copies of all these things they keep sending me, to try and get it transfered back to Woburn.

These people are so fucking retarded. You'd think after 232 years, they would come up with a way to do jury duty that didn't have errors like this.

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If my camera phone didn't suck, you'd see that this guy's bumper sticker says "Practice Safe Sex, Go Fuck Yourself"

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Heres a Pic of my new bike. I just finished putting it together. I had to put some shitty old pedals on it because my new ones haven't come yet. And the brakes are acting kinda... messed up. I'll have to look into that. And I need to properly pump up the rear shock. But otherwise it's good to go. Very good. And very go. You'll see a lot more of this bike, I guarantee it!

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Also, we finally switched to RCN and cancelled Comcast.

For a few dollars less per month, we get:
10 MBit Internet (vs 5 MBit on Comcast)
Digital Cable with ~100 extra channels (vs just basic cable with Comcast)
Tons of Free HD Channels (Including NESN!!!!) (vs just broadcast channels like Comcast)
A static IP with NO port blocks (vs a dynamic IP and call after call from Comcast Customer Intimidation [security assurance] department)

Yes including NESN. If your HD TV has a built in HD tuner (QAM tuner), you can get Red Sox games in HD, for FREE. You don't need a box from RCN, they don't encrypt any of the basic cable HD channels. Now we are getting "DigitalVision" which I assume is digital cable. So you might not get NESN HD if you just get super basic regular cable. But if you get regular digital from RCN, YOU CAN GET NESN HD. I don't understand why they hide the fact that you can get all these HD channels for free. Especially NESN HD. RCN could really steal a lot of customers from Comcast in Red Sox Nation if they advertised this bonus!

Don't forget to join this Facebook group if you hate comcast:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=15135185550

Hehehehe

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I have so much stuff listed on Craigslist right now, I figured I'd share it with the world.

Most of it is left over bike stuff from all my recent upgrades.

My Orange Hardtail Kona Roast Frame with Custom Gyro: $225
boston.craigslist.org/nos/bik/634039123.html

My Silver Maverick ML7 Frame with BB, headset, some other stuff: $1300
boston.craigslist.org/nos/bik/633534054.html

New set of Hayes HFX 9 Carbon Brakes: $250
boston.craigslist.org/nos/bik/635444823.html

New Maverick DUC32 Fork and WTB/Mavic Wheelset: $1200
boston.craigslist.org/nos/bik/641148726.html

New SRAM X-9 Trigger Shifters: $80
boston.craigslist.org/nos/bik/641048076.html

New Hutchinson Barracuda 2.3 Tires: $75
boston.craigslist.org/nos/bik/641039115.html

And some non-bike stuff too!

Wood Coffee Table/Cabinet: $25
boston.craigslist.org/nos/fur/635435761.html

Some Old Lego 9V Train Tracks: $13
boston.craigslist.org/nos/tag/641203741.html


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Not by the cops. By an older couple, who pulled me over at a stop sign to ask me if I had a card. I was like "huh?" Then the guy goes "You fix Macs right?" I laughed and gave them a card, then drove off. This is the first time I've ever been stopped over my license plate.

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This is what 2110 CDs look like, in 14 boxes. Of course I zoomed in a little which kind of flattened the perspective blah blah blah there's more boxes than it looks like. That's a lot of CDs. And I get paid $1 per CD, which is nice. That many CDs is about 33,600 songs. 83 days of continuous music. That's a lot of music. And I didn't see one CD that I wanted to take a copy of. Not that I would have ;-)
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