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What Software Do Cable Installers Place on Your PC? 973

Posted by Cliff
from the fishy-practices dept.
{e}N0S asks: "The cable guy came over to install a cable modem at my Dad's house. As I watched him do his stuff I noticed he was installing something called Broadjump Client Foundation. I know you don't need software for a cable modem to work so I asked if it was necessary. He said he had to do his list of things, and we had to sign that he did his list of things, otherwise he couldn't leave it with us to use. Since I can always remove the software, I agreed, but I noticed while he was flipping through the install, he was clicking 'agree' on every EULA that came up. Doing a search on Google for 'Broadjump Client Foundation' comes up with some pretty scary stuff as far as what it does, like: 'Builds a database of subscriber demographics and buying behaviors to help evolve and refine marketing efforts.' Now, how does this affect us? Neither myself or anyone in my family agreed to the software; the cable guy did. And is there anyway to get cable companies to stop doing this as I can imagine since the cable company is a monopoly in this town, that the percentage of people who still have this software on their computers is pretty high."
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What Software Do Cable Installers Place on Your PC?

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  • he installed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stratjakt (596332) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:34AM (#4546638) Journal
    nothing.

    he did nothing. i wouldnt let him. i just signed as if he did, to keep him outta shit.
    • Re:he installed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AlgUSF (238240) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:38AM (#4546679) Homepage
      Even better yet, I have DSL. It came as an self-install kit.

      1) Plugged DSL modem into the telephone line

      2) Plugged DSL modem into network hub

      3) Connected filters to telephones

      4) Threw install CD in the trash

      • by glesga_kiss (596639) on Monday October 28, 2002 @12:26PM (#4548179)
        I think most folk are missing the point here. No disrespect to those who posted their ways around the problem. Kudos to you for knowing how to set up IP.

        The point is that most internet users don't even know what an IP is. They don't care about linux, and they probably aren't even aware that there could be software doing "bad things" on their PC. These users are having spyware forced upon them in two ways:

        • The tech did the EULA for them without consulting them
        • The contract demands the software to be installed

        This is a serious problem. Let's actually discuss ways to resolve it for everyone, rather than trying to make ourselves look clever.

        • Missing the point? (Score:5, Informative)

          by scoove (71173) on Monday October 28, 2002 @01:38PM (#4548880)
          The point is that most internet users don't even know what an IP is

          This is true, and I'll play devil's advocate a bit (since I don't see many arguing the service provider's view - even though I personally and professionally object to this level of intrusion, and also perceive an EULA to be rather unenforcable).

          They don't care about linux, and they probably aren't even aware that there could be software doing "bad things" on their PC

          Exactly. In fact, it gets much worse. They will demand you do things to them that are fundamentally bad... such as a medium-sized business we recently switched over that had been running a T1 with public addresses on every desktop, confidential filesharing servers (with public IPs) with IRC, RPC, NNTP, and thirty other services running, and absolutely *zero* firewalling/security/etc.

          They got replaced with a rackmount Mikrotik router system and were immediately firewalled, RFC 1918 standard private IP network, etc.

          Their response? Forget about thank you - nothing about complaints that they can't see things from home anymore (no, they won't buy VPN software - think cheap), can't run personal websites on desktops, open relaying on their Exchange server was "broken", etc. Oh, and to explain this to them? "We don't want to know about those details. We just want it to work the way it did before without spending more money."

          Users will insist on being stupid about IP, security, etc. (I only mention this because it is part of the mindset you need to understand to see where the service provider is going to come from).

          The tech did the EULA for them without consulting them

          Come on... do you expect these folks to be experts about business policy? We train our guys to provide option A or B - A = installed our way, B = no install, goodbye and good luck. 90% of the customers are never an issue, but the 10% "I design websites, so therefore I'm a networking expert" types micromanage everything and work hard to screw it all up.

          The contract demands the software to be installed. This is a serious problem.

          Yes, and back to my clueless business example, here's why they insist upon it:

          "Every time you users download something, reconfigure something, whatever, you dick up your IP settings and make me spend $50 per customer service telephone call to fix it."

          By loading this software, I ensure that my configuration will probably stay on top of all the nonsense you put in there, and I can actually have a clue what is going on when you manage to screw it up still.

          The alternative is $500/month broadband (minimum...), or zero support (which doesn't work, btw - people would still blame the service provider when a tornado obliterates their home, destroys their PC, and "their Internet doesn't work.")

          Let's actually discuss ways to resolve it for everyone, rather than trying to make ourselves look clever.

          It really comes down to one of two options:

          1. Do it yourself. Know how to do all of this stuff as good or better than the service provider (and fake like you're an idiot customer with the spare Wintel box next to your connection for when you have to demonstrate the service provider has a problem).

          2. Let your service provider do it all for you. Don't care to learn IP? Don't want to accept responsibility for screwing up your IP service when you load that stupid "dialup optimization" software you saw in a pop-up box, on top of a broadband PPPoE connection? (usually also spyware... ugh) Be my guest... but understand that decision comes with a price. And understand that price usually includes your service provider getting to capture all that data on you, in exchange for protecting you from your own stupidity.

          The only other solution I can see is a Spyware-Free certification standard for service providers and software vendors. Establish a neutral entity, develop criteria for membership and verification, and allow people to promote that their product/service is compliant and recognized by the organization. Sort of a BBB approach to the issue...

          *scoove*

          • by aborchers (471342) on Monday October 28, 2002 @02:34PM (#4549362) Homepage Journal
            Extremely insightful post. Thanks for providing a counterbalance to the self-congratulating, elitist zealotry that is rife on this board. As a software engineer and consultant, I am more than familiar with the classic "luser" phenomenon, and sadly we have to assume that 99% of our users are clueless at best, and likely flat out dangerous. On the other hand, as a consumer of technical services (e.g. my DSL line at home) I find that dealing with tech support is uniformly frustrating for the advanced user because the providers are so focused on the clueless.

            It would not cost them a $50 support call to answer direct technical questions from experienced users if they would route questions properly based on their content. For example, if a user calls up, explains that he has changed network cards and asks to have the MAC entry changed in their database, it is not effective customer service to work through a thirty minute script only to end with an escalation to second line support when a direct bump to second line could have finished the call in one minute! (Example from my experience, obviously)

            Basically, phone centers need to program their script bots with something akin to keyword matching to determine when the caller is not going to be served by a cookbook of click heres and tab theres. In my experience, it is luck of the draw whether you get a first line rep who knows their stuff or is just following the script, and there are a lot of gradations between first and second line that could be subdivided more efficiently. Can it really be that cost ineffective to provide decent, non-irritating support to all levels of users, as opposed to just the clueless ones?

            • by Old Man Kensey (5209) on Monday October 28, 2002 @03:02PM (#4549616) Homepage
              aborchers wrote:

              It would not cost them a $50 support call to answer direct technical questions from experienced users if they would route questions properly based on their content. For example, if a user calls up, explains that he has changed network cards and asks to have the MAC entry changed in their database, it is not effective customer service to work through a thirty minute script only to end with an escalation to second line support when a direct bump to second line could have finished the call in one minute! (Example from my experience, obviously)

              I once got in the middle of a thread on the MindSpring customer-service newsgroups and posted a suggestion that they institute an "experienced customer" line. The idea being you get certified through them that yes, you really know what you're doing (maybe by taking the same tests of proficiency that their employees take?) and after that you're given access to a support line staffed by people who don't insist on going through the "is it turned on?" parts of the script. Who talk to you as though you have a clue, in other words. Hell, they could not only make money on it by charging a token fee (maybe $5 per month), they could use it as a pool to recruit new tech folks.

              Basically, phone centers need to program their script bots with something akin to keyword matching to determine when the caller is not going to be served by a cookbook of click heres and tab theres. In my experience, it is luck of the draw whether you get a first line rep who knows their stuff or is just following the script, and there are a lot of gradations between first and second line that could be subdivided more efficiently. Can it really be that cost ineffective to provide decent, non-irritating support to all levels of users, as opposed to just the clueless ones?

              It's all about metrics. If you don't force the techs to follow the same script, you can't effectively compare their performance and weed out the ones that aren't making good numbers. (The fact that you can't do that short of actually listening in on a tech's calls from time to time, we'll ignore for now.) ISO 9000 can be a good thing in its place; likewise Six-Sigma. This kind of cookie-cutter tech support is the worst possible application of both, but management just sees a documented, reproducible process and finds it Good.

              • by scoove (71173) on Monday October 28, 2002 @05:19PM (#4550984)
                I find that dealing with tech support is uniformly frustrating for the advanced user because the providers are so focused on the clueless.

                Absolutely concur. I'm one of those half-suit/half-geek oddballs and I spend a good amount of time dealing with embedded system projects (miniturization of router systems we put in ugly places like water towers). I've gotten used to simply waiting for folks to go thru their routine - in fact, I usually either get some good reading material out, sort my files, etc. while dealing with the basic questions.

                But putting the service provider hat on, I'm not sure there is a good alternative (but I'm looking for one!!!). For instance, Old Man Kensey writes:

                institute an "experienced customer" line

                but acknowledges the issue with performance measurement. I'll stick to an even more basic concern: cost.

                I hate to say it, but most of the 80% category (clueless users) are pretty easy to help. Like my mother-in-law. They'll write down step-by-step instructions and never deviate. They correctly assume that it probably was something they did that made things wrong, and have a much better attitude to deal with.

                The 2% elite geeks never even call unless *we* have something wrong, so they're a breeze too (and have managed to evolve in a hostile world and are pretty savvy at handling their service provider).

                It's the 18% "sorta knowledgable" users that cost us bucks on support. You know the type, false high self-esteem, marginal competency. Can use Frontpage so they're a self-declared web guru. Knows how to ping, and thinks he's the inventor of IP. Constantly tinkers with his PC and screws it up, but is certain it was the service provider's doing (even though everything worked until that service pack was applied). They start the support call by yelling at people, send nasty emails demanding to receive a personal apology from the CEO and credit for a year's worth of service, etc.

                They'll monopolize the phone. Ask you a thousand questions unrelated to their most recent screwup. They'll suck you dry on support. When you finally figure out how they screwed it up (the one thing they are naturally good at), they assume the problem was secondary and the service provider is just covering up the problem. Then they'll break it again the next day.

                It would not cost them a $50 support call to answer direct technical questions from experienced users if they would route questions properly based on their content

                But how do I weed out the posers - They're 90% of the self-proclaimed experts, and would be nearly all of my calls.

                (Incidentally, we keep a record of the 2% on our network and watch for their communications. They also get bandwidth boosts, doubling their rate shaping limits, as a little thank you for being competent. They thank us back by letting us know when they see something we should know about)

                Perhaps the only solution is to charge for support like the phone company did - e.g. "if it's not our network, it's your bill."

                *scoove*
        • by martintt (512215) on Monday October 28, 2002 @02:17PM (#4549241)
          Depending on quite what you signed I'd say the Eula wasn't signed for you and didn't apply to you.

          Possibly the cable installer has actually broken the Eula by transfering the software to someone else.

          Eitherway you haven't agreed to not reverse-engineering the spyware. It would be nice then to keep sending them back reports on your computers activity that are completely bogus if enough people did this then all their data would be pretty worthless.

          I'm sure most people dmake up names etc when they are asked to give out personal information (income gender age job etc) to get a service.

          The general tactic is its even better to give wrong data than it is to refuse to give any at all. As this way you are invalidating anything other people are conned into giving.

    • Re:he installed (Score:4, Interesting)

      by madshot (621087) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:40AM (#4546699) Homepage Journal
      I would just thank him for giving me my modem and show him the door. If he doesn't like it he can call his manager and complain :)

      I NEVER let anyone install any software on my company computers or my home computers that deal with broadband. Next thing you know you'll have spy wear and you can't remove it.

      • by s20451 (410424) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:07AM (#4546948) Journal

        Next thing you know you'll have spy wear and you can't remove it.

        Yeah, like this [dreamworks.com].

      • Re:he installed (Score:5, Insightful)

        by stratjakt (596332) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:35AM (#4547160) Journal
        The way the guy explained it to me, there are dozens of people who dont want him touching their computer.

        Then they cant figure it out (yeah, I know it's just turning on DHCP), and have to call him back to set it up.

        If the original work order isn't signed - then there's no proof he ever showed up at all, and the cost of rolling the truck the second time comes outta his pay. If it is, then the customer pays for the second call like he should.

        He really didn't care one way or the other, so long as the work order was signed.

        No need to dump all the anti-corporate conspiracy theory bullshit on the poor joe who gets payed 10 bucks an hour to hookup peoples homes.
      • Re:he installed (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Kintanon (65528) on Monday October 28, 2002 @11:09AM (#4547500) Homepage Journal
        Just as a note, the cable installer guys get paid per customer, not per hour (based on questions I asked the installer when I had cable from Comcast in baltimore). So they love to get out of there quick.
        It means they made 17$ for 5-10 minutes of their time.

        Kintanon
      • by bheerssen (534014) <bheerssen@gmail.com> on Monday October 28, 2002 @11:12AM (#4547522)

        If he wants to install his software, I point to my mandrake box and say "sure have at it." Gets 'em every time.



      • Alternative approach (Score:4, Interesting)

        by scoove (71173) on Monday October 28, 2002 @12:27PM (#4548188)
        I NEVER let anyone install any software on my company computers or my home computers that deal with broadband.

        This approach may get you permanently relegated to the slow lane of the Internet, if that (hint: what do you think your AOL or Earthlink connection does, especially upstream? Do you think they ignore all that nifty consumer buyer profile data they see pass through web proxies and such?)

        As a Cox.net consumer and manager of a regional broadband service provider (not cox - we service flyover country:-) ), I'd suggest a better alternative:

        - supply a stock Wintel PC next to your cable modem/DSL/wireless DSL termination. Win2K or WinXP are probably necessary.
        - use the stock machine for the installer to load his garbage on
        - use the machine for customer support calls
        - let it crunch keys or run some other distributive application
        - replace it in the link for normal operation using your router/internet sharing device of choice (e.g. RouterOS [mikrotik.com], Linux dual-nic, Linksys firewall router, etc)

        Just make sure you get the details down of how your service provider authenticates you and let you on his network - PPPoE, DHCP, MAC-based authentication, etc. and make sure your router solution is configured to do the same.

        Yea, I hate spyware and won't use it on my network either...

        *scoove*
        • Forgot to add... (Score:5, Informative)

          by scoove (71173) on Monday October 28, 2002 @12:47PM (#4548356)
          If you're concerned about spyware, be very careful about who's DNS server you list in your PC.

          Should your service provider wish, he can capture Ethernet traffic specific to DNS inquiries and compile some interesting information without even needing you to install and use his client software.

          We used this approach at my previous job (dealing with employee security and network use compliance... great job, eh? *sigh*) We had web proxy operating but had an occasional employee who bypassed the proxy and figured he could avoid detection as he surfed his favorite porn or gambling site. By tracking his DNS lookups (many of the sites had hidden references to sextracker.com which made it easy to spot), we'd take his URL of choice and map the DNS to monster.com or hotjobs.com - giving him the clue that continued use might be an opportunity to work elsewhere.

          Sniffed properly, your provider will obtain an IP address and the Internet address being looked up (e.g. sextracker.com). He can insert the sniffer in line with the DNS server(s) to simplify data capture (rather than have to deal with inspection on a bigger network).

          Should he limit DNS lookups on the same segment as his nameserver, you may be able to avoid this spying by operating your own DNS (e.g. on your dual-NIC Linux firewall) or by using an alternate DNS server.

          *scoove*

  • Have a honeypot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by samjam (256347) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:35AM (#4546651) Homepage Journal
    Have a bogus PC or bogus windows installation for him to install junk on, which you can leave "unused" till you need to call support when you can boot into that partition if needed.
  • Self Install Kits (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rayonic (462789) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:36AM (#4546659) Homepage Journal
    This is why I always opt for the self-install option with any ISP. I don't even like my wife messing with my computer, nevermind some complete stranger.

    (Side note: Yes, she does have her own computer. So there. :P)
  • by tkrotchko (124118) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:37AM (#4546664) Homepage
    Do you want theoretical advice or practical?

    Theoretical:
    If you feel you can't live with the restrictions or you and your machine, then drop the service and use something else.

    Practical
    Just wipe the stuff off the machine after the guy leaves.

    You can only analyze this stuff so far.

    • by windex (92715) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:43AM (#4546728) Homepage
      On top of that, any cable company will let you demand to do a self install, and just drop off the cable modem or ship it UPS.

      The worst case scenerio is that you set it up before he gets there and go "I used to have it in my old apartment/house/whatever, it's already setup. Just plug it in and I'll sign your service order". No human cable technician is going to turn down getting out of doing work.

      Makes me wonder how old the submitter was to where he couldn't just say "No, thanks, I'll install it myself".
    • by Hell O'World (88678) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:57AM (#4546852)
      But what about the mortals? 99% of this monopolistic company's customers have this crap installed on their computer, didn't ask for it, didn't agree to it, and don't even know it's there! Doesn't that strike you as wrong? Perhaps even evil? Laws are not keeping up with technology, and the inherent evil of capitalism is driving us into a dangerous situation. These companies justify their actions based just on maximizing profits for their shareholders. They don't care what petty moral problems this imposes.
      • by (trb001) (224998) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:34AM (#4547149) Homepage
        Timeout...this is not evil. Someone sniping 14 people 'just because' is evil. Someone attempting to wipe a race off the planet is evil. This may be slightly immoral, but the reason they have you sign is because they want to make sure you authorized the install. If you don't want it, tell him not to install the software. 99% of the people out there DON'T CARE that it's on there, and probably at least half of them don't care what it's doing with their data.

        Fact is, there is nothing illegal about them installing software on your computer with your consent. Their software isn't breaking the law and it isn't hurting your computer. You are requesting a service from them and, as part of that service, they are installing additional products as they see fit. Opt out, it's quite easy, I wouldn't let a cable installer within 10 feet of my computer ("Just hand me the cat-5 and nobody gets hurt...")

        I'm embarassed that the parent post got modded up as Insightful.

        --trb
        • "Scott, your ISP is not quite evil enough. You're semi-evil. You're quasi-evil. You're the margarine of evil. You're the Diet Coke of evil, just one calorie, not evil enough."

        • by mvonballmo (211664) on Monday October 28, 2002 @11:35AM (#4547747) Homepage
          You shouldn't be embarrased for that post, it actually is insightful compared to other posts here. Most of the previous posts were of this vein:

          I'm an amazingly cool and frood computer dood, so I told the cable company to fuck off and they had to, so there! L00zerz!

          Yeah, cool.

          The point the previous post made was that there are a lot of people getting this quasi-manipulative software installed on their machines - pretty much without their knowledge. You explain this with:

          "99% of the people out there DON'T CARE that it's on there"

          I disagree. I think if they knew what it was, they would care. If you told them -- hey, can I install software that will watch your browsing habits in order to better target junk mail to your email address? -- then they would have the chance to say 'fuck off' too.

          But the deck is massively stacked because:

          1) They don't even know it's going on there
          2) They trust their installer because ostensibly he/she should know more about computers than they
          3) Even if they installed it themselves, they would click yes because they just want broadband and aren't aware (as many here are) to what lengths corporations will go to take advantage of them for profit
          4) EULA language is relatively advanced lawyerese -- again, it's beyond the comprehension of most, so they just assume they aren't getting screwed.

          The answer is not scorn for their stupidity, nor "let the company do what it wants, people don't care"...the answer is to use your massive hax0r skills to educate these beknighted souls.
  • by Jon Abbott (723) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:37AM (#4546665) Homepage
    What cable internet provider was this?
    • by jdreed1024 (443938) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:46AM (#4546761)
      What cable internet provider was this?

      Dunno what this guy used, but certainly ATTBI/MediaOne/whatever does this.

      Broadjump is the biggest piece of shit software I've ever seen. It reboots your computer whenever possible (god forbid they should check to see if you're running on 2K/XP which doesn't need to be rebooted to renew DHCP). You also need that program to register your MAC address with them. I could have made a fuss, but it wasn't worth it. I installed, registered, and de-installed. No more problems.

      They certainly don't require that you leave it installed, except for Tech Support. Which so far has been easy, because if it's a problem with the line, you simply call and report that cable TV is out. Then they don't ask you to reboot your computer 500 times.

      • by R.Caley (126968) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:16AM (#4547021)
        They certainly don't require that you leave it installed, except for Tech Support. Which so far has been easy, because if it's a problem with the line, you simply call and report that cable TV is out.

        I'd like to underline this. For anyone who hasn't learned by painful experience yet, never report anything to the interent suport people if you have TV from the same source.

        Anything which goes wrong is in one of two classes, things shared with the TV operation and things their tech support stands no chance of fixing. The TV operation will be far better resourced, and the support staff know that you may have 5 children demanding cartoon network at your end and so not fixing things may result in you being driven insane and turning up at their call center with a chainsaw. Nerds just don't carry that fear factor:-)

        Certainly when I had a problem which seemed to be at my end, my cable suppler (Telewest) quoted a couple of weeks for an engineer from the internet side and day and a half for a TV bod.

  • Comcast - Mac OS X (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcwop (31034) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:37AM (#4546670) Homepage
    I use Mac OS X. The software that Comcast has is incredibly buggy for Mac OS. I refused to install it. I just signed the docs for the cable guy (as if I even needed him to come do the installation in the first place).
  • by TheBillGates (266114) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:38AM (#4546673)
    I wonder if you could take them to small claims court to compensate you for the time you spent uninstalling the program?

    Sure, it wouldn't amount to much money, but taking them to court would get their attention that people don't want that spyware stuff on their machines.

    The nerve they have to install that spyware and not have the decency to even let their customer know. This is a severe abuse of your privacy.
    • by R.Caley (126968) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:43AM (#4546730)
      I wonder if you could take them to small claims court to compensate you for the time you spent uninstalling the program?

      More significantly, isn't him clicking through the end user agreements a forgery of your agreement?

      On a practical level, I agree with someone above: have a sacrificial machine. I built a machine from my parts boxes for them to mess up. After all, all they want is a windows control panel to poke at, that it is on a P100 with almost no disk space and a slightly dodgy power supply doesn't matter.

    • by Angram (517383) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:20AM (#4547048)
      Sorry, bub, but I'm a trained Small Claims Court Counsellor. You can't sue for emotional, time, or any other non-monetary kind of cost. If it can't be printed on a recipt, you can't sue. You can sue for time if it was part of an arrangement (i.e. plumber not getting paid for the job), but not for your time spent fixing this stuff. Unless he broke the machine and you had to have it serviced or replaced, there's nothing small claims court can do.
  • Nothing. (Score:4, Informative)

    by krugdm (322700) <`slashdot' `at' `ikrug.com'> on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:38AM (#4546675) Homepage Journal

    Roadrunner let me pick up a self install kit, so no tech ever came to my house.

    And no software needed to be installed anyway. Screwed the cable line into the modem, turned it on, attached it to the Linksys router, turned it on, attached that to the LAN port on my Mac, turned that on, and presto! A working internet connection!

    • Re:Nothing. (Score:5, Funny)

      by Skirwan (244615) <skerwin@@@mac...com> on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:49AM (#4546784) Homepage
      Screwed the cable line into the modem, turned it on, attached it to the Linksys router, turned it on, attached that to the LAN port on my Mac, turned that on, and presto! A working internet connection!
      Step three... There's no step three. There's no step three!

      :)

      --
      Damn the Emperor!
    • Re:Nothing. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Hard_Code (49548) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:52AM (#4546819)
      Actually I wasn't aware of that "self-install" was a seperate option, so two guys came by and unpacked and plugged in the cable modem. Then one guy hunted around a bit trying to test if the connection was working until I realized that I had the DHCP Client service turned off, at which point I turned it on, and then explained to him, after he asked, what I had just done. So I guess "props" to Road Runner (although I'm not sure I feel good about giving "props" to anything related to the AOL/TimeWarner/MechaGodzilla conglomerate).

      I think these guys get commission on the number of installations they do in a day, so they are glad to get out the door as soon as they can.
  • by cybergeak (318482) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:38AM (#4546684)
    And if you really don't want something done, assure the installer you will sign off on whatever, so long as he does what you ask.

    All we care about is your autograph, if your happy and are willing to sign, im sure he wont have a problem.

    alex
  • by z_gringo (452163) <z_gringo AT hotmail DOT com> on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:39AM (#4546688)

    He stood me up the first time, then when he did arrive, he told me that I couldn't have a dedicated IP, despite them having promised me that I could have one. He did however configure my machine to use the cable company's proxy server, and use DHCP, etc... After he was done, I just reconfigured it and hard set the IP address. I haven't had a problem in the past couple of years. Except for when my machine was off for a couple of days, and I had to re-configure for DHCP,and "steal" another address, as my old one wasn't available any more...

    • Just wondering one thing. What is the 'hard set" ip thing you did? If you are on a network and you are under a DHCP scope(range) then you can't assign yourself a permanent IP. Unless you have access and control to the actual equipment of your ISP.

      Now if your isp sets its leases to change IP's ONLY when your broadband connection drops or your pc powers down, then you can have the appearance of having a static ip. But your ip was not static because when you rebooted you were assigned another one.

      So what you have done is used DHCP to get a DHCP assigned IP address. Then changed YOUR configuration to see it as static. This is still DHCP. It was assigned from a lease. You didn't assign it to yourself, and anyway as long as that box is on it would have used that IP until you shut down or they decided to yank it. Changing your nic config to show a fixed ip that you got from a DHCP server is not setting a fixed IP. Cause even you said it changed when the machine went down.

      Most broadband ISPS change leases when the connection drops. Just like dial up. OR assign it five days. Depends on who is running the shop. My Cox cable will keep the same ip for months unless I shut the box off, then it changes.

      Just my 2 cents.

      Puto
  • Nothing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gojira Shipi-Taro (465802) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:39AM (#4546690) Homepage
    "Just give me the network info. I'll do it. You have no business touching my machine"

    "but that's what my instructions say to do."

    "are you bonded?"

    "Whats that?"

    "It means are you insured in case I have to sue you personally for screwing something up"

    "oh.... Here's the info."

    Besides, I connect through a router. What possible good would THEIR software do me?
  • by TheRealFixer (552803) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:39AM (#4546691)
    The Time Warner/RoadRunner guy simply came in, installed a new NIC, installed the cable modem, set up the new email settings in Outlook, and changed the IE homepage to their portal. I scoured the system when I got home from work (my wife was the only one here when he did the install) and was quite relieved that he didn't install any software.
  • They tried. (Score:5, Funny)

    by MKalus (72765) <mkalus&gmail,com> on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:40AM (#4546696) Homepage
    When I moved lately I had a guy come out as they needed to "configure my pc".

    I showed him to my Linux firewall, he was surprised about the prompt but figured it was just DOS (ha).

    Put in the cd, realised it was not DOS, took the CD out, turned to me and said: "Well, I guess you know what you're doing." And left.

    Offically my Cable Provider (Rogers) is not supporting Linux / Unix but if you have a technical issue just bug the Second Line support and 99% of the time you get the Unix guy who answers your questions.
    • Re:They tried. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by slamb (119285)
      Offically my Cable Provider (Rogers) is not supporting Linux / Unix but if you have a technical issue just bug the Second Line support and 99% of the time you get the Unix guy who answers your questions.

      I've never even had to do that (MediaCom). When it was installed and when I've had problems with the service, they've told me they don't support Linux. I've just told that's fine and to tell me what they want done instead of how to accomplish it. They've been pretty good about that. I get instructions like "go to this URL to register your computer's MAC address with us" instead of "click on 'Start' in the lower left hand corner, ...".

  • interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tps12 (105590) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:40AM (#4546698) Homepage Journal
    Well, as a very first step, I would recommend against posting this to Slashdot. Let me explain with a little thought experiment. Presumably you are trying to "get the word out" about the Evil Corporate Spyware installed by your cable provider. Suppose you were to succeed, and almost every cable customer were to remove said software from his or her PC. Their demographics database would start to be pretty thin, and suddenly they can no longer use that information to defray some of the costs of running a broadband outfit. Best case, you get a rate hike. Worst case, the cable company goes out of business, and you're back on dialup (which, if you wanted to vote with your wallet against this kind of practice to discourage it, you could have done anyway). A better course of action would be to quietly uninstall everything the cable guy installed and keep it all under your hat.
    • Re:interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Omnifarious (11933) <eric-slashNO@SPAMomnifarious.org> on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:23AM (#4547065) Homepage Journal

      If they can't stay in business honestly, they don't deserve to be in business.

      If they wish to collect demographic data on your purchases in return for a decrease in your bill, that's fine. But they should have a contract specificying how much that decrease will be, and exactly what the software will do. You can have it in your service contract all nice and above board, or choose NOT to have it and pay higher costs.

      Of course, since they're a monopoly, that will just lead to a $50/mo (or more) difference. But that's easier to point a finger at and complain bitterly about to your local regulator.

    • Re:interesting (Score:3, Insightful)

      by glh (14273)
      I think the public has a right to know about this sort of activity and I am glad slashdot posted it. Granted, it generates a certain amount of FUD but that is to be expected (it is slashdot).

      Why should the cable companies need to start doing this sort of thing in order to make money? I'm sure there are better ways. How about offering decent service and some other products (such as spam filters) that we can pay additional for? Why do they have to be so sneaky? I feel sorry for the poor AOL converts that have no clue about what is being installed on their system- they are just innocent victims. They may not even know how to uninstall something- so they have no choice.

      This kind of behavior is unethical, especially if the customer doesn't know what is going on. If privacy or high speed connection were mutually exclusive, I would choose privacy and I think a good percentage of others would also. It's bad enough with all the other crap that seems to fill up your hard drive when you're on the internet, we don't need the ISP doing it as well.
    • Re:interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Guppy06 (410832) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:42AM (#4547258)
      "suddenly they can no longer use that information to defray some of the costs of running a broadband outfit."

      First off, I notice you're assuming that they need this money to defray the cost of providing broadband. I suggest that any business using this model doesn't deserve to stay in business long.

      Secondly, you seem to be someone who thinks we should all be very happy with the "opt-out list" mentality because we're somehow "saving money." Businesses need to be taught that abusing and not respecting their customers is a Bad Thing and I for one wouldn't mind paying a little more for a business that actually gives a damn about me (but I have yet to be forced into that decision... seems some enterprising business is always there to provide to us somewhere). And I have the feeling that I'm not alone in feeling this way.

      "A better course of action would be to quietly uninstall everything the cable guy installed and keep it all under your hat."

      You're part of the problem, then, not the solution. I'm simply not going to just sit there and take this sort of abuse from anybody.

    • Re:interesting (Score:3, Insightful)

      "Presumably you are trying to "get the word out" about the Evil Corporate Spyware installed by your cable provider. Suppose you were to succeed, and almost every cable customer were to remove said software from his or her PC. Their demographics database would start to be pretty thin, and suddenly they can no longer use that information to defray some of the costs of running a broadband outfit. Best case, you get a rate hike. Worst case, the cable company goes out of business..."

      Keep in mind that 99% of cable users don't read slashdot or tech forums in general. The posting here will only serve to inform those who can put the knowledge to good use and protect themselves. The resulting dent in the demographics databases as a result of this will be very small, and the cable companies probably will not bat an eye.

    • Oh Puh-lease!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ChaosMt (84630)
      Freedom by obscurity?!? Ya that's the ticket, we'll all go underground and that way we can practice our freedoms in secret with out the problems for governments or corporate cheiftons. Great plan there Chester.

      Look, the cable companies enjoy their quasi-monopoly status and they seem quite happy to abuse their position, and with the law makers pockets lined well, they will have no worries. What worries me is the lack of FULL disclosure. If I'm going to be screwed in such a way, I think you should at LEAST know what's going on. I want a legal form that people read with glazed over eyes and initial parts to show them EXACTLY what information will be collected and used against them. However, as long as Michael "nepotisim" Powell is the chairman of the FCC to serve interests of the greatest donors and not the people, we might as well get used to saying, "Thank you sir! May I have another!"
  • by one_who_uses_unix (68992) <glen.wiley@NosPAM.gmail.com> on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:40AM (#4546701) Homepage
    To understand exactly what is happening with your broadband connection follow these steps:

    1.Connect PC, cable modem and a second PC (everyone has one :) ) to a simple hub ($20).
    2.Run a network capture tool (tcpdump, snoop, ethereal, etc.) on the 2nd PC.
    3.Boot your broadband PC.
    4.Look at the traffic.

    You should be able to recognize the DHCP negotiations and see whether anything unusual is going on. Odds are, all it needs to do is negotiate for an address, everything else is probably frill.

    The next step is to install a 2nd NIC in the 2nd PC, load linux, connect the cable modem to that and the other NIC to your little LAN and use IP tables to set up a firewall and NAT.

  • by ONOIML8 (23262) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:41AM (#4546702) Homepage
    If you're going to play with their toys the you have to play by their rules. If their contract/TOS/whatever says you have to agree to have all that software and agree with the licensing to all in order to use their service, then I guess that's what you gotta do. But it's their system, their toys, so if you don't like it then don't play.

    Now the installer was wrong. Very wrong. If you're gonna play by the rules then you should have read EVERY word of EVERY EULA and made the determination for each one. Since those are legal documents you would want to read carefully, perhaps consult with your lawyer on a few points. You could tie up that installer for a VERY long time. But for him to indicate that you accepted.....well, you might want to consult with your lawyer now.

  • Not a damn thing (Score:4, Informative)

    by Halo- (175936) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:41AM (#4546706)
    I suppose it depends on your provider, but to my knowledge, you shouldn't need a damn thing. Wanna test it easily?

    1) Borrow a laptop with an ethernet card, unplug the power from the cable modem (some of them will only give a DHCP address to one MAC address at a time, and need to "forget" what they have seen)

    2) Plug in the cable modem

    3) Attach the laptop

    Didja get an IP? If so, I'd say you can pretty safely whack the offending software. I seriously doubt it's needed. A lot of things (like a lot of those "connection sharing" firewall/router devices) would fail to work if it was.
  • IANAL but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by reimero (194707) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:41AM (#4546712)
    While I realize you and your family never agreed to the software, you did authorize the installation of the modem. At best, it's a very gray legal area. The ISP and software manufacturer can both claim the tech was acting as a duly authorized agent (which he was) and you can validly claim that this software was never mentioned as being necessary and that it was sprung on you without prior notice, which would undoubtedly have affected your decision to purchase.
    Unfortunately, he left with a valid signature, which legally means you have accepted the service as is, software and all. You may be able to remove the software, but at this point, all you can do is complain about it. But once you sign the sheet saying the work is done, you've essentially stated that the contract (or that portion thereof) has been fulfilled to your satisfaction. I know it's a hassle, but if you have serious misgivings about it, the proper procedure is to decline signature and say you never authorized this software installation, and allow the tech to remove the modem. Then deal with the sales department. If you paid by credit card, remember that you can put a hold on that payment until it is resolved to your satisfaction.
  • by writermike (57327) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:44AM (#4546731)
    ... is how when you search for "Broadjump Client Foundation" in Google, the company's own homepage doesn't come up in the early listings.

    This says to me that either there are very few links to the company's homepage, or there is no company homepage.

    Heh. Conspiracy therories entered here. 10 cents.

    • Maybe they're being blocked by the French authorities? [slashdot.org]

      Damn French. :)

    • "This says to me that either there are very few links to the company's homepage, or there is no company homepage."

      Please excuse any irregularities in the following post because I only got 3 hours of sleep lst night.

      Apparently it's the first case beacause the company homepage is here [broadjump.com]. They mention that they deal with Adelphia, AT&T, Bell Canada, Bellsouth, Charter Communications, RoadRunner, SBC, Sprint, Telus (Canada) and Time Warner among others.

      They seem to have their fingers deeply into this industry.

    • Broadjump is.... (Score:4, Informative)

      by UserChrisCanter4 (464072) on Monday October 28, 2002 @11:31AM (#4547714)
      An Austin-based software company who targets their marketing to broadband ISPs. A friend of mine interned there last year while she was finishing out her journalism degree. Her job, if I recall correctly, was to write (like a journalism, not CS major would write) some of the webpage content and also press releases.

      Essentially, their purpose is sort of like the giant installer CD that comes with your sound/video card. See, broadband ISPs, particualarly cable-based ones, don't really have their own install techs. Their guys are sub-contracted. In fact, Roadrunner's guys will have their company name and a "licensed subcontracter for Time-Warner Cable" printed on the side of their van. At least around here, there is a reasonable lead time for install, about a week, although I'm sure RoadRunner would like to speed that up, as it just leads to faster revenue/happier customers.

      Anyway, it's like the Video/Sound card CDs in that it's a bunch of useless software in addition to an auto-install program that speeds up the tech's process. Rather than configure the windows PC to pull on DHCP via the NIC, and set the mail client and web browser up, the broadjump software does it for them. It also (like the vid/sound card disc) installs a bunch of other useless cruft. They allegedly had some sort of remote support program, and a MMORPG (Blood pledge, I think... It's really big in Korea) where if the customer signed up through the link on their desktop, the ISP got like a $3/month cut.

      So anyway, that's their software.
  • by Digital Mage (124845) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:44AM (#4546737)
    I say inform your local newspaper or television news station. As you say, since the cable company is almost a monopoly in the area, I'll bet a number of people would love to know about how their local ISP is "spying" on them without them knowing. Most local news outlets are always looking for juicy stories about companies screwing over consumers.
  • by nbvb (32836) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:47AM (#4546769) Journal
    I switched from Speakeasy DSL to Optimum Online when I moved (No DSL in new neighborhood... d'oh!!)

    When the Speakeasy guy came out 2+ years ago, I had done all the "inside wiring" myself (this was back in the dedicated-line days ...) The guy just looked at it, and said, and I quote "Damn! You did a better job than I would have." The guy literally handed me the DSL bridge (It's NOT A MODEM DAMNIT!), we plugged it in, he saw the lights "go green" and said "good 'nuff for me."

    When the Optimum Online guy came out here (I needed someone to come out since I don't subscribe to cable ... DirecTV [directv.com] rocks), I had my Linksys router plugged into my iBook.

    First thing he did was go outside, climb the pole and turn the line on. when he did that, the cable bridge (IT'S NOT A MODEM DAMNIT!) "went green" and that was that.

    All he asked was to see me pull up a web page. That was good enough.

    Seriously, don't give the guy the old chip-on-the-shoulder attitude. Don't sound like a clueless yutz, either. Just explain to the guy that listen, it's my machine and I'll install all the software on it, thanks. It's already configured for the network -- I read the directions (on the web, in the box, etc.)

    The installers are usually _very_ cool about that stuff. In fact, the cable guy saw my Sun Microsystems jacket and started asking me some questions... we had a good long talk about IP networks and stuff, since he was looking to go to some Cisco courses and get outta the cable install business :)

    Best of luck with the installs! Remember, don't give them an attitude, just convince them that your machine is all ready to go. Remember, if they get out of there in 5 minutes instead of 2 hours, it means they get to take a long lunch ;)

    --NBVB
    • by radish (98371) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:04AM (#4546921) Homepage

      Why isn't a DSL "box" a modem? It modulates digital data into analogue and pipes that analogue signal out over a PSTN line. Which is exactly what a modem does, just at a much higher frequency. Given that it works in both directions I would say it qualifies as a MOdulator-DEModulator.

      I'm not flaming...just curious...it's perfectly possible you know something I don't ;)
    • ER - ADSL does use a modem. The signals transmitted are in the analogue domain and cross a number of frequencies - these have to be demultiplexed into a serial bitstream for use by your digital devices.

      Just incase you didn't realise the DEM in modem stands for Demultiplexor.

      When I was trialling DSL here in the UK I had a DSL router AND a DSL modem as seperate boxes. The DSL modem took the analogue signals and converted them into the ATM that they were a representation of. The router then translated the ATM into Ethernet for my local area network. Generally in the UK all ADSL is PPPoA.
    • by renehollan (138013) <{ten.eriwraelc} {ta} {nallohr}> on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:24AM (#4547078) Homepage Journal
      The guy just looked at it, and said, and I quote "Damn! You did a better job than I would have."

      Yeah, same here.

      I had Internet America [airmail.net] install my DSL service. They have a self-install option, with micro-filters and all, but it was not available to me because I was so far from the C.O. (15.6 kft) that I needed a dedicated pair to get any decent bandwidth (I chose the 768kb/s down, 384 kb/s up option) -- They said I could probably get that, via ADSL if I opted to go with a dedicated pair, and, if it didn't work, all charges would be refunded. Rather cool, actually.

      Of course, the dedicated pair costs me some US$15 a month from the telco for a total of $81.18 a month, but the service has been great: static IP, no caps, I can run "small" servers and so on. And, while it's no doubt a bridged connection, I do see good download speeds. So I'm happy. None of this "ping is a hacker's tool, the use of which violates the AUP" crap.

      Anyway, I receive a Broadxtent bridge in the mail, and a note to schedule an appointment. I mount the bridge in my headend, check the demarc, and lo and behold!, I have two brand new pairs already pulled for the DSL service. So, I schedule the install for the next day. Meanwhile, I figure, "Heck, all I have to do is hook up that pair, cross-connect it to the bridge connection on the right 110 block, and configure my router, and I should be all set." Sure enuf, that's all it took.

      So, I call Internet America first thing the next day, and tell them to not bother sending the installer, it's alive, kicking, and showing decent up/down speeds. "But sir, we want to make sure it's installed correctly to avoid a service call." O.K., I can understand this. "Anyway, you paid the $150 installation fee (the telco pair drop portion was unavoidable anyway) -- might as well have the tech stop by." Well, O.K. then.

      Tech shows up, looks at my computer, working fine, with an RJ45 cable snaking off (I hadn't finished the drop to that room yet, so I just snaked a cable back to the headend), and asks, "Where's our modem?" "The headend," I reply, "I hadn't installed the drop to this room yet. Follow the ethernet cable."

      So, he does, and sure enough, I hear a "Damn! I wouldn'tve done as good a job!" He smiled, we talked shop for about 10 minutes, and that was it.

      To their credit, Internet America left my computer alone, gave me a static IP with no fuss, and have provided decent service since. The Broadxtent bridge locks up every few months, but a power-cycle fixes that.

  • by RobertAG (176761) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:50AM (#4546798)
    On Windows,

    Press START, SETTINGS, Go into Control Panel, Select Add/Remove Software and remove the offending software.

    If they complain, invent a ficticious "Computer Guy" who told you it was the reason your system was locking up all the time.

    Mention that you have lots of games and Internet Explorer "add-ons" that you have downloaded and installed. Believe me, NO technician will want to muck about through a myriad of windows software installations to troubleshoot their spyware.

    They'll go away.

  • The exact opposite (Score:5, Interesting)

    by radish (98371) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:52AM (#4546815) Homepage

    In the UK when a guy from BT cam around to install my DSL he did the exact opposite. They're specifically not allowed to touch my PC as they're not insured for any damage. So the engineer has a laptop, he plugs in the modem and proves the line works. Then I sign him off, he gives me the modem and a driver disc and it's up to me.

    Of course this was 2 years ago, these days the engineer doesn't even come over...
  • by zietlow (199661) on Monday October 28, 2002 @09:53AM (#4546823)
    Charter did this during the switch over from @home. They installed thier client and said you HAD to install this otherwise you could not get on the internet. It ripped out ALL your network settings and then replaced it with all thier and MS's "personalized" corporate feces.

    They also said they did not turn on the software, but after portscanning all of Charter's IP space that Arin said was allocated to them over 13,000 computers had this port listening out of over 25,000+ (4.5 Class C's) were actively listening for connections and would accept a connection if you telnetted to the port. Whereas scanning a non charter IP subnet there were less than 20 that accepted this (I don't have my numbers with me ATM).

    The wonderful fellows at Securepipe.com [securepipe.com] Looked into this and brought it up with the local "watch dog" columnist for one of the local papers who wrote an article about this. Charter was not happy. The guys at Securepipe also brought this up with the local cable commission. Who were semi interested in this issue. About a week later port filtering was in place, including port 641 (what the software runs on).

    They said the use was for the ability to remotely help users. Yes this is a nice function to have, but what if this fell into the wrong hands? The Broadjump software is based off of an older version of VNC that has some weak authentication issues. And also dealing with Charter and @home techs I wouldn't trust these people with my computer anyway. I don't trust my mother with my computer.

    This was back in Novemeber/December who knows what they could do now.

    wi2600.org [wi2600.org] You can read the threads here, many to list and you can see the research that we did to get into this. I do not know if an electronic copy of the mentioned newspaper article exists but if it does, I will try and get it posted.

  • by olddoc (152678) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:09AM (#4546967)
    From this site: http://support.sbcglobal.net/legal/5071.shtml Is the following EULA language: # RIGHT TO TERMINATE NETWORK-BASED SERVICES: By using the Licensed Software, you acknowledge and agree that BroadJump and SBC Internet Services shall at all times retain the right to terminate any and all on-going network-based services that you receive pursuant to your use of the Licensed Software for any reason whatsoever, including without limitation your refusal to allow BroadJump and/or SBC Internet Services to install on your computer any upgrade or modification to the Licensed Software in the future. You better keep that 486 honeypot running with the Broadjump software!
  • by anthony_dipierro (543308) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:10AM (#4546973) Journal
    The cable guy came over to install a cable modem at my Dad's house. As I watched him do his stuff I noticed he was installing miniature cameras in my Dad's bedroom and bathroom. I know you don't need cameras for a cable modem to work so I asked if it was necessary. He said he had to do his list of things, and we had to sign that he did his list of things, otherwise he couldn't leave it with us to use. Since I can always remove the cameras, I agreed, but I noticed at the top of the camera was a small antenna. Doing a search on Google for 'Comcast minicam' comes up with some pretty scary stuff as far as what it does, like: 'Records toilet breaks and sexual escapades in order to enhance customer service' Now, how does this affect us? Neither myself or anyone in my family agreed to the cameras; the cable guy did. And is there anyway to get cable companies to stop doing this as I can imagine since the cable company is a monopoly in this town, that the percentage of people who still have these cameras in their bedrooms is pretty high.
    • by anthony_dipierro (543308) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:25AM (#4547084) Journal
      • Have a bogus bathroom for him to install his camera in, which you can leave "unused" 'til you need to call support when you can shit in that bathroom if needed.
        • More amusing would be sending him to your outhouse. Let him try to figure it out. :)
      • This is why I always opt for the self-install option with any ISP. I don't even like my wife watching me take a shit, nevermind some complete stranger. (Side note: Yes, she does have her own bathroom. So there. :P)
      • Take them to small claims court and sue them for the time you spent removing the cameras.
      • They use 802.11 to transmit their signal to the nearest spy truck. To find out exactly what they're doing hook up an 802.11 hub and analyse the traffic.
      • If you're going to use their product, then you have to play by their rules. Forget about the fact that the installation guy might not be following the rules, and that as a monopoly service they are highly regulated by the government. Just bend over (for the camera) and take it.
      • Tell them your policy does not allow anyone to install cameras in your house without passing an extensive personal background check, signing a non-disclosure agreement, and obtaining a million dollar bond payable to you upon breach of contract. Ask him for his personal address and phone number so that you can contact him when the background check is completed, and have him fill out a form giving you his social security number and permission to use it for the purposes of obtaining the background check.
  • Cable Software (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nittibang (621093) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:10AM (#4546975)
    The true question is what RoadRunner installs on PC's that will not allow you to perform the standard install by yourself to save the fee.. I work for ISP and we have cable plant that works great. The average person can use our software to install our package and get up and running providing the cable techs have installed the right filters on the lines.. When I visit my aunt & uncles house to do their manual install of RoadRunner I am unable to resolve any DNS no matter what I do to the Win98SE machine... I do the normal kicking around of the computer and software and still nothing.. Hell I even tried getting my Linux Laptop to resolve DNS...... Nothing... I could ping by ip all day long just not get DNS... It was late I was tired so i told them to call RoadRunners techs... My cousin said the guy was there maybe 5 minutes and it was up and running...... He told my cousin that I must not have known what I was doing.... Hahah let me talk to RR's technicians who have been trying to force me a new ipaddress for the last year and a half.... :-) Anyways What software did that moron put on their computer that allowed them to work so fast?? Mind you they got charged something like $24.95 for the install..... has me boggled and mad :-)
  • AdAware? (Score:5, Informative)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:20AM (#4547050) Homepage Journal

    Perhaps the good people at Lavasoft [lavasoft.de] could add this kind of scumware to their list of Naughties?

    Just a thought.
  • ATTBI en Mass (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kalidasa (577403) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:24AM (#4547071) Journal
    Guy just handed me a disk to install. Didn't work on XP Pro. Called up ATTBI, they had me register the cable modem via their web site and set up on their proxy (which proxy I promptly dumped when I got off the phone). Didn't install anything else. I probably didn't even have to worry about hiding my Linux boot disk.
  • by Ken Williams (28157) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:26AM (#4547094) Homepage
    yep, thats right. when the cable guy came to install Road Runner at my co-workers house, he said he had to install some software. one of the things he installed was a very well-known virus (can't remember the name now) that destroyed everything on the hard drive. before nuking the HD, it also emailed copies of the virus to everybody in his address book - that doesn't look good when you are an infosec professional! my co-worker had to reinstall the OS, lost alot of data, and then realized after the reinstall that he didn't need any RR software anyway to use their cablemodem service. RR did nothing at all to compensate him.

    My experience with RR has been great on the other hand. I never let them touch a thing. And they are fine with that. They just want to get out of the house and on to the next call.
  • by MrEfficient (82395) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:29AM (#4547110)
    The guy didn't install anything on my computer. He got as far as mousing over to the K menu and then stopped. I went ahead and told him it was Linux at that point and he let me take it from there :-)

    I gave him a couple of RedHat CDs and sent him on his way.

  • by ronmon (95471) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:37AM (#4547183)
    The only time my DSL provider (Bellsouth) has had to send a tech out was to replace my fried Alcatel 1000 about a year and a half ago. I've handled my own installations of dialup and DSL with them for the last 4 years. They are quite Linux friendly though they do not support it.

    He was prepared to do a normal windows installation when I showed him my router and firewall setup. We plugged in a couple cables and bang, it was running. He was very happy to not have to deal with all the extra crap. "Wow, that's Linux? Cool.", he said. Probably his easiest call ever, total 15 minutes 10 of them me showning him how feature-rich Linux is.
  • by BobRooney (602821) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:38AM (#4547196) Homepage
    Many DSL providers operate over the PPPoE protocol. Bundled with Verizon's was their crappy support software that I really didnt want or need.

    Typically, the implementation used by the DSL provider (my experience was with Verizon), is not nearly as good as other versions available.

    If you're a tweaker, bandwith whore or just generally care about your connection's performance I recommend heading over to DSL Reports.com [dslreports.com] and grabbing a copy of RASPPPoE and Dr. TCP. Packet size and receiving window settings can make a world of difference.

  • by waltc (546961) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:38AM (#4547204)
    Quote, unquote: "Since I can always remove the software, I agreed, but I noticed while he was flipping through the install, he was clicking 'agree' on every EULA that came up. ....Neither myself or anyone in my family agreed to the software; the cable guy did. And is there anyway to get cable companies to stop doing this as I can imagine since the cable company is a monopoly in this town, that the percentage of people who still have this software on their computers is pretty high."

    Ummmm...."clicking through the Eulas" is the only way to install the software. If he wants "cable companies to stop doing this" he could have cancelled the install and thrown the "cable guy" out. And, yes, as he observed the cable guy "clicking through the Eulas" and did not throw him out he *did* agree to them. However, this is a moot point because the software is easily uninstallable and is not required for the cable modem to function properly.

    Cable companies are frequently "monopolies" in towns because of the expense of laying new cable and maintaining it. You can't have 10 cable companies all laying 10 strands of cable on each telephone poll. Besides that, it isn't economical for a company to provide service in an area in which it cannot have a guaranteed customer base (not a guaranteed number of paying customers--that is entirely different), because of the expense involved in setting up the cabling to begin with. Towns frequently entertain "bids" by competing cable companies as to which company will provide the area with the best prices, service and choice prior to awarding the "contract" to a particular cable company. It's not a monopoly--it's a practicality.

    Frankly, I grow a bit weary hearing people complain about non-issues like this. Usually, these complaints are based on a wide degree of ignorance and fear, just like this one. It would be a different matter if you couldn't uninstall the software and still use the modem. But you can, and that fact alone makes this much ado about nothing.
  • One time... (Score:4, Funny)

    by snowlick (536497) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:39AM (#4547222) Homepage
    The guy that came over to install my stuff was a total moron. When signing up for my cable modem service I decided to do the "honeypot" idea with my Windows machine, which I figured would be easiest (let them screw everything up, then pull out the info I need after they leave). There was a spot of trouble which I didn't forsee, however: I use Apple Studio Displays on all of my machines, and he couldn't get over the fact that they aren't iMacs. When he got there he was like, "Aa, iMacs? They're fancy. I don't know how to install this stuff on iMacs. Let me call my supervisor..."

    I had three clearly visible beige boxes under the table at this point, which obviously had the monitors connected to them, the keyboards, mouses, etc, etc.

    I tell him, "No, man, these are all PC's."
    "Yeah, cool. Hmmm..."
    *fiddles with one of them running Windows98, dials number on cellphone*
    "Yeah, what's up, man. Um, I got these iMacs here, and I was wondering what I should do..."
    I just about hit him over the head with my chair. After some pressuring I got to talk to the guy on the other end of the phone, who gave me everything I needed to know(IP, etc). When I gave the phone back I could hear him yelling at the "installer."

    "Oh, you mean that they aren't iMacs. That's crazy. They look just like em."

    What the FUCK...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:58AM (#4547402)
    The software:
    http://www.velocidadejusta.com.br/manua is/speedyPP POE/BroadJump/
    More information (search the page):
    http://www.pacs-portal.co.uk/startup_pages /startup _full.htm
    Broadjump's homepage:
    http://www.broadjump.com/
    Mention of Broadjump in Yahoo's EULA:
    http://support.sbcglobal.net/legal/5070.sht ml
    Information about the Broadjump Client (looks like it spys on whether you've overclocked your connection):
    http://osiris.978.org/~brianr/mirror s/www.iscentra l.org/%257Etcniso/main/cisp.htm
    Posting what will be a +5 informative as an Anonymous Coward:
    Priceless
    • by Anonymous Coward
      http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interes ting-people/200202/msg00164.html
      http://www.inter esting-people.org/archives/interes ting-people/200206/msg00132.html
  • by teamhasnoi (554944) <teamhasnoi&yahoo,com> on Monday October 28, 2002 @11:04AM (#4547453) Homepage Journal
    I keep all my cable installers and put them in a deep circular well in my basement. They scream and holler, especially when I tell them I'm going to make a fleshsuit out of their skin. I won't feed them until they put the lotion on. And I get all the channels for free!
  • Our techs install software for clients on a daily basis and I've often wondered whether it makes some difference who actually clicks to accept the EULAs. In our case we are not employees of the companies which actually bought this software, but are paid to install it by the purchasers. So what is *their* legal liability to a EULA if *I* click on "ok" to some incredibly stupid EULA? Who exactly is being put to a liability here (assuming a EULA actually incurs some liability at all, that is)?

    I think that if a company needed to wriggle out from under an overly-restrictive EULA they could certainly use the defense: "None of our people clicked on that agreement... it was a contractor and he didn't have the authority to bind us to a legal contract."
  • What broadjump does (Score:5, Informative)

    by Que_Ball (44131) on Monday October 28, 2002 @12:04PM (#4547972)
    Well I work for an ISP that uses broadjump for our client install CD. Basically broadjump as a company specializes in making these CD's that automatically check the system and do any neccesary steps for getting your broadband connection working.

    In our case the CD will install a branded internet explorer/outlook express but it's just something they whiped up with the IEAK tools so nothing too special.

    The big step on our network is it will register the MAC address on our customer administration webpage. Broadjump basically builds the CD to the specifications the ISP asks for. They are simply an outsourcer that specializes in these things. On our CD there are basically 3 steps. First the CD checks the machine to make sure it meets the minimum requirements. So it checks the basics like CPU speed, free hard drive space and memory. It also verifies there is an Ethernet card and that it's bound to the TCP/IP protocol with the proper DHCP settings. If it finds any problems with these settings it will give the user the opportunity to automatically fix the error or a description of the problem so you can fix it yourself. The next step is it will install the internet explorer software. After this it does a dhcp release and renew to get an IP. It then contacts the customer administration website to register the MAC address so that the computer can get a valid IP. Up to this point the machine only has a 10.x.x.x IP address which only allows you to connect to the DHCP server, DNS server, and the online customer administration servers. After it successfully registers the MAC it does another release and renew which should give you a real IP address and it uploads a text file log of the whole process to an FTP site. The text file doesn't really contain anything terribly useful and nobody on the helpdesk ever bothers with the things. Nothing evil was included in our text file though I'm sure other ISP's may ask broadjump to include some system configuration details in their implementations. Like I said, for us it's just a log file of the steps the broadjump CD completed. If it got to the point where it succesfully uploaded the file then the connection is obviously working and at that point there isn't going to be much to say in the log file of interest.

    All the steps this CD takes can easily be duplicated manually. In fact most of the time if a user calls the helpdesk because they cannot get their new connection up and running we just register the MAC address manually on the website for them. Registering this address automatically is the main reason we include the CD in the self install packages. I do recommend people unfamilear with DHCP and mac addresses to use the CD on our system, there isn't anything terribly mysterious about our broadjump cd though who knows what other ISP's ask them to implement.

    In general there are only a few methods of broadband client access that users need to be familear with to get up and running manually without these CD's.
    1. Plain DHCP or Static address. Most cable modems work on simple DHCP addresses. Usually the cable ISP will hack their DHCP server to only allocate a certain number of unique IP's through a single cable modem. I know the cable ISP I used to work for did this. After the first 2 IP's included in a consumer package it would just keep sending a DHCP offer of the second IP address to any additional computer that sent a request from that cable modem. The system programmer there hacked a neat little system together using SNMP and DHCP. SNMP trap would be sent to the DHCP server with the sequence number of the DHCP request and serial number of the cable modem.
    2. DHCP with Mac address or hostname registration. The ISP I'm working for uses the MAC address to limit the number of IP's you can get. A web interface to register these MAC addresses is available and before you register you are assigned a private IP address in the 10.x.x.x range which only works inside a small internal network segment the DNS, DHCP, and registration server are on. I have also seen ISP's that use the hostname as a unique identifier. Usually this involves setting the name of the computer to be your ISP username to get a valid IP.
    3. PPPoE. An extention of the dialup authentication model to broadband connections. Usually you will need some form of client software for these though most routers have built a PPPoE clients into their firmware. MacosX also includes out of the box support for this protocol. You will need to use a username and password to authenticate with the network to allow traffic to pass to the internet. Seems to be most popular with DSL providers probably because of their dialup heritage.
    4. Custom client/logon. As seen in the roadrunner cable modem networks. A custom authentication method can be used that usually contacts a server to authenticate the user in a fashion similar in structure to PPPoE. In the case of roadrunner their client has been thouroghly reverse engineered so if you are running an alternate OS you should find a client available to keep you logged in. The proprietary method of authentication will probably become extinct as industry standard solutions are cheaper and easier for broadband providers to implement. If you are saddled by this method of authentication just check around for a third party client. It will probably provide some benefits over the standard client like automatic keep alives so your connection doesn't time out.
  • rabid power-users (Score:5, Informative)

    by ducktape (178839) on Monday October 28, 2002 @12:11PM (#4548026) Homepage
    as an employee of (cable company name removed) i can tell you exactly what it does. it isn't spyware or ad-ware. i predicted when we were first told about this new tool that this story would show up on slashdot. hence i had several questions when i first got it, and even went so far as to contact a member of the development team about it.

    the software has 2 major functions-

    a) -secure software that allows technical support to connect (by proxy) to a remote machine to perform a myriad of tasks. it can push urls, view TCP/IP related (only) connection info in cases of slow-speed troubleshooting, and even has a function to allow the technician to troubleshoot further by using a remote VNC-like application.

    this may sound scary, but read on. the software leaves no open ports, and cannot be remotely-accessed without the user activating the software (at a tech's request). the user must then manually connect to a closed server with an auth code that the tech gives. the tech connects to the server, and may be allowed any of the above tasks if authorized by the user. the customer is told clearly what will be done, and the tech explains what he/she is doing before proceeding. there are strict policies for the use of this software. the technician is not allowed to browse the hard-drive, download/install/troubleshoot any application that is not on the supported list, and is under no circumstances allowed to change anything on the user's computer without explicit permission. i can't stress this enough, in order for any kind of connection or action to take place the software will ask the user if it's ok to proceed with on-screen alerts! the user may break the connection at anytime during the process for any reason by clicking a button on the taskbar.

    since the connection takes place through a single closed, proprietary server there is virtually no chance of this application being used as a backdoor. the software is hardcoded with the URL of the server, and can connect ONLY to that server and nothing else. even if someone malicious were to get a hold of the client software, without (password protected) access to the server to generate a short-time auth code for the user to type in, it's useless.

    b) -a backup/restore application for tcp/ip and connection property settings. it's configured to save driver files for the NIC and USB modem devices, ip address/subnet mask and DNS property information (in cases where specified), and occasional pings and traces to the dhcp server, gateway, and dns servers along with netstat info. the software catalogues the information bi-weekly, and stores it on the hard-drive. none of this information (save the pings and traces) can be retrieved by anyone outside the system. it's mostly used for cases where the user breaks the connection by altering configuration. the backups allow the user to restore the connection settings to a previous known-working configuration.

    that all.

    this isn't a data-mining application. privacy was discussed in detail in software-training. i understand being cautious, (hell, i'll admit i was concerned as hell when it was first announced) but i can tell you in all honesty that the bundle on our 'easy installer' cd's contains no spyware. broadjump was contracted to write the software specifically for our use, and no 'add-on' click-tracking or cookie-scouring was allowed.

    the client software is ONLY in the hands of tier-2 and above, highly-skilled, highly trained and QA/policy monitored technicians. the broad-jump software is a means to an end for technical-support. if you've had any experience supporting win9x systems you know that windows can be downright retarded when it comes to connection management. it has been an invaluable tool when faced with users who doesn't know their right mouse-button from their left. thus far it's been a huge success, customers seem to love it, it allows us to do all the work, while they just watch and keep tabs or relax as they see fit.

    i knew there would be a few who flipped out over this application. but really, the only people who get up in arms about it are those who don't need it. if you're smart enough to understand what this software does, you should be smart enough to understand that there is a genuine need for it. it's the people who call tech support complaining about error 691's with their caps lock key on, or who've lost the address bar in IE who need it. if you're not comfortable with the application, uninstall it.
  • by macdaddy (38372) on Monday October 28, 2002 @12:38PM (#4548272) Homepage Journal
    When I had cable installed, they had to come out and do the install. They didn't have the option. They did support Mac though. Yes, I'm a Mac, Linux, Sun guy. He walked in the to my second bedroom and his jaw dropped. He handed me the box of stuff and said that I probably wasn't going to need any assistance. He then went outside to do something to the cable box, came back in, I said I was on, and he left. Maybe it was the stack of Enterasys switches or the stack of Suns in the corner. Might even have been the Ciscos routers on the corner desk next to the laser printer. Of course I can't leave out the cluster of Mac towers running next to the door. Perhaps the general heat in the room made him weak in the knees. Needless to say I don't normally have trouble with the techs when they come onsite. :)

    Now techs on the phone is another problem. Back when I had cable, I quickly discovered that the national helpdesk for RR was staffed by a bunch of dicks. I called them to let them know about a case of router flap that had been going on for over a week. They started giving me the wrong around about my "Windows" box being misconfigured. I informed him that I own no Microsoft products. To that he replied that everyone runs Microsoft. I laughed and said that I was one person that didn't. He asked what I ran and I replied I used a Mac. He then said something to the effect, "don't you know? Microsoft owns Apple". He also said that he couldn't see why anyone would want to use such a worthless operating system. I was starting to get a little pissed at this point. I asked if he'd say the same about my Linux boxes or my Suns. He said Sun is dead. Microsoft was buying them out. He also said that Linux was a hacker's tool and that he could have me arrested for using it. .... Now being a Mac user, I know what it's like to have my OS insulted. You don't insult a Mac guru's OS. You don't insult a Linux guru's OS either. You damned sure don't insult both in the same paragraph. If he had been there in person I would have firmly planted a Sun keyboard in his ass sideways. Since he wasn't all I could do was cuss at him and demand to speak to his super. He refused and hung up on me.

    Well, I returned the favor. <g%gt; I always record my tech support calls. I dubbed a couple copies of the tape and certified USPSed them to Cox, RR, and my state AG. I also included a letter that indicated who all received a copy of the tape, summarized the coversation, gave a time and date for the call, back ground to counter the ill-informed knowledge, and finally notified them in writing of the router flap. About 4 days later, I noticed that the router flap had been fixed. A few days letter I received a letter from Cox apologizing for the problems and promising to investigate further. The next day I received a letter from RR apologizing for their employee's action and informing me that the tech was no longer with RR. Oh happy day. :-)

    I've found a couple tricks when calling a tech support line that might help you. Always start off the conversation in a calm voice. Don't act pissed. Stay calm and collected. Ideally you would do this even if you felt you needed to ask for the tech's super. State your name, where you're calling from, and on behalf of what company. This is a good thing to do even if it's for you home line. Pretend the loss of access if affecting you at work. "My name is John Wayne; I'm the Network God at Such n Such Unv in Smallville, St; I'm calling to inform of that you have a case of router flap that is causing us problems downstream.". Be concise and to the point. If you think you need to drop some techy stuff to make them feel you know what you're talking about, drop big things only. Don't jargon-drop little stuff. Spend more of your time keeping everything else you say technically accurate. Don't let yourself slip up. Stay calm. Always stay calm. Say "I'm calling to inform you of a DDoS attack coming from one of your customers" not "You're DDoSing us! We're gonna sue! Our routers are melting. We're melting. ARGH!". The latter makes a bad impression. Try to maintain control of the conversation. Don't let them BS you into doing weird shit. State the facts up front. Tell them exactly what you've done to diagnose the problem. This is how I get hard drives replaced without all the reformatting bullshit. When I know the HD is bad I call them and tell them I've low-leveled it, checked jumpers, tried it in another machine, and run two bad blocks checks on it; here at the results. I've covered all their bases with the facts. All they have to do next is RMA it. Good luck!

  • by ONU CS Geek (323473) <ian@m@wilson.gmail@com> on Monday October 28, 2002 @12:51PM (#4548402) Homepage
    I know what actually happens when the cable guy comes out to install; as I was the one who was doing it. Here's the run-down:

    1.) The Installer checks your cable lines to see what the forward and return levels are, to see if they'll work with your exisiting drop at your house-box. If everything's ok, they'll run an extra outlet, take it to the house box, and split it off as the first splitter in your box. If it's not ok, they'll re-hang or re-bury the drop, then run your AO.

    2.) The Cable installer calls in the MAC address of your cable modem, so that DOCSIS can authorise your account.

    3.) We plug in the cable modem in, and make sure that the Cable Modem actually lights up. Once that Cable Modem is lit, you can get a DHCP address with any DHCP client.

    4.) We'd run the RoadRunner disk...it'd set up the IEAK Customizations, set up email addresses, and then do a series of tests to ensuer that everything was ok. This included a ping test, a DNS test, and tweak your TCP/IP settings for broadband.

    Basically, once they bring it in, DOCSIS provides the authentication (if you're on a system that uses DOCSIS). They shouldn't need to run any software on your computer that provides authentication--it's hardware based.

  • by Alan (347) <.arcterex. .at. .ufies.org.> on Monday October 28, 2002 @01:06PM (#4548558) Homepage
    I moved about a month ago, and moved from DSL to cable, and thought I'd share my experience with people.

    The guy came over, hooked up the cable modem, and watched as I ran about 50 feet of cable from it, around the back of the apartment, and through the window of the office (the only cable jack was on the opposite side of the house to the computers). When I finished he asked which computer had to be set up. "That one" I said, pointing to a small box hidden under the desk. It is a p133 that has run my website on 48 megs of ram for the last 5 years. "But not really that one," I finished.

    See I have a nifty little firewall from netmaster [netmaster.com] (was merilus) which is a full computer on a pci card that uses the host computer only for power via the PCI bus. When I explained this to him he just kinda nodded.

    "Don't worry," I told him, "I'll take care of it all." "All I need from you is the end of a cat5 cable." He went back to the cable modem and did the initialization or whatever he needed to do, and I overheard him say to head office something about "no, this guys going to set it all up."

    I had already set up the card for DHCP, so it was a matter of replacing the DSL modem cat5 cable and putting in the new one from the cable modem. I borrowed a pen from the slightly stunned installer and reset the system, waited the 40 or 50 seconds for the system to come back up, and then pinged out from my linux workstation.

    I mentioned that I worked for the last few years with a networking company and he said "well, you know a lot more than me then." No shit was the un-stated response. He left after having touched nothing more than the cabel modem.

    Moral of the story: If you don't want them to touch anything (and any moderately competant geek shouldn't), don't let them! All that needs to be done on a cable modem install is to plug in the external cable into your firewall (you DO have a firewall right?) and for you to either reboot it or renew the DHCP lease. You can set up all the @HOME proxy info if you want, but it's not needed.

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