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AT&T U-Verse TV Install 5/31/13

U-verse TV

Background on my AT&T U-Verse TV Install: I was at the AT&T phone store the weekend before last, getting a new iPhone 5. We saw the latest U-verse TV offering and we decided to sign up for the U450 Package. Our nice sales person booked us for an installation for the following Friday, and this write up is a log of my AT&T U-Verse TV Install.

All new coax. We’ve been a long time user of our local cable service, and it was behind on services capabilities and the user interface was frustratingly slow. For our new U-verse TV service we wanted new TV service only; no voice, no Internet. We continue to be pleased with our cable company’s DOCSIS 3.0 based cable modem service. For this installation  we didn’t want our cable modem service touched. We asked the U-verse installer to run all new coax for our installation.

NID - Network Interface Device. My home phone line (Line 1) gets split into POTS and U-verse service pairs.  The filter installs into a spare slot in the NID.Two home phone lines: which one? As part of the sign-up process, we asked the phone store person to use the home phone line that we currently use for our 10 year old Ameritech DSL. Our good old DSL still works as reliably as the day it was installed, but we wanted to use U-verse as a trigger to retire it. The phone store person said he couldn’t work this and that we would have to talk to the installer. That was ok. A couple of days before the installation, a nice person called us to confirm the installation; we asked him about which home phone line, and he too didn’t know and referred us to our installer. Hmm… was this going to be ok?

U-verse TV only for non-DSL line. On the day of installation, our installer person called and warned us that home phone service was going to be temporarily turned off while it was being repatched onto a VDSL connection to the neighborhood VRAD.

AT&T VRADI politely complained that I wanted to retire our Ameritech DSL, but he said since that the DSL line wasn’t conditioned for U-verse service and that we’d have to wait for weeks. That settles it: our new U-verse TV service would be yet another broadband connection coming into our house (old DSL, Cablemodem, and now VDSL). Knowing that this is just temporary, I gave the go ahead.

U-verse VDSL service works when the Serivce and Device LEDs turn green on the 2Wire HomePortal 3801HGV Intelligent GatewayVRAD->VDSL Pair -> NID -> 2-Wire Gateway worked first time. Our installer put a VDSL filter onto our phone line; the filter was cleanly mounted in our NID (out doors, on the side of our house). We verified POTS dial tone. Then the filtered VDSL signal was patched into our house over a spare loop in the existing cabling. A nice little RJ-45 style surface jack was mounted in the basement on the same wall as the rest of our home wiring. From there, a short 4 pair LAN style cable was run from the jack to the 2Wire 3801HGV Gateway. Our installer plugged it in and after 3 or 4 minutes the LEDs turned Green. It basically worked the first time.

Background on our VDSL:  In my neighborhood, an AT&T VRAD is installed across the street and behind some bushes. I had no idea! It’s a 2200ft loop length; good enough for 25Mbps service. He told me that I qualify for 3HD and 1SD video streams. He said my signal was “90%” — meaning I should not expect too much, if any, dropout. He said that my service was delivered with only one pair of copper wires with no bridge taps. If for some reason my service was iffy, we would have given me a second pair and “bonded” them together to get my signal up-to the advertised levels. He said for my neighborhood, my signal strength was really good and I shouldn’t expect any problems.

RG-6 Coax to 2 TVs. Next, our very kind and patient installer ran two new lengths of coax from our basement entry point to the family room and living room TVs. He also ran a short length of coax from the 2wire Gateway to a spot on the ceiling of the basement where he installed a passive splitter. Using two different tools, he very professionally put new coax connectors on and cranked them down with a purpose built wrench.  He offered to run coax to one STB and just use WIFI for the other; I was reluctant, and he readily agreed to run coax to both STBs.

STB w/DVR, Cisco IPN4320.

Two STBs, one of them a DVR. The way U-verse service works, one the of the set top boxes is the DVR (Cisco IPN4320 Receiver) and the other STB shares it (Cisco IPN330HD Receiver). These STBs support 480i, 720p and 1080i high def; just what I was promised. For my old cable service, I have two STBs, each with their own DVR. The U-verse TV STBs are much smaller, surprisingly much quieter. The back of the new STBs had Coax-in/out, video-in/out and an HDMI connection. This matched up nicely with our old STBs and switching them out was easy.

On the very first power up, the STBs needed about 10 minutes to download updates and get registered into the network. In addition to coax, the STBs connect to the 2Wire Gateway over WIFI. . Not sure I saw any specific login or provisioning done. Our installer had the programming codes for our clickers; he set them up to work with our SONY and Samsung TVs from memory.  The 2Wire Gateway in the basement has a HomePNA LED; it was green.  I assume the video streams are sent to the STB over HomePNA over coax.  I wonder if the WIFI connections are carrying any traffic?!  I suppose that I could have asked for CAT-5 cable to my STBs.  I need to look into this more.

U-verse TV remote control, model S10-S315 minute tutorial. As a last step of my AT&T U-Verse TV Install,  our installer spent 15 minutes with me helping me learn all the U-verse TV features. It is much improved from our old service and I was delighted that he was able to set the HD and SD aspect ratios to match our TV’s. Also, I asked for the most common troubles and how to fix:
- Power surges. With this configuration, power surges have been known to hose things up. He checked our grounding (thanks!!), but still if it happens, power cycling the 2-wire Gateway won’t be enough. You need to hold the red button on the back for 30 seconds.
- STB DVR sync. Sometimes, not sure when or why, the one STB will not see the DVR in the other. This isn’t supposed to happen, but it does and in order to fix, you need to power cycle and bring up the DVR STB first, then power cycle the other.
- 3HD/1SD limits. We need to remember that if we are recording 3 HD shows, then we can only watch one SD show, in the whole house, so we need to be mindful of the limit. Nothing is broken, you just need to learn the stream count limit.

Our nice AT&T U-Verse TV Install person left with everything neatly buttoned up and the service working nicely. Thanks!

hbogoWeb-based apps. For me the next step was getting our U-verse online services working. We like using Watch ESPN and HBO Go. But first I needed to get an AT&T U-verse login id and password. Since I am not a U-verse Internet user, I was not given one. I called the AT&T help line and they very nicely gave me a userid@att.net user id and password. These are what you need to get access to AT&T U-verse web services. BTW, U-verse offers HBO Go, Showtime Anytime, Watch ESPN, TNT/TBS Everywhere, and Max Go.

AT&T U-verse iPhone AppUverse.com. Also with the userid@att.net, I am able to use the U-verse App on my new iPhone to remotely program my U-verse TV DVR.

Poking around in the 2Wire Gateway. Even though I am not an Internet subscriber, I plugged my laptop into the 2Wire gateway LAN port just to see what would happen.  The gateway was running DHCP and it gave my laptop a 192.168.1.xx address with a gateway address of 192.168.1.254.  I went to http://192.168.1.254 and the gateway’s user portal home page came up.  From there, I saw that my VDSL was provisioned for 25181Kbps down and 2046Kbps up; this matched what our installer told us; I assume this is plenty of down stream bps for 3HD/1SD service.  Further, I saw that the WIFI was active and that my two STBs were connected to the gateway.  There are also some interesting usage logs that might be helpful for troubleshooting, if / when I might have trouble.  This looked very nice, but not something that I am likely to fuss with.

Not sure it will be a problem, but my home network now has another WIFI hot spot show up when we turn on our home laptop or tablet.  This is from the 2Wire gateway.  We already have 2 other hot spots originally put in place to get coverage everywhere in our house.   I hope the 3rd hot spot won’t interfere or degrade our home WIFI performance.  So far, too soon to tell.

Without alot of trouble, I loaded the U-verse Real Time application onto my laptop and was able to scope out the basics of the U-verse networking.  Not sure I really needed to do this, but it was intellectually interesting and potentially useful for debugging.

Still to do: I need to unsubscribe from my old cable service’s TV channels (but keep my Internet) and shut down and retire my good old Ameritech DSL.

Respectfully submitted,
JK

Jaffa Clock Tower

Old Jaffa Walking Tour

St. Peter's ChurchBackground for my Old Jaffa Walking Tour: We were in Tel Aviv for a week’s worth of business meetings.  After our last meeting, we took a pre-dinner ride a couple of miles south to start our brief Old Jaffa Walking Tour.

Our hotel is located in Tel Aviv, right on the Mediterranean.  From our hotel we can faintly see the clock tower from St. Peter’s Church and the Minaret of Al-Bahr Mosque / Sea Mosque.  Even though our hotel and Jaffa are both on the Tel Aviv Promenade, a stretch of boulevard full of people out for the evening, we decided to save time and took a taxi to Jaffa.

Gate of FaithOur taxicab driver took us to the Abrasha Park at the top of the hill named Tel Yafo in Old Jaffa.  We walked around and saw some interesting sites:  a small park area with a sculpture named “The Gates of Faith,” “Tel Yafo Excavation” — an archaeological dig of an egyptian fortress, the “Wishing Bridge,” St Peter’s Church.

We started walking down the Jaffa Hill, following the Mifrats Shlomo Promenade, the walk way closest to the water.  We saw the Minaret of Al-Bahr Mosque / Sea Mosque, a beautiful view of the Tel Aviv night-time cityscape, Arab Hebrew Theatre of Jaffa.

Sea MosqueWhen we got to the bottom of the hill we wandered among small food market along Yefet Street near the HaPishpeshim Market area.  We walked to the North East entrance of Old Jaffa and saw the Jaffa clock tower then took a taxi back to our hotel.

Jaffa is a port city that dates back 1440BC, with archaeological evidence suggesting its origins go back to 7500BC.  This is a nice small place to visit.

Tips:

The Old Jaffa hill isn’t that big, but if you are pressed for time, I recommend doing what we did and have your taxi drop you off at the top of the hill and walk down.  If at all possible, do a little bit of research before you go; there’s lots of history right in front of you; if you don’t read beforehand or have a guide, you will miss the significance of this beautiful harbour town. Link to Jaffa WIKI

We went there early evening; it had just turned dark.  In Abrasha Park and on the promenade along the water way, there were lots of people, siteseers like us and families going out to dinner.  We felt very safe.

Tel Aviv City scape

Fedora sendmail setup. Tips for hosts/domains and masquerading.

Notes on my fedora sendmail setup.  I have had my fedora linux server setup for a couple of years with no email —  on purpose, to avoid spam hassles.  But to help my blog work better with plugins I decided to get this machine running sendmail.

I’ve done fedora sendmail setup before on another one of my servers, but it had been so long, I had to start from scratch.  I started by finding a good general setup guide.  This one on the fedora wiki was most worthy.

So the instructions were pretty straight forward.  Since I own my domain name and have a static IP address, the setup is easy.  So I followed the instructions and, well, it didn’t work. My first problem:

Fedora Sendmail setup emails bounced, because email is from user@localhost

So my first couple of test emails sent to my web account bounced back to me, they looked like this:

----- Transcript of session follows -----
... while talking to mx0.gmx.com.:
>>> MAIL From:<root@localhost.localdomain> SIZE=665
<<< 550 5.1.8 Cannot resolve your domain {mx-us004}
554 5.0.0 Service unavailable

So I had to figure out why my server was putting userid@localhost.localdomain.  I learned that my /etc/hosts file was setup wrong.  There’s lots of fedora tips on how to setup your hosts file (here’s a related posting), mine was setup wrong.  One tip, use the sendmail diagnostic tool, as follows:

# sendmail -d0.1 -bv root
[...]
 SYSTEM IDENTITY (after readcf) (short domain name) $w = myserver
(canonical domain name) $j = myserver.mydomain.net
       (subdomain name) $m = mydomain.net
            (node name) $k = myserver.mydomain.net
[...]

The above is good. Before I debugged my localhost problems, this command showed localhost in each of the domain name lines.  Also, for debugging, I recommend using the mail -vv (two v’s) command line option.  It’s easier than looking in the /var/log/maillog file.

Next problem: the emails were addressed user@myserver.mydomain.net

The emails were working, but the From line should say user@mydomain.net.  I had to relearn how sendmail masquerading worked.  I had to setup the key parameters in the sendmail.mc file, as follows:

MASQUERADE_AS(`mydomain.net')dnl
FEATURE(masquerade_envelope)dnl
FEATURE(masquerade_entire_domain)dnl
FEATURE(allmasquerade)dnl
MASQUERADE_DOMAIN(localhost)dnl
MASQUERADE_DOMAIN(localhost.localdomain)dnl
MASQUERADE_DOMAIN(myserver.mydomain.net)dnl

But the masquerading wasn’t working.  When I went to the official sendmail man page for masquerade, it talked about the EXPOSED_USER option.  By default, sendmail assumes the root user never wants to be masqueraded.  Of course, I was troubleshooting my sendmail setup from the root login, so this option had me thinking something was wrong.  I turned of this option, and finally my fedorda sendmail setup was finished.  It took way longer than I thought it would and I felt it was worth writing up.

For reference, here’s what I changed in my sendmail.mc file:

define(`confLOG_LEVEL', `9')dnl
dnl EXPOSED_USER(`root')dnl
MASQUERADE_AS(`kozikfamily.net')dnl
FEATURE(masquerade_envelope)dnl
FEATURE(masquerade_entire_domain)dnl
FEATURE(allmasquerade)dnl
MASQUERADE_DOMAIN(localhost)dnl
MASQUERADE_DOMAIN(localhost.localdomain)dnl
MASQUERADE_DOMAIN(kozik2.kozikfamily.net)dnl
Freescale Watch Face

Freestyle Shark Watch Settings Instruction Sheet Too Small to Read

The Freestyle Shark Watch, the watch that I use for biking and kayaking is a worthy workout watch, but its physical design doesn’t always agree with me. The watch is programmed using four big knobby buttons. The buttons get accidentally set when I am doing activities that bend my wrist back and forth… easily done when paddling or riding.

I’ve had the watch get into funky modes where the time would disappear or the watch would beep every few minutes, and no combination of pressing buttons would restore the watch function, until I was able to get the instruction sheet out.

Well that brings up another issue, the instructions are printed in such small type that I can barely read it. Continue reading