Comcast Cares

Comcast is one of those vendors you love to hate. And when there’s something wrong, blaming them is the first thing that comes to mind. 4.5 years ago I discovered I could upgrade my Internet download speed from 3mbps to 6mbps for an extra $12 per month. It was actually the increase in upload speeds I was looking for at the time, but 6mbps down was what I was told to expect after the upgrade.

Today I was looking at my ever-increasing Comcast bill and saw an offer to upgrade to 22mbps download — a nearly 4x increase! I called and asked How Much, and the guy said that since I was already on a 16mbps service, it would be only $10 additional. 16mbps? I thought I my plan was only 6mbps. But there on my bill it said I should be getting 16mbps. So I bitched and moaned and Twittered.

Frank Eliason (@ComcastCares) saw and replied to my tweet at 9pm his time on a Sunday night. He told me my Motorola 4100 was pretty old (true) and that I might want to upgrade to something new like an SB6120 that supports DOCSIS 3.0. (I own my own mode.) He also said he’d try to reprogram the old modem.

An hour later I ran another set of tests. Wow! I guess Frank was successful. The speed jumped to an average of 14.9mbps/1.5mbps, more the 2x what I saw earlier today and respectably within what you’d expect from a “16mbps” account.

Here’s my guess as to what happened: Over the past 4.5 years, Comcast likely upgraded the speed for a so-called Burst account from 6mbps to 16mbps but didn’t bother to tell existing customers about it. It seems that some or all of the throttling might occur within the modem, so when Frank “re-programmed” mine, it upgraded my connection to the speeds I was already paying for.

In any case, I just ordered a new Motorola SB6120 from on the hope that DOCSIS 3.0 might give me even better throughput on real-world content (rather than speed tests).

The Levelator® 2.0 is Here


After more than ten months of work (and waiting for third-party components), I’m thrilled to announce the release of a major update to The Levelator®. Version 2.0.3 for Windows and OS X is now available for download. Some of the changes include:

  • A number of improvements have been made to The Levelator’s® algorithms based on sample audio files submitted by users. Most notably is a reduction in certain unnatural volume adjustments.
  • libsndfile has been updated to version 1.0.21 which has fixed the following:
    • 24-bit files are now properly supported.
    • Soundtrack Pro 2 .aiff files are now supported.
    • Adobe Soundbooth files are now supported.
    • Unicode filenames are now supported.
  • Very short source files are now supported.
  • You can now drag/drop and audio file onto the application icon in the OS X Dock.
  • The Levelator® now verifies that it has sufficient disk space for temporary and output files before processing the source file.
  • ctrl-o/cmd-o (Open File…) now works after alt-tab has been used to switch applications.
  • The .ini (settings) file is now deleted during installation in order to properly refresh the ‘news’ timestamp. (Fixed in Windows version only.)
  • The formatting of error reports has been improved.
  • Log files are now unique on a per-user basis.

H.264 Out of Sync w/Flash Player: The Fix

I was working on new screencast tutorials for, and I wanted to use H.264 encoding for the video because the quality seemed better than most of the other options available. But I also wanted to use the JW Player, which uses Flash. The only problem was that while the H.264 file was great using the Quicktime player, it was out-of-sync when viewed using the Flash player. Thanks to The Google I came across what seemed like a whacky explanation and workaround. Andrew Wallace suggested that the Flash player not only decouples audio and video, but that it also time-compresses (in the audio track only!) period of pure silence. Sure enough, he appears to be right. And his suggested workaround does indeed solve the problem. I added a continuous track of white noise attenuated to -70dB from peak to the entire presentation. It’s inaudible because of the low level, but the Flash player sees it as non-silence and reproduces the audio track in-sync with the video. Strange but true!