Since moving to Silicon Valley, I decided to give AT&T U-Verse another spin. I was using it in Sacramento before leaving… but of course I didn’t pass up a chance to tear Comcast a new one. I signed up for their teaser $20/month-for-12-mbps tier (which of course expires after a few months).
And, of course, I hit the 250 GB bandwidth cap on Comcast. Now, as I previously suggested… before departing Comcast, you should do this too, so that Comcast can’t keep the Affected Rate artificially low.
If that sounds rambling, I’ll put it another way. Comcast basically says 99% of people aren’t affected by the bandwidth cap. That’s because those folks quit Comcast right when the cap went in. So, by hitting the cap, you remove Comcast’s excuse that virtually nobody is affected by it. And, every three months I’m viewed as a new customer… and proudly (albeit very temporarily) switch back to Comcast… lather, rinse, repeat.
Okay, enough ranting on Comcast versus U-Verse. The great news is that my initial install took much less time (and only one premise technician). But, the install hit one snag. My apartment suffers from a chronic problem facing many buildings. And, that’s that many outlets aren’t ground wired.
Now, you probably know that the third prong on a three-prong outlet is the ground prong. It’s meant to provide electricity with an emergency exit. If something dangerous happens (say, a wire goes bare, touches the metal casing on a gadget), then the ground wire is used to pull the power away from the device (and most importantly, away from any human touching the device at the time).
In the late 80’s, three-pronged devices just started going into devices. At the time, electiricians were flooded with work orders to give every dwelling at least some three-pronged outlets. That’s why many still have some two-pronged and some three-pronged units.
Well, with all this renovation, corners got cut. Electiricans didn’t want to have to tell landlords and homeowners that they had to run ground wires. And, at the time, gadgets didn’t really need them… not on the 500W PSU situations that we often deal with today. So, the corners got cut, and the outlets weren’t grounded.
So, what was a small problem with the U-Verse install, led to the discovery that the entire complex’s electrical wiring is out-of-code… and hazardous in a few ways I didn’t even realize while looking at it (yes, there were that many layers to the problems). It’s like The Money Pit… everything looked fine, until it went to crud.
Oh, and somewhere in there, my insurance agent called (had to buy more insurance for MechaWorks)… so this came up. Apparently, it’s enough of a hazard that you can be disqualified from a renter’s insurance claim (should electrical and/or fire cause damage).
As such, if you rent, I strongly encourage you to get a wiring tester, or at least a surge strip with a dedicated wiring fault indicator (and make sure it says that it checks for wiring faults… not just surge protection). Oh, and have renters insurance… you never know what lies inside those walls.
And, with that, I’m now sitting back while electricians rewire nearly every outlet, as well as run grounding lines to the breaker, and down to the street. My condolences to the landlord… their wallets won’t be looking as good this Memorial Day. $3,000 less good.