Tuesday, April 19, 2022




SPOILER ALERT. You are about to read a 70-year-old man’s rant about changes to his cable service and, to a lesser extent, the economy and the greed that drives it. Rest assured, he’ll write something more entertaining next time out.

Our highest monthly utility bill here at Casa Isabella comes from Armstrong Utilities. It covers our cable, Internet and land lines. We use the cable extensively. Same with the Internet, though I get my e-mail through a different provider. I do have e-mail through Armstrong, but their e-mail set-up sucks. Land lines? We unplugged them a few years back when the political calls and the sales calls and the scams became unbearable. We still keep that phone number. We just don’t use it.

We’ve been paying Armstrong just over $240 a month. However, as a result of being bounced around five different Armstrong employees in the span of a hour, my lodging several complains and my pointing out their lack of a senior citizen discount, it’s been reduced to just over $210 per month for the next twelve months. Which gives me plenty of time to consider other options.

My complaints last week concerned Armstrong arbitrarily deciding to stop supporting the cable box they had provided many years prior. That meant we could no longer access “On Demand” or record things on our DVR in a convenient manner. They replaced the cable box with a tiny square device that doesn’t work well. They also replaced our remote with a tiny remote that fits in the palm of my hand and, you guessed it, doesn’t work well.

Within a few days of the new cable box being installed, it wasn’t working properly. They had to send a second technician. I have no complaints about either technician - they were both terrific - but the cable box still ain’t right. I haven’t called Armstrong to send a third technician because a) I found a work-around and b) I don’t have time for this crap.

Like almost every company that makes changes to “improve” service, Armstrong actually made these changes to improve its profits. I’ll say the new and smaller cable box and the new remote are probably better for the environment if only because they use less materials in their manufacture. I’d be fine with that if the damn things just worked better. Oh, yeah, in the course of researching this bloggy thing, I discovered that some of these new cable boxes (and I would assume remotes) have been previously used and may not be recharged before they are installed anew.

Greed drives so much of our economy. Joe Biden or even Russia are not responsible for higher gas and other prices. In the case of the gas prices, the oil companies are raising the prices because that makes them more money. These companies are sitting on oil leases  they aren’t developing because development costs more than raising their prices. This is why myself and other godless liberals would prefer our nation wean itself off fossil fuels in favor of cleaner, less expensive energy sources. If you believe God is our landlord, then you must admit we are lousy tenants.

If you’re on Facebook, you know that “improvements” to the service are rarely that. I used to think the geniuses there would decide a change was cool without considering the ramifications for those who use the service. When Facebook changed its “Memories” feature, it was bad and remains so today. These days, being older and wiser, I believe such changes are probably of financial benefit to Facebook.
Even if I can’t figure out how.

My new Armstrong cable box and remote don’t work as well as the old ones. Since I’m getting my rant on, I’ll try to list as many of the failures as I can.



The above is my Sony TV remote. We use it to turn on the TV, raise or lower the volume and access our streaming services. All of these functions can be performed theoretically by our new Armstrong tiny remote, but the Sony remote does them easier and more efficiently. We’re using this remote for our streaming channels because I chose not to go through Armstrong to access them.  Even if we can’t get to our cable TV offerings, we can at least watch stuff on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and so on.

This is our old and larger Armstrong remote:


And this is our new and tiny Armstrong remote:

The “Guide” and “Info” buttons on the old remote work better than on the new one. The new remote’s “Guide” function isn’t terrible, but I liked the old one better. I’m using it to set up recordings and one passes.

What the new remote doesn’t have is the convenient “Day” feature of the old remote. With that feature, I could easily set up recordings days in advance, which is especially handy when I’m at conventions and the like. On the new remote, once I get into the Guide, if it’s Tuesday and I want to record something on Thursday, I have to move the guide hour by hour until I reach Thursday.

Being fair, the “Volume” and “Channel” buttons work as well on the new remote as they did on the old. Ditto the “Mute” button, which is a necessity as long as there are Republicans running for office and running free. Those folks are awful.

There are no “Last” or “On Demand” or “List” or “Live” buttons on the new remote. To use those features, you have to maneuver around the interior settings.

I really miss the “List” function on the old remote. It made it simple to see what I recorded and to access the recorded programs. However, the new remote does make it marginally easier to create  “passes” for certain shows. On the flip side, the new remote makes it confusing to figure out which episodes you’ve recorded.

The rant is almost over. The old remote had exterior buttons that made it easy to rewind, play, fast forward, stop, pause and record. To use the first five of those features with the new remote, I have to be in the interior settings. To use them efficiently, I’d have to have smaller fingers and faster reflexes. Those features simply do not work well with the new remote.

As for the “record” function, used when we were watching a program live and couldn’t finish it, if there is any interior “button” for that, I haven’t found it yet.

You know what would have been extremely helpful with this new box and remote? An instruction manual. Which, of course, Armstrong did not provide. Sigh.

Earlier I mentioned I found a work-around to the new cable box and remote not working properly. Often, when I’d hit the power button on the new remote, I’d get a “no input” notice that instructed me to go to “input” settings. Which would not give me the option of choosing the setting that would connect me to the Armstrong cable platform. Which would annoy me greatly. This happened after the new stuff was installed. It also happened after the second technician came to house to fix that problem.

This doesn’t happen every time I turn on the TV. When it does, what I do is unplug the cable wire from the cable box and then plug it back in. Then the TV cycles through a few symbols, the cute little swirling things that turn into the word “android,” a blue circle of death and, finally, the main screen. It’s frustrating, but not as frustrating as having to talk to Armstrong on the phone and plan my day around the arrival of yet another technician.

Let me stress once more that I had no problems with the two service technicians who came to Casa Isabella. They were good guys who were efficient and friendly. I wish I could ask for them by name when I again (inevitably) have to invite Armstrong Utilities to visit my house. Thus ends the rant.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2022 Tony Isabella


  1. That first Armstrong remote bears some resemblance to the cable remote I have, dating back to before Charter bought Time Warner Cable and renamed it Spectrum. I wonder if they're related.

  2. I'm curious about one thing, Tony. What does your "local Channel surcharge" amount to? I've got Mediacom here and I pay about $25 a month to watch "free tv." We went more than a year here without an ABC station because the corporate goons at Tegna wanted more money from Mediacom which means more money from their viewers. They finally settled earlier this year and sure enough, the surcharge went up.

  3. John...I can't find that on my bill. It could be they hide it within some other charge.