Alice DSL support is atrocious.

My internet is having problems and the German ISP Alice DSL is unable or unwilling to fix them.

Rant time children.

For the last few weeks my DSL connection to the internet has been having some pretty annoying problems. Very specifically, the WAN (The connection from my home to their servers) is dropping intermittently and comes back again after a minute or so. How often it will drop varies. I’ve seen it do it 3 times in 10 minutes and I’ve seen if happen once a day. I do know it’s the WAN specifically because I have a router with DD-WRT which can show me exactly what the connection is doing. I also know because I’ve had this exact same problem 2 years or so ago, and after a lengthy investigation back then, they eventually realized the problem was on their end. The problem back then was resolved after 3 months and a dozen support calls or so.

The nature of this problem is likely to be almost invisible to the average user, but for someone who likes playing games online, this is a show stopper. I can tolerate being disconnected once from the game, but once it happens 3 times in 15 minutes, I give up in frustration usually.

So you can imagine my dismay when the same exact issue cropped up a few weeks ago, because  I remember last time getting Alice DSL (My ISP) to fix this took an enormous amount of effort on my part, just to convince them to look in the right direction. The reason for this is because their first and second line support is atrocious and it becomes even worse when one does not speak good German.

The first problem one encounters is that they will actually refuse to speak english on their standard tech support line. It’s not like you happen to always fall on the odd person who hasn’t learned a word in english. It seems to be a company policy not to speak to customers  in english. After speaking to at least 12 people in their first line support, I find it impossible that not one of them knew even bad english, especially given that every other german I’ve met does, and that all Ggermans learn them at school. There can be no other explanation than that they’ve been instructed not to speak english at first line support.

This is obviously very discouraging for their non-german customers which brings me to my main suspicion that Alice DSL does not care about solving your problems, but primarily about getting rid of you. If they can do that quicker by fixing your problem, all the better, but if they can get rid of you by not allowing you to even report your problem, fine as well. Btw, if you mention that you do not speak german, then your only option is to have some of their english tech support people call you within 1-2 hours via phone appointment (and I think, only during business hours). Good luck if you have stuff to do in that time. Better drop everything and wait for the call.

But even broken german is usually not enough. Much of the time I can somehow speak well enough to make my point and  get someone to look into it, but then they will start using some fairly complex words I’m not familiar with and half the time at least, I’ll have to ask my wife to take over.

If you somehow manage to get past the hurdle of language, then you still have to deal with them not knowing what the hell they’re doing.

So as I said, I’ve got a problem on the WAN. This is the first thing I mention, as well as the fact that I’ve had this exact same issue before and it was on their end back then. I also mention that I’ve called before and we’ve gone through basic and advanced troubleshooting. Much of the time, they don’t care so back to basic troubleshooting we go.

Basic troubleshooting of course means that you’d better not be running anything other than MS Windows and Alice-approved hardware. Anything and everything else is absolutely not supported. GNU/Linux? Not supported. Third party router after their modem? Not supported. It doesn’t matter that the problem might be entirely unrelated to the hardware or the desktop, if you have anything that is not MS Windows connected to your network, your Alice support is liable to be revoked. So before you even think of calling Alice support, reboot to windows (reinstall if you don’t have any) and connect their modem directly to your computer and run their crappy installation disk. Otherwise, no support for you.

One time, at my 4th or 5th call to Alice support in 2 weeks or so, after I’ve already replaced modem and had some backend troubleshooting done by them, I called to report the issue persisting and got transferred to second line support again. There was a guy who refused to speak a word of English (of course) and demanded to know if I have a direct connection from my PC to the Alice modem. I told him that it didn’t matter because the connection was working just fine until now and I had already tried connecting directly to the model without success. He insisted in learning if I had anything connected and I said I had my own third party router. After some back and forth in German that I couldn’t really understand well, I passed to my wife to talk to him. He had her go look at the router, which I’d already told him is third-party, and tell him if it had “Alice” written on it. After that, he denied helping us further until we disconnected everything and connected only Alice hardware. And of course then we’d have to call Alice again and get a different technician…

Not all support techs are like that, but there are enough that are, and what inflames the issue is that Alice support refuses to open a ticket to track the progress. I’ve asked multiple times for a ticket number or something so that I don’t have to explain the same thing again and again, or go through the same basic troubleshooting steps every time, but they tell me it’s not necessary. Rather, I would call, and if I managed to get to someone who realized the problem was on the WAN connection, they would do “something” (They wouldn’t tell me exactly what. Usually they mentioned “restarting this connection” or “initializing that line”) and then call them back if the problem happened again. The problem would happen again, I would call, and then there was a high probability I would end up with a tech who just didn’t want to work that day, and start looking for excuses to avoid looking at my problem.

The latest of such excuses was that I was running Windows 7 English. I had my wife on the phone and the tech had her go on my workstation to check the windows settings. This is after we explained that this is the 9th time we called and we’ve already checked all that. Due to there not being a ticket open of course, he could just choose not to believe it, and rather have us check the same basic things again. Unfortunately, the settings the technician wanted to check on my workstation were in English and he couldn’t give my wife the correct instructions. His solution? “Call us back when you’ve had Windows 7 German installed”. At this point my wife hang up the phone in frustration after telling them that we’d rather switch ISP first.

To add to that, apparently the tech support was extremely patronizing to my wife, as if talking to an idiot, so there’s that as well.

And if you think that’s a one-off case, I will note that I’ve had the same exact troubles 2 years ago. Back then, they even sent a tech to my home who finally acknowledged that the issue was on their end. This after replacing virtually all Alice DSL hardware and making me run through hoops with my LAN.  After that, finally the problem was fixed (and I got a ticket number), but this time I couldn’t even get this far.

After 9 calls to Alice with no success to even to get them to listen to the issue, we’ve had enough. All those “call us back if the problem persists” wouldn’t be as bad if we didn’t have to explain the same thing again and again every time, and then still get a few techs that insist on taking us through basic troubleshooting in order to find an excuse to deny service. I should also note that calling Alice support is a charged extra (Yes, you pay them to have them fix their own problems) by the minute and the minimum wait on hold is 5 minutes.


So I’m still with the same shitty issue. My wife refuses to speak to Alice DSL support anymore (and I don’t blame her) and would rather switch providers altogether. And after 9 calls to support, I doubt we can get Alice DSL to even look at the issue.

The problem is that we don’t know what ISP to go for. I’m excluded some obvious bad choices such as Telekom, but there’s still a lot of options left. So if anyone is in Germany, perhaps you can offer some advice. I’ve been thinking of checking out which is a small provider that seems to have the highest speeds and rating on but my wife is not liking this idea because their small size might mean even worse support from Alice (doubtful but who knows).

If anyone has any ideas, I’d love to hear them.

And any other fellow expat: if you’re not a good german speaker, stay the hell away from Alice DSL.


The Greenland Bank Transfer scam or Stranded Student scam still at large in Europe

A Scandinavian person claiming to be a student who had his laptop bag stolen will ask you for travel money. It’s a scam

Remember two years ago when I got scammed in the streets of Frankfurt? It seems that person is still at large in Western Europe and they’ve been incidents of people being scammed still in 2011. I just wanted to remind people to be aware and perhaps help other people find out what happened and concentrate photos, aliases and other evidence.

Here are some other people who’ve posted online about being scammed

Some more photos of the scammer:

Going by the name of Dennis Janson or Erik NelsonPossibly going by the name of Dennis Janson or Erik Nelson

The scammer has also been known to claim he is from Norway as well. Sometimes he is encountered along with a partner.

Aliases I’ve found he’s used until now: Erik Nelson, Peter Janson, Den Larson and Dennis Janson

Fake Papers sent as proof commonly: These are edited from scam to scam it seems. The name of the “father” sending the money changes. You can see below it being “Henrik Jensen”, “Olaf Nelson”, “Erik Janson”, “Olaf Jensen” and so on.

Erik Janson's Fake ID

The “father” is commonly using a, or email address, which makes it difficult to trace. I’ve already tried contacting Hotmail to get more info but was promptly ignored. Still looking at the headers of that email, I’ve managed to trace the father sending it from a Spanish ISP (which I’ve also contacted with no success).

Someone claims they used the +44 7854270100 phone number, but is not clear if this is the phone of the scammer or the “father”. This is a German number. It may be the case that the scammer has scamming partners all over Europe and calls whoever is convenient. This seems consistent with the other samples of emails I’ve seen, where the English was even worse than the one I received.


This person is a really, really good actor, with a very detailed, sad and believable story. He will talk about his family, he will show you pictures of his “house”, he will give you a fake skype address (same as his name) he will talk to you on end, without any stress or fear. He has done this dozens, if not hundreds of times. This person is absolutely shameless as well. He guiltlessly accepted an offer to buy him dinner and then bargained for 50 extra euros (with more sad sad stories).

If you see him, what you do is up to you, but by the time you realize you’ve been scammed (usually after 2-3 days when you realize the “money transfer” is not coming) your Police department is probably going to be useless. He’ll be long gone to another city or country by then.

Things I wished I did when I was being sold the story

  • Ask to go together to the police station to verify his story. He had claimed he has already been there and had filed a police report.
  • Look more closely at the Bank transfer receipt, which on close inspection was an obvious photoshop.
  • I also wished I was more cautious of the free email address and the egregious spelling errors in the email coming from an “International lawyer”

Anyway, spread the news and info around and hopefully the more people aware of this scam, the less likely it is that they’re caught unaware and lose their goodwill by being scammed when trying to help someone in need. Also if you’ve been scammed and managed to grab more info (email addressed, aliases, photos, phone numbers) contact me and I’ll add this to the list. If you’ve written about this, link it in the comments and I’ll add it to the list.

The more people who know about this, the more likely someone will recognise him during the act and take action to stop him or at least make the victim aware.

Take care and don’t lose your mutual aid feelings just because of this scumfuck.

Big university party. Riot police bring the fireworks

The new unelected government lost no time showing it means business.

So the Greek university asylum has finally ended, in practice, as well. 4 Days ago, the un-elected government of Papademos, backed up by Juntaist and far-right politicians decided to storm the Thessalonikian universities shortly after the demonstrations of the 17th November for the Polytechnic had ended. This was this unelected government’s first “Polytechnic anniversary”, so the symbolism is fairly blatant.

Then with the tanks, now with the banks.

You now know to express heavy repression on the anniversary of Alexis. Be prepared.

I own you

My wife-pwns me.

Today I leave you with another another lovely post by my equally lovely wife.

This is a good example for how deep you can maneuver youself into knee-deep crap, by trying to show how much better you are than others. The story happened in our summer vacation. The victim is my beloved husband, db0.

Dried oregano for culinary use.

Db0 holds up a small electric hand-held coffee shaking device, the wrong way around. “How does this work? Gruuaaaah!” (tries to do the Barbarian)
Me: “Hold it into the glass. Now turn your hand around.”
Db0: “Aaaah! Sometimes I wonder how things are so obvious. I’m having a silly phase: For you it was totally clear, but for me it just didn’t ‘click‘…”
Me: “Oooch! Mabe you’re just a bit slow this morning… my poor darling!”
DbO: “What are you already expecting me to say? Mmm?”
Me: “What?”
DbO: “The oregano!” (To explain what this means: I was standing right in front of the oregano bottle a few weeks ago, which was basically poking into my eye and still couldn’t see it, insisting that we didn’t have any, until he pointed out to me)
Me: “You know, you always remember the oregano story and remind me of it when you did something silly, and want to point out that it happens to me as well. I think you must have used this one story, like three or four times by now!”
DbO: “Ach, I’ve used it at least ten times by now!” (puffing his chest)
Me: “So you, Mr. ‘I-am-with-silly’, don’t understand that this one story had to be told several times, as compensation for your own stupidity, now? And you didn’t even ‘get it’ when I pointed it out to you, but rather proudly made it ten times? I’ve just owned you!”

In Germany we have a saying: “If you don’t know shit, just shut the fuck up” (Wenn du keine Ahnung hast, einfach mal Fresse halten). I think that applies nicely here 🙂

Db0 here. Story is true. I did self-pwn myself. To my defense however, I can never remember all the times she’s screwed up, so I always fell-back to the oregano story which was close to my memory. Oh well 🙂

On badass Orthodox Priests…

Greek Orthodox religious people can be quite badass.

Greek Orthodox priest

Plutonick just posted a story about the dual-class Priest/Manager he saw at a recent wedding ((It’s in Greek btw)) he went to and reminded me of my sister’s wedding and the shenanigans that went on in there. I don’t think I ever posted about it and it was a good chance to outclass pluto so here goes.

At my sister’s marriage I had a fairly eccentric attire, wearing a bandanna, a sleeveless black shirt and a cape ((don’t judge me)) but as weird as it sounds, I wasn’t the most interesting thing to look at that day. You see, my brother-in-law has a fairly unique take on Greek Orthodoxy that I don’t quite understand. But anyway, that’s his own schtick so I don’t mind. However, their religious marriage also happened with people who shared the same unique style of belief.

The first sample was the best man. From what I understand, a quite “sinful” person in the past who had a total change of heart and became a hugely devout orthodox, even joining a monk coven for a bit (I think) and growing the archetypal epic beard. So during the Orthodox marriage ceremonies, one of the classic things happens, which is that a priest-helper sprinkles the family guests with holy water thrown from a special plant ((i.e. they have a pot of holy water in which they dip these plant leaves and then sprinkle the guests by flinging it in their direction)). So as the priest-helper was going along the line of guests sprinkling, he eventually reached this devout best man.

He sprinkle him once and moved on the row, but as he was returning for a second pass, the best man leaned in and whispered something to him. I visibly saw a look of terror and shock dawn on the priest-helper’s face. I cannot guess what the best man told him, but apparently it was terrifying enough so that the helper visibly avoided any contact in the future. Even eye-contact.

But that wasn’t the only thing that happened. If you think the best man was aggressive, it’s because I haven’t told you about the priest actually doing the ceremony yet.

As is traditional in these marriages, there was a hired photographer going around taking artistic photos. Generally these photographers are given some leeway in movement so that they can take the good shots from the front of the couple and so on. So the photographer was doing his job, which inadvertently meant that he had to move to and fro and pass between the couple and the priest.

Well, let’s just say the priest did not take this very kindly.

After the third time the photographer passed between couple and priest, the priest abruptly stopped the ceremony, leaned down and whispered aggressively and loud enough to be heard to the third row something to the extent of “If you walk between me and the couple one more time, this will be the last time you walk.”

After that, the priest went back to his ceremony as if nothing had happened, while the photographer cowered in the corner for a while and then continued taking pictures in a very…conservative manner. I couldn’t see my sister’s face, so I don’t know if she was as surprised as I was at this outburst but later she told me that the guy deserved it because he was being kind of disruptive anyway.

Needless to say, this was the most awesome wedding I’ve ever been to.

You might have ADD if…

You multitask like a mothafucka.

Anno Domini High Definition
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve known I have ADHD since i was around 24. I found out by myself by searching online for solutions for my very short attention span, learning about ADD and then going to a specialist on these issues for an actual test. The discovery explained a lot of things about who I am and why I act as I do, and most importantly, knowing what I have allowed me to take the right steps to combat it.

Still, sometimes I keep surprising myself with just how much I need to trivially multitask in order to keep myself focused on my primary task. Trivially multitasking means doing small things with my hands, and feet and whatnot, in order to keep my splitting concentration from doing something even more disrupting. So I chew my fingernails, tap my feet, scratch and pick my nose, squeeze a rubber ball, chew the inside of my cheeks and lips, grind my teeth and so on. I usually do at least 3 of these things at the same time as my main task and I do them subconsciously, meaning that I only realize I’m doing them after I’ve done it for a bit.

However some times, I surprise even myself on the amount of things I need to be doing all the time, like today for example, where I was talking to my wife on the phone. Normally, I really don’t like talking on the phone. I find it boring and a few minutes is enough for me, at which point I just want to hang up and continue doing whatever I was doing before.  This time however, I seemed to be more tolerant of the act and while talking on the phone my mind started working on why this might be and then it struck me on how many things I was doing at the same time at that point. I was talking on the phone with one ear. On the other ear I was listening to music via a ear-set. On my left hand, I was playing with a coin. On my second monitor, I was watching my electric sheep screen-saver (which, if you’ve seen it, is quite enthralling by itself). And finally, I was tapping my feet.

When I mentioned this to my wife (who knows a lot about ADD from her profession), she explained that there’s no way she would be able to do all these at the same time.

I’ve now formed another half-arsed theory on why I especially hate talking on the phone. You see, most people, even without ADD, do something more than simply talk on the phone. Doodling on a notepad is a common occurrence for long talks, and I’d seen both my mother and various other people do that. It occurs to me then that a phone-call is by default a not very enthralling activity. It just doesn’t contain the concentration of most people enough, which makes them want to do something extra while on the phone. Something like doodling is enough for most. However when you combine this with ADD, being on the phone becomes almost intolerable since doodling is nowhere near enough to fill up your attention.

What do you think? Anyone else with ADHD who has similar experiences?

So, I got married…

And no, before you ask, I don’t feel any different 😉

Yep, as strange as it may be, I am now a  husband. I wasn’t really planning to as I’m not a fan of the marriage tradition and the pratriarchical things it stands for, but I am only mildly opposed to to the idea so when my girlfriend insisted upon it, I didn’t care enough to oppose it so much.

We were planning for the marriage to happen in summer but due to various circumstances, this didn’t manifest. Thus we decided to just have a civil wedding this year and do the ceremony stuff next year, where we’d have more time for planning. The civil wedding was going to be kept very short and sweet, with only a few people invited.

And then came the subject of the clothes. My soon-to-be-wife categorically objected in me going to the civil service on anything casual and I stedfastly refused to use a suit & tie setup. As we were thinking of a compromise, an idea came to me and I was delighted that she found it exciting as well: A Steampunk theme. This way, I would both be wearing something that wasn’t casual or conforming.

So we set about trying to create an outfit for this day. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a lot for the actual steampunk stuff other than the victorian-era clothes and the goggles, but even so, I think the end result was good.

So without further ado, here’s some pics that I found very good. You can see the whole album here (If you get 500 errors, use the slideshow option from the drop-down menu on the top right. Should be more stable)

Here we are in front of the Romer city hall. This is the place where the German kings were crowned. As you can see, we’re a…diverse bunch 🙂

Here’s the two of us close up. I think the attire was a success.

This is in the “ceremony” and the actual signing of papers and stuff. In the first pic, you can see me giving this decision some thought.

This is after the wedding, outside of the building. Given the amount of marriages that happen there daily (about one per 30 mins) throwing rice to the couple is forbidden, or else by the end of the day, the entrance would be covered in it. So as an alternative, our crazy Russian friend, throw intra-cook rice bags at us as we were coming out. In the last pic, you can see a bunch of children which were completely surprised by the way we looked. One asked us “Why do you look so bad?”.

We were quite the attraction that day in fact. The Japanese tourists probably thought we were part of the setting.

These are from the breakfast and lunch times. We went for both one after the other so there wasn’t enough time to digest. However we did leave out some space for the cake, which as you can see, we tried to build to the theme as well. There was so much left of it, that I brought practically half of it to work for the people there to eat 🙂

So there you have it. Next year, we’ll have one more 🙂

Falling Down

In which I was hit by a car…door.

small accident
Image by chdot via Flickr

Last week I had a small accident on my way home. I was driving with my bike on the right side of the street, with parked cars on my right, when suddenly, just one meter in front of me a car door from the driver’s side sprung open and I had barely enough time to swerve to the left while making a small warning shout. Unfortunately I wasn’t fast enough and the door clipped me on the shoulder and after a brief struggle for control, I ended up on my back in the middle of the road.

Fortunately the road behind me was empty, otherwise this could have ended far worse, but as it was, I didn’t get as much as a scrapped knee (I’m very good at falling. Years of experience as a kid. Hey, flaunt them if your have them.) After a brief pause to pause to compose myself, I got up and looked at the careless driver and…saw him checking up the door for damages…

I angrily shouted “Seht gut gemacht” which translates to “well done” but in retrospect I should have said something wittier, like “Is your door ok?” or something. At that point I was too shaken to be witty though. The guy, who was around his 60s, started apologizing profusely and people started asking what happened but at that point, once I verified that nothing was hurting, all I wanted was to continue on my way home. The driver of course was being now very very friendly and asking me if all is OK,  if nothing hurts and so on.

Call me cynic but I know that his main concern was that he wouldn’t get sued. He was very fortunate that I had no damage on myself or my bike ((My bike actually stopped squeaking after this)) and he was especially fortunate I’m not a typical German. Almost every one I speak to says that if a typical German was in my position, they would have called the police immediately, just in case something started hurting down the line. From my perspective, calling the police, taking statements and so on would have been so much a waste of my time that it was just not worth it. The hassle I would go through would be far too much of a cost.

The whole incident however pointed out to me how material-oriented so many Germans are. The guy who hit me was primarily interested in the state of his car, not because a scratch is a big issue, but because the car wouldn’t be perfect and that would speak bad about him as a human person. It sounds ridiculous but far too many people around here think like that. It’s like a nation-wide Keep Up With the Joneses situation and it really ruins human relations.

It’s the reason people are so emotionally cold around here. The judge themselves, and consecutively others, by their material wealth and avoid mixing up to those lower than them. This in turn leads to more and more alienation from your fellow human beings. In the case of my accident above, another person would very likely have a more angry reaction to the door hit, not just because of the carelessness of the driver, but because of where the driver’s primary concern was. The fact that his first instinct was to make sure his status was social unaffected and not to worry about the person he could have harmed.

It’s like a prime example of how crass materialistc individualism can go wrong and poison our society as a whole.