Buy Your Own (Time Warner) Cable Modem

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A few months ago, my sister complained that her Time Warner Cable Internet Broadband Plan’s monthly charge had increased by $4-5. I asked to see the bill and saw a $3.95 cable modem rental fee, which after checking with her, was a new addition. A quick google revealed that Time Warner Cable had started charging a rental fee for cable modems, which previously were free. (I guess the penny-pinchers finally got control of Time Warner.)

CiscoDPC2100_BackI don’t know why my sister complains about technical stuff like this to me. Oh, wait, it’s because I usually solve the issue for her. Anyhow, I decided to buy a cable modem for my sister so that she could avoid paying that rental fee. I ended up getting a used cable modem compatible with Time Warner for $20 from craigslist. The following contains some information which might be useful if you are also looking to buy a cable modem.

DOCSIS 2.0 vs 3.0

DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) is a term which you will encounter when shopping for cable modems. Simply, DOCSIS is a communication standard for cable modems which allow cable modems from different companies to work with an Internet broadband cable provider’s equipment. There are two versions of DOCSIS, 2.0 and 3.0, which are commonly supported by Internet cable providers. The main difference between DOCSIS 2.0 and 3.0 is the speed which they can handle.

If your Internet service speed is significantly less than 42Mbps downstream and 30Mbps upstream, you should be okay with DOCSIS 2.0 cable modem because those are the maximum throughputs for DOCSIS 2.0. If your Internet service is around that speed or higher, you should invest in a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem.

Because my sister had the Time Warner Basic plan, which is rated for up to 3Mbps and actually tested at 20Mbps (please, don’t let the penny-pinchers at corporate find out), a DOCSIS 2.0 cable modem is more than adequate. (You can easily test your Internet connection speed by browsing to speedtest.net.)

Time Warner’s Compatible Cable Modem Models

Originally, Time Warner recommended five expensive DOCSIS 3.0 cable modems on their Buy Your Personal Internet Modem page. Thankfully, the latest version of that page adds more models, including DOCSIS 2.0 modems, and breaks them into two groups tied to service plans; which are very helpful. Still, my sister’s rented cable modem is a Cisco DPC2100, which isn’t on the official list of recommended modems to buy.

After googling, I found Time Warner’s Lease Your Modem page which lists all the rented modems that Time Warner supported. This list contains three times the number of modems as the previous webpage. In the rented list, I found the Cisco DPC2100 which is a DOCSIS 2.0 modem.

The point is that if I buy a modem in this rented list, it must be acceptable to Time Warner because they rent the same out to their current customers. This is good because more options mean a greater supply which leads to lower prices when purchasing.

Shop for Cable Modems on Craigslist

When looking for cable modems on craigslist, it pays to do your research. I found that in the majority of instances, the cable modems on craigslist were overpriced. In some cases, new modems on craigslist (without the warranty) were sold at the same price or more than brand new modems that I found on Amazon and other reputable sites. Craigslist sellers were not reducing the price to account for the risk (lack of warranty, no returns, etc.) that buyers had. So if you are looking for a new cable modem, it pays to check stores (online and offline) in addition to craigslist.

If a used cable modem is acceptable, you will want to check craigslist for deals. (Also, if you don’t mind, look for online and offline deals concerning manufacturer-refurbished cable modems, which are almost as good as new and come with warranty.) As a general rule, I would target around $20 for a used DOCSIS 2.0 cable modem and around $40 for a used DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem. If you don’t have the fastest broadband plan, you don’t need to get an expensive cable modem with extra features that you won’t be able to take advantage of.

I ended up getting my sister a Scientific Atlanta DPC2100 version 2 cable modem for $20. This is basically a newer version of the Cisco DPC2100 (Cisco purchased Scientific Atlanta) that my sister was currently renting from Time Warner. At $20, it will take five months of not paying the $3.99 rental charge before we break even; after which, the saving begins. Because I paid for the cable modem, my sister enjoyed the savings immediately. (Again, this is why she complains to me about this stuff.)

Install Your New Cable Modem

Installing your newly-purchased cable modem is very simple. Here is Time Warner’s FAQ on what you need to do to install a purchased cable modem.

Basically, you will want to know your cable modem’s model (some service agents will ask for the model, others won’t) and the MAC address. Along with the model, the MAC address should be printed on a label on your cable modem. The MAC address will look like 00B0D086BBF7. Once you have these two tidbits of info, you can call Time Warner at 800-892-2253. The Time Warner agent will ask you to hook up the new cable modem (if you haven’t already done so) and update your service with the new MAC address. Within a minute or two of the agent activating your new modem, your Internet access should be re-established.

Don’t forget to return your rented cable modem to the nearest Time Warner store. Anyone can return it. The agent at the store won’t ask for anything (like account number) and will provide a receipt. Depending on where you are in your billing cycle, you may see that rental charge one more time before it goes away.

Save money on your Time Warner monthly bill by buying a used cable modem. It’s a breeze to setup.

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Transfer Music From One iPod To Another

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I needed to move music from my sister’s old iPod Mini to her new iPod Nano. At first, I thought I needed to install special software to do the music transfer; however, it turns out that there is a method that doesn’t require extra software. I found it in the comments from this webpage, Get songs off your iPod. The steps are to copy the music directly from the old iPod, import the music into iTunes, and then copy/sync to the new iPod.

Before we start, non-IOS iPods (which excludes iPod Touch) are either formatted for Windows or for Mac. So depending upon the format, you will need to use the corresponding operating system to retrieve the music from the old iPod. In my case, the old iPod was formatted for Windows. (The instructions below should also apply for Mac.)

Copy Music From the Old iPod

iTunesEnableDiskUse

  1. Connect the old iPod to the computer using the USB sync cable.
  2. Launch a File Explorer window and look for a new drive with a label like “Bob’s iPod”. That is the iPod’s hard drive.
  3. If you don’t see a drive for the iPod, then you will need to set the “Enable disk use” under iTunes.
    • Open iTunes and you should see the iPod listed under DEVICES. Select the iPod.
    • If you see a “Welcome to Your New iPod” message, click on the Continue button, and then the Get Started button.
    • Under the Summary tab, make sure that “Enable disk use” is selected. On my computer, the “Enable disk use” was selected by default and grayed out because “Manually manage music” is selected. (If you wish to unselect “Enable disk use”, you must unselect “Manually manage music” first. Disabling “Manually manage music” means that the iPod will be overwritten to match whatever is in the iTunes library automatically.)
  4. In File Explorer, open the iPod’s drive and you will see three folders: Calendars, Contacts, and Notes.
  5. There is a hidden folder named iPod_Control. To see it, go to your folder properties and enable the “Show hidden folders” property. Under Windows 7, you would click on the menu Organize, Folder and search options, View tab, and check the “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” option.
  6. Go into the iPod_Control folder and then into the Music subfolder. You will see many folders named like F00, F01, etc. Under those folders, you will find mp3 files with names like DGUZ.mp3, TBBO.mp3, etc. These are your mp3 music files. (Don’t be concern about the weird names because the song titles and artists are embedded in the mp3 files and iTunes will use that embedded info.)
  7. Copy the whole iPod_Control\Music folder to your hard drive.

Import Music into iTunes

Actually, you don’t need to import the copied music into iTunes. Instead, you could drag each of the copied mp3 files directly to the new iPod; however, you would need to go into each of the copied Music folder’s subfolders to select the mp3 files. To avoid that effort, I recommend using the first import method listed below, “Add Folder to Library”.

If you wish to rename the copied mp3 files to the actually song titles, you will want to configure iTunes to copy and organize imported music files. To do so, go to iTunes menu Edit->Preferences…, Advanced tab, and make sure both “Keep iTunes Media folder organized” and “Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library” options are checked. After importing the mp3 files, you will find them under the “iTunes Media folder location” (usually your user’s “Music\iTunes\iTunes Media” folder), renamed according to song title.

The iTunes application supports three methods to import music into the iTunes library. They are listed below with the first requiring the least effort:

  1. (Warning: This behavior might not exist in iTunes versions earlier than 11. Earlier versions of iTunes may not process subfolders.) Use the iTunes menu “File->Add Folder to Library…” to select the copied Music folder. iTunes will then import all the mp3 files under all the subfolders in the Music folder.
  2. (I believe this feature was added to iTunes 9.) Copy or move all the copied mp3 files to your user’s “Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\Automatically Add to iTunes” folder. Within seconds, iTunes will detect the files and import them; the imported mp3 files will disappear from that folder.
  3. Drag and drop the copied mp3 files to the iTune’s LIBRARY on the left sidebar.

Unfortunately, in the last two import methods, you will need to go into each of the copied Music’s subfolders to select the mp3 files. So I recommend updating to the latest iTunes and using the “Add Folder to Library…” method.

Copy Music to the new iPod

  1. Connect the new iPod to the computer.
  2. Under iTunes, select the new iPod under DEVICES. If you see a “Welcome to Your New iPod” message, click on the Continue button, and then the Get Started button.
  3. Go to iTunes LIBRARY->Music and select the Songs tab.
  4. Select the music which you wish to copy and drag them to the iPod under DEVICES.

Alternatively, you could sync the music to the new iPod by selecting the iPod under iTunes DEVICES, going to the Music tab, checking the “Sync Music” option, and then performing a Sync.

If you are getting rid of your old iPod, you can wipe it by doing a restore. Under iTunes, select the old iPod under DEVICES, go to Summary tab, and click on the “Restore iPod…” button. Once the iPod is rebooting, you can disconnect it. If you don’t, the iPod will reboot, reconnect to iTunes, and you will see the “”Welcome to Your New iPod” screen. You can eject and disconnect the iPod at that point.

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