Hot enough 4ya?

UPDATE 2016: I remain an intransigent cord-cutter with multiple services like Sling TV, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon that I subsidize with family and friends who can’t afford to pay even for that, along with 6 HDHomeRun OTA tuners. You can do the same, if you make this a hobby. Otherwise, you’re the bitch of Cable/Satellite providers. It is better, but more difficult, if you leave. I have 10 terabytes of storage. I record anything I want. I have 150 episodes of Jimmy Kimmel and 45 episodes of Charlie Rose and a thousand other shows recorded and I’m not close to running out of space.

I am getting rid of Comcast cable.

Several months ago, I got in trouble with Comcast for overdue bills. As almost one of those rich people that Barack Obama wants to bleed, I have the luxury of not opening most monthly bills. I have online bill pay. I guesstimate my bill, plus $20 more, and I tend to run a credit balance of a few hundred dollars with each of my accounts (electricity, cable, water, etc.). Yeah, I know, I’m giving them free money, but it’s worth it for me just to go click click click and all bills are paid, and if I forget to click click click one month, nothing bad happens.

Except that Comcast, without me noticing it, because I never open anything they snail mail to me, had been frogging me. As in, slowly turning up the heat till my bill with them was over $200 a month. Last I remembered, it was about $120. When I called them, they were not empathetic to my bill-paying strategy, refused to refund late charges, and didn’t give me much of a discount at all when I said I’d start cancelling services. So much for the supposed customer-retention program. I got rid of HBO and such, and other things and then discovered that channels disappeared that I thought were part of normal cable. I’d asked about those channels and was not given correct information. Now I was pissed.

I started geeking out. That means, monomaniacally investigating options other than cable TV.

I learned quickly that satellite TV is an even bigger sinkhole than cable. The main problem with satellite and cable is that they want to bundle 300 channels of shit you don’t care about with 3 channels you want, and charge you $150 a month and say, what a great price per channel! This business model is a dead man walking.

I started to experiment.

I bought a Roku (awesome device, cheap price–I have 2 of them now).

I subscribed to Hulu Plus ($8/month)

I already subscribed to Netflix ($8–or, you can be like me, and flip them $20 a month, even though I hardly ever rent DVDs, but think they’re a more deserving recipient of my largesse than the fucking homeless. (I’d pay $20 a month to a charity that would make one homeless person into Soylent Green and force-feed him to Sally Struthers.))

I already had Amazon Prime, which gives me tons of free movies on the Roku.

I bought an over the air antenna for local channels (it was easy for me–I have a big window that faces all the TV station towers. It cost $40 and discreetly sits indoors. You may not be so lucky–check out hdtvantennalabs.com for all kinds of good information, including advice for your address about how much a sufficient over the air antenna you’re likely to need. Over the air HD TV is awesome quality–significantly better than cable. And they have all kinds of subchannels with programming not available on cable.

I bought a SiliconDust network-attached dual HDTV tuner to suck in all those sweet over the air signals.

I got my Squeezebox server configured as a Windows Media Center server too. Holy crap! WMC by far the best DVR I’ve ever used. What is wrong with Microsoft that they don’t market this better? I can burn anything to DVD. I can put as many hard drives to work on this as I want. We have 400 shows on the WMC DVR right now, and we’re half full.

We watch 95% of TV now on our XBox which works as a WMC extender and has Hulu and Netflix and Zune video store (Zune needs to match Amazon VOD prices–I usually go to the Roku and Amazon when we want to rent a movie.)

I’ve been running with this for a couple of months now with very nice results, and with higher quality average viewing than when we would channel surf on cable crap channels. We watch more movies, we find programming not available on cable (check out NY-LON on Hulu, a great British rom-com series starring Bill the Vampire from True Blood and Rashida Jones from boy, I’d like to fuck her!)

Oh, and I got a laptop for $400 on WOOT that has HDMI, so we can watch Web-only Hulu content on the big TV along with anything else we want to watch on the laptop. Works great. Had to run an HDMI cable around the edge of the room under carpet behind the couch, but we just pull the cable out when we want it, and it’s excellent.

The only sticking point in ditching cable is my wife’s addiction to The Food Channel. I asked her how much she’d be willing to kick in to keep it. $20, not $100. She can buy overpriced Food Channel shows on iTunes, but she won’t.

UPDATE 2016: Sling TV has Food Channel. She almost never watches it having gotten out of the habit. We have Sling for AMC and HBO and ESPN.

Oh, and I bought a Cisco 4200 router, which has gotten rid of nearly all buffering and low quality Netflix issues. All in all, I’ve spent less on new hardware than I spend on Comcast every 6 months and I’m happier.

I tried to cancel Comcast this weekend, and got told to go to the cable store because the HD DVR I have is too valuable and they won’t adjust my service till I give it up. I was perfectly nice, not one gesture toward customer retention. I hear they’re losing 500,000 customers annually the last couple of years, so they’ve probably given up. Anyhow, I’ll be saving $100 a month, even upping my Internet speed just to make things even smoother.

If anyone reading this is interested in advice and best practices, comment and I’ll rant more about this.

What this brings me to is the fact that we’ve had to give up Fox News. My wife likes Fox. Me, I’m fine with Breitbart.com. She likes traditional news in the morning. So I record everything, since I now can, without ever worrying about running out of space. She is somewhat mollified

It’s been several years since I watched ABC/NBC/CBS over the air news programming. I use the term news loosely.

I will do a post soon on the jejune standard memes that these dipshits are immersed in.

Tonight, I just want to snicker at Diane Sawyer. Everything you’ve read so far to get to this is just for me to explain why I have an excuse for watching Diane Sawyer read the news with inflections like she was reading an audiobook of a children’s book.

FOX is bad. These ABC/CBS/NBC people are all putrid. They’re like Inside Edition, with zero self-awareness. (Inside Edition, another program I’m recording for wife-mollification purposes. But they’re better than Diane Sawyer.)

Anyhow, Sawyer led today with the weather. Oh. My. God. Places besides Phoenix got up to 105 degrees.  Wait, they didn’t get that high–it just felt like that. Humidity index and stuff. I’m seriously appalled, seeing these so-called serious news programs again after years of not seeing them. Their journalistic standards have been frog-boiled. They may not have noticed, but I do.

In Union County, the Old People Too Stupid to Figure Out that Fans Cool Things Off Foundation is giving out fans. In the story, you got the impression that this was a government agency airlifting in disaster relief. I looked it up, and it’s not a government agency. It’s a non-profit almost certainly sucking up government money. Regardless, the major point is how important it is to save lives by giving out $15 fans to people who live in places where summer usually gets to 98 degrees who’ve worked all their lives and still haven’t figured out how to buy a goddamn fan and turn it on and blow it up their dresses when the humidity index hits 105. Then, there were government workers in some other hot place going door to door to make sure that people’s air conditioners were working. What the door-to-door guys would do if an AC was broken wasn’t specified. Probably give them a gubmint voucher for a goddamn $15 fan. Hope they have a gubmint worker to come around and turn on the fan.

Here’s the first of my news media memes:

People who would drown face down in a quarter inch of water while completely sober need our help. No, DESERVE our help. Republicans want those people to drown.

If Republicans actually wanted those people to drown, I’d be a loyal Republican.

The only hope for this country is that the cud-chewing morons who watch ABC/NBC/CBS every night stop paying their cable bills.

 

 

 

 

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4 Responses to Hot enough 4ya?

  1. tfp says:

    Weird. I just got pissed at Comcast for exactly this same crap. I had my bill pay for them set to automatic, with what I thought was a sufficient cushion that I didn’t need to open their mail, and a couple of days ago found that I too, have been frogged. So I’m looking for alternatives.
    I’m using them for my ISP, though. Are you planning on finding a different ISP? Or maybe you already have. Suggestions?

  2. hmmm says:

    I ditched comcrapst several months ago for frogging me and went with directv. I’m sure they’ll start frogging me soon as well. I’ve also ditched my landline.
    So my question echoes tfp: who’s your ISP now?
    And will you fly here and configure this same setup in my house?

    • Scipio says:

      I think DirecTV and all the satellite companies are in the same bad business model as Comcast: They bundle up 800 channels you don’t care about with 8 you do, and try to make you think you’re getting a good deal by charging you $80 a month.

      This worked when the only alternative was lousy over-the-air reception and driving to the video store. Now, Netflix and Hulu are each $8 a month. Amazon and Zune VOD have effectively killed the video store. Over the air reception (if you have the right antenna) is gorgeous and has programming satellite and cable don’t.

      The only reasons for keeping cable or satellite are WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) and the few exclusive content restrictions they still have. My wife is bummed about losing Food Channel.

      Food Channel are bastards. They greatly restrict what’s on Hulu and it’s $2 per half hour for their current shows on iTunes. They’re also clinging to the same dying business model as Comcast, with Comcast as an accomplice.

      I really should think about setting this stuff up for people….for a ridiculous fee, I’ll install Roku or Apple/GoogleTV, over the air rooftop antenna, XBox or PS3 and an HDMI-capable laptop with a decent Internet router. As I count it up, that’s about $1500 worth of hardware. I’ll mark it up 100%, charge you $5K total and you’ll have kick-ass Internet all over your house and more entertainment than you could watch even during your 99-week Obama-cation. Oh, and another $500 for a Windows Media Center PC to be your DVR. Really, Microsoft, what the hell is wrong with you that you spend so much time touting Windows 7 but don’t say anything about WMC? It’s beyond cool and Apple-pretty.

  3. Scipio says:

    Comcast refused to let me cancel cable over the phone this weekend. Because I have their hoity-toity HD DVR box, I must bring it in to get it done.

    I do have to say that they’ve been a stellar ISP. I’ve got 12 down/2 up service. I intend to stay with them for Internet

    I’m completely aware of their war with Netflix/L3. Comcast is dead wrong in that war. However, they’re totally entitled to charge more to their subscribers who use Netflix and Hulu, just not entitled to charge more to L3/Netflix.

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