Friday, January 30, 2009

The end of cable?

My father saw a story on ABC about a couple in Oakland which ditched their $100 a month cable bill, bought a $500 over the air HD-ready PC and a Netflix streaming box ($100). The theme of the story was "this is the end of cable".

Firstly, if you're paying $100 for cable tv programming, you're getting ripped off. You can get your 30+ HD channels from satellite or cable for less than $40 with tax per month.

Secondly, you still need internet access, and currently, the cable companies have a really good value. I lived in Oakland and got 5 megabit service for $60/month and you can find promotions for half that. At the end of all this, the cable company may be selling more internet than tv, but they'll still be around.

This got me thinking about my family's entertainment "package". Let's divide it into two sections: programming and hardware.

My programming setup is Comcast internet, phone, and HD cable and DVR for $110 and Netflix 1 disc unlimited for $10 per month. I pay the $1 extra to get blu-ray. For purposes of comparison, let's drop the phone and say that we're paying $75 for internet and cable.

We watch all this using:

* Panasonic 46" plasma in family room (Panasonic TH-46PZ800U)
* Samsung blu-ray player with Netflix streaming (Samsung BD-P2500)
* Two 15" notebooks on wifi (a Mac and a Dell)

The way we usually use this programming and hardware combo is

* DVR prime time series (24, House, Grays Anatomy)
* Watch sports in HD
* Plan a few days ahead and watch a blu-ray movie from Netflix
* Stream any of Comcast's on demand programming
* Watch any of Netflix streaming movies on the TV through the blu-ray player

To less frequently we will

* Watch a movie or show on Hulu on one of the notebooks
* Stream Netflix to one of the notebooks

We we were to replace the $75 Comcast bill with a $40 internet-only bill and a dedicated media PC with an HD tuner, we'd save $35 a month. However, we'd also be limited in the following ways:

* Live programming limited to the major networks.
* Different watch instantly options (no more Comcast on demand... but we can now watch Hulu).
* Simple access to saved programs. PC-based DVRs aren't as simple as the real thing and much more can go wrong.

Reading over that list, I'd probably rather have 12 * $35 = $420 in my pocket. However, I'd need to find time to buy the PC and HD antenna, set it up, and train my family on it. Fun, but time consuming. If I can't get the activation energy to do cool project, I doubt less technical folk would undertake it. Now, if I were unemployed or retired...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Firefox form tab navigation on OS X

It always bugged me that tabbing through a form would would skip over pulldowns and other controls. No more! Add


to about:config and it works just like Windows and Linux. Happy tabbing.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

List of the Sane

Let it be known, whenever I have an opportunity to support any of these individuals, I will. These were the only US Senators to vote against the "sweetened" bailout plan:

Allard (R)
Barasso (R)
Brownback (R)
Bunning (R)
Cantwell (D)
Cochran (R)
Crapo (R)
DeMint (R)
Dole (R)
Dorgan (D)
Enzi (R)
Feingold (D)
Inhofe (R)
Johnson (D)
Landrieu (D)
Nelson (D)
Roberts (R)
Sanders (I)
Sessions (R)
Shelby (R)
Stabenow (D)
Tester (D)
Vitter (R)
Wicker (R)
Wyden (D)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

UTF-16 grep

Got the UTF-16 blues? iconv is your new best friend:

iconv -f UTF-16 -t UTF-8 input.csv | grep "something" > new.csv

Cribbed from MRM.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Safari on Windows... What's up with that?

We've known for a while now that iPhone was going to have a Safari-based browser. What's new as of last week is Windows has one, too: Safari 3 Public Beta. While Cringely thinks this was done to misdirect critics and generate buzz at the WWDC, I think Apple is something different.

We've read that Google will be the premiere application provider for the iPhone. Google knows nothing about consumer electronics software development, but they have web application development down to a science. Not only are they good with their backend, but client-side innovations in Google Maps, GMail and Google Gears are quite impressive. Let's say that at least one of the iPhone apps they develop will be pretty neato (if not Killer).

Now, say you're in Apple's position and you have your neato (nay, Killer) apps from Google. If you do nothing, they'll run on all the iPhones you can sell. But, since it's browser-based, it'll also run on the 20MM OS X machines already out there. And, thanks to Safari 3, you can now run it on the 200MM compatible Windows boxes out there. Nice work, Apple! You'll sell a few more iPhones because of these apps. And, those iPhones might create more switchers, so they could see a bump in hardware sales too.

Meanwhile, the big G keeps drawing eyeballs and turning ads. Way to go Google. (And you thought this was an Apple post).

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Some real estate property price sites

I found these sites to be more useful that most of the others. Try em out. - Clunky UI, but provides the best access into the multiple listing system(s), as well as the RMLS numbers, so you and your agent can get on the same page

Zillow - Highly detailed maps, but the last-sold prices are old and the "zestimates" are accurate only in areas which have mostly similar houses

Movoto - Descent mix of access and completeness

Trulia - Not sure it ads anything beyond the others, but I keep forgetting the name, so I threw it on here.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Stop scamming me! 37 times!

I'm sorry Danny was scammed so many times, but dude, get out of my gmail web clips!

I'm not sure why this ad has been coming up constantly, but it's really bugging me. So much so that I posted this.