Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Kicking Cable TV and The Dish: Part One

This post is targeted primarily at those of us who live in areas that are serviced by high speed internet like cable or DSL. The Internet is really all you need these days for watching TV.

You won't be able to watch sporting events easily using the Internet. I, personally, am not a sports fan so this doesn't bother me in the least. Oh, sports programs are available, but not always the games / events that you'd like to see live. I don't really watch that much TV to begin with, but there are a few shows out there that I do enjoy. My personal favorite is Fringe. You have to love Walter. I'd definitely want an amiable, psychotropic swilling, mad scientist with a pet cow in my bunker at the end of the world.

What motivated this post is the fact that I'm trying to find additional ways to cut back on my outgoing cash. When you have a wife and a kid that are used to having a TV with 500 channels of nothing available 24 hours a day, weening them from it is going to be difficult.

But, I figure that by dropping Cable TV and keeping just the Internet connection ( I get download speeds of 20Mb/s. DSL will only guarantee between 3 and 6 Mb/s. ), I'd save over $80.00 per month. If I drop my home phone and use something like majicJack, I'd save another $40.00 per month.

I'm also currently letting one of my neighbors leech off my network. He had DSL installed, but it never worked right, and when he tried a cable hookup, it didn't work right either. So I put up an N router along with a wireless amplifier, and he's able to use my network to access the web.

This is another way to cut your costs because most of us never use all of the available bandwidth, so sharing with one or two neighbors and splitting the cost might be a way for you to add to your savings. Just make sure you know your neighbors well. It would not do to have one of them using a connection registered to you to download child porn or upload copyrighted material to the web.

Make sure you change your wireless network password regularly. Even with today's newer wireless encryption schemes, all it takes is time, and some tools ( visit Wi-Foo ), and a determined 12 year old can get into your wireless network. Changing your passwords will at least slow them down. If you live in an apartment, townhome, condo or something similar, running cables would be easy if you are adjacent to each other, and your network would be secure.

I'd love to get rid of the cell phones, but my teenage daughter would probably die. You should have seen her when her phone broke one night. I am not exaggerating when I say I thought I would have to call the paramedics. She collapsed in the street screaming when my wife and I told her, "Don't worry, the contract is up in three months. We'll get you a new phone then." This was not the behavior of a spoiled child. It was complete, and total panic. Hyperventilating, racing heartbeat, eyes rolling about unable to focus, incoherent speech, inability to walk unassisted, cold sweat.

Yeah, it sounds funny, but apparently she's not the only one who is so attached to the electronic tether that any break from it induces a panicked state. I've heard similar stories from other parents, and even stories about adults behaving in a similar manner.

It was so bad that I went to a 24 Hour Walmart and bought a similar phone and performed some surgery to get her phone functional and put her back into a normal state of existence. Up until that night, all the talk of how people would react if the grid went down was just conjecture. Now I have first hand experience with what many of us may be facing.

So, to be able to kick CableTV and Dish to the curb, you need an inexpensive computer, a high speed internet connection, and a good video card.

I've run out of time, so I will continue in Part II tomorrow.

7 comments:

idahobob said...

All Right!! I get to climb onto my soapbox!!

The television: is there REALLY, any programming that is worth our while to watch? Most of the "stuff" that spews out of the things is just programmed pablum to feed the masses, so that they are not really aware of what is going on in this ol' world around them. Can we say, "brain dead"?

Now, I do have a T.V. It is strictly hooked up to a combo VHS/DVD player. It is for movies only.

Cell phones........when I moved to where I currently live, six years ago, there was NO cell phone service here. Now there is sporadic service, depending on where you are located. But...I still refuse to have one of the damned things!! I do not have the need to have an electronic leash attached to me. I do not have the need to be talking incessantly, to anyone! Please, do not give me the party line that is is necessary to have it in case of an emergency. If you are in a vehicle, whats wrong with a radio, either CB or Amateur? If at home,and have a break-in, whaddaya gonna do....call 911 or are you going to defend yourself and family? Do you realize how long the response time is in most locations?

Hrrrmmmppphhh. If you cannot get it done with an old fashioned land line, ya sure as shootin' ain't gonna get it done with a cell phone.

'nuff for now,

Bob
III

Catman said...

Bob,

Everyone is always welcome to get on a soapbox here.

To answer your question, no, there really isn't anything that must be watched that comes from Hollyweird.

If you need proof, the Emmys are like watching a bunch of doctors handing out awards for malpractice.

But, sometimes, I do need a few moments of entertainment. There are channels out there on the web that are not available though cable and dish style connections. I'll cover that in the next post.

While I could very well live without it (the TV), it does give you easy access to visual information. Remember the Tsunami a few years back? Reading about it is one thing. Seeing it is another. Most of the video you saw did not come from professional news crews. It was everyday people with cell phone cameras, and camcorders.

The cell phone? I wholeheartedly agree with you. I hate the damn thing. But it has proven useful at times, and we might as well make use of the tech for our benefit while we can.

Radio Bloger said...

My wife is addicted to the satellite network and has the TV on almost every waking hour, before I was married I had not even owned a television for over TEN YEARS! and I can tell you I miss the lack of that idiot box.

Our cell phone service is poor here, so I hardly use a phone except to travel and my wife does not like talking to folks on the phone (I have not set her computer up for a video link - that could be a problem so I never mention it).

Our teen agers (we have three) are forbidden to have cel phones, never gave them one and if we ever see the need it will be "pay for use" and they will pay...

That constant connection to the phone makes me sick when I see adults do it so I see no reason to infect the kids with it...

I also have the internet set up for the kids in the family room with only one connection and timers and passwords - so they are out in the open and we can see what they are up to, we started them that way to avoid any "teen blowups" - it has worked so far...

SciFiChick said...

I have to admit... I watch very little tv but I am an internet junkie. I will prolly end up like B's screaming and cussing when it all goes down. There are lots of us that would do the same. I have wondered at times if the shutting down of the internet would be what it took to wake the sheeple?

Catman said...

Hey Radio,

I think, in general, kids should be exposed as heavily as possible to existing technology, and emerging tech as well. My daughter, at age 5, was teaching her grandparents and her mom how to use a computer and navigate the web.

I also think that should be balanced with an appreciation for what has gone out of favor, so there are fall backs in case something fails. She uses a word processing program to write her school papers on, but she also has access to an electric, and a manual typewriter should that become necessary. Not to mention pens, pencils, and paper.

Not all kids are prone to getting themselves into trouble out on the 'net, and a mom or dad will know how far to let the leash out.

I'm not criticizing your parenting plan. We all have to choose what is best for our kids, and responsible parents make those choices based on their individual circumstances. I'm glad your set up is working for you.

Catman said...

Hey SciFi,

I love tech, but that means any kind of technology. That guy who visited us in the chatroom last night asking for a wood gassifier plan got me interested.

Although I had heard about them, I never really looked into them. Turns out that back in 1989 FEMA published a complete "how to" with drawings, materials lists, and construction tips.

I'll put a link up so people can download it here soon.

If the internet goes away, it'll sadden me because the wealth of a world's knowledge will not easily be accessible, and it'll be back to the Dewey Decimal System and dowdy librarians.

Andry said...

Agree with your point "The Internet is really all you need these days for watching TV." and i Think regarding this information Dish Network is the best.