Archive for category Media

Cutting the (Cable) Cord Part 2: How I Did It

In Part 1, I described your options for cutting the cable cord. Here I disclose which option I went for and how I have it all set up.

But first, a couple of minor changes and additions to Part 1:

I’m sorry if you went to Part 1 looking for your options on how to cut a (literal) umbilical cord, post-childbirth. . . . Actually, now that I think about it, I’m not sorry. That post is way fucking cooler.

On a more serious note, there is one piece of equipment that I forgot to list in Part 1: An HDMI Adapter for your handheld devices and Tablets. It’s a last resort in case you are unable to stream to TV and absolutely must have it on your big screen TV. I’ve included it here.

Let me list a few of the goals I used to help me focus on getting this all right:

  1. I wanted a “whole home” solution, with the least amount of inconvenience. I wanted to eliminate or minimize switching TV inputs, and I wanted to access all entertainment in the same way on both TV’s in the house. Accessing the entertainment on devices was actually secondary for us.
  2. I wanted to minimize or eliminate the number of shows lost.
  3. I wanted to keep costs down by using equipment that I had on-hand where I could. I’ll have a cost list later in this post.

Here’s what it all looks like. Click here or click on the picture to see it Full Size:

GUACPostPart2

 

The List

Here’s what I eventually needed to pull this all off. Descriptions and links for these can be found in Part 1. Here I will be talking more about setup and the cost for each in rounded numbers (we’re not launching a rocket to fucking Mars here). You can also take a look at the Visio Diagram (above) I’ve provided:

  1. [Living Room] HDTV Antenna (Cost – $90.00) – You’ll have to experiment with the best location. Outdoors is ideal, the higher you can mount it the better, and line of sight to your most important stations is how you’ll want to aim it. This will take some experimentation. I had to mount mine indoors, which wasn’t ideal, but that’s the down side to renting. You’ll need to read your TV’s manual to figure out how to scan for stations.
  2. [Living Room] Coax Amplifier and Splitter (Cost – $50.00) – Why I needed this was due to an issue I encountered while implementing #3:
  3. [Living Room] Tablo PVR (Cost – $229.00) – OK, if you are going to detract from what I’ve done, this will probably be it. The Tablo (otherwise known as “TabloTV”) is what we’d call in the IT field a “Version 1.0 Product”. Not only is it Version 1.0 (new to market), but the phrase “Version 1.0 Product” is a euphemism in Software Marketing that means, “Please don’t expect all this shit to work.” If you’re ever in a meeting with a software vendor, that’s a red flag. I’m not saying it’s a dealbreaker, but it’s a red flag. Anyway, Tablo Support sucks, and their Android App crashes incessantly. However, it has three things going for it. (1) The PVR is flawless, (2) its Roku App is intuitive and enables live viewing of the HDTV Antenna in multiple rooms and (3) its iPad app is solid. To their credit, TabloTV sent a recent update (all I had to do was update after a prompt), and it seems more solid now. One issue I ran into was that the TabloTV app on Roku is 4-10 minutes behind Live TV. So I bought a Coax/Amp Splitter to go to both the RF input on the TV and one into the Tablo to record shows. To watch Live TV in the bedroom we have to use the Tablo App, and I guess we’ll get those important news updates 4-10 minutes later than everyone else.
  4. [Living Room] 300GB Sony USB Drive (Had on-hand) – USB Drive attached to the Tablo Set-Top box, for recorded shows. I know that isn’t much space, but I’ll scale up when I have to. We purge it all the time. 40GB is taken up by the Channel information, the rest is for shows. I read somewhere that an hour HD show takes up about 6GB. No idea if that’s true. Never checked. Running out of room on your DVR is quite the First World Problem so . . . zero fucks given really.
  5. Cheaper ISP (Cost – $50.00 a month) – I went with a more local-area Internet Provider. $125 Cheaper than Comcast.
  6. [Living Room] Roku 3 (Cost – $100.00) – Pretty much the most important part of Cutting the Cord. This brings it all together. This provides for Internet-based TV and is very convenient.
  7. [Living Room] Chromecast (Had on-hand) – Internet-based TV/Entertainment provided by Google but there are a lot of Chromecast-enabled Apps, even on the iPad/iPhone.
  8. [Living Room] Wireless Extender (Had on-hand) – Extends internet access to the Tablo.
  9. [Bedroom] Roku 2 (Had on-hand) – Brings everything together onto the Bedroom TV. Like I said, through the Tablo App we can watch Live TV or Recorded TV in the Bedroom. Everything else we can get through the Roku Apps, just like in the Living Room.
  10. [Living Room] iPad HDMI Adapter (Had on-hand)  - Last resort in case we must have streaming apps on the TV that can’t be done through the previous methods.

Cost Breakdown

I am not including a Cost Breakdown for OTT Services like Amazon Prime Movies, Netflix, and so on since we were already paying for them previous to Cutting the Cable cord, therefore they had no influence on “Money saved”. I also assessed the cost of anything I had on-hand as $0.00. I was also lucky enough to get an $86.00 rebate from Comcast:

Cost Numbers for Cutting the Cord

Cost Numbers for Cutting the Cord

 

As you can see, after about 3 months, it’s money in our pocket, a savings of $125.00 a month.

I recommend highly you do the numbers before jumping into this. If it’s going to take 10 years to get your return, then perhaps this isn’t for you.

Hope this helps.

 

 

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On Being a Linchpin

Seth Godin - LinchpinThe highest level of management I’ve reached in my career is Operations Manager. It was a tough job, but I was successful. I was good at it. And it was an eye-opening experience for me.

When I started, I had nothing to go on but instinct, and as it turns out my instincts were good. The owner of the company was old school, all numbers. He was cut-throat – making the employees “happy” and “motivated” was my job, no matter what dumb-ass rule or restriction he put into place.

In other words, he didn’t give a fuck. He just wanted people to comply, and if you didn’t, you were out. He’ll find someone else.

Why do I bring this up? I am reading Linchpin by Seth Godin. It is a life-changing book, and not just because it brings to light shit I’ve suspected and known for years. The premise is that American business has trained us to be factory workers; a cog in the wheel so to speak, and business wants it that way. Everything from the creation of Public Schools (in their current form) at the turn of the century on down to the Hierarchical command-and-control business model has been designed to turn us into compliant factory workers. Show up on time, do your work, keep your mouth shut, and keep your head down. Public School in particular, is one giant exercise in learning how to comply. Think about it.

I’ve never fit into that model. I have always had a rebellious spirit, always had a place in my heart for iconoclasts and provocateurs, titles I can only dream of applying to myself someday.

All too often business people “lead” using fear and intimidation, and all too often people are afraid and intimidated. I don’t play that game. I am no one’s puppet. I think for myself.

In my current job, I have fired off e-mails, made phone calls, sent IM’s asking for why some asshole in our company (an equal, no less) is saying “no” to our customers when they should be saying “yes”. I’ve sent countless e-mails at 2 AM suggesting better ways of doing things, some of which go against our current practices. I have had numerous conversations about staying ahead of all my peers in my career development. I ask countless questions to make sure that the delivery of my next assignment is nothing less than perfect. This is what Godin refers to as my “art”. Kind of a cheesy concept if you ask me, but I understand where he is going with it. I am an artist. Artists are passionate; they take risks. All good artists go against the grain.

One would think, after hearing what I just described, you might say, “Oh well, damn Bryan, I want you to come work for me!”

Not most of my bosses throughout my career. Usually, my bosses think I’m a pain in the ass. Why? Because they usually want me to just show up on time, do my work, keep my mouth shut, and keep my head down, because thinking and working outside the box is a risk. With risk brings attention and (deep breath in), the “R” word . . . responsibility. If I take risks, according to our command-and-control expectations, it means that if something goes wrong, my boss has to answer for it, so it’s this Domino cancer-effect of everyone in the chain not wanting to go against the top-dog. If I take a risk and get burned, it’s my ass, then my bosses’ ass for not “controlling” me, ad infinitum until everyone’s whipped into submission. . . .

Show up on time, do your work, keep your mouth shut, and keep your head down.

But, let me tell you this, bosses and company owners: You want a guy like me. Do you really want a carbon-copy asshole just like the last person in that slot?

If you do, it’s quite possible you could be in, what Seth Godin calls, “a race to the bottom”. If you are running a cookie-cutter business where you just have cogs in your company, you are attempting to provide an ordinary service, and you are competing with others who are also ordinary. The only way of competing at “ordinary” is to be more ordinary (read: inexpensive) than the next asshole offering the same shit as you are. You want to be remarkable (another Godin word), and to be remarkable you need to be different.

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A Long Overdue Rant on Facebook

Part 1 – In the Beginning. So I’ve been on the juggernaut that is Facebook for just over a year now. And it has further solidified my belief that there really is no hope for the human race.

When I first started Facebook, I thought it was a place to wax philosophical, or get at least somewhat intellectual: you know, divulge your own nuggets of wisdom on life.

I now know better.

I’d roll out my thoughts on something deep and philosophical, or make some obscure reference. Here’s an example:

Bryan read some Faulkner yesterday. Yesterday – being cold – bled yellow sunlight across the imitable sky as a hummingbird buzzed languidly – long and desolate – and didn’t seem to mind that the cold was a biting cold, while the trees (there was a forest of them), mocked me silently, and with a building peace, nature went on and on, like ancient clockwork tick-tocking, while I watched the inescapable beauty of it all.

Get it? I made a post about reading Faulkner while using a Faulknerian writing style.

Well, I thought it was funny.

You know how many comments or “likes” I got about that?

One. Because other than my one other intellectual friend on this earth who understood the reference, no one else fucking reads Faulkner anymore and probably doesn’t get it because they’re a bunch of douches.

But, I have found that if you say something as childish as . . .

Doesn’t everyone LOVE Cake??!!! (SMILEY SMILEY WINK WINK)

1,400 comments of “YEA CAKE!!!” and 300 “likes”.

We’re a species of 12-year-olds.

Part 2 – Your Privacy. Let me get this straight. You put your information on the fucking internet and you’re upset because some nefarious individuals are able to see it?

Idiots.

Part 3 – Categories. I know it’s cliche, and I know there’s been 1,800 bloggers (ironically “bloggers” comes up as a misspelled word . . . go figure) categorizing Facebook posters.

But I can’t resist. And yes, those of you who are my Facebook friends **cough** **cough** CHUCK **cough** **cough**, I know I am occasionally guilty of posting movie quotes or inspiration, but these categories are of people who overdo it in each category. So, here goes:

  1. The “Movie Quote” Poster – Be original. Anyone can use Google to find movie quotes to make people laugh. A form of plagiarism to me.
  2. The “I’m Political” Poster – Seriously, Facebook is no place for your political agenda. It makes you look like an asshole, even if your friends agree with you. And on that note, never argue with anyone over politics on Facebook. Even if you’re right. Very few people know what forensic argumentation is, and even fewer know how to use it properly.
  3. The “Look at Me, I’m Religious and Put My Prayers on Facebook” Poster – The only thing worse than being political on Facebook is being religious on Facebook. Instant grounds for defriending in my book. Even worse yet is the “I’m on Facebook to Convert People to my Religion” Poster. Luckily I don’t befriend assholes like that in the first place.
  4. The “I’ve Got My Own ‘Business’ but Don’t Know How to Setup a Facebook Fan Site” Poster – Do not advertise using your normal Facebook logon. Setup a fan site. Otherwise you are basically spamming your friends with shit they’re going to skip over every time it happens anyway.
  5. The “Wisdom of the Ages” Poster – You know, the one who always posts inspiring quotes or reminds you every chance that “Life is short” or some shit like that. Be original.
  6. The “I Need Advice on What Product I Should Get” Poster – This one pisses me off more than any other. Why? Because there are starving people in this world, and for you to ask something so douchey as,

    So, guys, what should I get, The iPhone or The Droid? I can’t decide!!!

    is a slap to the face of every person on this planet who doesn’t have that opportunity. Believe me, not being able to decide about shit like that deserves no sympathy and is even less deserving of an answer.

  7. The “Music Lyric” Poster – No one cares what music you listen to. Your obscure lyrics of some band that reflects how “cool” you think you are does not impress me.

Part 4 – Posts on my Facbook Page that are my favorites – Here are the top 10 in no particular order. I have re-formatted some of them so that they are more readable than on Facebook.:

  1. Bryan had a foreign object removed from his eye yesterday. Here’s how it went:
  2. ME: “Will I need to wear an eyepatch?”
    DOCTOR: “No.”
    ME: “Can you give me one anyway?”
    DOCTOR: “No.”

    True story.

  3. Bryan is watching Chinese Folk dancing. Yes, there is such a thing, and yes, there are dragons.
  4. Pineapples are the flamboyant gays of the fruit world. . . . OK, sorry. I’ll say it in a more politically correct way: Pineapples are the “interior decorators” of the fruit world. Discuss.
  5. Bryan had to drive back from Rhode Island with no windshield wipers in pouring rain. Used only my powers of sight and a GPS. It reminded me of that episode of The Dukes of Hazzard where Bo and Luke Duke were driving the General Lee from the floorboards with a map of Hazard County to fool everyone into thinking it was their ghost. Only it was better.
  6. Two things I heard at the DMV today:
  7. 1. “Why would that be a problem? You lick my feet every night.”
    2. “I want to go to Wal Mart later, but I don’t think I’m dressed for it.”

  8. As a reaction to parental outrage, the Cookie Monster now eats vegetables. This is horrifying. No letter of outrage is needed, just good parenting. For example, when I was a kid, I asked my mom why the Cookie Monster never swallowed the cookies. My mom responded with, “Because he’s a puppet and doesn’t have a throat. Now shut up and eat your carrots.” Parents, that’s how it’s done.
  9. Yet another aphorism: Killing spiders for my wife should be considered as heroic as winning a cage-fighting match or saving a puppy from certain doom.
  10. Bryan has been watching some late night TV. I have realized that the Exercise Industry has been selling some minor variation on the same piece of exercise equipment since 1982. Just goes to show you, yet again, that with enough enthusiasm and a “Money Back Guarantee”, people will buy anything.
  11. Not liking flowers is tantamount to not liking beer or kittens. It’s just wrong and downright un-American.
  12. No matter how different you think it looks, a snake, dragon, or naked lady tattoo looks the same as any snake, dragon or naked lady tattoo ever.

Enjoy.

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The Subtle Art of BS Detection, Part 2: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics, and the Media

Let’s take another type of BS I’ve heard of late. Statistics. For example, on someone’s Facebook status recently, they said:

“Dr. Oz says that 200+ orgasms a year leads to 15-20 added years to your life!”

Did you spot it? He really did mention the 200 orgasms, but 15-20 years? Really? If it sounds outlandish, it probably is. What he really said was:

“If you have more than 200 orgasms a year, you can reduce your physiologic age by six years.” (Source)

But, here’s the kicker, your BS detector should have gone off again. This one’s not so simple, however.

There is a new health fad out currently, called RealAge, whose website is created and maintained by the Hearst Corporation. And currently, the home page has an image of Dr. Oz and the “co-founder” of RealAge giving the thumbs up with a huge smile on their faces. Their claim is that scientific studies affirm this idea of Physiologic Age, and that there are ways of decreasing it.

This brings me to my next tips for good BS Detection:

  1. Anything that can be affirmed by common sense does not need expensive scientific studies to affirm. Common sense will tell you that living a healthy lifestyle is improved by eating a healthy diet and exercising. This “physiologic age,” most likely is an indicator of health. But it is nothing more than an indicator. How do I make my physiologic age lower? Eat right, exercise, and apparently have orgasms. Done. Move on people.
  2. One should be skeptical about any corporation that runs a website that claims to “help you”. They are in the  business of making money, and due to factor number one as above, take the advice they give out for free and move on with your life.

Dr. Oz’s quote was based on a Duke University study. For the life of me, I cannot find this study. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but I don’t believe any “scientific study” unless I can read it.

I should tell you about any “study” that claims to be “scientific”.

The world of true science is a public one. Mere mortals like you and me have access to these studies through scientific journals. I don’t give any credence to scientific studies that are (a) extremely difficult to find on the internet, and/or (b) have not been rigorously peer reviewed.

In fact, you should be skeptical of any media outlet that covers a “new scientific study”. The key word is “new”. “New” scientific studies have not been peer reviewed by the scientific community.

The problem is, there is no rule that any cockamamie “scientist” can’t release their “findings” to the public without it being peer reviewed. That’s when the media gets a hold of it, and by the time the study is debunked, does the media do the responsible thing and retract it? Nope. They’re off to the next new “scientific study”.

And we wonder why no one trusts scientists.

Why does the media do this? Well, because the media is no longer responsible for journalism, as it’s become diluted by corporations.

I recently read the book True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society. One of the topics mentioned in the book are VNR’s (Video News Releases). VNR’s are “news stories” developed by marketing firms that have subtle advertising (or sometimes, not so subtle). Go to YouTube and type in “Video News Release” and you’ll see countless examples. According to a 2005 Public Notice, the FCC requires a disclosing of the source of the VNR, but for whatever reason, this is not happening in many cases.

Have you ever been watching the News and thought to yourself “How the Hell does this qualify as news?” The most likely answer? VNR’s.

Someone somewhere wants you to buy something. Think for yourself.

And yes, the above sounds conspiratorial, and after reading my first post on BS Detection and Conspiracy Theories, I find that comparing Parts 1 and 2, this one’s dripping with irony.

You can decide for yourself if I am full of BS.

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Pixels Destroying New York

I am in my 40′s, and have been here for over a year now. I grew up with the earliest types of gaming and was hooked from the very beginning. Some of those games set the stage for me in the types of games I play and seek out to this day, whether from an unconscious nostalgia aspect… or they somehow peek into my personality.  Whatever it is, I may explore that aspect in a future post.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have owned one of the first generation home game consoles (ok, my Parents officially bought it).  It was in 1976 and called the Wonder Wizard.  It was a Pong game.  Can’t count how many hours I played that with someone else or alone against the computer.  BUT, it was Pong… eventually it became rather redundant.  The second-generation home gaming consoles introduced 8-bit circuit boards.  These were fast enough and advanced enough to bring color to the world of gaming, and it thus changed gaming, for everyone. Arcades were born in this era as well.

So I’ve played a bunch in the 8-bit generation of games, and many are the ones that are considered classics and icons in the history of gaming.  They became a part of society and of history.

The point of this post? Simply the fact that I came across a very well produced video on YouTube today that mixes modern computer animation with the 8-bit world of graphics. Any gamer worth his salt will recognize all of the references in it.  I sat here and smiled as I watched it, and wanted to share it with the other long-time gamers out there.

It is called “Pixels.” Enjoy!

This video was Directed by Patrick Jean and Produced by Benjamin Darras and Johnny Alves at onemoreprod.

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