Monday, July 18, 2011

Dropping Cable

It's been a long, long time since I've written on here, so here's a much-needed update. Last month Shayla and I moved to Lynnwood, WA to work at Boeing. So I'm back home and Shayla is further away and unhappy about the weather. And I can't argue with that, the weather has been mostly terrible ever since we got here. Jake is 7 months old and drools about 40 gallons a day. And he just got a tooth on the bottom. I only noticed that because he bit me and it almost hurt.

So that's us.

Part of moving to a different state is disconnecting all of your utilities, internet, cable, etc and reconnecting it at your new place. Obviously this is a huge pain, especially when you're dealing with Comcast and their notorious customer service (note that their Wikipedia page has a section titled "Poor and substandard customer satisfaction levels").

So we're ditching Comcast and not looking back.

A lot of people have been writing recently about losing cable/satellite TV and getting all the same stuff from somewhere else. It's not that hard to do. That's what we've been doing for the last month and we're never going back to cable TV.

Right now our home entertainment system is set up with Netflix, Hulu+, and Apple TV. Between those three things we have instant access to 1) all of the movies that we own, 2) any movie we want to watch, past or current, and 3) almost any TV show we want to watch, past or current. And as a bonus on top of that we can also view our photo albums and home videos on our TV, and all of the music that we own streamed through our TV speakers. That doesn't sound great now, but it will when I get my awesome surround sound system.

So the way it works is that our Apple TV lets us access the media on our computer and iPad and streams it to the TV. So I'm in the process of loading all of our DVDs onto an external hard drive so we can just scroll through a list and watch movies without having to swap out DVDs in the player (shout out to Dehn for the info on this). So our Netflix, movies, music and pictures are controlled using our iPad or iPhone as a remote.

The only hole in the plan so far is sports. I haven't decided how to solve this one. If I were a huge baseball fan I would get for $100, and if I were a huge NBA fan I would get the NBA equivalent for about the same price. But I'm more of a football fan and the NFL equivalent is an outrageous $350 per season. Hopefully the NFL '11 app or WatchESPN app are updated with more options as the season gets closer. Worst case scenario, I'll have Comcast for 4-5 months for football season.

Anyway, so here's what it boils down to:

We used to pay about $80 per month for Comcast (including internet and cable). Now we pay $8 for Netflix, $9 for Hulu+, $25 for internet, and a one-time $99 for Apple TV.

So the yearly total (amortized over the projected 3-year life of the Apple TV) is $960 for Comcast, and $537 for getting rid of Comcast. For that we get the convenience of watching whatever we want whenever we want, no commercials, and never having to go somewhere else to rent a movie. And we lose sports until I find a way to get them.

This is just what I've done so far. We've been really happy with it for the 6 weeks we've had it. We never channel surf and rarely (only with Hulu+) watch commercials. If anyone knows anything else that we can add to make it even better, let me know.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

To Whom it May Concern

Baby pictures are on my other, newly-revamped blog:

That is all.

Monday, November 1, 2010

An Open Letter to Tom Shane

Dear Tom Shane,

I've been listening to the radio for a long time. In the days of CDs, before iPods and Napster, the radio was how I kept myself entertained. Radio is how I decided which CDs I would buy with my paper route money. Radio is what I rocked out to while I was driving. These were the carefree days of my life. This was my youth.

But these memories are marred by your voice.

Yes, I'm talking to you Tom Shane of the Shane Company. Your radio ads are probably the most annoying thing I've ever heard. Not only are they annoying, they're frequent and they're always exactly the same. I'm sure this is intended, either out of laziness or the misguided notion that this is an effective advertising method. Well I'll tell you a little secret. People respond more to creativity, variety (have you heard of Youtube?), and even some voice inflection. But no, it's always just the same monotone you.

You're probably thinking that I'm an ungrateful jerk, that I should be thanking you for the countless hours of entertainment on your dime. I understand that radio is financially free to me. But I pay for it. I pay with my time. The time that I spend listening to your incessant ads between songs is a real cost to me. It cost me a piece of my youth that's scarred by you hocking your jewelry from as far back as I can remember.

Tom, I want to tell you a sad story. I got an iPod for Christmas from my mom and filled it up with a modest 6 gigs of music (thanks Dehn). It was a faithful music companion for almost 2 years. Then I got an iPhone, and I love it just as much. I was sad to find that since my computer died before I could sync my phone to it, I lost the music and it's stuck on my iPod. Then I discovered Pandora radio, and haven't looked back. It's just like the radio I used to love, but full of only songs that I like. Unfortunately, the worst happened. When I thought I was completely safe from your emotionless robo-voice, I heard it again from the sanctity and safety of my iPhone, over Pandora radio.

Do you really think that any attention is good attention? Well you're wrong, there is such a thing as too much. You hit that about 10 years ago. Sure, I've long since memorized your address in downtown Seattle. That helps me to avoid it easier. Do you think irritating an entire country is a positive thing? Where is your soul.

As much as I hope for the economy to recover I was happy to hear you filed for bankruptcy last year. You're failing in a business where your average markups are over 800%. With margins like that you should be able to float a business that sells books on tape to deaf schools. I hate to say I told you so, except if I'm saying it to you.

Now you have a friend in the blogging business.

From the corner of 4th and Center,

P.S. Are you the guy from the Men's Wearhouse commercials too, or is that your brother or something?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bored Provo

Shayla and I are bored and looking for something to do. So I did a google search of "things to do in provo". I checked the top sites and they brought up mostly museums and movie theaters. Then at the bottom of the page in the "related searches" area the second most commonly used phrase was "bored provo". And isn't that just how we all feel...

In my google search for something to do I came across a "100 things to do in Provo" list. I'll just list some of the highlights:

-Go to school
-Watch TV
-Make food
-Bake (are these really 2 things?)
-Go running
-Go to the library
-Get a haircut
-Go to church

This list is proof that Provo sucks.

Anyways, today was kind of depressing. I was at the mall and they had a "sidewalk sale" where the clothes were on racks in the walkways of the mall rather than in the stores. Pretty stupid gimmick. But they had some cheap jeans there so I went to look for my size, but the numbers on the rack only went up to 38-size waist. Apparently 38 is the cutoff for buying clothes at a major retailer. After that they just had a section full of XL sweatpants. Fine, I'll take my fat-butted business elsewhere.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Taylor Swift's CD Is, Like, The Soundtrack To My Life

I want to start out by saying that I'm pretty sure Kathy Griffin and Andy Dick are the same person. I had an inkling she was a man but it wasn't until this week's Law and Order that I put it together.

I'd also like to give a big shout-out to Apple for not letting me move my music from my iPod to my iPhone because it's synced to a different computer. That's the inspiration for my post today.

Being left without my iPod music has been pretty eye-opening to me about the state of the music industry. I've been forced to listen to the radio. It's awful. Even the "rock" stations don't play anything good.

The music on the radio can be categorized as follows:

70's, 80's, and 90's Rock - This is the only listenable group, and a lot of the 80's stuff is still a little sketchy. This is the last time in history music was genuine.

Country - I could write a novel about all the reasons that I would rather squeeze a lemon on an open wound rather than listen to this.

Boy Bands - The formula is simple: find 5 metrosexual guys that can sing, write songs for them about how relationships are the most important thing in the world, and have them dance while they alternate singing the lines. This is as shallow as music gets.

Boy Bands version 2.0 - These are the bands that have taken the place of the boy bands of the 90's, described above. They are updated in that they now play instruments. You can identify these bands because you can't tell if the singer is male or female. These are the epitome of uninspired, manufactured music. They don't write songs or music, they just play what their label tells them to. This is the equivalent of looking at a Picasso and trying to repaint it, except the Picasso is crap to begin with.

American Idol Contestants - Again, these people do not write songs or play instruments. They have sold their souls to Ryan Seacrest, who is an agent of Satan.

Guys With Guitars Who Are Really In Touch With Their Feelings - This is probably the fastest growing group on the radio right now. And it's because they're easy to find. Just go to any dorm in America, these weirdos are all over. They are usually studying a soft science or some type of literature. These guys are the most cunning type of all. They know that if they don't make it as musicians and they don't get your money from buying their CD's that are packaged in environmentally-friendly packaging, then the joke is still on you because they're going to get your money in government assistance.

The problem with these groups is their preoccupation with money, image, and "making it". It's like a restaurant owner who uses boxed potatoes and canned vegetables as a side dish because he wants his restaurant to be franchised more easily. Even if you make it, you're going to be the Denny's of the music industry.

We need bands that don't want to "make it," but play music for the sake of music. And most of all we need music that is aimed at a different demographic than teenage girls.

Monday, February 8, 2010

MiChael was here

I just wanted to update a previous post.

First and foremost, I've made a list of some more Utah names I came across in the last couple of months:

-Kassi - simple, but still weird
-MariLynne - two names smashed into one and then spelled weird, with the bonus point for the mid-name capitalization
-Aimii - this is how Nintendo would spell it

If I were from Utah my name would be either Mikel, Maikle, or MiChael.

Anyways... Have you ever seen these Apple stickers that people put on their car windows? Why would anyone do that? That's called advertising and in the real world you ought to be getting paid to put that on your car. And that's called selling out.

By the way, if you are getting paid for that let me know where I can sign up.

So are these folks really actual people that are admitting they paid 80% of the cost of their computer for the brand name, or do they just love apples? Are they actually so in to editing video and not being able to use any decent spreadsheet or CAD program that that they advertise it on their transportation? Do they really like buying from a company afraid of software and hardware competition, or do they like the nostalgic feeling that they get thinking of the Macs we used in elementary school to play Oregon Trail on? I'm going to keep a granny smith in my car and throw it at the next car I see that has one of those stickers.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Driving Me Loco

I have a few issues with driving in Utah. It's just a weird place in general, as you know, but driving is an especially weird experience, specifically on the freeway.

First, as everyone knows, the actual speed limit in Utah is 10 mph more than what is posted. If the sign says 65 and you're going 65 you're going to get honked at, flipped off, and passed. So the rule of thumb is that you treat it like it's 75. Now, the convention in places where the speed limit is actually enforced is that you go about 5 miles over the speed limit. That way you won't get pulled over and you'll keep up with the "common speed." So in Utah you have to pretend that the speed limit is 75, then add on the standard convention and drive at 80 mph just to keep up with the flow of traffic.

To preface this next gripe, I just want it on the record that I don't think Utah needs a carpool lane anywhere. Traffic isn't bad enough on its one major freeway to justify it. And Utah definitely doesn't need the you-can-only-enter-and-exit-when-there-are-dashed-lines policy in the carpool lane. Maybe that time and money would better be spent on a carpool lane on University Parkway to clear up the congestion before and after home football game days that includes a detour that goes through the In 'n' Out drive thru.

Anyway, the good people of Utah were given a carpool lane and never given instructions on how to use it. So you get this division of people in the carpool lane that consists of: 1) People in trucks and rice rockets who drive too fast and tailgate you because they think it's their "personal" lane, 2) People in SUVs and minivans who drive too slow because they think it's the "family" lane, and 3) People from out-of-state who go the speed limit (80, as previously shown) because they know how to use it.

For proof of Utah's backwards driving habits I'll just use one more example. Just today I was driving on the freeway in the carpool lane, going 75-80 mph. An F250 came up behind me in the carpool lane and tailgated me for 1/2 mile until we got to the dashed lines, left the carpool lane and passed me at about 95 mph. Dles anyone else see the irony in this? This redneck doesn't mind endangering peoples' lives and risk getting a ticket going 95 mph and tailgating, but heaven forbid he cross that magical double white line on the road. The carpool lane is confusing for them, they don't know how to use it.

But I'm not here to point out problems, I'm here to provide solutions. I suggest that we put up this sign on the freeway to educate the public on proper lane use:

I think that will clear a few things up.