Going Cable

When we moved into this place two years ago and discovered we could get 10 channels via antenna, decided not to get cable. Tivo helped keep an OK menu of OK fare available, but the pickin’s have become increasingly slim. As much intellectual nourishment as we get out of Nova, American Dad, Spark, and Fire Me… Please!, I can never shake the feeling that I’m painfully out of touch not having access to the Daily Show and Bullshit! But it’s been hard to cost-justify standard cable at $43/month, especially when we’re paying $50/month for Speakeasy DSL with static IP (it’s kind of amazing to me how popular cable TV is, given the pricing; but then I suppose a lot of people would consider DSL access non-essential too).

Finally decided to rearrange things and switch to SBC for DSL at $15/month, go dynamic IP and use DynDNS for the limited inbound access I need. Not expecting the platinum service I get from Speakeasy, as long as the reliability is good. But we’ll be able to put the money saved into cable for a few extra bucks per month.

All I need now is for cable subscribers to let me know what’s worth watching.

Addendum: When I was on the phone with SBC, they asked whether we were on Macs or PCs. I told her Mac and she reacted with surprise, as if a customer had never said that before. She asked me why, and I gave her a short version of the usual security spiel. She then proceeded to tell me that her entire office at SBC had been sent home early the previous day, as they had been hit so hard by the latest round of Windows worms. Someday the light will go on for the sysadmins of the world.

Music: Charlie Parker :: Segment

12 Replies to “Going Cable”

  1. I would also suggest switching your telephone service to Vonage. It’s only $25/month for unlimitied calling in North America. All caller ID stuff and voice messages are available via web interface. ANd you can transfer the old number to it without a problem. The added benefit: the number is hooked to the MAC address of the phone box (which is free after rebates at BestBuy or Staples) and is portable anywhere in the world. Result: I have my old Boston phone number here in Olso.

  2. Hmmm… mighty tempting Lee. What do you think of the call quality? Near land-line, or worse? How’s the reliability? If your DSL goes down then so does your phone service, right? Any gripes?

  3. “The Daily Show” is great & “PT Bullshit” on Showtime is fun, though you can get that show on DVD too. You might enjoy the new “Weeds” on Showtime (oops! that’s premium cable, isn’t it?). “South Park” is not to be missed, IMHO–it, and the Daily Show, are the sharpest humor on television. “The Daily Show” will have a spinoff starting this Fall, “The Colbert Report” (featuring Stephen Colbert). I also enjoy “Reno 911” on Comedy Central. Did I mention that I watch alot of Comedy Central? It’s helped keep me sane, especially during the Bush Misadministration. It wouldn’t hurt to watch the “Chappelle’s Show” re-runs either–he’s brilliant. The various Discovery channels (Science Channel, Discovery Health, etc.) offer many fascinating shows, and I wouldn’t live without Animal Planet and NGC (National Geographic Channel)–they help me forget about all the anti-Darwin theocrats rattling their sabers out there. There’s some good stuff on Ovation, Trio, IFC, Sundance and the History Channel. I’ve recorded Morgan Spurlock’s recent “30 Days” series but have yet to watch it — I’m sure this is worthwhile. I seldom watch anything on the broadcast stations. You might find Fareed Zacaria’s “Foreign Exchange” show interesting — I forget what channel this is on–he’s one of the most intelligent commentators on international issues that I’ve heard. There’s alot more brain-stimulating stuff on basic cable than you might imagine for adults–I can’t even comment on children’s programming.

  4. A year ago we signed up for a package deal from RCN that included cable TV, internet, and phone because, at $80 a month, it was cheaper than what we were paying separately for DSL and phone service. It was like getting cable for free. Since then we’ve canceled the cable TV part, so all we’re getting from the cable company is Internet and phone service. Odd, huh? I found the cable modem about 10x faster than DSL … we regularly get 3Mbps download speeds, and I never saw anything over 300Kbps with SBC DSL. I don’t miss the TV much; we’ve been renting shows like Deadwood from Netflix so it’s like watching TV, only a year later.

  5. Les, yep, already way into Family Guy and glad to see its return to broadcast TV, as we hadn’t seen it in years. We’re not big on sci-fi, but I would probably enjoy seeing some old Trek again.

    Larry, we have rented several of the Bullshit! DVDs, and have posted on a couple of them here. Mixed feelings about the credibility of P&T — often feel that their truth-finding is masked Libertarian agenda-pushing. They seem very selective in the kinds of truth they uncover. But they’re always stimulating. I usually read Zacaria’s columns in Newsweek, didn’t know he was on TV as well.

    df, I originally was going to get a package deal from Comcast for both TV and internet, but they just couldn’t match the price of splitting them. SBC stays at $15/month if you renew yearly contracts, while Comcast internet jumps to $50/month after the first 6 months, so there was no comparision there. 3Mbps would be nice, but we’re content with the DSL speeds we get now and it’s worth it to save $35/month. Interesting that you ultimately dumped the cable. There’s a love/hate thing there I guess. As much as I feel “out of touch” sometimes, I know there’s also a feeling of having a sewer pipe dumping in your living room if you’re not careful. So we’ll have to be careful :)

  6. Call quality is much better than skype or ichat and seems about as good as regular phone – 2 people have commented that it sounds ‘just around the corner’. If its unplugged or the intenet is down, then no calls, but the voice mail works. Of course I have a cell for emergencies but I wouldnt have this without that backup.

  7. I use my Mobile for Phonecalls and Free-To-Air DTB for TV Shows. We get CSI and MythBusters on Free-To-Air down here.
    For Exclusive shows, which aren’t available on Free-To-Air, Channel BT usually does the trick, as long as I plan my TV Watching the day before.

    Down here, Cable is woeful. 6-month old Movies, Re-Runs of Gilligans Island and MASH and a few Destruction Doco’s on Discovery Channel.
    It’s much more satisfying to rent or Borrow DVD’s, read a Book or Surf the Web.

  8. Yes, Vonage is great. We ditched our landline and DSL a couple of years ago and opted for the $15 a month Vonage account (500 minutes a month in North America) to supplement our cell phones and provide cheap long distance calls (.03 a minute to the U.K.!). Sound quality is, if anything, better than POTS, and the reliability is as good as our cable service, which in NYC is excellent. We made it through 9/11 and the blackout on just our cell phones, so I don’t worry much about emergency situations. Also, if your internet connection is down, Vonage will foreward your calls to a cell phone.

    As provided by Roadrunner cable, our IP is technically dynamic, but we usually have the same one for six months or more (generally they’ll let you keep your IP lease as long as something is connected).

    I’d say watch Six Feet Under, but last night was the series finally. Sorry.

  9. Six Feet Under is drawing to a close on HBO but has been one of the main reasons I’ve kept HBO and has bee one of the more unusual shows on in ages. Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm should be back on HBO soon and has all the best elements of a sitcom without a laugh track and some of the wit and complex ebb and flow of Seinfeld at it’s best, commercial free.

    The Soup on E! is a good roundup of the last week’s most inane clips to give you a few laughs and remind you how much you don’t really need to watch reality TV.

    30 Days on I think Bravo seems to have maybe run it’s course but may be back and is worth seeing – 1 hour shows by the guy who did the “what would happen if I only ate at McD’s for a month” doc. Some of these have been pretty good, particularly the one about living on minimum wage for a month.

    If you get Sundance it’s probably good for some offbeat movies. I’m at a loss for much else to suggest though we watch way too much tv here, most it if I tune out while on the PC. It’s kind of a between season time now when almost everything is gone or sucks.

    I’ve enjoyed 24 the last few seasons but it got increasingly hard to maintain plausibility, it’ll probably still be worth it on the rebound.

    Re: Vonage, there’s a cool 802.11b phone out now for them that you can even take portable to anywhere with an unsecured wireless net. It’s probably worth looking to something like Skype or the open source alternative instead, pushed by the Lindows guy.

  10. Two words: Battlestar Galactica. Watch it. Love it. Watch it.

    The first season DVDs come out on September 12 and they include the mini-series.

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