Part 4 of my “Getting Rid of Cable” Series Is Coming Soon

Xbox and Hulu announced today that Hulu is now on Xbox.  I will begin testing everything on my Xbox in my room but I need to learn a few things first:

1.  Does it work and how well?

2.  Do we have to pay for a second Hulu account to view on both Xbox's?  (You must "activate the device".  We did on the living room box and it shows it on our Hulu account as that Xbox gamer's account name.  Activating my separate Xbox and account in my room, might present issues.  Tune in.)

3.  Will turning in my remaining DVR increase the cost of my internet price?  (Since it's a "bundle" deal, I'm sure it will πŸ™

4.  Depending on the above variables, what is my new cost compared to my old one after all of this?

 

I'll let you know….

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Bits N’ Pieces

"There is nothing I love more than air-conditioning.  Walking inside an air-conditioned room from a 95 degree afternoon is the greatest panacea I've ever found.  Sometimes though, I come in from the heat only to find an oscillating fan recirculating the blistering misery.  This is the difference between the love I feel from him and the love I feel from her.  His love is cathartic, yet she doesn't even have the decency to oscillate."  –Allen McNulty

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Official Scientific Study – Gay Statistics (Video)

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Kitties Try To Figure Out Treadmill

 

Cats trying to figure out a tread mill.  I love how hard the one cat strikes, but then there are two more funny parts that happen later πŸ™‚

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Recycling “Did You Know?” Tips

Don't throw away your batteries, Best Buy recycles them for free (container at the entrance at most places).  Also, Lowe's hardware store recycles rechargeable batteries, CFLs, plastic bags and plastic plant pots (bins near customer service and exits at most places).

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Surprised Kitty Video

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Chick-Fil-Gay (funnyordie video)

[funnyordie 134de08e80 512 328]

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Funny Font

funny font pic

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Gay Soldier Dies For His (Our) Country


Tribute to a gay soldier who died for his country. His parents tell his story.

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Husqvarna Solar Hybrid Automated Mower

Yes, I realize that the Husqvarna Solar Hybrid Automated Mower is $3000.00, but I wanted everyone to put it on their list of things to buy when they win the lottery.

It will text message you if something disturbs it while it’s mowing, has an anti-theft alarm, no emissions, PIN lock code, battery-operated (but solar panel is an extra energy source on sunny days and can provide an extra oomph), weather-proof, low noise, timer, and much more.

My prediction is that this will become better and more affordable over time. It only makes sense. I wonder what the stats would be if every house replaced their gas/oil mower with this?

solar hybrid automatic lawn mower

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Brutal Hard Drive – On Fire, Dunked In Water, Still Worked

The IoSafe Solo 1 TB Fireproof and Waterproof External Hard Drive took a brutal beating by Maximum PC magazine. The hard-drive claimes to be fireproof and waterproof, so they set it on fire and then dunked it in a bucket of water. After that, they took the drive back inside and plugged it in to their computer and all the files were completely intact.

The one they tested was USB 3.0, but I could only find USB 2.0 on Amazon at the time of this post…but still with the same fire/water claims, as well as a one or three-year data recovery service (where they claim that if you can’t get your data off the drive, they can).

At first it appears as if the casing provides the defense, but the guts are where the protection exists. It’s wrapped in what appears to be a fireproof/waterproof bag. Regardless, it works. I would, however, question my working environment if I needed a drive to be able to survive all of that πŸ™‚

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Watch This Video. Keep Watching…

Thanks, Jessica, for finding this.

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Vudu

Excellent experience with Vudu tonight. It’s now a part of most blu-ray players and we just noticed it on our PS3. They gave us one free movie to watch and we watched a 1080p version of “The Fighter” with a perfect stream. I paused several times, stopped it to finish watching later, and a little bit of RW/FF…with no issues at all. Not sure if the PS3 streams better than the Xbox or if Vudu is better than Netflix and Hulu, but it was flawless.


vudu

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Rare Bird Alert – Steve Martin, Paul McCartney & Banjos?


I watched Steve Martin on The Colbert Report the other day, as Steve promoted his second “bluegrass” album. They performed on Colbert’s show and the song was pretty good…but nothing that grabbed my attention enough to run to Amazon and buy the CD.

However, I just watched Steve Martin on David Letterman. Steve told Dave a story about emailing Paul McCartney asking him to sing a song on his new album and Paul agreed (as did the Dixie Chicks). That caught my attention a little more, but it wasn’t until Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers (from NC) sang an A capella song “Atheists Don’t Have No Songs” that made me finally go and buy the album. It gets here in a few days and I’ll give my opinion on the rest after I get a chance to hear the whole thing.

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Cell Phone UV-Light Sanitizer


someone’s watching way too much porn on their phone to need this. (i bought three.)

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Funny Sign At McDonald’s

funny sign at mcdonalds

How do they expect to keep my business like this?!?

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Klepto Kitty (Update)

Here is the follow-up to the original “Klepto Kitty” video posted here.

Apparently, it was time for Klepto Kitty to return all the items he stole. The new video is here. (Thanks Rachel for sending me this!)

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Video: Moshi The Talking Digital Clock Review

A video of my experiences with the Moshi Talking Digital Clock.

Some observations:

  1. Worked extremely well (excellent product for blind people!)
  2. There can’t be an echo in the room or it has difficulty understanding your voice.
  3. It could hear/understand me from halfway across the room (I didn’t test different lengths or measure from my recliner to where it sits on my media center)
  4. Had trouble understanding my boyfriend, who has a very strong Georgia accent. After he enunciated, however, it understood his commands.
  5. Its listening port is in the front, so you can’t give it commands from the back of it.
  6. Has a function to fall asleep to ambient noises (like birds and water), but I didn’t test those out.
  7. Has a full-featured alarm system but, since I won’t be using those, I didn’t test them out. You can use voice commands to set the alarm functions, as well.
  8. You have to manually set the date, instead of voice commands. I believe you might be able to manually set the other stuff too, but I don’t recall. The voice commands function was all I cared about πŸ™‚


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Getting Rid Of Cable (Part 3)

Getting Rid Of Cable (Part 1) is here.
Getting Rid Of Cable (Part 2) is here.

I had two HD DVR’s. One in the living room and one in my bedroom. Today, we disconnected the one in the living room and returned it to their local office. Took 5 minutes and $30.00 off of my cable bill ($360.00 savings in a year).

We usually watch recorded shows on our DVR (or a Netflix DVD if we have one…sometimes a movie streamed from Xbox or Netflix) when we’re eating. Tonight at dinner, there was a big, empty space where the DVR used to be. Between Hulu, Netflix, and shows/movies on Xbox), we had more than plenty to watch and most was in HD. (For those wondering, we watched yesterday’s episode of the Colbert Report and a Tosh.0 episode we hadn’t seen yet.) So, there was (almost) nothing missing from our routine…except for one major thing….a clock! The DVR was our only living room clock and we don’t wear watches, so that was weird having no idea what time it was (we don’t like to grab/turn on our over-priced smartphones with food on our hands…and getting up out of the recliner was NOT an option πŸ™‚ I bought a nifty little digital clock for that spot, so my money savings went down a bit, which brings me to more math to consider.

When I mentioned the $30/month savings (from removing one DVR and “extra digital TV” charge), I now have to consider that the Hulu Plus membership is $7.99/month and my Netflix is the 2/month @ $14.99. That’s a total of $22.98/month. Sounds like hardly any savings, doesn’t it? But here’s the rub. I’ve used Netflix since 2002 or 2003 and never planned on cancelling Netflix…so I don’t count that $14.99 in the math (this is “getting rid of cable” not “getting rid of everything I pay for entertainment” πŸ™‚ Still though, I did add the HuluPlus for $7.99 and, of course, I can’t and won’t get rid of my internet, so it might be “fuzzy math” right now. Where my savings should really kick in is when I get rid of my DVR & digital TV charges from my bedroom. I won’t do that, however, until I live the life without cable in the living room and get used to what that feels like (jeez…sounds just like my quitting smoking posts πŸ™‚ Also, Hulu is supposed to come to Xbox “soon” and, until then, I have no way to watch Hulu on my bedroom tv. Also, they will raise my internet bill when I remove my cable tv completely (it’s in a pricing bundle, currently)…so I’m taking baby steps in shaking the cable monkey off my back.

Another biggie I’ve noticed is that the freezing has been almost non-existent lately. Not sure if the Playstation 3 that we use Hulu on fixed the issue in their system update they just had or not. Could be coincidence or a bug fix. Loving no freezing though, no matter what the reason.

An interesting side note: I thought the cable guy would have to come out to the house, but all I had to do was go to their office and turn in my DVR. I called their 800# first to see what steps I needed to take and how much they were going to charge me for the guy to come out. When I explained to the customer service rep what I was doing, she offered me 3 free months of my HD-DVR. I considered taking the offer and waiting three months to turn it in, but decided to stop letting the drug dealer win. She was very enticing…appealing to my addiction and sensabilities…but I “just said no” πŸ™‚

One more side note: For those who don’t know it, you can watch Hulu for free on your computer, but I think you get more clips and limited selections. I don’t watch tv/movies on my computer, so I don’t care about testing their free online version. You can try it and comment here…I’m sure the readers would like to hear of other’s experiences.

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Groupon – For The Coupon Queens

If you haven’t heard of (or used) Groupon yet, then you’re either a newbie, like paying full price, or don’t understand it. I won’t comment on the first two, but I’d like to give just a touch of insight into the third one.

Groupon is a site that offers local coupons to those who sign up (it’s free and painless to sign up). You choose your area and then Groupon emails you coupons, sales, and discounts to local businesses or products near you. They only email you when a coupon’s available in your area. After you purchase, they email you what you bought (not immediately, but within a day or so. That’s it!

My Experience So Far: The first thing I ever bought from them was an Amazon gift certificate. It was a $20 gift certificate for $10. Way too good to pass up. My second (and only other) purchase was a gift certificate to one of my favorite restaurants. It was a $50 gift certificate for $25! Again, way too good to pass up. They’ve sent me emails over the past several months for massage, carpet cleaning, and other discounts that I don’t use so I didn’t buy. But those two deals made it worth my while, even though the majority of them I don’t use…but I remain hopeful for better goodies in my inbox soon πŸ™‚

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Kitty Hover!

cat hover

this pic scares me just a little for some reason, but they’re kitties so i still love it πŸ™‚

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Getting Rid of Cable (Part 2)

Getting Rid of Cable Part 1 is here.

Received the Roku XDS Streaming Player 1080p, but the same day we discovered that we could get Hulu on our Playstation 3, so it sat unopened while we tested Hulu Plus. We’ve used Netflix (I love Netflix) on our PS3, so we had a streaming comparison for both HD and SD. (On a side note, I’m anti-Sony and am looking fwd to Hulu arriving on the Xbox. Their site says it’s “coming soon to xbox”)

The Hulu Plus interface was very easy to figure out. They make it very user-friendly and you can find shows easily and watch immediately. We quickly found the “Colbert Report” and Hulu had the most recent show already available to watch! They also had episodes spanning at least a week (maybe more), in case you missed other episodes. This was also the case for tons of popular shows (Modern Family, The Office, Family Guy, etc.) Some shows had all episodes from all seasons, but some others only had the current season of episodes. It appeared as though they had some agreement with Fox and ABC, since those shows were so prominent…but that was a cursory glance/opinion and many other stations and popular shows were available as well.

Some shows have commercials throughout. A 30-second one before the show started and then ones ranging from 15-30 seconds at each “station break”. We sometimes paused during a commercial and ran out for a drink or bathroom break. When we came back, it was sitting there waiting for us to hit “play” on our remote and continue. Some shows had no commercials at all (those seemed to be ABC, Fox, and Comedy Central, but we haven’t explored every network and show to see the commercial vs. non-commercial pattern).

The above are either pros or cons, depending on your personal tastes. But here is a major Con that was consistently and issue: The shows kept freezing! Some wouldn’t, but almost all did at some point. It was sporadic, so we’re fairly certain that it was nothing we did wrong. I spoke with two friends who watch Hulu via their Roku and they said they experience the exact same issue. Most freezes lasted exactly 8 seconds and then it fixed itself and continued. A few times, we had to hit the FF, Rewind, or Play button on our remote to unfreeze it…then it would either continue without issue or might freeze once more. It was so random, we couldn’t find a pattern. Our conclusion here was that Hulu has issues. Possibly because they’re growing too fast and need more servers. Don’t know, but I can only assume/hope that they are aware of this issue and are working on it. After all, we’re paid subscribers and they don’t want everyone to start cancelling. Some episodes never froze…even ones in HD…so I think I’m going to continue using them and chalk it up to “growing pains”.

And yes, I’m aware that Netflix streaming will do the little spinning circle once in a while, but that’s not Netflix’s fault but rather your wireless internet/network changing its network speed (so if you’re watching an HD movie and your internet speed slows down, Netflix will automatically change your stream from HD to SD…and when your internet speed goes back up, Netflix will switch you back again, hence the spinning circle of waiting. But I’ve found it rare and predictably fast).

So…I’m returning the Roku for a refund. I’m also going to call the cable company today and ask them to disconnect the cable and return the HD DVR (I think that will be a $30.00 drop in my cable bill). I’m keeping my cable and HD DVR in my bedroom, until I experience what it’s like with the new, no-cable, system in the living room. Rumor has it that if I remove all cable tv from my home (and keep only internet), that the cable company will severely jack up my internet pricing. A friend said they did that to her when she got rid of everything but internet. I assume this is true, since these are “bundle” packages and if there’s no bundle then you’re going to pay “A La Carte” pricing which offers no discounts. Regardless, I will still be paying substantially less and will post those amounts in another “Getting Rid of Cable” update.

Getting Rid Of Cable (Part 3) is here.

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Belkin Energy-Saving Outlet


Very cool. I have so many things charging in my home it’s ridiculous and, unfortunately, I haven’t been a good boy with doing better with conserving energy. My house is high-tech and needs a lot of juice. I now have a bunch of these around the house and I don’t have to worry as much about the constant pull of electricity to an already-charged item.

You set the timer on it and after the time you choose (choices are: 1/2 hour, 3 hours, and 6 hours) it completely shuts off the flow of electricity.

Click the above graphic and see better pics of it and see it in action and you’ll agree that it’s worth it to have at least one or two of them around. My only complaint/suggestion is they make the plug swivel so I can put another under the top one. I’m sure when I write Belkin to suggest this, they’ll get right on it πŸ™‚

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Getting Rid Of Cable TV Project

Like everyone I’ve talked to, I’m sick of the horribly high cable tv bills. In my area, there’s only one cable option so they have the monopoly (they do for those like me who don’t want a satellite dish). I’m keeping my cable internet, but the plan here is to have the cable guy come out and take all their crap back, which will drastically lower my bill and save me money.

After much research (Google TV, Roku, Boxee, etc.), I decided on the simplicity, yet powerful features, of the Roku XDS Streaming Player 1080p, which is their $99.99 top of the line model. As of the date I write this, they also offer a $79.99 model and a $69.99 model (of course after the 30-day return time has passed all the prices will drop…or a new, better model will appear…so please don’t rub it in πŸ™‚ You can see the differences between Roku models here.

Although I already stream Netflix videos from my xbox and PS3, that feature doesn’t matter. What does matter, however, is the ability to use Hulu Plus and Amazon streaming videos. I won’t be able to watch the tv shows I like at the time they show (I bet that will change with time!), but my shows will appear shortly after. Currently Hulu Plus is $7.99 for one of their subscriptions and my Netflix subscription is about $14.99 (I might downgrade my Netflix account), which are both exponentially cheaper than my cable bill. After all, I usually just record them on the rented DVR (more money to the cable company) and watch them a day or more later anyway…so no love lost there either. Not sure if I’ll get or need local news. I don’t have enough info yet, mostly just questions.

We already have a strong wireless N router, so streaming HD has never been an issue on our Xbox or PS3 (I also stream videos off my my pc onto my Xbox using their Windows Media Center feature). If you don’t have a wireless N network in your home, then the “weaker” model is probably best for you (but I strongly recommend it’s time to upgrade from your a/b/g to N, because it’s noticeably better and stronger).

Also, I’m ordering it from Amazon.com and not from Roku’s site. If something goes wrong, Amazon will make the return and refund quick and painless. Roku, from what I could see, requires stringent hoop-jumping, an RMA process, lots of time and waiting, etc.

It should arrive on Wednesday and I hope to get to it quickly to test everything out. Please come back for follow-up posts on this project. I’ll be letting you know my honest opinion and cost-savings after I (hopefully) get rid of my cable company.

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500 GB USB Encrypted Portable External Hard Drive With Number Pad

A 500 GB USB external hard-drive that offers a pin number pad to get access to its contents.

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I love this thing. A 500 GB USB external hard-drive that offers a pin number pad to get access to its contents. It can also encrypt the data on the drive as a secondary security measure. Also love that it’s bus-powered (it’s powered from your computer, so it doesn’t require yet another power cord for your collection.)

One wish for this is that they come out with a USB 3.0 version (for those who don’t know, that’s a faster version than the ubiquitous 2.0 that 99.99% of people have right now. computers with usb 3.0 capability are slowly hitting the market and will be the new standard soon, so all 2.0 external harddrives you have now will be uber slow by comparison.).

Another wish would be that the owner has options to check for what to do after x amount of failed attempts. Currently, it just locks you out after a set number of attempts and makes you wait a while before trying again. As the drive owner, I’d like the option of heavy-hitting penalties for failed attempts. One pin number flash drive I saw, after 10 failed attempts, will lock the drive and erase all data on it. May seem extreme, but at least it would be MY choice.

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