I created this web page, not as much for you as for me. I wanted a place to store all my ham radio information, links, etc. This page is the result of my selfish effort. But, isn’t that the essence of the web – to share information?

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Cutting the Cable - Update

A lot has changed since I first cut the cable in 2017. My previous blog post, "Cutting the cable" is now obsolete. Here is a summary of the changes:

  • I have now settled, for the time being, on the Amazon Fire 4K TV sticks. They work well, and the new remote control with on/off and volume control buttons, does everything. I no longer have to juggle two remote controls. 
  • DirectTV Now, now called AT&T TV,  has not lived up to the expectations. It has frequent outages, and the DVR is just too quirky to be usable. I have switched to Hulu Live and am beginning to love it. It works well, and the On Demand My Stuff feature makes a DVR almost completely unnecessary. Price wise, it is about the same as AT&T TV. In fact, all the streaming services seem to be congregating around a price point. Most start around $50 a month, and with extras, go to about $75 a month. Not cheap, but far less than the $200+ I was paying for Direct TV, the satellite version. I worked for the REAL AT&T for 20 years, but the company called AT&T today is really Southwestern Bell, who bought the name and many of the assets of the original AT&T in 2005, when the real AT&T was liquidated. AT&T/SWB is not the same, not at all. The original AT&T had Bell Labs and Western Electric. Things were well engineered and tested before being marketed to the public. The knock-off AT&T feels like a bunch of hackers are developing the applications and using paid subscribers to test it for them. They should pay US! /end rant
  • I have added an amplifier to the Winegard TV antenna. I bought the Televes 2-input mast mounted amplifier. It is currently showing as not available on Amazon although a single input amplifier is available. I went with 2 inputs because I intend to point a second antenna towards Greenville to try to get an alternative to the local network outlets. This is for when they go nuts with some local issue and preempt normal network coverage. I know that gushing fire hydrant is big news, but is worth about 2 minutes of coverage, not an entire evening.
  • Finally, I replaced the ZOTAC server with a Dell Optiplex 990, still running Ubuntu, and with scads of storage. If the Hulu My Stuff keeps getting better, I may someday retire the Plex Media server, at least for network programming. It is useful for movies and personal videos. It does have an advantage when it comes to skipping over ads, but is, of course, limited to TV networks that can be picked up over the air.
As I said in the first post, cutting the cord is not for the faint of heart. If you are not willing to tinker and just want to watch The View with a glass of wine, get cable. It is far easier to learn and use. If you want to see what can be done, and want to save some $$$, then cord cutting may be for you. But, be forewarned, it may not be a cake walk.

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