Project Goodbye Mediacom

Project ‘Goodbye Mediacom’ is underway…

After having Mediacom’s cable TV service for a year, their teaser rate has ended and they want to charge $69/month for basic cable + $6/month for HD + $11/month for an DVR device.

You know what? I don’t want to pay ~$1,000/year for TV.

I’m paying them $45/month for Internet (12mb), so if I remove the TV that will go to $65/month (they will have there pound of flesh), but the key problem is paying for TV.

I don’t really like to watch TV, as there are lots of development work I’d rather be working on, so 1K/year is too much for something optional that I don’t like.

So the options are:

  1. Over the air broadcast & Tivo
  2. Over the air broadcast & home made PVR
  3. No TV
  4. Put up and Pay

The first two plans relied on if we could get an aerial that worked where we live, otherwise we ether had to put up with Mediacom or just have no TV…  The house we are renting has a “no putting up aerials” rule, so it would have to be internal, and I didn’t have the option of putting it in the attic, as I wouldn’t be able to run the cable into the livingroom/office without plaster work, and I wasn’t going there ether.

When we first moved into the house we tried a small internal aerial, the  and it basically didn’t work RCA ANT121, I could see that there was digital TV, but was always “bad”

So I went to best buy and picked up a more expensive internal aerial with amplifier, the Trek FDTV2A, which also didn’t really work, there were three channels that were 80% but crackly, and the rest would never work for more than a few seconds. I tried it flat under the TV, vertical behind the TV, vertical on the wall, and held by hand. Flat worked best, but really wasn’t good enough. I found the +10db amplifier didn’t seem to help the signal quality, but I didn’t do any empirical testing.

So I return that to BestBuy, and purchased the Antennas Direct – ClearStream 2, this worked well in the living room pointing out the corner of the house (behind a chair) and in the office (the final project planned destination) I got 100% signal for 4 major channels and a total of 19 channels. I also also picket up a rocket-fish powered +4db amplifier/splitter, but my testing showed that across the 19 channels that it had a zero or non-positive effect. So I returned that.

I purchase these things directly from BestBuy at their +20% Amazon prices for the very reason of returning if they didn’t work. So in the end I was not stressed at the additional purchase price.

Now that I knew that Project ‘Goodbye Mediacom’ was viable, I started the planning for the DVR replacement.

Xbox 360 with Kinect

After a year of planning to buy a Playstation 3, two weeks ago we purchased the Xbox 360. What changed? Kinect, it just looked so cool, and you can have multi-player without needing to buy yet another controller.

Dance Central is killer application in our house hold, my daughter loves the game, and the rest of us enjoy it greatly, but we get beaten mercilessly by her.

The reasons I was leaning towards the Playstation originally were:

  • Region free games. This was a big issue for me, as our New Zealand Wii does not play US games and paying $90 USD for a NZ new game, which costs $55 here is annoying, waiting for shipping from NZ and not been able to pick-up cheap second hand games adds to the frustration.
  • Free online gaming. I’ve seen lots of PS3 vs. Xbox fan-boy arguing over this issue, and I’m just not sure what $60USD gets me, or $99 to allow the family to play online.
  • Xbox prior quality problems.

Now we have the Xbox, there are little things that annoy me:

  • The endless advertising on the menu’s. I guess 50% of the panels on the system menu are advertising, and the start screen is always the ad’s
  • Home game development cost $100 a year. It’s almost like Microsoft want $100/year from me one way or another. What with the online game fees or this, if you plan to get more than 20 hours of fun from a game (thus avoid buying another) MS wants their share of the lost pie
  • The Facebook application is crap. Just show it in a freaking browser, the Group feature is missing and that’s the only way we use Facebook, thus it pointless and ugly.
  • Movies costing 4-5 bucks to rent. No thanks, I’ll drive to Red Box and pay $1 thank you. I’ll admit that penalty/late fees involved with normal rental operation discounts the upfront movie cost, and it convenient not having to move from your sofa, but surely not by $3 dollars per movie.
  • Being a southpaw, the buttons are on the wrong side of the controller in shooters. But I’m guessing this problem would have been present of the PS3 also.
  • I really dislike my avatar’s name being my Xbox Live handle. We had four users with each person’s name, and now it’s ‘AttrachedSpore3 vs. Mahalia’ in dance central, nice touch. How about using my online handle for online stuff, and my chosen name for in game stuff. Please!
  • MS Point, 400 for $4.99, but 800 is $9.99, so either to just took an extra cent of me for doubling the points, or the real price is more, and your just generously gift me one cent. Oh how nice, or maybe you’re playing the .99 price game. Also there is not volume discount, why not? It just seems very backwards.

But I’m mostly over that now. I had been keen to make some homemade games, but not two new games a year keen. Not sure where I sit on the pay to play online, it’s fun, other than I suck and I’m really struggling to adjust to not using a mouse and keyboard in FPS games. I’m completely ignoring the region locking of the games, which is so pointless, as the games are all playing on HD TV’s so it just about price control. Grrrr.

The reason I’m over it, the family has so much fun playing on it. In fact I can hear them arguing who’s turn it’s next, and I need to enforce the ‘Dad’s Time’ rule, like ‘Daddy Tax’ but for games, instead of food.