Hulu Delay

May 14, 2010 at 10:48 am | Posted in Missy | Leave a comment

I’ve removed the season pass for Glee from the TiVo — I figure I’ll catch up on the last few episodes on Hulu after all of the really good shows (LOST, Fringe, House, Survivor, American Idol, and a dozen others) end their seasons. Episodes are piling up in the Hulu queue, but hopefully I won’t get more than 5 in the stack. Because with a lot of shows, Hulu is only allowed to keep the most recent 5 online.

Hulu is good for some show, but I have to confess, I’m really ticked because of the programming delay on some shows. Episodes of House don’t appear on Hulu until 8 days after they air on network TV. And a couple of episodes in recent times have gone beyond their scheduled time slot, which means if you’re recording it on regular TV, you’ll miss the last couple of minutes. And you can’t catch those last couple of minutes online for eight more days.

Likewise, The Biggest Loser is on a one-week delay on Hulu. Since we can’t get our NBC station on the antenna, Hulu is our only choice for TBL. But we’re a week behind everyone else. Fortunately, I haven’t seen too many spoilers, but with the finale coming up, I’m sure I’ll have it ruined for me before I get a chance to see it.

The problem isn’t with Hulu — they put the episodes up as soon as they’re able. The problem is with either the production company or the network. And I have to ask those guys: WHY? Don’t they realize that we watch more commercials when watching shows on Hulu? A show on TiVo, they’re lucky if we watch even one commercial. And that’s only if something looks interesting as we’re blasting through in 3x fast-forward. But on Hulu, they pop their 30- or 60-second ads in there, and we actually sit and watch them.

Seems to me that Hulu-ified shows should get even better treatment.

Returning the Equipment

April 28, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Missy | Leave a comment

I just took almost all of our remaining borrowed gadgetry to the Bright House office. Two CableCARDs from out of the TiVo, and that ghastly tuning adapter so we could (sometimes) get the extended HD channels.

I handed over the equipment, the guy scanned them in, then asked, “So just the internet connection, then?” I said yes. His only response was, “Okay, you’re all set.”

What’s going on, Bright House? Don’t you even care? First the guy on the phone doesn’t fight the cancellation, now the guy in person doesn’t either? I’m perplexed. Seems like every other time I’ve canceled a service, I get all sorts of “are you sure” and “what can we do to keep you” questions. But from these guys, nothing.

I asked the guy about the upcoming Road Runner Lightning service — speeds up to 40mbps, as well as some other extras (Road Runner Radio & Video Channel) that may or may not be worth an extra investment. He said it’s slated to roll out “this summer”, so anywhere from two to five months from now. I’ve signed up to be alerted when it’s available in our area, so we’ll check it out at that time and see if it’s worth upgrading.

Netflix

April 24, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Posted in Missy | Leave a comment

We already belonged to Netflix, but on the lowest possible plan that allowed streaming — $8.99 to have one DVD out at a time, but unlimited streaming through our computers and the TiVo. We could also stream through the Xbox 360, but neither of us has a gold membership.

We’ve just upgraded to the 3-DVD plan, so we can always have a Scott item, a Missy item, and an all-Meyer item out at any given time. It’s $16.99, which takes an $8 nibble out of the over-$70 savings from canceling cable.

If anyone out there wants to be our Netflix friend, I think this invitation should get you there. But I’m not sure; the friends system doesn’t seem particularly user-friendly. And I still can’t upload a user picture without getting an error. But as long as the discs come in a timely fashion, I’m not going to worry too much about our profile.

So in addition to the 2009 Red Dwarf miniseries that showed up in the mailbox yesterday, we’ve bumped a couple of other items to the top of the queue: Scott’s ordered up season 1 of A Bit of Fry and Laurie, and I’ve opted for the horrible-wonderful classic 1980 roller-skating musical Xanadu. I haven’t seen it in probably 20 years, and I expect it to be just awful. But hopefully it’s that grade of awful that goes around the horn to become awesome.

Xanadu: terrible, horrible, magical!

Cable: Canceled

April 24, 2010 at 9:37 am | Posted in Missy | Leave a comment

Yesterday, we unplugged the cable from the TiVo. This morning, I called Bright House to cancel the service.

But before I told them about canceling, I wanted to find out why our bill had gone up recently. Because back in September of 2009, I’d called and we’d been put on a package deal — $79.99 for cable TV and internet. The one catch was that in order to get a package deal, you need to have a cable company DVR (and let me tell you, the Explorer 8300 isn’t fit to clean the TiVo’s shoes). So the cable rep added in a fake DVR and charged us $6 per month for it, in order to get the $40 savings of a package deal.

Clearly, it was too good to last. Despite being promised the package price for 24 months, the cable company went into our account, said, “Oh my stars and garters, they’re paying for a cable box they don’t actually possess,” and proceeded to remove the cable box (which THEY had added to begin with) from our account and charge us the higher, non-package rates.

I actually ended up talking to two reps at Bright House this time; the first one didn’t outright accuse me of trying to game their system, but his tone wasn’t pleasant. He then put me on hold for 20 minutes, so I just called back and got another guy. The second guy told me the deal, and he agreed with me when I said, “So it sounds like we never should have been given the package deal in the first place, and we should be happy that we got it for three months.”

All in all, I love the fact that we have everything except one piece of equipment, but we need to have that one piece of equipment in order to get any kind of discount.

So I told second guy to cancel the TV portion of our service. We’re still going to get internet through the cable, because the Road Runner cable service via Bright House is the best deal of those available to us. Here’s what we can get in our area:

Road Runner / $48 / Up to 10 Mbps
Road Runner / $63 / Up to 20 Mbps
AT&T U-Verse / $48* / Up to 12 Mbps
AT&T U-Verse / $58* / Up to 18 Mbps
* AT&T charges a one-time setup fee of $149.
CenturyLink / $50 / Up to 5 Mbps
CenturyLink / $55 / Up to 10 Mbps

So AT&T is a slightly better deal as far as dollars-to-speed, but the setup fee makes me want to kick them in the junk. At any rate, it’s nice to know they’re there as a fallback, in case Bright House messes with us.

Weirdly, the Bright House rep who canceled our TV service didn’t argue it at all. He didn’t offer any discounts or even ask why we were canceling the bulk of our services with them. I was fully expecting to have them put up a fight, or scramble to keep our TV business. But all I got was an “I’ll take care of that” and a request to set up a technician visit to pick up our equipment. Which I declined, because I can easily take a tuning adapter and two cableCARDs to their office instead of having to wait at my house for the tail end of a 4-hour appointment window. Nice try at one last inconvenience, Bright House, but I don’t think so.

HD Antenna = Crystal Clear!

April 23, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Posted in Missy | Leave a comment

We just watched our first TiVo-recorded show from the antenna, and WOW. The picture looks so much more clear and sharp than what we got through our cable. Because cable TV providers compress the signal in order to squeeze more data through their tubes, while the over-the-air signal is raw and uncompressed.

It was a delight to watch. What show was it? Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, which I recap for the lovely folks at The Disney Blog. Now that we’ve seen how great it all looks, we can’t wait for really pretty and action-heavy shows. Bring on the Lost!

Digital Antenna Is GO!

April 23, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Posted in Missy | Leave a comment

We’ve removed the cable from the back of the TiVo, and plugged in the antenna.

The antenna we chose is this indoor HDTV antenna from Monoprice. We’d been looking at a variety of options on Amazon, but Monoprice came highly recommended by Leo Laporte over at TWIT. And for our first test antenna, a 4-star rated model for $17.39 at Monoprice seemed like a better risk than spending $50 for the similar-looking Terk at Amazon.

It’s surprisingly small — smaller than a DVD/game case. In fact, here’s a game case to compare:

Yes, that’s a bunch of stuffed frogs sitting next to the TV. Long story short, we started with one stuffed frog cat toy, and the collection has grown. And yes, Bioshock 2 was awesome.

We looked up our channel availability over at AntennaWeb and found out that most of the local networks broadcast from about 25 miles away, at compass headings varying from 58° to 63°. Fortunately, I have a compass program on my phone, so we were able to set the antenna with its flat face pointing to 60°. Then we unplugged the cable and set the TiVo to go through its setup cycle. About 30 minutes later, TiVo found about 40 high-def over-the-air channels, got the program listings over the internet, and we were good to go.

I opted to go through the channels and cull out all of the stations en EspaƱol, which turned out to be quite a few. I also got rid of the set of what we call K-GOD stations. We’re left with ABC, CBS, FOX, CW, MyTV, ION, about two dozen PBS stations, and some miscellaneous independent stations. Notice one missing from the list? Channel 2, NBC, doesn’t come in. We’re getting a signal strength of 0-40 (out of 100) no matter where we put the antenna, so until we cough up extra money for a stronger antenna, we’ll get NBC content through Hulu or NBC.com. (That Hulu link goes to our profile there; you can see our stuff and add us as a Hulu friend.) Not that big a deal; I think the only NBC show we watch is The Biggest Loser.

The TiVo was smart enough to transfer over our season passes for all shows on channels we’re now getting through the antenna. So instead of American Idol recording on HD cable channel 1135, TiVo automatically set it to record on antenna channel 35-1. You go, TiVo!

The Wisdom of the Hive Mind

April 20, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Posted in Missy | Leave a comment

I’m a member of Ask MetaFilter, a resource where you can ask the hive mind any question and get lots of amazing answers. Looking for a book with the weirdest description ever that you read years ago? Someone will know it. (That post made me get Orson Scott Card’s Treason from the library, and it was surprisingly good. First Card I’d read, and it won’t be the last.)

They’ve actually turned out to be a great resource for this project, because quite a few other people have asked for advice.

Seriously; if anyone out there has a question about anything, these guys are a great resource.

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