Monday, March 28, 2016

Sometimes, you just gotta deal

Yesterday I had this grand plan that I would wake up, get the house entertainment reorganized and rewired so when the HDTV antenna showed up I'd be ready to hook it up and give it a shot but sometimes stuff happens.  For me, it was a hard drive failing in my main PC which is a real problem since its my media server.

Took me most of the morning to figure out it was the hard drive, I had thought it was the beta Windows 10 Pro insider OS I was running, it's not like I've never had a hard drive fail before and that is usually a catastrophic failure. Makes a loud screechy noise, or a click-click-click noise.  This one... its like it was tired and sometimes would boot to the operating system and sometimes not.

So eventually, after repeated attempts to restore the OS failing to complete, I broke open the case and yanked the drive out with the intention of trying a replacement but all my extra hard drives from past PCs were the older SCSI hard drives and I needed a SATA for this machine.  Damn, nothing easy.

Then I recalled that I had this TB extra Tivo expansion hard drive that is incompatible with my new Tivo and just collecting dust.  I broke that baby open and bingo, just the hard drive type I needed.

So next step... complete reinstall of Windows 10, with no more experimental software either, but when I downloaded Windows 10 I realized I didn't have a valid key and no way I was paying for a new one.  Back to my pile of software, found an old copy of Windows 7 with a key, popped that on the drive, reinstalled the network adapter driver, got the PC on the internet and within moments there was Microsoft prompting me to upgrade to Windows 10.  Ha! Victory.

So in a way I came out ahead here because the new drive is much quieter and energy efficient than the old drive, cleaner since the old drive went through multiple OS upgrades over time which junked it up and everything I needed in the short run installed on it without any issues once I got past a few driver issues and now my media center is basically being reestablished and I'll spend the next couple days slowly reinstalling software on it as needed.

I'm thankful the old drive didn't outright die as I do have some unbacked up media on it that I want to try to recover.  For $20 off amazon I got an external usb case I can just plug that into and hopefully can recover it. Find that out some time tomorrow.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Been a long while... Cutting the Cable Cord

Its hard to believe how much time flies and that I hadn't made a blog entry since 2010!  A lot has happened since then. I think 2 kids for sure has distracted me away from it.

So just to start off, again, today's blog entry is about gearing up to cut the cord with cable.  Currently I spend ~$170 a month on cable TV and Internet combined.  That is an insane amount of money for the value we get from it I think. With the 2 aforementioned kids we basically watch children's programming almost exclusively.

So for starters, I bought this:

Its a highly rated, attic mount HDTV antenna, because that works for me, I'm not about to get out a ladder and climb up on my roof to put up an antenna, so if this doesn't work the experiment stops right there, but I think it has a possibility of pulling in all of the local big network stations.  How did I find that out?

Right here:
TV Fool

This is a pretty cool site and I entered my address and it calculated what I should be able to pull in so I'm cautiously optimistic.

I have some other things going for me that make this doable too.

I have a Tivo Roamio here and the house is wired up to share that signal among four TVs.  The Roamio has an OTA more so I'll switch to that while keeping the cable card active for maybe a month to see if this works out.

The Roamio has the ability to stream a number of provider's content, and we're already an Amazon Prime member so that is one big provider right there already and we pull a ton of children's programming in with that already.  I figure adding Netflix and Hulu for everything else and I'm in business.

So how does this break down cost wise.

$170 - Cable and Internet

~$50 for Internet
Amazon Prime - I paid $79 for when I signed up but taking advantage of an offer with Amex I would have done anyway, I got a year free. That would be $99/year otherwise.
$10/month - Netflix
$8/month - HULU

That's $68/month for the next year since my Amazon promotional starts April 1 and I get almost all the programming I need. I could add HBO Go for $15 and still be way ahead but probably don't need it.

Another thing about the Tivo, I have a PLEX account so I have a big library of Movies and old TV shows, using my PLEX account I can now share my content with the Roamio or on any of my internet connected devices. That's ~$40/year.  If I end up loving it, I can buy out the lifetime membership when I renew for $139. Which is the kind of thing I'd do.

All that leaves really as a gap is live sports. There are almost no good streaming live sports providers and none who have a hook directly into Tivo so far as I can tell.  That may change with Yahoo since Yahoo is signing a contract with the NHL.  If that means I can watch NJ Devil games I will.

For my Rutgers sports, I can buy those direct on BTN2GO and watch on the laptop or hook that up to the TV so that is a solve.

All that leaves is Yankees games. That is the really tough one, no answer for YES Network, none at all. But the Yankees are always national games on weekends or on ESPN.  Which will have to be good enough.