Monday, May 6, 2013

Pay Television

Please Note: Not all my suggestions are for everyone. Judge for yourself what you want to try. These are just things we've done and been very happy with.

    I'll break the topic of Pay TV into a few parts.  First, I'll give you some reasons why you might dump your pay television provider (cable/satellite).  Then, in future posts, I'll cover some good sources to get your video entertainment fix.

    Why dump cable/satellite?  Have you looked at your bill lately?  The average Pay TV bill increase has outstripped the pace of inflation by a huge margin for years now.  This is largely due to content creators forcing distributors (cable/satellite) to buy channels in bundles (who watches ESPN Classic?) and to pay a fee for each subscriber... even if they don't watch the channel.

    Okay, besides the obvious huge drain on your monthly budget, another reason to "cut the cord" is they are actually giving you a poor experience when it comes to basic channels like ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX.  You see, they have very limited bandwidth to stuff all 500+ channels of video into.  To offer you all these channels, they compress the video signal for each channel.  The more they compress it, the more channels they can send you.  The down side is, that the more they compress the video, the more the channel looks like "cubism art".

    As an experiment, watch a football game or other hi-definition broadcast of a sports event on your TV, with the signal from your cable or satellite provider.  Then watch the next game with an antenna.  You will be absolutely stunned at the picture improvement.

    So save yourself a lot of money and get a better picture.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

High Speed Internet

Before I start writing about ways I found to save money, let me talk about high speed Internet.

GET IT.  GET A GOOD ONE.  AND DON'T SKIMP.

You really need a solid, reliable Internet connection for some of my cost saving measures.  Most people have 5 options (in order of my preference):

  1. Fiber
  2. Cable
  3. Telephone / DSL
  4. Wireless / Cellular
  5. Satellite
Since we don't have fiber in Warner Robins yet, I selected the local cable company as our provider.  Why?  Well, there are 3 things to keep in mind when selecting your Internet provider (in priority order):
  1. Data Caps
  2. Latency
  3. Speed
Data Caps: As you will be running LOTS of data over the connection, you want as generous of data cap (limits) as possible.  Many companies allow unlimited data over the service.  However, in our area, the limit is based on which "service level" you purchase.  The higher the level, the faster speed you get and the more data per month you are allowed.  I recommend getting at least 200 GB/mo (gigabytes per month).

Latency: This is the time it takes for data to get to/from you and a service you want to access on the Internet. One of the upcoming posts I make is about using the Internet for your phone service.  A low latency connection will be like talking with someone next to you.  A high latency connection will be like talking with someone on the moon... a long delay in talking back and forth.  Very frustrating!  This is where using satellite Internet is painful - it has VERY HIGH latency.  You can't use it for some of my money saving tips.

Speed: How much data can you get steadily? Ignore anything you see about "burst" speeds.  They won't be important for my tips.  You NEED at least 2 Mb/sec (megabits per second).  This is easily obtainable from Fiber and Cable companies.  Depending on your home's distance from a telephone switch station, you usually can get that from Telephone companies as well.  Wireless and Satellite often have trouble guaranteeing you consistent data.  I recommend 8 Mb/sec or better if available from your Internet provider.

Summary: Get 8 Gb/sec or faster (ignore burst speeds) with at least 200 GB/mo data cap and hope you have low latency.  This means get fiber if they offer it (and you can afford it), otherwise cable Internet.  DSL may be acceptable if you can't get fiber or cable.

So, what are your thoughts?  Any questions?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Why?

I'm not much of a writer.  So, for me to write a blog is a bit of a task for me.  But, at the urging of several people, here I am.

Topics will vary wildly.  One topic I'll revisit from time to time for sure: Frugality.

I really am not a frugal person.  I'm terribly selfish and love to spend money.  My wife is the same.  So why post about frugality?  Well, I want to maximize my savings in areas that can see a savings without detriment to the family, so I can wildly spend it on stupid crazy things that I find fun and exciting.  Maybe my ideas will help you save money so you can wildly spend it too.

I will try to be brief where I just want to point out an item of interest and thorough when evaluating something.  Comments are welcome (and encouraged).

Please wish me luck.