Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Is TV worth the price you pay?

Ok is it just me or does TV seem a tad expensive? Ok let's look at the facts here. 3 years ago you could get basic cable for $20.00 per month. Now they start you at $45.00. I know that now it's Digital or (High Def) TV and that's the old analogue system you were paying for, which is a good way to defend the increase in price. Let's also talk about the programming then. In my opinion TV programming has gone way down on the quality scale. The air ways mostly consist of reality shows; long gone are the days of Sci-Fi, Drama and Comedies that use to dominate. As you know we have a 1080P TV and now we have a BluRay Disk Player, and I am very happy with the BluRay quality. So now we are looking at cable or satellite. I am very disappointed with the options and the prices. Let's start with my least favorite company to deal with...

1) Shaw Cable.

So for basic HD they start you at 60.95/month, HD Plus is 69.95/month. Seems expensive considering I still need a HD receiver from Shaw or an HD PVR that is just for programming. Why would I pay $60.95/month to watch CSI and House? Those are the only two shows on TV that even remotely have my interest. My wife wants to watch a few shows but nothing where I can justify spending that much for lack luster, programming.

2) Shaw Direct (formerly know as Star Choice)

This came highly recommended by some of my wife's co-workers. Now I have to say it is much more reasonably priced then Cable is. Now it is much more reasonable, depending on the hardware we buy installation for Shaw direct ranges from 0 to $200.00. The programming on the other hand is much more reasonable. With programming starting at 23.00 all the way to 86.00 it seems like a deal compared to cable. My issue with Shaw Direct is the HD receiver can't work as a PVR.

3) Bell

Now Bell is much like Shaw direct with programming starting as low as $23.00 (for HD) ranging all the way to $99.00. Again fairly reasonable programming prices.

4) Telus TV

New to the TV market (relatively) is Telus. They provide 2 types ip and satellite tv. I will not slow my DSL speed so I am not going to be reviewing the IP TV, since it requires slower internet. Telus will not setup TV on their 15MB Internet; so forget that it's useless.

Telus Satellite again is fairly reasonable with HD programming starting at $35.00 going to $99.00.

With all the prices being around the same and all the promotions are almost identical, you would think we have a great competition going on between the companies. At least that's what they want you to think. Unless you get a customer retention specialist your out of luck on scoring any deals at all. At this point unless we get a great deal we are likely going with either Shaw Direct or Bell. (Probably Bell since we have the hardware). Not only that for the amount of time we are home, and the time we will watch tv we will be going with just a basic package and I can build a DVR using Elisa (Susie Linux Media Centre) to record the stuff instead of buying one. Or I can build the Media Centre and Stream the content off YouTube, Hulu, or right of the websites of the content providers. Is it just me or are we all being ripped off?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Facebook's New Privacy Settings

Well it has happened it was just a matter of time but now Facebook has really lost it. Instead of respecting people's privacy they want to go where twitter is, a real time search engine. Facebook has the numbers to kick twitter to the curb but most of the users on Facebook don't want to be on twitter, nor do they want people they don't know access to their personal information. This move by Facebook will be good for cyber stockers. With the default settings set to open, most users will be using the open settings and not even know it. Users protecting their privacy is something the user has very little information how to do, if they even know about it. They just assume that social networking sites like Facebook are safe. The way the privacy policy was when it started was the right one but now with Facebook's twitter envy I worry about them scaring off or even alienating their user base.

I know that users like my wife, my mother, father don't want what their doing being posted over the internet. The issues that have popped up about employer and employee conduct on their off time will be even more controversial because by default all their posts, and comments will be open and index-able by search engine spider bots. This will make things more accessible and once something gets on the internet it doesn't go away very easily.

The best thing I can suggest is to not use Facebook or turn all of your security settings up as high as it can go. As for what I think of the changes; I think Facebook just shot themselves in the foot, this will anger allot of users and some of them may even leave. The last few changes in facebook I have felt were lack luster, and the result has been I've been going on facebook less and less or just using programs like Tweetdeck to update my facebook status along with my twitter and myspace status.

Not to long ago twitter was audited by the Canadian Privacy Commissioner; and they locked down users profiles so it was harder to search about the user and browse other profiles that they weren't friends with. This seems to go in the completely opposite direction. Why can't Facebook get it? They are not twitter as much as they want to be their not. What they should be working towards is target ad marketing. Setting up regional deals with media companies for real time streams of programming. There are so many ways Facebook can make money without compermising it's user base, but instead it wants to be twitter.

Weather or not Facebook loses users we will have to see, since they have moved to a more twitter like format I have found myself using it less and less. I am not the only one, I know several other users that have been weening themselves off Facebook as well? What do you think? Is Facebook moving in the right direction or not?

By Trevor Tye


Monday, December 07, 2009

10 Geeky Gifts for Christmas 2009

Here it is my Top 10 Geek Gift List for 2009! Hope this helps when your looking for that perfect gift for that Geek of yours.

#10. The iPod Touch 8GB

The Apple iPod Touch 8GB is the entry level iPod Touch. Let's face it it is an iPhone with out the phone and camera. Still you can get your email surf the web and get over 10,000 applications. It is great for anyone that wants a "Tablet PC" only smaller.

#9. The Logitech Harmony 620 Programmable Remote

The Harmony 620 can control up to 12 devices. It is can be updated to control almost every device you own. I consider it a must have for anyone with a hi-def system. It is simple, easy to use and is nice to hold. It is probably the nicest remote you will ever buy for $120.00

#8. Super Mario Brothers Wii

Granted this is already going to be an extremely hot item this year and it will be difficult to get a hold of. The multi player features in this game are excellent, think of it as Super Mario Brothers 3 updated.

It's extremely fun, and it has a very nostalgic feeling to the game for those of you who have played Mario before. This game will be a riot at parties. In all an excellent game and fun for all ages.


This will bring that geek of yours hours of enjoyment. If you have an old computer around you can convert it into your own PVR using Mac*, Linux, Windows 7, Vista or XP Media Centre.

#6. Apple TV

Weather you like Apple or not the Apple TV is a pretty nice device. It connects to iTunes, and can stream everything from any iTunes collection. It is a very nice gadget that any geek would be happy to get.


If your on a budget the Patriot Box is a great network based media player. It has a nicer enclosure then the Asus O!Play HD Media Player. Think of it as a cheaper Apple TV. Just remember the OS on the media player isn't as nice as the Apple TV.

#4. NBOX Media Player

Yes it is the year for TV media players. This is the most inexpensive media player running 30 - 40 dollars, you load your movies on SD cards or flash drives and play them from the NBox. Not as nice as the Apple TV or Patriot Media Player but hey for $30.00 I wouldn't complain at all.

#3. Nexstar Hard Drive Dock

This inexpensive little hard drive enclosure is a very handy thing that every geek should have. With DVD's being a fraction of the size of hard drives it is impractical to expect backups to be made on DVDs. That said though, with this hard drive dock you can just backup your data to hard drives and just shelve them like you would DVDs or Tape. For $50.00 is is a great gift any geek will appreciate.

#2. The Drobo

One of the biggest innovations in storage technology to date. This External enclosure uses "ZRAID" or "Raid-Z" to get a basic hard drive spanning with redundancy. The best example of this would be RAID 5. The difference being the hard drives on the drobo can be all different sizes, unlike a RAID 5 where the Raid goes by the smallest drive.

#1. The G1 Transformers TV Series DVD Collection

This DVD collection is one of few DVD collections I will recommend. Let's face it The original Transformers are classic. There have been several spin offs and remakes of this original cartoon series. This will be a collection that will be good to have for all time.

* There is a way to hack this PVR to work with the Mac. You do this at your own risk.

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