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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Switching from Time Warner to Verizon FiOS

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

I’ve decided to switch from Time Warner to Verizon FiOS. In doing so, I’ve done what most people would consider exhaustive research, and decided I should share my findings.

Unlike many other users, I use a TiVo Series 3 HD DVR, which requires two  S-Card CableCARDs (or one multi-stream M-Card). From my chat with Verizon, by default, they’ll send one S-Card with the installer, but I can call to request one M-Card (apparently they charge the same $3.99/month for one M-Card or one S-Card).

What channels will I NOT get with Verizon FiOS?

Where I live (a suburb of Buffalo, NY), we usually get Canadian channels with our cable service. For some reason or another, Verizon FiOS doesn’t offer Canadian channels, even though I could receive them over the air with an antenna. Oh well. I won’t be missing much there.

There’s also the Time Warner exclusives—channels that they produce themselves—like “Time Warner Cable SportsNet HD” etc.

For all intents and purposes, I’ve grown to take HD for granted, and barely watch anything that isn’t HD. So, while Verizon FiOS offers BBC America, it’s not in HD. As a big fan of “Top Gear,” that’s a big deal for me, but for the amount I’ll be saving per month, I think I can wait for it to be available online or through Netflix streaming.

The following channels are available from Time Warner, but not available from Verizon’s “Extreme HD” package (there may be others, but I didn’t really check anything other than HD channels within the bundle I planned to get, compared to the Time Warner package I was cancelling):

  • 717 HLN HD
  • 732 Tennis Channel HD
  • 733 Outdoor Channel HD
  • 740 Velocity HD
  • 745 Crime & Investigation HD
  • 747 Cartoon Network HD
  • 753 MGM HD
  • 761 Encore HD
  • 762 TV One HD
  • 764 EWTN HD
  • 768 BTN HD
  • 770 YES HD
  • 787 TCM HD
  • 858 Oxygen HD
  • 860 BBC America HD
  • 861 H2 HD
  • 862 Cooking Channel HD
  • 863 DIY Channel HD
  • 864 GOL TV HD
  • 871 FEARnet HD
  • 881 GSN HD
  • 883 Bloomberg HD
  • 884 Sundance HD
  • 885 Reelz HD
  • 889 Style HD
  • 897 Hallmark Channel HD

Will I get additional channels that I didn’t have before?

Verizon’s “Extreme HD” package includes some channels that are not available, or would carry an additional fee with Time Warner:

  • Independent Film Channel 234/734HD
  • NFL Network 88/588HD
  • Smithsonian Channel HD 625
  • Wealth TV 169 / 669HD

How much does this cost? Will I actually save money?

Price-wise, my bill with Time Warner was ~$170 / month, while the bill from Verizon should be ~$110. What I had with Time Warner was their Triple-Play package of Cable TV, Digital Phone, and Internet (10 down / 5 up, I believe). With Verizon FiOS, it’ll be the same three services, with internet of 25 up / 25 down.

If you have additional information that I’ve overlooked, or have any questions, please feel free to comment below, or contact me on twitter: @PumiceT.

Netflix Renames Its Online DVD Rental Qwikster

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Netflix can’t win. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a fan of theirs for a long time. I used to get new DVDs in the mail several times a week, and I was thrilled when they added streaming. They were on the right path: become the best source for movies, documentaries, TV series, and pretty much anything you’d watch on TV.

Then Netflix blew it. They got all complicated (read: greedy) and decided to separate their rental plans. Streaming was no longer a free add-in for their DVD plans. They’ve officially jumped the shark. Way to go, Fonzie.

It was bad enough to split the pricing, but now, those of you who have both DVDs and streaming will have to build your queues on two completely separate websites. Talk about going in the wrong direction. Not only has Netflix missed their chance to let their users share their viewing experience on social networks, now their users can’t even share their ratings of DVDs alongside their ratings of streamed videos. WTF, Netflix? I mean Qwikster. I mean Qwikflix. I have no idea who to complain to!!

RFID for Fun, Profit and Eavesdropping

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Imagine this world, sometime in the not-so-distant future:

All consumer goods will be embedded with RFID chips. You’ll be able to catalog all your worldly possessions, and find them whether they’re in your house or on loan to a friend. If your child goes missing, you’ll know their outfit(s) based on what’s missing from the house.

Of course, this begs the outcry of the paranoid, “but then my every move can be monitored and traced!!” True, but is that so crazy? People check in on foursquare and Facebook by the minute. Then again, they might be begging to be robbed.

I suppose you could also scan the RFID from a perfect stranger (or friend), and keep track of them whenever their tag is read by a reader of yours. I think if you’re broadcasting your Bluetooth ID, this could be somewhat possible already. But then, you’d have to have a whole bunch of ID readers that you can access. Who knows, maybe there would be some use for public scanners, for organizations to log into and grab data.

Seem possible? Likely?

By no means am I an RFID expert, but it does make one think about the practical uses, and potential dangers of the technology. I look forward to being able to walk out of the grocery store without having the cashier crush my loaf of bread under a gallon of milk. I’d love to just choose my payment account on the way in, and have all my selections tallied up as I pass by a pedestal. Until then, I’ll keep eating crushed bread.