Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Why did it take me so long to find this site?...

Whats even more interesting is that I did a little digging and discovered that they are hosting their servers with a Wyoming based data center that is entirely green.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Cutting the Cable

Cutting the Cable

Part of my six months of exile I've run a little experiment. No cable TV. I know, I know, my friends that are used to discussing the latest episode of Lost or Heroes or Battlestar with me will find that hard to imagine. Me without cable! What's even more amazing is that where I'm at is so rural that you also cannot get TV over the air. The only thing the idiot box has been used for is video games and DVDs.

How did I do it? All hail the Internet!

I'm here to say - it is possible. Thanks to Hulu,, the various network and channel sites that stream and of course Netflix. Someone in the cable industry recently said something like "we offer all the content you can get on your computer - with a more comfortable chair". Pretty much true. I've kept up on all the shows that really matter to me. Basically a day (or more) behind their first run on TV. Here's my summary of the experiment:

The Pros.

  • Free!
  • Better than a DVR since you don't even need to set it.
  • Networks well represented.
  • Internet only content. Stuff you can't get on your TV. There is LOTS of this and I'm not counting Youtube.
  • Really good picture quality on modern monitors. (get rid of the CRT)
  • Did I mention Free!
  • Surf while you watch (small window)
  • Limited and sometimes zero commercial interruption.
  • If you have a multi-monitor setup you can surf while you watch full screen

The Cons.
  • Most cable channels like FX, Food, Discovery, Fuse, SciFi etc do not offer ANY content.
  • Unless you have a multi monitor setup you cannot watch full screen AND surf or do anything else. Of course doing this with the TV requires your computer so this one doesn't really count.
  • Pay networks like HBO do not offer content - with the exception of Itunes and even then it's dated and limited.
  • If you have a slow connection (and everyone does from time to time) - you are pretty much hosed.
  • Most content is available at least a day after the original air date so you have to avoid the water cooler.
  • You probably aren't sitting in your la-z-boy.


The overall experience has been that I am more active in what I watch. When I do watch, it's time set aside for it - like reading. There is little to none of what I call being a "drive-by couch tater". You know - when you are bored and just turn on the TV and watch whatever catches your eye. I think it's been great. I am really torn about hooking back to that constant feed when I return home. I'll most likely do it though. The only real Internet service in my 'hood is cable so I'll have it anyway. (Plus Trueblood is about to start.) I will most likely setup a media center pc of some sort and hook it to both cable and the Internet. Now I'm eyeing low end PC's and the Mac Mini for just such a purpose.

In the end I think that cable TV as we currently know it is starting to circle the drain. There are only a few things stopping a mad rush to Internet TV right now. Someone needs to come up with a way to make getting standard broadcast / cable content at least DVR simple and the hardware to cost less than $300. Internet TV needs some standard to allow users to string it together. Like RSS has done for podcasts and blogs. The networks/cable channels need to pull their collective heads out and offer shows at the same time they air and the pay services need to realize that the same model will work on the Internet. For example your ISP or media center vendor could charge for your ability to stream from HBO. Broadcast channels (and some Internet only channels) are already finding that companies will purchase advertising on their sites and shows in a similar fashion to broadcast tv. The last thing blocking the rush is the usual fraction of the population that dislikes change - or at least doesn't deal well with it. For these folks we will see conventional stations and cable hang on pathetically - like standard telephones and dial-up Internet are doing today.

I'm sure this won't happen for at least 10 years though. The cable industry will surely follow the record and movie industry in trying to preserve it's outdated business model. Time Warner is already at it with it's attempts at download caps. In the end - like always the consumer will suffer but eventually win the battle. 10 years from now an ISP won't be able to do business unless it offers a min download speed (likely to be at least 100mbs) with no caps but for now we will have to shake our heads at the coming wave of stupidity.

It's almost there folks - for now if you are a person that doesn't watch much TV or only follows a few shows you can probably do it without much fuss and with fairly substantial savings. If you consider channel surfing an activity in itself... Hold on to your cable - for now.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Picture of the year

Winner and runners up here:

Monday, June 01, 2009

Funny Shoes

Funny Shoes

Dude, What's with the Gecko feet?

In the category of "Stuff I like" - my Vibram Five Fingers shoes. For the best explanation I've seen (and the post that ultimately pushed me over the edge to buy the silly things) visit this post from Tim Ferriss (yes the author of The 4-Hour work Week)

Loss of Adventure.

Loss of Adventure.

This last week I had a couple of shocks to my adventure circuit. I've always been mad about experiencing the world. I thank my parents for that. They liked to travel - never owned expensive toys (until recently) like boats, rv's or atv's. In fact I'm sure that we were pretty much the last family to get color TV, a VCR, and most certainly a microwave oven. I spent most of my "off time" as a kid either riding around this great country in a VW Bus, traipsing around some other country or continent or climbing all over the Rockies. Habits I've continued, and will until they hopefully end me.

I was just the other day experiencing my regular "adventure wave". This is something that happens to me fairly often. I start to think about all the things I've done and it just fuels the fire for more. Then I soon find myself out searching. Sometimes in a plane or my trusty Xterra but more and more on the back of my beloved motorcycle. Shortly I will embark on another cross country drive so I'm trying to channel that spirit towards the trip and not let the wanderlust take me in the meantime and derail my well laid plans. Ask me how it worked out in a few weeks...

Anyway the first part of the shock came when I was talking to a friend that had just returned from Mexico. A country where I've had some really great experiences. Diving in caves, Snorkeling in sink-holes, being a drunken blister on the beach, pushing my luck in the bad part of town, and climbing the pyramid at Chichen Itza. My friend had just visited what sounded like really familiar spots including the great pyramid. The shock came when he told me that you are no longer allowed to climb.

A little part of me died that moment. Realizing that the US "pussification" had at long last made it to our southern neighbor.

When I was a kid we would play until dark, walk to school, play chase, get in fights, jump our bikes and swim in the river. Now as parents we live under the constant threat of someone turning us in to DFS for letting our kids play in the front yard with toys not made out of foam all while wearing DOT approved helmets. We used to be able to hike, climb and look over the edge of just about anything. We would cross rope bridges just for the thrill of spitting into the river below and stand on the edge of the cliff for the view and holler to play with the echo. Now we cant get anywhere near these things unless there is a stainless and plexi fence and we pay an entry fee. Oh and the rope bridge is closed for our protection (and to keep loogies out of the river).

Then I had a second shock. This time it went the other way. My kids had been asking to go to a place called "Green Springs". This last Saturday we went. This place is every modern parent's nightmare. It's basically a collection of old splintery wood and dock pilings held together with rusty nails in a shallow part of the river. There are several levels and a tower. Several rope swings, a couple of rope bridges (the kind with a rope above and below - like in boy scouts in days past) and even a rusty zip line. There is no lifeguard, no admission fee and no concession stand selling diet soda and low carb snacks. And you know what. IT WAS A BLAST!

While we were there kids were running (gasp), swinging and doing flips into the brown river water, jumping off the top of a 40ft tower and laying in the sun without sunscreen (OMG!).

Afterward we had Pizza and Cheeseburgers. What a great day!

My plea, if you are reading this. Do what you can to keep adventure alive. Take your kids to wild places. Not just the sterile - safe for the masses amusements. Don't sue because you got a splinter in your pinkie. Teach your sons that not only is it important to wash your hands but that it's also important to not pee into the wind. Occasionally - duck under the rope and see where it leads you. And when you run into a long haired, over-fed, leaping gnome - buy him a beer and listen as he stokes the fire by recounting tales of Kenya, Ecuador, and Wyoming...