Me and TV

I had been a DirecTV subscriber for years, mostly so I could watch sports, which is the only reason I have a television. I’ve gone long stretches of my life without a TV, but it is a nice convenience for when you’re stuck at home with nothing better to do. I do enjoy watching baseball and football. Some of the long form dramas produced by the big cable channels have been good too. Otherwise, I’ve never developed the habit of following sitcoms and serials. I doubt I could name one show popular in prime time.

Back in January I decided to cancel my subscription. The cost had reached the point where it no longer made sense. The game DirecTV plays is they slowly jack up the monthly fee until you decide you’ve had enough and call to cancel. They haggle with you and offer a discount if you stay with them. It is a crazy way to do business, but I suppose it works for them. Most Americans hate confrontations over money and most Americans hate haggling. My Arab friends love DirecTV.

The haggle to finally get free took exactly 25 minutes. I knew what was coming so I was prepared to enjoys it. I allowed the customer retention rep to think he had a real chance to get me to change my mind. We went back and forth for about ten minutes and then he threw me a curve by transferring me to his supervisor. He and I did the dance for another ten minutes and I finally prevailed. The remainder of the conversation was going through a surprisingly long list of details in order to cancel television.

The funny thing about cutting the cord, at least for me, is I’m probably watching more television now than when I had a subscription. I have an Amazon Fire and I have a Prime account. I no longer go to stores, other than for groceries, so I get good use of the Amazon account. I’m one of those people who gets more than his annual fee in free shipping. That also means I have access to all sorts of video content on the Fire. Amazon does offer a lot of video content on their system.

I also loaded the Kodi app on the thing so I have the underground streaming services for just about anything you can imagine. I’m fond of Pakistani cinema so it is nice to be able to get that whenever I want. The Kodi app is to television what Napster was to the music industry. It is a tool to allow the black market to undermine the oligopoly controlling the US television business. At some point, Big Cable will figure out how to shut them down, but the damage will have been done and the cost of winning will kill the cable model.

Anyway, the reason I’m probably watching more television now is that I have more to watch. It used to be that I’d fruitlessly scan the channels looking for anything that caught my interest. Unless a game was on, I’d end up leaving the TV on and wandering off to do something else. Other than sporting events, it was mostly just background noise as I got tired of the process of finding something worth watching. Throw in the excessive commercials and the whole process was more punishment than pleasure.

Now, I have a whole list of programs I’ve queued up so when I want to watch a show, I turn on the show or movie. The fact that it is commercial free makes the experience more enjoyable. I’m binge watching, as the kids say, the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. It’s nice to watch two episodes back-to-back. By the time I settle into watch TV, it is around 8:00 PM so I watch two episodes then go to bed. I usually read or write for a few hours before bed so it works out well, so it works for me to do both.

It sort of reminds me of what television was like when I was a kid. We watched TV in the same way people went to the movies. It was a planned event. After school, we only watched TV when the weather was bad. My dad would watch the evening news on occasion, but usually, the TV was off until after dinner and some popular prime-time show that we watched as a family. In other words, television was not the center of life. It was just one of many cheap entertainments.

It’s not hard to see where it is heading. The days of the cable subscription are nearing an end. Old people will continue to prefer that model, mostly because it is simple and familiar. In time, the on-demand model will figure out how to appeal to geezers who don’t like change. I’m not quite a geezer, but I appreciate that going cordless is a bit of hassle. I had to fiddle with the Fire and load the Kodi app onto it. Just as Facebook is now dominated by seniors, these cordless services will soon be common among the geezers.

The other change on the TV front is I had to get a new XBox. The old one died, mostly from lack of use, I suspect. I’m not much of a gamer, but on a rainy day or when I have people to the ghetto for drinks, it is a nice to have item. I bought a new one and it has a Blu-ray player, which is something I never experienced. Having watched my first Blu-ray disc, I’m not seeing the big difference. It’s a little better, but I suspect you have to have an Ultra-HD TV to really appreciate the higher quality.

The comical part of the XBox was that I had to download 1.5 GB of updates before I could use the thing. I’m old enough to remember when computer storage always had the letter ‘K” in it. Once that was done, I loaded my first Blu-ray only to learn that the  Blu-ray app need to download an update. Then the controller needed a firmware update. I bet it took three hours of prep just to use the stupid thing. A big part of modern life is waiting for your electronics to prepare themselves for your use.

Like a junkie just out of rehab, I’m off TV and I swear this is it for me.

62 thoughts on “Me and TV

  1. Pingback: How Mass Data Creates Scripted Social Interactions In Daily Life | Banter Loud

  2. Doesn’t sound like you’re off TV. Books and the net are a much better substitute than Hollywood (or Pakistani) products “when there’s nothing better to do.”

  3. Recently I encountered a document titled “The Occult Technology of Power”, which purports to describe a meeting and series of lectures arranged by a wealthy elitist for his son with the father’s advisors and professors. It’s arguably a hoax, but it does have a few insightful points which ring true. For example, in a section about public education, one reads as follows:

    “Therefore, we discourage education that would develop the potential powers of students to their fullest…Education that prepares students to accept a cog-like existence in our military-industrial-social-welfare-regulation complex is ideal. Progressive education with its stress on ‘social adjustment’ also produces the conformity we require of our subjects. Emphasis on competitive sports may produce a certain amount of disruptive competitiveness among the participants, but primarily has the effect of creating life-long voyeuristic spectators who will enthusiastically sublimate their competitiveness into endless hours of following college and professional sports on the boob tube.”

  4. Z–ever read Jerry Mander’s ‘Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television?” The improbably-named Mander was a former ad exec. A good book, even if 30 years old now.

  5. I killed my Dish account about three months ago.
    Same complaint. My bundle included about 250 channels and I only watched about ten of them.

    Now Amazon Prime and HULU provide more content than anyone can ever watch.

    I’ve been binging lately on “Jay Leno’s Garage” and the “Peter Gunn” detective series reruns from the early sixties.

    Whatever kinds of cable or network news programming that spins your prop is freely available thru the source’s apps the next day or a few hours after broadcast, or often available in real time on what appear to be pirated lives feeds in usually poor quality video on You Tube.

    Bottom line: saving me around $1400 / year with the added bonus of no toenail fungus or catheter ads.

  6. Oooo…that hour+ “We need to upgrade your X-Box (and mine it for ALL new data)for some inexplicable reason!”
    Get used to that, about once a month.
    Keep it in mind when you’re tempted by the “for a small fee-give us your card #…”, and “free” access options to assorted
    “new friends”, and “special shopping deals” on the net.
    If you can get a copy of the original “Watchdogs” game, it MAY explain it all to you. (I have no idea about Watchdogs II)

  7. I think of all the things, it was the commercials. 30 minute program, you pay for, and 15-20 minutes of it is for something you definitely do not shell out hard earned bucks for?
    I’m old enough to remember the claims of Cable back in the 60’s up in northern NH. “Commercial Free” I think it was.
    Think about it now. As a subscriber, you are paying for a media complex, so it can make money from advertisers who get more time than you get a product.
    It doesn’t get any more FUBAR than that, regardless of the brainwashing and “programming”.

  8. Curiosity Stream is my only device vice. That and Google Play Music, though I’m struggling to figure out why it keeps shutting off when my screen locks. Pre-geezer problems…

    Just found your site via VD, enjoying it so far!

  9. Were those updates for the Blue-ray done with a 3600 baud modem by chance?

    Nice to remember those days when it was spent waiting. We thought we were spoiled then. I cut the cord years ago and haven’t looked back. Using roku with plex media server. My next step is to pay a couple dollars for an offshore vpn to configure my open source dd-wrt router and then maybe attempt Kodi thing. $60 for internet is all I spend. Then through in the $7 for hulu, $8 for netflix (or whatever today), and $100 for Prime. I feel I’m more in control these days. The largest leap is getting the family on board with the change. Good luck.

  10. I got one of the new 4HD TVs. It’s great for gaming, but only for games made for it. But for TV, not so much yet. Problem is TV stations (news, sports, etc) apparently don’t broadcast in 4HD or have those cameras yet, but I was assured it’s coming. In the store the TVs that are hanging have these beautiful cityscapes and landscapes, ocean scenes that are specific programs running to show you the TV at it’s best. Content providers (TV, Movies, Netflix etc) haven’t caught up yet, so what you see is just a bit below par. But still better than it’s ever been…

    Don’t bother with the curved TVs. I got one of those. Looked great in the store. Still looks great at home, but meh. No better than the flat one I used to have. In fact, due to the curve, the screen size actually appears a bit smaller than it really is. And the curve shape doesn’t “hold” perfectly or as well as a flat screen. You can see imperfections by watching glare lines wiggle and morph from other light sources (sunlight or kitchen lights whatever) if you push one side of the TV or other. Not a big deal if you don’t move it alot, but yeah, you can misshape that screen like a contact lens.

  11. Stopped doing cable back in ’98. Pretty much quit TV altogether in ’05.
    Now if there’s something I want to watch I find a download or rummage around YouTube for the most part.
    Sports (NFL football) is still problematic with streaming video. Internet usage can cause jitter, blur (looks out of focus), pixellation (at worst it looks like Minecraft) and even freezing (video just stops for several seconds). Fox mostly did alright with the last Super Bowl except for an old-style ”technical difficulties” screen just when the Patriots were turning the game around.

  12. I have prime as well and a Fire stick but I looked all over and found no trace of a Kodi app at all. Did I misunderstand you?

    Anyone here have ChromeCast? How is it?

    I’m pretty picky about what I watch and have hesitated with the Roku thing. Anyone here that could give more detail on it I’d appreciate it.

    Oh, and I just ditched Netflix over their “Dear White People” bullshit. The director of that crap, Jack Moore, tweeted “Fuck white people” when he started to get some blowback, so that’s $10 more for me to spend per month on something else.

  13. Noticed this thing after reading today’s post:

    It’s a TiVO (apparently still a thing) that as far as I can tell acts as DVR and program guide for over the air channels, has no subscription fees, and has streaming apps baked in too. Seems very mod-able too.

    The old lady and I are moving next month. Not sure what we’ll set up but I’m in no hurry and know for sure I’m walking away from Comcast and AT&T for good.

  14. You had better luck than we did. We called Directv on 12/31. Both my husband and I spoke with the rep and told him we wanted to cancel at the end of the current billing cycle. They didn’t cancel it, of course. They charged us for another month. We called again in February. They told us we hadn’t gone through the right procedure to cancel. I told them they were doing this wrong. I explained that some day, we might decide to get tv again and it would be better if they treated us decently. They were rude and it took another call to get a box for the DVR. They told us they would just take out payment on the card we had on file, except that they had a canceled card on file. I am waiting for them to get around to giving us a final bill.

    On the other hand, my husband is actually happy with OTA and Hulu. I have Prime but never find anything there I want to watch. I have got to get the DVR working, so that he can record and fast forward. And I have to get a Logitech Harmony remote, so that he just has one remote. But I will never use Directv again.

    • Don’t feel bad. Our kids come up about six times a year and one of the little ones has been free to do as he likes regarding iPhones, iPads, etc. Well, we were making a change in our Directv account because we had to put MIL in the nursing home and did not need it. Found out that we had been subscribing to the Playboy channel for one year now to the tune of $600 bucks. We like sex as much as the next guy, but Playboy is not us. Directv was so nice. They gave us $5 off.

  15. As a seasoned citizen (70 in June) I resent your reference to mature Americans as “geezers.” I am officially an Old Shit and proud of it.

  16. Cancelled the cable TV 2 years ago. Got a few ROKUs and YouTubeRed (no ads for $9.99/month). I have many playlists and don’t miss cable at all.

  17. Haven’t had any TV of any kind in the house for years. In fact, I have never even seen an episode of Seinfeld, much less any of the newer drek. Internet, Kindle, and real books suffice. We do not lack entertainment at all.
    Going tubeless has some strange side effects. Now, if I am in a house where a TV is running I find myself actually horrified, and disgusted by the garbage spewing out of the thing. How. Can. Anyone. Stand . That . Shit?
    It’s a mystery.


    • Funny how you get some distance from TV, and it is so easy to see how awful most of it it is. Same with movies, same with magazines and books. Same with a typical person’s ideas of what is going on and what is important.

      IMHO, when the history of the 20th century is written for real, it will be considered the time when the public was buttered up with the idea that it intelligently held some sway over events, but actually the powers that be had instead mastered the art of manipulation, in a manner and depth that had never been seen before. Whether or not the Internet is a way out of all this from here on out has yet to be determined.

  18. I have directv and decided it’s too much trouble to get rid of it. Makes me a geezer I guess. I’m too old to argue that point. The one thing that makes it useable is taping to the units hard drive. Then you store stuff and fast forward through the commercials when you watch it. Tim

  19. PlayStation Vue – apps for Roku and Amazon Fire (I prefer Fire), and Windows and Android. $35 a month, much sports, all the major newsies. I like it.

    I used Sling for awhile, but their price and delivery model is the same as cable, just for a different price. PlayStation Vue gives everything useful that Sling does, plus a few, for cheaper. Just a nuggat……..

  20. You can buy USB tv receivers, that turn your PC into a DVR. you attach the olde style antenna to it. there are online program guides and everything.

    I worked at Directv for six years, in the engineering division. One day shortly after I had started using Netflix’s (at the time) new streaming service, I was in an elevator with one of the VP’s and I mentioned how effective the Netflix streaming service was. Well that set him off on a rant about how Directv’s streaming service was blah blah blah. Fast forward to now and satellite delivered tv seems quaint by comparison; kind of like getting milk delivered to your door

    Here’s the kicker; every Directv employee gets all channels for free. So they have absolutely no sense of cost/value regarding their product. Nor do they care or know about other modes of tv viewing.

    • Just to let you know, Netflix employees get everything for free too. And nothing is ever their fault. Directv was charging us about $80 a month. When my husband was talking to the rep, he was asked about what he likes to watch. He likes to watch old shows, and most were free OTA. I did buy him a season of NYPD Blue, just to wean him off that. It’s nice watching old westerns like Bonanza.

  21. Just cancelled CaTV last week. Hardly watching it, can barely find shows to DVR.

    Once married, we went years w/o TV, only getting it when FiOS price was very low. Glad to be w/o again.

  22. Z – Have you watched “The Expanse”? Prime has season one.

    I love the books and they’ve done a good job with the television version.

    • I have not. I’m watching Boardwalk Empire at the moment. I’ve heard it is good so I have it in the queue.

    • The Expanse: a series I enjoyed so much that I went and bought the books. Not giving anything away, but you are in for a treat if they get round to making more of it (the first series goes only halfway through book one, called ‘Leviathan Wakes.’)

      Sure, the TV series can’t cover what the books do but they have done pretty reasonable job of not butchering the storyline too much.

  23. I was exactly the same kind of DirecTV customer a few years back. Sports and movies and the occasional series like “Rome” and “The Sopranos”. What made it all the more addictive for me was the DVR.

    But, it got to be so damned expensive. And the understanding that a majority of that expense funded so much cultural degradation always gnawed at my sensibilities. So, when I made my last call to DirecTV, I demanded they let me go a la carte: “Look, I don’t want 250 channels. Let me pick 30 channels and pay 75 bucks a month.”

    No dice. And so, they angrily went through the termination process with me.

    I thought I’d miss the ballgames more than I do. I had already weaned myself off the random “whichever is the most entertaining game”, and only watched favorite-team games. Then, the NFL got largely unwatchable by penalizing good tackling to the point of absurdity, and the Panthers hired Negro Superman. Guh.

    I soon learned that I didn’t need to be entertained as much as I thought. I read a LOT more than I previously had, and I’ve always, or at least for the last 30 years, been an avid reader. Nowadays, I also dial up an amazon prime movie 2 or 3 nights a week. I listened to Jones Angel and Eric Montross call the Carolina game the other night. On the radio! It was sublime.

    I haven’t helped fund those ESPN nitwits in a coon’s age. Nor their network brethren. ESPN’s reported subscription slide has me tickled shitless.

    If Princess Nagsalot had not herself become a fairly avid reader, not having a TV on would make for a pretty miserable environment. These days, though, she appreciates not being interrupted almost as much as I do.

    I don’t miss that idjit box one bit. And I cannot imagine spending that money, or that time, attached to it. That said, though, seeing as how constant updates on the great black golfing hope shan’t be part of this year’s Masters after all, I might have to trying streaming some Amen Corner Live today.

  24. On the way to work this morning I was thinking it’s Thursday – so Cosby, Cheers, and Seinfeld tonight I joked with myself.

    I’m getting closes to cutting that cord. I need to access my unbundled internet options. Unfortunately Verizon stopped laying fiber-optic cable about a mile from my house.

    My other problem is that I live in the hills of Northwest NJ so there is no reception with broadcast stations in NY or Philly.

  25. Don’t any of you guys read? I suggest you give it a try. IMHO reading gives the most bang for the buck.

    Dan Kurt

  26. The real difference between blu-ray and dvd is the sound – if you have a good surround system. My system in the basement now looks and sounds better than any theater not IMAX.

  27. It’s good to swear off TV. Just be sure you also swear off the propaganda-disguised-as-news/sports/entertainment. It’s just as pernicious.

    • ESPN was nearly unwatchable. Other than live games, the rest was one foaming at the mouth lunatic after another, howling at the moon.

      • I might start watching sports again if they drop the commentators and leave the sound on for the crowd and the stadium announcer.

      • ESPN went public with their political slant this week. Then they immediately fired Sage Steele – who while being a very attractive black lady, was not politically aligned with the network.

        I the early days of cable, I escape anything political by watching Sports Center and MTV videos. Now Progressives have thoroughly ruined both places.

      • ESPN is the perfect cultural marxist platform, till it isn’t. A canned audience to brainwash, that pays for the privilege of being programmed to commit cultural suicide. Anything and everything is permissible, no meme or narrative to “diverse” in the cause to destroy everything White Men of The West.

      • It’s gotten so bad that Disney’s stock is being slapped around by ESPN’s bad financials. Sure, cutting staff helps a bit, but it’s the pro sports contracts that are punching them in the stomach.

  28. Back in the day if you had multiple homes and a cooperative cable or satellite guy you could get all of them put on the same account. Other people in your family can use streaming apps available via whatever service you are using. These are ways you can achieve some savings in the current system, which is dying.
    My wife and I watch a little local TV in the early morning to check on the weather and road conditions. I just realized that the news/propaganda breasts are there merely to introduce the middle aged guy in a suit who presents the weather and the girl in the raincoat telling you what roads to avoid. If the local TV execs decide to streamline local TV will be weather and road conditions and all news stories will be online content.

  29. Z I own the boxed set of B. E. How far into it are you? Unless you don’t wish to say. It’s probably my favorite series so far. I’ve reduced my Dish bill to under $100 till July. Down from about $175. Then I’m cutting it out altogether after that. I use my blu ray more than anything. Another good series is Breaking Bad. When it came out I was like “I don’t want to watch anything regarding meth heads.” I was wrong, good show. I’m finishing season 5 of Game of Thrones. I could do without the perversions but I suppose in some ancient kingdom somewhere perversity ran rampant. I prefer to wait until the series has finished to binge it but was convinced otherwise pertaining to GOT. @Doug….Dr. Ben was my guy all along. Happy to see he’s a part of the administration. I wouldn’t think anything would come of it but I’d like to see some pursuit in the matter regarding the missing money.

  30. Yes, the cable/satellite model is toast eventually. The future will be online delivery of specific shows. If it were up to me, I would have axed the DirecTV account already. The Netflix/Hulu/Amazon model is the future.

    • I would have dropped it long ago too. In fact, I did drop it a few years back as the autopayment stopped and then shut me off. I was traveling quite a bit so I did not notice it for a while. Eventually, football season started and I resolved the issue, after they offered me a bunch of free stuff. This time, it was just a matter of taking the time to do it.

      • Saved this from someplace couple years back. Don’t remember who said it:
        The happiest, most intelligent and most interesting men in America are not plugged into the machine. They saw where it leads a man and threw the red bullsh!t flag. They found an exit and sprinted.

  31. I watch the occasional movie and play the occasional game on PC, the Pirate Bay works for me

  32. Any you guys see Ben Carson discovered 516.4 Billion in fraud at HUD. Like gone-Poof! Down the gay mulatto Chicago shakedown rabbit hole slush fund.
    I read the Inspector General Audit, it is dry reading full of all sorts of Fedspeak, but it looks like some pretty serious corrupt management. It’s so bad, the auditors can’t determine an opinion, like in they don’t know where to start if I understand the legal jargon. Half a trillion in 2 years alone, 2015-16.

      • Everything hinged on the “orderly transition of power” as the Gay Mulato put it.
        He never really lied even when he did, lot of people just where not really listening to him, they where listening to their emotions instead of using their brains.

        Besides. like you hinted, how could they have covered it all up? The corruption, the malfesense, the treason and greed, everything?

  33. With a hi grade Yagi type antenna, on as tall a pole you can manage, you can get an amazing number of channels you are charged for on DTV, for free.
    We live on a ridge at 3000 ft elv which helps get lots of channels. We cut the cord getting on 2 years now. Since we built an off grid system for our house, and my wife wanted to have a little bit of TV, mostly for watching DVD’s, so I got her a 12 volt dc LCD. It is a really nice unit. It’s customary here in this part of WV, up and down the ridge everyone swaps DVD’s. A few months ago, somebody, and we don’t know who, left a box with 248 DVD and VCR tape movies. The box has since gone on to other neighbors. The way it works is you take what you want to watch, and put back in what you want to give to others to watch.
    The great thing is, I can’t be spied on through a connection, I don’t have a bill, WooHoo!, the juice to run the TV and players is free from sunlight and wind, and my wife gets 58 free digital channels. We figured between the DTV bill, and electricity, we put close to $100 a month in the kitty we didn’t have before. Close to $2400 in savings.
    It’s really great giving these corporate pirates the bird.

    • I bought a $20 HD antenna and the local channels come in better than on the dish. Other than sports, I have no reason to watch the local channels, but if the NORKS’s decide to nuke us, getting the news may be useful. I was surprised by the number of over the air channels. There are channels I never knew existed.

      • Oh ya, you said it man, we never knew all those channels are out there free for the asking either. First time we set the TV to channel search we where like your kidding! 54 good signals, and 12 that are just on the margin of detection.
        The Engineer, Yagi, he designed an amazing series of antenna designs, RCA offers one, it is $50 with shipping off Amazon. I’m pilling in stations from Va. and Ohio without a booster. TV is line of site, but being it is now digital signal, that changes everything, but height is still everything. I repurposed the DTV dish mast and excellent coax, (DTV saved me quite a few pennies right there), connected a 10′ piece of conduit to it, mounted it on the ridge of the roof with 3 guy lines, and went from 21 to 54 channels just from a ten foot increase in gain over the horizon.
        There are a couple interactive TV signal map sites. You punch in your elevation, longitude and latitude, and it gives you an easy to understand overhead graphic gradient of signal strength and if that signal is enough to capture at you location. It’s been spot on each time I used it. by increasing my elevation by another 10 ft, the map indicates 134 channels are possible. And that is still without a booster. I’ve heard some get double the channels with a booster and prime geographic conditions. This is all free broadcasting. That you get charged for by the pay TV companies. By federal law they have to broadcast most of their pay channels out in the wild for free if I understand how it works.
        The Yagi is semi directional, but still it pulls in stations the signal plot said was low probability. It is a very compact design, about 2 ft long and 10 inches wide.
        Lot of HAM radio guys use Yagi designs.

        You want the best news, get a HAM/shortwave receiver, or better yet get your Amateur radio license. It is the original alternative media. It is a mind blowing grass roots international community also. Even on 2 meter there is so much info and intelligence, it’s really the worlds grapevine. It’s pure open source.

        • “You want the best news, get a HAM/shortwave receiver, or better yet get your Amateur radio license. It is the original alternative media. It is a mind blowing grass roots international community also. Even on 2 meter there is so much info and intelligence, it’s really the worlds grapevine. It’s pure open source.”

          I second this. During severe weather events, I get damage reports before the media. During Katrina, I was hearing the real story from the inside.

          • It’s amazing how focused and committed the Amateur radio community is. It’s freedom and liberty in action. You can’t get more open source and home grown insurgent than it is. Look what ARRL has done in the last couple years.

            The people who have come up with ingenious and cost effective methods and equipment, the home built aspects, it’s good anarchy in action. All the small entrepreneurs who design, make and sell products. It’s mind blowing to me.
            I think it can ever be profitized or corporatized like happens to so much else in the sphere’s of our lives.

            Even the Russian military is returning to Shortwave Radio’s.

            Since cutting the TV cord, the desire to cut the internet of things corporate shackles has only grown. Right now there are no viable alternatives like with TV broadcasting. But there are rumblings in other countries.
            Been watching their development. Here’s a decent piece on the subject. It looks promising in todays state of off shelf technology and some inventive/creative repurposing:

            “Wireless Networking in the Developing World is a free book about designing, implementing, and maintaining low-cost wireless networks.+ – See more at:

  34. DirecTV is now owned by ATT. They force their representatives for technical and bill support to try to sell DirecTV to every single customer that calls in. If they do not do a sales pitch, they will not be working long. And they don’t really train the people to handle Customer Support. That is why when you call ATT Customer Support they can take up to 30 minutes or more to solve your problem. They have to put you on hold and ask other people how to solve your problem. American business certainly has become very scummy in the last 30 years.

    • On top of that, since ATT purchased Direct TV, customer service has meant dealing primarily with Dindus. They have a long way to go up the bell curve to match their white counterparts in pleasantries and usefulness.
      Three months ago I called in to complain about a receiver not working. Despite having paid for the option of a free service call, the customer service rep (Dindu) insisted on walking me through a series of steps to fix the problem – which was fine- but then got surly with me when I insisted they weren’t fixing the problem. It was her ghetto entitled, “I don’t care about your problem, no one is gonna fire me” attitude that lead me to ditch Direct TV and switch to Roku and PlayStation vue, saving $2000/year as a result.
      This experience has caused me to realize the increase of Dindu interactions on the telephone customer service front the last several years. Most of the interactions have been just fine, but a distinct uppitiness has filtered into the game now, and I personally would prefer dealing with polite Indians from Punjab, than angry blacks in Atlanta.

      Like everything else involving them, I guess I just have to lower my expectations going forward.

      • Got to the point that if I walk into a store (say a T-Mobile store) and all or most of the workers are them (you say Dindu’s I say Negros) I turn around and walk out. Too many of them together and it’s f’you whitey. ” Arrogant, stupid and lazy is no way to go through life son.”
        On the other hand, one Negro in a store is usually indistinguishable from their co-workers.

        About TV, canceled cable about five years ago when Comcast/Xfinity decided to encrypt the local channels (which required everyone to get a decoder from them), after which of course privately purchased and operated DVR’s stopped working. Plus the output from the decoder was low-res, for broadcast channels that were High-def. So I put a antenna up and canceled TV. And Comcast promptly increased the cost of my Internet only account (due to lose of multiple feature discount) to exactly the same price. Customer loyalty? Why?
        But now I get the local channels in 1080 res and record to my DVR for playback (skipping most of the commercials) at my own schedule.
        Been watching ‘Police Story” from the 1970’s on H&I and “Hill Street Blues” early 80’s. Nothing as good on the two hundred plus channels that I’ve seen.

  35. It’s hard to escape the “entertainments,” isn’t it?

    Whether it’s some geezer cable company or online streaming, someone is always profiting. (Except there are services that provide free HD movies and TV serials – I wonder who is paying for the bandwidth to give that away for free?)

    But Zman – one thing you don’t really mention – is how “escapism” plays a role in most people’s lives. Movies and TV serials must have all studied Bernays. Because it always works.

    You ought to delve into how these entertainment programs or annual sporting rituals manipulate us psychologically. Even books have that power.

    All that time spent being entertained – is less time building, learning, or creating.

    A sticky discussion topic for many. Some friends I speak with actually say “they NEED” that escape. I beg to differ – but it’s hard to “de-junkie” a junkie. Even with logic and common sense.

    Some could argue that the defense of entertainments is akin to the defense of eating unhealthy food. “I enjoy it immensely!” or “I need it!” aren’t very sensible arguments. They’re selfish and narcissistic and often destructive if left unchecked.

    Well, as long as you accept the consequences – and are not harming anyone else – I guess no harm, no foul. Just like that junkie that shoots up, right?

    Love your stuff – top notch. And how did you come out of nowhere? A couple good writers and bloggers (with a similar style to you, ironically) have “materialized” recently. I’m curious about figuring out what the catalyst for this trend is.

    PS – Imagine for a moment – what you would do without Amazon Fire, Prime, Kodi or Xbox. What would you do? Would you feel restless or at a loss? Could you do it voluntarily? What if the internet completely broke down? Then what? Those are fascinating scenarios to map out in your mind. Fun mental exercise.

    • @hoboken411 – A number of years ago I stumbled across a fascinating bit of information technology that has come to almost completely replace my motion-enabled photoscreen device. It’s a data storage and retrieval mechanism that can contain anything from small to large amounts of data, it allows data access either serially or randomly (the data are usually well indexed just for that purpose), data groupings are available in every single category I’ve ever searched for, the licensing process is so simple as to be nearly nonexistent, it has extremely low power requirements – in fact, the only power necessary for operation is a minimal stream of photons – and is available such a wide variety of programming languages that I’ll go so far as to call it “universal,” at least on this planet, and the portability factor rivals that of a common cell phone.

      It’s called a “book.”

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