Cutting the Cord: FAIL

Mel and I have been interested in a while now in cutting ourselves off from bloated media providers (read: Comcast). We’ve used their services in the past for both internet and Basic Cable TV. We’ve never had complaints about the quality of service, but we have always felt like suckers (like the guy at Best Buy purchasing the extended warranty) – and Comcast’s corporate practices are terribly frustrating.

I can’t guarantee that the sun will rise every day, but I can guarantee without any doubt that my Comcast bill will go up for unexplained reasons at least every other month.

At least they’re consistent.

We’ve tried to dump the beast several times in the past. I wrote previously about how we bought a small tv antenna – and it totally didn’t work at all for TV reception. We had also dabbled at our previous address with USI wireless, but ended up on Comcast eventually.

I guess history repeats itself.

This time we’re trying the $100 tv antenna. We mostly get a great tv picture! Except for when an airplane flies overhead, which is about every 2-3 minutes in my neighborhood.

Airplane Flutter” is what the internet calls it. The internet says that all I have to do is build a shield for my antenna out of tin foil and I should be all set… uugghhh.

For internet, USI has installed their fancy modem on the exterior of our house. When I’m lucky, I can almost watch a YouTube video (provided I give it 2-3 minutes to buffer before I try to watch).  uugghhh.

It looks like we’ll be tucking our tails between our legs and heading back to Comcast. I don’t feel good about it at all, but I’m feeling out of options…

Anyone out there been more successful at cutting the cord than we have been? What’s your secret?

HDTV: Not as Free as I Thought it Would Be

Mel and I have been feeling like a couple of suckers for the past few years because we pay Comcast $15 each month for the basic cable package.  That’s the package that gets us about 7 channels that are worth anything: ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, TBS, and a couple others we watch just because we’re bored.  Most of these channels, you’re supposed to be able to get over-the-air for free in HD.

So we went to Target, and bought a $40 HD antenna, and plugged it in to see what we’d get:.



Ok, fine, we sort of got ABC, but it kept shorting out on us, and wasn’t anywhere near a picture quality we would be happy with..

Oh, Great Internet – what are we doing wrong here?  Do we just need a better antenna?  (before you ask, yes, I’m like 70% sure our TV has a built-in digital tuner)..

P.S. – have y’all seen those commercials for the Amish-made movable fireplace things?  Mel and I may be suckers for paying Comcast for basic cable, but at least we’re not buying THOSE things…

USI Wireless: What’s Your Experience?

So tell me about your experiences with USI Wireless.

I don’t like getting stuck with Comcast’s $42/month cable internet fee, so I’m once again considering USI Wireless, the Minneapolis-wide Wi-Fi service. With the lowest speeds coming in at around $18/month, it’s a lot cheaper. My internet needs are simple – just general web browsing – no gaming or anything, but I am easily frustrated when the internet doesn’t work correctly. Alert readers will recall that I used to be a USI Wireless customer for several months in early 2008, but I found that it did not meet my needs, so I switched to Comcast about one year ago.

I have heard reports, though, that USI Wireless has made modifications to their network that eliminated the need to constantly log onto the network each time you open a browser window and that also eliminated the highly annoying forced logouts (timeouts) every 2 or 3 hours or so. It was my previous experience that USI Wireless made programs that require a continuous internet connection (like weatherbug, email notifications, or instant messaging) completely useless.

I sent an email to USI Wireless asking them to confirm whether this was the case. The reply email I received included only a brief & cryptic response “Indeed things have changed,” followed by a canned message about their pricing information. On a side note, the canned response also indicated that professional intallation was required, as is the use of their preferred modem, neither of which was the case when I was a customer one year ago.

So an open question to all USI Wireless customers: are you still required to log into the USI Wireless network at the beginning of each browsing session or is the service more like a cable internet service where you’re just always connected? Also, how about forced timeouts?

New Internet

I signed up for a new internet service yesterday. I am now a Comcast customer. I’m not very happy about paying over twice as much for internet service now as I was previously paying with US Internet, but I guess you get what you pay for..

After setting it up last night (which took me much longer than it should have… darn windows firewall) I actually enjoyed surfing the interet. It was no longer a painful, drawn out process of never really knowing if I’m still connected to the internet or if I will get the information I want..

Remember when the internet was just a bunch of isolated BBS groups? I do. I used to come home from school and dial into the BBS server (which was probably just some other kid’s computer). I used to play this really sweet text based role-playing game.