Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Life Without Satellite v.2 - Week 2

Totally cut the cord now for the past two weeks and we are still alive.

I think you just get so used the convenience of cable/dish, etc., but we are getting more accustomed to the changes.

Purchasing Amazon Firesticks definitely made the change easier. Combined with the Sony Playstation Vue app and programming has made the transition much easier.

Vue is available on either the Roku or the Firestick as an app. Firestick has a "guide" similar to what your are used to on cable and/or dish.

Amazon had their "Prime Day" last week and had a great deal on the Firesticks, $15 off the normal price, so I purchased one more to put on the last TV in our house that did not have one.

I upgraded to the stick with the voice remote that has "Alexa" (For Apple users, Siri). Pretty cool function.

I am actually watching MORE TV right now, not sure if that is good or not. My wife has been able to view all of her shows either by the new HD antenna we purchased, or on the Vue. We got a free trial of the HBO Now app for one month. If we want to continue to use, it will be $14.99/month. That still puts us at $44.94 TOTAL for our new system. We were paying $51.99 for our basic package with DirecTV PLUS fees for EACH receiver, taxes, etc. that was bring our bill to over $80/month. We are getting MORE channels now for LESS cost.

I am feeling very confident that we have finally cut the cord for good. With the increased streaming of live television with the various apps, the ease of use is getting better and better all of the time.

Feel free to contact me with any questions you have about "Cutting the Cord." I am more than happy to assist anyone out there to make the leap.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

LIfe Without Satellite - a New Beginning.

This is hopefully the FINAL installment on my trek into life without cable.

Being the Geek that I am...I knew that I could get all of the channels that I pay close to $100 for with DirecTV online-I actually do not watch much TV.

My son, Connor, suggested Sony Playstation Vue for an alternative to satellite. They offer a free trial, so I went for it. He suggested the Amazon Fire Stick to access the Playstation Vue network since I do not have a Playstation. The Firestick offers a "guide" similar to what you are accustomed to on a cable system or satellite.

I actually do NOT watch much TV, so I asked my wife, "What channels do you HAVE to have?" Her answer was less than five...pretty much cementing our decision to cut the cord.

Playstation Vue actually had MORE channels for $34.95 than I was paying $51.99 for on DirecTV, including ESPN, BTN and others. The next challenge was to purchase a HD antenna that would be able to get all of our local channels. This one supposedly has a 150 mile reception, and it seems to work fine. After some research, I purchased this one from Wal Mart:

This is working for me, but your individual situation may be different. You can find what channels you can get from this site:

After assembling the antenna and mounting it, I was able to scan for available channels and receive all of the local networks available, with awesome clarity.

I was hoping the switch would be easy, and so far, it is. 

When I called DirecTV today, they of course, wanted to keep me as a customer and offered me a $15 savings/month (for ONE year), which I declined. I informed them that I can get all of the channels I currently get PLUS more for less than I am paying now. I did not think I should have to pay an additional amount for EACH television that I wanted to watch THEIR (DirecTV)'s content on. (they could not argue with this fact.)

If you have multiple TV's, you can use a splitter from the antenna for the over-the-air antenna channels. I used my existing cable wiring that I had for DirecTV. For the Playstation Vue, you can use various technology to accomplish this with the Amazon TV and Roku, or Playstation on each television-still in the long run, spending less than you do for DirecTV.

The cool thing about the Vue is that you can select certain shows as "favorites" and they will, basically, "DVR" them so you can watch later.

Hopefully this will help you "cut the cord." I feel that the big "dish" companies take advantage of the fact that they think they are the only way to access the various network channels, which is obviously not the case.

Feel free to contact me with any questions you have about "cutting the cord" at

Happy cutting.

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Life Without Satellite TV....the FINAL? Chapter

So.... I lasted more than a year WITHOUT satellite television.  I attempted to survive only with media content from the Internet.  As stated in my previous posts I began using a program called "Boxee" that I installed on my MacBook computer. This past week, Boxee reported they will not be continuing to update their software and will focus on other products.  This news pretty much was the final chapter in this experiment.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Life Without Satellite TV - part 2

It has been almost one month since I "cut the cable" and ditched my satellite television provider, DirecTV...and yes, I am still breathing.  No major depression or withdrawal in the Peterson home yet.

I am continuing to use my homemade "Boxee Box" to access various Internet video feeds and it is working like a charm.  I was going to purchase a Roku player, but honestly, I have not seen the need to.  We have become accustomed to watching television programs one day later than it is actually broadcast, but that is what we were doing anyway when we had a DVR with our satellite system.

Our compromise to completely "cutting the cable" was to actually GET basic cable television from our local provider, Three River Digital, and that seems to be working just fine.  All of the major networks are there plus a few bonuses....all for just $14.95/month.  Now, don't get me wrong, basic cable is just that, BASIC.  The picture is analog and not digital, so that is a little annoying, but I still plan on getting a roof-top antenna to access local HD signals over-the-air.  With -50 wind chill in Nebraska, I don't see me climbing on my roof anytime soon, so this will have to be a Spring project!

The family has not revolted yet, as my son, Connor spends most of his time watching his favorite television series episodes on the Wii using our monthly Netflix subscription of $7.99/month.

My wife is fairly satisfied with the switch with the only network she can't watch on the Boxee being the Food Network.  That is her only concern right now, so hopefully that will be available soon.  We can still hook up her laptop to the television and watch those programs, but we are trying to keep things as simple as possible without having to un-hook and hook up various computers.  The episodes are available on iTunes for a subscription, but we are trying to SAVE money.

So, in summary, so far, so good!  We are saving nearly $100/month by making this switch, and honestly, it is NOT THAT BAD!

I am sure at some point in the future, satellite and cable television will go the way of the "land line" telephone and we will be telling our grandchildren, "I remember when I had to watch television on satellite!"
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Saturday, January 8, 2011

"Cutting The Cable"...or how I ditched my satellite company.

Let me say this up front:  I have been a DirecTV customer since 1993 and I have loved their product for all of those years.  I had always felt that I have been on the "cutting edge" of technology, and when I purchased the dish (yes, back then you had to purchase the dish) I was proving just that.  My friends and family were amazed at the clarity of the image and the massive amount of channels available.

Fast forward to 2011.  I still feel I am on the cutting edge of technology and read various RSS feeds daily on my iPad as I work out on my treadmill.  Articles about Internet TV kept popping up in my daily news feed.  I know there is much content out there to view online, but how easy is it to stream to my television?  I had purchased a DVI to HDMI converter cable for my MacBook Pro last year to use to stream movies from Netflix as we were monthly subscribers, so I knew it could be done and the quality was very good.  How easy is that, though?  What I had been doing is just leaving the converter cable hooked up to my 50" plasma and hooking up a stereo audio cable from my MBP headphone jack to my surround sound system.  This had been working very nicely to view content, but could this setup actually replace my beloved satellite system that I was so accustomed to?

I really do not want to admit this, but my DirecTV bill has slowly balooned to over $100.00 per month the past few years with the advent of an HD DVR, HD channel subscriptions, 1080i pay-per-view movie rentals, etc.  I love the HD quality of the picture and the ease of use of the DVR-honestly, I am not sure how I ever survived before without it.

The terms, "Boxee and Roku" kept appearing in my daily technology news readings about Internet television devices, so my geekiness took over and I had to research this much more.  So, actually, what are these devices?  

What is a Roku player?  This is straight from their web site:

"Roku is a little box that allows you to instantly stream tons of entertainment on your TV. Watch movies and TV shows from Netflix,Hulu Plus or Amazon VOD, listen to music on Pandora, catch the latest ballgame, and more — it's all available whenever you want it."

The prices on the Roku player range from $59.99 to $99.99.
This intrigued me but I was not ready to actually purchase one of these quite yet, so I kept researching.  The next big player in the Internet TV devices was Boxee.  As I initially visited their site, I discovered that you could actually DOWNLOAD their software and make your OWN "Boxee Box."  Now THIS is more my  I proceeded to install the software on my MacBook and hook it up to my big screen.  Wow, I was initially amazed at the interface.  It was very clean and easy to use.

The Boxee interface is very easy to use and can actually be navigated by my MacBook Pro remote, so no additional hardware is needed.  As Christmas break approached, I felt this would be the perfect time to do some testing on the Boxee.  There are many "apps" available for the Boxee and these include, Pandora, Netflix, YouTube, Justin.TV, CNN, just to name a few, with more added daily.  The apps are easy to install and find.  A big concern of mine was being unable to watch "live" events, but with the Justin.TV app, there is plenty of live content to view at any time.  
I actually watched many NFL and college football games and found many in near HD quality.  I was totally surprised how much content was available through the apps available.  

Boxee actually does sell their player and it is a pretty cool little device:
The current cost for their box is $199.99.  Pretty sleek design and very cool remote that has a full QWERTY on the back of it.

A really cool feature of the Boxee is a "Bookmarklet" browser button that can be added to your bookmarks bar on your individual browser that will actually allow you to add whatever video you are viewing on your personal computer to your "Queue" on your Boxee.  It is a simply awesome feature:

Now, this feature, I have discovered, does not work on ALL sites, so it is a little hit-and-miss, but for the sites it does work on it is a great way to get the content to your Boxee queue.

O.K., now I think it is time to set this plan into action, so I asked my family what TV shows they actually watched on our satellite system, and I was shocked with the fact that is was not actually that many....and the channels they watched were all channels we could access online.  This just made my decision that much easier, so it was time...cut the cable...or dish in our case.  We were paying for a bunch of channels that nobody seems to watch.

My main concern was not being able to get the networks and watch live sporting events, so my compromise was to get "basic" cable from our local provider, Three River Digital, which gives me all of the major networks, plus ESPN, all for $14.95/month.  I am probably going to install a roof-top antenna so that I can actually get these channels in HD, but for now, this is what I have done.

So, now, the BIG step, canceling the DirecTV.  It has become a real comfort to just come home and fire up the satellite box, peruse the massive amount of channels available (that apparently nobody watches) and check out what has recorded on the DVR, so I knew this would be the hardest part.  We called DirecTV and told them we were canceling.  They asked, "May we ask why?"  So-we proceeded to tell them what we were doing.  Shockingly they said, "Here is what we are going to do, cut your monthly bill by $30.00 for 12 months and give you a $100.00 credit to your account immediately."  WOW...this was an unexpected turn of events.  What to do?  My feelings went from shock to anger as I thought, why don't they just do this in the first place?  They are just making WAY TOO much money off of me and to give me this deal actually just made me want to cancel even more.

So, it is done.  Three days into our new life without satellite television, I think we are going to survive.  No visible signs of withdrawal...yet.  Kids are watching a lot of Netflix ($7.99/mo) and the various content available on the Boxee.  

The next step in this is to order my Roku box that will fully replace my homemade Boxee.  Not that I am dissatisfied with the Boxee, but the Roku seems more user friends at this point and allows content from Hulu Plus and Amazon Video on Demand.

Stay tuned.....

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Thursday, November 19, 2009


You may or may not have heard about "phishing."  These scams find ways to get you to a page that looks like the login to a financial institution or other site where knowing your credentials can benefit them in some way. Many times the "hook" comes in the form of an e-mail that appears to be from a trusted source. Also in the e-mail is a call to click a link to go to a site that is made to look like the one you know.

The link below will take you to a site where you can take a "phishing" quiz.  Take the quiz, see how you do and then talk about how you did.

Hopefully this will keep you from getting "hooked" in the future!  Have a great weekend.
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

What if???

What if the school did not filter anything on the Internet?  What if we allowed cell phone use in school?  What problems can you imagine if we did this?  Should we allow cell phone use in school?  What would be an appropriate cell phone policy?

Lots of things to think about this week.  Let me know your thoughts.  Have a great weekend.
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Friday, November 6, 2009

Ah..the dreaded WHITE LIST.

As some (or most) of you know, when a student is on the ineligibility list, they are placed on a "white list" on their laptop so that they may only access certain educational web sites.  This week I want you to discuss your feelings about the white list:  Is it effective?  Does it motivate students to get their grades up?  These are just a few items you could discuss.  Have a great weekend.
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

What is your first memory of technology?

This week I want you to think back as far as you can and recall what is your first memory of technology.  Your generation is thought of to be "Digital Natives" - that is you have GROWN UP with technology around you and don't know anything different.  My generation is thought of to be "Digital Immigrants" and that we did not grow up with it.  Talk about your earliest memories of technology and how you think that shapes who you are today.
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Thursday, October 1, 2009

No texting at dinner!

Read the following article and comment about your feelings.

No texting at dinner! Parenting in the digital era by AP: Yahoo! Tech
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Friday, September 18, 2009

Comment On Your Classmates Blog Pages!

This week I want you to view my Photo Blog page: and look through the "Digital Design Blog List" on the left side of the page.  I would like you to post comments on 5 of the students' blog pages of your choice giving them some feedback on their Photos or Photoshop work.

Be honest in your comments telling them what you like and what you do not like! 
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Friday, September 11, 2009

Why do we Facebook and Twitter?

EVERYBODY seems to be on Facebook and Twitter these days.  Why do you think that is?  Ashton Kutcher has more that 1 million followers on Twitter.  What is the appeal of these "social media" sites.  Why do YOU use Facebook or Twitter?  If you do not use Twitter, Google it and see what it is all about.  Have a good weekend!
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Thursday, September 3, 2009

What's new in Technology?

This week for our blog, I want YOU to show me something NEW in technology.  It can be gaming, cell phones, computers, anything that relates to technology news.  Put the link on your post and tell a little about it!  Have a GREAT THREE-DAY weekend!
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Texting and Driving-NOT a good idea.

You may have heard about this article, but it is a real eye-opener about the dangers of "texting and driving."  Please read the article and write some of your thoughts after reading it.

Also, please place you "Digital Design" Blog link on this post for me to link to (example:
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Welcome Back to School!

Okay, some of you are probably not TOO excited to be back, but hey, what can you do? This week I just want you to tell me what you want to learn in whatever class you are taking and what are some of the goals you have for your learning in here.

Remember-Please use complete sentences and REAL words...avoid texting slang...LOL, BRB, OMG, etc.!

Have a good weekend and see you on Monday!
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Your laptops so far....

I thought it would be good time to "sound off" about your MacBooks. How are things going so far? This week I want you to take some time to blog about what you LIKE and what you DO NOT LIKE about your MacBooks. Be specific and take some time to do this to help us make this program even better next year!!
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nobody SAYS, "I Love You Anymore?"

This is an interesting video from ABC news. Watch it and write about your feelings about it. I thought this was appropriate for Valentine's Day!
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Too Much Technology?

As I was searching for something to blog about....I read HUNDREDS of articles about tech news. Sometimes it overwhelms even me, so I decided to go a different way with the blog this week! I talk a lot about all of the "new and exciting" things going on in the world of technology....but can TOO much technology be bad for you? Do you ever get sick of the "next new thing?" Do you long for a time where life was more simple without all of the advancements we have in technology? Do you remember when you did NOT have access to a cell phone? Were these better, or worse times?

Write about what you think about my statement...and as usual..have a GREAT weekend.
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Favorite Movie Growing Up...

For this week I want you to think back to when you were a little kid! What movie did you just love and made your parents watch all of the time! Why did you like this movie so much? As you are making projects this year, the movies you have watched in your past will definitely influence the way you make movies, so it is good to identify what movie styles you like.

So, list some movies you LOVED growing up and a short reason why on each one.

Have a great weekend!
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Semester!

Simple blog this week. You need to write about what you want to accomplish this semester in whatever class you are taking. Digital Media can talk about projects they would like to do, etc.

Have a good weekend.
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Friday, December 12, 2008

YOU find some tech news to share!

This week I want you guys to find something "tech" newsworthy to share with everyone. It can be anything that deals with technology in the news recently. Have a great weekend!
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Friday, December 5, 2008

ahh...the power of the text message!

Read the following and blog about your thoughts.

Doctor Performs Amputation By Text Message

Peace Corps Online writes "Vascular surgeon David Nott performed a life-saving amputation on a boy in DR Congo following instructions sent my text message from a colleague in London. The boy's left arm had been ripped off and was badly infected and gangrenous, there were just 6in (15cm) of the boy's arm remaining, much of the surrounding muscle had died and there was little skin to fold over the wound. "He had about two or three days to live when I saw him," Nott said. Nott, volunteering in with the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, knew he needed to perform a forequarter amputation requiring removal of the collar bone and shoulder blade and contacted Professor Meirion Thomas at London's Royal Marsden Hospital, who had performed the operation before. 'I texted him and he texted back step by step instructions on how to do it,' Nott said."
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

A mother faces 20 years for harassing teen on MySpace.

You may or may not have heard about this story, but it is pretty interesting. Watch the video at the link here: and write about what you think about this.
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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Will you take the bait?

"Phishing" is defined as the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

See how much you know about "phishing" by taking this quiz below and then blogging about what you find out about how much you know...or don't know.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

How has technology influenced your generation?

A digital native is a person who has grown up with digital technology such as computers, the Internet, mobile phones and MP3. A digital immigrant is an individual who grew up without digital technology and adopted it later.

Blog your feelings about this statement.
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

This Quarter Went By Fast!!

This week's blog is pretty simple. Write a few lines about what you thought about the first quarter...the good and the bad. What you liked or disliked. What you did that you are proud of, etc. Have a great..COLD? weekend.

Mr. P
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Friday, October 17, 2008

"I hate this stupid Internet re-router."

This was a quote heard by several students at OHS. Internet filters are required to make this 24/7 laptop program successful, but students have differing views on them. What do you feel about the school's filtering system and do you think it is necessary? What should our policies be on playing games/Facebook, etc. during school hours?

Thanks...have a great weekend!
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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Think your parents can't limit how fast you drive...well then read this!

Ford feature will let parents set limits for teens

The company will roll out a new feature on many 2010 models that can limit teen drivers to 80 mph, using a computer chip in the key.

Read the article and write about what you think about this technology!
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Friday, October 3, 2008

Are you "GoogleAble?

One in five employers research job applicants on the Web

Please read the following article and blog about what your feelings are about it. Have you ever thought about what shows up if you are "Googled?"

Makes you think, doesn't it?

Have a good weekend.

Mr. P
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Friday, September 26, 2008

What's new in technology?

This week, I want YOU to list something here that involves something that is new in technology recently. It could deal with anything related to technology: cell phones, video games, computers, etc. You just need to summarize what you found and where you obtained the information. DON'T CUT AND PASTE-YOU WON'T RECEIVE CREDIT.

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