Saving Money, Cutting Back: How We’re Faring

First, I have to say, no amount of financial loss and continued tightening in my family can compare with the losses that this week’s Sendai earthquake and tsunami have brought to the families of the people who have lost their homes, livelihoods, and lives. I have been watching BBC news nearly non-stop since. Even though I’m physically here in the US, my mind has been in Japan.  Thoughts and prayers for the Japanese people.

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Old-style rabbit ear antenna, Best Buy, $10

This has been our first week without cable tv.  I don’t think I’ve been without access to cable since the mid-80’s when I was in NEED of having MTV. Since then I’ve grown past MTV and into using TV as a tool for learning and for enjoying particular shows with my family members. Only lately did I start getting into some of the prime-time shows, having the tv playing more than cartoons on Boomerang or Cartoon Network. or gardening shows, or Westerns.

Psycological Aspects

This week, even though we have Netflix, I started craving certain aspects of tv. We’d watch a couple of things on Netflix then turn off the tv. I started missing the non-stop entertainment playing in the background while I used my computer or did household chores. Then I realized another thing I was missing – commercials. :O Who’d ever say such a crazy thing! I’d always fast-forward past the commercials, but now I was missing them? I must have gotten used to the mix of shows+commercials, and now I was going through withdrawal.

In the meantime, I missed several shows that played this week, namely The Event, Hot in Cleveland, The Big Bang Theory, and my regular Saturday night Britcoms. I am not happy about missing my britcoms and I can’t find them streaming online anywhere. Grr.

Solutions

I’ve been able to find most everything of favorite series online, minus the britcoms online. At first I thought I’d have to go to all the network sites, and watch the episodes of each show I missed. I’d done that to catch up on the first few episodes of The Event, which my sister recommended I watch.

Here’s a list of some of the things I’m working on and testing to replace nearly all my cable tv, a lot of which is just free shows that the cable companies charge you to view. Cable companies very much need to rethink their cable fees. I don’t hate them, I just can’t pay their prices any longer.

* Rabbit Ears – I bought a pair of $10 rabbit ears from Best Buy yesterday. I was SO curious what stations I could get without cable. It was extremely easy to hook up – nothing to it. I had an immediate flashback to the 60’s as I pulled up on the antenna, trying to get reception. A really weird thing but I was amazed at the high definition reception of my 6 channels. Unless I turn the rabbit ears in another direction and then I get 11 channels.  Most of the channels are stuff I don’t watch, but I will get network stations (minus ABC which I can’t seem to pick up) plus PBS, and 24/7 news plus local news. For $10 it’s great. I may look into better antennas later (better reception, more channels) and will post again on that if I do.

* Boxee – absolutely great application. Download to your desktop and view shows. Reminders for new shows. Superior interface.  This app is a must. Problems: won’t play Hulu stuff (or does but there’s no sound). Hulu won’t allow Boxee to play stuff you can find on Hulu.

* Hulu – I haven’t checked out Hulu Plus yet and don’t know what it entails, but I’ve been able to play the missed episode of Hot in Cleveland. I’m sure I can find more on there but I’m a little overwhelmed by all the other options right now; will sift through Hulu more this week.

* Web page of links – Can’t find everything on Boxee or Hulu?  There are a bunch of sites that have things to watch that will keep one entertained for a long time. I’ll be making a webpage for myself with the links to what I like. All organized, and I won’t have to search and dig through Google to find a series I want to watch. 30 Sites to Watch Free TV and Movies Online – a very helpful start. Add to it your own favorites  (I like Martha Stewart and Veria.com videos), list on a webpage, and you’ll have an easily accessible list of what you watch regularly. Save our links on PBWorks, Pen.io, any free site, or to your own paid-for website. I think I’m going to do mine on Pen.io – you can create any page name you want, and don’t have to login to it to access the information – just type the url and you’re there.

All this may not be as easy as having cable, but it’s fun to see how much you can do yet still cut back.

Gadgets: Pretty on the Outside, not so Inside

I found Scot Finnie yesterday while cleaning up my Google Reader feeds. Anyone that’s not posted in over a year I’m assuming is not posting to that feed anymore. Gone! But I couldn’t get rid of Scot’s until I read his last post again.

He got quite a few articles up on ComputerWorld now, and I’ll be reading through them when I can. His recent article, A Love-Hate Relationship with iPad and iOS was one on which I couldn’t resist commenting. Soct discussed his excitement to first get and use the new iPad, but his excitement waned as he realized the restrictions there were to the thing. Having not owned any Apple products, maybe I don’t have quite the right to speak. It’s always just been a feeling that there’s not a whole lot appealing beneath the sparkly surface of Apple’s products for someone who really likes to have control of their systems.

I posted a comment and it’s really what I’ve thought about Apple products for a long time.  It’s more of a feeling that’s kept me from buying any of their products.

It’s almost like…sacrilege right now to downplay the iPad. *gasp!* It’s so hot right now.

Apple products always look nice on the outside, but then we hear unforgivingly bad things later about one thing or another. Who doesn’t know better than their users that Windows based machines and other OS’s and gadgets have their own issues as well? However, in all honesty, I’d rather wait a few revolutions of the gadget when all the kinks are worked out, then buy an Android one, or see how the BlackBerry pads go.

It’s my wonder after reading your article if the problem in this article is two-fold: (i) a factor of highly technical folks’ need to tinker unencumbered, and (ii) Apple’s need to dummy-proof their products, in order to appeal to the general public, most of which don’t know their way around file systems, for example.

Wild as all the Apple apps are for these gadgets, I’d pass on them all to be able to tinker and have more control over the gadget. That’s the factor that makes something cool to me. Beyond the surface of pretty, there’s really cool. IMO Apple only seems surface pretty, and not a good value for my money.

I’m sure one day I’ll buy one of these pads. When they came out I told my husband – I need one of those! But not the iPad. Something else. 😀 Then we started hearing about Androids, and now we’re hearing about BlackBerry’s Black Pad. When it’s time, it’ll be one of those.