Browsing the archives for the Television category.


Leverage

Television

I have found a new show that I am really enjoying. Leverage. This show is a crime caper show with a Robin Hood type mentality with the good guys being bad guys being good guys to help the little guy. Got it? It’s a really good show with some really good storylines and a lot of humor.

Netflix has both seasons 1 and 2 with Season 3 coming up this spring. It comes on TNT and since we don’t have cable, I haven’t really heard much about it, but Netflix recommended it and they were right on.

So, just to let you know that if you like crime shows, but not necessarily the hardcore dramas, you really might like Leverage. At least I really do.

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How We Dropped Cable

Current Affairs, Television, Web/Tech

The Idea

A couple of months ago we started looking at how we could save money on the things we really didn’t need so we would have money for the things we really wanted to spend money on. One of the things we looked at and thought we could do without was cable television. We were spending almost $70 per month on just the cable TV portion of our bill from Charter. Between the regular cable service, the upgrade to digital, then the upgrade to High Def with the cable card, it made a pretty significant impact on our budget. So we decided we would drop all of that and go with over the air HD instead for all of our live shows. We decided we would keep the Tivo so we could watch what we wanted on our time frame.

The Change Begins

So, on April 15th, I twittered that I was about to drop cable and run far away from charter and it was twitter to the rescue. But a user named UMatter2Chtr2 sent me a message and asked if there was anything he could do to keep me as a customer. I told him that I would want to drop cable TV, but keep my phone and internet for cheaper than I would be paying if I went with someone like Bellsouth or TDS. So he dropped our service down to under $60 per month for both, with the 5 meg package for Cable, which is what I wanted. This way I didn’t have to worry about the change of providers and I have been relatively happy with Charter in everything but price.

The Antenna

The next step was to figure out how best to get the HD channels on the TV’s at our house. We first tried an RCA Indoor Amplified Tv Antenna that we had bought when we got our 20″ HDTV for the bedroom last spring. It got a few channels, but the reception was not that great so we would have lots of artifacts where it would skip and stutter. Needless to say, we were not impressed. Plus, that wouldn’t account for our larger TV downstairs in the living room. So I started doing research on how we could everything we were used to getting with the same quality. I found posts like this on Lifehacker that were great, but not quite what I wanted.  It gave me ideas on what to do for getting shows after the fact, but not live.  I then started looking on forums to see what my best bet would be if I were to buy a higher powered antenna. At some point I had found a post that talked about a homemade antenna that they had built that worked as good, if not better than some of the best retail antennas, and it only cost about $5. So I watched this video and it looked too good to be true. About a week later, I built the antenna and hooked it up to the downstairs TV and it actually did work as advertised. I was super impressed. It still wasn’t perfect just because of the location in the house, but it came in so much better and was a whole lot cheaper.

The Un-Tivo

Then i started thinking about how I could get all of the shows we had missed. I had an old media center computer that isn’t anything special (Athlon 64 3000+, 1GB RAM, 5 year old Nvidia video card) just sitting in our extra bedroom so I thought a good use of it might be to put it next to the TV and use it for watching videos, but wanted an easy way to watch those without having to deal with a keyboard and mouse most of the time. I also wanted to download shows easily so I could catch up on anything we might have missed. I have been torrenting for awhile, so the idea of downloading shows wasn’t foreign to me, but setting up the RSS feeds and remembering to look and see what has been downloaded and needs to be downloaded did not sound like a good time. I remembered Lifehacker talking about using TED to download shows automatically through your bittorrent client and thought I would give it a shot.  I use uTorrent for all of my torrenting needs. That coupled with the WebUI allows me to keep an eye on my downloads from anywhere I have web access. I started using TED and was very impressed with the amount of shows and the ease of use. So it looked like that part was taken care of. But I still needed to figure out two more issues, ease of use and 10 foot remote usability.

The Player

I have always been a big VLC fan just because it will open almost any file format you can imagine without having to fool with codecs, but I didn’t know much about using VLC remotely until I saw the VLC Remote app in the iPhone app store. At that point, my brain started churning to figure out how we could use that in our living room. I downloaded the app from the app store, then installed the setup assistant from here.  At that point, we were off and running. And not only could I control it from my iPhone or Sarah’s iPod touch, but it could be controlled from a browser window by just putting in the right URL. It was a beautiful day and it worked really well for us for the first couple of weeks we were living a cable-less life. We felt so liberated just to not be relying on Charter for watching TV anymore.

The Online Shows

Then we had a few times where we would want to watch Hulu or ABC.com or CBS.com to catch up on something that wasn’t in the Torrent RSS feed yet, but we wanted to catch. So I started researching to find out what was out there that I could use to watch shows like this from my couch. I thought about using something like Boxee, but I didn’t want to have to think about doing things on Linux, and the Windows version of Boxee isn’t available quite yet so I was kind of stuck and we still would have to futz around with a keyboard and mouse.

The Interface

About a week later, I just happened to pickup this post from Treehugger that showed how to turn your old laptop into a media hub. I watched the video, and wasn’t as amazed with what they did, as I was with a piece of software that they were using.  They were using an interface I had never heard of called Zinc TV. It was, and is, amazing. It works using a Media Center Remote and Receiver to navigate, but is capable of watching all of my downloaded shows, as well as stuff like hulu, cbs.com, abc.com, youtube, and lots of other internet videos. And it works extremely well. We even got rid of our Tivo Subscription it is working so well for us, because the torrents and the web videos pretty much encompass everything the Tivo could do before, but without the monthly charge.

The Antenna (Again)

We are still using this interface, and have been for over a month, and love it. So it looks like it may be here to stay, which is fine with me. The last thing I needed to figure out was how to get the best reception to all of our TV’s using this homemade antenna I had made. It wasn’t the prettiest thing so Sarah didn’t want it in our living room. And with all of the coat hangers hanging off of it, it wasn’t exactly safe, especially since we are planning on having a baby in a few months. So I talked to a friend at work and we batted some ideas around as to how to distribute the antenna signal throughout the house and came up with this as my preferred method.

The Setup

I would put the antenna in the attic where it would get the best reception and then distribute that signal throughout the entire house. Sounds simple enough right? Well, almost. The problem is that we have a 2 story house, and all of the cable inputs are on the other end of the house. So that meant I was going to have to send the signal from one end of the house to the complete opposite.  It meant I would have to get a pre-amp and an amp to pump up the signal. I bought a pre-amp that would sit within a few feet of the antenna. I bought a Dual Output Amp so that I could send one end to the upstairs tv directly, and the other to the rest of the house via the distribution box. I also bought a 4 Port Amp
that would sit at the distribution box and feed the rest of the house. Those items coupled with 50 feet of coax cable and some ends is all I needed to get this project going.

The Finale

Yesterday the finale of this whole project came to a close as I finished things out and got it all up and running. It is working amazingly well and Sarah is extremely happy with how it works. The only thing she has to do now is flip to a different input on the TV whenever she wants to watch live TV versus anything through the media center. But with our Logitech Harmony Universal Remote that I had never really used a whole lot, it is all setup to automatically change inputs on both the TV and the receiver by pushing a single button.

It is all working great, and I am really happy with the way it has turned out, plus it is saving us about $80 per month. I did have to buy a few things along the way, but since I had a lot of the electronics already like the computer and the remote, it still didn’t cost me more than a month of savings from our charter bill.

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Site Segregation

Current Affairs, Film, Movies, Podcasts, Television, Web/Tech, Weblogs

So I have been telling people about my Random Thoughts for quite awhile. And I still will. But I am trying to segregate my different interests into specialty sites. So here is the rundown on what is going to be going on.

Feature Conversations – On Feature Conversations, we talk about  movie and entertainment news as a podcast, but we will also be adding news articles onto there as well from time to time. So if you are looking for entertainment news, that is where you will need to go. You can also go to http://www.comicbookmedia.com/conversations to get to the site.
Constantly Thinking -  Constantly Thinking is a website owned by my friend Brandon and is about technology and computer related stuff. So if you are interested in the technical aspect of life, then we will both be writing quite a bit of stuff over there.

Comic Book Media – Comic Book Media is a site that is going to be about just that. It is about movies and tv and video games and such as they relate to comic books. So if you like the geek side of media, then Comic Book Media should be a good time.

So that should cover everything. And anything else that is out there that doesn’t fall into a category like the internet videos and stuff will still be on here. And of course my own personal matters will be on here. Kind of like this post. So go check out all of the stuff I am involved in and see what is going on in the world. Hopefully you can keep up with me.

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Entertainment news, trailers, clips, and lifehacks

Movies, Television, Videos, Weblogs

Geez that is a lot to put in one post, but considering it is such a slow week for these items, it works.

This is the newest funny thing from SNL, (yes, they have them from time to time), called *something* in a box. Don’t watch it please if you are easily offended, but it is hilarious and comes out of nowhere if you don’t know it’s coming.

Fantastic Four Teaser Trailer

Lifehacks

Download of the Day: 2007 Compact Calendar

50 reasons why it’s great to be a guy

Download of the Day: Driver Collector

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Entertainment News, Trailers and Video Clips

Movies, Television, Videos

Visual effects Oscar narrowed down to 7

Voice Casting for Ninja Turtles

Look here to find out when your shows will return from holiday break

CBS shuffles Monday Night comedy schedule

30 Rock, Friday Night Lights free for the Holidays

Wild Hog trailer

Top 10 Worst Movie Trailers of 2006

Miss Potter trailer

Factory Girl Trailer

New Transformers Teaser Trailer

Ocean’s 13 Trailer hits

Grindhouse Trailer blows up the internet

Fast Track Trailer

New Smokin Aces Trailer

Clips from The Colbert Report - Check these out, it’s a Guitarmageddon

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Entertainment News and Trailers

Movies, Television, Videos

Upcoming Trailer Preview

Get a phone call from Alec Baldwin

Essential Home theater gifts for the film buff

L.A. Film Critics pick best flix of the year

AFI’s top 10 movies of 2006

Damon wants Captain Kirk’s Chair

The Full list of Golden Globe nominations

Dave Price to take over Bob Barker’s spot

Simpsons movie teaser Trailer

Live Free or Die Hard teaser

Shrek the Third Trailer

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Entertainment News and Trailers

Movies, Television, Videos

US version of IT crowd coming to NBC

Short Circuit’s Johnny Five is alive again

Long Horse on Wikipedia

Post It Pad looks like an onion

It’s Snowing Trailers!!! A Christmas movie Bonanza

Who is Prince Caspian?

56 Songs Queue for 2006 Oscars

All Heroes episodes now available streaming online at NBC.com

The Number 23 Trailer

Primeval Trailer

Because I said so Trailer

Breach Trailer

New Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Trailer

Brand New 300 Trailer

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Entertainment News, Trailers, and Clips

Movies, Television, Videos

Regal Cinemas Begins Program to Nab Cellphone Users

50 Things everyone should know

Murphy back for Beverly Hills Cop IV

Beauty and the Geek coming back

Van Damme won’t be in Rush Hour 3

Smurfs Flick to be Shrek meets Lord of the Rings

Comprehensive holiday TV schedule

Hot Fuzz full length Trailer

The Architect Trailer

6 minutes of Pan’s Labrynth film online

Eyes, the TV show, is now online. It’s about freaking time. I loved that show when it was on tv and then they scrapped it. I finally get to watch the rest of it now.

Epic Movie Trailer. Think Scary movie, but on a bigger scale

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Entertainment News, Clips, and Trailers

Movies, Television, Videos

Peter Jackson NOT directing the Hobbit

Bana, Bacon, and Hurt in Golden Compass

Rainn Wilson of The Office to play ninjas with Jason Reitman

Eva Green Spills Deets on Golden Compass and Bond 22

Anne Hathaway Gets Smart

Battlestar Galactica moving to Sundays starting January 21

Raimi rumored for The Hobbit

All of the James Bond title sequences in one place

Full Harry Potter Teaser now online

Wild Hogs Draggin’ A Trailer

New Spiderman 3 Clips online

And then there are a couple of good clips that i am unable to embed, so check them out as well.

History of Pop Music in 4 Chords

Reporter gives the big shoulder to drunk girl 

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Entertainment News, Video Clips and Movie Trailers

Movies, Television, Videos

You will notice a lack of comic book movie news on my personal blog because I plan on doing the posting on my main site at comicbookmedia.com . So don’t be too hearbroken. But it does open up room for other things. The big question, is what?

Re-casting Captain Kirk – Shatner Speaks Truth

Borat Soundboard “IS NICE!” – Don’t go here if you are easily offended, there is a bit of language.

Sunday night, the Simpsons Trailer will air

The Return of Elvis, JFK, & Bubba Ho-Tep?

And now for a few trailers

Meet the Robinsons have a new trailer

The first 6 minutes of Tenacious D online

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Movie Teaser

Come Early Morning trailer

And some videos because I know how much everyone loves the videos.

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