Exploit the Cord, Don't Cut It! A 6 Decade Tech Journey!

For those relatively new to Earth, welcome aboard! Grey Geek Here! Celebrating 6 decades here thus far, I've been eyewitness to many things, with tech being a small but still important part of that enculturation. Most of life, I watched TV for free, via an antenna. Even when cable TV first came out, few thought it logical to pay for what was already free; early on, it was low-level crap.

Consequently, the cable companies had to adapt to slow metro-area sales, by creating content that was not broadcast already. But when 24-hour news and HBO and other good networks came into being, alongside cable related tech advances, cable took-off. But with DTV emerging a decade ago, the days of poor viewing and recording quality, via analog to VCR tape, is gone. Mahalo!

With a little research (read content in links throughout this page) and some playing around, anyone within a US DTV zone can get more media and services than most people use anyway, with just home Internet service alone. Now, if you cut-the-cord but then buy a bunch of other non-cable services to replace it (e.g. Netflix), you might as well just keep the cable TV on! Cord-cutting used to be literal, not a euphemism for no-box cable services.

Some believe that what they watch, is all there is to watch, but that's not true. People in (say) England watch different programs than those in the US; they'd feel deprived if they could not watch some show exclusive to them, and so on, for every other country. We only know what is on, based upon the service funnel, which feeds it to us.

And people actually pay for such restrictions to global media content: Yep, via a cable bill and service. But all this is (in part) why cable companies invested heavily in Internet services to begin with. Notwithstanding; Never agree to a long-term contract for any such service (cable, phone, any communications service), and since most of us are limited to local service providers, budget from among their no-contract internet service offers only. The low-price-now--high-price-later deals, are no deal. Read: What Americans Hate Most About Cable Companies! And: Promotion & Overcharging!

A 25-Mbps home service will do just fine for most, availed from either AT&T, Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox, or Verizon; this will provide a host of services, without cable, or a contract, meaning this will be your only bill for all home media and communications. This currently costs about $30+/- monthly for no-contract Xfinity WiFi. I stream consistently buffer-free on 15-Mbps with Comcast Internet Essentials (and there's also AT&T Access) for $10 a month, using a Linux-based media NUC PC (here's why).

Terrestrial TV has been broadcast for free over the US airwaves for near a century now. Anyone who pays a satellite or cable TV company – who uses digital compression tech to shrink the size of what's being broadcast in 1080P for free by ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, FOX, CW – are paying for free services; they are either too far from the broadcast towers, or too far from wise. Let's change that: Here's a list of US over-the-air television networks.

Sure, there's other stuff on cable; there's even more not on cable! This is about saving monies, so if you can easily afford a cable bill then this is irrelevant to you. If you're still playing the horrifying game, keep-up-w/the-Joneses, all this will not matter to you, because, well, you have been (culturally) assimilated and you must comply. All this will take a bit of time, effort, and patience, but like all knowledge, once you know it you always will. To visually learn anything, just U-tube it! In 2014 I learned how to swap an HDD-to-SSD to repurpose a decade-old unit, now w/a lite Linux Distro.

With an HD antenna on a Homeworx DVR, I record in 1080P as standard. An easier (and pricier but more awesome) DVR to use is the Channel Master: Neither of these DVRs require monthly fees (typically for online TV guides; just use Titan in a pinned tab). With data caps closing in, it is wise not to get into the habit of streaming what is broadcast OTA for free. And the bundled service offers are the biggest rip-off offered by any of them. Go no-contract.

To find out what's broadcast on OTA TV anywhere, create a free TitanTV account, then just create new channel lineups using any US zip code, and select Broadcast (help). I've got eight different channel lineups (from different zip's) in the drop-down menu, including the OTT called Sling. Still, I prefer zero-cost options.

Everyone has a (.com) website with some free content: All Broadcasters, plus, BBC, TNT/TBS, USA, A&E, CW Seed, and there's many more. Hence, a little research on your part, because after all, everyone has differing media tastes. Using video download helper you can save video content to a portable hard drive which can easily be carried with you when not at home, like traveling. Tip: Always pull your hard drive from all end-of-life PC's or laptops before recycling, and re-purpose them as external drives using a USB 3.0 to 2.5" SATA HD Adapter Cable.

Free (multi and stand-alone) streams abound: Pluto TV is a minor league content, cable-like all-free service, hosting some major news channels, and, with any channel that can be direct-linked or bookmarked (e.g. Science-TV or Movies, then full-screen it); plus, there's an App for small devices. Comet TV streams live and OTA. CBS News live streams; then there's pay-as-you-go services galore; here's a long list of Internet TV providers.

Get free VPN (TechRadar's list & Chrome Store VPN's & others here), and stream Geo-blocked sites; no US Cable company offers this option. E.g. I watch Canada's Space from the US. Put all e-devices on remote controlled plugs so you can turn things off (grouped by usage on plug bars) when not in use. Use wired CAT7 ethernet connections to maximize data transfer; more CAT7 ethernet, less coax cable, equals better speeds.

Having a full browser, such as you'd have on a PC or laptop, allows you to connect to the Wild-Wild-Web, with many more media streaming options than you'll find within any App-Trap: Media devices, though safer than smart TV's, will still restrict and funnel you; they're useful, but ultimately, they are too site-specific. Apps (on any device) are mostly bookmark shortcuts (URL's), but a full (Chrome or FF) browser can access over a billion sites globally.

What you can watch for free via a browser is often far more than availed on an App. E.g. I've seen every episode of Vikings from the cable-only network History: Many networks rebroadcast online, soon after their new release date/time, so it's all about learning when, as all networks do this a bit differently.

If you are patient, everything ever made is rebroadcast somewhere, for free, even without Netflix. I'll 3-episode binge-watch missed (new released) shows during MLB season: The CW broadcasts The 100 at 7PM and that's too early for me, so I've watched virtually all episodes this last season, 2 or 3 at a time, online (and fewer commercials that way too).

Chrome + uBlock = No Ads!
With a Chromebook (or Box), a Mint Box, or a NUC-PC using uBlock Origin on Chrome browser, you can see it all; tether to any HDTV (my HDTV rec and sold here) with an HDMI Cable, plug-in a living-room keyboard w/touchpad, and enjoy without concern for viruses or adware on Chrome and Linux boxes. For rare Linux issues, just wipe the SSD and (from an ISO) reinstall Linux like new. Here's a new inexpensive laptop rec for a Linux Distro. And here's a how-to for Adblock Plus on Android (I rec the FF option).

The Mac-Mini (w/ Chrome) is pricey but still another option for a home media PC. But Apple has always been more of a trendsetter than a pure tech company; they sell their brand, which is why they're way overpriced for what you get. But the sheeple masses are sold whatever they're told; keeping up appearances and impressing others with the most seemingly hip brand purchases is what drives the sales of most things. But some think that Apple's operating systems Are malware! I use only Linux and Android OS's and the Chrome browser, and don't recommend anything from Apple or Microsoft.

But regardless of your OS, you really do not want to have/use a partition for personal content; everything on one large single hard-drive, running everything; better to have a small but fast SDD (2.5" or M.2) with only your OS on it, and then a peripheral (or external) large hard drive for all your personal content; especially stuff you cannot recapture online after an OS drive wipe. Such separation also eliminates the heat-source of the storage, passed onto the motherboard.

Run the OS/s from a smaller/faster internal drive that runs just the operating system, so that ransomware (etc.) cannot lock you out of your content, or otherwise infect it or destroy it, and always-always use uBlock Origin or any other ad blocker, which is an important first-line of online defense. Hardware can also fail, causing a loss of data, regardless of the OS brand. By copying files to be worked on (video, audio, pic, office, and so on), onto the main SSD, if anything (that can go wrong) goes wrong, you only lose those updates, not the whole file.

With large capacity storage at home, I borrow (check-out for free) DVD's at my local library and then rip them via Handbrake on Linux. Yes I'm a FOSS Geek! Over the last few years I've accumulated a huge video library. I will get a dozen or so DVD's at a time, and while I'm doing other things on my PC, I'll rip them in the background: I'm doing so now, even as I type this on one big screen, while streaming a live ball game on the other big screen.

Freed From Mobile Data {Drug} Dealers?
If you have home Internet service, you likely already have free secured WiFi away from home. A smartphone with your service providers App (see CableWiFi.com) will help you find and then auto-connect to their account-holder-only, WiFi connections nation-wide: No need for a cell-tower data plan. Besides, we humans need to be moving away from such tech, not going 5G: But we will anyway$. See: Free Phone Calls with Google Voice (YouTube).

For us really poor folk; if you must have a SIM card, cheap options abound. Republic is $15 monthly, no contract & no data, but with unlimited talk & text (Project Fi is $20mo), and even more prepaid-plans are listed at Android Authority. If you're very low income there's free cell options (I use TAG on an unlocked Honor), and also there's Amazon Prime for $6 mo. Want free-service home phone? Obi Talk with Google Voice and a phone; no need to pay for it in a cable bundled "deal".

The very opposite also may be coming soon: That is, the ability to use data-only, for all phone calls and texts (and so on), via Google Voice (likely renamed in the near future). Most people only want large data plans so they can stream content such as movies, and though that's a waste, know this; the companies selling you all that pricey data love it! But several things are happening in global tech; different things at various timing, but soon it will all merge globally. Here's a summary of one major change already in-play:

5G will change data stream speeds (data quantity and quality) to all devices considerably (mostly smart-phones for now). Talk-text services have become less profitable, explaining why Data Services became a huge market for large US service providers. But it seems that all Talk-Text services will eventually be replaced with data-only everything. Soon, there will be data-only SIM cards galore (or another card-type entirely), and this is perhaps why Google is altering many of its products; namely, Google Voice (e.g. the squabble with Sprint integration). I got a free Google Voice phone number back in 2011, and still use it to this day. I've watched it morph and flounder, but now it's being resurrected, and I'm guessing why.

All the conflicts that Google has faced with competing companies is because Google is looking to get deeper into the phone arena, and not just as a competitor, but as a main player. Like Microsoft in the 90's and 00's who dominated the OS market, soon Apple grew, as did Linux popularity more recently; hence, Linux Apps on Chromebooks, and somewhat vice-versa. MS dominated by contractual agreements with multiple computer builders; our OS exclusively and you get a major kick-back! It worked; the momentum of that will remain into 2020 for sure. But beyond? We'll see. All this is called disruptive innovation.

If 5G can beat current home Cable speeds, those countless miles of cables that major communications corporations spent 3+ decades and many bucks to build, could be rendered useless (even Google Fiber) if they cannot be re-purposed to spread the 5G network. All devices everywhere would be 5G-wireless. And with Android talk and/or text apps, such as Google Voice who issues phone numbers, plus Google Fi already well-established in the arena; and all this, apart from what messaging apps have brought to the arena thus far; well, the arena is a changing! I see the beginning of the end of the traditional Talk-Text services that now feed the large communications entities, who are not (yet anyway) building their own phones or apps (etc), but we all know who is!

Click Driven Media Funding Is Dependent Upon Click Bate!
Web browser ad blockers serve to combat, curtail, or at least expose, both fake and sensationalized news. When readership (or viewership or listener-ship) are dependent upon numbers, be it monetized hits or circulation, any original information (data) goes from knowledge, to a mere profit product. Hence, truth is less relevant than whatever is transmitted that serve to increase those numbers, whatever they are. This is the dark side of math, when applied as the central barometer-compass-benchmark of the human condition.

Obviously, it would be highly unlikely for (say) a math book publisher to embellish a math book with incorrect mathematical data, or to somehow sensationalize it, in order to sell more math books: Math is pretty much fact only! It is hardly possible to sell the idea that perhaps 2+2 is not really 4 after all; that we all may have been wrong all along! But when your goal in life is money, monetizing anything whatsoever, for that $ mammon $, is all that really matters. But everything in this life is a choice, and you are not obliged to play any of its monetary games.

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