About Me

"I love being the underdog"

Anthony DeSalvo

Dad, Husband, Roller Derby Widow, Triathlete, Web Developer and RCRD Volunteer!

How I Cut The Cord on Cable TV

by adesalvo 7. May 2013 20:48

For the last 10 years I have been a happy subscriber of DIRECTV for my cable TV service. Before that I was a Time Warner Cable customer. I originally defected from Time Warner because DIRECTV was offering the same content for almost ½ the price. Over the last 10 years my DIRECTV bill has risen over $100 a month not including the premium channels (HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, ect.). For those last 10 year I have been extremely happy with the DIRECTV platform, and its content delivery options (DVR, PPV, Streaming, and on demand). However during the last year I don’t feel $100 a month is a good value for only watch 10% of what they have to offer. I am not quite sure when I became a media consumer of watching whatever I wanted opposed to watching what’s available, but for a $1200 a year savings I decided choose to watch what’s available.

My initial advice for anyone interested in “Cutting the Cord” is don’t do it until you are ready! Since everyone’s viewing habits are different you may find it difficult to find alternate sources for the shows you are currently enjoying. I also suggest you don’t “Cut the Cord” until your new platform is fully functioning and thoroughly tested. I would also suggest giving yourself a few weeks of running both setups just in case a technical issue comes up. It would be very frustrating to me and my family if after a few days of “Cutting the Cord” I couldn’t access any movies or shows.

My first step towards “Cutting the Cord” was taking an inventory of everything we were invested in watching, or thinking of starting to watch. For example, I watch Justified, Sons of Anarchy, and a few shows on Cable. On Network TV I watch Hannibal and The Following. I was able to find that Amazon Prime has a few of the shows I watch available the next day for purchase, and I could OTA DVR on Windows Media Center to record the Network Shows. For the kids, Netflix and HULU carry about 90% of what they are currently watching like full episodes of Phineas and Ferb to Power Rangers. If you are struggling to find an alternate source for some of your shows I would suggest checking out the http://www.reddit.com/r/cordcutters/ sub-reddit. It’s a great live resource for all future and current cord cutters!

Piracy is the result of content being overvalued by the provider and undervalued by the consumer. My philosophy during this “Cutting the Cord” process is that I am more than willing to pay to watch a show or movie that I find interesting, but If the content provider chooses to not make it available “a la carte” or separate from a cable provider then I will just wait and watch it without commercials when It comes on Netflix! I am choosing to watch what is available to me and not what I want.

I am a regional sports fan and enjoy catching the local team on TV from time to time. My local NFL team broadcasts OTA on Network TV so I just use my OTA DVR on Windows Media Center to record the games and watch them when I have time. NHL, MLB, and NBA have apps and for an annual fee you can watch the game live. For In-Market blackouts check out unblock-us.com for a good workaround. I would also just like to state my opinion on sports. Be a regional fan! I never really understood why someone from buffalo loves the Dallas cowboys, or any team out of there market.

Now that I have cataloged all the content that I both would like to watch and is available to me it’s now time to put it all together. My solution was to purchase 3 Roku wireless devices to stream Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. The Roku can also stream NHL, NBA, and MLB. For streaming content that I own (like DVD’s, etc.) I use Plex Media Server. Plex allows me to stream my content to any Roku device, mobile device, or smart phone on my network. It also allows me to start a show in one room and resume it on any device connected to my Plex server. For OTA Network (NBC, CBS, FOX, etc.) I use Windows Media Center + HDHomerun + MCE Buddy. This setup allows me to record OTA sports or TV shows and then post them on my PLEX server for me to watch anywhere.

Below is my list of hardware I use to “Cutting the Cord”. All of the servers were bought used as well as some of the various switches. I run Plex Media Server under Ubuntu Linux 13.04 (way lower processing overhead than windows on an old DELL POWEREDGE 840 you can pick up for like $200 max with memory. If you have any questions or need any help feel free to email or post below.


Cut The Cord

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DIY Fireproof Hard Drive Backup System using Linux

by adesalvo 16. December 2008 00:00

Living in Rochester NY the home of Eastman Kodak, the switch from Film to Digital Photography is quite apparent. However you don't have to live in my frozen tundra to notice the trend to digital. Who do you know that uses film anyway?

A few years ago I lost a lot of my son's baby, vacation, and birthday pictures due to disk failure. Of course I should have known to backup since I work in IT dammit! However I never got around to backing up my local disk drives on the family PC.

The next day I made some purchases!

My plan was to install a server in my wiring closet to backup and share my audio, photo, and video files.

I decided to install Ubuntu 8.10 on the prolient server and share some folders using samba. This would allow my wife to download all her photos to a shared drive and allow me to share my audio and video files to my hacked xbox and tivos!

If you have any questions on setting up SAMBA on Ubuntu check out the documentation on their site here.

After setting up the shares using the smb.conf and mapping drives from the family pc's I tackled the redundancy problem. Since all my data was still one drive, in the event of a disk failure I would lose all my important data.

Initially I was going to purchase 2 MX-1 1 TB drives and mirror them, however I felt like that was bit overkill and pricey. I don't need real time redundancy for my home network; however a nightly backup would be perfect. I could live if I was out 1 days worth of backups if my drive failed.

For the backup device I choose a Sentry Safe Fire-Safe Waterproof DATA STORAGE CHEST. I chose this safe because my wiring closet is in my basement (water) and in the event of a house fire my disk drive would rremain intact...

I first plugged in the USB drive to the safe, and then into the server. I made an entry in the /etc/fstab so the new drives would mount on boot up.

I wrote a quick shell script using a copy command to copy my data nightly to the fireproof waterproof drive. I then added the script to crontab to run every day at midnight.
Currently my only gripe is that if the cron job fails or doesn't run for some reason I am not notified. I think there is away to add notifications upon failure but I have not had the time to look into it.

There are a ton of technical details in the article that I just glossed over like;

  • Add new physical usb drives to linux
  • add the cron job
  • copy arguments to allow to copy recursively
  • copy arguments to only copy newer files
  • copy arguments to handle any yes|no prompts

If you have any suggestions or related technical questions please send them via twitter to http://www.twitter.com/adesalvo

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