Tiered Pricing for Internet Access Must be Stopped!

 Budget, Computers and Technology, General Ranting, Home Theater Equipment  Comments Off on Tiered Pricing for Internet Access Must be Stopped!
Apr 022009
 

Tiered pricing for internet access based on your bandwidth
usage is right around the corner for many, already in place for some, and
bringing big changes for everyone. Time Warner is the largest ISP I have heard
of going this route so far but more will follow soon.

If you are currently or have been planning on streaming
video from online sources such as Netflix or Hulu.com, you better think again. The
pricing I have seen from Time Warner has 40Gb of downloads costing $40 – $50
per month. That sounds like a lot of bandwidth but if you stream video you are going to
blast past your limit in the first week of
the month.

I always said streaming video wasn’t going to take off for
years to come and this is one good reason why. The kind of bandwidth required
means your ISP is going to need to make some dramatic changes. As pricing goes
up, streaming is quickly going to return to the back of the bus.

If you are using the DirecTV On Demand service, as I am, you
will have a problem under this new pricing. I for one will be unhappy, but that
is pretty much my normal state. I am not using Tine Warner but AT&T will
likely follow suit if Time Warner is successful in putting this new pricing in
place.

If you are currently experiencing a change to pay per byte
internet access speak loud and clear when you dump your ISP. Time Warner is in
the awkward position of losing cable customers and watching its bandwidth use
climb but is that really my problem? I dumped Time Warner years ago because of
terrible customer service, outrageous prices and the final nail, they could
never get me a reliable internet connection. Make a stand for progress and fair
business practices and find another ISP.

What is Happening to Best Buy?

 General Ranting  Comments Off on What is Happening to Best Buy?
Mar 242009
 

Best Buy has been a part of my life for a long time, not
because they always had the best prices or even the best selection. I could
count on them to have most of the little computer parts, electronic accessories
and other bits and pieces I needed, which made them handy when I was already on
my way to pick up a new DVD.

In the last two months this has changed, they have cut way
back on the computer parts they sell, even the electronics area, with the
HDTV’s, DVD and Blu-Ray players seem to be short on selection and inventory of
many items they do stock.

Out of stock on popular movies is more common than in the
past and I have walked out empty handed several times now when I had a fairly
long list or purchases with me. I didn’t cry when Circuit City went under, I
never really forgave them for supporting DiVX in the early days of DVD and they
were my last resort for purchasing.

I guess I should have mourned the loss from the beginning, I
certainly am now. Best Buy and the other competition have for the most part
decreased their weekly sales on movies and music. I am also seeing an increase
in release week pricing across the board. I know times are tough but is it
really wise to begin alienating your core customer base. I spend thousands a
year in Best Buy but lately all of my money has been going to Fry’s.

Fry’s has always had a great selection of everything, I
always know I am going to find even the most obscure computer part, movie or
electronic adapter. It is just a hassle to get in and out, not because they are
slow but because I can’t help but wander the aisles to see what’s new, on sale,
or just plain cool.

I know Best Buy (Target has also followed suit but has never
been on my go to list) feels a lot safer with Circuit City out of the way but
they should be more worried about their core customers. I am already debating
on whether to hit Fry’s to pick up the latest James Bond because I also need an
IDE to SATA adapter, something Best Buy is unlikely to carry anymore.

The Return of Pan and Scan for the 21st Century

 Blu-Ray, DVD, General Ranting  Comments Off on The Return of Pan and Scan for the 21st Century
Mar 092009
 

For years I have preached about the evils of pan-and -scan. Thanks to VHS and the public’s inability to endure any movie that didn’t fill their entire 4:3 screen, pan-and-scan became the way we endured movies, even the early days of DVD were filled with the criminal act. Criterion had the vision and guts to start releasing movies in their original aspect ratio during their beginning with Laserdisc and eventually helped all of the studios see the value of putting out DVD’s in their pristine and full aspect ratio.

Aside from the occasional release that comes in both flavors, pan-and-scan has slowly vanished, thanks in part to the popularity of HDTV with its  16:9 aspect ratio. Now a new evil has started to find its way onto DVD and Blu-Ray. The most current release of Gulliver’s travels, a movie with an original aspect of 4:3, has been released in an altered 16:9 format.

No movie should be changed from its directors vision, in any way. I don’t want to see any of Stanley Kubrick’s 4:3 films in 16:9,  that wasn’t what he wanted, that wasn’t his vision.  The general public needs to be educated all over again it seems… wait, that isn’t it at all.

The studios need to be smashed over the head for this idiotic practice and belief that John Q Public won’t accept black bars on their screen. People have finally come to understand that some movies don’t fit their screen. If they don’t like it they can select from a number of options to stretch the picture (a practice I am appalled by but tolerate) and fill their screen. It makes no sense whatsoever to leave those of us who wish to see the movie as it was presented on the big screen.

I am hoping this practice dies quickly and I certainly won’t be purchasing movies, in any format that don’t present the movie properly. Take a stand and force the studios to do the right thing, skip the purchase until the movie is offered in the format it was filmed for.

I will go into the lesser evil of not offering original sound tracks in a later article, it upsets me just as much however so be prepared for another rant.

Mar 042009
 

I have written several article on the WRT160Nv2 wireless
router from Linksys. The problem appears to be much more widespread that anyone
imagined and Linksys has yet to admit there is a problem.

I don’t get a whole lot of traffic to this blog but my user
base has increased by thousands over the last two weeks, all because of people
looking for a solution to the DNS bug in this router. The Linksys forums are
swarming with upset customers and a total lack of caring on the part of
Linksys.

Linksys was kind enough to send me a new router when I
bricked the first one trying to downgrade the firmware. The new one arrived
with the old firmware and it is running like a champ now. I appreciate Linksys
doing a fast swap for me but it still cost me $20 for shipping it to them and I
was without wireless for a week. That is a major inconvenience not to mention
that the additional cost could have gone to a better router if I had known of
the problems with the WRT160Nv2.

I am not giving up on Linksys, their customer support took
great care of me. I will have to rethink the relationship if I don’t see a fix
from them soon however. Running the older version 8 firmware means I am open to a DNS
security vulnerability. I don’t like that, hell, who would. If you are in the
market for a wireless router, especially a Linksys router, I wouldn’t buy this
one.

Original Article: Linksys
WRT160N DNS Issue Needs a Fix

Ticket Brokers Need Regulation

 General Ranting, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Ticket Brokers Need Regulation
Feb 282009
 

I remember clearly, camping out at a mall with friends to get tickets to many concerts when I was younger. That is how you did it then, you couldn’t go online and buying at the show would mean paying scalper prices and possibly getting busted.

Things have changed a lot, scalpers, now called ticket brokers or secondary sellers control the market. I have a love, hate, relationship with these folks. When I really want to see a show and have to have great seat, well they are the best option. Brokers manage to grab the best seats through contacts, contracts or scamming. My wife got front row seats to see Elvis Costello for my birthday a few years ago. The seats and the show were amazing, worth every penny. Every penny was around $300 a seat and to my surprise, the venue was not very full.

The front row had us and about 6 ticket brokers who had decided to use the seats they didn’t sell. Behind us there were a few pockets of folks here and there which was a big surprise because the show was sold out. The problem was that the brokers had grabbed all of the tickets and over estimated how much people were willing to pay for an act that appears in Austin on a regular basis. This time however, I was a happy camper.

Last week I started looking for tickets for the Flight of The Conchords show, a show I knew would be popular. I wasn’t surprised to find out that it sold out on 10 minutes but I was surprised to hear that very few tickets were offered to the public. Brokers, agents, and a number of other promotional geared companies had almost all of the tickets.

I am more than happy to pay a little extra for a good seat but 5, 6 or even 10 times the original $40 is way out of line. Unless there is a miracle, I will have to miss this show, not that I was able to find any decent seats available for under $500 a head.

I can see the value of brokers having access to a small percentage of the tickets for each show, for some the additional cost associated with getting great seats is worth it but to the majority, paying extra for something we never have a chance to purchase is wrong.

I don’t have any answers, I am not even sure I know many of the questions, I just know that it would be nice to get a reasonably priced ticket to a middle of the venue seat. These are the fans and it is sad that we are forced to pay a premium because the brokers have access to almost all of the tickets right out of the gate.