Living without Cable

It is coming up on a year that I have not had to pay for cable television. I still have cable in my house as it it is the fastest cheapest internet source for where I live but I don’t pay for any sort of standard TV programming with that.

Before I went without cable I was spending about $140 a month for having an HD DVR, HD Channels and extended basic, with HBO and standard 3 megabit internet. I am currently paying $55 a month for just 8 megabits high speed internet. There is some real savings there of over $1000 dollars, but the real question is did I miss a show. No, is the answer to that, I have a DVR though Hulu which never misses a show unlike my DVR did, and if i’m hanging around that night and want to watch it live I am able to pick up ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC with Over-the-Air HD so i’m really not missing out on much HD primetime TV when I’m home, and Hulu and the other websites that give you TV over the internet do a full screen and look great on my TV using my HP Z555 Media Center PC connected via HDMI.

For the shows that I cannot find on Hulu or their respective networks website, I turn to torrents because if I have this problem so does everyone else. They are not hard to find especially if you are looking for the latest episode of Heroes for example, you can even get some in HD if you really want to spend the extra time downloading. I tend to stick with the standard divx file. Also with my skills of installing XBMC on Xbox it allowed me to see any of the media I have downloaded in the bedroom using my home network. Even better is that is Media Mall’s PlayOn Media Server which will access internet content including Hulu and stream it to “dumber” devices across your home network. This is how we have been able to see Hulu in the bedroom with out the use XBMC Hulu Plugin, which is still not ready for prime time.

For the most part I don’t miss a show, I do miss ESPN, Versus and Fox Sports because they tend to carry the live sports that I would like to see, and although ESPN has ESPN 360 it doesn’t carry the things I wanna see like Nascar races or some college football games. So if you are a sports lover then you still might need cable or satellite for that need, I find that it is just excuse to go find some friends and watch the game with them or find a bar and makes new friends watching the game.

I will continue not paying for cable and enjoying saving that bit of cash. The only real problem I can see with this is with bandwidth caps, that might force me to rethink this whole thing if the limit the amount of content that I can download from sources, but for now the pipe is wide open and I will use it to my advantage.

Read More

Hacked Xboxs Galore

A half day for the Easter holiday left me with some spare time. With that I planned to help my friend rebuild his PC back to a functional state by reloading his OS. During this process, and playing some Resident Evil 5 we decided to me up with my girlfriend and a few other of my friends and eat at Cheddars. This is were it got weird. In talks over dinner, we realized that all the media machine issues could be solved by hacking a simple Xbox to XBMC using softmod.

After dinner we found the Xbox in a closet box and search frantically for a power cable, but there was none to be had, however after further investigation we noticed that a Playstation Power Cable was very close and after a few adjustments with a knife we were in business. We rushed to my house to gather the controller, memory card, and game needed to preform the hack and raced back over with an additional Xbox I had for another experiment. It was a hackfest 2 Xboxs were converted into lean mean media playing machines. This inspired our friend rebuilding the PC and decided to purchase one on Craigslist yesterday, which we promptly hacked over burgers and wine. So my total comes to 4 Xboxes loaded with XBMC. I will soon do a write up of a quick process to get it done.

The only limitation we have discovered is with MKVs and high bitrate video files, it seems to lag out. But honestly, it is a 733mhz PIII with an good video card, so the limitations of very manageable. Especially now that you can enjoy all that media that you have spend hours downloading on your large TV in the living room and control it all with the DVD remote that the Xbox has, and you give new life to a game console that would have just collected dust otherwise. ~waynezim

Read More