Cancer, Cable, and Costs

* Cancer is a hot button issue at our house with our having lost my best friend after a grueling three-year battle and my beloved father-in-law after a grueling six-year battle. As a result all you have to do to get me to read an article is use the C word in the headline.

I was sorry to hear that Roger Ebert’s cancer has returned. I enjoy his columns even if I disagree strongly with some of his opinions. I thought it was wonderful that even though cancer robbed him of the ability to speak, he still produced quite a volume of work. This latest setback has him taking “a leave of presence”, a phrase I particularly liked.

Beyond the Valley of the Dollsolls

Update: I wrote this the day before he passed. He will definitely be missed. R.I.P. film critic extraordinaire and writer of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

* We cut the cord here a long time ago. If you haven’t, you should. Barring that, Consumer Reports states that Verizon’s FiOS is the best bundle option although it is not available in our area. We dropped cable TV when the one-year bundling contract ran out and haven’t looked back.

* Both DirecTV and Dish network have some nice bundling plans BUT the plans are good for one year and lock you into a two-year contract. You might have to sell a kidney for what they charge on that second year.

* As if we didn’t have enough streaming services, Intel is working on a streaming service with NBC Universal, Time Warner, Viacom and others. I’m not sure how they think they will do better than Netflix’ $8 a month for all the movies and old TV you could watch or Hulu’s $8 for most current TV. If only Hulu would get CBS on board and/or Netflix get HBO or Showtime.

Game of Thrones

* Speaking of HBO, naturally the third season premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones was the most torrented episode ever. If you won’t allow access to your program legally (by making the price barrier ridiculously high), people will steal it. I’m not on any moral high ground here but I am annoyed that I will have to wait for the box set next year.

Winter is coming, HBO! Winter is coming!

Monday This n That

* CBS now has an app for iOS users. You can now watch The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, and CSI on your iPad or iPhone. Now if only they would put those shows on Hulu. I am always a year behind on How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory (and non-CBS shows Dexter, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, etc.).

* Not to be outdone ABC is going to have an app so that cable subscribers will be able to stream live TV without having to wait for the standard streaming program delay. On the other hand if you are a cable subscriber, why shouldn’t you already be able to do this?

* Verizon, like many companies before it, wants to change the way we pay for TV. They want to use their FiOS boxes to determine what their consumers are actually watching and pay the providers accordingly. While this is an intriguing idea, it is not dissimilar from efforts like Apple TV that have not borne fruit. Basically it won’t happen until the providers can see a way to make MORE profit from consumers and not less.

Hulu Plus* I don’t have an Apple TV but they got a snazzy new interface for Hulu. There are content categories across the top (TV, Movies, Kids, Queue, Etc.) and it tracks your viewing habits to suggest new episodes (presumably if you don’t already have them queued). Hopefully something similar will show up on Roku soon.

Star Trek Home Theater* Finally I love my home theater set up with movie posters over all the walls (including some autographed ones) but here’s a nice Star Trek themed home theater.