i've been meaning to cut the cord for a long time. i tried last year, when my 1-year comcast cable/internet combo package expired. but the price difference wasn't that much, from $60 to $70/month. i decided to keep my package, despite only getting the channels i could get for free over the airwaves (the package did also come with HBO however, although i rarely watched). and to be honest, i wasn't watching that much tv anyway, mostly the news and a few prime time shows. as for the channels i didn't get, i didn't miss them all that much, and i could still watch my favorite cable series by downloading them.
now another year has passed, and per the annual tradition, comcast had increased my bill once again. instead of $70, my new bill was now $100/month. that was simply too much for essentially nothing. i should've checked earlier, because the rate changed started in june, so i already overpaid by a whole month. i gathered up my comcast xfinity equipment (cable box and remote) and went down to the comcast office to cut the cord. i'd keep my internet service but cancel my cable. my new monthly dropped down to $60.
if only there was some competition! unfortunately for residents of cambridge, comcast is the only game in town, so they basically control the cable and internet market. there's dsl internet but it's so much slower than cable internet. there's satellite cable but reception can be weather dependent and you need a clear view of the sky which i don't have.
since i didn't have a cable box anymore, i brought out the HDTV antenna which previously had been in my bedroom. i let the tv do an autoscan and it managed to find 43 channels. more than half of those channels were false positives, so i was left with about 20 actual channels. a few i deleted, like some home shopping networks. of those channels, half were spanish language channels, which was surprising. are there really that many hispanics living in the boston area? my local CBS affiliate channel 4 (actual channel 4.1) didn't come in so clearly until i moved the antenna. i'll give it a try for a while, maybe if there's too much digital noise i might upgrade to a powered antenna.
i went to the dollar store to pick up some paper sandwich bags for my mother. i also got a fly swatter, some reflective snap bands, and a strand of battery-powered led lights shaped like colorful flowers. returning home i got some more blueberries from star market.
i went down to michael's store to troubleshoot his printing problem. there's no simple fix, just a combination of running a windows virtual machine on the mac trying to connect to a usb printer. over time the usb port will just bug out and stop working. the only solution seems to be a computer restart but even then michael says that doesn't always work, and can be a hassle when it's really busy. i suggested getting a wireless printer so at least the printing can bypass usb.
my father dropped by with the broken briel espresso machine so i could take a look at it. we ended up taking it apart to see if there was any damage on the inside. visually, the inside components look spotless, nothing seemed wrong. but when we plugged it in, the thermoblock just wouldn't heat up. i even tried measuring it with the infrared thermometer and the block stayed at room temperature.
after my father left, i ate the piece of leftover fried chicken he dropped off. lounging on the couch, i soon fell asleep with the laptop on my stomach. i didn't wake up until 7:40am, covered in a thin layer of sweat as it was a slightly humid and warm day. for dinner i microwaved an ear of corn (thoroughly soaked in the sink) for 5 minutes, served with some salted butter. delicious enough that i will be eating more corn in the near future!
the thing i miss most about cable is the channel lineup feature. i think that information can be pulled from the airwaves as well, but my panasonic HDTV doesn't support it (my digital-to-analog tv box in my bedroom does have this function though). so i was basically watching tv blind, and had to go online to tvguide.com to get the lineup. another thing is many local channels have satellite stations, e.g. channel 5 is 5.1, but there's also 5.2. to get from one channel to another, i have to surf through a bunch of satellite programming first. it'll take some getting use to, but the fact that i'm saving $30-40/month is worth it. finally, it's strange only having to turn on the tv to watch tv. i've been brought up where in order to watch tv, you need to turn on both the tv and cable box.
i spent the evening researching espresso machine repair. periodically i'd go into the kitchen to detangle some wires and probe some leads with the multimeter. i thought the thermostats might've gone bad but they have good continuity. i tested the leads of the thermoblock, 18 ohms of resistance (within range) with continuity. finally i found the location of the thermal fuse, which may be key to fixing the espresso machine. i'll have to somehow detach it tomorrow to see if the fuse has been blown.