Wednesday, September 26, 2007


A little introduction:

Who: A middle aged guy who hates to give tons of money to large companies for things and services that I could do myself and at far less cost, or with a little research effort could get the same services from a smaller company at half the price.

Where: Toronto, Ontario, Canada. So the information found here may not be of much use to anyone unless they too live in Toronto. I suspect though that much of this will apply to anyone, just that it will probably be more directly relevant the closer you live to Toronto.

What: This blog will deal mostly with technology issues and how to "roll your own" solutions, or in cases where you can't really do it yourself, point you toward the least expensive alternatives.

My main focus will be on issues like Television (cable, vs Satellite, vs over the air; TiVo alternatives, consolidating your media, and so on,) Internet providers, and Communications (cell phone services, VoIP choices.)

When: It just so happens that currently I get all the above mentioned services from one source; that being Rogers Cable. Now I don't have a big issue with Rogers, they do a decent job of providing these services, but they're not perfect, and since my "bundle" contract is over at the end of October, which means I either need to sign up for another 2 or 3 year contract, or have my $230 monthly bill for Cable, Internet, and cell services go up at least another 15%, I figured this would be a perfect time to see how I could go about looking at alternatives.

Why: As mentioned above, my current Internet, Cable, and communications bill amount to around $230 a month. That's WITH a 15% discount for getting all these services from one company (Rogers) and signing a 3 year contract. Even doing a little bit of research I can easily see that if I were to do a little shopping around I could save a grand or two a year, get all the same services, plus some more, and have a lot more control over how everything works.

How: Exactly! How indeed will I accomplish this. Well, it will probably be by doing a lot of research, and comparing what's available. It will also take a little work building and purchasing some relatively inexpensive technology to attempt to accomplish what the big service providers charge "an arm and a leg" to provide.

The current Plan: Before I even seriously considered doing this, the first thing I figured I should do was to build myself a MythTV system. I did this because I figured I would need to start somewhere, and rather than swapping out an existing service (cable, phone, Internet,) that I would build something I didn't already have, a Personal Video Recorder (PVR), that would cost money to purchase or rent, and that could potentially help me save money later on (ie. rather than having a digital cable box in each room, I could throw in a couple of TV capture cards, connect one to a digital box, one or two to analog cable, stream live or recorded TV to the beedrooms ... thus rather than paying for 2 or 3 digital boxes, I could just get one, and make use of streaming and "TiVo-ing" to makeup the difference.

I currently have a MythTV box running and working, including streaming to the bedroom. There is still some more work to do before it is the way I want it, but I now have the "theory" down, so I am confident that what I want can be done. So now I can confidently move on to finding cell, land-line, and Internet alternatives. So stay tuned.

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