An Adventure in Cable Cutting – After 11 Months

Electronics Television

Our family just passed our eleventh month of being cable TV free. This journey hasn’t been easy all the time and this summer nearly did us in, but we’ve tweaked our setup and find that it works around the issue (most of the time).

Time Warner remote, cable box, HDMI, coax, and my scissors cutting the cableTime Warner remote, cable box, HDMI, coax, and my scissors cutting the cable

Photo by Russ Neumeier

You can read about our other adventures after cancelling cable TV day one, three weeks in, three months in, and five months in. Each of those times we were doing pretty well – frustration at not having some TV shows was at a minimum and we had settled into a routine that seemed to work.

Then the summer hit and the kids were home from school and they wanted the TV on a bit more. The Linux laptop we set up to stream shows from the websites of the TV stations worked – but particularly at night or for what (it seemed) was a popular show, the streaming through the laptop sucked. Lots of buffering or outright pauses. If we wanted to watch during prime time, it was a test in patience. Even with the laptop wired into the router and that router port given priority over all other traffic on the home network – so the issue wasn’t in our house, it was the traffic going over the Time Warner high-speed internet lines.

The Boxee Box I mentioned in the post at five months in has a browser, so we retired the Linux laptop in favor of having one device instead of two for streaming. Then, Adobe updated Flash (like they seem to do every month because of some critical security flaw or another) and they have not updated the flash version for what Boxee has bundled in their box – so we were out the browser-based streaming (again).

Frustrating…but nothing compared to when the Olympics came on.

At three weeks into the cable cutting adventure, we got almost all the over-the-air channels – except NBC and Fox. Fox has decided to play this game where the really popular shows won’t be available for streaming until several weeks after the original air date. The rest of the networks generally have them up in a day or two.

NBC’s online coverage of the Olympics sucked. The family really wanted to watch the Olympics and in full disclosure I will admit nearly calling Time Warner to re-instate cable. Then I found this:

On a whim, I tried it. I figured this was just some YouTube trickery…but guess what? It worked!

So I reset the TV to look for an antenna signal and rescanned the channels. Where I live, I’m in between two large cities that have all the networks – so I can pick up two NBC channels and two Fox channels in addition to the rest that we got before. The family was happy. The Olympics could be viewed and the shows on Fox they wanted to watch were available the nights they came on TV instead of several weeks later.

This setup (still) is not perfect. There will be some evenings when one or both network affiliates just don’t come in well (I’m speculating it’s related to the weather). We’ve set up two TVs in the house with what one of the commenters to the video suggested – plugging the coax from the TV into your coax jacks on the surge protector. Most of the time things work fine – but once in a while something the family wants to watch only comes in on the TV in our bedroom or if the GeekMom and I want to watch something it might only come in on the TV in the living room. The next step I suppose is to put up an outdoor antenna…we’re just not there yet.

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