Trials of Cord Cutting

As you can see from my previous post, I’m fed up with Dish Network raising prices without providing any better features. For an account with local channels and a DVR, the base price is apparently over $100. Sure, you might get a “Starter Discount” but I’ve had my service for more than a Decade. $1200 per year is too much. Time to be a Cord Cutter.

So, let’s naively try to Cut the Cord and see what happens. But first, as all good engineers know, we develop a list of requirements:

Requirements

In no particular order:

News – Keep up with this crazy world, and find out, within an hour or two whether POTUS has been tossed out, or an earthquake or volcanic eruption has started nearby.

Entertainment – I get most of my entertainment from Netflix and DVD.com [Yeah I know it used to be called Netflix too, but they really want you to forget that they ever shipped you a DVD or BluRay.] for the movies that I can’t stream. But if I’m going to cut the cord I’ll need to get at least one more entertainment streaming service.

Use my new fancy Sony TV. A couple of years ago I got a Vizio P65, and it failed and then after they fixed the power supply, it decided to reboot itself a couple of times a day for no reason. Anyway, I now have a new Sony XBR-65X950H Bravia TV, and I love it. It works just fine and it supports “Android Apps” of course.

So how do we “Cut the Cord” and satisfy these requirements?

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DishNetwork – When do I stop?

When do I cry Uncle and stop this creeping greed?

What has Dish done for me lately? No new channels. More and more channels are leaving the base package.

So I only have the baseline HD service with DVR. Just keeps going up and up with fewer channels and no additional features. They even want to charge for a “Gallery” of still pictures as a TV Screensaver.

I’m close to just turning this off and signing up for Hulu or some other streaming service in addition to Netflix. At least when Netflix charges more money, I get more Netflix Originals. No such thing as Dish Originals. I think satellites are just too expensive a way to deliver content. Too little choice and too costly.

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Power Through Scarcity

I have recently come to the realization that Economics and Politics both wield power by controlling Scarcity.

  • Economics seeks power through the control of Scarcity of Resources.
  • Politics seeks power through the control of Scarcity of Choice.

It seems interesting to note that in the Universe at large, there are no scarcities of anything.

Post Scarcity

The Universe is full of Resources. Outside the restrictive gravity wells of planets, each Solar System and Each Galaxy is full of unclaimed Resources that are easy to exploit. Without conflict or competition. And the stars provide all the energy that any power hungry Economist might want to exploit those Resources.

The Universe is full of Choice. There are infinite many directions to take any endeavor. The Scarcity of Choice is artificial; often constrained in the pursuit of Economics. Beyond Politics there is Freedom.

I am hopeful that Humanity moves beyond the Artificial Scarcities of Economics and Politics someday and moves out to the wider unconstrained Universe of Post Scarcity of any kind.

The Scarcity of Time

The only Scarcity beyond Resources and Choice is the Scarcity of Time. We, as finite beings, strive toward the Infinite Lifespan. However, I fear that Biology, though miraculous, is destined to be forever finite. However, I see a future of Post Biology, where beings are freed from the Scarcity of Time to live infinite lifetimes in Virtual and Real space simultaneously. Fully redundant, fully plastic beings who change at will and who live forever. Continuously renewing their Silicon, or Post Silicon substrates to live on to pursue the goals of avoiding Species Extinction Events through redundancy and to explore the Galaxy. Only then can we explore the rest of the Galaxy and Beyond.

Choice of Action in Virtual and Physical Space.

Multitudes in Fleets of planetoid sized Starships, spreading through the Galaxy. Stopping at Solar Systems to Replicate in Kuiper and Asteroid Belts far from energy sapping gravity wells of planets and then to move on in many directions, along the Filaments of Matter that chain the stars together. Only with infinitely interesting and renewed lifetimes can this be accomplished.

Some stopovers might Bioform suitable planets and leave Ancestral Biology Colonies of life behind where this does not disturb already developing Biology.

First Steps

Of course our first steps must be to become Post Economic and Post Political. And the first steps to that end are to Forgive All Student Debt and provide Universal Health Care.

Small Steps toward a larger future.
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Credit Cards Stuck in Last Century

So, the operation of Credit Cards is apparently stuck in the last Century. The major suppliers of credit cards have not kept up with the requirements of the modern age of online transactions.

On-line Credit Card Fraud is a Major Headache

Case in point: My credit card was used Fraudulently. I have a couple of cards, one for physical transactions where I’m always present – well almost always present. And another that I only use On-Line. Of course, the fraud involved the credit card that was used online. I purchased some Game Currency from a game I play a lot for $10, and less than a week later someone tried to purchase $5599 at Best Buy. There was a lot of confusion about whether the transaction occurred On-Line, but the address was given as Minneapolis, Minnesota. Which is far from where I live. So the transaction was declined, and I was alerted. But that’s not the end of the problem. That card number is now stopped. It can no longer be used. And if this were last century, I could just use another of my few cards to eat take-out at restaurants, or buy groceries.

But this is 2020, and that credit card is in the hands of over a dozen on-line merchants whose computers will automatically try to use it on some random schedule to provide services that I use. These include Netflix, my internet service, my satellite tv service and so forth. I’m “waiting four to five business days” for the new card to arrive. And any of these days one of these many services’ computers might try to use that dead card. To say nothing of the fact that it will take an hour or so to go through all the services’ websites and give them a new card number. I need a better way.

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Genshin Impact Over-Hyped?

I think Genshin Impact is being over-hyped. I’ve watched a few of the videos on youtube and my conclusion is that it’s more hype than real content. And it has the problem of Cross-Play with Mobile, which means that it can’t be better than a Mobile experience. There’s a reason that Wow and FFXIV and other complex games aren’t on Mobile. The opportunity for controls is not good enough on mobile to make a game very interesting.

Here are a couple of shots from the web that show the hype. “Astounding”? Seriously? How “Astounding” can a hub based game that will run in the constraints of an iPhone really be? Who has 40GB or more on a phone to dedicate to a game? I’m sure that Genshin Impact is more like 4GB of your phone, or your PC, which is what we’d expect from a mobile game. Echo of Soul , which is an older true MMO, but with very small zones and OK graphics is about 14GB as a download, and is too large for a mobile platform.

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Amazon LOTR Second Age

Here it comes! Amazon is starting a TV series based on the Lord of the Rings. But it’s not a ReDo, but a “Prequel”. Stories based on the “Second Age”. The stories, and movie collection, we are familiar with are based on the Third Age. Apparently novels were never written by JRR [Tolkien not Martin] based on the First or Second Ages, but he left a trove of source material describing these ages and much more besides. The Simarilion, published by his son after his death, is probably the source for much of the material describing these ages.

For a excruciatingly complete coverage of the second age, you might try this 35 minute video. As I watched it, I was not necessarily paying attention to the details as the broad sweep of the history and detail that this world building provides.

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Elric vs Geralt

A while back I reported a video where Elric of Meinbone’ was compared with Geralt of the Witcher Stories. Recently I found a more balanced and careful comparison of the two story collections. Proper Bird is a long time youtuber and Witcher Stories fan. She does an excellent and thorough deep dive into the subject of how these stories compare and shows that it’s less about “plagiarism” and more about influence. The video is long, but if you’re interested in this controversy, then this may clear some things up for you.

Enjoy
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Witcher vs Elric

It would seem that there are too many similarities between “The Witcher” by Andrzej Sapkowski and the “Elric” by Michael Moorcock.

A quick youtube search will show you some references to this topic.

Rageaholic’s hour long rant is an extremely detailed coverage with examples from all the Witcher properties compared with the Moorcock books. Warning for Volume and Language.

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Failing to Serve Customers

To serve customers in these times, most organizations need to make Appointments. Various organizations that I’ve dealt with do this in different ways:

Umpqua bank, for example, has always had a large staff of helpful folks on phone banks, so they make appointments by phone. You call them ONCE and make an appointment at your local bank. However, if you have to change an appointment, then you need to call them back and they need to Skype the local branch to change the appointment. You get email confirmations of all the changes. Ok. Not the best, but Ok. One phone call that you make.

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Adventures in Eorzea

In this midst of this world wide tragedy and horror, I want to share a light spot that my daughter and I are sharing.

I want to share this in a way that is accessible and possibly inspiring for folks that have not played MMO video games before. Not to necessarily encourage you to take them up, but to show you a little of that world.

I have been playing video games for many years in my retirement and have shared these games with my daughter, who lives 500 miles away and who has a busy career. We have been playing various games together for some time – a few hours twice a week. But recently it has become more like 5 or 6 days a week. Our current adventures are in Eorzea playing Final Fantasy XIV. Above, you can see recent mounts we acquired in an event that is going on for the next few weeks.

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