Cord Cutters Beware

I am not a “cord cutter.” That’s the term for folks who’ve ditched cable/satellite and now watch TV over-the-air or via the Internet. If you’ve taken a look at your cable/satellite bill recently you probably understand what makes cord cutting attractive.

TV stations, like FoxCT where I work, still transmit everything over the air. We’re digital. As long as you receive our signal it will be absolutely perfect! Ghosting, flickering and fading are no longer concerns.

Most, not all, shows on local stations or cable channels are also available online, usually via Hulu or Netflix.

The big loss for cord cutters is sports! There’s no Yes, SNY, NESN, or ESPN. If you’re a sports fan that’s a deal breaker.

Like I said, I’m not a cord cutter, but I’m certainly taking on some cord cutting characteristics. Helaine and I watched the first season of Newsroom online. We watch the Phillies games online too¹.

We have a Roku in the family room. It’s, a tiny WiFi equipped computer which fetches shows from the Internet and plays them on our big TV (often, not always) in HD. There are hundreds of shows available via the Roku I can’t get any other way… and would never miss. Most are low budget, low quality and easily forgotten.

Cord cutting scares the cable and satellite companies. You are eliminating the middle man–them!

Comcast, my cable provider, has been toying with data caps for a few years. Limiting how much data you can ingest makes cord cutting less attractive.

Back in May Comcast announced a 300Gb cap for home users. They also announced it won’t be enforced yet. There is controversy over an exemption Comcast granted to itself!

300Gb seems like a lot of data. It is! However, when looking at streaming video it goes quickly.

My home router logs all my traffic. I’ve attached my usage graph for August above. I swallowed 145+Gb of data last month. That’s around half Comcast’s proposed cap, but I’m nowhere near a fulltime cord cutter. If most of my TV viewing was done via streaming downloads I’d easily pass 500Gb per month.

You can see from the graph the effect of our quick trip to Milwaukee. More revealing is the period when the Phillies were playing the Mets. Those tiny stubs of data are what we normally use. Video is the bandwidth hog!

Without real competition in data providers (Comcast is the only company which offers high speed Internet to my house) the incumbents will do everything in their power, like data caps and sports exclusivity, to protect their business. It’s in their best interest, not mine.

Until looking tonight I figured 300Gb was a far off number I’d have trouble ever reaching. I was wrong.

¹ – Baseball can be viewed online only when it’s out-of-market. You can’t watch the Yankees, Red Sox, or Mets broadcasts (or their opponents broadcast) online if you’re in Connecticut.

They Don’t Make ‘Em Like Dobie Anymore

I was up late last night. That’s my normal M.O.

Pickings get slim on the weekend. Websites update less frequently, if at all. By 3:00 AM I was channel surfing, looking for something… anything… to watch.

I ended up with WZME, Bridgeport. It’s cable channel 95 for me. The call letters are new, but the station has a colorful past pre-WZME!

I know even more. Good stuff. Can’t talk about it. Sworn to secrecy.

WZME is affiliated with MeTV, a ‘network’ showing old TV shows and infomercials. At the hour I watched nearly all the ads were aimed at people older than me!

In the past rediscovering old shows has been disappointing. Things I remembered as good were anything but. Last night was an exception. I caught two episodes of Dobie Gillis and they were great.

The writing and acting were excellent. The pacing was much faster and tighter than other sitcoms of that era.

The regulars, Dwayne Hickman, Bob Denver, William Schallert, Sheila James, Frank Faylen and Florida Friebus were all more-than-equal to the task.

The opening and closing credits ran in an interesting way. At the punchline or payoff of the very first scene and very last scene an animated graphic came on-the-screen. The actors, with their mics now off, continued action beneath the graphic. I can’t think of any other show that did it or does it this way.

Dobie Gillis was produced in the early sixties. It portrays a very different America. There were Caucasians, no others. People ran short of money, but never suffered consequences. Good always prevailed over evil.

Dobie talked necking. There was sexual tension, no sex.

Dobie lived in a more respectful time. Adolescents on TV today are portrayed as smarter-than-parents wise asses.

No one’s rushing to remake Dobie Gillis. That’s a shame. You really should watch the original next time you get the chance.

Stormy Saturday

This has been an interesting weather day in Connecticut. Severe Weather, well forecast over the last few days, headed in.

I’m still stuck at home, but I had a text conversation early this afternoon with Dan Amarante at FoxCT. He was getting ready for a busy day and lots of cut-ins.

“I will handle Twitter,” I typed.

Social media is a real puzzle for old school media like FoxCT. If we satisfy people on Twitter or Facebook, where we make no money, will they stop coming to the TV station? That’s no trivial matter!

The prevailing wisdom is by engaging our audience on a variety of platforms you will come back to the mothership for your TV news viewing. That might be 100% wrong. I don’t think anyone really knows.

I started posting on my Twitter and Facebook accounts, the Fox On Fox page and @WeatherCT Twitter account.

The amount of data available at home is amazing. Radar, surface obs, computer guidance — yup. I even have an account on the Weather Service’s chat server. It is surprisingly valuable. Most of our competitors aren’t using it. They should.

The watches and warnings for Connecticut come from three Weather Service Offices and the Storm Prediction Center. It’s days like this where the lack of coordination between offices becomes a problem. Warnings artificially end where an office’s jurisdiction ends, even if it should extend farther.

I tried my best to relay them as quickly as possible. Living in a 140 character world is tough.

No tornadoes in Connecticut, though two were confirmed in New York City close to the Belt Parkway and JFK. Very unusual.

We had seven reports of significant weather related damage in Connecticut, though most people saw nothing worse than lightning and sporadic heavy rain.

On Twitter someone asked, “Do you get paid to do that?”

No. It’s just what I do.

Friday’s State Of The Geoff Report

Today ends my third week away from work with back problems. This sucks!

It all started in July when I began having leg pain for no apparent reason. With time it got worse. I visited my family doctor who told me it was actually a back problem. X-rays then an MRI confirmed the diagnosis of a herniated disc.

Steve, my family doc, recommended a neurosurgeon who recommended an epidural delivering steroids directly to my disk. Ouch!

Within a few hours there was a change. The most severe pain was gone. I could sit or stand without feeling like I was being filleted with a hot knife!

I hoped recovery would continue at that pace. It has not.

Things are better than they were in the hours following the epidural, but just barely. The trend is in the right direction, but this will take time.

The scary part to me is, even at this reduced level of pain I am incapable of doing anything productive. Standing or walking for a minute or two puts me back in pain. You have no idea how much I wish I was at work.

I have more doctor appointments next week. I hope for positive news. I wait.

It Started On Twitter

It started on Twitter with Kristen Cusato.

Kristen Cusato @kristencusato
So…I get the whole Monica thing. #billclinton

I love Kristen. She is talented, gorgeous and obviously witty. Her Tweet came after Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention.

I replied,

Geoff Fox @geofffox
@kristencusato Is the most charismatic person I ever met. Ever!

I guess that’s a big deal.

Kristen Cusato @kristencusato
@geofffox you met him? #wow

I’m sure I’ve told this story before. I, along with every other broadcast weatherperson, was invited to the Clinton White House for a dog-and-pony show about global warming. Al Gore gave his famous PowerPoint presentation. I think it was his first time presenting it.

I spent the day hanging with Craig Allen, Al Roker, and Irv Gikofsy (aka Mr. G.).

It was a long time ago. Al Roker had the first digital camera I’d ever seen.

If you ever get invited to the White House you should know this, the pastries served with coffee are killer! For hoarders the bathroom I used had paper towels beautifully embossed with four color printing. Take a few.

I went pre-9/11 and security was very thorough. I can only imagine now.

We saw the presentation, had the aforementioned pastries, followed by a presidential reception.

We stood single file quietly waiting our turn to shake hands with President Clinton and Vice President Gore. As we approached the president a female Marine officer took a card we’d filled out earlier. She handed the cards to another officer who turned and faced the president.

“Mr. President, Craig Allen”

Craig took a step forward and shook the president’s hand.

“Mr. President, Al Roker”

Al walked up. The president began the conversation. He’d seen Al doing the weather from the White House lawn earlier on Today. How cool is that to have the president as a viewer? I would have soiled my pants.

I was next. I walked forward and looked up. He was the most powerful man on the planet. He oozed that. He is also the most charismatic person I’ve ever met. I understand why Kristen swooned.

Whatever he and I said to each other is lost in time. Trust me, my words were short and inconsequential. His too.

There was one more in our group, Irv.

“Mr. President, Mr. G.”

Really? No full Gikofsky in the White House?

If you get invited to the White House, go.

The Procedure

If you’re just tuning in, I’ve spent the last five weeks with pain in my leg. Like most people I thought pain in my leg meant a problem in my leg.

See–that’s why we’re not doctors!

-read more-

You Can Turn a Screen Upside Down By Mistake… Like Me!

Yeah, I didn’t know you could do that either!

-read more-

I Hoped It Would Look Better

I have been asked to shave tomorrow before I see the doctor. Sounds reasonable. Don’t want to look too scary.

-read more-

Fantasy Season

My wife takes a dim view of fantasy sports . “Sports betting ,” she says immediately.  It’s a shame.  She’d be really good at it. This football season I’m involved in two fantasy leagues, one at work and another run by some guys at the Record-Journal. If you’ve never played here’s the very brief explanation.  […]

-read more-

My Pain Has Taught Me a Few Things

I have learned a few things since being sidelined with back/leg pain.  Specifically,  it sucks! No one wants to do this research,  certainly not me, but I have no choice.  My pains have not gotten better.  In some cases they’re actually worse. I’m avoiding anything that brings pain.  Standing always leads to a prolonged period […]

-read more-