Tuesday, December 29, 2009

DirecTV Raising Prices while continuing to give us less

As outlined in posts below DirecTV has been making my service crappier throughout the past year. And now as a reward for giving me less programming they are raising my bill too. It is no surprise that they are getting sued for their practices in one class action lawsuit. I really wish I could say that my experience will get better because I'm paying more but I know it will not. I think they take the #1 spot away from AT&T in my most disliked company that I pay a bill to every month (excluding various govts. via taxes).

Sunday, December 27, 2009

TSA: A reactionary agency for reactionary times

So another crazed person tried to blow up a plane with smuggled explosives in their underwear. First, the TSA failed by allowing these explosives on the plane in the first place but this issue of being able to get explosives on a plane has been known for quite some time. Also in the security world you get noticed and are known for your failures very quickly, its a tough job to do because you are expected to be 100% effective. The biggest issue with the TSA is that their measures do nothing to increase security. As Bruce Schneier has pointed out in his blog time in again is that increasing the strength of the cockpit door and our unwillingness to be terrorized in the air are the only things that have made us safer since 9/11. An example of this ineffective policies can be shown below. I recently traveled with a hoodie and a sweater. When going through the metal detector I am asked to remove my hoodie if I have on something under my hoodie but when I wear the sweater I am not. The only difference between the two garments is a hood, so not really preventing anything by having my take off one but not the other. The TSA thrives on inconveniencing you so as to think that they are:
1) Effective
2) Necessary
3) Authoritative

Now the TSA does not want passengers moving around during the last hour of flight. This would not have prevented any of the events from happening on Christmas day, its just another way to inconvenience everyone but the terrorists. In fact, if everyone on the plane had followed the rules the man who stopped the terrorist would have stayed in his seat. The terrorist wanted to blow up the plane in mid-air and these new rules just plain and simple do not address that. Reactionary measures like this are never good and are rarely effective (remember when you would walk through a metal detector with your shoes on?). How about the fact that I routinely take liquids through checkpoints on my travels? How about the fact that sometimes the TSA wants me to take my liquids out and sometimes they do not? Sometimes I am supposed to but I don't and they don't say anything. Is this a tacit admission by the TSA staff that none of this matters and they are there mainly for show? If a concerned citizen were to actually demonstrate these various ineffective policies they would sadly be thrown in jail. I am hoping blog postings and letters written and general voiced dissatisfaction with these reactionary measures will help repeal some of these measures.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Comcast buys NBC

So Comcast is going to buy NBC. How long until Universal HD, Bravo and whatever other channels NBC owns are essentially banned from Directv and relegated to the same fate as Versus? Maybe Directv will even try to stop giving us NBC.

UPDATE: I spoke to Directv about this and they basically said that they do not know what will happen when the deal goes through but they do not see anything happening in the near term. But I do not see anything benefiting Directv or my service coming from this deal, I expect more service cuts in the next year or so. The more they make me pay for content the more I find other more service oriented outlets for the entertainment I want.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Weis to Bears?

As a ND and Bears fan I would would be very skeptical if Weis was hired to come to Chicago as either a coordinator or even a head coach. I really hope it does not happen. I need a break from Charlie. Read more here.

Directv Degrading Service

So over the past few months Directv has moved a number of channels I watched to various packages (2 or more) so that it would cost me in the neighborhood of $300-$400 dollars a year to restore the same level of service I got a year ago. Currently Versus which airs much of the IndyCar that I watch is totally unavailable on Directv because Comcast owns the station and Directv just does not want to give them money anymore. SPEED, my other racing channel and the only place I can see F1, was moved to the next level of service. Luckily, racing is out of season so I am not missing anything currently while I am trying to get Directv to give me these channels back. I have also lost ESPN classic which shows racing from time to time and just random live events that won't fit into the regular ESPN lineup. I also lost the FOX Business channel which I would watch time to time when CNBC was being too crazy.

The thing I cannot stand about this is that they try to hide all the changes that they make and just spring them on you out of nowhere. When you call their call centers it is impossible to talk to anyone who knows why these changes are being made. They tell you that they are not contractually obligated to notify you of changes to the channel lineup and that is obviously the business practices of a company that does not respect its customers. This is what happens when the market lacks true competition most people are lucky if they have 3 choices of Pay TV (Cable and Satellite) but many places only have one choice. So I am in the process of trying to get in contact with someone at corporate to get some real answers and why it should cost me so much money to get these channels.

On a side note I am wondering what Satellite providers plan on doing in the future when TV will be delivered via the Internet. Satellite as a technology only really effectively works as a one to many broadcast model. Cable providers can essentially just become ISPs and deliver content over their pipes. I think in the next 10-20 years we will see the demise of the traditional Satellite provider as a consumer endpoint. If anyone has any thoughts feel free to comment.