Life on Mars

I’ve been watching Life on Mars. The setup is: Manchester police inspector is in the middle of a very tense investigation and turbulent personal situation, when he’s hit by a car. He wakes up, apparently in the same spot, but in 1973. As far as he can tell, he’s really in the past—but from time to time, he also hears sounds that suggest that it’s all his imagination, and he’s really in a coma in a hospital bed in 2006.

À la carte TV myths

The controversy over à la carte cable and satellite programming keeps resurfacing. The basic problem is that cable prices keep rising, to the point where the basic level of digital cable is over $50 a month in many places. Prices have risen 40% in the last decade.

(As an aside, I’m amazed at the whiners in the UK who complain about paying £126.50 a year for a TV license that gets them the best premium programming from the US, as well as UK TV. I pay $588 a year to get a similar selection.)

Viewers find it galling to pay for a hundred channels when there are only a handful they watch on a regular basis. Hence there has been a campaign to get the FCC to rule that cable and satellite providers must offer the option of à la carte programming, where you can choose to subscribe to only the channels you actually want.

The cable and satellite companies don’t want to see that happen, as it would eat into their fat profits. Since the same companies own a lot of the mainstream media outlets, I’m constantly seeing astroturf coverage explaining why à la carte programming is impossible, would make your cable bills skyrocket, is tantamount to Communism, and so on.

This is my attempt to cut through a lot of the common bullshit spouted on the subject.

House stuff

Time Warner turned up yesterday and hooked up the Internet. We now have a nice, reliable high-speed connection again. There seems to be nobody in WiFi range who has a wireless access point; either that or they’re not broadcasting SSIDs. Reception is fabulous throughout the house. The modem and router are in the office, and I have the music server up and running again. It turned out that Time Warner have some kind of lock on their back-end systems to restrict the allowed set of MAC addresses for cable modems.

An insane day

I got in to work, and my boss passed me in the hallway and said something about terrorist activity and a plane hitting the World Trade Center. I thought he was talking about a little Cessna or something, so I got in and sat and started on my coffee, glanced over my e-mail, and then hit the BBC News web site to see what was going on. I soon had the live BBC News video stream going, and sat watching it in disbelief.