Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Not Long Ago I Had To Kill Zombies On a 32", Non-HD Television

A couple of years ago I began floating the idea to my lovely wife of ditching the dish and getting in with the hip crowd, who use these fancy new gadgets called computers for their entertainment needs. I wanted to get rid of the dish, get cable internet service (which is the best I've been able to find in the area), and rely on Netflix, Hulu and network websites that allow you to watch their shows online.

Donna was hesitant at first, not because she didn't believe computers existed, but because she worried that she wouldn't be able to see all her shows. Pish posh, I explained.

One thing we could agree on however, was that our internet sucked. Our provider, Eye Thirty Minus One* was slow and unreliable. So we made the decision to get rid of our dish and sign up with Cable One, the only cable provider Fargo will ever need, which is a good thing because they are a monopoly. Their televison sucks, with a DVR user interface that hasn't been upgraded since, I don't know, 1954?

It can't do basic things like group multiple episodes of the same show together in a folder, or remember which user's guide was last accessed (meaning you have to repeatedly push the Guide button to get back to your menu every time you access it). There's no preloaded guide that is smart enough to know which channels you subscribe to. It's all very 51/4" floppy. That said, I'd rather have great internet and so-so TV than the other way around.

Especially when, as Christmas 2011 approached, we made the decision to join the 21st century and get a flat screen TV for the living room. A nice 46" Samsung LED SmartTV looks really great. You haven't fought to survive
the zombie apocalypse until you've done it on a giant HDTV.

I then I did some research and found a compact little PC that was all wired and ready to be an entertainment hub. Waiting until after Christmas was a smart idea, as I got it for less than $400 and it included free 2-day shipping.

So we now have a state-of-the-art television with a PC attached for watching movies and TV shows we can't get on cable, an XBox 360 for killing zombies in HD, and a Wii for, well, we have a Wii. We may never have to leave the house again.

*Names have been transparently changed to protect the crappy.


  1. Although MidContinent is actually a pretty great cable company, we dropped our cable television in June (we still use MidCo's excellent, extremely fast internet access).

    We now make do with Hulu (not plus), Netflix and Amazon Prime. My wife and I got Kindle Fires for Christmas which allow us to access Amazon (obviously) and Netflix. Works excellent. We use a couple of old Wii's we found at garage sales for the TV's, but I'm thinking about getting a Roku so we can have Amazon and MLB.tv on our big screens.

  2. By the way, tell me what you think about the ending of the Dark Tower when you get there...and what you think about a new book in the series coming out.

  3. Yeah, I looked at Roku as well, but decided I might as well just get a PC and connect it to the TV. Roku is a good way to go if you don't have a PC-ready TV, though.

    Cable One's internet is great; I recommend it to everyone. Their TV is not so good, and I can't help but think that the fact they have a monopoly in one area(Dish Network/DirecTV notwithstanding) and a lot of competition in the other has something to do with that.

    As for the Dark Tower series, this was my second time through it. I was a victim of King's erratic output in that I read the first volume when it first came out, then had to wait for each subsequent installment. I usually ended up restarting the series every few years when a new volume came out. As a result, I've probably read Book 1 five or six times, Book 2 four or five, etc.

    I forgot all about the series when all of a sudden I saw that Book 6 was out and Book 7 was being published soon. So I dived back in and read them all through. This was my second time doing that.

    As for my thoughts on the series, The first three volumes are some of my favorite King novels. Book 4 (Wizard and Glass) has grown on me with subsequent readings. I used to think it was an unnecessary distraction from the narrative; really, was it necessary to tell this story in it's own book, or could juicy bits and pieces of it have been doled out around the campfire?

    Now I've come to appreciate it as a fine story in its own right, though I still think it's a distraction.

    Five and Six were just sort of "meh". Not bad by any means, but nowhere near the standard set by the first three. At this point I think King was really struggling to figure out where this was going and how to end it.


    As for the ending, I thought it was telegraphed almost from the beginning. Whether King planned it or not, the idea that "Ka is a wheel" was hammered home repeatedly throughout the series. I was neither surprised nor disappointed by the end. I did feel a bit sad for Roland, knowing what he now knew: he had to start the whole thing again. Which, I suppose, is just what I was supposed to feel.

    As for the new book, I don't know anything about it. I hope it addresses the one question I had, which was, if Roland has to repeat this journey over and over again, does it replay out exactly the same way every time (not likely, as it would be pretty boring and pointless), does it differ wildly (next time around the wheel, Roland is a space adventurer!) or does everything play out similarly but not exactly (he's chasing the man in black through the desert, but this time he doesn't meet Jake. Instead the woman he beds in Tull joins the ka-tet instead). That, I think, would be far more intriguing.