Thursday, September 22, 2016

Quick guide to antenna wiring using existing cables

This guide primarily assumes two things.

  • You have/had cable TV
  • You want to keep your cable internet
The general way to switch from cable to antenna are as follows.
  • Find what your antenna choices are from entering your address in TVFool
  • Buy or make the antenna and put it in your attic or outside pointed toward your stations
  • Run the antenna to a near by amplifier
  • Run the amplifier to the input of the closest splitter
  • Change the direction of your other splitters
  • Directly wire your modem to your incoming cable provider
  • Scan for channels on your TVs
There is not much else to this. I have provided pictures of a typical setup and how it will look after it is rewired. I have also provided a picture including an unbalanced splitter for improved signals.

Some things to note:
  • Most antennas will work for signals that appear green on TVFool, don't buy magic antennas
  • An antenna is an antenna. There is no such thing as a HD or digital antenna. All that matters is VHF-hi and UHF
  • Don't forget the elevation of your antenna as it can drastically change results on TVFool
  • If you have stations in multiple directions you may have better luck pointing the antenna toward the weaker stations and see if it still grabs the strong stations
  • A preamp (one input/one output) offers the best flexibility. Distribution amplifiers are amplifiers and splitters combined. You can't change the splitter later.
  • You can make your own unbalanced splitter by using two 2-way splitters. Its the same result.

The solution below is ideal. The unbalanced splitter reduces the over amplification to the near by TVs while preserving the signal to the far TVs.

The solution below is ok. The near by TVs get over amplified by the balanced splitter but the far TVs suffer a 30% power loss. The unbalanced splitter is a much more ideal solution. Tip: You can make your own 3-way unbalanced splitter by chaining two 2-way splitters. The second splitter in the chain is the weakest and should go to the near TV. The first splitter has the stronger signal for reaching the basement splitter.

A novel way of managing multiple emails/accounts in one for gaming

I became addicted to a mobile game. The game allowed one account per email address but it was common practice for players to have 5-20 accounts. This can quickly become a pain to deal with if the player creates a separate email for every account. There are two potential solutions by using GMail. Plus addressing and dots. Both have their downsides but I believe I found a workable and reliable solution.

Plus Adressing

Plus addressing is a GMail feature where you can add a + (plus) after the account name and any tag you wish. For example if I have a game account which specializes in food I could use the following: The benefit is it creates an infinite amount of email aliases each one with a meaningful tag. There are two downsides though. Some systems do not accept the plus sign in an email address. Worse yet, some systems partially support the plus sign or stop supporting the plus sign after you own the account. For example, I gave Best Buy This allows me to identify email from Best Buy. However Best Buy has been spamming me too much. I went to unsubscribe and the mailing list will not accept my email address as an input. So the registration page has different email checks than the mailing list. One day Best Buy may make their login page address check match the mailing list address check and I would be locked out completely. That is a huge risk. Lastly there is a risk that you forget which tag you used for an account.... maybe I used instead of +food?

Dot Addressing

Dot addressing is a GMail feature where dots or periods are completely ignored in the account name. This means if your email is, its the same as and Dots do not have the acceptance problem with other email systems like Plus addressing has. It is more universal. However, remembering where you placed the dot is hard. And remembering which dot placements you have already used is hard too.

The Novel Solution

The down side to dot addressing was discussed above. The solution I created helps solve the problem and makes it somewhat easier. It is very common in the games I play to use names like Farm 1, Farm 2, Farm 3, etc for the extra accounts. So the solution is to use binary dot addressing to handle accounts. In binary there are Ones, Twos, Fours, Eights, Sixteens, Thirty Twos, etc places. We shall also assume that we will never start or end an email address with a dot. So what email shall we use? How about our initials and a representation for the binary places O,T,F,E,S,T. I actually decided to drop thirty twos place so I don't have any repetition. Perhaps this is an email I would use Placing a dot before the proper character would tell me to add that number (1). No dot would mean don't add the number (0). My main game account would be the original address, but I would use for Farm 1. The dot before the 'O' means 1. for Farm 2, for Farm 3. The dot before the 'O' means 1 and the dot before 'T' means 2, 1+2 =3. The system isn't perfect but I can always figure out which email address went to which account and I can easily handle over 30 dummy game accounts with only a 6 letter email address.

Good luck and enjoy!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Where are we going with TV? Part 1 - Pioneers

I wrote the post below over a year ago. It really shows as we have seen some changes to the landscape. Yes our internet bills are rising to $100+ a month, HBO is now available without a cable subscription and we can search across many services at once on some devices and services. Sadly while everything advanced, sports remains behind. Old post below for your viewing....

I'll tell you the answer upfront, its a race to online viewing for everything. But its not as nice of a future as it may seem to be.

The pioneers of this movement are the cord cutters and the online TV service providers. Some of the big choices right now are Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Apple, Vudu, and Aereo. Some charge recurring monthly fees, others charge per show or movie. Then there are services which support online viewing but have a requirement for existing TV packages like HBOGo, Showtime Anytime, WatchESPN. Finally we have the big sports franchises which offer online viewing for a $100-200 per season fee with a myriad of restrictions and blackouts. Finally we get down to watching these services on a TV. This is accomplished with a box like Roku or AppleTV. There are hundreds of boxes to choose from but not any single device supports every option.

The result of this is the cord cutters have multiple devices or they forego certain services, all the while having to click dozens of buttons to switch from one type of service to another. They also have to check specialized websites to find where they can watch their shows, or flip from service to service and perform a dozen searches to find what they want to watch. And there are still certain shows they can't watch, even if they want to pay for them. This leads to some turning to piracy, 'borrowing' cable passwords from friends, or paying for questionable services which bypass regional black outs.

Why are they cutting the cord with all these hurdles? Some can't afford to pay for cable, others have reached a point where their cable bills are unjustifiably high, and others like the flexibility with cord cutting. If you aren't hooked on a particular show but just want TV to watch when you have time, you can get a $50 Roku box and a $9/mo netflix subscription and have thousands of TV shows, movies, kids shows all commercial free at the press of a button. Add an antenna for $20-40 and also get major networks for no monthly fee. If you don't have a good antenna signal and live in one of the 22 markets coming this year, for $8/mo you could subscribe to Aereo and get all the major networks, free DVR service, and no antenna needed.

It use to be internet was a $10 - $15.00 add on to cable or phone packages. Now internet is a $50-80 add on. Soon internet service will be $100/mo and cable companies will be in a position to offer TV in any market for $30 as an add on to internet service. To get here cable companies need to also reduce what they are paying for TV. One interesting aspect is for cable companies to get behind Aereo (yes the company that threatens a portion of their business).

Thursday, September 18, 2014

AT&T Mobile Share - Cost Effective Phone Upgrades

With the Apple iPhone 6 coming out tomorrow, many people are looking at upgrading. Most people would believe that getting the iPhone 6 for $199 is a good deal. It usually is not because of the hidden costs.

This post mostly applies to those who have switched to the Mobile Share plan which has a shared data cost and seperate per device costs. Voice and Texts are usually unlimited on these plans. This post still applies if you are buying an iPhone 6, iPhone 5c, or even a Samsung Galaxy.