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Beginner Guide to Cutting the Cord

    Three years ago when I purchased my house, we signed up for Direct TV.  As time went on, it would eat away at me that I only watched one thing on it.  All of those channels that I would never ask for if given the choice, and nothing worth watching.  I had to get rid of it.  Almost $80.00 a month was just being thrown out the window.  I just wanted to pay for what I wanted, but of course that isn't an option.  Or is it?  With a little effort, you can get the exact set-up you want, and tell your TV provider to piss off.




What To Think About When Deciding If This is For You.

    You all know what you watch.  You know what’s important to you and you all have your shows.  Or maybe you watch sports religiously.  You may have a local team that you watch that they only show on cable.  When you make this decision, you have to break down what you watch, and figure out other ways to watch them.  In this article, I'm going to go over the options you have, explain ways around local blackouts, and a few other things.

What You Will Need.

   The best way to watch content without owning a video gaming system or connecting a computer to your television is to own a streaming device.  There are loads of them out there including the Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chrome-cast, Apple-TV, and my personal favorite - The Roku.  There are several versions of the Roku out there and it is relatively inexpensive.  The Roku 3 was rated the best of all streaming devices.  It is the most expensive model, but it is a super powerful little box capable of streaming content from Apps, streaming local content on your network, and even has a USB input to play video files right from an external hard drive.  This feature is the best.  You can literally connect your digital library right to this little box.  Amazon has this device at the lowest price of $84.99.  The Roku will allow you to stream content from Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and literally hundreds of other places both free and paid.




The Content.

   I don't watch many TV shows, but the shows I watch are all on Hulu Plus.  The service is dirt cheap and they offer you a 2 week trial for you to decide if the shows that you watch are on there.  They also host a variety of obscure movies that are interesting.  Hulu is 7.99 a month.  
   If you are an Amazon prime member, they provide a TV streaming service that might possibly be the best of the three (although some months Netflix has better content.)  Amazon prime is $99.00 and includes the streaming service, free 2-Day shipping, a streaming music service, and over 500,000 free e-books.  If you order from Amazon regularly, its a ridiculous deal.
   Netflix is probably still the king of streaming services hosting award winning original programming along with a gigantic library of films and complete TV series. Netflix is 8.99 a month.
   For most people, their TV viewing could be satisfied by using any of the 3.


Sports.

   This is probably the biggest deal-breaker for people.  How will I be able to get my sports?  This will depend on what you watch, and what teams you watch.  Most major league sports offer online packages.  If you are a fan of your local team, this could be a problem.  Instead of doing a broad generalization, let's break it down by some of the more popular sports.

Football:  The good thing about football, is that if the team you love is your local team, you will be able to see it on local television.  Digital Antenna's are available on Amazon which allow you to play the games on your TV in HD and they are super cheap.  Most of them are barely noticeable.  If your team is out of market, it gets tricky.  If you live in an apartment building you can qualify for the Direct TV streaming Sunday Ticket.  Unfortunately if you are a fan on an out of market team, there aren't many options and cutting the cord might not be the best move for you.

Hockey:  If you are a fan of hockey, both of a local or out of market team, you are probably well aware that 99% of the games are on cable.  The cool part is there isn't a TV service like Direct TV monopolizing the content.  Game Center Ice is 100% online and the Roku even has an App for it so you can watch it right from there in HD quality depending on your broadband.  I know what your thinking.  What if you love your local team?  It's blacked out.  VPN services are available at a low cost and allow you to spoof your location so that they think you are somewhere else.  This allows you to get around the black out.  There are two ways to do this.  A VPN on your computer hooked up to your TV or a DD-WRT router set-up.  I get into VPN services in general on Episode 1 of my Podcast.  Check it out below:


Next week I am going to do Episode 3 of The Super Sweet Podcast where we will discuss the DD-WRT setup in more detail. Basically, it's programming your wireless router to constantly be connected to your VPN, so that all of the devices that connect to it can utilize it. This is ideal for sports packages. I will get into how to acquire a DD-WRT router, how to flash your existing router (if compatible) with the DD-WRT firmware, or how to buy one already set up and ready to go with no hassle.  Remember, I'll be talking about this stuff like an average guy.  You don't need to be a rocket scientist to learn about this stuff, just a little time and research.



Baseball:  Baseball is the same as Hockey and it also can be streamed on the Roku.

    As you can see, there are some things to think about and consider when deciding if this is for you.  Once you get your set-up up and running, its extremely liberating.  You are paying for what YOU want.  If you have any questions at all, send me an email at:


I will read all questions on the podcast as well as in an email response.  If you haven't checked out the Super Sweet Podcast, check it out.  If you are a beginner techie, nerd, geek, or new dad - this show is for you!  Now available to subscribe to on itunes.
The Sony Incident

    Oh what a world we live in.  If you haven't been following the most embarrassing story of the year, you probably are now with the recent announcement to pull "The Interview" from being shown on Christmas day.  I'm not sure anyone saw that coming.  Or maybe you did?
    With the incredible damages that have been done to Sony, one would wonder whether or not, the "Interview" was worth everything terrible that had happened to Sony.  Leaked emails burning bridges with major stars, medical records of every employee stolen along with a class action law suit to follow, racist conversations leaked from corporate leaders regarding the president, and 5 major films leaked prematurely including Brad Pitt's "Fury' which hadn't made it to the theater yet before being downloaded over a million times.  This was truly a mega-disaster.  100 Terabytes is a breach unheard of.  To cap it off, today Sony announced that they won't be releasing "The Interview" thus caving in to 'Terrorist" threats.   
    With some time to think about this response, I decided that I wasn't really surprised by it.  Sure, everything about the situation is unethical, but the contents revealed from this company is alarming.  Are we just supposed to pretend that we didn't see it?  Howard Stern stated on his morning show, that this was a terrorist attack and that it was no different then 9/11.  He said that the media should be ashamed of themselves for reporting on the hacked information, an that we should all unite together as a country and strike back at these terrorists.  He said we were "attacked." As a listener of his show for my entire life, for the first time, I thought he sounded like an idiot.  Sure, innocent people had their personal information stolen.  But where were these comments when Home Depot and Target were hacked.  There we none.  Now that its happened to Hollywood, we are supposed to get all up in arms?  There is a reason why Sony went after news outlets and threatened them with lawsuits if they did any further reporting on the breached info.  Sure, they didn't want everyone to know that the company leaders exchanged black jokes about our President, or they didn't want the salaries of their workers posted for the world to see.  They didn't want comments made about major actors being made public.  All of this is obvious and not that surprising.  Oh I forgot to mention their plan to destroy the Internet.  I forgot that little detail.


    Leaked emails revealed the MPAA plans to pay elected officials to attack Google.  The MPAA has been after the internet for years stemming back to 2011 with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a dangerous and deceiving bill to combat piracy.  Fortunately it was shut down thanks to the great internet blackout when over 7000 websites protested by shutting their services down.  Wikipedia stated that they had successfully reached 162 million people with their banner to fight this issue.  It was a legendary day for the internet that paid off immensely.  The MPAA has not given up and their lawyers are turning their focus to attacking the DNS (Domain Name System) that directs traffic across the internet.  This was one of the practices included in the SOPA bill, and now looking for a way to practice this in existing law, working with ISP's like Comcast to see how the system could work technically.  If it does work, this could be the key to the MPAA's long standing goal blocking sites from delivering content to the U.S.  At the same time it also threatens the basic engineering of the internet.
   A memo commissioned by the MPAA in August proposes a legal case for blocking infringing sites from the DNS entirely.  It would be the equivalent to wiping out addresses and phone numbers from a phone book.  This powerful new tool they are working on would essentially threaten ISP's with potential secondary liability if they do not cease connecting users to infringing sites.  This wouldn't fully block users from reaching "infringing" websites as they could still use a DNS friendly server, but it would make it much more difficult for the casual user to find the sites.  Sounds reasonable?  Think again.  A system like this would make it extremely easy for anyone to knock a site offline with a fake copyright claim.  The MPAA's legal argument is that the DNS records are acting like a directory or index rather than simply routing the data.  If this holds true, the DNS links could be subject to the same take-down rules used to wipe torrent searches from Google links.  It would make it as easy to remove an entire website as it is to remove a video from Youtube.  Sure, there are easy ways around any of these tactics for someone that wants to use a little effort.  VPN, Tor, and typing the address directly into the address bar are a few, but the goal of the MPAA is to stop the majority of the people, people with "101" knowledge of the Internet.
    The DNS system is already a security issue as it stands, exploited by hackers to hijack websites and any authentication measures like DNSSEC would quickly run into issues under this new MPAA system.  If users leave standard DNS servers in search of pirate sites, it would essentially create an underground DNS market, exposing people to unknown security risks.
     Above all this represents another massive attack on the open Internet by an individual corporate interest group.  The hack on Sony may be looked at by some as a "Terrorist" attack, but if you look closer, it's just a greedy corporation being outed for doing (and planning on doing) a bunch of terrible things.  I''m not sure I feel all that bad...
     Protect the Internet at all costs!


Good Read:  "When Google Met Wikileaks"

    In 2011, Julian Assange sat down with Google's Eric Schmidt and a few others and debated technology, politics, their impacts on different societies, and the tech solutions endangered by the global network.  Each man gave their own drastically different perspectives on issues.  "When Google met Wikileaks" isn't exactly a "book", but more a well documented transcript of their encounter that Assange wanted the world to read.

   The reason this book exists was because of the "betrayal" Assange claims, which had happened after the two sat down.  It was the billionaire leader of the world's largest information mega-tron verses the truth exposing Wikileaks founder. Assange states in the book that Schmidt said to his face that he is "obviously sympathetic" to Assange's "vision."  Schmidt then when on to write his 2013 book, "The New Digital Age" where he linked Assange into a group of "Terrorist Hackers" and also referred to the success of Wikileaks as "unfortunate."
  
    These actions by Schmidt are essentially what prompted Julian to release this book where he skilfully discredits the views represented by Schmidt in "The New Digital Age."  The beginning chapters of the book are brilliantly written calling out Schmidt and Google as being appendages of the US Government, successfully supporting each claim with detailed footnote after footnote.  The Electronic version of this book is way better as it makes reading this book way easier.  The large quantity of footnotes in this book would be difficult to follow in print.  The electronic version allows you to soak in everything with a simple click as run into each footnote.  Every claim Assange makes is greatly supported with actual facts and documentation readily available for anyone to go read.  Some of the details of Google's relationship with the Government is alarming (especially the close relationship with Hillary Clinton.)  This book was a great insight into the intimate relationship between Washington D.C. and Mountain View, California.


This book is a must read for anyone interested in the digital age, politics, and Wikileaks.  The transcript of their conversation was compelling and there isn't a moment in the conversation where Assange loses a step.  This was one of the most interesting reads since Julian's, "Cypherpunks: Freedom and Future of the Internet."




Don't forget to check out the Super Sweet Podcast, my new weekly Podcast where I discuss the same types of topics discussed in this blog.  Episode 1 is available right now.  Have a listen and tell me what you think!


The Super Sweet Podcast!

    Finally....I have has this idea for a while to do a podcast to go along with this blog.  The Super Sweet Podcast Episode 1 has finally been posted, recorded live at Super Sweet Studios in Buffalo, NY! Let me know what you think, any questions, please send emails to aaron@supersweetshirts.com




Super Sweet Service! New Live Chat Option!

    You may have noticed a new addition to supersweetshirts.com.  On the bottom right hand corner maybe?.......Thats right.  I don't know about you, but if I have a question or a problem, I can't stand sending an email request and having to wait forever for an answer.  Now you can message me directly with whatever question or issue you may have!  Instant gratification!


Just an reminder, our November sale prices will be extended on our website only until 2015!
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    The November Sale has come to an end in our shops.  Our eBay and Etsy shops have returned to full price.  I have decided that until the end of the year, supersweetshirts.com will continue the November sale prices!  If you have ordered from us in the past, don't forget to use the coupon code that was sent with your orders!

Happy Holidays!