So last year I went through a major battle with myself on the idea of cutting cable out of my life. I figured…could I live with it? Or will it drive me nuts to miss it? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I hardly really watch TV and when I do…I don’t really pay that much attention to it.
So as of Jan 1st of 2013 I made it a resolution to cut it completely and live without it. Surprisingly it’s a lot easier than some would think (unless of course your life is driven by sitting on the couch and watching handfuls of channels every day…which I hope wouldn’t be your case as it would be beyond unhealthy).
I live in a metropolitan area so it was a battle to find a good antenna to maximize the amount of channels I got. I tried one after another after another until I finally found the perfect one. It didn’t just get me 30….not 40…but 72 channels over the air (OTA) for free. I bought this amplified antenna (Only $56!!…for now) and easily installed it on the back corner of the roof running the coax into the attic where it plugged in and then fed the house’s main coax feed. Now ALL of the TV’s in the house are getting every single channel in town (and a few from out-of-town)…including the few channels that 99% of the antennas won’t receive for some reason here.
Next I got Netflix to take care of any other need I had for watching series, movies or simply having background noise when I am working on things.
Most of the TV’s are smart TV’s so with a connection to Netflix I have access to all that media on every single TV throughout the house. So as long as Netflix keeps their prices where they are…this is an amazing escape from cable.
For TV’s without Netflix or where I might need more content, I can always get a Roku box which would be a one time fee to buy the box and can then have unlimited access to all sorts of online tv and movies as well as other things such as games (ie Angry Birds).
SO there you have it! A SUPER cheap alternative to TV! I now have 72 free channels (of course that number changes depending where you live and what channels/stations are around you) plus access to a lifetime of movies and tv for a price that is a fraction of what cable costs (and no DVR needed). Plus if I got the Roku….I’m just swimming in entertainment for dollars a month.
Now if you REALLY wanted to go crazy, you could take the money you save and buy yourself a super cool TV to watch all the great stuff on. For example…Sharp makes a 70″ (inch) LED screen……SEVENTY INCHES!!!!…with 3D, Wi-Fi and apps (ie….NETFLIX)….and you can get it right now for just $1600!!!
Side note: I have been asked before on which TV’s had the best app market and selection. Most of the TVs and blu-ray players have similar app selections and are usually kind of limited. I have found that Samung TVs and blu-ray players have the best selection as they truly have a marketplace filled with all sorts of apps. The key thing to look for is in the reviews. Take a look at which TV’s Samsung has and within you price range (or blu-ray players) and then compare the reviews. They key thing to look for is speed. Just like any other brand of TVs, some have slow moving menus and some are really quick. When you are playing with downloading and using apps, you want a fast moving menu experience else it will become a headache over time.
The two links (Samung TVs and blu-ray players) in the previous paragraph lead you right to amazon with a narrowed search showing you just the wifi/app enabled tvs and blu-ray players thus weeding out most of the other junk so you don’t have to.
This is something I have had a lot of fun with and since I took the time to really it break down for a good friend of mine who was interested in doing this as well, I figured I could share the content with everyone.
Currently if you hire a company to come to your house and build out an automation system in your home…it will run you about $5000 to $20,000+ depending on how crazy you want to get with it. That doesn’t have to be the case though. If you are a fan of tech, you could easily build our your own system without even having to run wires through the walls. Best of all, it could only cost you about $500 to $1500 on average with NO monthly costs.
The same goes for security companies. You can hire a company to come to your house and build out an expensive alarm system that they claim to monitor and make life easier for you, which of course you have to pay monthly for…forever. If something happens, they usually study the situation…call in a car to drive by your home (of course they aren’t allowed to enter or intervene), make a decision on if there is a problem and then finally call you to ask if you want to contact the police (meanwhile 30+ minutes have gone by). Or, you can build your own, manage it yourself with intel shot directly to your phone via txt or emails with the ability to respond instantly by calling the police or rushing home (to take care of the problem yourself heh). Once again, no monthly costs.
How do you do it? Z-Wave! Z-Wave is an open-source born approach to wifi/ip based devices that allows you to interconnect all of the devices in your home wirelessly via your home network. It can be used to simply control lighting, a simple alarm system or a full out automated home automation system. Your options are endless (or at least through time grow closer and closer to endless as new devices and approaches are discovered).
All of your devices can be used to communicate with each other to help control security, lighting, energy conservation, disaster awareness (ie flooding/leaks) and more. You can control your home theaters, living rooms or audio setups even (depending on your setup).
Here is a detailed break down of some of the products available to you and your options (prices based on the time I post this article, and may change over time although most likely would go down in price as new devices reach the market):
- The Brain! (Vera Lite Controller) – This is one of the more affordable hubs that creates a control center for all of the devices (about 50-60 total). currently at $179 (sometimes falls on sale to $150-160)
- You can also get the upgraded unit (The Vera3) which can control a greater number of devices and has it’s own wifi network so that you can have a sub network within your network that is dedicated just to your z-wave devices.
- Foscam IP/Wifi Cam – They come in black and white and are currently $80-85 each depending on color (sometimes falls on sale to $69-75 range).
- They also make a new HD/720p version of the cameras as well that runs about $130-160
- Honeywell Thermostate - Connects your thermostat to the network. Currently $123 (sometimes falls on sale to $103-109)
- Allows you to view and control it remotely from vera’s control screen, or from an app on your phone or tablet, as well as for it to speak back and forth with other devices if you want to get creative (ie I have ceiling fans on z-wave switches that can be triggered on and off whenever the AC is turned on/off. I also have global scenes that control the power to all of these). Or you can also control the status of your A/C or heater based on the weather outside.
- They also make more advanced z-wave thermostats that are more pricey but offer more features such as smart learning.
- Example: Nest is a very popular one although I have never tried it out. It offers a futuristic interface and rocks a lot of advanced features (did I mention it looks cool?)
- Kwikset Deadbolt – Connects your door lock to the network, comes in chrome, brass or bronze and also has other shapes/models (different locks for different people). Currently $188 (averages about $179-199 usually)
- Other forms by kwikset: contemporary deadbolt, lever/handle (if you have a storage room, specialty room, etc you want to limit access to),
- Yale also makes a super cool looking touch screen lock. It’s a little more expensive though but it at least has fallen in price compared to it’s original $400 price tag. Currently $235 (now avg price range of $220-240)
- Outlet/Receptacle – Turn one of your wall outlets into a z-wave controlled outlet. Currently $29 and GE also makes one for about $40 (avg price).
- Light Switch – Turn one of your light switches into a z-wave switch. GE also makes one as well that’s a little more. Currently $44 (averages about $38+)
- Note: There are also 3-way kits (for lights with multiple switches) as well as dimmers. Some companies are working on stylish ones as well such as touch controlled switches and the like (these should be on the market later this year hopefully).
- Plug Module – For when you don’t want to swap out the receptacle itself but want something that can move around to other plugs or be removed at any time. It just plugs into any outlet and turns it into a z-wave controlled outlet. Currently I use these and the receptacles to shut power to major devices that consume larger amounts of power during standby while away from home. Currently $32 (avg price is $29-39).
- Let’s say you have a handful of devices throughout the houses such as amps, receivers, TVs, fans, blenders and cookware and other things that consume a power on standby (when they are turned off but still plugged in). Let’s say….in-all, it consumes about 100-150 watts of electricity and only 2 or 3 of these modules and/or receptacles could control them all…within a year or a little more you will make back what you spent buying these to control them and then start saving money from that point on. Sweet!
- Extra tip: If you need to know how much power these devices are consuming on standby, buy this extremely affordable outlet monitor and plug it in the wall, plug your device (or power strip) into it and make sure the device is turned off. Then click on the “watts” button and see how much power it is still consuming to see if it’s worth controlling. If it’s 5 watts or 40-60+ watts…the 1-watt (usually) it costs to have one of these modules or outlets in use…out weighs the cost well.
- Strobe and Siren – So you can have a visual/audible alarm. Currently $40 (avg price $40-50)
- Door/Window sensor – Can be used on virtually any door or window (some people even use it on their garage door as a way to tell if it’s shut). Currently $52 (avg price is $49-60)
- Motion Detector – This is a 4-1 detector which has become popular. These sensors can be used where you don’t have camera or you want a different angle for motion detection than you want for the camera’s capture/view. They offer motion, lighting temperature and humidity sensor data which can be each be used in your scenes/triggers to control/trigger other devices with. Currently $60 (avg price $59-65)
They also make z-wave controllable plug strips, smart meter readers, moisture detectors (ie for garage floor near your water heater) as well as water shut off valves, light bulbs, light bulb sockets, pool/pump/sprinkler controls, relays, in wall switch converters and so much more. There are also a HANDFUL of tech devices coming out this year and in the future that will support z-wave. For example you can see here on one of the manufacturer’s websites, they have a list of everything they make and all of the things they are working on making possible shortly (including smart film/privacy film for windows and doors). Some of the upcoming devices (as long as they actually do come out and are affordable) can or will change the way we save energy, live or brag about our high tech homes and toys. Garage door control is still fresh territory so hopefully by summer more companies will finally come out with a rock solid solutions (at the moment most of your options are DIY and require your McGuyver skills).
There are also many ways to control other wifi based devices such as receivers (ie Yamaha’s RX series and I think Pioneer’s connected receivers as well), media players and radios, computers (ie remote boot, shut down, opening of applications, playlist control of media players, etc), etc…etc…etc. Some of these options are driven by plugins you can download from the vera lite controller’s app store which are all free but they do require some user interaction, and some other options are driven by custom code. These options of course are optional and would fall into the advanced usage category of z-wave networks but at least act as an example of the crazy things you can accomplish. For example, you can add wifi-based radio that can play back sound files in a playlist so the house can have a voice for certain things (ie, door or window opened, door left unlocked, certain door code users, temperature changes…the options are endless. You just record whatever sound or voice you want for *any* event you want. If you want it to call your roommate a dingle berry every time he turns on a specific light….it can be done. So far the radios I have heard that work best are: Logitech Smart Radio and Sonos devices such as this one.
All of the devices, scenes and triggers can be setup within the controller’s (brain) built-in web based admin center. They can be controlled from there, an app on your phone or various physical controllers like hand remotes (example 1, example 2) (works best for lights on/off as they don’t play nice when it comes to advanced scenes) and wall remotes (example 1).
Also, stay away from devices by “Schlage” and ” Trane” as they are proprietary and want you to use their custom version of z-wave through Schlage which you have to pay monthly for if you want to take advantage of any of the devices (this makes no sense and it’s an insult to the world of open source and z-wave). Also “Ecobee”…although their thermostats are pretty cool looking, I have no intel on if they will work on z-wave yet). Even though some of these devices can be “forced” onto your network…you are limited in access to the features they offer. This paragraph may be biased as I don’t believe you should have to pay to use the services that all the other companies offer for free through their devices and controllers…but I’ll let you determine the best solution
Your options are endless and trust me when I say…it is addicting to keep expanding it larger and larger.
So there you have it. Have fun with your automated house and the things to come that will support it. Name it Jarvis and indulge in it’s awesomeness. When you leave for the day, feel secure in the fact that locking your door now could do more than just…lock the door…but also arm the house…shut off power to your A/C, lights and outlets…and so much more. Then go to your friends and ask tell them: I can control my entire house from my phone. Can you?Tweet
Author: TheSa|nt from Animevortex.net and Grauw from abma (alt.binaries.media.anime)
Being an anime-related domain, this site (naturally) gets a LOT of requests on how to find/download fansubs via newsgroups.
Recently I posted on a very quick-tutorial on how to use easynews for newsgroups. However, there are other ways to more thoroughly explore newsgroups via desktop-based applications. A long time ago, Grauw developed a wonderful tutorial on how to do this, but through time a lot of it become outdated. So I have gone through and created a new version of the tutorial to better cover today’s practices, features and additional facts. This will act as the advanced guide on how to dive into the deep end and get crazy with it!
Even though I tried to summarize this as much as possible, the tutorial is still a bit lengthy and might be intimidating when looking at it but trust me when I say “it’s easy!”. It just has to be put into enough words to help even those who have been living under a rock — Now after reading this, if you are still missing anything, it should be easy to pick it up on your own through messing around. If I went over every possible detail on the usage of newsgroups, this tutorial would literally go on forever.