Comcast Buying Time Warner?

Uh oh. Looks like Comcast is planning to buy Time Warner. The combined company would service roughly 30% of all TV customers in the U.S.! And if I remember my local newscast properly, roughly 1 in 3 internet customers.

Time Warner is my own internet provider and well – I’m not a huge fan. I’m desperately hoping someday we’ll have another competitor as an option. But that’s pretty much just blind faith and hope. But being taken over by Comcast? Even worse!

Fees!

That’s right, Comcast charges modem rental fees. Time Warner does the same, and I’ve already outlined how to buy your own cable modem for Time Warner customers and end the lease fees. Well in honor of this news, and in anticipation that I may now be a Comcast customer by year’s end, I’ve taken the liberty of creating a page on how to buy your own Comcast modem and eliminate the rental fees of $7 a month. Seriously, $84 a year in fees on top of the ridiculous rates they charge you for internet access and cable TV. It’s highway robbery.

Continue reading

Free Apple Apps for Mac, iOS

I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough free stuff for my Mac, iPad and iPhone. Yes, they’re not frugal – but I received them from work, as gifts, and subsidized from a gift.

In any case, there’s free stuff for them out there! Get it while it’s hot, people!

Continue reading

Jobs Without a Degree: Become an Uber Driver!

Good news for those of you looking for jobs without a degree came out today from Uber, the private car service startup – It could be just what you’re looking for. For those of you who aren’t aware of the company, it operates a new-fangled town-car service. Basically they offer an app, you use it to request a ride and a car comes to pick you up at your location and take you to your destination. Think like a nicer taxi service where you don’t need to stand by a curb waving your arms hoping one will pull over and pick you up. They have a variety of car options with varying pricing: a Prius, an Escalade, a Caddy, a Taxi, etc.

In the markets where they’ve started to take off, they’re really taking off and having issues meeting demand with driver supply. They’ve been using peak demand pricing to up the price to try and affect the supply/demand imbalance, but that can only take them so far. They really need more drivers out there in these cities. So they’ve decided to partner with auto manufacturers to help drivers get a sweet deal on financing.

They’re stating the drivers can save $100 – $200 a month on payments and Uber can even estimate the gross revenue per car – which they say is more than $100,000 a year! Ka-ching! Now, I know that’s the gross figure and I’m sure you have to pay a lot for maintenance and upkeep of these vehicles, plus the car payments – but this right here sounds like a pretty sweet stimulus package for people who might be looking for a new job/career. Hustle baby.

Uber is running a trial in the cities with the most demand: New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, and San Francisco. In case this sounds like something you might wanna look into, check out Uber’s driver signup page.

The Future of Payments Is… More Cards?

I don’t know about you guys, but I occasionally read stories about how awesome it’ll be in a few years when we don’t need to carry around wallets and cash and we’ll just use our smartphones to pay for things. We’ve been promised this future for years now, and it just hasn’t happened yet. About the closest thing I’ve seen in my own life is that now I can tap my credit card against the register instead of swiping it…whoo!

 

Google Wallet Offers Debit Cards

Google’s been trying to get everyone to try out their Google Wallet, which can use NFC for payments. Think of it like having a little RFID or chip in your phone that the register can read from a distance. The wallet equivalent of remote keyless door entry for cars. You keep your phone in your pocket and the register gets the payments details off of it.

The problem is that Apple and the iPhone haven’t played along and many phones don’t have this technology. Oh, and almost no stores as well. So we have a typical network problem where it’s not useful for people to have until lots of stores accept it, but no stores want to upgrade their technology to accept payment forms that no one uses.

So, the latest news from Google Wallet is that they’re compromising (or waving the white flag) and you can now get a prepaid Mastercard attached to your Google Wallet. So you can use a debit card just like any other debit card. Kind of defeats the purpose, if you ask me.

 

Coin – 8 Cards in One

And in similar news, there’s a new startup out there called Coin that is promising to evolve payments (not revolutionize) by offering a card that can replace eight credit/debit/bank cards. The idea here is simple: There’s an app where you store all your card info together, and then a high-tech card that can “hold” eight cards worth of data and change its own magnetic strip to mimic those cards. It’s a very neat concept, though it really just amounts to being able to carry one card in your wallet instead of eight. If you’re interested, they’re offering a half-off discount for early adopters (so, $50). You can read all the gory details in their FAQ.

 

Don’t Have a Wallet Like George Costanza

Speaking of apps to replace cards, I highly recommend the app KeyRing to de-clutter your keyring and wallet of all those rewards cards and gym membership cards, etc.Frugal shoppers know that signing up for rewards cards often offers savings, coupons, special deals and more. The problem is that every store has their own and they wall want you to carry around another card or keyfob to use it. Well, KeyRing is an app that can use your phone’s camera to read the barcode and store it for good, and then can be used to show the barcode at the register again. That way you now have all your rewards cards in your phone and you don’t have a gigantic wallet from Seinfeld, nor a keyring that looks like you’re a janitor. Not every barcode scanner at stores can scan off the phone, but I find the majority can – and when they can’t they can always key in the code manually while you hold your phone up for the nice person working the register.

 

Animal Crossing as Metaphor for the 2008 Housing Collapse

I was originally pointed at this long 30 minute lecture/talk from Bret Victor’s Twitter feed (though it appears he’s deleted the tweet now). I couldn’t pass up the choice quote he pulled and the relevant section of the video is what I’m linking here: Ian Bogost – Procedural Rhetoric

I have so much stuff in my house. I have like the pear couch and the space station and all those shirts I made. I’ve got so much stuff in my house I can’t even walk around in my house… I need more space. I need a bigger house for my stuff.

The problem is that I spent all my money on the stuff that I bought to put in my house so I don’t have any money left to pay my mortgage, so what do I do, Dad?

This quote is from his five year old son, who had been playing Animal Crossing.

Continue reading

Buy Your Own Modem and Stick it to Time Warner Cable / Roadrunner

Time Warner Cable started charging a “lease fee” for their cable modems back in November of last year for $3.95 a month. Now they’re sticking it to customers again by raising the rates to $5.99 a month! It’s absurd. Oftentimes the cable modems they provide are bare bones cheapies that you can easily get on AmazonBuy your own modem for Time Warner Cable / Roadrunner to avoid the ridiculous lease fee they charge. Make your money back in a few months!

At the new rate, it’d take just over four months to recover the cost buying that base model uBee cable modem I linked. I strongly suggest you grab one today and return theirs to get rid of that fee. If you have a higher-tier service level it may require a slightly nicer modem. I personally grabbed the Motorola SURFboard SB6141 DOCSIS 3.0 High-Speed Cable Modem. It’s worked great for me, and if they ever bump my service speed or I upgrade to a higher service level I should be covered. Plus it’s on their officially supported listing. Of course, for a nicer quality modem the payback period becomes around 15 months.

Update: I’ve posted an easy list of Comcast-supported modems and routers that you can grab, which may be helpful now that Comcast is buying Time Warner.

Continue reading