Dear iTunes, knock that shit off:

"iTunes could not connect to this iPhone because an unknown error occurred (0xE8000065). OK."

"Guru Meditation #00000004.0000AAC0", it did not go on to say.

It seems to pop up this dialog every few hours if my phone is in the vicinity of my iMac but not physically docked to it.

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Television Deathwatch: DirecTV's deceptive business practices

I got a thing in the mail saying that DirecTV was raising my bill again. They went out of their way to tell me that their costs for programming had gone up by 10%, but that they were doing me a big favor by only raising my rates by 4%! How "nice" of them.

I correctly interpreted that as, "It is time for you to reduce your programming package again." So I went through the list of all of the programs (including "suggestions") that my DirecTivo had recorded in the last 5-ish months and generated the list of channels that I actually watch things from. It turns out that the list is:

  • Multiple shows: 3 or 4 local network affiliates, HBO, SHO, FX, BBCA, SYFY, CN;
  • And at just one show each: AMC, TNT, USA, and COM.
    (And for CN, that's literally about 8 hours of programming per year that I watch: Venture Bros. and Robot Chicken.)

In other words, I receive 626 channels, and watch shows from about 14 of them ever.

So here's how evil DirecTV is:

  • The DirecTV web site lets you add programming packages online, but never, ever lets you delete one. If you click the "X" box next to any of them, it just tells you to call the 800 number and waste time in voice jail before talking to a human.

  • The lowest "basic cable"-like package listed on the web site is the "Choice Package" at $60/month. However, they have a smaller/cheaper package than that for $40/month that you can only get by talking to a human and asking. I don't know what it's called. It contains most of what I want but not BBCA, COM or SYFY. (So for now I decided to pay the extra $20 for the convenience of not having to torrent those, but I'm not convinced that was the right call.)

  • If you ever have to replace your receiver or replace your crypto card, they will begin charging you a $6/month "additional receiver" charge for the broken receiver that you just threw away with the card that is no longer active, until you notice and call them and ask them to stop. (Likewise, you can't take care of this from the web site. Adding? Sure. Deleting? Crazy talk.)

  • I want exactly one channel each of SHO and HBO. They'll only sell me the bundle of 16 each. I have a DVR and they play everything multiple times: I only need one, because it's just a feed. But really, that's just the same old game of only selling bundles so that they can pretend to the advertisers that there are people in the world who actually want to watch the 600+ other channels they glom on to the two dozen-ish channels that anyone actually gives a shit about. It's such an ancient, long-standing monopolist evil that it's hardly worth mentioning, but hey, it's still fucking evil. If they let people buy channels a la carte, we'd all be paying $10/month, or they'd have to admit that they actually charge you $60 for Game of Thrones even if you don't watch it.

And this is all for plain old SD. I see they've finally released an HD DirecTivo, made of 3-ish years old tech, but you can't buy it outright: there's some kind of monthly licensing fee in addition to the higher rates for an HD feed, so it looks really, really rapey.

A few months ago I tried the "just torrent everything" approach for a few weeks, just to see if it was yet feasible to use the Internet as my television, and it's not. I tried using Ted for a while, and it... almost worked, but it was still a huge pain in the ass and ended up being an extremely manual process compared to what a DVR does.



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DNA Lounge update

DNA Lounge update, wherein we introduce you to Superstar Tagger of the Week, Kyle Andrew Neesan.