Friday, August 20, 2010

Living Simpler: Lose the TiVo!

I know... I know...
Just yesterday I was raving over my TiVo going on and on about how much I love it and how it allows me to save so much money throughout the year. Well, I am throwing that out.

I've been researching and found that since your TiVo never sleeps--because it continually records all day long which is part of its incredible coolness--it costs just under $50 of electricity annually! The crazy thing is this: If you do 15 laundry loads a month using cold wash and cold rinse it only costs around $22 annually. Your TiVo can easily cost you more in electricity then your washing machine!

Now I really don't have a great solution but chew on this...

Hulu offers most broadcast TV shows online after they premier and just recently they launched a new service called Hulu Plus. Hulu + gives you access to a huge catalog of old shows and gives you a "season pass" for all the Fall's new TV lineup. Essentially you could drop your $12 TiVo fee and purchase the $10 Hulu Plus subscription and still have access to all these great shows and since the TiVo can only record 2 shows at a time you would never have to sacrifice an episode on another channel due to 2 other shows being recorded.

So, you would be saving around $2 a month in subscription fees from TiVo in lieu of the Hulu + subscription AND you would be saving around $50 annually in energy costs. This would also allow you to have one less electronic gadget and make life a little simpler.... and cheaper.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is the first post in this series that I have not personally tinkered with. I've done the research but nothing hands on yet. However, I am cooking up a really crazy idea for Katie and me that would really bring simplistic living to another level. :)

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Here is my current Reel. I just finished yesterday and if you have any comments I would love to hear them.

It is a little long but I just love the song so much and didn't want to cut it up. Maybe I can request a new version from the help of my BIL (brother-in-law).

Here is a montage of my favorite films.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Living Simpler: Lose the Cable

I have no statistics to back this up but I would imagine most people spend between $50-$150, and maybe more, for cable tv. I am clumping everything into the cable group that is not over-the-air broadcast tv. This includes standard cable, satellite, fiber... and anything else that requires a subscription.

Now I understand that alot of people out there have these big HD tvs and they want the best looking content to fill these screens and this is the reason for cable. Most believe that the only way to receive HD is through a subscription service... well i have a secret for you: YOU CAN GET HD TV FOR FREE!
"WHAT," you may be asking yourself, "I can get HD tv for free?" Yes you can and you do this by simply installing an antenna either the old fashion bunny ear type or a old fashioned antenna atop your dwelling.

Want to know another secret: The best looking HD content is that which arrives to every house freely over-the-air (OTA). In fact, it is this exact signal that these other companies, like satellite or standard cable, receive and then rebroadcast at a lesser quality. The best quality comes free!

Now I know there are other reasons for desiring cable such as the need for more content. OTA broadcasts only include ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW, PBS and then a dozen other smaller broadcasts that I have no desire for. There are many who "need" to have ESPN or some other random sports network but this desire can easily cost you over $100 a month which equates to $1200 annually! That is alot of money.

Katie and I decided to go the free route.

I mounted an antennae to our house and ran cable to our two TVs. One line goes to our TV in the bedroom and the other goes to our TiVo in the living room. This brings me to my next simplistic device: the TiVo.

Katie and I love our TiVo. Not only are we able to record seasons of our favorite shows but also have the ability to search youtube, podcasts and Netflix Instant Watch. The TiVo cost us around $200 and a monthly service fee of $12. Now I hate having to pay a monthly fee again but the ability to have a DVR record our favorite shows in HD is just worth it. Our lives our way to busy to actually sit and watch a TV show at it's actual airing time.

Through our TiVo and the fact that we live at the epicenter of the Entertainment Capital has turned us into TVaholics! We love good TV and probably love TV more then movies.  The TiVo makes it very easy for us to watch our favorite broadcast shows but for those shows that air on cable networks we use Netflix.

Netflix is another great way to save money. We our on the bottom tier service which gives us one disc rental and all the Instant Watch we can consume. Netflix is slowly growing their online library and the ability to watch our Instant Watch shows through our TiVo is a great thing.

For those who can say no to sports networks and the Disney Channel should take a look at OTA broadcasts. Its free!

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Living Simpler: CFLs are energy hogs!

For the last 5... maybe more years we've been told to throw out your old energy hogging incandescent bulbs and purchase these new CFL bulbs and save money while being green. Well I say throw out those energy hogging CFLs and replace them with the LEDs.

Dont get me wrong, CFLs are much more energy efficient then the ol' incandescents but their days are numbered and as soon as LED bulbs start falling in price they will be the new king of the hill. Right now you can replace a 60watt incandescent for a 13 watt CFL.  However, there are already LED bulbs that put out the same amount of light as a 60 watt incandescent but use only 6 watts of electricity. The problem is the cost because a regular 60 watt bulb is easily less then a dollar but the equivalent LED bulb hovers around the $50 mark. Ouch! Granted, the LED bulb will last years longer but it still costs an arm and a leg.

Katie and I can't afford to spend $50 on a bulb so we have done something different. We have replaced all the lamps in our bedroom with these little nightlight candelabra LED bulbs made by C. Crane which cost around $5 each. These lights do not put out an incredible amount of light but enough to see where you need to go. They also only use .85 watts each!

According to this spreadsheet we will save about $4.00 every month and about $50 every year using these bulbs instead of incandescents, BUT we run these bulbs off solar energy which equates to even more money saved.

One day all our bulbs will be LED but until then we'll have to suffer through those energy hogs called CFLs. :)

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Fixed Videos!


To all those who have been unable to watch many of my films, the problem is now fixed.
Apparently YouTube added this hidden setting for limited viewing on mobile devices and I had to go back and fix them. I am glad to say that all the films are now viewable directly from your iPhone, iPad and any other device.

If you do encounter anymore problems please feel free to contact me.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Living Simpler: My Solar Panel

Im going to start a new series of posts on our blog about the ways Katie and I are trimming back to save money here and there. We have made some entertainment decisions for the past couple of years that has saved us quite a bit of money and I want to share them with you. I will be entitling this series: Living Simpler.

Now, upfront, I will tell you that alot of my posts will be quite complicated but in the long term the decisions we have made has helped us live simpler and cheaper.

My first post will be about my latest money savings purchase... I know this is a paradoxical statement but know that money is being saved.
I recently bought a 15 watt Solar Panel from Amazon and installed it on our roof. With this panel I bought a Marine Deep-Cycle and a little DC/AC Inverter. The power that is stored in the battery from the solar panel is converted to AC and is sent to a couple of lamps in our bedroom. We use the power for lighting and to charge our phones, Katie's computer and occasionally power our small bedroom TV. Even though it will take several years for us to recoup the initial purchase this process has made us more aware of the power we waste everywhere throughout the house. We now try to only use lights when needed and open our blinds and windows for natural lighting.

Our next Living Simpler purchase is a fan for our bedroom window. We waste a ton of electricity using our bedroom window unit when the temperature outside is in the sixties. Our house bakes during the day and keeps the heat in at night which forces us to turn on the a/c. I believe a window unit will work wonders.

My current problem is finding the right fan. I could buy a cheap box fan for $20 but it uses between 67-100 watts of electricity depending on the speed setting. Or, I could purchase a $50 window unit fan that has a built in thermostat, timer and other cool features AND only uses between 40 - 60 watts. Not sure. I am leaning towards the $50 unit but it will be much more difficult to move to other windows throughout the house... oh the conundrum! 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Abilene: A Timelapse Film

I recently traveled back home to Abilene to see my family. Even though my beautiful wife wasn't able to join me I still had a fantastic time just hanging out with my parents and sisters. We watched movies, ate some great food, talked about our love for dogs and what future dogs might be joining the family!
Dad, Josh and myself took advantage of the pool during the hottest parts of the day and enjoyed the hot tub at night.

Following my pattern of travel films I have just completed my film from Abilene. Surprisingly, I only took two videos my whole visit and that was of my Mom's surprise birthday. Other then those two shots I took thousands of photographs and created some really nice looking timelapses of the Abilene and ACU landscape.


Abilene: A Timelapse Film

Mom's Surprise Birthday

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My First "REAL" AC Job!

Hey Guys...

Several months ago I started working weekends, here and there, as a Camera Assistant / Digital Imaging Technicion (DIT) for Abe Martinez, a real-life professional film AC. On the weekends, and when he is not on big time sets, he DPs small indenpedent films, music videos, and commercials. I have been lucky enough to connect with Abe from a mutual friend at our church and he tries to bring me onto jobs anytime he gets a chance.
Out of all the jobs I've had here in LA I have enjoyed working with Abe the most.

Anyways... My first job with him was working on a commercial for Disney. Here it is:

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