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10 Lost Designs on CafePress

Posted on March 11th 2010 by Arthur in Pop culture, Shopping & Stuff, Television

Last month, CafePress made a deal with ABC allowing people to make their own Lost designs on t-shirts and other products using names and logos from the TV show. As Lost fans we got to work and had a lot of fun making some designs. Here are ten of our Lost designs:

LOST Ajira Airlines Go Back to the Island

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NBC’s Poor Coverage of the Vancouver Olympics

Posted on February 15th 2010 by Arthur in Life in America, Television

Rant alert! NBC is doing an awful job covering the Vancouver Winter Olympics to the American people. The TV channel shows mostly recaps, commercials, profiles of athletes, talking heads, reruns of the fatal luge accident and things like “the history of snowboarding” … but hardly any live sporting events. I’m really amazed by how poor the coverage is. Tonight I wanted to watch the 500m speed skating race but at the time of the event NBC was showing a travel show about Vancouver. When I returned some time later they had a piece about polar bears in Manitoba (I’m not kidding). The speed skating event is now long over but highlights will be shown later tonight. No thanks, I’ve already seen the results.

It wouldn’t be so bad if they allowed us to watch live feeds online, but the only live video on nbcolympics.com are hockey and curling. No other sports are shown live here! The website does offer a lot of replays, but they are only available for people with a TV subscription. That’s right, you have to log in to Comcast, AT&T or whatever your TV provider is to watch NBC’s Olympic videos online. That is wrong on so many levels. NBC is a free broadcast station! I’ve read of people who tried to log in with their cable account only to be shown a message that they don’t have the premium package. At least it works for us, and we have the smallest Comcast package.

My family in the Netherlands (and I’m sure in most other countries in the world) can watch the games on multiple stations on TV and multiple feeds online. Unfortunately these live videos on foreign websites are blocked for people outside these countries, because of rights issues. It’s unfortunate that there are no alternatives for us here. In Holland I used to be able to switch to Euronews, BBC, Belgian, German or French TV … but here it’s just NBC.

It isn’t even so bad for us here in the Chicago area. On the west coast NBC is apparently showing everything on tape-delay! People in California and Seattle are in the same timezone as the actual Olympics in Vancouver and they are seeing everything 2 or 3 hours late. Even the opening ceremony on Friday was shown 2 hours late. That’s just unacceptable in a time when everyone’s on Twitter and Facebook sharing things. It’s just impossible for people on the west coast to see anything without first hearing the results somewhere. Local NBC affiliates have started to apologize about the matter.

For more people complaining about NBC poor coverage see #nbcfail on Twitter or the NBC Olympics Coverage Sucks group on Facebook.

Comcast billing is SO hinky!

Posted on August 6th 2009 by Arthur in Life in America, Television

It seems that I only write about bad things on this blog, but I have another rant about Comcast I just have to write here. A few days ago I signed up for another 12-month promotion to get Comcast TV and Internet for $85 per month. If I hadn’t called Comcast, our monthly cable costs would have gone up to $135, which is the regular price.

Today I received my statement for the next period and the total amount due is $135. Obviously, I thought that this was the regular price and the promotion hadn’t kicked in yet, but upon closer inspection it does have the promotion price, but there is a mysterious $50 surcharge for internet installation. Why are they charging me $50 for installation when 1. we’ve had internet at this address for six months and 2. installation is free; we didn’t pay anything for installation six months ago! It’s like they ‘accidentally’ put in the $50 to bring the total amount to what I would have paid if I hadn’t signed up for the new promotion, just to see if I was paying attention. The exact same thing happened a few months ago when my bill was completely wrong. I had paid too much the month before, but to level it out in the next bill they put in a bogus deposit amount just to make the total amount be exactly like the previous amount’s balance. Talk about creative accounting!

I just called Comcast and they acknowledged the mistake and I only need to pay $85 this month. Will I get a new statement? No, they can’t do that.

You really have to pay attention with these guys. I signed up for automatic payments for all our other monthly bills, but Comcast is the only company I don’t trust and I continue to pay them manually each month. If you have Comcast, check your bills and make sure they are not screwing you too!

Six months of Comcast

Posted on August 3rd 2009 by Arthur in Life in America, Television

We’ve had Comcast cable TV and internet now for six months. When we moved here in February earlier this year, I signed up for Comcast’s 6-month promotion for their cheapest TV package and 16 mbps internet speed for $69 per month. There are actually some surcharges to that and the total costs are around $90 per month ($9 for the HD box, $3 for the cable modem, etc).

I find that Comcast can be very unclear about their pricing structure. I’ve called them a couple of times asking what the regular price will be after these first six months and got different answers. The monthly bills I receive are just hilariously complicated; the first one in February was completely wrong and even the Comcast person on the phone did not understand what was meant with the different figures and charges listed. Unlike Dish Network, which clearly states in their ads what the promotional price and regular price is, with Comcast you really need to dig and read fine print to find out what the regular price will be after your promotion ends. It’s all very sneaky. It turns out that starting this month our monthly Comcast bill would go up to about $135.

That’s really too much. We hardly watch any TV besides the basic local channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, etc) which are free with antenna (and in crystal clear HD too). We get about 100 channels in our Comcast TV package and only watch a handful of them. In fact, there are some I’d really like to have but those are not included. I’d like to have SyFy Channel and NASA TV, but those are in the next package up, with 70 more channels. I really wish one could just pick the channels you wanted and pay for those. I refuse to pay an additional $20 per month just to get SyFy and NASA. NASA TV especially should be included; it’s a public channel paid for by taxpapers and you can even watch it for free online!

I’ve read a few times that you can call Comcast and negotiate about the price. I can’t believe this is common practice here in the United States. I’ve haggled on the price of souvenirs in Egypt and India, but never on that of my cable television bill. But apparently it’s quite normal to call your TV provider here, tell them you will leave if they don’t lower your monthly costs and they’ll give you an offer. I called them this morning and told them that I wanted to cancel my TV package and just have internet. Immediately they had another promotion to offer that I could take advantage of. For just $69 per month I can continue to have the same TV and internet service for the next 12 months. With surcharges this comes down to the same price I’ve been paying per month. It’s not really an option to cancel TV and keep internet, because that would be about the same price. It’s really a ‘buy one get one free’ deal. *sigh*

So now we’ll have Comcast for another 12 months and I’ll have to watch my SyFy shows online. Not all shows are available online for free, but I’ve figured that buying those that are not free is still cheaper than paying for the next package at Comcast. Comcast really needs get their act together. More and more people are canceling their cable TV since websites like Hulu are offering TV shows online. I would pay Comcast the same for less channels if I could pick which ones I wanted. I know it should be possible technically, they’re just trying to hang on to the old ways for as long as they can.

Colbert Wags Finger at God for being Dutch

Posted on March 6th 2009 by Arthur in Funny, Television

Last night on The Colbert Report, Stephen wagged his finger at God for being Dutch! Apparently, a Dutch artist named Johan van der Dong set up a phone line in Holland that you can use to leave messages to God. The number of God’s Hotline is +31644244901 and will be up for the next half year for people to call and leave a message. Stephen believes that the number is for atheists who do not have the nerve to break up with God in person.

Fast foward to 3:05 in the following video to see the segment:

Cable or No Cable?

Posted on February 8th 2009 by Arthur in Life in America, Television

The last few months we’ve had to make do with the standard broadcast television stations. Using the built-in antenna in our Vizio TV we’ve been able to get about 15 channels including CBS, NBC and ABC for free. I’ve been really impressed by the quaility of these free HD channels. I am blown away by the details when we watch our favorite shows like Lost and 30 Rock. Now that we’re moving into another house we’ve decided to sign up for Comcast high speed internet and try out their cable TV as well. Costs for this is going to be around $80 per month of which $40 is for the digital starter TV package. It’s one of their smallest packages with only about a hundred channels. We have seriously thought of not getting cable TV and only watch our free broadcast channels and our favorite shows online. We’ll give this a try and cancel the TV package if we’re not watching it enough. More »

Finished Season 1 of Stargate SG1

Posted on January 5th 2009 by Arthur in Television

I’ve watched Stargate Atlantis since it started in 2004 (big fan) and I also very much enjoyed the Stargate movie from 1994 with Kurt Russell … but somehow I never got into Stargate SG1. I’ve wanted to start watching SG1 for a while, but I’d have to start from the beginning and 10 seasons were very intimidating. Throughout December Amazon had some incredible deals, including (for one day only) all 10 seasons of SG1 for only $99 (marked down from $329). I couldn’t resist this awesome deal and ordered the set. Next week is Atlantis’ final episode (boo-hoo!), so this gives me a chance to catch up with SG1 until the third series starts this summer.

SG1 complete series boxset

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Comedy Central comes to Holland

Posted on April 13th 2007 by Arthur in Life in Holland, Pop culture, Television

Comedy CentralAfter Germany and Poland, Comedy Central will now also start in the Netherlands. The new TV channel, owned by MTV Networks, will start on 30 April and will broadcast on an existing channel only from 8pm to 5am every day. They have just launched their website at comedycentral.nl where you can see their TV schedule. This includes That 70s Show, Saturday Night Live, The Office US and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. More »

Europe changes TV advertisements rules

Posted on November 14th 2006 by Arthur in Life in Holland, Pop culture, Television

Until today, European law dictated television channels across Europe to have no more than twelve minutes of advertisements per hour, and in no more than three separate commercial breaks per hour. Today, EU countries decided to let go of this rule and allow commercials to be spread in more, smaller breaks, but still with a maximum of twelve minutes per hour. The change still needs approval from the European Parlement. More »

Survivor: Exile Space Station

Posted on July 15th 2006 by Arthur in Funny, News, Science & technology, Space, Television

Nine days … seven astronauts … ONE space station. For ten days millions across the globe have followed the adventures of Stephanie, Mike, Steve, Piers, Mark, Thomas and Lisa … as NASA TV brought us 24/7 live images from cameras inside and outside the International Space Station. More »

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