Netflix, bigger than cable?

The headline on engadget is  Netflix has more American subscribers than cable TV.

It seems that between increases in Netflix subscriptions and a continuing decrease in cable subscribers Netflix with its 50.85 million US subscribers now has more subscribers than the US cable industry.  Driven by both cost and original content the tide continues to shift away from cable.  The article also postulates that cable companies are giving up on advertising to cost conscious customers and focusing their advertising on more lucrative customers.

Outside what was counted are a small percentage of folks that are moving to internet-only TV subscriptions. It also did not count satellite TV subscriptions or those getting TV by antenna.  But given it continues its current growth rate, Netflix could be bigger than cable, Satellite, and internet-only TV within a few years.

This is somewhat a false comparison in that what Netflix offers is not exactly comparable to what cable TV providers offer. (The cable to your house for example) But it does illustrate a shift in how we get and watch things. and your online privacy?

While it might be arguable that there is no such thing as privacy anymore, we have to keep trying.

Some things we have clear control over. For example what we post to Facebook or other online sites is in our control. What is not under our control is what Facebook does with it from there.  With new rulings, The House just voted to wipe away the FCC’s landmark Internet privacy protections, it is a reasonable fear that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and Google or Yahoo or whoever you use for a search engine will be selling information about where you go and what you read. What can you do about it? While the USA is not a very privacy friendly country, others do better. So one privacy option is to move your online searches ‘off shore’.

One option I have been using for a while is to StartPage . It is a search engine you can use rather than Google or Yahoo. StartPage is a privately held Dutch corporation. According to it’s history page it was the first search engine dedicated to privacy and launched back in 2006. Dutch privacy laws are far more protective than ours. Having the search engine servers located in a privacy supporting country seems like a real good idea. Even if you just want to reduce the ‘ad spam’.

From their privacy statement.

“StartPage has the industry’s leading Privacy Policy:

  • No recording of users’ IP addresses.
  • No identifying cookies.
  • No collection of personal data.
  • No sharing personal data with third parties.
  • Offering secure, encrypted connections (HTTPS/SSL)
  • And a free proxy service that allows anonymous browsing of websites.”

“StartPage, and its sister search engine Ixquick, are the only third-party certified search engines in the world that do not record your IP address or track your searches.”

StartPage does not store or pass on any information. It creates a https secure connection to their server. What this means is that you ISP and just about anyone else will, at most, only know that you use StartPage but will not be able to see any searches and results that are done while using StartPage. But once you go to that site you found with your search, you are back in the ‘real’ un-private world and whatever the site captures will be used however that site wants.

Search engines have the potential to develop a profile of you from your searches that is far more detailed and predictive than a single site can by itself. This kind of information has great value to advertisers and others. In this way the search engine can be a kind of internet surveillance camera recording your online travels. With a privacy based search engine such as StarPage you get some increased privacy –  but it is not a cure all.

I likeStartPage it because it has a clean and fast search and does not clutter the search results with ads. It should limit the information that advertiser profiling agencies can get.  Best of all the searches are as fast or faster than other search engines.

How Organic is Organic – Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up

In John Brunner’s 1972 Book The Sheep Look Up, The world he envisioned is not unlike ours, plagued by overpopulation as well as environmental and political problems. His world has the start of common use of electric cars and people worried about what is in their foods. And he has a factious food store he calls ‘Puritan Health Supermarkets’.

A counter culture resistance group does the math and realizes that more ‘organic’ food was being sold by Puritan Health Supermarkets than there is land remaining to grow organic food on. No ‘Whole foods’ is probably not the Mafia run scam that Puritan Health Supermarkets is in the book, and we are not totally out of land fit for organic farming, but an article in Washington Post  outlines how close we are getting.

The Post article outlines how “industrial vats that stand five stories high, batches of algae are carefully tended, kept warm and fed corn syrup.” to create an additive that put in Milk then the milk is sold as USDA organic.

Makes you wonder about other things sold with the USDA Organic stamp on them.

If you are interested in a good and prescient read, try  John Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up. I call it a 4 star read.

BTW – The picture is a picture of my paperback copy. Purchased in the 1970s for a cover of price $1.95.  You can get it on Amazon for  as little as $16 and up to just under $100 for a ‘as new’ copy (But there are e-book and reprints for less). But don’t take it too seriously —- None of that could happen in the real world – could it?

Within 5 to 10 years Cable TV as such will be gone.

Here is my prediction. Within 5 to no more than 10 years Cable TV as such will be gone. We may will see a return of TV antennas. Local TV stations will be doing a combination of air wave and 'live' streaming over the Internet. The distinction between print newspapers and TV news online might fade into just local news on the Internet. You see the premium 'cable' channels already moving quickly to offer apps on Roku and it's like. Cheap Internet subscription services like Netflix and Hulu will be the new 'basic package'.

With phone 'land lines' also being a failing business, you will see both cable companies and phone companies competing to be the fastest and most desirable Internet providers, because that is the only part of their business models that remain viable. Local TV stations will face the same challenges that newspapers are now facing and will need to scramble to develop a new income model.

There are believable predictions that in the same time frame electric cars will start out-selling gasoline. The next 5-10 years could be quite interesting indeed.

You may want to see the article 'Cable TV “failing” as a business, cable industry lobbyist says' at

Sliced Invoices — WordPress Plug-in review

I have been doing consulting for many years. For the past few years my desktop of choice has been Mint Linux. Both my wife and I work almost exclusively on our Linux machines. I have been looking for a Linux friendly client contact and invoicing alternative for a while. I have been torn between writing my own solution vs finding and using an existing one.

One alternative I found is Sliced Invoices a WordPress Plug-in from Melbourne Australia that adds invoice related features to WordPress. Like most WordPress plugins, Sliced Invoices is opensource and free to use. There are a few paid extras that might be useful but the basic Sliced Invoices plugin does a lot.

Low-Cost Web Design and Hosting — My Prices for Bloggers and Small Businesses

Site Design Cost

responsive-design-400pxThe cost of launching or relaunching a website can can range from nearly free to thousands of dollars. Various things can legitimately add to the cost of developing a site. Custom graphics, message crafting and advertising assistance, and features such as on-line purchasing can be expensive.

That said, the days of the high-priced web site and needing a full time web-master are pretty much over. Basic site hosting and much of site design have become quite affordable. Not quite as easy as some advertising might make it look, but adding and updating site content does not require skills much beyond basic word processing. Here are the prices for some of the packages I offer.

Two Sites for Two Artists

Earlier this year two artists, whom I knew casually, asked me to help them design a new website for them. Actually two sites. Chris and Tom Higgins had been sharing a commercial artist site, and they wanted to have separate and more unique sites. Designing a site to represent artists and their work takes on a special focus. A website for an artist can enhance or diminish the appreciation of the work displayed. How the art is “hung” is important.

Windows 10 has got you, ready or not

ScheduleUpgradeDialogI have heard from a number of folks in the last few days that their Windows 7 computer updated itself— uninvited— to Windows 10. First comes a pop-up that asks you to schedule the upgrade with no option to decline. Then ready or not, Windows 10.

As my daughter put it, “At least it is not as bad as Windows 8.”

Here are some tips to help you make your Windows 10 a bit more livable.

No geek talk computer assistance.

hal-800pxIs your computer starting to seem a bit like HAL? Assistance for the non- tech savvy—I understand that for many the young nerds at the big box stores can be a bit overwhelming. I provide affordable friendly at home and in office assistance. I will take the time to explain in real English what is needed and what I am doing. Many computer fixes require no new hardware. If you need new hardware or software, I will help you find the lowest cost option that will do the trick.

If you are within 50 miles of Augusta / Winthrop and need help with computer issues, I can provide assistance at your home or office. A one hour in-home or in-office visit will cost just $35. (Depending on distance, a small travel charge will apply.)