Cutting the Cord - Six Years Later

Over 6 years ago, I cut the cord. For the following 3 years, we enjoyed OTA with Tivo, Netflix, YouTube and Hulu, etc... We took advantage of the savings and enjoyed the new TV and equipment we were able to purchase in lieu of paying for cable. After 3 years cable free, we moved and were offered a promotion as a "new customer" and plugged back in.

For the last 3 years, we have been enjoying 50Mbps Internet + Cable TV + DVR from Time Warner Cable here in Raleigh, NC. 


I decided to cut the cord again. The day of the issue (yesterday), I cancelled all accounts and all services.

I went to Best Buy on the way home and picked up the following equipment:
Tivo Roamio 1TB OTA $399.99
Mohu Leaf 50 $59.99
Netgear DOCSIS Cable Modem $59.99
Apple TV $89.99 (with Sling TV signup promo)
Total: $609.96

Straight out of my old playbook, I called Earthlink and ordered the latest promotion for 100Mbps internet (currently $39.99/month for 6 months with no contract, up to $49.99 after 6 months). Process was simple and easy. Called with my new cable modem MAC Address and service was activated in minutes.

6 years ago, we were pretty early adopters. I put a significant amount of time into researching how to do this. Granted, I have done it before, I am impressed with the ease of getting this done (literally in a matter of hours we were up and running -- watching a DVR of one of our favorite shows after putting the kids to bed). I want to credit Best Buy having all of the equipment in stock, Earthlink for the ease of placing the internet order.

We are still subscribed to Netflix, so nothing to do there, but wanted to record services and rates:
Tivo Guide $0.00/month (Free for life with Tivo Roamio OTA)
Netflix $9.99/month
SlingTV $25.00/month (Orange+Kids Extra for Disney Junior)
Total: $34.99/month

Total Monthly with Internet: $74.98, $84.98 after 6 months, No contracts

This give us a 9 Month payback on equipment assuming a $150/month alternative and ~$1700 additional savings over then next 3 years.

Overall, I'm impressed with the experience. The Leaf antenna is excellent and installs flat. No issue with signal across major local networks (CBS, ABC, NBC, etc...) Tivo Roamio OTA 1TB is very simple and intuitive (much like previous Tivo experience). Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and other streaming providers are integrated. 

The only thing missing from this setup is SlingTV integration with Tivo Roamio OTA.

Never looking back...

Cloud Security

When talking about Cloud Security, I've found that most are concerned about where cloud data is located and how secure that location is. While this is an important concern, reputable Cloud Service Providers (those obligated to legal, privacy, security and data ownership policies, service level agreements, etc...) have gone to great lengths (and expense) to protect their customers' data (including ensuring they are in certified data center facilities that restrict access, encrypt data, etc...) I believe there is a larger concern... you. Please ask yourself: What am I doing to secure my data? Am I using strong passwords (not one of these)? Am I using different passwords for different services? Is the device that I use to access my data secure, updated and protected? Is the internet connection I'm using secure? 

First off, create strong passwords. Think of a sentence that you can remember and take the first letter of each word in the sentence to form the password.

Second, passwords alone are not good enough. They can be guessed, cracked, hacked or otherwise stolen. The result can lead to access to your accounts (regardless of location). If you use the same password for multiple services, this can be used against you to access to your other accounts.

2-step verification (also knows as 2-step authentication, two-factor authentication or multi-factor authentication) is the idea is that you use a password plus something else to secure access to your account (and your data). This is not necessarily a new idea. Banks have been doing this a long time (mother's maiden name, PIN, etc...) You can now enable two-step verification for some Cloud Services. What makes this unique is that these use your phone (app, SMS or voice call), but some use other more complex methods like printable matrix grids to reference.

Having unique passwords for different sites (and changing them regularly) can be a challenge. There are solutions out there to help with this. My favorite: LastPass. It will save your password in real time and enter it for you for most major sites that you have saved. Make sure you enable two-step verification.

Secure your devices and internet connections. Especially Windows, but I think all operating systems are at risk. Make sure you apply the most recent updates and patches and use anti-virus software. Set operating systems and devices to "auto update" if available. Enable your firewalls and disable sharing. Secure network routers that you own. Avoid using free public internet connections or shared public computers. If you are routinely mobile, get a hotspot. And finally, use a secure internet browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

Please take advantage of every opportunity to secure your data in the cloud (and everywhere else for that matter).


Pilot Logbook in the Cloud

Ever since I earned my Private Pilot License, I have been using my Sportys Pilot Logbook that I bought on the same day I finished my introductory flight. I didn't really think about it until the other day; what if I lost my logbook? How do I get back all of my flight logs? Apparently, this is not really a new question. The short answer is, you can't. But you do have some options.

  1. Check with your flight instructors. Hopefully they keep good records of your flights.
  2. Check with your flight school or flight club.
  3. FAA Form 8710. Hopefully you filled this out and duplicated your logbook at the time of your check ride.

After doing some searching, there are a few useful solutions:

  1. Keep your logbook at home. Carry a smaller version to log time after flights.
  2. Make photo copies of your logbook periodically and store in a safe location.
  3. Scan and backup electronically.
  4. Use logbook software.

I decided that I would use Google Drive (and Google Spreadsheets) to develop an cloud-based logbook myself. There were a few pros to this approach:

  1. I could view and updated my logbook from anywhere (on any device). I have an iPhone and iPad that I use for flying anyway.
  2. I could share in real-time with my instructor (or anyone with a Google Account).
  3. I could easily total my time and landings in different aircraft and by category (this is really useful for insurance applications).
  4. I could easily filter to limit the log view.
Screen shot 2013-08-10 at 10.15.14 AM
Screen shot 2013-08-10 at 10.15.14 AM

By using Google Drive and Google Spreadsheets for my logbook, I can now make log entries from the plane and not worry about losing my logs. Now I simply sit down and transfer the electronic logs to my paper logbook when I have time. There are many possibilities here with Google Apps Script and integrations with other apps like Google Maps.

For those interested in making a copy of my Pilot Logbook Template, please feel free. Sorry, I don't have an Excel version, but you can always download as XLS.