Why I Am Buying the Honda Clarity PHEV Instead of a Full Electric Vehicle

After moving to southern California in June of 2018, it became clear that the miles I was driving meant that it was increasingly uncomfortable to spend a lot of time in the white, 2013 Toyota Prius Persona I was driving. This car was one my 100,000+ air miles per year wife was driving up until a couple of years ago, so even after driving out here from Minnesota, the car has just over 32,000 miles on it!

As a not-so-small guy, the Prius was “just OK” as far as comfort was concerned, but not for long distances. Since we’re installing solar — and I did really want to go fully electric with a car — a plugin hybrid vehicle (PHEV) could be an option.

At least a PHEV would work where I live since the distances in California are so vast (just driving up to see our kids in Los Angeles is 59 miles in one direction) that I knew I would need and want range. Especially since electric vehicle (EV) chargers here are almost always full with a waiting line as well so charging for an hour or two is a challenge.

Add to that the “local” trips we have planned:

  • Palm Springs: We have a friend there and at least six or more times per year we’ll be driving out there and it’s 105 miles each way plus driving locally. That means a full charge is needed before driving home.
  • Steve’s Road Trips: I have over 30 spots picked out for my photography hobby, and at least half of them would be in areas without EV chargers close by. Not impossible, just terribly inconvenient and time consuming to charge-up.
  • L.A. Trips: Seeing our son in Santa Monica and daughter in L.A. means driving that 59 miles in one direction. In summer with the heat and air conditioning on in an EV vehicle — and driving around L.A. for a day or two — a 258 mile (or lower) EV range means again, charging is a necessity and L.A. area EV chargers are tough to get and the queues are long.

But to make certain I explored the three vehicles I was interested in buying next, my wife and I drove these three:

  1. Hyundai Kona EV: I loved this small SUV and had a grin on my face the entire time we were driving it. Still, the 258 mile range was limiting.
    • Sticker price for the Ultimate (leather seats; etc.) = $45,500 with no negotiating due to demand.
    • Federal tax rebate = $7,500
    • Effective car cost = $38,000 (plus tax, license, registration, etc.)
  2. Tesla Model 3: To keep the cost of a Model 3 EV down and in the same ballpark with the Hyundai Kona EV, I was looking at the Standard Range Plus with 240 miles of EV range. Again, having this car would not meet our needs due to limited range, need to charge, and so on.
    • Sticker price for the Standard Range Plus, in white, 19″ wheels, with RWD = $43,000
    • Federal tax rebate = $3,750 (lower since Tesla has used-up their full $7,500 rebate quota)
    • Effective car cost = $39,250 (plus tax, license, registration, etc.)
  3. Honda Clarity EV: This is the car. It is SO much more comfortable than either the Kona or Tesla. We opted for the Touring trim (better sound system; leather seats; etc.). Though the EV range is only 47 miles, that will cover our day-to-day driving. For longer trips the Clarity’s Hybrid Mode — where the battery augments the gas use for longer trips with EPA rating of 110MPGe — means we’ll have 90% of our use on electric, and the rest with excellent gas mileage (when the battery is depleted, the combined city/highway MPG = 42).
    • Sticker price for the Touring trim = $37,520
    • My price after Honda discount = $30,861
    • Federal tax rebate = $7,500
    • Effective car cost = $23,361 (plus tax, license, registration, etc.)

Though I’d rather have a full EV (especially since we can charge up using solar when it’s installed next month) the limited range doesn’t make sense for my use, especially here in southern California. Plus the car just feels and looks great. It’s comfortable and the ride is fabulous. Oh … and it has Apple CarPlay which I have wanted in a car for some time.

There are compromises I’ll make with this car (it’s not an SUV or even a hatchback; wood look and faux suede on the dash is offputting; I’d rather not have the fender ‘skirt’) but those are small quibbles. The overall size, ride, comfort (for both front seat and rear seat passengers) make this the perfect next car for us.

Interested in learning more about the Honda Clarity? Check out this short video from Kelley Blue Book’s review:

Kelley Blue Book also gave the car it’s 2019 Best Buy award:

Why We Should Accelerate the Use of Nuclear Power

Yesterday’s post about our solar installation got me to thinking more deeply about the overall problem of renewables and that they are unlikely to be able to keep pace with the accelerating demand for energy.

The only place I differ with many environmentalists is that, while renewables make so much sense and we need to embrace them, I believe we also need to fully utilize nuclear energy. It turns out that there are ‘safe’ alternatives — and emerging innovations — to huge nuclear power plants and the threat of nuclear accidents like Three Mile Island or Chernobyl. Doing so can ensure we have a steady, reliable, demand-meeting, nighttime using, energy grid that doesn’t spew carbon in to the atmosphere.

Heck, even Stewart Brand, a guy who helped shape environmental consciousness back in the 1960s and 1970s, began calling for nuclear energy back in the early 2000s to be rekindled and used once again:

Brand calls for the rapid deployment of a new generation of nuclear power plants to combat global warming, arguing that technological advances have made nuclear energy safer and any potential danger from nuclear waste pales compared to the damage inflicted by burning coal.

“The air pollution from coal burning is estimated to cause 30,000 deaths a year from lung disease in the United States, and 350,000 a year in China,” writes Brand. “A 1-gigawatt coal plant burns three million tons of fuel a year and produces seven million tons of CO2, all of which immediately goes into everyone’s atmosphere, where no one can control it, and no one knows what it’s really up to.”

Co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft, Bill Gates, has also called for nuclear energy and has helped drive forward the current bipartisan legislation surrounding energy research:

If dollars were votes, newly reintroduced legislation aimed at boosting nuclear energy innovation and advanced reactors would be a winner, thanks to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates’ strong endorsement today.

The world’s second-richest person is the founder and chairman of Bellevue, Wash.-based TerraPower, a startup that’s working on next-generation nuclear fission reactors. Back in December, Gates listed nuclear energy research as one of his top policy priorities, and he reportedly followed up by promising lawmakers he’d invest $1 billion of his own money and line up another $1 billion in private capital if federal funds were approved for a TerraPower pilot project in the United States.

In the past, Gates has also tweeted this and others that are similar:

“Nuclear is ideal for dealing with climate change, because it is the only carbon-free, scalable energy source that’s available 24 hours a day.” – Bill Gates on why he believes in the potential of nuclear. https://bit.ly/2DSSXUS

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT WHY NUCLEAR ENERGY NOW?
Here is a very good overview from Vox media that is worth a few minutes of your time to watch:

We are having solar installed on our new home. In less than five years our cost for electricity will be nearly zero!

Solar power generation is awesome … especially when it enables a person’s electricity consumption to become nearly free within a handful of years. Solar is a smart investment for us personally in our new home and could be for you, too.

BUYING A SOLAR INSTALLATION WAS A NO-BRAINER FOR US
When we moved from Minnesota to California in June of 2018, we knew costs for everything would be higher. We expected that any new home we would buy would cost a lot more (our new home cost nearly double the value of the home we sold back in MN), but what we did not  expect was the high cost of electricity!

In Minnesota we had Xcel Energy whose cost for electricity around-the-clock was 11.7 cents per kilowatt hour. Our new home here in southern California happens to be located in San Diego Gas & Electric‘s (SDGE) region, and it turns out that their electricity cost is the highest in the nation!

SDGE’s pricing plans are numerous, but the year-long average per-kilowatt hour cost — which prospective solar install companies used to calculate our solar system size — was going to be roughly 32 cents per kilowatt hour, nearly 3X what energy cost us when we were living in Minnesota.

On almost all of those SDGE plans there are off-peak, super off-peak and on-peak rates (and one plan even has a cheap car-charging rate from midnight to 6am of only $.09 per kilowatt hour). The on-peak rates are in effect during the summer months — which run from June 1 – October 31 during the 4-9pm time-frame — and what stunned us was the rate during those five hours each day can cost up to $.53 cents per kilowatt hour!

Because of that unexpectedly expensive energy, a few weeks after we closed on our new home we immediately set about learning everything we could about solar, what we needed and what it would cost. We then set about finding the four “best” solar install companies and have them propose a solar panel solution. We selected the best installer for our requirements, signed-up, and everything is in motion.

Within the next several weeks our new solar panel installation will be complete on top of our new home and, based on our projected energy use for the year, our break-even on our solar investment is expected to be 4.8 years. After that our only cost for electricity will be approximately $12 per month for the SDGE “interconnect fee,” which covers the electric meter on our house and account management by them.

Energy rates continue to accelerate and I’ve read numerous articles on the projected 20 year rates that SDGE has received agreement on with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). However, this article from less than a month ago said this:

If approved by CPUC commissioners, average electricity rates in SDG&E’s service territory would increase from 26.25 cents a kilowatt-hour this year to 27.4 cents next year, a rise of 4.54 percent. For a typical residential customer living in the company’s inland climate zone and using 500 kilowatt-hours a month, a bill during a summer month would increase $5.59, according to SDG&E estimates.

I’ve seen SDGE’s own projections and 4.5% per year price accelerator is expected. So as each year passes, our investment in solar energy will pay off even faster and continue to look like a very smart move on our part. But solar (or wind) alone will help combat climate change, but even if every one of the 2,500 homes in our development went solar, it wouldn’t make a serious dent in the emission of  greenhouse gases in to the atmosphere.

For our system being installed, our estimated net electricity cost savings over 25 years will be over $82,000 (assuming a 4% per year utility price escalator). That’s why it was a no-brainer for us to get solar!

Obviously our solar generation will go back in to the grid and offset all of our energy use, including at night. In fact, we’ll be adding about 30% more energy back in to the grid than we consume, just in case we end up with two electric cars at some point and need that extra amount to offset an increase in our consumption.

WHAT ABOUT ENERGY STORAGE?
We drive hybrid cars (and I’m getting a plug-in hybrid in two weeks that will cover 90% of our driving needs on electric) since both my wife and I believe in climate change and that the United States must move forward toward a clean energy future and away from carbon emitting fossil fuels. Charging my PHEV from solar will be easy and free in the near-term, but with energy demand increasing monthly in the United States and around the world, we at least considered buying battery storage to run essential systems (e.g., the refrigerator and some lights).

As such, we also looked at the addition of solar energy battery storage in our garage. Unfortunately batteries are far too expensive and not worth the investment currently (e.g., one Tesla PowerWall is $12,000 and we’d need four of them to be completely energy self-contained) so we’re holding off on storage, perhaps permanently.

As part of our analysis and reading, my wife and I also talked about large-scale battery storage, just in case renewable energy creation does reach critical mass here in California and more energy from solar goes back in to the grid. What might happen if SDGE begins to embrace battery storage for solar-produced energy?

The green energy storage problem is too expensive right now, but we’ll keep an eye on it.

TRUMP & THE GOP DENIGRATING RENEWABLES
It pisses me off that the Trump administration continues to try to gut clean energy spending with his proposed budget that does exactly that. It is clear that this current administration, and Republicans who support Trump’s position on clean energy, continue to position climate change as a “hoax” and the oil & gas industry as “the future” of energy.

Remember when one of the key talking points for the GOP (for decades) was toward less dependence on foreign oil? That wasn’t positioning for renewables, that was positioning for more drilling (and now for fracking shale to squeeze out oil and get natural gas).

Do either Trump or the GOP think that all of their own base of supporters and constituents are too stupid to think for themselves? Such idiots that they don’t believe in science? Though I don’t think President Trump is even capable of thinking deeply about any issue, Republicans should at least realize that even corporations are calling for action on climate change and they’d better stop being dumbf*cks, sucking-up to the oil & gas industry.

Also, I’m glad I’m not alone in my outrage and found this hilarious:

Here is what I believe is the *best* backup solution money can buy

It happened again this morning: A friend reached out to tell me their PC’s 1TB hard drive had crashed and could I help? Of course you guessed it, they did not have it backed up, the drive was toast, and they have either lost everything or could pay close to $2,000 to have the drive recovered!

I have a hard time feeling any sympathy for them, especially since he and I have discussed backup numerous times. I’ve always encouraged him to buy one of inexpensive backup drives that exist, which makes backing up so simple that anyone can do it, even him. So I’ll implore you to backup just like I did him but he is serious about it now after it is too late: PLEASE back up all of your systems and, especially, your main PC or Mac. It’s not IF your hard drive will fail, but rather WHEN it will fail.

WHY I DON’T BACKUP TO CHEAP DRIVES
For me, however, a cheap backup drive won’t do it which is why I use the ioSafe G3 drives:

The ioSafe Solo G3 is fireproof and waterproof external hard drive engineered to keep data safe during fires and floods and to protect to from theft. Designed for optimal reliability, the G3 hard drive is the easiest way to protect your photos, videos, documents and other irreplaceable data.

I’ve written about these drives before here and here and I own two of them. My iMac has a 1TB solid state drive in it and I have one external 3TB ioSafe G3 drive which is nearly full of music, photos, and files. Both my iMac’s drive and my external 3TB drive are encrypted with FileVault, so I needed a 4TB external drive to use for a Time Machine backup drive. So I purchased that second ioSafe drive — this time in a 4TB size — to back them both up (and yes, everything is encrypted there too).

In fact, today I ordered another ioSafe G3 drive but this time in a 6TB configuration. Why? Because my Time Machine backups only go back 30 days and I want them to go at least 30 days further back and maybe longer, so an extra 2TBs of storage will enable me to do that (and I’ll wipe my 4TB drive and connect it to my wife’s iMac).

WHY I DON’T BACKUP TO THE CLOUD
Consider me paranoid, but unless I control the private encryption key I don’t feel my data is safe. Anyone with that key can unlock my data and view it (e.g., Dropbox can, in theory, read all of your files).

The only one I would consider is SpiderOak’s personal One backup plan, a solution that encrypts your data before it is backed up and sent to their servers. As good as SpiderOak is, there are a few “fatal flaws” I see with using it (or any cloud service) as my primary backup solution:

  • My data is in the cloud on someone else’s servers.
  • It takes forever to transfer large data files so backing up is time consuming. Moving huge files can also hammer on your internet service provider’s data caps (which are becoming more common now that TV streaming is ubiquitous and used by more people than ever before) so you’ll have to pay more for data.
  • The 5TB service I’d need is $29 per month ($348 per year) which would buy an ioSafe G3 drive itself!

WHY I USE IOSAFE DRIVES & BELIEVE THEY’RE THE BEST

Look … you can go ahead and backup to cheap drives. But lets say your house catches on fire and the fire department arrives to put it out. If the area near your computer burns your PC is melted and so are your backup drives and everything will be lost. Even if it doesn’t burn and melt, the water used to put out the fire will most likely compromise the backup drives and make them unrecoverable.

The features that make it “the best” backup solution money can buy include:

  • The ioSafe drives can withstand temperatures up to 1550°F for 30 minutes per ASTM E119 (PDF).
  • They can be completely submerged in fresh or salt water up to a 10′ depth for 72 hours (which is so much more than a firehose would douse them with in a house fire).
  • The drives can be secured to either the floor or a hard-to-move object to prevent the drive, and the data it holds, from being stolen (I bolted my drives to my desk when our house was up for sale so no one could grab one and run off with it!).
  • These drives are very, very quiet and, with USB 3, they are fast.
  • They are a “set it and forget it” backup solution. If you have a Mac, use Time Machine to back up your computer. If you have a Windows PC, buying an ioSafe drive includes a license to Genie Timeline Professional: easy to use backup software for Windows that can protect your data with military-grade 256-AES encryption.

Living here in southern California makes drives like these even MORE important for my wife and for me. With earthquakes, wildfires, and more humans than most places on earth (so more likelihood of theft), having these drives as my backup solution give me peace of mind.

HOW AND WHERE TO BUY
Though you can buy these drives directly from ioSafe, here are a few places to pick up a 2TB, 3TB or 4TB drive less expensively:

WHATEVER YOU DO … BACK UP!!
Borsch, you’ve told me I need to back up … I get it!” OK, OK … but I thought my buddy didn’t want to hear me pontificate about backing up either and he didn’t … and now he’s lost all his photos, videos, emails and other data.

Don’t be like my buddy … back up now.

Disclaimer: I receive absolutely nothing from ioSafe or anyone else for my enthusiasm for their incredible hard drives. Yes, I do think they’re the best and just want everyone to back up!

Cox: Want to add a service online? Not a problem. Delete an Add-on or Service online? You MUST call them!!

I have to admit that I get irrationally angry when a major internet service provider like Cox does not allow true and complete management of one’s internet service online.

It’s easy to add a Cox service in my account, like I did when our son’s internet use threatened to push us over our 1 terabyte “cap” on our internet use (1 terabyte = 1,024 GBs). So I chose Cox’s “add-on” of 500GBs additional data. Doing so ensured I wouldn’t have to pay their $10 per 50GBs overage cost.

We were on a run-rate to be closer to 1,400 GBs and it was much cheaper to pay the add-on cost of $29.99 for 500 GBs, instead of the $75 it would have cost as an overage for the possible 376 GBs additional data we would likely have used.

But now that our son has moved to Santa Monica for a job, our data use has plummeted and is well under that 1 terabyte ceiling.

So this morning I went online to Cox and discovered — just like Comcast did in the State of Minnesota we left last June — the only way to cancel or remove an add-on or service is … you guessed it … to call a human in their respective billing departments.

Yes, I know this is so they have an opportunity to convince us to keep the service or add-on. To have a chance to upsell us on new services. BUT I AM SICK OF THE GAME and just want to do what I do with my Schwab brokerage accounts, Wells Fargo banking accounts, and the myriad of other services I use that “get it” when it comes to allowing FULL MANAGEMENT OF ONE’S ACCOUNT ONLINE.

So Cox, Comcast and others … quit the bullshit games and pretend like you understand the internet, the web, and how it works. All you do is piss off people like me who see right through your veiled attempts.

When Minnesota Was on the Precipice of Dominating the New Field of Computers

Around 1971 our neighbor across the street, Tom Thiers, pulled up in his bright blue Chevrolet Camaro. As a 16 year old kid close to getting my own car, I rushed across the street to talk to him and check-out the new car (new to him as it was a used 1st generation Camaro).

Tom was not much older than me so I blurted out, “How could you afford that car?” Sitting like a cool guy in the driver’s seat, he slid down his sunglasses and said, “Because I’m now working in the field of computers.

You see, Tom had gone to work at Control Data Corporation (CDC), the mainframe and supercomputer firm, which Wikipedia states was “…one of the nine major United States computer companies through most of the 1960s; the others were IBM, Burroughs Corporation, DEC, NCR, General Electric, Honeywell, RCA, and UNIVAC.”

Seymour Cray (whom I wrote about here in 2007) ended up creating Cray Research, for a time one of the most important supercomputer companies in the world.

As a guy who grew up knowing so many people who worked at Remington Rand’s ERA, Control Data, Cray Research, at the University of Minnesota Supercomputer Center — and was endlessly fascinated by computing — it was obvious to me that I’d end up working my entire career in technology.

At the same time I feel a great sense of sadness on what did not happen in Minnesota when it comes to the evolution of computing toward minicomputers, workstations, then personal computers, and finally all the devices we use today with computing chips in them like smartphones, tablets, Internet of Things devices, and much more. My home state could easily have become the dominant place where the future was invented.

Here are a few short videos you might enjoy:

Why I Don’t Trust Social Login and Why WiFi Remote Access Should Be More Secure

Do you use social login? How about for remote access to your home WiFi router when you’re not at home? Unless you have good password practices and multi-factor authentication, I recommend you do NOT enable remote access of any kind, and maybe consider never using social login ever again.

I am very pleased with our Amplifi Mesh Wi-Fi System installation but have one security-related issue: For remotely logging in to the router from my smartphone, the remote-access, social login credentials are only ones from two providers: Google and Facebook.

While implementing social login is far easier for developers than building a custom login solution — and social login is often assumed by them to be the path of least resistance since these big companies can protect user credentials better than a smaller company — that “big company is more secure” assumption has been proven false and highly risky:

Use of social login also assumes that the user has excellent password practices and/or uses multi-factor authentication, which is usually not the case. So if the user doesn’t implement those best-practices when it comes to protecting their Google or Facebook logins, then Amplifi’s parent company, Ubiquiti, may feel they are off-the-hook in the event of a breach?

I would argue that a blackhat hacker obtaining a social login email and password is trivial (e.g., I can name twenty-five friends and family that have had social accounts hacked in to).

Unless the user has implemented multi-factor authentication, then those social login credentials could be used to gain access to a home WiFi router that use social logins for remote access.

I’ve added this suggestion on the Amplifi community forum to ask the company to have a Ubiquiti-driven login with multi-factor authentication, and in it asked these questions:

  • What is your position on security and privacy where it comes to enabling Google and Facebook to potentially monitor outbound traffic from an IP address?
  • As such, do you have a security/privacy white paper that outlines how you use the Google and Facebook social APIs, and specifically what you allow Google and Facebook to monitor? (like router IP address).

While I appreciate that our Amplifi Mesh Wi-Fi System is focused on simplicity first and granular level detail on security and privacy second, I’d like to see a public/private key, encrypted, Ubiquiti-delivered remote access login (where I hold both keys) along with multi-factor authentication … at a minimum.

Effective Green Screen Gear You Can Buy Inexpensively


A screenshot of me, in front of my green screen, layered over a background image

Wanted to show-off a bit with some new gear. I’ve been doing a bunch of tech-coaching for a guy I know and helping him with his website and, along with other client connections, I’ve increasingly been on webinars, online meetings, and Skype group calls. I was sick and tired of my crappy looking video, so I bought a green screen, some lights, and after a lot of goofing around to figure stuff out, it’s all up-and-running and working flawlessly.

For effective green screen video one needs good lighting and, most importantly, a high resolution camera. Unfortunately webcams don’t work (even though so many people insist they do), green-fringing is startling obvious when I’m superimposed over some image or video, so I invested a bunch of time in figuring out how to use my Nikon D500 DSLR as a very expensive webcam!

Here is my set up:

  • Nikon D500 DSLR set in Live View with tweaked settings so it doesn’t automatically shut off after 10 minutes! With my lens, this is a $4,000 camera. If you do not have a good resolution camera, then a good mirrorless or DSLR model will set you back $1,000 – $3,000 or so.
  • LED Lighting kit = $300 (at Amazon) These LEDs are very flexible. They are bi-color variable with a temperature range of 2300K – 6800K so it is easy to warm up or cool down the color temperature of the light. It also has a brightness range of 10~100%. Pretty dang good for cheap lights!
  • Soft boxes for those lights = $80 (at Amazon) I had to have diffusing for these lights as they were just a bit harsh when maxed out in brightness.
  • Elgato Green Screen = $160 (at Amazon) Though I’d like one a bit wider, this is the most perfect product of its type I’ve seen yet.
  • Blue Raspberry microphone = $220 I own this one since it also works with iPhone and iPad.

Though I already had the camera and microphone, for just under $600 I added good quality green screen video capability. (NOTE: In the photos below you’ll notice a RODE microphone on top of my Nikon D500. I only use that when recording video in to the camera’s storage, usually for remote set ups).

So if you are a vlogger, do numerous webinars or online meetings, or just want to record videos for YouTube, then this gear can help you get going!

The Time is Now to Cut-the-Cord and Choose Streaming

Want to cut the cord with cable TV and go streaming only? Let me tell you about my cutting-the-cord adventure and suggest what you might do if you are considering a move to streaming television, and though the time is now, there are some caveats to be aware of before you get the metaphorical scissors out and start snipping.

MY CORD-CUTTING ADVENTURE
When getting ready to sell our house in October of 2017 — we moved from Minnesota to southern California in mid-2018 — I had the following home theater gear:

  • TiVo box as a tuner and DVR
  • Sony BluRay player
  • Pioneer A/V receiver
  • AppleTV
  • Roku TV
  • Bookshelf speakers.

In order to make our house look bigger and get rid of clutter, I boxed up everything but the AppleTV, bought a cheap Vizio sound bar (to replace the receiver and bookshelf speakers) and called Comcast to cut cable (which, by the way, we were paying over $100 per month for!) since we had an early version of DirecTV NOW and could stream local channels too. Comcast tried VERY hard to keep me, but I informed them that we’d sold the house and were moving to an area without Comcast…then it was no problem and they backed-off and let us do it.

I’d considered cutting-the-cord with cable TV starting in 2015, but the time was never quite right. But I continued to hunt around for the best deal and service, so when AT&T announced they were enabling AT&T Unlimited Plus mobile subscribers like us to get DirecTV NOW for $10/month and $5/month for HBO, we immediately signed up. Over time I’ve participated in beta releases as they tested out new features and have never looked back. The kicker though? AT&T just announced two new pricing and packages and are increasing the “grandfathered” subscriber’s price (like mine) to $20/month. Fortunately it still includes our favorite, HBO.

So today we only use our AppleTV….that’s it. The home theater gear mentioned above is still in boxes, nearly 10 months after we moved to California (and I’ll probably sell it). The AppleTV remote controls both the power/volume for the TV and the AppleTV itself, which makes my wife quite happy as we used to have five remotes to control everything in our old home theater.

Our minimalism approach to TV pleases us both and we’ll never go back.

After we cut the cord, we wanted to receive the programming we desired or found interesting, so today we also subscribe to Netflix; Hulu; AcornTV and CBS All Access. Our total out-of-pocket cost for our replacing of Comcast Cable (and we also receive more channels now than we did with Comcast) is:

  • DirecTV NOW: $20 (we got the early adopter deal and it is now $50 per month for new subscribers)
  • Netflix: $15
  • Hulu: $12
  • AcornTV: $5
  • CBS: $10
  • TOTAL: $62

Back in Minnesota we were paying about $120 for Comcast cable TV and $70 for internet (with 75mbps/down and 18mbps/up speeds — “mbps” stands for megabits per second) or $190 per month. (NOTE: We would, however, gain better pricing on our cable TV cost by going to the Comcast store every six months. They’d explore packages and get us a better deal on TV…so we were often paying $25-$40 less for TV than that $120 per month).

Here in California we are paying $62 per month for all our TV coming through DirecTV NOW, and those TV apps mentioned above, streamed to our AppleTV. We pay $90 for fiber internet with speeds of 300mbps/down and 30mbps/up for $152 per month (NOTE: my internet was only $54 per month, but I had to add an additional 500GBs per month since we were using close to the 1 terabyte ceiling of data per month!). I foresee being able to lower costs for those other TV apps as services become more robust and bundle them, so hopefully we won’t have to subscribe to a bunch of other TV-app-services forever.

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Firefox Releases ‘Firefox Send’ a Free, Simple & Private File Sharing Service

After I switched from Google Chrome back to Firefox, I’ve never second-guessed my decision. Especially because I use Firefox Quantum: Developer Edition every day as well, but primarily it’s when something as cool and useful as Firefox Send debuts.

Mozilla, the non-profit behind the Firefox browser, just released Firefox Send and, even though I’d used the beta version some weeks ago, I tried the final released version just now.(Please note that the servers are slammed this morning so be patient as the Send app loads).

With Firefox Send you can share files up to 2.5 GBs in size through your web browser and they will be end-to-end encrypted to its destination.

To get started:

1. Go to https://send.firefox.com

2. In the upper right click “Sign in/up”

3. Create a Firefox account and activate it via the email sent to you

4. Go back to https://send.firefox.com and try uploading one or more files (up to 2.5 GBs, of course). You can choose to have the file(s) download expire after 1 – 100 downloads and/or by placing a time limit the download will be available of 5 minutes | 1 hour | 1 day | 7 days. Most importantly you can also protect the file(s) download with a password .

5. Once your up-to-2.5 GBs of file(s) are uploaded, you can copy the link to share with one or more people:

Yet another reason I’m glad I made the switch to Firefox and away from Chrome.