Is There a Better Method For Getting The Best Cable Price?

This morning I was looking at my Time Warner Cable bill and wondered if there is a promotion that will reduce my cable bill. I am currently paying $114.94 every month for Internet access. The Internet speed that I am paying for is up to 50 Mbps (download) and up to 5 Mbps (upload). I could get by with either 30 Mbps (download) and 5 Mbps (upload) or 20 Mbps (download) and 2 Mbps (upload) but I don’t want any stuttering, freezing, or anything that would hinder me from streaming media on the internet. Because I am a cord cutter, download different ISOs from my Microsoft TechNet subscription, perform offsite backups with CrashPlan, and update my computers, I want the fastest internet speed Time Warner Cable has available.

I called Time Warner Cable this morning and talked to an account representative who quickly found a promotion on my cable account. The promotion will reduce my cable bill from $114.94 to $74.94. That is a savings of $40 per month or $480 for the term of the promotion. This is a promotion that is good for 12 month and once the promotion expires could/will increase my cable bill back to $114.94 or to a price that is more than $74.94 but less than $114.94. I did not understand that part as it was explained to me but I will keep a closer eye on my cable bill. I have already placed a reminder a year from today to call Time Warner Cable to check for any new promotions.

I asked the Time Warner Cable account representative this question “Why do I have call Time Warner Cable every year to check for any new promotions?” The account representative did not have an answer (surprise). I don’t blame the account representative as this person is doing what she is being trained to do which look up my cable account information and check to see if the system has awarded me a promotion. I guess you can look at this process as winning a small lottery because there may not a promotion on your cable account each time you call Time Warner Cable. To me, this is an act of frustration because everyone with a Time Warner Cable account has to take the time to call to see if there is a promotion. I can see why Time Warner Cable goes with this business model because they are counting on you to keep paying your cable bill at full price. I can see this business plan as a opportunity to reinvest with their infrastructure to enhance their service (faster internet speeds, better equipment, more useful services. Does this really happen? My answer is “No”. What causes Time Warner Cable to offer better/more services is competition. For example Time Warner Cable Internet upgrade due to rival takeover attempt and Google Fiber announce plans to expand to other cities. AT&T announced their expansion of Gigabit Internet speeds to other cities shortly after Google announced their plans to expand Google Fiber to other cities. Is this a coincidence about AT&T announcement? The answer is “NO”.

The point I am trying to make is for management at Time Warner Cable and other Internet Service Providers should to take a close look at their current pricing polices and services in hopes of eliminating promotional offers and just offer one low price. With Google Fiber and AT&T upping the game to offer cheaper and faster Internet speeds, I hope that Time Warner Cable management will get their heads out of the sand and make some changes to try to keep their customers rather than wait for them to switch to Google Fiber or AT&T.

What to do with a Google Chromecast?

On July 24, 2013 Google introduced and made available to the world Chromecast. A small device that connects to one of your TV’s HDMI ports and allows you to stream a handful of apps from your computer/laptop, tablet, or smartphone. With a limited-time promotion of free Netflix (www.netflix.com) for three months, many hailed this as a no-brainer purchase at a cost of $35. Although there were few apps available to be streamed to Chromecast, the device was sold out in a few days. What happened to those devices that were eagerly purchased? Are they being used or lying in a closet or desk drawer? How are they being used?

 I purchased a Google Chromecast from BestBuy for $30 (plus tax) last month. I did missed out on the nice limited-time Netflix promotion but I had an idea of where and how I would use this device. Before I divulge my idea, let me take a step back and inform people that I am a cord cutter. For those who do not know what a cord cutter is, here is a link. I have been a cord cutter since March 2011. Do I miss having cable TV? The answer is no. I subscribe to Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime. Earlier this year, I have purchased a ClearStream Micron XG indoor HD TV antenna for $100 to get local channels. By becoming a cord cutter, I have become more productive around the house and ended my dependence to cable TV.

 With more time to work around the house, I have setup a guest room and mounted a 35-inch flat panel TV in the room. What better use for a Google Chromecast than on the guest room TV.  Installation was a breeze and streaming media to the Chromecast was way easy. When guests or my niece and nephews spend the night, they can steam content to my Google Chromecast.

 Google is developing and releasing interesting devices that is making people thing twice about subscribing to cable TV or satellite TV. It makes me smile when I go to my local Best Buy and approached by a Direct TV rep trying to sell me on their service. My response is a polite “I am a cord cutter”. The reactions vary from confusion or the response of “Oh” which leads the rep to walk away. I am not against cable TV or satellite TV but what I am against is the idea of paying for channels that I don’t watch or care to watch. Maybe with the release and development of Google Chromecast (and other steaming devices) that cable and satellite TV companies may start to take notice and offer people choices.

Looking for a Job in IT

I have been working in Information Technology (IT) since I graduated from the University of South Florida in 1997 with a B.S. in Management Information Systems. During the pre Y2K, anyone with college degree, some technical experience, or a wiliness to learn was offered a job working in IT. Some people began changing careers by getting their MSCE certification and entering the IT workforce. During that time, people who wanted to change their current career (mechanic, plumber, and other jobs) asked me how to get a job in IT. I did not have an answer at that time. One of their biggest arguments for a career change was money, able to work in growing career field, and work in a clean/air conditioned environment. To become certified as a MSCE during that time, a person can sign up for classes at a school to prepare them for the MCSE exams. Schools started opening up to meet the demand and people were willing to pay thousands of dollars for courses to prepare them for the MSCE exams. What many prospective students failed to understand or schools failed to mentioned to them is that earning a certification is only part of the process of getting a IT job or starting a career in IT. The other part is having experience. What Microsoft discovered as students was passing the MSCE exams and earning their certifications was their lack of experience. Some companies found out the hard way by hiring people who earned their MSCE certification but lacked any IT experience. Some companies complained to Microsoft, which prompted them to change the exams after Y2K. After the dot-com bubble , there was a lot of out of work IT professionals looking for a job and other people who completed their Microsoft Certified System Engineer or MCSE (Microsoft has renamed MCSE to Microsoft Certified Solutions Experts. This created a glut of IT professionals in the workforce looking for a job. I took a Microsoft Windows XP exam in 2003 and it was not a walk in the park. With the help of a school, a colleague, and my IT experience, I passed the exam. I can honestly say that the Windows XP exam was one of the toughest exams I have taken.

Fast forward to 2013. I am still working in the IT field (Office of Information and Technology for a VA hospital in North Carolina) and survived the different computer trends (client – server, offshoring IT jobs to other countries, company mergers, etc. ….). I am noticing another trend in IT, which is Internet Security. After President Obama signed the 2013 Cybersecurity Executive Order, I started to notice a trend of people changing careers to Internet Security/Network Security and schools offering certifications and degrees in Internet Security. How did I notice a trend of people changing careers to Internet/Network Security? Simple, people called my department, came to the front desk of my department, or volunteer in my department. I would talk to the people and noticed that what they have in common is a lack of IT experience and they are going through a Internet/Network Security program at a local school or college. Does this sound like a familiar trend that happened during pre-Y2K?

 

 Below are some suggestions for gaining experience in IT.

 

 Volunteer at your local church – There are hundreds if not thousands of small churches who need help setting up internet access, a small computer lab, or a web presence.

 

 Talk to your local barber – A person who is in constant contact with people who may have computer issues, Internet issues, or churches who need IT help. My good friend David Beatty who owns Beatty’s Barber Shop & Beauty Salon has helped me over the years find computer jobs. You can also see him in this TV clip of Church Rescue.

 

 Volunteer at your local nonprofit organizations – Many nonprofit organizations may have a inter program or volunteer program within their IT department.

 

 VA Voluntary Service – For veterans, there is the VA Voluntary Service. A met a good friend who used the VA Voluntary Service and is volunteering with my department. He is gaining IT experience and getting a degree in IT.

 

 Work on your own computers and network – It is one thing to learn in a computer lab and another thing to apply what you learned in real life situations. Each home has its own network but how manages that network. This is as good of place as any to work on computers, setup a network, and manage a network. I learned a lot about computer working on my own equipment. I still learn using my own equipment. I also listen to different podcasts to continue learning the trends in IT. Below is a list of podcasts that I listen to.

 

 The Tech Guy

 

 MacBreak Weekly

 

 My Hard Drive Died

 

 Network Security Podcast

 

 Rich’s Random Podcast Generator

 

Security Now

 

 Surface Geeks Podcast

 

 The BYOB Podcast

 

 The Home Server Show Podcast

 

 Home Tech

 

 The Southern Fried Security Podcast

 

 This Week in Google

 

 What The Tech

 

 Windows Weekly

 

 

Overall, I tell people to “Think outside of the box”. The days of walking to a company, applying for an IT job, and being hired are over. Many companies have web sites to submit an application. I tell the people who walk to the front desk of my department to go to our web site