Off the Hook By Going Off the Airwaves

Avoiding Getting Wired

In the place we used to live in near High Park, we used to have cable. When we moved into our new home, we opted out of paying for cable and watched whatever we could pick up from the analog feed to our house. The TV we had was not the greatest and picked up a small number of channels (most of which were fuzzy). Even though this wasn’t the greatest option, we didn’t mind as our TV wasn’t awesome and wouldn’t take advantage of the Holy Grail that is HD.

Fast forward a few years and the TV started to show its age; we finally ended up getting a new TV (more at my insistence). Due to me getting my wish, Mrs. J made a simple ask: CTV (which never showed up using cable or a simple antenna using our old TV). The decision was made to get an antenna that would allow us to pick up digital signals. Due to my fear of heights and the fact that I had no idea how to install one, we decided to call some professionals.


Geoff does some prep work.
Click to enlarge…

The Antenna Guys

A friend of Mrs. J’s sent her an article about getting HDTV channels using an antenna, and had a helpful link to company called The Antenna Guys. It is a small operation (based in Toronto) made up of a few guys that will come to your house and install a Channel Master antenna (or another one available from their inventory listed on their home page) and wire it to your distribution point so that you might be able to take advantage of the airwaves.

I spoke to Geoff (the owner) to get a quote and the cost of installation was relatively affordable (they even take off $25 if you provide a ladder and are easily reachable by TTC). Really, when you think about it, if you’re not really a specialty-channel-kind-of-person, you’re really doing yourself a disservice by buying basic cable, especially considering the fact that a lot of the channels that you watch are probably available using an antenna. The one-time charge of installation of an antenna is recouped in a few months in terms of saving money by not paying for a cable provider for your TV.


The Channel Master antenna and neat wiring.
Click to enlarge…

I touched base a few times with Geoff to make an appointment. Accommodating and polite, he explained what they did and we worked out a time when I would be home so they could do what they needed to do. As his partner was riding a bike to get to our place, he did all of the prep work so that when his “climber” arrived, there would be no delay. Installation took a few hours (which was impressive considering how icy the roof was) and we received a decent number of HD channels which is impressive considering where we are located.

One thing to keep in mind when working with The Antenna Guys: make sure you are explicit in how you want things wired; this is something that they appreciate. For instance, I asked Geoff not to anchor the cable he brought into the house (he had to drill in) so that I might have some slack to do some rewiring if I needed to at a later time. He did exactly as I asked, and left a good length of coil which I have stored in my laundry room.


Antenna mounted and pointed towards the CN Tower.
Click to enlarge…

Another awesome thing they did: fixed up the wiring outside the house. Geoff tie-wrapped and straightened a lot of the messy wiring job of previous folks. He even left me extra caulking to plug up some of the other holes that he found that had been drilled before he got there.

The Antenna Guys are a great group of dudes who will help you unshackle yourself from the expense that is cable and reap the benefits of free off-the-air digital signals. I would recommend these guys to anyone interested in this kind of thing.
Geoff is a salt-of-the-Earth kind of guy whose business is in its infancy and he could use the support of word-of-mouth advertising; if you or anyone you know is thinking about going aerial, check out their web page.


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That Was the Week That Was

G20

I posted something a little while ago that addressed my thoughts on the event; specifically, the poor choice of venue (downtown Toronto) and the amount of money (more than I will make in a lifetime).

During the event (and frankly, after), I expressed my shame at being a Canadian; this opinion was met with a lot of resistance, disbelief, and some commendable positivity. I haven’t really written anything further about it because I wanted it to settle in my mind; I wanted to learn more about what happened on all sides of this disaster, so that I could better express myself in a way that could be easily understood.

I will break down this discussion into sections, partially for my own benefit, but also so that one may follow what I have to say that much more easily…



The Protesters

It takes a lot of guts to express your opinion while armed and armoured enforcers are standing by, watching you. Of course, I’m referring to those people who were actually there to convey an actual message. Unfortunately, the messages were hard to see on all forms of media because the focus tended to be on those who were causing a disturbance.

The anarchist groups take so much away from the legitimate protesters because of their behaviour. I’m sure that most of them are intelligent people, but, one has to wonder; rampaging up and down city streets causing a swath of destruction sort of takes away from the word ‘peaceful’. And, pardon the pun, all of it tends to be not in the least constructive.

One of the many things that piqued my interest was a journalist trying to film them doing their thing; many of them were masked, but the ones that weren’t were taking offense to being filmed on camera, citing that it was a violation of their personal space. Then they would smash the front windows of a business that was as far away from being part of a national franchise as I am from the South Pole.

There were also those that were in the face of the police at all times. I understand expressing yourself, but badgering people and provoking them is not a good idea. I am honestly surprised that more of these people survived with their bones intact.

Then there were those who are sheep. They want to be cool and unique, but they don’t have the balls to do it on their own. You know the ones that I am talking about; they stand by, wishing to be part of something great, and when the first brick is thrown they decide to do what everyone else is doing and start causing problems or mouthing off. They are the first to complain when apprehended, explaining that they were merely caught up in the wave. I call them cowards.

I am ashamed of being a Canadian relative to these people because we are supposed to pride ourselves on our ability to keep an even keel. Why the destruction? Why the belligerence? We should be better than that.



The Police

I avoided being downtown for the whole week. I telecommuted, and enjoyed the peace and quiet of my basement office while others less fortunate were stopped and had their bags checked. While I respect law enforcement, there is something to be said about the effect of having so many of them in one place; not to mention the unspoken paranoia of having to protect world leaders. It is not an enviable position.

I am confused as to what was going on at some points on the weekend, but this much is clear: those in charge of this massive undertaking were taken by surprise, even though they were supposedly prepared. In fact, on the Saturday, I wonder what the plan was considering: that a rampaging mob went unchecked for a significant period of time on two of downtown Toronto’s biggest streets; police cars were left unattended in intersections, long enough to be set on fire; at least a billion dollars was spent.

The strategy for the Sunday seemed to be clear: let’s intimidate the hell out of everyone and hope that it keeps everything quiet. That’s what it seemed to me, anyway.

The sad part is that no matter how good of a job they did, the damning video footage of some of their antics is forging a path towards a public inquiry. There was much brutality and overreaction from parts of the group, leading to the injury of many innocent people.

I am ashamed of being a Canadian relative to this group because these are the folks we look to when order needs to be kept; a number of these people chose not to be respectable. There was anything but order during parts of the weekend, and the sad part is that command did not send units to disperse what was obviously a group bent on violent action without any thought. In fact, rumours are floating about that the destruction was all part of some greater plan, though what that plan could be baffles my imagination.

I feel for the good cops; the ones who do a great job and work hard, shrugging off the tantalizing lure of the behaviours they could enjoy due to their station. People will not look at them with the same level of trust and respect that they would have before.



The Government

In my opinion, our government dropped the ball on this one, and really, should be held the most accountable. By staging this meeting in an area very easily accessible to everyone, they practically handed out gilded invitations to criminals and shit-disturbers everywhere.

If you throw a party, and someone that you invited turns out to be a very negative influence, would you invite them again? If other people have thrown parties and are unlucky enough to have invited some unsavoury individuals into their homes and paid the price, would you invite those same individuals to your next party? It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

A friend indicated in my last G20 post that holding the event in a more remote location may not have been feasible from a resource standpoint. I respectfully call bullshit. I highly doubt that holding meetings of this nature in a remote location with an elite security force would really cost much more than the money that we spent on this joke. My wife has pointed out that people may still get together and cause mayhem in the closest city, but I would think that having this far from ANY urban center would make people think twice; I doubt that most people would spend the money to travel too far to cause mischief, unless they had the same conviction as those with an actual peaceful message.

In a classic my-dick-is-bigger-than-yours play, the Government has given Toronto (and I’m quoting a few writers when I type this) a “black eye”. Maybe the whole point of trashing the city was to prevent any similar future events from occurring? Perhaps that’s giving them a little too much credit.

I am ashamed of being a Canadian relative to our Government, because as our leaders they should represent our interests; they failed. In a time where money is more precious than ever, they spend like there was no tomorrow, providing many people (not from our city) with equipment that would never be used and overtime that was probably never even needed. Don’t even get me started on the fake lake.



C’est Tout

It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few months as interesting facts and stories rise to the surface of public awareness.

That’s all I really feel like typing for now. I just wanted people to know why I typed what I did before (in Twitter and so forth), and that my source of disappointment had some focus. As a Canadian, I try to be the best person I can be, and so do many other people that I know. Of that I am not ashamed.


Gee, Twenty?

Why?

I find it interesting that we are hosting a bunch of countries to talk about the world economy, and are crippling the economy downtown to do it. A dramatic over-statement? Not really. Considering a truck accident on the 401 years ago cost the city a crap-ton of money in lost trade revenue, I would say that closing off a section of downtown and putting a good chunk of the rest on lock-down is probably not much better.

The billion-dollar line item on the budget (for security) is astounding. I guess it’s because of the potential danger posed to the world leaders from all of the protesters. This begs the question: would you need to have so much security if you held the summit in a more remote area? No, they would not. In my opinion, holding the summit in one of the most accessible places in Ontario by all forms of transit is just an invitation for protesters to flock to the area and do their thing.

This all smacks of childish dick-measuring.

Trying to compensate for something, Mr. Harper?