I get a little antsy about my home Internet speed when I spend any amount of time planning out home server stuff, and considering my little purchase of 50 TB of hard drives the other day…

In a way, it seems only natural – my next steps are to migrate the storage part of my media server into a rackmount NAS to go alongside the other rackmount server I acquired earlier this year that now houses the rest of Plex and the tools that I use to download content.

I’ve already picked out some new Ubiquiti rackmount network gear that I want to replace the router from my ISP with…

…and today I was even looking into the option of running 10 Gbps connections between my servers because, well, the only thing cooler than moving files around at 125 MB/s is moving files around at 1.25 GB/s!!!

So yeah, when we’re talking about internal network speeds in excess of one gigabit, it’s hard not to glance at the weak link in the chain that is my Internet connection and wonder, “Why can’t you keep up, little guy?!”

And don’t get me wrong – I totally get that only 25% of the country currently even has access to fiber Internet and a lot of people are stuck with cable or even DSL … but that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow that the line currently running into my garage could be chugging along at a crisp and refreshing 1 Gbps, but instead here I am scrapping by with a mere 200 Mbps like a chump out of the stone age…

Truth be told, I just moved up from 150 Mbps to 200 Mbps this fall, but before that I’ve been sitting at 150 Mbps for almost 4 years now. In fact, I upgraded just before Verizon sold FiOS in Florida off to Frontier because I was afraid they’d make it a lot harder to upgrade in the future…

Foreshadowing!

To be honest, I have kind of a love-hate relationship with Frontier because the FiOS network itself is wonderful … it’s just that Frontier themselves isn’t a very smart company to be running it. Their customer service is typically awful, their pricing isn’t competitive, and lest we not forget, this was the fiber company previously ran by the CEO who thought that gigabit was a fad and consumers don’t really need it.

Sure, maybe not now, but what kind of a technology company doesn’t anticipate their customers’ needs well into the future?!

Anyways, I’ve been going back and forth with Frontier on various social media channels about how it isn’t fair that they only offer promotional pricing to new customers. They’ve actually argued back that it’s an industry standard and everyone does it … as if that makes it ok … and maybe it would, if only they didn’t charge half again as much for existing customers once those crazy promotions run out!

Seriously – I currently pay $75/month for a plan that a new subscriber can get for $50/month.

…and they can’t find any way to incentivize me sticking around for seven years now?!

I think what bugs me the most is the disparity for upgrading to the tiers above me because $10-20/month extra would be understandable, but that’s not what Frontier’s fee structure looks like…

  • 200 Mbps – $75/month
  • 300 Mbps – $125/month
  • 500 Mbps – $175/month
  • 1 Gbps – $225/month

Another fifty bucks for each leap is excessive, particularly when the likes of Verizon and AT&T and Comcast all selling gigabit access in their markets for around $100.

Even Spectrum, our local cable alternative, offers gigabit for $100, although the argument there is that they don’t support symmetrical speeds yet, so the upload is still way lower than the downstream … at least for now.

I told the account manager I was emailing with earlier today that I’d be happy to pay an extra twenty bucks to go up to 500 Mbps or $125 … hell, I’d even do $150/month for gigabit, despite it being almost double what Verizon is charging for the same service!

But when did we get to the point where $50 upgrades were the norm … unless Frontier simply doesn’t really want to sell these highest tiers and they figure if people want them badly enough, they’ll pay through the nose for them.

I suppose this is technically offering gigabit service, but not at a price where it will ever get widely adopted, that’s for sure…

It just makes me wish that Verizon had never sold us off, or that Frontier would hurry up and go bankrupt already so that someone else could swoop in and buy all of the assets from them. It’s sad that broadband rollout hasn’t been far more aggressive in the United States because it’s not like these companies don’t have the money to do it, and we’ve a million times over proven the value of high speed Internet access in our daily lives.

I really don’t like this direction we’re heading where Verizon is convinced that wireless is what we need for broadband – mostly because of how they love to charge by the GB for it – and right now they’ve got their stooge heading the FCC that’s dedicated to gutting any and all regulations holding them back from maximizing Internet profits for shareholder benefit.

Amidst all of my frustrations this evening, I actually found myself pondering if it would be worthwhile to try load balancing between two ISPs … for the same $175/month that Frontier wants for 500 Mbps, I could keep the 200 Mbps line that I have with them and buy a second, gigabit connection from Spectrum to try them out as an ISP and enjoy the benefits of that extreme download speed!

The thing is, as much as Frontier insists that I’m a valued customer, even though they won’t offer me a dime to stick around despite not having to pay the acquisition cost to earn me back again as a new subscriber already, you would think that they would be quick to stop an existing customer from testing the waters with the competition. You’d think that an extra $75/month would still be far better than negative $75/month for a lost customer…

…but Frontier doesn’t think. That’s the problem!

I know that I’ll get gigabit Internet here at home eventually … hell, it has me wondering if we’ll see 10 Gbps home connections still in my lifetime! But much like Veruca Salt, I want it now! 😉

What I Want Out of the Internet in 2018…

November 19, 2018 3:19pm
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Sometimes it’s both fascinating and a little sad to see how the Internet has evolved in the last 25 years since I first logged on as a teenager.

Lately I’ve found myself doing a lot of soul searching because while there are parts that I absolutely love, I also recognize that there are parts which have grown to be a bit unhealthy and I need to find better ways to deal with them going forward.

Social media is obviously one of the biggest ones. I love staying connected to friends and family, and I still maintain friendships online with people who I’ve never met before in real life. That said, social media has some unsettling qualities as well…

  • It’s addictive.
  • Sometimes it leads to senseless arguing with complete strangers via comments.

Frankly, I’m kind of done even arguing with non-strangers simply because at 38 years old, you’re not going to change my mind about most of the political beliefs that I hold. I may be open to better understanding some of the nuances around them, but let’s be honest – that kind of discussion is much more likely to happen in person than it is on Facebook.

On top of that, I hate coming to realize just how much time I’ve been sinking into social media!

The latest iOS release has screen time tracking to help measure how you’re using your device. The first week I used it, it said I’d been on my phone an average of 92 minutes a day, with a whopping 65% of that time using social media!!!

Now I’m ok with some of that time – the parts when I’m sharing photos of the kids or making new connections on LinkedIn (something I did a lot of last week because I finally updated my profile for the first time in years), but when I’m just aimlessly scrolling to see if anything new is going on … and I’m seeing the same posts over and over again?

That’s time that I’d rather be spending creating new content, or promoting my work, or lately even putting my phone down altogether and actually spending time with my kids!!!

😯

Bad content is also becoming a sore subject for me online because although in theory it’s great how more people are publishing content online than ever, a growing percentage of it is either misleading or false information, or barely useful information created merely to promote something else or snag low-hanging ad dollars.

If I look back to when I first started using the Internet, circa 1994-ish, it was still vast, but also much more limited. Now there are a lot more trade-offs…

  • 1994 – Niche content was limited at best … you maybe had a few hacked together sites for specialty content, but mainstream got the focus.
  • 2018 – Niche content is becoming popular, but to the point where it’s also super easy to exploit it by farming out micro articles for pennies that rise to the top of search engines.
  • Also 2018 – Wikipedia has pretty good articles for almost everything – something the old, 26-volume encyclopedias could never touch!
  • 1994 – Online gaming was new and hip, and technologically it was amazing that it worked at all. I spent most of my time exploring text-only worlds.
  • 2018 – The options are vast, but technology has made it very easy for kids to learn terrible etiquette while they play. Also, micro-transactions have made lots of games that are more about spending 99 cents at a time than actually playing a full-fledged game.
  • 1994 – Online shopping was just getting started! I remember buying my first DVDs and books from online vendors, and it was incredible!
  • 2018 – With more choices than ever, buyers need to be ever-vigilant about scammers and people selling counterfeit merchandise … even if we’re talking about toy cars for your kids.

On more than one occasion lately, I’ve definitely found myself realizing all too clear when I use certain websites that users are often the products of these innovative sites, which is frustrating when I’m trying to use a site like LinkedIn and it has painfully obvious UI issues, yet there are opportunities for them to mine my data and promote things to me at every turn.

And to some extent I’m ok with that, but I want a balance.

The other day I ordered something for Christmas from ThinkGeek, and two days later I found that they’d subscribed me to their mailing list without asking me first.

I’m currently browsing a lot of job sites and my inbox is inundated with emails generated by random searches and profiles I’ve read with no intention of triggering a subscription.

Facebook sends me notifications several times a day about promoting the various pages I’ve created for my projects over the years, even when they’ve denied my advertising in the past for one reason or another.

The company that I’ve used for my home phone for several years keeps sending emails about increasing their rates, but encouraging me to lock in my existing rate now … a message they’ve sent more than half a dozen times just trying to get people to renew over the last couple of years.

Tying back to a post that I wrote about greed earlier this summer, I know that people need to pay their bills and keep the lights on, but I hate seeing the Internet become just another place where profit takes priority over quality. And no, not every website would be able to make an honest living – that’s absolutely why some of these places stoop so low … but I don’t want to waste my time with those sites, either.

Is it ironic that despite loathing the earliest iterations of “The Mobile Web” where ISPs like Sprint and Verizon would give users dumbed down versions of only certain websites and not full access – mostly because devices couldn’t yet support them, today I kind of want a curated Internet where I can search for something and get reliable results that have been selected based on the quality of each site and not those that I’m most likely to click through on to drive ad revenue???

*It’s Unlimited, But There Are Some Limits…

May 10, 2018 11:35am
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I’ve written about this topic before, but it bears repeating because right now it’s something that I’m a little frustrated about.

Simply put, whether we’re talking cellular or fixed line, I think that Internet access should be sold as a utility, not a service.

In layman’s terms, either bill me for usage or bill me for speed, but don’t double dip and bill me for both.

This issue resurfaced in my mind because last night we got a notification from Verizon that we’re almost at our plan’s limit for data for the month, though there are still 12 days left in the billing cycle. Our plan is for 8 GB, which is usually more than enough, but we did a lot of traveling in the last month and tethering the kids’ iPad in the car always eats up a lot of data.

So I look at my options to see that they’ve eliminated the rest of the buckets of data above ours – the next step is just an Unlimited Plan, or rather two unlimited plans…

  • The first plan is an extra $50/month and adds unlimited data … but they reserve the right to throttle you down to 3G speeds due to “network congestion” (i.e. “Hi, net neutrality! Somebody else paid more, so they get to go first!!!”). Also, mobile video is limited to DVD quality (480p). Also, mobile hotspot connectivity is limited to 3G speeds as well.
  • The second plan is an extra $80/month and this time your unlimited data can only be throttled if you exceed 22 GB/line in a given month. Mobile video is limited to 720p. Mobile hotspot comes with a 15 GB allowance at LTE speeds, after which it will be throttled down to 3G.

Just so that we’re all on the same page here:

So where do we start?!

I have an iPhone 7, my wife has an iPhone 8 Plus – mine supports 720p, hers with the larger screen is 1080p, so both are getting sub-optimal video quality on the lower unlimited plan. We won’t even muddy the waters by talking about iPads here.

Throttling speeds are a HUGE difference here – Verizon cites their 3G threshold at 600 Kbps, whereas I’ve done speed tests showing anywhere from 20 – 50 Mbps for LTE. The latter will easily support streaming audio and video, whereas 600 Kbps should support streaming music over Pandora (which requires 25-50% of that) but I wouldn’t get my hopes up about video, and frankly, tethering my laptop to those speeds would be like a trip back to 2001.

And lastly, the biggest point of all – what is unlimited if it is, in fact, capped or throttled?!?!?!?!?!

I find it appalling that Verizon sold off its FiOS business a few years ago so that they could focus on “mobile as the future of broadband” if their idea of that future isn’t bright and shiny, incredible pipes but instead these hack and slash toll booths that all of the carriers swore they wouldn’t do with net neutrality, but what do you know … now they’re doing it and the current FCC chair couldn’t care less!

Maybe it’s an “undesirable business model,” but I just want access to data.

You sell me a pipe. Bill me either by how much data I use (like the electric or water company) or what capacity I have access to use (like my home broadband), and that’s it.

I shouldn’t have to consider the screen resolution of each of my devices or what tethering speeds I need to be able to do mobile work from my laptop – not when you’ve got an LTE network capable of speeds faster than the majority of residential broadband.

I spent about an hour looking into this last night and getting more and more riled up as I learned about the details, until I finally wondered if maybe I should finally consider switching to another provider, but they’re all pretty much doing the same thing!

This is exactly the kind of thing that the FCC is supposed to be protecting consumers against.

Machine Learning for a Better Search

April 30, 2018 9:56pm
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I wanted to expand more on the comment I made earlier on my micro-blog about how to build a better search function because the more that I think about it, the more I believe that this addresses one of the Internet’s biggest problems right now.

We went from limited information before the digital age to endless information a few decades in, but now what we really need to focus on is putting the right information in front of people.

Or, as my micro example cited – it should be easier to find the source of a topic than it is to find commentary about that topic.

And as if grading your sources wasn’t difficult enough, I’m going to throw one more curveball into the mix – you can’t blacklist an article based on its publisher, with my thought process here being simply that sure, 95% of what places like Fox News and Breitbart post is absolute garbage, but…

  1. We want everyone to use and rely on this new search method and people aren’t as likely to jump onboard if their favorite sources, damned as they may be, are automatically excluded from the mix.
  2. But more importantly, even if 95% of what someone writers is pure drivel, we want to encourage that remaining 5% to rise above the rest because that’s how you change opinions.

Now most of this is well beyond my level of expertise, but I know that there are methods in use today to determine “the quality” of a body of text based on sentence structure, vocabulary, etc… The question is, how can we expand on that logic to categorize stories based both on quality as well as what they bring to the table. Because hey, there’s a lot of opinion on the Internet and I certainly don’t want to discount that – I’m just saying that when somebody searches for a topic, they should be presented with facts first and editorial second.

It gets even trickier when you don’t have a fairly clean example like the one I used – even with regards to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, there were multiple videos that contained the full speeches from the dinner … some were censored, some were from different outlets … but what about when it’s not even that cut and dry?

A video of President Trump saying XYZ would be the most accurate source, but if instead you have news reports sharing what it was that he said – and possibly some with more/less context or fact correction in their articles – then that becomes very subjective to try and decide which one did the best job of reporting XYZ that then deserves to be at the top of the search results.

I kind of have a love/hate relationship with Google these days because I know that they’re trying to filter out the literally billions of pages on the Internet, and they do say that they look at things like user experience and reblogging to help rank their results, but at the same time I still see those hideous, clickbait ads from Taboola and Outbrain on some of the biggest websites seemingly without penalty.

How does a search engine remain independent while trying to sort relevancy as well as fact from fiction, alongside people constantly working to game the system to get their garbage to float to the top to make the ad bucks???

Maybe it’s time to learn a thing or two about machine learning and get to work on this… 😉

So I just posted the essay that I’ve been working on about taking a break from social media – go check it out over at Scott’s Guide to Life and then come back here for a few of my expanded thoughts…

The Social Media Cleanse

I’m not really sure what I want to do at this point because I do miss things like sharing goofy links and random parenting observations, but not at the expense of making myself feel awful when I get into fights over politics or just allow myself to get wound up by the immediacy of a news cycle that reacts first and asks relevant questions later, if ever.

Very briefly I pulled up both Twitter and Facebook to make sure that the links to my post showed up correctly, and I’m not exaggerating that after only a few minutes of scrolling, I felt my anxiety building until I finally just gave up and closed out each of the tabs. They were the same as I had left them a week and a half ago – like the shit cyclone has just been spinning this entire time, new Trump issues, same Trump channel.

And yet, there’s still great, hilarious stuff like this…

Part of me wonders if it’s worth trying to trim up my friend and follow lists to get them to a more manageable level, again because there are a (relatively small) handful of people who I genuinely want to keep up with either because they’re fellow writers, they make me laugh, or they’re just really good friends. 

Still, I think part of the charm of being away from social media has been not having that never-ending feed of updates to suck at my every waking idle moment. In a way, it’s been kind of nice to sit there watching TV at night and not have my phone in my hand, blindly scrolling through posts just as quickly as my social media master can serve them to me!

Sara says that maybe I should try using Facebook like she does – she rarely logs in, and when I say rarely I just mean weekly instead of hourly, and when she does, she tends to read messages in a few specific interest groups and keeps scanning her regular news feed from friends for last.

To be honest, I actually prefer Twitter to Facebook because I follow more like-minded people there, so maybe I need to do something like that, just on Twitter instead.

I recall exchanging a few emails trying to learn more about social media with fellow humorist Erik Deckers a few years ago and he recommended using it like a stream to dip into from time to time rather than a giant pool that I felt obligated to read every post from every person who I followed – that’s probably another good idea to help calm that feeling of being overwhelmed whenever I pull up my feed!

Combined with my mountainous concerns about Facebook oversharing personal data, being ravenous bastards with regards to their advertising program, and harboring the same walled garden principles that have turned me away from other networks in the past, I need to find a better way to make social media work for me so that the positive aspects outweigh the garbage.

I’m not sure if that means starting new accounts altogether or pruning the hell out of existing ones. Or possibly figuring out how to filter very limited versions of my friends lists so that I really only have to read those few that I genuinely enjoy.

It’s kind of funny because more than once I’ve actively noticed on Instagram where I’m clearly checking my feed too often because there might only be a half a dozen new pictures and the rest I’ve already seen before!

So if I’m concerned about Facebook and Twitter being a time suck again, maybe that’s a part of it – trimming down my lists until reviewing them becomes a once a day activity instead of all day, every day.

Still, Facebook and Twitter are a lot easier to post on than Instagram…

It’s so complicated, and it shouldn’t have to be!!!

It really makes me wonder how many other people struggle with using social media effectively versus letting it run/ruin their lives because I know I can’t be the only one who is driven crazy by the ever-spinning shit show.

#poopemoji

I’ll be honest – I don’t really make much of an effort to watch my language when I post on Twitter, even though I actually do with most of my writing projects. With the exception of Just Laugh and occasionally, but not often, this blog, I don’t really swear in my writing because I want it to appeal to the largest audience possible.

I guess I’m a bit more lax about Just Laugh because I’ve always considered it to be targeted at an 18+ audience whereas my humor column, etc… are read by all ages.

I also post a lot of off-the-cuff political commentary on Twitter – usually filled with lots of frustration – whereas by the time I’m ready to write an editorial about a topic, I tend to be more reserved and thought out at that point.

And sometimes I wonder if this is all a bad thing – if I’m doing myself a disservice by using Twitter like this instead of a more “controlled manner” that would be less alienating to anyone who might find me through social media and have an interest in something that I write … if only I didn’t have such a potty mouth on Twitter! 😛

The thing is, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t exactly use social media like other people trying to promote a brand … and maybe that’s a separate problem. While I do share links to my new columns and articles when they go up, I just as much use Twitter to share random findings that amuse me or even just talk to myself, in addition to commentary on posts that I find that aren’t substantial enough to make into full-blown blog posts.

…although for what it’s worth, I’m trying to do that more when I find that I’ve got more than a handful of tweets to say about something…

That said, it’s certainly something that I think I want/need to dig deeper into in the future as I work to gain some new attention for all of my writing efforts … it’s constantly getting more complicated to drive traffic to long-form writing with so much focus on social media, but I know that I can’t completely ignore it altogether and expect similar results by just doing my own thing.

Plus, admittedly I can see the appeal of an image focused specifically on my brand – namely, if I want to be the writer known for humor, and Disney, and parenting content, and occasional in-depth political commentary, it does make sense that my social media profiles should center around those topics and maybe steer away from angsty rants every time that Donald Trump says something undesirable … especially because lately that has pretty much been every single day anyways!

For what it’s worth, though, if I can manage to avoid all of the Trump-inspired Twitter rants, do you have any idea how much time I should save?! Maybe I could actually keep up with this newfound writing schedule of mine if I watched my tongue on social media a bit better! 😉

I’m honestly not sure if I ever actually was included in one or not, but I frequented a couple of sites that had them and was very jealous of the copious amounts of social fun times that all of their members clearly enjoyed, so for a while I posted my own “cam photos” on comedic-genius.com … I think with the intent of eventually working up the nerve to submit to one of them?

In retrospect, I seemed to like the method of taking a proper picture with a real camera and then using Photoshop to insert the quippy text afterwards instead of having a web cam pointed at me 24×7 and overlaying random quotes or whatever on top of whatever it captured.

Remember, this was long, long before the age of selfies and Instagram and even – *gasp* – moblogging! So you were lucky to get a few witty updates a week in between whatever the hell else we did on the Internet back in the early ’00s!

I stumbled across these when I was hunting for those old blog posts that I just shared, so for the sake of full disclosure … here’s what I looked like back when I had long hair and lived in my Mom’s basement (for about half of them) and divided my time between playing PS2 games and cultivating my budding online publishing empire… 😉

a survey about me for 2017!

February 19, 2017 11:29am
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I’ve been wanting to do one of these for a while, but apparently the social media-dominated Internet doesn’t really do them anymore … so instead I decided to write some hard-pressing survey questions myself to answer … myself… 😉

What’d You Get for Valentine’s Day? – Love. Also, a root canal.

If You Never Had to Do One Thing Ever Again… – Shaving. Or getting hair cuts. Something to do with body hair maintenance, either way…

Last Eye-Rolling Thing President Trump Did – Ranted about a terrorist attack in Sweden that never happened amidst his larger rant about fake news.

How’s Your Tooth Feeling From That Root Canal? – Meh – so-so.

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor From Cold Stone – Oreo creme filling

Life’s Biggest Conundrum – creme vs. cream

Last Video Game You Played – Mario Run for iOS … simple, but fun

Project I Wish I Was Working On Right Now – Humor Collection #3 … because I’ve been putting it off forever

If You Could Drive Any Car – a Tesla, followed by a tow truck because I’m not sure that I could get to Disney World and back in a Tesla … at least not if traffic on I-4 sucks

Most Disappointing Meal – Red Lobster … biscuits were disappointingly salty and dinner was so bad it ended up getting comped

Least Disappointing Meal – Yamato … the hibachi place by our house that knows how to cook a steak properly

If You Could Have Unlimited FastPasses for One Attraction… – probably Toy Story Mania … because my wife can still beat my score more often than not and I need the practice

What’s That On Your Nose? – I’m not falling for that one.

No, Seriously… – Oh, gross. Sorry about that – thanks for the heads up!

Most Read News Source – New York Times, followed by the Orlando Sentinel

Most Obnoxious Kids Toy In Your Home – singing helicopter that goes off if I breathe in its direction

Do You Have Enough Pickles In Your Fridge? – I have too many pickles in my fridge.

I’d Really Like to… – start doing yoga again … because I’m old and sore and I could use the stretching

Interesting Article You Tried to Share On Facebook Recently That a Relative Crapped All Over – This video from Bill Gates about taxing robots for work that they replace from human workers.

Do You Ever Feel Like You’re Just Talking to Yourself When You Write Stuff Like This – Yeah, but that’s ok. The most important part of being creative is doing something that you enjoy, first and foremost.

Do you want to know when you’re wrong?

January 22, 2017 2:35pm
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Simple question – if you’ve based your opinion on a certain perspective or set of information and it turns out that the details as you understand them are invalid, would you sincerely want somebody to point that out to you???

Pondering after watching a Facebook thread unfold between family the other day in which arguments were made about the women’s marches taking place around the country and the world right now against President Trump. When confronted with corrections, the original poster got very defensive and eventually pulled her post down citing her opinion was always wrong and she should just keep it to herself or something of that nature…

But here’s the thing – all pleasantries aside, the original post was based on an incorrect characterization of said protest activities. It was presented in a personal light, albeit in an adversarial way meant to attack the protestors, but it really rang out to me the fact that when told that their understanding was flat-out wrong, all hope of discussion flew out the window. So what now?

Was it in the approach? Or was it just one of those posts where you’re welcome to comment if you agree with me, but I want to bitch about the other side because this is what I think of them and nothing is going to change my mind???

Nobody likes being told that they’re wrong – I get that. Yet in this day and age when many people get all of their information via Facebook and terms like “fake news” and – my new disgusted favorite that Kellyanne Conway just coined today – “alternative facts” are thrown around to defend against information that people don’t want to hear more so than for factual cause, a lot of people are going to be wrong about the perspectives that they have.

So how do you politely tell somebody that their basis of fact is complete and utter shit? 😕

Paying the Cost of Journalism

December 23, 2016 4:40pm
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When I first moved to Florida, I was a proud subscriber to our daily local newspaper – the now defunct Tampa Tribune.

I had actually started getting the Sundays mailed to me about a year prior so that I could look through the classifieds for jobs and places to live, and I ended up extending it to a full subscription when I got here admittedly because it felt like the grown-up thing to do, plus it cemented the idea that my new city warranted a seven day newspaper whereas the papers back home in Northern Michigan were only published something like twice a week! The paper would get delivered to the front door of my apartment every morning in time for me to take it to work with me, and it would end up getting passed around my team throughout the day until I had a chance to read it myself during lunch.

That went on for several years until eventually I stopped carrying it to work with me and the growing pile of unread papers on my floor became more of a guilt-trip than an honest source for news. By then it was probably 2007 / 2008 and I was getting the vast majority of my news, including stories from the paper that got delivered to me by hand, off the Internet before I ever got around to even unbagging the day’s newspaper until finally I just bit the bullet and canceled the thing altogether.

I remember literally sitting on the floor with several dozen newspapers, flipping through them methodically to skim for anything I may have missed just because I felt guilty throwing the papers out without ever even opening them!

So fast-forward to today, like many of my like-minded colleagues in the wake of the election season and particularly this fake news hysteria, I just recently subscribed to a couple of newspapers … electronically, that is. For me, I chose The New York Times because they seem to hit on most of the biggest national and world stories and the Orlando Sentinel because I enjoy their tourism and theme park coverage.

The total cost once their promotional periods are over is less than $4 a week.

Mind you, I’m a bit torn about paying for online content across the board just because I don’t think I want to see the Internet turn into a place where micro-payments are the cost of access, although between my own dwindling ad revenues and the awful user experiences that more and more sites are willing to subject readers to in exchange for ad dollars once again, my opinion on the topic certainly isn’t set in stone…

But I think when it comes to real journalism – not opinions that are a dime a dozen, but true, ethical reporting – as the information age continues to grow in ways that we’re not entirely sure how to contain, it’s important that we put our support behind those news sources which we rely on so that money isn’t a reason for them to fall off the edge of the earth like countless newspapers have done in the last decade. Sure, it’s becoming harder and harder to know what represents honest reporting these days and I’ll sincerely admit that my own selections aren’t 100% unbiased, but I think we need to start somewhere and for the stories that I’ve found myself wanting to read more and more lately, these are two of the papers that consistently deliver.

Plus I’m getting sick of seeing that “You’ve exceeded your 10 free articles for the month!” pop-up from the Times and they’re like every third story in my Facebook feed, so I’m willing to pay a couple of bucks a month just to get rid of that alone! 😛

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