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HTPC

What Political Ads?

So, there was this election….

I live in Wisconsin. Even if you’ve been under a rock the past year, there was absolutely no way you could have missed the election. Wisconsin was one of those “battleground” states that various PACs poured hundreds of millions of dollars into in order to get their candidate elected. I couldn’t drive down the road without seeing a politically charged billboard, nor turn a corner without seeing a yard sign for a particular political candidate (I may or may not have been guilty of this offense in my yard as well!). However, most of the money was spent on television and radio advertising.

While my friends and family were crying, posting on Facebook how horrible it was and how they just couldn’t get away from it, I got to lean back and be quite smug as I avoided nearly all of the political advertising that took place on TV, radio and the Internet.

Just in time for the beginning of the 2016 elections!

How did I do this? It’s pretty simple, actually, and it all boils down to the following three items:

 

1. Adblock for Chrome

Everyone uses a web browser. In fact, It’s quite likely you’re using a web browser at this very moment! All of the major browsers — Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera — have an adblock addon available. If ads irritate you, download and install the adblocking addon that’s right for you. While this may seem like a simple thing, I should warn you that it’s considered “bad netiquette” to use it. Websites earn their money from displaying advertising. If I visit a website a lot, I’ll often times shut adblock off for that site. So use it, but use it nicely. Personally, I find it’s a godsend on sites like Youtube and Hulu, as I never see ads there at all anymore.

Total cost: $0

 

2. Satellite Radio and a Smartphone

The Google Music app on my smartphone has been awesome. A long time ago I uploaded my collection of music to Google Music, and all I need to do is plug my smartphone into my car radio to listen to ad-free music. Fortunately I have an “unlimited” data plan that I’ve been grandfathered in via AT&T, so I’m not worried about about data overages. If you’re not so lucky, It’s entirely possible to cache your music on your phone when connected to a WiFi, then play it from there. Most cars now-days have an auxiliary in jack where you can plug a 1/8 inch (3.5mm) male-to-male cord in from the headphone jack on your phone.

Back in September I bought a “new” truck that came with satellite radio. Since then, I’ve been enjoying the ad-free stations. While some stations, such as my beloved ESPN Radio still play advertisements, I don’t believe I ever heard a political ad come from there, and I most definitely never heard a Wisconsin-targeted political ad via my satellite radio.

Total cost: about $10 a month for Satellite radio, but I’m currently on my free trial.

 

3. a Home Theater PC (HTPC)

I could go on for hours about my home HTPC setup. I have a 6TB server that holds TV, Movies & Music. The server also hosts Sickbeard (for downloading TV shows), CouchPotato (for downloading movies), Headphones (for downloading Music) and SABnzbd (the program that the others hook into, and downloads from newsgroups). I have an old computer hooked up to the TV in my family room with a Ceton InfiniTV 4 cablecard tuner specifically for recording TV shows. I have all my favorite shows entered into Sickbeard, and Sickbeard automatically downloads new episodes when they become available. Downloaded TV doesn’t contain commercials, but not all TV shows are available via newsgroups, so that’s where my TV Tuner comes in. It records whatever I want to watch.

Now, you may ask “Why download when you can just record?” Honestly, I’m a digital packrat. I like to keep my TV shows, even though I’ll probably never watch them again. Due to draconian DRM laws, recording TV via my TV Tuner encrypts the show and doesn’t allow me to compress, modify, or transfer the TV program to another computer. If I am forced to record a show, however, I can still fast-forward through commercials!

Most people won’t have something this complex, and just have simple DVRs from the cable or satellite company. The vast majority of these allow you to fast-forward through commercials.

Total cost: Really, I have no idea, I’ve probably put well over $10,000 into my HTPC and home networking setup over the last 10 years. If you want to do this on the cheap, you can set all those programs up on your home computer, and pay $10 a month for a newsgroup subscription, and a small one-time fee to various newsgroup search providers.

Grand Total Cost: About $20 a month, and maybe $1000 in hardware expenditure. This can be significantly cheaper if you have old computers laying around, as they make great HTPCs.

 

Are you sick of being hammered with advertisements everywhere you go? Did you get so frustrated that you just stopped watching TV? How do you avoid being bombarded with advertising?

 

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