Blog Archive

Thursday, February 26, 2009

VOD, Maybe the Coolest New Toy Yet

It took us much longer than we anticipated, but Video On Demand (VOD) is now working on our cable system and should be available to nearly everyone who is taking the digital tier of service (sorry, we still have a few days to work on getting it to work to our Fiber To The Home customers). VOD is chock full of really amazing technology, and, for the most part, the best way for you to come to understand it is to simply start playing with it! Go to your remote and press the "VOD" button if it has one, or simply go to channel 1 and hit enter. Either way, you go to the VOD menu screen and things are pretty intuitive from there.

There is a lot of free content and simply reading the screen lets you know when you are about to view something free versus buying a movie. Don't worry one bit about breaking it! You are not going to do that and don't worry about buying something by accident - the menu prompts you at least twice before you finally confirm your purchase of a movie, so accidents simply should not happen.

Once you choose to watch something on VOD, that movie or event appear on your screen under the menu heading "My Rentals" and they stay there for 24 hours. While in there you can pause, rewind, and replay them as much as you like. What is really, really cool is that, once you have an event in your My Rentals folder, you can watch the movie or event on any digital converter in your house! You can start watching something on the television in your den and then go the bedroom to pick up where you left off and finish watching it there! This is so cool!

Now, all of the content that should be available is not yet populated on our VOD server. I can assure you we are pounding on the programming vendors as hard as humanly possible, but they often ignore us because of our diminutive size. When this is all done, if you are a subscriber to a premium channel like HBO, Showtime, etc., you will also get free content on your personal VOD menu from those services which will be free with your purchase of the premium channel. Unfortunately, this feature is not yet populated. But there is already tons of other programming on there. Movies, both very old and very new, are the main feature on VOD, but there is a lot more stuff. For example, most of the programming on PBS Sprout is also available on the VOD menu. That means if you have a son or daughter who is addicted to Bob the Builder or Thomas the Train (like my grand daughter is), you don't have to record the episodes, they are simply available at the push of a VOD button on your remote!

We will be putting together some long form demonstrations of the VOD system to play on Cable6 and we may be holding EPBU classes to demonstrate it as well, but, really, you can just go to it and start playing. You may even discover features that we did not even know about. It is yours to enjoy Glasgow!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Welcome Home Dan Miller!

One strange twist of our recent realignment of our broadcast channels is that we are getting to return an old friend, WSMV, to our lineup on channel 9! This move was completed this morning as the work on our tower was finally completed. For those of you with our digital service and the i-Guide that goes along with it, we hope that WSMV information will be appearing there very soon. The same goes for the old scrolling guide on channel 36. Both should start displaying WSMV on channel 9 very soon.

Dan Miller has been a fixture on WSMV for a very long time. Back in the 80's he disappeared for a while when he agreed to be Pat Sajak's sidekick on his short-lived late night show, but pretty soon he was back where he was supposed to be, at WSMV, as the news anchor there. Seeing him again makes me feel like everything is going to be alright with the world. I hope he has the same effect on you. Of course in 2009 there are multiple ways for you to get your Dan Miller fix. Of course you can now watch him on our channel 9, but you can also read his thoughts on his blog at this link.

As always, thanks for the patience you have shown as we worked to make this change. It was supposed to happen on January 1, but the extensive work that was necessary on the antenna tower combined with some particularly nasty weather to put us a couple of months behind. We hope you now enjoy this new programming choice.
Thursday, February 12, 2009

Glasgow Gets Smart Grid First

Of late it has been impossible to avoid the term "smart grid." If you watched to Super Bowl, you saw this commercial from GE which features the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz touting the benefits of the smart grid. Additionally, over the las few days nearly every print and on-line publication has had articles like this one about Google's plans relative to managing your electric power consumption.

The Google article should be particularly interesting to us in Glasgow, because we have been promoting this very idea for nearly twenty years. While much of the smart grid discussion revolves around "vaporware" (hardware that is promoted as if you could just buy it off the shelf while, in reality, it does not actually exist), Glasgow's combination of a robust broadband network, a growing number of internet-based electric meters, a growing ZigBee wireless mesh network, and our municipally owned electric power network combine to make up the major components of the smart grid a reality here in Glasgow.

About all that we still need before we can actually start offering smart grid products and services to our customers in Glasgow is a good internet addressable thermostat, a good internet addressable water heater switch, and some very complicated software to make all of these devices work in concert to lower the electric power demand of each individual home. We are not only working on finding these necessary parts, we are also hoping to establish Glasgow as the center of the smart grid world and, hopefully, even convince manufacturers of these devices to come to Glasgow, hire local people, and build the devices in the same community that stepped forward to help develop the technology so many years ago. It is a big dream for sure, but, well, building a municipally owned broadband network was a similarly big dream back in 1988 . . . and we made that one come true!

Want to know how to make your home ready to take advantage of these new devices and the corresponding savings? Well, if your water heater fails over the next few months, you ought to replace it with a high efficiency ELECTRIC water heater. If you are looking to upgrade you heating and air conditioning system, talk to a local HVAC contractor about replacing your old unit with a modern high SEER heat pump. The smart grid is designed to control electric appliances and offer amazing incentives for allowing them to be controlled by the utility. So long as your major appliances are fired by natural gas, you will not be able to participate in the brave new smart grid world.

Once you have the right combination of electric appliances, we hope to be contacting you soon to seek your participation in one of the most important scientific explorations ever. We will be seeking to learn how far customers will be willing to allow the utility to control the temperature of their home and their hot water. At the same time, we will be determining if our long-held theory is correct; we believe that it is possible to use broadband control of major home appliances to provide new electric power generation capacity without burning one additional chunk of coal or building a new nuclear power plant. We think new capacity can be gained by teaching our appliances to use less energy! I hope you will join us in this brave experiment.