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December 2006

Free Your TV; Do not pay for cable!

Part of the Credit Card VC ethos, of course, is not spending money in the first place. That's the thin thread I'm using to insert this meme into this blog.

One way to save a small pile of money every month and also save a bit of your sanity is to cut off your cable company. Now, I'm not talking about figuring out a way to get cable, and not pay for it, that would be wrong; the moral equivalent of downloading music without paying for it. Really, though, you shouldn't have cable. If you have time to sit around and watch the Game Show Network, you are not spending the time you should be spending on your business.

This will not make you a Luddite. Indeed you can cut off cable, and the dish, and still be something of a video snob.

Here's how:


  1. Buy an HDTV. The prices have come down enough, it's time to do it.

  2. Get the rabbit ears antenna recommended for that TV. Do not go overboard and get one of those big ones from Radio Shack and kill yourself up on your roof.

  3. Put the rabbit ears as high as you can inside your house, if you can put it in an attic, that's best.

  4. Go to AntennaWeb.org and figure out which direction to point your antenna.

  5. In checking that out, you'll realize that you get a lot of stations, more than enough for the times when you do need to veg out.

  6. OK, here's bit that allows you to be a video snob: The signal broadcast by your local stations is essentially uncompressed, meaning that you will get better picture quality from that little rabbit-ears antenna than you would from cable or a dish! That's right, the stations send out the whole picture over the air, but the carriers take that signal and smash it down so it will fit in the pipe with all the other channels. So when you are watching that amazing snowcone catch that almost helped the Mets into the world series, you will be able to see every seam on the ball better than your brethren watching on cable.


OK, I know I haven't been at this blog long, and I've already referred to Mark Cuban's blog a couple of times, but now I'm going to do it again. He recently asked "How do you get people to see a movie without spending a fortune on advertising?" He got a zillion responses. I didn't read them all, but in my mind it's easy: Work harder to get more Little Miss Sunshines made.

So, he didn't ask, but here's my suggestion for how to get a lot more traction for his HDNet: Broadcast it over the air.

Here in Denver we have all the big networks broadcasting in HD, as they must under federal mandate. But we also have a bunch of smaller ones, Christian broadcasters, even shopping networks. If they can get a broadcast license, so could HDNet. It would be a great publicity play for the Maverick to do an end-around on the cable and dish providers. Combined with the fact that he could tout his ability to send true uncompressed HD images and the market penetration the HD sets have reached, well, this would be a huge win for him.

So, Mark, what do I want for this million-dollar idea? Only that you start in Denver as a test market.


Connections

Sometimes I see connections between items that aren't commonly seen. Sometimes this makes me seem brilliant, and sometimes people look at me like I'm Jerry Fletcher.
For instance today I wrote one blog comment on Mark Cuban's blog that made connections between three seemingly disparate posts.

But closer to the relevancy of this blog are two items posted right now on TechCrunch. One of them is also related to one of Cuban's blog items, and it concerns a new company that is paying bloggers to write about a topic. This new one seems slightly less invidious because it actually requires bloggers to disclose the financial arrangement.

The interesting link to me is between that topic -- trying to find new ways to generate essentially small amounts of cash -- and the one that follows that about an outfit that makes very small investments in new companies, because that small investment is all that's needed. This is all classic Long Tail stuff; i.e. making a few pennies here and there off a lot of people doing small things.
The bit about small investments should be familiar to readers of this blog, as we advocate investments so small that you could actually put them all on your credit card. It's the way that software and the world are moving, the end of the "hit" manufactured by an expensive process.

I just want people to remember one thing: There is no easy money. Even if you can start a business on your credit cards, it's not going to become a $20-million business without the idea AND boatloads of really hard hard hard work.

So, if you think you are smart, and maybe you are, just remember that there are boatloads of smart people out there. The only thing that will get you a big win is hard work. That said, I need to get back to work.

Thanks for reading.


Wobbly

OK, I hate to admit it, but I'm getting a bit wobbly. I'm all alone out there right now and the wolves are howling.

It would be so nice to cuddle up in the warm embrace of some VC, or even an angel. With a name like "angel" how could I go wrong?

I'm even deeper right now in the situation than I was when I wrote the manifesto. I'm scraping by, trying to pay more than just the minimums but looking at some much bigger bills in the next couple of months.

What's going to keep me solid? Well, it changes from day to day. Yesterday it was finding a couple of sites that encouraged me, I'll have more on those soon.
Today it is the fact that I got some great confirmation from a customer -- a real live paying customer -- in the form of a check and also some encouragement about how precisely we are solving a huge problem that she knows she's going to have in January. Unfortunately not everyone is able to project forward to January, so I know the phone will be ringing then.

But for now, it's quiet.

OK, time for me to get some marketing stuff done. You go back to work, too!