Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stop paying for cable

Lindsey Treffry | The Communicator

According to Wired Magazine, the cost of cable per year is $1643.16 while satellite is $1463.88. Here are some ways to avoid these costs altogether.

-Hulu, although this service only streams NBC, News Corp, and Disney programs, it offers recent episodes of shows like The Office, Family Guy, and SNL. The new Hulu Plus account enables you to stream full series of new and classic episodes though Wi-Fi and 3G phones, iPads, internet televisions, Blu-ray players, and gaming consoles.

Cost? $8 a month for Hulu Plus account; free to watch the most recent episode of a show you missed (some offered the same day or a week later than the television premiere).

-Netflix streams new and classic movies and TV shows through your computer, gaming console, Apple products, TiVo or Blu-ray player. Once you pay the account cost, ordering movies and shows costs no extra. Not all shows and movies are available, and it can take a month to two years for Netflix to release a movie (or not at all).

Cost? $8 a month for a basic Netflix account, $10 to be able to rent 1 DVD at a time (there is a bigger library of shows and movies if you choose this option), and the price rises per number of DVDs to rent. There is a "limited account" that allows 1 DVD at a time, but only allows you to stream 2 hours of shows a month on your computer (unlike the unlimited time of other accounts).

Gaming consoles:
-PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii are no longer simple systems that play Gran Turismo, Halo, and Rayman Raving Rabbids. These consoles now can play DVDs and all have a Netflix application, where you can stream Netflix straight from your wireless internet connection to your television.

Cost? $8 a month for a basic Netflix account (no extra cost if you already own a gaming console); $199 - $399 for a new console. The console will pay for itself within two to four months once your cable/satellite subscription has been cancelled.

Other options:
-Internet boxes: Apple TV is among other "net-connected boxes" that connects you from iTunes to your television or computer. From the iTunes store you can pay $1.99 per episode. Other boxes include Roku (connected to Netflix, Amazon, and MLB.TV), and TiVo connects to related services as well as cable shows.

-Vudu: A Walmart-owned service that allows you to rent or buy movies. The only hitch is you must buy a television or Blu-ray player that has Vudu built in. Shows and movies range from $1.99 to $4.99 and $9.99 to $19.99 to purchase.

-ESPN 3: is the home for all ESPN sports: live shows, upcoming previews, and replays. It's completely free and HD.

-Mobile television: Smartphones now offer portable television. Bitbop for Blackberrys, Flo TV for AT&T and Verizon plans, and Sprint TV for your Sprint phone. Not sure what service to choose when it comes to watching television sans cable? is a TV Guide for the internet. You can search your favorite shows and see what services (between Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, or itself) offer them. This may make your choice easier.

As seen in issue 42.5 of The Communicator

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Art Coop

Lindsey Treffry | The Communicator

The Art Coop is a warm space with art spilling from the shelves, and a cloud-painted ceiling. A wall is covered with old board games, and a kiln and glass-cutter sit across the room.

Once a chicken coop in the Downriver district, the Coop started as a Washington State farm “testing ground” in the 1930s and his since evolved into a home for wacky art classes.

SFCC graduate, Lou Carver is the owner of The Art Coop. With the help of friends, Carver spent a year and a half renovating the chicken coop.They lead visitors from the front of a brick house into a welcoming backyard by building a false wall that was once made of chicken wire, adding insulation, electricity, and a wooden pathway. Her cat and beagle welcome you into her yard and a fake rooster perches in the rafters of the Coop.

Carver received her A.A.S. in Visual Media Technology, which involved photography, hand-lettering, and printing press work. According to Carver, this multimedia major didn’t mean she was necessarily proficient in one art form, but was able to enjoy “fine” art. The Art Coop was able to support her eclectic fine art habits, but also gave her the ability to share.

“If you don’t share what you learn, the knowledge dies,” Carver said.

The Art Coop has compartments of charms, glass, metal, and miscellaneous pieces that have been collected by Carver over the years. Most of these pieces are for reuse, and instead of recycling these pieces, Carver likes to call this process “upcycling,” converting waste into new, better art products.

According to Carver, the most popular craft projects between class-takers is fused-glass. According to, to make fused glass you take two or more pieces of glass and heat them in a kiln until they fuse together to make a single piece. These form a dichroic piece that according to Carver come out in unpredictable colors.

She offers multiple classes a week, from jewelry, to mosaic work, hats, pins, felting, and shrine boxes. Prices per class usually range from $25 to $40; all materials are provided and no experience is needed. Unless the Coop is featuring a fused-glass class, students can usually take projects home the same day.

Although she advertises her Coop as art classes for “chicks,” according to Carver, a rooster is a chick too and men return to her classes often.

“[The Art Coop] is a shabby, chic place to just have fun,” Carver said. “You don’t have to be an artist.”

Break Out Box
Address: 4225 N. G Street
Contact: 509.327.3726
Info: Visit
Other Facts: Apart from the Coop, Carver teaches one hour “Spokane Falls Living History” presentations, where she shares photographs of Spokane from 1880 to 1910, along with board games, clothing of the era, music players, and common household items.

As seen in issue 42.5 of The Communicator