How does CableCARD work for video on demand or for less popular channels that have been moved to switched video?
On demand service will not work with a CableCard, however some providers (Comcast) offer an IP based on demand service that integrates with TiVo. I use TWC and I just have a Roku with the TWCTV app that lets me use on demand, so I don't miss it. As for switched digital video, there are SDV adapters that cable companies are required by law to give customers who have a CableCard when they offer SDV in the area. Excepting a few occasional hiccups, the SDV adapters work quite well with my TiVos (a 2 Tuner Premiere and 4 Tuner Roamio, both upgraded with 2TB HDDs).
Minimum basic cable price (if I don't want to sell my entire soul to the cableco) where I am is $39.48 + $3.99 for a converter box
They blatantly lie and claim that the box is "necessary" "because digital", but it isn't. The real reason they want you to use the box is because of their unilateral insistence on encrypting even the signals that you'd otherwise be able to get unencrypted from an antenna anyway, so that they can charge you a rental fee. But even then, it still isn't necessary because you can get a CableCard instead.
When I had cable TV (only because the TV + internet bundle was cheaper than internet-only that year), I refused the box (and refused to be charged for the box) as a matter of principle.
They are prohibited by FCC mandate from encrypting over the air channels, those must be broadcast "in the clear", and with the copy protect flag set to "copy freely". You just need a tuner capable of grabbing Clear QAM signals to view it (some TVs but not all). If you see a violation of this you can report it to the FCC and they'll get in big trouble. As for the rest of the channels, Time Warner Cable is objectively the worst cable provider, in that they encrypt ALL channels (excluding the Discovery Channel) that they aren't required to decrypt by law. They also set the copy protect flag to "copy once" on all channels except those they are required not to by law. Comcast is a better TV provider than Time Warner Cable, and that's saying something. Comcast uses the copy protect flag more sparingly, and offers more Clear QAM channels. If the merger goes through the only silver lining is that my TV will get better (while my Internet gets far worse... fucking data caps should not exist on wired broadband).
Instead of paying interest, money should have an expiration date. Use it or lose it.
You mean like inflation?