Saturday, November 27, 2021

Disney+, for a little while

One of the tips that should be considered by cord cutters -- and I feel strongly about this -- is to subscribe to a service only when it has something you want. For example, right now, I'm using Disney+.

I mentioned this past summer that I wasn't subscribing to Disney+ because there was very little I would watch on it. But right now, there is.

You may have picked up that I'm a Beatles fan. When I set up my new Plex server, the first music I added was my catalog of Beatles music. It took a while to get it all in because I have a lot. I have all of their US albums and their UK albums, at least from their official catalog. And I have both the mono and stereo games. If you're a die-hard Beatles fans, you understand the reason for that. For the uninitiated, even though their albums were released in stereo, the Beatles themselves only participated in the mono mixing of their recordings until their last few albums. Those were versions the Beatles themselves thought of as their official releases, and those were the ones that were sent to radio stations. Those are the original releases.

So, yeah, I'm a Beatles fan. And that plays into Disney+ because of the recent release of Peter Jackson's new "Get Back" documentary. It's airing on Disney+ -- not Apple TV+, as you might have thought -- so it's now a service of interest. And with shows on Hulu having returned and being several episodes in, and ESPN+ still on the table during football season, I'm subscribing to the Disney Bundle.

I won't keep it long. I'll finish "Get Back" very soon, I expect, and football season is winding down. Plus, I'll catch up on my TV shows from Hulu ... maybe. If not, I'll keep Hulu, but if I do, I'll drop the Disney Bundle and save the money.

That's the thing I suggest everyone do. Only subscribe to what you watch. When you're caught up, stop the subscriptions and don't resume it until you have something you want to watch. Right now, I'm watching the Beatles. And football. And some current TV. For the time being, the Disney Bundle (Hulu, ESPN+, and Disney+) are an active part of my Streaming Life. But not for long.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Cheap Hulu

Just a couple of days after I was fussing about Hulu's price increase. Hulu+Live TV, actually, but that till is a form of Hulu. Well, now I feel I should mention a great deal Hulu is running for Black Friday. Subscribers -- new and existing -- can get the standard Hulu service for 99¢/month for a year.

Hulu actually did this three years ago, but then changed it to $1.99/month for the past two years. And, you couldn't get it if you were already a subscriber. It was for new subscribers only. This year, anyone can get it.

The only downside would be if you have the Disney Bundle. There's no plan that takes this Hulu deal into consideration. Still, it's a heckuva deal. If you were thinking of the Disney Bundle with standard Hulu, it may be cheaper to go this route. However you do it, it's a great way to include Hulu in your Streaming Life.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Finding the right TV antenna

If you're a cord cutter, or wanting to be, one thing I would suggest is getting a TV antenna. Depending on where you live, that can be an easy thing or a hard thing. For me, it was not easy.

I live around 40 miles (not less than, but not much more than) from the major TV towers that serve my area. Picking up a good, clear, consistent TV signal means an outdoor antenna for me. That may or may not be the case for you. So, how do you determine this?

There are a few of different Websites that are popular for this. I like different aspects of both, but found that, at least in my case, one give a more accurate picture of what I needed.

One that's highly recommended is TV Fool. It does a pretty good job, However, it underestimated my antenna needs. I tried an indoor antenna -- it called it a "set top antenna" -- but that didn't get me what I was after.

Another thing it didn't quite get right was the actual frequency of one of the Savannah station. It said WSAV is actually broadcasting on channel 39. However, the FCC says it's channel 16 after the most recent repack (which was a while back). So, the database isn't always up to date.

Another popular Website is AntennaWeb. It was a little more accurate when it came to telling me what antenna I needed.

It also got the actually channel for WSAV correct. It actually overestimated for some of the channels. I did need a large antenna with a pre-amp to pick up WTOC, but not the other major channels. However, the larger antenna doesn't hurt.

I had actually purchased a smaller antenna and was able to get the UHF stations without any problem. But, WTOC, being a VHF station, only came in with difficulty. Now, I will say that it was good most of the time. But, every minute or two, there would be a hiccup. The large antenna and preamp solved that.

The other Website is the FCC. They actually have a pretty good map and information about the station, but make no recommendation about an antenna. After all, it's the stations they oversee, not the receiving antennae.

Note the map. I blew it up on two of the stations so you could get a view of what that looked like. It's actually the best for locating the TV tower, in my opinion. As for picking an antenna, it's not that great, but then again, that's not what it's trying to do.

So, what do I recommend? All of them. None are perfect. But using them all, you can get a lot of good information that helps with troubleshooting issues. And honestly, I would expect issues.

But you don't want issues, do you? You just want it to work. And, if I were to pick one that would decrease the chance for issues, I'd say go with AntennaWeb over the others. If it says you need a large outdoor antenna, you probably need a large outdoor antenna.

If you go with TV Fool, be prepared for getting the UHF stations under its recommendations, but expect to be disappointed for VHF. If you're close enough to the tower, you may not be disappointed, but if you live a ways off, as I do, don't expect it to always get it right. If you can live with the UHF stations, you'll be okay with TV Fool.

If you want to get the signal to more than one TV? Well, that's a whole 'nuther thing. This will help you know what antenna you need to get a signal to a device. To get it to more than one device is something we'll talk about later.

And you thought your Streaming Life would be simple. Well, life isn't. No matter what kind of life.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Another Hulu price increase

It seems like just a couple of months ago that Hulu announced a price increase. That's because it was. And now, word is that Hulu is upping its prices. But it's not exactly "another" increase. Let me explain.

In September, Hulu announced that its pricing of their standard plan was going up by a dollar a month. Rather than $5.99 it would be $6.99 each month. Still a good deal, but a price increase is a price increase, and that's never fun.

Now, word is that Hulu is upping the price of their Hulu+Live TV plan is going up by $5/month. I haven't seen a notice from Hulu, but Engadget is reporting the increase will happen in late December, but will include an offset that might make it more palatable:

Disney plans to add Disney+ and ESPN+ to your subscription, and you have no choice in the matter. On Friday, the company sent an email to current subscribers informing them of the impending change. Starting on December 21st, all Hulu + Live subscriptions will include access to Disney’s two other streaming platforms. Previously, you could get Hulu + Live TV on its own.

And with the change, the price of Hulu + Live TV plans is increasing by $5 per month for both current and new customers. Come the 21st, the ad-supported tier will cost $69.99 per month, while the “no ads” package will cost $75.99 every 30 days. If you’re a Hulu + Live TV customer with an existing Disney+ and or ESPN+ subscription, those will roll into the new plan.

Is this a good thing? Well, no. But yeah. Actually, no.

If you have Hulu+Live TV with the Disney bundle -- Disney+ and ESPN+ -- it's currently $73/month. So, that will actually go down by $3/month. But, if you don't want the bundle, just Hulu+Live TV, you will pay $5 more, and get the bundle anyway.

It's a good thing in that if you want it all, you get it for a better price. But, if you only want the one service, you lose that option, and to get that one service, you have to pay more, because the bundle is the only way to get it.

I'm not personally interested in Hulu+Live TV, but if you are, you'll bet paying more, but getting more. If that's something you want in your Streaming Life, you'll be getting a good deal.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Roku sale

I'm don't normally post information about sales here. But these are a couple of good deals. And, in the interest of transparency, I can earn a commission on one of the two. But I'm not posting for that reason. I'm posing because it's a good deal.

What brought this up is I had a conversion this week with someone who is interested in streaming. I recommended a Fire TV Stick 4K, or a Roku stick. At the time, I didn't know about this first deal.

This is a good price. I don't have a link, because the deal isn't until later today, and there is no link. Just go to the Walmart Website, or your nearest Walmart store, and take advantage of this deal.

Walmart is (or will be, at the time this is first posted) selling a Roku device for $15. No, it's not a top of the line device, but it is a Roku streaming device, and it's a good price.

The device is listed as a Roku LE. That's not a standard name for a Roku device. Some years back, they brought back the Roku 1 (model 2710) as the Roku SE. They both were model 2710. They just renamed it for a sale. It appears they're doing something similar. This time, Roku is selling, though Walmart, a device called the Roku LE.

This one is white, and it looks to be a Roku Express. I suspect it's model 3930 (the current Express). Maybe it's some left over Premiere devices (model 3920) but I doubt that.

It's a pretty good deal. I mean $15 for a Roku device is pretty good. The remote alone is $15. But that's not the only sale going on. You can find a Roku Streaming Stick 4K for $30, which is 40% off.

I think  that's a pretty good deal, too. This looks to be a good time to get a Roku if you're just starting out. The LE, even as a low end device, is still a good deal. And the price on the Streaming Stick 4K is hard to beat.

If you are looking to begin your Streaming Life, this is a good time for that. I've enjoyed mine for over a decade. I hope yours goes as well.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Best Animated Films

As I complete moving my movie collection from the old Plex server to the new one, I'm moving movies into collections. As part of my library, I decided a while back to get all of the movies that won the Academy Award for Best Picture. I wrote about that recently.

Best Picture winners aren't the only collections I have, though. A couple of decades ago, they added a new category: Best Animated Feature. The resurgence of animated films was the reason for the category. In 1991, for the first time, an animated film was nominated for Best Picture: Beauty and the Beast.

In 2001, the Academy added the new category, with Shrek taking the award.

When I decided to add Best Animated Feature to my library, I already had many of the movies that had won the award, but not all. However, once I made the decision, it was easy to get the ones I didn't have. Well, most of them. Spirited Away, which won in 2002, was hard to find at the time, but can be found easily today. It was the last one I got to complete my collection of that group of Oscar winners. There have been a couple of award ceremonies since then, and I've easily obtained that year's winner, if I didn't already have it.

My library now includes the Best Animated Feature collection:

Most of these movies are ones I've enjoyed. Keep in mind, though, that I have them because they won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, not necessarily because I wanted to see them. But, I decided, and have kept with the decision, to get the award winners and watch them. Winning the award does interest me, so I don't mind putting the money into a good film. Of course, as with the Best Picture winners, there are some that I won't like.

Most of them are good films, and I'll continue to add the Best Animated Feature winners to my library, and my Streaming Life.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

AMC+

I've not watched AMC in years. In fact, the last time I watched it, it was still American Movie Classics. Well, mostly.

I liked the old network, as well as Turner Classic Movies. The reason? Classic movies. Or movie classics. I love old movies. And when I had two great classic movie channels from which to choose, I was happy.

It hasn't gone by American Movie Classics in quite some time. I've never watched a show on AMC. Now, I have watch a show that aired on AMC, but I didn't watch it on AMC. I watched Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and Low Winter Sun. I started with catching up Breaking Bad after hearing good things about it, liked it, and bought the episodes. So, I watched them, but not on AMC.

Same with Better Call Saul. When it was announced, I bought the episodes as soon as they went on sale.

I'm trying to remember how I ran across Low Winter Sun. Probably on Amazon. I think they has a free preview of it. I liked it --Mark Strong and Lennie James are great actors -- and bought the season.

And, I know a lot of people like other shows that are on the network, but I haven't watched them. But, I just might.

You see, AMC+ is on sale. Heckuva price, I think. $2/month for a year. I might just give it a shot. Just, do I want to commit for a year? Well, if I tried it at regular price, that's $9/month. Three months would cost more than a year. So, if there's a time to try the service, this would be it.

Now, I need to determine if I want to give it a shot. I could do a 7-day free trial, but I'd need to make sure I had the time to set aside to five it an honest look. But really, who has that kind of time. So, if I did try it, and wanted to give it an honest try, I'd need to go a full month for sure.

This special is running for a few days, so I've got some time to decide. Do I have enough time to have another service in my Streaming Life? Or would it be a waste of money, despite how good the content might be?

Friday, November 19, 2021

Roku update issues

I promote myself as a long time cord-cutter/streamer. And I am that. And the streaming device I use the most is Roku. I've been a participant in Roku support forums for much of that time.

Recently, there have been a lot of reports form people complaining that their Roku devices aren't working properly after getting the update to OS 10.5.

Roku announced the update in September, and it is getting around to everyone's devices. Roku rolls out updates over a period of weeks and months. Not everybody gets it at the same time. That's probably in case things go bad, you don't have millions of users impacted all at once.

If that is the reason -- and yes, I believe it is -- then that recognizes that things can go wrong. That's not actually a bad thing, the acknowledgment that things can go wrong. Things often do go wrong, and it's nice that they aren't arrogant enough to say it will be perfect, and any problem isn't their fault.

Of course, just because it can be Roku causing an issue, that doesn't mean it is Roku causing an issue. That's why troubleshooting is needed. Try this, what happened? Try that, what happened? That's how troubleshooting works. Most people don't get that.

Another thing people don't like is when things go wrong. And, they shouldn't like it. They paid good money for a Roku device, and should get good use from it. Problems are, well, a problem.

I've watched many updates over the years, and this one seems to have more than others have had. Maybe it's just that so many more Roku users are there that it seems like more issues. However, a small percentage of a large number is bigger than a small percentage of a small number. It could be that the percentage of users with issues is in line with past releases, or even better than past releases. Still, it seems to have more issues.

The thing is, I've not had any issues with this update. I got the update on one device fairly quickly, but it's taken longer for other devices to get it. But my devices have the update, and everything works fine.

Why is it that I don't have issues that others have? Am I just lucky? I don't think so. I suspect I have more issues than I realize, but with my experience dealing with issues, I don't get all worked up, and take a careful measured approach to it. So maybe I am having the issues, but just deal with them better? I don't know.

My overall impression is that I don't have issues with Roku devices or updates. I know that's not actually the case, though. Heck, just recently, I had a Roku Ultra device die on me. So, I suppose I do have issues with Roku devices. However, it seems like I have fewer than most people.

Does attitude make the difference? Am I just lucky? I don't know. My Streaming Life is good. I'm not sure why it's better than some.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Philo adding another channel

While I don't use a live streaming service year-round, normally getting a service during football season only, I have tried all the major ones. One of my favorites is Philo. It has a good selection of channels, and is one of the lower priced services.

With Philo, there are no sports or news channels, but that's actually a good thing, in my mind. I used to watch a lot of TV news shows, but have since found that I'm happier not watching it. I still read the news, but I don't watch talking heads telling me what to think. If news was treated as news, that's one thing. But we have news being treated like a reality show. So, I don't care to watch it, as I think I get less informed watching news than how I get news today.

So, with news not a priority for a live streaming service, Philo is one of the best. And its getting better.

Remember how last month, it was announced that Frndly.TV was adding GAC Family and GAC Living to their lineup? Well, Philo has GAC Family already, but according to reports, is adding GAC Living within the next month.

Philo and GAC Media have agreed to a deal that will make both GAC Family and GAC Living available on Philo. GAC Family has already been carried by the service per an agreement with Discovery, but now, users will have access to the additional programming of GAC Living just in time for the holiday season. GAC Living is set to launch on Philo in early December.

This is a good thing. Of course, depending on what you want to watch, Frndly.TV may be a cheaper option than Philo. But, if the other content from Phil0 is worth it, then it's something you'll want to add.

At $25/month, Philo is a bargain, especially compared to the prices of the other services that carry it. Sling Blue plus Heartland Extra is $42/month. Hulu+Live TV with the Entertainment Add-on runs $73. Fubo with Fubo Extra is also $73.

While Frndly.TV is the cheapest way to get GAC Living, if you want a bit more, then Philo's new deal with GAC makes it an excellent choice to add GAC Living to your Streaming Life.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

It's Hulu time again, maybe

I have subscribed to Hulu for ... well, since it was called Hulu Plus and there were two different Hulu services. In other words, for a while. But, during my purge earlier this year, I dropped Hulu. It turns out that I hadn't watched anything on it for some time. So, even though it was only $6/month, that was me paying $6/month for a service I wasn't using. "Heck," I said to myself, "I'll resubscribe in the fall when the new shows start."

I figured in September, I'd resubscribe. But, I didn't. I don't think it even crossed my mind. October came and went. Now we're halfway through November -- yes, we are half-way through November as of this past Monday -- and I still haven't subscribed to Hulu. I suppose I'm waiting on the new episodes to start.

Well, I actually don't know when the new episodes start. But I accidentally found out that some have started. The Rookie, that police show with the guy from Firefly on it, has started. Four episodes in, I think. Maybe five.

Anyway, I suppose it's time to subscribe to Hulu again. I may wait until next week. I still got a lot going on with work, as well as my Plex server. I still have to set up my collections. All the movies and TV shows are moved from the old one, and I'm getting other shows I never finished putting into Plex, primarily the new Doctor Who episodes. I've been working on that along and along.

Speaking of TV, I have Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (don't ask), The IT Crowd, The Outer Limits (1963), and The Twilight Zone (1959). Of course, Mystery Science Theater 3000 is there. So, I've been dealing with TV shows, just older shows. The new ones can wait. But for how long.

I'll probably wait until next week to subscribe to Hulu again. Except that's the week of Thanksgiving. Hmmm.

Some time in December then. Yeah. I'll subscribe to Hulu before the year is out. Probably.

I really though I would miss Hulu a lot more than I have. But, I won't abandon it for good. It will once again be a part of my Streaming Life soon. Or some time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Dead Roku

My Roku Ultra died. It's the second Roku I've had go bad in nearly 11 years. And, the other one was a Roku Ultra, too.

Until recently, it was my primary Roku device. When I replaced my defective sound bar with a Roku Streambar, the Ultra was assigned to a secondary TV. Well, this weekend, I went to use it, and I couldn't get it to work. It had power, but there was no output to the TV. I changed HDMI cables and ports, but it wouldn't work.

I was able to get a Roku Premiere+ (the Express form factor, model 3921) running, so the TV has a Roku on it, but my Roku Ultra isn't working.

In 2017, a Roku Ultra (model 4660) I had went bad, not long after I got it. Roku replaced it without issue. The device worked well for another four years. That is, until this weekend.

I don't think I'm going to replace it, at least, not yet. The Streambar works well, and the three-year-old Premiere+ works well. This is the first time since I got my first Roku that I haven't had a top of the line model. Next time I need a Roku device, I will get one, but using some of my retired stock works for now.

I'm certainly not soured on Roku by this. The device is four years old, and that's not too bad. I've never used an Amazon Fire TV Stick that long. I get fed up with them well before then. I have Apple TV devices, if I need to use them. But, I do prefer Roku, but it's not necessary that I run out and replace this one with a new one.

I have enough streaming devices, including some that do work very well, to keep my Streaming Life functioning just fine.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Sling TV Free

I've mentioned before that Sling TV was the first live TV streaming service I tried. The reason for that was simple. At the time, it was the only live TV streaming service. I tried it, thought it was alright, then canceled.

Why did I cancel? I wasn't really watching it. I only used it during college football season, and when the season was done, I canceled. Actually, when I first subscribed, it was early in the year, I did a month, just to see what it was all about, then I canceled, then I signed up again when football season started. After the season, I canceled again.

Ever since then, I would subscribe during football season and cancel after the season. But, Sling TV wasn't the only service I would use. Other services would offer specials that were a better price than Sling TV, and I'd try them. Then, when the special was over, rather than pay the higher price, I would go back to Sling TV to finish the season. Right now, in fact, I'm not subscribed to Sling TV. I have Fubu TV because I wanted to try it, then when the month was done, they offered me a great price to keep me from canceling. So, I'm keeping Fubu TV for another month. I probably won't keep them longer, because, as I've said, I only want a live TV streaming service to watch football. Fubo is great for that. For me, though, Sling TV will do the job just fine.

Now, I know you're wondering where I'm going with this. "Sling TV Free?" What's that about? If I can get Sling TV Free, why would I pay for another service?

Well, Sling TV Free isn't all of Sling TV. The service does offer some live streaming free, along with some on-demand content. It's not gonna be the same stuff you get with the Orange or Blue package. Well, you actually do get all of this with Orange and/or Blue. This is stuff you get just by having the app, regardless of if you have a subscription or not.

You get some news channels, some entertainment content, even some sports, but not the big cable channels. For example, the news channels include ABC News Live, CBSN (CBS News), Newsy, and such. It does not include CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News, and that's probably a good thing, to tell you the truth.

You also get on-demand content, to include TV shows and movies. Again, not the same as Hulu or Netflix, but still a selection of content.

Did I mention that Sling TV Free is free? Because that's a good price.

Even if I were to subscribe to another live TV streaming service -- and right now, I do -- I would keep Sling TV app on my streaming device. It still has free content, and some of it is certainly worth watching. I suspect you will be able to find something you would enjoy watching.

Now, be aware that every time you launch the app, it asks you to subscribe (or, in my case, resubscribe). But, there is a "Skip, Watch Free Content" button down at the bottom. I use that.

With Air TV, and without a Sling TV subscription, you just watch the free content, and that includes your antenna content. So, at the locations with an antenna, the Sling TV app is how I can watch local channels via Air TV.

If you have an antenna, or are thinking about putting one up, getting an Air TV device and using the Sling TV app is a great option. But the Sling TV app by itself, without Air TV, is a good option for free content.

If you want to have free content, this is one way to go. Or an additional way to go, along with whatever other apps you use. It's certainly a part of my Streaming Life.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Best Picture movies

I've got a decent movie library, totaling 1,690 films. That doesn't include short films, cartoons, TV shows, and such. Part of my library consists of movies I just like and bought.

Wait. Did I just imply that I may have movies I don't like? Well, I do. Some, I didn't know at the time. I thought I would like them, so I got them, either on DVD (which I later ripped into my Plex library) or purchased a digital copy (which I later ripped into my Plex library). So, I found out I didn't like some of them after I bought them. But I'm okay with that. I gave the film a shot, and if I didn't like it, that's just how it is.

Along the line, though, I decided I wanted to include in my library certain collections. I decided I wanted all of the movies that won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. I checked my library -- it wasn't all in Plex at the time -- and found that I had a good number of them. So, I looked into getting the rest. And I did.

As of this writing, there have been 93 Academy Award ceremonies, and of the 93 films to win Best Picture, I have 94 of them.

Okay, now you're wondering if I just don't understand math. I do. But I also understand history, and I don't like when it's changed.

In the first Academy Awards ceremony, held May 16, 1929, there were two top awards for films given. Wings won the award for Outstanding Picture, while Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans won Best Unique and Artistic Picture. At the time, they were considered equal top awards. The next year, they did away with the Best Unique and Artistic Picture category but kept the Outstanding Picture award, and declared that Wings was the top film of the previous year, retroactively.

Sunrise actually received more nominations than Wings and more awards than Wings, and is probably a better film. Still, Wings is today considered the first winner of the Best Picture award by the Academy, and by most people. But not by me.

I feel that at the time, they considered the awards equal and both the top award. No amount of revisionist history will change that. So, I consider them both the Best Picture in that first ceremony. And they are both in my library. Of course, it really doesn't matter. I'd have Sunrise in my film library regardless.

Oh, and there were two Best Director wins that first year, too. There were separate awards for dramatic and comedy pictures. Like Outstanding Picture and Unique and Artistic Presentation, they were combined into a single award beginning the next year. Unlike Best Picture, they didn't retroactively reduce one of the awards.

But back on track, I didn't, but soon did, have all of the winners of the Best Picture awards. And, since I added those to my library, each year, I've added the new winners of the award. I haven't seen them all. Yet. I will. I just haven't seen the most recent. I've seen the older ones. In fact, I have some serious catching up to do. The most recent Best Picture winner I've seen is The Artist, and that was only a two or three years ago. I have a whole decade of Best Picture winners the catch up and watch. I need to get around to that.

I like the idea that I have all of the Best Picture winners. I just don't seem to watch all of them. I'll get to those last ten some time soon. I mean, what's the use of having a movie if I never watch it? I might not like some of them. If the pattern for the last 30 years holds true, I will like a few of them and not like most of them. Still, I'm happy to have all of the Best Picture winners in my Streaming Life.


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Saturday, November 13, 2021

Using HBO Max

Last month, I decided to give HBO Max a try. As I said then, I'd watched HBO before. When Comcast raised my price -- technically, the special they gave me ended -- I looked for a better price package, and they were running a special where I could get Internet, cable, and HBO cheaper than Internet alone. So, yeah, I did that for a year. And during that year, I watched HBO from time to time. And, when that special ended, I got a different package that didn't include cable or HBO, just Internet, because it was cheaper.

I've not watched HBO since. Well, until last month. I subscribed to HBO Max to give it a try. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, I just wanted to see what it was all about. I know lots of people that use the service. I but way back on streaming services some months ago, but am willing to give one a try from time to time. Either a new one I've not done before, or one I haven't used in a long time. HBO Max is sort of both.

Well, it's been a month. How do I like it?

It's okay. The thing is, with work and everything, I don't have time to sit and watch a lot of movies. I wish I did. Maybe when I retire, finally.

I've subscribed for about a month now, with the free trial and 30 days, and I'm not sure I'll keep it. Honestly, I wish I had time to watch it. There really is a lot of good stuff on there. It's worth the cost. If you got time to watch it, and I don't.

When my real life stops infringing on my Streaming Life, I'll probably subscribe to HBO Max and keep the service. I can hardly wait for that day.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Frndly.TV gets friendlier, maybe, and more costly

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Frndly.TV will offer seven channels from A+E Networks soon. That's the good news. The bad news is the price is going up. The other good news is that the increase is only $1.

The Wall Street Journal says that Frndly.TV subscribers will get the new channels in about a week:

Frndly TV, founded two years ago by former Dish Network Corp. DISH +0.84% executives, said Wednesday it had signed a deal with A+E Networks to carry seven of its networks—including A&E, Lifetime and the History Channel—starting Nov. 18.

As a result of the agreement, Frndly TV will offer 30 live TV channels, adding to its current bundle that already includes the Hallmark Channel and the Weather Channel. The company said it would raise the basic monthly subscription price to $6.99 from $5.99. Frndly TV’s other subscription tiers will also increase.

Frndly.TV lists the networks they'll carry:

In addition to A&E, The HISTORY Channel and Lifetime, Frndly TV subscribers will also receive Lifetime Movie Network® (LMN), FYI®, Military HISTORY®, ViceTV® and complementary video on demand programming.

Starting on Thursday, November 18, the seven channels will begin to premiere on Frndly TV.

I haven't watched many of those channels. I dropped cable over a decade ago, and I have only occasionally used a live streaming service, mostly because I only get them for football, so even when I have the channels, I don't watch them.

This sounds like a good addition to Frndly.TV to me. However, I do wonder if this means the service is getting away from family friendly content. Some of the programming on A+E Networks isn't something that every family would sit and watch together. A&E itself isn't the old A&E that carried quality programming. Say what you want, WWE Most Wanted Treasures isn't in the same league with Breakfast with the Arts.

I'm not worried about Frndly.TV just yet, but this may not be a good sign, if TV you can watch with your kids is what you're after. The price increase isn't bad, though, and I won't complain about that. But, I'm keeping an eye out for other programming that might not fit the original draw for Frndly.TV. I wonder if it will be something families will want in their Streaming Life.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day. We have observed it since the end of the first World War, and it became a U.S. holiday in 1954. The president issued a proclamation that year.

Proclamation 3071—Veteran's Day, 1954

October 08, 1954

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Whereas it has long been our custom to commemorate November 11, the anniversary of the ending of World War I, by paying tribute to the heroes of that tragic struggle and by rededicating ourselves to the cause of peace; and

Whereas in the intervening years the United States has been involved in two other great military conflicts, which have added millions of veterans living and dead to the honor rolls of this Nation; and

Whereas the Congress passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926 (44 Stat. 1982), calling for the observance of November 11 with appropriate ceremonies, and later provided in an act approved May 13, 1938 (52 Stat. 351), that the eleventh of November should be a legal holiday and should be known as Armistice Day; and

Whereas, in order to expand the significance of that commemoration and in order that a grateful Nation might pay appropriate homage to the veterans of all its wars who have contributed so much to the preservation of this Nation, the Congress, by an act approved June 1, 1954 (68 Stat. 168), changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day:

Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954, as Veterans Day. On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain. I also direct the appropriate officials of the Government to arrange for the display of the flag of the United States on all public buildings on Veterans Day.

In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

DONE at the City of Washington this eighth day of October in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and fifty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy-ninth.

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER

By the President:

JOHN FOSTER DULLES,

Secretary of State

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

My problem with ESPN+

I don't normally subscribe to ESPN+, except during football season. There are college football games that are only on ESPN+, and I want to be able to watch them. So, during football season I subscribe to ESPN+.

So what's the problem? Well, it's the app. Let me explain.

When I'm watching football games, I'll often open the ESPN app on my phone, and check other games. If something seems interesting, I'll switch over to it. But, that's when ESPN+ decides to tick me off. ESPN+ is big into some fight club league or something. Ultimate Fightling something something.

I've never been big on fights, whether boxing or whatever this UFC thing is. Simply put, I'm not interested. If it's something you like, fine. They need to target you, not me.

The ESPN app allows me to pick teams or sports in which I have an interest. I've never picked any kind of fighting league, yet every time I open the app, wanting to see the teams or sports I have marked as an interest, I get some ad telling me about some fight.

I get it. They're promoting something they've invested in. They've spent money to carry that sport, and they want to make sure anyone that is interested knows about fights coming up. Only, the fact that I haven't picked that sport as a favorite ought to tell them something. And, I suspect it does, but they don't care. They're gonna show me ads for it, even though I never click on them, and won't watch the stuff.

Maybe they spent all of their money securing the rights to the fights, and they don't have enough money to build smarts into their apps so they'll get more efficient exposure of the sport. But, if they need to show it to everybody in order to pick up eyeballs for the stuff, okay. I'll ignore the stuff. I just wish I didn't have to.

If this is the worst problem I have with ESPN+, I'm doing okay. I won't be watching the fights, but if my putting up with the ads allows you to find out about something you want to see, them I'll just deal with it. Your Streaming Life is important, too.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Blackouts

Last weekend, on Saturday, I didn't watch a lot of football. I wanted to, but it just didn't work out that way. However, I was near my TV when the Georgia Tech-Miami game was winding down. I saw that it was a close game, so I decided to watch it.

The game was on ESPN3, so I fired up the ESPN app on my Roku device and found the game. But, it wouldn't play. The game was blacked out in my area.

From my house, I would have to drive 433 miles to go to the game. That's the shortest, most direct driving route. It would be a 6½ hour drive on a good day. And, according to the people that decide those things, I was in a blackout area for the game.

That is a very frustrating thing to encounter. I'm not sure I understand why games that are 433 miles away are blacked out. I suspect if I found out why the game was blacked out, I'd want to slap the person that made the decision. Twice. Maybe more than twice. Definitely more than twice.

But, that's how it is. The game was blacked out. So, what did I do? Did I fire up a VPN and get around the restrictions? No, I didn't. I could have, but I didn't. I just didn't watch the game. And that means I didn't watch any commercials that were played with the game.

I wonder if the advertisers think about the fact that people are being denied the opportunity to see ads for their wonderful products and/or services.

Now, I'm not sure if I'm correct about this next bit, but I think it is. This whole blackout thing seems to happen more with ACC games than with any other conference. Is it the ACC that thinks their stuff is so special? Or is it more widespread but I only seem to notice when I'm trying to watch an ACC game? I don't know, but I don't like it.

Will I fire up a VPN the next time this happens? Probably not. I try to respect the rights of the content owners, and a football game is not different than a sitcom in that respect.

So, no, I won't get around the geo-restrictions with a VPN, but I don't blame those that do. Normally, I am opposed to getting around rights owner restrictions. But, while I won't do it, others will (and do) and this is one of those instances where I understand why they do, and don't really disagree.

My Streaming Life should not be this difficult.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Meet the Beatles!

One of the things I like about a Plex server is the ability to have all of my media available for me wherever I am, as long as I can get to the Internet. That means moves, TV shows, short films, and music.

I've talked about my Plex servers (the old one and the new one) several times, but haven't mentioned the music aspect that much. I've got all my movies done (still need to put them into collections), and most of my TV shows done (still the new Doctor Who shows to go), and my short films (still need to put them into collections as well).

The collections on the videos can wait. The most important thing was getting them on the server. Organizing into collections and playlists will be done, but I need the files moved over first. So now I'm on to moving music files.

I started with The Beatles. I have all of their digital releases. Well, some of the digital packages are groupings of individuals I already have, so I may not have all of those. The individual albums, whether individually or part of a package, I have. And then some. Let me explain that last bit.

Being one who grew up listening to new Beatles music -- yes, it used to be new at one time -- I recall all of the albums that were released in the U.S. They hold a special place for me, even if they are no longer available. But, I want them anyway. Just because.

While I have the official catalog of Beatles music, which is essentially the U.K. releases plus the U.S. Magical Mystery Tour album, along with the later Past Masters release, I also have the U.S. albums. The albums prior to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band were different in the U.S. than in the U.K. This is because the U.K. albums usually had more songs than a U.S. album. That wasn't a Beatles thing, or a Capitol Records thing, it was just a thing. It's how it was.

Also, in the U.K., singles were rarely duplicated on an album. In the U.S., it's what sold an album. Different cultures, different expectations. The first Capitol Records release, Meet the Beatles! was essentially the Beatles second U.K. release, With the Beatles, minus the cover songs (except for Till There Was You), plus their first U.S. single, I Want To Hold Your Hand, along with the B-sides: I Saw Her Standing There (U.S. single) and This Boy (U.K. single). It made for a better selection of Beatles songs, even though it had fewer tracks. The songs that were there were original Beatles songs, not covers (excepting Till There Was You).

The songs from With The Beatles that were left off of Meet the Beatles! were included in the next Capitol release, The Beatles' Second Album, which was their third U.S. release. Yep, that's correct. Unless you count it as their fourth U.S. release.

You see, when the Beatles were being promoted by their U.K. label, EMI, Capitol wasn't interested, so the Beatles first U.K. album was release (mostly, remember the difference in number of tracks) by Vee-Jay Records, who called the album Introducing... the Beatles. It was the Please Please Me album in the same order, missing two songs, Ask Me Why and Please Please Me. After the Beatles hit big, Vee-Jay was sued over two of the songs on the album, Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You, so they quickly removed those two and put the previously omitted two songs in their place, and kept pumping out versions of the album.

Vee-Jay eventually lost the rights to publish any Beatles songs, and Capitol released 11 of the 14 songs on an album called The Early Beatles, with a totally different running order.

I bring all of this up because I remember the album. My older sister had a copy, but I listened to it many times. I seem to recall a difference between the songs on the album and listed on the cover. Or, perhaps I recall seeing a track listing somewhere that didn't match the album. I think she had version two in a version one album cover. I'll have to ask her if she still has it.

I bring this up because as I am putting my Beatles music onto Plex, I'm adding all of the albums I actually have. This includes the mono and stereo versions of the Beatles U.S. releases, at least the ones where there were mono and stereo releases, which was most of them. Everything after The White Album (properly, The Beatles) was a stereo only release. But, I have the mono releases as well. At least, the U.S. versions through Revolver. So, my library includes both the mono and stereo versions.

There is a reason for that. The mixes were different on the mono and stereo releases. They didn't record for stereo, so a separate mix was done for stereo, and the Beatles themselves weren't present for the stereo mixes. Some songs never got stereo mixes.

One of the most striking is the original mono release of the song Yellow Submarine. In the final verse, on the mono mix, John's echoing of Ringo's lyrics begin with "A life of ease" while on the stereo mix, begins with a fade in on "Everyone of us." If you know the song, you know where I'm talking about. Not a big difference, but an important difference. As I only ever heard the stereo version from Revolver and the Yellow Submarine Soundtrack, the first time I saw the movie and heard the earlier entrance of John on the song, I was surprised. They fixed the stereo version on Yellow Submarine Songbook which was released much much later. I have it on the mono Revolver album, which I didn't get until a few years ago.

So, there are differences, and I'm including the mono and stereo releases in my library, at least, where I have the different versions.

I'm also including both versions of Introducing... the Beatles in my Plex library. And, if I happen across anything else, where I can obtain the actual recordings, digitally or on CD, I'll add them as time goes on.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying listening to Beatles records as part of my Streaming Life.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Tablo Connect to Apple TV?

I really like Tablo service. It's a great device that allows me to watch over the air antenna content on my devices on my network. I also have Fire TV Recast set up at my mother's house, as well as Air TV (using the Air TV Anywhere device). Of the three options I have for watching TV via an antenna, I like Tablo the best.

I do like the way Air TV integrates the local channels into the Sling TV interface, but I like the Tablo interface better. Fire TV Recast also integrates the antenna content into the interface, but I'm not a fan of the Amazon interface. And I've mentioned the things I don't like about Fire TV before.

Tablo is my go-to way to watch TV from an antenna. And, since I put up the antenna at my mother's, and I live a couple of miles away, Tablo Connect -- the feature that lets you watch Tablo from a different network -- is the way I'm continuing to use Tablo.

Since Tablo Connect is supported by Fire TV, Chromecast, and Apple TV, but not Roku, I've used other devices. Chromecast would be my preferred alternative, but the Chromecast has other issues I've previously mentioned. And, as I said, Fire TV has its own issues. So what next? Why Apple TV, of course.

I've had an Apple TV longer than I have had Roku. About a week longer. Apple ships faster than Roku. Of course, the old Apple TV devices were far inferior to Roku, but for the last few years, they've been a lot better, and are really good. I just hated the remote that came with the last couple of models, but the new remote is pretty good. And that brings Apple TV up a notch.

I'll be trying it out again. I've looked at Apple TV recently, and was happy with the remote. I already was comfortable and happy with the interface. At the time, I wasn't looking into Tablo Connect. But now I am. And Apple TV gets its turn this week.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

The Doctor is in

I mentioned last week that I was adding Doctor Who episodes -- classic Doctor Who, from 1963-1986 -- to my Plex server. I have all of the episodes, including the Loose Cannon reconstructions of the missing episodes, and I began importing them into Plex.

As I mentioned before, I had imported the first ten seasons into my old Plex server, and moving them onto the new server was relatively easy. Everything was already organized, as I found out, and it went smoothly.

As I mentioned last week, I took up the task of moving the other seasons onto Plex. That actually went rather smoothly. It turns out I had already prepped several seasons to bring in, but for some reason, I never finished the task. Until now.

The next few seasons went well. I had all of the Tom Baker, and many of the Peter Davison episodes ready to go. I had a few Colin Baker episodes, as well as some Sylvester McCoy episodes. All of the ones I didn't have purchased from iTunes, I had ripped the DVDs already, and they were essentially ready. I had even ripped some of the iTunes episodes, so even more were ready. I ripped the remaining few and began the import.

It was quire painless. Well, the actual import was. Ripping TV shows isn't always painless. The iTunes naming convention and the Plex naming convention aren't the same, so I had to figure out how to make that easier. I ended up using a couple of batch file tricks and a spreadsheet.

I used a DIR command to output the content to a text file by using the /B attribute and redirecting the output to a text file. If you use Command Line much -- I still call it DOS command line -- you know what I'm talking about. If not, it's a way to get the names of the files into a text file.

I copied the text file into a spreadsheet, arranged them in air date order (the directory listing was alphabetical), and used an Excel CONCATENATE command to write a rename batch script. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, it's a way to take content from one cell in a spreadsheet and manipulate it in a way that I got a different bit of content.

For example, one of the filenames was 01 The Caves of Androzani (1).mp4

With commands such as CONCATENATE and MID, along with some math, I got a line of script that renamed it: Doctor Who (1963) - s21e17 - The Caves of Androzani (1).mp4

Yeah, that took a little bit of work, but it was a lot easier than renaming all those files by hand. I don't do a lot of coding, but it's nice to know I can do some tricks like this, and have it work.

Now, I have all of the Doctor Who classic episodes in Plex, and can watch them any time I want. Next, I need to bring in the special episodes. The Three Doctors imported into the 20th season as I had hoped, because I used DVD order setting in Plex. I have Scream of the Shalka, an aborted 9th Doctor continuation. The six episodes were completed, but the 9th Doctor didn't take. I also have the original An Unearthly Child that was rejected, the 2019 recreation of Mission to the Unknown, and An Adventure in Space and Time. I could even include the three movies, the two with Peter Cushing and the one with Paul McGann, in the specials section, since the library source Plex uses has them.

As I wrap all this up, I'm happy to have Doctor Who, in classic form, on my Plex server, and back in my Streaming Life.

Friday, November 5, 2021

What I hate about Fire TV

You know those people that always seem to find something wrong with everything? People that aren't happy no matter what? That seem to thrive on being difficult? That seems like me when it comes to Amazon's Fire TV.

Don't get me wrong. I like some things about Fire TV, but there are some things it does that really irritate me.

By default, videos start playing if I stop on them for a few seconds. I don't want to see or hear a video playing unless I tell it to play. Sure, I can go to the settings and turn that off, and I do. But it only applies to standard videos. When there's a sponsored video, it plays if you stay on it for more than one second. I timed it. It was easy to time. One Mississippi, t--- dammit!

Maybe I shouldn't get so worked up about stuff playing when I don't want it to. But I don't want it to.

Remember those Websites that you would go to and they'd start playing some sound? Yeah, they still exist. News sites are notorious for playing a video when you just want to read the story. I hate those. And Fire TV does that same thing.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K -- I haven't tried the new "Max" version yet -- works great. It's responsive, and is easy to you. But Amazon insists on playing videos when I don't want them to. I will not put up with that. And that's why Fire TV will never be my streaming device of choice.

I still use the Fire TV device for Tablo Connect, but for nothing else. I tried. The autoplaying of videos -- and the inability to stop it for sponsored videos -- keeps the Fire TV device relegated to a special purpose only status in my Streaming Life.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Tablo Connect update

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about Tablo Connect. Briefly, it's a feature with Tablo that lets you watch your Tablo content from a different network.

Tablo, is of course, an over the air (OTA) antenna DVR that also makes your antenna and DVR be viewed anywhere on your network with a compatible device. And the compatible devices are Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Google/Android TV devices, so that means most streaming setups.

Tablo Connect works on three of those four platforms. Roku doesn't support Tablo Connect, or Tablo Connect doesn't support Roku. Either way, you can use Tablo with Roku, but only on the same network.

Tablo Connect lets me use my Fire TV, Apple TV, or Chromecast/Google TV devices on other networks. That means the antenna I put up at one house, I can watch it at another house with Fire TV, Apple TV, or Chromecast/Google TV.

I was using my Chromecast for it, but I've not been happy with the device lately. The Chromecast has had occasional issues with watching TV via Tablo Connect as well. Well, I pulled out my Fire TV Stick 4K and made sure it was set up for Tablo Connect. I watched the World Series from Fox local channel from my house, using the antenna that is at my mother's house (where I put up the antenna some months back).

The reception and experience has been good. The picture is great, and there is only occasional buffering. I think it's the network, not the stick. It's not stuttering, just maybe once every 20-30 minutes taking a few seconds, 1-3 seconds at most, then pick up with the stream.

I will likely box up the Chromecast/Google TV and have the Fire TV Stick 4K as my secondary device. Or primary if I'm watching TV antenna.

I'm a little disappointed with my Chromecast, but very happy with my Fire TV Stick 4K. And I'm very very happy with Tablo Connect. I still wish the Out Of Home Streaming feature of Tablo was  was available on Roku, but I have Fire TV to have that feature as a part of my Streaming Life.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Waiting to retire the old Plex server

I recently mentioned that I was upgrading my Plex server with a newer, faster computer and a larger hard drive. And, I've mentioned some of the issues I've encountered along the way. None of the issues were directly related to Plex itself. That's been easy. It's the delay in delivery of components, issues with copying files, and of course, issues with the bloatware that companies (Dell, in this instance) put on computers.

Problems? Yes, but there were also solutions, so things progressed along. I got all of my movie files moved over and loaded into Plex. I got my short film files moved over and loaded into Plex. And I have my TV show files moved over and some of them loaded into Plex, but there are sill some more of those to go. And my music files need to move over. Oh, and music videos.

Movies are done. Well, mostly done. I have the movies, but not the collections. You see, I have a lot of my films in collections, such as Best Picture Oscar films all in one collection, AFI Top 100, Hitchcock films, Disney films, James Bond films, and so on. Having the old Plex for finishing that off is helpful.

I also have several playlists set up. For example, I have all of the original uncut versions of the movies that were riffed by Mystery Science Theater 3000, except for two. I don't know why I've done this, other than it seemed like something I would try to do. I have 13 playlists: one for the KTMA season, ten for the Comedy Channel/Comedy Central/Sci-Fi Channel seasons, and two for the Netflix seasons. The movies are in riffed order, and I've never watched them from the playlist. But, I'll probably still set those up, just to say I have them.

I have the TV shows that I had on the old Plex, but as I mentioned some days ago, I never finished setting up Doctor Who, although I have all of the video files of the shows. I don't really need the old Plex server running for that, as I'm actually ahead of it on this task.

Music is an area where I'm not really sure. I thought that downloading again from iTunes then converting to MP3 would be easy enough, but I'm not seeing all of my purchases and iTunes Match content. I need to look into that more. And this may be the overriding reason for keeping the old Plex server around. Some of the music I have are songs purchased through iTunes. I don't always have the CD. For those I have on CD, it's not an issue. But for those where it's an iTunes match, I'd rather not break out the CD if I don't have to. But, I'll do what I have to do. The easiest way would be to pull from the old server.

Since I already had to set up the old server again in order to pull the files across the network, I'll just leave it there until I have everything finished on the new Plex server.

No, my Streaming Life shouldn't be this complicated, but these are complications I created, so I'll just deal with them. When I'm done, my Streaming Life will be better. Or that's what I keep telling myself.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

SiriusXM changes

I got my first XM radio in a car I bought in 2006. In 2008, XM merged with Sirius to form SiriusXM radio.

What's this got to do with streaming? Well, many SiriusXM packages include streaming capabilities, not just from a phone, but from streaming devices including the big four -- Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast/Google TV, and Fire TV -- as well as certain other smart TV systems -- LG & Samsung. And, yes, I have it on my Roku device and will listen from time to time. SiriusXM is a streaming option for listening to music.

What brought this up is that I heard one of the station I listen to mention they were moving to another channel. I was listening to 60s on 6, and the said they were moving to channel 73 and changing the name to 60s Gold. The name change makes sense, since they were no longer on channel 6. But there was something else that was a concern to me. I will often listen to channel 74, 40s Junction. Where was it going? Or was it going away? I had questions. I wanted answers.

A look at the SiriusXM Website didn't mention anything. Searching the Internet only turned up one article on Radio & Television Business Report:

... (The) biggest move will see the 50s tunes rebranded as "50s Gold," taking Channel 72. The 60s, with veteran hosts "Shotgun" Tom Kelly and Pat St. John alongside Dave Hoeffel as air personalities, will be branded as "60s Gold," taking Channel 73.

The "70s on 7" remains on Channel 7; corresponding decade-specific channels remain on Channels 8-11.

That told me pretty much what I already knew. But the same article did have the answer I was after.

Meanwhile, a flurry of channel shifts are set to occur, as follows:

  • The Pulse: Ch. 5 (formerly 15)
  • The Coffee House: Ch. 6 (formerly 14)
  • Siriusly Sinatra: Ch. 70 (formerly 71)
  • 40s Junction: Ch. 71 (formerly 73)
  • On Broadway: Ch. 77 (formerly 72)
  • Kidz Bop: Ch. 79 (formerly 77)

That was good news for me, as I will get to keep the channel I was worried about.

Channel 70 was open, as The Billy Joel Channel and SiriusXM Live, both of which have recently occupied the channel, are going to online only. Channel 79 was also open. Everything else was a shifting around of channels. I couldn't find out what's going in to 14 and 15, which come open with the moves.

SiriusXM says your radios will automatically follow the channels, and if so, great. If not, well I'll be able to find what I'm looking for. If it becomes too much of a hassle, my subscription is up in November, and I'll remove the channel from my Streaming Life. And my car.

Monday, November 1, 2021

The problem with Chromecast

While Roku is my primary streaming device, I have a fondness for the Chromecast with Google TV (I'll call it "Chromecast" from now on, even though the device actually called "Chromecast" is a lesser device).

Recently, I added the Tablo Connect feature to my home by syncing my Chromecast to the TV antenna I put up at my mother's house. In cast you don't recall, that's the feature that allows me to watch TV from that antenna on another network. I'm watching TV at my house from an antenna at a different house.

Anyway, I've been using the Chromecast a bit more as a result. If you remember, Roku doesn't support Tablo Connect, or Tablo Connect doesn't support Roku. Either way, I can't use it on Roku. Tablo works with Roku, just not the Tablo Connect feature.

Oh, and, since I've been using Chromecast more, I've used Roku less. And, the other day, I wanted to look at the updated Popcornflix app. On Roku, it was a quick and easy setup. But, with Chromecast, there was an issue. It wouldn't load on my Chromecast device.

Oh, yes, Popcornflix is compatible with Chromecast, but I had too many apps on my device. It indicated I needed to remove an app to add Popcornflix. I removed a couple than added Popcornflix. But I really didn't like having to do that.

I've been spoiled by Roku. Roku doesn't have a lot of on-board storage, but it doesn't really matter. If you run out of space on a Roku, it will remove the oldest app, in terms of how long ago you last used it, and load the new one. It will actually start with the oldest apps and remove as many as necessary until there is enough space for the new app. The old app(s) still shows on the device, and all devices, and if you go to launch it, it will load, removing what is now the oldest, if necessary. It's all behind the scenes. You can only tell it's doing it if you launch and app and you see the download counter.

But that's now how Chromecast works. It works like your Android phone does. You have to remove apps yourself if you need space. And that makes sense, since Chromecast is running Google/Android operating system.

This was an irritant. If it will be a long term bother, I don't know. After all, there are several apps I don't regularly use, so removing them isn't a big deal. But then again, I don't really use Popcornflix. I wanted to give it a try and see what I thought. But, while trying to load it, I had to switch gears and do some cleanup on the device. I didn't have to do that with Roku.

I'm not about to chunk the Chromecast by any means. But I am looking around trying to remember where I put the Fire TV Stick 4K device. It may be a better option for having Tablo Connect in my Streaming Life.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Roku losing Amazon?

There have been some news stories the last couple of days saying that Amazon's IMDB and, more importantly, Prime Video, could be leaving the Roku platform soon. I'm not saying it won't happen, but I'm skeptical.

While there are several Websites reporting the news, they all cite the same source, an article in The Information. According to that article, Roku is, as with Google, refusing to share user data:

One likely battlefront in the coming negotiations will be access to viewing data. During last year’s discussions between Amazon and Roku, Amazon pushed for detailed viewing data about what Roku subscribers watch across all apps, according to people familiar with the talks. If Amazon got such data, it could match that information with what it knows about customer purchases on its site and figure out who buys goods on Amazon after seeing ads on the Roku platform, the people said.

Roku refused Amazon’s request for this data, although the smaller company caved on other issues, such as accepting Amazon’s refusal to share some of IMDb’s ad inventory. Roku does not want to share granular viewing data because doing so would give Amazon’s ad sales an edge over Roku’s, said one of the people familiar with the situation.

Some are saying that Roku is getting into all these disputes, therefore it's Roku that's the problem. But in each case, it's user data that Roku isn't wanting to give up that is the biggest sticking point.

So, perhaps Roku will lose the platforms. If so, I'm glad they're taking a stand. But then again, I'm not suffering a big impact from the disputes.

I don't subscribe to YouTube TV, so the Roku-Google fight isn't a big deal. I don't usually watch Amazon Prime Video, so if this happens, I wouldn't even notice.

Of course, I'm not the typical viewer when it comes to those services. YouTube TV is a massively popular service, as is Prime Video. So, yeah, I get it. A lot of people would cate. So, it's easy for me to come down on Roku's side.

I think Roku's stance is correct insofar as refusing to share user data. I just hope it doesn't hurt the company too bad. I'd hate to lose Roku from my Streaming Life.