Posts

Showing posts from October, 2021

Roku losing Amazon?

Image
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 iss

Popcornflix

Image
Sometime around the first year or two of my Streaming Life, in 2011 or 2013, I found an app called Popcornflix. It was one of the first ad-supported streaming services I saw. It and Crackle were among the first streaming services that were not part of the mainstream. Prior to my using finding those apps, most of my streaming consisted of Hulu Plus (as it was known then), Netflix, and Amazon Prime (the old name of Prime Video). I don't have to explain those mainstream apps, of course, but I will anyway. Netflix was, well, Netflix. Hulu Plus was for current TV season content, or at least what was available from the service; it was only broadcast network content. Amazon Prime video app was mainly for watching content I purchased from Amazon, which was mostly current TV series that weren't on Hulu Plus. Then, I discovered Crackle and Popcornflix around the same time. They has a few titles I knew about, but most of what those apps carried was stuff I had never heard of. Still, I was

How long should your streaming device last?

Image
I don't know if I'm the best person to suggest how often you should expect to replace your primary streaming device. You see, in the early days of streaming, I got a new Roku device every year, when the new ones were released. In 2010, I bought the Roku XDS, which was the top of the line device. Less than a year later, I replaced it with the Roku 2 XS, the new top of the line device. That stayed tops in Roku's lineup for two years. In 2013, Roku introduced the Roku 3, which I bought and retired the Roku 2 XS. When they updated the Roku 23 in 2015, I didn't replace it, since the update was really just the headphones, or earbuds. The device didn't have any appreciable change, hence the keeping of the Roku 3 name. Where all this changed was later in 2013 when the Roku 4 was released. I heard early reports of issues with the device, and was really happy with my Roku 3. Don't get me wrong, I was happy with my Roku XDS and my Roku 2 XS when I replaced them. However, i

Classic Doctor Who

Image
I remember watching Doctor Who episodes when they used to air on PBS back in the ... whenever it was, it was a long time ago. I never saw any William Hartnell or Patrick Troughton episodes, I can't say that I saw Jon Pertwee episodes, but something about him as The Doctor seemed familiar when I watched them later. I did watch some Tom Baker episodes, and some Peter Davison episodes. I remember Colin Baker, but not his outfit, so I'm thinking I saw the regeneration from Davison to Baker. I don't remember seeing Sylvester McCoy episodes on PBS. Years later, my sister had started watching the revival of the show, and suggested that I would like it. I thought I'd give it a try, and researched it, finding out it wasn't really a reboot, but a continuation of the original series. At least, it recognized the original series was canon. David Tennant, who was the current Doctor when she made the suggestion, was the 10th Doctor, not the 2nd. So the old shows counted. Now, a li

Watching the World Series as a streamer

Image
The Fall Classic, the World Series, began last night, and for the third time in five years, two National League teams are playing for the title. Okay, I know the Astros are in the American League, having moved there beginning with the 2013 season. But that was a bad idea. Major League Baseball had moved the Brewers from the American League to the National League in 1998. They decided they needed to move a team from the American to the National in 2013, but didn't move the Brewers back. Rather, the Astros made the move. But, just like I still think of the Brewers as an American League team, I still think of the Astros as a National League team. So that's the background of my little joke. Anyway, the series started last night, and will go at least three more games. If you're a streamer -- and if you're not, why not? -- and if you're a baseball fan, you're probably wanting to watch the series, even if neither of the teams are yours. So, how does a streamer watch th

Comparing Vidgo plans

Image
Vidgo is a live streaming service that doesn't get as much attention as the others. I'm not sure why. There are eight major live streaming services that are considered cable alternatives: Frndly.TV ($6/month) Philo ($25/month) Sling Orange ($35/month) Vidgo ($55/month) Fubo ($65/month) Hulu+Live TV ($65/month) YouTube TV ($65/month) DirecTV Stream ($70/month) As you can see, they are priced from cheapest to most expensive. They all serve one basic function, and that is to provide an alternative to cable while still offering live TV. Sling TV was the first, and it gets a lot of attention. Hulu gets a lot of attention, building off of their cheap on-demand service. YouTube TV is Google, and gets plenty of attention. DirecTV Stream is AT&T TV rebranded, riding the DirecTV name (note that Sling doesn't ride the DISH name, even though it's owned by DISH). Fubo is huge into sports, and gets lots of attention. Vidgo and Frndly.TV get the least amount of attention. Many str

Chromecast profiles

Image
I totally missed Google's announcement recently that they would be adding profiles to Chromecast devices. And, by Chromecast devices, I mean the  Chromecast with Google TV  (Chromecast/GTV). I make the distinction because the older form Chromecast still exists. You know, the one where you must use your phone to control playback. To me, the newer Chromecast IS Chromecast, and that's what I'm talking about from here on out. So, profiles. They haven't been added, but they are coming, according to a blog post by Google : Google TV profiles let everyone in your home enjoy their own personalized space with their Google Account. With a personalized profile, you’ll get TV show and movie recommendations just for you, easy access to your personal watchlist and help from your Google Assistant. This is a good thing. A very good thing. Except for one thing. They announced this on October 11 and we don't have it yet. Sure, it'll come, I know. And I should be patient for it.

Fubo TV locations restrictions

Image
I decided to try Fubo TV for a month. I tried it again for a week , and was happy with it, so I let the free trial turn into a regular subscription. It had all the sports channels I wanted, and I got three streams, and with local channels, that means I didn't have to change apps to watch something from the broadcast networks. Everything is good, right? Well, no. You see, sometimes on weekends, I'll visit my son who lives in another town. I visited last weekend. He has Xfinity cable, even though he was the first person I met who streamed content. He got me into streaming. However, Xfinity offered a deal for him to come back, so he did. But, Xfinity doesn't carry ACC Network, as it turns out, and he follows a team that plays on ACC Network a lot. Now, let's suppose the following happens: I'm at his house. He wants to watch something on ACC Network. I have a service that carries ACC Network. My service has three streams, meaning if someone at my house is watching, I st

Congress, Roku, and Google

Image
We've talked recently about the ongoing pissing contest between Roku and Google. And, we said it could get worse. It just got worse. Members of Congress are weighing in. That's never a good thing. CNBC reports that Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D - MN) and Rep. David Cicilline (D - RI) are taking sides in the issue, and they are taking Roku's side : “For too long, the big tech platforms have leveraged their power to preference their products and services over those of thousands of smaller online businesses,” Klobuchar said in a statement Thursday. Cicilline called Google’s move a “shakedown” in a tweet Thursday. While I am leaning towards Roku's side in this argument, I don't like the idea of Congress getting involved. There is no problem so bad that Congress can't make it worse. I'm hoping Google and Roku can resolve this. I don't think either party wants Congress to start getting involved. I know I don't want Congress having anything to do with my Streaming

The Roku-Google pissing contest continues

Image
Remember when Roku and Google got into a pissing contest over a new agreement to carry the YouTube TV app? Well, nothing has changed. Yet. It could be about to get worse, though. Roku might lose the YouTube app as well. In a recent blog post, Roku says there has been no progress made : ​There are two primary concerns we are working to address: First, Google continues to interfere with Roku’s independent search results, requiring that we preference YouTube over other content providers. This is a concern shared by many companies who believe that customers deserve neutral and relevant results to their search queries. Second, Google discriminates against Roku by demanding search, voice, and data features that they do not insist on from other streaming platforms. ​ ​While we are working to resolve our differences, we want to be transparent about these negotiations. As we shared in April, the threat remains that Google may remove YouTubeTV from the Roku platform. We continue to believe that

Tablo Connect

Image
I've mentioned before that I manage the TV setup for a couple of houses. At my mother's house -- it belongs to me and two of my sisters since my mother's passing -- I bought and paid to set up a TV antenna. That house has a good location for aiming an antenna at Savannah and getting 25 stations. My house is not in such a situation. Even though I'm a couple of miles closer to Savannah, the lay of the land means I'm not going to get a lot of channels. An antenna isn't worth the effort. At my mother's house (I still think of it that way) I have Air TV set up for watching local channels from the antenna. At another house I manage, there's an antenna and a Tablo setup. A while back, I added Tablo to my mother's house, giving that location two different ways to pick up over the air TV. I even added a Fire TV Recast there. She had a Fire TV television set, and this would work with it. So there were three different ways to pick up TV antenna content. But tha

Freaky

Image
When I was a teenager, there was an underground comic called The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers . I don't recall if I saw the comics themselves, or if they were printed in another magazine, but I do remember reading them. Well, some of them anyway. It's possible I ended up reading them all, or all that were available at the time. I did a lot of stupid stuff when I was a teenager. I will admit that some of the antics of the "brothers" were funny. Some were ... let's say that while they characters weren't really brothers, they were freaks. If you really want to know the details, go look it up. I'm not going to tell any of the tales of the trio, but I will say that some of the satire was very well done, some emphasized shock value to get points across. I didn't always agree, but I did appreciate the humor. Well, some of the humor. This bit of the 1960s and 1970s (when I discovered the trio) isn't relegated to the past, as it turns out. Streaming servic

Frndly.TV gets friendlier II

Image
Last week, Frndly.TV announced that they would be adding two more channels to their lineup. GAC Family and GAC Living join the lineup today. Frndly TV, the leading affordable live TV provider for the whole family, and GAC Media, home to GAC Family and GAC Living, today announced an agreement which makes both networks available to all Frndly TV subscribers. GAC Family and GAC Living will debut on Frndly TV on Tuesday, October 19 increasing the service’s offering to 23 channels, with nine channels in total having been added since February 2021. If you aren't sure what those channels are, you probably know them by their old names: Great American County and Ride TV. Discovery sold Great American County off to a newly formed GAC Media, which then bought Ride TV. Great American Country is now rebranded as GAC Family and Ride TV is now GAC Living. As stated, they join the Frndly.TV lineup today. If you are looking for a good source of family oriented programming, Frndly.TV is a bargain at

Watching The Simpsons

Image
Over the years, I've seen many episodes of The Simpsons . I remember first watching the characters when they were shorts/bumpers featured within The Tracey Ullman Show during its first couple of seasons. I don't remember watching it when it first became its own thing, but I may have. I did see many episodes over the next 30+ years, but never watched it regularly. Now, there is the opportunity for me to catch up on all the episodes. And get paid in the process. Platin Casino , a company with a UK Website and a Maltese incorporation, is offering to pay people to watch the show . I'm wondering if I should try this. I'd have to allot 35½ hours a week to do this. If I spent 12 hours each on Saturday and Sunday, that would mean I'd still need to spend around 2½ hours each night, if I kept my day job. This sounds more like something a person without a job would do. Maybe more companies will start doing this. Then I could get paid for what I do. My Streaming Life and my re

Watching NHL games

Image
I covered this a month ago , but it's worth bringing up again, since the season is underway. NHL games are being carries on Disney/ESPN and Turner Sports this season. Most of the games this week are on ESPN+, which is a $7 standalone service. Of the 45 games this week, two are on TNT, four are on NHL Network, one is on ESPN, four are on Hulu, 38 are on ESPN+. That doesn't add up, but it's okay. The three Hulu games are also on ESPN+, so the math is correct. Last month, I said that you needed ESPN+ and one of these services to watch NHL games: Sling TV Orange ($35/month) YouTube TV ($65/month) Hulu+Live TV ($65/month) DirecTV Stream ($70/month) That is not correct. I didn't take into consideration that some games were only on NHL Network. Only two of those services carry NHL Network: Sling TV and DirecTV Stream. With Sling TV, you have to add the Sports Extra to the Orange package. With DirecTV Stream, you have to upgrade to the Ultimate plan, which is $95/month. To watc

Who benefits from a 12-team playoff?

Image
This is a streaming topic because I watch college football via streaming. All of the games by all of the teams mentioned are available to watch via streaming. Before the Southeastern Conference expanded to add Oklahoma and Texas to the fold, there was movement to expand the College Football Playoffs from the current 4-team setup to 12 teams. After the announcement of the move by the two schools, movement to expand the playoffs ground to a halt. Most talking sports heads said that the other conferences thought a 12-team expansion would benefit the SEC. I disagree. And the numbers by the sports talking heads back me up. First, under the current setup, the SEC is the only conference that has had multiple teams in the same year, when #3 Georgia and #4 Alabama made it, won their semifinal games, and played for the championship. If you count Notre Dame as an ACC team in 2020, then the ACC had two teams that both lost their semifinal games. ESPN has an article listing where things stand

Watching the WNBA Finals

Image
I've not been watching the WNBA finals. I don't follow the sport. That's causing me to kick myself because of my bad timing. You see, even though I don't follow the sport, I should be posting how to watch the games for those who are fans of the sport. I've done this for some racing events, golf, and other sports I don't watch. So, why not the WNBA? Exactly. Why not? I should have. I totally missed that the finals were underway. The series between Chicago and Phoenix is tied at one game apiece. It's a best of five series, so there are at least two more games, possibly three. Game 3 is tonight on ESPN2. Game 4 is Sunday afternoon on ESPN. If a Game 5 is required, it will be Tuesday night on ESPN2. So, for fans of the game, how do you watch without cable? You need a live streaming service that carries ESPN. Of the eight major cable alternatives, Philo and Frndly.TV won't do, as they don't carry sports. But the other six do offer ESPN in their package. S

More Plex server plans thwarted

Image
I've been running a Plex server for some time. I recently purchased a new computer to function as the Plex server, but had some issues copying my content over. My hard drive couldn't be read by the new device. It recognized the drive was there, but wasn't reading it. Rather than troubleshoot it and risk losing data if I made an error in the process -- who wants to lose nearly 8 TB of data, after all -- I simply pulled out my USB hard drive docking station and connected it. When it wouldn't read it either, I was very concerned. Had I already damaged my media drive? Had I lost 8 TB of moves and TV shows? Well, no, I hadn't, as it turns out. When I put the drive back in the old computer, it read it just fine. So, was my hard drive docking station bad? I hadn't used it in some time. I had taken it with me on several service calls, so it was jostled about for months but never used. Maybe it had been damaged. Perhaps it was bad. So, even though I don't use one a l

Do you like scary movies?

Image
I think I'm a fan of horror movies. The reason I say "I think" rather than "I am" is that different people have different ideas of what a horror movie is. To me, many movies that are called horror movies are simply gore fests. Yes, that's horrible, but is it a true horror movie? It depends on what you think. Maybe I'm a fan of some types of horror films. Even then, it's not all that clear. For example, I really like the movie "The Thing" by John Carpenter. Is it a science fiction movie or a horror movie? Yes. Yes it is. It crosses genre. The 1951 Christian Nyby/Howard Hawks film "The Thing from Another World," also based on the John W. Campbell story "Who Goes There?" is more science fiction than horror. Carpenter's is more horror than science fiction. "Friday the 13th" (1980) is a horror film. Yes, it has some gore, as does "The Thing," but it's more about the story. And there is one. Plus, t

Problems with new Plex server

Image
I upgraded my Windows machine recently. Well, I tried to. It's complicated. When I decided to change my local streaming server from iTunes to Plex, I used a Windows device. It was a rather robust Windows machine that was more than capable of handling the job. But, it wasn't a new machine. It was a few years old. It's seven years old now, and while it's more than capable as a Plex server, it has some drawbacks when it comes to doing other stuff. When I sat down and thought about all the things I needed to do, I decided to get a new computer. So, I did. The problems began immediately. The device experienced high disk usage. Windows Task Manager showed 100% disk usage. That caused the device to be sluggish, which was the exact opposite of what I wanted. I was less than thrilled. I began researching all the different causes for this, with me wondering if I had a lemon, or if I had erred somewhere in the initial setup. Then, a huge coincidence happened. In my day job, I do t

Waiting on subscriptions to end

Image
When I did a large cutback on my streaming services recently -- I unsubscribed to services that I didn't really watch -- I had a few that didn't end just then. You see, in the past, I had subscribed to some services on an annual basis rather than monthly. So, when I canceled subscriptions, those services continued to be available until the subscription ends. That bothers me a little. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm in no way suggesting that the service end immediately. After all, if I paid for 12 months service, and I decide to not renew after eight months, I should still get the remaining four months. I'm not suggesting they end  the service immediately. It's something else that bothers me. What's bothering me is that I decided I didn't want to continue the service because I didn't watch it, right? But now it's no longer in the back of my mind. I've brought it to the front. Now I'm thinking about that app/service. And I'm more likely to

The problem with Sling TV

Image
I really like Sling TV. It was my first live streaming service, and it's my go-to service for when I want one. I don't do live streaming year round. Most of the year, I watch on-demand, but during college football season, I subscribe to a live streaming service to watch the games. For my purposes, Sling TV has one big drawback. ESPN is on Sling Orange, and that plan has a single stream. That means only one person in the family can watch a stream at a time. If someone in the living room is watching Sling TV, no other TV (Roku, Chromecast, Fire TV, Apple TV, etc.) can watch Sling TV. The Sling Blue plan offers three simultaneous streams, but that plan doesn't include ESPN, which has most of the college games. For other purposes, such as regular live streaming usage -- not how I use it, but how many do -- the problem is that there are no local channels. That's not an issue for me, as I have an antenna, and an Air TV device that integrates the live TV (and DVR) into the Sli

Baseball playoffs

Image
I've been a baseball fan for years. However, I've not watched as much in the last few years. But I still love baseball, and am always excited about the playoffs. But, being a streamer, it's not always easy to watch live sports. Live sports was not available in the early days of streaming, and some sports have been slower than others to be available for streamers. Baseball has been more available than some other sports, but it still has blackouts that keep streamers from being able to watch their nearest team. The playoffs is a different situation, though. The only thing you have to worry about is finding a streaming service carrying the games. Today's games are on TBS. You can stream TBS on: Sling TV (Orange, Blue, Orange+Blue) Hulu+Live TV YouTube TV DirecTV Stream Note that Fubo, the streaming service that touts itself as the app for sports, doesn't carry TBS. Tomorrow's games are on MLB Network and Fox Sports 1. The services that carry FS1 are: Sling TV

Redbox

Image
I saw an article online yesterday about Redbox now being available on some PlayStation devices. I knew that Redbox had a streaming service, and I think I had tried it before, but I didn't have the password saved in my password manager app, so I wasn't really sure. I've tried a lot of apps over the years, so there was the possibility that I was thinking of something else. Anyway, I went to the Redbox Website, requested a password reset, and sure enough, there was already an account set up. Since I had used Redbox DVD service in the past, I had figured there was an account. But I am certain I had used a Roku streaming app for Redbox in the past. I don't remember anything about it apart from the fact I had it, but removed it, probably for lack of use. I downloaded the app, launched it, and logged in. What did I find? Xumo. Or something like it. It defaulted to live streaming, such as you'll find on Xumo or Pluto TV. Redbox had 105 live streaming channels plus another 1

Buying movies on the cheap

Image
I've talked about this a little bit before, as part of another topic, but it deserves its own focus. Being a movie fan, I'm always looking to add to my growing movie collection. I currently have 1,679 movies in my collection, all of which are available for streaming from my personal Plex server. I can watch them on my streaming devices, wherever I am. All I need is an Internet connection, and I can watch one of my movies. My movie collection is bigger than most people's collection. One of the drawbacks is how much it costs. For all of these movies, I either own the DVD or purchased the streaming version. For the 200-300 or so movies on DVD, I used utilities to rip and place them on my Plex server. For some of the streaming purchases, I downloaded, ran through a utility where necessary, and put the resulting file on my Plex server. Today, I'm not talking about how to save money on DVDs. Rather, it's about how to save money on streaming purchases. I subscribe to Movie

Maybe it's not the saving money...

Image
When I cut the cord in early 2011, it was after looking over two years of data. I looked at my viewing habits form 2009 and calculated if I could have saved money by streaming content instead. That mean watching current season TV shows on-demand from Hulu (free at the time), Hulu Plus (the paid version that had a different content library), TV antenna (live and recorded), and purchasing content from Amazon, iTunes, or other sources. My numbers showed I would not have saved money in 2009, but when I ran the numbers again covering 2010, I would have saved money. So, I cut the cord and began relying on streaming TV. But now that I've been streaming for over a decade, what would I miss the most? The money? Sure, that would be something I'd miss. But that would only be on the days I paid the bill. What I'd miss the most, that is, on most days, is the control over my TV viewing. That would be every day I watched TV, no just on the days I paid the bill. I began controlling my TV w

HBO Max

Image
I've mentioned many times that I dropped cable in 2011. And that's true. It's also not exactly completely true. You see, while I did drop cable in 2011, a couple of times since then, the cable company offered specials where it was actually cheaper to have Internet and local cable service than Internet alone. When that was the case, I would subscribe to Internet and local channels because it was cheaper. Yes, that sounds strange, but the cable company was running specials that actually worked out that way. I still considered myself a cord cutter, because I did drop cable, but I wasn't going to pay more money just to say I was a cord cutter. I didn't watch cable, I just had the service. Well, that's not completely true. I had a TiVo device with lifetime subscription from years prior. And, to complete the process of securing the special price to have Internet with local cable, I had to have a device that picked up cable. They wanted to hook me up with a cable box,