Wednesday, August 31, 2022

How to record streaming content

So, how do you record streaming content?

Short answer: You can't.

Long answer: You cannot or may not record streaming content, for both technical and legal reasons.

For some who are new to streaming, this may not make much sense. After all, if you subscribe to Sling TV (for example; any streaming service could be the example), you get cloud DVR functionality. So why can't you use a Tablo or other similar device to record streaming content.

Well, let's think for a second. When you record content from Sling TV using their cloud DVR, where is that content stored? That's right, in the cloud. And what is the cloud? That's right, it's somebody else's computer. And it's computers owned or controlled by Sling TV (in our example).

That means that the folks who got the original stream from the network and formatted that content to work with streaming are the ones who made the recording. They got to it before it ever went out the Internet from their servers to your location. It was all done "in house."

What they did with the streaming content was essentially turn it into what Hulu has: content that was sent out live earlier but nor in an on-demand format rather than a live streaming format (yes, they're different).

In order for, say, Tablo to record the streaming content, you'd need to feed it from your Roku (or other streaming device) to your Tablo. And the content from an on demand stream is a different format than the content Tablo is designed to get, from an antenna.

Sure, to you, they seem the same. But they are not the same, and being able to record one format (the over the air content) is not at all the same as being able to record live streaming content.

Besides the technical issues, there are the legal issues. I won't go deep into this, but the summary of it is that Tablo (or other local DVR) can't legally record it. Over the air is one thing. Streaming is a very different other thing.

If I want to keep content for a long time (what passes for forever), I'll simply buy the content. I can still watch it live if I want, or I'll watch it after it comes available via the purchase.

You may have noticed that I didn't say flat out that it is totally impossible. The Short Version was a summary only. The Long Version never said it was 100% impossible. Rather, I mentioned the obstacles with it, including the legal issues.

I'm not one to suggest, nor offer assistance to, some who breaks the law. I'm saying don't do it. I won't help you get around the legal stuff with technical stuff. Others might, but I won't.

I want to enjoy my Streaming Life knowing that I'm doing the right thing, and not depriving anyone, even a large fat company, of what is legally theirs.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Two antennae?

When I was younger, we had an antenna at the house. I was the one designated to go turn the antenna before my parents bought a rotor to turn it.

If you have no idea of what I'm talking about, I'll try to explain. At the top of the antenna pole was a motor to which was connected a short pole that contained the actual antenna. And running from the motor down to the TV was a power cord that attached to a controller that determined which way to point the antenna.

If it was set correctly, setting the controller to north pointed the antenna north. If it was moved to the east, the motor would turn and the antenna would point to the east. And it went the full 360° of the compass, pointing the antenna where you wanted it.

And, if you aren't sure why that would be needed, well, that was because we were one of many many families that could pick up TV from multiple cities, or at least, from multiple directions. For some nearer the big cities, there may be an antenna on one side of town and another on the other side of town. Or one of a bunch of other reasons why you would want to point the antenna to a different direction.

For us, it was Savannah in one direction and Jacksonville in another direction. We could pick up the stations from both, if the antenna was pointed that way.

Before we got an controller and rotor, I was the one designated to go outside and physically turn the pole to point to Savannah or Jacksonville.

Today, it may not be quite as easy. First of all, my antenna pole isn't as tall as the one my parents had. Next, the digital signals don't really pick up from Jacksonville as clearly as the old analog signals did. And part of that is because I'm in a slightly different terrain from where my parents' house was.

I don't know if I want to try to pick up stations from a location other than Savannah. I'm close enough to pick some up, from the charts I've seen, so it may be something I want to do. But if I do decide that, I don't want to turn the antenna. Rather, an option might be to put up a second antenna and combine the signals.

Here's the thing. That can lead to interference between the signals and make the channels unwatchable. How do you deal with that? Well, you can get antennae that are designed to do just that. Tablo had an article on their Website that covered that very topic a few days ago:

When you live in between two cities, or in places where local Over-the-Air TV broadcast towers are oddly distributed, your antenna needs may be a bit different than most.

Even 'omnidirectional' TV antennas can really only pick up stations from about a 40-degree spread. So if you're in a similar situation to Tom, you have two decent options: a TV antenna with poseable 'elements' or two directional antennas and a combiner accessory.

The articles goes on to mention a specific antenna sold for that purpose. It may be something that I look into, although I'm not sure I want to replace my current, works quite well, expensive antenna.

However, if you are thinking about putting up an antenna array that picks up stations from different directions, you should at least research if something like that is feasible.

If you are able to put up an antenna, or add an antenna to gain extra stations, you will probably be quite happy with the additional choices these offer to supplement your Streaming Life.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Plex breach

I've been a fan of Plex for quite a bit. But recently, Plex did something that I really didn't like. They got breached.

Sure, I know, these things happen. But these things should not happen.

Any company that pretends to be technology based or handles money -- and that includes companies such as Plex -- knows that there are people that will try to break in, and need to secure their servers.

Plex got hacked. Somebody broke in and got user information. And I got an email last week:

Dear Plex User,

We want you to be aware of an incident involving your Plex account information yesterday. While we believe the actual impact of this incident is limited, we want to ensure you have the right information and tools to keep your account secure.

What happened

Yesterday, we discovered suspicious activity on one of our databases. We immediately began an investigation and it does appear that a third-party was able to access a limited subset of data that includes emails, usernames, and encrypted passwords. Even though all account passwords that could have been accessed were hashed and secured in accordance with best practices, out of an abundance of caution we are requiring all Plex accounts to have their password reset. Rest assured that credit card and other payment data are not stored on our servers at all and were not vulnerable in this incident.

What we're doing

We've already addressed the method that this third-party employed to gain access to the system, and we're doing additional reviews to ensure that the security of all of our systems is further hardened to prevent future incursions. While the account passwords were secured in accordance with best practices, we're requiring all Plex users to reset their password.

What you can do

Long story short, we kindly request that you reset your Plex account password immediately. When doing so, there's a checkbox to "Sign out connected devices after password change." This will additionally sign out all of your devices (including any Plex Media Server you own) and require you to sign back in with your new password. This is a headache, but we recommend doing so for increased security. We have created a support article with step-by-step instructions on how to reset your password here.

The email was even longer than what I've posted here, but that covers the main parts of it.

I'll give Plex credit for not hiding it, as some companies have done, and letting users know, as well as suggesting that password changes be conducted.

But ... this never should have happened. No company worth a darn should let something like this happen. Somebody didn't do their job.

Things like this are quite aggravating. I want to simply stream content, both from the Internet and play my local content. I just want to enjoy my Streaming Life. I don't want to have to worry about my personal data being compromised because somebody was too busy to do their job.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Pi Hole testing, part 2

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had set up and was running Pi Hole, a DNS service that is often used to block ads. I also mentioned that I didn't want it to block ads, but rather, to block tracking of online activity.

I'm not doing anything that I would be ashamed for my kids to know about, but rather I don't like being tracked and the data being sold and used to target me for ads and emails.

During the initial setup, the default blacklist included information for ad services as well as trackers. I also used a Raspberry Pi device that was actually overkill for the job. I used a Pi 4 B with 8 GB RAM. That's more that is needed to do the job. However, a Raspberry Pi 2 that I had ordered arrived last week, and I set it up. I used Raspberry Pi OS Lite (formerly Raspian), which is a command line version of the OS. There is no desktop interface, and everything is command line. I added a USB connected Ethernet port and set a status IP address. I added Pi Hole service, and added the scripts. This was essentially my re-doing step one of the three step process on this project:

Blocking trackers is actually functionality that is built in to many Web browsers. However, I'm looking for a network wide solution to blocking trackers. That's where Pi Hole comes in.

It's a multiple stage process I'm going through. First, I want to see how easy it is to set up and run in general.

Next, I am researching how to block trackers on the network without impacting ad services....

Then, I want to confirm how well the process works on the network.

I'm at stage two, where I'm trying to block trackers without impacting ad services. I've turned off all of the ad blocking scripts. However, some ads are still blocked. That's because some ads also track your usage. Ads that don't track usage aren't getting blocked, but ads that do track usage do get blocked. This is more in line with what I've been looking to do. As I said, I don't mind ads. I do mind my online activity being tracked and sold.

It's been right at a week now that I turned off the ad blockers and are using only tracker and malicious Website blocking lists. That freed up 135,885 URLs (yes, I counted them). I'm feeling a lot better now knowing that I'm only blocking trackers and am letting regular ads through.

Actually, some of those are trackers and are in other lists, so I didn't actually free up 135,000 URLs, but I did free up a lot. If a Website or service has ads and the ads don't track my usage, then I'll see the ads, and I'm okay with that.

I understand why others use Pi Hole to block ads. And if you fall into that category, that's your decision, just as how I'm doing things is mine. My online experience and Streaming Life need to work as I want them to work for me, just as you should have yours work as you want.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Watching college football games this weekend: Week 1, Weekend 1

College football kicks off this weekend, and fans such as me have been waiting for this since January.

This season, if you've cut the cord, you'll be wanting to find ways to stream the games, or otherwise watch the games without cable. And ever since 2015, when Sling TV launched, it's been possible to watch nearly any major college football (Division 1-A/FBS) game as a streamer.

Week 1, weekend 1, is this weekend. If that sounds odd, it is. In the past, there have been references to "Week Zero" as the weekend before the official "Week One" that is when most of the teams start play. However, it seems that "Week Zero" isn't being used by everyone anymore. It was kind of stupid anyway, so I'm glad it's not being as widely used. However, now Week 1 covers two weekends.

Week 1 is games from Saturday, August 27th, through Monday, September 5. And yes, those 10 days cover two weekends. Week 1 has two weekends. So, I'm calling this Week 1, Weekend 1. Next week will be Week 1, Weekend 2. At least, that's what I'm calling it. I don't expect that to catch on. If you have a better idea, let's hear it.

All right, then.

There are only 11 games this weekend, none featuring ranked teams. Only 10 games will air. Sorry North Texas and Texas-El Paso; you'll have to go to the stadium, listen on radio (which is available online), or hope that one of the schools will carry it on their Website.

Of the games that you can watch, you have games being carried on ACC Network, Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network, ESPN2, Fox, and Fox Sports 1. In future weekends, more networks will be carrying games, but this weekend, only these six are carrying the ten broadcast games.

So, how do you watch these networks?

ACC Network

  • Sling Orange, with Sports Extra, $46/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $65/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Choice, $90/month.

Big Ten Network

  • Sling Blue, with Sports Extra, $46/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $65/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Choice, $90/month.

CBS Sports Network

  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Ultimate, $105/month.


  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.


  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

Fox Sports 1

  • Sling Blue, with Sports Extra, $46/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $65/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

If you only want a few of these, one service may do the job. But, if you want to have them all, the cheapest way is ...

YouTube TV. This weekend, if you want to watch every game on your streaming device, the cheapest way to get all 10 games is YouTube TV, at $65/month.

Note that later in the year, possibly as early as next weekend, it may be that there are games that YouTube TV isn't carrying. Let's go ahead and look at the games from next Thursday and Friday.

Some of the Week 1, Weekend 2 games are played on Thursday and Friday. And some of those games are on networks we haven't covered. So, what are they and how do you watch them?


  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.
  • Fubo TV Elite, $80/month.


ESPN3 is usually included with a service that carries standard ESPN/ESPN2.

  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.


ESPN+ is a standalone sports programming service. It is not the same thing as regular ESPN that you get with cable or one of the live streaming services. Some content from ESPN, ESPN2, or other ESPN networks may be available on ESPN+, but often, it's content that is only available on ESPN+.

  • ESPN+, $7/month.
  • Disney Bundle, $14/month.

Pac 12 Network

  • Sling Blue, with Sports Extra, $46/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $65/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • Fubo TV Pro, with Fubo Extra, $78/month.
  • Fubo TV Elite, $80/month.

SEC Network

  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Choice, $90/month.
  • Fubo TV Ultimate, $100/month.

That changes things. YouTube TV doesn't carry Pac 12 Network, and ESPN+ is a standalone package. So, what is the cheapest way to watch all of the games from August 27-September 2?

Fubo TV Ultimate and ESPN+, totaling $107/month is the cheapest way to get all of these networks. The networks that run the price up so much are Pac 12 Network and CBS Sports Network. Those are not carried on as many services, and limit your choices greatly. If you could do without one or both of those, you could get all the remaining games for a better price. But, if you want it all, that's what it will cost you.

Regardless, this does show that it's possible to keep college football in your Streaming Life. Cutting cable doesn't mean cutting out college football. The money you save on cable can be used to subscribe to a streaming service with the games you want. The money you still have left over after that can be used for nachos! Or whatever your favorite game snack is.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Making an old smart TV better

Imagine this scenario. It will be easy for some of you.

You bought a new TV, maybe during a Black Friday sale, and you go it home and it was absolutely wonderful. You were able to stream content, and that whole world opened up to you.

Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Pluto TV, and so many other services were just a few button pushes away. Life, particularly your Streaming Life, was good.

That was then. Time has passed, and things are not quite as good.

Oh, the TV picture is great. You can't beat the colors, the sharpness of the image, and even the sound. But, there's ... something.

When you press a button, or launch an app, things aren't quite as snappy as they used to be. Maybe things have slowed down a notch. Maybe you're just more aware of how long things are taking to happen. Not long, but long enough to notice.

Things aren't quite as great as they used to be, for whatever reason. So, what do you do?

Do you wait for the next Black Friday sale and buy another TV? I mean, that one has a good picture and great sound. It seems like it would be a waste of money to not get more life out of that TV.

Well, if you've experienced this, or know someone who has, don't you buy a new TV. Or let them buy one. Unless of course you just want one. But be aware that you don't need one.

You can treat the TV like it's not a smart TV. Get a Roku device. Or a Fire TV device. Or an Apple TV device. Or a Google TV device. If your TV is otherwise good, but the streaming experience has seemed to have gone downhill, replace the streamer, but keep the TV.

Adding a streaming device to a smart TV is actually a good idea, if the circumstances are right.

One reason, as we've been saying, is that the streaming functionality is now sluggish. It's not as snappy as it once was. So a streaming connected to one of the HDMI ports on the TV now turns your smart TV into a new streaming capable setup, with your Roku (or Fire TV, Apple TV, or Google TV) device now handling the streaming.

What other reasons might there be? Well, for me, it's because I want the same experience on all the TVs. I have Roku and Fire TV devices on all of my TVs. Roku is my primary streamer of choice, but I will use the Fire TV device on occasion, and can do it on all my TVs.

If  you have a streamer on one of your older TVs, and your newer smart TV is showing some age, get the same brand streamer for the smart TV. You'll get better performance, and a consistent interface.

There are ways to put some new life into your old TV. Add  your streaming device of choice, and improve your Streaming Life.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

A downside of an ad-supported Netflix subscription

It hasn't launched yet, and we don't know when it will launch, but Netflix will have an ad-supported tier.

Right now, Netflix has three streaming tiers, ranging from $10/month to $20/month. What you get on the three tiers today varies.

The $10 plan lets you watch a single stream at a time. No watching Netflix in the living room while someone else watches Netflix in a bedroom. Additionally, the content is at standard definition, not HD.

The $15 plan (actually $15.49) adds a second stream, meaning two at a time. And the streams will be HD.

The $20 plan adds another two streams, giving you four. The streams are available in UHD/4K.

All three plans let you download content to devices for offline viewing. The number of devices is equal to the number of simultaneous streams.

The coming of a new ad-supported tier brings some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that Netflix is reported to have promised no ads in children's programming, or in original movies, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Netflix has told partners it won’t run ads during original kids programs, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the company is still working out the details. In addition, some studios that have licensed Netflix the rights to kids programs won’t allow the company to run commercials in them. The company has decided original movies should stay ad-free, at least at first, the people said, which should allay the concerns of top filmmakers.

Netflix is still finalizing plans for its advertising-supported service, which means details and strategies could still change. The company aims to introduce the ad tier early next year. Netflix declined to comment on its plans beyond saying that it is still in the early stages of figuring out the advertising business.

No price for the ad-supported tier has been announced, so a really high price is not the bad news. The bad news is that unless something changes, you won't be able to download content with the ad-supported tier.

A developer found code in the Netflix app that already is laying the groundwork for an ad-supported tier. And it says no downloads on the ad-supported tier.

Text found in Netflix’s app reveals that the new plan will not allow content to be downloaded for offline viewing. This is not a surprising move given that many other streaming services only work online.

Downloads available on all plans except Netflix with ads.

Other text in the app implies that there will be a set up experience for users of the new Netflix with ads plan.

This isn't really surprising to me, or to others. But I expect some people will be disappointed with this decision.

When the ad-supported tier does launch, this will be welcome to many users, and may achieve the goal of retaining some users who might otherwise drop the service. Or it could backfire and cause some users to downgrade. Unless they make a lot of money on the ads. Either way, another option in your Streaming Life is a good thing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

NFL+ is as bad as we thought it would be

I've written before about NFL+. Twice, actually.

And, I said that it isn't actually for streamers.

Now that the NFL preseason is underway, that has certainly shown itself to be the case.

One online Website I visit regularly is Phillip Swann's TV Answer Man. Recently, he answered a question from one of his readers about not being able to watch his team (the Raiders) on NFL+. And Mr. Swann gave his reader (named Mike) the bad news.

For instance, Mike, since you live in Las Vegas, you couldn’t watch the Raiders-Dolphins game on NFL Plus last night because it was airing on one of your local channels (Fox 5 in Vegas). However, if the game was in regular season, and Fox 5 was airing it in Las Vegas, it would be available on NFL Plus.

He went on, explaining that during the regular season, even if the game was on NFL+, Mike wouldn't be able to watch it on his TV.

And if you think you’re confused now, wait until the regular season when you will only be allowed to watch the NFL Plus games on mobile devices. (The pre-season games are available on connected TV devices such as Roku.)

That's a confusing setup for pro football fans.

I'm happy the NFL is getting into streaming, with some content available, but it's not what football fans want. And I'm not sure when fans will get it, if ever.

Right now, it's hard to include a full NFL experience in your Streaming Life. But, maybe this first step will lead to bigger steps down the road.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Big Ten tops SEC

If you know me, you know that I'm a big fan of college football. And that I am an SEC fan as well. The school that my daughter attended is an SEC school, and I've been to some of their games since before she was born.

I'm talking about the University of Georgia, which is a team I've followed since childhood. I've also followed Georgia Tech, as my mother favored the Yellow Jackets over the Bulldogs in my childhood. And I've followed Georgia Southern, since football was restarted in the 1980s. But generally, people think of me as an SEC partisan, and I won't argue with that assessment at all.

I've enjoyed the domination the SEC has had in college football, winning 13 titles since 2000, and baseball, winning 9 titles since 2000.

The SEC was the first conference to hold a championship game, something every conference now does. It's almost as if the SEC runs college football. They don't, but they do carry some heavy influence. There are a lot of SEC haters out there.

Usually, you'll hear me singing the praises of the SEC. But today, I have to give props to the Big Ten. If you want to watch major college football without cable, and cheaply, the Big Ten is actually your best bet. Or will be after this season.

After the latest round of realignment, kicked off by last year's announcement that Oklahoma and Texas would leave the Big 12 for the SEC, some TV deals came up for renewal. The SEC is leaving CBS after this season, and going all in on ESPN. And the Big Ten takes advantage of that by signing a deal with CBS, Fox, and NBCUniversal.

The Big Ten on Thursday announced a new seven-year media rights deal with CBS, Fox and NBC that begins July 1, 2023, and runs through the 2029-30 season. The multiplatform agreement is believed to be the largest in the history of college athletics with industry sources putting the approximate value of the deal at a record $1.2 billion annually.

Spanning five linear networks, including the Big Ten Network and FS1, the deal positions the Big Ten with three premier windows to show college football games on broadcast television. Fox will air a featured "Big Noon" game on Saturdays at noon ET with CBS following at 3:30 p.m. and NBC wrapping up each week with "Big Ten Saturday Night" in primetime.

NBC will have games available on Peacock streaming service. CBS games will be available on Paramount+ as part of the live local CBS stream.

It'll still be easy to watch SEC games without cable. However, the cheapest streaming service that carries ESPN is Sling TV (Orange) which is $35/month. And, to add the SEC Network, it's another $11/month for the Sports Extra package.

The Big Ten is cheaper to watch, and is big time football. It's actually one of the better deals for having big time college football as a part of your Streaming Life.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Google to push increased onboard storage on Google TV devices

One of the things I absolutely do not like about Chromecast with Google TV is the limited onboard storage of the device.

I've ranted about this before. A couple of times, actually.

Here's the problem.

Chromecast with Google TV comes with 8 GB onboard storage. That's four times what you get on a Roku Ultra, by the way. But there's a catch. Google TV (also Android TV) devices can get full, and won't let you add more apps once the device is full. Or, more likely, if the app you're trying to add exceeds the amount of available storage. That's not good.

To deal with this, you have to remove an app. Maybe more than one, if the app you're wanting is really large. But you have to do it before you can add the new app.

Most streaming devices have this problem. Amazon's Fire TV devices can encounter this as well. Same with Apple TV devices. However, those devices, particularly the Apple TV devices, have a lot more storage. And that's what Google is wanting from their devices, according to NextTV:

Google met with manufacturing partners who use its TVOS products last month at a closed-door event, discussing ways to optimize their gadgets for the pending release of Android 13.

Google encouraged a number of new features, including integration of connected TV devices with fitness trackers, as well as support for Bluetooth 5.0.

The push for additional memory comes amid rancor in the tech press late last spring that Google's own Chromecast with Google TV device and its 8GB of random access memory isn't up to the task of handling Android 13.

"8GB of storage was not enough for a streaming stick in 2020, and it’s even worse a couple of years later," 9to5 Google lamented. "This is restrictive enough for security updates, but it also limits how often Google can address bugs and other quirks that may arise. Worse yet, it also prevents any form of major system update -- or at least makes it much more difficult."

Google can handle things with the next release of Chromecast devices. I assume they will, after urging other manufacturers to do that. And it would be good for Google and those other manufacturers to increase the onboard store.

But this brings up a question: why doesn't Roku have this problem? After all, they have the least amount of onboard storage.

Well, quite simply, Roku handles things for you. When the onboard storage is full, Roku will remove an app from your device, but leave it in the list of installed apps. The name and icon for the app is there, even though the app isn't actually on the device. There's nothing to indicate the app isn't on the device. When you go to launch that app, the system will download it -- you'll see a quick progress bar (circle, actually) that goes to 100% -- and the app will launch. Mere seconds is all it takes. It's almost seamless. If not for the 2 seconds or so that the download window appears, you wouldn't even know it.

So, Google, Amazon, and Apple make you remove apps when the device gets full. And Google is the one that does this the most. When you remove the app, it's no longer listed on the device, and you have to search for it and re-download it in order to launch it.

With Roku, it manages everything for you, and the app is still on your menu.

That's actually a better way of doing it, in my opinion. But, if Google does increase onboard storage, and gets other manufacturers to do the same, that will make the Streaming Life of many people so much better.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

My Linux desktop died

I don't think the recent storm had anything to do with it. I think it being an old device was all that was the problem. But what a problem it was. And is. But not an insurmountable problem.

On Wednesday night, I pulled up the Linux desktop computer and there was a major display problem. Now, realize that I have a KVM switch controlling input/output on four devices (three, actually, but it handles four). I had been using a Raspberry Pi, then switched to a Windows desktop to do some stuff. When I finished that, I switched it to the Linux desktop. And only then did I see the problem.

That morning, the computer was working fine. I had used it to check email when I woke up, and when I left for work on Wednesday morning, everything was fine. Wednesday night, around 8:00 PM, when I next went to the device, there was a display issue. The screen looked really bad. I was worried it was a cable, but the Num Lock and Caps Lock buttons didn't toggle the associated lights, so I knew the computer itself was locked up. So, I powered down, waited a little bit, then powered up.

The computer wouldn't start. It's a Dell desktop, and the light on the power button was amber, and gave two flashes, then seven flashes. The codes I've found indicated amber and white flashes, not both being amber. And the online data conflicts, but one indicated a CPU problem, and the other indicated a memory problem. Either is a problem.

As it's not the only computer I have, and not the only Linux computer I have, I decided to wait until the weekend to deal with it. So, I unplugged it, and went about my business, knowing that Sunday afternoon would be a busy afternoon.

You see, it was too late to begin on Wednesday night (not urgent, as I have other computers), and I had things to do Thursday and Friday nights. Saturday was an out of town trip, and I wasn't sure how I'd feel after getting home Saturday evening. So, I decided I'd tackle things Sunday afternoon. And this afternoon, that's what I'll do.

First thing I'll do is remove the SSD I installed and put it in another old Dell desktop that's on the floor next to the bad device. I had two from which to choose when I decided to replace the hard drive with an SSD, and picked the one on the left. Well, now that the one on the left has gone bad, I'll put the drive in the one on the right. I may have to start over, but if the drive will work as is, or good enough to reconfigure easily to that computer, I'll be back up and running this afternoon. Then I'll start working on the bad desktop device.

I'll put the old hard drive back in and see how it goes. I may end up having to buy new memory modules for it, and if so, I'll deal with that. But I may have a bad CPU, and if that's the case, I'm not sure if I want to take the trouble to deal with that. I'll find out soon enough.

I did decide to check out what it would have cost me if I needed to buy a computer to run. A new one ran over $500. But an older device that would run Linux was under $150. So, more than I wanted to spend, but not terribly bad. With all the computers I have access to, my Streaming Life isn't impacted in any major way at all. And I'm fortunate that way.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

How most people feel about ads

I read an article last week that talked about a new survey on streaming viewers and their thoughts regarding ads.

I've said again and again that I'm fine with ads. I watch free ad-supported television (FAST) services. I watch free over the air -- meaning ad-supported -- television; the same TV that people have been watching for decades. I pay for the cheapest Hulu tier, which has ads. And I don't like ad blockers on Web browsers. So, no, I'm not bothered by ads.

But some people are. And they have every right to be. I may not agree with their assessment, but they're certainly entitled to their opinion. So, how to most people feel? Well, according to Infillion, not that much different than I feel about them.

Key findings include:

  • 73% of consumers feel the ads they see are repetitive
  • 67% of consumers prefer ad-supported streaming options to ad-free ones
  • 61% of consumers multitask during ad breaks when streaming content

This actually surprised me. Based on the complaints I read on some support Websites, many people really hate commercials. However, according to the survey, only 1/3 of people feel strongly enough to prefer ad-free services, which costs money. Two-thirds would put up with commercials to save money.

This tells me that the loud complainers are just loud, but a minority. And that maybe I'm not all that different from the average user.

I certainly agree that many ads seem repetitive. I prefer FAST to paid services. And I'll pull out the cell phone and check email or do something else when a commercial comes on. Unless, of course, the commercial gets my attention. Then, yes, I'll watch the commercial. So advertisers, it's up to you to keep my attention.

Ads are a part of my Streaming Life, and I'm okay with that. And so are most of you.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Walmart+ will include Paramount+ ... but there is a down side

Starting in September, Walmart+ adds a new benefit. The Walmart service will include a subscription to Paramount+ (Essential plan) in its $98/year price.

If that sounds like a strike at Amazon Prime, that's because it probably is. Walmart+ doesn't offer as much as Amazon Prime, but this goes a ways towards changing that. Paramount+ doesn't have anywhere near the amount of video available as Amazon Prime Video has, but it still has a lot of content, and some content you can't get with Prime Video. Mainly, I'm talking about Paramount+ original content, which will show up on Prime Video eventually, just like everything else.

Amazon Prime is $140/year. Walmart+ is $98/year. That's actually a pretty good deal. By itself, the Paramount+ Essential plan is $5/month, or $50/year (two months free). That's over half the cost of Walmart+.

That means you're getting 50% more value for the price. And yes, the price will not increase, according to the news release from Walmart.

The streaming service benefit becomes yet another way Walmart is uniquely positioned to give members more for less with Walmart+, whether in-store, at the gas pump, on groceries, listening to music, and now when watching their favorite movies and shows. Walmart+ will remain $98 a year or $12.95 a month and include the Paramount+ Essential Plan subscription with an added $59 value.

"We know Walmart+ is providing members real value in their every day – from grocery shopping to filling up their tank and more," said Chris Cracchiolo, senior vice president and general manager of Walmart+. "With the addition of Paramount+, we are demonstrating our unique ability to help members save even more and live better by delivering entertainment for less, too. Eighty-five percent of U.S. households use streaming services1 and Paramount+ has the premium content and broad appeal that our members are looking for – like Walmart, they have something for everyone. We’re excited about the launch and what comes next for Walmart+."

So, what's the down side? Well, I've not found any word on the possibility of upgrading to the Premium plan. You see, the Premium plan is the one that includes a live local CBS station feed. The NFL and a soccer league will have games available as a separate feed as part of the Essential plan, so those won't be missed. But the live local CBS feed requires the higher priced plan. And, as I said, there is nothing to be found regarding upgrading to the Premium plan.

Not that the Essential plan is bad. It's not. It's the one I would choose if I wanted a Paramount+ plan. During college football season, I often subscribe to the Paramount+ Premium ($10) plan to get SEC on CBS games. During the rest of the year, if Paramount+ comes up in my subscription rotation (read this about that), I'll subscribe to the Essential ($5) plan.

I already subscribe to Amazon+, so I'll get the added benefit in September, and that's a good thing. But, when the SEC on CBS game is one I want to watch, I'll just watch it from the antenna. Which is what I should have been doing all along. Things have a way of working out, don't they.

If you subscribe to Walmart+, you get a new benefit, and a pretty darn good one at that. If you've been on the fence about subscribing, this may push you over. Paramount+ is a good addition to one's Streaming Life, and getting it included with Walmart+ makes it even better.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Enjoying an antenna

For years after I cut cable, I did without local TV. Well, not entirely, but off and on for years. It's complicated.

After dropping cable in early 2011, I did without local TV. Eventually, I put up an antenna. It was actually my mother-in-law that prompted that. She wanted to save money on cable, and when the possibility of putting up an antenna was floated, she was skeptical at first.

Oh, sure, she knew all about TV antennae and watching local channels that way. But she thought the technology had changed and that old TV antennae didn't work any more. She was half right. Technology certainly had changed, but the old antennae still worked.

She didn't have an old antenna, so we got her one, and my brother-in-law and I put it up for her. She found her local channels -- mostly the station that carried MeTV -- and was happy.

After putting up her antenna, I decided to put one up on our roof. That was an easy enough process, and I tied the antenna lead into the old cables that were used for watching cable TV. I had to re-do some of the connections, as by then, the cable company was now the Internet Service Provider. So, isolating the cable run for the Internet from the other cable runs was easy enough, and watching TV over the air was once again doable.

After moving, I was back into a situation of not having an antenna, so I just did without. When Comcast ran a special where you could get Internet and cable cheaper than Internet alone, I went that route, and was able to watch local channels again. However, after a year, that special went away and I dropped back to Internet only, and did without.

A couple of years ago, I put up an antenna at my mother's old house, which is still in the family. I put both a Tablo and Air TV setup at that house, with the Air TV integrating into the Sling TV app, making it more convenient for the people living there (they subscribe to Sling TV). I set up Tablo Connect on the Tablo system and use the Fire TV device to watch TV from the antenna. I paid for that antenna setup, and I'm gonna use it.

I have an antenna to set up at my house, but haven't bothered to put it up. The Tablo Connect setup works, so I'm using it. I'll eventually put up the antenna here, but not today. Or even this week. But one day. Probably.

I'm able to do without local channels, as I've done exactly that for some time. I don't subscribe to any of the expensive live TV services that carry local channels, because if I really want to watch local channels, I have Tablo Connect. I've really enjoyed having a TV antenna back in my Streaming Life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Rumors of Fire TV Recast being discontinued

According to AFTV News, Amazon is preparing to discontinue the Fire TV Recast line. The Website cites both,, and other online retailer listings as part of the reason for drawing their conclusion.

It has been 4 years since the Fire TV Recast was released and it appears as though the over-the-air (OTA) DVR companion to Fire TV devices is being discontinued. The Fire TV Recast has been a consistent staple of the Fire TV lineup ever since its release in 2018, but now, for the first time, Amazon is no longer selling the cheaper of the two Fire TV Recast models and both versions are no longer available across several other 3rd-party retailers.

Searching Amazon for the Fire TV Recast no longer brings up a listing for the model equipped with two tuners and a 500 GB hard drive. Only the Fire TV Recast with four tuners and 1 TB of storage is currently available for purchase. Clicking to see the buy options on the cheaper 500 GB model’s review page is now redirecting to the more expensive model. Best Buy, on the other hand, does still have the 500 GB model for sale, however, it is now marked as a clearance item and the 1 TB model is no longer available at Best Buy. Both B&H (500 GB & 1 TB) and New Egg (500 GB & 1 TB) list both Fire TV Recast models as unavailable, which is further evidence that the Fire TV Recast is being phased out.

I did some checking, and sure enough, Best Buy used to list the larger Fire TV Recast as an item, but discontinued carrying it somewhere along the way. It's not simply sold out at Best Buy, it's no longer an item, though it one was.

Now, this could mean that a major refresh is in order, but there have been no rumors to that effect. So, it may be that AFTV News is correct that Amazon will be discontinuing the Fire TV Recast.

I have to say that of the three OTA DVRs that I've tried in the past couple of years, it's the one I like the least, though I do see its appeal. It does a good job of integrating live OTA TV listings into the Fire TV interface. However, mine has always been buggy -- it lost connectivity a lot; a lot -- and is the one I use the least. If you've seen my recent posts about DVR, I've mentioned Tablo and Air TV, but rarely ever mention Fire TV Recast. There's a reason. And if AFTV News is correct, my experience may not be the only bad one.

It's a shame that the setup never worked like I would have liked. The integration of Live TV into the overall interface worked well. I just wish the device had been reliable. Now it looks like it won't be in anyone's Streaming Life soon.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Another year, another Hulu price increase

Seems like it was around a year ago that Hulu increased their prices. The reason it seems that way is because it was that way. Last September, in fact, Hulu had a price increase.

I didn't complain too much about it because it wasn't a big increase, and Hulu hadn't increased in years. In fact, Hulu's last price change before that was actually a drop in the price of the basic tier. This time, though, we're not so lucky. Hulu's basic tier is going up from $7/month to $8/month, starting October 10, 2022. But, one Website offers some hope about the deals Hulu often offers:

It’s worth noting that customers usually can find a discount deal on Hulu’s standalone on-demand service at various points in the year. National Streaming Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales have happened in the past. It may be worth monitoring those to see if a better price becomes available, at least temporarily.

The price increase is not that bad, considering how much everything else has gone up in the past two years, so I won't raise too much of a stink. I'll pay it, and not be happy about it, but that's about as far as it goes.

That that use the no-ads Hulu plan will pay $2/month more. And other plans owned by Disney are going up, too.

A new Disney+ ad-supported tier will be introduced in December for $8/month. That's the price of the current ad-free tier, which will then go up to $11/month.

I'm actually thinking about a new plan that is being introduced in December. That is Hulu and Disney+, both ad-supported, for $10/month, which seems like a really good price.

Price increases are never good, but I think that overall, it will have minimal effect on my Streaming Life. I may even expand it a little with the Hulu/Disney+ combo plan.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Disney or Netflix

A while back, I dropped Netflix. I found I wasn't watching it, and decided to save my money.

Now, I did subscribe to the service since that decision. When Mystery Science Theater 3000 was picked up for two seasons by Netflix, I subscribed when the seasons dropped. I binged the shows, then canceled again, once each season.

Right now, I have no plans to subscribe to Netflix in the future. I may, but right now, I don't plan on spending any more money with them. I don't watch it, and I haven't seen anything I want to watch on it. Maybe I'm missing out on something, but I really don't think so. I have no trouble finding something I want to watch today.

Disney+ is pretty much the same way. I'll subscribe from time to time, but not often. I've mentioned before that I'll subscribe to a service for one month, binge their stuff, then cancel, subscribing to a different service the next month. I'll do that throughout the year and watch a lot of content for not a lot of money.

However, if I chose between the two, I'd probably choose Disney+. In fact, I plan to subscribe to Disney+ for at least a month before end of the year. No such plans for Netflix.

And, as it turns out, I may not be alone in that respect. A report last week indicated that Disney's streaming services of Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ actually had more subscribers than Netflix.

Combined with Hulu and ESPN+, Disney said it had 221.1 million streaming subscribers at the end of the June quarter. Netflix said it had 220.7 million streaming subscribers.

"Disney is gaining market share when Netflix is struggling to add more subscribers," analyst Haris Anwar said. "Disney has still more room to grow in international markets where it’s rolling out its service fast and adding new customers."

After years, Netflix has finally been dethroned by another streaming company.

Yes, Netflix still leads any one of those services, but Disney overall is the new streaming king. And, I'm

Sunday, August 14, 2022

FOSS to the rescue

What began as a side project back in April -- I got the Linux bug again after setting up a Raspberry Pi device as a Plex server -- turned into a monster. And while I'm not sure how it will end up -- will Linux be my daily OS after this project concludes? -- there are some side effects of this that will likely stay with me.

One of the bad things about running Linux is that not all applications support Linux. However, that's also one of the good things, too. You see, Linux, being an open source operating system, depends on a lot of applications that are also open source. And that usually means the software is free.

Software can be open source but not free. That's usually not the case, but it can work that way. So, as a way of specifying things, the term "free open source software" is often used. And there's an abbreviation for that: FOSS. Free Open Source Software. Simple enough, right?

That brings up an aspect of FOSS that I hadn't previously considered. Remember I mentioned that many applications run on macOS or Windows, or both, but not as many run on Linux? Well, there's the other side of that coin. Not all free open source software runs on macOS or Windows. But some does.

On Windows, I used to use Macromedia Fireworks instead of Photoshop, because it worked well, and was a lot cheaper. However, Adobe bought Macromedia and Fireworks was eventually discontinued. Of course, I had switched to Mac and tried a few different things, eventually settling on Acorn. It's worked well for me.

Well, after running GNU/Linux for a bit, I've begun using GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) on Linux. And, I like it. Took a little getting used to, but I'm not used to it, and was happy to learn there are versions for macOS and Windows. So, I'm now using it on all three operating systems.

Microsoft Office has been a mainstay for years on my computers, both Windows and Mac. My personal computer days actually predate Microsoft Office, as I used WordPerfect and Lotus 123 rather than Word and Excel, mostly because WordPerfect and Lotus 123 worked great, but also because Word and Excel didn't exist.

Microsoft Office is not available for Linux. However, there are a few FOSS office suites available. Open Office has been around a while, as has LibreOffice, which I like better than Open Office. OnlyOffice is a newer entry, but it's a very good suite as well. Right now, I prefer OnlyOffice and LibreOffice, but am leaning toward OnlyOffice since there are official versions for Android and iOS, something LibreOffice doesn't have. These three office suites have versions for macOS and Windows, and they are my current office applications as well.

Web browsers are probably what I use most, though. And while I was using Google Chrome on both macOS and Windows, it's not available on Linux. There is the open source Chromium browser, on which Chrome is based, but I'm not a big fan of Chromium. I actually prefer Firefox. Yes, I know that Firefox had performance issues a while back, which prompted my switch to Chrome. However, after using GNU/Linux for a bit, I've come to realize how improved Firefox is. And it's available on macOS and Windows.

There are many more instances of free open source software that runs on Linux, macOS, and Windows, and when I run across one I like, I'll switch to it and stop using the proprietary (and often, paid) software. I like the price of free software, and when it's good software, I'll use it. And if it's on the three platforms (Windows, macOS, GNU/Linux) then I'll use it on all three.

This little side project has ended up saving me some money. I like saving money. I like that a lot.

Pi Hole testing

Let me first say that I don't have a problem with ads. There are ads on this Website, for instance. And, I subscribe to ad-supported Hulu. I also watch content from many free ad-supported television (FAST) services. I'm fine with ads.

If I don't want ads, I'll pay to remove them. For instance, I've subscribed to YouTube Premium to eliminate ads on that service. I will visit Websites that have ads -- my own had ads, so I'm okay with ad-supported Websites -- and if I think the ads are too obtrusive, I will simply stop visiting the Website.

You won't find me leading the charge for ad blockers or network filters. However, I am currently testing Pi Hole. And that may need some explanation.

First, if you aren't familiar with Pi Hole, it's an application that can run on Linux devices that blocks ads and trackers. So why am I, who claims to be fine with ads, running an ad blocker? Well, it's not the ad blocker I'm interested in. It's the tracker blocker feature.

I'm actually planning to test a few different processes to block trackers. I'm not really interested in blocking ads. Well, with one exception, which I'll come back to in a bit.

Blocking trackers is actually functionality that is built in to many Web browsers. However, I'm looking for a network wide solution to blocking trackers. That's where Pi Hole comes in.

It's a multiple stage process I'm going through. First, I want to see how easy it is to set up and run in general.

Next, I am researching how to block trackers on the network without impacting ad services (well, most; I said there's an exception, and the details are still to come).

Then, I want to confirm how well the process works on the network.

I've just set up Pi Hole this weekend, so I'm still doing the first step. It is blocking trackers, but it's also blocking ads. As I'm still in the setup phase, the blocked ads are collateral damage, and I'll work to reduce that. I don't mind ads, after all, and I think those that put forth a product for free deserve the compensation of the display of ads, if that's the cost of using the service.

I've begun the research into how to use tracker blocking without blocking ads, as much as that is possible. Heck, I may find it's not possible, and if that's the case, I'll then make the best decision on how to proceed if it comes to that. But, my goal is to block trackers, not ads.

I'm running Pi Hole on a Raspberry Pi, though it will run on many Debian and Fedora based systems (Raspberry Pi OS is Debian based). I actually had a problem setting up the system, as I found one of my Raspberry Pi devices was damaged by a recent storm (lots of stuff was damaged by that storm). But, I set up another one and it actually went well.

I've configured it to run over the entire network for this initial testing. I don't know if I'll keep it that way or not; I'll see how it goes. And, so far, it's going well. I just need to figure out how to limit the blocking to trackers and let legit ads through.

And that's the other point I teased. I found a type of ad that I do want to block. There was a Website that I heard had been hacked, but when I went to it on my laptop, didn't have a problem. Then I went to it on a mobile device, and sure enough, the redirect to a malware site happened. Turns out there is code on the Website that redirects mobile devices to a software installation page. That's not good.

So, after doing some testing, I found that two domains that are included in ad-based code on the Website can cause the redirection. I blocked those two, and the redirection stopped.

That tells me that Pi Hole's default scripts aren't perfect, as they weren't blocking two domains that contained ad content, and that those ad servers had been compromised. So, if I keep using Pi Hole after this testing is done, I'll use it to block domains that are compromised. They may be considered legitimate ad servers, but if they can't keep them safe, then I don't consider them legit and will block them.

I'm okay with ads in my online and Streaming Life. I'm not okay with my usage being tracked, and I'm not okay with malware. I'll find a way to stop it, if I can.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Getting my Sci-Fi fix

I've been a fan of science fiction movies and TV for about as long as I can remember. Watching first run episodes of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, as well as the original Star Trek, Lost in Space, The Time Tunnel, and so many other TV shows was something I really enjoyed. I have watched them all many times, having purchased those shows and more.

Science fiction movies such The Thing (the 1950s, as well as the fantastic 1980s film), When Worlds Collide, War of the Worlds, Them, Forbidden Planet, The Angry Red Planet, The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Amazing Colossal Man, The Time Machine, The Day the Earth Stood Still, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and so many other films, good and bad, were movies I could watch over and over again. And have watched each of those multiple times, having purchased each of them.

I really have enjoyed my sci-fi, and continue to watch the shows and movies. But, I don't limit myself to movies I own. I still watch newer movies, or old movies I haven't seen previously, or even have but for one reason or another don't own.

Streaming has been a great way to watch many sci-fi movies and TV shows. And some of the streaming apps and services I use are free.

Sure, there's Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max, and many other pay streaming services, but there are also many free ad-supported television (FAST) services that offer good, and bad but enjoyable, sci-fi.

Comet TV, which you may be able to watch locally over the air, has a free streaming app that allows you to watch a stream of the TV network. If you don't have a Comet station locally, you can still enjoy Comet TV with the app.

Pluto TV has channels dedicated to science fiction. One of my favorites is the Mystery Science Theater 3000 channel, but there are other sci-fi channels where you don't hear a janitor and two robots making fun of the films. Doctor Who is also a favorite, as I'm a big fan of the classic show.

Tubi, Sling TV Free, Plex, and Xumo also have science fiction channels available. Roku Channel, available on Roku and Fire TV, also has channels with sci-fi content.

For more on-demand content, FilmRise Sci-Fi has lots of sci-fi movies available for viewing.

Fawesome is a rarely talked about app, but you can find plenty of sci-fi on the Science Fiction Movies & TV app by Fawesome.

There are many ways to watch science fiction movies and TV for free on your streaming device. If you want free sci-fi in your Streaming Life, you have many many options.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Still finding storm damage

Earlier in the week, I mentioned about damage to some of my electronics from a storm this past weekend. I had found three items that were damaged, and had replaced two, with a third ordered.

Well, the third arrived and now things are back to normal. Almost.

Turns out there was a fourth item that was damaged. I mentioned that the primary switch on my network had gone out and I had replaced it. Well, in another room, there's a switch that had been damaged as well. It was a five port switch, and I use it in conjunction with my KVM switch. The KVM switch allows me to use a single keyboard, video monitor, and mouse on up to four computers. It doesn't also switch network connectivity. The five-port switch handles that. I have a single feed to the switch, and could run up to four devices on the network. That was damaged as well in the storm.

Turns out that two of the ports were bad, and three were good. My main Linux computer was running, as was my Windows device. However, some test project devices, particularly a Raspberry Pi, lost connectivity. I hadn't tested them, as the KVM switch made it difficult. However, the bad switch needed replacing, so I replaced it. I put in another 8-port switch, meaning I can connect the devices for the KVM switch, plus run the network printer on it, rather than have a direct feed for it. It keeps the number of cables running from one room to another down to just one now.

I'm still not sure if there is any more damage. I may find some, and will deal with it as I run across it.

If there is any more damage, it's not on devices I use regularly, so it hasn't been a big deal, at least not yet. I'm hoping that's the extent of the damage, and that my online and Streaming Life isn't interrupted any more than it already has been.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Streaming NFL pre-season games

The three week pre-season of the NFL starts tonight. There are two games on the schedule this evening, with five tomorrow, eight Saturday, and one Sunday. Of course, there was a game last weekend, when the Raider and Jaguars played in the Hall of Fame game. Both those teams are in action this weekend, the first official week of pre-season play.

If you're a streamer -- and of course you are -- you may wonder how you'll watch the games. It won't be hard at all, though it won't be free.

Several games are going to be carried nationally on NFL Network, which is available on some cable services, but is also available on several streaming services.

  • Sling TV (Blue, $35/month; Orange+Blue, $50/month). If you are an Orange plan subscriber, you're out of luck. NFL Network is only on the Blue plan. But, if you're Orange plan, you can add Blue plan, upgrading to Orange+Blue, for an additional $15/month.
  • Vidgo (Plus, $60/month). The cheapest Vidgo plan gets you NFL Network. You don't have to spring for the higher Premium package.
  • YouTube TV ($65/month). Google's top notch streaming service include NFL Network in its standard package.
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month). The live TV offering from Hulu also includes Disney+ and ESPN+, in addition to the live TV and the standard Hulu service.
  • Fubo TV ($70/month). The cheapest Fubo TV plan includes NFL Network.

Note that DirecTV Stream does not carry NFL Network. That surprised me, but that's why you have to check to see who carries what.

If NFL pre-season games are something you want in your Streaming Life, you have lots of options.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Discovery+ on Sling TV

There was an announcement this week about a new feature coming to Sling TV. Discovery+ will be available for Sling TV as a $5/month add-on.

That's the same price as the standalone service with the Discovery+ app, but for Sling TV users, it will have the convenience of already being in the Sling TV app. At least, I suppose that's a convenience.

As one who got into streaming in the early days, I'm used to using separate apps, and not just staying in a single app all the time. I'll hop apps in a heartbeat. In fact, to me, it's easier to switch apps rather than find a channel within an app such as Sling TV. But, that's me. I'm not the typical user, I suppose.

So, for those that like the idea of a single app for everything, the Sling TV app addition of Discovery+ is a big deal.

Oh, and you don't have to subscribe to Sling TV to use the Discovery+ app. You do have to subscribe to Discovery+ through Sling TV, but the $35/month plan for Sling Blue or Sling Orange is not a requirement.

All SLING users, including users of SLING Free or any SLING subscription, may customize their viewing experience by adding discovery+ as a premium a la carte streaming service.

"Providing our customers with the best entertainment experience has always been our number one priority at DISH and SLING," said Gary Schanman, group president, SLING TV. "The addition of discovery+ on our platforms offers iconic and acclaimed content for the a la carte experience our customers love. We offer more than 50 premium a la carte services to enable our users to customize their viewing experience, all with a single account login so they can easily manage their services in one place."

Since Sling TV free tier is a pretty darn good deal, with the availability of Discovery+ as an add-on, as well as other recent additions to the free channel lineup, which now totals over 200 free live and on-demand channels.

Sling TV, the first live streaming service, continues to be a worthy consideration for including in your Streaming Life.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Sling TV Free adds Pluto TV content

One free ad-supported television (FAST) service that doesn't seem to get a lot of talk -- at least, I don't see a lot about it -- is Sling TV.

Now, you may be saying, "But Sling TV is $35/month, which is most certainly not free." And that's true. But, Sling TV offers a free tier. And it's actually a pretty good free service. And it just got even better.

Sling TV Free (I don't really know what else to call it) is, like the name I'm calling it, free. And it's comparable to Pluto TV, Xumo, and Tubi insofar as a free ad-supported television service. In fact, it even picked up some Pluto TV channels recently.

An article in Cord Cutters News brought it to my attention.

These are the Pluto TV channels now streaming for free on Sling:

  • BET Pluto TV
  • CMT Pluto TV
  • Comedy Central Pluto TV
  • MTV Biggest Pop
  • MTV Pluto TV
  • MTV Spankin’ New
  • VH1 I Love Reality

I had not noticed the new apps, but sure enough, they're available. And that brings the number of live channels offered by Sling TV Free to 164. The service also has 38 on-demand channels, meaning over 200 channels of content is available.

That's pretty good. And that's why I keep Sling TV on my devices, even though I don't subscribe to the Orange service year round.

In case you forgot, Sling TV offers a $35/month Orange service as well as a $35/month Blue service. Blue has more channels, and focuses on NBC and Fox sports, while Orange, though with fewer channels, offers ABC/Disney/ESPN content and sports. The Orange+Blue combination package is $50/month.

But, if like me, you only need the live sports channels during part of the year, keeping the app and watching the free tier the rest of the year may be a good addition to your Streaming Life. It certainly helps me enjoy mine.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Stormy Weather

I love Stormy Weather. The version by Lena Horne is a favorite, although it's hard to beat the earlier recording by Ethel Waters.

Having said that, I'm not all that big a fan of stormy weather. You know, the actual weather where it storms. The song is wonderful. The weather phenomenon, not so much.

I bring this up because yesterday, there was some stormy weather, and it wreaked havoc at the house.

There was damage to electronics, but nothing more than that. No limbs through the roof. No trees uprooted. Just a close by lightning strike that cause the lights to briefly go out, a large pop from where the Internet connection comes in, and then my network not coming back up.

So far, I found three things that the lightning took out. My network router didn't exactly die, but it stopped working. Lights came on, and the wireless network allowed connections, but it would not connect to the Internet.

I have a separate modem, and was worried that had gone out, but connecting a computer directly to that showed that the modem was not the issue. It was the wireless router.

I also have a separate network switch to which I had several devices connected via Ethernet to the network. That switch went out as well.

And, my expensive fancy KVM switch that I used to connect multiple computers to a mouse, keyboard, and monitor also went out.

Correcting the wireless was easy enough. I bought a new wireless router. Two nodes, actually, as I replaced the mesh network with another mesh network. I could have purchased a replacement for the single device that was fried, but that was not available locally, and I could replace the entire network (two access points) for around the price of the single bad device. So, the wireless network was replaced, and configured with the same SSID and password.

Correcting the switch was easy enough as well. I bought a new switch. It was a simple 8-port switch that I use to connect devices, and an exact replacement was available locally. So, the switch was replaced and the Ethernet connected devices began working again.

The KVM switch is more of a problem. Part of it works -- the video monitor, the V part, works -- and part doesn't. So, I connected a mouse and keyboard directly to each of the main computers I use -- the Windows device runs Plex, and the Linux device is what I'm using for day to day use -- and I'm back running. I've ordered another KVM switch, and will replace it when it arrives in a couple of days.

I really hate when nature conspires against me. And I really didn't like that three pieces of the network went out, but I should be thankful that only three pieces were damaged. It could have been a lot worse, I suppose.

The storm ended shortly after putting my network down, and I was able to then order the two parts from Walmart and have them delivered. Yes, I waited until after the storm passed.

I was down a few hours, but after Walmart delivered the parts to get me back up and running, I once again resumed my online, and Streaming, Life.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Privacy phone, part 5

I've mentioned before that I'm looking into using a phone that provides more privacy than most standard phones. And, of course, since nothing is simple, I've run into all kinds of issues along the way.

The options, as previously laid out, boiled down to:

  1. Using a modified Android version on an existing phone.
  2. Getting a phone with a version of Android installed.
  3. Getting a phone with a mobile version of Linux installed.

So, which way did I go? All three.

I'm currently weighing usage of three different setups.

I have a Google Pixel 4a running Lineage OS.

I have a Teracube 2e running /e/OS, a modified version of Lineage OS.

I have a Pine64 phone running a mobile version of Manjaro Linux.

This past week is when I finally got all three setups running, and I have some initial thoughts, though these may change over time.

First, the Linux phone isn't working all that great. I don't know if it's the phone or if it's the mobile version of Manjaro Linux that is the problem, but it's a problem. It reminds me of when BlackBerry tried to launch a touch-screen interface. You may not remember that, but it was a very bad experience.

I loved my regular BlackBerry at the time, and when I they launched a touch interface, I considered moving from Android back to BlackBerry. However, I had the opportunity to try it out ahead of time, and it was a terrible experience. It was buggy, it was sluggish, and it was not going to get my business.

I never knew if it was the hardware wasn't good enough, or if the software wasn't good enough, but the overall package wasn't good enough. That's how I feel about this Pine64 phone setup. Maybe the phone hardware is inferior. Maybe the software isn't where it needs to be in regards to a touch interface. Whatever the issue is, I'm not liking the Pine64/Manjaro setup. But, I'll keep using it and seeing how it does.

The Teracube 2e running /e/OS is running well. I've had this setup the longest, and the only problem has been finding a carrier that works. There have been no issues with the usage of the phone and interface, though. Right now, though, the current carrier is working, so that's a good sign. It's light years ahead of the Pine64/Manjaro setup.

The most recent setup is the Google Pixel 4a running Lineage OS. I had some issues setting it up, but finally found a solution to the issue I had. And, it's going okay so far. I've had no trouble with a carrier supporting the phone, and so far the OS is working well.

So, for the next month, I'll be using all three phones and making a determination on which is the best. Then, I'll have to weigh it against my current phone setup, and decide if I want to actually make the switch or not.

I really like the idea of a phone that doesn't send all of my data back to some source that sells my data to others. Or even keeping it for themselves. It just doesn't sit well with me. But, that's a decision I'll make later. Right now, I'm going to be comparing these three phones and their setups and deciding which works best for me.