Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Subscription Fatigue: How I Survive (and Thrive) in the Streaming Jungle

I've been a streamer for over 13 years. However, I realize not everyone shares my concerns, hopes, and desires about streaming. For me, the most pressing issues are the rising cost of subscriptions and the increasing fragmentation of content.

As more streaming services enter the market, each with exclusive content, consumers like me find it increasingly expensive to access all the shows and movies we want. This has led to "subscription fatigue," where viewers feel overwhelmed by the number of services and their associated costs. New streamers, in particular, can be very overwhelmed.

Besides the financial burden, content fragmentation across platforms makes it difficult to find and watch what we want. Constantly switching between apps and services is inconvenient and frustrating.

Other concerns include:

  • Quality and variety of content: Viewers want engaging and diverse content that caters to their interests.
  • User experience: A seamless interface and reliable streaming quality are crucial for consumer satisfaction.
  • Data privacy and security: Consumers are increasingly concerned about how streaming services use their data and the risk of privacy breaches.

Overall, the rising cost of subscriptions and content fragmentation are the most pressing concerns for streaming consumers, as they directly impact our ability to access and enjoy content. This has led some to explore alternatives like free ad-supported television (FAST) services or even returning to traditional cable TV.

My Streaming Life consists mainly of FAST content. When I pay for content, it's on a rotating basis. This way, I still get what I want without breaking the bank. Though it requires some effort, I find this approach worthwhile to get the content I want without overspending.

Monday, July 22, 2024

Netflix is king

Netflix remains the top-of-mind streaming service for many, and rightfully so. Recent data from the Wall Street Journal confirms its continued growth, with subscriber additions exceeding those from the previous year's second quarter:

The streaming company added 8.05 million subscribers in the second quarter, compared with 5.89 million net new subscribers during the same period a year earlier. It expects new customer additions to be lower in the current quarter than the same period last year, when it began limiting password sharing in earnest.

Revenue rose nearly 17% year over year to $9.56 billion in the second quarter, beating the company’s projections. Netflix raised its revenue growth forecast for 2024 to 14% to 15%, up from 13% to 15%.

The strong performance is a sign that Netflix’s efforts to change its plan pricing and lineup, limit password sharing and expand the advertising tier of its service are bearing fruit.

My Streaming Life will include Netflix (ad supported, of course) from time to time. I don't watch it a lot, but it does have a place on my streaming device.

Sunday, July 21, 2024

Stop using Windows? Not so fast...

I'm a privacy advocate, and strongly dislike the way that Windows 11 violates fundamental privacy. However, not everyone feels that way.

I don't like using Windows, and prefer macOS, Linux, or ChromeOS over Windows, partially for privacy, but mostly for security. Britec has a video that says Windows isn't really a problem. While I disagree, his argument is worth considering:

[YouTube]

My Streaming Life follows, as much as possible, the good security and privacy practices I follow everywhere. I understand what Britec is saying, but I think it's possible to reduce privacy concerns as much as possible, and dropping Windows is a way to go.

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Netflix drops $12/month plan

Netflix is ending its cheapest ad-free plan, prompting existing subscribers to choose between a new, cheaper ad-supported option or a pricier ad-free plan.

The streaming giant is removing the $11.99 basic ad-free plan in the U.S. and France, after previously doing so in the U.K. and Canada. This leaves subscribers with the following choices:

  • Basic with ads: $7/month
  • Standard (no ads): $16/month
  • Premium (no ads): $23/month

The move is expected to drive more subscribers to the ad-supported plan, which has already seen a significant increase in popularity. Netflix aims to enhance the value of this tier by offering improved features such as higher definition video, multiple streams, and downloads.

This change marks another step in Netflix's evolving subscription model, as it seeks to balance revenue growth with subscriber retention in an increasingly competitive streaming landscape. While the removal of the basic ad-free plan might displease some users, it could also open up opportunities for cost-conscious viewers and boost ad revenue for the company.

Some industry experts have raised concerns about the implications of this shift for consumer choice and data privacy. As more users opt for ad-supported plans, Netflix's reliance on targeted advertising could increase, potentially leading to more intrusive data collection practices. Additionally, the disappearance of the budget-friendly ad-free option might exclude some viewers from enjoying Netflix without commercials.

Despite potential drawbacks, Netflix remains optimistic about the future of its ad-supported tier, citing its strong performance and positive subscriber feedback. The company will closely monitor user reactions and adjust its strategy accordingly to ensure continued growth and success.

My Streaming Life rotates paid services. I don't use Netflix all the time, but it is in rotation. The $7/month plan is my choice. This change in plans isn't really impacting me, but if it impacts you, that's not a good thing.

Friday, July 19, 2024

Live breaking news

In 2011, I cut the cord and bid farewell to cable TV. While I enjoyed the freedom of streaming with my Roku, cable news was the one thing I missed. Back then, there were no streaming options like Sling TV, so I resorted to a brief, not-so-legal workaround before realizing I didn't truly need cable news in my life.

Fast forward to 2024, and the landscape has drastically changed. The recent shooting of a presidential candidate rekindled my desire to follow breaking news, and I discovered that watching it without cable is now easier than ever.

Numerous free and paid streaming services offer live news channels, and most major news organizations provide free live streams on their apps and websites.

Here are some options to consider:

Free:

  • Pluto TV, Tubi, Xumo: These services offer a variety of live news channels from major networks.
  • News Organization Apps/Websites: Most major news organizations (CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc.) have their own free live streams.
  • Google TV or Roku TV: These platforms aggregate news channels within their interfaces for convenient viewing.

Paid (often with free trials):

  • Sling TV: Provides a selection of news channels with the option to add more.
  • Hulu + Live TV: Includes popular news channels alongside its on-demand content.
  • YouTube TV: Offers a comprehensive live TV package with a wide array of news channels.

Additional Options:

  • Local News Apps: Many local stations have their own apps for live streaming.
  • Social Media: Platforms like Twitter and Facebook sometimes offer live coverage of major events.

Choosing the best option depends on your preferences. Consider which news channels you want, whether you're willing to pay, and which devices you'll use. My Streaming Life used Google TV's news section this past weekend. It was a convenient solution for following recent events.

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Cord Cutters using fewer pay services

I've heard the claims that cord cutting leads to a mountain of streaming subscriptions, but my experience has always contradicted that. Now, a recent survey backs me up.

According to a July 2024 poll of Cord Cutters News readers, nearly 70% of cord cutters actually subscribe to four or fewer streaming services – a figure that's grown by almost 7% in just three months.

Digging deeper, over 54% reported using three or fewer services, a jump from around 47% in Spring 2024.

These numbers must scare media companies as increasingly cord cutters are unwilling to pay for more services. This has recently led to multiple streaming services teaming up to launch streaming bundles.

Why no live TV streaming services like FuboTV or Hulu with Live TV? In short, our survey shows most cord cutters don’t pay for live TV services. If you are not a sports fan, you do not need a live TV streaming service. There is also an argument to be made that the on-demand services listed above offer more content compared to traditional cable TV.

These findings debunk the myth of excessive subscriptions and showcase the increasing trend towards streamlined, budget-friendly streaming. My Streaming Life has followed this model for years, proving it's a viable and enjoyable path for many.

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Disney+ Hacked: What Streamers Need to Know

As a streamer, my entertainment depends on the digital landscape. So when news broke about Disney+ accounts being hacked and sold on the dark web, it sent chills down my spine. It's a stark reminder of the ever-present threat of cyberattacks in the industry.

What Happened?

Reports suggest that hackers used a technique called "credential stuffing," exploiting usernames and passwords leaked from other websites to gain access to Disney+ accounts. These compromised accounts were then sold on the dark web, potentially giving unauthorized users access to personal information and viewing history.

Why Should Streamers Care?

This incident highlights a few crucial points for all streamers, both providers and consumers:

  • Security is Paramount: As the number of us streaming grows, so does the responsibility of streaming platforms to protect their data. This means implementing strong security measures, like two-factor authentication and regularly updating passwords.
  • Beware of Credential Stuffing: If you use the same password across multiple platforms, you're vulnerable to this type of attack. Consider using a password manager to create unique, complex passwords for each site.
  • Stay Informed: Keeping up with the latest cybersecurity news can help you identify potential threats and take proactive steps to protect yourself. Streaming platforms should also stay up to date to protect their audience.

What Can Streaming Platforms Do?

They can take several steps to mitigate the risk of cyberattacks:

  • Educate the Audience: Encourage all viewers to use strong passwords and be wary of phishing scams.
  • Partner with Cybersecurity Experts: Consider collaborating with cybersecurity professionals to assess a platform's vulnerabilities and implement appropriate safeguards.
  • Advocate for Stronger Security Measures: Let your voice be heard! Call on streaming platforms and industry leaders to prioritize security and invest in robust protection measures.

The Disney+ hack serves as a wake-up call for the streaming community. By taking proactive steps to safeguard the platforms and educate the audience, we can all create a safer and more secure digital environment for everyone.

Remember: Cybersecurity is an ongoing process. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and stay safe! My Streaming Life follows these guidelines, as should yours.

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Bye bye Crackle

Last week's news that Crackle is shutting down hit me hard. Back when I cut the cord in 2011, Crackle was my first experience with free ad-supported TV. I was hooked on its original and independent content, especially the short-form videos and series.

Crackle was special to me. While other services have since adopted and even perfected the concept, Crackle was a pioneer. And now it's shutting down:

The company, sagging under the weight of nearly $1 billion in debt and a tall stack of unpaid bills, filed for bankruptcy protection on June 29. During bankruptcy court proceedings, it secured a “debtor in possession” loan of $8 million designed to help it resume paying workers after nearly a month of no paychecks and also restore their medical benefits. Deadline had earlier reported on the delays in pay and health care.

On Wednesday, HPS Investment Partners, which has been one of the company’s backers and arranged for financing for the DIP loan, said it could not extend any additional financial resources. Duly notified, CSSE made a motion to shift the Chapter 11 case to Chapter 7, and U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Thomas M. Horan gave his approval.

My Streaming Life is sad to see it go. Crackle will always hold a special place in my streaming journey.

Monday, July 15, 2024

Choosing a Streaming Device

There are three main types of streaming devices: sticks, boxes, and smart TVs.

  • Sticks: These are small, dongle-shaped devices that plug into an HDMI port on your TV. They are popular because they are inexpensive and easy to use. Examples include Roku Streaming Sticks, Amazon Fire Sticks, and Chromecast devices (although the latest Chromecast doesn't look exactly like a stick).
  • Boxes: These are larger devices that sit near your TV. They tend to be more powerful than sticks and may offer additional features, such as expandable storage. Examples include Roku Ultra and Apple TV devices.
  • Smart TVs: Many TVs now come with built-in streaming capabilities. These TVs have apps for popular streaming services, so you don't need a separate device. Examples include Roku TVs, Fire TV sets, and Android TVs.

Which option is right for you? The answer is: that depends.

If you have a standard TV -- or a smart TV that you don't like -- a stick or box is a good option. There is no reason to spend money for a new TV if your old TV has a good picture.

If you need a new TV anyway, a smart TV can be a good choice because it combines the functionality of a TV with a streaming device.

If you prioritize affordability and ease of use, a stick is a good option.

If you want a more powerful device with additional features, a box may be a better choice.

The bottom line:

There is no single best way to stream. The best option for you depends on your needs and budget. My Streaming Life has generally used boxes, with an occasional stick. For me, that's the right way to go. And it's the cheapest.

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Am I an expert?

Ever hit a website and think, "Who is this person telling me what to do?" That's a fair question!

"My Streaming Life" is all about my adventures in cord-cutting and streaming, starting back in 2010 (officially ditched cable on January 11, 2011 – big day!). While I can't guarantee a one-size-fits-all approach, I've learned a lot along the way.

Consider me your streaming sherpa, here to guide you with real-world experience and answer your questions. After all, in the streaming world, we're all experts in our own way, right?

"My Streaming Life" reflects my journey and what I've discovered. It's not about blindly following – it's about learning, comparing options, and ultimately, finding what works for you. My mission? To empower you with the knowledge you need to make confident streaming decisions.

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Becoming a streamer may be easier than you think

One common question cord-cutters have is: "Can I replicate the cable TV experience with streaming?" The answer? Not perfectly, but it can be surprisingly close!

Adapting to Change

The biggest adjustment is the way you access shows. Unlike traditional cable with its set channel lineup, streaming often requires choosing specific services or apps. However, most people find this transition smoother than they expect.

Think about the last time you moved to a new area with a different cable provider. You had to learn new channel numbers and explore different options. Streaming presents a similar adaptation, only with greater flexibility and potential cost savings.

Live vs. On-Demand: What's Right for You?

A key factor to consider is live TV. Do you need to watch shows the moment they air, or are you comfortable catching up later?

Many people already utilize DVRs to time-shift their viewing. Streaming services like Hulu (standard) offer similar functionality with current season shows available shortly after airing.

Live TV streaming services like Hulu + Live TV offer the ability to watch shows as they broadcast, but at a higher cost. Consider if this feature is essential or if on-demand viewing suits your needs.

Cost-Conscious Choices

The financial benefits of streaming can be significant. For example, the difference between standard Hulu and Hulu + Live TV can be substantial. Plus, with streaming, you have the option to subscribe to live services only during specific seasons like March Madness or football bowl season, maximizing your savings.

Beyond Savings: The Power of Choice

While cost is a major motivator, many people appreciate the control streaming offers. You can customize your viewing experience, building a "channel lineup" tailored to your interests.

Making the Right Choice for You

The beauty of streaming lies in its flexibility. While there might be a learning curve initially, the benefits often outweigh the adjustments.

Explore your options, consider your viewing habits (live vs. on-demand), and make the choice that best fits your needs and budget. My Streaming Life developed and evolved over time. Remember, the goal is to take control of your streaming life and enjoy watching what you want, when you want.

Friday, July 12, 2024

Getting Friendly with Frndly TV

Frndly TV has been my go-to streaming service for family-friendly entertainment since its 2019 launch. Before that, I relied on Feeln (now Hallmark Movies Now), but Frndly TV's arrival provided a wider range of wholesome content, including three dedicated Hallmark channels. I've been a loyal subscriber ever since.

It seems I'm not alone in appreciating Frndly TV's offerings. A recent report from Cord Cutters News highlights a significant surge in the service's popularity over the last quarter:

There is a major change in third place with Frndly TV jumping from just 2.9% in the spring of 2024 to almost 9% in the summer. Philo also saw strong growth jumping up to 7.5% of our survey.

The affordable starting price of $8 per month likely contributes to its growing appeal. My Streaming Life appreciates what Frndly TV has to offer. It's clear that Frndly TV is gaining recognition as a top choice for families seeking quality entertainment.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Remembering my start into the world of streaming, part 2

Earlier, I covered my first steps into cord cutting. Today, I cover where the steps became strides and the pennies began to add up.

A year of tracking my TV habits paid off! In late 2009, the numbers said streaming wasn't quite there yet. But it was close, so I kept cable for another year.

Fast forward to 2010. I updated my trusty spreadsheet with all the shows we watched, then priced them out for streaming services like Amazon and iTunes. Remember, watching shows on TiVo was basically on-demand already, so that wasn't an issue.

The verdict? Switching to streaming and ditching cable would save a whopping $63 a month! This surprised me – I was expecting a small savings, not a major shift.

Now came the setup. For iTunes, I'd need an Apple TV. For Amazon, I could either wait for downloads on TiVo or use a new streaming device like Roku. I opted for the Roku, planning to buy it after Christmas.

(Side note: brownie points for this tech-savvy husband! My wife wanted better speakers for her laptop to listen to iTunes music. I surprised her with a second-generation Apple TV, letting her enjoy the really nice sound system that was connected to the TV.)

Back to the streaming setup: My Roku XD|S arrived after Christmas. It allowed access to Hulu Plus, a paid service with a decent show library (though not everything). I also kept my Windows Media Edition PC for free, regular Hulu with its wider selection.

Yes, that's four devices: Roku, Apple TV, Windows Media PC, and the (soon-to-be-antenna-powered) TiVo. It wasn't ideal, but for $63 a month savings, I was willing to deal with it.

Finally, after college football season (priorities!), I said goodbye to cable. TiVo hooked up to the antenna became my local channel source, and the streaming life officially began! It wasn't perfect yet, but better things were on the horizon.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Remembering my start into the world of streaming, part 1

Growing up, television was my window to the world. From the iconic shows of the 60s to the original Star Trek, I was there for it live. Fast forward to 2006, and my wife's soap opera obsession led to a purchase I knew she wouldn't love: a TiVo. Little did she know, it would be a game-changer for both of us.

The beauty of TiVo? No more juggling VHS tapes or missing shows. It was time-shifting at its finest - watching what you want, when you want. Sound familiar? This concept, now known as on-demand viewing, was the seed that planted the idea of streaming in my mind.

In 2008, with a website called Hulu on the horizon, I knew the future of TV was online. But how? The cost was a big question mark. So, I embarked on a research mission, analyzing my TiVo habits to see if streaming could truly compete with cable.

Late 2009, I crunched the numbers. Could buying content from Amazon or iTunes, along with free Hulu, beat my cable bill? The answer, unfortunately, was no. Streaming in 2009 wasn't quite there yet, so cable stayed for another year.

But the seed was sown. My Streaming Life was beginning to form. In the future, I revisit my cost analysis in 2010 and see if the numbers finally tipped in favor of cutting the cord!

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Fire TV ads

Amazon Fire TV users are buzzing about the platform's new full-screen ads. While many have expressed frustration, here's a breakdown of what you may want to know:

Types of Full-Screen Ads:

  • Screensaver Ads: These pop up after a period of inactivity, replacing the usual screensaver for 30 seconds to a minute.
  • Start-up Ads: Previously full-screen, these ads have been toned down due to negative feedback but are still present when turning on your Fire TV.
  • Other Ads: Sponsored tiles, banner ads, and feature rotator ads are also scattered throughout the Fire TV interface.

Can You Disable Them?

  • Screensaver Ads: There's currently no way to disable these ads.
  • Start-up Ads: You can disable them in Settings > Preferences > Device & Software Options > Start-up Sound/Screensaver.

Mixed Reactions:

Many users find these ads intrusive and disruptive, while Amazon sees them as a way to monetize their platform and offer more content. I agree that Amazon should be able to monetize their platform. I just don't like the way they're doing it.

What's Next?

Amazon's advertising efforts on Fire TV are clearly growing. Though some changes have been made in response to user feedback, the controversy around full-screen ads persists. It remains to be seen how Amazon will further address these concerns.

My Streaming doesn't rely on Fire TV very often. I haven't used my Fire TV in months, so these changes haven't affected me directly. But for those who rely on Fire TV, I hope this information proves useful. 

Monday, July 8, 2024

Still no official launch date for Amazon Internet

Amazon's home internet service, Project Kuiper, is aiming to launch its first mass-produced satellites in the 4th quarter of 2024 with a goal to offer the service in select areas in 2025. The service will come in three speed options: Standard (400 Mbps), Pro (1 Gbps), and Portable (100 Mbps) with different antenna sizes to accommodate different needs.

Cord Cutters News says no price has been set:

Amazon’s new satellite construction facility at its peak capacity it will be building up to five satellites per day with plans to launch its first satellites in the 4th quarter of 2024. This is still inline with its plans to start offering the service in select areas in 2025.

"Building advanced communications satellites at this scale is incredibly complex, and we want to ensure every Kuiper spacecraft meets our standards for performance, reliability, and safety," said Steve Metayer, Project Kuiper’s vice president of production operations. "The progress from the team is so impressive, and we now have the foundational pieces in place to ramp production ahead of a full-scale deployment. We can’t wait to get service to our customers as soon as possible."

... Unfortunately, we still don’t know the monthly cost, but Amazon seems dedicated to being cheaper than SpaceX’s Starlink.

I don't know if I'm in a "select area" but I suspect I won't be. My Streaming Life depends on Comcast Xfinity Internet today. I have one option with Starlink, but that costs more than Xfinity. I'm hoping Amazon will be more competetive in pricing.

Sunday, July 7, 2024

The Kaspersky ban

Kaspersky products have been banned in the USA. Most of them, anyway. As of July 20, 2024, Kaspersky is prohibited from entering into any new agreement with U.S. persons involving its cybersecurity and antivirus products and services.

As of September 29, 2024, resellers will no longer be able to sell Kaspersky products and Kaspersky must stop providing updates and operating its Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) in the U.S.

Why? Well, the U.S. Department of Commerce cited national security risks due to Kaspersky's ties with the Russian government. U.S. government agencies had already been banned from using Kaspersky products since 2017.

The new ban extends to all US persons, including private individuals and businesses. Some Kaspersky products are exempt: Threat Intelligence products and services, Security Training products and services, and consulting and advisory services are not included in the ban. Existing customers can continue using Kaspersky products until September 29, 2024, but won't receive updates after that date.

Britec has a video with all the details:

[YouTube]

I've not used Kaspersky products in quite some time. The reason, though, is that Windows includes good protection if the user will simply use it. MacOS users have less need for their products. Linux comptuers as well are quite secure. ChromeOS devices as well.

Above all else, practicing safe computing is necessary. Whatever you use, if you aren't safe, you can undo all the protection the products offer. My Streaming Life considers security and privacy to be important. You should as well.

Saturday, July 6, 2024

Streaming for Savings, Not Ad Avoidance: A Personal Perspective

Lately, I've been reflecting on my streaming journey and wondering if my initial motivations still hold true. After all, over a dozen years later, my reasons for continuing might have evolved.

A recent Facebook discussion sparked this introspection. One person mentioned ad-supported streaming, while another claimed they started streaming to avoid ads altogether. This made me question whether ad avoidance was a genuine reason for starting to stream. Local channels on cable have always had commercials, and streaming services such as Sling TV, YouTube TV, and the others include ads on local channels. On-demand content is usually the only ad-free option, but it comes at a cost.

Amazon's move to introduce ads and charge extra for ad-free viewing feels like a sneaky price hike. While I'm surprised many people cite ad avoidance as a reason for streaming, it's not my personal motivation. Growing up with commercials on the few channels available, I've become immune to them. They provide a brief pause to grab a drink or check email.

My Streaming Life began as a way to save money, and if watching commercials helps me achieve that, I'm happy to embrace them.

Friday, July 5, 2024

Paramount Plus price increase

Brace yourself, streaming fans: Paramount Plus is raising its subscription prices again. New subscribers will face higher costs starting August 20, 2024, while existing subscribers on certain plans will see the increase on their bill after September 20, 2024.

New Prices:

  • Paramount Plus Essential (with ads): $7.99/month (previously $5.99)
  • Paramount Plus with SHOWTIME (mostly ad-free): $12.99/month (previously $11.99)

Existing Subscribers:

  • Paramount Plus Essential: No price change at this time.
  • Paramount Plus with SHOWTIME: Price increases around September 20, 2024.
  • Legacy Limited Commercials Plan: Price increases to $7.99/month after August 20, 2024.

The annual plans for both Paramount Plus Essential and Paramount Plus with SHOWTIME remain unaffected at $59.99 and $119.99, respectively.

My sister, a longtime subscriber since the CBS All Access days, will be disappointed by this change, especially since she's on the Legacy plan. The impact on her annual subscription remains unclear. She loves the service and will likely stay with it, despite any increase.

Personally, I'm fortunate to have a discounted Paramount Plus with SHOWTIME annual plan through Walmart Plus, making it a worthwhile value for me. However, I wouldn't pay the full price for it. Well, I don't think I would.

My Streaming Life doesn't utilize many pay streaming services. Even so, Paramount Plus remains one of my favorites despite the upcoming price hike.

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Independence Day (2024)

The United States Declaration of Independence is a cornerstone document, not just for the United States, but for the entire world. If you've never familiarized yourself with it, I highly recommend giving it a read.

This document offers a profound look back at a pivotal moment in history. It explains the reasoning behind the American colonies' separation from Great Britain and lays out the principles upon which the new nation was founded. Understanding these ideas is essential to grasping the core values of the United States.


In Congress, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
  • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
  • He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
  • He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
  • He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
  • For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
  • For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
  • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
  • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
  • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
  • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
  • For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
  • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
  • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
  • He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

As a proud citizen of the United States, I still get chills every time I read it.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Why to get a Fire TV Stick

I have used Fire TV devices, including Fire TV Stick devices. While it's not my device of choice, it's a good choice for a streaming device.

The best reason to purchase a Fire TV Stick is the convenience and affordability it offers for streaming a vast selection of movies, TV shows, and other content from popular streaming services like Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, and more. Fire TV Sticks are easy to set up, user-friendly, and come with an Alexa voice remote for easy navigation.

Here are some other reasons why you might consider buying a Fire TV Stick:

  • Affordable: Fire TV Sticks are relatively inexpensive compared to other streaming devices on the market.
  • Portable: They are small and easy to take with you when you travel.
  • Wide selection of apps: You can access a wide variety of streaming services, games, and other apps.
  • Alexa integration: Use your voice to control your TV, search for content, and more.
  • Regular updates: Amazon regularly releases updates for Fire TV Sticks, adding new features and improving performance.

Ultimately, the best reason to purchase a Fire TV Stick depends on your individual needs and preferences. My Streaming Life doesn't use Fire TV regularly, but it is a good choice for many. If you're looking for an affordable, easy-to-use streaming device with a wide selection of content, then a Fire TV Stick is a great option.

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Chromecast with Google TV: A Deep Dive

Recently, I've been using Chromecast with Google TV more than other devices. My Streaming Life has taken a turn! Chromecast with Google TV might just be dethroning Roku as my top choice.

A Name Too Long, But Performance Just Right

Let's address the elephant in the room (or rather, the elephant-sized name): Chromecast with Google TV. It's a mouthful, but the functionality speaks for itself. Setup was a breeze, thanks to clear on-screen prompts. Most importantly, the device is responsive -- no annoying lag between button presses and actions.

App Selection: A Feast (Mostly)

Chromecast with Google TV delivers a massive app selection thanks to the Google Play Store. I checked 35 major cord-cutting and popular apps, and compatibility was impressive. Big names like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ are all on board.

While the selection is vast, a few niche options are missing. One I personally miss is Pub-D-Hub, a smaller service but a favorite for its classic content.

Overall, Chromecast with Google TV excels in app availability. The missing few are unlikely to be dealbreakers for most users.

Interface: You're in Control (Mostly)

Responsiveness and app selection are crucial, but a user-friendly interface seals the deal. Unlike Roku, Chromecast with Google TV doesn't dedicate the entire home screen to apps. Your top apps are there, but additional ones require a few clicks. The good news? You can customize the order that the apps appear on the home screen.

The interface also features recommendations, similar to Apple TV and Fire TV. Unlike Apple TV, though, you can't access all apps directly from the home screen. However, Chromecast with Google TV avoids Amazon's approach of rearranging your apps without your control.

The Verdict: A Strong Contender

The remote took minimal time to master, and the interface, while not my personal preference (I prefer app lists), is easy to navigate. Ultimately, the ability to customize my home screen and avoid app rearrangement wins me over.

Chromecast with Google TV might not dethrone Roku as my champion, but it's a fantastic device with a lot to offer. The extensive app selection, responsive performance, and user control over the interface make it a strong contender in the streaming wars.

Monday, July 1, 2024

Streaming on the Go: What You Need to Know

I've noticed many questions online about streaming while traveling. While I haven't personally done much of that I've researched the topic and can share some insights:

The most popular options for hotel streaming are the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Roku Stick due to their compact size and ease of setup. The Fire Stick is generally considered the most user-friendly, especially when dealing with hotel Wi-Fi agreements, but Roku devices work well.

Chromecast and Apple TV users are out of luck when it comes to hotel Wi-Fi, as they don't support web-based agreements.

Personally, I don't travel with a streaming device, but many people find it a convenient way to relax and unwind while away from home. If you're a Roku or Fire Stick user, packing your device is a simple solution. For others, getting a Fire Stick or Roku specifically for travel might be worth considering.

A few key points to remember:

  • Set up your device ahead of time: Don't get a new device and try to set it up on the road. Set it up at home before you begin your travel. Setting up on the road is very very difficult.
  • Remote Control: Always bring your physical remote, even if you typically use a smartphone app. You'll need it for initial setup and connecting to Wi-Fi.
  • Travel Routers: While not essential, travel routers can simplify the connection process, especially in tricky hotel Wi-Fi situations.
  • Mobile Device Hotspots use Data: Most mobile phones and mobile phone plans allow for using a hotspot, but they use your data. Even an unlimited plan isn't really unlimited.

Whether you're a frequent traveler or just taking an occasional trip, the Fire Stick and Roku Stick are the most reliable options for streaming on the go. My Streaming Life doesn't go with me on vacation, but it is nice to know I can stream if I want to.