Saturday, April 2, 2022

Nvidia Shield testing to resume ... soon

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was getting an Nvidia Shield -- finally! -- and would be trying it out. Well, I changed direction when I decided to try it as a dedicated Plex server. I didn't like how that went, and switched back to setting up a Raspberry Pi as a Plex server instead. That went well.

But what about the Nvidia Shield? Well, I still have it. I removed the family member's credentials from the device, did a factory reset, and have now set it up for me to use. And I will use it. Eventually.

You see, I have a day job. And sometimes the job runs into the night. Not as much as things used to, but still somewhat. Mostly a day job. But I do have that job. And I have some other projects I've been working on.

I'm setting up and using a Linux laptop because I never have before. I've done Linux desktop, but I've installed it on a laptop, and am trying that.

I'm also very happy with the family member's Plex setup using a Raspberry Pi, and I'm now looking to move my Plex content over to a Raspberry Pi as well.

And, I'm beginning to get a little burned out from trying to do multiple projects at the same time, so I'm gong to focus on just one and see it through to conclusion, then start another one. In the meantime, I'm taking breaks and watching some TV. I mean, I put all this time and effort into setting up for streaming that I might as well use some of that.

Right now, there are three things in front of me.

  1. Using a Linux laptop as a primary laptop for a period of time.
  2. Setting up a Plex server on a Raspberry Pi.
  3. Using Nvidia Shield as a primary streamer for a period of time.

Sure, I could do all three at the same time. Or at least two of the three. But like I said, I'm starting to burn out a little, so I'll focus on one, along with simply enjoying streaming.

I don't know which I'll focus on starting this weekend. But I'll pick one and see it through. But whatever I do, I'm going to take my time and simply working it in to my Streaming Life. I'm neglecting that too much, and that will change.

Friday, April 1, 2022

April Fools Day

I really enjoy the April Fools gags that many Websites used to play on April 1st. I say used to play because the last couple of years I really haven't paid attention. But they used to be funny.

I was never that much of a prankster. Oh, I did a few. Not a lot, but a few.

One of my favorites was taping down the switch hook. For you kids, that's the little white post that the handset rested upon. Pressing it down mean the phone was "hung up." Raising the handset caused the switch hook to rise, taking the phone "off the hook." You had a dial tone. And if you don't know what a dial tone is, go as a grown up.

Anyway, at work, our desk phones way back in the ancient times had the switch hooks that I'd tape down. Then I'd call the unsuspecting person. They'd go to answer the phone, holding the receiver against their ear, but the phone would keep ringing. We all laughed.

Another was taping the mouse wheel. For you kids, a computer mouse once had a rubber ball that rolled along a table or mouse pad -- laser was future tech -- and the movement of the ball was translated to mouse movements. But, tape it down, and the mouse cursor wouldn't move. We all laughed.

And, people used to leave their computers unattended. That was a mistake on April 1st. I had a WAV file of Yosemite Sam yelling "Great Horny Toads!" I'd load it on the victim's computer, then change their email sound from a simple chime to that. Then when the victim returned to his desk, we'd all send him emails. And a constant stream of "Great Horny Toads!" one after the other, would be heard all over the office. We all laughed.

It was a simpler time. But it was fun. Stupid, but fun. And all in good fun.

What's all this got to do with streaming?  Nothing. April Fools!

No, what I'm doing is saying how much fun it used to be, and I hope there are some streaming related gags happening today to brighten my Streaming Life. You see, I read the news. I could use a good laugh.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Finding Fire TV apps on Fire TV

One of the most frustrating things about Amazon's Fire TV devices are the fact that it's extremely difficult to find the apps you want in the device. I've taken to just going to the Amazon Website and searching for the apps, then adding them from the Website.

Oh, sure, there are apps available, but honestly, I do not find it a pleasurable experience. Quite the opposite.

Perhaps I'm just experiencing holdover from my general dislike for the Fire TV interface, along with the difficulty browsing Fire TV content on the device or on the Website.

I always hated that each season of a show was listed as a separate entry. I'd be scrolling through the content, and there would be Star Trek Season One (for example). Then more stuff, then Star Trek Season Three. More stuff, more stuff, Star Trek Season Two.

Don't get me wrong, I like the original Star Trek. I have since September 1966. But each season as a separate entry only junked up the browsing of content. Because it wasn't just Star Trek. It was every show. If a show ran 10 seasons,  there were 10 entries. If another show ran 7 seasons, there were 7 entries. From these three shows alone, what should be three entries would be 20 entries. Like I said, just junking it up.

My takeaway from that was that the Amazon interface was full of stuff it didn't need to have. It was overcrowded, making things harder to find. And maybe I still carry a grudge.

I find searching for apps on Fire TV to be a bother. I hate the interface. Maybe I shouldn't, but I do. And I'll take the blame for being unreasonable. But I want Amazon to take the blame for being cluttered and crowded. That's why I will occasionally use a Fire TV device, but it's not a regular part of my Streaming Life.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Meet the new Roku, same as the old Roku?

There was a brief bit of excitement recently because Roku accidentally published a piece of content that listed a Roku model number that didn't exist. Of course, that began the whole "Are new Roku devices coming??!!?!" kind of thing.

I like Cord Cutters News. Luke did a great job with it, and since he sold it, they've carried on doing good work. They are a great go-to resource. But, they are in the business of making money, so they gonna clickbait, or make things out a little more than necessary.

That may be a little harsh, partly because I think we all do that from time to time, and they really are not nearly as bad as most Websites. And, perhaps they don't even intend to do it, but it does creep in. Or, it appears to me that it does.

Specifically, CCN had an article recently that covered a listing of a previously unheard of Roku model:

The model, 4802X, doesn’t correspond to any currently available devices within Roku’s lineup, which includes the top-end, 2020-era Ultra (listed as model number 4800X) and the Walmart-exclusive Ultra LT (listed as model number 4801X). The blog post has since been updated to remove the mention of the mystery model number.

This was probably an error by Roku, but a real model number. The error was likely it being listed when it shouldn't have been, as it's not been released. At least, not yet. I don't think it was an incorrect model number, just an accidental spilling of the beans.

But is this really a big deal? Isn't a new Roku device supposed to be a big deal? Well, not always. Sometimes Roku releases a new device that it already released. Let me explain.

I first encountered this back in, oh, I don't know, 2011 or 2012; before the Roku 3 was released. I had a Roku 2 XS, model 3100, that I had purchased in June 2011. I liked it. It wasn't my only Roku, as I had bought it to replace an older device I had purchased in 2010. I was new to streaming, and was very interested in what Roku offered. I wanted to learn all I could, and added Roku devices to other TVs by buying newer ones and moving the older ones to other TVs.

Along then, I decided to try the device that was a step down from the Roku 2 XS, the Roku 2 XD (model 3050). Roku offered a refurbished one, so I bought one. Turns out, it was simply a Roku 2 XS with a different model number, and a lesser remote. I shut down my Roku 2 XS and paired it remote to the Roku 2 XD. It worked. I then bought a Roku 2 XS remote and when it arrived, I had effectively two Roku 2 XS devices. Internally, these were the same device. The only difference was the remote that was included in the package. Oh, and the XS or XD molded into the top of the casing. Same device, two different model numbers.

Next time I encountered that was when I bought a Roku 2. Not the model 2720 -- I never owned one of those -- but the updated model 4210 released in 2015. The specs on it looked really good, comparable to the Roku 3, so I bought one. And, sure enough, it was a Roku 3. I already had a model 4200 Roku 3, and the new 4210 Roku 2 was the same device on the inside. The only difference was the 2 molded into the casing, and the included remote. In fact, someone could buy a Roku 3 for $99.99, or buy a Roku 2 ($69.99) and a Gaming Remote ($29.99) for a total cost of $99.98. That would mean they would have the same Roku device (despite the different model numbers), the same remote, and a spare IR remote for 1¢ less than the cost of a Roku 3.

Not only were the 4200 and 4210 the same device, but I later found out the updated Roku 3 model 4230 was the same device, just with a better remote. Both Roku 3 and the last Roku 2 were al the same device, just with different remotes and model numbers.

And, again, Roku did this in 2018. The previous year's Roku Ultra model 4660 got an upgrade. The device didn't change, but they put a better set of earbuds in the cardboard box and changed the model number to 4661. That was the only change. The 4660 and 4661 were the same device.

There are actually a couple of examples more. Maybe more than a couple. I'm not doing a research paper on this, I just ran across this in my everyday life.

So, this new Roku Ultra model 4802? I expect it's the same as the 4800, but some accessory will be different. But, I don't have any way of knowing that. And, I could be wrong.

You see, there also exists a Roku Ultra LT model 4801 that Walmart carries. It's a little different than the 4800 model Ultra. Yes, the remote is different, but the 4800 has a USB port (3.0) and Dolby Atmos support, which the 4801 does not have.

And, if you look at other devices, particularly the "+" version of devices, some are the same with the only difference being the remote, but some have true differences with the devices, even though the model numbers are nearly identical.

This difference in devices with such similar model numbers seems to invalidate my general approach. However, overall, it's a good guide. And, I'm expecting the 4802 to be the same as the 4800, if it's a new addition to the Roku lineup. It could be another retailer exclusive.

So, no I don't really know what this new 4802 Ultra will be. I expect it's nothing really new. But it may be something special, and something that I'll want to include in my Streaming Life. But it may be a bit before we find out.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

MeTV to Frndly.TV

I've been a fan of MeTV for some time. I'm in the demographic, so that makes sense.

Now, I don't watch it a lot. I don't just put the TV on any channel and watch. But, I know many that do, and MeTV is what they are after.

For cord cutters, putting up an antenna has been the only way to get MeTV. Until now.

Frndly.TV, which I'm also been a fan of for some time, finally secured MeTV in it's lineup, according to a post on Facebook.

We’re excited to announce that we’ve added two new channels – MeTV and Story Television! MeTV is one of the most requested channels! We’re excited to bring this to our all of our customers, without raising our prices :0)

That's good news. Now, if you have an antenna, this doesn't bring anything new to the table. But, if you don't have an antenna, and you want to watch classic TV, this is a big deal. And, considering that Frndly.TV has plans as low as $7/month for 30 family friendly channels, it's an even bigger deal.

Frndly.TV actually added another channel, Story TV, to the lineup as well. And three other channels that are part of the same ownership group will be added soon.

In addition to MeTV and Story TV, the streaming service will also add Heroes & Icons (H&I), DECADES, and Start TV to the lineup, with the rollout happening over the next several weeks.

I've been happy to have Frndly.TV as a part of my Streaming Life for a while now. And they've making it an even better value now.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Plex on Raspberry Pi deployed

I mentioned before about managing a Plex server for a family member. It went out, and was in need of replacing. It was serious. So, rather than buy or put together a Frankenstreamer, I decided to do a little of both. I decided to use a Raspberry Pi as a Plex streaming server.

Well, I ran into some troubles, and combined another project I was trying with resolving my family member's Plex issues. I decided to try an Nvidia Shield as a Plex server. It went well. At first. Then it began to need to be booted every three days or so.

Along this time, I resolved my KVM switch issues, so I was able to run both Nvidia Shield and Raspberry Pi in parallel. And I resolved the Raspberry Pi issues (actually, an update to Ubuntu fixed it).

When everything settled, the Raspberry Pi turned out to be the way I went. Whatever was causing instability with Nvidia Shield may be worked out, but for now, Raspberry Pi, running Ubuntu, is the Plex server I'm using.

And I'm happy with it. I think she'll be happy with it. She was surprised to see the size of it, but a little excited to have it back. Of course, setting it up was easy. Well, I had to move everything from my house to hers, but I did bring everything except the monitor. I got the official Raspberry Pi keyboard, mouse, power supply, case, fan, everything. I used her existing monitor from the dead Windows machine and didn't set up the Raspberry Pi monitor (yes, there is one of sorts).

No, I didn't use the existing keyboard and mouse, because the Raspberry Pi one stands out, being white and red. I wanted it to be clear what was what. The monitor wasn't an issue, just the keyboard and mouse, so that's how I resolved that. It didn't cost that much more to go that route, and having the entire setup (except the monitor) being Raspberry Pi branded made it look really official. So, it wasn't necessary, but it's how I went.

So, how's it going? Well, I set it up Friday, and it ran fine through the weekend. We'll be keeping an eye on it to ensure it works as expected. But so far, her Streaming Life includes a working Plex server again, and that was the goal.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Major League Baseball still doesn't want my money

I've been streaming regularly since 2010, with occasional streaming in the years before that. While many have only recently become streamers, I've been doing it for a while. And my son even longer, as he's the one who got me looking into it as a serious alternative back in 2008.

The point is that streaming is not a new thing. It's bigger than it used to be, and will be even bigger as time goes on. Since it's not a new thing, there really is no good reason for the major sports leagues to not accommodate streamers. But that's where we are. And for years, I've been wanting to give Major League Baseball my money. But they don't seem to want it.

I'm a fan of the Atlanta Braves. I've been in Georgia longer than they have, but I've come to appreciate those newcomers to my state. And if I want to watch a Braves game, I have to either go to the game, or have a pay TV service that carries them. As a Braves fan, I'd like to be able to watch them streaming via a service such as MLB TV. But, the games are blacked out in my area. Doesn't matter if the Braves are at home, or on the road, even on west coast, I can't watch a Braves game live via MLB TV.

And it's not just me. A lot of people in a large area can't watch the Braves live on MLB TV.

If I could, I'd watch the Braves with an MLB TV subscription, but blackouts means I can't. So, ever since I started streaming, I've wanted to subscribe and watch. And since MLB TV streamed its first game in 2002 (yes, 2002), they've know about streamers and how much we'd like to watch our teams live. And 20 years later, blackouts still top that.

I know there are business decisions that are locking down the games to pay TV services, but the bottom line in that nobody in five full states, most of another, and half of another still, can't watch Braves games live with MLB TV.

I suppose I could use a VPN on my network to get around such things, but I won't. The terms of service are what the terms of service are. And if they don't want me to watch the games streaming, I won't. I won't watch them any other way, either.

And that's how it's been for the last few years. I've not watch much baseball, because they don't want me to watch it the way I want to watch it. They want to make my Streaming Life difficult. So, I'll keep my measly $140.