Saturday, May 7, 2022

Streaming the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is this afternoon. And yeah, it's kind of a big deal. It's been a big deal for a while now.

I never really cared for horse racing, whether Thoroughbred or other horse racing, mostly because I didn't come up around it. Maybe if I was from Kentucky, I might care. Well, care more.

I do have a passing interest in the race, and if I'm able, there's a better than even chance I'll watch it. And I realize I'm not sounding like I'm drumming up excitement about the race. That's because I'm not. Some people are interested in it a lot, some a little, and some not at all.

If you are interested, and if you are a streamer, you will probably want to know how you can watch it. Or even if you can watch it if  you're a streamer. Well, you can.

NBC is, again, carrying the race. While USA carried the Kentucky Oaks yesterday, the Derby is on NBC and Peacock. Coverage begins at 2:30 pm, with the actual race a few minutes before 7:00 pm.

The fastest time in the Kentucky Derby was set by Secretariat in 1973, at 1:59.4. The second fasted time in the Derby was Sham, at an estimated 1:59.8. Why was Sham's time an estimate? Because they don't normally keep as accurate records on second-place horses. Sham set his time in 1973, when he lost to Secretariat. Had Sham run that time, and Secretariat not run in the race, Sham would be the record holder. That was quite a race.

Will any records be set today? Find out. Watch the Kentucky Derby on NBC or on Peacock TV and see for yourself.

Here's how to watch:

Peacock TV

  • Subscription is $5/month for the Premium service. It's $10/month for ad-free. But ad-free doesn't include not having ads in live TV. The ad-free applies to on-demand only.


  • Antenna (free) over the air.
  • Sling TV ($35 Orange) ($35/Blue) ($50 Orange + Blue)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Fubo ($65/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month)

If watching the first jewel of the Triple Crown is on your agenda for the day, you can enjoy streaming it on one of those services. It's nice when you can enjoy your Streaming Life so effortlessly.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Data collection

In case you haven't noticed, there are ads on this Website. Yeah, I know. You noticed. You can't help but notice. And that led into my thinking about data collection.

You see, those ads may be customized with you in mind. Oh, I'm not doing that. Google places the ads, and Google picks what the ads are for. I do have the option to request certain ads not be shown, or suggest other ads that may be shown, but I don't do that. I leave it entirely up to Google. Why? They do this for a living, and are making a shipload of money doing it. They're the professionals, and I'm fine with them handling all the ads.

The cookies and other data that Google collects along the way is part of how they determine what ads to show you, but I don't get that data. I don't know if it's available to me, but I don't really care. I'm not in the data collection business.

If you leave a comment, the form asks you to log in with a Google account. And that's stuff that Google collects.

If you use the "Ask A Question" form, it does ask for a name and email address, but that isn't in any database that I have access to. I do get an email with the information, and when they arrive, I read them, and if I want to address what they wrote, I'll write up a post, then I'll delete the email. I don't store the data.

Oh, and in case you haven't noticed, I have a notice about being an Amazon affiliate. That means that if I link to something on Amazon that qualifies for commission, and you use the link and make a purchase, I'll get a small commission. But I don't get the data. Amazon does. And they keep it. I'm not in the data collection business.

Sure, if the ads on the Website show something in which you have an interest, and if you make a purchase, I'll get a little bit of money. And if the products to which I link earn a commission (not all do, by the way), I'll get a little bit of money. I like collecting money. But I don't collect data. Google does and Amazon does.

Data collection is not my interest. Streaming is. I'm here to share my experiences, thoughts, and suggestions about how to improve your Streaming Life. That is my my interest.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Roku and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad USB Power Cable with Long-range Wi-Fi Receiver

I've been a Roku user for quite some time. In the early days, there was no Roku stick. They eventually introduced one that connected via an MHL port. That's another long story that we won't cover today, but just know that you couldn't take that stick and expect it to work on most TVs today.

In March 2014, Roku introduced their model 3500 HDMI Streaming Stick (to differentiate between the MHL-based stick for the old "Roku Ready" TVs, which is another long story). I got one of those, because I liked the idea of a stick. It was kinda meh. Heck, it was a lot meh.

In April 2016, Roku upped their game with an update, the model 3600 stick. It was better than the 3500 by quite a bit, but by then, I was used to the speed of a Roku 3, meaning the 3600 stick, while an improvement, was still kinda meh.

In October 2017, Roku released the 3800 Streaming Stick and the 3810 Streaming Stick+. Finally, Roku had a good stick. At least the 3810 Streaming Stick+ was good. I never used the 3800. But I liked the 3810 so much that I replaced all the Roku 3 devices, which were beginning to show their age, with the Streaming Stick+. I didn't replace any Roku Ultra devices, just the older ones.

In 2021, Roku introduced the 3820 Streaming Stick 4K and the 3821 Streaming Stick 4K+. I didn't run out and buy one, but decided to see how well they worked based on others. My Streaming Stick+ devices were good and didn't need replacing, so I was in no hurry.

Research showed they were actually the same device, but came with different remotes in the box. Same processor, same memory, same storage, same everything except the remote. I got my hands on a Streaming Stick 4K+ and tested it. I really liked it, so I bought a Streaming Stick 4K for my own use, replacing a Roku Premiere+ (3921).

So, all is well, right?

No. Not by a long shot.

It turns out that the stick I love so much has good WiFi because of a fancy-schmancy cable that has a WiFi receiver built in. And some of them are going bad. Well, a lot of them. High number, but likely a low percentage. But enough to make it a pain for a lot of people.

Roku sells replacement cables for the 3800/3810. And they're out of stock. And have been out of stock. And no estimate on when they'll be back in stock. If ever.

Roku has really dropped the ball on this one. Now, sure, most of the sticks work fine. Only a small percentage have issues. But a small percentage of a large number can itself be a large number. And that's what seems to be going on.

If you have a Roku stick, and it works, and you're happy, great. If you are thinking about getting a stick, I can say that mine all work great. But that cable issue really bothers me, enough so that I won't recommend a stick.

Yes, I bought a stick recently, and like it. But I don't have a problem spending my own money and dealing with a bad decision. I don't want to cause someone else to spend their money based on my recommendation then they regret the decision. I want your Streaming Life to be free of trouble. Roku is making that difficult.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Live TV streaming on Amazon Fire TV

Recently Roku added a Live TV section to their main menu. While it does bring something that Roku users haven't had before, it pales in comparison to what Amazon Fire TV has with their setup.

Roku's is pretty much content from the Roku Channel, along with selections from some live streaming services. Yeah, that's a description of what Amazon Fire TV offers, but the details are different.

The only real live TV guide is actually within the Roku Channel. If you have Pluto TV, or Xumo, or Sling TV Free, or any of a number of other free live streaming apps, you won't find them in one place. And where it does have links to other services, it's simply links to those apps, whether or not you have them installed. You'll see in a minute why I bring this up.

Again, Roku's Live TV section is not as useful to me as Amazon Fire TV's. So let's see what I like about Amazon's setup.

The Fire TV section for live TV is called "On Now," which actually is a good description when you think about it. There is a guide that brings in many channels (not all) from services you have, not services they suggest.

Remember when I said that Roku has links to apps whether or not you have them installed? Amazon only lists content from apps you have installed, and have configured to work with the On Now functionality.

After you launch the On Now guide, pressing the Menu button on the remote lets you configure the service. You can add or remote services (actually hide or show the source) and arrange them. And within each service, you can pick and choose which of the available channels show up in the On Now guide. I like that approach much better.

You can even select favorites, and they'll be listed at the top, regardless of the order of the services selected. The favorites will still show up within the sections for each service. Oh, and if you pick a channel as a favorite in two different services -- there is some overlap on these services, after all -- they will show up twice.

When you select the content to view, it does open the corresponding app, but unlike Roku, it only picks from installed apps. And with content from multiple services all in one place, it is far superior to Roku's offering.

If you've read many of these posts, you know I'm in the Roku camp when it comes to a primary streaming app. Regarding this type of feature, however, Fire TV is far ahead of Roku. If this is important to you, and you have a hard time deciding between Fire TV and Roku, this may be the factor to push you to the Amazon Fire TV camp, and have that platform as the basis of your Streaming Life.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

My favorite live streaming service

If I had to pick one live streaming service, what would I pick?

That's a trick question. Because I don't have a live streaming service. That means my favorite is none.

Well, sometimes it's none. Other times it's not. So why is that?

I don't watch TV the same way year-round. And you probably don't either. I mean, think about it. Do you watch TV in December the same way you watch TV in May? Or July?

In December, I'm more likely to be in a situation where the TV is on and Hallmark Christmas movies are playing. But not so much in July. Plus, I watch college football, so my TV viewing during the fall and winter months isn't the same as in spring and summer.

The point is that I don't watch TV the same year-round. And, as a result, I don't need the same TV setup year-round.

With me, the only live streaming I really care about is college football. With you, it may be something else. But with me, from early September until early January, I subscribe to a live streaming service that gets me college football. Then I cancel, because I don't need it the rest of the year. I don't need it, so I don't pay for it.

Maybe you could save some money by not subscribing to a service you don't need. Do you need Netflix year-round? Could you get by subscribing for a month, canceling for a month, subscribing for a month, canceling for a month, and so on? If so, you just cut your Netflix bill in half. Let that sink in.

The point is that I don't watch TV the same year-round, so no one way works for me year-round. I certainly don't have a live streaming service year-round. So, to answer the original question of which is my favorite live streaming service? The answer is none. Because I don't need nor do I want a year-round live streaming service in my Streaming Life.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Netflix losing subscriptions

So with Netflix lost customers, huh? That made big news for some reason. Maybe because everybody thinks Netflix is a cash cow that goes on forever.

Actually, it might be. But losing 200,000 subscribers was unexpected. So, what's it mean?

Well, maybe it means that people are tired of rising prices and having to subscribe to so many streaming services that they're paying as much as when they had cable.

Maybe they feel that Netflix isn't worth the money. I don't subscribe, so whatever is causing people to leave, it's probably not the same reason I stopped subscribing several years back. Or maybe it is.

Unlike the early days of streaming, merely existing as an alternative to cable TV is no longer good enough in and of itself. Just ask shareholders of Netflix, who watched the stock plunge 35% on Wednesday after the company lost (net) 200,000 paying customers during the first quarter of the year, here and abroad. Not even Netflix's award-winning content library was enough of a draw to keep them on board. While most U.S. households utilize a combination of between six and 10 paid-streaming services, according to TiVo's report, there's far more than that out there, and there's only so much time anyone can spend watching television.

My philosophy on subscription services is to not subscribe to multiple ones, at least, not at the same time. If there's something on Netflix I want to see, I'll subscribe, but only for a month. I'll binge what I want to see, and then cancel at the end of the month. The next month, I'll subscribe to another service, watch it for a month, cancel, then the next month, pick another service and repeat the process.

In a year, Ive watched what I wanted to watch and subscribed to only one service a month. It's cheaper doing it that way, at least for me.

If Netflix is a part of your Streaming Life, and you're happy with it, then that's great. If you canceled recently, I'd be curious why. But to whichever services you subscribe, if you're happy with the product and the price, you're in good shape, because that's the goal.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Ads are good. And bad.

I have no issue with the concept of advertisements. In fact, unless you're running an ad blocker or some similar utility on your browser -- or network -- you may not even be aware that there are ads on this Website. Of course, if you are not running an ad blocker, then you are very much aware of the ads.

Honestly, I don't like them. Well, I don't like how many there are. So, why do I have so many ads on this Website? I'm lazy. I turned the ad placement entirely over to Google, and they pick what ads show and where they show. And how many.

I don't normally notice them, because I block the ads on this Website. Let me explain why.

When it comes to monetizing a Website, visits matter, so I make sure as much as I can that I only visit from a browser that's I've registered as mine, so my page views don't get counted. I'm not looking to artificially inflate Website traffic numbers in any way.

The number of displays an ad gets can also be artificially inflated. I cannot confirm that the registration of the browser for traffic count also includes ad displays. They're both from Google, and it seems they should be able to tie them together. However, I cannot find anything that says they do. Meaning they may count ad displays to me. And they shouldn't.

To ensure that I don't artificially inflate any stats, I have an ad blocker, off by default, on for this Website. The upside is that I know that I'm doing all I can to ensure that I'm not gaming the system, even unintentionally. The downside is that I don't experience what you experience when you come to the Website. If it's a bad experience because of the ads, I don't know it.

Well, once a month, I will go to the Website on a registered browser and turn off the ad blocker. Then I see the ads in all their glory.

And, to be honest, I don't like how Google does it. It's too many, and they are borderline intrusive. Oh, not nearly as bad as some Websites, so I take some comfort in that. But more than I generally like.

Now, I did mention that I have an ad blocker. I don't normally use it. I understand why Websites have ads, because this Website has ads. They do it to live. I do it to buy a burger every so often. or to upgrade to medium fries.

So I'll view the ads on the Websites I visit. But every now and then, I'll come across a Website that has a horrible experience because of the ads. I'll turn on the ad blocker, finish my business there, and put them on my list of "no-go" Websites.

I believe that if it's an ad-supported Website, and I don't agree to see the ads, I should probably find a different Website. And that's what I do. But I will turn off the ads -- by turning on the ad blocker -- to finish my visit. My last visit. Ever.

I certainly hope the ads here don't make visiting this Website a bad experience for you. I'd put up with the ads here, but it's on the upper limit of what I'll tolerate.

It's the same way with some streaming apps and services. Many are supported by ads. I have found some that are just too much for me, but I can't remember which ones they are. I'll remove the app from my streaming devices if I get to that point. But most ad-supported services don't have an amount that bother me. Like I said, I'm okay with ads. They support some really good quality streaming services and apps, and make my Streaming Life more enjoyable.