Monthly Archives: February 2013

Over the Verizon…and down rabbit holes…

A coworker likes to say, “It’s never boring”, and around our house, that’s an appropriate phrase. This week we made a radical jump: no more cable television. Yep. Cut the cord…or cable as it were. While we have a few issues with Verizon since we moved back to the states in 2007 (their customer service is deplorable), this one was totally on us.

We haven’t really been watching television, save for a couple of shows, for a long time and to pay the amount of money we were shelling out for a DVR and two set tops boxes and no movie channels was absurd. We DVR’d two shows for everyone (The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family), Once Upon a Time for Drew (though I would watch it with him), NOVA, and a few shows for Andrea that she never seemed to have time to watch. Not worth it at all.

As with many of life’s changes, Andrea makes the decision first…and I more often than not must socialize the concepts for a while before I come around. And when she sets her mind to something, she runs with it. She can spend a couple of long nights researching options and then one day I come home to a small box on the counter containing something even smaller that I have to figure out how to make work for us.

RokuThe magic little device is a Roku streaming player. And little it is, as you can see in the picture. Andrea looked at Apple TV, but we nixed that pretty quick. Too many limitations – content, recurring costs, etc. and it’s wedded to the dreaded iTunes. To be fair, Roku and Apple TV do have a common limitation that I hope someday somebody will figure out: neither can stream from VIDEO_TS folders. DVD content has to be converted into something palatable.

Connecting the Roku is simple. HDMI cable into our receiver, network cable from the router (they do have wireless versions as well.) That’s it. Then you start setting up your channels. They make it pretty painless. Now, some of the Roku channels might require fees – Hulu Plus is one we’re looking into – but the rates per month are fractions of what Verizon was charging us.

How many readers remember television antennas? All but forgotten I’d venture. It probably never occurs to the aluminum foil hat folks worrying about cell phone radiation that they are being bombarded with a constant stream of digital over-the-air broadcasts. But all those local television stations make their content available to anyone with an antenna and a digital decoder.

Continue reading

Milton, Holmes, and iPods…Oh my

I’ve been reading a couple of books on memory while also listening to a Great Course (The Teaching Company) on the subject and I plan to share some of my thoughts in more detail in a later post or two, but I’ll tease a bit here after a couple of other things.

First, I have to deliberately, if for deceptive reasons, drop two names: Robert Anton Wilson and Stephen Hawking. It seems right after I wrote a piece about Wilson generating a bit of traffic on my blog (Robert Anton Wilson redux), “Stephen Hawking” suddenly became the search term most used to stumble upon my page. I figure that by mentioning and tagging both, maybe I can get new folks to find me and then stay a while. So, apologies to those led here by that infernal engine only to find nothing of what they seek. I also apologize to Stephen Hawking for pairing him with Wilson. Brilliant scientist juxtaposed with nutcase writer who seemed to not be fond of advocates of true science – oh well, sorry, Steve. Um, Stephen. Um, Mr. Hawking.

Continue reading

The tangled web woven on the internet

The internet is a wonderful thing, right?

Dreams Beyond the NowAndrea suggested a recipe for me to make last night – stir fry chicken that her Pampered Chef consultant made at her show two weeks ago – but she didn’t actually have the recipe on hand. I cooked because I took Dylan and Drew to a friend’s party and she went to Incrementum III, a charity art auction benefiting alley’s house.

Shameless plug unrelated to the title: her latest piece “Dreams Beyond the Now” to the right is available. Too bad the kinetic elements (the small dandelions float above the canvas) don’t show up in this pic.

Anyway, as she didn’t have the recipe, a quick search found it here.

I’ve used the internet so many times to find instructions on how to troubleshoot and repair our Akai flatscreen, LG Tromm washer (that took a few iterations…the “service manual” said for my problem to take it to the shop!), our Kenmore refrigerator, replacing an iPhone battery (yes, it can be done – go to ifixit.com), and a plethora of computer problems, to name just a few. The value is tremendous.

On the flipside of that information coin, Dylan asked me about something he saw flying around on taxes and Obama…I told him he hadn’t given me enough information to answer the question, or even try to research the answer, but it was likely to be untrue, whatever it was.

That’s where the internet is not a wonderful thing, right?

Continue reading