Tag Archives: roku

To Plex or not to Plex

Last year we dumped cable and bought a couple of Roku streaming players.

meet-roku-why-roku-is-1-v5

We added three more when we moved back in after the fire, and excepting a short, three-week stint with Direct TV (quantity dismal, quality only passable), we’re happier without cable. Continue reading

What, son? … It’s Elementary!

Where to start? Birthday, art, beer … books and Sherlocks galore … just another exciting week. Can there ever be anything else around here?

Drew - 14th birthday largeOur youngest son Drew turned 14 on Wednesday. Just the night before, he was standing next to me in the kitchen and I experienced an optical illusion of my peripheral vision: he seemed to be taller than me!

Okay…it wasn’t an illusion…he really had grown about two inches in the last month. So I am now officially shorter than all of my sons. But you know what? I can still… [say it with me boys…] … take them!

You see, I fully expected oh so long ago that all of my sons would be bigger, faster, stronger, taller, smarter (or some combination of the above) than me. So I prepared for just such an eventuality.

In the old days, circuses would tie a baby elephant’s leg to a stake in the ground (for the record, I dislike the use of animals in circuses, but for the sake of an oft-told story…) That poor baby would strain and strain and never be able to pull the stake out. Later, when he was a much bigger adult, he could probably quite easily pull the stake out, but he never did…because he thought he couldn’t.

Now, when Brandon, Colin, Dylan and Drew were all tiny babies, I would whisper subliminally over and over as they slept, “I can still take you…I can still take you.” And when they were teens, full of testosterone, strength and a need to show the old man that strength if they got mad at me, they would haul back and …

…think, “Nah. He can still take me!”

{None of my sons have ever “hauled back”…that’s just part of the story.}

Anyway, Drew had a great birthday with a bunch of friends at JumpStreet (trampolines), a nice dinner with his family at the restaurant of his choice (Cheddar’s), a Reese’s Fudge cake made with love by Momma, all capped with the awesome movie “The Princess Bride“.

And …

…I didn’t have to “take him”!

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Simply Shocking!

English is such a trippy language. Words can mean so many things. It’s time for my spring push to prepare the pool for eventual use, and I have to shock it. So I went out in my starkers and yelled “Boo!”

Oh well. Didn’t work last year and didn’t work this morning either. Back to the old chemical methods…multiple bags of shock.

People shock us all the time. No need to explain, I’m sure.

Another shock comes when we mistake small packages for being harmless. Last night I found a tiny ant – it was black and didn’t look like a fire ant – crawling on my hand and before I brushed it off, it apparently bit me right between the knuckles of my first and second fingers. It itched for a while and when I woke up, I thought I had slept on the hand…it felt numb like that. Turns out it was swollen and the numbness was my skin being stretched. A less than three millimeter ant injected enough formic acid to cause that much of a reaction? Shocking!

There’s medical shock, impact shock, hair shock (okay, shock of hair), shocks of grain (sheaves stacked for drying) … lots of shocks. But “shock” also has the electrical connotation.

As long as I can remember, I seem to have an … (pardon) … attraction to static electricity. I don’t mean that I like or am obsessed by it. No, more like the other way around. I’m sure those who live in dry climates, or even just dry seasonal climates have experienced that spark getting out of a car. Or, walking across a room and grabbing a door handle only to receive a jarring jolt of reality that electricity is all around us. For whatever reason, my body seems to pick up more than the average person. And when it lets go… Bam!

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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.

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