Saturday, October 28, 2017

Georgia Florida

I went to the Georgia-Florida game today. It wasn't the first one I went to. I took my oldest grandson today. It was his first Georgia-Florida game.

My first Georgia-Florida game? 1980. Georgia was undefeated and ranked Number 2 going in to the game. Number 1 Notre Dame tied Georgia Tech that day, meaning with a win, Georgia would be ranked Number 1 for the first time in my life.

I managed to secure tickets to the game and took my girlfriend, her mom, and her brother to the game. And, it was something. They didn't call it The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party for nothing.

Georgia was down 21-20 with just over a minute left. Third and 12 at their own 8. Then a miracle happened.

[The YouTube]

Here's the whole game if you want to watch it.

Georgia went on to finish undefeated, winning the national championship after beating Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. I went to that game, too. But that's a story for another day.

Good times. And today was good, because I got to spend it with my grandson at a football game. The score doesn't matter. Being with him, that's what matters.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Movies Anywhere

Some time back, I downloaded the Disney Movies Anywhere app to my devices. That means I had it on my iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV. I didn't use it a lot, but I could use it. That's the point.

I liked it because it allowed my to purchase Disney content on one service and play the content on a device that didn't support the service. Let me explain so you can see why this is a big deal.

Device and Service Fragmentation

Note that I'm only focusing on set-top boxes, not phones and tablets, although some of what I'm saying would apply to those devices. There is less fragmentation in mobile devices. However, I generally do not use a mobile device to watch TV.

So, if you buy something on iTunes, you can only play it back on an Apple TV or an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod). You can't play it back on a Roku.

If you buy something on Amazon, you can only play it back on a device that supports the Amazon Video app. That means you can't play it on Apple TV, since there is no Amazon Video app for Apple TV.

If you buy something on VUDU, you can only play it back on a VUDU app. And that meant no Apple TV until they released the updated device two years ago (I've been streaming for almost seven years).

And, if you bought something on Google Play, you could only play it back on a device that supported Google Play. There's still no Google Play app for Apple TV.

Even when the service has an app for all the devices -- something that only VUDU had -- you had to open that particular app to play the content. For example, I bought Forbidden Planet on Amazon because Amazon had it for a good price. That meant I could not watch it on Apple TV, but I could watch it on Roku or Fire TV. But, on Roku, I had to open the Amazon Video app to watch it.

I bought Raiders of the Lost Ark on iTunes, because they had it on sale. That meant I could only watch it on Apple TV, and not on Roku.

I bought Star Trek movies on VUDU. I got them for around $2 each at the time, which was a deal I didn't want to pass up. However, I could only watch them on the VUDU app and that was only on Roku.

So, depending on what I wanted to watch, I would have to switch devices, or apps within the same device. I was not able to have all my content on the same device and in the same app library.

Disc to Digital

Oh, one thing that I really like about VUDU is their feature called Disc to Digital. That's a program that allows me to take a DVD that I had purchased and add it to my digital library. You can find more about it here.

Not everything I own on DVD will convert, but a lot will. It's $2 per movie, or $5 if you want to upgrade to HD (keep in mind that DVDs are not in HD). That's where most of my VUDU content comes from, actually.

Disney Enters The Picture

A little while back, Disney launched an app called Disney Movies Anywhere. That meant I could buy Disney content on a service limited to one device, but watch it on an otherwise unsupported device. For instance, I could buy Cinderella on Amazon Video and watch it on any device, even a device that didn't support Amazon.

This was only true for Disney content, but that was at least better than it had been before. I had purchased Disney content through both Amazon and iTunes, but the Disney Movies Anywhere app let me watch it on any of my devices. I liked that.

Shortly afterwards, it got even better. Disney content purchased through Amazon began showing up in my iTunes library. And Disney content purchased through iTunes began showing up in my Amazon library. It meant that I could simply go to my regular content library on a device and watch any of my Disney content.

The only way it could get better would be if it also worked for other studios.

Now it does. Not all, but there are now more studios supported.

Disney Movies Anywhere becomes Movies Anywhere

The change to the app is more than a name change. Movies Anywhere expands to include more studios.
Movies Anywhere features a wide range of films from Disney, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Universal and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. At this time, movies from non-participating studios such as Paramount, Lionsgate, and MGM are not eligible and will not migrate to your Movies Anywhere library. As Movies Anywhere evolves, we will continue to add more content partners.
This means that I now have a lot more of my content in one place. Not everything. Not most, in fact. But a lot.

Putting It All Together

Under the new Movies Anywhere setup, my content for Disney, Sony, Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros. is now available in my iTunes library and my Amazon library. That's very convenient.

Now, to be sure, not everything gets combined in the libraries. I have several hundred iTunes purchases, but less than half actually are available in Amazon. That's because the studios for those aren't part of the Movies Anywhere service. This is also true of the Disc to Digital service.

Recently, I pulled out 14 DVDs I had purchased and added them to VUDU through Disc to Digital. Only eight of them were added to Movies Anywhere. The other six? Non-participating studios.

So, if you have purchased content from multiple sources, and would like to be able to access the content from a single source, I'd suggest trying Movies Anywhere. The app is free, and after you set it up, the content libraries will merge -- with the caveat being participating studios.

I like it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Invisible flying pinch bugs

I mentioned recently about stopping for gas and an unusual encounter at the pump. There were actually two unusual encounters.

When I got out of the car, there was a large bug on the ground. I don't know what it was. It was kinda like a North American Stag Beetle, but it was the color of the concrete, and the mandibles were very wide. Really wide. I could see it, but it didn't stand out. Kinda blended in. Hard to see. So, nothing like a North American Stag Beetle. Except for being a large bug. With huge mandibles.

Well, I stepped over the bug and closed the door, then proceeded to gas up. You already know how that went.

When I finished, got my receipt, pocketed it, and stepped back to the door, I didn't see the large bug. Good. Or, so I thought.

During the next 15 minutes or so, I mulled over if I had done the right thing regarding the praying panhandler. I decided I had. That's when something seemed to fall onto my shirt.

Now, I am sometimes guilty of putting stuff over the visor in the car, but I didn't think I had done that. Still, something seemed to have fallen from the visor. I wondered what it was. It was dark in the car, 4:00-4:30 time frame, and no other traffic on the road. A little bit of light from the dashboard, but that was it. I couldn't really see anything on my shirt, and I wasn't going to take my eyes off the road for any period of time.

I'm in the middle of nowhere, on a four-lane road, 65 MPH, no traffic, and the possibility of deer, as I was very much aware. So, without being able to see it, I grabbed whatever it was that had settled on my shirt.

It grabbed back.

That's not a feeling you want to experience when you're driving 65 MPH in the middle of nowhere on a road with curves and bridges.

I threw whatever it was down. I realized almost immediately, of course, it was that large bug I had encountered at the gas pump. Seems it had made its way into the car either during the time I stepped over it and before I shut the door, or surreptitiously while I re-entered the car. Either way, there was a large bug in the car, somewhere under my feet.

Okay, then. Maybe I'll stop for something to drink or a snack up the road. Breakfast at a McDonald's maybe. I'll locate and extract the large bug at that time. Then, it flew from the floor beneath my feet to the passenger seat where I had laid my jacket.

This simply would not do.

I pulled over into a turn lane. The four-lane was divided by a large grass median -- about three full lanes wide -- and had the occasional turn-round lane on the left where one could pull into it, then make a u-turn when traffic was clear.

I stopped the car, put it in park, put the flashers on in case a vehicle happened by, put my holster on -- I don't wear it when driving but have it at hand -- and exited the vehicle. I walked around to the passenger side, opened the door, picked up the jacket and shook it, looking for the bug.

No bug.

I pulled out my phone, turned the flashlight on, and began looking though the car.


So, I'm standing beside the road around 4:30 in the morning with an invisible flying pinch bug loose in the car. Now, I'm wondering what the trade-in value is on the car.

After a few more minutes, I finally found the large pinch bug on the floor behind the driver's seat. I grabbed a loose Wendy's napkin -- I don't remember ever hitting a Wendy's drive-thru since I got that car, but that's a mystery for another time -- and picked up the bug and tossed it away from the car.

He didn't like that, and came straight back for the car. My foot put an end to the whole sordid affair.

I left the body just laying there, as a warning for other invisible flying pinch bugs. I am not to be trifled with.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Praying at the gas pump

My schedule has me traveling at early morning hours on some days. That means, depending on how well I planned things, I may be getting gas at 4:00 AM some days. I don't like those days.

Last week, I had one of those days. It was a Wednesday morning, it was the 4:00 hour -- that 0400 not 1600 -- and I pulled in to a gas station to get gas. Made sure I had everything in order, got out, and started the process to gas up.

I'm dressed in my standard work attire: dress pants, dress shoes, dress shirt, tie, jacket. My wallet is in my jacket pocket on my left side. Right next to my .380 in its holster. When I pulled in, I checked the lot and the area around the station, which was situation on the corner. It's on the outskirts of town, and there is wooded area nearby, so caution is always advised at off hours. 4:00 AM is an off hour.

Put the credit card in the slot -- first checking for a skimmer, of course -- enter my ZIP code, select the fuel type, and begin the process of gassing up the ride. Now the waiting. And that's when I made my mistake.

I don't carry money in my wallet. I don't carry a lot of cash, but what little I do carry is separate from my wallet. As I waited for the fuel to fill the tank, I put my hand in my pocket. My cash was in disarray. Normally, it's neatly arranged by denomination -- ones on top, followed by fives, tens, and twenties, if I am carrying those bills. All neatly stacked, and all facing the same way. It's easier for me that way. Only, when my hand went into my pocket, the cash wasn't neatly stacked. Nor sure what happened, but that was unacceptable. What I did was more unacceptable.

I pulled the cash out and sorted the few bills I was carrying. Lined them all up -- that was the major issue; some were sideways -- and put the cash back in my pocket. That mistake allowed two things to happen:
  1. I took my eyes off my surroundings
  2. I allowed other eyes to see I was carrying cash
There were other eyes, as I became aware just after putting the rearranged cash back in my pocket.

"Good morning," came the voice.

I turn my head slowly, saw the young man approaching from the road. I nodded my head, "Good morning, sir."

As I turned back to finish pumping the gas, he spoke again. "Do you mind if I pray with you?"

Just in case you're not aware, if someone approaches you at a gas station and asks to pray, he's probably not a traveling evangelist, but rather someone looking for money. Even if he is a traveling evangelist, he's still someone looking for money. I wasn't in the mood for whatever he had going on.

I looked back at him, "You don't need me for you to pray." I turned back to my task, checking to ensure my jacket was open for easy access to my .380, if needed. You never know how someone reacts to something unexpected. I don't think he expected my response.

His path turned from directly approaching me to one of heading to his right, down the road away from the gas station.

"Jesus love you. He loves you." the young man said as he walked away, keeping an eye on me.

I nodded.

Jesus does love me. But I don't think he's too keen on people using His name for panhandling.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Hulu with Live TV

Since I cut the cord in early 2011, I've tried several different ways to get certain content on TV. Sports is what I'm talking about.

I like college football. When I cut the cord in 2011, I waited until after the college bowl season was done. I had purchased a Roku in 2010, but kept cable until after football season because there was no other way to watch the games from home.

Thankfully, that's no longer the case. For sports, I've tried Sling TV ($25/month for package and add-on with all ESPN channels), DirecTV Now ($50/month for package with all ESPN channels), and PlayStation Vue ($45/month for a package with all the English language ESPN channels). Best price is Sling TV for what I want.

Right now I'm trying a different service: Hulu.

Okay, it's the Hulu with Live TV service. That's Hulu, but with Live TV. Which puts Hulu as another service similar to Sling TV, DirecTV Now, and PlayStation Vue.

Hulu is normally $8/month. That's been serving as my "cable service" since 2011. Recently, they added a Live TV service. It's $40/month. Not an additional $40/month, but it works out to an additional $32/month.

On the face of it, it still looks like Sling TV is a better deal because Hulu and Sling TV together totals $33/month ($8/month + $25/month) as opposed to $40/month. But things are never that simple.

All of the live TV services has problems. They're buggy. They will buffer a lot. It's nearly impossible to watch a game on any of those services, in my experience. So, I use the service to authenticate against the ESPN app (or the WatchESPN app, depending on the platform). The ESPN app is much more stable for live streaming than those live TV service apps.

As for what channels these services offer, here's a chart provided by Roku. It has a few flaws, such as the same channel listed twice (ESPN2 vs ESPN 2, TCM vs Turner Classic Movies, etc).

So, for now, it's $7/month more for Hulu with Live TV vs Hulu and Sling TV. But, I get two streams with Hulu Live TV vs Sling TV's 1 stream (unless I want their $40 four-stream service). I also get more app authentications.

For your purposes, is Hulu with Live TV a good deal? I don't know. I will say that it offers support for more apps than Sling TV does. The downside is Apple TV-related. Sling TV supports Single Sign On, while none of the other services support it.

I may keep this one. This is the first service to threaten Sling TV's position as my go-to service for accessing sports.