Saturday, December 29, 2018


I've never been a particular fan of Truman Capote. I've read some of his stuff, and yes, he was a very good writer. He could put words to paper in a way that few others, if any, could. But, I wouldn't say I was a fan. I certainly didn't dislike his writing. Of course, the fact that he didn't publish much in my lifetime contributed to this.

When I thought of Truman Capote, I thought of the character I saw on TV, on The Tonight Show and other talk shows. An odd little man with a funny voice but with interesting words.

I remember reading In Cold Blood years ago. It was a fascinating read. Not an easy read, but it was a book that you wanted to keep reading. Capote knew how to put words to paper.

The movie was very good, too. It's not a movie I like to put on and watch very often. In fact, I've seen it twice. Once, a long time ago, and more recently, within the last week or so. I had some downtime wanted to watch a movie. I launched my streaming device, and without looking, started scanning through with the remote. It stopped on In Cold Blood.

"Well, there's the feel-good movie of the year," I thought. But, I pressed Play and started watching. That got me to thinking about that horrific crime and wondering just how true the movie was. Which led me to wonder how true the book was.

Okay, right to it: the book was mostly true. I think Capote filled in some blanks from what he thought was the truth, as best he understood it. As for the movie, it was a fairly faithful adaptation of the book.

The movie was nominated for four Academy Awards -- Director, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Music -- but didn't win any. The American Film Institute ranked it was one of the top ten courtroom dramas. Which is how it ended up in my library.

While looking into the Clutter murders, I picked up bits and pieces about the case, including finding a copy of the Perry Smith case file. That was an interesting find. Anyway, I ended up later watching the movie Capote.

The movie was good. I enjoyed it. Philip Seymour Hoffman won an Oscar for his performance. But, the whole thing was the relationship between Capote and the killer Smith. And, as much as I liked the movie, I don't like it when "true" movies stretch the truth.

In the movie, Capote visited Smith a lot in prison. But in reality, he didn't. They wrote a lot, but Capote only visited Smith three times.

Capote was there for the execution, though. However, the movie had investigator Alvin Dewey there, and included a scene where Smith thanked Dewey for being there. However, Dewey's name isn't on the list of official witnesses. Capote's was.

Another variance from the truth, more disturbing in my mind, was the method in which the writer's decided to get around this fact: Capote bribing the warden to get access.

It is true that Capote did ask for access, but he didn't do it in person, but rather by letter.

Capote was turned down, by letter.

The idea that what Capote did to get the information from Smith to complete his research into the book was not, in the mind of the writers, good enough, but they had to stretch one bit of truth, then another to make the first stretching happen.

Little things like that bother me when a movie is supposed to be a true story. Of course, I understand little things may be necessary, but these aren't little things. Despite this, I did enjoy the movie. I just with they enjoyed the facts more.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

More movies than I realized

I've posted from time to time about the number of movies I have, particularly when I hit some milestone of some kind. But, I didn't realize just how many movies I had. And, to explain that, I'll be covering some stuff I've covered before. You've been warned.

A lot of background

Over the years, I've purchased movies in many different ways and from many different sources. I used to have a bunch of VHS tapes. I only have a few of those left, and most of those are part of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 collection. In fact, I think that's all I have left now. I gave the other VHS tapes away years ago.

I bought a lot of DVDs over the years, too. Most of what I buy anymore is still part of the MST3K collection. Occasionally, I'll buy a DVD if something is only available that way and has been only available that way for some time.

Then, one day, I bought a digital movie. From Apple's iTunes store. It was the movie "Unbreakable" and I bought it because it was on sale, and I wanted to see what the deal was with watching movies on my iPod. The answer: it was easy to do, but hard to see. I had one of those old wheel iPods.

My old iPod, from 2007

The experience wasn't great, because of the small screen, but the image was actually as big, relatively, as looking at the TV across the room, as the picture above shows. It just seemed smaller.


Once I realized that I could watch digital movies, and I got comfortable with the idea, I began to purchase digital content. Most of the purchases coming from Amazon, since I could tie by Amazon account to my TiVo.

In late 2010, I bought an Apple TV. Not for me, actually, but so The Wife could play her music from her computer through the fancy speaker system we had tied to the TV. She loved it, and to this day, that's how she usually listens to music when she's at home. I bought a Roku for me, since it played Amazon content (Apple TV didn't at the time), and I was looking to cut the cord from cable. I did, and bought the occasional movie as my digital library slowly increased.

Enter Apple

As I mentioned, The Wife loved Apple TV, so I started buying some movies from the iTunes store. That made it easier for her to watch digital content, as the always had the TV on Apple TV. Yes, she used TiVo some, but after we cut the cord, she hardly picked up the TiVo remote, preferring to watch stuff from Apple TV.

I'd still buy most stuff from Amazon, since I was planning on Roku being the primary streaming device. But, she never really got into Roku. After a bit, I bought from whichever was cheaper for any particular movie, Apple or Amazon. If she wanted to watch it, and it was from Amazon, I'd do the switching of inputs to Roku and play the movie. She still preferred Apple TV.


Later, Walmart decided they wanted a piece of the action. They launched their streaming service, called VUDU. It was just another way to buy streaming content, and there was an app for Roku. But, I didn't buy anything. Until I found out about Disc To Digital.

When it was launched, you could take your DVDs to Walmart, hand them to a clerk in the electronics section, and they'd take them and so some Walmart voodoo and you'd have the movies in your VUDU account. I took my Star Trek collection to Walmart and, sure enough, I was able to watch Star Trek movies from the VUDU app on the Roku.

They added an app for your PC or Mac that allowed you to insert the DVD yourself -- no more hauling DVDs up to the Walmart store -- and do the conversion yourself. They've since added the capability to do that from your phone using the bar code on the DVD case, but they've since removed it from iOS device -- still on Android though -- and requiring GPS enabled so people don't go up to the store and scan them there without buying the discs.


Roku partnered with a company called M-Go, which was partly owned by Dreamworks, to enter the digital sales market. I bought a movie they had on sale -- Ender's Game -- and tried it out. It worked, but it brought nothing new to the table. Well, it was kinda integrated into Roku, but apart from that, no biggie. I don't think I bought anything else from M-Go.

It's no longer called M-Go, by the way. Fandango bought it in 2016, and it's now the service FandangoNOW. Works pretty much the same, though. Well, it works better, because the infrastructure was improved, but I don't know if Dreamworks did that, or if Fandango did that. Anyway, more reliable than it was.

Disney in the middle of it

During all this time, Disney introduced a service called Disney Movies Anywhere. The idea was that if you bought, say, a Disney movie from Google (which we'll talk more about in a bit) because you had an Android phone, but then got an iPhone, you'd lose your Disney movie, since you can't play Google movies on an iOS device. Or, if you bought a Disney movie from Apple for your iPhone, but then switched to Android, you couldn't play your iTunes content on Android.

To remedy that, Disney introduced Disney Movies Anywhere, that allowed you to sync across platforms. That meant you didn't have to buy a Disney movie more than once, if you switched platforms.

It also meant, if you bought from other services, such as Amazon, you'd be able to play your Disney movies on other participating platforms. And that was where it benefitted me. I had bought some Disney stuff from Amazon, and some Disney stuff from Apple. And, to watch any of it, I had to switch to whichever device supported that platform. With Disney Movies Anywhere, I didn't need to switch devices. A purchase from any of the participating platforms meant I had the movie on all the platforms.

Movies Anywhere

Disney Movies Anywhere no longer exists. It didn't exactly die so much as it expanded. It's now called Movies Anywhere. When they converted, all the Disney movies moved over, and other studios signed on. Not all studios, though. It's not a perfect service, but it's another step in the right direction. About half the movies I have are from a participating studio. That means that about half of my movies -- actually, 44% -- are tied in with Movies Anywhere. That means I can watch them from any of the participating services.

It also means that if I buy a movie that's in the Movies Anywhere library, no matter which service I purchase from, I can watch it via any of the services. Which means I can shop around and get the best price.

That's handy, because not all movies are the same price from all services. Occasionally, iTunes will run a movie for $5 which is $10-$20 from the other services. And, sometimes, VUDU will have a $5 sale that the others aren't running. Or Fandango Now will sell a movie for $5 while the other have it higher. Or Amazon. Or Google. Speaking of which...


While I once had an Android phone before moving to an iPhone, I had never purchased any content from Google. That's now changed. Sure, I have an Android phone now -- I also have an iPhone for work, but we won't go into all that now -- but I've not done a lot of shopping from the Google Play store. Until recently.

I still don't buy a lot from Google, but I do shop around, and when I find something on sale that's also in Movies Anywhere, I'll buy it. I don't generally buy something from Google that's not Movies Anywhere, but every now and then I'll slip up.

Google has also given away movies for, I don't know, reasons I suppose. And the net effect is I have 4 movies from Google that I don't also have on iTunes.

More movies that I realized

This past week, I've been off work several days, and I've been under the weather. So, while sitting indoors, bored, and not able to see anyone lest I contaminate them, I grabbed my remote and fired up a spreadsheet. It was crunch time. As in crunching numbers. here's what I found.

Because of the occasional mistake -- buying something without ensuring it's part of Movies Anywhere -- or occasional promotion -- Google or other services giving away movies for reasons -- I have more movies than I realized I had.

In total, I have 175 movies ripped from DVD or download purchases from other sources -- Rifftrax, MST3K direct purchase, etc. I reduce that number from time to time by purchasing a digital copy that is then downloaded into iTunes on a computer that functions as my streaming server. I increase that number when I get a DVD of a movie I haven't purchased digitally. Those were part of my count the last time I posted a total video number.

The rest of the movies in my local library, 1,000 as I recently posted, were downloaded purchases from the iTunes store. That means I had 1,175 movies, closing in on 1,200. Or so I thought.

I noticed that I had a movie or two in Google that wasn't in my local library. There were some VUDU movies, too. And some Amazon content. So, I decided to catalog them all. That's when I discovered I didn't have 1,175 movies, but 1,194. So, there were 19 movies that were only available from a streaming service. Six were Amazon, nine were VUDU, and four were Google. There were actually more Amazon, VUDU, or Google, but some I also had on DVD and had ripped those. So, 19 streaming only movies.

I'll eventually get those into my local library. I'll purchase them from iTunes if they go on sale for $5. I may attempt to download them and rip them, as I have purchased them and have archival rights. But, I'm not a huge fan of that. Sure, I have the capability, and I do rip some DVDs, but I'd prefer to have them as part of a library that I can take with me. Since I have an iPad, then iTunes would be the preferred service.

Anyway, I'm a lot closer to 1,200 than I realized: 6 instead of 25. I'll hit that number one day. And bore you with all the details then.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas 2018

The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2

  1. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David
  2. To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
  3. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
  4. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
  5. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
  6. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
  7. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
  8. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
  9. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
  10. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
  11. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Monday, December 24, 2018

The Night Before Christmas (2018)

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

-- Clement Clarke Moore, 1822

Saturday, December 22, 2018

A Thousand iTunes Movies

1,000 iTunes movies
I've mentioned several times before about my building of a movie library. I've have most of my movies loaded onto a local server that allows me to play them on a TV. If I want to watch a movie, I just pick up the remote and find the movie.

My primary movie source is iTunes and Apple TV. I have multiple streaming devices -- Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, MiBox (Android TV) -- so I have options. But for playing local content, the option I went with is Apple TV and iTunes.

Sure, I could have gone Roku and Plex or some other local streaming server. But, quite honestly, the setup for iTunes and Apple TV is very easy: You launch iTunes, and log in to Home Sharing. That's it. Nothing else needs to be done. They've made it dead simple.

Now, my understanding is that Roku and Plex is relatively easy, but while I've never done it, I have picked up that it's a little more involved than that. So, if you were to want to stream local movies, Roku is a reasonable option of you don't have an Apple TV device. It's cheaper, that's for sure.

Anyway, I'm using iTunes as the server and Apple TV as the device. And, it's a pretty good setup. My mother uses a similar setup for her movies and TV shows -- think Murder, She Wrote and stuff like that.

Where it gets complicated is that I don't just have movies I bought from the iTunes store. I also have movies that I ripped out from DVD. Those are available locally; that is, in my own house on my own network. Stuff I bought from the iTunes store can be watched on my iPhone and iPad anywhere I go, but the movies ripped from DVD can't. They can only be watched on my local network; that is, while I'm at home.

Buying movies can get expensive, though. If you've ever bought a movie, you understand what I mean. One isn't so bad. Ten, well that's another matter. One hundred? Lots of money. One thousand? Yeah, that's some money spent, right there. So, I've decided to buy movies as cheaply as I can. That means when Apple puts them on sale, of course. But, it could also mean when Amazon, VUDU, Fandango Now, Google, or Microsoft puts them on sale, too.

"How do I do that?" you ask.

No really. Go ahead and ask. I'll wait.

* * *

Well, since you asked, I linked my iTunes, Amazon, VUDU, Fandango Now, Google, and Microsoft accounts with Movies Anywhere. That's a service that grew out of Disney Movies Anywhere, which was a Disney thing that let you have your Disney movies on many different platforms without having to buy it for each platform. Well, it's expanded to several movie companies, but not all.

Yes, I've mentioned this before, but a little refresher might be helpful.

Anyway, when I find one of my services running a sale on movies -- hint, they all run sales all the time -- I'll look up the movie on Movies Anywhere and see if it's in that library. About half the ones I look up are. Well, maybe a little less than half, but close enough that I think "half are."

If the movie is in the Movies Anywhere library, I'll buy it from whichever has it on sale the cheapest. My target price is $5, although I'll sometimes go as high as $8. And, if it's not on sale, I'll usually wait for it to go on sale.

I'll also rip out movies from Netflix disks -- yeah, I know that's not what you're supposed to do -- and add it to my library, then replace it with a digital copy when it goes on sale.

This morning, for instance, I saw that The Green Mile was on sale for $5. I had ripped it from Netflix some time back, but this morning, I replaced it with a purchased copy from VUDU. So, when I say I'll replace a ripped copy I don't actually own with a copy I do own, I will. Sure, they'd rather I didn't do it that way, but it's what I do. If I stopped, I'd still buy it when it went on sale. I wouldn't purchase it any earlier if I stopped, and I don't purchase it any later by doing what I do.

I also will replace movies ripped from my purchased DVDs with digital copies when they go on sale. Also this morning, The Magnificent Seven (the good one from 1960) was on sale. I've had the DVD for years. And it was one of the first movies I ripped out from DVD. It finally went on sale, and I bought it from iTunes. Because they had the best price.

And that movie hit a milestone. It's the 1,000th iTunes movie I have. That's 1,000 movies I can stream from my iPhone or iPad if I want.

Number 999 was The Green Mile. When I bought it, I didn't notice that it was number 999. After all, I bought it from VUDU. But, since it was a Movies Anywhere movie, it added it to iTunes, bringing that total to 999. And, when I bought The Magnificent Seven, I didn't immediately notice it was number 1,000 in my iTunes purchases. Around lunchtime, I picked up my Apple TV remote and noticed it then.

I love that movie. It's one of my all-time favorites. And, until about a week ago, I had forgotten that I didn't own a digital copy. As I mentioned, it was one of the first movies I ripped out from a DVD I owned. It's been in my local library so long, I forget it was a DVD copy. When I couldn't find it on my iPhone, I rechecked, and sure enough, it was a DVD version. So, I added it to my list of "get this" movies. This morning I did.

I still have 175 movies I've ripped from DVD, mostly DVDs I already owned. And, one day, as they come available and go on sale, I'll replace them with digital versions. After Christmas.

Speaking of which, I probably should start my Christmas shopping soon. Heck, I got time. The mall's open late, right?

Monday, December 17, 2018

Gone Bowling

Georgia Southern vs Eastern Michigan
Photo: Mickey Welsh / The Montgomery Advertiser
I went to a football game this past weekend. And it was great.

The Raycom Media Camellia Bowl was in Montgomery, Alabama this past Saturday night, and I was one of the 17,710 people in the stands. I was there supporting the Georgia Southern Eagles as they took on the Eastern Michigan Eagles. And the Eagles won! Which Eagles? Well, I'm happy with the outcome, if that helps.

Georgia Southern has only been to two bowl games. They started up football -- restarted, actually, after program was halted during World War II -- in 1981, hiring Georgia Defensive Coordinator Erk Russell to start the team. Starting from nothing -- literally, Georgia Southern College (at the time) had to buy a football from the K-mart across from the college to have one for their first press conference announcing the hiring of Russell -- they started play in 1982, and in 1985 were Division 1-AA (now FCS) national champions. Georgia Southern won a total of six 1-AA national championships before transitioning to 1-A/FBS in 2014. They ended their FCS/1-AA era beating Florida. Have you ever seen videos and images making fun of the University of Florida for the two players blocking each other? That was the 2013 game against Georgia Southern.

After their coach left for Army -- Jeff Monken led Army to 10 wins this season -- they hired Willie Fritz to lead them into their first year in FCS/1-A. Georgia Southern won the Sun Belt Conference championship, and the next year, went to and won their first bowl game. However, the coach left for Tulane. The next two seasons were tough, with Georgia Southern falling to 5-7 in 2016 and 2-10 in 2017. They fired their coach mid-season last year, and promoted the interim to head coach for this year. Under Chad Lunsford, they improved from last year's 2-10 to a 10-3 record this year, including the win in the Camellia Bowl. Why the biggest turnaround in 2018 college football didn't get him considered for coach of the year honors is, well, baffling to me. But, hurray for Brian Kelley, I guess.

The win in Montgomery wasn't easy, though. Eastern Michigan, despite a 7-5 record, was a tough opponent. Other than a 15-point loss to Army, the other four losses were all by a touchdown or less, with two coming in overtime. They could have easily been 9-3, and possibly 11-1. And they played with a lot of heart and a lot of guts. They took the lead with 3:33 left in the game, on a fourth-down pass for a touchdown. However, they couldn't stop Georgia Southern from driving down to kick a game-winning field goal as time expired.

It was the only Division 1-A/FBS bowl game that was close. So far, easily the best bowl game, but there are a lot of bowl games left. Still, it will be one of the best of 2018.

I was happy to make it to Georgia Southern's bowl game, and thrilled with the win. But, I was thoroughly impressed with the team from Eastern Michigan. This was only the fourth bowl game in that school's history, and it had to be a heartbreaker. Kinda like the season has been for them: close, oh so close, but not able to finish.

If they get a couple of breaks, they could be champions of the MAC next year, if the team continues to play like they did this season and this past weekend.

I'm still thrilled with Georgia Southern's win. And I know that another game against Eastern Michigan would be a tough one. But, if it came next year as a rematch, but between two conference champions, well, that would be just fine with me.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

College Football Playoff 2018

I do this every year, and I'm doing it again this year. I'm telling you what the NCAA FBS Subdivision (what I still call Division 1-A) playoffs would look like if they did it right.

All 10 conference champions should be in a playoff. They won their conference, and that should mean something. A place in the tournament is a suitable reward for accomplishing that goal

Keeping in mind that limiting it to the conference champions leaves out some really good teams that are better than half of those conference titleholders. So, add the six best teams, as determined by a committee -- just like the CFP is done today -- to the tournament. Have #1 host #16, #2 host #15, and so on. Losers in the first round still get an opportunity to go to a bowl game.

The winners would advance to the next round, with the highest surviving seed hosting the lowest surviving seed, and so on. That leaves four teams left, and those teams would meet up New Year's, just like the CFP does today. The difference is, the final four got there by winning a playoff game, not solely by a committee vote.

Seeding, to me, should be the conference champs first -- similar to how the NFL does division champs first -- with the Wild Card teams rounding it out. This year, for example, Georgia didn't win their conference, but are considered one of the best by the CFP. They would be in the playoffs, but behind Northern Illinois, for example, since NIU won their conference.

Some won't like putting NIU and UAB above Michigan, but they won their conference. Besides, putting all ten conference champs higher will make for some better games. I mean, which is a better game: Alabama playing NIU or Penn State? App State playing Clemson or UAB?

Here are the seedings, listing the teams, the conference championship if applicable, record, and CPF ranking (or other as noted):

  • Alabama (Southeastern) (13-0) (#1)
  • Clemson (Atlantic Coast) (13-0) (#2)
  • Oklahoma (Big 12) (12-1) (#4)
  • Ohio State (Big Ten) (12-1) (#6)
  • Central Florida (American) (13-0) (#8)
  • Washington (Pac-12) (10-3) (#9)
  • Fresno State (Mountain West) (11-2) (#21)
  • Appalachian State (Sun Belt) (10-2) (#30 Coaches)
  • Alabama-Birmingham (Conference USA) (10-3) (#34 Coaches)
  • Northern Illinois (Mid-American) (8-5) (--)
  • Notre Dame (12-0)(#3)
  • Georgia (11-2) (#5)
  • Michigan (10-2) (#7)
  • Florida (9-3) (#10)
  • Louisiana State (9-3) (#11)
  • Penn State (9-3) (#12)

This gets everybody that can make a case for being included a chance to prove it. Whoever wins out from that pool of teams is worthy of being called national champions.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

1,100 movies

Several months ago, I mentioned that I had passed the 800 mark in movies in my digital library. Well, I have more than that now. I've now surpassed the 1,100 mark.

Just so we're clear, I have some movies on DVD that I haven't ripped to digital. But, I'm not counting those.

How much have I spent on all this? I have no idea. And I'm not gonna do the research to see. I'd not like the answer, so I'm not gonna do a lot of work when I know I won't like the answer.

Most of the digital movies I have are from purchases from iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, VUDU, or Fandango Now. You see, I have a MoviesAnywhere account and many purchases from any one of those services will automatically be added to the other. Not all, to be sure, but many. About half. 528 of my 1,100 movies are digital purchases that are in the MoviesAnywhere library.

I need to mention one other thing. Some movies are movies that I don't really own. Not exactly piracy. Not exactly. I better explain.

I still have a Netflix DVD account. I have a queue of movies that I set up for them to send me discs. I'll rip the DVDs out and add them to my library. Now, how is this not piracy? Lemme 'splain.

I rip the movies so I can watch them on one of my streaming devices. It's in with the other movies, and I can simply find it and play it. And, if I don't like the movie and don't want to keep it, I delete it. So, I'm getting rid of a movie I didn't buy, but had because I rented it from Netflix.

But what about the movies I do like or want to keep? Well, I keep them. Only, I will buy it from one of the streaming services. For instance, had I rented (via Netflix DVD service) "The Searchers" which is one I didn't have. I ripped it and decided I wanted to keep it. So, I have a pirated copy, right? Well, not really. I bought it this past week when it went on sale, as I said I would do. I do that with all the movies I want to keep. I'll check sales, and buy them when they're on sale. If after a time they're not on sale, I'll pony up the full price. Then kick myself when it goes on sale a week later. Either way, I'll buy and download the new digital version and delete the ripped version.

I have all the ones I ripped from DVD tagged, and those ripped from rentals I check digital sales every week. Those I ripped from DVDs I own, I still check, but my focus is on ripped rentals. After all, I haven't paid for them, and I buy those first. I did buy Silverado last week, which is one I had ripped from a DVD I own. It was $5, so I made it a fully digital HD copy, and deleted the older copy.

So, piracy? Maybe you could make that case. But I'm renting via DVD and buying those I want keep to add to the collection. I'm good with what I'm doing. Ripped rentals and just keeping them? Nope. Won't do that. I will buy them or I will delete them.

Anyway, I recently hit number 1,100 in my library. But what was movie 1,000? Pride of the Yankees, which I bought after having ripped it from rental. I bought it when it went on sale. And, I'm glad I did. It's currently unavailable from Amazon streaming.

Oh, and movie number 1,100? The Man From Hong Kong. Yeah, I didn't expect that answer either.

I'm past that number now, heading towards 1,200. I may or may not post about that. I didn't post about number 900 -- Drunken Master, which I didn't see coming either -- or number 1,000 when it happened.

I just need to figure out why I'm buying martial arts movies. I don't even like martial arts movies. I don't even remember buying them, but I see them in my library.

I wonder if my grandson got hold of my remote again. Gotta keep a closer eye on that boy.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Bring back ties

I'm not trying to make a fashion statement, although I regularly wear ties. I want them to bring back ties. Not the necktie, but tie ball games.

I'm primarily talking about college football, since the professional game is a bunch of whiny millionaires that aren't fit to carry Jim Brown's or Johnny Unitas' shoes. I don't care what those clowns do.

In college football, we need more ties. It complicates things, and nobody is happy with it. So, why do I want them to bring back ties? Because that's life.

Sometimes, you win, sometimes you lose. And sometimes nobody wins. That's life.

Sure, it'll cause some inconvenience. And now that they have a mini version of a playoffs in Division 1-A -- they still need to have a 16-team playoff, not this 4-team thing -- it will be necessary to break those tie games through the semi-finals.

What about the title game? Well, if it ends in a tie, we have co-champions. That's how life is sometimes. Nobody wins. Even in the most important things, sometimes there's no winner.

Then there's the fact that there is no limit on the number of overtimes. The players have fought hard for 60 minutes, and are being asked to put themselves at risk even longer for a game. Sure, they want to win. Everyone wants to win. But sometimes, nobody wins.

Put a limit on the number of overtimes, you say? Well, if a tie is okay after, say, four overtimes, why not after three? Or two? Or one? Or none, since ties are okay?

So, how to implement this? Well, I'm for just doing it. Unless it's a playoff game before the finals, then a tie is a tie.

Conference championship game? A tie is a tie. Co-champions.

But what if the game determines who plays in the Porcelain Bowl? Let the Porcelain Bowl invite one of them. Or pick somebody else.

Of course, that won't happen. But they could allow ties in non-conference games as a start. How likely is that? Well, when there's games like Alabama playing Sister Mary Margaret's School For Wayward Girls, it's unlikely. But imagine how excited Wossamotta U would be if they managed to play Ohio State to a tie. For them, not losing is a win.

There have also been some great tie games. There was the Harvard-Yale 29-29 tie. The Notre Dame-Michigan State 10-10 tie. The Notre Dame-Army 0-0 tie. The Army-Nave 21-21 tie. Classic games all.

And, with all that football does teach some of the players -- those with enough character to pay attention -- is that sometimes, you just don't win. Sometimes, nobody does. But you have to accept it.

Yeah, I'd like to see the tie brought back to college football. It's a life lesson that's important. It's frustrating. Nobody is happy. But sometimes that's life.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Cable again

I have cable TV again.

That's something I never expected.

You see, I'm a huge advocate of cutting the cord. I'm generally not a fan of cable TV. Or satellite TV. Since January 2011, I've been watching TV mostly by streaming content. But, suddenly, I now have cable TV service.

Let's get some stuff out of the way first. I'm paying for Internet and TV (by whatever means) at two locations. At one location, I dropped cable in January 2011 when, after crunching all the numbers, I determined that I'd save $65/month by dropping cable and moving to streaming. Now, that $780/year ($65/month x 12) was not full savings. I had to buy a Roku. And a TV antenna. And I had to buy a few TV episodes that weren't available by other means. Still, I had a large net savings for the year. So, I was happy.

New offerings came available. Hulu expanded. Amazon Prime streaming expanded. Netflix expanded. Services like Sling TV came along. All that just reinforced by decision to drop cable. Everything was great.

Later, I began paying for Internet and TV (by whatever means) at another location. That location was serviced by an entirely different cable and Internet provider.

At the second location, I found that I could get a decent broadband Internet connection plus local channels cheaper than Internet service alone. Yeah, I didn't believe it at first, but sure enough, that was the case. Which meant I didn't have to shell out anything for an antenna. I'd get Internet service cheaper, and could watch local channels (which is all I would have picked up from the antenna anyway), and it wasn't a bad price.

Every 6 to 12 months, I'd have to take my happy butt down to one or the other of the cable offices -- I get better results in person because of my charming personality -- and renegotiate a price. After my experience with the second provider, I learned to check for packages that aren't advertised. And, that continued along for a bit. Well, it continued until late September.

In late August or early September, I'd add Sling TV with the Sports Add-on so I could watch college football. After the season, I'd drop Sling TV. Sometimes, I'd use DirecTV Now or one of the other streaming services if they had a great deal on a package or offered a free streaming device. I ended up with several Apple TV devices or Roku devices by doing that. Still got a Roku in the box, never opened.

Recently, one of the locations had gone up, meaning the 12-month "special" had expired. So, I marched myself down to the cable office and started negotiations. This time, when asking about the cost of services, I found out that I could get Internet and a basic cable package -- not a locals only/lifeline package, but one with ESPN and other cable channels -- for a decent price.

I calculated the cost of Internet plus Sling TV with Sports Add-on against the cost of Internet and Basic Cable. And, what do you know? The Basic Cable package was cheaper.

Now, before I ran to sign up for that, I checked into a few other things, such as how well authentication against apps on Apple TV or Roku -- I didn't bother with Amazon Fire TV or Android TV, since Apple TV and Roku are over 95% of my watching -- and found out that they'd work. The local cable company even supports that single sign-on for many apps on Apple TV.

My streaming service that included ESPN was going to renew today, but last week, I got the cable service going, and now I've dropped my streaming service in favor of cable TV. Which surprised me.

If you had told me that I'd be going back to cable, I'd've told you that you were crazy. You still might be crazy, but telling me I'm going back to cable has no bearing on that assessment. Because here I am. A cable user.

I feel so dirty. But I'm saving money.

Took 'em nearly eight years to get the message.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

John McCain

I haven't said much about John McCain's death. Heck, before now, I haven't said anything about it. Not even to people privately.

There's not anything I could add to what people have said. I will say that I voted for John McCain for president in 2008 because he was a better choice than the idiot the Democrats nominated. I had some strong online disagreements with some people at that time. They said he was no better than Obama. I thought just about anybody would be better than Obama. I still feel that way.

I don't regret my 2008 vote. McCain wouldn't have been the president I wanted, but he would have been a better president that what we got. I thought that then, and I think that now.

I wasn't a big fan of his throughout his political career, but I did respect his service. I've seen people online trashing his service, and I don't particularly care for that. Don't like his politics? Fine. I'm right there with you. Don't like his service? I'm not gonna join you on that.

One thing in particular that's been going around again relates to the aircraft carrier fire that killed 134 service members. Yes, McCain's plane was the source of the fuel that fed the fire. No, McCain wasn't responsible. The Navy determined that a missile was accidentally launched from elsewhere on the carrier, that the missile hit two planes (including McCain's) and started a spill that was ignited by the missile rocket engines, and that the missile landed in the ocean without exploding.

[The YouTube]

How much of those statements about McCain are from misinformation or people that just don't care about the facts, I don't know. I'm not a fan of either.

What I'd rather focus on are the good things. Like I mentioned, I didn't always agree with McCain on some things, many things, in fact. But let me conclude with this appearance on Saturday Night Live, from back when it was funny.


Monday, August 20, 2018

UPS has PSd me off

I had a Roku suddenly stop working the other day. That's actually unusual -- or has been until recently.

You see, I've had Roku devices since 2010, and I've had great success with them. I'd replace them only because I wanted a newer device for one reason or another. I'd hand the older ones off to family or friends and enjoy the new one.

Well, I've had a couple of different Roku Ultra boxes lately, due to problems I've experienced. And one of them was one I bought from Walmart that suddenly stopped working. So, I took it back to Walmart. Only they said I had to contact the manufacturer. So, I contacted Roku, and after a couple of days, they finally issued an RMA. So, I shipped it off via UPS last week.

Well, it's been a week and I still haven't heard back from Roku. So I pulled out the receipt and put in the tracking number and found out ... UPS is delivering it to Roku today.

The receipt shows I paid $19.66 to ship it last Monday. The tracking information shows they picked it up last Monday. A week ago. Made it down to Jacksonville last Monday night. And finally made it to California yesterday ... six days later. Well, it's out for deliver to Roku in San Jose today.

$19.66 for UPS to take a week to get a package to California. Heck, I coulda put it in one of those big Priority Mail envelopes from the Post Office and had it there last Wednesday for $6.70. And, no I didn't compare before I shipped. There's a place a couple of blocks from the house that is really convenient. What's not convenient is paying almost $20 for something to take a week to deliver.

Yeah, UPS has PSd me off. I shoulda used the Post Office. And you can bet, next time, I will.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Getting thrown out of Disney World

I've only been thrown out of Walt Disney World once in my life.

Now let me pause for a moment and say that I suspect that statement may surprise people, but for different reasons. Some may be surprised that I was thrown out of Walt Disney World at all. The others may be surprised that it has only been once.

When did this happen? Why recently. Quite recently.

You see, I normally wear a hat and coat. The hat keeps my delicate skin from being ravaged by the sun. Actually, it's partly due to a really bad episode of sunburn I received in Kuwait. So, lately, a hat has been a part of my wardrobe. Not a cap. A hat. A grown man hat.

When you wear a hat, you also should wear a coat. Looks better. Plus, a coat is great for concealed carry, as I'm not a fan of open carry.

I've had a shoulder holster for a bit. My first one actually broke. Not sure why, but it broke. So, I replaced it, but my new one didn't come with a place to hold an extra magazine. I've been carrying the extra magazine in my coat pocket.

Well, as I mentioned, I went to Disney World recently. They don't take kindly to carrying weapons inside -- although a Leatherman is okay -- so I left my .380 in the car. But, I forgot I had the magazine in my coat pocket.

I was reminded of it when I took emptied my pockets at the gate to enter the Magic Kingdom park. They called all kind of security folks, including a bunch of deputies, to look at it.

They wanted to see my ID, my carry permit -- Georgia and Florida reciprocate -- and had a few questions. Then they said I could leave. So, I left.

I put the magazine in my luggage and went back to the park and had a good time. Maybe I'll tell you more about the trip, but you've already heard the best part.

If I get thrown out again, I'll tell you all about it, though.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Independence Day (2018)

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
  • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
  • He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
  • He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
  • He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
    • For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
    • For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
    • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
    • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
    • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
    • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
    • For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
    • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
    • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
  • He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Directors I apparently like

As I was looking over my movie collection, I noticed a few names of directors that, well, surprised me. Mostly, it had to do with how many, or how few, movies of any particular director I had in my movie library.

I had the most Buster Keaton movies, which really didn't surprise me, considering that I have some of his two-reelers. I have, as of this writing, 16 of his movies; that is, movies he actually directed. Of those 16, only two are feature-length films:
  • The General
  • Steamboat Bill, Jr.
The others are shorts:
  • The Balloonatic
  • The Blacksmith
  • The Boat
  • Cops
  • Day Dreams
  • The Electric House
  • The Frozen North
  • The Goat
  • The Love Nest
  • My Wife's Relations
  • One Week
  • The Paleface
  • The Play House
  • The Scarecrow
As for the director whose name is on the most of the movies I have, it really didn't surprise me that it's Alfred Hitchcock. What surprised me was that I only had 11 of his films:
  • The Birds
  • Family Plot
  • Frenzy
  • North By Northwest
  • Psycho
  • Rear Window
  • Rebecca
  • Suspicion
  • To Catch a Thief
  • Topaz
  • Vertigo
I thought I had Lifeboat, but I don't. Same with The Wrong Man, The Trouble With Harry, Strangers On A Train, Notorious, and others. I've seen them, but didn't realize I didn't own them. I don't have as many Hitchcock films as I want.

I have nine movies by William Wyler and Steven Spielberg. I never would have picked those off the top of my head as being directors of who made up that many of my film library. I sort of have nine by Ridley Scott, but that number included two versions of Blade Runner and two version of Alien. So, I actually have seven of his. I also have seven by Martin Scorsese and seven by Billy Wilder. Again, I never would have thought that, until I actually sorted by director and discovered that.

What probably surprised me most was that I only have one film by Akira Kurosawa: The Hidden Fortress. Which means I don't have Seven Samurai. Or Yojimbo. Or Rashomon. Or... well, you get the idea.

I had no idea I liked William Wyler that much. Looking at the actual films, most of them aren't films I'll watch again and again. Same with Spielberg's films.

Of course, that's probably true of most of the movies I own. Which makes me wonder why I even own them.

Probably because I can. Which is as good a reason as any.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Ad blocking

Ads, ads, ads.


Pop-ups. Banners. Those darn things that cover your entire page.

Everybody hates ads.

Well, except the people that create them. And they still hate them when it's somebody else's.

We all hate ads. Or, are mildly irritated by them at times.

But, the other side of the coin is -- and you knew this coin had another side -- sometimes, those ads allow us to see content that we'd otherwise have to pay for.

Keep in mind, people aren't entitled to the fruits of your labors. If you create something, others have no right to it. It's yours.

If you're a tailor, people don't have the right to demand you make them a suit.

If you're a carpenter, people don't have the right to demand you build them a house.

If you're a farmer, people don't have the right to demand your crops.

And, if you're a Website owner or developer, or a streaming content provider, people don't have the right to your labors. Yeah, it kinda works that way.

So, what's this got to do with ad-blockers? Well, some of the content you view on the Web, or on your streaming device, is provided at no monetary cost. Sure, you pay for Netflix, but I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about Web pages that you don't have to subscribe to (or at least, it's optional) or streaming services that you don't have to pay for.

They are in the business to make money. That's the bottom line. They choose to make money by offering content for you to enjoy and then show you advertisements for which they get paid (or sell for inclusion in their content).

Yes, some Web pages have those popups all over the place. Or those videos that automatically start. Or ads that cover the page. Or other such irritants. That's why there are a bunch of ad blocker plugins that are extremely popular. Of course, they block by getting between you and the content, meaning they read all of your content.

All of your content.

All. Of. It.

Didn't think about that, did you?

So, how do I deal with it? Well, I avoid content that I don't like. If the Web page has annoying ads, I'll avoid that Web page. If an app on my phone has too many ads, I'll stop using the app. Or pay to remove ads, if that's an option. If the streaming service has more ads that I care to deal with, I'll not use that service. Or pay to remove ads, if that's an option.

How should you deal with it?

I'm not the boss of you. Deal with it as you see fit. But think how you'd feel if you were the other person. How would you want a consumer to deal with something that you did they didn't like?

That's actually good advise for many things: think how you'd feel if you were the other person.

I'm about to do just that. I think you're probably tired of hearing me go on and on about this.

So I'll stop.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Android TV (Mi Box)

Image: Xiaomi
I've tried different streaming devices over the years: Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, and TiVo. They all have their good points and bad points. Any of them would be a good choice for streaming. One or another my be better or worse for any particular individual based on the where they want to get their streaming data from. For example, if someone is big into iTunes or has a lot of Apple devices, the Apple TV is probably the best option. If someone is totally immersed in Amazon, the Fire TV might be the best option. There's no one answer that's right for everybody.

Recently, I added another streaming device to my collection: the Android TV player, Mi Box.

It's a cheaper alternative to the Nvidia Shield, which is the Flavor of the Month for many of the Kool Kidz that stream. Personally, as intrigued as I might be by the Nvidia Shield, I'm not going to put out $180 just to test something. The $69 I shelled out for the Mi Box was the upper limit on that kind of silliness.

So, just to be clear, I haven't used the Nvidia Shield. However, it and the Mi Box are both Android TV devices. The Google Play Store apps for one will work on the other. I know there are ways to side load content onto the Nvidia Shield, but I'm not interested in that. If you are, you can find videos on The YouTube. I'm not interested. I'm looking for stuff that anybody can go into a store or purchase online, take the device, and use. No jumping through hoops. Simple. That's my focus.

Anyway, my point there is what I'm writing about the Mi Box is mostly applicable to any Android TV device.

What I like about the device is that it's easy to set up and use. It's very responsive. It supports 4K, though I don't have a 4K TV. It comes with some common popular apps already installed. It even comes with an HDMI cable included. It doesn't take long to get up and running.

But, what do I not like about it? Well, apart from the pre-installed or recommended apps, it's not that easy to get all the apps you might want through the standard interface. If you have the Play Store installed, you can browse the limited selections there. There are more apps available than show on the Google Play Store app on the Android TV device. While they do show many of the biggest, that's not always the case. For instance, Spotify doesn't show when browsing on the device, though Pandora does.

A slightly better option is to use the voice search to search for apps. For example, to install the Boomerang app, I couldn't find it when I searched for "Boomerang," but did when I searched for "Boomerang app."

Another option is to search for apps from the Google Play Store Website. As with the voice search, simply searching for the app name might not be good enough. I had to search for "Boomerang for Android TV" to find that app.

One major omission, at least in my opinion, is that DirecTV Now isn't supported on Android TV. Philo isn't either. Sling TV is, Hulu with Live TV is, and YouTube TV is, so it has most of the major live streaming services.

If you've used Chromecast, it may be useful to know that Android TV devices have Chromecast built in. You can stream from your computer, your Android phone or tablet, or iOS apps that support Chromecast.

If you're looking for a good streaming device, particularly an Android TV device, the Mi Box is a good choice. It's not my top choice, because of the limited number of apps, but it's a good little device.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Fox News streaming

Got a text the other day from our old buddy Paul at the Mean Ol' Meany blog. Turns out he finally got fed up with cable and satellite when the bill topped $160/month.

Actually, Mrs. Paul -- not the fish stick lady, but Paul's wife -- got fed up with it. And she tasked him to find a better solution. And it had to have Fox News. Live. Not some day-old videos of stuff, but live Fox News Channel.

So, Paul asked for some advice, and I gave it my best shot. He took my suggestions and information into consideration, made a decison, and now all is happy at Paul's house.

That's when it occurred to me that others might want to cut cable but still get Fox News, or some other news channel that isn't crowded with life-long Democrats, socialists, and other criminals.

So, if you are in the same situation as Paul and his lovely lady -- you want to cut cable but still want certain channels -- maybe I can offer some advice. Maybe.

We're going to primarily focus on Fox News, since that's what Paul was asking, and since it's probably the least leftist news channel.

Now, there are a bunch of streaming services that are basically small cable packages. Only you get them via Internet streaming than by cable TV or a satellite dish. They're cheaper than most cable packages, but don't have 500 channels.

Sling TV, Philo, DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV are the ones I've tested. They all have their good points.

If you want Fox News, we can rule out Sling TV and Philo right now. All the others have Fox News Channel as part of their cheapest package. So, DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV are all good streaming options when it comes to offering Fox News Channel.

YouTube TV and PlayStation Vue are both $40/month. Hulu with Live TV is, too, but that price includes regular Hulu on-demand service ($8/month). So, if you already subscribe to regular Hulu, you'd only be adding $32/month to the bill. DirecTV Now is $35/month.

So, it comes down to add-ons and other channels.

If you want HBO, DirecTV Now only wants another $5/month for that, the best HBO add-on price.

If you want sports, all the services except Philo include ESPN and ESPN2. That's important to me and is important to Paul. YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV both include ESPNU and ESPNews. Hulu with Live TV also includes Fox Sports and SEC Network.

PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now both require their $50/month package to get ESPNU and ESPNews plus SEC Network, Fox Sports, and other channels.

So, for viewing stuff like Paul and I do, the Hulu with Live TV package is probably the best package for the money. However, like most everything else, it really depends on what you're looking for.

If you've been thinking about cutting the cord, but didn't want to miss certain stuff, do some research into what these different packages offer. You might find you can save a buck or two.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Crash! Pop!

The late afternoon storms we have in southeast Georgia this time of year aren't usually anything more than an irritant. Sometimes, the storms will change plans, such as not going to an outside event. Most of the time, though, it doesn't really mean that big of a deal. We're used to them, after all.

Not so, this week. The storm got my Roku.

I've had a Roku device for some time. Not the same device. I've upgraded over the years. In October, I bought a new Roku Ultra. It replaced a Roku Premiere that I got free with a Sling TV subscription. The Ultra is a better device, and has a wireless remote. The Premiere (since discontinued), is a good device, but doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the Ultra, plus, it has an IR-only remote.

Anyway, I got an Ultra in October, and it's been a great device. Until this week, when the storm got it.

I was off work, and sitting there watching, I don't know, maybe something on The YouTube. The rain had started, and there was thunder and lightning, though not too close. Then, it was close.

There was a loud crash and flash, followed immediately by a loud "pop" from behind the direction of the TV and the screen suddenly going dark.

As I was thinking the lightning had taken out my TV, a "no signal" message came up. Okay, the screen was working at least. Maybe an input? Maybe the Roku?

I looked at the Roku carefully, and noticed there was no light. So, at least the Roku was dead.

I checked the other devices. I've got an Apple TV, a Fire TV Stick, and an Android TV box (MiBox), plus a TiVo connected to the TV. They were all working. Just the Roku was affected.

I pulled my older Roku Premiere out and hooked it up. It worked. That meant the HDMI input on the TV was fine.

Now, I needed to find out if it was the Roku Ultra, or simply the power supply to the Roku Ultra. Replacing the power supply is $10. Replacing the Ultra is $99.

So now you might be asking why didn't I use the power supply for the Premiere on the Ultra?

No, really. Go ahead and ask. I'll wait.

* * *

Well, since you asked, there's a simple reason: they don't fit.

For a while, all the Roku boxes -- first and second generation devices -- all used the same power supply, model number PW-01 for those keeping score.

Roku changed that beginning with the third generation boxes. They used the new PW-09 power supply, which had a different connector.

The Sticks had a different power supply, the PW-03, and the new Ultra (model 4660) had a still different power supply, the PW-11.

My current inventory? Roku Ultra model 4660 (PW-11); Roku Premiere (PW-09); Roku 2 XS (PW-01), and Roku Stick (PW-03). These different devices use different power supplies.

After some thought, I decided to not immediately replace the Roku Ultra. But thinking long term, I decided to move my Stick from the guest TV to the main TV, and put the Premiere in the guest room. After doing that, I was back up and running.

I did order a spare power supply for the Ultra. It was $10, but if that fixes the Ultra, I'll get off cheap. If not, I'll eventually buy a new Ultra and have a spare power supply for it.

[Edit: The new power supply arrived, and the Roku Ultra doesn't work. *sigh*]

For now, I'm using the Roku Stick on my primary TV. That means I can waste my time again with my Roku.

Speaking of which, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is calling.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

On Netflix

First, let me say up front that I don't subscribe to Netflix.

I used to subscribe to Netflix. But, I never watched.

Actually, I did watch it when Mystery Science Theater 3000 came back as a Netflix series. I had dropped it earlier, and dropped it again when I watched all the episodes. With the other streaming services I have, I found that I never watched Netflix. So, I quit spending the money for something I didn't watch.

Now that we have that out of the way, I want to talk about people dropping Netflix.

You see, some people who don't like Barack Obama are ticked off at Netflix because they signed the former president and his wife to produce a show. How ticked off? Some people are canceling their Netflix subscription.

Of course, some of you know that I don't like the Obamas. I have no use for them. But, I wouldn't cancel Netflix on account of the Obama deal. That might surprise some of you.

Look at it like this.

ABC airs The View, which is just a bunch of left-wing women running their mouths. But, they also aired Last Man Standing, which had a lead character with a right-wing stance.

Boycotting ABC because they aired The View would have also hurt Last Man Standing. The proper thing to do would be not watch The View but do watch Last Man Standing.

I'd take the same approach with Netflix. I'd watch what I liked, and not watch what I didn't.

Any other approach doesn't make sense.

Now, I don't plan to subscribe to Netflix in order to not watch the Obamas. But, I won't let me let the Obamas stop me from subscribing to Netflix. I just need them to offer something I do want to watch.

Like a new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Going to the movies

I've always liked going to the movies. When I was old enough, I would go whenever I could. That meant not working, being near enough to something showing that I wanted to see, and having enough money for me or me and a date. When I was younger, I didn't get to go to the movies all that much, but I enjoyed it when I did go.

After I was older, I managed to see movies in some cities and towns across southeast Georgia. It kinda depending on what was playing where, and where I happened to be at the time. Savannah, Brunswick, Baxley, Jesup, Hinesville, and other places that had theaters or drive-ins. Hinesville, Baxley, and Jesup had drive-ins at one time or another. Of those, I went to the one in Jesup the most, because they've had one the longest. They still have one. It's one of only five in the state, and the oldest in the state.

Years later, I went to movies in Jacksonville and Orange Park a lot. Those were my first experiences with theaters that had a lot of screens. I even got paid to go to the movies. I wrote about that a long time ago.

In the last few years, though, I've not been to the movies a lot because there aren't a lot of movies I want to go see. Most movies suck, and those that don't are hard to enjoy because the theater is crowded with jerks and the seats are small and everything's expensive, and ... well, you get the point.

This past week, I went to the movies. I mentioned going to the movies in Jesup earlier. Well, in addition to a drive-in, Jesup also has a standard theater. I remember going to the old Strand Theater years ago. Then it closed. I don't know if it was something I did, but it closed for a few years. It reopened years later as a twin cinema. I saw that there are new owners now, and its been completely remodeled.

I spoke to some people that had gone to see a movie there. They raved about it. I wasn't sure about that. I mean, how good could a theater be? Seats are small, it's crowded with jerks, stuff expensive ... you get the idea. But, I thought if there was ever something I wanted to see, I'd go see a movie at the Strand Cinema in Jesup.

Now, even though I don't care for those comic book movies, I did watch the first Deadpool movie and kinda liked it. So, when I found out Deadpool 2 was playing in Jesup, I decided to see it there. And I did.

It was great.

I'm not just talking about the movie. Yeah, that was fun. But the theater experience was fantastic. The seats are roomy. They recline. There's a little table for food. Oh, did I mention the food? They serve food. Burgers. Fries. Hot dogs. Pizzas. Wraps. And they'll bring it to your table. Beverages? Yep. Cokes. Water. Slushies. Beer. Wine. Real food.

Oh, and it's not just the seats that are roomy. The aisles are too. Plenty of room. No one crawling over you to go pee. I've never had a more pleasant experience at a movie theater.

I'll go back to see a movie there. If something good plays, that is. But that's now my go-to place to see a movie. When I'm close enough.

That's how going to the movies should be.

Saturday, May 19, 2018


I first saw the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey about -- heck, I don't know how long ago. It was a long time ago. I saw it on TV, either broadcast or on a cable channel. It wasn't in the theater, I'm sure.

Thinking about it, I may not have seen it until I rented it on VHS. Huh. That would have been around 15 years after it was released. I'm thinking it wasn't that long after, so maybe it was on Showtime. I know it wasn't on TCM, because that didn't even launch until the 1990s.

Anyway, as I said, I first watched 2001: A Space Odyssey a while back. I enjoyed it. Well, most of it.

The nearly 3-minute long Overture with nothing on the screen made me worry that the picture had gone out.

The over 15-minute segment "The Dawn of Man" seemed way long.

The first words not spoken until nearly 26 minutes in (counting the Overture) was an anticlimax.

Taking forever for the stewardess to deliver food -- except the walking upside down was kinda cool.

The 3-minute blank screen and noise that was the Intermission seemed longer.

The nearly 10-minute Star Gate sequence also seemed longer.

Even with all that, I didn't hate the movie. In fact, I liked it. Still do.

The thing is, I always thought of it as a really long movie. And, at 2:28:50, it is. But, it's far from the longest film I own. In fact, it's only the 62nd longest film I own.

Cleopatra is over four hours long. Gone With The Wind is nearly four hours. Ben-Hur is really long. So is Lawrence of Arabia. And so are many, many other films I own. 61 in my library are longer than 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I never would have figured that. I knew I had some long movies, but I would have thought that  2001: A Space Odyssey was in the top ten, not number 62.

I suppose that, despite how much I like the film, the parts that drag do really drag. It just seems a lot longer.

How much do I like the movie? Well, it is, by far, the most watch movie in my library, according to the play count.

How much do the draggy parts drag? Well, the reason I've watch it so much is that when I have trouble falling asleep, I put it on to play. I'm usually asleep before the monkey men get run off from the watering hole.

I think I'll watch it again tonight. Or, part of it.