Sep 15

So when Steven Colbert debuted on The Late Show I tested out the CBS All Access app on my Roku.  It's easy to set up, just install the app and sign up on the website, then you're good to go.  It does cost $3.99 per month but that was fine, I pay $8.99 for Netflix so $3.99 sounds like a good deal.

Once I got into the app I had a change of heart, first of all you can not see the entire episode, they cut clips out of each episode so you have to watch them separately.  So basically you watch the episode with parts cut out, then you have to go back and hunt for the clips that were cut out if you want to see the entire show. Very annoying to say the least.

Then you have to sit through commercials, so not only are you paying for the service but you also have to sit through commercials.  This is why I canceled my Hulu account two years ago (click the link for that story), you have to pick one, either I pay for the service and don't get commercials or I don't pay for the service then I'll gladly sit though your commercials.

Also there is a lot of buffering, it could take almost double the time of the episode to watch because of all the buffering.  And yes I checked my connection, and I tested Netflix and VUDU before and after watching one episode on CBS All Access, Netflix and VUDU worked fine with no buffering.

CBS needs to fix this app, first play the full episodes without clips cut out.  If you want to off clips that's fine but don't cut them out of the show!  Second decide what you want to offer, a paid service with NO commercials or a free service with commercials.  They could offer a tiered plan, maybe something like this:

  • Free Plan - Has commercials and maybe a banner ad on the lower third.
  • $3.99 Plan - No commercials but banner ad on the lower third.
  • $6.99 Plan - No commercials and no banner ads.
I'd gladly pay for the $3.99 plan and maybe if the selection of shows got better (it stinks right now) I'd be willing to bump it up to the $6.99 plan.  But for right now, I won't be keeping my subscription, honestly ever time I've tried to watch something I just end up getting aggravated and turning it off, it's been over a week and I haven't opened up the app once because I know I'll just get aggravated and turn it off.
Come on CBS fix this, I want to support you in digital content but your making it REALLY hard.
Jul 15

Why do I say this?

Well it's simple really, I pay for hosting with SiteGround and while it's not a huge amount it's still over $100 per year and that money has to come from somewhere.  At the moment I'm paying for hosting out of pocket, I own Galway IMT LLC which is the legal owner of this site OPPY1984.com, and to keep things going I've invested money out of my own pocket to pay the bills.  The problem is I don't want to keep doing that forever, so I use Google Adsense, and Amazon Associates, and I'm selling my movie collection on Ebay, I've even added PayPal and ChangeTip buttons to the side bar on the right, I'm not trying to make my fortune with this site, I just want it to pay for it's self.

What can you do?

Well for one you can turn off your adblocker or at least white list my site, and of course click on an ad once in a while.  You can also buy through my Amazon links, did you know that if you click on one of my Amazon links then buy something else instead of what I was offering I'll still get a commission?  Yep, even if you don't buy what I offered you but you still buy something I'll get a commission on that sale, it won't be as much as if you had bought what I offered but it will be something, and that would help me pay my bills.  You could also buy one of my movies I'm selling on Ebay, just go up to the Shop Tab and click on the Ebay Tab, that will take you to my profile page where everything I have for sale will be listed.
If none of that interests you you could always donate to the site though the PayPal or ChangeTip buttons, They are not there for show, they are they for you to say thanks for the content and to help support this site.

What is the issue?

Advertisers today have forgotten that people don't like in your face flashing advertisements, so they put them out on the ad networks and annoy the user to the point where the user gives up and installs and adblocker.  Should you block those kinds of ads?  In my opinion, yes.  I visit a few sites that run those flashing, pop up ads and I've installed adblock (not AdBlock Plus) and instead of white listing sites, I blacklisted those sites that run those kind of ads, in total I've only blacklisted 5 websites.  What I have done on top of that is written to all 5 of those sites admins and told them that I have blacklisted them in adblock and if they want me to whitelist them they need to change their ad format, and that in the meantime I will find other ways to support them.  See that's the thing, if I'm going to still visit their websites and read their content or use their service I want to support them, but I won't support their horrible ads.
This is the issue today, to many people are installing adblocking tools then thinking the internet is free, it's not people, trust me.  If you want the content and services you love to continue you're going to have to support the sites.  If a site is running the kind of ads you hate, write the admin and let them know, tell them you want to support their site but the type of advertisements they run has to change.  If the advertising industry sees that no one is clicking on the annoying ads, but is clicking on the simple non-annoying ads then they will change their tactics and stop showing the annoying ads.  If people just keep blocking ads then the advertising industry will just come up with a new way to present ads that will circumvent adblockers and then they won't learn their lesson.

What happens if everyone still just keeps using adblockers?

Well first the sites that host the content and services you love will go down, then the advertising industry will suffer a little, but don't think you've won at that point.  The advertising industry will just come up with new ways to show you ads, and the websites of the world will do what no one wants to do and put up paywalls.  Just think that great content and those great services you're using for free right now will put up paywalls and then you'll ave to pay whatever the site owners decide.  Sure you can opt to not pay what they ask for and try and find another site, but wouldn't it just be easier to face the problem now instead of destroying the open and mostly free system we have now?

In Conclusion

Please remember that small website like this one depend on ad sales, affiliate sales, and donations from users like you to keep going.  Yes we do this because we love it, but love doesn't pay the bills, so please use the suggestions I've mentioned above, change the advertising industry and don't hurt the content creators and service providers.
Nov 14
I got the Android 5.0 (Lollipop) update on Monday and I've been miserable ever since.  I've been an Android user for years, the first android phone I got was running android 2.0 and while it wasn't the smoothest OS I was in love with it and have stayed with android since.  Up until Monday I was running KitKat 4.4.4 on my Nexus 5 and was totally happy, then I saw the update had been pushed to me and I was eager to install and did it right away.  Big mistake.
First I had to swipe up to get to my lock screen which annoyed me, but I thought I could just change that setting and make the lock screen be the first thing I see when I hit the power button.  Nope, you can not bypass this, even if you turn off the notifications all you see is a blank screen that you still have to swipe up to get to your lock screen.  I don't understand why the Android team didn't turn that off if you disable all notification, instead they decided it would be better to inconvenience people and give them an extra step to unlock their phone with no way to bypass this step.
So then I get my phone unlocked and I see the Material Design and the first thing I think is "this looks like a damn iPhone", personally I think it's ugly.  It's flat, it lifeless, the icons now look more like paper cut-outs than then clean crisp icons from previous versions.  But thing flash up on the screen now instead of simply appearing, never mind that once the window has flashed up the icons are ugly.
Screenshot_2014-11-19-01-00-35  Screenshot_2014-11-19-00-58-32  Screenshot_2014-11-19-01-02-18
At this point I'm telling myself I'll get used to this, I always have before.  So I continue to look around and I don't like what I see.  First the keyboard (first image) is ugly and I found I made more mistakes when I typed on it, it's amazing how changing the color from black to white and removing any separation between the keys can affect your typing.  I of course gave up on this new keyboard and went back to the old standard black keyboard which separation between the keys.  Now look at the calculator (middle image) that is just ugly, and once again they've removed any separation between the keys.  Also that teal bar on the side is horrible, it just screams at you and looks totally out of place in the app.  Plus there is the fact that once you do your calculation you have to long press delete to clear it, unlike in previous versions where when you tapped the delete button it cleared the screen.  Minor thing I know, but I use the calculator several times a day and this gets annoying.  Then I see my apps menu, so now instead of thumbnails I have cards, great.  Now I have a stack of cards to swipe away that ends in the center of the screen instead of a descending set of thumbnails that can be easily swiped away with my thumb.
Screenshot_2014-11-19-01-01-28                 Screenshot_2014-11-19-01-01-42
So by now you can tell I'm not liking Lollipop, but I figure I'll use it for a few days and get accustomed to the new UI and everything will be alright, then I kept going.  Now when I swipe down I see this (first image), and yes it's different and I prefer the previous pull down menu but this isn't that bad, the flashlight is useless since I have and app that I don't have to pull down to get to but whatever, I can live with this.  Then I see that when I long press the power button I no longer have to ability to set my phone to vibrate or silent and I no longer have the ability to put my phone in airplane mode.  Now I know I can just swipe down to set airplane mode, but the old way was quick and easy, why would they take this out?  Also there is no setting that I can find on the pull down menu to set my phone to silence or vibrate, so instead I now have to physically turn the volume down, then back up when I want the ringer back.
So I'm really not happy with Lollipop but once again I tell myself that I'll adapt and everything will be fine.  Then apps start crashing, apps that were working just fine before the update are now crashing.  And I can understand when third party apps crash after a major update like this, but Gmail and Hangouts crashed!  These are the Google apps that should always work with Android, and yet their crashing too!  Something tells me the Android team spent more time worrying about how the icons looks and making sure that things flashed on screen with some animation than they did worrying about if the OS even worked.  I know Android always has it's bugs, and I get that, but my Nexus 5 is almost unusable right now.  Just to send a text message I have to open Hangouts several times just to have it force close then reopen it and go though that process several times before it will stay open long enough for me to send a text.  And Gmail gives me a blank inbox for about 30 seconds then force closes all the time, some times it will let me see my email and work properly but most of the time it's just the blank screen then force close.
So I for one do not like Lollipop and wish there was an easy, non techy, way to go back to KitKat.  That's a feature Android should make, the wayback button "Don't like this flavor of Android?  Hit the wayback button and remove the update and go back to your previous version".  I've tried to do the whole bootloader thing and I have no idea what I'm doing, and I'm afraid of bricking my phone, so something like the wayback button would be nice, even if it had a time limit, say 7 days, I'd still like an easy way to go back to a stable version of Android.
In the end I just wish that the Android team had spent more time making sure Lollipop worked and less time time removing useful things, and making sure the animations flashed.
Nov 14
With HBO's announcement of an internet only service and Netflix's earnings report coming in below expectations, I've started to think of the possible issue this could raise for Netflix down the road.  Now that HBO, CBSWWE, and Lion's Gate are going to offer internet only services it will be a more attractive proposition for other networks to offer internet only service as well.  What does this mean for Netflix, a lot more competition and more restrictions on content for Netflix.
Of course this is a good thing for we the consumer, increased competition means price wars and constantly trying to put out better content than your competitor.  What is so bad about that?  Well that could very well price Netflix out of the market leaving the consumers with the network and studio owned distribution networks, who could then do what the cable companies do now and agree to high prices for service since we the consumers have no alternative at that point.
While I'm happy to see more challenges to the traditional cable company, I also see what could happen further down the road, take out Netflix and other 3rd part distributors of your content and then you can start charging what ever you want for your service.  For example take a look at the current those of us in the United States face with the cable monopoly, the vast majority of consumers have no real choice when it comes to cable providers and since they are one in the same ISPs.  This is a result of the government stepping in and mandating that cable companies have monopolies in their respective markets thereby making the need to provide better service and lower prices nonexistent.
This is the nightmare scenario we could face as consumers is there is no alternative way to consume the content that these networks put out.  So yes while I'm happy that more networks and content producers are going to online distribution, I also worry about how they could take over and monopolize the market forcing people to either pay outrageous prices or pirate the content.
Oct 14

With the development of CurrentC in the wake of Apple Pay, I have to say this is a horrible PR move and CurrentC will be the Qwikster of the credit industry.  QR codes as payment systems were an interesting idea 4 years ago but now that we have NFC, QR code payment systems just don't make sense.

So what is CurrentC?

CurrentC is a payment app developed by retailers to bypass the credit card companies and process your payments themselves while also collecting data on you using QR codes to process the payments instead of the magnetic strip on your credit card or the NFC chip in your phone.

Why do retailers use CurrentC instead of Google Wallet and Apple Pay?
Well for one the retailers were slow to adopt NFC payments and so they didn't put things in place to have loyalty cards attached to your NFC wallet of choice, and now as a result they don't have the ability to track you and gather information on everything you buy.  So a few years ago these retailers (see the list below) teamed up to create their own app for mobile payments instead of just going to Google and Apple and asking how can we work together to build a better payment system.
What should the retailers do now?

Well first drop CurrentC and beg the public for forgiveness.  Next allow NFC payments right away.  Then while customers are happy because they can use NFC payments, the retailers can be working with Google and Apple to insert loyalty cards into Google Wallet and Apple Pay thereby letting them get their precious tracking data on they consumers.
If these retailers don't want to face an ever increasing backlash from consumers I suggest they give up on CurrentC and turn on NFC right away, but sadly I fear they will dig in and fight to use their own useless system while the retailers who allow and embrace NFC will flourish.
Oct 14

With the news of the landing of the X-37B Friday I guess I'll throw my two cents in on what it could be doing.

  1. It's an advance spy plane that can orbit space taking pictures and video at high resolution, making it harder to detect and bring down.
  2. It's an unmanned bomber that sits in orbit with it's payload waiting for someone on the ground to give it the order to launch the bomb(s) it carries.
  3. It's the prototype for an unmanned warp speed ship to try and bring the Vulcan's to earth.
  4. It's a cheaper and safer way to test new technology in the harsh environment of space, before building a new manned spacecraft, without putting human or animal life in danger.
How much you want to bet it's #4?  But why would the Air Force be running the vehicle instead of NASA?  Well lets think about this, NASA has been moving more to exploring deep space, and sending out small probes, while the Air Force has been more focused on space (near earth orbit space to be exact) for the last twenty years.  Let's face it with every major government wanting to put space stations in orbit, it makes sense that the U.S. government would think about the military applications and hand it over to the military.  Does that mean I agree with it?  No.  But that's probably what's happened.  Personally I think space should be like the south pole, a neutral place for all countries of the world to explore.
So should everyone get upset over this vehicle?  No, it's just a test vehicle.  If they start arming it, then we should get upset.  Heck go ahead and tell the government that we don't want space to be armed, let them know now so when the day comes that do do it anyway we can say we told you not to do that so we're voting you out.
Jul 14

After the announcement that Microsoft will be laying off 18,000 workers I was listening to This Week in Tech #467 where they proposed breaking up Microsoft and I have to say I agree. There is a toxic corporate culture within Microsoft and it’s far to entrenched to change at this point, maybe I’m wrong but stack ranking only leads to coworkers and divisions fighting each other instead of working together and building the best product possible. Maybe Satya Nadella can get rid of stack ranking and clean up the culture but it’s a bit to much for one man, and besides he’s already got enough to clean up from the mess Steve Ballmer left on his way out. I just think first you get rid of stack ranking then break up the company into three parts all owned by Microsoft as a holding company.

Ok so what should Satya Nadella do in my opinion? Well like I said first abolish stack ranking company wide, that would be a major step forward in it’s self. Next break the company into three separate companies all owned my the Microsoft corporation which would become a holding company and general guiding hand for all three. The way I see breaking it up is like this, 1) Software 2) Hardware 3) Could, I know what you’re thinking “what about enterprise?” well each company would have a division for consumer products and a division for enterprise products, so there is no need to have a separate company for enterprise alone.

1) Software. This would be Windows, Office, and all the other software products they currently offer and will offer in the future.

2) Hardware. This would be Xbox, Nokia, Surface, and all other hardware they offer.

3) Cloud. This would be not only things like OneDrive & Office Online & Azure, but Bing, Skype, MSN Messagner, and all the web based products. I know I’m setting this one up for taking over but one company is always going to do better than the other, sad fact of life.

Personally I think this is the best way to ensure that Microsoft has a future that will be more than a second class citizen of the tech world, of course it will never happen, even if Satya Nadella wanted to do this the board (which has Bill Gates & Steve Ballmer on it) would never let this happen. So while it’s fun to talk about, I’m afraid that everyone in the upper levels of Microsoft has been drinking the kool-aid for far to long and they won’t split the company up until it’s far to late and Microsoft is a tech dinosaur.

Jul 14

First of all if you haven’t heard about Project Zero click HERE to read about it.

Now that you’re up to date, I think this is a great idea. First of all having a group dedicated to finding the flaws in systems and getting them fixed before they cause trouble is a great idea, personally I think this should have been done years ago. Also I think that while it’s good that Google is funding this and keeping it in house, I would prefer if this were set up independent of any one company. I’d like to see this set up as a separate entity from any one company and have it funded by all the major tech giants, that way they have can say “we fund it, but we don’t run it exclusively”, then no one can feel like they are being targeted.

I do have to say I love the idea of hiring the best hackers and having them in a safe place to find the flaws, then having the legal backing of Google to release what they found. I would just prefer if it were independent and they had their own legal team, and all of it was funded by all the major tech companies. Think about it, no one is going to cry foul when something is found if everyone is funding this, and that clears up most of the potential legal headaches resulting in less money spent on a legal team. It’s a win win. But for now we just have to be happy that it’s being done at all, and at least it’s being done by Google who love them or hate them does seem to try to do the best thing s for the internet and it’s users.

Jun 14

With the Supreme Courts ruling against Aereo I thought I'd throw out my thoughts on the subject.  First of course if you haven't herd about the ruling then HERE is a link to the Washington Post story.

First of all do I think Aereo was a good idea?  Yes.  Do I think they made the correct argument in court? No.  See Aereo was arguing that they were just a DVR you could access, and while true it's not the best argument.  What they should have argued was that they were like Community Access Television (CATV) companies in the days before cable, then they could have shown a precedent and had a chance at winning.  Let's face it the conversion to digital TV signal has made the signal worse, and channels are harder to get because of it.  They could have said "we are just providing a clear signal over the internet to those who have trouble getting a clear signal because of the location they are in, the only difference between Aereo and CATV providers is we use the internet."

So what is the solution?  Well first Aereo needs to be more like a cable company and pay re-transmission fees to stay in business.  But on the broader scale we the people need to stand up and demand that laws be changed to allow and protect this kind of innovation instead of protecting the mega-companies.  Also we need to demand the Sherman Antitrust Act be enforced against the cable companies and break up their monopolies, this would not only give consumers a better deal due to the fact that there would be actual competition for our money instead of just "oh well it's us or nothing", but also it would have the bigger effect of protecting the internet without having the FCC declare the Cable/ISP companies utilities.

Now what do I think would be the right thing to do?  Well all of it or else I wouldn't have written it would I?  But there is another idea, how about since the broadcasters don't want Aereo giving people a claer siginal they go to the cable companies and say "alright we will only charge you re-transmission fees for subscribers and since we shut down Aereo and are feeling like generous gods today we will let you sent the OTA signal out for free and you can hook up every customer with a cable line to make sure they have crystal clear signal 24/7".  Not that it will ever happen since broadcasters and cable companies only care about money and not about giving good programming or service.

So there you have it, let me know what you think in the comments.