TECH TIPS: ROKU Cable Digital TV and You!

After probably a decade without having a cable bill, and no issues doing so, I’m happy to still be cable bill free, but… you knew there was a but coming. 🙂

I was quite satisfied for 10 years doing without Television as a medium, and doing DVD rentals (typically for no or low cost at the library) or DVD purchases. But more often than not just spending far more time consuming books, and audio programs, and traveling.

So I’m happy to say I am still cable bill free, however of late I’ve become aware and become a dabbler in this… Roku thing.

Most of you are probably long time adopters of Roku, but for those of you who aren’t, Roku is both a company and a product. Roku is an American based company that produces a device, not much larger than a pack of cards, that allows you to stream channels, internet based stations, offering streaming TV shows, movies, documentaries, virtually everything you can find on cable, and much you cannot, in an on demand model to make traditional cable green with envy.

In a sentence, Roku is a wi-fi device that allows you to bring internet based channels and programming, content optimized for your computer, easily to your TV.

Internet access to your favorite TV/cable show is nothing new, however the Roku’s ease in consolidating all that content in one location and bringing it all to your TV, without the need of a cable bill is nothing short of amazing.

Of course utilizing your internet bandwidth there are obvious drawbacks, such as that as a whole the quality and speed is reliant on your broadband connection, and does not match the quality of cable.

But that given, Roku picture and sound quality is surprisingly good, and far better than the embarrassment and rip-off that is free digital TV in the United States. The garbage the FCC left us with when they stole the analog waves from the American people and gave it to big business and the military.

The 2nd problem is the Roku device upon first use/registration looks to collect your credit card and personal info by default in order to activate/use the Roku device.

That is a major problem. Especially if you only intend to use the free channels it is a huge potential and unnecessary privacy and security issue, particularly in this day of rampant hacking and identity theft.

Thankfully you can bypass the requirement to give your credit card number by calling customer service direct, but it is a hassle.

But those major problems acknowledged and bypassed, for between $60 and $100 depending on model (I recommend the Roku 2 XS, I’ll give a detailed breakdown of why next column), this wireless consolidator of online digital channels that streams easily to your tv, and easily lets you add and remove channels yourself, is (as long as the free channels last) nothing short of a marvel.

So yeah, until such time as the Roku concept stops being as awesome as it currently is, I’m going to enjoy having 1000s of hours of movies and television and music at my fingertips, for $0 a month.(Just like conventional cable you can add pay premium channels if you choose, but there is so much impressive free content out there that you definitely do not have to)

So if you are currently paying over $100 for cable or direct TV and locked into a contract, as most people are, and are looking not to do that anymore, I highly recommend taking the Roku for a spin. All you need is high-speed broadband internet to make use of it.

Well hope this article helps some of you who may have been seeking more info on Roku and alternatives to conventional cable. Come back next TECH TIPS as I provide you my favorite Roku channels as well as a weekly recommendation list for this week on Roku!

See you then, and feel free to leave comments if you are already a Roku convert. I’d love to hear a list of some of your favorite things about the Roku.

Okay, That’s all for now!

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The NSA, Programs of Terror and Crime and the rights of the Governed

I find it interesting how the attention is focused on the young man who to my mind, did his duty and put the interest of the American people’s right to know, above the interest of a few shadowy spooks right to play god.

The Government is the servant of the people, and when it forgets that, it forfeits its right… to blithely be obeyed.

It forfeits its right to unquestioningly… govern.

There are such things as illegal orders and illegal acts, and any soldier’s or representative’s ultimate duty is not to his government but his country, and the moral imperative to know and act when those two things diverge.

The defense of the NSA in their criminal enterprise boils down to “our actions have stopped potential crimes”.

To that I would answer… you can not preserve freedom by eradicating freedoms, and you can not preserve the law by breaking the law.

Full stop.

That road lies in dark places that we have been before.

The NSA attempts to justify it like all overreaching totalitarian regimes justify anything, that their ends justify their means. And that has never been remotely true, and is not in this case. The NSA’s claim to have stopped acts of terror, misses the truth, which is… they have traded their greater acts of terrorism for others’ smaller, potential acts of terrorism.

It’s like Nazi’s Germany’s answer to any petty and supposed crime of the individual was the magnitude greater crime of the state, such as concentration camps. That we are walking down that road with the American government today is obvious and clear, from Darpa designing ever more sophisticated machines to kill men (in the event enough of our military wakes up to the idiocy of murder and assassination as government policy, well of course we need unquestioning machines there to do it instead) to the barbaric state of our prisons… we use the threat of terror to support an increasingly terrorist American Government.

It is a hypocrisy that must be recognized… clearly recognized… and opposed… vigorously opposed.

The person’s name we should be broadcasting is not the young man, that the culpable press (in the payroll of the very interests getting rich treating the common citizen as criminal before crime) calls demeaningly “whistle-blower”, it’s the ones who run the NSA. The shadowy directors and heads of the NSA and CIA and FBI and all those acronyms that hide their big crimes under the lie of persecuting small ones.

They are like the lynchmob hanging and castrating boys for whistling at women, they use the lie of petty crimes, as a smokescreen to commit great ones.

We’ve cut so many social and humanitarian programs for supposed lack of funds, yet so much of your tax dollars go into a black hole, where abhorrent individuals do abhorrent things under the lie of doing it in the name of “National Security” or “for the people” when the truth is, they do it for the reasons it has historically been done, they are diseased animals in positions of power and no one has told them no.

No one has put them down.

“No.”

And “Get down.”

It’s a start.

Maybe instead of cutting programs to feed and clothe and inspire and employ our citizens, maybe we start closing down the acronyms. This country ran before them, I reckon we’ll run after them.

And maybe run a damn sight better.

Tech Talk of the Day and…. Lizards?!!

“What good is wisdom, if it gives no solace to the wise?”
— Dark Side of the Moon

I do think, somewhere the military was fighting Godzilla, as we had helicopters in formation, and fighter planes roaring above our heads, in a hurry to get somewhere.

And it could have been my imagination, but in the distance I could just make out a sound that could have been the roar of a righteously pissed off, gigantic atomic lizard. 🙂 .

Well enough with my perhaps peyote inspired dinosaur diatribe, onto today’s tech tips:

If you use Firefox there’s a feature called Pipelining that’s turned off by default. Here’s an article about turning it on to offer a marginal increase in page load times/responsiveness:

Firefox and Pipelining!

A decent read. And so far I’m testing it out, with no issues.

A couple other tweaks…

A few items I had turned on in the Firefox browser by default, that I’m currently testing in disabled mode, as I don’t use fancy high-faluting graphics when I surf, Plus some of them have, like WebGL, known security issues:

webgl.disabled;true
media.webm.enabled;false
html5.parser.enable;false
html5.offmainthread;false
geo.enabled;false

browser.sessionstore.resume_from_crash;false

And yes I know HTML5 is all the rage these days, but I’m not really a rage type guy. :). Still toying with it and seeing what it offers enabled as opposed to disabled. So I’ll report back on the effect of these tweaks after I’ve browsed with em for a bit.

Oh and here’s a pretty cool read if you are, like me, a newbie to the Opera browser:

Recent versions of Opera by default have a web server built-in, and TURNED ON. Who does that? The vast majority of people using a browser have no need for it to be broadcasting and requesting information like it is a web-server. So if you don’t need your computer/browser to be a web-server, you should consider disabling the Unite and Web Server functions of opera. Here’s more discussion on the pros and cons:

Webserver in your browser?
thoughts on opera browser

So if you read all that and decide you want to disable Unite/Webserver in Opera do the following:

• Enter opera:config in that browser.
• Expand the “User Prefs” section and turn OFF the checkbox for “Enable Unite”.
• Expand the “Web Server” section and turn OFF all those checkboxes, especially the 2 labled UPnP.

For more details go here!

Okay that’s all for this installment. Hope you’ve found some of that useful.

And goshdarn it… is that sound getting closer?!!! GOJIRA!!!! Ahhhh!! Ahhhh! (Yes I have watched too many Godzilla movies :))

Ruminations on Micheaux’s BODY AND SOUL (1925) & Murnau’s FAUST (1926)

Ruminations on Micheaux’s BODY AND SOUL (1925) & Murnau’s FAUST (1926)

I find both of these films very odd, and both very daring and challenging for the times, but neither particularly satisfying.

Of the two Murnau’s FAUST is by far the better known, well… as well known as silent films get, with numerous re-masterings and expensive restorations done, and new scores routinely crafted for it, and volumes of critical analysis written, and the darling of film courses everywhere.

And while I’m a huge fan of F.W. Murnau’s SUNRISE (Sunrise along with Erich Von Stroheim’s GREED, and a handful of others, is considered, rightly I believe, one of the greatest silent films ever made); I’m not as enamored of his FAUST. The technical wizardry for the day was ground breaking, but FAUST, for me suffers a couple of flaws we’ll get into in a moment.

Because flaws aside FAUST has maintained a level of attention, accolades, and restoration to be envied, while Oscar Micheaux’s BODY AND SOUL, has pretty much become an invisible film. No restorations, no re-masterings, and fairly unseen and unknown.

Which is a shame because the two films make an interesting diptych on religion and carnality and the suffering of women; the almost crucifixion of women at the hands of a dismissive, patriarchal society. And they both offer intriguing performances by their respective female leads.

BODY AND SOUL, is one of the few surviving silent ‘RACE’ pictures (Pictures created by and for Black audiences and the thriving Black movie theater circuit that comprised 600 black owned theaters [as opposed to the half dozen in existence today], popular in the years from 1915 to 1928) and as such, is an intriguing and historically important part of both cinema and highlighting the cultural fabric and concerns of the day.


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