With the technology of LED lights, the FakeTV Burglar Deterrentsimulates the look of an active television that can be seen from outside your home. Burglars, for the most part, are a lazy bunch of thieves who prey on empty homes and steal other people’s possessions. Using a FakeTV Burglar Deterrent makes it look like you’re home watching television, prompting would-be thieves to think twice before trying to hit your place.
How Does the FakeTV Burglar Deterrent Actually Work?
The principle is actually very simple. We are all familiar with how the glow of a television flashes light into a room and, from there, through the curtains or blinds. From the exterior of the home, this light portrays the illusion that someone is home and is watching television. The FakeTV Burglar Deterrent actually is an LED light that simulates scene changes and motion similar to those from a typical television set — which is much cheaper in energy costs than just leaving a television on when nobody’s home. The FakeTV Burglar Deterrent is described as:
Having the ability to simulate light similar to a 27″ LCD HD television.
Being able to deter burglars by making your home appear to be occupied.
Simple to use with a single switch to operate the device.
The unit comes with an AC adapter and uses the same energy as a night light.
What Are the Timer Settings for the FakeTV Burglar Deterrent?
On at dusk for four hours — uses photoelectric eye
On at dusk for seven hours — uses photoelectric eye
On all of the time — 24 x 7 of continuous operation and fully functional
In addition to using the FakeTV Burglar Deterrent, I would also recommend that you leave a radio on as well. You can easily connect a radio to any type of timer and coordinate the radio broadcast with the FakeTV Burglar Deterrent. I would recommend setting your radio to a news reporting station, such as CNN, to add further realism.
Do you know who Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, Howard, and Penny are? Can you answer questions specific to each character, the television plot, or other facts about the show itself? If you can, the Big Bang Theory Trivia Game is a perfect match for you. This family-oriented game pits you against your opponents as you all attempt to answer questions about the television series.
The game includes trivia questions as well as questions about the characters.
You get to play Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock rounds against each other.
The Big Bang Theory is one of the hottest shows on television and is watched by millions of viewers.
There are over 400 questions for you and the other players to answer.
Why Would You Want to Buy a Big Bang Theory Trivia Board Game?
As many of you most likely know, board games are still popular and still provide plenty of family entertainment. Though we have all played games on our phones, tablets, and computers, a board game has several advantages over online game play. First, you have the interaction with other people, mainly family and friends. I know in our family, gatherings usually end in an evening of some type of board game, in which both adults and children partake.
What I have found is that playing a board game brings people closer together. I recall one evening in which we had about 12 people playing a board game, including six youths of varying ages, and the interaction was truly amazing. However, the greatest thing was that, instead of the kids hiding their faces in the light of some type of electronic device, everyone was having a great time and everyone had a smile of their face. Why not get it in time for the holidays and give your family a chance to connect in a special way?
Finding creative videos for kids can seem like a real challenge for parents these days. Do you find your child watching more and more regurgitated and ADD-laced television? As a parent, I know that I seem to trust my child to a lot of so-called kid-friendly networks, but I’m finding that it has all become sugared up and substance-free fluff. Sure, it seems innocuous and innocent, but this isn’t the stuff we grew up with, folks.
Nowadays, you see a lot of videos for kids meant for the ages of three to 12 divided up into multiple mini-sodes. Spongebob Squarepants is one to name off the top of my head, but very rarely do you find an entire episode about one subject. It’s cheap to produce, and you can have a kid hop on in at any episode and not have to worry about them not grasping it. Everything is tailored to make it easy for your kid to get in, get hooked, and want the toys.
Back in my day, we had the big toy companies wanting tie-ins with those videos for kids, too. Trust me, I lived in a day of Transformers, Thundercats, Speed Racer, Jem and the Holograms, and even dozens of other shows in the ’80s that were not in bits and pieces; they were episodic. Imagine that, right? We were expected to tune in and follow a storyline, and if we hadn’t, the show would kindly tell us briefly what happened last week. They still sold us toys. We still bought them. We weren’t idiotic for the experience.
The fact of the matter is that you can access these videos for kids through YouTube (try the apps on your consoles, tablets, and phones; your kids will dig them) and don’t talk down to them about them. Ease them in. “This is what I grew up with. Want to see cars turn into robots? Like in those movies?” Or if you’re talking to a little girl who loves to see Hannah Montana and Princesses, show her Jem and the Holograms and watch her brain explode with curiosity.
I introduced my child to a series of different types of animation ranging from anime to the cartoons I grew up with. There are wonderful and intriguing shows meant for girls as well as boys, mind you. Shows like Aishiteruze Baby (translated: Love You, Baby) have subtitles with sweet animation and a wonderful message of a young heart-throb wanting to help care for a little girl with the help of his family. For those older girls, try Peach Girl, which is the story of a beautiful yet cast-out girl with red hair and tanned skin who gets ostracized for being different in her school. All of these shows are episodic and promote paying attention as opposed to disposable episodes that don’t connect whatsoever.
I included a few episodes with synopses so that you could entice your kids, young and old, into getting into their themes and perhaps even pushing them into something smarter as opposed to Disney popstars and Nickelodeon discardables. (Yes, I made that word up. Deal with it.) It’s also important to note that all of these videos for kids can be found on DVD and that these anime shows can be bought dubbed in English if your kid isn’t into reading subtitles. I was one of the lucky few who found that my kid loved to read and experience along with the show.
Videos for Kids: Transformers — 1984
All right, it’s no surprise that this franchise has blown up, but this is where it started. This is the humble origin story of an alien race that fell to Earth and adapted into our vehicles. Episodic, full of action and morality tales, Transformers has always been the goods. Yes, Megatron always loses and that’s the way it should be when you’re a kid. Good guys win; bad guys don’t. End of story.
Videos for Kids: Thundercats — 1985
Your boys aren’t interested? Your girls don’t care about robots? I bet they care about kickass cat people who are ready to take down a mummy-wrapped evil. Thundercats was intense and it wasn’t the brightly colored hero tale that He-Man and She-Ra was (both of which I love), but it had substance that few other series can say they had back then. Yes, we bought the toys and decoder rings and we thanked our parents for letting us play pretend in a world that was actually built around imagination and not just selling beach towels.
Videos for Kids: Jem and the Holograms — 1980s
Before you scoff, Jem and the Holograms is beloved by both men and women alike. It’s built and crafted by the same people who did G.I. Joe and the Transformers as well as the episodic 1980s series of My Little Pony. (Yes, that one is still the best. Consider me a purist. Is your kid too young for these? Get them the 1980s My Little Pony. Still episodic. Still fun.) Is your kid obsessed with Disney chicks like Hannah Montana and those Wizards of Waverly Place kids? Try combining the two and put some substance in it. Jem is the alter-ego of Jerrica Benton, a well-to-do girl whose father owns a charity and music company. When her father dies, she struggles with her identity until given powers to transform between the two personas with the help of earrings. Sounds dumb to us adults, but my child devoured every season to the point that I had to go on eBay and find the dolls.
Videos for Kids: Speed Racer — 1967
One of the first shows to contain episodic and thrilling content, this show was brought over and dubbed into English. It was when companies started seeing that episodic animation was being done to excess in other countries and yet Americans weren’t releasing it. This was where we all started. With the kind of high octane energy that kids love as well as the goofy and sometimes poorly dubbed funtimes of most Japanese animation of the era, Speed Racer is a good distraction and a fun little way to get young kids who love cars and mystery involved.
Videos for Kids: Aishiteruze Baby (Love You, Baby)
Meant for young girls into tweens, this story is of a young man who seems to take nothing seriously until an abandoned girl is left in his charge. Between him and his family, he develops a sense of duty and love for the people around him, and it’s a beautiful tale. Yes, it is in subtitles, but young girls who can read will love this series without even meaning to. Episode one had my daughter hooked to this day.
Videos for Kids: Peach Girl (English Dubbed)
Meant for tweens and teenage girls, consider this a soap opera that teaches young girls how to obtain self-worth and what is actually important to the boys and girls they get crushes on. Telling the story of a lonely girl who gets admired for all the wrong reasons and hated by girls for attention she never sought out, it helps girls and boys put things into perspective while going through their tougher years in school.
So there you go! There’re some creative videos for kids ideas. Show your kids something new, wean them off of the television that is too dumb for them, and guide them into something they can carry with them when they’re older and learn more than just how to dance in a pineapple under the sea.
Television series aren’t only limited to the usual genres of drama, comedy, and action. From time to time, TV networks churn out shows that also cater to a very specific niche market usually composed of smartypants who wear glasses and ugly sweaters. So without further ado, here’s a mixed bag of seven television shows, both in production and cancelled, that portray ultra-intelligent characters ranging from doctors, detectives, IT experts, and superheroes who geeks and nerds can easily relate to.
The Big Bang Theory
Perhaps one of the most popular shows to which geeks and nerds can relate is CBS’ sitcom The Big Bang Theory, which stars Johnny Galecki (Leonard) and Jim Parsons (Sheldon) as roommates who work at Caltech as physicists and their relationship with a hot waitress and aspiring actress named Penny (played by Kaley Cuoco) who lives just across the hall.
The IT Crowd
British sitcom The IT Crowd tackled the life of three IT staff from the fictional Reynholm Industries: a geeky genius named Maurice Moss, a socially inept employee named Roy Trenneman, and a technologically challenged department head named Jen Barber. The show also tried to add a large number of references to geek culture and professionalism, mostly in the set, props, and dialogue. Viewers knowledgeable in IT can truly relate in the technobabble injected into the scenes and jokes in this series.
Wrapped in a comedic and geek-inspired packaging, spy series Chuck from NBC was perhaps one of television’s most legit multi-categorical pseudo-dramas. No one can deny that all the pop-culture references, hilarious goofball scenes, and convoluted storylines on which this show continuously based its premises exceeded expectations and created a lasting effect among audiences, young and old.
Fringe is a sci-fi TV drama revolving around a team of FBI agents who gets the job done through fringe science, a field of study that uses unusual modes of discovery vis-à-vis actual scientific methods. The show combines elements seen in procedural dramas like CSI, Criminal Minds, and the like but has been mostly described as a cross between The X-Files and The Twilight Zone.
Flash Forward was a short-lived, high-concept science fiction series on ABC, centered on the lives of people affected by a mysterious event that caused a two-minute simultaneous worldwide blackout. It starred British actor Joseph Fiennes as Mark Benford, an FBI agent who investigates the event due to the vision he had during his blackout. The intriguing show also discussed themes ranging from quantum entanglement to government conspiracies, along with a few major philosophical points laced with drama.
Can an obese person really get stuck on an airline vacuum toilet? Will you really die if you pee on the third rail? Can making a business phone call at a gas station really start a fire? Special effects designers Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman reveal the answers to these urban legends and myths through science experiments and simulations in the long-running Discovery Channel show Mythbusters. The main duo confirms or busts theories along with equally interesting additional cast members collectively known as “The Build Team.”
Based on the novels by author Jeff Lindsay, Dexter follows the life of Miami Metro Police Department blood spatter pattern analyst Dexter Morgan (played by Michael C. Hall) who also leads a secret life as a serial killer. He is different from other serial killers in the sense that he only kills people who fit the ‘moral code’ his late father taught him, which he mastered and perfected as he grew up.
We all have our favorite shows. These are a few of mine. Do you have any to add to the list? Please leave a comment below!
Henry Conrad is a 29-year-old game developer from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Aside from gaming and being a tech junky, he also dabbles in creative writing, which allows him to create great storylines and backgrounds for his characters. Follow him on Twitter and join him in Google+
Did you know that reruns can be good for your brain? In one recent survey, it has been shown that watching old programming — programs that you have seen before — actually increases your ability to take on difficult tasks. When I first read about these findings, I was not surprised.
About six months ago, my wife and I were visiting our daughter and her husband, who live in Waterford, Connecticut. One evening, our son-in-law cranked up the television and asked what we wanted to watch. In our home, my wife and I contemplate which programming to watch by how hard the programming will strain our brains. Don’t laugh! We have come to realize that some programming requires a great deal of effort and concentration. Other programming is basically simple and is just for entertainment purposes.
When my wife said to our son-in-law, “Let’s watch something that we don’t have to think about,” he kind of laughed. He is a very smart guy and is highly educated, yet he didn’t understand the simplicity of what my wife said. The survey, which shows just how simple this type of thinking is, suggests that watching something we are familiar with does improve our minds. So it seems to validate our thinking: that watching something not requiring too much effort of thought does, in fact, help to relax your brain.
In the survey that was conducted, a group of folks were asked to keep a diary, which consisted of:
A task that required a great deal of effort
What type of media was consumed
How the subject perceived their energy level or lack of energy
In what turned out to be a surprising result, researchers found that those who watched current television programming wrote a lot about their favorite shows. These people expended a great deal of energy and effort explaining the shows and why they liked them. Those who wished to relax and slow a bit watched old reruns of programs that seemed to relax their minds.
Watching old reruns is what we commonly referred to as vegging out, which my wife and I call watching a program that doesn’t require much use of one’s brain. The survey also showed that those who watched all programming were able to tackle tasks better than those who watched their favorite programs. The researchers also found that watching a new episode of your favorite television program for the first time did not provide the same benefit.
In my opinion, watching a familiar rerun is like slipping on a pair of old, comfortable shoes. It just fits right and feels good. In addition, research has proven that watching older television reruns does help one to relax and makes doing tasks later just a little easier.
What about you? Does watching reruns help you to relax? Please share your thoughts with us.
There was a time when a television was strictly for the displaying of an image. The television was capable of receiving an image either by an over-the-air signal, a cable connection, satellite, VCR, DVD, Blu-ray player, gaming console, or other device such as a Roku or TiVo. For the past several years, it appeared that the Xbox 360 may have replaced most devices, but that thinking may be starting to change.
For anyone who has recently purchased a new HDTV, you may have noticed the addition of several features that you may not have used in the past with your older television display box. The first thing you might notice is the addition of more connection ports. Most newer television sets have inputs that include, but are not limited to:
An RF (Radio Frequency) connector to receive TV signals from an analog cable or antenna
Composite video, which is an older, but still very frequently used analog connector on the LCD TV
S-Video, which is another very frequently used connector on the LCD TV
The component video connectors, which are three jacks colored green, blue, and red, and often marked as Y, Pb, and Pr respectively on LCD TV
A D-Sub connector, which is a standard, 15-pin computer monitor connector that carries an analog RGB (Red, Green, Blue) signal
The HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) connector, which is a digital and audio connector
There are other connectors such as DVI and IEEE 1394 that you may see on older television sets, but my point is this: Today’s television is more than the old rabbit ears, TV box of yesteryear and has taken on a multi-purpose position in our home entertainment life. In addition, I believe that tomorrow’s television could actually upset the entire industry by becoming the go-to standard device for all of our streaming needs.
Many of today’s console gaming units have additional features such as the ability to play games, stream content, and play back DVD/Blu-ray movies. Some have claimed that Microsoft has been trying to make the Xbox 360 the go-to device for home entertainment users. One can cite a number of reports that predict the future abilities of the Xbox 360 (or other future model) to incorporate more features that could potentially replace the DVD or Blu-ray player, streaming units such as Roku, or even the streaming of content from Hulu or Netflix.
So could future televisions feature everything we see today and incorporate everything into one single unit? The fact is that this is possible, but highly unlikely anytime soon. Think about it this way: Most television manufacturers also make DVD players, Blu-ray Players, entertainment home audio systems, and other consumer home entertainment devices. Why would they want to incorporate all of their devices into one single device, no matter what that device may be?
In addition, I am one of those who likes having separate devices in my home. If my gaming console fails, I can still watch television via DirecTV. If my DirecTV box fails, I can still watch movies on my Blu-ray player or play games on my console. But if my television fails, nothing works. I believe that this is what may limit television as becoming an all-in-one device.
This is just my take on the future of the television manufacturing industry. What do you think?
A recent news item propagated by the opponent of one of our current US senators chastised her about being technologically challenged because she didn’t have a Twitter account. When I first read this I wondered why, in this day and age, any political candidate would fail to take advantage of this free media to get their message out to their constituents. However, upon deeper reflection, I realized that — even with mass mailings — the letters that voters receive are most often written and mailed by a representative’s staff members and not by the actual candidate. That made me wonder something. Even if the person in office appears to be up to date for the digital age, are they actually the ones conversing in the forum, or is this just another ruse to make us think that they are really on top of all that is available to them in social media? Even if it is a staff person writing or responding to messages in a social media forum on behalf of a candidate, is it a guarantee that that candidate will have an advantage over another?
Today, with information a finger click away, it is easy to forget that a decade ago things were a lot simpler. At that point in time, email was the main communication source on the Internet and few political candidates chose to use it to keep their constituents updated on recent events in Washington, DC. Instead, most of our elected officials depended on the following means to keep their people back home updated:
Local newspaper articles or interviews.
Local television station news coverage.
The dreaded television advertisements (which continue to infiltrate our living quarters).
Radio spots and interviews.
In this time period, though, technological advances have proliferated to the point where today’s political candidates have a vast arsenal of social media and electronic avenues to present their causes. That means that the politicians of today can rally the troops on his or her platform by simply setting up a website or blog to share current or biased information with their supporters. Of course, the younger or more electronically experienced politicians have ventured (with varied results) onto the social media scene. The reason for the varying results appears to rest in how a politician chooses to use a particular social media forum and how effective their public relations people are. My opinion is that social media networks are just another tool that these companies use to market people for public consumption — one that can be fairly effective come election time.
But is television to be forgotten while politicians flock to social media sites?
Back in the ’60s, a political commenter once said: “Show me a modern political candidate who doesn’t understand television, and I’ll show you a loser.” Replace “television” with “social media” and fast-forward to the beginning of the 21st century and the same saying applies, only truer.
Despite that, however, will television remain the primary source used by constituents for political updates?
I personally believe that the voter’s age and/or generation will determine which method they’ll choose for receiving political information. Baby Boomers, for instance, may not be as tech savvy as the younger generations are. In fact, those voters under 21 years old will most likely embrace social media and choose to receive political updates through that forum. These young folks have grown up communicating with one another via devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones. These devices, which appear to be new tech to older Americans (some of whom are still learning to embrace email), are just a way of life to our kids and grandkids.
But as the co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone stated:
“Did I ever think I was going to be hosting (Russian) President Medvedev in my office? No, I didn’t. Or that the President of the US would have an account and they would be tweeting each other? That wasn’t on the cards.”
The Washington, DC battle continued within the social media tribunal when Congress recently proposed two bills, resulting in their being stopped dead in their tracks by an outraged public. These bills included the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate. In an effort to stop these bills, both email and social media were used to demonstrate the public’s anger at them. I chose the old-fashioned way of contacting my US Senator to voice my dissatisfaction with both proposals; in other words, I sent her an email to which I received a generic email back, stating that she opposed both bills and was listening to the people on this matter.
Was it we, the people, that stopped the bill, or was it corporate America that put the brakes on this runaway freight train? I personally believe that it took companies like Google and Wikipedia to actually bring these bills to our attention. Without their money and their running interference, this information may never have reached the major television networks and, thus, the evening news that sent out a new battle cry to consumers to stop this madness. Thankfully, it is an election year, which means that our representatives are more sensitive to the disgruntled voices of their constituents as they resoundingly echo throughout the nation.
Politicians may find, however, that social media can have a drawback for them since anyone with a smartphone can catch a politician doing or saying something stupid and then immediately post it to YouTube or another social media website. Having an incident go viral can turn out to be a public relations nightmare from which a candidate or politician can’t recover.
One can only imagine how some politicians would have recovered if social media were active during their reign:
George Washington: Did he really throw a dollar across the Potomac river, chop down a cherry tree, or, since he had no children, could he possibly understand abortion rights?
Abraham Lincoln: Was ‘Honest Abe’ really that honest?
Teddy Roosevelt: Did he really ride up San Juan Hill with the Rough Riders?
Bill Clinton: Did he really have sex with Monica Lewinsky?
So now that I have given my ten cents’ worth, I leave it to you to decide if social media is a candidate’s friend or foe. I expect to see all of the major candidates or elected officials embrace social media to express their opinions. I also believe that social media will become yet another avenue that candidates will use in an attempt to discredit their opponents by spreading rumors and misinformation (if not outright lies) about their counterparts.
Long time reader Don Naphen recently changed over to FiOS and I asked him to share his thoughts using his new system. Here is what he had to say.
Happy Sunday, Ron!
Well, it’s been exactly one week since I had FiOS installed, and I can’t say enough good things about it. The TV of course is excellent (as was DirecTV), but the biggest improvement has been with my broadband. Absolutely fantastic! With Comcast, I was getting around 10 Mbps download, and upload speeds were just a shade better than DLS. Now, after checking things out, I find my downloads are just a shade over 30 Mbps and uploads are hovering at 28 Mbps! Wow!
To be fair, I was using an older Check Point router made by ZoneAlarm, and that possibly was one reason for the slower stats. With Verizon, its cable modem and router are integrated in one unit with a solid built-in hardware firewall. The installation took just over four hours, as a fiber optics line had to be run from the pole to the house. My former Internet feed was from just outside my bedroom to the PC, so the tech used that as an access point. He then fed a line into the basement and found that the coax used by DirecTV was exactly the same as FiOS, so he just swapped over the new coax into the splitter! It saved a lot of work, as the feed into my living room was a custom job by my nephew who fed directly into the base of my fireplace (sealed off long time ago) to eliminate the ugly, dangling wires look. All in all I am one very happy camper. Oh, my nephew also ran a new dedicated electrical outlet (20 amps) to the breaker box and used a power strip that he hard wired to the hook up points. Very nice indeed!
I’m sure now that Comcast is looking at some serious competition, the price wars will begin. Collectively I was paying $150 for DirecTV/Comcast with no deals offered. Now I’m paying $94 a month and the TV package has more than I had with Comcast. Also, with all the stormy weather we’ve had, the dish had its share of “searching for satellite” prompts. That’s all history. The only pain is learning the new channel designations all over again!
Okay, I didn’t mean to fill your screen Ron, but thought I’d share some thoughts on a rainy Sunday morning here in the Greater Boston area. Time for another cup of coffee and to try and wake up. Take care and have a great day!
Thanks Don. When my subscription concludes with DirecTV, FiOS is an option I will investigate.
During the past few years, both the movie industry and television industry have been promoting their 3D technology as the wave of the future. Several popular movies, including Avatar and Alice In Wonderland, proved popular with audiences when these films were offered in 3D format. But since the time of these original releases, audiences have rebelled at the higher prices 3D movies commanded at the box office. In addition consumers have also been reluctant to buy 3D enabled television, waiting to see exactly how 3D technology would be accepted by the masses.
During the first half of 2011, the movie producers have brought out both 2D and 3D movies, with the 3D movies costing more to produce. That cost gets passed onto consumers. There now seems to be a growing chorus that no longer wishes to view movies in 3D. Two reasons are the higher cost to see a movie in 3D and the novelty of wearing 3D glasses is no longer an attraction. What the movie companies are seeing is what could become a backlash by consumers against 3D movies in general. If this happens, the demand for 3D televisions could also fade.
The Memorial Day advertisements in the Sunday newspaper from Best Buy had 20 televisions on sale for the holiday weekend. Of the twenty sets that Best Buy had on sale, only five of the televisions were 3D ready. I went over to the local Walmart site and took a look at the Samsung HDTV screens, in which there were 25 models being offered. Out of the 25 Samsungs offered, only two were 3D ready. Walmart also sells the Vizio brand and offers 46 HDTV models for sale online and only five are 3D ready. I believe the number of 3D HDTVs would be higher if they were selling better than 2D HDTVs.
There may be another reason why people are shying away from 3D. The high price of gasoline, higher food prices, and just the unknown of how well the economy will do have caused many Americans to curtail some of their spending habits. I know this weekend I went to the show and after paying $7 for a ticket, which I thought was reasonable, was almost gouged until I noticed the pricing of popcorn and a drink. How can anyone with a conscience take 10 cents worth of popcorn and ask $5 for it?
I can only imagine how those feelings may increase if one were to pay a premium to see the same movie in 3D.
In what I can only describe as another unique Google promotion, the company is starting to advertise on the older medium of television. I spotted one of the Google advertisements last evening while watching television, when my wife brought the ad to my attention. Her question was: why would Google advertise on TV?
Google has been a driving force on the Internet since the company grabbed the lion’s share of search. One would think that Google should have little trouble getting the public to start using its Chrome Browser. However, one of the problems is trying to get the public’s attention focused on Chrome and away from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser.
So what other options does Google have to gain attention to its Chrome browser? Google could take the AOL approach and mail out millions of compact discs to every household in America. The scheme that AOL tried, I believe, was a failure, with consumers outraged at the AOL disks arriving week after week. I used the AOL discs to keep the birds away from our berries in the back yard. Most people just tossed them into the trash, adding more toxins to our trash dumps.
Google tried placing advertisements for its Chrome browser on the Internet, but apparently this hasn’t helped much. Chrome has been struggling to garner market share and is at about 18% with Internet Explorer at about 45%. Most people use Internet Explorer because it is the default Windows browser and they feel comfortable using it. Firefox remains the most popular alternative to IE. Many users may not feel there is a need to try something else.
Most people who read the articles here at LockerGnome are tech savvy and know that there are many alternatives to Internet Explorer. 21% of LockerGnome readers use Google Chrome as of this writing. Many people outside the tech industry have no clue that Google even makes a browser, or that they can download something else besides Internet Explorer. This, I believe, is where Google should concentrate its focus and enlighten those who don’t know about other alternatives.
So trying advertisements on television may be a great way to bring the brand to consumers’ attention. Google has the big bucks to give this a try and increase its browser market share.
If you have cable, think for a second about the cost of your monthly bill. Then, write down the shows you watch on a regular basis. Are any of those shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, or FOX? Remove them from the list. Are any available online easily? Remove those as well. What remains is all that you’re paying the cable company for. However high your bill is, whether it’s $40, $80 or more, you are probably paying too much for watching television.
What follows is a basic guide to cutting the cord. If you’re willing to spend some time getting your set-up right, you can save hundreds of dollars a month by saying NO to cable subscriptions and taking your media consumption into your own hands. Sure, it might not be as effortless as cable and there will be a few things some will miss that aren’t available streaming, but for a lot of people the money saved is more than worth it. Let’s begin:
1. The Trusty Antenna
Rabbit ears were a thing of the past until digital TV brought them roaring back. Before digital television, TV signals through an antenna were fuzzy, looked terrible, and were prone to interference. With the digital switchover, however, all of that changed. Now every local station is broadcasting over the air in glorious uncompressed HD, and in most cases it looks even better than HD from your cable provider. Sound comes in 5.1 surround sound, and any HDTV with a TV tuner can pull in the basic broadcast channels for free.
The tricky part with an antenna is buying the right one and putting it in the right place. AntennaWeb is an excellent resource that can help you out. Enter your address and you can see how far and in which directions the broadcast towers are away from you, and how powerful of an antenna you’ll need to pull them in. For people living close to the towers, a basic $10 RCA antenna should do the trick. If you live further away and need a little bit more power, an amplified antenna like this Terk model might be better.
Plug the antenna into your TV and do a channel scan and see what you get. In most cases, you’ll be able to get ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and FOX. You might need to mess with the positioning and direction of your antenna to get everything, but with a little bit of work and tinkering, you’ll be watching your favorite broadcast shows in HD without a monthly fee.
2. Streaming and Downloaded Media
For shows that aren’t available on broadcast television, there’s also plenty of streaming options. From standalone boxes like the Roku and Apple TV to full blown Home Theater PC’s and the Mac Mini, there are options for everyone on any end of the technological spectrum.
For the best access to streaming media, your best option is a full-blown PC or Mac hooked up to your TV. This will allow for streaming from individual TV show websites as well as sites like Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube. You can also play downloaded movies and TV shows, which is a feature that most standalone boxes are lacking. The Mac Mini is the most integrated and compact solution, but hardware geeks like myself can build their own HTPC for less money. If you’re not concerned about looks, really any tower with enough power will fit the bill. The easiest way to hook up a Home Theater PC to your TV is through an HDMI video card, highly recommended for anyone building their own.
Media software for HTPC’s is plentiful, some use Windows Media Center which is installed by default on Windows 7, others like XBMC, MediaPortal, or Plex for Mac. The best part about these apps is that they are all free, so you can try them out and decide which one you like best.
If you’re not wanting to go the route of a theater PC, the Roku box is another solid choice. With Amazon, Hulu Plus and Netflix streaming, you’ll be able to get a significant chunk of the content you’ll be able to get on a HTPC, but not all. Once you have your setup ready to go, Moki.TV is an excellent directory of what is streaming where, so you can find out how to get your favorite shows.
3. Live Sports and Other Potential Drawbacks
While cord-cutting can be great for most TV watchers, the one area that hasn’t totally caught up is live sports. Of course, the biggest events are on broadcast TV and if your ISP supports ESPN3, that can be a great option, but it doesn’t cover everything.
ESPN3 does not carry ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcast, for example, and if you’re a fan of a team that isn’t regularly on broadcast television the lower-tier sports channels like FSN and Versus rarely have official streaming options. College Football and College Basketball junkies might want to think this one through before canceling their cable, as you might miss more games than you want and be forced to find bootleg streams of questionable quality.
The other place where streaming hasn’t quite caught up is with children’s programming. It’s hard to find streams of full shows on networks like Nick, Cartoon Network, and the Disney Channel. If you cut the cord with a kid around, it will be hard to find age-appropriate material on many streaming sites, and DVDs will be your only option.
The age of insane cable bills seems to be behind us. With over the air HD and streaming solutions up the wazoo, there is less and and less need for a cable box piping pre-selected programming into your tube. Netflix, ESPN3, and Hulu put the content at your fingertips when you want it, and the empowerment feels great for most people. So go, cut the cord, and make sure to let us know how it goes for you.
Researchers at the National Sleep Foundation are making some correlations between our use of electronic devices and the lack of sleep some of us experience. The report states that 43% of people between 13 to 64 years old report sleep disturbances and dissatisfaction in the amount of sleep they get each night. The most disturbing fact is that the report indicates that 95% of those surveyed used some type of electronic device before bed. The survey included devices such as televisions, computers, laptops, cell phones, and video games and were segregated by age groups. Each of the different age groups had a preference in which technology they preferred to use before going to bed.
The report uses the following breakdown in ages:
Baby boomers (46-64 year olds)
Generation X’ers (30-45 year olds)
Generation Y’ers (19-29 year olds)
Generation Z’ers (13-18 year olds)
The device used most often by all age groups before falling to sleep was the television. I fall into this group since we have an HDTV in the bedroom and enjoy watching programs that we have previously recorded on our home DVR service from DirecTV. The younger generations indicated in the survey that video game playing was what they like to do before bed. All groups indicated that surfing the Internet before bedtime was also popular. The younger generations also indicated they like to send and receive texts before going to bed as well.
I think the most disturbing fact in the report was that one in ten claimed they were woken at night by a text message. This is where I draw the line in my cell phone use. Who wants to be woken in the middle of the night to answer some silly text message that can wait until the morning? I have enough problems sleeping without setting myself up to be woken up in the middle of the night. Even those Facebook messages can wait until the morning.
So what do people do, according to the report, to combat insufficient sleep? They consume a copious amount of caffeine and also take naps. Again, this is me. When I have a bad sleep night, a nap is in order to refresh myself and continue on the day with a better attitude. I am fortunate to be in a position to nap, since I work out of the house to do my blogging here at LockerGnome.
There was one piece of advice in the report that I think I am personally going to try. The report stated that if you must nap, keep the napping under 45 minutes and before 3:00pm. I already do the other no-nos such as avoiding caffeine and heavy meals before going to sleep. I also try not to take my daily stresses to bed and like my sleeping environment cool when I sleep.
So what do you think? Do you believe that electronic devices play a significant role in preventing us from getting a good night’s sleep?
We who consider ourselves computer gurus know that we can optimize any computer, using mostly free software that is available on the Internet. We also know that when we see those late night infomercials that tout cleaning your computer and making it run faster, our antenna goes up as to the claims being made. But for those consumers who are technologically challenged, these advertisements offer them what they perceive is a quick fix option to speed up their slow PC systems.
Since I am one of those computer gurus that does it himself, I have no opinion as to the benefit or lack of benefit that FinallyFast actually offers. I can only report what the Attorney General office for the state of Washington determined during its investigation. In its report, it states:
The Attorney General’s Office accused Philadelphia-based Ascentive, LLC, of violating the state’s Computer Spyware Act, Consumer Protection Act and Commercial Electronic Mail Act through the use of deceptive marketing methods including spam and persistent pop-ups, misleading free “scans” and alarmist warnings that suggest a computer has severe problems, unfair billing practices and a cumbersome cancellation process.
Ascentive, perhaps best known for its FinallyFast.com commercials, sells a variety of programs purported to improve Internet connection speeds and remove system errors. They include ActiveDefender, ActivePrivacy, ActiveSpeed, PC ScanandSweep, PC Speedscan Pro, RAMRocket, Spyware Striker Pro and WINRocket.
The Attorney General’s Office estimates that about 5,500 consumers are eligible for refunds of about $17.90 plus tax.
I have been the victim of an infomercial false advertisement for a spaghetti pot. The advertisement made the pot look like it was a high quality product, when in fact the pot looked like it was made of discarded soup cans. The metal was so thin that the pot easily dented and the handle transferred the heat without any benefit of being cooler than the pot itself. The non-stick surface was anything but non-stick and pasta stuck to the sides and bottom of the pot.
That was the one and only time I got stuck with a piece of junk and now I steer clear of all infomercials, no matter how good the product sounds.
How about you? What horror story do you have about buying any product advertised on TV?
PS For those Washington state residents who were a victim of FinallyFast, click the link below for additional information.
The video of a woman texting while walking through a mall and then falling into a fountain, is priceless. Like many of you, I had a hardy chuckle when I first saw the video on TV, and wondered how anyone could be so stupid. Lets face it, the size of the fountain was huge and fairly hard to miss. But we are now learning some other facts, plus rumors, that even add to the mystery of ‘fountain girl’ who now has been identified as Cathy Cruz Marrero.
There are suspicions of why Marrero would even want herself identified in the video. The quality of the video was so poor, had she kept quiet, no one would have known who should was. So why would she come forward and identify herself as being the person in the video?
There is some speculation as to her motives, some of which do not reflect well. Rumors have it she may have done it on purpose. Hard to believe isn’t it? But not that hard when we learned that she worked at the mall. That’s right boys and girls. So how could she not know that the fountain was there?
There are also other allegations that Marrero is currently facing felony criminal charges:
In the hours that followed Cathy Cruz Marrero’s appearance on “Good Morning America” today to talk about the fall and its aftermath, she was in court for a status hearing on charges of five felony counts, including theft by deception and receiving stolen property.
Marrero, 49, was charged in October 2009 for allegedly using a coworker’s credit cards to make more than $5,000 in purchases at a Target and a Zales jewelry store — $1,055 of those purchases were dismissed from the case in previous hearings.
So there are the sordid facts, rumors and allegations which once compiled and rolled up together, does not make the victim look, so much like a victim after all. I know if this was me I would not let anyone know that I was the dunce who tripped into the fountain.
What about you? Would you have come forth and identified yourself?
Does it appear that the alleged victim is really a victim?
When someone speaks about a frivolous law suit, somewhere in the conversation the McDonald’s scalding coffee case will surface. The hype that McDonald’s lawsuit generated continue to this day, but what many of us do not, were the real facts behind the lawsuit. I know that I had always believed that the person burned should have been more cautious and also that coffee is hot and may burn you if dropped in your lap. What I didn’t know and what we were not made privy to by our local news paper or on TV, was that there was more to the case that we never heard about.
The case involved a 79-year-old woman who was a passenger in her grandsons car and who ordered a cup of coffee at their local McDonald’s drive-up window. The coffee was served in a styrofoam cup and the grandson had stopped the vehicle so his grand mother could add cream and sugar to the coffee. While grandma held the cup between her legs trying to remove the lid, the entire contents spilled onto her lap.
Here is a description of what occurred:
The sweatpants Liebeck was wearing absorbed the coffee and held it next to her skin. A vascular surgeon determined that Liebeck suffered full thickness burns (or third-degree burns) over 6 percent of her body, including her inner thighs, perineum, buttocks, and genital and groin areas. She was hospitalized for eight days, during which time she underwent skin grafting. Liebeck, who also underwent debridement treatments, sought to settle her claim for $20,000, but McDonalds refused.
So McDonald’s had a chance to settle the lawsuit for as little as $20,000, but instead decided to fight the case. One would have thought that the company and their attorneys must have really thought they were in the right, and that grandma should have been more careful. But then this was come to light during discovery:
“During discovery, McDonald’s produced documents showing more than 700 claims by people burned by its coffee between 1982 and 1992. Some claims involved third-degree burns substantially similar to Liebecks. This history documented McDonalds’ knowledge about the extent and nature of this hazard.
McDonalds also said during discovery that, based on a consultants advice, it held its coffee at between 180 and 190 degrees fahrenheit to maintain optimum taste. He admitted that he had not evaluated the safety ramifications at this temperature. Other establishments sell coffee at substantially lower temperatures, and coffee served at home is generally 135 to 140 degrees.
Further, McDonalds’ quality assurance manager testified that the company actively enforces a requirement that coffee be held in the pot at 185 degrees, plus or minus five degrees. He also testified that a burn hazard exists with any food substance served at 140 degrees or above, and that McDonalds coffee, at the temperature at which it was poured into styrofoam cups, was not fit for consumption because it would burn the mouth and throat. The quality assurance manager admitted that burns would occur, but testified that McDonalds had no intention of reducing the “holding temperature” of its coffee.”
Duh! If you know that you are posing a hazard to your customers and disregard the hazard, you deserve to be sued. But then the outcome of the trial was withheld:
The parties eventually entered into a secret settlement which has never been revealed to the public, despite the fact that this was a public case, litigated in public and subjected to extensive media reporting.”
The jury originally awarded the plaintiff $160k compensatory damages plus another $2.7m punitive damages which the court reduced to $480k. But because the settlement was secret, we will never know the exact amount that was paid. Needless to say these facts received little, if any, media attention and the facts have become skewered over the years.