Archive for the ‘household’ Category

AT&T to lose 1.1 million TV subscribers as DirecTV continues nosedive

2019-09-13 Comments off

We subscribed to DirecTV for over 15 years, but cut the cord months after AT&T acquired DirecTV. There were some minor issues with the DirecTV Genie randomly skipping to the end/front of a recording, and it’s annoying when the service goes out when the weather changes, but AT&T was the death of DirecTV.

After the AT&T branding change there was a new $7 “TV Fee”, and EVERY month our bill changed. EVERY month. Five months in a row. Pre-AT&T it was $86 for the previous year, recently it’s varied between $90 to $103. The CBS black out and prospect of ever increasing fees by AT&T made the decision to cut the cord pretty easy. Also, a new roof – we didn’t want to re-mount the dish.

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Why do I hate DirecTV Now, let me count the ways

2017-02-07 Comments off

I got an e-mail from AT&T/DirecTV asking me to complete a survey on why I unsubscribed from DirecTV Now.  I spent quite a bit of time crafting a comprehensive answer, only to receive the notice below.  Part of my issue with DirecTV was the poor interface design. I now extend that criticism to the survey.  If you limit my response to 999 characters, why not tell me?  Then I won’t prepare a response that’s 302% larger than you will allow!

NOTE – there were two other text boxes, both limited the number of characters to other, smaller, and random quantities, both with no indication of what the limit would be. 


Here is my full response about why I unsubscribed from DirecTV Now:

DirecTV Now was a horrific
experience.  From the user
interface to buffering issues to the user interface (did I already say that,
yes, it’s that bad) to the content.  No type of DVR solution, ‘subscribing’ to channels was OK, but
non-intuitive to use.


No CBS channel.  At all.  Yes, I know you
have to negotiate with CBS, but it’s a gaping hole.  I added HBO and got two HBO channels added, which was underwhelming.  Even at $35/month rate it wasn’t worth
the money.  We watched ONE movie
(Deadpool) and the last 20 minutes of the film took almost an hour to watch due
to buffering issues.


Just so you don’t assume I have a poor Internet
connection, I have 200/10 Mbps (up/downlink speeds) and a commercial grade
firewall and wireless AP (Meraki).  Chemical engineer by degree, working in IT and connected to the Internet
since 1986 (not a typo), Cisco and other certifications.  Let’s just assume the problem is on your end and not my home


Streaming from a laptop to a Chromecast was
USELESS.  I stream other content
(YouTube, other) to Chromecast with no issues using the exact same configuration
(laptop, wireless channel, etc).  Streaming from my PHONE (!!!) worked better than the laptop, and I can’t
account for that.  Is the Android
app that much more efficient than streaming from a browser on a


No Roku support out of the gate.  Roku and beer are gifts from GOD, and you don’t support the Roku.  Seriously? 


I took advantage of the free Amazon Fire offer because,
as noted, you don’t support the Roku (aka, Gift From God).  Nice device, but DirecTV sucks at life, so we were ‘less than pleased’
with the experience. We attempted
to watch Deadpool (previous reference) using the Amazon Fire.  Other services worked fine, but not DirecTV Now.


And, the user interface sucks.  As an example, I saved ‘favorite’ channels in the guide and selected
Favorites to display. It’s all too
easy to suddenly have every channel displayed.  Next, I can’t seem to pause, continue,
and skip over content (like my DirecTV DVR). Yes, I realize there are device
constraints (but, shall I note, not on the Roku), but you’re not even
trying. Did you pull one of those
“Design this for free and I’ll give you great recommendations” with the
interface design team?  Because it
LOOKS like that’s what you did.


I’m doing this all from memory.  It’s like a nightmare where I can still see the screen doing something I
don’t want/like, oh, and the BUFFERING, Oh, the BUFFERING!!!


To summarize:

– User interface sucks

– No DVR capability

– No Roku support

– Buffering issues (with long shows?  You tell me)

– No CBS content

– Poor performance with Amazon Fire

– Poor performance with Chromecast

= DirecTV Now Sucks at life


That’s the short version of why I unsubscribed from
DirecTV Now.  I’m working furiously
to experiment with OTA TV, a local DVR, and cloud based services.  I’m willing to bet anything I put together will be a better, more
satisfying experience than DirecTV Now.



Paul & Barb

"A safe propane torch for applications around the home"

2016-12-31 Comments off

I get a feed from “Cool Tools” and this caught my eye.  I’m thinking of using it to remove snow or scare the shit out of my neighbors.  Looking for a backpack to hold the propane tank next.

Harbor Freight – Greenwood propane torch

Note from Cool Tools:

“I was a small part of a Battle Bots team behind the robot Complete Control that was on Battle Bots recently on ABC. This $20 propane torch was on a robot. It was heralded as — I’m gonna sort of humble brag here — it was heralded as the most effective flame thrower in Battle Bots history because it recorded the first robot kill ever, which was really exciting for us. There’s a Youtube video of it. A minute and a half into the match, we get the robot in the gripper. We grab under the robot, lift them up, and then turn on the flame thrower. It’s a 3,000 degree torch, it’s coming from just a regular propane tank. The brilliance of this Harbor Freight tool is someone engineered it and figured out how to have it properly aspirated … It turns out just with a few little tweaks, including this spark gap generator, it became a robot killer. That was pretty awesome to see.”

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Windows 10–favorite new feature

2015-11-12 Comments off

I’ve been using Windows 10 through the Windows Insider program, but I’m still discovering new features.  This morning I was using Sysinternals to test something and realized it wasn’t on my Path.  I decided to edit my system settings (clean things up, and add a path to my Sysinternals folder).  Normally I cut and paste into a text editor, edit, then paste it back in, but lo and behold, Windows 10 has a new feature! 

Be still my heart!


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No such thing as a miracle anti-wrinkle cream say scientists Which? Conversation

Anti-wrinkle cream miracles debunked by scientists

via No such thing as a miracle anti-wrinkle cream say scientists Which? Conversation.

Living in a house with four women, and being over 50, I have researched moisturizers, sunscreens, and other other the counter skin creams.

The most compelling point made in this article is that collagen can’t be absorbed by human skin.

There are products that use nanotechnology to encapsulate ingredients for delivery into the skin.  My family tested nanotech sunscreen several years ago, but it was not very effective.  I expect the technology, and resulting products to improve over time.

Reference Links:

NYT Article: Nanoparticles in Your Sunscreen: Too Hot to Handle?

Consumer Reports:  Nanotechnology: Our First Test

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