YouTube TV and CBS All Access streaming issues using PiHole

UPDATE – there was a widespread two hour (or so) outage for YouTube and YouTube TV when I posted the original article. After further research, there *is* an issue streaming CBS All Access with PiHole active. The work around for this is to whitelist the two FQDN’s below. Once this is in place, content streams normally.

I’m using PiHole to block ads on my home network. I’ll post more about my PiHole setup later, but tonight I realized that “CBS All Access” and YouTube TV apps on our Roku weren’t streaming content with PiHole enabled.

I didn’t have time to narrow down the root cause, but I’ll investigate this over the weekend. I will note the issue probably started last week, but tonight it was a non-starter when we attempted to stream “CBS Sunday Morning”, Jeopardy, and “Chasing Classic Cars” (Motor Trend).


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Microsoft Word is the best WordPress desktop app

Obviously I had too much candy on Halloween and coffee today. I decided to start posting my backlog of technical notes to WordPress. Naturally I pulled out my old WordPress tools and none of them worked. Attempts to configure resulted in the apps throwing hands like my youngest daughter.

Result – I remembered posting in Microsoft Word. Since Office 365 is my primary life app, this was an easy choice. It’s super easy to configure for WordPress, I have full control of my editing, and I don’t have to learn the idiosyncrasies of another editor.

Reference link below, and tested with WordPress 5.5.3.

Help with blogging in Word

Microsoft Teams administration error – solved!

Our engineers ran into an issue attempting to update Microsoft Teams through the Admin Center. The engineers opened a ticket with Microsoft Support, and they hadn’t run into this before and thought it was a proxy error. Well, we are working from home and none of us were using any standard proxy. We also weren’t using a VPN and testing with ‘all the standard browsers’ (Firefox, Chrome, Edge, and a few others). No joy.

We *were* able to connect if we used Fiddler. Which is strange because Fiddler is a proxy, right?

Anyhow, we resolved the issue. Super easy. We manually changed our local system DNS to Google DNS ( Can’t really explain that one. I’m using PiHole locally, the other engineer was using Comcast. Both our systems are using commercial network gear with no filtering.

Screen shot and error string below for reference.

Hope this helps someone, because when I searched for the string below (in quotes), I got exactly one unique result that wasn’t very helpful.

Error String:
“We can’t get the effective dial plan so the dial plan can’t be tested.”


Screen Shot:

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Cord Cutting or AT&T ruined DirecTV and how we fixed the problem


We have been testing streaming services off and on for the past several years. We were early adopters for various streaming devices (Roku, Chromecast) and many streaming services, including Netflix (DVD, now streaming), Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, Britbox, DirecTV Now, and YouTube TV.

Recently we had our roof replaced. In doing so, our DirecTV dish was removed, and after review, we decided to cancel our DirecTV subscription.


Prior to YouTube TV, other ‘cable replacement’ options that provided local TV as well as the non-network content we wanted were almost unusable from an interface standpoint.

Cable replacement requirements

  1. Roku device support
  2. Local channels, BBC America, and short list of cable stations we like
  3. Usable User Interface – high priority
  4. Cloud DVR capability – minimum of 200 – 300 hours (record Olympics)

Throughout these experiments, DirecTV has been our cable provider of choice. DirecTV offered the content we wanted as well as innovative technology, such as the DirecTiVo. I was able to pick up used DirecTiVo’s for <$50 and upgrade them with large hard drives to get ~300 hours of recording time. This was great because we had three school age daughters and I dedicated one unit to record just about the entire Olympics coverage circa 2004.

5 Very Common Cord Cutting Mistakes & How You Can Avoid Them

  1. Rushing into cord cutting – before we cut the cord, we used the Roku and at least a dozen streaming services for several years. This was not something new for us, so when the time came, it was easy for us to make a joint decision.
  2. Cord cutting does NOT work like cable – we determined we required a streaming service that provided local channels, some cable channels, and had at least a 200-hour DVR capability, ideally cloud based. YouTube TV has an unlimited DVR capability.
  3. Cost – we tracked costs of cable and streaming services
  4. Content – you can’t have everything. For example, we do NOT care about sports, but we DO care about Olympic coverage, BBC America, and some channels like Hallmark that our family likes to binge during winter holidays.
  5. Robust Internet provider – we aren’t huge fans of Comcast/Xfinity cable, but they have provided a robust, broadband Internet service. They are also the ONLY broadband option in our area. DSL is available, but not broadband. We are half way between two CO’s, and FIOS doesn’t have a contract with our township

Cons – we live in an imperfect world…

  • No Hallmark Channel. I don’t care, but my wife and daughters (who don’t even live with us) are relentlessly nagging campaigning to subscribe to the Hallmark Channel for holiday movies.
  • CBS DVR shows are actually “CBS On Demand” and have commercials that you can’t skip. Also, until the software was upgraded, it didn’t handle the transition to/from commercials properly which caused some shows to hang. Credit to YouTube/CBS for fixing this.
  • Bandwidth to the TCL TV – we have experienced some buffering issues and sluggish interface behavior with Roku TV. This isn’t a show stopper, and I have been making it a “priority device” for Google WiFi. Next step is to configure an Ethernet connection.
  • That’s it! We are very happy with the cord cutting.


Subscriptions (monthly)
YouTube TV        $49.99
Hulu w/no ads        $11.99
Netflix            $13.85
Total            $75.83

AT&T DirecTV was $96.91 – $102 for two TV’s, the least expensive package available, and DVR with whole home viewing


  • Network
    • Internet Provider – Comcast Performance Plus Internet – 200/12 Mbps
      • Testing with lower speed Internet tiers showed the 200 Mbps speed offered double the uplink speed (for VoIP performance) and better overall performance. This is probably overkill, but the difference between <100 Mbps and 200 Mbps was about $10/month.
      • There is no data cap for residents of New Jersey. Other states have a monthly, 1TB data cap.
    • Arris SB6183 Cable Modem
    • Google Mesh Wifi – NLS-1304-25
    • Meraki Security Appliance
    • Meraki 8 Port Switch
  • Video
    • TV – TCL 65R615
      • Roku TV 9.2.x
      • Roku Wireless speakers
    • Panasonic VIERA TC-L42E50 (7 years old)
      • Roku Stick+
    • Visio 32″ 1080i TV
      • Roku 2
  • Voice
    • ObiHai 201 device
    • Google Voice Service
    • Panasonic cordless phones


DirecTV and TiVo History

XFINITY Terabyte Internet Data Usage Plan

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

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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Mueller Report

Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election Volume I of II Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III

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Walk home

Walk home.  Testing links to Garmin Connect to see if I can automatically post activity.

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Walking to work

I need the exercise, and it only takes ~35 minutes each way.


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Mount Holly Ride

Ride to Mount Holly, Smithville, and Vincentown.

Experimenting with new WordPress addin (Run Log)

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Venmo security concerns

I haven’t reviewed Venmo security in a long time.  Originally I took a look when my middle daughter was looking for an electronic payment service to sort out payments to roommates and friends in college.  At that time (2010?), Venmo appeared to be one of the best options.

That has changed – By default, all peer-to-peer Venmo transactions are public (except transaction amount).  Wired article, “Public By Default”, Hang Do Thi Duc’s site walks through the problem and example API output links are below.

I’m not sure what to recommend to replace Venmo, but I’m going to do a lot of testing over the weekend and post some recommendations.

Click here to see the last 100 transactions posted to Venmo (seriously).

It’s Time to Stop Sending Money on Venmo

Public By Default

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