Friday, February 28, 2014


I looked back and realized that I did not finish my adventure with my new Roku box. To replay, I ordered a Roku 3 to replace the Roku so I could get more channels particularly PBS. I can get all the programming that is not carried on my local station (which I still support).

I also discovered that there are many more channels available than are offered in the online Roku menu, not all free, but lots more stuff. For example, Al Jazeera is available if you have the right code. The codes come from online directories both from Roku and from other sites. I have subscribed to way more channels than I can begin to consume. One channel I hope to see more of is Acorn which features all the excellent BBC programming. There is a channel with old Westerns and one with military stuff. Then there are the secret secret Roku channels with smut.

Youtube is on Roku too. You go to your Youtube account and you can watch all the saved videos, the private videos from family, and surf til you drop, all in HD and on a big screen.

If you are dissatisfied with using the Roku remote or lose it you can download an app to your tablet or phone and use that to control programming.

Twitter and Crimea

I learned how to follow topics with the use of hashtags. In this case #Crimea will bring up every tweet involving the crisis between Russia and Ukraine and there are thousands. The vast majority of tweets are from people who have no idea what is going on and just retweet retweets ad nauseum until there is no way of telling what is happening. They spent more time including hashtags in their tweets than they did thinking about their messages.

Then there are the snarky comments about the U.S. official response. One turkey did not know why the U.S. didn't deploy naval assets to the Baltic. I don't think the tweeter even has a basic understanding of geography. Now the whole tweetie-verse knows it.

To be sure, someone on the ground could be tweeting valuable information, but how can one tell. For anything definitive I will have to go to BBC or CNN or Reuters.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

More Twitter, No More Twitter

I'm not going to quit Twitter, but I doubt that I will spend time tweeting nor will I assemble a following. I can get all the important public safety and transportation tweets, the vast majority of which do not concern me. If I need to know about something going on in the neighborhood I can look it up. I have Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family and email for more serious communication. 

The individual tweets I have seen so far are pretty inane. I tried to follow "discussions" of a cable series I'm watching, but more inanity. I suppose all those tweets are valuable to someone. 

I was interested in using Twitter as an alternative communications system in the event of a disaster, but that would require all my neighbors to deal with the learning curve. If I have something to tell them and it's really important, I will knock on their doors. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


I am experimenting with Twitter. I don't have a particular need for tweeting, but I felt compelled to learn more after an emergency in the neighborhood on a Sunday night. We wanted to know what was going on and none of the radio stations or their web sites had any coverage. I went to Twitter because I knew that the police department uses tweets. Sure enough there was enough of a blurb to help us understand that there was a robbery/homicide. Very tragic.

So I signed up and started following local police, fire, and transportation feeds for everything from service calls to the neighborhood patrol cars to traffic. I threw in a couple of news feeds too. I can access my feed from the phone, the iPad, and the desktop computer. Youtube has some good videos to help get started.

One good application would be communicating in an emergency when cell phones are overloaded and public services are overwhelmed. It looks like a good way to get the neighborhood clued in on what's what. That will require more research and experimentation.

Monday, February 3, 2014


Remember when, for two weeks in December, the truck pulled up in front of the house to deliver that package from the grandparents?  That was such a special moment where the plain box with strange writing in your name on the outside. What was inside? If it was Christmas, inside only delivered more mystery in the form of a gaily wrapped package. There might have been other deliveries through the year, some mail order, but maybe only one. Fast forward to the 21st Century.

With online shopping the next book, tool, appliance, or piece of furniture is a few clicks away from a new and complex series of actions that results in the truck, the uniform, the doorbell, and the plain but exotic box. Usually I buy something online and then forget it until the package arrives. "What's this?" is the usual comment. "Oh yeah." Still it's a pleasant surprise to find the package on the doorstep.

If I am home the ritual is preceded by the roar of the truck being shifted into reverse and engaging a backup bell. The drivers cannot turn around in our driveway and they back in so they can leave easily and quickly. Back up bell, brakes, door slides shut, doorbell, then "plop" as the box is deposited on the ground. If I am lucky I can get to the door and say "thank you" to the brown-uniformed driver jogging away. She is usually the same driver and I've only seen her back. On her route we are at the end, after 6 p.m. Sometimes there is a signature – electronic and illegible – but most of the time it's just "plop."

But in this century the boxes tend to be of standard size with computerized writing that is almost too small to read. The boxes are disappointingly light with an abundance of styrofoam or inflated padding. A book in an envelope is kind of a hefty treat.

This week there will be two deliveries, the new Roku box and a stand-up accessory for a computer desk. It's not the same as Christmas ca. 1959, but it's still fun. Maybe there will be deliveries I have forgotten about. Oh boy!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

I don't know, Roku?

I often consider what normal features of daily life would be incomprehensible 20 or even 10 years ago – smart phones, tablets, online shopping, etc. DVD players were the coming thing 10 years ago and now are on their way to the electronics recycling center. One thing we now can no longer do without is streaming TV.

I have Roku, the little set top box that allows online access to venerable Netflix and behemoth Amazon. (Be nice, they are watching.) It allows streaming of dozens of television channels I never heard of to my TV anytime I want, if only I had the time. There is also music like Pandora which replaces the need for a stereo system ("What's a stereo system, Grandpa?).

But dozens of channels are not enough when there are hundreds of channels out there. Never mind that if I watched one channel per hour every week and did not sleep I would not be able to see them all (pause allows trips to the refrigerator and bathroom).

I like PBS programming and found that my old (three years) will not get the PBS network. There are others not available on the Roku 1. What? There are more channels I have no time to watch? And I can play games for which I have no time? I did not know that I need to play games on my TV. I need a new Roku box and I need it right now.  I wanted it so bad I ordered it online to have it delivered in two days.

The Roku 3 will be here Tuesday, maybe even Monday. I will be happy then – for a few hours.