Which Service Where

Recently we had a bad storm roll through. A lightning bolt hit rather closely between the detached garage and the house. Some of the computing hardware in the garage remains in various states of damage as I am not able to repair/replace it all at the moment. The mast-mounted preamplifier for one of the television antennae also appears to be damaged. One of the UPS units took a hit apparently very hard and did not walk away from it.

Inside the house the main television suffered damage to a circuit or two. It still works but the set-top box from DirecTV failed to function over the HDMI link between the two claiming that copy protection prevented output on the TV. Since the cable for any other linkage happened to be proprietary we spent the last week with less access to television than normal using only streaming applications on the Apple TV box which somehow survived. Why it managed and manages to link with the TV over HDMI correctly while the satellite set-top box did not baffled the technician from DirecTV when he visited.

Apple has a very nice feature in the Apple TV interface that I haven’t found elsewhere in as nice of a format. If I wanted to find a show to watch I could enter the title and the search engine would tell me whether or not I could find it through the iTunes Store library and what streaming services could access it. We have Internet service at home via Spectrum which has not been the best quality and the newest bill announced to me that we’re due for yet another increase in the monthly recurring charge. We’ll be paying USD$69.99 for 100 Mbps down residential cable starting in October 2019.

I have had proposed to me that we ditch the dish and go with either cable again or a streaming service. The service provided by Spectrum locally has been of sufficient quality that I have no intent to go back to that again. Streaming services present a problem mainly in terms of fracturing.

I came up with a non-scientific judgmental sample of available services after looking at the listings in Wikipedia and comparing it against what was offered on the Apple TV interface. The semi-annotated list I came up with includes:

  • Acorn TV — BritBox-like content
  • Apple TV+ — “Original” content such as Snoopy in Space as well as a reboot of the PBS show Ghostwriter
  • BET+
  • Brown Sugar — Blaxploitation, owned by Bounce Media LLC which is a subsidiary of Katz Broadcasting LLC which is a subsidiary of E. W. Scripps Company.
  • CBS All Access — The good ship Discovery with its foul-mouthed crewmen
  • Comet — Space: 1999 and more courtesy Sinclair Broadcasting with way too many long ad breaks
  • CONtv — Comic-Con focused content
  • Criterion Channel — Promotes the Criterion Collection of films
  • Crunchyroll — anime, manga, drama
  • CuriosityStream — Learning programming
  • DC Universe
  • Disney+
  • Fox Nation — Behind the scenes at Fox News Channel
  • Funimation — dubbed anime
  • HBO Max
  • HBO Now
  • Hillsong Channel — pentecostal evangelical Christian content
  • Hoopla — Material you’d get from a public library
  • Hulu
  • Kocowa — Korean diaspora content
  • Netflix
  • Ora TV — Personality-focused content
  • Peacock
  • Pluto TV — Offbeat licensed entertainment (Now owned by Viacom)
  • Popcornflix — “Webisodes” and ad-supported films
  • Prime Video
  • Shout! Factory — Retro Pop Culture
  • Shudder — AMC Networks-operated horror film provider
  • Sony Crackle
  • Stirr — Material from Sinclair Broadcasting and affiliates
  • Toon Goggles — Freemium cartoon network
  • Tubi — content similar to Pluto TV
  • Vevo — Music Videos
  • VRV — cartoons
  • YouTube Premium

As you might imagine, that’s a bit fractured. There’s no single service that would have all the content you might want. None of those would offer local news and that would require my effecting repairs to the antenna mast as well as its associated equipment. There’s also no simple non-Apple standalone directory or program guide to facilitate discovery of shows. I’m questioning if it would be a sisyphean task for a guide to exist. The paradigm I’m looking for is that I want to be able to find a program in a standalone guide in much the same fashion I might locate such in the newspaper’s television listings or in the TV Guide periodic publication.

Only a few of those are free services too. When you start adding up USD$4.99 to USD$14.99 per service and you subscribe to 3 or more services you start winding up with something fairly expensive. There are paradigmatic issues there and questions about which companies I may or may not hold miniscule amounts of shares in but I will note that discounts for shareholders is something I haven’t seen in commerce for a while.

It was a very isolated week where I had plenty of access to Food Network and could stream all the back catalog of FreeForm that I wanted yet had no idea what was happening in the local news. The local newspaper hadn’t really covered much in terms of news. The top-of-the-hour news breaks on WTAM were good while driving to work but for when radio propagation went a little bonkers on Friday and I wound up picking up an extremely distant station from North Carolina that provided co-channel interference.

What a time to be a tech person?

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License: This work by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.
Actions Taken

For the avoidance of doubt it should be noted that my most immediate prior presence on Mastodon was terminated effective today by my choice.

If that wording seems confusing it should be noted that this is the second time I have done so. I don’t really feel like making a third outing at this point. I did download my archive and it shall be preserved.

I don’t currently maintain a presence on Twitter after multiple failed tries. I’ve removed any presence on Mastodon let alone the rest of the so-called Fediverse. Presences on other social networks like Instagram and Tumblr have similarly been terminated.

There are plenty of reasons as to why this happened. None of them are particularly good. I won’t elaborate much on this blog as it has been forcefully said to me that this is essentially a spam site. I have been told repeatedly that I not only should not be seen but also that I should not be heard and that I am a net negative to humanity as a whole. Again, explaining this is best only managed via cyptogram.

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License: This work by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.
In Brief

One of the harder parts of being a federal civil servant is when we hit the anniversary of September 11, 2001. I unfortunately work for a civilian agency that has racked up a fairly high casualty count since 1995 counting the OKBOMB incident, the attack on New York City in 2001, the 2010 kamikaze crash attack in Austin, and worse. Apparently we are having a remembrance moment tomorrow.

Tomorrow is one of those days where I want to be as invisible as possible. Being in a public contact role makes that somewhat difficult. The clock continues to count down to another government shutdown and I end up pondering some days why I am a loyal trooper who keeps seeing these things out. I thought the honor/duty/country schtick was reserved for the military and law enforcement folks.

As mentioned somewhat obliquely previously it keeps looking like it is time to walk away from what I am doing now. I need to see about contacting the SBDC at some point this week.

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License: This work by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.
Starting The Clock Again

The countdown clock has been restarted relative to a possible government shutdown.

Why? Here are appropriate links:

In all of this, the elected powers have decided to fund their tax collecting agency last. What could go wrong? Apparently I missed the memo that money started growing on trees and the Internal Revenue Service became unnecessary?

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License: This work by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.
Monitoring Dorian

Currently the hurricane known as Dorian is pounding the daylights out of The Bahamas. The Hurricane Watch Net is up and the Hurricane VoIP Net is up. Presently members of the public can monitor audio from the Hurricane VoIP net by putting http://74.208.24.77:8000 into a suitable streaming media player like VLC to be able to bring up net audio. Updates are generally on the hour. Members of Ubuntu Hams looking to follow matters on EchoLink should utilize the *WX5FWD* and *KC4QLP-C* conferences.

The storm is moving fairly slowly. This event is likely to continue for a while.

Media Operations Proposal

I have been working on a project but need to go back to the drawing board. A goal is to avoid recreating Fernwood 2 Night but I think we can manage that. We’re also not re-creating Live From Here either. After all we are not trying to create a comedy but rather an actual news program.

As a digression, I will point out that with Hurricane Dorian still a threat the National Hurricane Center has reactivated their semi-experimental, still irregular podcast at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/audio/ with a feed address of https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/audio/podcast.xml. A very good source for podcast discovery remains gpodder.net and I encourage its use. Unfortunately the discovery platform still needs a maintainer.

The Ashtabula Media Problem

The content that previously appeared here has been re-written in a different format. The re-write was sufficiently significant that this previous draft required removal.

Draft Sermon To End August

The content that previously appeared here has been re-written in a different format. The re-write was sufficiently significant that this previous draft required removal.

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License: This work by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.
When The Weather Gets Frightful

Sunday, August 18, 2019
Open Detached Entry At 1834Z
Harpersfield Covered Bridge Metropark
Harpersfield Township, Ashtabula County, Ohio

What can I say? There was quite a bit of storm activity this morning. I got woke up earlier than normal for a Sunday morning. The UPS units wound up screaming this morning as the electricity kept flickering in and out until it totally went out. Power was eventually restored but we wound up with fairly large tree limbs downed in three places on my street.

It was a bit of a battle to get to church this morning. When I called the city government to report limbs being down I got yelled at and hung up on. This was another sterling example of fine customer service from the same city government that suffered computer problems that prevented them from billing for sewer and refuse services for seven months which resulted in balloon bills for residents.

Limbs were still down in areas blocking roads. Roads were not exactly the most clear. I got to church late. The other gentleman assisting in presiding over communion barely got there in time to assist me in table duties.

I went home and roads were slightly clearer. My father has been exhibiting his luthier works at the Music Along The River festival here this weekend. It was another battle trying to work my way down here to the park. Cellular connectivity is gone which is why this blog post is being written in a detached fashion.

Is local infrastructure fairly brittle? Today has been yet another example of that. The only reason people muddle through with this is that people choose to muddle through it. We don’t choose success. We choose failure.

That’s why I end up discouraged in thinking about undertaking any projects locally. The locals don’t want things to change. They like life the way it is.

For now I get to back up Dad here at the festival. Attendance is down. Up against Blue Sky Folk Fest in Willoughby and the D Day reenactment in Conneaut competition has been tight for attention.

Close Detached Entry At 1848Z

Monday, August 19, 2019
Open Detached Entry At 0252Z
At Erie Looking Productions
Ashtabula County, Ohio

Operationally weather continued to be a mess. AT&T did not have much success with cellular service covering that part of Harpersfield. Coming to “periscope depth” meant running from the park to the closest supermarket about four miles away to be able to catch a cell signal. The event was not one where FireChat would likely have been prevalent. Drums from a drum circle were more readily available, though.

Utilities have not fared well. This is partly why I insisted we shift off Spectrum for television service to DirecTV as well as putting the two HDHomeRun boxes in the garage tied to aerials. Those are all tied to backup power and the television inside the house is tied to backup power. We can still keep that link to the outside world running. Spectrum and its predecessor Time Warner Cable have had a bad habit in the local market of not having the local cable headend on any backup power so when there is a widespread outage both Internet service and television service disappear. For people in an exurban/rural area that’s frankly quite isolating let alone frustrating.

The breakers keep getting tripped on the UPS units that are scattered liberally around the house. Thankfully I was still able to participate in the SDF.org Amateur Radio Club net via Echolink and the net audio is currently available for download. My after-net activities have revolved around consolidating chargers and boosting preparedness. More storms are set to come through and they’re not going to be any nicer than the last bunch.

What grinds my gears about this incident is that the public works staff from the city government did a terrible job in cleaning up the tree limbs that fell into the roadways that closed blockages. Since it happened to be a Sunday and overtime was involved no work was done to actually cut up the limbs and haul them away for disposal. All that was done was city crews hauled the limbs out of the road, dumped them in the yard(s) of the appropriate resident(s), put up caution tape, and then moved on. If I weren’t blocked by the Hatch Act I would seriously be looking at challenging the local elected municipal chief executive at the upcoming election because this is just getting ridiculous. Apparently the garbage trucks are broke down as the most recent garbage pick-up was done by a smaller utility dump truck that was pulling a trailer behind it. We’re slipping from mediocre to laughingstock far too readily.

Close Detached Entry At 0312Z

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Splash Two

Well, I just finished up closing out the remaining account that I had on Tumblr. I hadn’t touched it for a while. The property just got sold again and is being treated like nuclear waste. I did export my data and somehow had a two gigabyte export. I didn’t realize I used it that much.

My profile on Instagram was nuked as well. As things keep sprouting the suffix of ”—by Facebook” I can merrily shut down those profiles and accounts. That misbehaving batch of algorithms mischaracterizes me 85% of the time and I get tired of dealing with such messes. The accretions of outright non-sensical weirdness in Facebook’s “Ad Interests” for me get frankly quite disturbing.

Remember, you should take the time to close out logins and accounts you don’t use. Zombie accounts help nobody.

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License: This work by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.

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BOFH excuse #166:

/pub/lunch