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?