Thursday, April 16, 2020

Cord Cutting

A few weeks ago, my kids killed our TV. I think it was a dog toy to the middle of the screen, perhaps followed by a large dog. After about 3 days of searching for a replacement, I found this great TV on Amazon. 50" for less than $400. I bought it.

The links below are paid ads and will take you to Amazon.com.


Then disaster struck. Our cable bill arrived with a new price increase to $233 a month. Thanks Spectrum. I could buy a new 50" TV every two months, forever for less than the price of cable. Hmm. That is some bad math. I canceled everything but the internet which was a $178 savings.

But what to do about this brand new TV? Well, most of the time our TV is used for our PS4 and all of the games and videos we have for that. My wife, Kitty hated that answer. As for other movies, we already had Netflix. $54 for internet, plus $11.99 for Netflix. And then I remembered that the PS4 also could show Amazon Prime Videos which was another couple of bucks. Now, I had two different sources of movies and was still saving over well over $100.

Click here to try out Amazon Prime. Try Prime Discounted Monthly Offering

(Ads provided by Amazon help fund this site by remuneration for clicks and purchases.)

Kitty pointed out that we didn't have local TV channels. What if the schools closed? What if there was bad weather and we didn't know? Ok. I was about to order an antenna and digital converter from Amazon, when someone told me about CBS All Access. It will show your local affiliate's programming, including the news.

Click here to try CBS (one month free): Prime Members Start Your Free Trial of CBS All Access with Prime Video Channels

I wish I could tell you that saving money was my Prime (see what I did there?) motivation, but what I was actually thinking about was CBS's new Star Trek show. My daughter was pleased that we could also watch Young Sheldon and Big Bang Theory. We loved all three shows.

This was getting pricey, I figured I might as well go all the way. I asked Kitty what TV show she'd miss from cable. She answered, "Golden Girls." A quick search showed me that it was available on Hulu. Another monthly charge, but still under the price of cable.

Another problem entered the mix. My wife asked about the TV in the bedroom. How would that work? How would I fix that? I had a refund coming to me from Google for a broken phone, so I used that to purchase a Google Home Mini and a Chromecast. Why not? If I was going to cut the cord, I wanted to make sure everything "just worked". A laptop or a phone could control the Chromecast in the bedroom and the PS4 in the living room would do everything else. The Home Mini was just bonus.

Service or Item Price
Netflix $11.99
Hulu 7.99
Amazon Prime Video 10.99
CBS 5.99
Google Home 39.00
Chromecast 35.00
Cable54.99
Total$165.95


My figures ignore the cost of a new TV because I had already bought it. It also ignores the fact that I had Netflix and Amazon Prime from the get-go. Two pros and one con are tabled, so to speak. The Home and Chromecast were purchased with found money as I used a refund credit for them. As an added bonus, Amazon Prime also has a music selection which had gone unused to this point. Kitty can control that from her laptop and display it on the bedroom TV. One more feature go on the positive side of the list, which is free benefit of Prime.

Click to try Amazon Prime Music: Try Amazon Music Unlimited Free Trial

For less than $175, I managed to get the home A/V system I always wanted and I am now using almost every feature of every service. My monthly cost is a mere $91, down from $230+.

The Amazon Back to School Round Up

Amazon is a life saver. I have ordered most of the things I needed for back to school. These five items are all things that will go with me to every class. When I get a chance, I will detail some of the more unusual items I picked up for back to school. Most of these will revolve around my technological choices in the classroom.

The first item is a suggested item for my Social Studies Technology in the Classroom. It is a version of Google Cardboard. I bought two, one for around the house for my kids and the second is to take to class. At 6 bucks each, I could afford to spurge.

I figured I should see Cardboard VR devices not only as a teacher's tool, but from the prospective of a student attempting to use them. I have 13 and 14 year old who are already showing a lot of interest. The first thing I have notices about them is, while VR seems like a very personal interaction with technology, my children use both pairs for a share experience.




The second item a set of 16 GB thumb drives at an excellent price.




And the last three items were simply writing basics.

JournalsFoldersPencils

The journals are tiny A5 sized and have 30 sheets or 60 pages of grid lined paper. The folders are simple two pocket multicolored affairs, 10 of each color. The pencils are... well, yellow and wooden. 

While the first two items are tech, I like to be a little old school with my in classroom supplies. No batteries to charge or electronics involved. 

Sunday, April 5, 2020

New Egg Wishlist

I don't know why, but gridded composition books are both my favorite and very hard to find. I found this style on New Egg, which is an odd place to shop for comp books. The price isn't bad.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Amazon Wishlist Gridded A5 Journals

It's almost time to reorder. I purchased these little A5 Journals last year and I am almost out. I use them for notes in class and D&D maps. They have 5 mm grid lines and the whole journal is 8.27 x 5.83 inches (or 210 x 148 mm). They are perfect for my needs. 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Google+ Alternatives

March 2020 Update. I have found my home at MeWe and Facebook. I have decided not to get rid of Unpwd.com. This is now my needs and want list of products I either want or have and want to share with you. Stay tuned for updates. 

This week I will be looking at Google Plus alternatives. The short list is:

diaspora*
Ello
discordapp
Minds
mastodon.social
roleplaycafe
MeWe
qutee
pluspora

I've been on-board Google+ since almost the beginning and really hate to see it go.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

.jar files under XFCE, especially for Chromebooks

Good Evening, I recently purchased some wonderful software from Inkwell Ideas and came across a little hiccup. Under XFCE, for some reason, I cannot use the GUI window to flag my .jar as an executable.


It's not a huge deal, but some versions of Linux simply have a checkbox. I like easy. The "hard way" of opening or running a .jar file is to open the terminal and type:

java -jar filename.jar

Not so hard, I guess. But what if I simply want to double click that .jar file and have it open for me? The command is:

chmod +x filename.jar  

Reading the command makes me chuckle. "put the x in the box" is the command. Why not an easy little box. This is handy terminal usage information for all .jar files from Minecraft to Hexographer. One note on HexOgrapher is don't forget the little "o" between x and g. For whatever reason, I say "Hexgrapher" and then want to type it that way. It does not work, don't bother doing that.

I can't wait to review this software. It looks amazing. If you are wondering how you came to be here from MeWe, I am the author at These Old Games. The Unpwnd website is my tech site, which is not typically useful to RPG and OSR gamers. Not much can go wrong with pen and paper, so I like to keep them separated.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The machine that started it all...


In December of 2010, I started a website called Pretender to the Power. I was recently back to school and thought I had a little free time on my hands. Not so.

Instead of learning how to blog, I spent much of my time with my Asus PC EEE 700 series machine trying to get a handle on Linux.

Today, I found that little machine shoved in a drawer.

I plugged it in and booted up. It worked. It has 512 MB of RAM, 4 GB on a SSD with an actual 8 GB SD card for supplemental storage space runs at 800 mhz and as a 7" screen.

It's a Kindle Fire without the touchscreen. Or a Fire with a keyboard.

Well, not quite. The Fire is on the left. Both had their uses but I find myself using my Chromebook for most tasks. How things change.

I purchased the EEE PC for $138 back in 2009 on NewEgg. It was an open box return. For less than 200 bucks, I figured I could take a chance. It came with two 8 SD cards, a sleeve and the charger. Out of the box, it ran Xandros. Xandros served for a time but I out grew it.

I ended up running Netbook Remix, Ubuntu 10.10. It was simple, clean and invigorated my curiosity about Linux. I never really looked back. My current Chromebook has a copy of Linux hiding in the Crosh.

I recently updated my C710-2487 Chromebook from 4 to 8 Gb and my first thought was to transfer the old ram to the Asus. No dice. Wrong type.


Of course, I found 3 other 512 mb RAM chips lying around, but with a single slot, that is no help.

I am trying to decide if I will keep my old Asus or let it go. Not sure. In the image above, note the large empty space begging for some new gadget to be installed. Oh... the pain of being a nerd.

I can't find the Asus EEE 700 on Amazon, but these are similar. I would be remiss if I didn't also share a selection of Kindles and Fires.

David Macaulay
On Amazon
Kindle or Print