Catching Up

For the longest time I have seen ads claiming that Cable television is running scared. I could not determine what the heck they were afraid of. At that time I subscribed to cable for my internet and television service. Then, this year my cell phone died. I was forced to buy a new one. My landline has been with ATT since the first time I had to buy service in 1961. This time, however, I decided to take advantage of the entire package; land line, cell phone, internet, and TV. The package saved me one hundred dollars a month for the first two years at least. I have endured the ATT internet service to take advantage of the savings, but it is clearly slower than cable. At my age I don’t want anything to be slower because I am trying to squeeze more out of life; waiting for a website to come up does not fit into that scenario.

Two weeks ago, Peg’s caretaker took a day off to attend a party at a friend’s house. The caretaker is from a foreign country, and is not a tech-nerd by any means, but she does know how to save a buck. She came home all excited to show me something she had bought at Best Buy. The gadget is an Amazon FireTVStick. I looked down my nose at it and said I’d try it out.  She couldn’t say enough good about this device. The host of the party she attended had one installed and bragged about how wonderful it was and all the TV was for free. The host is a Russian immigrant who barely speaks English, but was very aware of the Firestick

With the advent of fiber-optic phone lines there has been a major advance in the ability to transmit tons of information over phone lines.  Back in the late eighties and early nineties I visited Sprint in Kansas City, KS as an engineer. These people were diligently working on improving the transmission of data across phone lines. They excitedly explained the benefits of what they were doing. I nodded my head and took it all on faith that they knew what they were doing. I was more focused on trying to solve their problems with my product, a lowly cable tie.

The future that Sprint was working on has arrived. The threat that Cable TV is worried about is called streaming. Today, young people with computers and cell phones are getting their entertainment over the phone lines via a process called streaming. The Firestick is a piece of hardware that allows those of us who have Wi-Fi and digital TV’s to take advantage of streaming. Streaming is the transmission of TV signals over phone lines, and through the atmosphere wirelessly.

Most of us have heard of YouTube. It is a Google process which allows us to load videos onto the internet. Right now, Google has more content available than a person can view watching full-time for a lifetime, and there is more being posted everyday. What I was not aware of is that the stuff we watch on TV is also available on YouTube.

While I was sleeping and surfing the net for news, the youth of the world have been busy working to take advantage of the entertainment content available on the internet. New companies have sprung up with products that allow it all to happen. Most of it is software that allows a user to capture all the streams of data that are traversing the universe; the Amazon FireTVstick is one of them.

This week I finally attacked the Firestick and began to play with it. At this point it is still beating me, but I will conquer the damn thing and we will be watching TV transmitted by Wi-Fi over the internet. When I do conquer the thing it will enable me to quit the TV subscription I have from ATT and save eighty-nine bucks a month, or a whopping one thousand and sixty-eight dollars a year; no wonder Cable is running scared.

Like always when I work with something new like the Firestick I searched YouTube for videos that would show me how to make it work. I even use YouTube to learn how to cook recipes. What I found amazed me. There are dozens of Nerds making videos on how to use streaming devices. What is more surprising is that they have hundreds of thousands of views. The world is on the cusp of using streaming as a way to view video content on TV’s, computers, tablets, and cell phones. Even an old guy like me will learn how to do it and soon will master an entirely new technology. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Well at least for now I haven’t mastered the steps to success.

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