Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders

by chris on May 7, 2015

A new 2015 release from Australia’s Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders.  Recommended if you like Nick Cave or perhaps the baritone voice of The National’s Matt Berninger if he sang for a more 80s new wave band.




After Comcast raised my already expensive Dual Play (cable TV and internet) from around $145 to $190 I decided to cancel Comcast cable TV and keep Comcast internet.    Yes, I cut the cord.   This lasted for all of about 2 weeks.

I tried Sling TV, the Roku 3, and modified the Roku to use Plex, Nowhere TV, Nowhere DVR, an unused Elgato EyeTV Hybrid I had in a drawer for free over-the-air local network TV using a Mac Mini for the DVR, Channel Pear, and Roku Media Player amongst the popular apps.

It wasn’t a bad experience and it mostly worked.  However it was noticeably more time intensive and more of a hassle to jump from show to show or channel to channel.   Switching from OTA NBC to CBS took at least 5-10 seconds for the new stream to load and was noticeably a lesser than ideal quality compared to 1080p HD.  Switching from NBC/CBS/ABC to CNN was 10 times worse timewise.  You’d have to switch from whichever app you used to pull in your OTA stream to a new Roku app, Sling TV.

Sling TV is nice but it’s far from perfect.  First of all, it’s not the perfect pay for only what you watch system you may think.  You’re forced to pay for a Spanish channel, and networks like the Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel.  I would likely never watch any of those yet they are mandatory in the base package for $20.  Plus you can’t hide them from the GUI if you don’t want to see them as an option.   The $5 add-on packs are the same.

By the time you possibly add on other paid services, Hulu+ ($8), Amazon Prime ($99 a year / $8.25 a month… which still is a pretty good deal considering what you get), HBO Go ($15 a month), Netflix ($8), you could easily end up paying more than just sticking with cable TV, as long as you have one of the discounted packages.   On top of that you have to deal with the hassle of having to access them all from different apps or devices and not having full DVR control.

Also, does anyone really think the ‘app’ interface is the future of TV?  It’s not as cumbersome as the above but it’s still more of a hassle than what we’ve had for years with everything accessible in one interface.  It’s as dumb as Spotify allowing apps for various bands to discover their music. (That’s one definite benefit of Spotify killing apps altogether.)  The future of TV will be one interface to intuitively bring it all together letting you pay for various channels/products/brands/features individually.  We aren’t there yet and it’ll be a long time before we are.

When I saw that AT&T UVerse was available for a year intro price for $89 (plus $10 for HD) I decided to jump on it.

I’m trading the time consumed with having to deal with calling every year to get my expired discount lowered again, or possibly switching services back and forth from AT&T UVerse back to Comcast, for the daily time consumed with waiting for network delays, buffers, app switching, etc.

Maybe in another year after Sling TV matures or other competitors offer better options I’ll try going without traditional cable TV again.

So far I’m pleased with UVerse although it has its annoyances.  Multiview, a picture-in-picture type feature, is nice but could be considerably better.  It waste about half of the TV screen with a useless background image and borders.  (see the below image)  Seriously?  Not only is it wasting usable real estate but the 3 small images on the side are in a very low rez video quality making it nearly impossible to read any text on the three small screens.

AT&T UVerse Multiview

AT&T UVerse Multiview


Additionally, for the package offer I signed up for, they were to give me a $200 gift card.  After my service was installed I discovered that their system only had me down for a $100 gift card.  I had to contact a support rep to get this fixed.  That felt a bit like bait and switch, hoping I wouldn’t notice.

If you’d like a write-up on the details of what I did with the Roku above then let me know.



As a side note, reprogramming the UVerse remote took more time than it should have.  I have an older Onkyo 605 AV receiver and the UVerse help guide leads you down the wrong path for finding the reprogramming code.  I finally discovered that code 4022 works for controlling the receiver’s power off/on and volume.  The UVerse remote defaulted to ‘TV mode’ for volume changes, which I didn’t want.  To get it to use the ‘aux mode’, do this:

If you want the TV volume to be controlled by the volume keys, regardless of what mode the remote is in, do this:

  1. Press and hold the AT&T button on the remote.
  2. Press the OK button and release it and the AT&T button at the same time. All the universal lights will flash twice.
  3. Type 955. The AT&T button will flash twice.
  4. Press the AUX button. The AUX button will flash twice.
  5. Press the AT&T button


Favorite Albums of 2014

by chris on December 22, 2014

I think there were a lot of great tracks released in 2014, and albums with a few really good tracks, but not much stands out for me personally for being solid all the way through. It’s easier to pick a Best of 2014 for individual songs than for total albums.

Having said that, I think these albums are worthy of being heard and received the most play this year, listed in alphabetical order:

The Apache Relay – ‘Apache Relay’
| Amazon

Bored Nothing – ‘Some Songs’
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Eagulls – ‘Eagulls’
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Future Islands – ‘Singles’
| Amazon

Generationals – ‘Alix’
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Mac DeMarco – ‘Salad Days’
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Skaters – ‘Manhattan’
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Syd Arthur – ‘Sound Mirror’
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Temples – ‘Sun Structures’
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The Twilight Sad – ‘Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave’
| Amazon

War On Drugs – ‘Lost In The Dream’
| Amazon

Woods – ‘With Light And With Love’
| Amazon


Favorite Indie Rock songs of 2014

November 6, 2014

Some favorites released in 2014 are: The Apache Relay, Alvvays, Bear Hands, Bear’s Den, Brace/Choir, Broods, Cloud Nothings, Cousins, Doug Tuttle, Dum Dum Girls, Eagulls, Father John Misty, Future Islands, Like Herding Cats, Mac DeMarco, Milky Chance, Panama, The Rentals, Skaters, Still Parade, Syd Arthur, Temples, Total Control, The Twilight Sad, The War On Drugs, […]

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iPhone 6 camera lens flare

October 2, 2014

The iPhone 5 had issues with lens flare. Many photos that had a bright sun in it managed to almost always blow the sun out into a purple mess. Apple’s response? Move the camera. Now that the iPhone 6 is out I was curious how it handled similar shooting situations. Tonight I went for a […]

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ETrade password security, or lack of

August 6, 2014

Every week we read about different security breaches, like this week’s one where Russian hackers have amassed over a billion passwords. A Russian crime ring has amassed the largest known collection of stolen Internet credentials, including 1.2 billion user name and password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses, security researchers say. Thinking that […]

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Kasabian – ’48:13′

July 3, 2014

Kasabian seems to be one of those bands that you sometimes find certain people making fun of. “They only had one good album.” I do disagree but do think each progressive release has been weaker. Here are their albums, listed in order of release, and the tracks I think are worth adding to any music […]

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Display “Now Playing” info on your Desktop with GeekTool

June 25, 2014

I listen to Seattle’s KEXP streaming radio fairly regularly and even when I’m not I like to know what they’re playing. I use GeekTool to display KEXP’s “Now Playing” song on my Mac Desktop. curl -silent ‘http://kexp.org/playlist/miniplaylist’ | perl -l -0777 -ne ‘print $1 if /<title.*?>\s*(.*?)\s*<\/title/si’ | perl -MHTML::Entities -le ‘while(<>) {print decode_entities($_);}’ For Spotify, […]

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‘Stereo’, an iTunes music player replacement app for album art fans

June 18, 2014

Stereo is a new music player from Appothecary. Stereo is currently at version 0.3.1 and is offered at “an introductory price” of $1.99, down from $3.99. It’s designed to be a simple iTunes music player replacement designed to put importance on album covers. The interface is barebones and puts the album covers front and center. There […]

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Thoughts on Apple’s acquisition of Beats

May 28, 2014

Beats Music is really no different than Pandora, Spotify, Rdio. Sure they all have their own recommendation methods but in the end they are quite similar. None of them has done anything groundbreaking. Pandora has a rather limited library and has been living off of its Genome Project since its inception. Spotify’s apps are interesting […]

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