Random geekery since 2005.

Husband, father, programmer, speaker, writer, blogger, podcaster, collector, traveler, golfer.

#8: Horrible Ideas, HoloLens, and Handlers

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Slinging A Horrible Idea

I should start this section with a preface: my family proudly “cut the cord” just over 4 years ago.  (You can read more about that here.)  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it simply means we don’t have a cable subscription.  We looked at what we watch, and what we were paying, and it just didn’t make sense.  So we dropped it in favor of things like Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, and Netflix, all streaming through our Roku Boxes.

We watch almost nothing “live.”  Sports are an obvious exception to that rule, but otherwise, we are perfectly content to watch the show we like the next day, or several days later.  (This is exactly what most people do with their DVRs anyways.)  Hulu carries most of the shows we watch, and we actually purchase episodes of the shows they don’t from Amazon, like the Walking Dead, for example.  $27 for the whole season is WAY cheaper than even the most basic cable package over that 6-month season.

WE pick the shows WE want to watch, and they’re organized into a nice little queue for us to choose from.

Fast-forward to last week, when my wife and I decided to try the new Sling Television service.  They offer a 7-day trial, and it includes content from ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, HGTV, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, and a few others.  The $20/month price tag seemed steep, but if I could watch some of the shows on those channels, it might be worth it.

Here’s why Sling Television is a horrible idea for cord cutters:

1) It’s not like any other streaming service I’ve mentioned.  It’s not a list of shows and episodes that I can select and watch when it’s convenient for me.  It’s just live streams of the channels, requiring me to tune in when the show is scheduled to air.

2) It’s 3x the cost of Hulu, with significantly fewer features, and significantly less content.

3) They still think like a cable company.  They’ve created additional bundles of channels, called Sports Extra and Kids Extra that are those “premium channel packages” that you probably skip on your cable subscription as well.  Sports Extra includes ESPN U and ESPNEWS, among a few other niche sports channels.  Kids Extra includes Disney XD, Disney Junior, and Boomerang.  Each of these packages costs $5 more a month, making their total offering $30/month.  (As a reference, I can get a decent internet + cable package for $40.)

4) Watching ESPN on the Roku or Xbox One apps is a significantly enhanced experience over just watching the ESPN channel on cable.  I have access to every college football game on Saturdays.  As a guy that wants to watch his Bowling Green Falcons every weekend, this has proved invaluable.  When I’m watching Monday Night Football, I get live notifications about my ESPN Fantasy Football team’s performance.  Try doing that with your cable box.

What Sling needs to offer to make me a subscriber:

1) A Hulu-like DVR service.  I don’t want to manage my recordings.  I want to tell it which shows I like, and it should add them to a queue once the show has aired.

2) An ESPN experience similar to what is offered on Roku or Xbox One.  I can’t go back.

3) Adding baseball.  In your Sports Extra package, adding all of the regional MLB channels would go a LONG way.  It’s the one major sacrifice I made when we cut the cord, and thanks to MLB’s blackout rules, I don’t have an option to watch the Cleveland Indians without a cable subscription.

What do you think?  Is this a good deal?

Holograms are coming…

A few weeks ago, a revolutionary new product was announced by one of the most valuable companies in the world.  They make mobile phones and tablets, entertainment devices for your television, health monitors for your wrist (that can talk to your phone!), even mice and keyboards.

This time, they’re taking on the world of wearable computers.  (Yes, I’m talking about Microsoft.)

If you watch any single thing this week, click on the HoloLens above, and give it two minutes of your imagination.  This will be available this year, and it looks absolutely amazing.

Daniel Handler

Last night, I had the opportunity to go hear Daniel Handler talk about his new novel, We Are Pirates.  If you’re like me, you’ve probably never heard of Daniel Handler.  Most of the books he has written have been done under a pseudonym you’re probably more familiar with: Lemony Snicket.

He spoke at our local high school last night, and I was drawn in immediately.  He was funny, clever, eloquent, and witty.  He spent 20 minutes or so telling some charming stories about his writing history, some things that have happened while traveling, and how he landed on the topic of his new book.

I’ve been toying with a story I want to write for a couple of years now, and I think hearing him talk made me realize that I just need to do it already.  So, in my ample free time, I’ve got another project to start working on.

I’ll keep you posted.


2 responses to “#8: Horrible Ideas, HoloLens, and Handlers”

  1. Ricardo Avatar

    Where does your “will be released this year” statement come from? I’d love to throw a solid fact point in the face of those claiming HoloLens is a research project that will never see the light of day.

    1. jeffblankenburg Avatar

      It was said that it will be released in the same timeframe as Windows 10, which will be released later this year. That was in the announcement video.

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