Four Big Cord Cutting Myths Dispelled!

Cord CuttingSo, my Cord Cutting experience (having actually done it, that is) goes back a while now… and I now consider myself a true practical expert. I admit, these are NOT the questions I ever asked… but some folks are, so it is worth covering!

4 Cord-Cutting Myths Dispelled

Forbes – By: Mark N. Vena – “It’s not an exaggeration to say that cord-cutting is now a national obsession. Millions of consumers have shed their cable and satellite subscriptions over the past ten years, and every major legacy cable and satellite company has suffered. Some choose to cut the cord in an attempt to save money. Some do it out of a desire to better pick and choose their content, and consume it whenever and wherever they want.

What continues to surprise me is how many individuals jump into cord-cutting without close consideration of the tradeoffs. This is not to say that it is a bad idea—simply that consumers should consider all aspects of the decision before moving forward. In this column, I’d like to address several common misconceptions about cord-cutting that I’ve identified from my longtime association with the category.

Myth #1: You’re going to save a ton of money when you cut the cord

Most consumers hate their cable or satellite company on a level usually reserved for the IRS. This frustration stems from the fact that in many markets across the United States consumers only have one option to choose from. Additionally, cable and satellite companies often have byzantine pricing schemes that make it purposely difficult for consumers to get an Internet-only subscription without purchasing some minimal premium video package. On top of that, most cable and satellite companies have been slowly increasing their pricing over the past couple of years due to broadcast TV surcharges and regional sports fees.

The thing to know is that even popular streaming services like Netflix, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, and DirecTV Now are not immune to raising their monthly pricing. While there is a still a gap between what you’d pay for an equivalent cable or satellite package (excluding Internet access), the delta is closing. In short, if you cut the cord, don’t count on necessarily saving the dollars you thought you would.

Myth #2: I will be able to completely replace all the channels from my cable or satellite subscription

This is perhaps the most glaring misconception that consumers have about cord-cutting. While consumers typically want to have access to all the channels they enjoyed with their cable or satellite subscription, the fact of the matter is that the average consumer only watches 17 channels or less, 80% of the time. It’s helpful to take time to study your own viewing habits and identify the must-have channels. Interestingly, despite the popularity of premium Over-The-Top (OTT) video subscriptions, local TV channels remain quite popular for news, weather, and sports.

Fortunately, there are easy-to-use Web site tools like Suppose and Untangle.tv that analyze what you currently watch and how you watch it, and provide recommendations on which services will best satisfy your viewing habits. Consumers should also consider adding an Over-The-Air (OTA) solution to augment their cord-cutting endeavors. Not all local broadcast TV channels are available outside of a conventional cable or satellite subscription—an OTA device can help you capture local news, sports, and weather for free. More on this later.

Myth #3: What streamer you select is unimportant

Selecting the right streamer to operate at the heart of your cord-cutting setup is actually quite essential and should not be taken lightly. Your likely choice will ultimately come down to an offering from Roku, Amazon, Google, or Apple.

My longtime favorite is the Roku Ultra ($99 MSRP), which offers, among other capabilities, essential features like HD, 4K/HDR support, dual-band wireless connectivity, voice remote functionality, and a lost remote finder. What really sets Roku apart, though, is its gloriously simple and intuitive interface and its voice-based universal search capability. This search functionality is critical for avoiding the dreaded “overlapping content syndrome” where you end up paying for a movie only to discover it was available as part of a premium channel you already subscribe to. Though Roku was early to the party, it’s not the only one with this capability—Comcast’s Xfinity voice search is nothing to sneeze at and Apple has made significant strides in this area. Roku also offers, at no cost, its Roku Channel, which features surprisingly fresh hit movies, shows, live news, and sports. The Roku platform is also the most “agnostic” streamer of the major brands; it works with a wide variety of OTA solutions for local TV viewing and its Channel Store includes more than 1,800 channels of highly specialized content. Side note: several major television manufacturers (TCL, Sharp , Philip, Hitachi , and RCA, to name a handful) now embed Roku functionality into their TVs. This is worth considering if you’re in the market for a new TV.

Apple TV 4K is a bit pricey ($199 MSRP for the 64GB model) but remains an excellent choice for users who are already a part of the Apple AAPL +0% ecosystem with iPhones, iPads, and iMacs. The product’s Apple-esque look and feel will be immediately familiar to legacy Apple users. Additionally, its Apple TV app, coming in September, looks like it will provide many useful navigational, discovery, and personalization enhancements. However, Apple TV still significantly trails Roku in terms of the sheer number of customized content channels available (many of which are free).

Myth #4: Watching OTA channels is illegal

I often get asked whether watching Over-The-Air broadcast channels is somehow illegal. This might have something to do with the infamous 2012 Supreme Court ruling that Aereo, who offered a streaming subscription service with OTA channel content, infringed upon the rights of copying holders (the case was initiated by several broadcast networks). The FCC has also done a lousy job of promoting the fact that OTA channels are free to consumers to access (and have been since the early 2000s). These two things, in my mind, helped create the false perception that consuming OTA channels is illegal.

OTA viewing is, in fact, one of the best ways you can cut the cord and save money at the same time. On top of that, many of these channels are broadcast in HD. If you don’t have an appetite for premium channel services, OTA is probably your best bet access local channels in your market. Solutions like Tablo and AirTV not only allow you to easily capture local TV channel signals via a low-cost antenna, they will enable you to “stream” the channels to other devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and even other TVs. Products like Tablo and AirTV even integrate local TV channels into a familiar, intuitive linear viewing guide and offer both cloud-based and local storage DVR capability. Did I mention that Tablo even offers ad-skipping capability for recorded content?

Some closing thoughts

Hopefully these myth-busting explanations will help users who are thinking of jettisoning their cable or satellite subscriptions to be better informed. The sheer amount of premium streaming content now available to consumers can be overwhelming, and that trend is not likely to decelerate with the likes of Apple and Disney getting into the video content creation business. Competition is a good thing, and consumers will have more choices than ever for content that precisely suits their tastes and sensitivities. There’s a lot for consumers to be excited about when it comes to cutting the cord, but it’s a decision that should be made thoughtfully and deliberately.

Disclosure: Moor Insights & Strategy, like all research and analyst firms, provides or has provided research, analysis, advising and/or consulting to many high-tech companies in the industry. The author does not have any investment positions in any of the companies named in this article.”

Elon Musk Wants to Wire-Up Your Brain!

Elon Musk This would give whole new meaning to Blue Screens of Death! Yikes! And, would you want someone to be able to hack your brain?!

Elon Musk is making implants to link the brain with a smartphone

CNN – By: Michael Scaturro – “London (CNN Business) Elon Musk wants to insert Bluetooth-enabled implants into your brain, claiming the devices could enable telepathy and repair motor function in people with injuries.

Speaking on Tuesday, the CEO of Tesla (TSLA) and SpaceX said his Neuralink devices will consist of a tiny chip connected to 1,000 wires measuring one-tenth the width of a human hair.

The chip features a USB-C port, the same adapter used by Apple’s (AAPL) Macbooks, and connects via Bluebooth to a small computer worn over the ear and to a smartphone, Musk said.

‘If you’re going to stick something in a brain, you want it not to be large,’ Musk said, playing up the device’s diminutive size.
Neuralink, a startup founded by Musk, says the devices can be used by those seeking a memory boost or by stroke victims, cancer patients, quadriplegics or others with congenital defects.

The company says up to 10 units can be placed in a patient’s brain. The chips will connect to an iPhone app that the user can control.
The devices will be installed by a robot built by the startup. Musk said the robot, when operated by a surgeon, will drill 2 millimeter holes in a person’s skull. The chip part of the device will plug the hole in the patient’s skull.

‘The interface to the chip is wireless, so you have no wires poking out of your head. That’s very important,’ Musk added.
Trials could start before the end of 2020, Musk said, likening the procedure to Lasik eye correction surgery, which requires local anesthetic.

Musk has said this latest project is an attempt to use artificial intelligence (AI) to have a positive effect on humanity. He has previously tried to draw attention to AI’s potential to harm humans.

He has invested some $100 million in San Francisco-based Neuralink, according to the New York Times.

Musk’s plan to develop human computer implants comes on the heels of similar efforts by Google (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB). But critics aren’t so sure customers should trust tech companies with data ported directly from the brain.

‘The idea of entrusting big enterprise with our brain data should create a certain level discomfort for society,’ said Daniel Newman, principal analyst at Futurum Research and co-author of the book Human/Machine.

‘There is no evidence that we should trust or be comfortable with moving in this direction,’ he added.

While the technology could help those with some type of brain injury or trauma, ‘Gathering data from raw brain activity could put people in great risk, and could be used to influence, manipulate and exploit them,’ Frederike Kaltheuner of Privacy International told CNN Business. ‘Who has access to this data? Is this data shared with third parties? People need to be in full control over their data.’

The tech industry is coming under heightened scrutiny over how it handles data.

France fined Google parent company Alphabet in January for violating EU online privacy rules. Facebook reportedly faces a major fine in the United States over its own data privacy violations.

Tesla has also suffered data leaks. In 2018, researchers at security firm RedLock said Tesla’s cloud storage was breached to mine cryptocurrency.”

Linux Drops the Floppy Disk!

You knew this had to happen eventually. Who uses a floppy anymore!?

Retrotechtacular: The Floppy Disk Orphaned By Linux

Retrotechtacular: The Floppy Disk Orphaned by Linux

HackaDay – By: Jenny List – “About a week ago, Linus Torvalds made a software commit which has an air about it of the end of an era. The code in question contains a few patches to the driver for native floppy disc controllers. What makes it worthy of note is that he remarks that the floppy driver is now orphaned. Its maintainer no longer has working floppy hardware upon which to test the software, and Linus remarks that ‘I think the driver can be considered pretty much dead from an actual hardware standpoint’, though he does point out that active support remains for USB floppy drives.

It’s a very reasonable view to have arrived at because outside the realm of retrocomputing the physical rather than virtual floppy disk has all but disappeared. It’s well over a decade since they ceased to be fitted to desktop and laptop computers, and where once they were a staple of any office they now exist only in the ‘save” icon on your wordprocessor. The floppy is dead, and has been for a long time.

Still, Linus’ quiet announcement comes as a minor jolt to anyone of A Certain Age for whom the floppy disk and the computer were once inseparable. When your digital life resided not in your phone or on the cloud but in a plastic box of floppies, those disks meant something. There was a social impact to the floppy as well as a technological one, they were a physical token that could contain your treasured ephemeral possessions, a modern-day keepsake locket for the digital age. We may have stopped using them over a decade ago, but somehow they are still a part of our computing DNA.

So while for some of you the Retrotechtacular series is about rare and unusual technology from years past, it’s time to take a look at something ubiquitous that we all think we know. Where did the floppy disk come from, where is it still with us, and aside from that save icon what legacies has it bestowed upon us?

WHERE DID THE FLOPPY COME FROM?

Computers of the 1950s and 1960s had typically been room-sized machines, and even though by the end of the ’60s a typical minicomputer had shrunk to the size of a cabinet it would still have retained some of the attributes of its larger brethren. Removable storage media were paper tapes and cards, or bulky magnetic disk packs and reels of tape.

The impending arrival of the desktop computer at the dawn of the 1970s demanded not only a higher capacity but also more convenience in the storage media for these new machines. It was IBM who would provide the necessary technology in the form of an 8-inch disk that they had developed for loading microcode onto their System/370 mainframes. Their patent for a single-sided disc with a capacity of 80kB had been filed in December 1969, and was granted in June 1972. 8-inch disk drives were produced by IBM and other manufacturers in a variety of formats with increasing capacities over the 1970s, and became a common sight attached to both minicomputers and desktop machines in that decade. Many consumers would have had their first glimpse of a floppy disk in this period courtesy of an 8-inch drive on a CP/M machine in their workplace, and they became for a while symbolic of a high-tech future.

The basic design of a flexible magnetic disk in a plastic wallet with a fabric liner was soon miniaturised, with the company formed by former IBM staffer Alan Shugart producing the 5.25′ format in 1976. This was visibly a shrunken 8′ disk, but its increased portability and convenience led to its rapid adoption. When IBM’s PC made its debut in 1981 it was the obvious choice, achieving mass-market ubiquity until it was slowly displaced by Sony’s 1981 launch of the 3.5′ hard-cased format.

…AND WHERE DID IT GO?

This Disgo-branded 32Mb Flash drive cost me a small fortune back in about 2001, but meant I could carry a load of floppies-worth of data in a much more convenient form.
This Disgo-branded 32MB Flash drive cost me a small fortune back in about 2001, but meant I could carry a load of floppies-worth of data in a much more convenient form.
It is an inevitability that any dominant technology will in due course be usurped, but why did the floppy fade away so quickly over the end of the 1990s? Was it the thirst for extra capacity that couldn’t be satisfied by expanded density drives or by expensive new formats such as Iomega’s Zip drive? Or was it simply superseded by a better technology such as the CD-ROM or the USB Flash drive? It’s more likely that both of these and more contributed to the format’s decline in popularity.

There was a time when a boot floppy was an essential tool in the armory of anybody working with computers, but as the CD and USB drive took over that function we said good riddance and no longer had to pray our boot floppies hadn’t lost a sector. The arrival of much more convenient free cloud services with significant storage — the launch of Gmail in 2004 comes to mind — sounded the death-knell for the floppy. If you bought a computer with a floppy drive installed after about 2005 you were in a minority, and in 2019 they retain a tenuous existence as an external peripheral with a USB interface. Perhaps most tellingly, an Amazon search reveals boxes of ten floppies selling for around $15, what was once a commodity item has crossed into being an expensive oddity.

The floppy drive has left us, but what legacies do we retain from it? Perhaps the most obvious is in every desktop computer, the size of the floppy drive standardized the size of the drive bay, which in turn dictated the size of other devices designed to be put into drive bays. And of course we’ll always have the glamorization of the floppy in movies from the era, like the corny-is-cool scene with a 3.5′ in 1999’s Office Space or the use of an 8′ in 1983’s War Games.

We’ll leave you with a video, showing an automated production line for 3.5 inch floppy disks. We see all the constituent parts including tiny pieces such as the write-protect slider and the head shutter spring, coming together on a beautiful piece of production line automation. A surprise is that the shell is assembled before the disk itself is slipped in from one end. If you still use floppies for something other than retrocomputing, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.”

UEFI Secure Boot Added to VirtualBox

VirtualBox on Linux has a new feature!

VirtualBox 6.0.10 Adds UEFI Secure Boot Driver Signing Support on Ubuntu and Debian

VirtualBox 6.0.10 comes more than two months after the previous maintenance release with some notable changes for Linux-based operating systems, especially Ubuntu and Debian GNU/Linux hosts, which received support for UEFI Secure Boot driver signing. Additionally, Linux hosts got better support for various kernels on Debian GNU/Linux and Fedora systems. It also fixes focus grabbing issues reported by users when building VirtualBox from sources using recent versions of the Qt application framework. The Linux guests support was improved as well in this release with fixes for udev rules for guest kernel modules, which now take effect in time, and the ability to remember the guest screen size after a guest reboot.

Season Three of “The Orville” Will Be On Hulu!

The OrvilleI love “The Orville” – it is more “Star Trek”-y than the recent “Star Trek: Discovery” is… I have some hope for “Picard,” but until then, I have “The Orville.”

Variety – By: Joe Otterson – “Seth MacFarlane’s ‘The Orville’ is on the move.

MacFarlane announced Saturday at the show’s San Diego Comic-Con panel that Season 3 of the sci-fi series will air exclusively on Hulu rather than on Fox as it has for its first two seasons.

According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, MacFarlane’s current workload and the length of time it takes to finish work on the show’s numerous special effects sequences would have meant that Season 3 would not have been ready for a midseason debut. New episodes are now expected to launch on Hulu at the end of 2020. The streamer currently has the first two seasons available to subscribers.

”The Orville’ has been a labor of love for me, and there are two companies which have supported that vision in a big way: 20th Century Fox Television, where I’ve had a deal since the start of my career, and Fox Broadcasting Company, now Fox Entertainment, which has been my broadcast home for over 20 years,’ MacFarlane said in a statement. ‘My friends at the network understood what I was trying to do with this series, and they’ve done a spectacular job of marketing, launching and programming it for these past two seasons. But as the show has evolved and become more ambitious production-wise, I determined that I would not be able to deliver episodes until 2020, which would be challenging for the network. So we began to discuss how best to support the third season in a way that worked for the show. It’s exactly this kind of willingness to accommodate a show’s creative needs that’s made me want to stick around for so long. I am hugely indebted to Charlie Collier and Fox Entertainment for their generosity and look forward to developing future projects there. And to my new friends at Hulu, I look forward to our new partnership exploring the galaxy together.’

‘The Orville’ is a live-action, one-hour drama set 400 years in the future that follows the U.S.S. Orville, a mid-level exploratory spaceship. MacFarlane also stars in the series along with Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, J Lee, Mark Jackson, Chad L. Coleman and Jessica Szohr.

It is produced by 20th Century Fox Television and MacFarlane’s Fuzzy Door Productions. The series was created and written by MacFarlane. MacFarlane, Brannon Braga, David A. Goodman, Jason Clark, and Jon Cassar serve as executive producer on the series.

In the wake of 21st Century Fox-Disney merger, 20th Century Fox Television became part of the Disney empire, while Fox Entertainment became part of the standalone entity Fox Corp. Shortly after the merger closed, it was announced that Disney would assume full operational control of Hulu and that within five years, Comcast has agreed to sell its Hulu stake to Disney for at least $5.8 billion.”

Humans Listen to Google Assistant, Too!

Google Assistant MiniMy buddy, that I call the “Other Computer Curmudgeon,” warned us… there ARE humans listening as well!

Yep, human workers are listening to recordings from Google Assistant, too

The Verge – By: James Vincent – “A report from Belgian public broadcaster VRT NWS has revealed how contractors paid to transcribe audio clips collected by Google’s AI assistant can end up listening to sensitive information about users, including names, addresses, and details about their personal lives.

It’s the latest story showing how our interactions with AI assistants are not as private as we may like to believe. Earlier this year, a report from Bloomberg revealed similar details about Amazon’s Alexa, explaining how audio clips recorded by Echo devices are sent without users’ knowledge to human contractors, who transcribe what’s being said in order to improve the company’s AI systems.

Worse, these audio clips are often recorded entirely by accident. Usually, AI assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant only start recording audio when they hear their wake word (eg, ‘Okay Google’), but these reports show the devices often start recording by mistake.

In the story by VRT NWS, which focuses on Dutch and Flemish speaking Google Assistant users, the broadcaster reviewed a thousand or so recordings, 153 of which had been captured accidentally. A contractor told the publication that he transcribes around 1,000 audio clips from Google Assistant every week. In one of the clips he reviewed he heard a female voice in distress and said he felt that ‘physical violence’ had been involved. ‘And then it becomes real people you’re listening to, not just voices,’ said the contractor.

Tech companies say that sending audio clips to humans to be transcribed is an essential process for improving their speech recognition technology. They also stress that only a small percentage of recordings are shared in this way. A spokesperson for Google told Wired that just 0.2 percent of all recordings are transcribed by humans, and that these audio clips are never presented with identifying information about the user.

However, that doesn’t stop individuals revealing sensitive information in the recording themselves. And companies are certainly not upfront about this transcription process. The privacy policy page for Google Home, for example, does not mention the company’s use of human contractors, or the possibility that Home might mistakenly record users.

These obfuscations could cause legal trouble for the company, says Michael Veale, a technology privacy researcher at the Alan Turing Institute in London. He told Wired that this level of disclosure might not meet the standards set by the EU’s GDPR regulations. ‘You have to be very specific on what you’re implementing and how,’ said Veale. ‘I think Google hasn’t done that because it would look creepy.’

In a blog post published later in the day, Google defended its practice of using human employees to review Assistant audio conversations. The company says it applies ‘a wide range of safeguards to protect user privacy throughout the entire review process,’ and it does this review work to improve the Assistant’s natural language processing and its support for multiple languages. But Google also owned up to the failure of those safeguards in the case of the Belgian contract worker who provided the audio to VRT NWS, breaking the company’s data security and privacy rules in the process.

‘We just learned that one of these language reviewers has violated our data security policies by leaking confidential Dutch audio data,’ writes David Monsees, a product manager on the Google Search team who authored the blog post. ‘Our Security and Privacy Response teams have been activated on this issue, are investigating, and we will take action. We are conducting a full review of our safeguards in this space to prevent misconduct like this from happening again.’

Update 7/11, 6:33PM ET: Added information and comment from Google’s blog post published in response to the VRT NWS report.”

Roku and Amazon are the Big Dogs in Cord Cutting

Roku and FireTVThis is why I have an Amazon FireTV App and a Roku Channel! 70% of users are covered!

Amazon & Roku Control Almost 70% of The US Streaming Player Market

Cord Cutters News – Luke Bouma – “We have known for some time now that Roku and Amazon have dominated the United States streaming market. Now according to Parks Associates Roku and Amazon now control almost 70% of the market. This leaves the Apple TV, Android TV, and Chromecast to fight over the last 30%.

‘The adoption of Roku and Fire TV streaming media players continues to grow at the expense of Chromecast and Apple TV,’ said Parks Associates Senior Analyst Craig Leslie.

Roku is still in the lead controlling 39% of all installed streaming media players at the end of the 1st quarter of 2019. Amazon’s Fire TV controls about 30% up from 24% two years ago. This lines up very well without own studies of our readers that shows Roku with a strong lead but the Fire TV catching up quickly.

This strong lead makes being on Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV a must for any streaming services currently on the market. Without Roku and Amazon, you are missing out on 70% of Americans. This is also why Apple recently announced that its new Apple TV app will be coming to Roku and the Fire TV later this year.”

Dr. Bill.TV #456 – Video – The I’m Still Tweaking Edition!

Dr. Bill is back! He discusses the Brave Web Browser, privacy and security issues and features! IBM is buying Red Hat! Nintendo’s new Switch Lite, the new Raspberry Pi 4, stop running old Windows, real transporter, build your own (bad) video card!

Links that pertain to this Netcast:

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Start the Video Netcast in the Blubrry Video Player above by
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Dr. Bill.TV #456 – Audio – The I’m Still Tweaking Edition!

Dr. Bill is back! He discusses the Brave Web Browser, privacy and security issues and features! IBM is buying Red Hat! Nintendo’s new Switch Lite, the new Raspberry Pi 4, stop running old Windows, real transporter, build your own (bad) video card!

Links that pertain to this Netcast:

TechPodcasts Network

International Association of Internet Broadcasters

Blubrry Network

Dr. Bill Bailey.NET

BitChute Referral

www.DrBill.TV/VPN


Start the Video Netcast in the Blubrry Video Player above by
clicking on the “Play” Button in the center of the screen.

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Streaming MP3 Audio

Streaming Ogg Audio

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You may also watch the Dr. Bill.TV Show on these services!

 

Dr. Bill.TV on YouTube Dr. Bill.TV on Vimeo

 


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