Category Archives: Google
Internet TV is Finally a Reality
The end of the coax connected cable TV era is ending. All of the cable providers have been pushing their streaming options, but the major players have not given in to offering us flexible TV lineups. Well, Comcast hit me with my 2 year price increase which took my bill for TV and Internet up to $191. And that is without any premium channels. The service was acceptable when working with their DVR (monthly rental fee for 2), but the nickel and dime costs for fees, and rental was ridiculous.
So I decided to give Google’s YouTubeTV another try. Performance was not acceptable a year ago, but today’s YouTubeTV in the Portland, OR, market is better then I could have hoped for.
“YouTube TV is a paid membership that brings you live TV from major broadcast networks, popular cable networks, and premium networks. With YouTube TV, you’ll get live sports and must-see shows, as well as DVR without storage space limits.”
Assuming you have decent Internet bandwidth the quality is up to 720p. We rely on Apple devices which provide a nice YouTubeTV App and I bought the AppleTV 4K which has the YouTubeTV App native which takes advantage of the remote control just the way the old Comcast Xfinity remote provided. Overall I am happier then I was with Comcast. However, there have been a few hiccups. It is not quite as easy to fast forward through commercials, but you can do it. And when there is a very popular sporting event like the Final Four of the NCAA Basketball games the bandwidth appears to be stressed a bit. So your resolution drops down at times, but I do not think this is the fault of the Comcast Internet feed but rather an over subscription to the Internet stream from the source. Combine that with the high pixel needs of action sports and you do experience some disappointment.
The channel lineup is better then I could have hoped for. All of the local and standard cable channels with their secondaries, all news and sports channels. I even now get the BigTen Network which would have fallen into another bundle on Comcast. I do not get the Pac12 Network, however, that network is not really prime yet and I can watch it online. Oh yes, when I cancelled my Comcast TV subscription they gave me Internet with the basic TV package because it was cheaper then just Internet alone. I have no need to hook up the basic service, but it does allow mw to easily choose Comcast Xfinity as my Cable provider on Apps like the Pac12 Network. You can also choose YouTubeTV for all of the other apps as well. The best deal is the unlimited Cloud DVR. You can record and watch all your favorite programs anytime anywhere on any device and it is personalized to everyone in your family plan. Oh yes, my total bill is now $111, $40 for YouTubeTV and $71 for Internet and I am watching the Masters on the other half of my iMac screen while I am writing this post.
My fear is that quality will suffer as more people cut the cable, but for now I am very satisfied.
What is in an URL?
I changed my primary Uniform Resource Locator, URL, to a name more fitting for the next phase of my life. Of course I am also trying to move past my Higher Education Technology focus. This change is not really worthy of a post, however, the experience surrounding the purchase and implementation of a new URL did capture my interest. I have wanted to switch for a while but I had not been struck by a name that seemed appropriate. But I have been referring to my blog in the sub title as “The Adventure Continues” and I have drifted around that theme with a number of posts. So I took the next step, checked WHOIS and voila, the name I wanted was available and affordable. I have always gravitated to the .org top level domain because I equate .org with non-commercial and I have no interest in monetizing my blog. For the most part, my blog is my archive of my adventures, so the Adventure Continues with a new blog name and URL.
Do you remember when the URL was everything. URL squatters tried to grab up all potentially lucrative names that at that time would typically precede .com or maybe .net. Of course today you can create about any top level domain but us old timers still feel a connection to the early pioneers. The other day I was in a meeting with students reviewing a proposal which had an URL printed in the documentation as a reference. I told the students that they could paste the url into their browser to review the site. One student giggled and said that she could not remember ever hearing someone refer to a web address as an URL. OK, that surprised me a bit. But really that was validation that the URL does not carry that much weight anymore. Content is king because search engines are all powerful.
I reflect upon this because of the emphasis my domain name provider tried to place on the importance of privacy for my domain name registration. They wanted to charge me $8 per year to make my whois registration private. If you have no idea what I am talking about open a terminal session and type “whois adventurecontinues.org”. I have owned URLs from the very early Internet days, back when the URL dictated whether anyone would find your site or not. Public whois registration information was important to validate the integrity of the site and of course let people know who they might need to buy the URL from in case it was highly desired. Unfortunately this is valuable identity information which today is considered an invitation to sell you something, primarily all sorts of help with monetizing your website. Since purchasing my new URL I have received 100+ emails offering me every conceivable service I might ever need to optimize my website. Luckily all of those emails end up in my Spam folder (thank you Google). I suppose I could have avoided those emails ending up in my Spam folder if I had paid GoDaddy an extra $8 per year. Maybe I should pay Google the $8 for making it easy to delete them all “Delete all spam messages now (messages that have been in Spam more than 30 days will be automatically deleted)”.
I can rationalize this decision to brave the dangerous world of public notification but then again, it will create further issues. I have always been good at protecting the distribution of my phone number and to a certain extent my home address, but this information is readily available via the WHOIS lookup. Oh well, I think I will take the risk. After all Life is just one Big Adventure.
Google Drive is Good
Google Drive has been out for a week so those who had been waiting for it should have it running by now. If you did not grab it early then you typically waited at least a day to be provisioned to load it. We have intentionally kept the announcement quiet at our university so that we could evaluate and formulate a plan for how we might transition our employee/student web storage to Google. So far it is all that I had hoped it would be. If you have jumped on the Google Collaboration bandwagon you are aware of the strategic advantages and that the “Drive” component was the missing link.
We have used Xythos (now Blackboard) web storage solution for 7 years and it provided the web storage flexibility that we desired but it never reached that ease of use level that would have commanded our loyalty. So now it does appear that we will formulate a plan to migrate from Xythos to Google Drive. And for this move I want to be proactive. We allowed our users to adopt Google Apps as they desired and for the most part we are happy with their usage. When we replaced our university email with gmail there was a major uptick in the strategic use of the Google Collaboration suite and again we were pleased with the overall usage patterns. This has driven new IT coaching initiatives to promote the most effective ways to utilize Google Docs.
Google Drive is the completion to the overall cloud based solution. With the increasing use of Google Docs, management of those app files was starting to be a problem, especially with all of the sharing relationships. Google Drive’s initial task migrated all of your Google Docs into a folder based organization that returned control to you for of those original Cloud files. Now with the option to move or co-locate our traditional drive based files to G-Drive with collaboration flexibility, and providing access for all of our computing devices (IOS version coming soon), we are happy.
Of course we can’t adopt another Google tool without dealing with the privacy question. Google’s Terms of Service are clear. Google does not own your files. By accepting Google’s Terms, you authorize Google to provide the services you have requested. They may learn more about us from the file names we use, but they are not mining our files for secrets. Doesn’t mean we should have secrets in our files, because the real security issue is still maintaining our own account security.
Now we begin to strategize how best to leverage this completed collaboration tool kit. And what is great is that we have the Summer to prepare for a university rollout. It does not look like we have any concerns about early adopters for our .edu domain accounts. I am optimistic that the pricing model for education will allow us to easily provision additional storage quotas for our power users and management of our domain with Google has never been a problem. So we just focus on the Google Drive features and encourage migration from our Xythos, but we are not looking at any hard transition milestones. Life does get better for Higher Education IT.
So let the dreams continue. It is encouraging to know that Google already has API’s addressing some of the Web based access options. I’ll be looking for Moodle LMS plugins. Maybe the next gift from Google will be an expanded Video distribution system complete with sharing controls and streaming options.
Writing, Printing & Publishing has Changed
Document format has always been a key to control of software selection and retention. That dominance not only guaranteed Microsoft’s control of the Office Suite market but also allowed them to create a renewable market with manipulation of their format. We in tech support were forced to upgrade our MS Office Suite in order to eliminate the user hassles with their inability to open the new formats. But what about all of those great new features in MS Word that allowed us to be so much more effective writers.
The point of my post – communication has changed. Those impressive writing features in programs like MS Word are more in the way now. 20 years ago we communicated by means of a printed document, 10 years ago printed format was still important. But how many printed documents do you create today? We write for electronic distribution today and that medium handles the format for us. Benefits of MS Word have allowed for more elegant authoring in Outlook, but again, the trend is obvious. It reminds me of the advice offered in Paul McDougall’s InformationWeek article: “7 Things Microsoft Must Do in 2010”. Cut the price of Windows and free Office. I actually thought of this post while reading about competition between Apple and Google. Competition based on the relevant tech business market that Microsoft is not a part of. And I realized that Apple’s publishing tools such as iLife and iWork and even Google Apps are so much more relevant to this electronic publishing era, price is right as well.