Category Archives: Google
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.
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.
I was intrigued by my own response to the Apple product announcements yesterday. How does that work? Well, I allowed my own technical interest to play out. I watched the product announcement video, I critiqued the Jobs-less Apple presentation as any Apple fan might do. But then I stepped back and evaluated what I had seen and what my gut reactions had been. And I believe I sensed a turning point similar to what I witnessed when the PC finally emerged as the option for the masses back in the early eighties.
Apple’s new products are beautiful and carry an even higher “cool factor”, but I think the difference now is the status difference that emphasizes affluence over practicality. I caught myself asking “why do we really need such a thin iMAC with a retina display that will cost approximately $2000. Sure some power users can justify the specifications, but I sensed a new arrogance from Apple, one that says we only care or cater to the affluent buyer and if you have concerns about being locked into our platform then tough, we don’t need you. Why haven’t I felt that before.
- Was it because the Apple products were so superior that cost was not a factor.
- Was it the fact that I don’t really see a difference with the retina display.
- Was it the lack of attention to even offer low cost options.
- Was it the $329 entry price for the iPad Mini.
Yes, probably so.
If I wear my Higher Education hat, I start to question whether the recent trend of students preferring Apple laptops is still healthy in these turbulent financial times. I see the student with a white macbook as the Kmart shopper and the those with aluminum models the Neiman Marcus shopper. I see our entitled students as being concerned about this. Nothing wrong, this is who we are, but I sense that the split in the road is now pronounced. Apple only wants the high road and the profit margins that come from that market segment. Do we in Higher Education need to shift our focus to the affordable consumer market that appears to be dominated by Google based platforms?
I think the door is still slightly open for Microsoft to hold onto the corporate workplace, but it won’t be because of an Office Suite but can be about professional applications. Let’s accept the fact that a Pad computing device is more then adequate for working with today’s cloud based information. I believe we will see affordable smart computing devices appear in the hands of the consumer masses worldwide. This is a movement that redefines the Personal Computer, “PC”. And with it, we will have an even greater need for techies to maintain computing sanity.
Have you looked at your cable TV bill and asked yourself why is this so expensive? Then you tell yourself that you are going to eliminate all the waste and get the bill back to reality. Then you get off the phone with the cable provider and realize it is as low as it can be assuming you want a DVR, HD and the Golf Channel. So about 4 months ago I went through this process and decided to explore if there was another way. I eliminated my cable TV option and kept my Internet which immediately increased in price by $20 because I no longer had the TV bundle. OK fine, I was determined to give this experiment a chance and so far it has been a worthwhile adventure.
I have learned just how much of a monopolistic control cable TV has on our entertainment choices. And guess why, Money$. Bundling cable TV channels is the only way the existing cable TV industry can survive. Hopefully “existing cable TV industry” is the key here. Will Apple be the change agent again? My guess is that breaking up the cable TV industry will be a whole lot more difficult then it was to breakup the music industry.
There have been positives come from my research. The most obvious was that we really don’t need to watch as much TV as we do. When you don’t have it you do something else. Now of course I devoted my TV quota to trying out alternative sources of video via the Internet. Netflix is good, I’ve watched a lot of great documentaries along with new and old movies. I am more then willing to buy a movie via my iTV from Apple for $5, in fact I am more then willing to spend as much if not more on entertainment if I had a choice. We watch nightly news and CBS Sunday Morning via podcasts. And you can watch most of the current TV series via the various online networks NBC, ABC, CBS, unfortunately I don’t have antenna access. A recent major success was the opportunity to buy access to the Tour de France via the NBC Sports iPad app. But once you venture into cable TV land, access ends especially when an iPad app is involved. I can watch a lot of good ESPN sports on ESPN3 but only on my laptop. If I want to watch the same content on my iPad I need a cable TV subscription. And that is the norm for TNT, History Channel, etc. The upcoming Olympics would have been the real test since online options require a cable subscription, but my upcoming 2 week vacation will wipe out that frustration. The real problem is the lack of a online Golf Channel.
The bottom line is that we are still slaves to the cable industry but there is light at the end of the cable. But wait, there is hope, Google is willing to take on CableTV in KC.
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.
I have been observing IT listserv comments about what concerns they have for this year’s returning class. Seems like the traditional problems of software provisioning and student computing standards are more complicated this year as we deal with mobile devices and radical changes like software being sold via personal App Store accounts. Of course Apple is the real reason for all of this uncertainty. Whether you like it or not mobile computing blending into traditional computing is not designed for IT management. But do we need to manage it?
I am intrigued this year by institutions that dictate or distribute computers to their students. Of course that is because this is the first year in 20 that we will not be doing that. So of course we are a bit apprehensive about what the start of classes might bring in the way of computing problems. But we just aren’t sensing any concerns yet. And I think that is because at the root of computing issues is software not the computer and our culture here appears to be far more tolerant to software options. We seem to have our major computer application issues under control via the provisioning of specialized labs, typically for engineering, music and graphic arts. The only area where I have a specific software concern is for School of Business students to have MS Excel. I can still load MS Office on a student computer but I doubt that we see more then half the new students take us up on that.
Why are we not seeing more concern about how we will satisfy the computing demands of our new students? The overriding reason has to be based on a culture change. Isn’t it really habit and fear that cause us to be so concerned about controlling our computing environment. So a major culture influence has to be our moving so heavily to Apple over the last 4 or 5 years. This has caused many to accept alternatives approaches to computing tasks, meaning acceptance of a wider array of software. Hence we have reduced the fear component. Then I think our moving to Google Apps a few years ago for faculty and students without any real initiative laid the groundwork for acceptance of alternatives. Alternatives that were driven by convenience especially when we moved everyone to gmail last year. But we never pushed anything we just enabled it. Yes there has been a huge adoption of Google Services which must be contributing to this culture change. And now that we have eliminated the laptop program I think my community has remained calm because of this culture change.
George Saltsman, Ex. Dir. of the Adams Center for Teaching and Learning at ACU, and I have done some presentations lately along these lines and I like his observation of IT over the last few decades. In the beginning IT evangelized for more computer use. Then as everyone adopted our tools we focused on controlling that use. Now we are learning to embrace their computer use. I’m not sure if this will continue to play out but the stage is set. Something we always say over at GeoAid, “Change is inevitable, Growth is a choice”.