Friday, October 16, 2015

Amazon Prime Now in Cypress, TX

Yesterday I clicked on like I always did only to find they started two hour delivery in my area. Like the amazon junkie I am I ordered a couple things to test it out. So I ordered the most random stuff I could think of. Keep in mind you only get choices through Amazon Prime Now (and have to download a separate app) so you don't have the full options you normally have. I tried to order the new Avengers Age of Ultron Blu Ray but that was not an option. The sections are as follows

Frozen Food
Refrigerated Foods
Pantry Basics
Beverages (didnt find beer)
Gift Ideas
Household Essentials
Personal Care
Home Decor & Accessories
Sports & Fitness
Game Day Must Haves
Outdoor Recreation
Kids & Baby
Pet Central
Movies & Gaming

(Halloween, Seasonal Section)

I ordered a batting Tee for Mac and Oreos. I scheduled the time for delivery (between 6-8) and my packages arrived at 6:43. You have options when scheduling times. I did try to get my order earlier in the day but the time I choose was not available. There is also an option to leave the package without having to sign for it. They do treat the service like pizza delivery and a Tip is suggested (more like mandatory) but I am ok with it. The selection especially for food was really good and more robust thank I would have expected. 

Awesome first experience!! Free Shipping for Prime members as usual and there is also a $20 off your first order of $50 or more so give it a shot. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cutting the Cord part 1

I have recently decided to cut the Cord. I have had cable forever but when I really thing about it, I dont want all the channels. I really started to notice that I would only watch DVR's shows or Live Sports. Who the hell likes commercials. My year of awesome pricing was going away with Uverse so I shopped around. My local cable provider is offering 100 mgbs for 49.99 a month. SOLD. But they added basic cable for free. This wasn't nearly as exciting to me in the beginning but that would all change soon.

My house is a fully operation Plex facility. Meaning if your going to watch Tv in the house, you have the option to watch Plex. If you have never heard of Plex I have been meaning to write an article about it, but I dont think I would ever do it justice. Basically my desktop computer and the Plex Server are the backbones of my home network. Without either, tv viewing (life) in my house would be useless. Plex is the most beautiful home media server ever made. XBMC (another type & original home media server) is great for tinkerers but Plex is out of the box terrific. It allows you to play/stream all your home media content to all you network devices. Even away from home you can stream your Plex media. This includes, Channels (apps) Movies, Tv, Music, & Photos. Calling it an alternative to ITunes would be a downgrade but a good example of what to base it off of.

I tried using over the air options (rabbit ears). NBC & Fox comes in Excellent. However other channels like CBS and ABC wouldn't.  I watch shows on each network so this was not really an option.  After subscribing with my new Internet Provider I did my research. Can I get a cable card with my basic Tv package. During my online registration I noticed the provider offered a Modem & Cable Box. This was an additional monthly fee. If I didn't have my own hardware this was going to be an additional $20 monthly. By the way. ALWAYS ALWAYS by your own modem. Look at your cable bill, If they gave you a modem, your paying a monthly hardware fee. The whole point of cutting the cord is to save on monthly expenses. I was about to go from $150 monthly for cable and internet to just $50 for triple my internet speed and free basic TV. This left me curious. If they offer a cable box, the must offer me a Cable Card.

I contacted my new provider and asked about the cable card. This must have been an abnormal question as I was put on hold. Sure enough, I was entitled to a
M Cable Card with my service. Think of a cable card as your DVR cable box without the box. This is awesome for this reason. Its free and everyone with a cable subscription is entitled to have this. Back in the day you were able to connect your Coaxial cable to the back of your Tv and run the tuner program and you would start getting Tv. This is no longer an option as cable companies have started encrypting (scrambling) the feed.  But the FCC ruled that if you were going to encrypt the feed, you had to give the consumer this option. The downside is you have have to purchase something to get this working.

So I have this cable card but how do I get it to work. There are a few options out there but I decided on an HD Homerun Prime. I could have went with the Ceton InfiTv 6. But I didnt have the need to record/view 6 shows at once. The HD Homerun Prime is a 3 tuner streaming media player. Meaning when you combine the M Cable Card and HD Homerun Prime together, you get three HD Cable boxes anywhere in your home. (and away from your home) I can play all like Tv on a Phones & Tables, Mac & PC's.

As stated earlier, live Tv is basically useless to me unless were talking about sports. If you have a windows 7 or 8.1 computer than you have a DVR application in place and you might not have known it. Windows Media Center is built in on Windows 7 Pro & above. It's one of the best things windows has done. Basically after setup, this will allow you to use Widows Media Center as your DVR and will allow you to stream live tv, view a channel guide and record shows. I save all recordings in a specified folder. I then point that folder to Plex and use Plex to playback all my recordings.

Now, this is basically an article that is going to spawn many more. This wasn't as easy as all of this sounds. I wish I could tell you it was all plug n play. It was not. This is an ongoing process for me and something that took me almost a week and a half to get where I was able to sit down and relax and actually watch Tv. (it has to be perfect) With everything I will be going over in my following articles,  I hope it makes it easier for you. All I will say is, "It was the Cable Cards fault"

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Outdoor Audio Tech part 1

Since moving, I now have something I hadnt had since I was in my teens. A backyard.  I find myself spending more and more time out in the backyard as the weather cools off. Even during the summer we would be outside by the pool enjoying the space. I bought, what I think are really good bluetooth spearkers. Turns out it was merely a gateway to what I have come up with now.

TDK Life on Record A33 Wireless Weatherproof Speaker is a really good speaker, and I bought it because it was weather proof and if you live in Texas you know that just because it looks sunny, it doesnt mean its not gonna rain on you. But over these few months, Ive soured on bluetooth technology. Its unstable and buggie at best and I really dont want to have to jump out of the pool to get the music playing again. Yes I could plug my phone into this device using an Aux cable but whats the point of that.

So I looked into other options. Saw this video on youtube. Thanks Mark for shinning a light in this direction because I love the way this turned out. Mark uses a Lepai amp and a Apple Airport Express.
This allowed me to implement a Sonos like option without the hurt to the pocket book, using Apples built in Air Play functionality. If I want to use the computer upstairs in the Gameroom to Airplay Music, I can do that. If I want to use an old IPad, or my IPhone, I can do that as well.

What was next was finding the speakers. I didnt go with the cheapest and I didnt go with the most expensive. If this didnt work as I envisioned this working, I didnt want to invest to much up front. I purchased these beauties, the Yahama Indoor/Outdoor Speakers. They are bigger that anticipated but are way better sounding than anticipated as well. I needed Amazon Basics Speakerwire as well as I previously did not have any. To finish it off I purchased the Wiremold white Cordmate Kit. I bought the kit because I was not going run cables through my walls, and wanted to conceal them as neatly as possible.

The installation took no time at all, and this is coming from a very novice handyman. I can put Ikea stuff together, but I have friends and family help me with anything more difficult. After setting it up the Yamaha speakers sound great and carry a long way. The amp puts out a better than expected quality, however I am not an Audiophile so I wouldnt be the best person to ask. The Airport Express connected to the amp and plays flawlessly I really enjoy the ability to play music over airplay and will be going over other functions of Airplay in upcoming blogs.

Upsides. AIRPLAY, need I say more. Music play back to any room in your house that you have a connected AIPLAY capable device. Multi Room playback. Yes you can rock this just like Sonos. Its awesome, and you can control the volume for individual locations. PRICE. Huge factor for me, its cheap compared Sonos and comparable devices. Expand-ability, you can buy Airplay Enabled speakers or receiver like the Denon Avr. Also Apple Tv (2nd gen and higher can Airplay as well)

Downsides. While its like Sonos, its clearly not. I cant have another person control the music or play something they want, unless connected to my network. Also another user cannot play music when I am connected to the airplay device I am playing to. Meaning I have to disconnect from the session before that person can play the music. Technically adventurous capable people are needed. By no means is this a difficult install, infact it basically plug and play for the most part, but its not as easy as the Sonos is.

In Part two I will discuss the my second outdoor project. In Texas your garage technically is an extension of your outdoor space, just like your backyard patio.

Regardless of how you want to set up your speakers & system, adding outdoor audio is a fun project that pays off for months and years in the end.  Add a Tv into the mix and you will be able to enjoy endless hours of outdoor family and friends time outdoors.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

FYI Comcast just activated the hotspot feature on your Router

If your unlucky enough to be a Comcast user, and your trying to connect to your Wifi and you see the usual network connections in your area. You might see this XFINITY Wi-Fi in your network connection choices. If you notice XFINITY Wi-Fi probably has the same signal strength as your own network. The reason for this is because Comcast enabled a feature to on your home network that allows other Comcast user to use your device as a personal hotspot.

Comcast uses separate network antennae's one for your private use and the other for anyone with a Comcast connection. While I like to believe this is only meant for guest use like Comcast explains, I have a hard time not thinking a creeper down parked in his car close to my house will also be able to use my signal for who knows what, as well as possible slowing down my bandwidth. While Comcast might think this is a great feature, I know that opening up your network to any unwanted usage is never a good thing. Why risk the exposure. People once said Apple was virus free. Like anything else, someone will find a weakness in the system exposing you home networks to attacks.

So the question is how do you turn this feature off? You would think you could go into the router\gateway and just turn off the option in the settings. Nope, you have to call Comcast and request them to turn it off. While you probably wont get attacked or hacked, why bother. You can setup your own guest feature which Comcast claims this does. I would never have this option enabled. Take control of your own network and call Comcast and turn it off.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Spotify and Pandora blocked? Try this for FREE

First I would say try ITunes Radio. Its really great and I enjoy it more than I ever did Pandora. It just seems to play what I want to listed more frequently.

However, if you looking for something similar to Spotify, try the Chrome extension Streamus. If you like me, the network administrator sucks and is blocking all Music sites and not allowing you to stream your favorite music. Go to chrome extensiona download the app

Then Click on the Extension.

Click search for songs, Search by artist or song name
Push play and that is. I have only used this on a computer and havent tested it another way. If it works on a phone I will update. Check it and Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Delete or recover email properly in Outlook

So I ran into this issue when a couple guys left the company I work for over the weekend and went to a competitor. Basically one of the guys deleted all the of his email or so he thought. The Branch manager wanted to see if there was anything in the emails that he should be concerned with.

So here is steps the user should have done to make sure his deleted folder was really deleted. Open Outlook and View the Pane towards the top of outlook

From there Choose Folder

Then Choose Recover Deleted Items.

Then you View all email that is in the trash. You can either Recover the deleted item or makes sure you delete them by choose Delete All.

So if your trying to hose your previous company or just dont want them to have the info you leave behind, thats as good as you can do! We got all the emails he tried to delete.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Team Viewer and Logmein, the winner is?

Team Viewer and Logmein are two of the many programs out there that will let you remotely access your computer while your away from home. Some might ask why you would want to do this. For me, its my way to provide support for my family since I moved so far away and since I've started my new job, it is the way I support remote users all over the country. Lets not mention its a great way to get some stuff done on your personal machines when you have the occasional downtime at work. 

I started this blog article way back when Logmein was free and easily the best option out there for daily use. You could have as many linked computers in your account as possible. Then they cut it off the unlimited access down to just 10 computers. I was easily able to handle almost all of my computers as well as my relatives computer. This was the program I lived in for years. Sometime late last year, they finally closed down the free portion and made option a pay only option. However they basically cut off the free option in one day and gave the users a 1 free week trial. It wasn't a very nice thing to do but that's how it goes. 

I had used programs like which is great but isnt the same as Logmein. (Logmein owns I had also used Team Viewer for the occasionally trouble shooting issue for the remote users I had. The whole 2 of them. So of course I remembered that and loaded two test computers. While you cant mistake the difference between Team Viewer and Logmein, they basically provided the same functionality accept Team Viewer is free. (For Now) Both support clients. Both support multiple computers. They both support multiple passwords needed to login, just incase some accesses the program, they would still need a pass to the computer they are trying to login at to access it. One noticeable difference is that Team Viewer supports sound, (atleast on PC not sure of mac) and Logmein does not.

Obviously the big difference between the two is price. Team Viewer is free (for now) and Logmein has a yearly fee. If Logmein offered a reasonable lifetime price, I would have probably paid it. That being said, when I arrived to my new company, I was very happy to see they used Logmein to support all the remote branches. It makes life very easy to support the users with there various questions. Team Viewer does support a corporate pay version. I'm sure that would be great as well, but because I enjoy the Logmein interface just a little more I would have to recommend Logmein if price wasnt an issue and you have a lot of users to support. 

That being said, FREE is better especially in this instance, check out Team Viewer if your like me, the remote IT support for your friends and family or in a pinch and need to support a user who cant get or Logmein to work. 

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