My recent reward for watching TV

viggle

I bought my HTC One V for Virgin Mobile from Amazon in December and one of the first apps I installed was Viggle because a friend uses it and posted the advertisement on Facebook.  I’m always looking for ways to get rewarded for doing things, like surveys, blogging, tweeting, installing and playing games and whatever else I can do.  Well, Viggle gives you rewards just for watching TV and doing trivia during your shows.

Since December I have been racking up points.  I had over 63,000 points and I was saving it for a really expensive reward, the Kindle Fire or Kindle Fire HD.  The problem is, those are 482,500 and 560,000 points and well, let’s just say if it has taken me 6 months to get 63,000 points, I’m sure it will take me a long time to get the Kindle, so I figured I might as well pick a reward of lesser value for now.  I decided to get the Barnes & Noble $25 gift card for 50,000 points.  This is what I bought.

the hunger games trilogy

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins for $24.49.  I waited for a few days after getting my Viggle reward because I wasn’t positive what I wanted.  I can’t recall exactly what made my decide on The Hunger Games, but I suddenly remembered that I wanted to read the books before seeing the movie.

I wanted to buy many ebooks at .99 cents each because then I could buy 25 ebooks, but I think getting this trilogy was better.  It’s not the quantity of the ebooks that matter because chances are I’m not going to have time for all 25 ebooks, and who knows if I will feel like I made a huge mistake because the books aren’t quality writing.  So I’m glad I bought this trilogy rather than a bunch of books I may not like.  Although I’m not positive I will like the hunger games, but I know it is something that I am interested in so I’m sure I will.

I have started reading the first book, but haven’t gotten too far because I just didn’t feel like reading.  I have to be in the mood to be able to really get into it, and I don’t want my lack of interest in reading to make me like or hate a book.  I will wait until I’m ready to start reading it.  I actually have a few other books that I’m halfway through that I would like to finish before starting another story.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that Viggle is a good app and this is proof that you do actually get rewarded for watching TV.

I finally got to watch Battlestar Galactica

I like to consider myself a science fiction nerd because I like shows like Star Trek and movies like Star Wars.  I actually love anything space related, but I don’t always get to watch them because if I miss even one episode, I feel like I am lost so I just wait until I can watch the series at a later date.

Battlestar Galactica originally aired on the SyFy channel (Sci-Fi back then) from 2004 until 2009 and I missed every episode.  I think the reason I missed it from the beginning was because I just didn’t think I would like it.  Also, if I have a show on the same day at the same time, I’ll watch the one that I was already addicted to and skip everything else.

I got a second chance to see the show from the beginning when BBC America announced that they were going to start showing it every Saturday night and I took advantage of it and I am so glad that I did.  They started out with 2 episodes at 7pm.  Our BBC America HD channel is from the eastern time zone so I got to watch it three hours earlier.  If I missed the episode then I had a second chance to watch it on the non HD channel at 7.

I kick myself in the head for not watching this show when it originally aired because it was such a good show.  I guess it doesn’t really matter that I missed it when it was on because now I have seen every episode from all four seasons.  I feel like I am better educated when it comes to science fiction television so when I am asked a question I will be able to respond with a semi-intelligent response, maybe, probably not.

Hulu has all four seasons of this show, but you have to pay to watch them so that is why I watched it on BBC America.  I also don’t like to watch 8 episodes of a show per day because that is just way too much information for me to take in all at once.  I feel like if I watch too many episodes in one day that I might not remember what happened before, if that makes any sense at all.

Hulu has Caprica too and I could have watched it months ago when they had the full season, but I wanted to watch BSG before I got into that so that I wouldn’t be confused, but apparently they aren’t even in the same timeline so it didn’t matter.  Now they only have 5 out of 18 episodes available.  I don’t see BBC America airing this so I will probably be forced to get Netflix just to watch it.  I really don’t mind, I just want to see it now.

The only thing that I regret about not watching this show when it aired was that I didn’t have anyone to talk to after every episode.  It’s cool to talk to someone about what happened and to get different perspectives and opinions on what we just saw.  Oh well, maybe next time, well, you know, with another show.

Oh well, I look forward to watching Caprica when I get Netflix.  I would love it if they came out with another BSG related show or a facsimile because I am in love with space dramas like BSG, Farscape, Star Trek etc.

Brand Thunder Holiday Browser Theme Contest Results

On November 29th 2011 I wrote a sponsored blog post for Izea’s Social Spark to advertise for Brand Thunder, which is a cool website where you can create browser themes for Internet Explorer and Firefox.  One of the requirements was that I create a holiday browser theme and enter in their contest to win an iPad2.

On December 17th 2011 I found out that my browser theme was good enough to be in the top 5 browser themes eligible to win an iPad2.  I asked for votes here on my blog, and on Facebook and Twitter.  I wasn’t as successful as the 3rd and 4th holiday browser themes because not enough people voted for me, so I lost.

Well, I didn’t really lose, I was still in the top 5 so I consider that to be successful enough.  Because I was in the top 5, I won a $25 gift card for Amazon.com, and tonight I bought a new webcam for my desktop.

The webcam that I have on my desktop is a Flexic@m which at one time was acceptable, but it’s such a horrible webcam that I no longer want to use it.  I would much rather have this Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 because it is HD 16:9 and it has a mic.  I would like to be able to call my aunts and friends with Skype, but I can’t because I don’t have a mic.  I can use the built-in webcam on my Chromebook, but it doesn’t do Skype.

I would also like to be able to do time-lapse videos to put on YouTube.  I have a time-lapse video of my Scooby Doo Chia Pet, which is not that great because of the horrible webcam.  Tonight I tried making a time-lapse video of my lava lamp, but the webcam is so horrible that you can’t see the beautiful colors of the lava. That was my motivation for choosing to buy a new webcam.

This webcam was only $24 and it was available for free shipping if I paid $25.  In order for me to get the free shipping, I had to buy something else, so I chose to buy a $5 4GB USB memory stick.  I needed a new memory stick anyway so this is perfect.  The USB memory stick I have now is only 1GB and it’s almost full, so I had planned on upgrading anyway. What I’d like to do is take all of my photos off of the 1GB stick, and put them on the 4GB stick.  I can use the 1GB stick for my book as a backup.

I wasn’t expecting to win the iPad2, and frankly I didn’t think my holiday browser theme was as good as the other ones, so I’m happy for the person who did win because they certainly deserved it.  Even though an iPad2 would have been cool, I’m happy to have a new webcam and USB memory stick.  So thank you Brand Thunder for the Amazon $25 gift card, I really do appreciate it.

*This post is not a paid advertisement for Izea‘s Social Spark or Brand Thunder.

Roku 2

Roku has finally come out with a next-gen version of the Roku internet tv streamer and it is smaller than before.

Now let me see if I can remember how it was before because they don’t have their older models on their site anymore.  The cheaper one did not have HD at all, it was for older model tv’s.  The 2nd one was XD and the 3rd one was XS.  I remember that much.  The XD and XS were the only 2 that had HD in them.  I bought 2 of the XD’s because the only difference between the XD and XS were that the XS had a USB on it so you could hook up a USB drive for looking at external images and/or videos.  I forget what else but it wasn’t that much else.

They have added many more features to the XS now which makes me want it more than the XD.  Like the old XD had wired and wifi internet connection and now only the XS has that.  Well, when I bought the 2 XD’s in January, I had so much trouble with the wifi that I had to plug it in to the router with the wire.

I have several blog posts about the Roku.  The first one was about the Roku and about how I was going to buy it.  Internet TV.  Then We are officially switching our cable and I remember how excited I was that I was going to be saving SO much money every month by not having to pay for cable.  I was mislead into thinking that even though everything else was going to be like DVR where I’d have to find what to watch, just like I do on the internet, I’d also get live news.  (Roku didn’t mislead me, Chips family member did.)  Well, that wasn’t right and Darrin didn’t like that very much so we kept our cable.

Then I said I won’t miss my shows but I found out that was a total lie because there were only a few shows on Hulu Plus that they allowed you to watch on your TV.  In fact, I would end up having to watch 95% of my shows on the computer anyway.

Just before we got our Roku boxes I was starting to question my decision; Is getting the Roku was worth it.  Then the next day they came and I posted this: Our Roku Boxes Arrived Today… They’re Going Back Tomorrow.

The main issue that I had with the Roku boxes was getting them connected.  It took a long time to get them online with my wifi and when I finally did they were only on for 30 minutes before disconnecting.  I had spent several hours on the phone getting them turned on, even changing my router settings and everything and still nothing but problems.

They said I had 30 days to return them and of course they went to the post office the next day.

I was really sad because I really thought it was going to be such a cool thing but it turned out to be really disappointing to us.  Darrin likes to watch the news as it happens, not as it happened yesterday.  And with the Casey Anthony trial, he wanted to see all of that unfold as it happened.

So I was getting the Roku for the wrong reasons.  I was getting it so that I could save money on my cable bill because I was paying $110 for it every month and if I switched to Roku I’d only have to pay $8 for Netflix and $8 for Hulu Plus.  Well, the Netflix was a good thing but the Hulu Plus wasn’t.  The Roku has hundreds of channels (or websites) to choose from but the issue is still the same, no live anything.  If I cancel my cable I need to have something that is live, even if it’s streaming live tv from the net, I don’t care.  Roku doesn’t work that way.

I do recommend the Roku 2 only if you do not plan on canceling your cable.  It is not a cable replacement but an addition to your cable.  That is ok.  You can choose the different boxes that they have.

If I were to buy this again, which I am seriously thinking about, I would go with the XS version only because I really need to know that if my WiFi doesn’t connect, at least I can plug it in to my router.  Also, check it out, they’ve added games to it.  I also like that USB port.  My tv has an SD card but not USB so that would be cool to add.

If I didn’t care about the cable (wire, not cable tv) so much, I would buy the HD because it has everything else I need minus the 1080p which doesn’t really matter to me because most everything that is on the internet is not 1080p anyway, even Hulu+ and Netflix.  So the middle box doesn’t really make sense to me.

I am not so jaded by my past experience with Roku that I would slam them and say they have a horrible service because the problem I had was a minor technical problem with the wifi.  The service they provide is awesome.

I think the Roku is such an awesome piece of technology and I say go for it, buy it.  It works great and if really have to have Hulu then you can also do the PlayOn thing which means your desktop computer has to be super fast and you won’t be able to use it anymore since it is now your tv’s server lol.  I can’t do that because my computer isn’t fast enough.

I’m seriously thinking about it but that is off in the future because I’m too broke right now.  Maybe I will wait until Christmas when I might have the money.  But until then, I can hook my CR-48 up to my tv to watch videos, which is what I have been doing.  It’s not great but it’s something at least for now.

If I were to rate the Roku I would give them 5 stars.

New CR-48 Discovery – VGA-Out

I’m not quite sure when they fixed the VGA-Out but my CR-48 is now able to hook up to my television.  This is very cool because I’ve been wanting to get it hooked up for a long time so I can watch Hulu on my TV.

There is one little issue though.  When I plug the VGA cable into the chromebook, the screen stretches.  It basically goes from a widescreen, I’m not quite sure what the exact resolution is, to 1024×768 which is a 4:3 screen.  So if you have a widescreen 16:9 HDTV like I do, you will have to set it to 4:3.

When you watch a video on Hulu on your TV with the CR-48 or I assume any chromebook, you will notice that when you click the full screen button, which sits next to the volume button, your screen won’t look the same as it does when you watch it on your netbook.  Instead, it will cut off the right side of the video and you will see a small video on your screens.  Not exactly the effect I was hoping for.  To fix this you can click the pop out button on the right side of the video instead of the full screen.  You will see a small 320×240 box pop out on the bottom right of your screen.  Just resize it so it covers the entire screen.  It’s not the ideal situation but I’ll take what I can get until they fix the issue, if they ever do.

You can watch YouTube videos with better results.  Just go to YouTube, browse the videos until you find the one you want to watch and go into full screen.  Your video will be normal, however since you are still in 4:3 mode on your HDTV it will be as if you are watching a program that is in letterbox mode.  No problem if the YouTube video isn’t in widescreen format.

Those are the only 2 websites that I have checked so I’m not quite sure how it will be for every website, or every HDTV for that matter.  I highly doubt that a 4:3 TV would even have a PC-In so if you don’t have an HDTV then this most likely won’t apply to you.  But I’m not positive.  If you have a 4:3 flat screen then it might have a PC-In.  If that is the case then no problem.

The reason I want to watch web videos on my TV is for the simple fact that sometimes a video that I am watching doesn’t have a high enough volume for me to hear it and the best way to get around that is to use the tv’s speakers.  Also, I get to see it bigger when it’s on my tv rather than my little 12″ netbook screen.  I’m sure anyone can appreciate that.

I don’t know why it took me this long to check to make sure that it worked but I’m glad I finally did.  Now if Netflix would just get their service working on the Google Chrome OS, I will be set.

We Are Officially Switching Our Cable

Now didn’t I tell you the other day that we were thinking about switching to the Roku player for watching TV instead of paying our cable company $110 every month? Well, it’s official. We bought our Roku boxes this morning at 10am. And since I bought it before 11am it’s going to be shipped out today and we should get it next week. They said it should take 3-7 days but the confirmation email included an address which I google mapped and they are only 4 1/2 hours from our house. I’m expecting it to be here by Monday.

Our cable cycle begins on January 6th and ends on February 5th according to the cable bill I got in the mail today. That means if we cancel our cable before Thursday of next week then when we cancel it we won’t have to worry about any new charges. I’ll be free and clear.

Ok so I’ve already been adding shows to my favorites on the Hulu website so whenever a show has a new episode then it will automatically go into my queue. I don’t know how queues work with Hulu on the Roku but I hopefully won’t have to do much searching when my shows come back on, just play my queue.

We got a code for a free month of Hulu Plus which I won’t do anything about until the Roku box actually comes. I wouldn’t want to waste a few days of Hulu, besides, I want my monthly payments to start AFTER I get my monthly checks, not before.

Even though I’m kind of PO’d that I’m going to be missing some of my shows, I’m still really excited about saving money every month. I mean, I have wanted BBC America, Logo and G4 for years and never had them until last year when we finally got HD and got the new channels. Well, it turns out that even though I have those channels now, I hardly ever watch them.

The shows that I’m going to miss on G4 are Attack of the show and Web Soup which aren’t really on Hulu. I mean they are but only clips. I can live with that I guess.

The shows that I’m going to miss on BBC America are Being Human, Doctor Who and The Graham Norton Show. As far as I know those aren’t on Hulu at all. I know Doctor Who is on Netflix but I might have to wait just a little bit longer for the new episodes to come.

I didn’t mention HBO but there is a show that I will definitely be missing and that is True Blood. That’s one of my favorites and I will definitely be missing it but it is on Netflix. Of course I will miss seeing it when it’s on, I can certainly wait until it’s on Netflix. Or just find a friend who still has HBO and watch it over there lol.

I’ve been telling everyone about this because I think it is so cool to get Hulu and Netflix and watch all of my shows without paying high cable prices. I just have to wait for them to show up in my Queue.

I have mentioned that not all of my shows are going to be on there but I’m not too worried because those shows are on their networks websites. Like CW, I’m going to be missing Smallville, Supernatural and Vampire Diaries. Well, luckily they are on the CW website. And I just started watching Glory Daze on TBS, well that is also on the TBS website. So, I won’t really be missing anything, I just can’t watch them on my TV that’s all.

So, until I get my box then..

New iPod Touch

When I was 11 years old I got my first walk-man which played audio cassettes (and sometimes ate them). That was in 1981. In 1989 when I was 19 years old I bought my first CD player walk-man. It was big and bulkier than the cassette version but it was pretty darn cool and I was paranoid to let anyone see it for fear of it being snatched.

In the late 90′s I remember seeing the first mp3 player, I think it was the Rio(?).  It only stored a few cd’s which to me is bogus for the price but whatever. Then the iPod came out and that was pretty darn cool.

In 2005 I got the Dell DJ but I wish that I had gotten an iPod instead.

What a long way we have come that we now have an mp3 player that not only plays music but also video games, records HD video, views websites and now has a new thing called FaceTime which allows you to have a live video streaming phone call with someone. And it’s not even an iPhone either, it’s an iPod, a music player. The walk-man of the 21st century if you will.

Amazing!  What will they come up with next?