Google Chromecast

Chromecast

I didn’t know what to get my partner for Christmas because he doesn’t seem to show any interest to anything.  Everyone has a hobby of some sorts, but not him, so buying presents is difficult.  Last month he bought a new tablet from Verizon and I remember seeing the ads for Chromecast, so I figured this would make the perfect gift for him so he could watch Netflix and YouTube on his HDTV.

Chromecast Icon CircledOf course when it came, I couldn’t get it working.  I thought the setup would be easy, but it was anything but.  His tablet recognized it, but wouldn’t connect with it.  I decided that he could use my CR-48 (Chromebook) to watch Netflix, so I installed the extension and it recognized the Chromecast and connected instantly.  I went back to his tablet to the Chromecast app and it was already connected there too.  Despite the fact that I never even installed the Chromecast app on my Nook HD+, I see the Chromecast connect icon on Netflix and YouTube.

When I bought the Chromecast through the Google Play Store, I read the reviews and saw a couple of people bitching about the fact that you cannot watch home videos or pictures you have taken with your phone or tablet, but I found that to be false.  If you own a Chromecast, when you go to the Google Play Store on your device you will see a category with apps made specifically for Chromecast.  There is an app called avia which says you can share your personal photos, videos and music on the big screen.  The app is free, but it might be limited because it says “In-app purchase of $2.99  gives you Chromecast support, casting to DLNA enabled devices, access to Dropbox, support for themes and removes all ads.”  As with everything in life, read the reviews and decide for yourself.  There is only one app that will allow you to share your personal photos and videos… for now.

Loading the Chromecast is simple.  When you want to watch something, just click the Chromecast icon so it streams to your TV, then hit the play button and it will automatically switch to the Chromecast.  When you are done, you will have to get the remote control that came with your TV to switch the input back to the cable.  It’s actually very easy.

It’s a great device for those who don’t have an internet streaming device like the Apple TV, Roku or a Blu-ray player, it’s also cheaper at only $35.

Here are a couple of screenshots of YouTube and Netflix with the Chromecast icon.

Chromecast YouTube Chromecast Netflix

Virgin Mobile

Virgin-Updated-Logo-300x300I bought my first cell phone in 2002 against my partners wishes because he didn’t think I needed a cell phone, which if truth be told I really didn’t.  I mean, I don’t go to work everyday and need to make important phone calls, in fact I really hate talking on the phone lol.  I will call people from time to time, but I don’t spend a lot of time on it.  The main reason I wanted one was because I was traveling to visit family on the Greyhound and Amtrak busses back then two or three times a year and I didn’t like having to use dirty pay phones when I got there to have them come get me.  It was also difficult making and receiving long distance phone calls on their home phones, so I needed my own cell phone to call home.

nokia 3390 The cell phone that I bought was with T-Mobile and it was the Nokia 3390 which was fine at the time.  I had that phone for maybe 8 years and I hadn’t really used it for the last 4, but I kept paying for it just in case I needed it.  I had Gold Rewards, so I only had to pay for 1 month, but got a whole year of time.  I forgot to buy another card for another year and lost the number and the phone was no longer valid.

samsung-T401G-net10-hero-lg My next phone, which I am still using is a Samsung T401G, which is a great phone for texting, but the internet sucks on it and my signal is so weak that it drops calls on me all the time.  I got a “Are you there?” thing going on.  I have it with Net10 so I don’t have Gold Rewards which means I have to buy a $20 card every month to keep it even though I never use it.  I would use it more if it had more features though.

That’s where I am at now.  I really want to buy a smart phone to keep up with the times.  I have been shopping around, but nobody has given me any really good prices.  My partner has an iPhone with Verizon and he pays more than $100/mo for his service and he is stuck in a 2 year contract with 1 more year to go.  I don’t like that their smart (Android) pre-paid phones are $50 a month.  Net10’s smart (Android) pre-paid phones are also $50 a month, but they won’t sell one to me through their website and they are too expensive in the stores.

That brings me to Virgin…

I saw a commercial for Virgin, and even though I have seen this commercial a million times, it never clicked until last night.  They have Android smart phones and you never have to sign a contract.  You get 300 minutes with unlimited data and unlimited texting for only $35 a month.  That’s $15 more than I pay for my Net10 phone.  They also have another plan which is the same, except you get 1200 minutes for $45 a month and then unlimited everything for $55 a month.  That’s not bad.  Although I would get the $35 plan since I never use my minutes, I just want to use the apps with the unlimited data and texting.

What I really want a smart phone for is for certain apps that will make me money.  Like Staree which pays you when you take a picture and share it on Facebook and Twitter.  Viggle also pays you (with gift cards) when you check in when you are watching TV.  I mean, it’s not a steady income, but anything helps.  Plus I would like to read Kindle ebooks that aren’t available for my Nook without needing to buy a Kindle.

I also want a smart phone so I can do Facebook and Twitter updates and check email when I am not at home and don’t have a computer nearby, like at the doctor’s office while I’m waiting for him to come in the room for example.  I would also like to be able to play certain games that are only available on cell phones too.  My Samsung T401G has games, but they are nearly impossible to play with the numpad.

htcevov-gallery-angle-3 So, this is my Christmas wish.  I want a new HTC EVO V 4G Prepaid Android Phone (Virgin Mobile) .  Right now, this phone is $249.99 but on sale for $189.99 on the Virgin website, but it is on sale for $199.99 on Amazon.  Of course I don’t have the money for it now, but I will put money in PayPal every month until I can afford it.  I’m always broke so it’s difficult to save any money, and paying this much money up front for something like this would break me for the rest of the month. It’s not easy to just make a decision to spend that much money when I really don’t need to lol.

I chose this phone because it looks like a good phone.  It has a front facing camera and a 3D camera for video and pictures in the back.  According to a review, it’s good for playing games.  Even though this isn’t my main focus, I’m not going to buy a phone that doesn’t want to play games, because if it doesn’t play games well, then how would I expect it to run apps very well?

If/when I do buy this phone, I will probably give my current phone away to someone who doesn’t have a cell phone.  I won’t be able to keep my phone number, but I haven’t really given it out to too many people anyway, so changing my number won’t be a real issue.

I really don’t need this, but I want it, and why shouldn’t I have something cool, eh?

Oh and by the way, this is my commentary on my experiences and my wish for a new phone.  I am not getting paid for this.  It’d be cool if I were (hint hint wink wink Virgin Mobile).

Update: This is edited.  Previously, I chose the Kycera Rise and then I decided on the HTC One V.  I then decided that I wanted to spend a bit more and buy the HTC EVO V 4G.

Obviously I don’t have the money for this phone, but like I said in the paragraph with the phone, I will have to save up the money for it because this is a good phone.  Who knows, maybe by the time I have the money saved, it will go down in price and I’ll actually be able to afford it.

My CR-48 Brick

In the middle of December of 2010, Google surprised me by sending me an email asking me if I wanted to test a laptop with the new Google Chrome operating system if I sent in bug reports.  Happily I accepted the task and received my free laptop 2 days later.  I was shocked that I actually got it and I did the happy dance.  It’s sometimes mistaken for the pee pee dance, but it was a happy one.  I have had a wonderful year testing out this wonderful toy, but sometimes good things have to come to an end because it’s a brick now.

Ok to clarify, the laptop isn’t broken, it just won’t stay online.  I have it connected through my WiFi network, but as soon as I try to type something, it loses the signal.  The only way to get it back is to reboot.  Rebooting used to help, but now it just won’t stay connected anymore.  It will stay connected for hours, but as soon as I try to type something, it goes offline.  I can watch videos on YouTube, I can browse people’s Facebook page, I can look at any website in the world, I just can’t type anything.

At first when this would happen I would switch over to Verizon 3G, but I only get 100MB free data every month and I have already used 50MB over the last few days every time I want to type something.  At this point it’s just a waste of electricity having it on because if I want to type something, I have to do it on the desktop.

I tried doing research to get it fixed.  I went to the help section and looked at boards and found out that this is happening to a lot of people.  Someone said that Google was in touch with him and sent him an email with a link to a website that has instructions on how to take the laptop apart to re-seat the wifi connection, but I’m afraid I might just make it worse.  I really don’t know if that is the problem because it never gets moved, so there is no reason for anything to be loose in there.  It stays on my desk in the same spot all the time.  I rarely if ever bring it to another room of the house, and when I do pick it up, it’s to dust.  And, it only goes offline when I try to type something, why would it stay online for hours at a time, but then shut off as soon as I try to type something if the problem is that the wifi connection is loose?  I don’t think they are related.

A few of the people say that it’s not a software glitch, that the hardware needs to be re-seated, but that does not seem to make sense in my case.  I think it’s a software glitch and the only thing I can do is wait for Google to put out a new update.  How long will that take?

I have cleared my browsing data, browsing history and emptied the cache.  Before that whenever I would move the mouse it would go offline, so now at least it stays online until I type something.  It has gotten a little better, but not by much.  I deleted the cookies, cleared saved passwords and autofill form data and I deleted all of my files because they were redundant anyway.  I most likely downloaded images for blog posts or to transfer to the micro SD card for my phone.  The remaining files that aren’t on my computer were transferred to a USB flash drive.

I will continue to do research on the matter because I really want my CR-48 back.  I have lived my whole life without it, but I don’t know if I can live without it now.  I know that’s sad, but it is such a cool thing.  For anyone who doesn’t have one, they don’t know how awesome it is so they don’t know what I mean, but trust me, if you had one you’d understand.

I posted on the Google help boards, so hopefully I will hear from someone who can help.  Will update on the matter.

Merry Christmas

Can you believe that it’s finally Christmas?  Neither can I,  I mean, it seems like it was just summer like a week ago, and now it’s Christmas, and it will be a whole new year in a week.

We didn’t go out of town like we usually do because Darrin thought he was going to work on Monday, and he didn’t want to drive for 6 hours just to have to drive back home tonight.  So instead, we stayed home to enjoy the peace and quiet.

Presents…  Darrin has the job, so he makes the money and buys everything.  I can’t even afford to buy underwear, which by the way I asked for and got lol.

He really needed good cell phone service instead of his crappy Net10 service, so we went to Verizon and he bought himself an iPhone 4S.  He wanted to buy the iPhone 4 because it was $99, and at first he did, but then they added $45 tax and sold him a package of accessories and it all came to $199.  I told him to buy the 4S because I knew he would kick himself in the ass if he didn’t, but he didn’t think he could afford it.  When he realized that the 4 didn’t do what the 4S did (Siri and voice recognition instead of typing), he changed his mind and switched a couple of days later.  He had to pay the tax on the first one, plus the $35 restocking fee, but he’s really happy with it and that’s all that matters.

He asked me what I wanted, and he bought me the underwear that I mentioned before.  2 packages of boxer briefs which had 4 pairs per package for $32 each, but it was buy 1, get 1 half off, so it was $48 total before tax.  See why I can’t afford to buy underwear?  It’s expensive as hell lol.

We went to Kmart yesterday to buy presents for other people and he decided that he wanted to buy me something else, so he bought me a lava lamp.  I’ve always wanted one, but could never afford one.  It looks cool when it is working, but it’s mostly a blob on the bottom.  I don’t know why it isn’t doing what it’s supposed to, but then again isn’t that just my luck?  I finally get a lava lamp and it doesn’t go up and down.  But I still love it and I’m sure it will eventually get the hang of it.

Chips high school girlfriend gave him a tetris game, no not the video game, this is a physical game with plastic pieces.  It’s called Tetris Link.  I think that I love it more than he does because I’m a gamer and he isn’t.  He said he wanted to give it a try, but if he doesn’t like it then the only way I will be able to play it is if I can get people to play it with me via Google+ Hangouts.

I made some pumpkin pies yesterday and gave one of them with a container of Cool Whip to our tenant.  I don’t know if they really wanted one or not, but I made it for them so I hope they like it.  I love pumpkin pie, I don’t think you can have a Christmas without pumpkin pie, but that’s just me.

My final present will be the Christmas episode of Doctor Who.  If we had gone to San Diego today, I would have missed it because I don’t have a DVR.  I would have had to wait until it repeated, which I’m not sure when it will.  So I’m very happy that we didn’t go for that reason.

We had lunch at China Town Buffet.  We were going to go to either the Golden Corral or Hometown Buffet, but neither of them were open, so we ate Chinese food instead.  It was good, I mostly ate all chicken, which is all I ever eat there, but it was very good and filling.

Well, I hope you all have a great Christmas and get lots of presents that you were hoping for.  Happy Holidays.

Pictures – click to see it bigger.

Happy Holidays 2011

I forgot to send out cards this year.  Oopsie!  So instead of sending our cards out late, this is what everyone is getting lol.  If you are wondering why it’s not a photo of us, neither Darrin nor myself are photogenic (we hate our pictures being taken) so you get to see our tree instead.  Hey, Darrin just got his new iPhone, I don’t want to be responsible for breaking the camera with my image LOL.  No but seriously, I would like to get a picture of us together but I’d prefer in a more professional setting.  Maybe in the year 2025…

Every year since the 90’s, I have spent Christmas with either my family, or with Chips.  This year we are going to stay home instead of traveling.  It is fun to drive south for the holidays, but Darrin just can’t get the time off.  I actually don’t mind staying home because I’ll be able to watch the Doctor Who Christmas special.  I would hate to have to wait for the next series to come on when it finally repeats.  That has happened every year too so I’m looking forward to finally watching it the day it actually airs.

Santa has already visited us, so we really don’t have much to celebrate anymore.  Darrin bought himself, or should I say Santa bought Darrin a new iPhone 4S with a 2 year contract with Verizon.  And I got some new underwear.  Yes, I asked for underwear lol.  That was actually what I really wanted so I’m happy.  I was down to 3 holey pair, so I was long overdue.  I would have asked for an iPod Touch 4th gen 16GB, but Santa has already spent too much money on one apple product, so I can wait to see if I get any money from book sales for that, or an iPad2 lol.

Speaking of my book, I had hoped I would have been finished with it by the day after Christmas but I am still in editing.  I finished my final edit, but then I went back to the beginning and have found more issues.  I am working on my final final edit so hopefully it will be finished by January 1st 2012.  I can’t promise anything because when I finish with my final final edit, I will of course have to read the whole book again to make absolutely sure it’s perfect before I publish it.  I don’t want even one word out of place or misspelled lol.

In case you are wondering, yes I have been working on this book for the last 6 months.  I actually started in 1989… started over in 1997… started over summer 2010 and only wrote 3 or 4 chapters.  Started over again in May or June 2011 where I rewrote the chapters that I wrote in 2010 and wrote the rest of the book.  It only took 2 months to write it, but it has taken me 4 months to edit it.  Writing is hard ya’ll!

Anyway, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you all.

Our Roku Boxes Arrived Today… They’re Going Back Tomorrow

It was on Christmas Eve, more than a week ago when we were told by Darrin’s family members that we should cancel our cable to get an Xbox to watch Hulu and Netflix instead. I researched my options and found Roku. I researched to find out if it was worth it and when I thought it would be, I rushed Darrin into making the decision to buy some Roku boxes, 1 for each TV in the house so that we would get a $10 discount per box.

I waited on pins and needles all weekend until they finally arrived this afternoon with the regular mail and was like a kid opening up his Christmas presents.

I opened one of the Roku boxes and connected it to the living room TV because I wanted the living room to be the first room that was connected with the Roku so Darrin would have it to watch when he got home. Problem… it wouldn’t connect to our network.

I brought it into the bedroom so that I could at least connect it with the network cable because I figured that maybe it needed to be connected with the wire first, then I could get it connected wirelessly. I get it connected and updated and all seemed fine but when I tried to get it to connect with the wi-fi, it just wouldn’t work.

So I got on the Roku website on the laptop and go to the help page to chat with a technician who can help me figure it out. We’re chatting for maybe 1 hour and 45 minutes and I lose the connection to the internet which means I lose the chat with “Sam”. I reconnected the laptop to the Verizon 3G network because I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t get disconnected again. I had to wait 20 minutes to talk to another person, I told them I was talking to Sam but he was already with someone else so that person tried helping me.

Another 45 minutes later and I finally figured it out, got it online then went into the living room and hooked the other one up to the tv and it connected without much trouble at all. I say thanks and goodbye to the person I was chatting with and I think I had a good 30 minutes to play with it when all of a sudden my internet goes out.

The problem is, “Sam” had me change my network name, the channel it was connected with,change it from WPA2 to WEP, change the password and everything. Now, nothing will connect. I spend the next 2 hours by myself trying to get it all back online.

This just isn’t working out so I unplugged both Roku boxes, roll up the AC wires, tie them up with the twist ties and put everything back in their boxes and spend another hour trying to get the network to work again and it did. I tried going back to my original settings but it just didn’t want to connect.

How I got the Roku boxes connected is with the mac address. I had to force the network to only accept the devices with their mac address. I’ve never had to do that before. I have connected my PSP, Nook, Chips computer and the CR-48 Laptop to the network and have never once had an issue with the mac address so why would I ever think that the Roku boxes would need me to do that?

So the Roku boxes go back tomorrow. We have to call the phone number and tell them that it just didn’t work out for us and we’re returning them. They give us a 30 day money back guarantee minus the shipping charges.

You know, I got to thinking, I can’t live without live TV. We need to be able to see the news or weather alerts that scroll on the top of the screen. It’s just not for us, we like it the way it is, no need to change it. Someone wise said to me on Twitter today “*whistles the old familiar tune* Why fix what ain’t done broke…..*snorts*”. It’s so true. And our system of watching TV on cable wasn’t broken, switching to the Roku only, now that’s broken.

I looked at Hulu plus and they only had maybe 10% of the shows that I watch. I installed PlayOn.tv and it ran so slow on the Roku because my processor wasn’t fast enough. It would’ve been ok for me if that worked but it didn’t.

I am not saying the Roku is a bad product but it just doesn’t work for me. It most certainly doesn’t work with my network but getting rid of cable and going with internet tv is just not what I want now. I still can’t afford $110 cable but we’re going to look into thinning out some of our services to make things easier on me.

I am not going to keep Hulu Plus after my 30 day trial is over nor am I keeping Netflix because I just can’t afford to have this additional expense on top of my cable. I will continue to use regular free Hulu if I miss a show but Hulu can’t replace cable for me.

Who knows, maybe one day I might get an Xbox or a PS3 or even a Blu-ray that will connect to Hulu and/or Netflix. If that day comes then it will be a nice addition but not replacement.

Amazon Wireless

amazonwirelessAmazon has added a new service to their website called Amazon Wireless.  This is kind of neat because you can choose your wireless company, which by the way they only have 2 so far which are AT&T and Verizon Wireless, then choose a phone then choose whether you want a new individual account or if you are already part of an existing individual account or family account.

Most of the phones are only a penny and so you basically get a free phone but when you click that you already have an existing account the price may go up to about $50-$75 or more depending on the phone.  I found that certain phones you still get for just a penny with an already existing plan.

I think that’s great that they will give you a free phone if you are upgrading your cell phone but not your plan because it just makes it easier to get a new phone.  I’m sure people don’t want to upgrade because they just can’t afford to so this makes it easier.

I didn’t see any iPhones listed but I did see Blackberry Curve and Blackberry Bold.  They also have some other well known companies like Samsung, LG, Motorola and Sony to name a few.

Now here is my question and I hope someone will find this via google blog search so they can answer.  I have a pre-paid cell phone with T-Mobile.  Of course they don’t offer T-Mobile yet but it says coming soon.  But when they do get T-Mobile I wonder if I can buy a new phone for my pre-paid plan with GPS and Mp3 capability.  I wonder if it would work.  I don’t need internet, I just want to be able to have the GPS and Mp3 along with being able to call people.

I currently have a Nokia 3390 cell phone pre-paid plan with T-Mobile that I’ve had since 2002.  The reason I got a pre-paid plan is for 2 reasons.  #1 being that a friend of ours in Hollywood was always driving to Malibu to visit her mom (this was 1997-1999, she passed away in 2000) and she couldn’t get reception and she was having nothing but problems but to be fair she knows that she didn’t have reception due to the mountains that she was driving through but she blamed it on the cell phone company anyway.  She insisted on getting out of her contract to go with another company and she had to pay big bucks to get out of it which was dumb because she had the same issue with another company lol.  So it’s for this very reason that Darrin forbade me, yes, I said forbade, from getting a contract.

Reason number 2 is that I have a little to no credit score since I never really established credit in my late teens.  No credit cards means bad credit score which means the cell phone companies will only give me a cell phone with the highest paid plan which makes absolutely no sense to me.  They should offer me their cheapest plan so they know they get their money every month.  Also, I’m on disability so I can’t really afford a monthly plan fee.  All I really can afford is the pre-paid because I only pay for minutes when I need them and I don’t use it that much to warrant buying a lot of minutes.

Darrin has taken over the phone though because he needs a phone at work so when he’s driving if he needs to make a call to AAA for a tow or whatever then he has a phone.  Also if he has to call 911 then he has a phone.  He usually uses it to call me at the house on his way home.  But he’s always asking me to go to map quest and tell him the directions that he writes down and I think it would be much easier if he had a GPS on the phone.

Sorry I rambled on but you have to know the full story of why I’m asking lol.  Thanks for your response in advance.