TV, Or Not To TV…

I remember the early days in Worcester, MA. My family had a B&W TV set that was always not working for one reason or another. When I was old enough to wander beyond our immediate neighborhood, I discovered a TV shop that had a tube tester. I saw someone using it and realized that I could pull the tubes out of our not-working TV and test them. I did. I found a bad tube. I got a replacement. And the TV worked!

But…unfortunately, our rabbit ears were on the wrong side of the large hill where we lived. The transmitters were nearer Boston and our reception was terrible. We got used to it.

The next thing to help with TV viewing was getting the antenna up on top of the house. In those early days, I don’t remember if we did or didn’t have a rooftop antenna. Then, one day, we did. I was too young to know how it got there (or maybe it was there all along?)…but the magical flat two conductor wire made TV watching a tiny bit better. The rooftops were nowhere high enough to solve the wrong-side-of-the-hill problem.

We even had a huge hospital on our hill and there was a rumor going around that whenever the X-Ray machine was being used, our reception became worse. (I believed it because, why not?)

Color and cable TV came along over the years. Things were nice. We could watch more programs with nice reception. Life was perfect.

Then computers and the Internet happened. TV was pulled into the mix over many years. Cable TV companies were in the business of providing both services and getting competition from non-cable-TV entities (think YouTube). And then video-on-demand. And then Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire…

So, over the last few days, I’ve been dabbling with CBS All Access. This is CBS taking advantage of their VOD (video on demand) capability by providing programs:

  • for free over the airwaves (all you need is a digital TV antenna)
  • via a cable TV subscription (where you get the free programming on demand)
  • via their special all-access channel (where you can get it over the Internet or via some cable TV subscriptions)
  • via Roku, Firestick, etc.

Oh, and TV’s and computer screens are somewhat interchangeable in this brave new word. I have a 60″ plasma TV that I watch normal TV (via Xfinity and Roku for the most part). Last nigh, I watched the last few episodes of Star Trek Discover using the computer attached to my plasma screen. I use the screen as a monitor and a TV depending on how I feel. So, how did it work?


Computer, Headphone, Speakers, Plasma TV, Mac Mini, Roku,Soundbar, Stereo

The computer is most often running Linux – but that doesn’t matter because the plasma TV has a Mac Mini and a dual-boot computer along with my Roku that can drive it. Both computers provide a nice browser-based interface to many of the “channels” that are on the Roku. The computer user-interface is just way better. In all cases, it’s just a better way.

So, if someone asks if they should buy a Roku or a Firestick or some other such entity, I’m going to tell them to just hook up a computer and enjoy the ride.

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