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    It’s Not TV, It’s Shepflix

    Whenever the real world would get too overwhelming, I retreat into a hole of comfort television. When there’s so much bad going on in the world at a non-stop pace, bouncing around streaming services looking for comfort TV wasn’t doing the job anymore. So what did I do? I created my own cable network that shows all my favorite comfort programming using the excellent app Channels.

    My Setup

    I have the Channels server app running on a 2012 Mac Mini, but you can run Channels just about anywhere. Once you have the server installed, you can begin adding sources for the content. Channels supports local content, OTA (Over the Air) content, and services like TV Everywhere. For instance, I use DirecTV Stream for my live TV and I can add it as a source and the channels that support TV Everywhere will appear in Channels. It’s not all of them, but quite a few.

    I’ve added all of my non-DRMed media (Channels cannot play content secured by DRM purchased from iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, etc) that is just stored on external hard drives as sources and began using the excellent Virtual Channels feature to begin creating my fake cable provider/streamer. This is how I use Channels the most. Sure, it’s great for DVR content and watching live TV, but where it really shines is being able to essentially create your own cable company and program the channels with the media you already own.

    Virtual Channels

    channels guide showing my virtual channels

    So far, I have created 27 Virtual Channels. Most of my virtual channels are dedicated to a single show and play the entire run from start to finish, but you can really program them to air in any order. I’ve also created some channels that bring together a whole genre. For instance, I have a Classic Comedies channel that will show blocks of episodes (3 episodes per block, in order, just like after school!) of shows like Seinfeld, Friends, Spin City, 30 Rock, Brooklyn 99, etc. I also have a Dramas channel that shows drama TV shows like ER, The West Wing, Fringe, and more. I even have dedicated comedy and drama movie channels that rotate through my movies that are tagged in those genres.

    What’s really neat about the way Virtual Channels work is it will “air” your content as if it were a real channel. It’s not really playing the media until someone tunes in, but it appears like it is. So if you flip to a channel halfway through an episode, that’s where you will start (with the option to start the episode from the beginning). It brings back the old “channel flipping” nostalgia and I’m here for it.

    Other Features

    Channels does offer other features, like commercial skipping DVRed content that is pretty seamless. I don’t DVR a lot of content, so I haven’t used it that much, but when I have it’s worked flawlessly. Since it is a DVR server it also has the typical features you’d expect from a DVR, like scheduling Series Passes and Team Passes. If you have a TV tuner for over the air channels, you can hook it up and start recording over the air channels to your DVR. I hope to start using this in the future once I get a HDHomeRun.

    Ending Thoughts

    Since I’ve installed and setup Channels, I’ve noticed I’ve spent more time watching stuff than searching for stuff. I know if I want to watch one of my favorite shows, I can flip on my Apple TV or iPad and start streaming my content. If I’m bored, I don’t have to think about what I want to watch because I have 27 channels (and media not included in the virtual channels) that I can flip on at any time and I know I will always find something to watch. Also, if you’re like me and can’t stand silence, it’s perfect for a stream of background noise. Overall, my experience with Channels has been great and well worth the $80 a year subscription.

    My Dreams of Cardinals Streaming May Never Come True

    But Diamond is said to currently only carry the digital rights to five of those teams: the Tigers, Royals, Marlins, Brewers and Rays.

    Therefore, even if Diamond and Amazon do wind up with a court-approved arrangement, Diamond could not stream games via Amazon for any of its other MLB teams beyond those five. - The Athletic

    This is so disappointing and annoying. Blackout rules are arcane. Being beholden to a dying industry is no way to increase fans of your product. MLB really needs to figure this out quick or they will continue to bleed fans to the other sports.

    A Lesson in Kindness

    I recently learned a lesson in kindness. It was an obvious lesson that I’ve learned a million times, but a reminder is always welcome and often needed. To give some backstory, I live in a condominium complex that has several elderly residents. I also work from home and have a dog. A quick walk around the complex and through the courtyard is always a nice break in the day. It gives me fresh air, lets my dog Spike expel some energy, and allows me to clear my head. I can’t tell you how many times a quick walk outside had completely changed my mood.

    Over the last several years, I’ve learned to time my walks to avoid certain neighbors. I want to point out, I have no issues with my neighbors, there’s just some I prefer to talk to more than others. In the case of taking walks during the work day, I try to avoid being away from my desk for long periods of time, so it becomes necessary to avoid some of the more talkative neighbors. Jim was one of those neighbors.

    I don’t know much about Jim, other than he was older, had cancer in his legs, lived alone, and loved dogs and old signs. His condo was covered with old garage-style signs. Every time he’d see me walking by he’d stop me to follow him back to his place so he could give Spike treats. It got to the point where if we were walking next to Jim’s building, Spike would look towards his door to see if maybe it was a treat day. Every time we’d visit, he’d ask if Spike remembered him.

    There were some days where I didn’t have time to stop and talk to Jim. On those days, if I saw him out and he did not see me, I would purposely change my route to avoid him. I was never mean or rude to him, I just felt it would be easier to avoid him than tell him I didn’t have time for him that day, and there were many days where I’d be booked in meetings all day and the 10 minute breaks were all I had.

    A couple of weeks go by with no sight of Jim. That’s not totally abnormal, but still sat in the back of my mind. Fast forward to this week. When talking to a neighbor, I jokingly (trust me, I regret this) said that I was going to take Spike for a walk and hoped that Jim wasn’t out so I could get back in time for the Blues game to start. That’s when I found out Jim died. That’s why he hadn’t been around in a couple of weeks.

    All this week I’ve been feeling the guilt of those times I avoided Jim on my walks. Why did I have to avoid him? Couldn’t I have shown just a little more kindness and stopped by whenever he was out instead of avoiding him? He just wanted someone to talk to. Someone to remember him. Isn’t that what we all want? I’m sorry, Jim. Thank you for the reminder to do better.

    So Long, Waino

    To me that says it all about the journey I’ve been on as a Cardinal.

    I started as this young guy who got sent home … because he just wasn’t ready.

    Then I became a World Series champ … good arm, pitched well, barely knew a thing.

    Then I became a champ again … but so much had changed from the time before. This time, I couldn’t use my arm to help the team — I couldn’t pitch at all. But I’d grown mature enough to help in other ways. For that second ring, I was ready. Ready to see the game outside of myself. Ready to be there for my teammates, like my teammates were for me. Source: Dear St. Louis by Adam Wainwright | The Players’ Tribune

    It truly is the end of an era for the Cardinals. What a career Waino had and I’m happy he chose to make St. Louis his home for his career. Can’t wait to see (or hear) what he does next. I have no doubt he’ll be in a broadcast booth full time if he wants it.

    Sleep Focus Not Turning Off in iOS 17

    Since upgrading to iOS 17/iPhone 15 I’ve been having issues with my Sleep Focus not turning off automatically. Apparently, I’m not the only one. This post on the MacRumors forum seems to have worked for me so far.

    1. Deleted the Sleep Focus
    2. Restarted iPhone
    3. Went into Health and made sure I had a Sleep Schedule defined there
    4. Created a new Sleep Focus
    5. Added People & Apps that I wanted to be allowed to deliver notifications
    6. Made sure the schedule transferred over from Health
    7. If Sleep Focus turns itself back on after this, turn it off.
    8. Restart iPhone

    I Love My Mintbook Pro

    I have a 2015 Macbook Pro that I wasn’t doing anything with and it’s no longer supported by Apple. I decided, since it is “the year of Linux on the desktop”, I’d experiment with Linux again.

    One of my biggest problems with Linux over the years (back when I was still a PC person) was trying to get hardware to work with it and the UX is typically an afterthought. In the years since I first experimented with Linux, things have changed drastically. Hardware support, even for Apple hardware, has improved over the years. The UX, especially for my chosen distro, Linux Mint, has drastically improved as well.

    So I’m basically a week into using Linux Mint on my Macbook Pro. I did take a brief detour with both Ubuntu and Pop_OS, but found them to run into the same performance issues and issues with waking my Macbook from sleep. Nothing I found online helped, so I quickly went back to Mint, which runs blazing fast on this machine. In fact, it nowruns faster with Mint than it did on macOS. I also haven’t had any hardware issues with Mint with the exception of needing to install some firmware via the command line to get the Facetime camera to work (which I never use anyway).

    Prior to installing Linux on what I now call my Mintbook Pro, the machine was just sitting in a corner collecting dust. Now this machine has a whole new life ahead of it. If you have a spare machine, why not give it a shot?

    What Is Reddit's CEO Doing?

    This article really doesn't look good for Steve Huffman or Reddit's investors. Some of my favorite bits:

    About a year into his tenure as Reddit CEO, it came out that Huffman was rogue-editing comments that were critical of him...

    Huffman chose to compare the moderators who objected to his API decision-making as the “landed gentry”...

    Huffman seems confused about his competitors and about the risk factors of community moderation...

    Reddit just reopened r/Place, a kind of collaborative art project, which may be a way of gauging the mood. Huffman’s handle on Reddit is “spez,” and you can count for yourself the number of times Redditors have written “fuck spez” on r/Place

    Ignoring Radioactive Waste for 75 Years

    From Missouri Independent

    Generations of children who grew up alongside Coldwater Creek have, in recent decades, faced rare cancers, autoimmune disorders and other mysterious illnesses they have come to believe were the result of exposure to its waters and sediment.

    This is certainly true of my mom. She grew up around and played in the creek. She has had multiple cancers, autoimmune disease, and other health issues. 

    Radioactive waste was known to pose a threat to Coldwater Creek as early as 1949, records show. K-65, a residue from the processing of uranium ore, was stored in deteriorating steel drums or left out in the open near the creek at multiple spots, according to government and company reports.

    Fuck these people. Fuck them all. 

    Dear Apple - Knock it Off

    Dear Apple,

    STOP REOPENING APPS AND WINDOWS AFTER A REBOOT FROM A SOFTWARE UPDATE IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE SETTING CHECKED.

    For fuck’s sake, this has been going on for far too long and it annoys the shit out of me. If the OS and apps actually behaved properly after a reboot and auto-reopen, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, but they never do so I ultimately have to reboot a second time.

    KNOCK IT OFF.

    Sincerely, Annoyed Customer.

    Reporting for Jury Duty

    Do yourself a favor and check out Jury Duty on FreeVee. It’s really good. From Wikipedia:

    The series chronicles the inner workings of a jury trial in the US through the eyes of juror Ronald Gladden, a solar contractor from San Diego, who is unaware that his jury duty summons was not official, and that everyone on the jury aside from him is an actor. Everything that happens, inside and outside the courtroom, is planned.

    Saved by the ChatGPT

    I asked ChatGPT to write a Saved by the Bell episode. The results are pretty great. 

    Title: The Great Screech-in

    Synopsis: Screech wants to join a prestigious math club but he needs a recommendation letter from a teacher. Unfortunately, all the teachers hate him and refuse to write him one. When the gang finds out, they decide to throw a surprise party for Screech where they all write him glowing recommendation letters, hijinks ensue.

    (Scene: Bayside High hallway)

    Zack: (smirking) "Hey Screech, how's that math club coming along?”

    Screech: (looking downcast) "Not great, Zack. All the teachers hate me and won't write me a recommendation letter.”

    (Cuts to Kelly, Jessie and Lisa overhearing the conversation)

    Lisa: (rolling her eyes) "Typical Screech. Always trying to worm his way into elitist clubs.”

    Jessie: (scoffing) "As if being in a math club is something to brag about.”

    Kelly: (smiling) "Come on guys, let's do something nice for Screech. He's always been there for us when we needed him.”

    (Cut to: Screech's locker)

    The gang is gathered around Screech as he opens his locker to find it filled with balloons and a big banner that reads "We Love You Screech!”

    Screech: (tearfully) "I don't know what to say. This is the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me.”

    Zack: (grinning) "That's not all, buddy. We're going to throw you a surprise party tonight and we've got a special guest lined up to write you that recommendation letter.”

    Screech: (excitedly) "Really? Who is it?”

    (Cut to: Later that night at the party)

    The party is in full swing with everyone enjoying themselves

    Who is it?! I don’t know. That’s where it cut off. I guess we’ll never know. 

    The Tale of Jenny and Screech

    I’ve been fascinated by a new (to me) artist named Ren after his genius Hi Ren video. I didn’t think he would be able to top that song’s storytelling, but I was wrong. Before Hi Ren, he had a three song trilogy, The Tale of Jenny and Screech and it is just as good. He is such a good storyteller and the directing in the videos is fantastic. Ren is an artist to watch. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

    Hi Ren

    There were no real winners and no real losers in psychological warfare. But there were victims. And there were students…

    Sometimes an artist, a video, the music, and the lyrics come together to create a perfect piece of art. Hi Ren did just that. 

    Tim McCarver Dies at 81

    Tim McCarver, a two-time World Series champion who became a household name as a highly skilled broadcaster both nationally and in three Major League cities, died on Thursday at the age of 81. - MLB

    Tim McCarver drove a lot of Cardinals fans nuts, but we still had love for him. Rest in peace.

    A Couple of Podcast Recommendations

    Two of my favorite comedy podcasts that I’ve grown to love over the past couple of years are Off Menu and Films to Be Buried With with Brett Goldstein.

    The premise of Off Menu is relatively simple: comedian hosts Ed Gamble and James Acaster invite a guest to their dream restaurant and the guest chooses their dream meal, from start to finish, and conversation is naturally had along the way.

    Films to Be Buried With invites a guest on who has recently “died” and their life is discussed with comedian, writer, and actor Brett Goldstein, via a series of films the guest would like to be buried with. Categories include: first movie you ever saw, most underrated movie, best movie of all time.

    If you’re looking for a laugh, go ahead and check these out. Maybe look for a guest that you’re familiar with and start from there!

    Late Late Show to be Replaced by @ Midnight Reboot

    From The Hollywood Reporter

    The network is set to replace the long-running Late Late Show franchise with a reboot of comedic panel game show @ midnight, sources confirm to The Hollywood Reporter. Stephen Colbert, who hosts The Late Show for the network, is on board as executive producer of the revived program that aired 600 episodes on Comedy Central before signing off in August 2017. 

    I always liked the original @ midnight TV show. I'm all for more panel-style shows in the US that showcase comedians. The original was so much fun, especially when Ron Funches or Doug Benson would be on. I will still watch the original on Paramount+ if I need a laugh. 

    So Long Netflix

    I’ve been a Netflix subscriber since 2012 and that is coming to an end. Let’s be honest, this was a long time coming. A while back they decided on a business plan of quanitity over quality with their originals, have cut back on back catalogue spending, and cancel series before they are given a chance. On top of all of this, they are instituting new rules for accounts.

    Netflix’s new usage rules basically don’t allow you to use Netflix outside of your home internet without jumping through hoops. If you do want to use it outside of your home internet, you have to use a temporary access code that grants access for 7 days. Why does it matter where I use Netflix if I’m not over my screen limit? What is the point of having a limit on the number of devices that can use Netflix at once if you are now going to restrict it to a single household?

    My family gets Netflix as part of a family plan with our cellular provider. It is a perk of the provider. You don’t have to live in the same house to be on the same family plan, but now you will have to be in the same house in order to use one of the perks. I’ve confirmed this with the carrier. So now, that perk became useless to some of the people in the family.

    What about flights? What about staying in hotels? What about road trips with kids? They just made the convenience of the service a lot more inconvenient and are treating their customers downright hostile.

    Whoever is in charge at Netflix has nothing but contempt for their users. Even if they backtrack on this, I’m done with them. I removed the perk from my cellular plan (and will now get a monthly credit on my phone bill for the amount they would have paid Netflix even though this is not advertised as something they can do) and, as soon as my parents’ profile is transferred, will cancel my Netflix account for good.

    Replacing Twitter

    For those seeking a better, calmer, and more organic Twitter alternative, I suggest taking a look at micro.blog. It’s paid for a hosted blog over there but you can BYOB (Bring Your Own Blog) for free. The latter can be anything: WordPress, Substack, Mastodon, etc. Source: - (A)social being

    I couldn’t agree more. I will probably stop pushing my content from micro.blog to Twitter soon with Musk taking over. The only thing I wish micro.blog had is a location-based search so I can find users in my area.

    30 Years of Goosebumps

    “Can you imagine 30 years of this stuff? It’s hard to believe. When we started ‘Goosebumps,’ I said, ‘Let’s try two or three.’ I wasn’t real optimistic at the time. Now 30 years later, I’ve lost track of how many books.” Source: Author R.L. Stine celebrates 30 years of ‘Goosebumps’ at Library of Congress event - WTOP News

    Goosebumps was a huge part of my childhood. I think I had at least the first 30 books in the series and here it is 30 years later and we’re still talking about them. Whenever a new one would come out my parents would take me to Waldenbooks at Jamestown Mall to get it. If it weren’t for these books, I may not have found my passion for reading.

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