Playstation Vue a Mixed Bag

vueMy wife and I cut the cord (i.e., dropped cable service) in early 2015 and had been using SlingTV – DISH’s live TV streaming service – to replace some of our sports and cooking shows. They have an odd interface, questionable customer service, and ongoing growing pains, but it included enough programming and functionality for us to make the switch.

SlingTV only has the licensing to offer on-demand and pause/fast-foward/rewind on a limited number of channels, and no way to record anything, so after the initial year we were ready for something different. Enter Playstation Vue.

As soon as Playstation Vue went nationwide in March, we signed up. Prior to that, they had been running in a limited number of test markets and only offered Playstation hardware compatibility. I would have preferred a Roku interface, but we already hadĀ a FireTV, so that would do for now.

It turns out that Playstation Vue has an even odder interface, even more questionable customer service, and even more growing pains.

On the up side, Vue offers a cloud-based DVR service and a lot more channels for not much more money, and you can pause live on almost any channel. They include the Fox Sports regional channels in most areas, and the Vue login will work with almost all of the networks’ standalone streaming apps and channels. By comparison, SlingTV’s login only works with WatchESPN, at least as of this writing.

On the down side, you’re limited to using Vue in a single location, although you can login with five different devices. With SlingTV, you can use it anywhere, but you can only have one device logged in at a time. Given a choice between the two, Vue’s model works out better for our situation.

Vue’s cloud DVR has numerous bugs on several fronts. Sometimes it will record a second showing days later, instead of getting the first showing. You can’t set extra time for sports or other variable length programming. And sometimes a recording will just skip all over the place, rendering it useless.

The guide part of the interface uses a vertically scrolling grid, the exact opposite of the horizontally scrolling grid that everybody is used to. The small type is difficult to read, at least on the FireTV, and it takes a long time to scroll across the guide to get to what you’re looking for. It seems like they need to do more caching and look-ahead programming with it. Listing information is constantly reloading.

But all in all, the DVR works most of the time, and if all else fails you can log into many channels’ standalone streaming apps/channels. AT&T and DirecTV Announcement have announced a new live TV service for later this year, and YouTube and Hulu have both announced new services for next year, so hopefully the competition for solid service and better interfaces will ratchet up even further soon.

Leonard Nimoy, The Great Paris

Leonard Nimoy as ParisAs a kid, Mission Impossible was one of the few shows made for adults that I liked. I always hoped for an episode with The Great Paris, Master of Disguise, a retired magician whose real name was supposedly unknown. Martin Landau was great as Rollin Hand before Leonard Nimoy replaced him on the series, but there was something about the Paris character and his clever quips that struck a chord with me.

It’s interestingĀ that Landau was Gene Roddenberry’s first choice to play the character of Spock on Star Trek, and he turned it down. At the time of this writing, Martin Landau is still alive at 86! Those tall serious Vulcan types really do live long.

Mission Impossible is still on Netflix, so I believe it’s time for a marathon – but starting with season 4. RIP, Leanard Nimoy.

Epic Movie Soundtrack Fail

It’s fun to experiment with different kinds of music to use in the background while working. Most vocal music is too distracting, so I usually stick to instrumental music.

Today I gave “Epic Movie Soundtracks” a shot. This differs from other movie soundtracks in that it’s just instrumental music – usually Modern Classical – that creates mood behind the scenes. As opposed to Julie Andrews wailing on about how alive the hills are. But the operative word here is: MOOD. And in a big way…

During the first half hour it felt like I was being frantically chased. Very stressful. Heart rate increased. Paranoia off the charts.

The next seven minutes brought a general sense of impending doom. What colossal catastrophe happened in this movie? I was afraid to look out the window for fear that the city was gone.

The next four minutes had me wistfully gazing off the front of a large ship that was about to hit an iceberg. Possibly in the early 1900s. I knew what movie this was from, but that didn’t stop me from quietly reflecting on my life – because it was about to end. Abruptly. With a splash.

Well, needless to say I wasn’t getting any work done even though it felt like I’d been through the wringer.

Experiment: Fail.

Next up: Drums & Bass…

(Originally posted here for day 7 of the YourTurnChallenge)