Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cable TV is Lost

We all know that person, and that person could be you, who has complained that MTV just isn't MTV because they don't play music videos all day. Everything would be better if they were just like they used to be. Well, guess what. That's what MTV Classic does; all day, non-stop music videos. And guess what; you're not watching it. MTV Classic is the least watched entertainment channel.

MTV Classic started life with hopeful viewers intending to see the shows and music videos that made MTV. Instead, we got reruns of shows from the late '90s, with the oldest shows being The Real World, Aeon Flux, Jackass, and Daria. Not even the original Beavis and Butthead ever aired, just the 2011 reboot. This angered viewers, or would-be viewers. For the first couple months of the network's life, the MTV Classic Facebook page posts were flooded with enraged fans either demanding MTV Classic air shows older than the late '90s, or just air music videos. So, Viacom chose the latter. Now, no angry comments, but also, no viewers.

MTV Classic is a curiosity. Was the goal simply to just focus on millennials to try to get them back to watching television, or were they just trying to work with a no-budget way of forming a channel? Unless Viacom really never intended to branch out the programming timeline, I can only assume that for MTV to air classic shows from way back when, they would've had to pay for all the music they used in the shows that they may no longer have the rights to. This is a lesson to cable channels across the board: either go all the way, or don't even try.

The same goes for Pop, the previous TVGN, or TV Guide Channel. The channel started out as a Trio-like channel geared for pop-culture programming. Now it's just reruns of That '70s Show, and Celebrity Name Game. Both great shows, but not what the channel was originally for. The same also goes for The Splat, the nighttime block on TeenNick that was originally for classic Nickelodeon shows that mainly just sticks to the late late '90s for programming and nothing else.

I'm sure there's countless examples of network decay, but one good example of a network sticking with their original game plan is TBS. Before the rebranding in 2015, TBS was a painfully generic comedy channel. Sure, it's the home of my man Conan, but it was also the home of countless horrible sitcoms, including but not limited to Sullivan and Son, Ground Floor, and Men at Work (not the band). All lazy sitcoms that just plain old bother me, damn it. It doesn't matter what I think, the shows all did pretty darn good, averaging just below 2 million viewers, which is pretty good for cable. TBS didn't have to rebrand themselves, they could've continued airing crap and they would've been fine, but they decided to go for a more millennial shift, I suppose, and create really smart comedies with a unique brand identity. They even try new things, like binge marathons of complete seasons of shows, and critics at least love it. It proves that we don't need reboots, and nostalgia to get people back to television, we need compelling content. And even if we're not watching on cable, let people watch where they watch, like Hulu, or Sling, and just create a pay service on the channel's website. Which is where Viacom is screwing up again by discontinuing their contract with Hulu. Hulu is what a lot of people use as a replacement for a DVR, so by removing content from it, you're just removing viewers, plain and simple.

I may be one of the few millennials who cares about cable TV, but if networks want to keep people paying attention to their content, they need to do new things to get people interested. Because sure, I like That '70s Show, but I can also watch it somewhere else, and even pick the episode I want.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2013 Jeep Patriot Review

If what you're looking for in a vehicle is the most patriotic sounding car, look no further than the Jeep Patriot. Or an American Motors Eagle. Oh, if I could've been a car buyer in the '80s, the Eagle would've been my ride. And honestly, they have a lot in common: they're both car-based crossovers designed to give 4WD when you need it. The only thing the Patriot is missing are those sweet door handles and the gigantic windows. And wood paneling.

The Jeep Patriot was designed to be a baby Liberty/Wrangler for those who want better fuel economy in an SUV with a Jeep logo on it. In 2007 when the Patriot was released, there was no Renegade, or Cherokee to provide for a fuel efficient alternative, your other choices were the Compass, which looks like a baby Grand Cherokee, the tank Liberty, and the family-sized Grand Cherokee and Commander. Now that the Jeep lineup has the Renegade, Compass, and Cherokee, where does the Patriot fit in? Well, it won't for long, because 2017 is the last model year unfortunately, but when it was around, it served as the value Jeep. Most Chrysler dealers seemed to option the Patriot towards the low end, while the Compass, which is the same damn car, gets optioned as a more premium car, even though they could both be optioned at impressively low prices. Sure, you could find a Patriot brand new with the bells and whistles, but I could never find a base model Compass at a couple of the dealers I looked up online. Plus, the Patriot base model is cheaper than the Compass base, at $18,040, and sometimes lower for the earlier model years. That doesn't sound so low, but when you compare other compact SUVs in the class, most of them start in the low to mid $20,000s, making the Patriot the cheapest compact SUV in America. *cue eagle soar and explosion* Meaning if you're low on budget, you can get a newer 4WD SUV for a lot lower than the competition. And that's what I did.

I traded in my 2010 Ford Focus SE with the 5 Speed Manual, for a 2013 Jeep Patriot Sport with the 5 Speed Manual, mostly because I wanted something with more room and 4WD, because snow I guess. And maybe mud if I can find it. The exterior styling of the Patriot is conservative, for a boxy SUV. Compared to the Fiat-based Renegade, the Patriot feels more traditional Jeep. Although not as straight-up box boxy as the old AMC Cherokees, which I love, it's a more rounded box, if that makes sense. The headlights are round, and they could be a bit brighter, and the rear looks like a baby Liberty. One thing the hatch does not do is allow the glass to be opened, which is a bummer. Now I can't haul wood longer than the interior of the car. I'm just going to have to stick with wood the same size as the car. (I don't know what use I'd have if the glass did open, but it'd be nice to have.) What's also nice is the rear windshield wiper, which coming from a Focus sedan is a welcome feature.

The interior is LARGE in comparison to the Focus. The dashboard is huge. I don't know why Chrysler can't design a normal dashboard, but I could sleep on this dashboard. It's just really deep and I don't know why. Getting into other cars, and it immediately feels like you're on top of the hood, but it's just because the Jeep makes you sit far back for some reason. Also, why can't Chrysler design a thin A pillar? It's huge, a small car could hide in that blind spot. Same for the C pillar, the blind spot in the back corner of the car in unbelieveable, and Chrysler just keeps churning out cars with horrible visibility in the back corner. It's just not safe. But, like I said, it's very roomy, there's plenty of legroom in the front and back seat, although the bench in the back does not curve up, it's very flat, but the back does recline, so that's a nice feature. In the front, the armrest moves forward for optimal comfort, and it's soft, and for your left arm, only the top of the door is padded, not the bottom. Believe me, I'm impressed that the top of the door is even padded, but I never find myself comfortably putting my elbow up there, it mostly lands on the hard plastic bottom armrest.

I've driven other Compass and Patriots and one thing that bothers me is the steering is very loose. It has decent feel, but it always feels like the car is out of alignment, and this is something I've noticed in other Patriot/Compasses, it's just very loose steering. I have the 2.4 L 4 Cylinder with the 5 Speed Manual, and it's not too shabby. The shift travel is longish, but not too different from my Focus, although first to second gear is a bit hard to shift into. The clutch isn't heavy, and with the manual, it's got some nice power to it. Nothing that will plant you in your seat, but it certainly surprises me everytime I hit the pedal. 0-60 MPH is achieved in an estimated 8 to 9 seconds, which is fine. I've driven the CVT and the 6 Speed Automatic, and honestly, the CVT is fine, especially if you want good gas mileage. The 6 Speed Automatic is great too, it just gets lesser gas mileage. The brakes don't inspire the most confidence; takes a bit to stop the car.

My Patriot is the Sport, which is the base model, but nice try, Chrysler, trying to disguise the base model with a cool sounding name. Now, you can option the Sport to be pretty nice, however, mine is rather base. Meaning I have manual windows, manual locks, and manual mirrors. However, I do have air conditioning, 4WD, nice visors (my Focus had these horrible, thin plastic visors that didn't stay in place), a nice sounding 4-speaker AM/FM CD radio, light-up cup holders, hill start assist, and a complimentary flashlight in the back of the car. All of this, but I can't have power anything. I swear, Chrysler finds the weirdest ways to option their cars. Some people might want crank windows, and manual locks, and this is pretty much the only brand new car you can get that will let you do that without getting a truck, but it just seems odd that you get all the rest of the things you'd want, but no power convenience. Whatever. So to give more info on that list:

  • The air conditioning is nice. The fan speeds are more than just four to choose from, and they push a lot of air. 
  • The visors don't have a light, but they do extend when you move it to the door. 
  • The speakers, although could sound better with a subwoofer, sound damn good for being 4 speakers in the door.
  • The cup holders light up the same color green as the dashboard when the lights are on, which I love. 
  • I don't know if it's called hill start assist, but when I'm on a hill, the car will hold itself in place, allowing me to have some time to get the car in gear, which I don't need but is certainly a nice feature.
  • That flashlight kicks ass, and if I had the better sound system, I'd also have the liftgate flip down speakers, so when your hatch is open, the speakers can face the outside, allowing for maximum entertainment if you do things outdoors with your car near you.
Also, because I have the Sport, I have the 16 inch wheels. Good news is when I have to replace them, they're cheaper because they're regular tires, but the bad news is they look tiny and the wheels look dumb compared to the 17 inch wheels.

The road feel in my Sport model with the cloth manual seats is not soft. You will feel bumps, not every single one, it certainly could ride worse, but when you do hit bumps, it sort of bounces the car. The front seats are not very comfortable, not a lot of padding in them, and they're very flat. The car handles decent for what it is, I wouldn't take turns very fast in it, but the body roll isn't as bad as you'd think. One thing that's great is the 4WD, or I guess the on-demand AWD. The Patriot and Compass have a 4WD lock lever, so when you want constant 50/50 4WD, or so Jeep says, it stays on. Now, I'm not sure it does when that is off, because I read that the Dodge Caliber, which is pretty much the same damn car, operates its AWD system as front wheel drive most of the time, but sends power to the rear wheels when slips occur OR when the driver hits the accelerator hard. So I'm not sure if the Patriot/Compass are front wheel drive until slips occur, or if they too send power to the rear wheels when high acceleration happens. Either way, it works great in the snow, the 4WD kicks right in, and it inspires a lot of confidence.

One thing I will say about the Patriot is I make a lot of excuses for it. Even though it doesn't have the smoothest ride, or the best fuel economy, I just chalk it up to it being a Jeep, and I just roll with it. That's something no other car can offer. Yeah, I could've gotten a Dodge Caliber AWD, and it would probably feel exactly the same. And I'd probably not really like it so much. I have nothing against Dodge, it's just not a Jeep. That's the thing I think a lot of people will feel when they drive this car. I could've gotten a Honda CR-V, which is a lot smoother, and has much better gas mileage. And I probably would hate it. I didn't want a compact SUV with AWD. I wanted a Jeep. That's why even though the Patriot ranks 19 out of 19 on U.S. News and World Report car reviews, a lot of people buy this car. The car beat out, in terms of sales, a lot of great cars in 2015 and 2014, as you can see here. The Patriot is a great compact SUV, but a lot of people will look elsewhere, even up the Jeep line to the Cherokee because it's simply a better car that can compete with a Honda CR-V. The Patriot is a great value SUV, they're cheap to buy, cheap to maintain (hopefully), and have a great 4WD system. I love this car because I love the Jeep look and feel, and if that's your thing, this will be a great car. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Why I Will Never Buy Anything from Fitbit

I'm a Pebble watch owner. I have been for a couple years now, and I remember when the first Pebble Kickstarter was announced, I instantly wanted one. I thought the idea of a smartwatch that used an eInk-style screen was the smartest implementation because you didn't have to charge it every night. With the release of the Time 2, I was getting the ol' wallet ready, because even though I don't care to keep track of my heart rate, it's a cool feature to have. Then I see in my email yesterday a nice little letter from Fitbit announcing their acquisition of Pebble. Now I had heard rumors of this, but didn't think much of them, and just figured Fitbit would want to make money off both the fitness folk, and the smartwatch people like me. Turns out I was wrong. They only wanted the software side of Pebble, and announced they were discontinuing the line of watches, including the warranties, and possibly updates to the software. Now I'm pissed.

In a smart acquisition, you either do it because you compete head on and you want the other team gone, or you want what they have. What does Fitbit gain from Pebble's software development? The sole purpose of buying a Fitbit is to keep track of your health, and maybe receive the occasional notification from your phone. What does Pebble have that Fitbit didn't want to develop themselves? Also, why discontinue the watch line? Fitbit has nothing that competes with the Pebble watches. Maybe the Blaze did, but its emphasis was more towards fitness anyway, as the Blaze barely connects to the phone in the same way the Pebble did. Speaking about competition, no one that bought or was thinking about buying a Pebble had a Fitbit anywhere near their list of options. Again, maybe the Blaze, but that is one out of six Fitbits that could've competed with Pebble's entire lineup. My point being that Pebble was barely a competitor. Now, lets just say you bought a Pebble recently and now have to make a decision what the next smartwatch purchase should be; is Fitbit going to be anywhere on your list after this? I don't know about you, but I do not trust Fitbit. If they're going to just discontinue a product line upon acquisition, why should I trust them to support anything I buy for a long-term purchase? There are certainly other choices, but I really didn't want to have to find another choice.

Fitbit had everything I was looking for in a smartwatch. It had a battery life that lasts a week, it's compatible with almost any phone, it was priced extremely well, and it has this great community of developers that really care to make great watch faces, and apps. You just can't find that anywhere else. I guess I'm going to have to investigate Android Wear. Thanks to Pebble for crowd-funding a great product. And thanks Fitbit for making my decision to go elsewhere easier.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

New Video - Kitten Masters Newton's Cradle - This cat is almost 4 months old, and understands things quicker than me.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

LG V20 vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 7

I showed up to the T-Mobile store on launch day of the Note 7. I waited in a line of 7, which the T-Mobile folk claimed was the most they'd ever seen for any launch. I intended to the get the blue one, but I settled for the silver one. Afterwards, my experience was alright, this is it. This is the phone I intend to keep for a while. And it was just alright.

When I first switched from the iPhone 6 Plus I had, I intended my next phone to have more useful features. Sure, the iPhone was great, but there was nothing special about it. So the next phone I got was the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Had it not been for the lackluster battery life, it was great. I loved the S Pen, I thought the IR Blaster was convenient as hell, and I just felt like I could do what I wanted with the phone. After a few months I wanted to find a suitable replacement, and I went for a Samsung Galaxy S6 Active. That was great too, better battery life, still had the IR Blaster, but it was noticeably slower. Then I got the Nexus 6P, then the OnePlus 3, and then when I found out about the Note 7, I thought that this would be the phone I would stick with. The idea of having a waterproof phone sounded useful, and all the reviews seemed to make the phone sound absolutely amazing. So I gave it a shot. I woke up early on a whatever weekday it was, waited in line, and got the Note 7.

The Note 7 was a pretty good phone. The camera was one of the best, but not as great as the Nokia Lumia 1520 I had. The screen looked phenomenal, I loved just looking at it, and the design was gorgeous. In the hand, the phone felt so comfortable; the edge display and rounded back made it work well with one-handed use, and because of the edge display, the seemingly thinner screen size was perfect. It didn't feel the fastest in use, the OnePlus 3 was certainly a quicker and smoother phone to use, which is aggravating given that the OnePlus 3 is over half the price. I will admit, I can't speak too much on battery life, because I found out when I got the LG V20 that T-Mobile puts this crapware on all their phones called Lookout which is supposed to be some form of virus protection, but it's just horrid and burns through your battery, no pun intended, so while I found the Note 7 battery life lackluster, I'm certain it was because I never disabled Lookout. The S Pen was great to use, although I found myself forgetting it exists, beyond as just something I could click in and out, which sounded great. The edge display looks great, but I never used the edge stuff, when you slide the menu out. It's great that it's there, but it's really nothing necessary, or memorable. Then the first recall happened, and I was able to get the blue color I wanted. When I got the second Note 7, I was eager to see if the network connectivity issues I non-stop experienced were fixed, and the answer was no. With both phones, I had difficulties connecting to T-Mobile's network, with none of it having to do with reception. All of it had to do with the phone seemingly not having a strong enough antenna inside, or whatever the reason was. The phone would be in my pocket, or I would leave a store where there's no service inside, and when I took the phone out of my pocket, it would take its sweet time reconnecting, and sometimes never would. I would go a half hour not receiving any notifications only to realize after too much time had passed that the phone just lost connection. I would have to restart it, turn on and off airplane mode, and go into the settings to force the mobile network to register automatically just so anything would happen. It was abysmal. Needless to say, this kept me from enjoying my last days with the second Note 7 when the second recall hit. Then I started getting excited about the then-upcoming LG V20.

On pre-order day on October 17th, I set my LG V20 in for pre-order, and received it on the 20th, a full week before it hit stores, and was very excited. Finally, a phone with a removable battery so I can keep it a while and replace the battery should it require such, a phone with an IR Blaster to control every TV with my phone, and the second screen on the top. Admittedly, I thought that second screen was going to be a gimmick just like the edge menu on the Note 7. Why on Earth do I need a second display? Oh, let me tell you, it is incredible. On that second screen, there's multiple sections you can slide through to keep open. There's a memo menu, that shows your name or something important. Mine says "Don't forget to wear pants" because I've been having too many dreams where I forget them in public lately. There's a favorite apps menu, along with the extremely useful recent apps menu. Seriously, this is the most convenient one. Threre's also a quick-toggle menu where you can turn on and off the flashlight, WiFi, Bluetooth, and sound. You can even able a music menu, and a contacts menu. Then, whenever you get a notification, it shows it up on the second screen to keep better screen real estate on the main screen. When you have a full-screen app open like gallery or Snapchat, it keeps the time up on the second screen, as well as whatever app notifications you would have on the notification tray menu. Just reading about the second screen does not do it justice. Actual use is incredibly useful, and I always use it, which is way more than I can say about the signature features of the Note 7. The phone feels very wide in the hand, just like the iPhone 7 Plus, which I'm not a huge fan of. The screen is certainly not as vibrant, and the phone is hard around the edges. I much rather have the fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone, so I'm glad I have that feature back from the Nexus 6P. One thing I really miss from the Note 7 is the interface. Not sure if they still call it TouchWiz, but whatever they call it, it's a lot more visually appealing. LG just makes everything look tacky and dated. It's completely unnecessary, and it takes away a lot from the appeal of the phone, makes it a lot less smooth to use. It is a bit faster than the Note 7, not sure if that has anything to do with disabling Lookout, and with that disabled, battery life is much better, but again, can't knock the Note 7 too hard. The camera on the V20 is not as easy as the Note 7 to use. Pictures can easily come out as blurry on the V20, although the wide angle lens is very nice. I'm sure I'm messing something up on the camera to make it not as easy to use, but when it is all focused, it does take a great picture. One of the key features on the V20 is the HiFi headphone jack, which is still has. I haven't tested that out, but LG is giving away from amazing headphones, so until I get those in my hands, I can't really give a fair test of the audio quality.

Sure, a lot of reviewers are not going to give LG the highest praise, because this is not the most refined phone out there, but it is still a really great one. I really don't feel like there are a lot of compromises that make me want to consider another phone. I'm sure when the next big phone comes out, I'll be intrigued, like when the Pixel was released. At the end of the day, this phone just has a lot more features that I use every single day, like the IR Blaster and the second display. They both set this phone apart, and make it incredibly useful for what I need the phone to do.

If you are looking for a Note 7 replacement that is courageous, but has a headphone jack, look no further. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with this phone. Boy howdy, the Note 7 sure felt better in the hand, but this feels better to actually use.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

New Video - Another Video Complaining About the iPhone 7 - If you're going to get rid of the headphone jack, fine. But this isn't what the floppy disk was back in 1998 with the iMac. This is just Apple's supreme arrogance that has gotten worse since Steve Jobs's passing. Support Me on Patreon! Links: My Blog - GeekOnIn News and Views - Google+ - Twitter -

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

New Video - OnePlus 3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 7 - The OnePlus 3 is still a fantastic phone, I've just been wooed by the Note 7 with its S Pen, waterproofability, edge screen, and TouchWiz! I've said some angry things about Samsung in the past, but I gotta say, this is a great phone. If you really want to pay the premium for it, it's definitely worth it, but the OnePlus 3 is the best flagship phone for the best price. Hardware-wise, they perform the same. Camera-wise, the OnePlus 3 has a nicer front-facing camera, but the rear-facing camera on the Note 7 is phenomenal. This phone feels so great in the hand compared to the OnePlus 3. Battery lives are similar, I want to say with heavy use the OnePlus 3 might get an hour better battery life, but they're very close, but with Samsung's extreme power saving modes, I feel more comfortable with the Note 7. Software-wise, I've been won over by TouchWiz. It used to be ugly, but it's really elegant now. Samsung tends to do more common-sense gestures and placements of buttons than vanilla Android. I just do not understand why there needs to be a Samsung version of the alarm clock, calculator, browser, and photo gallery. The Google ones are fine. Especially the Google keyboard. Samsung's keyboard looks nice, but it lags with multiple apps open and stops autocorrecting for no reason, so I'm glad the Google keyboard is just an option menu away. Otherwise, this is a phone worth the extra money IF you want extra features and Samsung baggage. The OnePlus 3 is a fantastic flagship for a great price with vanilla Android, which is what a lot of people just want. I just wanted to be able to brag that my phone can take notes while I swim. Support Me on Patreon! Links: My Blog - GeekOnIn News and Views - Google+ - Twitter -