AT&T / DirecTV via Internet Has A Brain Fart

So I was watching WestWorld (HBO) after having seen a review of it and realizing that it wasn’t the old Movie I was seeing come around on the HBO menu, but an HBO Series. The two episodes I watched were interesting enough to lead me to think it might be worth it, but I was about 4 episodes in and didn’t have a clue of the various ‘back stories’ they were weaving and a bit behind on the character development. OK, no problem.

I’d used DirecTV on my Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet before. It was a bit painful (they run you through way too many images and choices to get to the one thing you want) but generally worked. When “on the road” I’d kept up with Dexter that way. But the Tablet had taken a ‘reset’ since then, so I needed to ‘reinstall’ their “Ap”… OK… so I’ll be 10 or 20 minutes late getting started…

Nope, first I need a Google Login to get the Ap Store to get the Ap to get the show… So about 1/2 hour late… except all those repeated 10 steps to get to the ‘install ap’ choice, and then it didn’t work on Opera, or Pale Moon, or… eventually on FirePhoenix (a FireFox clone) it was OK with the install and I got to DirecTV Ap page in the Ap Store and… “This Ap is incompatible with your release”.. or some such… Welcome To Dependency Hell!.

Sidebar on Google Captchas: On the “set up yet another account you won’t remember page”, Google uses the Capchas from Hell setting. It gave me something like a half dozen in a row. They were not any words I could make out, and the letters were things like a U with the second leg crossed. Is that U, or UT, or T or … Eventually I guess I got one right and it set up… well, some new account that I hope I wrote down somewhere… Something like “DirecTVsucksAndIJustWantTheAp”…

Now I’d kinda sorta thought I’d like to watch this while laying on the couch in the living room, with the spouse doing something else in her lounge chair; that whole ‘sharing time sort of’ thing. But, OK, I’m not going to get sucked into upgrading the tablet, backing up files first, hoping it doesn’t break too many other things that then need to be re-installed, etc. etc. It would be noon tomorrow before I was done..

So I decide to just “hit the Chromebox” that does Video Just Fine for everything else. Youtube. HTML5. Flash. You name it. Besides, Chromebooks are now outselling everything else into schools here. It’s essentially a main stream product now and with lots of focus on assuring video is functioning well. Mine has an Intel CPU too, so no worries about ARM chip and op code issues. I sit down and… back to login to Google / Chrome / DirecTV / Oh God Just … and then to the “need DirecTV Player” as they have their very own player… and it gives the URL from Hell that just hangs… Here it is:

Someone is just trying way too hard to be cute and complicated… OK, I hit the web search and find the link to how to just install their player directly:

What is the DIRECTV Player and how do I install it on my computer?
The DIRECTV Player is FREE software required for watching movies and shows on on your computer. Installation is quick and easy. If you’ve downloaded and installed other software from the Internet, the process for the DIRECTV Player is essentially no different. Once you’ve installed the software, you can start enjoying thousands of movies and shows online, anytime, anywhere.

Here’s a step-by-step for installing the DIRECTV Player for PC or Mac.

What type of computer do you have?


Notice anything missing?

No Linux, so my half dozen or dozen Linux / BSD machines need not apply.

No Android, so my Tablet need not apply (tied to Ap store and the non-compatible releases)

No Chromebox or Chromebooks, so those tens or hundreds of millions of folks need not apply…


No, I’m not going to dig the old HP Laptop Windows 7 out of the “old computers” bin and get into Upgrade Hell with it, too. Just to catch a couple of old episodes of a series I’m not sure I really want to watch long term.

No, far far far easier to just “move along” and forget about trying to use DirecTV / AT&T TV on my 3 main computers. It just ensures that when the present lock-in period is over (or perhaps before and take the penalty – given my present rate of ‘moving off it’ and progress on cord cutting…) I’m not going to renew the “service”.

I clicked the “contact us” page, and got a bunch of phone numbers and snailmail addresses, and a ‘chat’ choice. No “bitch here and be done” email choice…

So, silly me, I clicked it.

I then proceeded to launch / watch RT Russia Today news and a bit of France24 news via the internet. They work fine… DirecTV not so much… Eventually the ‘in queue’ number works down from 16+ to 1 to Me! The conversation follows:

Ashley W. (STK0775) DIRECTV:Hi, my name is Ashley W. (STK0775). How are you today?

I commence to type. I type really fast. About 50+ WPM on this kind of stuff, sometimes faster. Inside seconds I get:

Ashley W. (STK0775) DIRECTV:If I don’t receive a response within 2 minutes I will go ahead and end this chat. If the chat is disconnected, you may contact us back or please feel free to visit us online at

I finish the last sentence and hit send on:

EM:I’d be happier if DirecTV actually worked on either my tablet or my Chromebox. It fails to install on both, despite having worked on the tablet a year or two ago. No, I’m not going to upgrade my OS nor get into Browser Wars just to watch a couple of back episodes of WestWorld. It’s easier to just “move on” to all the internet TV that runs Flash or HTML5 and isn’t too cheap or lazy to make their product work cross platform and multi-browser.

Then read the ‘expedite’ line and send:

EM:Saying you’ll “dump my ass” if I don’t type fast enough doesn’t improve the customer experience, either…

Time passes…

EM:BTW, I’m a programmer for a living, have done help desk support, and know just what’s wrong with the support and app design. It’s dumb management choices. Not everyone is on a PC or Mac and Chromebooks outsell Macs and PCs in the classroom now.

More time passes…

EM:Anyone there? BTW, I have a blog and I’ll be posting my experience. Just FYI.

More time passes…

A conversation eventually starts:

Ashley W. (STK0775) DIRECTV:Can you tell me the exact error message on the screen please.

EM:No, I’m not going to get into a Q&A over something that is never going to work. On the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, that worked but got reset so needed a reinstall, it complains about being incompatible with the release level. On the Chromebox, I get sent off to nowhere (some ‘metrics’ url that hangs) and going to your web site just gives choices to install on PC or Mac. Dumb, that.

Ashley W. (STK0775) DIRECTV:I will escalate your concerns up.

EM:Thanks, but I’m busy watching TV elsewhere… RT Russia Today news has 700 million viewers at the moment and works on ALL my systems and browsers. I think they are HTML5. France24 news also works everywhere. After I’m done with that, I’ll likely watch yet other non-AT&T product / Non-DirecTV product. BTW, I’m headed to being a ‘cord cutter’ in about a year, given this. I’ve found plenty else. So just escalate and fix it, or count your losses.

Ashley W. (STK0775) DIRECTV:Do you have any other questions or concerns did you have for me today?

EM:I’m Outta Here… and have written off DirecTV via Internet. IFF you fix it, within the year, I might change, but as of now, other things work and your product doesn’t. Just make sure someone who can deal with it hears that.

Ashley W. (STK0775) DIRECTV:I will escalate your concern up.

Ashley W. (STK0775) DIRECTV:Thank you, EM! I’m glad we got that taken care of for you. Again, my name is Ashley and I want to thank you for being a DIRECTV customer and chatting with me today so I could help! I’ll note your account and send a copy of this conversation to your email for you. When you are ready, you can end the chat by CLICKING “End Chat”. Or if you’re using a mobile device, simply use the “x” on the left hand side. If you do have additional questions or concerns you man contact us back or please feel free t visit us online at Have a Marvelous day, and thanks for choosing DIRECTV/AT&T. :-)

EM:Thanks, Bye

So the usual essentially useless ‘help desk’ that isn’t help and just consumes time to tell you, eventually, that doesn’t work. Since I knew already ‘that does not work’ and was NOT going into Upgrade Hell on the Tablet, all I really wanted was to let them know the consequences of their poor ability to support standards based video.

Who knows if it goes anywhere beyond a check box of ‘customer given help and call closed without a trouble ticket’…


There’s a reason for Standards and Backwards Compatibility. The reason is to avoid Dependency Hell and Upgrade Hell and have happy customers who are not forced into upgrade cycles at prime time TV hours… They won’t go there, and I didn’t. There’s way too much of the ‘competition’ that works Just Fine. Heck, I’ve still not worked through most of my ‘starter list’ of stations and aggregators:

I’d been planning to cancel the HBO option on DirecTV prior to the ‘forced upgrade’ from my DSL dying, and now that it’s got a “lock in” 2 year clause (NOT disclosed in the “support call” for the broken DSL…) I’m sort of stuck for the next year, but I’m NOT going to be renewing. No reason. Less as of today…

Oh Well, as they say…

Sidebar on Westworld: The basic plot, near as I can tell it, is a Jurassic Park / Westworld-the-movie mash up. Even has the Grey Hair Scientist who makes it work and doesn’t realize the fail coming as it turns on the ‘guests’ in the ‘park’… The Westworld part is an “old west” stereotype ‘park’ where guests can run wild shooting up robots and doing all sorts of things illegal in the real world with real people (plot line from some other robot movie I saw recently… where those robots also gain sentience… ) With the same ripped off plot of ‘wiping the memory’ at the end of each day so the robots (called “hosts” for some ill described reason) don’t remember the horrors done to them the prior day.

Needless to say, some of the robots start to have fragmented memories of the violence and sexual assaults, and start to have human like concerns… Same plot as that other move, different setting… old west park instead of super-casino-skyscraper… (That movie, who’s title escapes me, ripping off the Robot to Human plot from a half dozen before it, including Millennium Man and others… exploring the boundary between machine intelligence and human is old hat these days… building it is still a bit interesting, though.)

Neither the setting nor the plot will save this show. Both ripped off re-dos. It’s only the particulars of the character development and acting that can make it ‘hot’. I found it “good enough to watch, maybe”, but to get that character angle it really wants you to brush up on the prior episodes… Soaps are like that… With that now out of the question, I’m not seeing the draw anymore…

It does have some “light nudity” in that the robots, er, hosts, are seen in the maintenance shop sitting on stools naked. Artfully positioned cameras making sure it doesn’t violate whatever passes for standards. Oh, and they have a fly fetish. Fly Wrangler on staff, so you occasionally get flies on dead and dying in the Out West shots, and a fly or two crawling over the nudish ones in maintenance. If flies bother you, you are warned.

The staff doing field maintenance use some interesting video effects to imply interesting tech, like a tablet with a 3-d display above it (IF I saw that right). There’s also lots of special effects showing heads on tables with moving eyes while the legs are metal frameworks ending about the knees … shades of about 1950 ‘guy under the table with head up a hole’ special effects… but doubtless done digitally today. Special effects are nice, but they lose their punch after a few days…

Will I miss it? Probably not. We’ll see. It’s not on my “catch up and then watch regularly to see if I get into it” list anymore. Now it’s just “maybe if I’m not busy with other stuff or other channels”… Which, given that it’s on the TV now, and spouse has gone to bed, and I’m not watching it… well, I think that shows how “compelling” I feel it is at the moment.

Besides, Netflix has a few dozen things that I found interesting, but haven’t spent time to watch yet. Oh, and Netflix works on my Tablet and on the Chromebox and didn’t require me to go through Ap Hell nor Update Hell nor Dependency Hell nor… It just worked. Their programmers seem to understand standards based programming…

Well, I’m headed back to the TV tab on the Chrombox, as the news I’ve been listening to as I type, sounds like the video part is interesting… Later.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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22 Responses to AT&T / DirecTV via Internet Has A Brain Fart

  1. Steven Fraser says:


    Have you ever watched the original movie, Westworld, with Yul Brynner and Richard Benjamin? I’ve just seen 2 of this incarnation’s episodes, but it seems a well produced extension of that set-up, much before Jurassic ‘whatever’. The Incursion of ‘memories’ for robots seems to me reminiscent of the Will Smith ‘I Robot’ ripoff of Asimov’s Daneel Onilaw.

    Sorry for your user experience in webbing this. Maybe someday Linux and Chromecast will get some respect.


  2. E.M.Smith says:

    @Steven Fraser:

    Yup. Westworld The Movie was well done.

    The “robot gets feelings and sentience” plot line has been in at least a half dozen I can remember (as ‘flashes’ if not the name / whole script) and probably a lot more. It’s a well worn plot line, and I’m not seeing them really add anything to it so far.

    The thing that galls me most isn’t that they don’t have Linux support, or Chrome… it’s just that they clearly are trying to ‘control’ the experience way too much. They DO have a linux Ap, in the form of an Android Ap in the Google Ap Store, but it’s just not compatible with more than a limited release level range. Yes, it’s a PITA to test code on multiple platforms and code levels and harder to write it, but it CAN be done.

    I was once the QA manager for a tool chain (C compiler suit and more) that was written to run on 72 different platforms and crosses from ONE set of sources. The code looked ugly in some places, but it ran correctly everywhere…. When you can do that with a compiler, you can do it with anything…

    It is just being intellectually lazy.

    Also bad core design. Even Flash or HTML5 would be better than a custom Ap.

    Oh Well.

    BTW, I wasn’t using ChromeCast, I was using a ChromeBox… but I doubt it works on either…

  3. M Simon says:

    When you get closer to death entertainment doesn’t seem so entertaining. I haven’t watched “entertainment” since I was in my 50s. I did go to the Star Wars Movie. But otherwise I’m more entertained by designing circuits and writing software.

    Space-Time Productions

  4. Regis Llanfar says:

    Keeping young is a matter of mindset. I plan on living into my hundreds which (given the arc of biotech) should be easily achievable.

    I’m in my 50’s now and sandwich in a fair amount of World of Warcraft with Java programming at work, Swift programming (iOS) at home, and an hour weeknights with my wife at the TV (she’s into true crime).

    To quote a (darker attitude) high school friend of mine: I have the heart of a child. I keep it in the nightstand.

  5. philjourdan says:

    Tech support sucks big time! At least the entry level. The worst of course is Comcast (comcrap as I say). But even Cisco has gotten bad. I changed jobs 6 months ago and am still getting emails about an issue from the old one! The issue is simple. But the techs do not listen (an orphaned recording that has no file, that needs to be deleted from a list on a recorder).

    But more recent is an issue with routing that had me stumped. The tech was getting no where fast. And finally another engineer I work with looked over my config and noted a setting of Infinity on the delay on an interface (I had glossed over it as I had seen it too many times). He came over to discuss it with me and I forgot to put the engineer on mute, so after we found the issue, he “found” it as well.

    And even more recent, working with another company to get an IPSEC tunnel up, it was not working at all. I had to step the Cisco engineer (called by the other company) through seeing if the UDP requests were even hitting the interface!

    Instead of a Capcha, perhaps these clowns can develop a quick competency question to advance you to a higher level in the queue.

  6. Chiefio,
    Somewhat “Off Topic” but your comment about 700 million people watching RT got me thinking.

    Given that the “Main Stream Media” are controlled by people who support the ruling elites around the world it is getting really hard to find anything that is fact checked thoroughly before publication. I am thinking that news media should be proof rated like booze or gold. For example Rush Limbaugh is rated 99.7% “True”.

    IMHO Wikileaks is 100% “True” and now I would like to find other sources of information that are “True” at least 90% of the time. Also such media should publish retractions when something turns out to be false…………I seem to remember newspapers that did that on page one or two rather than buried on page 19 in small print.

    How would you rate “Russia Today”? It would be ironic if the most reliable news about the USA comes from Russia!

    Given your amazing ability to dig stuff up I am hoping you can suggest at least a few sources that meet the 90% “Truth” standard.

  7. Taking the idea in the previous post a little further we are consuming news that has no “Quality Control”. A key point about quality control is that the rating organization must be beyond the influence of the people who produce the product being rated.

    Take it a step further………..imagine a world in which CNN could lose its licence for failing to meet the >90% “True” standard.

  8. Gail Combs says:

    Rush Limbaugh is rated 80% “True” He was up for contract renewal in June 2016 with Bain Capital (Romney) so was very much into slyly Trump bashing Cruz promoting.

    ConservativeTreeHouse does quite a bit of the DIG HERE on the MSM.

    These are my recent notes on the MSM

    There used to be 88 news media now there are six. These 6 all get their news from Reuters and the Associated Press. Reuters owns the AP.
    Lists of the 6

    ABC News executive producer Ian Cameron is married to Susan Rice, National Security Adviser.

    CBS President David Rhodes is the brother of Ben Rhodes, Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications.

    ABC News correspondent Claire Shipman is married to former Whitehouse Press Secretary Jay Carney

    ABC News and Univision reporter Matthew Jaffe is married to Katie Hogan, Obama’s Deputy Press Secretary

    ABC President Ben Sherwood is the brother of Obama’s Special Adviser Elizabeth Sherwood

    CNN President Virginia Moseley is married to former Hillary Clinton’s Deputy Secretary Tom Nides.
    Ya think there might be a little bias in the news?

    Stephanopoulos did not disclose during this interview, and does not disclose during coverage of the 2016 election, that he worked in the White House as Senior Adviser to the President during Bill Clinton’s first term AND a Clinton foundation donor in addition

    Clinton’s close yet questionable ties to media outlets such as Google, CNN, PBS and The New York Times have seemed to pay off. These entities have gone out of their way to censor negative stories about Clinton, particularly ones involving the Clinton Foundation. There’s one common thread though these media outlets suppressing harmful Clinton stories all share: they’ve donated to the Clinton Foundation.

    Google staffers have had at least 427 meetings at the White House over course of Obama presidency. Mark Zuckerberg, (facebook) has also met with Obama.

    There are enough reports of Facebook not allowing certain titles, Twitter and Facebook manipulating ‘trending’ subjects, google putting sceptics to the back of the line in searches and other perception manipulation.

    Even worse with Brietbart supporting Trump, Hillary’s response is ..the website Breitbart News has no “right to exist,” and suggests that if elected, the website will be shut down entirely.

    ….”We’ve had a conservative media in this country for a while,” says the email, sent Thursday and signed by deputy communications director Christina Reynolds. “I don’t always like what they have to say, but I respect their role and their right to exist Reynolds’ acknowledgment that the regular conservative media has a “right to exist,” …

    “Breitbart is something different,” she says. “They make Fox News look like a Democratic Party pamphlet. They’re a different breed altogether — not just conservative but radical, bigoted, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic conspiracy peddlers who never have been and never should be anywhere near the levers of power in this country.”…..

    There is also a video out there with Hillary saying the government has THE RIGHT to regulate our Enumerated Rights given in the Bill of Rights like the right of free speech, right of assembly, and right to bear arms turning them into government granted privileges.

    We already have ‘free speech zones,’ prosecutions for ‘Hate Speech’ and now the [attempted] shutting down of access to alternate media.

    The flip side is just as ugly. Notice that our ‘regular conservative media’ like Fox News and News Max are Clinton donors. Controlled opposition anyone?

    Clinton Foundation donors include dozens of media organizations, individuals

    NBC Universal, News Corporation, Turner Broadcasting and Thomson Reuters are among more than a dozen media organizations that have made charitable contributions to the Clinton Foundation in recent years, the foundation’s records show.

    The donations, which range from the low-thousands to the millions, provide a picture of the media industry’s ties to the Clinton Foundation at a time when one of its most notable personalities, George Stephanopoulos, is under scrutiny for not disclosing his own $75,000 contribution when reporting on the foundation.

    The list also includes mass media groups like Comcast, Time Warner and Viacom, as well a few notable individuals, including Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecom magnate and largest shareholder of The New York Times Company, and James Murdoch, the chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox. Both Slim and Murdoch have given between $1 million to $5 million, respectively.

    Judy Woodruff, the co-anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour, gave $250 to the foundation….


    Carlos Slim [Mexican]
    Chairman & CEO of Telmex, largest New York Times shareholder

    James Murdoch
    Chief Operating Officer of 21st Century Fox

    Newsmax Media
    Florida-based conservative media network

    Thomson Reuters
    Owner of the Reuters news service



    News Corporation Foundation
    Philanthropic arm of former Fox News parent company


    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    Richard Mellon Scaife
    Owner of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


    Abigail Disney
    Documentary filmmaker

    Bloomberg Philanthropies

    Howard Stringer
    Former CBS, CBS News and Sony executive

    Intermountain West Communications Company
    Local television affiliate owner (formerly Sunbelt Communications)


    Bloomberg L.P.

    Discovery Communications Inc.

    George Stephanopoulos
    ABC News chief anchor and chief political correspondent

    Mort Zuckerman
    Owner of New York Daily News and U.S. News & World Report

    Time Warner Inc.
    Owner of CNN parent company Turner Broadcasting




    Hollywood Foreign Press Association
    Presenters of the Golden Globe Awards



    Knight Foundation
    Non-profit foundation dedicated to supporting journalism

    Public Radio International

    Turner Broadcasting
    Parent company of CNN



    Parent copmany of NBCUniversal

    NBC Universal
    Parent company of NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC

    Public Broadcasting Service


    Robert Allbritton
    Owner of POLITICO


    AOL Huffington Post Media Group

    Hearst Corporation

    Judy Woodruff
    PBS Newshour co-anchor and managing editor

    The Washington Post Company

    Unbiased??? I do not think so.

    CNN wants to equate Trump to Saddam? Pulease. Eason Jordan bent over backwards averting his eyes when Saddam tossed people in wood chippers. Remember Eason Jordan? He’s the guy that admitted CNN knew about Saddam’s atrocities but looked the other way for access. The closest thing to that in this election is the way the press averts its eyes when Hillary stumble-bums her way to her Ambulance. —- Just carrying on the proud tradition of Walter Duranty.

    “…political reporters, are just stupid rich kids. The parents have done well so they send their smart kid off to law school, while the dull one is sent off to journalism school. The result…is a culture dominated by.. nitwits too dumb to realize they are stupid.
    ..have fragile psyches so seeing their mistakes highlighted .. is a source of constant distress.
    When you live in the snow globe of opinion journalism, the outside world is horrifying. That’s why you went into the snow globe in the first place, to get away from the cold, pitiless world of reality. .. those angry Dirt People.. with their facts and reason just don’t get it. Many of them don’t even have a PhD. They are ruining it for everyone!
    ..People in the media have long viewed themselves as the fourth estate, part of the ruling class, but policing the ruling class. This was always nonsense. The press has always been staffed by obsequious rumpswabs and toadies…so only the most blinkered and stupid thrive. Suddenly, these dullards are learning that the rest of us have no respect for them.”

    “Would the Last Honest Reporter Please Turn Out the Lights?”

  9. Larry Ledwick says:

    I have gotten sort of militant about media that does not play unless you use some sort of proprietary application. I simply move on. Between flash player and html5 and all the traditional video formats there is really not much excuse for a vendor to force you to do something special unless they are doing something really out in the weeds like virtual reality.

    If I get a black screen and no error or a meaningless error like “media cannot be played”, I just go someplace else and try not to go there again. I figure unless they are paying me to beta test their product or troubleshoot their application I have no intention of wasting my time trying to view their media.

    For example, I have amazon prime but don’t try to view their videos any more, because they are not smart enough to just give me a list (in text) of all titles currently available to choose from. Instead they force you into down loading 20 or so thumbnails of the movie posters at a time – page after page of them. By doing it that way, it takes you a half an hour to drill down through enough pages to see what is available, where a text list displaying 100 titles a page it would take you just a minute or two to browse the list. I should not have to page through dozens of pages just to see what is available for viewing. (hint – all I need is title and one sentence summary “action drama of xyz”, and maybe the lead actors)
    If that sounds interesting I can click on the title and get more detailed info.

    It seems to me that the web developer folks have gotten really stupid lately or never took a course on human interface design and simple rules of thumb like the customer should be able to get to the intended content with only 3 – 4 mouse clicks of obvious links. It is not my problem if you can’t make your product play on major products or software platforms. At the very least a page that say if using xyz select these settings then follow this link.

  10. Gail Combs says:

    I am ‘computer illiterate’ however Hubby was a computer tech writer.

    From what I can see, in the interest of saving money, companies have fired/let go well trained Americans and replaced them with H1b visa holders or just graduated from a university idiots. No matter what it says on the sheepskin the idiots were really Majoring in Marxist Studies and their main concern is ‘micro aggression triggers’.

    With the whole sale shipping of US factories to China and India we have gone backwards ~100 years in Quality Control. Of course that was the whole point of ISO 9000 and the WTO.

    For example, I bought ten fancy stainless steel snaps for tying out ponies esp. the ones who can undo snaps. I purchased 10 at $10/piece for a total of $100 plus tax and shipping. FIVE were completely unusable. Weaver when called just shrugged it off. Their point of view was it is now up to the Consumer to do the quality checks. These people sell horse gear like saddles, cinches, bridles and halters where a failure at the wrong time could mean injury or death.

    This is the snap. It is an interesting design.

  11. Chuckles says:

    Download your missing episodes from, and watch them at your leisure

    (The ads etc can be irritating)

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    @M. Simon:

    Well, my main interest is being able to share some “living room time” with the spouse. Now she likes to watch the same thing for the 100th time (from Star Trek incessant re-runs to BlueBloods and NCIS rerunrerunreruns…) and I have “novelty seeking behaviour”… so it can be a challenge.

    I’d used The Tablet with bluetooth headphones so I can have one thing going and she another, yet we are ‘together’… Figured maybe old episodes of Westworld wouldn’t take much attention and I could sort of half-watch it while being communicative about Star Trek trivia…

    Oh Well. The News works just as well.


    FWIW, I had something else to do with the laptop this morning, so decided to finish the diagnostic by trying it. Used Windows 7 (that the DTV website claims works) and Internet Exploder… No Go. Opera DID install their widget and ‘loaded’ the program and ‘validated’ me, then failed. Ditto Chrome…

    But I did get more information. The Stumbling Block seems to be that the link from hell installs Cisco VideoGuard software. That’s what’s crapping out. Most likely demanding some kind of hardware Digital Rights Features that just don’t exist in most platforms / CPUs.

    So AT&T bought DirecTV, everybody gets paranoid about “Ownership” and “Digital Rights”, and they buy a canned solution that only works on new platforms with DRM hardware… and recent OS and browser releases at that. I could see that as the path to destruction of customer base…

    OK, so the decay and destruction of customer service and customer valuing that always seems to follow AT&T around has started. Got it. Accelerate Cord Cut strategy…

    FWIW I have a long history of AT&T buying good companies who’s services I like and breaking them. Started when they bought Pacific Bell and killed the “fiber to the home” project. I was about 2 months from high speed ethernet to the internet. That cable hung on the side of the house for years… doing nothing… We’re talking in the late ’80s early 90’s range when 56 kb modem was the norm and ‘high speed’ was DSL at maybe 4 x that. They bought one of the better cell phone companies, and I ‘moved on’ to Verizon. They bought, well, many things, including my ISP. Now, against my will, I have their internet package (since any OTHER provider is running on their wires anyway…). Then they bought DirecTV and we see the first decline now. Next up, they are moving on HBO, CNN, all of Time Warner including the Classic Film Library. Who knows what destruction they will bring to it.

    Again “oh well”… Time to plan ‘moving on’ again…

    5G WiFi ought to be ready for prime time in about a year, and 4G is damn good. When I was using the T-Mobile hot spot it was about as good as the wired AT&T service I now have (just has data limit / speed degradation on overuse to overcome).

    AT&T, the Evil Empire Death Star, just say no…


    I got mildly addicted to World Of Tanks when in Florida. Lucky for me, it won’t run on any of my hardware back here ;-) I’d be happy to ditch all of the DirecTV stuff and just watch internet TV for news and hit WOT…

    FWIW, at one time I got lots of junk phone calls to “Save The Children”. ( I now call screen…) So one time this Sweet Young Thing (per the voice) calls up with The Pitch… Me, enthusiastically: “Oh, I love saving children, do tell me what you use, I find a 5 gallon carboy and formaldehyde works great!”… Looooonnnggg silence… CLICK!

    Never got calls again to “Save The Children” ;-)


    I’ve found that “customer support” is now essentially useless to me. I know far more than they do about both the problems AND the solutions, have tried much more than they can suggest, and their management doesn’t understand the term “Engineer please”…

    Part of why I’m going all “roll your own” wherever possible. At least then I can fix things.


    Russia Today is nearly 90% True on “Dirt About America and Europe”. It does have a couple of shows that are just dreck, with a Slam the USA for being capitalist bent on one and a loony toons conspiracy theorist on another, but you get to where you can pick them out pretty quick. (Keiser Report? is the loony toons conspiracy guy, but he still has some interesting POV things that get you looking in interesting places). Some of the folks are escapees from the regular USA Progressive attempts to have a Socialist TV News Show that has always imploded (so now they are just parasitizing CNN and MSNBC… so soon to be history too…) and I don’t remember their names as I just change the channel (the usual ‘wealth disparity’ and SJW kinds of crap).

    They have a black guy doing an econ show ( “Boom Bust”?) that’s pretty good and has an understanding of Fed Driven boom bust cycles. There’s a generic international news show that is great in that you get film from the Russian sides of conflicts like in Syria. Nothing like real film from BOTH sides of a front line to let you size things up for yourself.

    The strongest bias is that there will be no criticism of Putin. OK, I get that. There is also a “Russia First, America as evil international manipulator” theme in some of it; but frankly I can’t see where that’s wrong… The USA has been busy destabilizing countries all over the world. I couldn’t even make a dent in listing all the Regime Change things we’ve pushed…

    Overall, I’d rate it far more international focused than anything domestic to the USA, and more truthful than everybody but Fox, who are truthful but myopic… Put them all in a blender and you can assemble a fair truth from it all.

    For example, RT was reporting on a 3 man suicide attack on a Pakistani Police University. Last I looked 51 dead, hundred+ injured, etc. etc. Domestic coverage here? Nearly nil. IIRC Fox had a crawler or brief ‘something happening in Pakistan’ sentence, other than that, dead air. The folks were ISIS… So we have a significant ISIS assault in Pakistan directly on the Police… I’d think that matters…

    I used to watch Al Jazeera for the other side of Arab / Islamist vs {whoever} news, but now it is harder to get the right link (all my america.AJ links are to the abandoned American AJ… and I’ve not done the work to sort it again).

    France24 sure looks like clean and well balance news to me. A bit Europe / France centric, but I’m OK with that. Found out French Police were ‘demonstrating’ in uniform about the rise of no-go zones and criminal zones they were not being allowed to clean up, after 2 officers were horribly burned in their car by a volley of petrol bombs from ‘the locals’… Great coverage of the take-down of The Jungle happening now (Chunnel entrance France side) and relocation of several thousand “migrants” throughout France. It’s more clear just how much a mess the Muslim Hoard is making of France…

    Also some of the Christian News shows are enlightening. They have morality segments and the Catholic News includes news about the inside of The Church. I need to find out of Christian Science Monitor has a TV channel. They are known for being painfully fair to the point of boredom, but honest and well founded (at least in their news paper).

    At present, there’s not one show I’d say has it all. But put a couple in a blender and hit Frappe and you get the truth… or rotate one a day between them…

    My usual news flow order now is: Fox & RT alternating as I wake up and make the coffee. Franc24 later in the day. DW sometimes (too much soccer coverage for me! ;-) as a Politically Approved View of the EU… and then it’s variety of the day. Sample a bit of CNN and MSNBC (about 10 minutes each is most of what I can stand of the Bash Trump Praise Hillary Show they run dawn to dusk…) and hit up CBS Online News for the Approved Domestic Slant. Then in the evening whatever strikes my fancy.

    Most of them have a canned 30 minute or for RT couple of hours and then it is largely just repeating. Makes it easy to suck done 4 of them in a day…

    Hope that hodgepodge helps…

    Per ranking Truthyness: First you would need to decide “who’s truth” was your rubber ruler… then there’s the problem that “compare and contrast” is very useful as it shows a bright light on the spin and lies. I’d hate to lose that value added…

    OH and per:

    Gail: I gave up watching direct NBC, ABC, etc. years ago. I’ve only recently started to catch the CBS Online News (that is a bare shadow of the former self of the ’60s and even the ’70s). The “Big 3” are more like the “Little Also Rans” these days.


    That’s the same ‘pages of thumbnails’ problem on DirecTV, though they do have a search box.

    IMHO the “web designers” have had too much “art and design” training and not enough raw computer programming work…

    IMHO also, every one of them ought to be given a 5 year old laptop as their development station that is 2 levels back in the OS release. That’s what most of their customer will be on. Instead, they get multi-core multi-cpu boxes with 32 GB of memory and a couple of TB of disk… And write products that work fine on that hardware… as long as you have THE most recent of all software… and a corporate IT department supporting it…

    Yes, I’ve got that same “Doesn’t work? Moving on…” behaviour. Want me to work with you on it? Here’s my hourly rate… I’m here for Entertainment not a free (unpaid) gig doing debugging remotely without the source code…


    You got it in one. There was a big ‘movement’ started in about the ’90s to 2000s to ‘outsource’ tech work and bring in cheap H1B visa folks. It’s now endemic. Quality is now crap, and it takes 4 cheap people to do the same job, but they take 5 times as long… but hey, it’s cheaper…

    Part of why I don’t work much anymore. Between wage depression declining my interest, and needing to speak pidgin English way too much with ‘the rest of the team’ and on to places like Disney where twice now I was on contract and ready to make the apply / hire move into a department and they laid off the whole department in favor of ‘out sourced to India’ solutions (that didn’t work nearly so well as expected… but the VP had his bonus and ‘moved on’ by the time the SHTF moments came); between all those, I’m just not that inspired by it any more. I’d rather hack the Pi at home ;-)


    I’ll try it out and see what comes of it… Or maybe I’ll just go do some more canning while I watch the update of news on France24… It’s about lunch time ;-)

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    Well that’s interesting…

    Booted the Tablet to watch France24 while I shape the loaf and bake todays bread (lunch is a time for eating AND baking…) and the damn thing starts downloading and updating.

    Now I’m fairly religious about turning OFF absolutely ALL “auto update” settings. This thing has not had any auto update since new. Something ELSE has decided to “push” to me, and against my will.

    Was it something I did last night? If so, why didn’t it happen then?

    At any rate, I now have updates pending approval to install for:

    Dropbox, Gmail. Google Play Newsstand, Hangouts, Maps-Navigation & Transit, Netflix, Nook Read eBooks & Magazines (even though I don’t have a nook and don’t read nooks) and…

    It has automatically already updated without asking:

    AllShareCast Dongle S/W Update
    Google (browser I think)
    Google Play Books
    Google Play Games
    Google Play Movies & TV
    Google Play Music
    Google TalkBack
    Google Text-To-Speech
    Media Hub Samsung ICS & JB
    Samsung Push Service

    Oh, and it informs me Google Street View is up to date already…

    Note to self: Find what URL / IP is used for Google and Samsung “auto-update” and “ground” it in my DNS server… Updates ought not happen without my express consent and involvement… Never mind that I don’t use 3/4 of those things that were ‘updated’…

    I wonder if at some point I gave an “OK” to install the DirecTV ap and that toggled the generic “OK to Auto-Update” setting…

  14. Steven Fraser says:

    Perhaps a ‘Life Randomizer’ app for the ‘novelty’?

  15. Eric Barnes says:

    Hi EM,
    I’ve been using MythTV for about 2 years now and have no regrets. It basically turns your computer into a DVR and is cross platform. There are some setup issues, but I’ve been *very* happy.

    Pluses :
    Record in advance as much as your disk space allows. (with todays disk sizes, this can be considerable)
    Save on PVR rental costs ($20 a month for a PVR for me).
    View on a much larger number of devices (I’ve been able to view on my phone, tablet, linux, windows etc.).
    Recording is decoupled from watching and there are 3 tuners for the cable card. Even with the off chance that the kids and wife are watching something live, I’m still able to view sports without worry on my pc. :)
    Seriously antiquated equipment (dell optiplex 330, optiplex 380 and precision 490) is able to function as either a backend (dvr) or a frontend. My aging machines have purpose again. :)
    Minuses :
    Disk space cost : $100 for a good 4TB plus drive.
    7$ a month for a cablecard (decryption device to plug into your Silicon Dust HD HomeRun …)
    $60 or so for a Silicon Dust HD Homerun Prime (device with three integrated tuners that your cable coax plugs into).
    $25/year for a SchedulesDirect account (electronic program information service).
    Maintenance time backup of database/vm, and basic pc maintenance.

    Setup isn’t easy, but far from difficult.

    I don’t have much time to watch tv and what little time I do is very inflexible. With MythTV I can record *large* amounts of programming without worry of missing something. Sometimes I don’t get to a program for a year or so. It’s not a problem.

    We do have 1 DVR from the cable company, but it’s disk space is about 250gb, which is inadequate when you factor kids, wife and myself.

  16. E.M.Smith says:


    Thanks for the pointer! I’d thought of hacking together my own DVR, but knowing someone has already done it lets me get closer to the Round Tuit Moment ;-)

    I don’t have cable, but satellite. As my “goal” is to decouple from any fixed location ( hopefully in a year or two, being more RV bicoastal than cars and two landing spots bicoastal…) I’m not sure how well it would work with a Satellite Feed or Internet TV Only feed; but I’m sure that’s not hard to figure out.

    In any case, I’ll take a look at it.


    You’ve made me think, damn it! Thanks for that!

    So I’ve spent idle cycles for the last day pondering “What news I watch, how ‘truthful’ is it, and why do I watch that?” The answers were interesting…

    First off, the “search for truthful news”: I don’t. I accept that what they present is not the truth. They present their POV, their bias, and their editing decisions, and sometimes their deliberate deception as propaganda. Expect that. Accept it. Embrace it. Adapt.

    Second: All information informs. It is just the ‘what it informs’ that changes… So, for example, when RT spends time praising Putin for some act, that informs their bias (pro Putin) and it informs the general Russian POV (slightly xenophobic and happy to have a Strong Man keeping the Bad Guys out, mostly, with some cynicism…); just like when MSNBC praises Hillary they inform they are paid shills for HIllary and got their talking points at the secret meeting (observed as they match exactly the CNN talking points and several others; only differing in strength and loudness…) and it informs the Progressive Left POV that “ALL is fair in political domination, laws need not apply to them, and ‘it is only wrong if you get caught and admit it‘…”

    Truth is hidden by editing, not just spin. What is put in, and left out, is a very powerful form of deception. Say, for example, MSNBC spends 48 hours on Trump being attracted to pretty women, sometimes against their will. That may well have truth in it (show me any insanely wealthy and powerful man who is not attracted to beautiful women and expects to get his way and I’ll show you a gay guy…) but it is the length and duration of the fixation that informs the bias. Compare what is left out, the “negative space”: Nearly zero coverage of the explicitly criminal acts of Hillary documented in EmailGate and similar near zero coverage of her obvious two faced lying with private speeches to rich folks diametrically opposed to her public positions. Now compare Fox News, essentially the reverse (though they do Sniditude Coverage of the MSNBC coverage of Trump as their way of talking about the sexcapades issue.). Now both agencies are not telling Porkies and both of them are accurate in their facts (mostly); but the time and scope coverage reveals the information… and also the facial expressions and tone of voice and all those social clues. (No, I don’t just let them drive me, I observe them and catalog… a valuable skill. Do not get sucked into the empathy trap with the news reader… observe and ANALYSE the news reader… take The Martian View – one of the few things of merit I learned in my sociology class…)

    One other example: Today, RT is covering the French Police demonstrations. Interesting statement was that the police have said “They can no longer protect themselves while on duty”. Now France24 had covered them over the last week. US News essentially silent on them, but covering Police shootings by BLM advocates / inspired. Each has their own editorial bias. France24 is concerned about France and their culture and what this means as navel gazing introspection. The USA is divided between those blacks who have bought the Democrat / Soros sponsored push that “This is a Big Deal and spontaneous” and those of us who see it as a deliberate attempt to stir up race riots before the election to get Hillary the Black Vote (and so what if a few cops and blacks get killed in the process… This POV supported by the Wikileaks emails…) Now one might reasonably assemble those two bits and wonder if Soros and friends have a general global push to destabilize Police and the Rule Of Law? A peaceful lawful country is much harder to collapse, and since Soros desires the collapse of the Nation State (as do many of his Globalist Fellow Travelers) that’s a reasonable question to ask in extension…. Now assemble with the RT coverage. WHY is Russia interested in French Police? To me, it is evidence that Putin and friends have Caught Clue about the destabilize effort, and is interested in showing the result of it to the world. (Having tossed Soros’ NGOs out of Russia and issued an arrest warrant for him… in Russia only the Government gets to destabilize other nations… rather like in the USA… though our Politicians are semi-puppets of Soros via his ‘social movement engineering’…) Now how to VIEW all this mess? Hmmm?

    First off, by watching France24 I had early clue about the huge anger in the French Police and that 4 were burned, two badly, one ‘fighting for his life in hospital’ a week in advance. I knew it was a criminal element (not clear if any migrant ties, but seems more drug related, though the drugs in Europe are often run by Radical Islamist related groups as a funding effort). I had already seen via their film just how bad it was getting and just how destabilized France and the French Police had become from the criminal activity, the no-go zones, the massive immigrant influx, and more. (Including the start of the destruction of The Jungle camp at Pas de Callas). By watching domestic (USA) news, I knew that BLM was stirring up black anger, police resentment, and getting police killed, along with generalized riot. By following the Wikileaks news, I knew BLM was Soros / Democrats sponsored for political effect. Now, by watching RT, I’m seeing that Russia knows this game is afoot too, and is interested in “outing” it. That RT has NOT (yet?) covered the BLM connection is also interesting in that it says to me they are more interested in Europe than the USA (or just want to spend the USA air time on Hillary Bashing ;-) My main takeaway from all of it is just that “Destabilizing Police and National peace” is a strategy being used on at least 2 continents (more when other news is added in…) with the goal of taking down 2 of the oldest and most iconic Liberal (Classi-Liberal / Libertarian) Democratic Republics in the history of the world. Flooding them with culturally incompatible “refugees” as a tool to that social disruption. Russia has figure this out (and expelled Soros related NGOs and groups) and is interested in pointing a news spotlight on the consequences (though, oddly, not bothering to mention the back story links to Soros… interesting game of shadows in that, too…) as France has nightly chaos and police demonstrations and strikes. As a “law and order” guy, Putin is also showing his domestic audience that without him, this is what they would get (and he is likely correct, given the Globalist goals and methods…)

    All that, and more, from a 30 second blurb of a 5 minute piece on RT just about the French Police demonstrations, as it gets integrated with all prior observations.

    So where is the “truth” in it? Is it in the RT News? The France24 news? The MSNBC touting of BLM “actions” and man on the street interviews? The Fox sniditude about MSNBC and BLM coverage? The CNN “on the street” camera during the riots? The ‘background’ on Soros from a half dozen other places (including my own posting)? Or is it in seeing the spotlights and shadows and assembling the whole picture?…

    The key for me is that “ALL information informs”, but it is up to you to observe and analyse it, not just accept it as infotainment and let it wash over your brain uninspected… Question every bit of it. Ask Why? And Why THIS? And Why NOT THAT? And how does this INTEGRATE with all the other coverage and history? And how does that inform the bias and POV of the presenter?

    IMHO it is that approach to news and “science papers” that drives a wedge between me and the folks pushing both the Soros Agenda and the Global Warming Hoax. They think their propaganda, if only done right, can control others (and they are right for about 40% of the people) and it frustrates them that I am not so amenable. So I must be a “denier” and they must apply the Alinsky Method of isolate, attack, personalize, etc. (Which just informs as to who they are and what their bias and history is…)

    I can only thank my family and teachers for that. My Dad, in particular, was sometimes cynical about the news… and would call “Bull Shit!” on some of the stories… and in some class in school we were required to get the Christian Science Monitor and compare it to other papers. (Was it History or Civics?…) We were taught to ‘compare and contrast’ the news in them and to ask “Where is the truth?” and find it in ourselves… We were taught to see and evaluate Editorial Bias, in effect.

    For those who don’t know: The Christian Science Monitor (at least 50 years ago, don’t know about now) had a strong reputation of “Fair and balanced reporting” of all sides of an issue. So much so that it was often considered boring and left you to draw your own conclusions about everything. The joke in class was that if they reported on a Baby Killer it would fairly present his POV on why it was an OK thing to do… and leave you to decide if he was wrong or right… Looks like they are still around: I think I’ll need to start reading them again and see if they have stayed true to the unbiased POV over the decades…

    So, in summary, for at least 50 years I’ve been of the mind set that “news” is only 1/2 news and the other half is Editorial Bias and it is my job to extract the real information from what junk is presented. (Being raised in the Vietnam War Era with conflicting pro-war propaganda on the nightly news and anti-war propaganda via ‘radical’ rags didn’t hurt… watching the “Enemy Body Count” rise as everyone knew the thing was failing was ‘enlightening’ about propaganda…) I learned early to use at least 3 sources if possible, and at least one of them a source you do not agree with, then ‘compare and contrast’ to tease out the real information. To never just trust for truth, but to dig for it. Two papers from countries that hate each other will each illuminate the failures of the other, neither one will give the story on themselves. Even the USA papers. The truth is usually buried under a pack of lies. If you are lucky, it is in the top story, but even then often embellished greatly or tarnished with mud. So USE the mud. What it is being slung at is likely shiny truth under it. USE the embellished facade to show where to dig in and pry off a bit to see the dross under it…

    “Truth is where you find it” but only after searching and digging…

  17. Larry Ledwick says:

    The Christian Science Monitor still does have a more balanced view than most and has an online presence at:

    Another independent journalist to pay attention to is Sharyl Attkisson and her Full Measure program.

  18. Larry Ledwick says:

    Cord cutting is international, all the major vendors have been screwing their customers for too long and forcing them to pay for stuff they have no interest in to see the few things they really want to watch. Not to mention that the bidding wars for coverage rights just increase the costs for the poor guy sitting on the couch trying to relax a bit and feeds a viscous circle of price escalations as players demand higher pay checks due to huge profits from TV coverage. Not to mention too much of the coverage is like a professional wrestling match focusing on fabricated drama rather than full spectrum coverage of the event and teams.

  19. Gail Combs says:

    If you want to watch sports go to your local high school games or little league.

    The fresh air will do you good and the kids will love it.

  20. E.M.Smith says:


    In Florida, even High School games are on the local cable! Now I’ll bet even more of them are getting on the internet (via things like Periscope)…

    Interesting idea… Start a “non-pro” sports TV site… Have parents and amateurs doing the filming and uploading to the website … multiple views if multiple ‘suppliers’. Pretty quick, the local “arts and acting” class would be “televising” the nightly football or basketball or whatever games…

    This would be an international reach, too. So the key bit would be a top index where folks would choose their interests then be presented the current batch of choices. (Like “Texas, high school football, 100 miles of Tyler”)

    Hmmm…. I think this has legs…

    BTW, I absolutely LOVED coaching Pee Wee Hockey. I’m also MUCH more fond of B league baseball than the pros. It is the ‘old experience’ I remember from when I was a kid and “it was just a game”… where when you holler at the Ump, he hears you! Frankly, I liked it so much more than the “pro” games that I’ve not been to a pro game since about 1995? and that was when my Son was interested in baseball so we went to some pro games while “on the road” on vacation. Even there, the Minor League games were more fun than the pro games…

    But yeah, go to local first, minors second, “pro” games if someone else is paying for it ;-)

  21. gallopingcamel says:

    Picking up one of Chiefio’s minor points:
    ” Started when they bought Pacific Bell and killed the “fiber to the home” project. I was about 2 months from high speed ethernet to the internet. That cable hung on the side of the house for years… doing nothing… ”

    Remember Dilbert and the “Preventer of Information Technology”? ATT is now about preventing IT so like you I have ATT 20/1 Mbps while by moving to Spain I could enjoy 300/300 Mbps for $34 per month. See “Broadband in Spain Beats US Providers”

    Fiber To The Home is available in about 25 million homes in the USA, mostly installed by Verizon. Very few consumers in the USA have access to the speeds available in Europe.

  22. philjourdan says:

    @GallopingCamel – even Verizon is playing politics with their fiber. I have it (and love it), but they stopped at the border or our county. I talked to a former Verizon Engineer, and he told me the reason they stopped was they were waiting for the government to subsidize the build out (through that phone tax that long ago outlived its purpose)

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