The Evening Post: Sesame Street: House of Bricks


Geek Alabama Evening Post

Tonight, I am sharing this video from the Sesame Street YouTube channel.  If you like House of Cards on Netflix, you are going to like this parody called House of Bricks!  Some people say there’s too much pork in this town. Frank Underwolf could not agree more. And that is why Mr. Underwolf is on a mission to huff and puff and blow down all the little pigs’ houses. In this town, you have to know which way the wind is blowing, and unfortunately, for those little piggies, it’s about to get very windy.  Enjoy the video!

Pee-Wee Is Back In Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday Coming To Netflix


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Remember Pee-Wee’s Playhouse?  That was a very fun show, and it came from a movie called Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.  Now, Pee Wee Herman, played by Paul Reubens, is coming back with a new movie called Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday, and it will premiere on Netflix!

In Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, a fateful meeting with a mysterious stranger inspires Pee-wee Herman to take his first-ever holiday in this epic story of friendship and destiny. “We didn’t hesitate for a moment knowing that Pee-wee’s Big Holiday was such a passion project for Paul and Judd and we are delighted by the opportunity to introduce such a beloved character to a new generation,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “We are thrilled to bring our viewers around the world the wonder of Pee-wee Herman.”

“As a fan of Pee-wee Herman since he first appeared on The Dating Game, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the brilliant Paul Reubens on this film. It is a dream come true,” said Judd Apatow.  “Judd and I dreamt up this movie four years ago. The world was much different back then— Netflix was waiting by the mailbox for red envelopes to arrive. I’ve changed all that. The future is here. Get used to it. Bowtie is the new black,” said Pee-wee Herman.

I wonder what word we will be screaming at when this movie premieres?  For now, check out Pee-Wee’s Log, and this video below!

HBO And CBS Streaming Options, Why I Believe Moving To All Internet Streaming Will Not Work


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This is the news cord cutters have been waiting for!  This week, HBO announced that they would soon begin to offer HBO via internet streaming in 2015.  HBO already has a way for subscribers to watch their favorite HBO shows online with HBO Go.  But, with this new streaming option, it gives people who are cord cutters a way to watch Game of Thrones and their other favorite HBO shows, without subscribing to cable.  The folks at HBO wants to remove all barriers to people who want HBO, and they are doing just that!  Plus, with the service only expected to cost around $10-15 a month, some people are going to want this!  This news is exciting like that classic HBO in space opening sequence.

But, that’s not all!  This week, CBS also announced that they will begin offering CBS All Access.  For $5.99 a month, you can see all of your CBS shows the day after they air on TV.  The service will also offer CBS classics like Star Trek, Cheers, I Love Lucy, The Griffith Show, MacGyver, Brady Bunch, and more.  The service will offer a live stream of 14 local CBS affiliates with more coming soon.  And if you like Big Brother, the service will offer 24-hour live streaming of the camera feeds.  Right now, NFL games are not included, but CBS is talking with the NFL.  And with HBO offering an internet only streaming package, expect Showtime to offer one very soon!

Sure, some people are extremely happy to hear this news, because they think we will soon have the option of cutting cable, and going the internet route only.  Some people are already doing this.  But here are a few problems.  One, the cable companies are not stupid, and they are not dumb.  The big reason why we have the net neutrality debate to begin with is because cable companies see the people cutting the cord.  And they want to re-coup their lost revenue by starting internet caps, re-structuring how we and the content providers pay to be online, and in turn would force sites like Netflix to increase their rates, and soon it would cost more to subscribe to Netflix and Hulu Plus, instead of subscribing to cable.

Two, streaming sports is another thing you mostly can’t do, unless you watch some illegal stream online.  Yes, some leagues like MLB have ways where you can watch their sports online, but you have to deal with the local blackout.  But other sports like the NFL does not have ways to stream games, unless you are subscribed to NFL Sunday Ticket.  Here in Alabama, most people cares about their college football.  And since most games air on ESPN or SEC Network, you must subscribe to cable to see the games online.  Sure, some people who are cord cutters might go to a friend’s house or to a neighborhood bar to see their favorite teams play, but going to the bar adds up fast, and it would soon cost more than subscribing to cable.

And three, it will soon cost you more to cut the cord than subscribe to cable.  When you add the costs up with Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO service, and the CBS All Access, that’s close to $50 a month.  Add that cost to your monthly internet bill of around $50-60 a month, and you are paying over $100 a month.  In some cases, you could subscribe to cable and internet for the same price.  And, the cable companies are already adding internet caps, where you are charged extra if you go over your monthly cap.  At first, cutting the cord might have been cheaper, but down the road, I believe it will cost people more to cut the cord than subscribe to cable.

No, I do not work with a cable company, if you were asking that!  I see the new options from HBO and CBS as a way for people to stop pirating their favorite shows, and watch them the legal way.  Yes, I think this is the beginning of the end for the cable monopoly.  This news should be good for the consumer, because it gives them more ways to watch their favorite programs, so you might see some bills go down for a change.  But, unless we deal with the ballooning costs for sports, cable rates will never go down, and you will continue to see more people cutting the cord to avoid paying sports overcharge fees.

There is also the issue of the availability of internet bandwidth.  Streaming shows takes up a lot of bandwidth, and it’s easier to carry a video feed than an internet feed over your cable lines.  To free up some bandwidth, you could see some channels you see today disappear.  Yes, I think we have way too many channels on TV today.  You could take away 1/4th of the lower rated channels, and no one would miss them.  That bandwidth could be used to make the internet bandwidth better!  But don’t expect that to happen anytime soon because channels are bundled.

Back to the streaming story, if ESPN offered a streaming only service like HBO is going too, the amount of people cutting the cord would shoot through the roof, and it would strain local internet networks with the increased bandwidth usage.  What I would like to see is cable companies offer a package with unlimited internet, DVR, and the most popular TV networks, for a low price.  That way, people can record their favorite shows from the most popular networks, and watch what they would miss from the lower watched networks online.

But I don’t see that happening anytime soon, and this will result in higher bills, more people cutting the cord, and more people illegally streaming and downloading shows online.  No question, the old model of cable TV is slowly fading away.  But the United States does not have the internet bandwidth available for everyone to stream shows online.  So what is going to happen 10 years down the road, who knows?

Seatbelts Everyone, The Magic School Bus Is Being Rebooted


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The 1990’s brought us some classic PBS Kids shows.  One show, Reading Rainbow, is currently running a Kickstarter campaign that has earned over $3.6 million dollars, you still can donate right now!  Now, another classic PBS Kids show is making a come back, and it involves a yellow school bus that is magical, you know, The Magic School Bus!  Remember the theme song to the classic cartoon?

The show was based on the books and premiered in 1994 and produced 52 episodes.  In a small grade school, one class has a unique way of learning about the world with their teacher, Ms. Frizzle. To illustrate the science concepts they discuss, they always went on a field trip on the Magic School bus, a magic vehicle that can literally go anywhere and be anything as the class explores space, the arctic, the human body, in order to have a first hand experience of the principles of science.  And yes, I wished the Magic School Bus was real as a kid, because the field trips I went on while I was in school were mostly boring.  Concept art of the new series is below!

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Netflix, who acquired Scholastic properties including this classic cartoon, is bringing back the school bus, and updating it to today’s science and technology.  The cartoon will be called The Magic School Bus 360°, and it will have 26 episodes scheduled for a 2016 release.  The new series will use CGI animation to feature a modernized Ms. Frizzle and an inventive high-tech bus.  The new cartoon will also focus on modern tech innovations, including robotics and wearables.  So the new version of Magic School Bus is going to take some chances, and get messy in the process.  Animation and CGI have improved greatly since 1994, so I bet we are going to see some cool science animation in this series!

Netflix said the new series will help kids around the world discover the magic and value of exploration and innovation.  And I look forward to seeing the Magic School Bus coming back, even if it’s on a streaming site like Netflix.  So 90’s kids, which classic cartoon should be brought back next?  And how long until we see an announcement of the classic PBS Kids show Wishbone coming back?  Buckle up, seatbelts everyone!

Aereo And Net Neutrality, And What It Means To Cord Cutters


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There has been a lot of news lately over Net Neutrality ending and Aereo going to the Supreme Court.  Both of these issues revolve over one group of people who are fed up with paying for stuff, the cord cutters.  Cord Cutters are people who end their subscriptions to cable and only get high-speed internet to stream their favorite shows.  These people get Netflix, Hulu Plus, Roku, and even Aereo, and only depend on their high-speed internet and an antenna to get their shows.  The cable companies are losing subscribers and are trying to do anything to reverse this trend.  And if the cable companies get their way, soon we will be forced to get cable to watch our favorite shows, whatever we like it or not.

Let’s start with Aereo going to the Supreme Court.  This Spring, Aereo and ABC will plead their case in front of the justices.  The case which is called ABC, Inc., et al. v. Aereo, Inc. will determine the future of broadcast TV as we know it.  Aereo is a service where tiny digital antennas are placed in various major cities around the country.  The service allows users to watch their local stations via the internet and even record their favorite shows to watch at any time.  As soon as the service launched, broadcasters immediately sued Aereo claiming the streaming of television content violates copyright laws.

Also in conflict, is live sports programming on the broadcast networks like the NFL and MLB.  People with Aereo can stream their games for free over the internet from anywhere in the world.  Which causes conflicts with TV Blackouts, and ad revenue.  If Aereo wins this case, the sports leagues have said they might move to cable.  Which means a lost to cord cutters, and for cable subscribers, in the form of extra fees.  And think about this, if Aereo wins, cable and satellite companies could stop paying fees to the local TV stations for carrying their channels, and just use the Aereo service model instead.  This means during severe weather outbreaks in Alabama for example, you might no longer see coverage on TV.  Because the local TV stations might cease to exist.

So what happens if Aereo wins their case?  With no more court challenges, Aereo will expand quickly.  And the broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and others will be left with a burning question.  Do they pull off broadcast TV and go to cable, leaving broadcast TV stations high and dry?  If the major networks leave Broadcast TV and go to cable, many local TV stations will simply close down.  Why, because without good programming, they can’t make ad revenue.  This means no more James Spann on our TV screens during tornado outbreaks, unless he moves everything online.

If the broadcast networks win the Supreme Court Case, Aereo will be forced to pay a lot of money and close down.  And the executives up in New York City will pop open the bubbly and celebrate!  Because the networks will not lose any more ad revenue.  And people will be forced to hook up an actual antenna or subscribe to cable, to watch their favorite shows.  Which equals subscriber fees coming into their coffers.  The broadcast networks prefer to keep everything the same, without things changing, and they hope The Supreme Court will rule in their favor.  So this Supreme Court case will be interesting to watch, all cord cutters are hoping Aereo wins this case.

Also in the tech realm, is Net Neutrality.  Since the 1970’s, providers like AT&T and others have been barred from blocking or degrading whatever is transported over their lines.  But with the recent ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit, Net Neutrality is dead, at least for now.  This means all internet providers can do whatever it likes to content moving across their networks.  If it wants, it can make a blog (like Geek Alabama) that criticized its latest policies unreachable, or block customer support of rival companies, or destroy Netflix by slowing its data to a crawl, making movies impossible to watch.

The end of Net Neutrality is also bad for all bloggers and small business owners on the web.  Companies like Amazon.com will be able to pay big bucks to internet providers to make sure their website loads fast and is reachable.  For small businesses and bloggers who mostly don’t have a lot of money, too bad!  The internet companies could slow you down to a crawl and make you suffer.  And websites like Google and Facebook could even force internet companies to pay them, or block their websites from that internet provider.  Just like what you see with the cable TV providers.

This is really what is going to happen if Net Neutrality does not come back.  And it mostly involves you, the cord cutters.  Cable and telephone companies will force streaming providers like Netflix, Hulu, and others to pay extra to provide their websites to their internet customers.  When that happens, Netflix, Hulu, and the other streaming websites will be forced to pass along the costs to their customers.  So in theory, the cord cutters will soon be paying the same amounts to Netflix and Hulu, as if they were paying for cable.  It could even get to the point where subscribing to cable could be cheaper than cutting the cord!

With Aereo and Net Neutrality, the big issue is getting people to watch those pesky commercials and pay those extremely high fees so the TV providers and networks can make even more money.  And this is where people get fed up.  People are getting tired of paying for higher bills to watch their favorite TV shows and movies.  If Aereo is forced to close down, and Net Neutrality forces Netflix and Hulu to charge more for their services, people will find a way to watch their favorite shows, by any means necessary.  If that means pirate torrents are the ways for people to watch their shows, then that will be the way.  People are clever, and they will gladly take advantage of Hollywood and companies so they don’t have to pay more money!

I believe Net Neutrality is going to be coming back before the internet providers get their ways.  Either the FCC or Congress will pass rules or legislation to stop internet providers from being picky.  If that does not happen, you will see the internet rise up, like the recent SOPA protests.  And may websites, including Geek Alabama, will go dark to protest the end of Net Neutrality.  It will happen, and I think the internet will win once again!

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