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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Plea For Help For Victims of Philippine Typhoon Haiyan

I would like to encourage readers to make a donation to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan (aka Yolanda) in the Philippines. Any amount -even $10- can go a long way to help provide food, water, and shelter to those who have lost everything. Below you will find links to worthy organizations who are helping the good people of this beautiful country recover.

Thank you and God Bless.

The American Red Cross has launched a family tracing service among other aid operations. If you are unable to reach a family member in the Philippines, you can contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross to initiate a tracing case. Representatives added that it has deployed two people to assist with assessments in the Philippines. It asks those who want to support relief efforts to mail a check to their local American Red Cross chapter, with "Philippines Typhoons and Flood" in the memo line. Go to for local chapter information or to donate directly to the Philippine Red Cross.

The Philippine Red Cross said it has mobilized teams on the ground to help with rescue and relief operations. Click the link to learn more.

UNICEF is taking donations to help provide children with shelter, clean water, nutrition and vaccines. Representatives said its staff in the Philippines is being repositioned to help in relief efforts and 66 tons of emergency supplies are being sent from Copenhagen. An airlift set to arrive on Tuesday will include water purification systems, storage equipment and sanitation supplies. Donations can be made to UNICEF at
World Food Programme (WFP), a United Nations organization, said it will send more than 40 tons of high energy biscuits and work with the Filipino government to help with logistics and emergency communications systems. Representatives said they have allocated $2 million for the disaster response and officials joined an assessment mission to survey damage in Leyte and Samar provinces. It asks for donations at or by texting the word AID to 27722 to instantly donate $10.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has launched a $10 million appeal and sent an emergency team to Manila who have already started to work on the ground. For more information, visit

Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) has organized teams of doctors, nurses, surgeons, psychologists, water and sanitation experts and other specialists to respond to the typhoon’s aftermath. The organization is also dispatching nine cargo planes loaded with tons of water, sanitation and medical supplies. The humanitarian cargo includes medical kits for treating the wounded, equipment for medical consultations, tetanus vaccines, relief items such as tents and hygiene kits, water and sanitation equipment and, if needed, an inflatable hospital, said spokesman Tim Shenk. Some of the group’s medical teams were already in place in Cebu Tuesday, but blocked roads, a damaged airport and bad weather have made access to affected areas particularly difficult. Click the link to see how you can help.

Save the Children is also mounting disaster relief efforts to help children and families in the region with emergency assistance.

Catholic Relief Services is accepting donations on its website as it begins moving supplies and staff to respond to the typhoon.

World Vision said it will provide food and water to those in evacuation shelters. Representative said it is putting together resources to assist 1.2 million people, including food, hygiene kits, emergency shelter and protection. It asked for one-time donations to be made at

Habitat for Humanity plans to offer shelter repair kits for families who need to re-build their damaged houses.

Operation USA said it will allocate donations directly to relief and recovery efforts.

National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) has created a disaster relief fund for victims in the Philippines.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has begun collecting donations for relief efforts. To contribute, go to or call 212-687-6200.

Mercy Corps is accepting donations on its website as emergency responders move food, water, shelter and other supplies to the region.

ChildFund International has been in the Philippines since 1954. The organization is distributing clean water, food and other household items to victims of the typhoon. It is in the process of setting up child-centered spaces in evacuation centers to provide counsel and relief to children and families affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan.

International Medical Corps deployed an emergency response team of medical personnel and sanitation experts to the Philippines to and is accepting donations through their website in order to ship medicine, clean water and food. They are also asking for $10 donations by texting MED to 80888. Infection control is a priority “to keep those already healthy, healthy,” and “medical and social interventions are needed,” to help those who have been injured and displaced,” said Noel Miranda, leader of the Philippines team.

The Salvation Army is also asking for $10 donations by text. One hundred percent of money donated by sending TYPHOON to 80888 or through their website will be used to sort, ship and distribute donated goods.

Direct Relief has shipped 1.5 tons of medicine, nutritional supplements and first aid supplies to the Philippines and hope to ship more with the help of donations through their website. They have also partnered with Team Rubicon, a veterans’ disaster response organization, who is helping Direct Relief drop off portable kits to displaced survivors.

Apple has created an option in the iTunes Store allowing iTunes customers to donate, and iTunes will transfer 100 percent of donations to the American Red Cross. Donor support will provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to victims of all disasters.

Google has also launched a person finder.

AT&T and Verizon are offering free calls and texts to the Philippines for customers trying to contact friends and family there in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

Mammoth Medical brought a team of surgeons, doctors and medical support volunteers to the Philippines. The group is equipped with three surgical teams and more than 30 parcels of medical supplies as well as a self-contained surgical tent. Click the link for more information.

Oxfam teams on the ground are reporting an urgent need for food, clean water, medicine and shelter. Teams are ready to deploy water and sanitation materials to those affected but need help to scale up their response.

Team Rubicon is working to facilitate search and rescue efforts and provide medical triage for a field hospital in Tacloban. Click the link for more information.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

FTA Satellite, Part 4: Installation

 Installation of a single satellite FTA system is a relatively easy task, provided that you done a little homework and have the right tools for the job. The tools needed are a magnetic level, compass, satellite finder, open end and socket wrenches, screwdrivers, and of course your FTA receiver, dish and mount, and coaxial cables.

Your first task once you decide what satellite you want is to determine the location for your dish. For most installations this will be on a roof. If you are installing on a roof, most dishes will come with a "J-pipe" mount that includes all the mounting hardware you need, but I would also recommend using some asphalt sealant between the roofing material and J-pipe to prevent water intrusion. You can also install your dish on a pipe set into concrete. A pole set in concrete should be a heavy weight metal water pipe, not the galvanized "top rail" for chain link fencing that I often recommend for mounting OTA antennas.

Friday, August 16, 2013

AEREO TV Is Now Available In Utah! A first look at AEREO in Utah.


Aereo has now opened the doors to its "over the top" video service to all Utah residents. It is offering a free month of service to new customers through this link:

For those that don't know about AEREO, it is a service that uses individual antennas and tuners assigned to each subscriber to deliver local OTA broadcast TV channels over the internet. It also provides a program guide (1 week into the future) as well as a cloud-based DVR service that allows you to store 20 or 60 hours of content, depending on your plan. The cost is $8 a month for the 20 hour plan, and $12 for the 60 hour plan that allows watching or recording 2 programs at once.

From Wikipedia:
Aereo is a technology company based in New York City that allows subscribers to view live as well as time-shifted streams of over-the-air television on Internet-connected devices. Immediately following Aereo's launch in New York City the company was sued by a consortium of major broadcasters, including CBS, Comcast's NBC, Disney's ABC and Newscorp's Fox for copyright infringement. On April 1, 2013, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court's ruling, finding that Aereo’s streams to subscribers were not "public performances", and thus did not constitute copyright infringement.

Aereo's technology allows subscribers to view live broadcast content and to record it for later viewing. As of October 2012, Aereo can be used on Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs  with a compatible browser or iOS devices including the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Apple TV (2nd & 3rd Gen) via AirPlay. A Roku video player can be used also. Monthly plans start at $8 for 20 hours of DVR storage. Aereo provides this service by leasing to each user an individual remote antenna. This distinguishes Aereo from purely internet-based streaming services
I've had AEREO for just 3 days now, and while I'm not an expert on AEREO by any means, here's my first impression.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Plea To TV Stations For Proper PSIP/EPG Data

I know some TV stations and networks monitor this blog, so I'm hoping that someone that can do something about it will read it and act on it. (I know, I'm a dreamer, right?)

For some time now, many TV stations have had inaccurate, incomplete, or missing PSIP (Program and System Information Protocol) data. For me, this has been an inconvenience mostly, until now. I have an OTA PVR (HomeWorx HW-150PVR, for under $50) that is dependent on PSIP data for recording. I know some of the blame for inattention to PSIP goes to TV manufacturers (For example, my top-of-the-line in 2008 52" Philips TV only tells me what is on now, and only on the channel I am watching now!), but broadcasters should be doing what they can to keep their PSIP data accurate. Manufacturers are only following the specs for our ATSC standards, which stations are supposed to follow - but rarely do.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

FTA Satellite, Part 3: The Equipment

In the third installment of our Free To Air (FTA) satellite series, we'll cover the equipment needed to set up a simple, one satellite system that will get you started. We'll assume that you are going to set up your system for Galaxy 19 at 97 degrees. While there is lots of programming on other satellites, Galaxy 19 has over 200 unencrypted channels available (although most are foreign language and/or religious) and it is the logical place to start.

While you can add a motor drive or use multiple LNBs to get more than one satellite, at this point we'll be focused on just a single satellite. For this, you need just 4 things: A dish, 30" or larger with mount, an "LNB" (a Low-Noise Block down converter), a receiver, and some coax cable. I would also suggest an inexpensive satellite finder to make setup much easier. 

Here's the low-down on all that you need:

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

AEREO Internet TV Comes To Utah August 19


Aereo, a service that allows subscribers to view live as well as time-shifted streams of local over-the-air television on Internet-connected devices, has announced that it is coming to Utah.

“We’re excited to be launching our technology in Utah, or what is fast becoming known as the Silicon Slopes,” said Aereo CEO and founder Chet Kanojia. “Utahans are connected, tech-savvy and interested in innovations that can add value to their lives. When it comes to how you watch television, Aereo’s technology will bring more choice and flexibility to Utahans across the state, whether you live in Salt Lake City, St. George or Ogden. We believe consumers want and deserve a better television experience and our work is focused on delivering the best customer experience with the highest quality technology.”

In Utah, which is served by Comcast in some areas, consumers will be able to record and watch networks such as KSTU-HD (FOX), KSL-DT (NBC), KUTV-HD (CBS), KTVX-HD (ABC) and KUED-HD (PBS), as well as other over-the-air special interest and foreign language channels, including BYU-TV, AntennaTV, ION, Qubo, Estrella TV and others. In addition, consumers will also be able to add Bloomberg Television.

Aereo said that anyone who is interested in trying the service can pre-register on its website, which will give them priority over those that don’t. Aereo’s service will be available to consumers across all 29 counties in Utah on Aug. 19.

Full Story here:

Aereo heads to Beehive State
Aereo heads to Beehive State
Aereo heads to Beehive StateWhat's interesting about this is that Utah has an extensive translator network that delivers a majority of Salt Lake City's channels to most of the state. Therefore, Aereo will available to pretty much the entire state, rather than just a limited metro area as in other markets like New York city. Aereo’s service will be available to consumers across all 29 counties in Utah on Aug. 19
 I hope this really puts the screws to Comcast. Profit is one thing, greed is another.

Not only are they encrypting "Limited Basic" cable (the lowest price cable, consisting mostly of some of your local channels), they're killing QAM, and the "Digital Transport Adapter" they provide is NOT HD, and you need a box for every TV. Aren't they also charging rental for those boxes now, too? I think they call it a "Digital outlet charge" or some sort of doublespeak. Yea, the box is "free", but they still found a way to charge you every month for it.

What DOES Comcast charge for "Limited Basic" cable in Utah now, anyway? Does anyone know? They are really good at hiding the price, I can't find it online anywhere. EDIT: I FOUND IT! It's about $30 a month, plus fees and taxes - lets call it $40.

AEREO is $8 a month, it's HD, and you don't "rent" a box. You can BUY a Roku to watch it on, and watch on 5 devices - at no extra cost. It comes with 20 hours of DVR. For an additional $4, you can record 2 shows at once, and get 60 hours DVR.

Say what you will about Aereo, but competition is GOOD for the consumer. If we had 3 different cable companies to choose from, you bet your a$$ Comcast wouldn't be charging as much as it does. I'm signed up for the preview, and I'm looking forward to giving you all a review. I'll give them a test drive, but I'm sure I'll stick to watching TV with my antenna - as God intended!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

FTA Satellite, Part 2: Is It For You?

FTA Satellite TV
Part 2
FTA satellite TV is not for everyone. But is FTA Satellite TV for you? That depends on a number of things.

Consider that you'll need to install a satellite dish at least 30" in diameter to get FTA Ku band programming - that's about 2x the size of the smallest (18") Dish Network or DirecTV dishes. Satellite dishes are covered by the FCC's OTARD regulations, which allow for the installation of satellite dishes up to 1 meter diameter (or any size in Alaska), in an area that you have "exclusive use" of. Basically, you can put a FTA dish anywhere you can put an antenna or DirecTV / Dish Network dish.

If you aren't allowed to have a satellite dish where you live, you can stop right here. Otherwise, read on to see if FTA satellite TV is something you may be interested in.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Using FTA Satellite To Get Free TV

Today, we are going to dabble a bit in the "black arts" of free TV. No, we aren't going to do anything illegal. It's all perfectly legal, the equipment is inexpensive, and the programming is FREE.

Let's get this out of the way first: it's not a replacement for pay TV. No HBO, ESPN, or Showtime here. No HGTV. But there is a lot of content that you would find in a basic pay TV package, and free over the air (OTA) broadcast TV can be found. You can also find some unencrypted premium content as well, albeit most of that is international (non-English) programming.

In this multi-part series of posts, we'll walk you through what free satellite TV is and what is not, what content is available, what it will cost you, and how to set up a simple single satellite system for about $100-$200.

Lets start at the beginning: the 1970's, the dawn of satellite TV.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

KUTO 15.4 Goes Info-mercial

If you haven't noticed, KUTO's .4 subchannel has dropped the TUFF TV network and replaced it with 24/7 infomercials. PSIP ID now identifies 15.4 as "KUTO-INFO". I believe that they didn't want to drop TUFF, but were forced into it because another LP station in SLC has aquired exclusive rights to TUFF TV in Utah. (Correct me if I am wrong, KUTO!) There is the chance that TUFF may be back on the air in Cache Valley in the future, or that some other network could show up on 15.4 (May I suggest The Cool TV, or Movies!)

I really do enjoy TUFF programming, but I also understand that someone has to pay the bills. And remember, back in the days before digital TV and subchannels, many LP stations existed solely to broadcast infomercials. At least KUTO is still broadcasting worthwhile network and local programming on their three other subchannels.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

New Interface Update for Roku 2 Devices

Over the past 2 weeks Roku has been silently and randomly rolling out a new firmware release to Roku 2 series players. As of the 14th of May, you can force this update by going to:
  • Settings
  • Software update
  • Check now

This new update gives older "2" series Roku players the same interface as the new Roku 3.
 From the Official Roku Blog:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

PBS and PBS KIDS channels come to the Roku Channel Store!

Since I got my first Roku player, I've wondered why PBS doesn't have their own Roku channel - and I'm not the only one who has wondered that. I've been asked by several people where to watch PBS on Roku, and the only answer I could give them is Hulu - which, as we all know, is a paid service when using a Roku. I couldn't understand it myself, since PBS has always been an early adopter of technologies that can spread their programming to a wider audience.

But now at last, PBS and PBS KIDS have their own Roku channels!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

iView 3500STB: An HD Tuner / DTA Converter Box / DVR / Media Player for about $50?

UPDATE: until iview fixes the problems in its firmware, I am no longer recommending the  iView 3500STB.  I am recommending the HomeWorx HW-150PVR

A lot of people have asked me about digital converter boxes, HD TV tuners, and DVRs, and where to get them for cheap.

How about a device that does all that, and costs under $50?
What if you could also play videos from USB devices, too?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

KBYU TV Channel 11.3 Drops "PBS Create", Now Showing BYU International

As of today, May 1, 2013, KBYU channel 11.3 from Salt Lake City has dropped "PBS Create" in favor of "BYU International". For those that want to watch PBS Create, it can be seen on Idaho Public TV channel 10.3 from Franklin County where most of PBS Create's programming is on the "Learn" channel. For those with FTA (Free-To-Air) satellite, it's one of 14 PBS Ku band channels on AMC 21 (125.0 W)

BYU Television International is a cable/satellite television channel operated by Brigham Young University. BYU Television International broadcasts simultaneously in English, Spanish and Portuguese, with most of the programming also seen on its sister channel, BYU Television. Content originates from BYU, BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and independent producers. Broadcasting via Satellite and as KBYU's 11.3 subchannel, BYU Television International is available in most parts of the world. It aims to provide viewers worldwide with high-quality, educational and inspirational programming. It is available through direct satellite broadcast services such as Dish Network and DIRECTV, as well as on the internet as two separate Ooyala streams: one for Spanish and the other for Portuguese.

I have mixed feelings about the change myself. Channel 11.3 was the only full-time PBS Create channel available in Utah, but here in Northern Utah I can get most of Create's programming on Idaho PTV's 10.3 "Learn" channel. On the other hand, I hate "duplicate" channels that show the same programs, and I appreciate that there are many here in Utah who will appreciate another unique free TV channel.

BYUtv International's schedule can be found here: 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Yes, You CAN Have An Outdoor TV Antenna!

Can I Haz Antenna?
I've had a lot of people tell me "I would like to put up a TV antenna, but my Home Owner's Association prohibits it." Yes, a lot of HOAs try to prohibit TV antennas and/or satellite dishes. But did you know that if you OWN your own single family detached home, no HOA - or local government entity, for that matter - can prohibit you from putting an antenna on you roof? The FCC has prohibited these sort of shenanigans since 1996, and there are very few exceptions. Even renters, mobile home park residents, and owners of townhouses are afforded some protections from the  tyranny of HOAs and landlords according to the FCC's OTARD ( "Over-the-Air Reception Devices")rules. Since October 1996, the FCC has banned "restrictions that impair the installation, maintenance or use of antennas used to receive video programming." The rules have since been expanded it to protect the right of renters to set up antennas in areas they control, such as balconies or porches, and to cover wireless-broadband receivers.

There are some exceptions to the rules, but they aren't very difficult to understand.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Roku Releases Roku 3

Roku, Inc. has released the new Roku 3 streaming player. The Roku 3 replaced the Roku XS, and adds new features like an improved user interface and headphone jack in the remote for private listening in addition to a much faster processor. Reports indicate the the unit loads content faster and responds to input quicker than Roku 2 and LT units.
What else is new?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Some Myths and Misconceptions About Free OTA TV

There is a lot of bad information out there about free OTA TV and pay TV. Some of it is lack of information, some is misinformation. Some of it comes from a basic misunderstanding of free digital TV, and some of it even originates with pay TV providers themselves.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

What's The Best Way To Watch The Superbowl?

Super Bowl XLVII—featuring the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers—happens Sunday, February 3 in New Orleans. CBS has the broadcast rights to the game this year, and kickoff is 6:30pm Eastern. You can  Stream the game live online at, or on a phone or tablet, you can download the NFL Mobile app at Of course, won't won't get the best  picture quality streaming on the internet, and as often happens when millions of people try to access the same stream, servers crash, and who wants to watch on a 3 inch screen?

So, if the internet doesn't have the best picture, who does have the best picture for the big game? DirecTV, Dish Network, Comcast, Time-Warner cable? Another cable company? The answer may surprise you.


Instant Watch Browser for Netflix

One thing that users of Netflix on smart TVs, Roku box, and other devices find annoying is that it's impossible to browse the whole Neflix catalog from the Netflix app for these devices. The official Netflix apps for these devices limit you to a few categories and Netflix's  "suggestions". For myself, this had always meant hopping on the laptop and adding movies to my queue from a browser to find new movies.

But now I've found a solution that allows me to find everything in the Netflix catalog without putting down the Roku Remote.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wireless Keypad / Airmouse / Learning Remote

iPazzPort 2.4GHz Mini Wireless Fly Air Mouse Keyboard with IR Remote

The iPazzPort Mini Wireless "Fly Air" keyboard is a great all-in-one remote solution for your home theater PC. With it, you can put all your other remotes in a drawer except for some rarely used functions, or if you have more than two components. The "air mouse" functions similar to a Wii remote. There is also a touchpad version available, the Wireless Keyboard and Touchpad with Learning Infrared (IR) Remote, for those that would prefer a touchpad. Althuough the 2 device learning remote has a limited set of buttons, it can learn any function on your device. And if you have a HTPC or laptop connected to your TV, you really don't need a lot of functions - just on/off, volume, and channel up/down or guide for the TV, etc.
 I also own the Favi Wireless Keyboard With Built-in TouchPad and Laser Pointer without the IR remote function, also by iPazzport, and also sold under a number of different brand names. I've owned it for 2 years now and it has functioned flawlessly. I paid $40 for it 2 years ago, and considered it to be a great deal at the time. (Note: the laser pointer also makes a great cat toy!)