: Ron Lindeboom's Blog
We have just purchased and installed the new Apple TV 4 and have begun getting to know it. It's clear that this is a new environment and so there are not as many apps as there are for Roku or Amazon Fire TV. While you may read claims that say that Apple TV 4 has over 2600 apps, Kathlyn and I have been digging through the App Store and not even a search turns up far too many of our favorites.
But if you have a big investment in Apple products and you use the Apple iTunes Store for much of your media purchasing or renting, do not let the shortage of apps dissuade you from going with an Apple TV 4. The number of apps is sure to change quickly as Apple TV 4 is only a few months old now and already it has some of the great free cable cutter channels like Tubi TV (Paramount Pictures), Crackle (Sony Pictures), popcornflix, NFB One, Pluto, PBS, Smithsonian Channel, Free Form (Disney/ABC) and a number of others. The offerings will grow fast, you can bet safe money on that.
So far, we have been able to build a free TV package on our Rokuthat includes 113 apps that we actually use. On the Apple TV 4 we have been able so far to find 29 apps. Again, expect this to change rapidly, as Apple TV 4 is a completely new Apple TV system that is unlike any of the company's Apple TV models that have come before. Apple has never supported open apps before and while I do believe they are
overstating their case when they discuss the number of plug-ins available, there is a comforting elegance to its apps that longtime Apple users will appreciate.
As I suspected, the apps in the Apple TV 4 Store are very well done and they all work using the same kind of restrictive Apple developer uniformity that makes for much less confusing performance than some of the apps we have found and use on the Roku and Fire TV devices.
One thing that people spend a lot of money on, which in many cases is not a good use of money -- because they are paying for duplicated features they likely get from other options -- is buying Smart TVs.
Smart functions built into the TV are very expensive and add hundreds of dollars to the cost. You often do not need them because you get the same functions in Blu-ray players, Rokus, Apple TVs, Amazon Fire TV and many devices.
Major brands like Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, and others, make big mark-ups on their smart TVs. More economy brands like Visio and others, will add around a hundred dollars or so to the price tag.
We bought a 50 inch basic flatscreen TV made and branded by TCL. TCL is one of China's largest companies and they build sets for many other companies who then market them under their own name. It was a non-smart TV and was nothing more than a 50 inch monitor with so many I/O ports that it was amazing: three HDMI ports, TV/Cable/Antenna, Component, AV, USB, and even a serial port if you wanted to hook up an old computer to the TV. It cost us about $325 on the Amazon Deal of the Day. (I signed up and watch for deals like this.)
TCL makes a Smart TV that is just a built-in Roku and nothing else and it is a great buy if you are sure Roku is the way you want to go.
I just ran over to Amazon just now and I found this Sceptre non-smart TV that sells for far less than a same sized Smart TV. If you plan on getting or already use smart devices, why pay for them twice?
The Roku Sci-Fi Station
I haven't yet found this station on either Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV -- if you have, please comment below -- but Roku users who enjoy science fiction and fantasy will like this great free channel.
Sci-Fi Station is full of recent release newer films, not the old sci-fi that you might expect from a free service. It hails from the people at OVguide and they seem to have a lot of recent Sony Pictures fare for you to explore.
Many if not most of the movies were made in the 2000s and tend to be far better films (in my opinion) than most all the other free sci-fi channels.
Check it out if you use a Roku.
We are about to turn off the last of our Dish Network package because we have added a digital off-air antenna through which we now get our local networks for free.
We got one of our two Roku devices by paying our Sling TV bill in advance for three months. When that 90 day period runs out, we will likely turn off our Sling TV package for a few months, restarting it when the college football season begins again, and HGTV has had a chance to get more new episodes into their coffers. ESPN/ESPN2 and HGTV tend to be the main channels we watch in the Sling TV package. But we have been getting so many other channels and services now, that we are not really watching Sling TV.
When we turn off the Dish Network account and later temporarily turn off Sling TV, our total monthly television bill will be less than $19 a month. When we move the $10 a month we've been paying Dish Network for our local channels and allocate that $10 to Netflix, we'll be up to $29 a month.
When college football season begins again, we will restart the Sling TV package, which will add $20 a month to the bill. Because there are no contracts, when football season ends, we will likely turn off Sling TV after the five month college football season because football is my only real sports passion. The ability to move money around and turn on and off services that you are not under contract with, is one of the great advantages of the world of cable cutting.
There are so many free channels we are finding, that we seem to be having a great time discovering new channels and services, checking out a lot of great programming -- especially science and nature, films, news, new technology, etc. -- that in the end, we will likely settle in at around $49 a month for it all. That is about a third of the cost we were paying for our 250 channel cable TV package that gave us 235 channels that we never watched because it seemed that nothing was ever on when we went to the channels.
We have built a cluster of over 100 channels on the Roku that we do watch. We have so far found about 25 channels on the Apple TV 4. On the Amazon Fire TV we have found about 50 channels. Throw in network websites that we can use Google Chromecast to mirror to the TV screen (or that Apple and Android users can achieve using AirPlay or screen mirroring), and there seems so many great services that are now available outside the world of cable TV.
Another great advantage of cable cutting is that most of what you see are on-demand services, so the shows don't start until you get there and click on them. Showtime is up to you.
Cable cutting is a far different world that what you get with cable TV. It isn't for everybody but for us, we are thoroughly impressed and are having a great time saving about $1,000 a year.
It seems like only yesterday but on December 19th it will be five years since we first officially and publicly announced our plans to launch Creative COW Magazine. Five years already? Time flies. At the time, it was an insane gamble but the last five years have proven it to be a risk worth taking.
When I first came up with the idea for Creative COW Magazine, Creative COW was struggling and barely making it month to month. I was handling much of the site design and maintenance, was our only salesman, and added to these duties were a myriad of other jobs that needed to be done every day. Kathlyn cautioned me that if it failed, we would have to pull the plug on the site and walk away. But I knew that if the COW was ever going to truly compete against the likes of Videography, TV Technology, Studio Monthly, Broadcast Engineering, DV, Post, Millimeter, Film & Video, Video Systems and many other magazines -- whom many industry advertisers took far more seriously than they did, Creative COW -- we'd have to meet the magazines on their own playing field.
Yes, I was aware that the magazine business was in real trouble and that many magazines were struggling. But I also knew that there was a reason that they were struggling and it had nothing to do with the cost of paper or the fact that the world was indeed changing -- something I am all too painfully aware of, I assure you. The reason that I felt they were losing audience was that they had lost their focus as to whom they really
At a time when many publishers are failing, Creative COW Magazine along with USA Today and the Wall Street Journal -- as well as others too numerous to name here -- are growing and prospering. Why? Because they make something that readers WANT to read.
At a time when the audience is looking for answers and ideas to help them in volatile markets and a rapidly changing world, the only answers that many publishers can come up with, is to take short-cuts. Some of our competitors have fallen to the point of running a single "feature" story and filling the rest with press releases and calling it a magazine.
We work very hard on Creative COW Magazine and Tim Wilson and I are always on the phone discussing ideas, looking at what people are talking about, what we think the members of Creative COW are interested in -- and from there, we begin the process of designing and crafting each issue. I don't use the word "craft" loosely. We don't slap down whatever we get and call it an issue. There is an enormous amount of work that goes into every phase of each issue of Creative COW Magazine: planning, development, and finishing.
Sure, some issues are clearly better than others, but I can honestly say that I cannot point to a single issue of which I am ashamed or embarrassed by. We have been fortunate to have many of the best and brightest working industry pros take our calls, work with us to craft stories about their projects, their tools and their workflows.
We have watched the audience and advertisers vote with their interest and their support. We are grateful for it and know that in order to keep it, we can't take short cuts and make the kinds of compromises that have relegated many of our competing titles to the ash heap of history because they became irrelevant to those they once served.
I once had the Editor-in-Chief of one of the top-ranked magazines in cinematography come up to me at a trade show and tell me that, "You guys have set the standard for the industry and are the team to beat." Her words, not mine. She asked how we got away with not making the kinds of compromises that she was forced to make, compromises and concessions she was forced to make to curry the favor of advertisers. I looked at her and asked: "Would you like to know the truth? I'll tell you but you may think it harsh." She said she'd like to know, so this is what I told her...
"When advertisers have told us that in order to get their business we have to do a write-up on them in our magazine, we simply ask them point-blank: 'Let me see if I have this right. You want us to make the same kinds of compromises and do the same kinds of stories that have largely crippled those magazines that survive and have killed many others -- compromises that have made them largely irrelevant to their audience and have destroyed their credibility -- and you want us to do that. Did I hear you right?'"
She told me in response: "You don't really do that, do you?" I told her that not only do we do it but that she better start doing it too, if she wanted to save both her job and her publication.
Our audience would expect nothing less from us than to get it right. Tell the truth. Tell the story. Serve the audience. Don't sell us out.
So that's what we did and what we do.
It's been a tough five years. The beginning was really tough, as we started this with no investors, no money in the bank other than just enough to cover the bills. It was all a gamble. A major gamble. One sizable misstep and we'd have been just another magazine in the ash heap of history -- and the COW itself would have been there, as well.
So, thank you more than you know for being our guide, we watch you and we listen to you and we make the magazine in answer to the kinds of things we see you asking about and discussing. You truly are our rudder and set the course that we will follow.
We jokingly and lovingly refer to you as The Body Bovine
and you are our navigators in the perilous waters of today's rapidly changing marketplace. Without you, we'd have ended up on the rocks, long ago, and these five years would have never happened.
The best always,
CEO, Creative COW LLC
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
The newest issue of Creative COW Magazine explores the idea of Divergence in acquisition, production, and distribution in broadcasting. Gone are the days when the Big 3 networks -- CBS, NBC and ABC -- could count on the audience coming to them. Now, the networks are addressing issues of shrinking audiences, rapidly expanding production modalities and issues, and a proliferation of devices that take television out of the Big-Box-at-Home and into the hands of the audience who wants it everywhere, anywhere, all the time, and on their terms.
In one of our very best stories ever, longtime COW host and one of the people responsible for ABC.com, Robert Longwell, looks at how ABC Television is taking their programming where the audience is. It is one of my favorite Creative COW Magazine articles ever, and it should prove to be an audience favorite, as well. Robert explores behind-the-scenes ideas and techniques that are making ABC.com one of the must-have destinations for users of a myriad of devices that are taking television outside the home.
A few years back, we did an issue entitled "Portable Media." It was a huge success and it has proven to be one of our most popular issues. The "Divergence Issue" is even better and takes the idea of portable media and other new technologies that are creating true market "divergence," into areas that are far beyond what was imagined even just three years ago when we created the Portable Media issue.
But this new issue is far more than just portable media and if you take the time to read its great articles, we guarantee you that it will be time well spent.
So, visit www.creativecowmagazine.net
and see what is happening inside ABC, and also many other teams who are hard at work to meet the challenges and demands of today's rapidly changing audience.
I knew that the new iPhone 4 was going to be a winner the moment I saw it. I thought to myself: "Hey, even Tim Wilson's going to end up getting one of these." That's saying something, because even though Tim has been a fan of the iPhone, in principle, he also has resisted the iPhone siren call because as he says: "It runs on AT&T, doesn't it?"
But not even AT&T could stop the irrepressible Mister Wilson from getting in line at his local AT&T store for Day One of pre-orders for the new iPhone 4. (Man, he must have had his skin crawling as he stood there!) But the iPhone 4 looks to be *that* cool, and about 650,000 pre-orders in 24 hours on the first day -- enough to crash Apple's servers due to the heavy load -- attests that many others agree.
Will many others argue ad nauseum
that the iPhone sucks for this reason and that reason? Undoubtedly, and they can have their opinion while they justify using phones far less fun because they point to AT&T or other reasons.
Who cares what the naysayers think? I sure don't.
I'm walking around with my desktop office machine, my iPhone, my iPad, all synced through the cloud -- with each having much of the same exact stuff on all of them. Yes, it's "Cloud Computing v1.0," but it's quite compelling and is what I hoped computers would be like one day.
But hey, we only went for the WiFi iPads because, as Tim Wilson will soon learn and to which we always say: "One AT&T account is quite enough, thank you."
Yes, my iPad makes MUCH better calls and is a FAR more pleasant experience, than trying to use my iPhone for calling. Not only is the clarity much better but the volume (when needed in louder situations) is much better and has greater "presence," as well.
While talking with Tim Wilson on the phone the other day, we began talking about Skype and wondered if there was a Skype app that would work on an iPad. So while on the phone talking with Tim, I went to the iTunes Store and downloaded the Skype app. Within a minute or two, we were talking via the iPad.
I didn't wait for the 3G iPad. I didn't want one. I sometimes joke that "I already have one more AT&T account than I want." The only thing I truly hate about the iPhone is that it is on AT&T. I never knew what a dropped call was until I got onto AT&T. But talking across a WiFi connection, using Skype on the iPad, is quite a nice experience.
And once the soon-to-ship iPhone OS 4 is delivered to users this Summer (up here in the northern half of the planet), multi-tasking comes to both iPhones and iPads and then the fun really starts.
That Apple sold so many of these things so fast that they had to delay their introduction of the iPad in other countries around the world, is no surprise to those of us who use them now. It's a remarkable invention and for use around the office and the home, I prefer to route my calls to the iPad and let my iPhone sit ready for road trips.
Wait, I use GM's OnStar hands-free calling in my car when I'm on the road. I guess that leaves AT&T to fill in those rare moments when nothing else is available or better. And seeing as how there's little that isn't better than AT&T, that doesn't leave the iPhone used for much.
One of the nice things about living in Paso Robles, California
, is that in the 1930s and 40s, then world renowned Polish-born pianist and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski
made it his home and built one of the early vineyard/wineries in the area. He came here at the advice of one of his world traveling friends for the mineral rich hot springs waters in which he soaked to relieve the pains in his hands (which was destroying his ability to perform), and their medicinal effect enabled Paderewski to play for locals in the famed El Paso de Robles Hotel -- one of the only 5 star hotels in the western USA at the time.
Sadly, the wonderful "Hot Springs Hotel" as it was often called, burned down in 1940...
GETTING TO THE POINT (BY A SOMEWHAT CIRCUITOUS ROUTE)
Over the past couple of decades, Paso Robles, due to its ties to Paderewski, instituted the annual Paderewski Festival
, held in the Fall. In November of 2008, Paso Robles and Tarnów, Poland signed a sister city agreement due to their mutual historical ties to Ignacy Jan Paderewski.
AND FINALLY, THE POINT...
With all of this said by way of introduction, I wanted to point to one of my favorite videos uploaded by one of the COW members from Poland, Michal Jaskulski's recently uploaded "Making of" video
for the music video "Emily Dickinson's Much Madness," directed by Michal Jaskulski.
So, with a time-tested and boldly red wine-soaked Paso Roblan tip of the ole cow hat to our friends in Poland, here is Michal's story...
As many of you already know, we have been having a contest in our Video-Reels section looking for the best TRAILER entered. We are awarding $1,000 to the winner, and we will give $500 to the person who leaves the most astute and insightful comment when voting. So, even the voters have a chance at winning. We have had some great trailers entered and you can see and vote for your favorites by going to http://reels.creativecow.net/trailer-contest.php
Remember, the voting closes January 14th, with the winner being announced on the 15th.
In the last few days, we had a new music video entered by Matt Kresling that seems to have struck a creative nerve with many of our members. The video has garnered 13 five cow votes so far, with not a single 4, 3, 2 or 1 vote in the bunch, so far. It really is quite a piece of work and you can see it at http://reels.creativecow.net/film/2974
When we launched the Videos-Reels section last year, we had no idea that it would take off as quickly as it has. This new addition to Creative COW already accounts for over 100,000 views a month and it is growing fast. The number of reels is also growing fast and they represent an incredible number of nations around the world. Just check out the Sort By Nation link
and you can see for yourself.
Thanks everyone, it is incredible to see how everyone has taken to this new area of Creative COW.