GETTING MORE OUT OF ONLINE TV

Hercule PoirotThanks to the wonders of online TV, we just watched 11 years worth of Agatha Christie’s “Hercule Poirot” series in just a few weeks.

We used Roku, a $40 stick that plugs into an Internet-connected TV. (Almost all TVs made in the past few years can connect to the Internet.) It comes with a lot of channels and you can sign up for more. We got Hercule Poirot through Amazon’s $5-a- month Acorn TV. Instead of the Roku, we could have used Google’s $35 “Chromecast,” the $40 Amazon Firestick, or Apple TV, at $149.

Amazon is one of more than 1700 channels available on the Roku player, and Acorn TV is just one of many choices on the Amazon channel. RokuGuide.com recommends channels by category, beyond what comes with the stick. We added PBS, and bookmarked their “Nova” specials.

The Nova offerings include a short video called “Amazing Calendar Trick.” Joy has been wowing Bob with it and is almost ready to take it on the road. It shows you how to calculate the day of the week for any date you name, in a few seconds. For instance, July 4, 2020 will be a Saturday. Our young relative, born on August 5, 1999, was born on a Thursday. (Google it to check your results.) A method of doing this yourself is in Arthur Benjamin’s book, “The Magic of Math.”

Here’s another Roku tip. Click “Feed” to find out what movies will be added next. Click “follow” to get alerts when they’ll be available. Joy put an alert on the movie “Brooklyn,” which is available for sale but not yet for rent.

All this is going to kill the traditional old-line networks. Just as the rise of email brought huge losses to the Postal Service from which they have never recovered, and the rise of digital photography destroyed Kodak (even thought they invented it), and all these TV channels will destroy the traditional movie business (movies are just too expensive to make). And it may well be that video games will dominate all other forms of entertainment.

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