When our friend from Wisconsin (No, his name is not Yon Yonson) is in our neck-of-the-woods, he wants to watch the Green Bay Packer games on his phone. Can he do it? One way is to use “Watch ESPN,” a free app for Android, iPhone and iPad.
We tried out the ESPN app on our phone to watch football in a doctor’s waiting room and it worked fine. But the catch is, you must verify that you have a subscription to cable TV.
Our friend Lee does not have a cable TV subscription. Instead, he has a lifetime subscription to the TiVo service. TiVo users can stream programs to their TV at home or to their phone or tablet. But at least half the users say they had connection problems trying to stream a show on the road. In our tests, we could control Lee’s TV with the Android app but we couldn’t watch anything live because he doesn’t have one of the newer TiVos. An alternative is to download shows while in range of your home Wi-Fi network, but users say this takes too long. Worse, if you have an older TiVo, you’ll need an extra device, the “TiVo Stream.”
If you want a variety of programs to watch on the road, consider Sling.com. It costs $20 a month to watch shows online, but you can’t record anything. It’s live only. Which means, of course, if you’re in Singapore, you can watch your local show but you’ll have to get up at four in the morning to do it.
If you’re a cable TV subscriber, you can watch everything on phone, tablet or computer from anywhere. Download the free app or watch from your favorite browser. For Comcast, go to TVgo.xfinity.com. For Direct TV, go to DirecTV.com and click “watch now.” For AT&T Uverse, go to Uverse.com/live. We use Uverse, so now when we’re at a hotel, we won’t miss our favorite show, “Brain Dead.”
Be wary of searching online for even more alternatives. Some, like Botzmediaz, promise free online sports, but appear to be scams.
Pay What You Want for a Treasure Trove
You can get a treasure trove of video games or programming books for whatever price you think is fair. It’s called the “Humble Bundle,” from HumbleBundle.com.
The minimum price is one dollar and much of the proceeds go to charity. As of last year, they’d raised $65 million for charity, which just goes to show how those small contributions add up. We bought a recent Humble Bundle for $1. It included four really good books on programming, including “Automate the Boring Stuff with Python: Practical Programming for Total Beginners.”
The current Humble Bundle is a set of games for the Playstation. You get four games for a dollar plus a 45 percent off coupon. The games include Capcom titles such as “Wolf of the Battlefield” and “Strider.” If you pay $12, which is above average, you get six more games, including “Resident Evil” and “Lost Planet.” Pay $15 to unlock even more. There’s a new deal every week.
“Spotify,” the free, ad-supported music app and website, now has music from video games. After listening to Bach, Beethoven and the Beatles, it was a nice change to hear the background music for “Super Metroid.” Game music is set to rival movie music.
To find game music after installing Spotify to your computer, phone or tablet, search on the phrase “Guest List: Games Beat.”
Book: Life Hacks
David Pogue, who writes for Yahoo Tech, has a new book, “Life Hacks,” $20 from FlatIronBooks.com.
Though the book deals with everything from quenching a hot pepper fiery mouth (with dairy or peanut butter) to folding an airline seat’s headrest into the perfect pillow. But it’s the tech section where he really shines. Here are a few we found especially helpful:
• If you’ve missed the news for a month, type “August 2016” into the page at wikipedia.org and get a quick summary. If you’re curious about the past, type any month and year. We tried November 1918.
• You don’t need a cell phone contract to dial 911. Put any old phone in the glove box, and as long as it’s charged, it makes a great emergency phone.
• Buy the kids an iPod Touch instead of a cell phone: It’s an iPhone without a monthly bill. It can send text messages, play video, take pictures, surf the web and use all the latest apps. (Our niece used an older model iPhone to avoid monthly bills. She could still make calls over Wi-Fi.)
• Use a blow dryer to unclog your ink jet printer nozzles when they dry up. (We haven’t tried this. Our usual fix is to throw out the printer.)
Our Macbook Air laptop broke when we spilled a bit of breakfast on it. If only we’d bought a keyboard skin to protect it.
“Kuzy” sells one for $8 at Amazon.com. Many office stores sell them too. If you spill on it, wash it. It also prevents your keys’ markings from wearing off or dust collecting in the spaces. Some users report initial awkwardness while they get used to typing on a skin, but it may save you $750. That’s the amount Apple quoted us to make our laptop live again. Be sure to get the right size. (For Windows laptops, TopCase makes a keyboard skin for $6.)
Our Eye-Opening Experience Continues
Joy’s new glasses arrived and confirmed that ordering online works. At $86, they’re not as stylish as her $800 pair, but that’s because she forgot to get the “semi-rimless” frames. If she wants to swap them for an equally-priced pair, there’s no extra charge.
Meanwhile, ConsumerAffairs.com wrote us to share their ranking of online glasses stores. In their expert reviews, the top-ranked site was 39DollarGlasses.com, followed by Coastal.com, WarbyParker.com and ZenniOptical.com. In their user reviews, the top-ranked site was still 39DollarGlasses.com, but second was Zenni Optical. The others got lots of complaints but these were none from the one we tried, GlassesUSA.
All of these sites let you “try on” your glasses virtually. You can upload a picture of yourself and see how you look in hundreds of styles. Some sites also sell contact lenses.