A reader writes that his daughter signed up for “Hulu Live,” dropping her cable TV. What do we think?

It’s $40  a month for more than 60 channels. Similar services include YouTube TV, Playstation Vue (no Playstation required), Sling TV, and DIRECTV Now. They’re all about the same price except for Sling TV, at $25 a month, which we haven’t had a good experience with.

We currently pay AT&T $167 a month for TV. So we’re trying out the seven-day free trial of  the $40 a month Hulu service. So far, it’s OK, not great.

Hulu Live brings us our live favorites: Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and 60 Minutes, as well as sports. It also has our favorite movie channel, Turner Classic, and half a dozen others we sometimes watch. We like the Smithsonian Channel, also included, and the History Channel. Bob’s favorite, TVG, for horseracing, is not included. We’d have to pay extra for that, through the Roku Express stick we plug into the back of our TV.

To use Hulu or one of the others, you need a way to stream channels, but there are lots, besides the Roku stick or Roku TV. There’s Amazon Firestick or Amazon Fire TV,  Android tablets or phones, iPhones or iPads, PCs, Macs, Google Chromecast, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and some Samsung and LG smart TVs. The cheapest add-on option is  $25 for the Roku Express.

But it turns out, a cheaper way to go is to complain. We have mixed minds about this. When we needed technical support, the AT&T guy spent almost two days helping us through our problem and there was no charge. But the fact is, AT&T service is expensive, and there’s a lot of competition out there. So Joy went onto their site to ask about dropping cable TV: what they dropped was the price. The new price will last a year, just like last time we tried it, then  go back up. We forgot to inquire last month, so we’re currently paying $197 for TV plus Internet. But after  clicking “chat” on their website, and asking about it, they dropped the total to $122.

The catch is: If we drop TV service from AT&T, they’ll charge us more for the Internet, $50 a month instead of $30. Adding that to the $40 Hulu bill, would come to $90, and leave us with only a $32 a month savings.

This reminds Bob of the early days for computers, back when there were brands like Kentucky Fried Computer, NBI (Nothing But Initials), and other forgotten labels. As a marketer we know pointed out back then, stores weren’t going to carry half a dozen brands of computers. And they haven’t. Similarly, we’re not going to see half a dozen alternatives to cutting the cable. Joy disagrees. But she’s not quite ready to jump on the Hulu ship either.


  • 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music on Spotify.” Search on that phrase for a great playlist. If you sign up for a free account at, you can get get hours worth of music that others have carefully curated. Search on whatever phrase you like, such as “50s Party on Spotify.” After you click on the result and it opens up in Spotify, click “save to library.” If you need to listen away from a Wi-Fi connection, there’s an offline mode.
  • 4 year old Russian girl stuns crowd by speaking fluently in 7 languages.” Search on that phrase for something remarkable. This little girl is brilliant. She converses without an accent, answering questions from seven different people in Russian, English, Arabic, Spanish, French, German, and Chinese.

Precious Voice Mail

One of Bob’s voicemails for Joy is too good to delete. But if she ever gets a new phone, it won’t be there. Here are a couple of ways to record voicemails to your computer and elsewhere.

If you have an iPhone, you can back up your voicemails to your iCloud account. Search on “How to Transfer Voicemail Messages Between Two iPhones” for instructions. Or tap the share button on a voicemail and email it to yourself.

Android users can record their voice mails with “Keep,” an app that comes with the phone. Email the recording to yourself for safekeeping.

Another way to go is to use the free program “Audacity” for Mac or PC, from or Some cell phone services, like Google Fi, automatically save all voicemails for free on your private website space. That’s where Joy found Bob’s old voicemail. (Click “Google Voice” at the bottom of the page at Others charge you $3 a month for that. So does “YouMail.”

Wrestling with Python

At the dawn of the computer revolution, Joy took programming classes. She was never good at it. A big problem was typos. Make one error and the whole program is blown. But thanks to a new book we got in for review, she’s discovered the magic of “Python.”

Learning the Python  programming language is as essential to today’s young as knowing math, say some experts. Whether or not that’s true, Python is a huge improvement over any we’ve tried. If you  make a mistake, it highlights the error in red and suggests what’s wrong.

In “Math Adventures with Python;” $30 from NoStarch Press, author Peter Farrell uses Python to crack secret codes, create fractals, and generate virtual sheep that graze on grass and multiply, among other projects. We also tried out “Python Flash Cards,” by Eric Matthes. If you’re curious about Python, take it for a spin by downloading the program for free from


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