How to Cut the Cord

Say “Goodbye!” to the Cable Guy!

What does it mean to “cut the cord” and why is everyone doing it? Should you cut your cord, too, assuming you know what it means?

The answer depends.

Cutting the cord means dropping traditional cable television subscriptions in favor of inexpensive streaming services. With cable bills rising to over $100 per month on many providers, more people are choosing to say goodbye to cable.

What do you need to cut the cord?

1.  Wifi
Wifi is wireless high-speed internet access. Most streaming devices connect with wifi, although some may still have a traditional ethernet port for plugging in a cord. You will need high-speed internet access to play streaming content, and it will probably need to be wireless unless you have a cable modem and an ethernet cord close to your streaming device.

2.  A streaming content device
Streaming content devices vary widely in price, size, and functionality. The most popular streaming content devices are Roku, AppleTV, and the Amazon Fire Stick. Smart TVs also have the ability to stream from a variety of content providers, but their interfaces are not as user-friendly, so I recommend getting a dedicated streaming device. Many video gaming systems like Xbox and Playstation can also play streaming content. You don’t have to spend much money to get started: the base model Roku retails for only $30.

3.  A streaming content Service Provider
There are a variety of streaming content service providers. Here are the most popular:

Netflix
On-demand movies, TV shows, documentaries, and Netflix-only content.
Netflix has a variety of “Netflix-only” series like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. Netflix also has a giant collection of movies and many seasons of popular TV shows. Be aware, current TV shows are usually 1 season behind, so if you want to see the latest episode of Chopped or This Is Us, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Cost: $9.99/month to watch on 2 streaming devices at once, or $11.99/month for 4 devices.

Hulu
On-demand Movies, TV shows, Documentaries, and Hulu-only content.
Taking a page from the Netflix playbook, Hulu now offers many “Hulu-only” series like The Handmaid’s Tale and 11.22.63. Unlike Netflix, Hulu focuses on the latest TV shows, typically airing new episodes a day after they air on cable TV. If you like to discuss the latest episodes of your favorite cable TV shows, Hulu is for you. Hulu also has a “commercial free” option, meaning you can watch Guy’s Grocery Games all day long without a single commercial. Hurray!
Cost: $7.99/month to watch on 1 device, or $11.99/month for commercial free.
Hulu is also now experimenting with providing Live TV, offering a Live TV beta for $39.99/month. Expect this to become more popular and widespread as content service providers try to knock the expensive cable TV companies out of the market altogether.

Amazon Prime Video
On-demand Movies, TV shows, Documentaries, and Amazon-only content.
Amazon Prime video is similar to Netflix, although some might argue it doesn’t offer as much quality content. Like both Netflix and Hulu, Amazon has “Amazon-only” series like Transparent, Sneaky Pete, and The Man in the High Castle.
Cost: Amazon Prime Video is free with your Amazon Prime account ($99/year) or you can purchase a monthly membership for $8.99/month if you do not wish to purchase a year of Prime membership.

Other options exist for getting your favorite shows:

HBO Now – For $15/month, you can watch every series that ever aired on HBO, including the latest releases merely minutes after they air Live. HBO Now also has a backlog of many popular movies, comedy specials, and documentaries. If you need your Game of Thrones fix, this is for you.

Showtime Anytime – Showtime has a similar service to HBO offering the latest in Showtime series and movies for $11/month.

YouTube Live TV – For $35/month, you can now watch Live TV streaming from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and popular cable networks on up to 6 devices at a time. This is a new service from YouTube and one to keep your eye on.

iTunes – With an Apple TV, iOS device, or computer, you can purchase TV shows and Movies directly from the iTunes store. Hate monthly subscription fees? Just buy the shows and movies you want to watch or rent them for 24 hours at a lower price.

Amazon Video – Without Amazon Prime Video, you can purchase or rent the shows and movies you’d like to watch through Amazon Video.

Sling TV – Sling TV is a new service to the streaming industry. It offers streaming Live TV, not on-demand. There are mixed reviews about its quality and reliability, but this is sure to be a service to keep your eye on in the coming months. It can only improve, and the demand for this type of Live TV service is very high.

We have walls and walls of DVDs and Blurays!

Your Public Library – Last but never least, keep in mind the many movies, TV shows, documentaries, musicals, foreign films and more that are available from your local public library. Cheshire Public Library has a wide selection of popular “Quik Fliks” if you’re looking for the latest movies, not to mention a huuuge collection of DVDs, Blurays, and downloadable and streaming content. Best of all? They’re all FREE to borrow, and nothing beats free! 🙂


Technology Help – Need device advice? Come to Drop-in Tech Help. No appointment necessary. We provide help with smartphones, laptops, tablets, ereaders, email, Facebook, social media, cutting the cord questions and more! Check out the calendar for our next session.

Three Pen Names, One Romance Author

Did you know Jayne Ann Krentz , the author of numerous of New York Times bestsellers, uses three different pen names?

As Jayne Ann Krentz (her married name) she writes contemporary romantic-suspense.

When All the Girls Have Gone
When Charlotte Sawyer is unable to contact her step-sister, Jocelyn, to tell her that one her closest friends was found dead, she discovers that Jocelyn has vanished. In a desperate effort to find her, Charlotte joins forces with Max Cutler, a struggling PI who recently moved to Seattle after his previous career as a criminal profiler went down in flames–literally.

She uses Amanda Quick for her novels of historical romantic-suspense.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much
In 1930’s Hollywood, rookie reporter Irene Glasson (who found her previous employer murdered) discovers the body of an actress at the bottom of a California hotel pool. She investigates and finds herself drawn to Oliver Ward, a former magician. As the mystery deepens and more women die by drowning, Irene struggles to keep her own past a secret while she and Oliver hunt for the killer.

Jayne Castle (her birth name) is reserved for her stories of futuristic/paranormal romantic-suspense.

Illusion Town
Hannah West isn’t the first woman to wake up in Illusion Town married to a man she barely knows, but she has no memory of the ceremony at all. For that matter, neither does Elias Coopersmith, her new husband. All either of them can remember is that they were on the run. The coolly competent mining heir arouses her curiosity and interest. And even her dust bunny likes him! Set on the planet of Harmony in the future.

“I am often asked why I use a variety of pen names,” Krentz says.  “The answer is that this way readers always know which of my three worlds they will be entering when they pick up one of my books.”

Krentz’s three worlds often intermingle. Her Arcane Society series, books about men and women with paranormal power, spans all three of her worlds. Second Sight, written under the Amanda Quick pen name,  takes place in Victorian England at a time when the very old, very secret Arcane Society is about to run head-first into the 20th century. Flash forward to Jayne Ann Krentz’s White Lies, a tale of the Arcane Society in the 21st century. And then jump all the way to Jayne Castle’s Midnight Crystal, an Arcane society novel that takes place on the planet Harmony in the future. Characters from the novels that take place in the past are often referenced in the modern-day stories and the futuristic tales.

Not all her novels involve the paranormal. Many of her contemporary romance novels are stories of suspense in which the main characters must unravel a mystery that usually involves tracking down a killer.  Secret Sisters, River Road and Trust No One are three recently published works that fall into this category.

 

The library owns many of Krentz’s titles. if you enjoy romance and love romantic suspense and the paranormal, then any of Krentz’s three worlds will delight you.

Brief Biographies for Non-Fiction Readers

The CPL collection includes short biographies on major historical figures.  The Penguin Lives Series from publisher Penguin Random House is an innovative series that pairs celebrated writers with famous individuals who have shaped our thinking.  The broad and diverse subjects of these biographies come from around the world and from all walks of life.

Here is the complete list of the 28 ‘mini-biographies’ owned by the library:

Abraham Lincoln by Thomas Keneally
Andy Warhol by Wayne Koetenbaum
Branch Rickey by Jimmy Breslin
Buddha by Karen Armstrong
Crazy Horse by Larry McMurtry
Dante by R.W.B. Lewis
Elvis Presley by Bobbie Ann Mason
Frank Lloyd Wright by Ada Louise Huxtable
George Herbert Walker Bush by Tom Wicker
Herman Melville by Elizabeth Hardwick
Jane Austen by Carol Shields
Joan of Arc by Mary Gorden
Joseph Smith by Robert V. Remini
Julia Child by Laura Shapiro
Leonardo da Vinci by Sherwin B. Nuland
Mao Zedong by Jonathan Spence
Marcel Proust by Edmund White
Martin Luther by Martin Marty
Martin Luther King, Jr. by Marshall Frady
Mozart by Peter Gay
Napoleon by Paul Johnson
Pope John XXIII by Thomas Cahill
Robert E. Lee by Roy Blount, Jr.
Rosa Parks by Douglas Brinkley
Saint Augustine by Gary Wills
Simone Weil by Francine du Plessix Gray
Winston Churchill by John Keegan
Woodrow Wilson by Louis Auchincloss

They can be found on the Lower Level in the Biography section.

Dog Days of Summer

How our four-legged friends amuse, instruct, and inspire us! Many dog owners have been sufficiently inspired to write books dedicated to their canine companions, and their stories appeal to dog-people and non-dog-people alike. The bond between humans and their dogs is complex and unique, the power of an animal’s ability to change lives is uplifting and hopeful – a perfect combination for summer reading.

Wick-ed Action

I love a good action film. In going over lists of various film genres, I discovered I’ve seen the majority of the “best” action films, though I don’t always agree with what is considered an “action” film. I expect an action film to have – well, action: a lot of movement of characters or equipment, such as vehicles. It could be modern reality based – James Bond or Air Force One, or futuristic, such as Terminator, Alien, or Serenity, comic book heroes, or war-type films such as Commando or Rambo (my grandmother made me take her to every Stallone and Schwartzeneggar film that came out). There should be suspense, perhaps mystery, a vehicle chase, and almost always a good fight scene. Body counts are expected, but graphic violence isn’t required – Suicide Squad had a high bullet count, but little gore. History of Violence had a lower bullet count, but extremely graphic depictions. I don’t mind gore, but I won’t watch cruelty or sadism – I shut off Killing Season because it was focused on torture, not action.

I adored John Wick, an action movie with Keanu Reeves as an assassin who tries to retire but is sucked back into the business against his will. It was just about everything I could want in a film – the script is good, the acting is good, the cast is excellent and the action is awesome. It’s just a good all-around film. I saw John Wick 2 on opening day (the DVD was released June 13) and – it was good, but not quite as great as the first. The action is impeccable – perhaps the best actual hand combat choreography I’ve ever seen (especially compared to the farce of Batman v. Superman). The script is good. But Wick’s lines, so eloquent before, are cut to choppy, often one-word sentences, which Reeves is not good at. It’s got a high bullet count, a high body count, and realistically graphic splatter from a man who was known for killing four people with a pencil.

One thing I noticed about John Wick 2, though not as obvious as it was in London Has Fallen, a C+ film with multiple script flaws: the impact of videogames on choreography of action sequences. JW 2 has a wonderful flight/fight scene through the ancient underground tunnels of Rome, but you can see the influence of popular games such as Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. Run, stop, run, corner, shoot, shoot balcony. Man pops out of hall, bang. Run, stop, turn, shoot. It might fit the tone of the scene, but it’s very stiff and staged. London Has Fallen was much worse: the greatest action sequence of the film, the Big Rescue, and the movie looked as if you’d taken a clip from Call of Duty, overlayed it with actors, and CGI’d them together. Maybe it was my TV upgrading the blu-ray to 4K, but you could almost see pixelation in the edges of the graphics. You could have checked it off a list: guy pops up behind garbage can? Check. Drive-by shot through windshield? Check. Balcony? Check. It was so obvious that not only did it stand out, it was distracting, and you stopped watching the progression because you were so offset by the fakeness, a “Where-Have-I-Seen-This-Before?”

Is this the wave of the future? I hope not. Sure, you can look back at an early Bond film and see how cheesy the fight scenes are. You can almost hear them counting off in their heads: fist, block, step, kick, block, groin, throw, grab, twist… You can marvel at the slo-mo twists and turns of The Matrix sequences, but that’s not exactly reality, either. CGI is wonderful – it gave us Legolas sliding down oliphaunts , Avatar, and Inception. Almost all movies are made with a green-screen at this point, even comedies. But videogames are another empire – like trying to equate a romance film with porn: all the action, none of the reason. You can pop bullets all day, but why you’re doing it is a vague battle against “bad guys.” Relying on a videogame sequence kills the creativity needed. Think of the cliché of the good guy crouched down, pointing people what direction to go and then shooting at the target to cover them, or the stock western of a shootout on main street, with townsfolk peering through broken shutters. Action movies need to reinvent themselves by nature to keep themselves fresh and interesting.

Videogames are fun. Action films are fun. Sometimes movies based on a videogame are really fun (Warcraft, Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat). But using videogame mentality in place of a more expensive or creative thought process – that’s cheating, and it doesn’t look nice.

Have you noticed the “videogame effect” in any other films?