Switching to Mastodon from Twitter has slightly renewed my interest in my blog, and more specifically my blog as a place for all of my stuff, not necessarily a place for “others”. Not that others can’t enjoy it. Maybe that isn’t quite the right way to say what I mean.
Basically, I want this blog to be a bit more of an archive for things I do online. Part of this however, also means making some of it less visible, so things don’t feel cluttered, but the data is still there. It’s probably easier to just give some examples of what I have done recently. Some of which is inspired a bit by things I have seen others do.
I have a new category on the side, Feeds, which currently only has one sub category, for Letterboxed. What this does is it creates posts from reviews and ratings and movies I’ve watched, based on my Letterboxed account.
It’s a simple plugin for “RSS to Post”. The trickier part was, the initial import, only pulled the last 51 items. So I had to find a separate plug in that would import an XML export as a WordPress post. This still needs some massaging though, as I don’t think it imported everything. Plus, it did not create the cool Poster images. I may have to manually fix those, if I bother.
I’ve also started creating Photo Gallery posts. I had some Photo Gallery software set up but I opted to purge it when I cleaned up the malware on the server, because it was a potential attack vector. The less I have to keep clean the better. Plus for what I’m doing WordPress functions just fine.
I’ll add more older photos over time, but this gives a nice place to just post some of the various photos from over the years.
There’s something screwy going on with this category, I’m not sure what, but basically, it’s a category, Micro Blog, which is intended to be excluded from the main feed, and often posting more “Twittery” posts.
Currently it’s just a collection of scores from various Wordle style daily games. I hope to use it for a bvit more though in the future. I wouldn’t mind finding a way to syndicate my Duolingo progress or Fitbit stats to the Microblog of Feeds section, for example.
I’ve shuffled around some of the streaming platforms I subscribe to and figured it was as good a time as any to do a little write up on what I use and what I’ve dropped and why. I suppose these are pseudo recommendations, but not really, since frankly, I don’t personally watch a lot of TV myself. I spend all day at my job with a TV going in the background, I have almost no desire to watch TV anymore.
Starting with what’s gone, for now. Netflix has been getting a lot of flack lately for a variety of reasons. One is the announcement that they plan to have an ad subsidized tier. Frankly, this is such a non issue, since it’s very unlikely they will add advertisements to existing tiers. More likely they will make a new tier, or two, with ads included, for less per month. The bigger reason they are getting flack is the recent price increase.
For what feels like the 3rd or 4th time in the last 5 years. I’ve used Netflix since it was ONLY DVDs. But at this point it’s up to $17/month. It’s considerably more than any other option. Also, while I don’t personally watch a lot, I do keep semi tabs on what my (adult) kids are watching, since they are the ones who use the services the most. Not so much because I care about content, just to know, “No one really watches Netflix much lately” so we can unsubscribe. Of course, I’m paying the bill, so it’s my call in the end to some extent. If they want to keep it, they can pick up the tab.
Another recently dropped service is HBO Max. I actually was not unhappy with HBO Max, and of every service available, this would probably be my personal choice to subscribe to, if I were only picking one. I’ll likely resubscribe again in the future. So why did it get dropped? I got HBO Max as part of my DirecTV package, which was heavily discounted through my job. That discount went away, and I have zero use for DirecTV, especially not at full price (it was a SIGNIFICANT discount.)
I suppose it’s worth mentioning that I also got rid of DirecTV, which I suppose makes me “officially” a cord cutter. Though in the past many years, the only thing we ever really watched on the service was the Super Bowl and the Macy’s Parade. In fact, when we moved in 2017, I moved the dish myself and it almost always needs a slight adjustment when trying to watch anything.
So what is kept and used?
Hulu/Disney+ – This one is a package deal, and it’s a pretty good deal. Hulu has an alright selection of shows, but Disney+ includes Marvel, Star Wars, and well Disney. It’s something like $14/month for both combined.
Paramount+ – My wife and kids like a lot of the crime drama shows on CBS, so getting Paramount+ seemed like a pretty good add to make up for the loss of Netflix. It’s quite a bit cheaper too at something like $5/month. Though that is with ads. Which I would not mind except the volume on the ads on Paramount+ are like 3x the loudness of the shows. Watching anything is an exercise on using the mute button. I tried to complain but their website feedback form does not work. It also has Star Trek, though I am still barely through what I started trying to watch 2 years ago and I really can’t get into the shitty New Star Treks. They really just do not feel like Trek, it’s too much flashyness.
Discovery+ – Why is everything called “Plus”? Anyway, one daughter loves house and cooking shows, the other likes True Crime shows. Discovery+ has both of these. Plus I lost the ability to “log in with your cable provider” when I lost DirecTV for the individual apps like TLC and HGTV. It’s also $5/month I believe.
AcornTV – My daughter likes to watch Murdoch Mysteries, and a few other shows on this service. I’m not real sure if it’s British based or Australian based, it seems to kind of be a mix of shows from both. It’s also $5/month. (Feels like a trend, though I may be off on a couple by a few bucks).
Peacock+ – We picked this one up for a month so everyone could watch Yellowstone, which is sort of the current trendy hotness show. I was going to drop it after the first month, but it sounds like they may want to keep it for a few shows. There also seems to be a pretty good selection of movies available on Peacock+ as well. Also $5/month.
I am not positive on the pricing on some of these services, but they are close-ish. Some are paid annually as well. I wanted to add them more to stress why I am upset about Netflix. For the price of Netflix, I can essentially get 4 other services, Paramount, Peacock, Discovery, and AcornTV. For less cost I can get Hulu AND Disney+. If I wanted to re-add HBO Max, I am pretty sure it’s either $10 or $15/month. All of these are less than Netflix, for arguably a better product. I actually have never really been able to get into a lot of Netflix’s original shows myself. A lot of them have this weird off-putting-ness to them that I can’t quite put my finger on. In some cases I am glad I didn’t get into them because it sounds like a lot of them get cancelled with no proper resolution.
I suppose I should mention Amazon Prime as well. I don’t subscribe to Amazon Prime for their TV Streaming. It’s there, I use a FireTV, but I don’t subscribe explicitly for that. I am not sure I am going to keep Amazon. My current subscription ends at the end of December, and it’s not currently set to renew. Like Netflix, the price keeps going up and up, and all I care about is the Free Shipping. Everything else is a nice bonus, but I don’t factor into it, and I believe the new renewal rate is $150/year. This is over double what it was when I first subscribed to Prime. This would not be the first time I unsubscribed to Prime either.
I find as I get older, I am not so great at remembering everything that I really should be doing regularly. Not just necessary things, but things I want to to. I’ve been working out some better systems to push myself to keep up with all of these sort of little tasks.
Any ToDo list app works here, I use Microsoft ToDo. I used to use Wonderlist, but Microsoft bought them out and it’s essentially folding into MS ToDo. I try to keep my lists somewhat streamlined down so it doesn’t become a cluttered mess. For example…
The Reminders List. All of my regular reminders go here. Every week I get a reminder to take out the trash after work. The same goes for Recycling. I get daily reminders in the morning for taking my vitamin and just before lunch to take my Acid reducer medicine. I get weekly reminders for other regular tasks as well, such as redeeming my Forza Rewards in the game Forza, checking on the free PDF of the week on Drivethrough RPG, and redeeming the free game of the week on the Epic Game Store. I also have Monthly reminders for checking on several auto-withdraw bill payments, or changing the furnace filter. I’ve got an irregular reminder to change out my pajamas every few days because I can never keep track of how many days I have worn the same pajamas.
The Grocery List. It’s called Grocery, but it’s more of a general list of more pressing things todo or purchase. It is often, just groceries though.
General ToDo Lists. I have lists for movies or TV I want to watch, books I want to read, projects, and I might want to do someday in the future.
I have also started using my calendar a lot more aggressively. I have several sub calendars going on different types of events as well. I do keep some reminder style tasks on the calendar instead of the ToDo List app as well. The general difference is that ToDo List reminders are effectively “never ending”, while Calendar Reminders are more ephemeral and have a set period of time. For example, Hasbro was running a contest on their Instagram for ten days, I used the calendar to schedule ten days of reminders.
The calendar has become extra useful during this COVID-19 time as well. A lot of musical acts are doing online shows. And since my plan to go to more concerts clearly isn’t going to go anywhere at this time, I can at least set up events to remind myself when live shows are going on.
I also use it to mark out generic blocks for work events, so I can better keep track of what I might have going on for scheduling other activities like Doctor’s appointments.
Send To Device
Something else I have been trying to push myself on, is taking care of things *now*. Or at least soon. Often I would come across things I want to download, or little projects to set up and try, often while browsing on my phone. This used to end up in one of two things. I would leave the tab open forever on my phone, or I would book mark it and forget about it.
I use Firefox on my phone and my PCs, so the bookmarks all sync, but I still have to remember to check them.
What I have discovered that I’ve been doing more is the “Send to Device” feature. I can take a tab on my phone and send it to either my Laptop or Desktop, instead of book marking it. This way, when I sit down and open up the appropriate device, that tab will show up, and be in my face as a reminder of “Do this NOW”. It’s really helped with actually taking care of some quick tasks that I may find while on my phone, but aren’t convenient to do immediately.
Track All the Things
I am going to keep this short, because it really needs to be it’s own post, but I have started heaving tracking a lot of aspects of what I do with my time. I don’t really DO anything with this data, but it motivates me in two ways.
The tracking itself is a thing that pops up as a reminder of something that needs done. Not having anything to fill in, makes me feel a little guilty about my productivity. It’s sort of an angle of negative self reinforcement.
Two, I like doing it, even if nothing comes of it.
Like I said, I will probably do a separate post, but I have been tracking:
TV I watch
Movies I watch
Music I Listen To
Books I’ve read
Online Courses I’ve done
My Mood, 2x a day
How much Duolingo I do each day
Fitness (Steps, Push Ups, Sit Ups)
How often I shave or get my hair cut
General Health Issues
I use several apps for this and some spreadsheets. But more on all that later.