when i went to bed last night i noticed it was snowing outside, so i wasn't surprised to see a dusting in the backyard this morning. i left before 11am, taking the fuji. temperature was 38°F, but forecast of upper 40's by later today, so i didn't bother with the long underwear. it was however quite windy, which made for an uncomfortable ride as i was going into the wind most of the time.

i didn't have a chance to properly test out comcast xfinity internet before i left yesterday. i asked my mother about it, she didn't notice any slowdowns in her netflix streaming or web browsing, so those were good signs everything was working. for lunch we had a sauerkraut stew with squid and pork belly.

it felt a little strange without cable television, even though i've since weaned myself off of it back at my own place. but my parents have always had cable, and it seemed weird they didn't now, even though we rarely watch it. cable tv is just one of those things that you don't really notice it until it's gone and then you begin to crave it all the time. so it didn't take long for me to sign up my father to youtube tv, the service we were thinking about getting instead of cable.

youtube tv currently has a 5 day free trail, after which it's $40/month for 60 channels (subscription isn't prorated, cancelling early will just mean you have service have the month is over, though there are no contracts). it gets most of the local channels (4,5,10,25,38,56) but doesn't get PBS (2,44) or 7 and 68. and only the main channels, none of the subchannels. it also gets all the local sports channels (NBCsportsBoston, NESN, foxsports) plus a set of ESPN channels. then there are the standard cable channels, where it has most of the popular ones (AMC, bravo, CN, E!, FX, USA, TNT, TBS) as well as a set of disney channels (disney, disney jr, disney XD). of course YTTV has the 3 major US cable news channels (CNN, FOX, MSNBC) as well as BBC.

YTTV doesn't have any discovery network channels, which includes HGTV, food network, TLC, cooking channel, and animal planet, nor any A&E network programs like history or lifetime. those channels are however available in a different 3rd party streaming service, philo, which for $16/month includes 44 channels that youtube tv doesn't get. youtube tv also includes some "junk" channels (TYT, cheddar, newsy), channels i can get for free in such places like pluto tv.

so it's not the complete suite of channels you'd get with regular cable, but the selection it does have isn't bad. enough for us anyway, where my father will occasionally watch some cable news, and i will partake in some cable sports. but to be honest, most of the time when we watch tv it's just regular network stuff we can get over the airwaves (NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX). but we're still saving over verizon FIOS, where they were paying $125/month. now, with comcast xfinity ($35/month) and youtube tv ($40/month), it's just $75/month, a $50/month savings ($600/year). of course this is just for a year, as the $35/month for internet will increase to $75/month in year 2. at that point it won't be worth it anymore and we will switch back to xfinity FIOS again.

so how does YTTV perform? it's a little disconcerting not having to watch tv on tv. i knew you could do it with cable channels (a lot of them have their own app which allows live and on-demand streaming) but it's trippy doing it with local broadcast channels as well. even when the stream says it's live, it's not really live, as there's about a 30 seconds delay (i checked it by comparing the live streaming with the live OTA broadcast).

so there are 3 ways to watch youtube tv: on the computer, on the phone/tablet, and on TV via a streaming box (in our case roku). the computer (web browser) interface is the easiest to use, with a schedule that shows 2 hours of programming. the phone interface is the most abbreviated, where the schedule only shows you what's airing now, but understandable given the smaller screen size. both options allow you to chromecast any stream onto an HDTV.

that's all fine and good, but what i wanted to know is how well it matches normal television watching, and with that we turn to the roku with it's physical remote control. here is where YTTV is lacking. the interface is similar to the computer one, but the speed is slower. for one thing it doesn't have live streaming thumbnails like it does on the computer/phone, instead it's just a static image. there's a certain amount of delay when switching between menus, and there's some delay before displaying a stream. but the biggest drawback is no ability to channel surf. to go from one channel to another, you have to first go back to the schedule screen, scroll to the channel you want, then wait a few seconds for it to begin streaming. why can't it be like pluto.tv, where the response time is quick, where they have thumbnail streaming, and you can surf the channels easily like you can with a traditional tv. maybe this is something google/youtube can improve in future versions of the YTTV roku channel, but the noticeable lag time between menu switches and streaming makes me think they can't.

i also discovered that YTTV doesn't work on VPN. a lot of paid streaming services (e.g. netflix) are VPN-blocked to prevent people from watching shows outside a particular geolocation. in YTTV's case, i believe it will allow you to use it anywhere in the US, but your local channels are tied to the location of the account manager. that's something else we discovered fairly soon. my father was going to add me onto his account (YTTV allows 6 accounts) but it didn't work because YTTV will only work within one family account, and i already have my father in my family circle, so in order for him to add me, he has to first leave my circle and i have to join his. it's kind of a stupid system, and it means after the trail period ends, we will cancel YTTV on his account and add it through mine. so way besides YTTV, he can still access some of the apps i share with him through our shared family circle account.

i helped my mother put on a new glass screen protector for her iphone 5s. i wouldn't say i'm good, but i've done it enough times now that i have a routine. the key is having a pack of screen protector stickers that includes guide stickers that hold the screen in place and a lint sticker to pick off those final grains. one of the hardest part is cleaning the phone screen so it's 100% free of dust. even being carefully, dust grains still get on the screen. but i've gotten to the point where using the lint sticker, i can lift up the protector and dab off the dust. such was the case for my mother's phone. afterwards, i replaced the crack protector on my own iphone as well as my oneplus one since i already had the stickers opened.

my aunt gave my parents some discount garlic chives from russo's which they turned into chinese dumplings today. my mother complained that my father rolled the dough too thin and the dumplings would break when boiled. after dinner i left a bit after 7pm.

the blinds were still open while sandy made dinner in the kitchen while chatting with kelvin. later she came in the living room. having sandy with me day and night has has a negative impact on my blogging. i've discovered i need distract-free solitude to successfully write, and with her always just feet away facing me on the couch, i can't seem to gather my thoughts. the only time i'm able to do any writing is about an hour between when she goes to bed and when i go to bed. but recently she seems to be sleeping later and later, and i find myself going to bed first, which means no blog post for the day.