Showing posts with label Entertainment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Entertainment. Show all posts

A Negative Review of Amazon Prime Video and Fix for Streaming Service - Keyboard Hotkeys, Shortcuts, Tips

Latest update: June 10, 2020

Alternate Titles

  • Why Is Amazon Prime Video So Bad?
  • I Have Amazon Prime But I Can't Watch Videos.
  • Amazon Prime Keeps Buffering.
  • Amazon Prime Video Not Working on Chrome.
  • And Keyboard Shortcuts and Tips.

When I first signed up and tried to use Amazon Prime Video, it was a royal mess and basically useless. The videos refused to work. It turns out that Amazon Prime's default video setting is ultra-high bandwidth usage. For folks with a less-than-perfect, high-speed ISP account; this can be a real problem. However and if one is lucky, it is possible to solve the debacle.

A few seconds of this is fine. But if it lasts longer and/or an error message appears, then there are problems.

How to Fix Amazon Prime Video Bandwidth Issues

There is both good news and bad news. The good news is Amazon has an option setting where one can change the bandwidth usage to a lower level. The bad news is the option setting is not available on the main menu; it is only available when one is able to get a video to run long enough (approximately a minute) for the option icon to show up at upper-right. One may have to make repeated attempts to make this happen. Closing all other apps and making sure Windows Updates isn't running will increase your chances of success.

If one can get the settings/option icon to work in video mode, three menu options will appear:
  • .38 GB
  • 1.40 GB
  • 6.84 GB
Amazon has the default setting at 6.84 GB. Changing the setting to .38 GB will solve the problem; the changed setting is immediately applied to the current and future videos. Oddly, I noticed no difference in video quality between the three settings; your results may vary.

Sooner or later, Amazon will realize the error of their ways and include the bandwidth setting option in their main menu. They may very well have done so since this page's last update, so that would be worth checking. Until then, this appears to be the only workaround.

A Short Review of Amazon Prime Video

Amazon has discounts for folks on EBT and/or Medicaid or Medi-Cal.

Amazon Prime has an excellent variety of movies, TV shows, original programming, etc. They are doing the free 30-day trial promotion. I don't see a downside to giving them a try. If one is able to overcome the bandwidth problem, they should have several months of entertainment available.

My standard procedure for watching Amazon Prime videos:
  1. Skip or fast forward through the one or two introductory segments.
  2. When actual show starts, I hit pause.
  3. I go away for a minute or two to give the video a chance to buffer.
  4. All is well for the rest of the show.
And, there are the other benefits of joining Amazon Prime; shopping, free deliveries, music, etc. I have no plans to discontinue their services anytime soon.

June Update
Amazon Prime Video pulls a very dirty trick on it's subscribers. I found a TV show I thought I might like. So I watched the first episode. I did like it, so I happily watched all the episodes of the first season. When I went to the second season, Amazon suddenly demanded more money. That left an extremely bad taste in my mouth. There is nothing wrong with trying to sell add-ons; Amazon, Netflix and Hulu all do it. But to suddenly demand more money in the middle of a series is a new low in tackiness. I stared at that for a minute and then signed-off the site. I've got a renewal date coming up and am considering discontinuing my subscription. Not necessarily a permanent good-bye, just some time to mull things over. We shall see. Besides, Netflix has been poking me with a stick about some new shows.

2nd June Update
Yep, I unsubscribed from Amazon Prime Video and resubscribed to Netflix. I figured that Netflix has accumulated enough new shows to keep me entertained for at least a month, and they don't pull that demanding-more-money-in-the-middle of-a-series thing.

Amazon Prime Video Web Browser Keyboard Shortcuts

The Amazon Prime Video keyboard shortcuts are similar to the Netflix and Hulu keyboard shortcuts. I consider this a good thing; it appears that an industry standard has developed. This is definitely a break for the user. YouTube also appears to be the same way.
  • Space bar = Pause / Play (toggle) - Also works on YouTube in certain screen modes)
  • M = Mute / Un-mute (toggle) - Also works on YouTube)
  • F = Full-screen (double-clicking the screen also works) - Also works on YouTube)
  • Esc = Exit full-screen (or double-click again) - Also works on YouTube)
  • Left arrow = Rewinds, 10-second increments. - Also works on YouTube; (5-second increments)
  • Right arrow = Forwards, 10-second increments. - Also works on YouTube (5-second increments)

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Review of Hulu Live Streaming Service - And Keyboard Hotkeys Shortcuts

Latest update: June 1, 2020

Hulu Review

Hulu sure does love their commercials. I know this because their $5.99 Plan has so many of them. On the one hand, I do get a lot of house chores done while waiting for them to end; however, they are beginning to wear on me. To be fair, I should mention that on some videos there are no commercials at all or very few. Unfortunately on other videos, it's a veritable landslide of ads.

Ads Pattern

  • For Movies: The norm appears to be no ads, though they might throw one in at the very beginning.
  • For Series: If the series is from a cable channel that always buries their viewers in commercials, then Hulu follows that channel's pattern and does the same. However, Hulu does seem to show fewer commercials than the cable channel did when the series originally aired.
There can be exceptions all over the place as to the above two general observations. There are no doubt all sorts of behind-the-scenes parameters Hulu uses when determining how many ads to show on a given video.

The Hulu website is glitchy at times (mostly when ads are involved), but it works and I have found all sorts of good stuff that I've enjoyed and am enjoying watching. I have no plans to discontinue their service; I might even become fond of them. This review and the keyboard shortcuts listed below are regularly updated as Hulu continues to evolve. Hulu has over 28 million subscribers the last time I checked.

Hulu Social Media Accounts

January 2020 Update

Hulu continues to have an excellent selection of shows. I am indeed becoming fond of them. Meanwhile, the Netflix collection continues to be grim; I'm beginning to contemplate discontinuing them. Here's an updated Review of Netflix.

February 2020 Update

The constant ad glitches are starting to get on my nerves. I'm beginning to think it is an issue that won't stop.

April 2020 Update

I have regretfully discontinued my Hulu subscription. Apparently about 1 of every 5 advertisers use such high intensity bandwidth design for their ads that it stalls the video; it then claims I'm using an ad-blocker when I am not. If one wishes to subscribe to the Hulu video streaming service, I'd recommend the no-ad option only.

Hulu Web Browser Keyboard Shortcuts
The Hulu keyboard shortcuts are similar to the Netflix keyboard shortcuts. I consider this a good thing; it appears that an industry standard is developing and this would definitely be a break for the user. YouTube also appears to be the same way.
  • Space bar = Pause / Play (toggle) - Also works on YouTube in certain screen modes)
  • M = Mute / Un-mute (toggle) - Also works on YouTube)
  • F = Full-screen (double-clicking the screen also works) - Also works on YouTube)
  • Esc = Exit full-screen (or double-click again) - Also works on YouTube)
  • Left arrow = Rewinds, 10-second increments. - Also works on YouTube; (5-second increments)
  • Right arrow = Fast Forwards, 10-second increments. - Also works on YouTube (5-second increments)

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A Review of the Computer Chess Lv.100 Game App Published by Unbalance Corp

Latest update: July 24, 2020
Page URL indicates original publication date; meanwhile, times change and the updates continue.

To make a long story short, it's a fun chess game app for Windows 10 with more settings and options than you can shake a passed pawn at.

There are two versions, a free version and an ad-free version priced at a couple dollars and change. I found the free version to be fine. The single ad displayed at the lower left of the screen has so far been unobtrusive and unobnoxious. If you later decide you do not want any ads, you can return to the Microsoft Store and have them removed for $2.49 (last time I checked). Side note: The Chess Lv.100 game app is available all over town, not just the Microsoft Store.

The board and pieces are pleasant to look at and cause minimal or no eye strain. And while we are on the subject of eye strain, you show me any chess or other game with a bright white background and I will show you my rapidly departing shadow. Such games are murder on the eyes and you could very well pay the price 20 to 30 years down the road in the form of adult macular degeneration.

There are 100 levels of difficulty. When you install the game, it will start you at level 30 as white. I found the game beatable at this level, however it didn't rollover and play dead either. It did make an occasional non-advantageous move for itself now and again

As for all the settings and options, I still haven't discovered or figured them all out yet; haven't found much in the way of a help menu or instructions. It's kind of a trial and error sort of thing where you click whatever to see what happens and figure it out from there.

When you start a new game, you are given the usual choices and more. I noticed there are recording options and settings as well

During the game you can click the settings button for more options. You can highlight the last move, legal moves, threats, etc. You can change the graphics and even tell it to play music.

If the game makes a move where you are not sure what just happened, you do not need to click the Undo button. Click the back-arrows button to see what happened, then click the forward-arrows button when ready to resume the game.

If you are quitting for the day and it's an unfinished game, simply close the app. When you reopen the app, the game will resume where you left off.

Level 31 and it's definitely not rolling over and playing dead. This image is from the free version; you are not seeing the usual ad at lower-left below where it says "Normal Mode" because it was changing ads when I did the PrtScn.

I'm having fun with it and plan to gradually work my way up the levels. I must win playing both black and white before I'll allow myself to move up to the next level. And I won't allow myself to undue blunders; already did a couple of those as a matter of fact, but managed to fight my way back and win. I consider it a virtual certainty it will be regularly shutting me down long before I get anywhere near level 100, but it's going to be fun getting to that point.

If level 30 turns out to be a walk in the park and actually causes you to be bored, then a larger incrementation may indeed be in order; only you can decide. Personally, I haven't played in years and am rusty; after a few games I still haven't gotten that all-encompassing "flow" back yet. May all your chess games be stimulating, enlightening, and fun.

Alas, I must make a rather sad update...

I see that I posted the original review around six months ago. Just recently, a new ad function has been introduced. When you win a game, a full screen ad suddenly bursts upon the scene with full audio. Clicking the usual "x" makes it go away. Then you can still go back to the completed game to admire your handiwork, leastwise that's what I do.

December 2016 Update

Though beating Level 40 isn't exactly a barn burner in the awesomeness department, I'm rather proud of this one,  It certainly made me work for it.


The adventure continues...

October 2017 Update

Once you are in the 40's range, the darned thing really makes one have to think. The good news is the game will still sometimes make opening moves that are downright insulting. The "bad" news is from that point forward, there are very few "gifts".

If you overlook something or otherwise make a mistake, the game will immediately nail you for it. Also at this range level, the game plays somewhat aggressive offense as well as defense. One really does have to think ahead a few moves for the entire and every part of the board.

Personally, now whenever I see a mess developing: I'll study it for awhile, then sign off for awhile; then sign back on after a few hours or even days and study it some more, then maybe sign off again. I might do this several times before finally making a move. Needless to say, my games have now turned into long term adventures. Totally fine with that and loving it.

January 2018 Update

They've started using animated ads. Not good.

February 2018 Update

They may have stopped with the animated ads. Leastwise there weren't any last time I was there.

February 2018

Animated ads still in play, but somehow not as obnoxious.

February 2018

Now they are doing announcement ads even when you lose.

September 2018

They are doing now doing motion ads and and constant ad changing.

September 2018

I have loved this game, but there are now freezing problems and worse.

September 2018

Found a minor tech error. Rare, most players probably won't notice it. Meanwhile, continuing to enjoy the game. Still rating the game extremely positive.

January 2019

They don't do the full-page announcement ads when you resign; don't know if they do it when they checkmate you. And the last time I looked, the lower-left ad was innocuous. Meanwhile, I've noticed I've been doing this ongoing review for almost three years now; this app has certainly passed the test of time. Am still enjoying it and still happily giving the Chess Lv.100 Game App by Unbalance Corp a positive review and recommendation.

February 2019

The freezing problems I mentioned six months ago are long gone, just thought I'd mention that.

June 2019

Amazing how much I have improved.

September 2019

I remember last millennium when the computer chess games consisted of eight levels. I regularly went to level 8 and slaughtered them; I was a true legend in my own mind. Those days are long gone. The Chess Lv.100 Game App by Unbalance Corp regularly shreds me into little pieces every time I play at the higher levels. In other words, the game is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. Can't help but still give this game the best recommendation possible. Looking over this review, I see that I've now been at this for 3-4 years; yep, this game still certainly passing the test of time.

January 2020
Game has been kind of glitchy. Pretty sure it's the ads' bandwidth usage, CPU usage, memory usage. I've seen this happen with other applications. The application works fine; but then the ad comes along and clogs up and even crashes whatever device you happen to be using.

July 2020
I have been coming across some programming glitches that don't appear to be ad-related. Pieces that make illegal moves and pieces not being allowed to make legal moves. Am not sure what to make of it yet.

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Review of Netflix Live Streaming Service - Plus Keyboard Hotkeys Shortcuts and Tech Tips and News

Latest update: August 20, 2020
This article started out years ago as a list of Netflix keyboard shortcuts and some tech tips. The news items and the short reviews have only recently been added. Netflix is certainly having its ups and downs.

Here are the Netflix and some of the YouTube keyboard shortcuts. Darned convenient they are. My mouse sent me a thank you note when I discovered "m" and the space bar.

Netflix and YouTube Keyboard Shortcuts

  • M = Mute/Un-mute (toggle) - Also works on YouTube
  • Up arrow = Volume Up - Also works on YouTube
  • Down arrow = Volume Down - Also works on YouTube
  • Space bar = Pause/Play (toggle) - Also works on YouTube in certain screen modes
  • Enter = Pause/Play (toggle)
  • Not a keyboard shortcut, but clicking anywhere on the screen also does pause/play
    • F = Full-screen (double-clicking the screen also works) - Also works on YouTube
    • Esc = Exit full-screen (or double-click again) - Also works on YouTube
    • Left arrow = Rewinds 10 seconds each click (space bar may be needed to re-initiate play) - Also works on YouTube, 5 second increments
    • Right arrow = Fast Forwards 10 seconds each click (space bar may be needed to re-initiate play) - Also works on YouTube, 5 second increments
    • Shift+Left arrow = Rewind (keeps going until you hit space bar)
    • Shift+Right arrow = Fast Forward (keeps going until you hit space bar)

    Netflix Video Stuck?

    On occasion, I've experienced the video suddenly just stops playing. The computer, modem, and internet are all still fine; but for whatever reason, the video has stopped and most of the icons and keyboard shortcuts have become unresponsive. For me, clicking the 10-second-forward icon kick starts things back to normal. The keyboard right-arrow key may do the same. Much more convenient than closing and reopening the tab/window.

    Netflix Keyboard Functionality

    I've also noticed the Netflix keyboard key assignment functions stop working occasionally. I'm guessing this is because I have other Windows tabs open. When I go to those tabs, sometimes the website or application there resets the keys back to browser default; or maybe it is the browser itself doing it. Sometimes Netflix will reset the keyboard shortcuts back on when I return, but sometimes they apparently don't. Fortunately, I noticed using the mouse to click something once when I return usually resets the keys back to what Netflix wants them to be. Worst case scenario and if worth the bother, simply go back to browse and then back to whatever you were watching; this should reset the key shortcuts functions back on.

    If there is more information about the Netflix keyboard shortcuts, here's the latest from Netflix.

    If there is more information about the YouTube keyboard shortcuts, here's the latest from Google.

    Netflix Access Tech Note

    Netflix has served me well for years. Amazingly, it also works just fine when using landline DSL; broadband not required. However, be forewarned that a telephone company technician told me such is not the case for everyone. Apparently, it all depends on how close the telephone company substation is to your place of residence.

    Netflix Social Media Accounts

    If interested, here are Netflix's Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest social media accounts.

    Netflix Random News Items

    As of October 2019; news media reports that Netflix has over 158 million global subscribers, but that major competition is afoot. Apparently, there will be four or five major competitors who will come upon on the scene within the next year. This can be both bad and good for subscribers:
    • Good: more competition is usually better for the consumer.
    • Bad: much of the video programming that has been available to Netflix will be withdrawn from Netflix and only be available to the consumer via Netflix's competitors. In other words, each video streaming service will have their own special group of shows. It looks like there will be very little cross-platform sharing. This means consumers will have a limited selection with any one service. If one wants a decent selection, the only recourse will be to subscribe to multiple services

    Ongoing Netflix News and Review Notes

    January 2020 Update

    The selection of shows on Netflix has indeed dwindled considerably. The quality has also dropped significantly. When they report their number of subscribers next quarter, the stock price is probably going to take a major hit. Meanwhile, here's a Review of Hulu. I recently discovered them and their selection of shows already appears to be better than Netflix's. The internet is the internet, the only constant is change.

    February 2020 Update

    The selection and quality continues to be miserable. I really hate to pull the plug on them after all these years, but it's been weeks since I've found anything worth watching. Whenever I do click anything that looks promising, I inevitably end up aborting it within five minutes. I've got four days before the next renewal date to decide.

    An update to the update. Sadly, I have indeed canceled the account. I'll actually remember them fondly for all the good years. Who knows? I might even sign up with them again sometime in the future. No doubt I'll be receiving promotional emails from them in the coming months. Needless to say, it would be pointless to sign back up with them anytime soon. They'll probably need at least six months to turn things around, if ever. Time will tell.

    April 2020 Update

    Netflix to raise a billion dollars in new funding for  more original, new programming. Netflix has seen the writing on the wall and is more than ready, willing, and able to compete. I can see the day where I'll be willing to come back and subscribe to see how they are doing.

    July 2020 Update

    I have re-subscribed to Netflix. What with society being turned upside down due to the apparently neverending COVID-19 pandemic, Netflix business is once again booming. And I'm happy to say, I'm finding all sorts of new things to watch.

    August 2020 Update

    Netflix is now using a shuffle button. Apparently I'm not their only bored customer: CNN article.

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