Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Combining 2 Recipes

So this recipe for Crispy Chicken Thighs (see above) has become a fairly regular dinner item for us, and so has this recipe for Teriyaki Sauce, just because of the versatility with meat or vegetables.  We love how the chicken skin becomes almost like a potato chip.

Recently we combined both recipes.  When the chicken thigh is almost done and the skin is crisp, we remove the skin from the thigh, drain the oil, and deglaze the pan with the teriyaki sauce.  If you leave the skin on the chicken when deglazing the pan, the teriyaki sauce is soaked up by the skin and it loses the crispiness.  When the chicken is nicely glazed by the sauce, put the chicken on the plate and then with the crispy skin on top.

The pan sauce is great with rice and lightly flavored vegetables.  Sorry I don't have a picture of the amalgam, I'll get it next time. ;)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Light Reading

So I just finished reading the graphic novel All-Star Superman, it was quite amazing.  I liked Superman growing up, but he was always just so overpowered.  I remember reading the "Death of Superman" and later getting the graphic novel with his return.  This takes a different view of Superman, setting him up as an ideal to live up to, a Renaissance man, highlighted by his new found vulnerability.  The artwork is good, but the story is what really stands out, I highly recommend it.  I'm going to try to borrow the DVD next.

Also, after hearing about it for so long, I've started reading Sandman by Neil Gaiman.  So far, I've finished the first 2 volumes and it is living up to all the hype.  Definitely recommend it as well, it's interesting because the setting is so much the polar opposite of All-Star Superman, which I was reading concurrently because of availability from the library.

On a side note, the Library has an agreement with Hoopla Digital, which is like a digital library.  It's awesome.  When I can't get the physical books, at least I can borrow them digitally.  I hope their service continues to grow.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Nvidia Shield TV

Wow, so I saw a posting that said the new Nvidia Shield TV will have the Amazon Prime app, which is pretty awesome.  There's a deal on one now from Best Buy for $175 right now with Visa Checkout.

Techcrunch Review of the Shield.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

New Personal Best!

Not bad for freemium.  Too bad I ran into a bunch of strong players right after... oh well!  Pretty happy since it's definitely not a meta deck but does contain e-barbs. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

How I Cut the Cord and Switched to Streaming

This post was a project I worked on last year, but I'm posting because I think it's still relevant.  Bear with me, it's a little long.

The Premise

When we had cable TV, it was easy to flip channels to watch whatever was on.  But since the introductory price expired and our service cost doubled, I became pretty motivated to find another solution.  For what it's worth, the TV portion cost about $70/month, $840/year!

After a fair amount of internet research, I realized there was no cookie-cutter way to cut cable TV, since everyone's TV tastes are different, and every house is different.  On top of that, no single streaming service is the be-all, end-all.  That said, I will share what I wanted to watch, and how I got there, including which services I used, what hardware was purchased, how it all works together (i.e. software) and some lessons learned.

Kid Shows, and Whatever We Can Watch When the Kid is Asleep

Knowing what you want to watch helps you choose services, and in part, hardware.  So what did my family primarily watch?  Here's what it broke down to:

  • PBS shows: Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger, Dinosaur Train
  • Reality TV shows (lots of Bravo)
  • Live sports: NFL (49ers first, playoffs, Super Bowl,) NBA (Warriors, playoffs,) Olympics 
  • Broadcast TV shows 

One bit of info is that we already had Amazon Prime, which came with the Amazon Fire Phone that we bought during the inventory clearing Fire-sale.  That prompted me to see what shows were included.  The list is now re-ordered by potential difficulty.

Live sports / Broadcast TV shows  : NFL (49ers first, playoffs, Super Bowl,) NBA (Warriors, playoffs,) Olympics, The Blacklist, The Voice, some random other shows.

Getting live sports was the biggest obstacle for me not cutting cable in the past.  Well, costs drove me to find another solution... I'm lucky(?) enough to live in the market where the woeful Niners play, so that means I only really needed the over-the-air broadcast.  Same goes for playoffs and the Super Bowl, which are national.  The other consideration is that I have multiple TVs on different floors with potentially questionable reception.  Why did I lump in broadcast TV?  Because the same solution applies to both.

NBA basketball gets broadcast more for the big games and the playoffs.  Cutting cable means I won't be getting Warriors games on the regular, since they have an agreement with Comcast Sportsnet, and I can't get them often without cable or another option.

Olympics: Despite the politics, I'm a junkie whenever they roll around.  NBC is ok, but the past few have plenty of streaming options.  But at very least, I have to have NBC working.  Rio 2016 worked.

Reality TV shows (lots of Bravo)

Doh.  Not so many options here... Given that Comcast owns NBC and Bravo, our option was Hulu.  That said, the kiddo doesn't watch Bravo, so it's ok if we watch it on a PC.

PBS shows: Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger, Dinosaur Train

Amazon Prime included!  Huzzah!  On demand, HD, no commercials!  Alternatively, the PBS Kids Android app has fewer episodes for free, on rotation.  So, all I need is something that plays Amazon Prime.  That should be easy...

Problem Solving!

This is what I already had set up.  

  • Living Room TV 
    • Wireless N dual-band 4 port router (behaving as an access point) 
    • PS3 or XBox 360 (connected via ethernet to the switch)
  • Bedroom TV
    • Desktop PC attached to the TV
    • Cable modem and Wireless N dual-band main router with 4 port switch
    • Amazon Fire TV stick
  • Handy dandy ethernet wired home!
  • Comcast cable, ~ 30Mbps download speed.

Low Hanging Fruit

PBS shows via Amazon Prime app on XBox 360.  Done!  Hulu on the desktop PC (i.e. no fee) in the bedroom.  Done!  Same with PS3.  Done!

Not So Low Hanging Fruit

This took a while to figure out, getting OTA broadcasts to both TVs.  I tried this before with a cheap, flat antenna.  It failed.  Why?  

So I went looking.  Antennaweb!  I found out most OTA broadcast towers were within 50 miles, but not all were within 25 miles, therefore, I needed an amplified antenna.  There are different reviews but I ended up going with the Winegard Flatwave Amped Antenna.  Simple to setup because I knew from Antennaweb that I need the antenna to get signals from the North/South direction.  20 minutes of holding the antenna in different locations and I got all that I needed.  Bonus: broadcast TV signals are in HD!  I only paid for standard broadcasts when I had cable.  Everything is so much clearer.  Wifey said, "hey, now I can see the football!"  *cry*

Now, getting that OTA signal to both the TVs led me to ... the HDHomeRun Extend.  This little piece of hardware has 2 HD tuners to support 2 TVs, encodes the signal for network capability, and has a neat little Kodi add-on and Android app! 

Connect the antenna coax cable to the HDHR Extend, connect the HDHR Extend to the router.  2 minutes.

Install Kodi on the desktop, HDHR add-on into Kodi.  5 minutes.

Oh, another bonus!  Official Bravo Kodi add-on too?  In HD?  Better than standard def cable TV again!  

In summary, because of the PC, the bedroom TV is done!  Live sports, check.  Amazon Prime Video via browser, check.  Kodi, Bravo, free ad-supported Hulu, check.  On to the living room!

The hard work is done - Living room TV

I bought the Google Nexus Player (NP) and a micro-USB to ethernet dongle.  Initially, I didn't have the dongle but then there was some buffering and latency due to using wifi (wireless N), so I cut that part out by having the connection hard-wired.  Once the NP updated to Android 6, it was simple to install Kodi from the Google Play Store and all the same add-ons as in the other room.  I also installed Twitch, Crackle, and PBS Kids, etc.  

I also had a PS3 hooked up, and wanted to get live TV on it as well, so I setup a DLNA client to the HDHR server to access TV channels following HDHR's simple online instructions.  Then I downloaded the Amazon Prime video app to get all of those PBS shows as well.  Boom!  Done!  

Back to the bedroom 

So I thought I was done with the bedroom TV using the PC.  Well, turns out the PC isn't quite as simple as having a remote, like the PS3 or Nexus Player.  So we got a Fire TV stick on sale during the holidays. Once we plugged it in, I was able to sideload Kodi, install HDHR and all the usual stuff (again) and that works.  On top of that, we get all the handy PBS Kids shows as part of Amazon Prime anyway.  That was easy and now we have a more normal TV remote for the bedroom with a TV-like GUI instead of a more cumbersome mouse-situation.  Plus, the Fire TV turns on instantly and uses less power than the PC.

Cost Breakdown

So, ultimately, my first year's savings is ~$500. From then on, it's $800+.

Here it is:

One time costsCost# of TVsTotal cost
Indoor antenna$61.001$61.00
HDHR Extend$139.001$139.00
Amazon Firestick$251$25.00
Nexus Player$401$40.00
Smays micro USB ethernet$151$15.00
Sony PS3 remote$251$25.00

Hardware total


RecurringCord cutCable
Sling TV


NFL game pass

PIA VPN$2.42

Savings before hardware
Savings after hardware

Hardware alternatives

I realize hardware changes quickly and so there are many other systems that are available, as well as ones that are no longer available, like the Nexus Player.  If I had to set up all up now (as of 3/May/2016) I'd probably go with an Amazon Fire TV 2nd gen and a Fire TV stick.  Both run Amazon Prime, duh, and both can get Kodi sideloaded.  The 2nd gen Fire TV box is really strong hardware for about half the price of the Nvidia Shield TV box.  If you really hate being locked in to Amazon though, the Shield TV is probably the best hardware out there.  Both offer support for 4K TV, so it's more future-proof than my current setup.

That's it!  Happy streaming!

If you have interest, here are links to the stuff I bought. (Amazon affiliate links)  

Winegard FlatWave Amped FL5500A Amplified Digital Indoor HD TV Antenna (OTA / High-VHF / UHF / Ultra-Thin / Black and White - Reversible / USB Power Supply) - 50 Mile Long Range

SiliconDust HDHomeRun DUAL High Definition Digital TV Tuner HDHR3-US (Black) (2013 Model)

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Amazon Fire TV


What's this blog about?  Well, it'll be a blend of stuff I like: 
  • Cooking, Food, and Health
  • Technology, Gadgets
  • Finance/Saving Money
  • Gaming
  • Other random stuff!
I have a lot more interests than I have time for, so we'll see as it evolves.  

In case you're wondering, the name comes from my first character from World of Warcraft...and now I feel old.