July 19, 2017

Review of PlayStation Vue

I've been toying with the idea of using a Over The Top (OTT) cable TV service.    Our cable bill keeps going up and up and up.   I call them periodically to argue myself a discount but I'm having less success with that tactic lately.   At the same time, there have been a boom in OTT providers.   Sling TV, Hulu TV, Youtube TV, DirectTV Now and Playstation Vue are the five current major players.  

I started a 5 day free trial with Playstation Vue to check out the service and see how well it would work.  Here are my thoughts.

I tested Vue on my Playstation 3 console and on my Android phone.   It generally worked well on both devices.   The interface and guide worked pretty well in general.  

On the PS3 I did run into some major lags and random buffering.   However, I should qualify that and detail the actual amount of lag that I saw.    One time while browsing around the interface in PS3 it kind of hung for about 30 seconds.    I remember some other misc. hangs and delays but nothing more significant than that 30 second pause.    I also put the service to a critical test by watching the entire first episode of Game of Thrones Season 7 off the DVR / on demand function.   During the entire show I recall it pausing for a few times for a fraction of a second in apparent buffering.   Most of the problems I ran into on the PS3 were in the browsing interface or in the guide and not while watching a program.     Its also possible that the issues I saw on PS3 could be because my console is old or running a little hot and not specific to the Vue software.     Or the problems could have been internet related too, its always hard to tell.    I do use that same PS3 to watch Netflix regularly and I never see problems with Netflix that aren't the fault of the network.

I did not see any problems with the interface in my Android phone.   However performance may vary based on the specific phone and if you have an underpowered, or older phone it may not work quite as well.   I don't have a high end phone but its only about a year old and not underpowered.     Its possible my issues in the PS3 were device specific then.  

I've heard that ESPN does not allow DVR recording of their live content on services like Playstation Vue or Sling.   I haven't confirmed it but I'm guessing this applies to the other OTT providers as well.
This detail throws a major wrench into my plan to investigate OTT as a possible TV alternative to my cable service.     However it seems you can use Playon to record ESPN directly from the ESPN site using your service credentials.   So this might work as a workaround to record games off ESPN.

Overall I did like the Vue service.    I'd give it a thumbs up with the minor qualification of some delays or lag on the PS3.


June 27, 2017

No, Most Americans Aren't Totally Broke

Over on The Simple Dollar someone asked about an article on CNN with the headline of "6 in 10 Americans don't have $500 in savings"     The QA exchange on that was someone asking if that is real and Trent saying he believes it.

I don't believe that 60% of Americans don't have $500.

It seems that we're told by the press over and over that most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck or don't have $1000 or $500 or $X in the bank or similar things.    I've generally accepted this in stride as most people probably do.

But here's the big problem with that claim.    Its based on a survey from Bankrate that asked people how they'd handle an emergency bill.   But I can't find any real details on how the question was asked.   If they just asked "how would you pay for a $500 -1000 emergency expense?" and the answers were just a list of items like savings, credit card, cut spending, etc. then you'll get some wrong results there.   I personally would use a credit card and I'd answer that way.   The article then assumes (wrongly) that I don't have $500 in savings.   But I use credit cards for most everything to get my bonus points.

Survey of Consumer Finances of 2013 has a lot of data on personal finances.    They say specifically how many people have checking and savings accounts and what the mean and median balances are.   93.2% of people have accounts and the median balance was $4100.   That means that 46% of people have over $4100.   This specific data directly refused the idea that 60% (6 in 10) of people don't have $500 in savings.

I'm sure that there are is an unfortunately high amount of people in the nation who don't have $500 available.    But its not 60%.


June 22, 2017

10% CashBack for Walmart at Ebates

Ebates currently has 10% cashback on purchases at Walmart.

Good way to get an extra 10% off of whatever you buy at Walmart.

I think this is just a daily double cashback deal so it may be gone by tomorrow.

Standard Ebates blurb: To get cash back from Ebates you need to be signed up with Ebates.  Then simply go to Ebates to get the referral to the store before you do your shopping.  I also get a referral bonus if you use my links to sign up with Ebates.  

--This article may contain referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

June 21, 2017

Gold Investments Have Done Poorly Lately

Around the recession we heard a lot about gold as an investment.   I'm not hearing that much about it lately.

Here's why:

click for full size, source: Yahoo Finance
Gold has lost over 20% of its value in the past 5 years while the stock market is up over 75% in that same time.

If you'd bought gold almost anytime in the past 8 years you'd be losing money on it versus simply putting your money in a bank account.    If you'd bought gold between 1995 and 2005 you'd have been lucky to beat a savings account.      If you were lucky you bought sometime before 2005 and sold around 2010.   This isn't the kind of pattern for an investment that you'd want.  It takes extreme luck to do any better than beating a simple bank account.


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