Trying to watch sports on TV is a nightmare

I don't watch a lot of sports, but it just so happened that this weekend there are two sporting events that I wanted to catch. The Wimbledon finals and also the Euro championship game. I watched the women's final yesterday afternoon on standard broadcast TV, NBC. I got up this morning, having a free day due to a rained out motorcycle ride and popped on NBC expecting to see the men's final broadcast. 

Was it on TV? No it wasn't. Bummer, but not the end of the world. I'll just pop on over to watch the Tour de France. Ohh, you know what, that isn't on broadcast TV either. That is playing on NBCSports network. The Euro championship this afternoon? That is on ESPN. What a nightmare. Wimbledon used to be aired on NBC's main broadcast channel for years and add to that, so was the Tour de France. All three networks were local news and your standard "Meet the Press" Sunday political shows. 

So, I went to dig around and figure out how I could stream these shows today. First off, there is no way I can see of just buying them pay-per-view style or subscribing to just a specific network. I have used SlingTV in the past but unfortunately their NBCSports and ESPN channels are on two different packages (Blue vs Orange). What? Come on guys. 

Knowing that the Olympics are coming up in a couple of weeks I always want to try and watch that as much as possible when it is on. Again, NBC is dropping the ball here and they only plan to broadcast the Olympics during primetime. 3-4 hours a night of just gymnastics and he occasional track and field match is embarrassing. Why would they not fill up their standard daytime programming with Olympic coverage? 

So I spent a good portion of this morning, browsing my options and I ended up getting a temporary subscription for Youtube TV. It is expensive, $65 but it includes ESPN, NBCSports and has the olympic channel. It also thankfully is a month to month subscription so I can cancel as soon as the olympics are over. 


Man, I really don't want to go back

The weather is finally starting to come around, people are getting fully vaccinated and I can already see the eagerness in most people's eyes to try and "get back to normal". Despite 2020 being full of different levels of stress for different people, I can't help but feel a bit more anxiety right now more than at any time back in 2020. I missed being able to go on vacation last year and also going out to dinner, but man, do I not want to go back. To be honest, I think I would rather take 2020 again than take pre-covid. I just really do not want to have to interact with people, like at all. 

You know what, last year was the first time in as long as I can remember that I didn't get a bad cold or the flu. I felt like there was something strangely comforting with being home and also knowing that everyone was at home. We all had a taste of seeing the world through the same lens there for a moment, regardless of what your income or social status was. I feel like some of that is going to be lost and in many cases people are trying so hard to get back to the "default" that any sort of learned habits are going to go completely out the window. 

:shrug:

D&D: Artbreeder.com - AI Generated profiles for D&D and other cool art

I came across what has to be one of the coolest website I have seen in a long time. It is called Artbreeder.com and it utilizes AI to morph and merge images together. You essentially input two parent images and it will create an offspring. There are several categories on the site that you and select from, so I presume the the AI system has been tweaked for each one to get the best results. As you can see from the image above, where I have the portrait system selected, there are some sliders for various features you can select. 

The results are algorithmic, so you don't have any control over the creation. This isn't drawing, but it is an easy way to get an endless amount of good imagery. I have found the portrait mode to be very useful and something you can easily kill a few hours just going down the rabbit hole on. 

The only quirk I have found with the portraits at least, is that they tend to favor very "soft" female features. You also have to pay a fee to upload your own images, which is understandable, if unfortunate. 

I Finally Decided To Pay For A Music Streaming Service

So I finally did it. I have been resisting for years to get into the reoccurring music payment services that are out there like Spotify and Apple Music. I just don't really want to get int oa $10 a month for eternity system that means I would lose all of my music if I decided to stop paying. For the $10 a month, I would much rather just purchase something to add to my music collection. 

I do pay for iTunes Match, which is $24 a year and absolutely fine for the price to add my existing music library to the cloud for streaming. I am actually surprised there aren't more services that do this. All that being said, I didn't actually pay for the service that everyone may have thought I would. So instead of purchasing Spotify or Apple Music, I instead went with a subscription to DI.FM. What the heck is that you might ask? 

DI.FM is an electronic music streaming radio network. It is a radio network, so there is no music that you download. It is a combination of live radio shows and programed radio shows/playlists with a huge variety of electronic music genres, I think there is something like 50 sub-genre stations to choose form. 

Why would I have done this you ask? Well, it really boils down to the way that I like to listen to my music, The vast majority of my time I am listening to music as a background ritual, either while I am working or doing other hobbies. Of that time while listening, I more often than not want to listen to music that doesn't have any lyrics to it or isn't intrusive. I listen to quite a bit of classical and jazz music in addition to electronic because of that. The thing is, is I don't really need to keep that on my person in almost any scenario, except one, which I will get to in a bit. 

My actual music library is mostly a collection of a few selected albums with lyrics that I really like, with the rest being a goto selection of albums and tracks that fit my original "background playing" intent. The Skyrim soundtrack is always on my playlist by the way. 

The one scenario where I may want to listen to something more comes into play with my motorcycle. Those who know me know that I wasn't a huge fan of having a radio on my motorcycle and up until last year I didn't have one. I didn't even have a bluetooth headset to listen to music to while I rode. That changed a bit when I got my new bike past year and it came with one year of SiriusXM on it. Now, I actually liked SiriusXM quite a bit. Having commercial free radio accessible anywhere in the country was really nice and I was very close  to paying for SiriusXM up until a few months ago, after my subscription expired. The thing is that SiriusXM is kinda expensive. It costs $17 a month, and sure you can find some deals online that take it down to $60 for the year, but that involved haggling and in some cases playing the phone game with them much like you would with Comcast for your cable subscription price. I just have zero interest in doing that. I really only listen to 4-5 stations on SirusXM in any real way, so I couldn't justify that price and hassle. 

Now if I could get it in both my car, my motorcycle and online streaming for $15 a month, I might consider that, but the pricing just doesn't compete against even Spotfy or Apple Music. What SiriusXM did though was solidify how I like to listen to music and that is when I began the rabbit whole of looking for some online streaming services. TuneIn, Pandora, etc. all had a good look. I kept coming back to DI.FM though and what is nice about them is I could stream the entire service for free with commercials. I finally gave in here this past week and decided to go ahead and get a subscription, which only cost me $4 a month, which is more than reasonable for the what they offer. They even offer integration to other services and hardware like Sonos or receivers that have vTuners in them, so that may be worth exploring a bit more. 


Finding Some Positivity in Your Online Communities (Critical Role and Peloton)


This is a quick post, but something that popped into my mind this past Thursday when one of my favorite shows came back onto the air after being on hiatus from the COVID-19 situation. Critical Role, finally came back to its regular Thursday night schedule and I can't tell you how much I have been looking forward to seeing it come back.

I have always been impressed with the Critical Role cast and team on how much positivity they put out in everything they do. They just show a tremendous love for their online community and to all of their fans and it suddenly struck me as to how important that is right now. Not just in finding your friends and family and all of that, but finding positivity in your online media. 

It just feels good to be a part of that world and share it in some small fashion. 

While I am at it, I want to give a shoutout to the Peloton brand and that community as well. Another entity that has developed a super positive and uplifting message for its entire and team. Of course exercise always makes you feel better when you are stressed, but I have found that Peloton has really made it a part of their core identity to incorporate all of its users as part of a family that is sharing a journey together. Their entire staff have an extremely positive and almost therapeutic attitude in what they talk about during their classes. 

It is only just now that I am realizing how much those things probably have really helped over the past four months.