Does 120 Sports Deserve Our Attention?

120 SportsDoes 120 Sports deserve our attention?  I was curious about 120 Sports as an alternative for ESPN.  Knowing that it’s basically Sports Illustrated’s attempt to increase their media exposure I thought it may be worth trying out.

First, what is 120 Sports? 120 sports is an online streaming channel that provides highlights and commentary of sporting events in the United States. Think of it as a more subdued ESPN Sportscenter.  Not only does 120 Sports stream on the web but it also has an app on the BIG 2 platforms (android and iOS).

I believe 120 Sports is trying to separate themselves from others like ESPN.  The one thing I like the most is you don’t need a cable subscription to watch.  ESPN is terrible at this and even though I could subscribe to a very overpriced cable plan that includes ESPN I STILL wouldn’t be able to watch it online without a VPN back to the United States.  120 Sports streams great for me.  Both their website and their mobile app have had zero buffering issues.  Plus, unlike NFL Now, 120 Sports plays highlights, shows just 15 second ads occasional and doesn’t charge.

Another huge difference is with the layout of the mobile app.  They have a layout of video either on the top third of the screen or left side if you hold your device in landscape mode.  To get full video you just swipe to the right in landscape.  The rest of the screen is used to show twitter feeds of that particular topic. I like the concept but the whole swiping thing doesn’t always work for me and according to the reviews on the site it doesn’t work at all on some phones.  The videos that a person chooses is limited to the parts recently talked about on their video channel.  The best way I can describe it is if you are looking down a page at the headlines you just read the headlines until you find one  you want to know more about.  You click that one headline to either watch or read more about it.  It works that same way here except that each “headline” is a segment recently talked about on 120 Sports.  Another way to think about it is how the topics scroll on ESPNews on the side of the screen.

Besides the above there is also a trending, timeline, catch-up and following options in the menu.

  • Timeline starts off with a “watch live” option at the top of the screen and each box will be the previous topic being discussed.  In other words, just like the main part of the app but in chronological order
  • Catch-Up – I honestly don’t know how this one is organized.  It seems to be the ones most popular
  • Trending – This screen lists the names of people are trending on twitter.  For example the top 3 this morning is Brian Hoyer, Jim Kelly, Le’Veon Bell.
  • Following – It states “Navigate to search or trending and tap the FOLLOW button to add a topic to your following list.”  This should help make a custom channel.

To answer the original question that I presented, “Does 120 Sports Deserve Our Attention?” I think the answer is yes.  With only about 10,000 downloads on Android that number is very low.  I have no idea how many have downloaded it on iOS but I do know that costs are significantly cheaper than trying to break in with a cable show.  120 Sports has caught my attention and I check it out at least once each day.  It’s the first sports app that has done that for me and I hate watching videos on the web!  I hope it gains more traction or SI takes a long-term approach to it like they do with their articles written by highly talented writers.

Android on a Tablet is much improved

CyanogenmodI will admit that I’ve been behind the curve on tablets.  I didn’t purchase my first tablet until the HP Touchpad fire sale.  It was a shame that HP gave up so quickly  on webOS.  There are a lot of good features about it.  I was extremely happy with Touchpad.  I used it for reading PDFs and ebooks and just loved this one game on it, Robotech.

A few months back a friend of mine told me she had put Android on her tablet and now she could watch Netflix and use a wide variety of apps on it.  She  was using pre-Honeycomb so either 2.3 or 2.4 on it.  At the time I told her I was happy with what I could use the Touchpad for and didn’t need Android on it.

As usual, I got the urge about 2 months ago to put Android on it.  First, CyanogenMod was getting Android 4.0 stable on the Touchpad.  Second, I really needed a better Adobe Reader.  You see, I use Adobe Reader a lot for service manuals for all types of printers.  I was was interested in using Adobe’s new features of adding a signature right on a mobile device.  Due to my travels, I rarely have access to a free printer to print off my work orders and signature forms.

It took me up to 2 weeks ago to finally get it installed.  From desktop issues (failing hard drive) to the huge amounts of traveling, I just didn’t have the time.  Now, I can officially say that I am using an Android 4.0 tablet courtesy of CyanogenMod.

After these 2 weeks of usage I can say that I am quite happy with using Android on a tablet.  Initially, I was much more impressed with the Ipads than with the stuff HTC and others were selling.  It had a lot to do with the software.  Now with 4.0 and recently 4.1 being released I think Android can get to a better playing field with Apple barring anymore patent lawsuits.

Google recently released their very own tablet and for a great starting price of $200.  I’m certainly peculiar about my electronics.  One of those being the size of the tablets.  I think 7 inches is just too small.  Millions obviously disagree with me.  That’s fine but I will be sticking with my modified Touchpad for quite some time.  I’ve found more use, that would be mostly more media consumption, for my tablet with this upgrade and am excited to see what is in store in the future.


Google Play needs to do a better job giving us flexibility with music

Google Cloud Music (now called Google Play) has a lot of issues they need to overcome if they want to play with
the Amazons and Apples out there.

First, I had issues having my credit card stored with Google. That is partially my problem as it is difficult
to get a Virgin Islands address to work with some credit card publishers. Plus, they also said that I
wasn’t authorized to purchase music in the Virgin Islands. That isn’t necessarily Google’s fault but should
be addressed.

Second, downloaded music can only be played using the Google Android app. This sucks when there are
alternatives out there such as Amazon’s music player.

Third, you can’t just copy and paste your songs or export them from your phone. They are stored in a cache
on your phone but are assigned meaningless numbers as file names. All I wanted to do was to
transfer the files to my external hard drive and my ipod.

I have purchased two albums. One from Deadmau5 and the other from Kanye and Jay-Z. I can share them on
Google+ but I can’t transfer them from my phone?

In this era where Apple has shown that DRM should be less restrictive, why is it that Google makes it hard
to do stuff with music purchased on their platform? I do use Google’s cloud drive and Google’s cloud drive
to store my music. (and multiple external hard drives).

I would like to clarify that I don’t like Amazon’s cloud player either. It crashes too often and I can’t always find my
music that was previously downloaded. I seem to have a similar problem with Google.

Google, just let us buy DRM free music and let us do with it as we please. Don’t make it more difficult
for us. You should know as well as anyone those that want to pirate already can circumvent virtually
all the restrictions out there. Therefore, you are only hurting the regular consumer by making it difficult
to use the product.

Another Review of Sprint (and a little on AT&T)on St Thomas this time in the East End

A few months ago I wrote a short review of Sprint when I was living in Mahagony Run on the Northside of St. Thomas.  Since then we bought a home in Nazareth on the East End of the island.  I knew that many of the areas around here will be difficult to get reception due to the hilly terrain.  I honestly thought that my reception on this side of the island would be better due to being almost at the very top of the hill. Haha!  Who am I kidding?  It’s worse!

Inside the home, I am lucky to get 1 bar.  On the 2nd floor it is a bit better with 2 bars or it pops into roaming.  If I go outside onto the porch I can sometimes get 3 bars in a certain area facing North East.  With that out of the way what about the Sprint data connection?  Don’t bother.  It is worse than dialup no matter where you try.

I still have my Sprint Airwave but have been unable to use it.  DSL was installed but that is currently in disarray.  I am getting double dial up speeds due to extreme static and it stops working at 6:45pm each night.  I have a call into innovative to fix the first problem.  I’m hoping if they can reduce the line noise that the DSL speeds will increase and it will stop the cutting off each night.

We still have an AT&T iPhone.  Exact same problems.  I’m not sure why but this area does not like the big 2.  I plan to get a pay as you go cell so I can have a 340 number, I sure hope Innovative has reception here as they are the cheapest.

I should also mention, the Ritz Carlton reception has been the same since December.  Low bars but the data connection is fine on both Sprint and AT&T with AT&T taking the edge over Sprint.  At Secret Harbor, I had full bars on my phone.  I didn’t try to stream anything but I will be testing it out next weekend when I have more time.

Review of Sprint and Innovative data on St Thomas USVI

This is a short review but I figured now that I have moved here I might as well explain a little about the internet that I have experienced so far.

I’ve been here for a month.  Currently I have access to 500kb down and 500kb up DSL from innovative at the condo rental in Mahagony Run.  I also have access through my Sprint EVO 3D phone.  I use the hotspot fairly regularly.  My wife uses an iPhone for work and let me tell you that phone is a PIECE OF SHIT.  Scratchy, more dropped calls than my sprint phone and data is just as hit or miss.

I don’t want to take too much time going over exact numbers because there are a few other options on the island.  To start with, I want to begin with Sprint access.  Phone reception can be a challenge with the mountains.  I don’t expect this to change much.  However, I did get a Sprint femtocell that should help with the reception. Albeit, it doesn’t always work as advertised.  There is no “4G” here for sprint.  Instead, we get the old standby EVDO.  Occasionally, it works great.  When I mean great, the data speed is the same as the mainland..for a few minutes.  Every few minutes you get this 30 second pause where no data is flowing through.  Another issue I run into is with the 3G data.  I need to turn the mobile network off and on every days on my phone other-8 minutes it would pause to buffer.  Sometimes it felt like it would take a few minutes to buffer.  Needless to say, my 1 hour tv show took longer than an hour to watch.

The brightside to all this is Sprint actually works better on the island than it did for me in Richmond, VA.

Now quickly on to Innovative DSL.  When you go from 30 megs down and 2 megs up to 1/2 meg down and 1/2 meg up you sure learn the word patience.  When we first got here it worked horribly.  Constantly needing router and modem reboots.  I also have this issue with google.  Anything google whether it is the search page, a domain on google or their ad network doubleclick that loads on other web pages.  It hangs an takes forever to load.  In the past week these issues have improved somewhat but have not completely gone away.  I have started to use Bing more for my searches because it is faster.

The reasons for the constant reboots are probably numerous.  However, I think I can narrow it down to 2 possibilities.  Either the modem and router were overheating or that they hate the humidity.  Humidity was much worse the first half of the month.  I think it is a combination of both.  I have always kept something underneath my router to let airflow on the bottom of it.  This time, I have set it on its side and made sure nothing was close to it that could trap heat by it.  This seems to help greatly.

Here is another negative for Richmond, VA and a positive for the Virgin Islands.  I get consistent pings playing my games.  They are higher but I am also located a few thousand more miles away from the severs I play on.  I don’t get the pauses like I did with Comcast.  In fact, I can watch netflix or hulu with no buffering issues!  The quality is at its lowest setting but it at least works.

I work remotely for living and my remote support software of choice is teamviewer.  It works extremely well.  I have absolutely no complaints.  Skype also works flawlessly.  In fact, it works better than it ever has for me on Comcast (atlanta and richmond) or even Time warner (milwaukee and austin).  Ofcourse, the crazy low speeds is a killer when downloading images and other fairly large files.  What I do to offset this is I try to do my file transfers at night or when I know I won’t be home.  Today, I am writing this post through my Sprint hotspot from the beach while my laptop at home downloads the latest iOS development kit.

When we move,  I think I will be sticking with DSL.  It looks like I can get 1 down and  1 up and it is very consistent.  They do have wimax here but I have read stories about inconsistent speeds and bad pings.  I also need the low pings for VoIP.  I have seen speedtests posted somewhere.  They were not pretty.

I thought that I read about cable internet eventually coming to St Thomas.  I don’t know when this will happen.  So keep in mind that there are always tradeoffs when choosing beautiful places to live versus a high tech city.  I won’t mention anything about the weekly power outages.