cord-cutting

“Slow TV” on Pluto.TV. Good viewing while waiting for my system to achieve sentience.

I found a free internet TV service which is like an alternate cable/satellite TV universe.

It’s called Pluto.TV, available as a Roku channel, as a Chromecast-able Android app, as well as on AppleTV, PlayStation and others. You get lots of channel and program listings on a grid, just like cable.

TechHive described Pluto TV as “the best cord-cutting app you’re not using“.

For the cord-cutter, Pluto.TV gives you an amazing cable channel-surfing experience at no cost.

There are some channels you will recognize (CNBC, CBSN) and many you may or may not (The Feed, RiffTrax, Hive). But I have been surprised at how many interesting shows I have stumbled across so far. The spectrum of interests mimics that of pay TV.

One unusual Pluto.TV channel is called Slow TV. My favorite episode so far is a 7-hour real-time train journey from Bergen to Oslo. Very relaxing and immersive if you get right up to the screen like I did.

NRK, Norway’s public broadcasting company, has made nearly two dozen slow TV videos. including other train trips and coastal cruises.

But that is not typical of Pluto.TV’s fare.

I watch on a Roku 3, and it is slick and user-friendly. I found that the 2nd generation Roku LT was sluggish with the CPU-intensive Pluto.TV app. Using my Android phone by itself or with Chromecast also seems to work well.

Other personal favorites:

“The Norm MacDonald Show” on the THC Channel; I became an instant fan of his after laughing my head off at his Kojak joke on his episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. My review of CiCGC in 2014.

Over on The Feed is an all-time favorite British comedy series, “The IT Crowd”. I would be slightly abashed to go directly to my Plex or Emby channels and re-watch one of these from my own complete library, but when it turns up here, no guilt. Such is the difference between active and passive viewing.

“TableTop” on Geek & Sundry: Wil Wheaton (‘Wesley Crusher’ from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”) plays a board game with three guests. Very entertaining even if you don’t follow all the details of these complex games.

Check out the Pluto.TV website.

During the cord-cutting Q&A last week, the Tablo DVR device was mentioned.

Having gone with TiVo, I can’t speak from personal experience about it.

But it sounds like it could be a viable solution for OTA DVRing.

I made this comment about it:

“Yet another TiVo alternative, with 4 tuners! There is a $5 monthly charge for program guide data, but it is optional. Good low-cost choice if streaming content to other devices is important to you.”

The first and longest comment about it in the TTM Amazon aStore is a good and practical review of the product, and it was updated over a period of three years. The other two comments are useful, too:

Tablo 4-Tuner Digital Video Recorder for Over-The-Air HDTV with Wi-Fi for Live TV Streaming

Mohu (maker of indoor/outdoor antennas) created an online app that can help would-be cord-cutters figure out what they might need:

We launched Untangle.TV just four months ago after hearing from countless people that they want to cut the cord but feel overwhelmed by the process. We recognized that the desire to cut the cord is a no-brainer, but actually taking the step to do so can feel daunting.

From not knowing if you’ll be able to watch all the content you love to watch to confusion about the ever-growing list of streaming services, and do you need a streaming box or an antenna or whatever else. It’s a lot. But it doesn’t have to be that hard.

That’s where Untangle.TV comes in – it’s essentially a cord-cutting app. In a few short steps, it helps you figure out exactly how you can cut the cord.

Fortunately, people are starting to catch on that it can be made easier thanks to Untangle.TV. Even the Washington Post highlighted it as a key element in the cord cutting process.

Once you’re there, you’ll just need to answer a few quick questions, select your TV shows and channels you love to watch.answer a few quick questions, select your TV shows and channels you love to watch.

Then voila, the cord-cutting app will spit out a customized recommendation of the most ideal streaming services and devices needed to watch everything you want to watch without traditional cable or satellite TV.

This site can be a good place to start if you are at that point of wanting to shed the expense of cable/satellite, but not sure where to begin.

My own recommendation is to first get an indoor antenna at low cost, and play around with it to see how your reception is, and think about how much more TV you want or need (if any) than broadcast TV.

Custom “Reptilicus” Green skin for Windows Media Center, still working under Windows 10.

This post will be of use to those interested in Windows Media Center software as a free DVR using a USB TV tuner, HDHomeRun device, or the like.

Microsoft stopped updating their Windows Media Center software after they introduced Windows 7. It is incompatible with Windows 10. Eventually, Microsoft may move that functionality to Xbox.

However, some enterprising hobbyists figured out ways to install WMC and make it run anyhow. As of this date, the free installer program referenced below is the one to use.

The big Windows 10 Creators Update, now rolling out to users, breaks WMC, as did the previous major Anniversary Update.

But afterwards, WMC can be reinstalled, or installed for the first time with the special installer software.

WMC (which includes free program data downloads) hopefully should work until 2023 when Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 support is discontinued. (See previous post RIP Windows Media Center.)


I first used one of these installation methods to Add Windows Media Center to Win 10 on July 23, 2016. A couple of months later, this happened:

 Update, 10/4/2016:

My successful add of WMC to Win 10 was wiped out when my PC automatically received the Anniversary Update for Windows 10 Version 1607 on 9/24/2016. Tried a reinstall, but got an “Installing package failed, reverting…” message.

Using the WMC version 8.8.1 zip file and instructions in this post at MyDigitalLife, I was able to get WMC working again. You would need to create a login there to see the post.

WMC 8.8.1 has worked great.

But I recently got wind of another major Windows Update on its way, the Windows 10 Creators Update (Version 1703). If you want it early, you can make that happen by downloading the Update Assistant.

I checked recent posts on the MyDigitalLife forum and found that Creators Update does indeed break WMC. But the above-linked WMC 8.8.1 version can be successfully reinstalled after the Win 10 update.

Since I have two Win 10 PCs running WMC, I picked the faster quad-core PC for my first go.

No problems at all with the Creators Update. And all the WMC 8.8.1 files from last time were still there.

Here are my relevant notes:


Be current on Windows Update before starting with Creators Update.

If you use ServerWMC, note or take screenshots of your current settings, since you have to set up ServerWMC again from scratch. I had my pre-update PC to look at, so I didn’t need to do this.

If you already have WMC working, no need to uninstall it before Creators.

Also in that case, I recommend saving a copy of your current HOSTS file (C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\HOSTS). There are a couple of IP addresses at the bottom that enable WMC to download the free program guide data.

FYI, my HOSTS file contains the following lines that work in Tulsa (and possibly anywhere in the continental US):

2.16.216.176 cdn.epg.tvdownload.microsoft.com
65.55.186.113 data.tvdownload.microsoft.com

After applying Creators Update, you can uninstall/reinstall an existing WMC 8.8.1 setup as follows:

  • In your 8.8.1 folder (mine is C:\WMC-V8.8.1), right-click Uninstaller.cmd and Run As Administrator. Then reboot.
  • Run _TestRights.cmd as Admin. You should see a command prompt window. (If you don’t, reboot and retry.)
  • Run either InstallerGREEN.cmd or InstallerBLUE.cmd as Admin. (Blue is the standard WMC color, green is custom.)
  • Check your HOSTS file and make sure IP addresses are there.

You do have to go through the setup process again for WMC.

If you should have problems with the program data download phase of setup, the IP addresses in your HOSTS file may be responsible. Do a Google search for “data.tvdownload.microsoft.com” to look for other IPs if yours or the ones I gave above don’t work for you.

I again used TightVNC viewer on my laptop to remotely do the update on my two headless (no monitor or keyboard) media PCs running TightVNC server.


No need to uninstall/reinstall any WMC-associated third-party programs such as ServerWMC, My Channel Logos, or Ceton My Media Center as I needed to do for the upgrade from Win 7 to Win 10.

Cribbing my settings from the other PC, I quickly re-set up ServerWMC. (Over there, it enables my Raspberry Pi to communicate with WMC; see previous post Windows Media Center & Raspberry Pi.) The other two third-party programs needed no attention.

Emby is a free application I use with ServerWMC on this quad-core PC to stream live or recorded TV programs to my smartphone or Roku (see previous post Watch live local TV anywhere via Emby app). All I needed to do on the Emby server software was to Refresh Guide Data.


Once I got all that working, I did my other Win 10 PC in blue.

Proving there is more than one way to skin a dinosaur. 😉

I created some of these logos for the Logitech Harmony 890 remote. Note the ancient NewsNow53 logo.