The year 2022 might be remembered as the year we got back to “normal”. In the spirit of that, let’s revisit all the best things that happened this past year, even if 2022 wasn’t the best year for everyone.
Best Movie Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery The next entry in one of my favorite movies from 2019, Glass Onion is another murder mystery led by Daniel Craig. We first saw him in Knives Out which surprised many as a breakout hit and a fresh take on the murder mystery genre. Glass Onion is different, but good in similar ways. My favorite thing about Glass Onion is how the story unfolds and you aren’t trying to solve the puzzle the entire time.
Best TV Show Severance Seems like Severance came out so long ago that I had to check if it was indeed released in 2022. It premiered in February and was released weekly like the good old days. If you haven’t yet watched Severance (Apple TV+) be sure to check it out before season 2 premieres. It’s such a good show and I don’t think I can do it justice trying to explain it here. What I will do is say that it’s a sci-fi/thriller series set in an office.
Best Music Album Dirty Heads – Midnight Control In 2022 we began to see the fruits of labor from the lockdown and we got a lot of great music this year. The Dirty Heads have released their 8th album Midnight Control and it might be their best yet. Give it a listen, even if you don’t necessarily like their other music. They are definitely a genre-bending band and with each new album they introduce a refined sound.
Best Song Morgan Wallen – You Proof A country song about whiskey and breakups, what’s so good about it? I’m not sure, but You Proof is the song I listened to the most this year and almost all of those listens were by choice. Morgan Wallen is someone who keeps churning out good music and I’m not even a country music fan.
Best Video Game Vampire Survivors Lots of great games were released in 2022 (mostly for Playstation) and none struck me and reeled me in like Vampire Survivors. I actually didn’t notice this game until recently and I played it for hours on Xbox Game Pass, then bought it on Steam to play it on the go. it’s a simple game too. The only control mechanism is the direction your player moves. It has been described as a “pure hit of Dopamine”.
Best Mobile Game Marvel Snap Look… I’m not a big Marvel fan. I’m not a fan of card strategy games. I rarely play mobile games more than a few times. For some reason, I can’t put down Marvel Snap. It’s a simple card-based game that is absolutely free. Try it, but remember, I warned you that it’s addicting.
Best Podcast SmartLess Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes have a comedy podcast where they interview famous people but end up spending a lot of the time joking with one another. It’s a welcome change in my podcast rotation apart from my usual tech and movie/tv podcasts. I’m a Jason Bateman fan and his personality on SmartLess is a lot like some of his movie characters.
Best New Tech Product Steam Deck A mobile computer gaming machine that’s better in a lot of ways than the Nintendo Switch. I did an in-depth review on this beast, that you can read over here.
Best Apple Product Apple Watch Ultra Apple finally made a watch worthy of my lifestyle. No I don’t rock climb, SCUBA dive, or run marathons, but I am rough on technology. Read my in-depth review on the Apple Watch Ultra over here and let me know what you think!
Let me know your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, or where ever you saw this post!
Have you ever been so enamored with a TV show that when it’s over you feel like something is now missing from your life? Me too!
Like any other summer, my wife and I are watching less TV. Entertainment schedulers know this and make less new content available during the warmer months. Because we’re watching less and want to spend more time enjoying the weather, we gravitate towards shorter, less complicated, TV series. Usually sitcoms that are around 30 minutes are the sweet spot because of the usual large amount of episodes available and easy viewing.
This summer we are getting daily doses of Parks and Recreation. Yes, the same Parks and Recreation show that first aired in 2008 on NBC. Having only seen a few episodes here and there we decided to watch the entire series, in order. We’ve done this previously with shows like Seinfeld, The Big Bang Theory, and Modern Family.
Last spring, summer, and fall we watched How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM). All 208 episodes. That show took me by surprise with how witty, heartfelt, and relatable it was. Even a year after completing the watch-through, I stand by it being the best network comedy show of all time. When the show ended, not only were we looking for a new regular show to watch, it felt like something was missing. Over the previous eight or so months, the show was a major part of our lives. When it was gone, there was a hole.
Not all TV shows, movies, or entertainment can make you feel this way. In fact, there’s probably only a few in your lifetime. I don’t think it’s wrong to feel this way either. The creators and actors of the show want you to feel. They write and act it in a way to invoke emotion. Different shows will hit with different people but there was something about the story and characters of HIMYM that imprinted on me. After we watched the entire series I took a long look at my life. Obviously one of those introspections was ”why am I having any feelings about a dumb TV show?” Someday I’ll write about the emotions that came out of this or start a feelings blog where I can really go there.
We’re about half way through Parks and Recreation and while I don’t feel this will have the huge impact on me like HIMYM, I’m already dreading the end. These TV shows, allow me to escape for 20-ish minutes and live in their fun-quirky world. The end is always disappointing and never what you think it should be. We’ve even avoided watching final episodes in a series so that we can feel that it’s never really over and we will always have just one more episode. Schitt’s Creek is a great example of this. We’ve never finished it even though we loved the series. Someday we’ll go back and spend time with the Rose’s again.
Parks and Rec is a show that I looked over for many years because I thought of it as a bad spinoff of The Office. While some of that is true, it’s very good on its own. If it continues at its current pace, in my perspective, it will be top-10 best shows of all time. Another someday project is list my top-10 best TV shows of all time.
What are some shows that made you feel this way? We’re always looking for another TV series to add to our summer playlist. Usually we look for something that we haven’t seen the entirety of and has a long run. If you haven’t yet watched How I Met Your Mother or Parks and Recreation, you should.
Additional great TV show recommendations:
Love – Netflix Seinfeld – Netflix King of Queens – Paramount+ The Office – Peacock Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Hulu
If you’re a cord-cutter you probably already understand the frustration of trying to stream live sporting events or other live events like awards shows, press conferences, or concerts. The streaming world, even in 2022, is still not friendly to live events. Some organizations, like the NFL, have been really good about streaming games or selling streaming rights. If you’re a baseball or hockey fan, it’s a barren landscape. Sure you can buy the leaugue’s streaming package and watch probably every game but the one you actually want to watch. Why is this the case? Local sports teams make exclusive deals with local TV broadcasters which means the national streaming packages black out the team(s) in your local area. If you’re a fan of your local sports team, you have to watch that team on the TV network they signed the deal with, and that network only.
My favorite sport is professional ice hockey and my preferred team is the Pittsburgh Penguins and because I live close enough to Pittsburgh, streaming through the NHL’s provided streaming service will result in a blackout of all Pittsburgh Penguins games. In this scenario I have three options to watch a live Pittsburgh Penguins game.
Option 1 – Cable Subscription
The easiest and most straight forward option is to subscribe to traditional cable. This requires contacting one of the local cable companies (Verizon or Comcast in my area). The Penguins games are on AT&T SportsNet which could be a higher package than a basic cable setup. A package that let’s your select AT&T SportsNet through Verizon costs about $70/month, on top of my existing internet service. In addition to the monthly cost some cable packages require long-term agreements and equipment rentals, so this isn’t the preferred solution for something looking to cut that cord.
Option 2 – OTT TV Subscription
An over-the-top or OTT TV subscription is similar to a normal cable subscription, but it’s all internet-based. Instead of a set top box connected to cable, you can stream live TV to your streaming device of choice, including smartphones and tablets simultaneously. Every market is different with the OTT options and local sports stations, but luckily AT&T Sports Pittsburgh has partnered with FuboTV to bring their content to OTT streaming. This option is good for families that want to watch different programming on different screens at the same time. AT&T SportsNet is available on the base Fubo package, which is about $65/month, with no commitment. This is the perfect option for sports fans that may not want to commit to a year or multi-year cable subscription. It’s easy enough to cancel when you don’t need it and start it back up during the sports season.
Option 3 – Bypass the Blackout
Disclaimer: this option has a few more moving parts, is not for the non-tech-savvy person, and could violate the terms of agreements with your streaming and/or internet provider.
There are two parts to getting around blacked out sporting events. I’m going to speak specifically to my situation where Pittsburgh Penguins games are blacked out in my home region. The first part is getting a streaming service where you can watch the games. NHL hockey on ESPN+ is new for the 2021-2022 season, whereas before NHL.tv was the streaming provider. Thankfully, ESPN+ is a cheaper service than NHL.tv and can even be bundled with Disney+ and Hulu. You’ll need an ESPN+ subscription to watch Pittsburgh Penguins games in any market, but it also gives you access to stream almost every other NHL game as well as a large variety of other sporting events.
Once you have the ESPN+ streaming service and try to watch a Penguins game near Pittsburgh, you’ll get a notice that the game is blacked out in your area. Here’s where part two comes in.
The easiest method I’ve found to bypassing these blackouts is using a DNS proxy service. This is another subscription you must pay for in order to use it, but it’s relatively inexpensive. You also need a device to stream the games on. Any device with a built-in GPS, such as smartphones and tablets. will not work with a DNS proxy as the ESPN+ app will use the GPS to determine your location. After signing up for a DNS proxy service like smartdnsproxy, you’ll be given one or two DNS IP addresses to input on your device. Most of the DNS proxy services provide per-device instructions that can show you specifics to your device. I use an Amazon Fire TV Stick to achieve this. When setting typing in the Wi-Fi password for my home network, there is an advanced button at the button of the on-screen keyboard. This will allow you to manually enter the IP details instead of automatically pulling it from your router. Entering the provided address from the DNS proxy and a reboot is all it takes to get it configured. The streaming apps will then see your location as the DNS proxy thus allowing you to watch blacked-out games.
Let’s see how cost effective this solution actually is:
ESPN+ = $70/yr SmartDNSProxy = $48/yr Total 1 year = $118 vs Cable/Fubo 1 year = $840
That may sound simple and a no-brainer, but it’s not the whole story. The new NHL TV/streaming rights are weird, so not every game is on ESPN+. Here are the number of games per network for the 21-22 Penguins season:
69 – televised on AT&T SportsNet and streamed on ESPN+
Games on AT&T SportsNet and ESPN+ can work with options 1, 2, and 3 above.
5 – televised on TNT only
Games on TNT only work with option 1 provided you have TNT in your cable package. TNT is not included in any Fubo package.
4 – streamed on ESPN+ and Hulu
Games on ESPN+ and Hulu only work with option 3 as you need a streaming subscription to watch these games.
3 – televised on ABC only
Games on ABC only work with option 1 as even the ABC streaming app requires a cable subscription.
1 – televised on ESPN only
Games on ESPN only work with option 1 as the base ESPN channel and ESPN+ do not overlap. You need an active cable subscription to watch ESPN.
As you can see, there is no one option that can make all games watchable. If you’re concerned with watching every single game, a combination of option 1 and 2 is the best bet.
Using a DNS proxy to bypass a blacked out sporting event works on most streaming devices that do not have a built-in GPS, like I mentioned above, with the one giant exception being Roku devices. Roku does not allow you to change the DNS server on your device as they use their own DNS servers and give you no way to change it. You could set the DNS server at your router/gateway level, but then every device on your network would be pointing to that DNS proxy. This is not recommended. I recommend using an Apple TV or Amazon Fire streaming box for best compatibility. It also works on Playstation and Xbox consoles, but be aware that changing your DNS on game consoles could impact online gaming.
I suspect that all of this confusion is somewhat intentional to make you just order that cable subscription and be done with it. If you’re an avid watcher of all local sports, I’d say a traditional cable subscription is best since you’ll be able to watch the most amount of games no matter what sport is in season.
Unlike movies of the past year, TV shows or series, have become our primary form of entertainment. Personally, I’ve been favoring a series over a movie because they seem to be better written and produced these days. There was a lot, past and present, content to watch while we were all stuck at home this past year. TV helped us pass the time of being quarantined, but also helped us connect with others by sharing common interests in content. I enjoyed a lot of TV shows this year, but I whittled my list down to just three. These three are new shows for 2020. There were a lot of great shows (The Mandalorian, The Boys, Big Mouth, The Crown, and Ozark) that gave us new seasons to enjoy. Today I’m focusing on shows that debuted in 2020.
In no particular order, here are my picks for best new TV show of 2020:
An international phenomenon and the only thing a lot of us talked about during the earlier outbreak of COVID-19. Joe Exotic, the Tiger King won us all over with his crazy story and footage at his entertainment park. If you haven’t seen this by now, stop what you’re doing and give it a watch. You’ll thank me later. Hopefully someday we’ll get more from this crew, but for the rest of history, Joe Exotic will be what helped us get through our first ever pandemic shut down.
A comedy about an English soccer team coached by an American doesn’t really sound like something most people would be interested in. Before I started watching Ted Lasso it was not something I would have watched based on the synopsis, or cover if you will. After the first episode I was hooked. It’s a kind hearted, well written story about overcoming the various hurdles in your life for a bigger purpose. When you watch Ted Lasso you’ll find yourself laughing, crying, and on the edge of your seat, all in the same episode. Don’t worry about the premise, give it a shot and if you’re like me, you’ll be counting down the hours until you can watch more of Ted.
A series about a chess prodigy… is this going to be another Ted Lasso where we don’t want to judge a book by its cover? Well, in short, yes. The Queen’s Gambit follows a young girl through the child welfare system where she discovers her natural ability to play chess. I can’t explain really what draws me to this show, but I think it’s primarily the story telling and the acting. The lead actress shines through her ups and downs as we see what it’s like to be a chess cehampion in the mid-20th century. The Queen’s gambit is another show that you should ignore what you think it might be about and just watch it. Again, trust me.
Thinking about getting a Sony PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series S|X this holiday season, or any point in the future? If so, the odds are your current TV won’t be good enough to get everything out of these next-gen1 consoles. Here’s why…
What’s Special About the Next-Gen Consoles
The next generation of console gaming is here and with it brings a variety of new technology that will make gaming exponentially better than previous generations. For starters, both new consoles come with solid state storage (finally!) that will make loading times 100 times faster than older systems. Another significant change is how similar the two major systems (PS5 & Xbox) compare in performance. In years past we could see an easy winner of performance on paper, but this generation, it’s much closer. The PS5 and Xbox Series X both make claims of achieving 120 frames per second2 at 4K resolution3 , which was previously only possible on very high-end computer rigs.
So Why Do I Need a New TV?
Let’s say for a moment you got a nice shiny new 4K TV a year or two ago and think that your new gaming system will look great on it. Yes it will display at 4K, but you won’t get the new features that allow 120fps gaming or advanced HDR4 for gaming. Keep in mind, if you’re TV isn’t updated, you’re better off waiting to get a new PlayStation or Xbox until you get a new TV or there is a specific game you want to play on the next-gen consoles. If you currently have a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One or One S, you’re not even currently getting above 1080P5 gaming. You need a PS4 Pro or Xbox One X6 to get the higher resolutions. If you’re fine with not getting the most out of your new system and just want the next-gen consoles, then you’re good to go and don’t need to keep reading.
What Do I Look for in a New TV?
There are three major keys to look for in a new TV for your next-gen console. I would make sure the TV you’re selecting has all of these features to make your experience the best it can be.
HDMI version 2.1 This is the latest spec of HDMI that allows 3x more data to go through the cable. Both systems have HDMI 2.1 ports, so your TV needs to as well.
120hz refresh rate This is how fast a TV refreshes the picture. Most TVs operate at 60hz. The 120hz refresh rate is needed to hit that 120fps mark.
HDR10+ or Dolby Vision support These are competing HDR standards. This will allow you to get the most 4K/HDR content out of your new TV. I personally prefer Dolby Vision, but if you buy a Samsung, it will have HDR10+.
Bonus features to look for: VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), G-SYNC, FreeSync, HGiG, and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode)
Just Tell Me What TV to Buy
If you don’t want to look for a TV that has everything you could need to enjoy next-gen gaming, I have some recommendations for you.
Top Pick: LG CX OLED 55”, 65” or 77”
Has all the bells and whistles plus it’s OLED so it looks incredible
Supports Dolby Vision
Samsung Q80T LCD 55”, 65” or 75”
Great alternative to the high-priced OLED, also has everything you need
Budget Pick: Vizio P Series Quantum X LCD 65”, 75”, or 85”
Personally I chose the LG CX OLED 65” for my home theater and gaming TV. The TV was discounted heavily for the holidays and met all my requirements. Now all I have to do is wait for my Xbox Series X to show up.