Saturday, January 2, 2016

A not so smart TV and (of course) more Priyo

Christmas came and went and, because I sent cards this year, and sent them a couple of weeks early, I got more cards than usual.  I also got something I really wanted and most definitely didn’t need, but it was a perfect gift choice because it came from me.  I have had a TV-viewing set up for several years which consisted of my TV hooked up to an Apple Mini computer through which I did all my viewing by streaming the shows I liked via file-sharing sites.  This enabled me to get rid of cable (I will NOT pay to watch ten or more minutes of ads every half hour!)  It also allowed me to watch series from other English-speaking countries - Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia and Britain all have some great shows.  But it was a clumsy set up - lots of wires because I also needed to attach a wi-fi receiver to catch the signal from my router upstairs and I needed a wireless keyboard and mouse.  I asked around about “smart” TVs and was informed that I could browse the web using only the TV itself - the internet access was built in.  I looked at Consumer Reports and their “best buy” was a Samsung, which was about a thousand dollars less than all the other brands rated as highly.  I went to the store and for the first time ever in my history with this store I got some incorrect info from a clerk who was, I assume, a temporary Christmas hire.   Consumer Reports was pretty happy with all the rated aspects of this TV - picture quality and every measure thereof. 

So I happily made my purchase.  The delivery/set up men were great.  The picture was everything CR had promised.  I got even more local antenna channels than I had with the old set (I DO watch a half hour of news each night, gritting my teeth through the ads).  So there I sat in bliss watching a much larger, much better picture - so clear and bright that I almost didn’t notice that most of what I was watching was ads.  I gave my old set-up - TV, wifi receiver, Apple Mini and the lot - to my favorite nephew Sebastian, who was delighted to receive them.  Sebastian is acquiring the necessities for setting up house; he is looking to buy his first house and get out of the family domicile where his mother and older brother are driving him slowly nuts.  After a day or so, during which Sebastian took off for Pennsylvania to spend a late Christmas with his sister and father and their entourages, I began to seriously learn the pleasures of surfing the net with my new smart web browser. 

I found the navigation quite difficult because, of course, searches required using a pop-up keyboard displayed on the screen and scrolling was only possible by repeated use of the up/down/left/right arrow and select buttons on the remote.  This wasn’t wholly surprising, although I did seem to have more difficulty than could be explained solely by the clumsy remote requirements.  Often searches didn’t seem to take, and often I couldn’t get to the content I wanted because ad screens kept popping up.  I figured a keyboard would solve most of the problems - with the faster, easier data entry and a built in trackpad for scrolling, I would find it far easier to solve any other problems and learn the vagaries of this set.  I got a Samsung keyboard specifically designed for smart TV web browsing.

I soon discovered that my initial impression that I couldn’t get anything done was the correct one.  Having the faster text entry via keyboard just meant failing to achieve my object more quickly and more frequently within a given period of time.  The set has a built in web browser based on the ubuntu type language (I know; I never heard of it either!) which is absolutely worthless.  It will not permit adding ad blocking apps.  It will also not permit downloading a better browser (e.g. Chrome, Firefox) which do allow ad blocking and blacklisting of risky sites.  Sebastian offered to return my Mini (an offer which I shame-facedly accepted) but he is still disporting himself in the fleshpots of southern Pennsylvania for another day or two.  Several links are built into the Samsung browser (when I went on a website that evaluates and tells you which browser you are currently using, it told me I was using “Samsung Browser 1”, which I will abbreviate as SB1).  These links are for popular sites - mostly pay sites like VUDU, HBO, Netflix - but one link is for Youtube.  I decided, pending Sebastian’s gracious return of my computer, to content myself with watching some Youtube fare.  But I discovered that the way the browser from Hell displayed these sites was different from all others, which I have previously found always to be identically displayed on every browser I have used before now - Microsoft’s IE, Apple’s Safari, Chrome, Firefox.   SB1’s format showed less variety of suggestions in the first screen as well as fewer links, and it was next to impossible to get beyond those few choices.  Screens - both the selction screens and those within the Youtube videos themselves, seemed to be larger than the display area - so that there were overflow bits (tops of heads and so forth) not visible.  The picture sizing keys, netted me a pop up that said ‘not available’.  Pressing the select key often started a video entirely different from that which I thought I had chosen.  My home page, which is Yahoo, also was displayed differently and in a way that required scrolling to see headlines of articles - I could only see one at a time.

When I first enter the browser it shows an initial screen of ‘Featured’ links (read “paid for”).  One of these is Google.  When I click on the Google link, the words ‘’ appear in the URL bar; there is a long wait and then a screen displays that says this website is not available.  When I clear this and actually type in ‘”, and enter it, it reverts to ‘’ and I get the same result; not always but for about three out of four tries. 

As a side observation there were two problems with the keyboard setup in itself.  First, the keyboard was defective and transposed the values for double quote and ‘@‘.  Imagine having to remember to press shift-quote when you wanted to enter a URL name with the ever-needed ‘@‘.  Secondly (and I later saw this mentioned in a how-to video for setting up a keyboard with the Samsung), the bluetooth receptor is behind the screen which causes enough interference so that in using the trackpad, the scrolling function is jittery and often stops for a bit before you reach the position to which you are scrolling. 

Internet rumors also have it that Samsung not only does not allow ad blocking, but in fact has itself embedded ads in its browser.  I tend to believe it - I cannot get anything done because of the many ad screens that show up when I press ‘play’ on the video I want, on those rare occasions when I can get to said video in the first place. 

I do not know if Samsung is unique in the utter uselessness of its web browser; I suspect not.  I do think Consumer Reports needs to include evaluation on the ’smart’ aspect as well as the ‘TV’ aspect of its evaluation of this type of TV.  I have ended up with a setup that I could have gotten for several hundred dollars less - a big dumb TV being used as a video monitor for my trusty old Apple Mini.  If anyone out there is considering a smart TV, I urge him or her to find one already set up where he can evaluate its usability for any internet related activity by actually trying the functions he plans to use.  There is NOTHING that is reliably doable on the one I have. 

On to happier notes: Priyo’s term at the police academy lasted eleven months; he graduated second in his class, which pissed him off mightily; at half term he had been number one (and, had he remained at that rank, he would have had his picture in the local paper as well as receiving a big trophy for which he had lusted all term).  He is now the equivalent of a state trooper or highway patrolman, rather than a city cop.  In fact he has been to several accidents already, as well as a post mortem.  He has been offered - and refused - his first bribe by a cyclist driving without a license.  He was also involved in a 3 a.m. raid to pick up a wanted man.  I asked him if he scared the family and he told me, “No; they scared us!” 

So many men had been accepted into the academy that they had to divide the class and send the second half for training in Assam.  This latter group will not finish until early February.  Thus, until the twelfth of February, Priyo will be assigned to his local district, south of Imphal, rather than his expected assignment in Senapati north of Imphal, so that he is working, but not accumulating seniority at his official posting.  They won’t start Priyo’s lot earlier than the Assam lot in order to avoid whining down the road about unfair seniority if a promotion is given to one of the earlier finishers.  He has also discovered that until July he will be stationed in Imphal (with a month in nearby Thoubal) for on-the-job training in various types of tasks before being located in his officially assigned district of Senapati.  He is currently using his rare days off to find a nice place in Imphal for us to stay.  He has one possibility in view, though the landlords are strict Hindus and we will not be able to eat beef or pork there.  I asked how they would know, and he said, “By the smell.”  Christians and Muslims are not the only sects to meddle in their neighbors’ business or to be more acutely conscious of others’ diversity than they are of their own virtue (which is generally taken for granted!). 

As hoped now, I will head for Imphal around Feb 15, give or take.  First I want to be sure there is an apartment WITH WINDOWS.  Priyo and I are as one on the topic of what a cesspit our last place was.  As soon as he gives me the go-ahead date I will look for the earliest flight that is affordable.  I will probably plan to stay until the end of June if it continues to appear that Priyo will be training in Imphal until July.  It kills me to miss spring here in Reedville, both because it is the garden planting season and because it is so lovely and serene to be here during that time of early blooming, lilacs, and the greening of everything.  Imphal is anything but serene!  But it is clear to me that the length of time that Priyo and I have been apart is detrimental to our happiness.  It is not that we are less committed or care less or anything like that; it is that with him being at the academy and now on a new career, and me being in a land he has never seen, our daily conversations are limited to events past or to describing people and places that one or the other of us have never known, or to news topics when most news is on subjects of which the other has no knowledge.   We both know that there are going to be at least 6 month stretches apart in future, but a year is just too long. 

One of the great problems with dating when one is older is that it is easy to get into the mindset that one has achieved a fairly satisfactory life and that the other person must fit into an established schedule and set of relationships and interests.  Nobody is out there looking to change everything - most are not open to changing anything.  But the fact is that when you are really in love, all those ‘musts’ seem like nothing; the problem is that you fall in love after you meet someone which can be precluded by screening out 'imperfect' choices at the get-go.  Priyo makes me very happy and that is not worth cutting short for a pretty spring or pretty garden alone here in NY.  I hasten to say he could be labelled an imperfect choice only by the fact of our distance from each other. 

So we shall see what is next!


  1. I am laughing so hard about the Samsung. I know I shouldn't but I can't help it because I follow and genuflect Consumers' Reports as well. They've always been more or less my Bible but oh yes, I've had that WTH thing happen, too. Might be worth your while to bite the bullet and have one of the Geek Squad come out to your house and either set it up differently for you OR show you the hidden goodies it can do. Then again, I could mail you a gun and you could shoot the screen.
    As for Priyo, congratulations to him! 2nd in the class is nothing to sneeze at but yeah, if he was 1st through the halfway mark, I can see how he'd be pounding the table. But...he did a GREAT job! I don't even know him and I'm proud of him!
    So you're heading over there in February --- I know you're over the moon with excitement, David. What great news. The heck with blooms this year, you've got your own bloom coming! And with 4 months of blooming, I'd say you'll be happily exhausted. Really, I'm so happy for you and Priyo to finally have the time to spend together.
    My friend, Louis, that I talked to you about, was wonderful at lunch. I got to the museum café early just in case. I chose a table right at the food section because I knew he'd be in a wheelchair and that would be the best idea. I kept a dead-bead on the double glass doors and the café was filled now to the limit. All of a sudden I saw a wheelchair about 29 ft from that doorway, and I jumped up like a crazy woman, waving my arms and yelling, "LOU, LOU! I'm coming!!" and ran to the doors, threw them open and almost jumped that last 20 ft and came within a hair of landing in his lap. It was great!! I've never been so happy to see someone in my life. I met his caretaker and fell in love with him, too, and since then have taken my homemade Butternut Squash soup to him and spent long times on the phone. It is heaven, pure heaven to have my friend back. He will never be out of that chair and he will never speak at a rapid pace again, and probably not be able to paint, either, but I'm just so glad to have him back.
    David, are you taking your laptop or Ipad or whatever with you? Will you be able to post at all? Or is this going to be a longgggg wait until you get back? Sure am glad to see you post now, though. It's always a breath of fresh air and I love it. Don't stop, ok? Sending hugs :D

  2. Wow, Ms Jenny - I am glad your friend is available to you again. It is essential to have a confidante for a full life. I am happy also for his sake. I was sure your tale was going to end with you flinging yourself into the chair-bound lap of a total stranger - glad you (and the stranger) were spared that! Of course I take my laptop to India. If you have confirmed my friend request on Facebook (as you asked!) then you can already read through all the highs and lows of my 2014 visit. (I am on FB under my real name, but I believe I sent you a message saying that it was DavidShag.) And Priyo has booked an apartment now and I woke this morning to find that he has said, "Book the ticket!". I tend to do my India postings on Facebook, but I am trying to get my butt moving to do more Blog stuff, so we'll see.

  3. O M G.....I didn't know it was YOU. No message showed to me. REsend the request and you know darn well I'll accept. I hope you see this before you leave. I'll ck FB each day now. I'm not on all the time but this is just so worth it. I get all these requests from people I've never heard of and if they don't write a note explaining, then I just delete the request and go on my way. I don't even ck their page. Let's try it again, ok?

  4. PS...there is one of those hacked accts showing my name but it also shows very, very few friends. Look for the one that has 198. That will be the real one.

    1. @JennyD I have sent 3 messages on the correct account, but they seem to be queued up waiting until you approve me. I can't find any way to directly send a 'friend' request. You could, perhaps, email me at

  5. Ahhhh, I JUST came back here, saw what you wrote, still nothing on FB, BUT I've now sent you an e with the info. Let's try it this way :D I'm wondering when you say you couldn't find a way to 'directly' send me a friend request, if maybe you didn't click "send friend request" and then separately send the message from the same page. Let's see what happens. We'll get there :) XXXX

  6. Oh shoot! I forgot to say Happy Valentine's Day and it's now the 15th by an hour! Happy Valentine's Day to you and Priyo from me!