Christmas Toys

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My neighbor and I are breaking in a new paper-person. (We used to have a paper boy but now it’s a paper lady.) Delivery has been spotty for a while so the guy across the street has been talking again about giving up on the daily. I’ve told him there are still good reasons for keeping it around on a regular basis. One reason to continue to get the N&O is Paul Gilster’s quite remarkable technical column, wherein he explains sometimes complex new gadgets in ways even music critics can understand. In his most recent article, he describes seven new tools (as he calls them), one of which may well revolutionize how we use our TV sets. It’s this section:

“Forget the set-top box. Google Chromecast is a $35 stick that plugs into an HDMI port on your TV, allowing you to view the likes of YouTube, Netflix, Pandora and other streaming services using an external device like an Android or iOS tablet to control the results. Setup is swift using a laptop or smartphone. If you’d like to watch video you formerly watched on your laptop on the big screen, Chromecast is a fast way to do it until the day, coming very soon [emphasis added], when all these dongles and add-ons are simply incorporated by TV manufacturers into their new sets’ design.”

A few TVs are already there. And some newer BluRay and even recent-vintage DVD players include comparable capabilities.

In this journal, we’ve linked to audio and video clips from YouTube from time to time. Many of us have been frustrated with the results, as seen on PC screens or laptops or hand-held devices. It’s really wonderful to be able to explore the basically-unlimited world of options within YouTube on a bigger screen and in tolerable sound. For example, fans of international folk dancing may enjoy a full program (82 minutes) by the famous Moiseyev Russian Folk Ballet from 1992 by clicking here. There’s a collection of clips (58 minutes) of the great Greek singer Nana Mouskouri, from her BBC-TV appearances, here. Want to see conductor Guido Cantelli in action, in a rehearsal? There’s a short snippet here (just a little over a minute but well worth watching). And on and on.

For $35, the Google device would make a great stocking-stuffer. But there’s no reason why new TV sets can’t contain full browsers, allowing us to look up anything we want on the web. That might at some point allow TV-screen access to sites like CVNC. Wouldn’t that be cool?

And when that time comes, maybe we really can free ourselves from cable – and perhaps the daily, too!

Happy holidays!

Christmas Toys
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