Monday, November 20, 2017

YouTube TV: latest example of why streaming video is NOT TV, especially for sports.

Cutting the cord is a silly phrase since a connection to the Internet is needed and 99% of us get that through a "cord". YouTube TV is a new streaming service that includes several important sports channels, which tend to be all but ignored by other streaming services. However, as a practical matter YouTube TV doesn't function much differently and it certainly is not something that can replace "cable", the other silly word in articles about cutting the cord. "Cable" is still used as a clumsy way of referring to video service, i.e., television (TV). The service provider may be a cable company but it could also be a phone company or a satellite company.

I started the YouTube TV free seven day trial a couple of days ago. I cancelled this morning, although it remains active for all seven days. But my credit card will not be charged after seven days and I can reactivate before then.

From a messages exchanged yesterday with YouTube TV support (yt-purchase-support@google.com):

Even this service confirms that streaming is not TV. Basic TV functions are missing.

Switching quickly among live "channels".

Fast forward during playback: scanning. Example: skip halftime.

Where the heck is the casting icon?

Cannot even mute. Streaming starts (on tablet), I'm trying to find casting (icon) and the audio is blasting.

Apparently, if I try to go to sports channels to watch live, all I can find are non live chunks on regular YouTube, not YouTube TV.

YouTube TV basically has the same practical limits as the other streaming services: it's geared towards watching movies, not sports. Start something and only pause occasionally.

TV may suck but we're accustomed to practical functions that designers of streaming services seem to never have experienced. Don't any of them watch sports?
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The casting icon is NOT always at the top of the screen. I checked in regular YouTube and it's there.
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(casting to) Google ChromeCast. I got the (live) Nets game to cast. Then started a replay. FF takes it to the end. The only other option is to skip 15 seconds. Unbelievable. I'll write a critique and send you the link. Probably tomorrow.

Oh, then I removed the Nets from the library and tried to start a library show. First I had to stop the casting of the Nets game. I did. Then I had to cast again for the show; it required me to enter a PIN from the tv screen. I did. Then it searched for a nearby casting device, not using the name it just knew for the Nets game. It searched but didn't find. This has happened multiple times.
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From YouTube TV support:

The fast forward issue is a very popular request to be changed, the arrow pointing forward does go to the end of the video. But by tapping multiple times you can skip multiple times which is a work around to that. I will also forward that to the product team as feedback for you. I also would like to be able to manage how far I can skip in a video.
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Say what? Whoever implemented fast forward (FF) had apparently only heard about it but had not used nor spoken to any mammal who had used it. Nor had this person ever used or even heard of a VCR (video cassette recorder), which had FF in the 1970s.

And why can't FF do more than speed up with visual frames flying across the screen at multiples of normal speed: 2, 4, 8? Why can't we also be able to tell it to go forward a certain amount of time, such as 30 minutes, 45 minutes, whatever? You'd think that if any company would distinguish its streaming service with that type of common sense extra it would be Google. But Google is no better and may be worse than the unimaginative streaming companies already out there. Forget about presenting a visual smorgasbord of content, which only slows things down, and have a simple "channel" guide, maybe even with "channel" numbers so that we can quickly find or go to NBC, channel 4 in New York?

Create a physical remote control with raised keys that do not require us to stare at the screen of a tablet or phone to change channels, especially switch to "Last", or perform FF, etc. Hey, it could run Android!

For perspective:

Cablevision (Optimum) DVR fast forward is crude, lacking what Verizon provides: skip forward 30 seconds. THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2016

So as bad as traditional providers get, things could be worse.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Avalon rents can vary by more than 20 percent in the same apartment line in the same building.

Avalon is a company that rents pretty high end apartments in many locations. Its buildings are generally well constructed. The service is good and there are amenities. However, Avalon adhere's to what appears to be an industry trend that discourages tenants from living there long term.

1. Leases are almost never more than 12 months, with rents optimal at ten months.
2. Renewals always increase the rent, never decrease.
3. Avalon runs an algorithm that changes the rents for available apartments each day. That data is available on the Avalon website.

https://www.avaloncommunities.com/new-york/white-plains-apartments/avalon-white-plains/floor-plans

That link provides the daily rent in the Avalon apartment building in White Plains, NY. Remember, these are rents that Avalon will charge new tenants. Once the lease is signed, the tenant pays the rent each month. Policy is set at the corporate level and local offices merely carry it out with very little or no discretion.

Here is an example of how this policy can abuse existing tenants.

Lease signed in late April 2017 for a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment with a terrace. It's a corner unit with lots of glass in the living room. The base rent was $4,021. With modest outdoor parking at $125 plus extra mandatory junk, the monthly total is about $4,350. However, this example will compare only base rents as those are the ones listed on the Avalon website to make the rents appear lower to prospective tenants.

By October 2017 the exact same apartment only two floors lower was listed for rent at $600 less. By November 10 that difference ballooned to $726, so the existing tenant was paying 22% more. The tenant paying over $4,000 could move to the less expensive apartment but would have to pay off two months rent on the current lease. In other words, pay Avalon $8,000 in order to save $600-$700 per month depending on when it happened. Plus, endure the move and all the pain in the neck junk of changing the one's address.

That abused tenant was informed that when the ten month lease expires in late February 2018, the rent would not go down no matter what the algorithm would charge a new tenant for the same apartment.

Avalon rules are designed to inflict enough punishment to force the tenant to either move out or pay the inequitable rent. Here's the convoluted recourse:

When the tenant receives the 60 day renewal notice, reject it. Then Avalon can rent that apartment, sight unseen, to a new tenant at the going algorithm rate, currently more than $700 less. The existing tenant is then in jeopardy for the 30 days that the apartment could be rented to an outsider starting at the end of the $4,000 lease.

If the apartment is not rented to another person during that 30 day jeopardy period, the current tenant can then rent as if an outsider at the algorithm rent at that time but only if he/she VACATES for eight days and puts contents into storage! By then the algorithm rent may have increased, so it's a game of chicken. The tenant may win this time but face a comparable situation when the new lease is expiring. In the long run, the house always wins.

What the heck kind of business model is that? Why should a good tenant be put through that anxiety? Why such inequity?

Through Nov. 12, 2017 for seven two bed, two bath apartments. The daily fluctuation was comparable for all.