Being a Slave to the Programming Schedule

I wish there was something like this on TV
when I was younger
Wifey invited her friend over a while back. Her friend was eagerly planning a trip to go abroad to visit her parents and relatives.

She was planning this trip now because her two kids were not old enough to start school.

Wifey's friend came over and brought her two kids as well. While wifey and her friend were catching up, I was tasked with keeping the kids company.

While wifey and I don't have kids, we still have some toys from my youth that I've kept. I brought out my Lego and the boy and I built cubes and cars. Being too young for Lego, the girl was playing with an assortment of stuffed animals from wifey's collection.

After a while, they both got bored and started playing jump on the back of Loonie IT Guy!

Soon after that, they played a thought provoking game of peek-a-boo and hide and seek. There was a lot of running involved. And jumping. And falling. And climbing.

Eventually, wifey and her friend joined us in the family room and continued the conversation on the couch.

Seeing his mom, the young boy asked his mom if he could watch Octonauts on TV. Wifey's friend asked wifey if we could turn on the TV. Seeing how we cut the cable last year, wifey informed her friend that we didn't have cable. Seemingly confused at the fact there was a 46" TV in front of her, wifey and her friend continued the conversation in their native tongue. After a while of back and forth, I mentioned that if there were episodes on YouTube, we could use Google Chromecast to show an episode on the TV.

Not knowing what I meant, I explained the basics of the device:

  • It connects to a TV
  • It turns your TV into a smart TV
  • You can stream video from YouTube or Google Chrome and watch on the TV.
  • You can control the Chromecast from your computer or smart phone.

After I explained it, I grabbed the Chromecast connected to the TV in the kitchen and plugged it into the TV in the family room. After I turned on the TV, I went into the other room and searched for Octonauts in YouTube and picked an episode. When the episode started to play, I "casted" the video to the Chromecast with the Google Chrome Chromecast Extension.

Immediately, the boy sat down and started to watch his favourite show. Watching him at this point, you would have no idea he was running around and jumping on the back of yours truly moments before.

Suffice it to say, it was like a light bulb clicked on inside wifey's friend's head.

How much does a Chromecast cost? 

It's got to be $100, right?

How do you connect the device to the Internet?

After informing wifey's friend that the device was only $45 with taxes included, she wondered why they still needed to pay $125 a month(!) for cable. Seems she and her husband don't watch cable. Raising two young kids, they don't have the time to watch. Instead, they have cable so their little ones can watch. Even then, they would be forced to follow the archaic television programming schedule.

As the show Octonauts isn't on 24/7, just because the boy wanted to watch Octonauts, it wasn't always possible depending on the time.

YouTube solves this issue. NetFlix is also capable of streaming episodes onto the Chromecast. It is my understanding that there are a lot of children's programming available there.

Knowing that my expertise is IT, wifey's friend wondered if it really was as easy as it seemed to send a video to Chromecast.

To allay her concerns, I connected her iPhone to our WiFi network and asked her to try it herself. She opened her YouTube app, searched for a video, and with a tap, starting streaming the new video on the TV... much to the consternation of her son. Immediately, I resumed the previous video.

Now wifey's friend was convinced.

Where can I get this device?

I told her she could get one online. 

Of course, seeing the magic of the device first hand, she didn't want to wait. She wanted to get one on her way home.


After a quick search on the Best Buy website, we located the closest store to her home and determined that they had stock.

This whole experience brought back some memories for me. When I was younger, I'd watch cartoons on Saturday. If you missed an episode of your favourite show because mom and dad dragged you outside to do grocery shopping, that was it. There was no way of seeing that episode unless you were lucky enough to come across a rerun during the summer months or if you had the foresight to set the VCR to record the episode*.

Of course, wifey and I don't watch TV on a schedule. That's what YouTube and online video players are for. Since we don't have cable, we watched the entire series of Schitt's Creek on the CBC website. We could have used the HD antenna, but I wanted the CBC to be able to count our viewing in whatever statistics they need in order to sell more advertising. Someone has to pay for this programming, it might as well be the advertisers.

Wifey has become hooked on Coronation Street. If she misses an episode, she plays it from the CBC website. She also catches up with a myriad of shows this way. MasterChef Canada, Rick Mercer Report, 22 Minutes, etc.

I don't know what happened with this situation. Did wifey's friend pick up a Chromecast after he left our house? Did she and her husband cancel the cable? I don't have the answers to this. Wifey keeps forgetting to ask.

Of course, this doesn't solve the problem of the girl not being interested in watching what her brother was watching.

Not knowing her preferences and given her inability to speak, I jumped to the Treehouse website and browsed until she pointed at something. I played that episode of whatever on my computer and she sat down and watched quietly.

*Even then, it was not guaranteed. If you selected AM instead of PM, forget it. If there was a momentary blackout, then your VCR settings would be reset. This happened more often than not when I was younger.


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