ADTH Tuner Firmware Update Still Does Not Encrypt the HDMI Port

Last week I reviewed the new ADTH ATSC 3 TV tuner, the first external device that can decrypt DRM protected TV stations.

I discovered in the review that the ADTH is not protecting the HDMI output which is required according to the ATSC 3.0 DRM specifications. Some asked if recent firmware updates corrected this oversight.

After updating my box this morning my Windows laptop equipped with an Elgato Camlink USB HDMI capture device is still able to record encrypted stations:

Tesla’s New Model 3 Has a ’93 Ford Probe Interior Vibe

When I was a kid I had a 1993 Ford Probe. I loved that car – it was affordable, durable, and looked great both inside and out. The 1993 Probe was a significant update from the version of the car Ford sold from 1988 through 1992.

One of the signatures of the ’93 Probe was its wrap-around interior, with a cool red line that circled interior of the car. Check it out:

Earlier today Tesla announced their updated Model 3 that features an interior refresh that looks a bit familiar!

The Tesla being 30 years into the future uses an LED accent light for its wrap-around trim vs. the Probe’s static piece of plastic. But having spent six years in that Probe throughout high school and college it was hard not to immediately see the resemblance!

TechHive Picks Up our ATSC 3.0 Encryption Story

As many of you know Tyler the Antennaman and I have been on a mission to inform the public about the rapid encryption of what used to be free over the air television. To date we’ve had 7,600 people sign our petition to the FCC and added 2,000 new comments to the FCC’s docket about the issue.

TechHive this week covered the issue with an extensive piece that uncovers just how restrictive the DRM will be:

  • For DVR, broadcasters can set expiration dates on recordings or even block them outright. It’s unclear if broadcasters will do this, but ATSC 3.0 gives them the capability.
  • ATSC 3.0’s DRM has latency restrictions that effectively block out-of-home viewing from networked tuners such as the HDHomeRun Flex 4K.
  • Users will need an internet connection to stream local broadcasts around the home, for instance from an HDHomeRun tuner to a Roku player, and an occasional internet connection might be required for external tuner boxes.
  • Recordings won’t work without the original tuner that captured the programming, effectively preventing users from transferring programs they’ve recorded on a DVR to other devices, such as a laptop or tablet for away-from-home viewing.
  • With an HDHomeRun tuner, third-party apps must get independently certified to play encrypted ATSC 3.0 content. It’s unclear if programs such as Channels and Plex will do so.

It’s clear to see that broadcasters are eager to only provide the bare minimum live viewing experience to antenna viewers who don’t want to pay their exorbitant broadcast fees.

Let’s not forget that these stations don’t own the public airwaves that they want to turn into a toll road. We the taxpayers do. How does this serve the public benefit?

Read more in the TechHive article.

I Upgraded the Storage on my Production PC with a Great Crucial NVME Prime Day Deal

Ever since I switched my production workflow to 4k I’ve been meaning to upgrade the internal storage drive on my Vmix computer to a higher capacity drive. It’s not unusual for a single recording session to rack up 200GB or more of raw footage.

I’ve been using a 1 TB Samsung SSD for the job and it has performed admirably since I built my system three years ago. But during Amazon Prime Day I got a great deal on a 4 TB Crucial NVME drive. It’s still pretty reasonably priced now too.

Crucial has carved out a nice segment of the SSD market for people looking for high capacity storage that don’t necessarily need the fastest performance. This drive is very much in that market segment, delivering reads and writes at “only” about 2.6 gigabytes per second.

Newer drives running on the Gen 4 and 5 standards are almost exponentially faster, but this much capacity in drives that fast are prohibitively expensive for this YouTuber who works out of his basement. And as you can see here this low spec device can easily handle the 4k 30 video I record and beyond too.

Crucial also makes portable SSDs in this lower cost market segment. For example their X6 drive is priced very close to similar capacity spinning hard drives and delivers many of the speed advantages of an SSD. Are they as fast as some of the gaming and professionally oriented drives out there? No, but for many consumers they are more than adequate for the task.

Crucial is a sub-brand of Micron Technology, a well established chip maker that was founded in 1978. Micron manufactures the flash memory in their drives which helps keep costs in check. They used to make some pretty nice and affordable PCs in the 90’s too. In fact my very first PC laptop was a Micron XKE-233 that I reviewed a little while back on the channel.

I’ll be shooting some video on this new drive tomorrow so we’ll see how it holds up in the production environment. Stay tuned!

Happy Prime Day! Livestream Schedule

It’s Black Friday in July as the Amazon two-day sale event has kicked off. I will be livestreaming on Amazon today at 10:00 a.m. eastern for a great deal on a Ryzen 7735HS 32GB RAM Mini Gaming PC followed by an unboxing of some neat Plugable Accessories at 2:00 p.m. eastern complete with a live interview of their CEO, and we’ll wrap things up with a 7:00 p.m. stream detailing Amazon devices – including a live demo of their new 11″ Max Tablet. 

You can follow me on Amazon by clicking any of the above links or visiting my Amazon page here. I’ll also be simulcasting on the YouTube channel. 

The makers of the mini gaming PC passed along an additional 5% discount code which brings its price well below $500. If you can’t wait for the stream the code is LONTVLLC.  You can find the PC by going to the livestream page

Back to the Echo Chamber: All That’s Wrong with Threads Right Now

User counts don’t matter much when comparing Threads to Twitter. Quality is what matters and I’m not seeing much of it on Threads at the moment.

Instagram has over 2 billion active users a month so it’s no wonder why Threads has as many users as it does already. Twitter is considerably smaller at only 237 million. It’s surprising Threads’ number isn’t larger given how little friction there is for existing Instagram users to set up an account.

The iPhone is a good comparative here: Apple has only 20% of the smartphone market yet makes sizable profits and drives much of the industry’s innovation. You don’t need to the biggest to be the best.

So why is Meta doing this? It’s the quality and level of influence that Twitter’s much smaller user base has, with a bulk of those users driving what the media talks about. Will these Twitter users jump ship? Likely not unless Meta builds something that’s better than Twitter to attract those users.

It appears as though Meta is putting its algorithmic fingers on the scale already in an effort to lock these influencers in, picking and choosing the winners here by promoting content from “verified” celebrity and media accounts over the rest of us. Every time I open the app that’s all I see on my front page, mostly from accounts I’m not following. This is no doubt a means of trying to demonstrate to celebrity users that they’ll have similar reach on Threads that they currently enjoy on Twitter. But it’s artifical.

These same celebrity users were complaining when Twitter’s new CEO Elon Musk put a stop to a similar strategy that stifled independent voices. The existing “blue checks” all threatened to leave but few did and Twitter’s traffic and engagement actually increased.

Meta’s verification process is as arbitrary as Twitter 1.0’s process where most smaller independent creators are left out of algorithmic recommendations. It’s also not clear if paying for Meta’s verification program gets you better placement in the algorithm. Either way it appears as though Meta’s strategy here is to build back the echo chamber lost when Twitter changed hands.

Will it be enough to kill Twitter? Probably not but they’ll likely build a decent ecosystem of Instagram users who want to share external links – something Instagram currently restricts.

My Local Media Appearances Talking About Threads

Meta/Facebook/Instagram’s new social media app Threads dropped the other day and has already attracted tens of millions of users. This is partly because the sign up process for existing Instagram users requires just a single click to get going.

Yesterday I appeared on WTIC-AM radio and WTIC/Fox 61 here in Connecticut to talk about the app and whether or not Twitter has anything to worry about.

Here’s the Fox 61 appearance:

And my radio interview with Brian Shactman on WTIC is here:

No Man’s Sky Players: Come to the “Lon System” and Set Up a Base on Lonville!

I’ve been busy settling a “paradise planet” in No Man’s sky over the last couple of months. What’s great about No Man’s Sky is how it runs on just about everything I have at my disposal including my Steam Deck, GeForceNow and even my Macs with a native Apple Silicon Port !

Because I’m running the game via Steam through each of these platforms I’m able to sync my save game file between them. So if I do a little bit on my Steam Deck things are right where I left them when I jump on my PC in VR.

My home system, “The Lon System,” is feeling a bit lonely so I’d like to invite you all to come and visit and maybe plant your flag down on the planet “Lonville” – a stable paradise planet. Here are the coordinates that’ll take you to my system’s portal:

From there you can take a short flight to Lonville to bask in my stable temperatures and a lack of nasty Sentinels! My base on the planet has both a living space on a hillside and an underwater habitat!

One of the many cool things about this “open universe” game is how seamlessly it integrates the multiplayer experience. If you happen to be in the same place as another player you’ll encounter them! And one of the fun things to experience in the game is visiting a populated star system.

Come on down and be my galactic neighbor!

Another Broadcaster in Boston Locks Down ATSC 3.0 Broadcasts with DRM

Another broadcaster in Boston has locked down their ATSC 3.0 broadcasts. CBS affiliate WBZ has joined the ABC and NBC affiliates in denying the public the ability to watch TV the way they want.

Here’s the latest from Boston is almost all red now when it comes to access to free over the air TV:

To learn more about this topic be sure to catch this video where I deep dive into the reasoning behind broadcasters locking down their broadcasts. Spoiler alert, it’s all about retaining their lucrative retransmission fees.

10 Gigs of Capacity Does Not Equate to 10 Gig Downloads

Here’s an example of why getting the fastest Internet connection you can these days doesn’t always equate to a real-world experience.

This is the fastest Steam download I can muster on my 10 gigabit connection – which translates to just a little more than a gigabit downstream. Super fast, yes, but the reality is that you’ll never find a server that will give you all of your available bandwidth due to peering and capacity restrictions.

But with 10 gigs of bandwidth you can have multiple connections going on at once without any of them being impacted by the other.

You can learn more about my connection here.

Return of the Jedi Released 40 Years Ago Today

40 years ago today my Mom picked me up early from school (I was in first grade) and we went down to our local duplex theater to catch Return of the Jedi.

I was so excited, especially as the news that morning was showing previews. I remember seeing the speeder bike scene on Good Morning America or the Today show. I consumed every bit of info I could about the movie before it came out – Time Magazine had a great special issue all about it that I’m sure I have around somewhere.

I loved every minute of that movie and still do. It was awesome seeing it with a packed theater of folks also seeing it for the first time. There was so much energy in that theater and quite a reaction when Vader dispatched the emporer! When we left there was a line of teenagers all the way down Main Street waiting to get into the next showing. It was nuts.

Ever since then I’ve taken my Mom to each new Star Wars release to keep the tradition alive.

My College Dorm Tech Circa 1998

25 years ago I was just finishing up my senior year of college. I was just as much a nerd then as I am today so of course I had quite a bit of tech in my on-campus apartment. I recently found an old video from that time with some of the gear visible. Check it out:

The PC

The PC pictured began its journey as a Pentium 166, assembled with parts procured from local computer fairs. It was the first PC I built myself. By the time I graduated, the PC had undergone an upgrade to a Pentium 233 MMX that was just a simple CPU swap.

My PC was pretty decked out – it had a Creative Labs Voodoo2 GPU which was lightyears beyond what game consoles could do at the time. This is when the PC really started to prove itself as a gaming platform with Quake II and many other games really pushing the graphical hardware available at the time.

You’ll notice on the front of the case that I had both a 3.5″ floppy drive and an IDE Zip drive. Thanks to its IDE interface the Zip drive ran much faster than than the external parallel version that was more widely used at the time. I recall that this particular zip drive required a version of Windows 95 that was only sold with OEM computers which took a little bit of work to acquire!

The CD-ROM drive was actually one of the first DVD drives available for PCs also from Creative Labs. The drive came bundled with an interface card that included an MPEG 2 decoder for watching DVD movies. It also came with a custom version of Wing Commander IV which had DVD quality cut scenes that were a major step up from the regular DOS version.

My video also caught the computer’s screen running Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 4 and Winamp that was playing some tunes while my girlfriend was reading her email.

Earlier that year I discovered the wonder of MP3s. The fact that such a small file could produce such high fidelity sound was nothing short of miraculous. Remember, this was a time when storing uncompressed CD wav files on a hard drive was an impractical endeavor due to file sizes and high storage costs. The advent of MP3s represented a significant leap in music technology, enabling us to enjoy our favorite tunes without worrying about running out of disk space.

That year my campus rolled out a residential ethernet network for all of the on-campus housing. That gave us a direct pipe into the University’s T1 line running at a whopping 1.5 megabits per second. It was a huge step up from the dialup modems we were using up until that point. Transitioning back to dialup after graduation was a major bummer – it would be another three years before DSL service was available at my house.

It was scary too because there were zero security safeguards with many student computers openly exposed to others on campus and the rest of the Internet for that matter. Personal firewalls were still a long ways off.

My Cell Phone

1998 was also the year that saw the introduction of digital cellular phones. I owned a Qualcomm QCP-820 phone that operated on Bell Atlantic’s CDMA network. Fun fact: Bell Atlantic later became Verizon. The QCP-820 was a dual band phone meaning it could operate in digital or analog mode. Digital coverage was few and far between when I first got the phone. But when I was lucky enough to find myself in a digital zone the quality of the call was substantially better.

Here’s another shot of the phone next to the iconic solo cup design of the late 90’s:

The Living Room

Despite the PC Powerhouse in my bedroom we still had a few game consoles on hand which were more fun for local multiplayer games. At this point in 1998 the Sony Playstation had become the dominant home video game console. You can see it sharing space with our VHS VCR that we used as our DVR to record our favorite shows when we were out and about and of course for Blockbuster rentals.

Also on hand, but sadly less frequently used, was my Sega Genesis (the very same one you’ll see on my YouTube set!) along with the Sega 32X attached. A year earlier the 32X add on was discontinued and liquidated so I picked it up for only about $30. The Genesis underneath was purchased in 1989 right when it came out and was almost 9 years old when this video was taken.

Concluding Thoughts

What’s remarkable is how many technologies came to be in the short span of time between my freshmen and senior year (1994-1998). Today’s technology is certainly better than it was back then but what we have today has mostly evolved from all of this 90’s innovation.

I Preordered a ROG Ally

I pre-ordered an Asus ROG Ally (compensated affiliate link), the new Asus gaming handheld today from Best Buy.

This looks to be a device targeting the Steam Deck and differentiating itself by running Windows and not Linux. For those subscribed to the Game Pass PC or Ultimate Edition, the Windows 11 powered Asus handheld will make it a lot easier to access PC game downloads vs. Valve’s device.

The Ally is slightly more powerful vs. the Steam Deck but I don’t think the performance differences will be significant enough to designate it a “Steam Deck Killer.”

That said, the Ally may have some legs given their retail distribution strategy and marketing push. It’s exclusive to Best Buy stores upon its initial release meaning it will be available for hands-on demonstrations at hundreds of retail outlets throughout North America. This will undoubtedly drive some consumer interest that many of the lesser known brands can’t afford to do from a marketing perspective.

I’m sure Microsoft will give it a marketing boost too as it runs Windows and is a great solution for portable Gamepass downloads. In fact my friend and Xbox community manager Larry Hyrb (aka Major Nelson) got an early unit for an unboxing on his podcast.

But if pre-orders are any indication it’ll take some time to build up consumer awareness and interest. Pre-orders began on May 11 here in the US and units are still available on release day both for shipping and local store pickups at Best Buy. By comparison I had to wait months for my Steam Deck!

I’ll have more on this once my unit arrives next month. Stay tuned!

Market Conditions Impact YouTube Success

If you’re wondering why your YouTube tech channel is on the slower side when it comes to revenue and traffic, here’s a hint from this CNN Business article on Samsung’s 95% sales decline:

“Samsung Electronics flagged a gradual recovery for chips in the second half of the year after its semiconductor business reported a record loss on Thursday, driven by weak demand for tech devices.”

Over the years my YouTube channel has proven to be a window into where consumers are at in a particular space. 80% of my traffic comes from search and recommendation vs. subscribers and I cover a variety of gear that stretches across the consumer electronics industry. I just have to look at my analytics to learn what the market wants.

There is therefore a direct correlation between where consumers are at and how well I do as a creator. It’s very clear consumers are buying less stuff but are very interested in saving money with the gear they already have. What they are looking to purchase are products that have a direct return on investment.

My top 10 videos for this year are driven almost entirely by consumer-focused content: Cord cutting tops the list along with content about ISP alternatives. Other consumer focused topics I’ve experimented with are doing much better than product reviews at the moment.

YouTube and some of its orbiting “experts” will tell you to pick one tiny topic and focus on it. This IMHO is a mistake in a market that is is constantly changing based on consumer demand.

Developing a diverse set of topics within the space you cover will help find the pulse of what the market wants so you can deliver based on those needs.