Saturday, September 14, 2013

Snapstream’s DVR for Business


Remember that little ole HTPC software called BeyondTV?  Maybe the name “smartskip” will ring a bell for some of you.


ars technica has a nice article providing an update on our old friend, Snapstream.  Snapstream is the company that created BeyondTV, the second HTPC program used in the GeekTonic home just before switching to SageTV.  Rakesh Agrawal made the decision to transition the company away from the consumer business and towards an “enterprise” focus.  Basically they sell a product that records certain or all channels and then uses the captioning to allow for searching for keywords or phrases.  You can also automatically save clips with those words/phrases for use later.  Companies, governmental agencies, politicians, TV shows and others use this technology so they can curate media clips based on relevant themes.

The business filled a very specialized niche from the start and has obviously been a success.  Check out the article to learn more.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Google Fiber Install – The Wait


One of the things I plan to share with everyone is our experience with Google Fiber.  I’m assuming a good number of people who still visit this blog have pretty much tried to ignore much of the talk about Google Fiber once they realized they aren’t in the first cities to get it.  For those of you curious about the experience though I think I’ll have quite a bit to share.  To get things started I’ll talk about one of the most exciting, yet frustrating parts of being on the “I’m getting Google Fiber” list – the wait.  Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m very fortunate to be in the first city getting Google Fiber, but the wait has been long since that announcement.

Here’s the timeline:

June 18, 2011 – Google purchased SageTV, one of the best Home Theater PC (HTPC) systems available.  This created some excitement among my fellow SageTV users, but a lot of fear over what would happen to SageTV and its community.

July 10, 2011 – GeekTonic speculated that Google purchased SageTV for it’s powerful DVR and set-top-box ecosystem.  The popular sentiment in the tech blogging community was that DVR was about placeshifting to help the Google TV product.  We now know that SageTV IS Google Fiber TV and nothing to do with Google’s languishing Google TV product.

July 26, 2012 - Google along with the mayors of Kansas City, KS and Kansas City, MO announce that Kansas City (both cities) would be the first Google Fiber City.  We learned at that time that there was a very fast, fiber internet connection as well as a TV component.  I also happened to get  a visit from Mr. SageTV himself, the head of SageTV that day which confirmed that SageTV was in fact the new TV product being packaged with Google Fiber.

At this point there was a pre-registration process where google separated the core of Kansas City urban areas into “fiberhoods”.  They would use the number of signups per capita to help them decide which fiberhoods to start with and in some cases which neighborhoods to skip for now. 

September 12, 2012 - 180 out of 202 fiberhoods made the cut and were ranked in order of when their sign-up and installs would be.


I had just moved into a neighborhood that was selected as #26 on the Missouri side of Kansas City.  Very exciting for me to say the least, but I also saw that the install timeline put my new fiberhood at around Spring/Summer 2013 which meant a long, one-year wait!  Still, I was ahead of much of the Kansas City area not to mention the rest of the U.S.

I registered for the complete Internet/TV package with two TV boxes.  I’m pretty sure I registered in the first hour I could do so.

May 2013 – I moved into a new loft that we had just purchased.  It was in the same neighborhood so I was able to switch my Google Fiber registration to the new place fairly easily.  Plus install time was getting closer all the time!

Summer 2013 – Installs were happening around several urban neighborhoods, but I knew very few people who had actually gone through the process.

Late Summer 2013 – I began seeing the trucks and equipment that actually install the fiber in the streets and on power lines.  I’ll show some photos of that process in a future post.

July 2013 – Our building management toured the condo building with Google’s engineers so they could develop the engineering install plan for the building

This poster was posted in a common area in our building.  Notice the notes written on it expressing everyone’s excitement with Google Fiber as well as their opinion of Time Warner Cable :)



July 2013 – Fiber is installed in the streets of downtown Kansas City, MO

August 2013 – Fiber is installed in the streets of my neighborhood.

Early September 2013 – Our building’s HOA reviewed the Google Fiber Installation Plan for our building.  This included choosing between a few options on running the cable through the hallways and what types of cabling to run through the units themselves.  At this meeting we were told actual install could be as soon as October, but could take as long as December 2013!!!!!  The pace of install throughout town does seem to be picking up, but it’s definitely taking some time. 

More on Google Fiber soon.  Let me know what questions you have about Google Fiber in the comments.

TV Premiere Dates

I have decided to no longer run the popular, weekly TV premiere listings here at GeekTonic.  It just takes up too much time to do something my heart is not into.  I watch a number of shows these days, but most of those shows are on the cable networks and many of them I watch on my own time via Neflix or on-demand.  So instead, I’ll share some of my favorite spots for finding TV information and in a future post I’ll share more secrets for keeping up on TV series.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres on ABC 9/24

Want a handy TV Premiere Date Calendar for the Fall 2013 season?  Look no further than

I’ve always found the Futon Critic to be a great resource for TV show info including premiere  dates, network lineups, and show-specific info.  For good episode guides head over to

What new shows will I be watching?  This article in the huffingtonpost pretty much sums it up for me.  I might watch Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (Premiere Date September 24th) mostly because of Joss Whedon.  I also might check out Surviving Jack (Premieres Midseason 2014?) to see if it’s funny.  That’s it unless you guys tell me I should be watching something else that’s new on TV.

My favorites list looks something like this:

  • Breaking Bad (just began binge watching this over the Summer (thanks Netflix!) and get to watch the final episodes of the series on TWC.  Thankfully the series will be over by the time I move on to Google Fiber since AMC is one of the only “big” channels they don’t carry.
  • The Newsroom – again we just started this one since moving into the new loft.  We binge-watched it and now are caught up and watching week-to-week.
  • Downton Abbey – yes, I lose my man-card for this, but it’s a great show.  Really!  Started this one on Netflix and then via the web (not going to say how…).  Now caught up.
  • How I Met Your Mother – I’m tired of this one honestly, but am hanging in for the end of this series.
  • Person of Interest – My favorite network series right now
  • Revolution – I liked this at first, but am quickly getting wary of it.  Not sure if I’ll make it much further.
  • Modern Family – Still funny to me.  One of the lighter series I follow
  • The Big Bang Theory – Of course.
  • Homeland – I’ve only seen season one, but some day will catch up
  • Game of Thrones – Love this and wonder how the TV series will venture from the books

If you’re a TV addict, you might want to subscribe to my TV Talk Twitter List or at least follow some of the TV experts I have listed there.

Let me know in the comments what shows you’ll be watching this Fall.  Also, let me know if there’s a website or app you use to keep up with the TV seasons.  I’ll share more about how I follow the TV world soon.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

GeekTonic Returns… again.

After a failed attempt to get back into the blogging game last summer I packed it up just under a year ago.  Lots has happened in my work and personal life since then, but things seem to be slowing down ever so slightly.  Here’s a quick recap:


We sold our suburban home faster than I expected.  Decided to rent in a more urban setting for a year or so to see how this downsizing thing would go.  This meant going from a relatively large space to a much smaller, more open loft in a building originally built in the late 1800’s.  This meant some serious downsizing in “stuff” especially electronic junk.  I’ll share more about that in a later post.

After moving into the loft we continued to search for a more permanent home.  This meant lots of looking around town, lots of realtor time, and some fun exploring our newfound urban landscape.  I also learned the “fun” involved in wiring for my SageTV setup in a rental situation with brick walls.

At the same time our daughter moved from one college apartment to another before moving back in with us for a semester while she student taught and then finally moving to another town after getting her first job out of college.

During all of this my company continued to expand into new businesses and added some new systems & websites.  To say the least the work-life had continued to consume more of my time away from the blogging stuff.

Most recently we purchased a new loft/condo not far from the loft we had been renting.  It was a short sale so it involved all the fun that comes with a non-standard purchase.  This new place is much newer (built just over 10 years ago) but also needed a lot of work.  The positive here though is it was wired fairly well and is on the list of Fall installs for Google Fiber – more on that later).  Notice the unfortunate fact that I’ve been involved with a LOT of moves in the past year or so.

So that’s what has been going on around the GeekTonic home.  My plan is to talk more about these changes, what I’m using for my TV setup as well as my other home technology at the new place.  I’ll also share with everyone some of the tech stuff I’ve run into and more importantly what I know about Google Fiber so far.  This blog won’t be quite like what it was several years ago, but I won’t give it up completely.