12 Ways to Use TiVo During the Holidays December 20, 2018 · 13 min. readWhile the thoughts and opinions are my own, this article was brought to you by a third party. Also, this article may contain affiliate links.
Access Communications asked me to try out TiVo, the world's smartest personal video recorder (PVR). As a millennial who doesn't watch any television, I wasn't sure what to expect. I cancelled my basic cable package years ago and never looked back. Would this advanced artificial intelligence program change my mind?
When Access hooked up TiVo, the installer told me it takes about 4-6 weeks before TiVo really gets "smart". Since I haven't had TiVo long enough for it to figure out what I like to watch, that will be the topic for a future article. For now, let's talk about the holiday that's on everybody's mind: Christmas, and how TiVo can be used during it.
1. Access Communications' Yule Log
The tradition of a yule log – the festive Christmas log that burns during the holidays – dates to at least 1184 CE. However, as humanity became more advanced and less people have a need for a fireplace in their house, the yule log fell out of fashion. That all changed in 1966 when television station WPIX, based out of New York, aired a live broadcast of the yule log. Since then, this ancient tradition has now become ingrained with our modern celebrations.
Access Communications has their own yule log channel, and it is never interrupted with advertisements or narration. Out of all the content Access provides, the yule log is probably the least watched, but most loved channel. There is nothing better than the crackling of fire during the cold winter months, especially when the fire is in high definition.
2. YouTube's Yule Log
Access' yule log is fine… but it isn't great. The channel is a freebie, so it isn't overly well produced. The angle is odd, and the fire is never exactly roaring. Thankfully TiVo comes with a YouTube app built in. By going to YouTube on TiVo – or on your phone and beaming it to TiVo – you can play a much more vibrant, crackling, roaring fire.
Being able to beam YouTube on my television is one of my most favourite things about TiVo. I know people who prefer to watch YouTube on their television screens and this would make much easier. I like being able to beam YouTube onto my TV and watching it from the comfort of my couch without worrying about my phone slipping and falling on my face.
3. Talk to Santa on "Dear Santa"
Jesus might be the reason for the season, but Santa is almost as well-known during Christmas. While it's easy enough to get messages to Jesus (eg: pray), sometimes it's hard to know if Santa is getting your messages. Sure, you could send letters to the North Pole, or you could wait in line-ups at the mall, but if you really want to talk to Santa, you can call him. Between now and December 24th, from 11 AM – 1 PM, at 1-877-796-2839 and talk to him live on Access' "Dear Santa" channel. You can talk to him about Christmas presents, Christmas wishes and even how his reindeer are doing. There is no better way to keep the Christmas spirit lit during the holidays than having Santa talk to your kids live on television.
4. Watch Christmas Movies
Do you have a favourite Christmas movie? I've always liked A Charlie Brown Christmas and Olive, The Other Reindeer. Some people love romcom Christmas movies, while others like horror Christmas movies. Regardless of what you like, TiVo has it all. By intergrating cable movies with streaming services like Netflix, Plex and Opera TV, whatever Christmas special you want to watch on the Big Day is there, ready for you to tune in.
5. Watch Christmas Movies by Association
Let's say you fine with Christmas, the music, the presents, the stress and everything that goes along with it… but Christmas movies just set you over the edge. Maybe you find zero joy in watching other people fictitiously act out the holidays while you're amid that festive hell at that very moment?
I understand where you are coming from, and so does TiVo. Thankfully, right under the Christmas movie options, are movies that are only somewhat Christmas related. Here we're talking about movies like Die Hard, Gremlins, Cast Away, Ghostbusters II and so many more. Just because it's Christmas doesn't mean Santa needs to be there too, right?
6. Watch Movies That Have Nothing to do With Christmas
It should go without saying but TiVo has a massive selection of things non-Christmas too, and let's be honest: the best part of Christmas is when it's over. To rush through that, you can watch thousands of hours of non-Christmas content that has nothing to do with giggling bells, trotting hoofs, talking snowmen or Will Ferrell. There are thousands of shows on TiVo, from crime to drama to romance to anime. If you need an escape from the whirlwind of wrapping paper, stickers and tape, this is the perfect place to unplug.
7. Listen to Stingray Radio's Holiday Favourites
Personally, my favourite escape is music. I have different songs I connect to different travels around the world. "Dog Days Are Over" by Florence + The Machine remind me of London, "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk remind me of New York and "Radioactivity" by Kraftwerk remind me of my trip to Pripyat. Music offers that escape from reality and Stingray Radio offer 99 different music channels to list to. When it comes to the holidays, there's no better way to embrace it than with some good old-fashioned Christmas music.
8. Record Your Favourite Shows in Advance
Christmas is one of the busiest times of year. It seems there is never enough time to do any shopping, and when there is finally time, it's the weekend before Christmas. Like it or not, you will fall behind on your favourite shows. Did Hilary survive that car crash? Did Carl escape the zombie hoard? Did Ash get out of the St. Anne after it tipped? Thankfully TiVo can record all these shows for you and save them until you finally have time to watch them. For many people, this is the shining point of even having a PVR. You can watch your favourite shows on your own time and not worry about missing them. You don't have to organise your life around a television show anymore: instead you can fit them whenever you have time.
9. Distract the Children with Toon Goggles
TiVo has various apps for people to use, and one of them is an app I've never heard of before: Toon Goggles, or TG. This channel is full of child friendly shows, from Christmas shows like The Grump That Stole Christmas to Muertoons, a show all about animated, dead cartoon girls.
One series I found most entertaining was Fortnite Fridays. Fortnite is the most popular game of the past year and it has taken the world by storm. The game is free, and everybody and anybody can play it. If you're unfamiliar, imagine mixing The Hunger Games with Bob the Builder. In Fortnite Fridays, a player named Square Waffles plays the game and commentates throughout it. If your child loves to watch Fortnite on YouTube or Twitch, they'll love to watch it on Toon Goggles too.
10. Watch Christmas Cooking Challenges (and other Christmas baking shows)
Although I like to describe myself as "culinary challenged", I know how to toss the odd dish together if need be. One pastime Jessica and I have, either during Halloween or Christmas, is watching the monster holiday dishes chefs can put together. From cookies to cakes to fondant skeletons (okay, maybe that's more Halloween) it blows my mind what some people can create. Sure, it makes me feel even worse about my burnt "no-burn" cookies, but it gives me the incentive to try again.
11. Yearly Recap with Access 7
There's a lot in TiVo to dig through, from apps to music, shows to videos, categories, subcategories and sub subcategories. One of the gold mines I uncovered was a recap of this past years Access 7 shows. These include news reports, Regina Thunder football game reviews and various other recordings. I couldn't find a copy of PAST's paranormal show, and I still kick myself for missing the episode where we investigated Boards n Beans together, but I'm sure it's there somewhere.
12. Ask TiVo What To Watch
I remember when I first realised how "smart" voice-controlled technology was. It was several years ago, and I was driving in the east-end of Regina. I don't remember what was happening, but I was super stressed out about a lot of things (probably Christmas). I was trying to look something up on my phone and I pushed the voice activated button instead. It offered me help and in frustration I yelled obscenities at it. After a moment my phone apologised and shut down the voice app.
I remember sitting there and thinking how surreal that moment was. I would never speak to a person like that, but I yelled at my phone and it apologised for upsetting me. It was like an episode of Black Mirror. So, naturally, I told my phone I was sorry for getting upset and yelling at it.
(Well, what else was I supposed to do?)
Anyway, it's been a few years since then and voice-controlled technology is all over the place. We have Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, Amazon's Echo and Google Home. There's also TiVo, which you can active at the click of a button. Instead of using fancy commands like "Hey, Google", you can just ask it questions in normal everyday English. "Is The Walking Dead on tonight?" and TiVo will let you know.
You can even ask TiVo for recommendations, and she will give you some ideas based on the information you've given her by your viewing history. This is where TiVo is different than so many other PVRs out there, as it isn't just a recording device, but it's a member of the household.
Now, just don't forget to get her a Christmas present. She doesn't like being left out of things like that.
Don't forget to pin it!
And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
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Long before I started my blog, many, many years ago, I visited Innsbruck, Austria. I was on a Contiki trip through Europe and visited a plethora of locations such as Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Venice, Lucerne and Innsbruck, just to name a few. It was an incredible experience and one that I think was a transformative moment in my life.
Off the record (or, on the record now, I guess), of all the places I visited, the only one I didn't like was Innsbruck. I couldn't get into it. We visited it in late March, so the weather wasn't the best. The trees didn't have any leaves on them, the grass was brown, and everything had a post-winter grey look to it. After visiting Munich and spending the night in St. Goar, my mind wasn't thinking about Innsbruck at all. Instead, I was more excited to go to Venice the next day, and the Vatican the day after that. My time in Innsbruck was uneventful, and all I wanted was to get back on the road.
That was in 2011, and now it's 2018. Has my opinion on Innsbruck changed? I would say yes. I'm more mature now and if I went back, I would better appreciate what I was seeing. As I've gotten older, I've been less impressed by the massive buildings and more enthralled by the history that created them.
Imagine the bustling streets of New York, then times it by ten. Add a dash of Chinese culture, a wallop of nature and half dozen fish balls that don’t actually contain any fish, and you have the beautiful city that is Hong Kong.
At 7.2 million people, Hong Kong is a dynamic city with an incredible history, towering skyscrapers and a unique mix of English and Chinese that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. While Hong Kong has existed for a millennium, it was officially founded in 1842 to solidify a truce between Great Britain and the Qing dynasty of China during the First Opium War. A decade after the British took control of Hong Kong, the Black Death swept into China, killing hundreds of thousands of people. It would remain part of Hong Kong’s life for a century.
During World War II, Hong Kong was captured by the Japanese. For three years and eight months the British-Chinese culture of the city was destroyed, replaced with Japanese text, language and art. The booming city of 1.6 million people was slashed to only 600,000. Japanese occupation was incredibly harsh for the Hongkongese, being the darkest part of their history. Japan ceased occupation on August 6th, 1945, in response to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For forty-two more years, Hong Kong was controlled by the British, with the reunification between Hong Kong and mainland China finally occurring in 1997.
Earlier this year I did a presentation at The Artesian about the Spanish Influenza. It was the first time I had ever done a presentation like this and I was nervous about the number of people that might attend. I told my mother I would be thrilled if five people came that night, but forty people showed up instead. For a topic that very few people know anything about, I was excited to see so many people interested.
But one person in the audience was so interested that several months later she reached out to me to see if I wanted to do my presentation again. Instead of doing it in Regina, she asked for me to travel to Craik, Saskatchewan to tell the Craik Museum and Oral History Society about what I had learned.
For knowing so much about a topic nobody ever asks me about, I was super excited to talk about it. The organiser reached out to Craik School to ask if the students would be interested in attending the lecture too. The teacher said they wouldn't be able to make the time slot work but asked if I could speak to the students about being a blogger at a different time.