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.
If you've ever passed through Medicine Hat, or you're spending a few days in the area, you've probably wondered what to do there. To most people outside the city, Medicine Hat might seem like a sleepy little prairie town in the Canadian Badlands; but for those who live in Hell's Basement, they'll tell you that this city is one of the most exciting places you can explore in all of Alberta.
I've gone to Medicine Hat three times in the past two years, and while I'm no expert on this thriving city, I know where the hidden gems are. If someone I know is passing through the area, I tell them they need to visit Medicine Hat. To help explain why, I put an article together for anyone else interested in visiting the Hat.
If you're spending 24 hours in Medicine Hat, you'll need somewhere to sleep. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a little under an hour away and a great place to camp. Camping in Cypress gives you the choice to explore the park, the city, and everywhere in between.
A few articles ago I listed Ogema as one of the top destinations to visit in Saskatchewan. Immediately after I wrote the article, I put my money where my mouth was and booked a weekend trip to Ogema for my girlfriend and me. I figured it wouldn't be fair to my readers to recommend a place for them to visit without actually visiting it myself, and after getting my new Galaxy S7 from TELUS I figured I needed a reason to test it out.
Earlier this year I took my Galaxy S6 to La Ronge, and had very little coverage. I wanted to use Facebook's new Live Video option, but I couldn't get enough service to even send a text message. I was pretty disappointed by the coverage with that provider, so I was interested to see how TELUS' network was in Ogema.
The result was pretty darn good! We streamed Spotify all the way there, were able to do a Live Video from the Deep South Pioneer Museum and took some really great pictures and videos of the trip. It also helped to have a reliable network when I got lost driving there (don't ask me how!). TELUS has invested over $29 billion into their network since 2000 and it has really paid off. It's a great feeling knowing that no matter where you travel, you can rely on TELUS to keep you connected.
Ever since visiting the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg last summer, I've wanted to include more about First Nations culture on my blog. Being of European descent, I often feel I am culturally blind to First Nations culture, and I noticed a severe lack of it in my writing. In fact, I feel in past articles a lot of my focus has been on European history in the New World, with only a side note regarding First Nations history. Now, I am trying for there to be more equal representation in my blog.
To finish off my #BucketlistAB series, I thought this article would be the perfect place to flip the tables, and instead focus on First Nations culture, with a European side note. Sometimes it is impossible to talk about one without the other, but I tried to focus more on the First Nations people and their story in this article. Please let me know what you think in the comments below.