NextGen TV (ATSC 3.0) Coming Soon to Central Ohio

Unlike the FCC mandated conversion from analog television to DTV and HDTV back in 2009, broadcasters have been quietly updating TV infrastructure to offer enhancements made possible by Internet video innovations.  This is marketed under the name NEXTGEN TV, also known as ATSC 3.0 (tech overview video).

The first advantage is that it’s a free over-the-air (OTA) broadcast (TANSAAFL), just earlier analog TV, DTV, and HDTV.  No need for cable, satellite, or streaming service bills – everyone near the transmitter can see the same content.

Another benefit is that it’s wireless.  This makes it a great compliment to wired streaming services.  If your cable or internet service is down due to a storm, you’ll still be able to access live news and entertainment – with no buffering, even during peak viewing hours, and in any weather.

One of the most noticeable benefits to consumers will be the increased picture quality with 4K UHD resolution (supporting HDR) and theater quality sound.

As time passes, we’ll see more and more TVs and devices shipping with ATSC 3.0 support built-in. As long as your TV is 4K and you already have an antenna capable of receiving the DTV signals in your area (typically UHF), you can simply purchase a NextGen TV tuner like the HDHomeRun Connect 4K (which can also stream received content to a wide variety of devices) and be ready to receive these broadcasts as soon as they’re available in your area.

I’ve seen a variety of deployment maps and timelines. Most suggest that ATSC 3.0 will become available in the Columbus market starting in 2020, but I’ve reached out to local stations and here are their planned NextGen TV conversion dates:

WCMH – No response.

WSYXDecember 3, 2020 @ 10:00 AM EST.

WBNS – No response.

WTTE – Estimated in January 2021.

WOSU – No response.

WWHO – No response.

I plan to update the info above as I receive more info.

Ohio Cities Extorting Non-Resident Non-Workers

As covered extensively in the paywalled Columbus Dispatch article “Should you pay commuter taxes while working from home? Republicans say no, cities say yes” (where by “Cities” they mean Democrats), with the advent of COVID-19 the Ohio State Legislature is aiding and abetting a money-grab for unionized workers of large cities.

Ordinarily, Cities claim that a person working within the imaginary lines that define their corporation gives them the authority to seize a portion of any income earned within that city to fund “services” the city offers in return – whether they are used or not.

Under COVID rules though, many employees have been re-assigned to work locations outside of these cities.  They do not enter the City’s imaginary corporate boundaries, so they place no burden on Police, Fire, or other resources.

To maintain political power, politicians in control of Cities wish to keep their politically influential City employee unions senselessly staffed at pre-COVID levels – lack of demand for services be damned.

Their solution to this is to pretend that COVID never happened.  They’ll just keep tax-extorting people who haven’t worked within their fiefdom for months.  Meanwhile, the victims of their extortion racket are unable to benefit from access to their hard earned money for COVID-related expenses that can’t be imagined away.

As the Dispatch article mentions, The Buckeye Institute is going to bat for affected Ohioans in Franklin County Court case 20 CV 004301 (you’ll need to agree to the courts terms before visiting the link to see the content).

As Sen. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) said in the dispatch article “What’s to stop Akron from taxing you or Youngstown? It’s unconstitutional, I believe, to tax someone who does not work or reside in their territory.”

Otherwise Eligible Votes?

Woke up this morning to the following news story from a Columbus Dispatch news podcast:

“Nearly 23,000 ballots could be discarded in Ohio, a USA TODAY, Columbia Journalism Investigations, and Frontline investigation found.  In this unprecedented election, seemingly minor problems, such as mismatched signatures, inaccurate birth dates, and other paperwork mistakes could disqualify otherwise eligible votes.” – Jonathan Smith, Columbus Headline News Express 10/19/2020 7:15 AM (00:01:03 into the podcast)

The comment seems to be in reference to the article Ohio election winner could turn on absentee votes declared ineligible (dispatch.com) by Darrel Rowland (@darreldrowland) / Twitter.  This article also contains the phrase “otherwise-eligible votes” – but what does that even mean?

Imagine a fairly low-security task such as signing into a website or calling a business on the phone for account information.

You identify yourself, and as part of that they ask you for your birth date, address, or other information to make sure you are really you?

Surely you’ve screwed this up at some point in your life – and rightfully been rejected access to meddle in your own affairs.

But we don’t call these “otherwise eligible logins” – because that’s what we only want eligible logins, not “otherwise eligible”.

Eligible means “Having the right to do or obtain something; satisfying the appropriate conditions.”  When you fail to satisfy the appropriate conditions you are “NOT eligible” not “otherwise eligible” or “differently eligible” or “alternatively eligible”, you’re either eligible; or you’re not.

This is yet another example of newspeak in “news speak” that ultimately amounts to propaganda.

Just like not knowing the correct passwords and challenge questions makes one ineligible to log-in to a computer or interact with an organization by phone, not answering the security questions for voting (a much higher security action) should make one “ineligible to vote” until they answer the questions correctly.

Words mean things, and neither the Dispatch editors nor anyone else get to re-define them to bolster their baseless positions. Editors should know how to use dictionaries and resist the temptation to make up terms (no matter how absurd) to suit their personal or organizational political agenda.

Teams Quoted Text Shortcut

Here’s a handy Microsoft Teams shortcut I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Let me start with the way most people quote text in Teams.

After highlighting the text and copying it (Ctrl + C).

1) Click the Format icon (Screenshot 2020-10-16 174154).
Screenshot 2020-10-16 174130
2) Click the Quote icon.

Now you can paste from your clipboard (be sure to use Windows + V!).

Here’s the shortcut though.  Instead of all of that clicking, just type “> “ (the space at the end is key!) and the Quote field will appear.

This saves quite a few steps – especially over the course of a day, and it makes your messages much more readable by providing context to the exact comment you’re replying to.

As of this writing, I hadn’t found a shortcut for a code block (tell me if you know!) – but Teams should add one of those too IMHO.

Also, if you’re using Teams on a mobile device, you can swipe right on a message to quote the message you swiped.

So there you have it, 3 ways to quote text in MS Teams!

How to save up to 60% off up to 3 years of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (in 2 easy steps)

My Gamertag is almost old enough to vote, but regardless of the age of your account – there’s an awesome deal on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate out there (as of July 2020) and I’ll tell you how to get it below.

Before you start, log into your Microsoft account and see how much time you have remaining on your Xbox Live Gold subscription here: https://account.microsoft.com/services/

Step 1: Even though Microsoft *just* put an end to the 12-month subscription, you can still get 12-month subscription codes online from various retailers (though when I did it with Amazon, they suspected fraud and locked out my account – so be careful).

The easiest way for me ended up being to use the Get Help app that’s built into Windows (just click Start and type Get Help) to chat with MS support staff and place an order to get me up to 36 months of Xbox Live Gold credit at the $59.99/12-month price.

Step 2: Once your account is showing that you’re covered for service for the next 36 months you should see an offer to upgrade to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for only $1.  That’s 93% off the purchase price for one month!

So, in summary:

  1. Pre-pay for the next 36 months of Xbox Live Gold.
  2. Convert your subscription to Microsoft Game Pass Ultimate.
  3. Profit

In fact, Microsoft even has a detailed (now year old) blog post that explains how to do it.  If you couldn’t figure out from my post, maybe check out theirs.

Anyway, by my rough math on a lunch break at work, 36 months (3 years) of Xbox Live Gold at $59.99 amounts to $179.97.

At $14.99/mo, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (which offers a lot more in the way of services) would cost $539.64 for the same 36 months.

So by maxing out your account to the 36 month pre-paid limit before upgrading, you can save a maximum of about 60%.

Do it. Do it now!

Since this deal has been around for about a year, I’d imagine it will end soon.  Microsoft has a big Xbox press conference slated for next week… so that’d be an opportune time to communicate new deals, offers, and pricing structures that will probably not be anywhere near as generous.

Edit PDFs in Microsoft Word

Today someone was asking if software was available to edit a PDF and I pointed out that MS Word has had this feature for a while now.

There is the possibility that the conversion might not be perfect, so for some professional-level edits to PDF documents it might not meet your needs, but since most PDFs I see appear to have originated in Word in the first place, it’s a handy tool for editing most documents.

This helps improve collaboration because the converted Word document can be shared and edited via SharePoint, Teams, or a file share.

When you open a PDF with Word, you’ll initially see this message:

People who have been saving items in PDF format in an attempt to prevent others from making changes to the document should instead use the “Restrict permission” features of Word to prevent unauthorized users from editing or altering documents without the document creator’s approval.

How to Set-up Minecraft for Cross-platform Multiplayer

After poking around a bit, I was able to get my kids set-up with Minecraft cross-platform multiplayer.

See the link in the previous paragraph for details.

Once you set it up, and add your kids and their friends, they’ll be able to join each other’s games through the Xbox Live service for free (though accessing it via Nintendo Switch requires their paid online service “Nintendo Switch Online” for access).

Once everything is configured according to the details of that article, you’ll need to be able to easily share links to the relevant Xbox Live accounts.

Here’s an example:

https://account.xbox.com/en-us/profile?gamertag=Sample%20Gamertag

You can just modify it by deleting “Sample%20Gamertag” and adding whatever gamertag you wish.  Be sure to replace any spaces in the gamertag with “%20” to ensure that the link is URL encoded and stays intact when pasted into emails and various messaging apps.

Asking friends to add your Xbox Live account via a link allows them to do it from any device and also coaches them to get logged in with their own account first before they can add yours – which is a great way to help them figure out what their own XBL account is since not everyone knows off the top of their head (especially when it comes to parents setting up accounts for their kids).

Make Text Easier to Read when Presenting

If you’re ever using Windows 10 to present to a group and they are having trouble reading your text.

Experts recommend a minimum text height of 1 inch (25 mm) for every 15 feet (4.5 m) between the screen and the most distant viewing position in the room.

Luckily, this is easy to do on the fly by pressing <Windows> + <+> to zoom in on the part of the screen with the mouse cursor (just for fun, say “Computer, Enhance” when you do this to wow your audience). 

The default zoom amount can be changed in settings, and conveniently pressing <Windows> + <-> will zoom back out.

This is also a handy tool to know about if you ever need to look at something with precision – such as the detailed alignment of pixels on a screen or the alignment of walls in an architectural drawing.

Salvaging OneNote Notes

Recently my employer switched Office 365 tenants and the migration process they used caused some issues.  One of which was that OneNote notebooks that had been synchronized via OneDrive were no longer synchronizing properly.

The only place I had access to these important notes was in the OneNote App on my work machine.  They failed to synchronize.

Luckily, it’s not hard to recover from this kind of problem, though depending on the number of notes you have, it can take some time.  These steps generally work as a last resort for any kind of OneNote notebook corruption.

The first step is to create a new notebook in a place that can be synchronized.

I recommend a OneDrive (Personal notes) or SharePoint (Team notes) location depending on whether the notes are primarily for personal use or shared with a colleagues.

Open the new notebook in the same OneNote app that contains the notes you wish to move.  To make it even easier, drag the new notebook to the top – and make sure it’s a different color than the existing notebook – I like to make the old one red and the new one green to represent notebooks I’m going to stop and start using.

Now open two OneNote copies side-by-side.  You can use <Windows> + <Left Arrow> to snap one window to the left, then select the other window and snap it to the right.  You can also select it manually and use <Windows> + <Right Arrow> to snap it to the right.

Now open the new notebook on the left and the old notebook on the right.

Sometimes, you can just right click a section and select Move/Copy.

This will open a dialog to select the new notebook, then click the Move button.

Since my notebooks had gotten out of sync, I got the following message.

Microsoft OneNote
The sections you’re moving have not all been synced. Make sure you are online adn fully synced before you move sections between notebooks.
[ OK ]

Microsoft OneNote
Something went wrong and we can’t move that section.
[ OK ]

Since that didn’t work, create a matching section in the new Notebook, then select the section in the old notebook and click the top page in the list.

Then scroll to the bottom of the page list and hold <Shift> while clicking the bottom-most page.

Right-click Move/Copy and browse to the matching section in the new notebook and click the [Move] button.

The old section will now be empty so you can right-click on it and select Delete Section so you are de-cluttering as you move along.

While it is repetitive and can take a bit of time, when you’re done, you’ll have all of your notes rescued in a new notebook.