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Entertainment in the Year 2018

Copyright April 7, 2018 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.


Introduction

The entertainment industry is constantly evolving.

The purpose of this article is to review the following entertainment options in the year 2018.

1. Movies.
2. Games.
3. Music.
4. Books.


Movies

At the current time Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have captured a huge share of the market because of their pricing, selection, and availability 24 hours per day 7 days per week.

Vudu and Movies Anywhere are trying to control the digital movie market. Although owing a digital copy of a movie is nice, it is not as nice as it once was. Many years ago a person could download copies of their digital movies onto their computer and watch those movies anytime without fear of them being automatically deleted. At the current time there is a limit to how many movies you can download and save on your digital device. And it you are not connected to the internet for 90 days then the software automatically deletes those movies from your digital device (even though you paid for those digital copies). Therefore digital movies are still a really good choice for long car trips to keep children occupied, and for people who travel a lot and who like to enjoy a movie in the evenings in their motel room. But a digital movie is no longer an option for a long-term grid-down situation (unless you had the wisdom to download and save your digital movies on a portable computer many years ago and then you permanently disconnected that computer from the internet).

Since you can now watch new movies on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, it no longer practical to buy DVDs or Blu-Ray discs when they first appear in a store, unless it is a movie that you absolutely know you want to keep. Instead it would be smarter to wait a few weeks and watch the movies for free on Netflix or Prime Video. If you really, really enjoy the movie then you could invest in the DVD or Blu-Ray disc.

If you own a reasonable collection of DVDs or Blu-Ray discs then you would have access to those movies if you had a device that could play them. I know there is a quality difference between DVD and Blu-Ray discs but I recommend DVDs because they will play in DVD players and Blu-Ray disc players, and they will play in personal computers that have a DVD drive, and they will play in small portable battery operated DVD players that have a small TV screen attached. In a grid-down situation this would significantly increase the chances that you would be able to watch your DVD movies if you had a solar panel that you could use to recharge the batteries in your electronic devices.

Sometimes a digital copy comes free with a DVD or Blu-Ray disc. These digital copies are nice because you did not pay extra for the digital copy.

At the current time digital copies of a movie do not have all the advantages they had in the past. Therefore instead of buying a special digital copy of a movie I recommend buying the DVD instead because you would have access to the movie on your DVD player for as long as you owned the DVD. In your restrict your DVD purchases to the movies that you really enjoy then you could gradually build a DVD library that exactly matched your viewing pleasure. Finally, there are some stores that sell used (pre-viewed) DVDs for a very reasonable price.


Games

Apple iPad Computer games can be very enjoyable as long as you do not allow them to take over your life, or the lives of your children or grandchildren.

In my opinion, the Apple iPad is the one of the best ways to invest in a good collection of computer games for the following reasons:
  1. Very reasonable prices (sometimes free but free Apps normally contain advertisements).
  2. Two devices can be automatically linked by Wi-Fi, or you can select family sharing. You pay for an App once and then it can be downloaded on a variety of iPads owned by other members of your family.
  3. Long battery life (about 10 hours at 40% brightness). The iPad can be plugged into a wall outlet and the battery can be recharged each evening while you sleep. Or you can use the iPad while it charges but it charges at a slower rate when it is being used.
  4. Outstanding screen display quality. This is so nice because an iPad is a visual device and a high-quality high-resolution display is your primary interface.
  5. Purchase control with a different iTunes password than the password used to turn on the device. This means anyone in your family can use your iPad but no one can spend your money without knowing your special iTunes password which hopefully you do not share with anyone. When one of my grandchildren asks me to download a "free" game for them then I ask them to step away for just a minute while I enter my "secret" password and download the "free" game App.
  6. Access to thousands of games of all types. The types of games and the ease with which they can be downloaded is remarkable.
  7. Exceptional quality control. Apple has high standards that App developers must adhere to in order protect us (their customers) from viruses and other problems. Therefore a few game Apps cannot be downloaded through the Apple App Store because they do not meet those minimum standards. In addition, a few game Apps do have software problems. Therefore every game App does not always play the way it should. This is a problem with the software App and it does not impact our iPads. However, most game Apps do exactly what they are designed to do.
Unlike Microsoft, Apple appears to have a better understanding of what it takes to simultaneously satisfy their App designers, their customers, and themselves. If Apple continues to improve their software without discontinuing support for old Apps they sold us many years ago, then their App designers and their customers are going to be very happy. This is where Microsoft has failed, in my opinion. When Microsoft upgrades their software they only support the new version, and the most recent previous version of their software, and they do not support games and applications that worked on older versions of their software. This forces software designers to create new products (or modify old products) and it forces Microsoft customers to buy the new products (or the modified products). Many years ago you could buy Microsoft WORD and it belonged to you. Now you have to rent WORD and if you fail to pay your annual fee then you cannot create new WORD documents or revise old documents -- you are only allowed to read your old documents. In my opinion this is unacceptable in a long-term grid-down situation but Microsoft doesn't care. On the other hand, when you buy an Apple iPad you get their very basic word processing software as part of the package and you do not have to pay an annual rental fee, and therefore your Apple word processing software will continue to work in a long-term grid-down situation. Apple's very basic word processing software will read docx, rtf, and pdf files. If you need a more powerful word processor then you can buy (not rent) a Word Processing App from one of many different App developers for between $5 to $20 and that App will create, modify, and save files as WORD docx, pdf, or html files, and you can name, save, and retrieve those documents from file folders on your iPad. Microsoft understands the competitive threat they face from Apple and Microsoft is desperately trying to get Apple customers to download a "free" copy of Microsoft WORD that is compatible with the Apple operating system and after the short "free trial" period expires, then you will begin paying Microsoft a yearly fee for the privilege of renting one of their Microsoft products.

When everything is considered, I think an Apple iPad will eventually replace Microsoft devices because Apple treats their App designers and their customers better than Microsoft.

In my opinion, the 32GB minimum memory on an iPad is NOT practical. In my option, at least 128GB is the minimum you should purchase, but 256GB or 512GB would be even better. If you purchase at least 128GB of storage space then you will not have to micro-manage your iPad storage space and delete an older App in order to download a newer App.

If you can afford the iPad Pro 12.9 inch screen then I do not think you will ever regret your purchase.

An iPad will allow you to download a few of your digital movies and watch them when you are not connected to the internet. This is a nice way to keep children entertained on long car trips. However, the software will automatically delete your digital movie collection if you are disconnected from the internet for more than 90 days. In addition, the Apple App Store will automatically delete a movie from your iPad if you purchase an App from Apple and there is not enough storage space on your iPad for your new App.

An iPad comes with the ability to connect to a Wi-Fi network. For most people this is all they will need. However, some professionals who use their iPad as part of their mobile jobs may need the cellular option so they can connect to the internet in areas where a Wi-Fi connection is not available. If you purchase an iPad with a cellular chip then you will need to select a cellular provider (such as AT&T or Sprint) and agree to a monthly contract fee. Once you agree to a provider your iPad chip will be locked to that provider and you will not be able to change providers without installing a new chip. If you do not pay your monthly contract fee for two consecutive months then your chip will be automatically permanently disabled and you will have to replace that chip to activate your cellular option again. When I was considering the purchase of a new Apple iPad I made the decision that all I needed was the standard Wi-Fi setup and I did not need or desire the cellular option with the ongoing permanent monthly fee that never ends.

As I have mentioned in some of my other articles, I believe every family should also own at least one or two decks of ordinary playing cards (52 cards per deck) and a good book on the rules of multiplayer card games and solitaire card games. During a long-term grid-down situation you will be amazed at the entertainment value of an ordinary deck of cards. There is nothing wrong with having some card game Apps on your iPad but you should also own at least one physical deck of playing cards.

Finally, during a long-term grid-down situation every family should also have a few traditional board games they can play at the kitchen table without electricity. Games such as Monopoly, Scrabble, Life, Checkers, Chess, or whatever your family enjoys.


Music

In the year 2018 most people already have a digital music collection.

Before you invest in a new electronic device you should try to determine if your existing music files will transfer to your new device so you can continue to listen to them. This is one of the problems I had when I purchased a new Kindle Fire Tablet. The Kindle Fire would not recognize my music files and it would not play them. In order to listen to my favorite music on my new Kindle Fire I would have had to buy the music titles that I wanted to listen to on my new Kindle Fire from Amazon. However, since my existing digital music files played extremely well on my new cell phone I decided not to pay Amazon for something I already owned and that worked extremely well on my existing computer and on new my cell phone.

It would also be a good idea to invest in some music CDs that contain the music that you really, really enjoy. In a long-term grid-down situation you would be able to play those music CDs in almost any device that had a CD player or a DVD player (if you could recharge the batteries in those devices with a solar panel). If you have your digital music files on a personal computer, and if that computer has a DVD drive, then you could save a copy of your digital music files on a DVD (or on a flash drive) for a future emergency.


Books

Digital books are really nice and they do not require much storage space as long as the book is a big text file and it does not contain a lot of full color pictures.

However, in a long-term grid-down situation a digital book is not going to be as valuable or as practical as a printed book. The reason is because you do not need electricity to read a printed book.

As I have mentioned before there is nothing wrong with having digital copies of a first aid book and a good medical reference book. But every family should also have a printed copy of these two books because you may desperately need access to the information in those books when your cannot access your digital copies for one reason or another.


Apple iPhone X

The Apple iPhone X has two significant unique features:
  1. The home button has been eliminated below the screen. Now you put your finger on the display screen where the home button used to be and then swipe upwards. This activates the home function. This is not a bad idea but it is going to take their App developers some time to adjust their software so that it will recognize this swipe. This may mean the relocation of some of the original software controls that were in this position at the bottom of the screen.
  2. There is a notch in the top of the display screen that consumes a long strip in the top center of the display screen. This means that whatever was appearing in this space on your App may not be visible, or the App will have to shrink and not use the entire top part of the screen. The basic reason Apple designed the screen with a notch in the top of the screen was so they could advertise a "bigger display screen" because the size of all display screens is measured from opposite corners diagonally across the middle of the screen. But in reality the "functional" part of the Apple iPhone X display is smaller than what is advertised due to the presence of the notch.
In my opinion, the new Apple iPhone X is not a good cell phone and I personally decided not to upgrade to that phone. I did not mind the absence of the "home" button but I knew that it was going to take some time before App designers would have Apps that catered to that new design. But I do mind the "notch" in the top of the display screen because it is visually distracting and it reduces the effective size of the display screen. However, I am just an old man and my likes and dislikes do not impact market decisions. The new Apple iPhone X may do well even with its obvious shortcomings.

Trivia Note: The "X" in iPhone X refers to the number 10. An "X" is the Roman numeral 10. An "I" is the Roman number 1, and a "V" is the Roman number 5. It requires some skill and thinking to correctly write big numbers in Roman numerals and to correctly decipher big Roman numbers. On the other hand, the "Arabic" numbers 1 to 9 are very easy to recognize and to interpret. When the "Indian" number "zero" is used with the "Arabic" numbers 1 to 9 then we have the number system that is currently used today almost everywhere in the world. (The origin of zero is uncertain but India has the oldest documented recorded use of the zero concept. What we call Arabic numbers today are based on the Hindu-Arabic numeral system.)


Storage Memory

If you do not purchase enough storage memory on your device then you will have no option except to store a lot of your stuff on the "cloud."

In a long-term grid-down situation you will not have access to the "cloud" and therefore you will not have access to your stuff. And it is possible that during a long-term grid-down situation that the "cloud" where you stored your stuff will be wiped clean and your stuff will disappear forever.

Therefore I strongly recommend that you purchase as much storage space as you can afford for your digital devices and that storage space should be on your digital devices. Then you should deactivate "cloud" storage for anything that you want to have access to in a long-term grid-down situation.

At the current time one of the major advantages of a personal computer is its USB port. A USB flash drive can be plugged into that USB port and you can easily transfer and save a copy of your important files, pictures, and other stuff onto the USB flash drive. Then you can remove that USB flash drive and store it in a safe location. You can then repeat this process with another USB flash drive and store that second USB flash drive safely somewhere else. This allows you to easily backup and save your most important digital stuff while retaining the physical possession of your stuff where you can get to it if you need to.


Conclusion

Because of Apple's marketing strategy of being considerate to their App developers and their customers, I think that Apple devices will gradually replace Microsoft devices.

Most Apple iPhones are really, really nice. However, I personally do not think the Apple iPhone X is a good iPhone design and I do not recommend it.

Apple iPads with at least 128GB of storage are recommended. The 9.7 inch iPad is affordable and it works well. However, if you can afford it then I recommend the iPad pro with a 12.9 inch display screen and I recommend buying as much memory for that iPad as you can afford. (Note: You can still use your existing cell phone as a portable pocket device to keep in touch with the rest of the world.)

I purchased a Kindle Fire and I do not recommend it. As I gradually learned more about the Kindle Fire's shortcomings I gradually became very unhappy with it. After I had owned the Kindle Fire for 8 months it began turning itself off even when the battery was more than 50% charged. And then it would not consistently charge when plugged into a wall outlet. Sometimes it would ignore the wall outlet and it would not turn back on even though I was using the official Kindle Fire charging cable.. Then a few days later it would accept the wall outlet and begin charging again and it would work okay until it would decide to just stop working. After about 9 months it turned itself off and it will not recharge using any charging cable or electrical outlet. These are the same wall outlets that I consistently use to recharge my Apple iPad. I do not recommend a Kindle Fire. I strongly recommend an Apple iPad if you are in the market for a good portable tablet.



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Grandpappy's e-mail address is: RobertWayneAtkins@hotmail.com