Do You Know What Your Kids Are Watching?

5 Ways to Take Control Over the TV Set
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Have you ever scrolled through your TV guide and marveled at how many channels
were available? At any given moment, you can turn on the TV and watch truckers make their way through icy highways, meerkats scavenging for their next meal, or even tattoo artists inking their next creation.

The golden age of TV means there’s something for everyone on TV at all times—but the sheer variety of programming can feel overwhelming to parents who don’t have the time to pre-screen all the content their kids are watching.

Thankfully you can use the same technology that gives you so much variety to filter out what you don’t want your kids to see. But besides a few handy tech-based solutions, there are still tried and true ways to keep inappropriate content off the screen.

Here are our favorite old and new ways to take control of what your kids are watching:

  1. Know What Ratings Really Mean
    When you’re watching TV as a family, TV industry ratings can alert you when you’re about to watch something geared towards adults. Getting to know what the ratings mean will help you determine when it’s time to change the channel.Chances are you’ve already seen the little yellow box on the left-hand side of the screen pop up when your favorite show airs. It will say something like “TVY” or “TVMA.” But do you know what all the abbreviations stand for? Read our blog on TV ratings to crack the code.

 

  1. Use Your TV’s Built-In V-Chip
    Since 2000, all TV sets larger than 13” come with a built-in V-Chip that helps you automatically filter age-inappropriate content. The V-Chip uses the same industry ratings we talked about above to block content. This can come in handy when the kids are watching TV when you’re not around.To enable the V-Chip on your set, go to your TV’s on-screen menu. For many TV sets, you can find V-Chip options in the “setup” portion of the menu, however, this varies from set to set. Other times you can find it under “V-Chip,” “block” or “parental controls.” Consult your TV owner’s manual for more detailed instructions.

 

  1. Block Content Through Your Cable Box
    ImOn’s set-top cable box gives you even more options to block content than your TV’s V-Chip settings. These controls are password protected so you can still access blocked programming when the kids aren’t around—and so your kids can’t change the settings without your permission.Using your ImOn cable box, you can:
  • Block all content by channel
  • Block all programming based on the time of day
  • Block content by industry ratings
  • Hide programming details like titles that contain adult themes

Learn how to set parental controls here.

  1. Limit Access to Screens
    From our phones to computers to TVs, our houses are full of screens. By limiting where and when your child can access screens, you can maintain tighter control on what they’re watching.Start by keeping computers and TV sets out of the bedroom—and all portable devices out after bedtime—to prevent them from accessing inappropriate content late at night when you’re sleeping. As a bonus, studies have shown there are other noteworthy benefits to keeping screens out of the bedroom.
  1. Watch With Your Kidsfamily-watching-tv
    The best way to know what your kids are watching is to not only watch with them, but have a conversation about what you’re seeing. This not only helps you bond with your kids and learn about their interests, it gives you the opportunity to discuss inappropriate content if and when it comes up.Having a conversation about a controversial story on the news or a steamy romance scene can feel awkward and intimidating. But don’t pass up opportunities to engage with your kids. Check out these tips for having a productive (and hopefully not-too-painful) talk.

Do you monitor your children’s TV watching habits? We want to know what you think! Tell us your tips and tricks for setting boundaries, blocking programs, and discussing content with your kids in the comments below.

The Difference Between Digital and Analog Cable TV Channels

Evolution of television: Flat screen TV next to old tube TV with rabbit ears

When the first television broadcasts hit the airwaves in the 1920’s, television shows were transmitted using an analog signal.  But in 1996, a new technology was invented that would change the way TV signals were transmitted through the air, with a digital signal. Today, the FCC requires all TVs to contain a digital tuner and for most TV stations to broadcast their channels in digital format.

So what is the big difference between Analog and Digital transmission? Here are a few interesting facts we found on www.informit.com, www.Lifewire.com, and www.brighthub.com.

The big difference between Analog and Digital is how the signal is transmitted from the source to the TV in your home. Analog TV’s transmit audio and video signals over the airwaves in a manner similar to a radio signal. Each station has a single frequency over which to broadcast its analog television signal. You know these frequencies as channel numbers on your TV. Like radio signals, an analog TV signal can experience interference with their frequencies. This can cause static, snow, or ghosting on a channel. It can also cause fluctuations in color, brightness, and sound quality. And like a radio signals, analog transmission declines the further away you are from the source.

Satellite dish transmission dataA Digital TV signal, on the other hand, transmits in “packets” of compressed data. The data uses a combination of 1’s and 0’s, similar to your computer, DVD player, and Internet. Because it uses this code, digital signals do not experience the same interference, or signal loss, that analog TV signals do. That means you enjoy a consistently clear picture, high-quality audio, and no static or snow.

A Digital TV signal is also a more efficient technology. A digital transmission requires less bandwidth when compared to a similar Analog signal. In fact, according to www.informit.com, four or more digital channels use the same bandwidth as a single analog channel. This allows a television station to broadcast more channels and more HD channels over the same airwaves, giving you more variety of programming with better quality.

Another difference between Digital and Analog is the ability for digital signals to broadcast programming in a true HD widescreen (16:9) format. This allows you to experience movie quality programming at home. Analog signals on the other hand are transmitted in 4:3 aspect ratio. Meaning the picture is 4 units wide for every 3 units of height.  So on a HDTV, you will see black bars on the sides of your TV picture when analog programming is broadcast.

Unfortunately, digital TV transmissions cannot be received by older analog TVs. To receive digital TV signals, you must have a newer TV with a digital tuner built-in it or a digital-to-analog converter box.  The set-top converter box will automatically convert the digital signal into something your older TV can display.

What to Watch Next?

The cheerful girl eats popcorn and changes channels of the TV lying in a bed
While June signals the end of another school year, it also brings the season finales of many of our favorite TV shows. But just because our favorite shows will be on hiatus for a few months, doesn’t mean you have to give up TV for good this summer. Here are a few websites and apps to help you find something new to watch.


JustWatch.com
JustWatch is a search engine designed to help you find which streaming provider you can legally watch your favorite movies & TV Shows.  You can also search by title, genre, and release date to find something new you may like.

IMDB
IMDB, short for Internet Movie Data Base, is basically Wikipedia for everything film and television related. You may already be using IMDB to find out who plays the lead in your favorite show, or who directed a new movie you want to see, but the database can be very helpful when you’re looking for something new to watch. It offers a searchable database of more than 185 million movies, TV shows, entertainment programs, and reviews. There are many different avenues you can use to find recommendations on this site. Enter the name of your favorite actor and instantly see all the movies and TV shows they’ve made. Try one you haven’t seen and take advantage of IMDB’s user-based ratings system to help steer you towards the best options.

Jinni.com
Jinni puts some serious science into finding movie and TV shows you might like. It can import ratings and likes from Facebook, the IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, and Flixter. It also manually tweaks your tastes and likes.  The search engine looks more at the features of content you already like rather than just the simple tags, actor, and genre.

televisor.com
Find shows based on what you are already watching. This free “recommendation engine” is surprisingly easy to use. Simply type in the name of a TV show or movie you like, and televisor.com will generate a list of similar programs you might like. Plus, each results page does offer details about each recommended show to help you make a more informed choice. Want more personalized results? Give the suggested show a thumbs up or down and Televisor.com will tailor search results to your liking. For the same format for movie recommendations, try Movievisor.

Yidio.com
Yidio, which is short for “Your Internet video”, is an online video guide that allows you to easily search and discover over 1million TV shows and movies across hundreds of premium free and paid content services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. You can get personalized recommendations and notifications based on TV shows and movies you like to watch.  And, once you find what you’re looking for, just tap play to start watching on your iPad, iPhone or TV (via Airplay or Chromecast).

GoWatchit.com
GoWatchIt is a comprehensive guide to finding movies and TV shows on various platforms (In theatres, on TV, on streaming sites, or on Blue-Ray/DVD). You can search, bookmark favorites, and even receive alert notifications when your favorites become available.

Fan.TV Website & App
Fan.TV lets you browse over one million movies and TV Shows and find where to watch them, either on live TV or over 50 premium streaming services.  When you search for a specific show, it gives you show details, cast bios, and a list of similar shows you may like. You can also add movies and TV shows to your watchlist and Fan.TV will keep track of when and where you can watch them.

Metacritic.com – See how the latest shows stack up against each other with the help from this review aggregator. Metacritic is arguably the Internet’s most reliable source for tracking professional reviews on TV, movies, music, games and more. If you’re curious what critics think about a new show, Metacritic combines the individual reviews and averages them out to produce a Metacritic score from 0-100. Metacritic is also a great way to search for new content. It can help you find that next binge-worthy series, or keep you from wasting your time on a flop. You can browse by the top-rated shows, or see a list of the newest shows ranked in order of their Metacritic score.

Take the Show on the Road with ImOn TV Everywhere

two girls using tablet in the car
Ever miss your favorite show because you couldn’t make it home in time? Nothing’s worse than seeing spoilers on Facebook before you get the chance to catch up. Thankfully, ImOn Communications has the perfect solution: TV Everywhere. But what exactly is TV Everywhere? Here’s how it works:

What is TV Everywhere?
TV Everywhere lets you watch your favorite TV programming whenever you can’t connect to your cable box. Watch live and on-demand footage from anywhere inside your house, or anywhere outside with a stable Internet connection. Get hooked on a new series on your next road trip. Catch the big game while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office. Or even watch a movie outside on the porch.

How is TV Everywhere different from streaming apps?
Unlike streaming apps such as Netflix, TV Everywhere lets you tune into live TV broadcasts—including live sports events—so you never miss out on the action. It also lets you enjoy on-demand programming from shows within days of their on-screen premiere, meaning you don’t have to wait for the full season to air in order to catch up on your favorite series.

How do I access TV Everywhere programming?
TV Everywhere gives you free access to programming from dozens of networks that you subscribe to through your ImOn cable TV package. Simply create a TV Everywhere account and then login to the TV Everywhere site. From here you can select the network and show you want to watch. You can watch live feeds or select pre-recorded programming that you can start, pause and finish at the best time for you.

In order to use TV Everywhere, you will need three things:

  1. An ImOn TV Everywhere Account
  2. A solid Internet connection
  3. An Internet-connected device like a laptop, smart phone or tablet.

    ImOn TV Everywhere channels

What movies/shows can I watch on TV Everywhere?
With TV Everywhere, you get access to programming offered through channels covered in your ImOn Cable TV subscription. The programming and types of programming will vary based on the network, as each channel determines the content for the TV Everywhere platform. Not every channel participates in ImOn TV Everywhere. However, ImOn is constantly adding new networks to the lineup, and currently offer more than 70 channels through TV Everywhere, including NBC, Disney and ESPN. View the current list of channels here.

How much does it cost?
TV Everywhere is 100% free with your ImOn cable TV subscription! Keep in mind that watching TV Everywhere outside the home on a mobile device may count against your mobile data plan. We recommend checking the terms of your plan before you start using TV Everywhere on a mobile device, as streaming may cause you to exceed your data plan.

Need help getting started? Visit our how-to page for a step-by-step guide.

Apps to Keep Your Kids Entertained and Learning All Summer Long!

It’s about that time of year again, sack lunches and homework filled evenings will soon be replaced with picnics and late summer nights. With the excitement of summer vacation, the kids will trade their backpacks and notebooks for pool toys and camping gear. But soon the excitement will fade and many of you will hear those all too common words “I’m Bored”.  So here are a few kid apps we found that will help to keep your kids entertained, but also learning, this summer.

Before you start downloading, make sure you have enough Internet speed to keep up this summer. With kids staying home all day and using the Internet for games, social media, and streaming videos, you may need more bandwidth to keep up. For more information about Internet speed, check out our previous block post “Confused about Internet Speed” or “Causes for Slow Internet Connections”.  You can also use the ImOn Speed Analyzer to help you figure out what Internet speed is right for the needs of your family.

Crayola ColorStudio App ImageCrayola ColorStudio HD
A free app that will turn your iPad into a coloring book. This app is available for iPhone and iPad.

 

Jetpack Joyride App ImageJetpack Joyride
This free game will be enjoyed by kids of all ages as you suit up with a selection of jetpacks and take to the skies on an exciting adventure. This app is available on iPhone, iPad, and Android

 

Lets Create! Pottery App Image

Let’s create! Pottery HD
A surprisingly addictive game that everyone can enjoy, even adults!  While you won’t become a real pottery expert, this app lets you create and paint virtual pots and then sell them to the highest bidder. We would like to point out that actual people are not bidding on the pots and real money is not used. You can do free style design or try the challenges which involve replicating posts using an image. This app is available for iPhone and iPad and the “lite version” is free but the full version costs $4.99.

Monument Valley App ImageMonument Valley
This captivating game will keep kids of all ages entertained for hours as they work to help Princess Ida through mysterious and mind-bending architecture. There are hidden paths, optical illusions, and barking Crow People. This app is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android, and cost $3.99.

Minion Run App ImageDespicable Me: Minion Run
Who doesn’t love the Minions?  Minion Rush is an action arcade game where Minions jump, fly, dodge obstacles, collect bananas, and defeat villains in a variety of different missions. This app is available for iPhone, iPad, & Android. The app is free but there are in app purchases available, but not buying them will not affect game play in any way.

Zoombinis App ImageZoombinis
Zoombinis is an educational math/logic game that was originally launched in the 1990s. In the game you must solve puzzles to help lead the Zoombinis to freedom. The game is designed for kids to explore, develop theories, and test their ideas. This game is available for iPad, Mac, Android, and Kindle Fire, and cost $4.99.

Cut the Rope App ImageCut the Rope 1 & 2
This is a wildly popular physics-based puzzle game featuring a green monster named “Om Nom”. Players must cut dangling ropes to get candy to Om Nom, all while attempting to collect as many stars as possible. This app is available for iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, Android, and Kindle Fire. The “lite version” is free but the full version costs $1.99.

For more add ideas visit:
http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/
https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/best-apps-for-kids-age-5-8
http://www.bestappsforkids.com/

Make sure to follow our blog for more helpful tips on how to get the most out of your Internet and Cable TV services. For more information about ImOn Communications and the services we provide, visit www.ImOn.net

ImOn Celebrates National Volunteer Month

National Volunteer WeekIn honor of National Volunteer Week, Jennifer Hildreth, Marketing & PR Coordinator at ImOn Communications, shares a little about ImOn’s view on volunteerism and how they engage their employees.

Why is volunteering important to ImOn Communications?
As a local company, ImOn Communications prides itself in being part of the Cedar Rapids community. Our belief is that local isn’t just an address. We don’t just work here; we live here, too. Whether we’re installing internet service or putting a fresh coat of paint on a neighborhood residence in need, we dedicate ourselves to making Cedar Rapids a great place to live and work.

Overview of ImOn’s employee volunteer program.ImOn Communications employees participating in Bowl for Kids' Sake 2017
Connecting with communities we serve is one of ImOn’s core values. We demonstrate this through actively giving back to local schools, cultural organizations, service groups, and nonprofits through donations of time and resources. In 2016 alone, ImOn sponsored or participated in more than 130 local community events and organizations.
ImOn Communications Employees participating in Day of CaringOne of the organizations we donate time to is Horizons’ Meals on Wheels program. Each month, ImOn employees deliver meals to local seniors, this equates to more than 1,000 meals each year. Employees at ImOn also participate in the annual United Way campaign and United Way Day of Caring. In addition, ImOn also contributes to the Eastern Iowa Freedom from Hunger Food Drive, and in 2016, donated 49,211 items — the most in overall donations from the 50 participating companies. To help encourage volunteering, ImOn offers employees up to 24 hours of paid volunteer time off.

What benefits has ImOn seen in engaging employees in volunteering?
Employee volunteering is important to ImOn. Our employees participate or volunteer in more than 70 local nonprofit organizations each year. We feel volunteering not only boosts employee morale and engagement, but it also allows individuals to share their interests with coworkers and develop their skills. Employee volunteering can also be a great team building activity.

 

Causes for Slow Internet Connections

Shocked and surprised boy on the Internet with laptop computerIf you are experiencing a slow Internet connection and download speeds, there may be many reasons for this. Here are a couple of things to consider:

Your Computer: The age and overall performance of your computer may be a factor. Also be aware that malware, spyware, and viruses can slow your computer down. Make sure you have some kind of software on your computer to protect yourself from these threats. ImOn TechHome is a desktop security software that can provide essential protection for your computer.

Wireless Routers: If you are utilizing a wireless router to create a Wi-Fi network within your home the quality and performance of the router may also be affecting your Internet speeds and connections. Be sure your wireless network is locked down so you are not sharing your connection with neighbors who are unauthorized and using your network without your permission. Click here for more information about locking down your router. While Wi-Fi may feel like the future, wired network connections still have a lot of advantages. If you want a more reliable connection with faster speed and no interference problems, a wired network connection is still the most reliable option out there. If you want the convenience of having a Wi-Fi connection here are a few tips for boosting your Wi-Fi signal.

Placement of Modem and Router: Where you put your modem and router can also greatly affect the strength of your signal and coverage area. Modems and routers placed on top of your PC tower, near an electrical outlet, or next to wires (including networking, telephone line and cable lines) can cause the speed of your Internet connection to be slow. This is due to interference from the other devices. You can also experience interference from other wireless networks in the area and some household appliances like cordless phones, baby monitors, and microwaves.

Hand holding a bundle of Ethernet cablesNumber of Connections: The number of individuals in your area using the Internet at the same time as you can also affect your Internet speed. If you have multiple computers or devices (game systems, cell phones, tablets, etc.) accessing the Internet at the same time, this can cause speed issues as the bandwidth is shared between those devices. Also, the day or time of day can also affects the overall speed of the Internet. Times when people are at home, e.g. home from work or school (after 3 PM) or weekends (Saturday and Sunday), are often slower times. Sites like Internet Traffic Report reports the flow of data around the world. This site can give you a rough idea of busy times.

Internet Speed: First off, when we refer to Internet speed we are talking about bandwidth, or the amount of data that can be transferred over an Internet connection per second. For example, with a 30Mb Internet speed you can download up to 30Mb of data per second. It is important to know that bandwidth is a finite number for each Internet connection. When several people or devices are using a single Internet connection, the bandwidth is shared among them. That means lower bandwidth is being assigned to each device, resulting in slower Internet speed on each device. The more people, laptops, tablets, game consoles, and smartphones you have in your household, the higher the Internet speed and bandwidth you will need. At ImOn, we provide an easy way to help you figure out what Internet speed is right for the needs of your family. Just CLICK HERE to go to the new ImOn Speed Analyzer. Then answer 4 easy questions about your Internet habits and usage. Then the ImOn Speed Analyzer will recommend the best Internet speed for your needs. That way you get the Internet speed you need based on the number of people and devices you have in your home. But aren’t paying for something you don’t need or won’t use.

The Website you are visiting: The composition of the website you are visiting, including text, images, and videos, makes a difference on how fast your Internet speed appears to be. A website composed of mainly text loads faster than a website, such as YouTube, which is mostly pictures and movies. You may also have too many programs, games, or windows running on your computer at one time, which will slow down your computer and Internet speed.

Protecting Your Electronics From Lightning

Purple Thunderstorm Weather Thunder Storm VioletAccording to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, the United States experiences 22 million lightning strikes each year. Each lightning bolt can carry millions of volts of electricity. To put that into perspective, most home wiring delivers electricity at 120 volts. With all that power, lightning is responsible for several billions of dollars in property damage each year. This is damage to buildings, communication systems, power lines, and electrical equipment. But there are a few steps you can take to help protect your electronics from lightning strikes.

Get a Surge Protector:
First off, it is important to know that power strips and surge protectors are two different things. Power strips are just multi-outlet products meant as an extension to a wall outlet. While some of these do come with some sort of circuit breaker in them, they don’t offer any more protection from power surges than plugging something directly into the wall outlet.

A surge protector, on the other hand, acts like a shield, blocking excess power form reaching your electronics and offering some level of protection against power spikes. But how much protection depends on what kind of surge protector you have. Below are a few things to consider when shopping for surge protectors from Lifehacker.com and cnet.com.
What to look for in a surge protector:

  • Joule Rating or Absorption Rate: Surge protectors offer protection in amounts called joules. The joule rating on a surge protector tells you how much electricity the surge protector can absorb over time before it fails. Think of this like a reservoir of protections. If a product has 1000 joules of protection, it can take ten 100 joule hits, or one 1000 joule hit. For this reason, the higher the number the better. The Home Depot recommends getting a surge protector with a joule rating over 600 for normal household use.
  • Response Time: Surge protectors don’t kick in immediately. The response time is the length of time, or delay, it takes for the surge protector to respond to a power surge. You want the fastest possible time for the best protection. Look for surge protectors that responds in less than one nanosecond.
  • Clamping Voltage: The clamping voltage is the voltage needed to trigger the surge protector. Or essentially, when the surge protector wakes up and starts absorbing energy to help protect your electronics. The lower the clamp voltage the better and it is recommended to not get a clamping voltage over 400 V.
  • UL Seal: Make sure that the surge protector you are planning to buy is certified by Underwriter’s Laboratories. Underwriter’s Laboratories is the leading product safety testing and certification organization. It will guarantee that the surge protector you buy will actually protect the equipment you plug into it.
  • Wear-Out Warning: Try to look for a surge protector with some kind of light or alarm that will let you know when the surge protector is not working. It’s not always obvious when a surge protector stops working. That’s because many surge protectors will continue to provide electricity to connected devices even when the surge protection capabilities are destroyed. Without an indicator light or alarm, you have no way of knowing if your protector is still functioning properly.
  • Number and Type of Outlets Available: Electrical/power surges are not limited to electrical lines and electrical outlets. They can travel along any wire. So you may want to look for a surge protector that protects different types of wiring like cable lines, phone cords, and Ethernet cables. Some surge protectors even include a USB port to help protect your phones and tablets while charging. Also, think about the things you are going to plug into your surge protector before you buy. Make sure there are enough outlets and that they are spaced far enough apart to allow you to connect plugs with bulky built-in transformers.


Unplug your Devices:
The safest way to protect your devices from power surges is to unplug them before a thunderstorm or when they are not in use. Unfortunately, this may not always be possible.

Backup Your Data:
While we recommend backing up your files regularly in case of computer crashes or viruses, it could turn into a life saver if your computer or mobile device does get fried by lightning. It would just add insult to injury because not only would you lose your computer you would also lose all your photos, movies, and important documents. One option is to use ImOn TechHome to keep your important memories and files safe.

Tree Trimming:
High winds can cause trees and branches to fall on your home or on electrical wires. Be sure to remove diseased or damaged limbs so they’re gone before the next storm. While pruning can be done anytime, it is always good to avoid hot, dry periods and extreme winter cold. If tree branches do fall on power lines, make sure to stay away from the lines and contact your local utility company. If branches fall on your ImOn cable lines, contact ImOn Customer Care to schedule a time for an ImOn Service Technician to come out and fix the issue after power is restored.

Check Your Insurance:
Even if you take all the precautionary steps possible, lightning may still damage some of your property or electronics. Check your homeowners or renters insurance plans to make sure they cover damage to your home and electronics caused by lighting.

Cable Confusions!

If you’re like most people, the back of your entertainment center is probably a mess of wires. But, why do you need so many wires connected to your TV and what exactly do they all do?  Here is a quick reference to help explain some of the most common cables you may have and what they are used for. And if you are sick of all the messy cables, we have also thrown in a couple tips to help you organize them.

Coaxial Cable
Coaxial Cable ImageCoaxial Cable is a copper-based cable used primarily for audio and video purposes.  It is commonly used to connect your TV to a cable TV service/provider, like ImOn.  In fact, you probably have at least one coaxial cable wall outlet in almost every room of your home. Besides bringing you your ImOn cable TV service, coaxial cable can also be used with other receivers, cable boxes, antennas, and modems.

Component CablesComponent Cable Image
If you have an older HDTV or an SDTV you probably use component cables to connect your DVD player or gaming console to your TV. Component cables are a set of three cables usually colored red, yellow, and white. The yellow cable provides the TV picture while the red and white cables provide the audio. While component cables do provide high-performance video connection from HDTVs to DVD players and game consoles, they are still digital-to analog conversions that can degrade the quality. They have been replaced by HDMI cables as the preferred connection method for high-definition video.

HDMI Cables
HDMI Cable ImageHDMI Cables stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface cables and are the new standard in providing both audio and video transmission for high definition televisions.  A single HDMI cable will provide both HD picture and sound and can be used for connecting Blue-Ray players, HD-capable digital cable boxes, computers, and over-the-top media players to your HDTV.  The HD video and audio content is transmitted digitally through the HDMI cable which means there is little to no signal degradation, even over long distances. For more on HDMI cables and their uses visit https://www.techwalla.com/articles/what-is-an-hdmi-cable-used-for

Digital Optical Audio CablesDigital Audio Cable Image
A Digital Optical Audio cable is a fiber optic cable used to connect DVD players or a set-top box to a sound bar or home theater system. Because it is a fiber optic cable, it transmits pure high-quality audio through light. Note that some audio components have moved to using HDMI instead of a Digital Optical Audio Cable, but there are still many products new and old that use this type of cable.

USB
USB stands for Universal Serial Bus and is the most popular connection used to connect a computer to devices such as digital cameras, printers, scanners, and external hard drives. But many new TVs now have a USB port on them. This is often used for plugging in a hard drive, or flash drive, to view media files on your television.

For a diagram on where each wire plugs in on your HDTV visit: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/03/21/technology/personaltech/hooking-up-a-new-tv-which-cable-goes-where.html?_r=2&emc=ctb2_20120322&nl=technology&


Cable Organization Ideas:

Now that you know what all the TV cables do, here are a few ideas from Pinterest on how to tame the mess of cords behind your entertainment center.

Cable ties or wires:
If you are having a difficult time with unruly wires, try containing them with cable ties, wire ties, zip ties, or Velcro. You can get as high tech or low tech as you want with this. You can reuse a wire tie off a bread wrapper or spend up to $20 for rubber cable ties.

Wire Labels and ID tags: Cable ID Tags
ID your plugs and wires with labels. That way you don’t have to guess which power plug and cable belongs with which gadget. You can just use masking tape and a marker or try reusing the plastic bread tags.  You can also purchase ID tags and wire wraps online or at an electronic store.

3M Command hooks: Command hooks for cable organizers
The great thing about Command Hooks is that they don’t damage your walls or cabinets, but they allow you to hang cords up to keep them off the floor. Plus they come in a variety of sizes and colors.

Sock Cable Wrap:
Use sock to cover cords and wiresAnother inexpensive way to help contain cords is by using a stretchy trouser sock.  Just cut off the toe of the sock and run the cables up through the sock to keep them together. The sock contains and covers up the cords. Plus you can get a sock that is a close match to your wall color to help conceal the cords better.

Plug Hub:  If you don’t mind spending a little more money, you can purchase a Plug Hub to help organize and hide your cables.  The box comes with cord wrappers to alleviate extra wiring and allows you to hide a full power strip or surge protector. The down side is that you now have a large plastic box to hide.
Plug Hub image

Using OBS Studio for Streaming Online

Video Game Controller ImageThe rising popularity of video gaming has also increased the popularity of video game reviews, strategy guides, and walkthroughs. In the past, most of these were written and published in either books or video game magazines. But gamers are now turning to video-sharing sites like YouTube to share this information with other gamers.

If you missed last week’s post, avid gamer & ImOn employee, Jacob C. shared tips on what you need to be a video game streamer. He explained the computer and Internet speeds required, different capture devices, and the streaming software needed to become a video game streamer on sites like YouTube and Twitch.TV.  In the post, Jacob also mentioned a free and open source streaming software option called OBS Studio.  Jacob actually uses this site for his own video game streaming.

For those of you not familiar with OBS Studio, OBS stands for “Open Broadcaster Software” and was made by gamers for gamers. It was designed for recording and streaming live video content to allow users to share their gaming, art, and entertainment with the world. It also has other practical uses besides just video game streaming.

For those of you interested in trying OBS Studio for your streaming, here are a few tips from Jacob on how to configure your OBS Studio settings for the best quality video streaming possible. If you aren’t familiar with OBS Studio, check out the variety of tutorials on the OBS Studio Website.

Configuring OBS Studio for Video Game Streaming:

  1. To add a source, click the ‘+’ symbol under Sources. A source can be anything from your game, to a webcam, or your computer screen.  Basically anything you want visible on your stream. For now, select Game Capture.  You can come back here later to add additional sources. Feel free to name this source whatever you like.  When finished, click OK.
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  2. The next screen lets you configure what type of window to capture.  By default, it will capture any full screen game.  When a game is running, you’ll be able to select the specific game from the Mode drop down.  When finished, click OK.
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  3. Now that we have a game added, let’s go into the Settings to configure our stream.
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  4. Click on Stream in the Settings menu. Select your preferred streaming service and enter your Stream Key.  Your Stream Key can be found in the account settings for your stream service.
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  5. Next, click on the Output Change the Output Mode to Advanced.  This will give you additional output options.  Set your Bitrate somewhere between 2000 and 3000.  The higher the Bitrate, the better your stream will look.  However, viewers with a poor Internet connection may have trouble watching a high bitrate stream.  Make sure to set your Keyframe Interval to 2.
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    6. The last settings you’ll want to change are located on the Video As most videogames are played in a 1080p resolution, set your Base Resolution to 1920×1080.  Change the Output Resolution and Common FPS Values to match your needs.  Some popular configurations are: 1280×720 at 30 FPS, 1280×720 at 60 FPS, or 1920×1080 at 30 FPS.
    The settings that work best for you will largely be determined by how powerful your computer is and how clear you want the stream to be.  Most people agree that a 720p video at 60 FPS looks better than a 1080p video at 30 FPS.  When finished, click OK.

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7. When you’re ready to stream, click the Start Streaming button.
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For more details, check out Twitch.TV’s OBS Guide