Why HBO GO is a No Go for the Caribbean right now

A friend recently informed me that the HBOGO service had launched recently in the Caribbean so I decided to give it a go. To be honest, I was excited by this news as I am always encouraged when new services are expanded to support the Caribbean. The Caribbean is often a forgotten and misunderstood market that is ignored by US based businesses. This state of affairs in my opinion represents missed opportunities for these narrow minded companies and more importantly as a consequence leave many people in the region poorly or underserved.

I admire and prefer companies like Netflix and Amazon that engage with this region and generally take a more born global approach to their service offerings as opposed to the North American and European centric viewpoints of far too many other businesses. I wish more companies would take their cues from these two above and others like them. They don't always get it right but they do try and its clear that they build having global reach into their product plans from the outset.

Given, this reality I jumped on the prospect to try yet another streaming service and give HBO GO a shot even though I don't currently subscribe to any of there channels through my regular cable service and very rarely watch any of the episodes of their popoular series because I want to support services that also support my region.

Screenshot_2018-09-01-HBO-Go-LATAM

However, I immediately was left feeling frustrated and disappointed and ultimately decided now wasn't the right time to sign up. Let me explain the reasons why.

Firstly, I couldn't find where to signup on the web because I was greated by this unpleasant welcome screen.

Screenshot_2018-09-01-HBO-GO

Apparently, the main site hasn't been updated to remove the geo-block and instead one has to use an alternative URL that is dedicated to Latin America. Wait, What? Why not just redirect to the correct page or better yet not have a block on the main site at all?

Yes, that's right. It took me 10 minutes to find the link after searching through my twitter stream. Let's not even talk about the fact that the Caribbean and Latin America are not equivalent. Anyways, assuming you get over this hurdle and actually find the link it turns out that you cannot sign up on the Web. Instead you have to sign up via the mobile app!

Screenshot_2018-09-02-HBO-Go-LATAM

This seems silly. Why not allow me to sign up via the web? Especially since signing up via either the App Store or Play Store will mean that one will incur the 30% platform tax inaddition to the monthly subscription costs which is approximately 15USD for a much smaller HBO content library of 2500 titles. No Thanks. Thus making the service even more expensive in a cost sensitive region. Also I thought the trend was for companies to try to avoid the platform tax.

Pricing is a tricky subject and that alone won't rule HBO GO out as people ascribe different values to different services and in a free market it is the content owner or distributors right to try and maximize by responding to the price elasticity of demand for their entertainment offerings. So I could overlook the pricing strategy since quantity is not a conveyor of quality.

However, the straw that broke the Camel's back for me was the realization that their Apps have not all been updated yet and they are still blocking users based on the geography depending on the platform being used (To be honest not all too surprising given the website situation). In particular, the App for Amazon Fire was still locked to the USA region. Therefore, HBO was trying to tell me that after paying 15USD/month I wouldn't be able to watch the programming on my TV but instead I was going to have to accept being limited to my mobile phone/tablet or otherwise have to come up with a crazy workaround to stream from my computer to the television. You gotta be kidding me HBO.

HBO GO in the Caribbean is off to a start. Although, not a particularly good one. The launch was lazy and thoughtless (or limited by technical deficiencies in the platform). Nevertheless, I'm glad the region is supported and I hope HBO will listen, keep trying, and finally get it right. One day. Hopefully soon.

Tidal is Good but Deezer is even better

Awhile back, I wrote about Tidal and commended the service for not only being a decent music streaming service but also for being a widely available service internationally which is in contrast to the usual limited availability approach adopted by many alternative providers that only offer coverage in North America and Europe.

However, notwithstanding my previous recommendation in the time since, I am pleased to have discovered an even better alternative which is Deezer. Deezer has French origins and the service does a far better job of being a superb from a user experience standpoint and also has a free tier which Tidal lacks as well as a vastly superior recommendation engine in the form of Flow.

Deezer-Now-Playing

Give it a try you won't be disappointed.

Deezer-Playlists-1

The fact that a smaller company can offer better international support puts Apple Music and Spotify the two market leaders to shame. I am yet to get the narrow minded approach of ignoring the world outside of the USA, Canada, Australia and the EU. C'mon do better.

Where is Technology Headed?

The video may be abit long but it provides a very good and insightful presentation on what the future might look like.

It's definitely worth the time investment as it's the best summary of the current trends affecting the direction of the technology industry that I have seen recently.

Google, Please Spare Us the Frustration. Just Stop Making Consumer Hardware

A recent update has effectively bricked my generation one chromecast. In my experience with Google products, it seems that too often they rapidly release updates with minimal quality checks. This leads to otherwise avoidable errors popping up and loads of frustration for their userbase. For a company with limited customer service capabilities largely reliant on automation versus human interaction to solve issues one would expect more care to be taken and everything to be done to minimize potential issues. Instead the approach is one of move ahead and break things often for no discernable consumer gain. Maybe this would be tolerable in another world but in the one we live in there are many examples of other companies that move just as fast without such show stopping quality lapses.

The problem is worse still for any users of their older and less supported products. These people are usually shit out of luck when it comes to the company. Someone needs to teach them that consumer tech is not the same as releasing a new version of search. I mean if they can't get these small consumer updates right how is any enterprise supposed to trust them? No wonder GCP also struggles. This company fails miserablely in the customer care and support department.

This most recent fail just adds to my list of broken Google products. I have had 3 Nexus devices either bricked by a software update or had to be returned due to hardware defects. Around the time I had my issues I was also witnessing one friend as well as a co-worker also have devices fail due to similar defects. The error rate on their products is just horrible especially when juxtaposed to how few devices they sell compared to other players in the market.

I can say now that I will never ever spend my money on another Google made kit due to their scanty support, unreliable hardware and buggy software updates.

Write Drunk, Edit Sober.

Write drunk; edit sober.

Attributed to Ernest Hemingway

I think this quote perfectly expresses how the pursuit of perfection often becomes a distraction from and an inhibitor to the creative process. Well said, whoever uttered it.

Container Based Clouds Are Hard To Upgrade

Containers running on cloud services such as DigitalOcean are great. However, they do have one flaw related to the procedure needed to update the container OS. It gets complicated depending on the way the provider configures the underlying environment and it is not always as simple as redeploying a new image.

Sometimes one just wants to run a DNF system update etc but it is not possible. Who wants to match the kernel version of the container/VM with the host version provided and supported by the cloud vendor? No one has that time. Let's keep it simple please.

Tidal is Good and Born Global

I have known about Tidal for awhile now but for some reason I never decided to give it a try until this week. Sadly enough it was the tragedy of Linkin Park that prompted me.
Tidal Screenshot
I had some trepidation about taking the plunge as I was sure there would be some issue that would crop up after signup. Maybe the common Credit Card not accepted or another stupid region block annoyance were my main fears. However, the service is surprisingly good and whats better it is not encumbered by unnecessary and pesky region restrictions. To my delight I had no issue getting straight to pleasing my ears with beautiful sounds. It was totally refreshing not to witness banners like the below or worse still be made to jump through hoops such as VPNs etc to access the service.
Spotify Not Available
I am always disgusted when it encounter signs like the above. Apple Music, Spotify and there ilk have nothing on this service when it comes to liberating access. Tidal treats traffic and the people on the internet equally. Furthermore, it delivers a really enjoyable and mostly affordable experience. Let's be real i'm still going to be playing songs and discovering artists on YouTube but I have no problem paying for quality when the experience is available. It's just a whole other level of satisfaction and pleasure. Keep it that way Tidal.

There Are No Good Laptops in 2017

It is nearly impossible to find a laptop that matches what should be the basic requirements for any machine worth it's salt in 2017.
Basic Laptop Requirements for 2017
I haven't even added price as a factor as no matter what price one is willing to pay at the moment you won't be satisfied and will be compromising. All the current machines available are deficient.

The closest thing to worthy available seems to be the Razer Blade Stealth. Manufacturers out there please starting making decent systems so my money can leave my pocket.

Why is Apple News App Region Restricted?

Apple apparently region restricts some of its core apps via the App Store. As I discovered recently its News App is one such application. Personally, I find this behaviour very strange since news information is a globally relevant thing and Apple must know that it has customers who live outside of the G7 countries. Furthermore, accessing news content and collating it has no charge associated with it to a distributor such as Apple unlike say Music and Movies where copyright has to be negotiated with the Record Labels and Movie Studios. The publishing industry to their downfall does not have a tight control of distribution because they rely on the Ad Business model and therefore deliberately openly share content freely to attract as many eyes as possible. This makes news media uniquely attractive to the various Tech Titans such as Apple due to the low cost dynamics that enable them to leverage their massive platforms to add value.

The restriction situation needs to end. Every other major aggregator such as Flipboard, Google, Microsoft and others can do it and make it freely accessible to everyone worldwide. What's up with that Apple?

I still love your products, especially the iPhone but do better when it comes to content distribution. Go global or go home.

MP3 Isn't Dead. It's Liberated

Great take from Stephen Hackett at 512Pixels. I think they got it right on this one.

There are definitely better audio formats with greater compression and quality than what MP3 provides but now that the patents have expired the format is likely to live on instead dying.