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Streaming Wars: What Platforms are the Best

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There was a brief moment when consumers realized that streaming services were the cheaper alternative to cable. Your brother’s Netflix login and your downstairs neighbor’s WiFi were all you needed to get by. Welp! Times have changed. Over the last few years, the list of different streaming platforms have grown a little out of hand, so might say. With services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Prime, and others offering exclusive content, you might find yourself strapped for cash trying to keep up with them all. Let’s break down the options to see what streaming platform(s) are the best fit.

What to Compare

Depending on the platform, streaming services can offer a variety of different options. This article aims to compare some of the more prominent services.

  • Pricing
  • How many screens can simultaneously stream
  • Live TV
  • Commercials
  • Original Programming

Netflix: The Grand-daddy of all Streaming

Netflix started as a subscription service that mails you movies so that you don’t have to go to the store. Back in 2000, Blockbuster had the chance to buy Netflix but turned it down

Now, Netflix is a streaming Juggernaut with millions of subscribers watching from their TV’s computers, and phones.

What are they offering?

Plans: 3- Basic ($8.99), Standard ($13.99), Premium (17.99)

Simultaneous Streams: Basic-1, Standard-2, Premium-4

Live TV: No

Commercials: No

Original Programming: Heck Yes

Big Originals: House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, The Queen’s Gambit, The Crown, Cobra Kai – the list goes on

Thoughts

Netflix has a gigantic library of streamable content from movies to tv shows to comedy specials. The innovative “Are You Still Watching” and “Skip Intro” features are essential for bingeing an entire series in a weekend. Probably the giant feather in their cap is their original content. It started with their acquisition of the cult classic, Arrested Development, and the gritty political drama series, House of Cards; Netflix has developed into an Academy Award-winning production company. 

Hulu: streaming meets live

Hulu began as a website where you could stream TV shows online the day after they aired. They had commercials, it lagged, and the selection wasn’t impressive. Nowadays, Hulu is one of the leading streaming services. They are the Android to Netflix’s iPhone, the Pepsi to Netflix’s Coke … or maybe it’s the other way around.

What are they offering?

Plans: 4 – Basic ($5.99/month), Premium ($11.99/month), Basic + Live TV ($64.99/month) Premium + Live TV ($70.99/month)

Simultaneous Screens: 2 screens can play Hulu simultaneously for all plans unless you add on the unlimited screens package for $9.99

Live TV: Yes

Commercials: Basic – yes, Premium – sort of 

Original Programming: Yes

Big Originals: The Handmade’s Tale, The Hardy Boys, Animaniacs

Thoughts

The significant advantage of Hulu over Netflix is live TV streaming. Streamers can watch and record Live TV, including local sports. The benefit of watching football while you are sent out to get groceries cannot be overstated. It’s true, even the Premium ‘ad-free’ plan still has some commercials, but these are mostly in movies they offer from different channel’s catalog. For example, any movie that TBS airs, Hulu will let you stream whenever – just with commercials. Otherwise, Premium will let you binge Bob’s Burgers ad-free for hours and hours. 

Disney+: for children young and old

Remember those commercials telling you to make sure to buy the newest Disney movie before it gets locked away in the Disney vault? It turns out Disney+ is that vault, and for a modest monthly price, you have access to everything that the massive Disney catalog has to offer.

What are they offering?

Plans: 1- $6.99/month or $69.99/year

Simultaneous Streams: 4

Live TV: No

Commercials: No

Originals: Yes, but that’s a loaded question

Big Originals: The Mandalorian

Thoughts

Put simply: Disney is incredible. They practically have a monopoly on our childhood. With access to any Disney title you can think of, Disney+ turns your TV or phone into a Nostalgia machine. Remember, Disney now owns Darth Vader, Spider-Man, Buzz Lightyear, and Homer Simpson. Since it went online a year ago, the only noteworthy exclusive content has been The Mandalorian. Disney has promised a slew of new content coming up, including several Star Wars Universe and Marvel shows. 

HBO Max: original premium content channel made modern

In many ways, Netflix has HBO to thank for their model. HBO was the first premium subscription for movies and original content if you wanted more than what cable had to offer. Finally, they’ve adapted their model to fit a modern scheme.

What are they offering?

Plans: 1 – $14.99/month – free with a traditional HBO subscription

Simultaneous Streams: 3

Live TV: No

Commercials: No

Originals: Big time

Big Originals: Game of Thrones, Sopranos, The Wire

Thoughts

HBO’s entire back catalog combined with all Warner Bros titles packs a lot of content into one app. With the announcement that WB will be streaming their big 2021 titles on HBO Max the same day they’re released into theaters, consumers could witness something that’s never really been done before. Is the movie watching experience as we know it gone for good?

Prime Video: a perk of speedy delivery

Amazon: ever heard of ‘em? That little online book-selling operation has extended its services to include online streaming. Prime Video is included with your Prime subscription that gets you free two-day shipping and overnight delivery. 

What are they offering?

Plans: 2- Prime Annual ($119/year), Prime monthly ($12.99/month),  Prime Video ($8.99/month)

Simultaneous Streams: 3

Live TV: No

Commercials: No

Originals: Yes

Big Originals: The Boys, The Marvelous Ms. Maisel, Hunters, Jack Ryan

Thoughts

Prime Video works as a hub for all the digital content you purchase on Amazon as well as the streaming service. Even if you cancel your subscription, you will still view the movies and shows you bought. Most of the good stuff on Prime, you still need to rent or buy, and they are still working on building their original content.

Youtube TV: the cable cutter

Google launched Youtube TV as a cable-cutting service in 2017. Streamers would have full access to all their favorite cable channels, including sports like the NFL Network.

What are they offering?

Plans: 1 ($64.99/month)

Simultaneous Streams: 3

Live TV: Yes

Commercials: Yes

Originals: No

Thoughts

Youtube TV is strictly an excuse to ditch your cable provider. It is the only other Live TV provider besides Hulu and even offers a few more channels with the sports networks and Viacom (MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon). Still, it provides no original content and no offline streaming.

The Others

There are a handful of other streaming services out there as well. Apple TV +, Sling, Epix, and Peacock offer their own list of features but don’t quite stack up next to the other giants. Just yet anyway

What It All Comes Down To

No matter what you subscribe to, it seems there will always be a time when you come into work, and somebody will ask you if you watched the most recent episode of (insert show here) and you say ‘no, I don’t have (insert streaming service here). Then they rattle off all the features and benefits of that streaming service and tell you that you need it. Before you know it, you’re spendings $140/month on streaming services and missing the days when all you needed was a cable box. In the end, most people have multiple subscriptions. It’s just a matter of figuring out which you can get away without needing.

Ask yourself these questions:

Do you have kids/ have a nostalgic side? Disney+ and HBO Max (Sesame Street)

Do you need live sports? (Hulu + Live TV or Youtube TV)

Do you like water cooler talk? Netflix has the largest selection of talked-about original content.

Are you a nerd? Disney+ has everything Marvel and Star Wars, and the new stuff is around the corner.

Then there’s a matter of splitting the subscriptions with friends and family. This may blur the lines of ethical behavior depending on who you ask, but that’s for you to decide.

 Whichever streaming services you choose, there is no shortage of material, and you will never get to the end of it. Maybe, get outside. Go for a walk. Some Vitamin D could do you some good.

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Lifestyle

Best Zoom Fails

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As our stay-at-home situation continues, expect the ongoing online classes, meetings, conferences, interviews, and virtual court sessions. Although Zoom greatly benefited us through these trying times, there are always some epic fail moments that we wished never happened. Well, that’s the downside of video calls. No wonder I’m always paranoid if my webcam or mic is turned off. Here’s 10 of the best zoom fails on the internet we can learn from: 

Zooming While Driving

It’s ironic how a state senator drives while on a video meeting. As the video gains attention online, Sen. Brenner clarifies that he wasn’t distracted while driving. His focus is on the road while listening to the meeting. However, it’s amusing to watch the senator multitask the Zoom meeting and his driving. Well, that’s a busy life for you. 

“I’m Not A Cat” 

Lawyer Rod Ponton accidentally entered the virtual court case in a cute kitten filter. It’s funny how his frantic voice matches the worried expression on the filter. The highlight of this video is when the lawyer assures he’s not a cat. Well, don’t worry. I’m sure the judge is aware you’re not a different species. 

The Bathroom Trip

Aside from being one of the best zoom fails ever, it’s also the one mistake we never want to make. It’s unavoidable to visit the bathroom once nature calls. However, this Zoom meeting suddenly went wrong when Jennifer forgot to turn off her camera. Imagine the embarrassment once she realized her colleagues joined her bathroom trip. Yikes. 

Rocco’s Parliament Debut

Rocco, a UK parliament member’s cat, decides to interrupt the meeting while flexing its tail to the other members. It’s funny how John Nicolson casually said, “I apologize for my cat’s tail,” once he noticed the slight interruption. Well, the perks of working from home with your pet, never a dull moment.  

I Can See Your Underwear!

Another perk of working from home is never wearing pants. But, of course, you don’t have to broadcast it to everyone to see. This is not a Zoom fail video, but it’s too good not to include on the list. The lesson of this Google Hangouts call? Never forget to end the call once you’re done with the team meeting.

Always Double-Check Your Zoom Name

It’s always an awkward moment if your Zoom screen name is not appropriate to be used for formal meetings. So aside from your microphone and webcam, never forget to double-check your name.

“Are you okay? You’re upside-down.” 

Another filter failure strikes when Tom Emmer, a Republican lawmaker, got stuck upside down during a virtual meeting. This is one of the reasons why we need to double-check our equipment before an important meeting. The best part? His colleagues reassure Tom by saying, “at least you’re not a cat.” 

“Did he fall?”

This video features a teacher trying to get his students engaged in his class. First, he jokes that he’s at the ledge of the Empire State Building. Then, he continues by faking that he’s falling, but the joke turns real when he falls off his chair. At least he made his students laugh, right? 

Zoom Fail Double-Kill 

@michael_winner21

Not 200 people witnessing the most embarrasing thing that has ever happened to me #zoom #fail #embarrased #college #FallDIY #ThatWitch #fyp #trending

♬ original sound – Michael Winner

Yes, another TikTok failed. If you think painting your face blue will go unnoticed in your Zoom class, well, think again. If you believe that’s embarrassing, how about panicking and ranting on TikTok while thinking the mic is off? 

This Zoom is an instant double-kill for this poor soul. It keeps getting worse! If you make sure to follow these simple rules, you’ll avoid being listed on the best Zoom fails list.

Working from home? Learn how to optimize your at-home workspace.

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The Official Rules to Binge-Watching with Your Significant Other

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It’s happened to all of us. You started binge-watching a show with your significant other, and then somebody does the unthinkable: They watch an episode without you. Or the last episode you watched ended on a crazy cliffhanger, and you can’t wait to see what happens next, but your partner is dragging their feet to watch again. This is unacceptable.

But it’s not their fault. It’s not like there are official rules to binging TV with your partner. We’ve all just been navigating this crazy, crazy world on our own. Well, I’ve changed all that. After time and thoughtful consideration, I have prepared a list of rules to clear up any discrepancies and settle all disputes. So read below and share with your partner. I present to you, once and for all, the Official Rules to Binge-Watching with Your Significant Other.

1.    The Pilot Episode Principal

You and your significant other cannot officially commit to binge-watching a show until after you have both assessed the first episode. Maybe you and your significant other set out to watch that epic fantasy show with all the violence and nudity that ended a few years ago. Or maybe you want to catch up on the superhero show so you can watch the finale at the end of the week in real-time. Either way, you need a taste of the show before you join in on this adventure.

Watch the first episode together and talk about it before committing.

What did you think?

How did you both feel about it? Did the show grab you? Do you both like the genre? Was it too confusing? Did you like the humor? These are the questions to ask each other before watching the next episode. You might not be completely sold on the show. One might like it more than the other, and that’s fine. More on that later. Just get a gauge for your partner’s interest. Maybe she laughed harder than you did. Maybe he’s more into than you.

2.    Thou Shalt Not Cheat

Here it is in writing: No watching the show without your significant other. This cannot be stated enough. Watching the show by yourself is a HIGH CRIME. This is akin to infidelity. Once the trust is broken, it is difficult to regain.

The Sleeping Amendment

It’s 3 am, and you’re 6 episodes into your binge. Your favorite character walks in on his best friend in bed with his wife. Before the best friend can say anything, your character reaches in the dresser, pulls out a revolver, and shoots them both dead! Your jaw drops. You can’t believe it. You look at your girlfriend to see her reaction… and she’s snoring. Credits roll, and Netflix asks:

That question is for both of you. Translation: your binge-watching is over for the night. You cannot continue to the next episode while your significant other is sleeping. You may, however, finish any episode that you started together. It doesn’t matter if they fell asleep with ten minutes left or if they fell asleep during the opening credits. So, it is written.

3.    It’s Called Binge-Watching. Not Snacking.

You’ve both agreed to binge? Great, now get on with it. But remember, they call it binge-watching for a reason. The term binging refers to indulging in an activity to excess. Binge drinking does not mean a glass of wine with dinner. No one binge eats a salad. Similarly, you don’t binge-watch a show one episode at a time.

Netflix, Hulu, Amazon: they all conveniently have an automatic ‘Play Next’ feature. It’s there for a reason. You might not get to watch a whole season in a sitting. Maybe one evening, you only have time for a single episode. And that’s okay. But burning through the show as quickly as possible is the goal.

4.    The Mercy Rule

If you have committed to binge-watching a show with your significant other, but over time you realize that you’re just not feeling it as much as they are, cut it loose. I know you value the quality time with your partner as much as the show itself, but sometimes it’s okay to let it go. Tapping out of a binge is the respectable and dignified course of action. In doing so, you give your significant other permission to go on without you and watch the show in their spare time.

In doing so, three provisions come forward:

  1. You, henceforth known as the Quitter, may request a recap of what you missed should you decide to jump back in.
  2. The Quitter may watch the show on their own time should they wish to catch up, but their significant other is NOT REQUIRED to rewatch with them.
  3. The Quitter is not expected to watch the show during quality time. They gave up on the show; it is no longer their cross to bear.

5.    The Statute of Limitations

Sometimes life gets in the way of what’s really important. Maybe you picked up an extra shift, or you need to help your sister and her boyfriend move because he’s a scrawny loser who doesn’t have any friends to help. These things happen. But binging with your partner should take some priority. If your partner is consistently waiting for you to make time to watch your show together, resentment builds. Agree on a maximum acceptable time between viewings. This is different for every couple. Whether it’s two days or a week, set a cap for time off. If the said time has elapsed, either party is free to ignore the Cheater Rule.

6.    After Binge-Watching, Never Fall Behind Again

If you and your partner binge-watch to catch up on a show that is on air, you have not graduated to the status of a ‘regular viewer.’ This is an elite status that is not as common as it was 20 years ago. Some people prefer to wait for a show to end before they binge the whole thing from start to finish. But for those who enjoy a regular viewer status get to talk about the show with other viewers in real-time. You can talk about the latest episode at work, and you no longer have to run from spoilers. That’s why it is important to stay caught up on the show.

Should you and your partner miss the show when it airs (or when you agree to watch it), you have until the airing of the next episode to watch the show together. If you still haven’t watched the last episode before the day of the new episode, both parties can catch up on their own. If you couldn’t spare an hour all week, that’s on you.

By Reading This You Have Officially Agreed to These Rules for Binge-Watching

There you have it. No longer will you be able to hide behind your ignorance. These rules have been made clear. Now that you and your partner have read these rules, the slate is officially wiped clean. Any grudges or punishments for past injustices are no longer valid. But from now onward, both parties are expected to binge by the rules.

Be sure to check back with us for our upcoming article on Amendments, Exceptions, and Acceptable Punishments.

Looking for a comprehensive list on all the streaming services and their prices? Check out this article.

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Lifestyle

Staycation: My Ultimate Guide to the Best Holiday at Home

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Going on a staycation isn’t exactly new. But at the height of the pandemic, it has slowly become a norm for those who want to have a relaxing time yet have limited mobility. If you are not used to this type of R & R, I got you covered. I have here the ultimate guide for a staycation so that you can enjoy it and at the same time, temporarily forget your worries. These tips are lifted from my current staycation, so I know that it works. 

What is a Staycation? 

When I say staycation, this refers to a vacation typically near your home. It’s a practical way to remove stress, and it’s also more eco-friendly considering won’t leave much of a carbon footprint. Some choose nearby hotels or bed and breakfast, while others have staycations at their home. 

Whatever your choice is, you can always make your staycation worthwhile with the tips below. 

Start Unplugging and Enjoy a Social Media-Free Day

I hate to break this to you, but social media can be stressful. You get to see a lot of unverified news, which can also target your emotional and mental well-being. Also, there’s a possibility that you compare your life with others. You start to feel that you are not good enough because you can’t afford the same things that your friends could. Again, this isn’t healthy. 

When you have a staycation, it’s the perfect time to unplug. Instead, you can go back to reading or writing in your journal. If you haven’t been meditating in a while,  you could take advantage of this opportunity. 

You will soon realize that there’s no need to constantly scroll down through your feed. And what matters most is the life off-screen rather than the one deliberately posted for online followers.  

Work Out a Budget

Many people think that staycations are cheap. But this is not always the case, and the overall cost will depend on your chosen location and accommodation. Having said that, you need to determine a decent budget. That way, you won’t have to worry if you wish to have awesome food delivered to your room or if you want to buy an expensive bottle of champagne. 


You might think this isn’t practical. But quite frankly, splurging once in a while could be healthy. It helps you enjoy your hard-earned money. And it keeps you motivated to work smarter so you can have more.   

Unless you are going to stay at home, then building a huge budget might not be necessary. 

Set an Out of Office Response

Don’t forget to draft an automatic out of office response on your email. A staycation is no different from a traditional vacation where people don’t want to get bothered by problems, especially from work. 

To manage expectations and set boundaries, make sure that you create your OoO response ahead of time. Of course, do not forget to add an emergency contact number and highlight that this is just for urgent matters. Let the people know that you would rather not get disturbed and that you will get back to them once you are done with your well-deserved time off.     

Pre-Select Movies and TV Series to Watch

Have you ever experienced spending several minutes just to find the right movies and TV series to watch? I know I’m not the only ones. The thing is, your staycation time is limited. Would you want to spend 30 minutes of your time just choosing? 

A simple solution is to pre-select these before your staycation date. Write it down or add it to your playlist. That way, you can just turn on the TV, lounge on the couch or bed, and start stuffing yourself with pizza or popcorn – or whatever sinful food you desire.    

Consider Your Kids When Planning

As adults, we often look forward to a day of doing nothing. But if you have kids, things are different. They will eventually get bored, and chances are, they will throw tantrums for hours. 

A win-win situation is to think of activities that will keep them preoccupied as you try to enjoy your free time. If possible, look for accommodation where facilities are ideal for kids. Or if you can bring board games, Legos, or even coloring books, these should work just fine. 

Call Local Attractions Ahead of Time 

Ideally, staycations are meant to be spent in rooms where you can just relax and slowly enjoy every minute. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t and won’t go out. Writing down nearby local attractions is a good idea so you can have a backup plan just in case you run out of good movies to watch or activities to do. 

Since the pandemic is still happening, you might want to call in advance and check if the attractions are open. Likewise, try to know their restrictions so you can prepare ahead.

Invite A Good Friend

You might also want to share your staycation experience with a friend. The advantage of inviting someone is that you can split the expenses and you can do more with your budget. 

However, you need to carefully choose whom to invite. As much as possible, they should respect your personal time and will give you space even if you are staying in just one room.  

Take Loads of Photos 

Don’t forget to take a lot of pictures as you enjoy your staycation. But be careful not to make it too orchestrated. Just act normally and try to capture the best moments whether you are doing it on your own or if you are with your friends and family. 

It’s always a great idea to keep happy moments so you can get back to it if ever you feel down. It keeps you inspired as well. Your photos are not just for your IG followers but for yourself. 

Have Fun! 

Like going on a conventional vacation, a staycation needs a lot of preparation. Sure, you can be impulsive and book a hotel room right away, but that could place a huge dent in your budget. As a rule of thumb, plan it ahead of time, set a budget, and enjoy. After all, you deserve it.

Check out this article on why you need to chill while on vacation.

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