Degrassi is moving to Netflix

Last Thursday (June 4th, 2015) when I found out Degrassi (originally known as Degrassi: The Next Generation) had been cancelled after 14 seasons I was kinda surprised because since the show just changes out the cast when characters graduate I thought that would allow it to go on indefinitely. After reading more articles about Degrassi being cancelled I discovered that TeenNick and MTV Canada had actually just decided they were no longer going to air the show after Season 14 ends in July. The production company, DHX Media, was now shopping the show around to new networks and Tuesday (June 9th, 2015) they announced that Netflix and Canada’s Family Channel will air 20 new episodes of Degrassi starting in early 2016. The show will also become known as Degrassi: Next Class.

I figure the 14 seasons of the current iteration of Degrassi (TNG from Seasons 1-9) will be all one show and next year’s show will be a new show starting at Season 1. It would be too confusing otherwise if one show had three titles. I still haven’t decided if I want to watch it yet but I like that the co-creator Linda Shuyler has stated that they want to tell stories for the newest generation of teens meaning it might get back to being how it used to be and not a 90210 clone.

When I first discovered Degrassi over a decade ago I never thought it would go on this long. I actually didn’t watch Degrassi when it first premiered because we didn’t get the digital cable channel Noggin/The-N it aired on. Luckily our local cable company had a channel that previewed a different digital cable channel every week and one week in 2003 was Noggin/The-N allowing me to check out what shows the network aired like Degrassi. I don’t actually remember what episode I watched but I do remember that I enjoyed it.

It wasn’t until summer of 2004 that I got to watch Degrassi again when we finally got digital cable. Over that summer I watched repeats of Seasons 1-3 and remember by the fall I began seeing previews for Season 4 starting in October. I then began watching each new episode as they aired every friday night at 8. I think maybe around Season 5 I discovered that Canada aired new episodes of Degrassi before the United States so to watch them before they aired on TV here I would watch them on YouTube. The only problem was that since we had dial-up internet at the time I would have to start playing the video, pause it and then let it buffer to the end because otherwise it would stutter and freeze when watching it.

At least when Season 6 began in fall 2006 The-N began airing the new episodes before they aired in Canada. Now no one has to be annoyed waiting for new episodes in Canada or the United States because now new episodes air the same night and time in both countries. I wonder how that will work now that it will air on Netflix here. If it’s anything like the new Canadian show Between it airs on City in Canada at 8pm and by 11:30pm it’s uploaded on Netflix in the U.S. I wouldn’t think they would upload all the new episodes to Netflix before they air on Family Channel.

As of now I’ve seen all of Seasons 1-13 and have to watch the 5 latest episodes of Season 14 aired before the last 12 begin airing next month. After remembering these memories of watching Degrassi I have decided I will check out the first episode of Degrassi: Next Class when it comes to Netflix next year.

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Asus c300 Chromebook: Final Verdict

After using a Chromebook almost daily since December 30th, 2014 I’ve discovered how awesome they can truly be. Now I already owned a MacBook Air and a Windows 8 PC but wanted to see what all the fuss over Chromebooks was about. As discussed in my previous post ‘My Chromebook Experiment’ I purchased the Asus c300 Chromebook after having so much success with Asus when buying a PC and that it was $50 cheaper than the Toshiba Chromebook 2.

About a month and a half later I’ve become really accustomed to using a Chromebook as my daily computer. I’ve found that I can do almost everything with a Chromebook that I could with a Mac or PC. For the limitations I do come across I have been using my MacBook Air. You have to remember that a Chromebook, while it can do a lot of things it can’t be your only computer if you need to run programs and software locally on your computer.

What a Chromebook can do?

Create and edit documents, spreadsheets and slides

The easiest way to create and edit documents, spreadsheets and slide presentations is to use Google Drive which allows you to store and save the work you do in Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms. If you want to use Microsoft Office you can, albeit an online version offered through One Drive that gives you access to versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote with limited features.

Surf the web, watch videos, stream music

Since a Chromebook is built around the Google Chrome web browser you can imagine it performs very well when it comes to surfing the web. I tend to have a lot of tabs open and multi-task a lot with what I’m working on and my Chromebook seems to handle this quite well.

Watching videos on YouTube and sites like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon also works very well and almost never has a problem during playback except for a small stutter that doesn’t happen too often.

When I want to listen to music I stream my music collection that I have stored on Amazon Music or I stream my favorite radio stations. It seems to be that the stuttering happens for the most part when I’m streaming music and have 6-8 tabs open. As it happens so quick and only happens once or twice a day depending on how long I use the computer for I don’t really get bothered by these small glitches.

Edit pictures with Pixlr Editor

Save and backup media to usb devices like a Flash drive or an external hard drive

Print using Google Cloud Print

What a Chromebook can’t do?

Install and run programs and software

This is where my MacBook Air comes into play. Before using a Chromebook I used iTunes on a daily basis to listen to my music but since Chromebooks don’t have enough space for all my music and can’t run iTunes I uploaded my music to Amazon and can stream it on amazon.com. When I want to buy new music I buy MP3s through Amazon instead of iTunes. When I need to use iTunes to sync music to my iPhone I just decide to use my MacBook Air that day.

The other program I need to use my MacBook Air for is Kodak All-in-One Printer Home Center when I need to use my printer to scan a document or photo to my computer. Now if I just want to print something I can still use my Chromebook because I set up my printer for use with Google Cloud Print.

I usually end up using my MacBook Air about once or twice a month so I can use iTunes to transfer my song purchases to my iPhone. I don’t always get around to it though because I can access my newest music on my iPhone with the Amazon Music app.

Store all your media locally on the hard drive

Since most Chromebooks come with a 16 or 32GB flash storage drive it doesn’t leave you much space at all to store music, photos and files. That’s what your Google Drive is for. You are encouraged to store everything in the cloud with such little storage offered locally.

Now that I’ve covered what a Chromebook can and cannot do I will try to explain what Asus has done on top of the basics to improve a Chromebooks functionality.

Asus c300 Chromebook features:

Long battery life

After fully charging it the battery life easily lasts 10 hours. It would probably last even longer if I decreased the brightness of the screen I’m sure I could most likely get another couple hours. Most of the time I can get two days out of the battery life if I use the computer for 5 hours a day. On the third day I will plug it in and it fully charges after only 1 and a half hours to 2 hours of being plugged in. I’m very impressed with the battery life and now when I use my MacBook Air I’m annoyed how it goes from 100% charged to 5% after only 3 hours of use.

Largest touchpad available on a Chromebook

Since I’ve never used any other Chromebook I wouldn’t know how the touchpad compares to other Chromebooks or if it really is the largest available; that’s just what Asus states. As for how it stacks up to a MacBook Air or Windows 8 PC touchpad it’s more responsive than what a PC offers but still not as great as a MacBook Air. Basically it’s not the worst when it comes to responsiveness but it could be better in the clicking and dragging area.

High-quality audio

When you play music or anything with audio without headphones you will have to turn it all the way up and silence your surroundings in order to hear it. Otherwise you will be straining to hear what you’re trying to listen to. That is why using headphones to listen to audio is your best solution and it doesn’t seem to be very fussy when it comes to using any brand of headphone unlike Apple products. Whether I’m using my $10 JVC Gumy Earbuds or my $99 Bose Earbuds the audio sounds very nice and gets even better when I use the Bose ones that have a better range.

Ultra thin and light

At just 3 pounds it is very light to pick up and move compared to most Windows Laptop PCs that I’ve owned which weighed around 10 pounds and up.

Larger than Average Screen size

When researching Chromebooks I found that most of them had 11.6 inch screens and if you wanted the bigger 13.3 inch size you would need to pay more for it. Since I was accustomed to 13.3 inch I wanted to stick with it. The standard size for Acer, HP and Samsung was 11.6 and the 13.3 models were sometimes $100 or more. Then you have Asus and Toshiba who both sell affordable 13.3 inch Chromebooks. Now in 2015 Acer will be the first to sell a 15.6 inch model; this will most definitely inspire the other brands to make a 15.6 inch Chromebook too. I’ve found the perfect size Chromebook for me is right in the middle, 13.3.

100GB of Google Drive space free for 2 years

When you purchase a new Chromebook and log onto your Google Drive with it, it will automatically claim your free 100GB of space. Now since I bought mine during the holiday season I got 1TB of space free for 2 years because Google was giving away more for the holidays.

Asus c300 full specifications:

Intel Bay-Trail Dual Core Celeron Processor

Chrome operating system

4GB RAM

13.3 inch 16:9 HD Display

16GB eMMC flash storage

HD Web Camera

802.11 b/g/n

Bluetooth 4.0

1 x audio jack

1 x USB 3.0 port

1 x USB 2.0 port

1 x SD card reader

1 x AC adapter plug

13.0 x 9.1 x 0.9 inch (WxDxH)

3.08 pounds

Kensington lock

Final Thoughts:

As you can see depending on what you need to do with a computer a Chromebook can be a very useful device and possibly even a computer replacement if you don’t need to do anything locally. The thing that got me to seriously consider a Chromebook in the first place was that unlike a MacBook Air, where you have to download and install updates leading you to have to babysit your computer all day and make sure the update is going right, you don’t have to mess with updates as Google takes care of those. When I first bought a Chromebook I never expected to be able to do all the things with it I do, especially being able to update this blog. As a matter-of-fact I wrote this whole post on my Chromebook with the help of Google Docs and Drive. If you’ve been contemplating buying a Chromebook but don’t know if you’d be wasting your money just remember if you already do everything in the Chrome browser anyways you’ll feel right at home with a Chromebook.

Why Netflix is Worth $8 a month

Netflix is a video-streaming service that allows you to stream as many movies and tv shows as you want for $8 a month. They also still offer dvd by mail rental plans. This review is just for the streaming part of Netflix.
Netflix
When you sign up for Netflix you get a My List which is a list of shows and movies for you to choose from that you want to watch. You add shows to your My List by clicking on Add to My List when checking out a title.

Netflix has so many choices available that you’d be hard-pressed not to find something to watch. Of course on the other hand with so many options to look through you might waste all the time you had to watch in the first place. Luckily they do show you recommendations on what to watch based on your interest in another title that’s similar.

The thing I like best about Netflix is the ability to binge watch tv shows. I always think I will get around to watching 3 to 4 episodes a night of a drama that’s around 42 minutes but I never do. 2 is usually my max for dramas and 4 for sitcoms. I guess I just like the idea that I can watch as many episodes in a row as I want.

I also like that Netflix is pretty quick at adding new episodes of a show within a year of their initial airing. Shows I currently have on My List that aired from Fall 2013 to Spring 2014 that were added to Netflix this fall are Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, The Originals Season 1, The Vampire Diaries Season 5 and The 100 Season 1. When new episodes of a show are added and you currently have the show in your list you receive an email saying new episodes have arrived for the show. Netflix even sends you emails for shows they think you would like to watch based on what you’ve watched in the past.

I know I mentioned Netflix also has movies to stream but I personally don’t watch movies as often as I do tv shows. The last movie I think I streamed was Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2. I couldn’t tell you how long it takes for new movies to show up on Netflix streaming. I do know that Netflix DVD rental releases new movies 28 days after they come out on DVD and on-demand. It’s completely your decision on what you watch.

Another great thing about Netflix is the variety of devices that have a Netflix app; tablets, phones, video game consoles, TVs, blu-ray players and media streaming set-top boxes. You can also stream on netflix.com on the computer. My set-up is PS3 for the living room, Roku streaming box for my bedroom and occasionally on my MacBook Air when the living room TV is in use.

An interesting development with Netflix is their involvement in creating original series; Orange is the New Black, Hemlock Grove and even cartoons like Turbo FAST which is based on the DreamWorks movie Turbo. Two new shows coming this month are Marco Polo (meant to rival HBO’s Game of Thrones) and All Hail King Julien (an animated show based upon King Julien in the DreamWorks’ Madagascar film series). I predict in the next few years Netflix will have a line-up of pretty successful original series.

I like the way Netflix has evolved since its creation and hope it continues to change the television landscape. Netflix is a great service for cord-cutters and is also a great supplement to cable. Hopefully the great price of $8 a month holds for a long time to come. It would be a shame for them to jack up the price if their original shows take off in the ratings.

Original shows premiering this month on Netflix:

Marco Polo December 12th

All Hail King Julien December 19th

Shows You Should Be Watching: Vampire Diaries Edition

The Vampire Diaries is a show you should be watching. (Warning: spoilers ahead. Which are hard to avoid including on a review for a show that is currently airing its 6rh Season.)
TVD-logo-3
The original summary of The Vampire Diaries released by The CW explains what the show is about better than I ever could; Four months after the tragic car accident that killed their parents, 17-year-old Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev, “DeGrassi: The Next Generation”) and her 15-year-old brother, Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen, “Everwood”) are still trying to cope with their grief and move on with their lives.  Elena has always been the star student; beautiful, popular and involved with school and friends, but now she finds herself struggling to hide her sadness from the world.  As the school year begins, Elena and her friends are fascinated by a handsome and mysterious new student, Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley, “Army Wives”). Stefan and Elena are immediately drawn to one another, and Elena has no way of knowing that Stefan is a centuries-old vampire, struggling to live peacefully among humans, while his brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder, “Lost”) is the embodiment of vampire violence and brutality.  Now these two vampire brothers ? one good, one evil ? are at war for Elena’s soul and for the souls of her friends, family and all the residents of the small town of Mystic Falls, Virginia.

Now before Fall 2009 when TVD premiered I was not into the idea of Twilight-esque stories and the whole vampire craze. I just didn’t see the appeal. The only things I knew about vampires then was what the story of Dracula stated. I only decided to watch Vampire Diaries because I watched Nina Dobrev on DeGrassi: The Next Generation and the description of the show was very intriguing.

Once I watched the show for the first time I was sucked in and couldn’t wait until the next episode. There are just so many elements of the show that make it great to watch but the main 3 in my opinion are; character development, story and relationships.

The character development on The Vampire Diaries is one of the best parts of the show. Two of the characters who have gone through the most noticeable changes since the start of the show are Caroline Forbes and Tyler Lockwood. Before being turned into a vampire Caroline was a spoiled self-entitled brat most of the time and now her personality is completely unrecognizable as she is caring, protective of her friends and doesn’t take crap from anyone. Now with Tyler before he triggered his werewolf gene he was a selfish, arrogant bully but over the seasons since, he has learned to tone down his temper and tries to think before he acts.

Another thing The Vampire Diaries does that is great for character development is flashbacks that explain a characters’ past more thoroughly. Even full episodes dedicated to flashbacks are very interesting to watch and they still manage to keep the plot in the present going.

The second best part of the show is the story arcs. Every season has an over-arching story that usually comes to an explosive conclusion. Season 1 was basically getting to know the Salvatore brothers, learning how Mystic Falls acts towards supernatural beings and being prepared for the arrival of Katerina Petrova. Season 2 was all about preparing for the arrival of Klaus and discovering the Sun and the Moon curse. Season 3 was about The Originals and how they have shaped the vampire world over a 1,000 years. Season 4 was about Elena becoming a vampire. the Five Hunters and meeting the first immortal, Silas. Season 5 was about the Travelers’ and the destruction of the other side.

Finally the third best part of the show is the relationships. The writers are very good at making you care for couples that you wouldn’t think you would. From the beginning I was very fond of Stefan and Elena together and got frustrated with all the scenes they made that hinted at Damon and Elena falling in love. Now that Elena is no longer with either of them I still prefer her with Stefan but can still appreciate her relationship with Damon. Some of my other favorite couples are Bonnie and Jeremy, Caroline and Tyler and Alaric and Jenna.

Although the current season isn’t as great as Seasons 1-3 it is beginning to hit its stride again for the first time since The Originals were spun-off into their own show and left The Vampire Diaries. I hope we get a few more good seasons out of the show before it ends though. I could go on and on about this show but I will just leave you with check out the show and I bet you won’t regret it.

Places to watch it: Seasons 1-5 are on Netflix, current Season 6 episodes are on Hulu Plus and new episodes air Thursdays at 8 on The CW.

Shows You Should Be Watching: OUAT Editon

A feature of Tech Plus Things I will be starting is talking about shows I watch that I think you should watch.

Once Upon a Time Title Card

OUAT better known as Once Upon a Time is a show you should be watching. This show centers on Emma Swan, a 28-year-old bail bonds-person, who is found by her now-10-year-old son she had given up for adoption, a boy who believes her to be the missing daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White. When she moves with him to a strange New England town named Storybrooke, where more fairytale characters live under alternate identities, she begins to believe his story.

Once Upon a Time spins new twists upon the fairytale stories you read as a child. I really enjoy this show and like all the twists and turns it has. It will definitely open your eyes to thinking of fairytale characters in a different light. I would elaborate more but that would lead me to giving away too many spoilers, so please check it out if you like action, adventure and fantasy.

Places to watch it: Seasons 1 and 2 are on Netflix and current season 3 episodes are on Hulu Plus.