Tech TOC: I want to stream like grandma does.

Last week was a busy week, I had 3 residential site surveys, 2 color consultations and 1 commercial rendering contract, all this while coordinating my construction team on a full house gut & reconstruction project for a lovely family.

Said family are the typical upwardly mobile professionals ( Mom & Dad are Vee-Pees in their respective fields ) with 2 small children, a dog and a goldfish. While discussing on-site with them the merits of moving a wall a few inches so as to open the room and increase its ch’i ( or Feng shui ), Dad’s cell phone rings and as i can surmise from the ensuing conversation it’s one of those calls we all get from time to time: The grandparents are having trouble -again- with their TV, PVR, remote, computer…

After a few minutes, Dad politely hung up the phone and announced he had to leave “in extremis” to go fix “another” problem because grandma had forgotten how to access her recordings and inadvertently sat on the remote ( again! ) and changed pre-set settings, so she could not access her taped episodes of “breaking Bad”. ..really Grandma! Breaking Bad?! you go girl!

Dad left with a look that could have wilted a 2 by 4…so much for ch’i.

Mom sheepishly apologized and conferred to me that she wished someone would come up with a solution to lessen these calls. While I had no solution to grandma sitting on her remote…i asked what was the specific user-case of grandma and came up with a plan.

It seems grandma loves movies ( especially mini-series ), documentaries, music, looking at family albums and home videos. The problem is that accessing all of this is complicated, convoluted and not user-friendly.

As mentioned above, I too have had those calls that can drive you nuts; not because help is needed, but because home technology should not be an hindrance but rather an enabler.
Enter my suggestion: Roku 3 & Plex
Roku 3: ( ) is a little box the size of a hockey puck which plugs in to your TV. The excellent simple interface and speedy processor makes it feel quicker and more responsive than any other streaming box. More than 1,000 channels are supported, including Netflix, Amazon Instant, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Pandora, MLB.TV, Amazon Cloud Player, Vudu and (finally) Youtube. And Roku’s nifty small & simple remote has a built-in headphone jack that lets you listen without disturbing others.


( ) Plex Media Server is a complete solution for streaming media from your computer to your TV or various mobile devices in your home. In order to use this program, you have to install the app for each device you want to stream to. But once that’s done, you can enjoy smooth streaming of just about anything. While the apps are not free ( a couple of dollars one-time charge) the server is free.

Adding Plex ( which has an app for the Roku ) and you now have a full-blown home media streamer that is rock-solid, intuitive and simple…very simple.

So now grandma can stream her Netflix and binge-stream “Breaking bad” and other mini-series, listen to her music collection, watch & share her home video & picture libraries and much much more, with very little fuss…as long as she doesn’t sit on the remote 😉

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