A Short Cord Cutter’s Tale

Well we have had a bit of a glitch lately.  I realize that being a cord cutter things don’t necessarily go smoothly all the time.  Instead of one provider you basically have several and, of course, they don’t really coordinate with each other.  They are all independent companies after all.

I had heard that Roku was requiring their app providers to update their apps to use the new Roku API’s.  They were soon going to phase out the old API’s and the only choice for providers was to update their app or have it removed from the Roku channel store.  For some providers that would result in a complete rewrite.  I get it.  I was a software developer before I retired.  I understand that API’s evolve and that can force you to update and sometimes rewrite your app.   It’s painful but unavoidable since you don’t have any control over the API provider.  This is just some background for the below description of the pain we went through when PLEX recently updated their app for the Roku player.

Back around mid December I started our Roku and opened the PLEX app.  I immediately noticed that the app had been updated.  I had heard that a new app was rolling out but I had not yet seen it.  Like it or not, now we had it.  I went to Live TV and selected our favorite channel and after a few minutes boom an error page popped up.  I tried to go back to the channel but I couldn’t get it to load.  I exited the app and opened it back up and was able to get back to the channel.  Then after a few minutes, sometimes maybe as long as an hour, boom another error screen.  This was making watching Live TV a very frustrating experience.

At least the recordings were working and they would play back fine.  Because of the problems, most of our Live TV watching went back to the Tablo.  We just had to put up with the garble on NBC and CBS.  (Those two local channels worked OK on PLEX, until the update that is, when no channel worked right.)

I went to our PLEX server and did some checking and noticed that there was a new update waiting to be applied.  I updated the server thinking that it would go just fine and maybe it might help the app work better.  I’ve not had any problems applying server updates in the last year we have been using PLEX.  Then a day or so after the update, I went to the PLEX app to view a recording and there were problems with the recording.  Not just the one recording, but many other recordings that were supposed to be made.  I immediately went to the server to see if it was just a PLEX app bug or if it was a server problem.  Unfortunately, it was a server problem.  This just wouldn’t do.  I got online and found out how to roll back an update.  Once that was done, I checked the PLEX app and the recording problems were fixed.

I logged in to the PLEX Forums and posted a message about the problems we were having hoping to get a response from someone (hopefully from the PLEX Team) on how to get all this fixed.  Maybe I could even find out how to roll back the PLEX app update.  I found out that I was not the only one having these problems.  At least my misery was shared.  I kept checking back each day, and then someone posted about going back to use the PLEX Beta app.  It was working for them, no Live TV playback issues.  This was fantastic news, I figured out how and installed the Beta app on my Roku.  Sure enough, no more playback problems.

In the meantime, PLEX pushed out a new PLEX Media Server update.  I crossed my fingers and applied the update.  This time there were no problems.  At least I didn’t have to wait long for them to fix the server.

I kept going back and checking the forum for updates and someone on the PLEX Team said that they had updated the Preview app and that we should try that.  I installed the Preview app a few days ago and have had no problems with playback and also got the long wished for TV Grid for selecting shows.  I thanked the PLEX Team for listening and working on the bug.  Hopefully it won’t be too much longer and the release version of the app will get updated.

I really like PLEX and want to continue using it.  The 5 dollars a month for a PLEX Pass is well worth the value returned.  Hopefully for the next update they will do a bit more beta testing before they unleash it on the rest of us again.

Until the production PLEX app is finally fixed, we will continue to use the Preview version.  Now everything is back to normal and our TV viewing has become routine again.

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Voshkod While I’m Waiting

Well I ordered a detail set from New-Ware for the Saturn V build.  While I’m waiting on delivery (I’m expecting delays in customs due to shutdown) I thought I’d start on a 1/144 Voshkod model.  I’ll be using the Apex kit as my base and adding a conversion set I bought from Rho-models a LONG time ago.

You can see from the pictures that I have already attached the capsule section to the second stage.  Both are resin parts.  I’ll be using the photo-etch that is included in the conversion set for the interstage web instead of the plastic one that comes with the Apex kit.  The plastic they use is very brittle and hard to bend into a curve.

I have an Airfix Vostok kit and I’ll be using the engine bells from that kit to upgrade the Apex kit.  The Apex engine bells are simple cones, while the Airfix bells have at least a bit of detail to them.  I will also try using the Airfix cross brace parts instead of the badly detailed Apex ones.  I also have some photo-etch ones that came in the Rho-models conversion kit.  I’ll use those if the Airfix parts don’t work out.

Besides gluing the resin parts together, I’ve also put together the four Stage 0 boosters.  I’ll leave the engine bells off until I get it all painted.  I’ve done some initial cleaning up of the build components, but I’ll still have to do more once I get everything primed.  Now to start on the core stage and put in some additional items that will support it on its base stand.

My 1/144 Rocket Garden

I thought I’d show my 1/144 rocket garden as it stands now.  I took some of these pictures a few weeks back when I had not yet finished my Shuttle Stack.  It is now finished and you can see in the last couple of rocket garden pictures that it is now displayed with the rest of my fleet.  The Saturn V will hopefully be added before the 50th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 11 on July 20th.  I have in my stash the models of the missing Russian launchers.  I have everything I need to build a Voshkod 2 model, and I am only lacking the Soyuz upper stage to be able to build that.  I’m not sure exactly how the Saturn V is going to fit in with this grouping.  I may have to relocate my ISS model.

50th Anniversary Saturn V Build

My next build is a 1/144 scale Saturn V.  My goal is to complete it before the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.  But, it won’t be depicting Apollo 11, instead it will be built as the Saturn V for Apollo 15.  It was the first Saturn V that flew without any ullage motors on the S-II interstage.  A move that was taken because experience had shown that they were not really needed and it also allowed for more payload on the Apollo spacecraft.

Anyway, I’m going to be using parts from the old Monogram kit as well as an old Airfix kit that were in my stash.  I didn’t like the aft skirt section on the Monogram kit so I’ll be using the one in the Airfix kit.  I also didn’t like the details on the S-II on the Airfix kit so the main body of the Saturn V will be using the Monogram parts.  I won’t be building out the S-II thrust structure or the S-IVB thrust structure because both kits are terrible in this area.  If I were to have the stages separable, then I’d have to get some 3D printed parts to fix the problems, but I don’t want to take that expense this time.

I will also be using the RealSpace Models Apollo Spacecraft update kit.  It will replace the SLA, CSM and LES with much more accurate parts.  I’ve used that set before on my Saturn IB build.

Here are a few pictures to get started.  Note the old boxes of the kits.  Yes, they’ve been in my stash for a long time.

Shuttle Discovery Build Complete

Well I missed my self-imposed deadline, but not by too much.  I finished it before Christmas.  The SSME and OAMS engine bells went on well and the orbiter was given a coat of Future Floor Finish to protect the massive amount of decals on the orbiter.  After giving that a day to set up, Discovery was given a coat of dull coat.  It looks pretty good.  If I build another, I’ll be sure to paint the cockpit walls black.  It is a bit distracting that there is nothing behind the windows.  Otherwise though I think it looks pretty good.  Here are some photos of the finished orbiter.

The SRB’s were next.  They had been sitting there, painted white patiently waiting for me to do something with them.  The top section of each SRB is painted a light cream/tan color.  Mixing that one took some time to get something I could live with.  With the orbiter finished it was time to start adding the decals to the SRB’s.  I had to reprint the “LOADED” markings a few times before I got them the correct size.  Those suckers were TINY!  I also painted the foam on the stiffening rings on the lower SRB segments.  Next time the black rings on the SRB’s will be a bit wider, these seem too narrow.  After the decals, the SRB’s got a coat of Future Floor Finish to protect the decals from the dull coat that was to follow.  Below is a pic of the remaining sections of the shuttle stack.  The ET has the yellow sections painted and waiting to be masked off before painting the darker shades of foam.  Masking the aft shuttle attachment was a pain in the butt.  The SRB’s are still missing their nozzles.  Those will go on after the dull coat.  You can see the brass tube sticking out the bottom of the SRB.  This will accept a wire rod that will support the stack on the stand.  Both SRB’s have the brass tubes in them.  To be sure they are centered and vertical, the rod runs the entire length of the SRB from the tip of the nose cone to nozzle.  They are epoxied into the nose of each SRB.

I didn’t get pictures of the painting process for the ET, unfortunately.  But here are some pictures of the finished stack.  It turned out pretty well.  I’m happy with the ET colors.  If I had to do it again, I’d probably change the shade of the intertank area a bit, but I’m still happy.  The stand could have been a bit better.  I’m not pleased with the grain showing through.  But at a distance it looks good.  The stiff wires running up the SRB’s are doing a great job of holding the stack vertical without my having to add a support for the orbiter.  Here is the finished gallery of photos.

Now I’m ready for the new year and a new project.  Next up, a 1/144 Saturn V for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.