Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Photo Album on the TV screen

This week, I surprised two women in my life by putting family photos on their TV screens. This is something you can do if you have an Android phone, a Google Account and Chromecast.

If you use something other than Chromecast to put shows on your TV, I bet there is another method that you can put your own photos on your TV. It might be as simple as putting photos on a USB stick and plugging the stick into a USB port on your TV.

And there's probably a way you iPhone people can do this too.

Make a Google photo album

  1. Optional step that can make things easier for you: On your computer or on a thumb drive, make a folder that is full of photos that you would enjoy having appear on your TV screen. 
  2. Sign in to your Google account. (Odds are you have one already. You definitely have one if you have a Gmail address. Otherwise, you can create one with your non-Gmail email address.)
  3. Go to Google Photos - Albums and create an album with a name that won't embarrass you when it is on your TV screen. (I went with "Display". I'm kicking myself now for not coming up with something more clever.)
  4. Open that album and click the "add photos" icon near the top right of the screen.
  5. Add photos to the album:
    1. Option A: If you've already got photos in your Google photos, you'll see the option to choose them for your TV album. There are little circles in the top left of each photo that you can click to select them.   
    2. Option B: Click "Select from computer" near the top right of the screen to select the photos you want added from whatever folder or folders you have with photos you want on your TV. This is where doing the optional step 1 comes in handy because you can navigate to that folder and select all of the files in it and upload them all at once. Otherwise, you'll be selecting them in dribs and drabs.
  6. If you are willing to allow someone else to add and remove photos, you can "share" the album with them by clicking the little 3-dots share icon and inviting them to the album. 

Set up Chromecast

Chromecast is not perfect, but it works pretty well for me even though it sometimes needs to be unplugged and restarted.

If you're already streaming with Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV or something else, maybe those services give you a way to show your own photos. If so, perhaps there's someone out there who has made a guide to tell you how to do this.

These days, a basic Chromecast unit costs around $40 (CDN). 

I recommend getting one even if you don't plan on paying for Netflix, HBO or any of the other big streamers because there are terrific free streamers out there like CBC Gem and Hoopla.

  1. On an Android device, install the Google Home app if it is not already on your phone.
  2. Follow the Chromecast instructions to physically connect it to an HDMI port on your TV and to the electric supply.
  3. Open the Home app and follow the instructions to connect the Chromecast to your wifi. There's a great set of instructions on how to do this at WikiHow.
  4. Pro Tip: During the setup, it will ask you to choose a name for the Chromecast. It offers a bunch of default names like "Bedroom" and "Living Room". It is okay to choose one of these names if you are the only person who uses your wifi. But, if you might ever be in a facility where lots of people share wifi, create a name that only you would use. Otherwise, you may find yourself trying to cast to your TV and having to choose from six choices all labelled "Living Room".  This will make it a pain for you to cast to your TV, and while you're trying to do it, you'll interrupt your neighbour's viewing.
  5. In Google Home on your Android device, with your TV on and the Chromecast HDMI port selected as the source, select your Chromecast device. (Mine is called "First Floor".)
  6. You'll see the default image that is showing on your TV. At the bottom of the screen, tap "Personalize Ambient"
  7. Before choosing the album, you might want to scroll the page and fill out the "More Settings", I like to show the Celsius temperature, the time, the device information, the personal photo data, and allow for pairs of portrait orientation photos. I also like a 10-second speed, but some people don't have the patience to wait that long for a new photo and ask for 5 seconds.
  8. Under "Personal photo curation", be sure to choose "Live albums only". For completely obscure reasons, Google will only show a limited selection of your photos if you leave it at the default "All albums".
  9. Then choose "Google Photos" - This will bring you to all of your Google Photo albums. Select the one you created for the TV ("Display" in my case). You can also choose other albums. (Let me know if you want access to my Hydrants with sunglasses album.)
  10. This should do it. I encourage you to use this power for good and not for evil.

Thursday, January 05, 2023

French TV recommendation - Sans rendez-vous

If Sans rendez-vous was in English, it would be the most talked about show on the air.*

In this half-hour comedy, nurse Sarah Lenoir (Magalie Lépine Blondeau) and her coworkers counsel people about sexual health at la Clinique de santé sexuelle Lafontaine and deal with their own life complications. 

The show is full of humour, love and acceptance.

Season 2 starts on Wednesday, January 11 at  9pm, broadcast free on Radio-Canada (Channel 5 in Ottawa on Rogers Cable) and on ICI TOU.TV.

Season 1 can be streamed on ICI TOU.TV, but you have to pay for "Extra" to see it (or do the one-month free trial).

You can also stream all of the Season 2 episodes right now by getting "Extra". 

If you're cheap like me, wait for each episode to air on broadcast TV. It will then be free for streaming on ICI TOU and will remain free until some time after the season has all aired.


Useful links

Monday, December 12, 2022

French TV recommendation - Discussions avec mes parents

Another show I like for absorbing French even when I don't understand everything is the delightful Discussions avec mes parents. The standup comedian François Morency plays a version of himself with fictionalized versions of his parents and siblings.

The show is absolutely delightful. The characters irritate and have fun with each other, but it's never mean or cruel.

All the family members have their quirks, but they're all very likable. As are the recurring friends, like the laundry owner who says "chesseuze" instead of "sécheuse" and the friend who works for "Postes Canada - Canada Post" and enthusiastically says it that way numerous times every time he is interacted with.

The frequent cameos by Québec celebrities playing themselves is a good cultural window.

Manon and I love the running gags. 

One of my favourites is the love the mother, Rollande, has for the works of novelist Danielle Cuivre whose titles raise everyone's eyebrows but Rollande's. Titles like "Samedi soir dans un champs de concombres" and "Coquinne canicule dans les culottes de Corinne". [Clip: LE CLUB DE LECTURE DE ROLLANDE]

One warning for Anglo viewers: there is more explicit bathroom and sex humour than we're used to with American television. This can even be an issue for French viewers. Apparently one of Manon's cousin's families was watching an episode all together and the five-year-old daughter learned some of the mechanics of how baby's come to be and was so horrified that she cried for several days.

I would embed a clip of a preview, but embedding is disabled. If you want a place to start with previews, I like this season's: Le détecteur de vitesse

You can stream Season 5 for free on ICI TOU.TV. ICI TOU also has seasons 1 through 4, but you have to pay for the "Extra".

The show airs on Radio-Canada (Channel 5 on Rogers Cable in Ottawa). The final two episodes of season 5 are scheduled for tonight, Monday, December 12 and next week, December 19 at at 7:30 pm.

It's worth setting the PVR to record all episodes at any time and day because they often air reruns of old episodes.

Useful links

Thursday, December 01, 2022

French TV recommendation - Audrey est revenue

A few years back, I decided to work on my French and improve my understanding of French-Canadian culture by watching French-Canadian tv shows with the French close captioning on.

I discovered that the shows that work best for me are comedies because even though I don't understand everything that is being said, they still entertain me and make me laugh.

My current favourite is Audrey est revenue on Télé-Québec.

Although Audrey est revenue has a gentle sense of humour with frequent laughs, it is not really a comedy. It shows Audrey's progress after she comes out of a 15-year coma following a traffic injury on the night of her high school graduation.

The show is not one of those stories where the person out of the coma is just fine but has to comically learn about smart phones, social media and online shopping. 

Audrey is brain injured. She has to relearn how to talk, how to walk, and how to interact with her now divorced parents, her new stepfather and a half-sister born after she was injured.

I've seen all the episodes except the finale that airs tonight. Every episode, I've been blown away by the actor's performances. Without their explicitly saying so, they show how it is such a big deal for their characters that this loved one they thought would never come back to them, has come back. Even the actors with small parts, like the Paratransit driver, manage to subtly convey that their characters are aware of what a big deal it is that they're with Audrey.

Although the finale is being broadcast tonight, you can still stream all the episodes for free on the Télé-Québec website, or by putting the Télé-Québec App on your phone or tablet.

Random notes

One of the two writers of the show is Florence Longpré who plays Audrey and previously played Ada in M’entends-tu? Another awesome show available on Télé-Québec (all 3 seasons) and on Netflix (only the first two seasons but with English subtitles). 

The other writer of the show is Guillaume Lambert who grew up in Sorel-Tracy where the show is set. There are many scenic shots of the town that make me want to spend some time there the next time I'm on my way to Quebec City.

The show has been sold to France and Italy and won major awards, so I'm optimistic that we'll get a second season.


Monday, November 14, 2022

Repress - a new contranym?

I think I spotted a new contronym this morning.

Here's the definition of contranym and one of my favourite examples from Wiktionary:

A contranym or contronym is a word which has two or more generally accepted meanings in the English language that directly or generally contradict each other.



"To permit"; or "to restrict" (as in "economic sanctions").

Wikipedia seems to prefer the term auto-antonym and says:

An auto-antonym or autantonym, also called a contronym or antagonym among other terms, is a word with multiple meanings (senses) of which one is the reverse of another. For example, the word cleave can mean "to cut apart" or "to bind together".

New example - Repress

For a moment, an email this morning from the indie pop band Lucius had me thinking their 2016 album Good Grief was being restrained, prevented or inhibited from being distributed. But then I realized that in fact, the album is to be reissued and given wider release:

Good Grief has just been repressed on limited edition blue wave swirl vinyl through the Minneapolis-based co. Bandbox. [bolding added]

I've done some checking and although I can't find a dictionary that talks about the reissuing of recordings,  people are using the word "repress" to refer to an album release from an original master recording. From Discogs Database Guidelines 6. Format:

...A repress must originate from the original master disc, and the term is only applied to formats that are stamped or pressed out, such as vinyl and CD. The 'Reissue' tag can be used in other circumstances, see the guideline for the correct usage of that tag. 'Reissue' and 'Repress' can be used together...

Other artists are using "repress" as well, like PJ Harvey:
IS THIS DESIRE? is repressed on vinyl. Out 29 January 2021 on UMC/ Island.
and the Skatalites:
REPRESSED: THE SKATALITES “Platinum Ska” LP vinyl includes 3 bonus dubs!
Jamaican ska legends’ latest album “Platinum Ska” finally repressed on vinyl with three bonus dubs.

What to do?

I really don't know what to do now. I feel too intimidated to email the experts at Language Log and adding a word to the lists on Wiktionary and Wikipeda goes way beyond the simple grammatical edits I've done before.  

I see that the Talk page for the Auto-Antonym page on Wikipedia has a heading labeled "oo got a new one". I'll try adding my discovery to that and see what happens.

Update - November 15, 2022

"Repress" won't be appearing in Wiktionary or Wikipedia. At least not this week.

My trial-run on the Auto-antonym Talk page on Wikipedia did not go over well. An editor named Meters didn't think "repress" is an auto-antonym and another editor named Sundayclose thought it is a questionable example and for Wikipedia "a reliable source that these words are auto-antonyms is required". 

I should have realized that Wikipedia would need a source. I've read about celebrities trying to fix mistakes on their Wikipedia pages and having their edits reverted because the mistakes had an internet source and the corrections were only the celebrity's unverified words.

If someone would like to take on a campaign to get a language maven to add "repress" to contranym lists, you have my full support.

But if I find time to put into changing the world, I think I should focus on something that is at least as important to our lives as getting elevator buttons fixed.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Watch Lynn Miles from your couch!

One of the great things about living in Ottawa is how often you can go see a Lynn Miles show. 

With the pandemic, these options are more limited, but now Lynn is doing shows from her living room that you can see in your home anywhere in the world.

She did a wonderful show this past Saturday. It had the same intimate feeling as her shows used to have at Rasputin's.

She'll be doing three more, on Saturday nights at 8:00 pm, EST.

$10 tickets are availabe through Sidedoor.

If you are so deprived that you're unfamiliar with Lynn's music, this video will help. 

You can find more videos of Lynn performing on the internet, but they won't give you any appreciation for what she says between songs. 

On the technical side: The shows are broadcast on Zoom. So they'll show up on any internet connected computer. We like to watch on the big TV screen, but to do that, we had to connect a computer to the TV with an HDMI cable. Using our Chromecast was not an option.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

My new way to display marbles

 When you and your spouse both have enormous hoards of marbles, you are always looking for new ways to display them.

This morning I hit on something that had never occurred to me before: hanging them with a spring. I'm sure others have thought of this before, so I'm not the inventor of the technique, but still I'm inordinately pleased with this.

As an added bonus, my habit of hanging on to bits of junk because they might come in handy some day has been rewarded! I have a nice collection of old springs to go through now.

Other marble display methods: