I was up particularly early one morning (thank you, Dave) and walked outside into a raucous chorus of birdsong. There were several different melodies going on simultaneously, so I figured the choristers were birds of many different feathers, but I couldn’t tell you for sure because I couldn’t see them. I stood on the sidewalk for several minutes trying to identify all the players, but they were wisely tucked up in the tree branches. In the larger scheme of things, it didn’t really matter whether I knew the birds’ names or not, but I thought it would be fun to find out, so I downloaded a bird song identification app, kind of a Shazam for the birding world.
Later that day, I heard a bird singing, pushed the app button, and hit Identify. The app made all the motions of listening, then stopped and told me that, in order to proceed, I would have to either give them some money or listen to an ad. I considered this poor timing, first of all, and secondly, it felt like extortion, which made me angry, so I deleted the app entirely. I don’t imagine the creators cared in the least, but it made me feel less victimized. Of course, from now on, I’ll just be referring to birds as “the chiree-chiree guy” and “the one who sounds like ‘cheater-cheater-cheater,’” but it’s a small price to pay … and not to them.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. This pay-for-play business is pretty widespread. I signed on for a far-reaching music subscription but found out there are still some Nashville holdouts. More money. On the video side of things, it appears that if you buy a TV set and simply plug it into the wall, your programming yield would be bupkis.
I started with basic cable and got a decent list of channels, but when I wanted to watch nonstop movies, I had to add more. The British Baking Show bumped me up to the Uber Platinum Level. It wasn’t long before I had more TV channels than I had minutes in the day (year?) to watch them.
But then, as the Cat in the Hat said, that was not all, oh no, that was not all. In order to watch one of my favorite British mysteries, I added a super programming group. I was carried happily along through seasons 1-5, then hit a wall. Seasons 6-8 were owned by a different TV concern. More channels, more money.
The annoying part is that I don’t watch 80% of the channels in any group. I have an aversion to watching people lose (except in baking), so most of the reality shows are out. When the Emmys roll around, I find I have never seen the majority of the shows, not because I don’t have the channels, but because I do not want to spend my evenings being assaulted with … well, assault by the kind of “uncensored programming” that you can only do on cable TV. Really, who can sleep after all that?
What I would dearly love is if the TV people would allow you to make up a personalized channel playlist. If you wanted 10 channels, no matter which ones they were, you’d pay one price. If you wanted 20, you’d pay more, etc. That seems fair. Or hey, how much would it cost to just get everything? Give me a number. Just don’t hit me with additional fees mid-birdsong.
I’m sorry I went off on a tangent. I’m just a little miffed about this bird app thing. “Cheater-cheater-cheater.”
— By Sue Murphy