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Locast brings TV over the Internet. And it's free.

The TV networks, namely CBS, ABC, Fox and NBC, are upset and are suing. They want to keep collecting the fees they get from cable companies. This follows an old business practice: If things aren't going your way, sue somebody. It reassures the shareholders that you're on the job, and who knows? It might even work. The fees collected by the big networks amounted to $10.1 billion last year.

Locast brings you TV through an Internet connection. So far, it's available in 13 big markets, such as Boston, Chicago and New York, but it will be coming your way.

It worked great on our TV, and we were surprised to get our CBS channel in the lineup. Lately, because of a contract dispute between CBS Corp. and AT&T, when we tried to get that channel on our AT&T U-verse service, we got the following message: "This CBS channel is currently unavailable." Only later did we notice the rest of the message. It suggests getting the channel by selecting "interactive" on the TV remote and then choosing "Locast." Sure enough, it was one of the choices on our six-year-old Sony TV. After choosing it,we saw all the local channels such as ABC, NBC, etc. as well as MeTV, Ion Television and others.

If you want to know if it's reached your market yet, install the free Locast app from the iPhone or Android app store on your phone. Tap to install, and sign up through Facebook or your email account. If it hasn't come to your area, go to locast.org and poke them in the ribs.

WHICH TABLET?

A reader writes: "Haven't you guys said that the Amazon Fire tablet is a favorite of yours? If so, is it still? I might be in the market for a going-off-to-college-age kid, a plenty-savvy person."

Yes, we like the Fire tablet, mainly because it's so much cheaper than other tablets and so easy to use. The 7-inch model, a handy size, costs $50. Compare that to an iPad Mini for $399. Along the top of the Fire screen are categories to tap: Home, Books, Video, Games, Shop, Apps, Music, Audible, Newsstand and Library. It has everything we need.

Having said that, there are reasons for choosing an iPad instead. The iPad has a bigger app selection, about 1.8 million compared with 678 for the Fire. You can connect a digital piano or guitar to the iPad or an Android tablet and create digital music. The Fire doesn't include this feature.

However, like an iPad, the Fire has its own app store, making sure you don't get a phony app. In 2018, a half-million people got a virus from downloading an Android app from the Google Play store, according to Forbes magazine. Similarly, a virus baked into 50 different Android apps put fake charges on people's phone bills, forcing them to pay for fake text messages. It was downloaded over 21 million times before Google removed it from the app store. We've never had a problem. We use Malwarebytes Premium version for $12 a year, though there's also a free version. The free version removes problems after they've arrived; the paid version prevents bad stuff from happening in the first place.

'DO NOT DISTURB' REVISITED

A reader writes: "The 'do not disturb' tip was a good one. I tried it and it eliminated the crap calls. Only problem is I don't get text alerts and haven't figured a way around that on my iPhone."

The trick when you're using "do not disturb" function is to make an exception for contacts so all your friends and family can still get through to you. But we hadn't thought about texts. Here's what we found that works: Under "settings," and "notifications and messages," turn off "allow notifications." Then restart your device. Now turn "allow notifications" back on. For more info, search on the phrase "How to Use iPhone Do not disturb and make sure you don't miss an important call." On an Android phone, choose "allow messages," under "settings," "sound," and "do not disturb."

INTERNUTS

Artsy.net has an article about J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings. Most readers know about his books, but few people know about his art. You'll see great examples here, if you search on "J.R.R. Tolkien's little known art practice."

Vsauce.com has quirky videos from the world of math. We watched the one on impossible numbers, including one that makes a certain Chicken McNugget order impossible. Some of these videos are tedious, but overall it's worth checking out.

Oddee.com has odd news stories, such as "Old Woman Blackmailed for Porn She Never Watched."

A NEW PAINTER

Every year Corel sends us the latest version of Painter, a program to create digital art. We're always wowed.

This year there are lots of new color tools, including one for lefties. And now, if you want a shade that's a wee bit different from the one you're working with, there's a side-by-side comparison. But mostly, the new version gets a big performance boost, cutting lag time to almost zero. You'll especially notice that if you have a wall-sized canvas and a computer powerful enough to handle the speed.

The program is $429, but there's a 30-day free trial at PainterArtist.com. On that site, click "gallery" to see some fantastic examples of what digital art is capable of. There are lots of tutorials on YouTube to get you started, but if you're not used to this kind of program, the learning curve is steep.

Bob and Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at bobschwab@gmail.com and joy.schwabach@gmail.com.

Business on 08/10/2019

Print Headline: Locast can be free alternative to cable for network stations

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