Friday, 9 December 2016

Christmas Greetings from Shoobridge Funeral Services - 2016

Christmas Greetings from Shoobridge Funeral Services - 2016

It is truly hard to send 'best wishes' to our clients, past and present at any time but it is particularly difficult at Christmas.

Christmas, as we know celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Amongst Christians, the importance of this event is both without question and also, a matter of debate.

To qualify this statement involves the inclusion of Easter and the crucifixion of Jesus.

Which of the two events is the most important IS the debate and an instance I experienced comes to mind.

Offering a 24-hour service restricts Bank Holiday planning for many vital services, none more than those we offer. As such, I was called to a family some years ago to deal with the passing of a male, over the Easter period.

With true feeling, I was empathetic to the family who surprised me with ‘Alleluias’ and praise and I was cordially invited to join them in prayers of thanksgiving. Somewhat puzzled and taken aback, I discovered the family to be practising Christians who were joyous that, though sad the passing of their relative, they were happy to celebrate the passage to Heaven at this poignant time! ‘To be with Jesus, the Lord, when He was taking away the sins of the world’ were words I recall only too well and I learned some valuable lessons from the experience, which I am naturally influenced by, to this day.

Commercially, irrespective of any and all religions, ‘we’ all know that Christmas is a time for family sharing, goodwill, seasonal cheer and generally warm feeling towards our fellow human beings. If we have grievances, we overlook them or put them aside. If we have stress, we postpone its effects until after Christmas.

There is no one I can think of that is unaffected by this event.

I have considered often in my years of being a funeral director, the ‘advantages’ or ‘disadvantages’ of people suffering loss. Whether it is harder for the survivors, those left behind, to deal with and cope without the person who was loved. I’d like to say, “Or the one who passed away?” but I have no knowledge regarding the answer to that question.

Does having a family help? Would ‘I’ rather spare them the pain of my loss?

Of course, there can be no definite answer - it is personal and individual. What I do know is this; to experience the pain of loss means there must have been a degree of love – another unquantifiable factor but a very important and fundamental emotion.

As a parallel, I have also considered the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of having children, having a family? I have pondered the question of loneliness and sometimes, finality when a partner dies. I have coupled all these thoughts together often but especially around Christmas and again, have never found a satisfactory conclusion as everybody is so different.

With these puzzles in mind, I return to my purpose: how to send good wishes to the friends we have made throughout the year and in the past as a result of the loss they have suffered or experienced?

I would like to think that we have given everyone, more than they needed; that we helped them take one step forward at a time. At the every least, that we met, if not exceeded their expectations whether they could identify them or not.

That they would look back at some stage and feel that my family and I, gave them a purpose or eased them gently into or through their bereavement process.

One could be cynical and discuss payments for our services and I would totally agree – to an extent but that would not convey our purpose. Not only do we, as a family feel this purpose from our inner core but we are committed to our customers, to help at such a strange and difficult time of ‘their’ lives. If we could perform this service freely, without financial mention, it would remain our chosen goal. That practically, we have to pay to be in business is the way of this world. In order for us to provide the commitment we do, unfortunately, requires that we too are in business and require payment.

And so it remains, for me, on behalf of myself, Penny, Paul and the staff who serve us and therefore ‘you,’ so well over the years to thank you for choosing us, coming into and being a part of our lives and beginning lasting friendships.

Strangely, as I wrote this, I also wrote some ‘greetings’ that at first were difficult. I soon found numerous ways to express our ‘thanks’ and send our ‘best wishes’ because you have affected us resultantly in such a nice way but, I have settled on one to convey that which is in our hearts. I hope this says as much as we feel and that it is received with the sincerity that we feel at this time.

Because the goodwill of those we serve forms the foundation of the trust you placed in us, we remember you at this difficult time and offer our personal "thank you" as we wish you hope for the future. May we assure you that you are truly remembered by us, often but none moreso than at this special time.

Terry, Penny & Paul Shoobridge and our wonderful team – ‘the staff.’

What Happens To Cremated Remains?

Without a Trace

Not to coin a phrase persé or borrow the title of the popular TV program from America; have you ever wondered, and I know the answer is ’No,’ where do ‘they’ go?

Where do who or what go? Ashes! Cremated remains or, their ‘owners.’

As a practising funeral director, rarely do I see any narrative regarding this subject but, it is a ‘real’ problem.

Can you imagine the sheer amount of cremated remains that could be left at a crematorium during the course of one year, three years, five of even ten years? It simply doesn’t bear thinking about so, what happens?

Generally speaking, if you make any one of us pay for a service, you will gain our attention.
Crematoria ‘shift’ the responsibility to funeral directors and, naturally so. It is us that dealt with the family or the executors and we have first-hand knowledge and contact details for all our customers – right? Right.

So, what do you imagine can go wrong? What is, ‘wrong’ exactly? Your perception is very different to mine but, the answers are truly unlimited so I will illustrate some of my personal experiences, views or, imaginations.

When we arrange a cremation, we ask for a signed authority for the Disposal of the Cremated Remains. Once ‘you’ authorise ‘us’ to collect them on ‘your’ behalf from the crematorium, nothing, save another authorisation from you, the family or executor, can change that procedure and we, duly collect them.

Due to some of the difficulties in the past (more about that later), we make very accurate records and, we advise you that we will keep ‘ashes’ in our ‘Place’ or ‘Chapel of Rest’ for a set period of time. Beyond that, we will inform you and charge you a monthly fee for their safe storage. This is after all, how it worked for the crematoria, so it should work for us funeral directors/undertakers? No, I’m afraid not.

We, as professionals have to balance tender emotions with practicalities, not only yours but also our own.
Once the funeral service has passed, there are so many things to attend to and life around you carries on regardless despite your feelings and grief situation so, let me ask a question, “Can you remember what exactly, amongst all those other unfamiliar things you told us, what exactly we said about the cremated remains?”

Often the answer is very doubtful at best but we too are busy people and cannot remember every detail about every family we deal with.

The idea of writing to every ‘owner’/inheritor of cremated remains is admirable but so often, impractical. That we further decide to remind you and offend you by charging a fee for storage is something we simply do not aspire to.
Being human too, the passage of time grows and now, trouble is brewing.

In the situation of further survivor deaths, people moving away - often to be with or close to, families, the disposal or sale of houses, keeping track of clients is difficult to say the least, apart from the time consumption element. I could add that there are no charges involved pursuing clients and sometimes, when solicitors or banks are involved with Estates, forwarding addresses get lost, staff move to other branches, retire or pass away themselves.
Add to this, The Data Protection Act and you can soon and easily see that, this task moves to the realms of impossibility.

As funeral directors, we have obligations. In truth, not so much a legal obligation as a moral obligation.
At what point do we cease to bother or input effort for no results? What options are we therefore able to offer or actions perform?
What can ‘we’ do to exercise ‘due diligence’ in the matter?

Practically speaking, we are under little justification to do anything from anyone BUT, our practice is to write to our clients, after the funeral date but not too far into the future, on a regular basis, three times to the last address given to us.

As the fee for cremation in England and Wales includes the ‘Scattering of Ashes’ in the Garden of Remembrance of the crematorium, once we, the funeral director, indemnify the Crematorium against further action, we are able to return the ashes and request that service.

As a consideration, we can announce publicly our intention and state a date for the occurrence but realistically, with the decline of newspaper purchases throughout the country, there is little point. That relatives may not live locally, is common so we are left with two options, our website and social media but since there is no compunction for either, to engage IT technicians at additional costs is another impracticality.

Generally, members of the public are horrified at this scenario – ‘forgotten Ashes’ - if made aware. Simply put, people forget and are not in a totally balanced frame-of-mind at the time of loss so really, quite forgiveable?
No doubt, opinions will differ but as people in a position of responsibility, we funeral directors sometimes feel that we just can’t ‘win!’

As a footnote, I will add that, on rare occasions, some funeral accounts are not paid. Often, we still hold the cremated remains in our Chapel of Rest.
One such occurrence after much effort and research by us, resulted in the discovery that the relative had returned to South Africa.
Despite our follow-ups and attempts to contact the relative, the situation remained unresolved for some years.

With reference to ‘our past experience’ mentioned above, the public generally don’t take into account family dynamics? Experience in our business shows that siblings sometimes have differences that manifest themselves at the time of the funeral - for example, we have known one sibling authorise a funeral and another to collect the ashes to the dismay of the organiser. Such events have led the industry to acknowledge the 'unlikely,' keep accurate records and ensure the authority of the claimant!

For information about the transportation or repatriation of Cremated Remains nationally or internationally, see our ‘Articles’ on this website.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Planning For The Future

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE - Plan and pre-pay your funeral - TODAY! at today's prices

An ‘end-of-life’ plan sounds dramatic or applicable only if, ‘I’ get ill, in the future or if I need  nursing or medical care?
True, end-of-life plans do exist for that purpose but this is a personal plan - to let others, those we love and care about, know our wishes for the day that our own sad event occurs – an event that is inevitable – it WILL happen, one day.

Putting off this task is quite easy and could be perceived as a good, Reason to Stay Alive’?

In the unlikely event of an accident or sudden illness, we may lose control of our own destiny and once an end-of-life plan is put into place, life can continue - almost without further thought.

So what should I be considering?

·      Have I made a will? Who will act as my Executor/s?
·      What is a ‘Power of Attorney’ arrangement?
·      Will I need a P-o-A if my memory goes?
·      Have I made a statement of or, recorded my funeral wishes or arrangements and have I told anyone?
·      Where can they be found?
·      Have I considered any form of organ donation or objection to?
·      What if I end up on life-support or brain damaged?
·      What of my future care or support in the event of illness, terminal illness, dementia, Parkinson’s Disease or similar?

There are numerous forms online that address this issue; some are brief and concise, some are lengthy and amount to 'Estate Planning.' Some are formal but to have something in place despite its simplicity, is fundamental.

Rarely binding legally, our personal wishes written in back and white will give clear intent to those concerned of our desires and thoughts. This can eliminate discussion and distress as well as debates and argument.
More formal documents that are legally binding can be pursued and would be advisable for the purpose of Estate Execution, Inheritance and Probate.

Completing the routine data such as Name and Current Address as well as, “Is There A Will and Where Is It Located” are relatively easy to address and the ‘thought provokes thought’ process will certainly expand the number of details you can add or write down.
Examples such as:
  • Date and place of birth (required by the Registrar within FIVE days of the death)
  • Next of kin details
  • Executor details
  • GP and medical centre details
  • Who to notify preceding/following the death

This is a starting point, which should lead to the following questions:
  • Does the deceased have a pre-paid funeral plan?
  • Who is it with and what are the details contained in it?
  • Does anyone know if solicitors are involved and who are they?
  • Is the deceased for Burial or Cremation?
  • Has the disposal of Ashes/Cremated Remains been discussed?
  • Is there to be a service in church or a Celebration of Life ceremony?
  • Eco-friendly (Natural Burial Ground), churchyard or municipal cemetery?
  • New grave or an existing plot?
  • Is there a Memorial stone in place and has the grave been recently attended?
  • What type of coffin is required?
  • Notices in the local or national newspapers?
  • Arrangements for refreshments after the service?

There are many other questions that could be included and your local funeral director will be happy to help discuss your options in advance, without obligation.

One form that addresses these issues can be found on this website but your options and choices are many and meeting personally with your local funeral director will assist you to complete this responsible action and move on with your life knowing that you and your loved ones have, ‘peace of mind.’


Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Bereavement Thoughts Soon After Loss - T Shoobridge

Bereavement Thoughts Soon After Loss by Terry Shoobridge

As a funeral director and son, whose mother recently died, I am constantly subjected to grief and bereavement, probably, as you would imagine?

I read numerous articles and find the teachings for grief counselling, similar and truthfully, that is to be expected. When numerous experiences are reported and recorded, some patterns emerge but often, initial findings, when those affected are still numb, seem to end there? Research may go on for years but all too often, the tender, personal experiences, seem to go unattended – people are left to fend for themselves.

This all may seem somewhat of a natural process after all, most of us are unaffected after the initial ‘shock’ - on a day-to-day basis. That someone else is going home to a situation devoid of a principal role person, with all the mundane topics of conversation that were possibly boring  - missing now, is an abstract. WE are not there, we are not suffering and in truth, did we think of anyone in this situation before our own, unfortunate, ‘event?’

Solitude can have a wonderful place in our lives; peace and quiet is often welcome but what happens when ‘choice’ is taken away? What happens after 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 years of marriage and ‘routine?’ How are we supposed to cope with the ‘new’ situation?

I was corresponding with a friend recently by email and wrote the following (below) but firstly let me say that this person is lucky enough to have a very supportive family living within travelling distance although, some words were spoken to a daughter-in-law which presumably, distanced the son a little – poor timing?

I wrote: (the names are fictitious - Thomas died two years ago, mum - recently)

There's a massive problem with death that remains only at a personal level.

Everybody else, I'd say, almost without fail, assumes - I guess (but really doesn't assume ANYTHING), that 'we' become OK almost instantly?

It's partly because our lives are so busy. It's partly because the effect of the loss is distant or removed? What I mean by that is our 'normal' lives do not revolve around Thomas say or mum. Yes, she's in our lives but we are in WSM or Brighton and ‘OUR’ partner and family are there and our life revolves around them for 16 hours a day.

We all 'know' you miss Thomas and mum but we don't have them under our feet or have them there to talk to and listen to. The decisions on dinner, what flowers to buy, when we cut the grass and all the other mundane things that make our day go by are not affected and this 'habit' is something we think about but DON'T FEEL in the same way.

You talk about motivation or, lack of it. When your whole purpose focuses on your day and your house and you make all these decisions together then, all of a sudden, that 7/8th - for it seems more than 50%, is removed, the question becomes, 'What was the point and, what IS the point going forward?'
What is the actual purpose getting up every day to practice work and chores without an end game? I have no idea Rosemary and personally, I wouldn't bother - in some ways.

I look at all the things that drive me; the areas where I consider I have OCD.

Our Christmas Tree stopped working. It's old, a fibre optic relic but Diane likes it.

I got it going (fixed it) but she bought another smaller one, which she enjoys. The other one stopped working again! The input socket got hot and melted a bit. I said it was unsafe to leave really so we agreed to throw it away. I HAD to fix it!! 
I bypassed the socket, got mega frustrated trying to solder the wires without any flux, swore, cursed, threw my toys out of the pram but, fixed it! I then took it to the dump and ditched it? Yep, that's right - it's the challenge that drives me not always the result.

I will never have the best garden in the neighbourhood. I will never have the best stamp collection in the world. My workshop will never be the tidiest but it's the challenge for me and the, not giving-in.
There are people far better at things but that's not the point - it's the ability to do the best I can with the tools and money I have.

When my dad died, my mum was just about to move house. They were buying their council flat and she had taken advantage of the 50% discount concession (a Margaret Thatcher idea) but was only 23 months into the contract.
Everybody told her, moving to a house with five areas of grass to cut and all that maintenance was crazy! If you're going to be crazy, stay in London for another month then you at least won't have to pay the council back 80% of the concession it will only be 60% - what did she do? She moved to Warminster where she knew no one and did it straight away so lost another 20% of the discount concession!

No grief or bereavement councillor will EVER advise doing that and rightly so BUT, for some folks, that IS the way forward.

New challenges will drive you crazy but, they will occupy your mind. THAT you CHANGE your purpose and try to gather some inner motivation to a NEW project, would work for me; to slug away trying to get inspiration to 'carry-on' in the old frame of mind - NOT for me after all, what's the point?

The other thing is this, YOU ACHIEVED your aim in the 'old' life. You, and Thomas, and mum - ACHIEVED your goal. It's like laying a lawn; you get your ground, you stake it out, you dig and clean it, you get the best seed, you make your lawn, you aerate it, you fertilise it and you make it perfect - you know what's left? MOWING!
Maintaining it is great but a chore and one you KNOW you can handle - no more challenge - you need a new lawn!

Now, getting back to the children: no matter how much they want to be a part of this 'new' adjusted-to life, it is NOT on their minds 24/7 - it IS on yours.

In the same way, this is going on daily, everywhere in the world. Is that fact supposed to help? No but, in the same way, before we were personally affected like this, it WAS happening all over the planet, we just weren't affected.

In the same way, the children are NOT affected but, one day, they will be; their turn will come and they will have similar experiences. It DOESN'T help but it is the way of things.

You know the toughest thing? Those that survive! It is (not really) OK for those who have left us, what do they have to cope with? We are the ones with the problems, with all the practical and emotional difficulties; 'they're' out of it!

So what do we make of all this?
We should take responsibility for the fact that there is still a purpose for us here on Earth. There is still work to be done and people to influence going forward, people who need to benefit from OUR presence, our experience and our personality - I don't know all the reasons yet and it is not important to know all this but look at it from this point of view: We're in our late sixties, right? Given that we have another 30 years of life ahead of us and given that the average age is say 76, (who knows) we don't have long left on this planet.

3 score years and 10 I believe is the biblical life span?

The Earth is 4 billion years old.

I don't know how many 70 years there are in 4 billion (4,000, 000, 000!) but, it IS a blink of the eye and what influence are we going to have in that proportion?

What I do know is this: whatever our purpose is, and we do have one, it is NOT our time yet and we only have a short time of 'suffering' before we join our partners! They are not going anywhere; their day is not critical no matter what you believe, their time is done and now, it IS our time and we still have work to do.

It probably won't work for everybody I agree but I find that quite exciting. Yes, we feel sad, yes we feel empty but it also comes down to 'our glass' - is it half-full or half-empty? Do we feel we should have the empathy of everyone close, around us, our family? Did we give the same empathy indefinitely to those we know who suffered similarly? It matters not the answer it is in the journey and ours is still on.

Will it be tough? At times yes but, we will imagine our 'driving force' is still looking down on us, overseeing our actions and progress. They still motivate us and we will try to please them, their memories - who knows OUR characteristic better than them? We will continue to 'perform' for them, we have done it all these years and it is our nature, it won't change - thankfully!

Finally, your house will sell when the time is right - no, 'perfect,' for all timing IS perfect.
True, we don't hold all the cards but, we have faith; faith in those who have departed, preceded us, faith in our children to 'come through' and mirror our teachings. Faith in so many things and in the 'afterlife' no matter whether that is nature or religion but, most of all we have two other faiths - faith in ourself and those who have Faith In US!

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Shoobridge Funeral Services - Serving YOU!

 Mission Statement (and History) the Long Version?

There are numerous reasons to be in business, any business. Passion, belief an ideal or simply, money.
Of course I could dress this up and use fancy words like, monetary or financial gain but one purpose of this article is to eliminate patronising remarks and to speak plainly.

My son, some years ago, asked me why I got into the funeral business, not how but why?
The truth is, it was not a vision of mine but circumstance/s that led me – some might even say an accident, coincidence or fate - I had been seeking a purpose, the meaning of life?
Contradictory it may sound but the reason for living had intrigued me since my father died in 1985 and I had been searching, somewhat unknowingly until the ‘funeral door’ opened in my life in 1989.

To examine my personal route to this juncture briefly, I had always believed in God, through upbringing, culture, habit and I guess, choice. When my father died suddenly, at the age of 64, just 6 months before his retirement, I was puzzled and very angry.

My wife used to have a hairdresser who came to the house. Her neighbour was a Parson and she had recently been converted into Christianity.
As the ‘devil’s advocate,’ I questioned every aspect of her ‘faith’ to the point of being annoying and accepting no answer she gave but she remained steadfast, undeterred and challenged me to attend 'her' church.

Not one to run from a fight, I did attend and consequently became a regular church-goer. Remaining ever the skeptic at 'house groups', asking numerous questions constantly, our meetings became, quite entertaining (to some?) – I am told.

A few years later, my wife and I divorced and the church ‘condemned’ the situation with true 'human driven,' hypocrisy and we parted company for good – that church and me. I still believe but now choose how, when and where to worship without pressure or coercement.

I decided to change the course my life was taking – it didn’t seem to be going anywhere ambitiously and work was becoming scarce as the United Kingdom hit  financial ‘recession’  in the late '80s - poor timing on my part?

Before desperation took hold, I sought and accepted a new job working for a local builder-cum-undertaker. The building work was our primary function but my first full day at work took an unexpected turn – my boss had a heart attack!
At 54 years of age, he was fortunate to be fit and healthy and survived but was not allowed to drive for 3 months – I became his driver.

One of my first 'chauffeur' jobs was extremely unfortunate: one of our workers father died and I had to drive my boss to the house to arrange the proceedings. We were, after all, funeral directors too.
I cannot recall all of my emotions and feelings but I remember they were many and varied.

Apart from this initial introduction to the funeral profession, as part of my duties, I was taught how to attend churches in a new role – funeral services and had to record the names of the mourners attending the service.
One day, we were short of manpower for the duties of bearing the coffin and I was asked if I could help, a pall-bearer? Naturally, I obliged.

From there you could say, 'the rest is history,' but it is not – history, is still in the making as those became simply,  the ‘early beginnings.’

27 years later, my ‘book’ remains unwritten but we are now in our second generation of funeral directors and I imagine, the third will follow.

So what of the work, our work, in a business sense? I constantly read articles, brochures and publications directed at you, the public. The Internet is the new world encyclopaedia and Google reigns so ALL the information is available to you, at your fingertips. Clarity has mercifully, dispelled myths and the secrets are all out – not that there were any to begin with but, transparency is the key nowadays and we live in the ‘new’ world of undertaking.

I could wane lyrically about ‘mission statements’ but I am a funeral director for numerous reasons but one standard exists in my life and was the answer to one of the first questions my son ever asked me: “When I stop feeling empathetic and emotional for and towards my customers, IS the day I quit the funeral profession for good!”

Of course, that sounds very noble and I could write lots of expressions to impress you or try to gain your business but my fault is, I tell it as it is.

Live or die, honesty is an important principle in my life. Diplomacy and tact also have their place but not at the expense of this fundamental and underlying principle. 'Not telling someone everything is not the same as lying to them' and if suffering can be averted by discerning judgement our experience is a key factor in decision making.

This is not the same as deception so let me give you an example: if I prepare or dig a grave, it would be no surprise in the UK that water will enter the grave. With lots of rain, the level of water continually increases and becomes a problem to the funeral director regarding pumping, ground conditions and such.
In summary, the client does not need to know all of this, it is the problem of the grave-digger and the funeral director.  To fully inform the public could be distressing, too-much-information!
Mostly, I choose not to inform people  unless they ask - we never intentionally mis-inform or lie to the public or client no matter the cost. So there it is – we are here to help you with the best use of our experience applied to, and regarding, your personal situation.

Our aim is to smooth the difficult passage of loss, grief and bereavement for you. For you, this is unfamiliar territory - we are not here to  take advantage of your circumstances or situation.
We are here to inform you of the options available, advise you and help you with the choices you make as a result of this knowledge because, ultimately, these options will be remembered by you in the future as the best possible way you could undertake and move through this sad event.

To say we wish to make it the best experience possible for you, your family or the people affected sounds magnanimous since we are in business and to that last comment, you have my full agreement but, in order to do what we feel we do extremely well, we have to remain available, in business, to exact our skills into your difficult situation.

Truly, we have no magic wand to eliminate your pain; but, if we can, in any way, reduce the stress you are experiencing, we will achieve our aim and putting your needs first is our prime target!

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

SMART TVs? In the FuneralProfession?

Anyone opening our 'Blog' page will doubtless wonder why a page talking about SMART TVs should be staring them in the face?

Regular visitors to our Blog will find a variety of topics which are not all related directly to funerals or maybe they are connected but more, INdirectly!

Breaking away from funeral topics as such, our industry, in fact, all of our lives are surrounded, influenced and somewhat dominated by, technology.

In our workplace, we all have computers. WE all have screens or monitors or, TVs.

In an effort to improve our IT - Information Technology knowledge, we/I have decided to undertake (pun?) to write some pertinent articles and since Internet access is simple, once connected to a network, a Smart TV is simply another tool in our device armoury.

Truthfully, I was asked for advice and decided to share the results here - if the subject holds no interest for you, your detention is unnecessary and should you find a subject of interest here in amongst our Blogs, we welcome you to select accordingly as you feel comfortable.

I was asked for some advice on purchasing a ‘smart’ TV in the UK followed by the comment, “Well actually, if I am honest, I don’t actually know what a ‘smart’ TV is!”

I answered as if I was speaking to the person asking the question: – you might find this interesting, you might not? If it serves as an insight, I have done my job.

Smart TVs
Basically speaking, a ‘smart’ TV is a big computer monitor, PLUS a TV.

If you can imagine sitting at your computer, being connected to the Internet and seeing it all on your 32” monitor screen, you have a ‘smart’ TV.

With anything online comes the problem of, security and monitoring.
If there is nothing on the telly, you can connect to BBC/ITV Iplayer, Youtube anything that streams video, or radio or pornography or anything nasty as well as the good things.

Control is by various options, mostly a complex R/C (Remote Control), sometimes, a Mouse and Keyboard.
It is NOT a computer!
It IS, access to the Internet without the Firewall though doubtless, someone is working on that too.

Unfortunately, everything that you may see as negative with the Internet, is present here. Your Browsing and Surfing History is being monitored constantly by the various Browser giants. Your shopping habits are being monitored constantly too.

You can access your email (webmail) at the touch of a Browser Tab. If it can be hacked, you are open to attack. There are advantages too. You can Skype at full size though mostly, you will have to purchase an external webcam and possibly, a microphone.

The ALTERNATIVE is what you (the enquirer), have in part already and I (Terry Shoobridge), have more fully: Chromecast, MyGiga (Roku) and Apple TV.

These are interfaces (little black boxes or dongles) that access the Internet and come complete with their own PSU (Power Supply Units), and various options. MyGiga has four USB outlets/inputs and can be controlled by a keyboard, mouse or the supplied R/C. Additionally, you can add an external hard-drive for extra (downloaded) media storage though the box has a quad-core processor and on-board hard-drive storage of its own. This is an Android box.

Chromecast 2: Similar but not the same approach as MyGiga etc..
A small dongle with Micro USB 5V (from the mains) power supply (Chromecast 1 had a separate and larger PSU) which uses a smart phone or tablet as a R/C.

Downloading the Google Chrome Browser to your smart phone, Ipad or tablet, enables you (or anyone else with Guest permission), to control the TV content that again, is available on the Internet though much content is by subscription and because your location is known (UK), USA content is rarely allowed.

In B.C., Canada, UK TV content is not allowed so if that was the aim, forget it though, there are ways around it (with some difficulty).

All these external devices require an HDMI input and ‘Source’ input selection on the TV R/C.
Relying on a home router radio connection hinders the first video streaming download but once in motion (buffering delays the process initially), you’re good to go.
To improve the streaming and Internet connection, the ideal placement of your home router (MoDem) would be close to the TV itself. Hard-wire connection by Ethernet would improve your experience and your smart phone has to be connected to your home network in order to R/C the material or program you are watching.

Not everything is available on these devices. If you mirror your experience between Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store, you will have an idea of where you stand and, on that note – Apple TV.

The latest offering from Apple is Apple TV with a Siri smart R/C. Available with 32GB and 64GB hard-drive options (for downloading movies and storage), the costs of these alternative smart TV devices vary between the UK and North America as you can imagine.

Apple TV is approximately $225 CDN at 32Gb or around $300 for the 64GB version. With an exchange rate currently (March 2016) of $1.85/£, this is likely to set you back around £150. Similarly a MyGiga box was $200 over a year ago but is likely to be a bit cheaper now. Google’s Chromecast is without a doubt the cheapest option at around $50 but relies on your smart phone or tablet for controlling content.

There are other ways, which are extremely easy to project content from a smart phone or tablet connected to the Internet onto your own TV.

With faster download speeds ever-increasing on your home network despite the sheer number of devices connected to and accessing information simultaneously, projecting the ‘screen’ from your mobile device onto your home network and connecting that content via HDMI is relatively easy so, the question is this, do you need or want a ‘smart’ TV?

Do you want your habits online known to the world and do you want the whole range that is available? Connecting THREE devices (Chromecast, MyGiga and Apple TV) will give you an extremely ‘SMART TV’ with input sources (HDMI) a nightmare – most TVs only have two HDMI inputs currently.
The other thing to consider is HD, High Definition.
Streaming HD content over the Internet is not yet as efficient as receiving HD content by Cable or Satellite though it is improving. I wouldn’t doubt that a dedicated Smart TV would be subject to far less signal loss and interference than your Home Network but what do you want from the TV? Yesterday we were happy with SD now we demand HD. If you go to a friend’s house, do we consider the quality of the content we are watching? Possibly, yes.

So, a smart TV with a webcam and microphone could be a cheaper option than an Ipad image projected onto a regular TV through your Home Network; Chromecast as a fully equipped add-on (with Google Chrome Browser initiated) is without a doubt the cheapest option as you can still use your phone’s or tablet’s on-board microphone and webcam efficiently – it’s all a matter of choice after all, a Smart TV will be easier on your cable chaos at the rear of your TV and, probably one less R/C to deal with, scramble over or lose on the floor or sofa!

Note: from a software point-of-view, as the name of the operating system suggests, where Android, IOS or Windows for Mobile Devices are concerned, Apps. are downloaded as with our other mobile devices, from the Apple (App.) Store or the Google Play Store. Hard drive capacities may influence the amount of Apps. that can be downloaded and used though the limit seems, almost endless.

ps I knew it would happen:                       Yet Another R/C!

5-Port HDMI Switch (Switcher Selector), 5 In 1 Out, Support 3D, Remote Control, Auto Switching, 1080p + Power Adapter

List Price:
CDN$ 29.99
CDN$ 18.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25.
You Save:
CDN$ 11.04 (37%)
  • Able to connect 5 HD sources to just 1 HDMI port on your HDTV/monitor
  • Support FullHD 1920x1080p and 12-bit deep colour, retaining the crispy clear images
  • Auto-switching and/or switching with a remote control
  • Avoid frequent plugging or unplugging of HDMI cables which also wears out your precious HDMI connector
  • Support LPCM, DTS/DTS-HD, Dolby Digital/Dolby TrueHD

To completely bore you further, content not allowed by location can be circumvented.
Businesses that want to securely share files and information between clients and colleagues or consumers that simply don’t want their browsing history recorded or for those who want to watch content from, for example the US or the UK in Canada where this is not allowed, can subscribe to a VPN – Virtual Private Network.

A small subscription will enable your IP Address to be hidden or, located by choice to appear to be in the country you wish thereby enabling the content to be downloaded. Logs and records are not kept and added encryption ensures security at higher levels.

The downside is that connecting to the ‘foreign’ server initiates a slight delay on your system but lots of video content is now being provided in a ‘buffered’ state, which will reduce the initial streaming download time tremendously.

Ever onwards, upwards (and downwards)!