November 04, 2015

Cheap Media Playback

Over the past few years I've played with several different technologies that allow for video streaming to your TV.  I own a bunch of Chromecasts, an Amazon Firestick, and have had a few BluRay players that do streaming from various services.  As much as they are slick and sometimes the size of a USB thumb drive, you have to buy into their tools and use Wi-Fi to access your streaming content.

A few years ago I played with XMBC to play back some files and liked it, but never played with it in depth.  After I got my Firestick, I sideloaded XMBC and was really impressed.  That was a pretty nice platform, but it would stutter on anything above 480p.  More recently I repurposed an old laptop that didn't have a functional keyboard into a media playback device.  I loaded the Ubuntu distribution that that XBMC... or should I say Kodi, created to make configuration easy.  I really love Kodibuntu, but I was running into issues with the audio levels getting to the TV.  The audio was so low.  After some searching, I found a solution on the Kodi forums in the way of a change to the advancedsettings.xml file that configures Kodi.  The addition of this made all of the difference:



I would recommend Kodi to anyone who wants a free method for streaming video or playing back local content:

July 30, 2015

The 3rd time is a charm..

I tried using the Glyde service twice in the past with pretty bad results.  The first time the seller pulled out.  In that case Glyde gave me a $50 credit towards a new purchase.  I tried once again with the same result.  They were nice enough to give me a full refund, but it really wasted my time.  Since then I have purchased used phones through eBay and Amazon with their own list of horrible problems, so I decided to try Glyde again after not finding what I wanted through Gazelle.  All the time I spent trying to track down a good deal is probably valued at the same rate as a new iPhone 6s, but I wouldn't have the same sense of accomplishment.  



July 18, 2015

A month without a smartphone

Recently my wife lost her iPhone at Disneyland.  I had no luck with FindMyiPhone or the carrier specific services.  The hotel where she was staying at had no returned device.  She needed the iPhone-tastic features, so I moved her number over to my iPhone and picked up a crappy(tm) Tracfone to use until we were sure that her phone was indeed lost and non-recoverable. 

When I mean crappy pre-paid phone, I mean the $9.00 USD unit that I picked up at Walmart on special, since I didn't expect to use it long.  A week turned into two, but I was still holding on to a false hope that I'd get the other handset back.  No dice.  About three weeks into this venture I was still working with the crap-tastic phone and relearning how to T9 text message, my Mom had a medical emergency.  I had to make my way to the midwest to help deal with family emergency.  

At that point I was starting to feel like a second class citizen.  Lacking even the most basic of 2G cellular Internet connectivity, I was at the whim of my laptop battery and the airport/hotel/restaurant wifi for any sort of information.  Lyft and Uber were unattainable and I ended up paying 2x as much on my Taxi fare from the airport that I would have with a ride sharing services.

As much as it was limiting, it was a freeing experience.  I didn't have my email dinging constantly.  I didn't have my Facebook notifications buzzing in my pocket.  If is an unsettling feeling when you start to understand that you so plugged into things that you start wasting all of your idle time seeing what people are posting on Instagram.  At some point I need to do a full digital detox.  With a pen and paper, a few dozen rolls of 35mm film and a bunch of people that I love.  

I need to schedule that in Outlook.

June 15, 2015

And it was gone

I decided I wanted to have a roll of 35mm C-41 developed same day.

I went to the 1 hour photo section of the local chain drugstore that I had used over the last decade.

It was gone.

They only handled prints.

I got on Google and found all of the stores in that chain in a 25 miles radius.

They now only shipped film out and wouldn't return your negatives.

I was sad.

It was the end of an era.  

Mail order is available and affordable.  

But for how long.

It isn't like the death of a friend or a relative.

I mourn it nonetheless.

Time to start processing film at home. 


May 31, 2015

'Ol Rummy

Whether you love him or hate him, Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has been an interesting character in the Defense Industrial Complex.  He is oft quoted from a speech he gave in 2002 in regards to the Iraq war. 

The fact that I was able to build this into a briefing at work, make a point and not get laughed at was pretty amusing.

It goes a little something like this:

"Reports that say there's -- that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things that we know that we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know."

While on the surface it seems like a Clintonesque diatribe on what "is is", but if you de-construct it, you see how that jumble of words actually has meaning and application towards Information Security and Operations Security in general.

March 30, 2015

Everything changes but the number

In the past I have written about the horror of porting numbers between landline/voip/wireless carriers.

Recently we've had some changes at home and my wife is changing her employer.  She's had the same cell phone number from her job for 14 years and they were nice enough to let her keep it.  I'll spare you the details, but it took about three weeks to get everything worked out.  This is what I learned from the process:

  1. Porting a phone from a business account to a personal account is a pain, since they never want to share the Tax ID or account number.  
  2. Glyde might have great prices online, but beware, as three of my transactions were cancelled due to the seller not completing the deal.  A waste of time.
  3. You can purchase a used/refurbished phone that has a Clean ESN, but if the phone isn't unlocked from the carrier and the account balance from the previous owner is not settled you are pretty screwed.  I was lucky that the Amazon seller was nice enough to provide a replacement phone, since technically they had sold me exactly what was stated.  The back and forth wasted a lot more time.
  4. I use Ting as my carrier and spent a lot of time on the phone with them trying to work out this situation.  While it did take a while, they went above and beyond to help me resolve the situation.  Since they are a MVNO, they have their hands tied by Sprint and T-Mobile in what type of phone issues they can resolve or what they can put on the network. 

December 07, 2014

Amazon Firestick - Part 2

After singing the praises of the Firestick in my last blog post, I've had some more experience playing with the unit.  Last night was the first time I've had some network delay issues with 1080P content, but nothing really terrible.

The big thing for me was looking at apps to do local streaming.  After doing a few google searches, I found that while XBMC is not an option from the Amazon store, you can "Side Load" the application.  While not seamless, running XBMC on the firestick is pretty amazing.  Streaming local 1080P content over my local network works like a charm.  If you are looking to do this, read these links.  As of the next release XBMC will be officially known as Kodi.

Using this method, you can load a lot of other APK file packaged applications beyond what I've mentioned.

Add to My Yahoo!

Powered by
Movable Type 3.2ysb5-20051201

Technology Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

Add to Technorati Favorites