Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Streaming TV and Movies



Car Crash TV

Idiot TV

Lost in Transmission

Midsomer Murders

Peaky Blinders

Simon's Cat

Superstore

Young Sheldon



BumbleBee TV

CW Seed

IMDb TV

PopCornFlix

Pluto TV

Sony Crackle

Tubi 

Xumo

 - -

Pluto TV

If you've been following my posts here, you know I am less than enthused with Amazon Prime Video

https://www.atnpc.com/2019/08/standard-definition-restriction-for.html )

Their user interface, their Amazon branded devices, their website, their lack of communication, their lack of customer service...


And I'm paying for this?!

Not for much longer...

Another complaint that echoes from my mouth frequently is,

"Where did my show go?!"

One day it's there. The next day it is gone. Then it's back. Then gone again. Then it's back...

Then, there's the other times when the show is just gone. No warning. It's gone for good.

How about a little heads-up?!

How about a "These are on their way out; watch them before their gone" category.

An email? Amazon sends enough useless emails. They certainly could let me know via email what shows were leaving and when.

But, they don't.

You know who does? Pluto TV


See, wasn't that easy?

Oh, and it's free. Yep, it's free.

They do have commercials, but it's not the annoying onslaught like you get with network channels.

Speaking of channels, the "Live TV" interface reminds me of the channel view of a cable box


Some may like it, some may not, but it is familiar. That's not a bad thing in my book.

There is also a "on Demand" view that lets me select what I want to watch when I want to watch it.


Did I mention, it is free?

Oh, bonus - it works with my VPN. Amazon Prime does NOT work when my VPN is on.

Oh, another bonus, some of my favorite shows are available like Midsomer Murders, and Rutledge Wood's Lost in Transmission.

In fact, if you can't find something to watch on Pluto TV, you obviously didn't look.

As far as I know, Pluto TV works on EVERYTHING! Computer, phone, all streaming tv boxes, Apple stuff, tablets, game consoles, and even in a regular internet browser.

Give it a try; you will love it!

 - -

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Linux Kernel Known Bug

"Dell Latitude D630 Laptop and the Known Bug with the Linux Kernel"

There is a known bug in one or some of the Linux kernels that is missing the appropriate drivers for the Intel graphics chips in some older laptops.

https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/1685442

The Dell Latitude D630's are one of the affected models.


 There is no questioning your laptop is affected by this when your fresh install of your favorite distro takes 4-1/2 minutes to boot.

That's right, 4.5 minutes.

For some reason the computer is busy looking for an S video connector, but there isn't one.

The first fix I came across was adding a kernel boot parameter

 GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash video=SVIDEO-1:d"

That may have helped a little bit, but it didn't help me anywhere near as much as other users reported.

The next suggestion was to remove some video drivers with

sudo apt-get remove xserver-xorg-video-intel

but, since they weren't installed in the first place, that didn't help.

Since the problem is at the kernel level, change the kernel.

There is a very nice tutorial here:

https://phoenixnap.com/kb/how-to-update-kernel-ubuntu

Skip to "Option C: Manually Update the Kernel..."

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:teejee2008/ppa
sudo apt-get update 
sudo apt-get install ukuu


Then run

sudo ukuu-gtk


I chose kernel 5.2.

The start from reboot took 1-1/2 minutes (instead of the previous 4-1/2). Start from cold boot 1-1/4 minutes.

Nice.

I used the Ukuu tool on Xubuntu 18.04.3 and Peppermint 10.


I'd imagine this would help with Zorin 15 too.



 - -

Friday, August 23, 2019

[UPDATED] Windows? Really?

Wow...

Has it really come full circle? ALL the way around?

It started maybe a month ago. I was getting less and less enthused with my Amazon Fire Stick trying to watch Movies/TV Shows. The user interface on the Fire Stick leaves a lot to be desired. And, my other apps weren't working as well as they used to.

I remembered when I used to watch Amazon Prime stuff on a computer, it was much better.

But, (read the whole article here http://www.atnpc.com/2019/08/standard-definition-restriction-for.html )

So, I ended up using Windows.

That's fine for Amazon Prime, but what about my other shows I watch using other apps?

It turns out that my VPN may suck (read "COMPLETELY unusable") on a Fire Stick (article here http://www.atnpc.com/2019/08/expressvpn-fire-stick-app-known-issue.html ), but it works like a dream in Windows 10.

So, with a VPN, now, what about my apps?

Oh yes! One of them has an app for Windows! Not Linux, but Windows!

Who'da thunk it!

So, am I really going to have to use Windows 10 on my home theater PC to watch Movies and TV Shows?

Yep. And it works extremely well.

Then, just yesterday, I was working on some 12-year old laptops (Dell Lattitude D630). To my great dismay they were EXTREMELY slow to boot any Linux distribution I tried to install.

I did a Windows 10 install and it ran fine.

WTF?!

Research showed that there is a known bug in the linux kernel iteself that involves the Intel Graphics chips in these older laptops. This bug is maybe 3 years old. 3 YEARS OLD! And nobody has fixed this?!

There are a couple of workarounds, but they didn't seem to completely remedy the issue.

[UPDATE -  https://www.atnpc.com/2019/08/linux-kernel-known-bug.html ]

But Windows 10 works.

Was there a shift in the space/time continuum or something?

Windows 10 Pro version 1903 seems to be meeting my needs better overall than Linux distributions?

Wow...

 - -


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Peppermint 10

Peppermint OS released their version 10 in May of this year https://peppermintos.com/2019/05/peppermint-10-released/

Peppermint OS has always kept my attention, possible because in was born in the back of a bar in North Carolina -

"It is said that the idea of Peppermint OS was initially thought during a drinking night at a pub in NC, USA. Inspiration is to find an alternative to the overpriced and unstable commercial OS (may be referring to MS Windows)."

http://www.linuxandubuntu.com/home/linuxandubuntu-review-of-peppermint-linux )

The other reason is probably that it looks good.


Oh, and I have full control of the panel. I can add, delete, and manipulate it anyway I choose. This would make me choose it over, say Zorin.


But, does it "just work"?

After installing Peppermint OS 10 on my test machine, I noticed that only 2 out of 3 monitors were working.

Uh-oh...

I ran updates and still, only 2 monitors.

Next I checked the "additional drivers". I was already running the 390 series driver which is the correct one. but, the 430 series was available, so, I thought, let's give 'er a go.

After a restart, no change. Still 2 monitors.

Oh, well.

Much to my surprise, I started Peppermint again (to start this article), and the third monitor came on with the other 2. I quickly went to the Display settings and arranged the monitors as they should be. A restart, and all was well.

What happened? I dont know...

It works.

It works very well...

 - -


Thursday, August 15, 2019

SunsetMicro PC from Amazon... [part 3]

The beginning http://www.atnpc.com/2019/04/my-new-to-me-sunsetmicro-pc-from-amazon.html 


The continuation http://www.atnpc.com/2019/05/sunsetmicro-pc-from-amazon-continued.html

So, it was time to use it. I turned it on and let it sit there thinking there might be an update or two.

I came back later and it didn't want to go anywhere online.

I checked the internet on another device and it was running well.

I checked the computer again. It was connected, but it just wouldn't go anywhere.

I restarted and all was well.

After some experimentation, I discovered that computer would run fine, until I left it unattended for a while. It didn't matter if I was in Windows 10 or Deepin. I checked all settings and power settings, nothing helped.

I was busy with other things so I didn't take it out back and beat it with a hammer.

Later I needed a SSD, so I scuttled the one out of it.

It sat for a few weeks and played the role of dust magnet and kept getting in my way.

Then, Xfinity/Comcast started giving me fits with uptime. Not knowing if I was having equipment or wiring trouble, the testing began.

Part of the test is to monitor "xfinitywifi" for uptime. This means I am connected to somebody else's router. this tells me if the problem is in my area if it goes down the same time my internet does.

To do this, I needed a computer that I wasn't using.

I took the problematic-from-the-start Dell Optiplex 7010, slapped a regular hard drive in it and installed Xubuntu 18.04.2.

I connected to a neighbor's router via xfinitywifi and started to monitor.

It was probably a few weeks later that I realized what I had done -

It was the same computer, using the same TP-Link wifi dongle, endlessly connected to the internet, unattended until my ISP experienced downtime.

It was just working. And, it is still working right now.

WTF?!

The only differences are operating system and hard drive.

I can't imagine that Xubuntu over Windows AND Deepin would make any difference at all; and the other hard drive is in my daughter's computer, being used daily without issue.

I guess it it was on those mysteries of the computer-verse...

 - -






Monday, August 5, 2019

ExpressVPN Fire Stick APP "Known Issue"

ExpressVPN has to be the easiest VPN to set up.

I have it on several computers running Windows
and Linux.

But the real reason I use them is for my Amazon Fire Sticks.

Bad news - the Fire Stick app has a "known issue".

If you have been using the ExpressVPN app, you're fine.

If you are a new Fire Stick owner, or, like me, a person that just did a factory reset and has to re-install all their apps, it will not work.

Their customer service is great in the fact that they tried so hard to help me to get it to work, even though the known issue prevents it.

Truth told, they have my email address. If they would have sent out an email to warn existing customers of the issue, I NEVER would have reset my Fire Stick. Hence, I would not have spent hours of my life to no avail.

Time wasted that can't be reclaimed...

And, bless their hearts, their people are still trying to help me.

I've told them at least three times now,

"You told me this is a 'known issue'. You have my email address. Can you please send me an email when the 'issue' is fixed?"

We'll see how that goes.

my subscription ends September 15th...

 - -


Saturday, August 3, 2019

Standard Definition Restriction for Streaming in Linux [UPDATED]

I've been quite disappointed with my 4k Amazon Firestick since I bought it.

The first problem I noticed was the stick would restart when ever there was an update. No warning. Doesn't matter if you're right in the middle of watching a show. It just restarts.

The other problem is their menus and the way they present all their shows (and apps). It can get really frustrating trying to find something you found a week ago.

And, try using captions when you have the volume turned down so as not to wake sleeping family members; it puts the caption too far up and obscures the part of the show you are trying to watch.

Maybe I'll just go back to using a computer like I used to...

"...If you are running an operating system other than Windows or Mac OS, playback is restricted to standard definition." https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=GUVGB3QMQRYRERYW&linkId=71025432

That's nice.

This is after I installed, re-installed, re-installed again different Linux distributions trying to figure out why I couldn't get my 1080p.

Several conversations with Amazon later, they don't care.

Fine.

I can let my subscription expire.

Amazon doesn't seem to care about that either.

So, if I drop Amazon Prime, I could use Hulu for les than $13 a year more.

https://help.hulu.com/s/article/supported-computers?language=en_US

There is NO mention of Linux, just Mac/Windows/Chrome.

I might still try them since they have a better selection of shows...

I can also hack my browser -

https://www.maketecheasier.com/watch-netflix-hulu-amazon-prime-ubuntu/

That doesn't look like an instruction set for the faint of heart, but it might be doable.

That doesn't work with Amazon Prime. The user agent is showing correctly, but Amazon keeps me restricted to standard def.

I tried another method utilizing a browser extension, but it didn't work either.

I won't be renewing my Amazon Prime subscription...

 - -