Posts filed under ‘Uncategorized’

Channels DVR

Many years ago, I used SageTV for my DVR.  After it was sold to Google, I tried MythTV with some success.  I’ve since used Plex briefly, and the HD Homerun DVR for several months.  Recently I tried SageTV again, the open source version.  It’s still very much like it was years ago, with the AndroidTV app working very well now.  Controlling the app with the ShieldTV remote could be better, though.  There’s also the lack of a IOS version, and I don’t think it plays well with other apps sharing HD Homerun tuners, though this may have been addressed.

Plex has a few issues.  No grid guide is a big one.  Another is you can’t watch a show while it’s recording.  Commercials are removed from recordings, not just marked.

While looking at a Plex forum, I read about Channels, an IOS app for watching TV with an HD Homerun tuner which has a DVR component.  I had seen this app before but didn’t try it due to the cost.  After reading more about the app, I found that it gets rids of all my complaints about Plex.  It also allows for remote connections, so you could even stream TV from it remotely, like Plex.

The cost is a bit steep, being $24.99 for the AppleTV app, another $14.99 for the iPhone/iPad app.  I think there are similar prices for AndroidTV, Amazon FireTV, and other versions.  The DVR feature is $8 per month after your first month…  So, it’s a bit expensive, but it’s very good (I think Android versions have various states of support for the DVR feature.).

Regardless of the price, I can say this is about the best DVR experience I’ve run across yet on AppleTV.  The user interface is very  intuitive.  It integrates well with the AppleTV, including support for adding shows to the top bar on the AppleTV home screen.

The DVR component runs on just about anything, even the ShieldTV.  It can use the hardware acceleration on the ShieldTV for transcoding, and if your processor supports Quick Sync, it is supported as well.

I’ve chosen to run mine under docker in UnRAID.  It works very well, even when transcoding.

It still early days of my trying it, but I’m pretty happy with it so far.

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May 20, 2018 at 8:22 pm Leave a comment

Running a PA-VM on KVM under UnRAID

Getting PanOS up and running on KVM under UnRAID was not easy.

I started with the KVM version of the PA-VM firewall and copied that to my ISOs directory.

Through trial and error, I finally got it working.  In the UnRAID UI, I selected two separate CPUs, about 9.5 GB of memory, the i440fx-2.11 machine type, with the SeaBIOS and the USB controller to the default 2.0 (EHCI).

I manually copied the image to the appropriate directory for this VM.  I did have to add multiple brX interfaces (via the networks settings page) to be able to add multiple NICs to the VM.

When booting up, I encountered a problem where it would reboot multiple times on its own.  Finally, I was given the maintenance prompt.  I did a factory reset, and afterward, it booted as I would expect.  At this point, I could log in and set the IP address and everything seemed to be working as expected.

Posting here to help anyone else who wants to try running a PA-VM on UnRAID.

Edit:  Also, set the NICs to type e1000 in the XML (not in the form).  I think VirtIO is supposed to be supported, but they didn’t seem to work until set to e1000.

May 8, 2018 at 2:41 pm Leave a comment

Palo Alto PA-220

About a month ago, Palo Alto announced their new 8.0 firmware, along with some new hardware.  The most exciting new product to me, personally, is their new PA-220.

The PA-200 is a unit I have a lot of experience with.  It’s got 4 Gig ports for traffic, supports 100 Mbps of firewall throughput, dropping to 50 Mbps with Threat prevention enabled.  It’s a good unit for a small office.

The PA-220 is better, sporting 8 Gig ports for traffic, 500 Mbps of firewall throughput, dropping to 150 Mbps with Threat enabled.  It is without fans, and since it uses EMMC for storage (32 GB), there shouldn’t be any moving parts to break down.

Basically, it’s got more power than a PA-500, the same number of ports, and it’s in an even smaller package than the PA-200.

Best of all, it’s at a much better price point than the PA-200.

March 7, 2017 at 11:20 pm 1 comment

Sous Vide – Tuna

Tonight, I made dinner yet again.  This time, I only made one dish Sous Vide, Tuna following this recipe.  Differences this week:  I bought a Cambro 4.75 gallon container with a sliding lid to cook in and an Ikea pot organizer (which fits inside the Cambro, allowing me to keep the bags separated).

I’m not having much luck with proteins cooked Sous Vide.  Perhaps it was that the Tuna I cooked was a flash frozen Tuna from a local warehouse club.   It was Ahi Tuna, and the color didn’t look as red as I expected.  I think it was more of a brown, but perhaps that was from the freezing process?

I set my Anova to 115 degrees, as I wanted it to be a little firm, but not to the point that it’s dry.  I think my Tuna steaks were around 1 inch thick, giving me a cook time of 30-45 minutes.  I took the first piece out around the 45 minute mark and proceeded to sear it.  I probably took the last piece out between the 50 and 55 minute mark.

What I ended up with, though it was only cooked to 115 degrees, looked much closer in color to the 130 degree image from the Serious Eats article.

I thought that perhaps my issue was with the Anova itself.  Perhaps it was not accurately reading the temperature of the water, making it heat it up another 10-15 degrees above the expected temperature?  I tested that theory by firing up the Anova after dinner and placing a large mercury thermometer in the water bath.  It showed about 109, matching the Anova.  A few minutes later, when the Anova had reached 115, the mercury thermometer also showed about 115 degrees.

So, since the Anova is operating as expected, I can only conclude that I either overcooked the Tuna by going to 45-55 minutes and should have removed it at 30 minutes, or that it was a quality issue with my Tuna itself.  Another potential issue that I just thought of…  Perhaps my intake and outlets of the Anova are getting partially blocked, making the Anova overheat the water?

My choices of sides seemed to go well this evening, though they were not Sous Vide, so I am not going to go into them here, at this time.

Not sure what I’m going to make next Saturday.

September 24, 2016 at 10:24 pm Leave a comment

TDBank – The best daily-use credit card offer I’ve seen!

This is probably the best credit card offer I’ve seen for a daily use card.  This was another offer to me via mail, but they are offering a very similar offer to anyone (only $100 cash back instead of $200).

$200 Cash back after you spend $500 on the card in the first 3 months
5% cash back on purchases for restaurants, groceries, gas, cable, phone, and utility payments for 6 months
1% cash back everywhere elseNo annual fee

That’s quite an offer.  $500 in the first 3 months?  I’ll likely do that in the first 30 days.  Groceries and Gas alone should cover that.

But then there’s the 5% cash back.  Every month, I spend probably 100-150 eating out, more if the cafeteria at my job counts as a restaurant.  We spend about $300 on gas, and probably $400 at the grocery store (excluding CostCo food purchases).  Then there’s the cable bill, and the cell phone bill.

The electric company charges $4.95 to pay with a credit card, but with 5% cash back, I’ll make $15+ in cash back, so the extra fee is worth it.

A quick calculation shows that just on these 5% cash back categories, we should earn $65 back every month.  That’s almost $400 over the 6 months, plus the bonus $200.

This offer is public (except with $100 cash back instead of $200) at this link:

http://www.tdbank.com/personalcreditcard/cashrewardscard.html

October 11, 2014 at 12:33 pm Leave a comment

Chase Bank Checking Offer – $200

Recently, Chase Bank has been sending out offers to set up a checking account with them and earn $200.  You have to get it in the mail from them to qualify, but I got this offer at least twice now and decided that the chance of earning $200 was worth looking closer.

Lets get the “Catch” out of the way, right up front:

This is a checking account that has a $12 monthly service fee, unless one of the following is true:

You have at least a $500 direct deposit going into the account
You have a $1500 or more minimum daily balance
You have an average daily balance of $5000 or more in any combination of linked deposit/investment accounts
You’ve paid $25 or more in qualifying checking-related services or fees

To get the $200 bonus, you have to have a direct deposit made within 60 days from your paycheck, pension, or government benefits.  After that’s happened, they will deposit the $200 in your account within 10 business days.

The only other “Catch” is that you need to have the account open for 6 months.  If it is closed prior to that, they take the $200 back when you close the account.  I’ve already added a reminder to my calendar for next May, so that way I know when it’s safe to close the account if I decide to get rid of it.  In that case, I’ll change my direct deposit, wait for the first payday that they don’t deposit the money in the Chase account, then go close the account right after.

Anyhow, should you choose to take Chase’s $200, your #1 priority should be to set up a regular direct deposit for a minimum of $500 per month, unless you happen to have $1500 or more to leave sitting in the account all the time.

Depending on how long it takes your employer to make changes to the direct deposit, you may end up having to pay a $12 fee, but certainly most employers should have no trouble making that change within a couple of weeks or so.

Chase has pretty standard banking fees, they charge you for checks, etc.  They do have nice technology though.  You can do most everything you need to via their smartphone app, including making deposits.  They do have ATMs around my city, so I can get cash out if I need to without having to pay a third party for the use of their ATM.  They also offer real ATM cards, if you ask.  I did, because I don’t want a debit card, due to the fact that a thief could drain your account, and then it’s up to the bank to fix things.  Do note that if you take their ATM card instead of their debit card, you can’t use other network ATMs, according to what they told me, only Chase ATMs.

One thing I do like about the Chase account is that a single web login gets me access to my two Chase credit cards and my Chase checking account.  With my Discover checking account, there’s a different login for the checking than the credit card.

You may think that juggling various accounts is too much trouble just for a bonus here or there, but I’m using YNAB to manage my money.  With it, I am confident that I can keep track of everything, move money around to where it is needed, and get everything handled.  All of my accounts are managed through a single app, so everything about my daily finance is in one place.  If you haven’t heard of it, take a look:  youneedabudget.com

October 11, 2014 at 12:06 pm Leave a comment

Comcast, cramming charges

Today, I looked at my Comcast bill because it had recently gone up by around $5.

I found that I was suddenly being charged $3.95 for their service protection plan. This is the plan they try to scare you into taking, saying that if they dispatch a tech to your home to fix a service issue and the problem turns out to be your inside wiring or equipment, without this protection plan, you’d be charged a $30+ fee.  I did not ask for this plan, nor did I even know I had it.  As it turned out, I had it for a few months, but there was a -3.95 “Service Discount”, effectively making it free, but that disappeared with this month’s bill.

When asked about it, the Comcast billing representative said that it was a “promotion” they were running.

So, they add a feature to your account without your knowledge, giving it to you for free for a few months, then start charging you for it?  They call that a promotion?

The rest of the added charges were for $1.99, an additional outlet fee.  Checking my previous bills, I saw that the additional outlet charge started the previous month, but prior to that, it was listed as a 0.00 item.  I don’t have an additional outlet.  I own a HD Homerun box that take a cablecard.  According to this link, there is no charge for your first CableCard (at least, as of this date).  The Comcast rep tried to determine whether or not I had any other outlets, but when she couldn’t see any evidence of that, she agreed to remove the $1.99 charge for those two months.

Now get this…  Nearing the end of the call, she notifies me that I’ll be charged a $2.99 service change fee for getting these changes to my account.  Wait, what?  I call to get fees removed that I shouldn’t have been charged in the first place, and you’re going to charge me for the privilege?  When I posed the question that way, she quickly notified me that she would also give me a $2.99 credit to waive that fee.Cramming these extra fees on the cable bill is very low of Comcast.  Unfortunately, Comcast’s only local competition is Clear (wireless), and AT&T (U-Verse), and neither of them are really up to the challenge (Comcast is still the best price/performance).  So, I’ll be sticking with them a bit longer.  I just wish there was another, better, option out there.

September 22, 2014 at 5:58 pm 2 comments

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