Jun 19, 2012

XBMC & VDPAU Ubuntu 12.04 LTS 64bit w/HDMI Sound [HTPC]

XBMC Ubuntu 12.04 HTPC Tutorial

My Setup:
Zotac ION N330 w/integrated Nvidia ION Desktop GPU
Ubuntu 12.04 64-bit
Nvidia 295.49 Driver (302.17 removed overscan and broke sound)
HDMI Sound and Digital Passthrough for Dolby Digital and DTS
BIOS Southbridge - Internal Codec only
Nvidia HDMI to HDMI DD/DTC receiver - from HDMI DD/DTC receiver to HDMI TV (From the PC, a HDMI cable goes to HDMI receiver input | Another HDMI cable connects to the HDMI receiver output and goes to the HDMI input on the TV)


1. Install Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, during setup, choose autologin, and update software with an internet connection

2. Download System Software Updates once the system reboots

3. Get the latest Nvidia driver
4. Reboot

5. Upon Rebooting go into the BIOS.
In your BIOS, go to Southbridge configuration and change the video RAM from 256MB to 512MB (THIS IS OPTIONAL, MY SYSTEM PLAYS BACK BLURAY WITH 256MB SELECTED). Inside the Southbridge config, change Audio codec to Internal only--this will limit sound to HDMI only, so analog sound will no longer display in Ubuntu. Internal+External will enable both HDMI and analog.

6. Install XBMC--super easy tutorial thanks to Noobslab
Install XBMC on Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

7. Unmute HDMI/spdif

First, check to see if sound is enabled and unmuted. SPDIF should be unmuted as well:

Press <F6> to select the correct soundcard.
Press <F3> to show playback levels. <F4> selects capture levels [or use <Tab>]
Use the left/right arrow keys to select and up/down arrow keys to change levels. <M> to mute/unmute.
Go to "System ->Preferences ->Sound" and make sure the correct soundcard is default and adjust your profile on the hardware tab. 
On the output tab choose the correct device."

8. Enabling HDMI sound in XBMC

Getting Sound over HDMI was a challenge for me. This was due to my own error in modifying the sound configuration files, which I did for my previous installations. Originally, I assumed I had to modify /etc/pulse/default.pa and .asound, in the home folder, but in the end, those steps broke sound over HDMI. I had to go back and delete all modifications to get DD/DTS sound over HDMI in XBMC.

With the newer Ubuntu 12.04, XBMC, Nvidia, and Ubuntu work well with one another. HDMI system sounds should work out of the box with some minor setting changes.
  • Select HDMI in Audio Output
  • Under Audio Output Device, select Defaults (ALSA)
  • For passthrough sound to your receiver, select Defaults (PulseAudio)

8.5 Change sound outputs in Ubuntu

9. Install Xubuntu and fix video tearing

10. Enable VDPAU accelerated HD flash for browsing Youtube/Vimeo with Flashaid

11. Install Google Chrome http://www.google.com/chrome

Recap, now you should have video and system sounds over HDMI, XBMC DD/DTS passthrough over HDMI, HD VDPAU accelerated Adobe flash playback with sound, 

12. Now get some popcorn going, sit back, and enjoy your HTPC!

Troubleshooting links:


May 18, 2012

Trading Issues with Facebook [UPDATED]

[UPDATE 6/10/12]
I've neglected to update this post, so here goes. The following weekend of the FB IPO, my trades were luckily cancelled. I was part of the herd of sheep that didn't get slaughtered. However, looking back, the whole FB Nasdaq trade debacle really screwed over all stakeholders: retail traders, brokers, institutions, and FB. Lesson learned: do what it takes to not be part of the heard of sheep! Anyway, good luck to y'all and best wishes.

[UPDATE 11:44AM]

There is a huge demand for FB stock, but the problem is with Nasdaq, marketmakers, and brokers. Orders are not going through. People who put in orders this morning are having their orders stuck in limbo, which means their cash is also stuck. You cannot cancel these orders, nor can you get updates whether the order was executed.

Possibly millions? of orders are in stuck causing widespread confusion and frustration. The bottom line is that there are people out there unable to trade Facebook stock right now. Whether or not Nasdaq cancels these orders, or screws over retail customers at a ridiculous execution price, is what I want to know.


Just got through to Zecco, and it looks like many brokerages are not getting updates from the marketmaker on orders that may, or may not have been filled. This is due to the high volume going through, so they cannot cancel or modify existing orders. You will just have to wait and see.

9:35AM Zecco Trading is having issues with either Nasdaq or having issues within their own servers for trading Facebook stock. For now, I cannot cancel a FB order, nor is my FB order going through.

Phonelines are full, and no news on their website....

Update from Zecco: "Extremely high traffic related to the IPO activity. - Due to extremely high traffic related to today’s IPO activity customers may be experiencing slower response times on the Zecco website. In addition, there are general market issues causing delays in order processing from the exchanges and market centers. We are actively monitoring the situation so the proper user experience can be restored as soon as possible."

Facebook IPO Delay

I'm waiting like the rest of you for the Facebook IPO. There is speculation that there's too much volume for Nasdaq to handle? You tell me.

Anyway, I'm excitedly sitting here anticipating the opening price. This will be one for the history books! Good luck to you!

Update 8:30AM
According to the WSJ

"Traders said they were having trouble changing or canceling orders they had submitted to Nasdaq’s queue starting at 7:30 a.m. Traders said the orders were accepted normally, but the usual process for canceling or altering an order wasn’t accepted, suggesting problems with the queue. One trader said it wasn’t surprising given the number of institutions involved, but signaled reasons why trading was delayed. A representative for Nasdaq wasn’t immediately available for comment."

This morning, I ran into issues canceling an open order. It took several minutes for the order to finally go through, which could mean that there is so much retail demand that Nasdaq is having issues meeting the demand.

Apr 11, 2012

Clearwire 4g vs. Netzero 4g Comparison [WIMAX]

Netzero Apollo 4g Hotspot

Netzero brings back some good memories. Remember the free 56K dialup? As long as you had their ads displayed on your computer, you'd get free net. Well, Netzero is still alive, and they're rolling out 4g Wimax based on Clearwire's network. They offer a 200MB a month plan for free for 1 year, as long as you purchase a $120 Netzero Apollo 4g device (shipping included). However, keep in mind, Netzero will charge you after that 1 year period is over.

How much data will you use?
Now if you only use text messaging, light browsing, and you rarely use Youtube, Pandora, then Netzero could be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you're a heavy data user like me, Clearwire will be a better choice. Reason being, for $50/month, you get truly unlimited data from Clearwire, whereas with Netzero, 4 Gigabytes will cost you $50/month. None of that unlimited-until-you-hit-5GB crap from Verizon/ATT. Either way you go, the great thing with Netzero/Clearwire is there's NO CONTRACT, and you can cancel any time.

Speed & Coverage
Maximum download was hit at 8 Megabits/sec, and Max upload capped at 1.5 Megabits/sec. This is in the San Jose/San Francisco, California region. There are some dead zones where I travel, so do check the service coverage maps before you purchase.

$99 Apollo 4g - Capable of external antenna, LCD, 6 hours battery, bigger, heavier
$99 Voyager - No external antenna, no LCD, 5 hours battery, very small profile, very light

My Usage
So I purchased a Netzero 4g Apollo Hotspot with the idea of staying within the free 200 megabyte a month allowance, but I quickly reached that limit within a few hours. I then figured I could cancel Netzero and switch over to Clearwire, since Netzero's network is based on Clearwire. But that road led to a deadend because Netzero devices will not work on Clearwire's network. There's something built into the firmware preventing users from switching to another network. I called into Netzero's customer support, and to reactivate my account, I would have to pay $10 for 500 MB, $50 for unlimited--this is what happens after your free 1 year 200 MB a month service is over. Long story short, don't be like me, know what your needs are and get Clearwire devices for Clearwire, and Netzero for Netzero.

In the end, I purchased another hotspot, a Clear Voyager 4g device. The Apollo 4g hotspot is going up for sale. For one month, I've used 9GB of data. The Voyager provides internet access to my VOIP phone and laptop, so I am able to get work done on the go as well as enjoy a rich media experience. Speed has been excellent for my usage. Service coverage is okay when I'm on the move, and excellent when I'm in the city. 

Clearwire Voyager  Hotspot $99 at Best Buy

Mar 4, 2012

Beats Audio & Xloud for all Android phones

On 3/1/12, RockoDev and team have successfully created a flashable file to install Beats Audio on any android phone. Beats Audio may provide better sound quality, and this can be heard especially when listening to music on high quality headphones. Whichever ROM you're running can now have Beats Audio installed via a flashable package or installed manually. Enjoy!

Check out the thread on XDA Forums.

VOIP Echo Test Phone Number

VOIP echo test phone number. Nobody will answer, so speak into your phone, and you will hear an echo of what you said. Great for testing volume and call quality of your VOIP system.

Feb 14, 2012

Drobo Detected a Hard Drive Failure [RAID]

tl;dr Had a drive failure. Wasn't sure if the issue was due to my Drobo or the Western Digital drive. Turns out it was the WD drive that failed. Installed a new 2TB drive. All is well. RMAing the WD drive. Drobo 1 : Data Loss 0. Yay Drobo.

Yesterday, I began a scheduled backup from my Drobo to tape drive, and when I woke up this morning, I had the Red Blinking Light Of Death. At first, I thought the WD 1TB green drive was just old, so I took it out of the Drobo to plug into my computer. The drive booted up, formatted, and held data. With years worth of photos and video adding up to 1.4TB of data, I'm a little nervous about touching the Drobo.

First step will be to research this issue, and then back up my data. Then troubleshoot the Drobo from there. I will update this post when new developments arise. Wish me luck.

Update 2/15/12:
"Why does a drive work in my computer when my Drobo storage device flags it as a bad drive?
It is understandable that you would be confused or suspicious if your Drobo product flags a bad drive when the drive works fine in your computer.
If a drive produces a lot of errors in a short amount of time (it's going bad soon), Drobo storage devices display a red blinking light to indicate a failed drive. Your computer may not catch the bad drive as early in its failure process as your Drobo product can. This difference in perception is especially exaggerated if you format the disk before testing it in the computer and/or it has just a small amount of data. Eventually, the computer will also flag the drive as bad."
Update 2/16/12:
I downloaded Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows and performed an extended test. The test results showed some bad sectors. Then I did a "repair sectors." Shut down, and tried the drive in the Drobo, but the drive did not work.

I've ordered another WD 2TB Caviar Green drive from Amazon, and it should arrive in a day. Amazon Prime rocks.

Update 2/20/12:
The new WD 2TB drive arrived. I popped the drive into the Drobo, and the Drobo started rebuilding the array. A day later, my drives show all green, so my data is safe once again.

The failed WD 1TB drive is still under warranty. I've created a RMA from Western Digital, and I hope to see a replacement within the next few weeks.

Overall, I will continue to use the Drobo alongside my scheduled LTO2 tape backups. Btw, my Drobo is around 4 years old now.

Best features:
  • seamless rebuilding process
  • early drive failure detection
  • easy as pop in a drive and wait
  • still have access to the data during a drive failure
The Drobo worked great for me, and the Drobo protected my data throughout a drive failure.

Update 3/1/12:
Western Digital approved my RMA warranty request, and they've sent a new drive. Big thumbs up for the ease of Western Digital's warranty process. Excellent customer service and communication.

Update 3/2/12:
New WD warranty replacement drive arrived. I'm now using the 1TB drive in my Drobo.

Feb 1, 2012

Adobe CS5.5 Mercury Playback Engine [NVIDIA CUDA Acceleration]

Adobe and Nvidia worked together to include Nvidia CUDA support in CS5 and CS5.5, which gave birth to the Mercury Playback Engine GPU Acceleration. Essentially MPE GPU Acceleration drastically cuts down video encode times and enables real timeline editing with multiple layers of video and effects! No more choppy video playback, no more render to preview, and no more transcoding because it can be done in real time. What this means for us normal folk is that the price of a professional video editing machine is now attainable, and all for the price of a video card upgrade.* 

For some real world usage, at the beginning of 2010, I took a backpacking trip through Vietnam, and I wanted to video blog the entire trip. Armed with an Asus G60VX w/Nvidia GTX260M laptop and a Canon 5D Mark II, I was able to capture 1080p footage and import the raw files straight into Premiere to edit. Recording was done during the day, and at night the footage was edited, encoded, and uploaded. The encoding times were unbelievably fast. Yes, and all on a portable laptop! If you were to ask me to do this 2 years ago, I'd tell you I'd need thousands of dollars worth of equipment and a team to lug it around.
Fast forward to today, I upgraded my old trustworthy Dell XPS 420 rig with a Gigabyte Nvidia GTX 560 1GB DDR5/336 CUDA cores/256-bit and a 600 watt OCZ ModXStream Pro power supply. I took a video project that I encoded before, which encoded via CPU around 20 minutes, and with GPU acceleration encoded the project in under 5 minutes. The yellow render bar was racing to the right to completion--this still amazes me today.

Dell XPS 420                                                      
Intel Q6600 2.4GHz CPU
Western Digital Velociraptor 10K 300GB drive
Transcend 32GB SSD
Tandberg TS400 LTO2Tape Drive

*Upgrade must be to a base system that's decent i.e. at least Quad Core CPU, 4GB RAM, 7200RPM drive. You may need to upgrade your power supply to power the new graphic card. Check out Studio 1 Productions for all the info on card comparisons, instructions to enabling GPU accleration, and more.

Jan 31, 2012

Dolphin HD reopen a closed tab [How To]

The Dolphin HD reopen a closed tab feature is real nifty...if you can find it. Because it wasn't so obvious for me. Long press an open tab, and a menu will pop up with the option to reopen a closed tab.

Happy browsing

Jan 26, 2012

[OUTDATED] iDEN Bluetooth DUN tether for Android [Dial Up Networking]


In this post, we will connect to Boost Mobile's iDEN network to provide internet access to our Bluetooth Android device. The speed is capped at 19.2 Kilobits per second, so we'll run an optimized internet browser, Opera Mini, to maximize the bandwidth. Cost of keeping the pay as you go plan active is $10 for 3 months of use with unadvertised unlimited internet. You also get friendly and helpful Boost Mobile customer support and $0.20 a minute pay as you go minutes. Time and time again, I've had positive experiences with their customer support. I digress...

This setup is particularly useful for those looking for a WiFi only Android device (no carrier) with basic internet capabilities to check email, text, navigation, etc. Personally, when I'm going out, I only use Google Navigation, Fourquare, and Yelp so these apps run smoothly on the 19.2K connection. I want to balance between being human vs. being a machine plugged into the net, so this way, my internet access will be limited.

(leave me a message if you're interested in linux or palm device instructions)


My setup:
Boost Mobile Motorola i576
HTC EVO 3D rooted
Cyanogenmod 7 ROM
Phone Requirements:
  • Boost Mobile Motorola iDEN phone (i335, i576, i776, etc.)
  • Rooted phone with a stable version of Cyanogenmod 7 or 9 with packages hcitool, rfcomm, and pppd OR stable kernel with packages hcitool, rfcomm, and pppd
  • Stable Bluetooth connection
Check to see if you have these packages by going into Terminal Emulator and typing hcitool --help, rfcomm --help, pppd --help. You should see a Version number and list of Options. If not, your kernel will not support Bluetooth DUN.
App Requirements:
Download and install above Apps and download the chat binary to your Android device 
Open ES File Explorer and go to Settings. Scroll all the way down and check/enable Root Explorer and Mount File System. While in Settings, go to Directory Settings and change the Home Directory to just /. Now go back to /sdcard/download/ and copy the chat file to /system/bin/ by long pressing the chat file and Copy to. 

Then browse to /system/bin/ and look for the chat file. Long press the chat file and a pop up will say Operations. Scroll down to Properties. Change permissions to rwx r-x r-x.

Pair your Android device to your Bluetooth Boost Mobile phone. Paired but not connected is what we want to see.

Go to Settings and turn off Wi-Fi

Open up Bluetooth Dial Up Network App
To get your Bluetooth Address and Channel, touch the Settings button to bring up "Search Device" and "Search Channel." Select "Search Channel" and you'll see your Bluetooth MAC address show up as XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX. Copy that down and copy the address down. Now go back to Bluetooth DUN App and paste the address and channel in.
Copy and paste the following Boost Mobile DUN Chat

'' ATZ

Open up Terminal Emulator
setprop net.dns1 
Now you're connected. Bluetooth Tethering FTW.

For Developers Only:

Boost DUN Peer & Chat scripts for download

Boost Mobile DUN Peer Script

# This optionfile was generated by pppconfig 2.3.18.

connect "/system/bin/chat -v -f /etc/chatscripts/boostchatscript"
user replace_with_your_login_name
remotename boost
ipparam boost
logfile /etc/ppp/peers/ppp.log

Jan 24, 2012

Peer and Chat Scipt for Android [Bluetooth DUN]

Check out the Boost Mobile Bluetooth DUN Tutorial

A trick to get the peer and chat script is to use pppconfig in Ubuntu to create a working peer and chat script. Use software manager to get pppconfig and then run pppconfig from Terminal. Follow the onscreen instructions, then once completed, the peer and chat script will be located in /etc/ppp/peers and /etc/chatscripts

If you have Bluetooth on your machine, before transferring the files to your Android device, you can test the Bluetooth connection to your Bluetooth CDMA/GSM/iDEN phone by using Terminal to


Here, I've named my connection 'nameofyourconnection' while using pppconfig. sudo su will give you root rights. rfcomm bind will create a new rfcomm0 connection using your Bluetooth device's address, and followed by the Bluetooth channel. pppd call will connect the Bluetooth connection. pon will set up the DNS settings.

sudo su
rfcomm bind /dev/rfcomm0 XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX X
pppd call nameofyourconnection
Now you can browse the Internet


Jan 21, 2012

Downloading Android Source Tree Error

While setting up my Android Dev Environment on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, I ran into some errors. No matter how many times I reran repo sync, repo sync -f, etc. the errors would continue to show up. I believe it was due to some corruption during download. Either way, the two folders I had trouble with were Gallery.git and Exchange.git.

The Errors:
computer@ubuntu:~/WORKING_DIRECTORY$ repo sync
Fetching projects:  75% (166/221)  fatal: Not a git repository: '/home/computer/WORKING_DIRECTORY/.repo/projects/packages/apps/Gallery.git'
Fetching projects:  76% (168/221)  error: unable to resolve reference refs/remotes/aosp/ics-factoryrom-2-release: No such file or directory
From https://android.googlesource.com/platform/packages/apps/Exchange
 ! [new branch]      ics-factoryrom-2-release -> aosp/ics-factoryrom-2-release  (unable to update local ref)
error: Cannot fetch platform/packages/apps/Gallery
error: Cannot fetch platform/packages/apps/Exchange

error: Exited sync due to fetch errors


I went to WORKING_DIRECTORY/.repo/projects/packages/apps/Gallery.git
and Exchange.git and deleted them.

Then I reran repo sync, and the dev environment completed successfully.

Jan 6, 2012

Custom Desktop User Agent String for Android's Dolphin HD

Ever want to view websites in their Full Desktop display mode? How about watch The Daily Show or Colbert Report on your Android device? Comedy Central is an example of a site that automatically switches to their Mobile site, which doesn't allow viewing full episodes. We want full episodes because our Android hardware is fully capable of viewing full Desktop sites including Adobe Flash content. In this post, we'll go over how to view all websites in full Desktop mode on Dolphin HD Browser.

When we visit a website, our web browser's User Agent lets a website know the capabilities of our browser. Then the website serves up the page in a readable format suitable for our device whether it be on a PC, Mac, Android, or iPhone. The problem with Dolphin HD is that it's built in User Agent still shows Android in the User Agent String, so some sites we visit still serve up their Mobile site.

To fix this, we're going to paste in our own Custom User Agent String:

Go to More => Settings => Dolphin Settings => User Agent => Custom

Then Copy and Paste the following User Agent

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:8.0.1)

Then go to Data Storage Settings => Clear data

Check Clear cache
Check Clear history
Check Clear all cookie data

Press OK

Exit out of Dolphin HD

Open up Dolphin HD, and now any site you visit will display in full Desktop Mode.

If you're curious what the User Agent String above means, then this is what websites see when you visit:

Mozilla/5.0Web Browser
Windows NT 6.1Operating SystemWindows 7
WOW64Web Browser32-bit Internet Explorer running on 64-bit Windows
AppleWebKit/535.7Rendering EngineWebKit Rendering Engine
KHTML, like Gecko
Apple WebKit is based on KDE KHTML
Chrome/16.0.912.63Web BrowserGoogle Chrome Browser


Jan 4, 2012

[OUTDATED] Unlimited Free Text Messaging :: GV :: Boost Mobile iDEN

So by now, you're having a blast with your GPS tracker/free internet boost mobile phone. Well, we're going to kick it up a notch with free unlimited text messaging through Google Voice.

Here's how it works:
We're going to use the Boost Mobile iDEN Pay-As-You-Go phone network to access the internet--this is free and we do not need a data plan. Then we'll use Opera Mini Browser to visit http://voice.google.com. Once logged in, we're free to make and receive text messages through the browser.

The cost breakdown is $10 every 3 months for unlimited free text messaging/GPS tracking/free internet/tethering/emergency phone.

Jan 3, 2012

Ultimate VOIP Android Phone Guide

The goal of this post is to educate new Android owner's on getting the most out of their device. Also, we'll go over turning your Android phone into a dedicated VOIP WiFi phone without signing up for any service contract.

Turn your Android phone into a Google Voice Phone - GrooVe IP will turn your phone into a full blown VOIP phone by using your Google Voice number to make and receive calls. As long as you have WiFi access, you'll have a fully functional phone to make and receive unlimited calls free to the U.S. and Canada. To kick it up a notch, download the Google Voice App for unlimited free text messaging.
$5 GrooVe IP App

Visit XDA Developers Forum to learn more about ROMs, and why they're useful. You'll find many ROMs developed by talented and creative developers and also by the developer community. Within the sub-forums, there's all the information you'll need to root and change your phone's ROM. If you want to supercharge your phone with some advanced modifications, you will need root access.

Battery Tips

  1. Turn off Live Wallpapers as they eat batteries like the cookie monster eats cookies
  2. Lower the brightness of your screen.
  3. Airplane Mode Wi-fi App disables the radio to your service provider while giving the option to enable WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS use thus saving a considerable amount of battery power. This is especially helpful for VOIP only phones that don't need Sprint/ATT/Verizon network access. My extended battery can go for 2 days of heavy use and still have some juice to spare.
  4. Disable 4G and mobile radios
  5. More battery tips: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1141221&page=5

Useful Free Applications

Browser (Install Adobe Flash 11 first)
Dolphin HD browser plays flash natively after installing the Flash plugin. On my EVO 3D, I'm able to watch 720p HD flash on Youtube without any issues.
Dolphin HD Browser App
Dolphin Companion Battery Saver

Video Player
MX Video Player App

File Sharing between PC and Phone
WebSharing Lite App

RSS Reader

Offline GPS Navigation
Navfree USA

For All Rooted Phones
Boost your phone's speed and RAM management
-=V6 SuperCharger=- FIX RAM & Launchers by zeppelinrox