Streaming YouTube to an Android set top box

I have an outdated LCD TV and a nearly outdated Android smart TV set top box. I mean, this Android smart TV set top box was bought a year ago, and it works very slow compared to current market products.

I want to combine these two equipment to make a smart TV. Actually, the only functionality I need out of a smart TV is a DLNA/UPnP player. To be more specific, a DLNA/UPnP player for YouTube.

I want to search for videos on YouTube using my mobile phone, stream to TV, and watch on TV. I do not want to search on this nearly outdated set top box because it is slow, and it accepts input via a fly mouse rather than a touch screen.

At first, I tried to install a few apps (iMediaShare Lite, aMPdroid, DLNA Server) on the set top box, but none of them is a DLNA/UPnP player.

Then I installed XBMC on the set top box, set it can be remotely controlled by UPnP. I also installed Beam on my mobile. Now I can stream YouTube video to my TV. However, XBMC is not reliable on this set top box, most likely due to some bug – this player is not always shown on the list of available DLNA/UPnP players. Every time I have to untick and retick “remotely controlled by UPnP” to force it.

So I have not found a perfect solution for streaming YouTube video to an Android device. I may have to buy a new TV with DLNA/UPnP player built-in.

FreeNote is the best signature making tool

I was looking for an app on Google Play Store to generate transparent background handwriting in PNG format, which can be put on an electronic document as a signature or watermark. It is either

  • to save paper – no need to print out a hard copy of document, write on it, then scan it back to an electronic copy.
  • or to use an existing Android touch screen mobile phone, instead of buying a graphic tablet pad and pen.

I tried a few apps.

Samsung Memo. It can only export JPG or PDF. No transparent background available.

Image Editor. It is slow responding to drawing track. Never record a complete handwriting. Useless. Too many bugs and Ads.

ShoDo. No transparent background available.

Adobe Photoshop Express. Too “express”. It can not open/save as PNG at all.

Handwriting. It can export transparent background PNGs. It is good. However, it always exports 720 x 1280 images on my test device, no matter how small writing. This requires another software to crop the images. So it’s not good enough.

Photo Editor. I did not expect it can export transparent background PNGs, as Photo is not transparent. However, I find it can open a transparent background PNG, write on it, then export as transparent background PNG. This requires another software to produce a blank transparent background PNG before first use. That’s not a problem. However, it is an ad-supported programme, which is a bit annoying.

FreeNote has options to transparent background
FreeNote has options to transparent background

FreeNote. I have known FreeNote for long, but before today I did not realise it can export transparent background PNGs. It does auto crop and it is ad-free. It does not require other software to do pre or post process. So it is a perfect solution.

AnTuTu Benchmark on my devices

I am looking for a suitable hardware for Hotel TV project, so I am keen to know the candidate devices performance. Raspberry Pi Model B has been already ruled out. At moment the first choice is FX5. As comparison, I benchmark all android devices I got.

Samsung Galaxy S3: AnTuTu Benchmark 15912
Samsung Galaxy S3: AnTuTu Benchmark 15912
Samsung Galaxy S2: AnTuTu Benchmark 7513
Samsung Galaxy S2: AnTuTu Benchmark 7513

KuYouLe FX5: AnTuTu Benchmark 5215. It is very disappointing as it does not meet what manufacturer claimed benchmarch.

Geniatech ATV1000 (A80KW): AnTuTu Benchmark 2005.

Motorola MB200: AnTuTu Benchmark 605
Motorola MB200: AnTuTu Benchmark 605

Computer Memory Solutions ruined Rakuten.com’s reputation

I was excited when I saw 4x8GB server memory was selling at a total of USD110.00. It will fit my HP ML110 G7 server very well – ECC, unbuffered. I quickly asked my sister to order and post it to me after she gets it.

After two days my sister told me her order had been cancelled for no reason. I think it is simply because the dealer Computer Memory Solutions does not want to fulfill the order after they realised they had wrongly priced it.

 Computer Memory Solutions ruined Rakuten.com's reputation

Computer Memory Solutions ruined Rakuten.com’s reputation

Now it is selling at USD280.00.

Computer Memory Solutions ruined Rakuten.com’s reputation, at least in my memory.

Rescue a VBox missing l_intl.nls

有人求助说一台 Windows 虚拟机坏了,启动不了。我去一看,黑屏白字,说,missing C:\Windows\System32\l_intl.nls,要我用 Windows 启动盘里的故障修复台修复。

Missing l_intl.nls
Missing l_intl.nls

怎么修复呢?没有说。我手边一时没有启动盘,自作聪明地把坏掉的虚拟机的硬盘文件 vhd 挂载到另一台虚拟机下做第二硬盘,查看 \Windows\System32\l_intl.nls 还在不在。在另一台虚拟机下看这硬盘挺健康的,\Windows\System32\l_intl.nls 也在。

我仍是复制了一份 l_intl.nls 给它,还是启动不了。

还是 Google 来一个办法,去取来 Windows 启动盘,在故障修复台命令行执行


chkdsk c: /r

30G 的硬盘,花了 1个多小时修理完毕,没提示有什么磁盘错误。重启,非常遗憾,仍是黑屏。

接着又试着把坏掉的虚拟机的硬盘文件 vhd 挂到另一台虚拟机下,直接在它的 Windows DOS 里执行


chkdsk c: /f

这跟故障修复台环境不同,chkdsk 能接受的参数也不同。这次修理快了很多,提示了一堆 Index 错误,看不懂,也不知修复了没有,看重启,仍是黑屏。

之后又尝试种种工具,无一有效。直到看到一个论坛的角落里(因为我花了几小时才看到,所以是角落)有人说,”YET ANOTHER Microsoft screw up”。一语惊醒梦中人!

那人建议试试 BIOS 重置、测试下内存(换下有问题的内存条)。我的是虚拟机,没有 BIOS 重置一说。我就新建了一个虚拟机,加载既有的 vhd,mamma mia,重见 Windows 的徽标在飘扬,舒了口气。

但是,我高兴得太早了,我很快发现此 Windows 非彼 Windows——我忘了这是虚拟机。刚才新建的虚拟机,加载的 vhd 文件,是有问题的虚拟机下的硬盘的最初状态!最初状态非常健康。这也是之前种种努力,把它挂载到其他虚拟机下尝试修复,修复时没发现问题,l_intl.nls 文件也在,而在有问题的虚拟机下真正加载的不单是这个 vhd,而是一个 Current State。修来修去,修的都不是 Current State。

明白这个道理之后,剩下的事情就很简单了。

我赶紧把 Current State 生成一个独立的 vhd 文件。在有问题的虚拟机的目录里,找到 [虚拟机名].vbox 来查看一下,从中找到 Current State 对应的文件名,我的是 {991f2a80-9fbe-48b5-9c02-27f745bdf81c}.vhd。这个 vhd 不是独立的,它是从最初状态,经过一次次 Snapshot (如果有的话),diff 得到的 Current State。

怎么把这些 diff 合并得到一个独立的 vhd 文件?VirtualBox 有个简单的命令:


VBoxManage clonehd \{991f2a80-9fbe-48b5-9c02-27f745bdf81c\}.vhd currentstate.vhd -format VHD

这命令必须在原 host machine 上运行,否则哪里去找 {991f2a80-9fbe-48b5-9c02-27f745bdf81c}.vhd 的 parent,parent 的 parent…

这次做的 currentstate.vhd,再次挂载到其他虚拟机里作第二硬盘,一看,果然,\Windows\System32\l_intl.nls is missing,赶紧,复制一个给它。

然后以 currentstate.vhd 为第一硬盘,加载到坏掉的虚拟机里,终于又见 Windows 的徽标在飘扬——这一次是真的真的真的 Windows!

UK university wallpaper

I am looking for some desktop theme with UK universities as background wallpaper. I can only find some wallpapers from US universities. A few US universities officially release wallpapers on their website. I think it is a good way to aquaint new comers with the university.

To my disappointment, I can not find any UK university’s wallpaper. My conclusion is, UK falls behind US in regards to innovation.

Speaker docks for Android

When I was shopping in Asda last night, I came across more than 20 of speaker docks on display. They are all design for iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc. None of them support Android devices.

Suddenly I commiserated with those accessories manufacturers of going to the dead end. Maybe too early for them to realise it’s a dead end, at least they should see there are more users of Android than those of Apple.

Why not make speak docks for Android? Philips is the only one make Android speaker docks, but these products are not widely available in store.

Enable desktop sharing in Fedora 18

I remember in Fedora 16, desktop sharing is pre-installed with the system. Now I am on Fedora 18, and I want to use it as a VNC server. I don’t want to install tigervnc-server. I just want to use the same one comes with Fedora 16.

On Fedora project site, it still says

To activate desktop sharing, select System > Preferences > Internet and Network > Remote Desktop from the user menu.

However, in Fedora 18, the path has changed, so I thought the name of desktop sharing might have changed as well, but I assumed it should be pre-installed in Fedora 18. It took me hours trying to find remote desktop before I found somewhere it says remote desktop comes in Vino. I could not remember what Vino was, but afterwards was quite simple:

yum install vino

Then I found Desktop Sharing in Internet (no longer in Preferences).

P.S. After I wrote this post, I realised I learned Vino 4 years ago! But I totally forgot it.

DeVeDe is the only software I made it working to burn MP4

我有一些 MP4 文件,想把它们刻录到 VCD 片上,在 DVD 机上演示用。

我在 Fedora 18 下想用 Brasero 直接刻录 MP4,不成功。

有人说,把 MP4 转成 MPEG 格式就可以了,我用 VLC 转换 MP4 成 MPEG,只有一个 MP4 成功,其他 MP4 转换时总有个我看不懂的 error message。但即使是已转换成功的唯一一个 MPEG 格式文件,用 Brasero 刻录时又有一个 我看不懂的 error message。

Devede
DeVeDe

我开动 Windows,想找一款 Windows 平台下的视频格式转换软件,由于对此类软件缺乏了解,最终还是无功而返。无奈中,发现有人提到 Fedora 下的 Devede 软件,我几乎不抱希望,却还是安装了。结果,它顺利地把所有的 MP4 保存为一个 VCD 格式的 ISO 文件。接下来的事情就简单多了,我用 Brasero burn image,VCD 片就做好了。在 DVD 机上一试,播放成功,好像还是 VCD 2.0。

安装 Devede 非常简单哦:


yum install devede

Recruit an experienced web editor

代发一则招聘资深网编的广告,有意者请留言。

公司简介:
总部在英国,经营留学、签证、监护三大块业务,目标客户群体是留学生、有出国意向者及家长。

短期职责:
完成约100页公司内页,这100页不会经常更新。整合各种来源的内容,发布在公司网站上,没有抄袭的痕迹,有原创感。

中长期职责:
1. 发布公司新闻和业内新闻;
2. 整体负责各内容频道的发展规划及日常工作,比如内容合作、专题制作等;
3. 拓展相关行业资源,包括媒体、机构、组织、专家等等。

职位要求:
1. 本科或以上学历,有大网站网编经验者优先,业余斑竹也是加分因素,中文、新闻传播等专业优先;
2. 有极佳文字功底及策划能力,善于捕捉当前热点,有优秀的专题策划能力及组织经验;
3. 熟悉Facebook、Twitter、微博等Web2.0产品,有网页设计制作经验者优先,有其他网络技术者优先;
4. 热爱网络,有极强的自我学习能力,有创业激情;
5. 注重细节,能承受巨大的工作压力,有超强的自我驱动能力,有团队精神,有团队管理经验者优先。
6. 英文阅读、书写能力强者加高分,但不懂英文者也可申请。(公司会根据英语能力调整职位安排)

工作方式:
地域限制,网编无法与主管面对面沟通。网编必须具备独立工作能力,朝着一个既定目标,在一段时间内交出答卷。初期是朝九晚五坐班制,工作成果一日一报;中期以后可以在家工作,工作成果三天至一周一报。

工作地点:
杭州。可转成大部分时间在家工作,但人必须在杭州。

薪酬:
根据能力,提出您的薪酬要求。一年以内公司对表现极其优秀者给与股权。