OpenSSH server built in functionality on Windows 10, a hidden gem.

So I only tend to use windows 10 for my media PC and my gaming PC. Work and everything else is Ubuntu or macOS so I’m a bit rusty with Windows these days… 

I find myself doing most quick remote connections via SSH for SFTP so with Windows 10 facing me… I was glad to see that a native SSH server is now an option, although with some mild configuration required: 

Enter: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/administration/openssh/openssh_install_firstuse which isn’t as popular a result on DuckDuckGo as I might have expected! Glad I found them thought! 

There seems to be really positive tones coming from Microsoft these days, Ubuntu support without a VM is pretty cool too! 

Mini review: Nvidia Shield

So Black Friday came around and I made an impulse buy. For £150 odd you could get a Nvidia Shield with remote and games controller + £10 Steam credit in the UK. Not a bad deal as I was in the market for a streaming device that could do both Amazon Prime and Netflix (as well as more). Something my NowTV box was unwilling to currently do as although they recently added Netflix, there is no Amazon App. For that i’d need a Roku stick which is what the NowTV hardware is based and subsidised off.

Why you no USB-C?

Now I know there are streaming devices that can do these apps for cheaper (or just use a laptop) but I was also curious by Nvidia’s games streaming service (akin to the ill-fated OnLive service) so caved in and grabbed one of these!

 Design: So the controller felt a little cheap to me at first but it has one main saving grace. It has a headphone jack! Might sound dumb but I really like this. Short story, I and my partner have a baby, we use a Bluetooth device that plugs in via 3.5mm or Optical out to use multiple headphones for the same source. The shield doesn’t have either output on the main unit. So the controller redeems the device here and allows us to both use paired Bluetooth headphones (with ease as there might be a way to pair both headphones to the unit but I bet its as painful as a Mac is). 

Dust magnets

Other comments about the controller, the joysticks seem to have a fair amount of give before you feel the resistance so I do think there is much initial accuracy. There could be a more uniform resistance to them. Also they seem expensive to buy more / replace!

The main unit itself is fairly discrete and you can turn the green LED down / off. One this I don’t like is the customer power connector. USB-C would have been fine here like with the Nintendo Switch. Same goes for charging the controller. USB-C, please. I’ve not heard the main unit yet so maybe I’ve not pushed it hard enough so in terms of sound, this thing has been good! 

Aw yeah, 3.5mm headphone jack!

The remote is nice, bigger than an apple TV remote which is a good thing but the volume slider is a little sensitive. Apart from that. No complaints here. 

The Interface: It’s a lot smoother than the branded NowTV Roku player I have. The controller not being IR (although there is the option for controlling other devices via IR) is probably a noticeable difference in speed here. The layout could still use some refining for Android TV but you can generally find what you require and its pretty remote friendly, even most keyboard input sections. I’d still say that if you use long passwords via a password manager, not all apps gracefully offer you an alternative means of logging in / verifying your account. So you might want to break out a keyboard to fly through the various initial logins for apps. Steams input entry was particularly clunky and worthwhile having a keyboard for. 

Gaming: Via Nvidia’s streaming platform. Its good but you’ll need to be considerate of your network and internet contention. By those I mean, Ethernet into the router is ideal and not having anyone else on the network using up the downstream or upstream (sometimes it’s easier to contend the upstream which has a knock-on effect). If you can deal with these and keep them performant then a 40Mbps down and 10Mbps up service should be more then good enough, which is fairly standard in the UK now. 

Streaming: I’ve only got a LG OLED HDR TV and its app inetgrations for comparison but a lot is on par with that in terms of Netflix. It can be tricky with just the Shield to determine the quality at times but that generally down to the apps. With the amount of units in the wild and with the amount being sold over BlackFriday / CyberMonday i’d expect app developers to be giving this platform the attention it deserves.  By deserves, I mean its got decent specs and hardware and next to Roku, is a great impartial device so that you can have nearly all of your streaming services in one place (excluding Apple stuff of course). 

Other: Casting, i’ve not played with this yet. It seems a little hidden away but i’ve not cared to look. Instead I opted for hooking up my Plex media server which works nicely. Its important to note here that limitations can lay with your NAS and network connectivity, especially if you are pushing some seriously large files to the Nvidia Shield. 

The Nvidia shield also has the concept of adopting storage where you can plug a disk in via USB and have it act as part of the units main storage. This can be handy if you need fast local storage. 

I think for me, the device is an agnostic streaming win and with the home media connection capabilities it’ll have some life in it for a while. I’ll likely revisit this once i’ve done a decent amount of gaming on the system but as of right now i’ve not been drawn in by the appeal. It’s a solid: buy, from me though! 

Mini review of the Garmin VivoActive 3 Music

So with a 30% through Vitality healthcare I decided to make the upgrade from the Garmin Forerunner 235 that had been my trusty watch for just over a year. 

First impressions, This was smaller but a bit more elegant. I was looking forward to having a more modern looking watch akin to an Apple watch (without it being an Apple watch). 

Being familiar with the Garmin’s Android Connect app, the initial setup was fairly quick. There is a lot of data in there and the main learning curve was around the UI on the watch itself as the watch only has a singular side button in addition to the touch screen. Having had many watches I think this is a great thing as usually the first thing that goes for me after a while of wearing them (on my left wrist where the crown can get pushed upwards if my wrist is bent back). 

Garmin Pay: I mentioned the initial setup was quick. The Garmin Pay part was a nightmare! I was getting going to the section in the app for Garmin Pay and not seeing the ‘create wallet’ as the instructions indicated I should. Holding the icon for the hand with watch over a payment terminal revealed that my device / Garmin account did not have a Fitpay account which must be provisioned in the background. Garmin support seemed just as baffled and it involved me uninstalling the app, unpairing the phone and literally starting over before the app would show me the option. I’m still not sure if that’s what did it or if Garmin support made changes to my account, although the didn’t indicate that to me if they did. Aside from that, once it was up and running the payments went through OK and i’ve had no issues with that since setup!

Music: I’ve not tried this yet even though I spent a little extra for the Music version of the watch. None of the apps apart from Deezer ring any bells. Amazon Music and Spotify wouldn’t go amiss if they were on there so that’s a shame not to see them. Connecting the device to your laptop does allow you to load music on which is what I suspect i’ll do, rather than stream. 

Connectivity: As this was an impulse buy I hadn’t done my research fully. I didn’t realise this had wifi as well as Bluetooth so that was a nice touch. My one bugbear is that the cable for charging and data transfer is a custom connector so if you want to be able to charge this at work as well as home, you need to take the cable with you or buy another. 

The battery life varies depending on usage but I think we all expected that so don’t take the 7 days quoted as under intense usage. 

GPS / tracking: The step counter is well… like any other decent one, and Garmin does a decent job of showing you the info and history via the app. The goals can be adjusted manually or by your historic activities Garmin’s metrics it uses to define your target. This also tries to indicate your stress levels which I didn’t have on the Forerunner. The jury is still out on this but I like that they are experimenting with this although without blood pressure I’m not sure how effective this is… With the GPS I’ve only used for cycling and linked the app to Strava which seemed to work flawlessly as you’d expect from a Garmin GPS device.

One particular feature I really like is the ‘find me phone’ feature which is surprisingly useful with a kid around the house. The simplistic but effective UI really does lend its self well to not being too fiddly while carrying some decent functions. It’s not trying to replace your phone, but be a good companion. Overall it’s a decent bit of kit and I would recommend it for those who don’t need something as expensive or flashy as an Apple watch. 

Things you don’t think of when buying a house: Power

So as a first-time buyer a few years back it never occurred to me to check the Amperage of the power into the house. Something I would do now.

I recently looked into taking advantage of the government scheme to cover 75% of the cost to install a home electric car charger:

Reference: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/government-grants-for-low-emission-vehicles#electric-vehicle-homecharge-scheme

It was at this point, talking to one of the suppliers and having a few questions pitched at me. That I realised I only had 60A coming into the properly. Which to be fair is a lot of you have gas as well. This thing is new car fast chargers can do 32A and I don’t want to put in old tech to suit my current needs only.

With this, I put things on the back burner regarding the OELV / car charger.

Then my energy supplier Tonik contacted me about having a smart meter installed like most UK energy suppliers are doing presently. I had an engineer come out (actually a few) and they told me the backboard was not compliant and they could not do the work.

So I was wondering how do I resolve these issues.

Answer: UK Power Networks: Who’s site is pretty informative thankfully!

This image in particular:

Found here: https://www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/internet/en/our-services/upgrade-fuse/

The only blocker:  For the fuse upgrade, UK power networks need to know that the meter tails are upgraded to 25m(il?) (from 16). I had no idea about that… I called my supplier Tonik and neither did they. This is where I’m at. Looking for a response from their meter team as to a cost for the upgrade. Ironically if its too much and I’m not keen on doing it, they’ll stop me using more electricity and making them more profit… 😀

Updates to follow. Hopefully, I can get past all this and start looking at OLEV and solar again.

This blog has gone unloved!

Its been a long while since i posted something here.

Between work, raising a child and using what little time I have to do DIY / personal projects, its left very little time for things like this. So here are some short updates for anyone that cares!

The Expanse is amazing and me and my partner are slowly working are way through it!

If you knew me a few years ago I changed my tech gadgets like people change their clothes… These days i’ve been rocking the same phone since the OnePlus 3 came out and finnally gave in and got the OnePlus 6! Its really good! I want to say especially for the price but that sounds like it takes something away from it. Honestly, if you have a 2+ year old phone then it’s an amazing choice!  The camera takes very nice shots and the 4k video capabilities are decent. The main selling points for me were the options of 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage! Nothing comes close without selling a kidney!

Took my daughter swimming the day before fathers day. She loved going underwater as a baby, not so much as a toddler! Still, she enjoyed it by midway through the session and was even jumping into the pool from the edge as long as I was there with arms out to catch her!

I also upgraded the road bike slightly with some new cageless bottles which are very nice! Next up is a WeeRide front child seat for the MTB.

My jokey test site I use to playing around with features at work is coming along also. I’ve even had some submissions! Check out: https://www.catsonrouters.com and give it a FB/ Twitter like if you want.

 

 

 

 

Boosting home cold water mains pressure.

So i’m no plumber but my father was so I know a little about plumbing.

What I actually didn’t know was that in the UK you can boost the inbound water mains to 12litres per minute (according to WRAS) directly off the mains. I thought any pump would have to be fed from the cold water storage tank.

So with a small amount of research I’ve found:

HomeBoostRan past the old man and he gave it the thumbs up and also found some decent YouTube videos on the product such as:

If you’ve got access to the right tools and feel comfortable with the install then its fairly straight forward. The main bit I would recommend before purchasing is to make sure your cold water stop tap works or check if you  have an external one (that potentially cuts supply to multiple residence). I actually had one that cut supply to about 10 houses. We tried to freeze the pipe before hand but it proved difficult with the inbound pipe being lead so we ended up giving notice to the other houses and cutting the supply to install the new stop tap. The best bit was the external stop tap was on someones drive with the opening flap being under their car so even more fun ensued..

So when I get a chance I think it’ll be time to grab one of these and give it a shot. Should give some much needed pressure to the electric shower so as to not give people cold shocks when the washing machine / dishwasher / kitchen tap is used! Plus you get a nice clean feeling when the shower has some omph to it!

Here a diagram to visualise the install with:

Link to purchase: http://amzn.to/2G4vToi

Xbox One X and One S getting 1440p support in the near future

Article over at TechRadar:

https://www.techradar.com/news/xbox-one-x-and-one-s-getting-1440p-support-in-the-near-future

Interesting for the Xbox One X and i’m sure users in the resolution middle ground will really appreciated the efforrt.

If i’m being really skepticle its also a good way to get those Xbox One S’s nice and toasty and shorten the life of them a little bit 😉 On the flip side it’s a nice bonus for ownders while this also narrows the reasons to jump to an X so an interesting move by Microsoft.

G.fast – yeah yeah faster downloads… We want upstream!

50Mbps upstream on the top end package of G.Fast is where my interest is for this service as it rolls out. Its going to shake things up for the likes of Virgin Media also who should have plenty of time to respond with a DOCSIS 3.0 /3.1 upstream changes to complete. I would hope they would go one better and outdo OpenReach here as DOCSIS 3.0 can go way way beyond!

BT Confirm Tech Details for Summer UK Pilot of 300Mbps G.fast Broadband

image from ISPreview article above:

 

If you want to see the green extention boxes being added to your nearby cabinets, see this article:

BT Openreach Reveals G.fast Broadband Cabinet Extension Pod

Mega.co.nz – 50GB free

Totally forgot about the Mega service but recently needed some space to backup videos as my One Drive and Google Drive are mostly full. Amazon Prime Cloud Drive also gives 5GB for non-videos (Unlimited photos!) but I needed more and then I remembered this service and wondered if it was still going! To my surprise it was and found some old music I had stored away as a bonus! Give the service ago here: