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. 

Why didn’t I do this sooner?! I purchased a straight edge razor!

I’ve been lazier recently when it comes to shaving. Or maybe its just parenthood but I finally gave up dealing with “safety” razors. I spend so long trying to clean them out that it’s a hugely frustrating experience.  Enter this:

Looks nice. Cuts well and has a protective cover. Blades are dirt cheap to buy in comparison as well. Shaving now no longer takes 40+ minutes if you’ve gone 4+ days without a shave! Definitely, recommend switching! Although I will admit I don’t think I’ve ever cut myself shaving until today. So do take it easy and use with foam/shaving balm!

 

Raspberry Pi (Zero W) quick start guide – headless.

Right, you have a Raspberry Pi (Zero W), Micro SD and power.

You want to have SSH enabled and have the device connect to your local network without the requirement of a keyboard, UI or network cable.

Put your Raspbian image onto the SD micro as per normal (Etcher) or however, you choose.  Then view the contents on the SD card. You’ll be in the /boot

Create a file called andssh this is essentially all that’s need for SSH service being enabled when you stick the card into the Raspberry Pi for the first time.

Now for Wi-Fi: As per this update post:

The latest update to Raspbian

Create a file called.  wpa_supplicant.conf in /boot/ so you have /boot/wpa_supplicant.conf

Paste this in there with your relevant details where the quote are:

ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev
update_config=1

network={ 
ssid="MySSID" 
psk="MyPassword" 
}

Done! Stick it in the Pi and away you go.

If you need to find the devices IP on the network, tools like arp and a OUI checker  are handy as well as nmap

Example:

sudo nmap -O 10.0.0.1-50 or sudo nmap -O 192.168.0.1/24

Then connect to it with ssh pi@<ip>

First this you should do is change the default password from rasberry to something else. Or create a new user and password / SSH key, then disable the userpi.

Finally, a custom 3.5mm cable for Sennheiser Headphones

I have a pair of HD 558‘s which were gifted to me. They were my first open cupped headphones which at first seemed a little weird but actually, I’ve come to love and prefer. Basically, I can still hear the phone ring or door bell go while enjoying my music to a good fidelity in relative isolation! Also with the baby, they’ve become even more important as I can still listen out for her but listen to music without disturbing her sleep, win-win!

Worth noting that these were replaced by HD 579‘s if you’re looking to buy some.

Give open cup ago! 

The main issue I had with them was that the cable. Although removable at both ends… One end had a 2.5mm jack for the headphones with a custom indent in the mould for locking the cable in place. The other end had 6.35 jack. It did come with a 3.5mm jack adapter but this was bulky to say the least and hardly something you’d have sticking out your phone in your pocket when doing stuff around the house. 

Now I get that Sennheiser target these as home audio but back when I got these it was impossible to get a cable that did 2.5mm straight to 3.5mm. As I had started using these again over my Samsung Level overs (pass, ANC is rubbish, go Boss QC35 or Sony MDR-1000X ) I went relooking and found:

Sennheiser HD558 CABLE

Just what I was looking for! So happy! Link: http://amzn.to/2tLcK08