Thursday, 13 October 2016

Xbox One Game Streaming issue with Netgear Switch

I thought I'd write a post about some problems i've had with game streaming from my Xbox One S in the hope it may help someone.

My network infrastructure is crudely documented in this diagram.

The equipment list is as follows:
  • Xbox One S 500GB
  • 2 x Sumvision 1000Mbps Powerline adapters
  • 2 x Netgear GS108 Gigabit switches
  • HP Laptop with gigabit NIC
The problem is an "artifacting" effect of the graphics almost blurring momentarily, then the game snapping back into life.  It can be bad enough to be unplayable.  My quick test for this now is to quickly scroll up and down as fast as I can on the Xbox home screen.

I swapped the switches, swapped cables, tried new cables, turned off the energy saving mode on my NIC to no avail.  Every other device on both sides of the powerline function absolutely fine, I can stream 1080p content without issue for hours on end.

One magical day I figured it out.

The way i fixed it was swapping out the Netgear GS108 switch which the Xbox One S is connected to, I swapped it for any old switch I had lying around (It happened to be a Netgear WNR2000v2 which had DD-WRT installed on it).  I still get SOME artifacts,(update, 2nd session of gaming had no artifacts) but 95% less than I had before, and an amount i've always experienced when game streaming, so this is acceptable to me.  Eventually will replace my other Netgear switch in a bid to eliminate all artifacts, but I thought I'd post in the unlikely event someone is suffering the same problem as myself!

Monday, 10 October 2016

Top reasons for blocking adverts with Pi Hole

I have Pi Hole installed on my combined front and backend media server in order to reduce the amount of adverts I see to great effect.

I've listed here the reasons I love using Pi Hole.

1) YouTube clients

My TV has a Youtube client installed which gets a lot of use in my house.  The way they play adverts is most times a new video is chosen, and also DURING a long video.  Pi Hole makes the Youtube app act as though adverts don't exist.  The videos never pause, I don't get the slightest of delays when launching a video.  Long may that continue!

2) Web browsing

This is probably the most common use of Pi-Hole and simply put, it's astonishing how much of your traffic is adverts.  Furthermore, some pages are unusable to me caked in adverts.  Step in Pi Hole.  It's a sad state of affairs but using this technology is the only way I can make such sites accessible.

3) Mobile apps (especially kids games)

One of the best outcomes of having no adverts has been with my young (toddler) child playing games on my Android phone.  I don't know if you've ever played a low quality free game from the Play Store, but a LOT of games lately seem to have a two pronged approach to getting money.  One is In App Purchases which are often big shiny attractive buttons which a toddler is likely to gravitate towards.  (The ethics behind earning revenue from tactics like these is akin to a con man in my opinion.)

The second way these games are monitised is the use of constant, intrusive and often colourful bright banner adverts.   It's sometimes difficult even as a phone literate guy with good eyesight to figure out how to close full screen adverts to get back to the game, they're that intrusive.  Pi-Hole blocks these adverts, making cheap, poor quality games slightly more bearable.

I'm a huge fan of this software.  You can chat about it with a friendly bunch at Reddit

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Review of Stealth Streams IPTV Service

StealthStreams came recommended to me from somewhere (Wish I could remember where), and they have a free trial (24 hours).  Messages were responded to very quickly and politely via Facebook, which makes it easy to get up and running quickly.

The Kodi addon is easy to download; Stealth Streams operate their own repository, which means the addon should stay updated.

Flicking through channels quickly gives a great impression, not only are the channel changes extremely fast, but the picture is of a high standard, in some cases 1080p resolution.

A really nice (and uncommon) feature offered by Stealth Streams is the iVue TV Guide integration.  Full EPG TV guides offer a far more pleasant way to browse through channels.  This was very simply achieved with two stages:
  1. Download and install the iVue addon (a login is required for this from their Facebook page)
  2. Run the iVue wizard from within the StealthStreams addon

Overall StealthSteams offers a very good package for the money with a solid support offered via Facebook chat.  The iVue functionality is the icing on the cake and is a premium IPTV service well worth checking out.

My Ultimate IPTV solution

I've been having a think about what my favourite setup would look like for a premium IPTV provider.

It'd consist of:

Kodi as the front end. 

I love Kodi and use it daily to view TV Shows, Movies, Radio, Live TV and Pictures.

Kodi's native Live TV Interface.  

Although I'm new to iVue and I really like it so far, i'm used to the native Live TV EPG and it's controls.  It's got it's flaws but it's one of the things that's being worked on by the Kodi developers.

Utopia would be being able to customise which type of tuner (IP or DVB) has priority, e.g. I could set BBC HD through my DVB tuner as priority over the IP equivalent, as it's likely I'd get a higher bitrate through the DVB-T2 tuner than the IPTV service.

Timeshift and PVR functionality.  

I currently use TVheadend for my terrestrial channels and one of the things I've never quite sussed out is the Timeshift functionality, but as a PVR it is rock solid.

If anyone's got any thoughts or suggestions to achieve the dream scenario, please do comment or get me on Twitter @pww_tech !

Monday, 22 February 2016

IPTV providers

Here is a list of IPTV providers, I am mainly focusing on providers who provide Kodi integration.  You will find links to them and some headline facts which you may find useful when trying to integrate IPTV with PVR functionality in Kodi for example:



Provider Name
1 Month Cost
1 Year Cost
Number of Channels
Kodi app
Free trial available?
Trial limitations
Notes
$13
$132
500+
Iptvsubs own
1 day

$12
$105
833
N/A

€15
€100
1200
PVR IPTV Simple
3 hours


€90
2000+
PVR IPTV Simple
VLC only, 24 hours

€24.95


NTV plugin
N/A
Not available in UK
£10.99
£84
266
StreamTVBox from Xunity
N/A
£4 for 2 days

$299
230+
N/A
Needs MAG box
£17
£160
1200+
MBOX HDTV plugin
N/A

$20CAD
$204CAD
458+
N/A
Canadian provider
€15
€120
240+
PVR IPTV Simple
36 hours

€1
9
€95
600+

N/A
Offer of lifetime access €99
£20
£50
175+
Sports Donkey own
N/A
1 day pass £5, 1 week £10
£17
£175 (13m)
780
Ruya own
N/A
1 day pass £2 (Mon-Thu)
£9
£104
~400
Dexter own
N/A

£10
120
228
Stealth
 Streams own

24 hours
Sports only £7/month   



Feel free to share your experiences of any of the providers and their services on this blog!

Welcome!

Welcome to my Technology tips and news blog!




I'm going to be posting about technology trends e.g. Kodi, Computers, Media Centres, IPTV, Nintendo, Xbox, CCTV, Security software, Raspberry Pi developments, gadgets and anything that interests me, in the hope that it interests someone else too!


I am based in the UK so please bear that in mind when reading the blog posts.  Some of the items will be tailored, for example if certain services are region blocked against the UK I may not even mention them.  All views are my own, I do not get paid for anything realted to this blog

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Advantages of IPTV over traditional TV

I wanted to list some benefits of streaming IPTV as opposed to using traditional methods such as satellite (DVB-S and DVB-S2) and terrestrial Freeview aerial (DVB-T and DVB-T2).


  • No satellite dish
    • Saves installation cost
    • Often against mortgage rules and covenants, especially on new estates
    • No unnecessary holes drilled in your house
    • Gets around the fact that some areas are not covered by Satellite reception, e.g. cannot see the satellite due to trees and the location of your property
    • Cleaner having no wires visible on the outside of your house
  • Portable technology, meaning you can view the channels anywhere you have an internet connection
  • More options for devices
    • Not stuck to a proprietary set top box
    • Many media centre / hardware possibilities for viewing.  
    • Android, Amazon Fire TV boxes and sticks etc
    • Can put the STB (Set top box) device anywhere in your house through wireless (of course ethernet cabling is best if you have it)
    • Variable prices for different viewing devices, i.e. you could buy an expensive, fully featured box to use on your main TV, and a cheap viewer in a room you only watch TV in occasionally.