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