Sunday, September 25, 2016

ARM Server Chip - For Real

You heard it here 4 years ago - ARM Server Chip.

Now it comes to reality - Fujitsu: Why we chose 64-bit ARM over SPARC for our exascale super

And it displaces my beloved SPARC chip.

A few quotes from Fujitsu...
When was the last time you heard nice things about SPARC Linux?
Fujitsu chose 64-bit ARM CPU cores for its upcoming exascale supercomputer for two reasons: Linux and the ability to customize its own processors.
[Fujitsu] chose ARM over SPARC due to ARM's larger and healthier software ecosystem.
ARM has the best software ecosystem for us.
And you thought Intel and Sun ruled the world.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Chromecast Data Usage

I love my new router.

When I was looking at the Traffic Monitor I noticed that my Chromecast was in my top 5 clients. This chart is only about 5 days into my using the Asus RT-AC68R.

I found this thread on reddit. In that thread there's a link to a earlier thread.
Bottom line is that a chromecast will use 8-20 MB per hour when turned on and idle no matter what. Disabling or changing backdrop settings does not disable the background images, it just customizes them. When backdrop is disabled, new images still appear at the same rate, just with a message about enabling backdrop in the lower right instead of information about the image. 
The workaround I found was to power the chromecast from the TV's USB port instead of using the wall adapter, so it's only on when the TV is on. This isn't perfect, because the chromecast is still on when watching regular TV. Additionally, the chromecast takes time to start up. Unfortunately, one of my TV's doesn't have a USB port so I can't do anything about that set.
My old TV didn't have a powered USB port. When I migrated to the new TV I just moved the Chromecast along with the wall adapter USB power. My new TV does have a powered USB port so I moved the Chromecast's USB cable to that and the problem is solved mitigated.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Asus RT-AC68R First Look

Almost 3 years ago one of my former co-workers told me he had just upgraded to an Asus router and it really improved his throughput. He didn't remember which it was so I started shopping.

You'd know I'd come up with something cheap inexpensive. I got a refurbished Asus RT-N65R. It has performed very well for me.


We have been noticing some blips of the Internet but my EMCO Ping Monitor didn't complain. I finally realized that it was the radio in the router failing.

So my quest for a new router started.

I really liked the ASUSWRT firmware. But the firmware for the RT-N65R hadn't been updated since January 2015. Operationally it was fine but I was worried about security patches.

While Comcast has raised their bandwidth "trial" to 1 GB I still am interested in tracking my bandwidth usage. I wanted to maintain this ability and even expand it to tracking by device.

I looked at dd-wrt and Tomato. There are plugins for those firmwares to do this but it takes more command line skills than I was ready to tackle.

My son-in-law had the Asus RT-AC68R. It is dual-band 1900 Mbps so it is FAST. And its firmware is still being updated.

Not only does it have the same bandwidth reporting as the RT-N65R but it will break out bandwidth by client and application.


And there's so much more to play with. Like Merlin.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

VHS to Digital Dubbing

The recent news that the last maker of VCRs was halting production scared me into action. I have upwards of 100 VHS tapes dating back to 1982. I still have several VCRs but my SageTV box that I could use to convert the VHS tapes to digital has long since bitten the dust.

I found the Toshiba DVR620 that has a standard function of dubbing VHS to DVDs. I'm sure that there are others out there but on Amazon this item had a 4 star rating, over 2,000 reviews and 1,000+ answered questions.

My goal was to convert the VHS videos to digital, e.g. MPEG-2, rather than just move them to DVDs. So what I did was scrounge up an old DVD+RW disk. I dubbed each VHS tape to this DVD+RW disk, copied the full video to my Drobo, cut the full video into logical segments with VideoRedo and uploaded them to Google Photos.

Here are the properties of the MPEG-2s:

I have had one problem with tracking and I couldn't adjust that out. I guess on a 30+ year old tape made using a rented camcorder that's Ok. I've had a couple of tapes that the leader separated from the reel when I rewound it. This YouTube will walk you through fixing that. Instead of rewinding it at high speed and risking this separation you could press PLAY [10] and then REV [9]. The downside of this is that it moves the oxide over the heads and if the tape is very old the oxide could flake off and the video is ruined.

Overall the process has worked very well.

The User Guide is here.

Here's the step by step.


  1. Connect the DVR620 to a TV. I used an old flat screen and used HDMI just for simplicity.
  2. Turn on the TV.
  3. Turn on the DVR620 [17].
  4. Press DVD [31]. Press INPUT SELECT [1] so that either L1 or L2 appears. You can't do DVD dubbing when L3 is chosen.
  5. Press REC MODE [32] repeatedly until you see the record mode that you want to use. I use SP to get 2 hours on the DVD+RW.
Here's what the various recording modes mean:

Repeat for each tape
  1. Press DVD [31]. Press OPEN/CLOSE [2] and place the DVD+RW in the DVD tray. Press OPEN/CLOSE [2] to close the tray.
  2. Press SETUP [4].
  3. Navigate to the DVD menu and format the DVD+RW.
  4. Press VCR [30].
  5. Insert the VHS tape in the tape slot. At this point the tape may begin playing if read/write tab has been removed. I always press STOP [10] and then REV [9]. When it finishes rewinding. I press OPEN/CLOSE [2] to eject the tape and then reinsert the tape and press STOP [10]. This will reset the time displayed to 0:00. This is significant as dubbing will stop automatically if no image is detected for more than 3 minutes. One of my tapes stopped at 39 minutes and I had to restart the dubbing.
  6. If you want to be selective about what you dub to the DVD now is the time to position the VHS tape. If not, press DUBBING [13] and sit back. If you get a blinking red light on the unit you have a problem with the DVD. Remember you have to format EVERY time.
  7. If you want to be selective about what you dub to the DVD press STOP [10] when you're done. I just let the tape run to the end and it stops dubbing automatically.
  8. Just to make sure the tape is rewound I press REV [9]. When it finishes rewinding. I press OPEN/CLOSE [2] to eject the tape.
  9. Press DVD [31] then press SETUP [4]. Navigate to the DVD menu and finalize the DVD+RW.
  10. Press OPEN/CLOSE [2] to eject the DVD+RW.