Roku buffering all the time

Roku buffering all the time

Is your Roku buffering all the time when you try to watch streaming media? While it can be frustrating, usually these buffering problems are solvable. Here are six things to try to fix Roku buffering before you switch to another streaming device like an Apple TV or Fire TV stick in frustration.

Some streaming apps are more demanding than others, so if you experience buffering in some apps but not others, that’s not unusual. Watching TV on Netflix always works great for me, for example. And while some people find Hulu occasionally problematic, I don’t think I’ve ever had more than a minor hiccup in Hulu. But I have friends who have issues with HBO Go and I have issues with MLB.tv.

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Roku overheating fixes

Roku overheating fixes

I have a Roku 2720X. I’ve had it since 2014, so it’s a few years old now, but I like it. Lately it’s been having some problems though. It works fabulously with Hulu and Netflix, but streaming local media and streaming baseball give me trouble. I traced it to overheating. So let’s look at some Roku overheating fixes.

Some people replace their devices with newer models with faster dual- or quad-core processors. This works; a more powerful chip will handle the load of newer, more demanding apps better without heating up as much. But you can extend the useful life of your venerable single-core 600 MHz Roku devices too, at least until Roku stops releasing updates for them.

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Decrease your Roku resolution to save bandwidth

Decrease your Roku resolution to save bandwidth

From time to time when I’m watching baseball on my Roku, I’ll get a lot of buffering and, in extreme cases, a message stating that I may have insufficient bandwidth. If you have the same problem, the best fix for this to to decrease your Roku’s playback resolution. Or if you’re subject to a data cap, decreasing your resolution helps you stay under that too. Here’s how to change your Roku resolution.

The picture will suffer, but I’d rather watch a lower quality picture than none at all. You may also need to resize your Internet connection, but you can do this trick immediately, and for free.

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I hope this new recordable DVD format catches on

In October, LG and its startup partner Millenniata plan to release a new type of DVD, which they claim will last forever. The Navy doesn’t come right out and say it lasts forever, but it does say in its tests that these discs, called M-Discs, do last considerably longer than the traditional DVD-R and DVD+R discs on the market today.

I hope this catches on, but it’s possible it won’t. Why? Cost.

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DVD players as cheap home media centers

I thought the steady stream of Thomas the Tank Engine, Dora, Bob the Builder, Thomas, Thomas, Thomas, Elmo, Thomas, and Thomas had finally done in our DVD player after almost 8 years.

It turned out the VCR I was running the video through was actually the problem, but what I learned in shopping for a potential replacement suggests I may want to think about replacing it anyway.Modern DVD players will upscale your old DVDs to make them almost hi-def, and have HDMI ports for digital connection to HDTVs. But they do more than that.

Mid-range ($50 and up) players include a USB port, so you can plug a flash drive or hard drive into them, and they’ll play MP3 audio or DIVX video off them.

Due to the United States’ anti-fair-use laws, I won’t tell you how to do it, but what you’ll want to do is rip your DVDs to a USB hard drive, convert them to DIVX, then plug them into your DVD player. Ask Google how. Then you have a library of movies in a 5-inch box and don’t have to mess with discs. That’s a big plus when you have small kids like I do. Plug in the box, turn it on, and pick your movie or show from the on-screen menu.

For ages, I’ve been planning to build a media center PC for just this purpose.

But I think I’d really rather just buy a $50 DVD player and plug a USB hard drive into it. Even though our 32″ CRT TV can’t really take advantage of a modern player’s video capability, the convenience of not fiddling with discs (and no risk of scratching them) makes it worth the 50 bucks. And once LED-lit LCD TVs get affordable, the DVD player will be ready for it when I upgrade.

Update: Rather than buy a pricier DVD player, you might want to consider a $35 DVR, which can double as a media player.

The Pure Digital Flip Ultra F260W

I bought a Flip Ultra last night. It’s the most featureless video camera I’ve ever used, but I like it. Surprised?

For what it’s designed to do, it works very well.The specs are unimpressive: Fixed focus, 1x digital zoom, 640×480 resolution, no expandability, 1 hour of recording time.

But sometimes you want simplicity. And it’s very simple to use. Hit one button to turn it on and another button to record. Plug it into your computer and software loads asking what you want to do. Arrange your recorded clips in sequence and it’ll shoot video straight to DVD or YouTube or your computer, among other things. If you want more features, you can load the clips into another video editor for heavier cleanup.

This morning I wanted to capture my son playing with his new toys. No problem. I set the camera up on a tripod and got to be part of the fun. All too often when shooting video, you miss all the fun because you’re babysitting the camera.

It’s small and light. It fits in a shirt pocket. I took it to church with me and shot a few seconds of my son playing in the cryroom.

You can playback and delete individual clips right from the unit, and you can hook it up to a TV if you want to see what it looks like on something other than its postage stamp-sized screen.

While I’d like autofocus, optical zoom, and the ability to record on SD cards, that’s just not all possible at a $150 price point. Not now. Maybe in a couple of years. In the meantime, this thing gets you by.

I’ll be able to capture some memories easily, and when I want to demonstrate something works when I sell it on eBay–like when I finally get around to selling those three Atari 8-bit computers in the basement, or thin the train collection a bit–it’ll take me five minutes to make the video and get it on Youtube. Embedding it in the eBay listing will be the hardest part. That’s good. And by being able to demonstrate that those computers and trains work, I should get higher bids, and I may even make back the money I spent on the camera.

For what this camera is meant to do, it’s great. Serious videographers will need something more powerful. But the casual user will love this thing. It works reasonably well, and it’s so easy to use, a lot of people won’t even have to read the instructions to start using it.

Cinelerra 1.1.6: An open-source video editor for Linux

I noticed today that Cinelerra, possibly the best-known video editor for Linux, has hit version 1.1.6.
I’ve played around with Cinelerra a bit, and found it competent, but not intuitive. While it’ll do things that Adobe Premiere won’t do, or that Premiere makes exceedingly difficult, there are an awful lot of things that Premiere will do that Cinelerra won’t. Want to mix stills with your video clips? You’ll have to convert those stills to single-frame MPEGs first. (That means becoming good friends with ImageMagick.) Want to pan and zoom? Forget it.

Now, if you’re trying to make the next Blair Witch Project, Cinelerra is more than up to the task, feature-wise. The only question is stability, but that can even be a question with Premiere or with Final Cut Pro. And Cinelerra gets minor point releases a lot more frequently than the commercial big boys.

But if you’re wanting to make documentaries, or, more likely, edit your home movies, Cinelerra will probably frustrate you. Kino will be easier to learn and possibly more feature complete. If you’re willing to pay some money, you’d be better suited with one of MainConcept’s offerings. (MainActor is included in the purchase price of SuSE Linux 8.2.) Or, assuming you run Windows some of the time, you can mess around with the video editor included with Windows Me and XP.

An easy way to improve audio quality

A lot of people think audio doesn’t matter when they edit video. They’re wrong. If you notice the audio, something’s wrong.
An easy way to improve audio quality is to normalize it, which makes the volume more consistent. Windows users can do it with Normalizer, a GPL command-line utility (a GUI is available). Linux users can use Normalize.

Normalizing still won’t make bad audio sound good, but it will at least make bad audio sound better.

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