Beginner Guide to Cutting the Cord

    Three years ago when I purchased my house, we signed up for Direct TV.  As time went on, it would eat away at me that I only watched one thing on it.  All of those channels that I would never ask for if given the choice, and nothing worth watching.  I had to get rid of it.  Almost $80.00 a month was just being thrown out the window.  I just wanted to pay for what I wanted, but of course that isn’t an option.  Or is it?  With a little effort, you can get the exact set-up you want, and tell your TV provider to piss off.


What To Think About When Deciding If This is For You.
    You all know what you watch.  You know what’s important to you and you all have your shows.  Or maybe you watch sports religiously.  You may have a local team that you watch that they only show on cable.  When you make this decision, you have to break down what you watch, and figure out other ways to watch them.  In this article, I’m going to go over the options you have, explain ways around local blackouts, and a few other things.
What You Will Need.
   The best way to watch content without owning a video gaming system or connecting a computer to your television is to own a streaming device.  There are loads of them out there including the Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chrome-cast, Apple-TV, and my personal favorite – The Roku.  There are several versions of the Roku out there and it is relatively inexpensive.  The Roku 3 was rated the best of all streaming devices.  It is the most expensive model, but it is a super powerful little box capable of streaming content from Apps, streaming local content on your network, and even has a USB input to play video files right from an external hard drive.  This feature is the best.  You can literally connect your digital library right to this little box.  Amazon has this device at the lowest price of $84.99.  The Roku will allow you to stream content from Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and literally hundreds of other places both free and paid.

The Content.
   I don’t watch many TV shows, but the shows I watch are all on Hulu Plus.  The service is dirt cheap and they offer you a 2 week trial for you to decide if the shows that you watch are on there.  They also host a variety of obscure movies that are interesting.  Hulu is 7.99 a month.  
   If you are an Amazon prime member, they provide a TV streaming service that might possibly be the best of the three (although some months Netflix has better content.)  Amazon prime is $99.00 and includes the streaming service, free 2-Day shipping, a streaming music service, and over 500,000 free e-books.  If you order from Amazon regularly, its a ridiculous deal.
   Netflix is probably still the king of streaming services hosting award winning original programming along with a gigantic library of films and complete TV series. Netflix is 8.99 a month.
   For most people, their TV viewing could be satisfied by using any of the 3.

Sports.
   This is probably the biggest deal-breaker for people.  How will I be able to get my sports?  This will depend on what you watch, and what teams you watch.  Most major league sports offer online packages.  If you are a fan of your local team, this could be a problem.  Instead of doing a broad generalization, let’s break it down by some of the more popular sports.
Football:  The good thing about football, is that if the team you love is your local team, you will be able to see it on local television.  Digital Antenna’s are available on Amazon which allow you to play the games on your TV in HD and they are super cheap.  Most of them are barely noticeable.  If your team is out of market, it gets tricky.  If you live in an apartment building you can qualify for the Direct TV streaming Sunday Ticket.  Unfortunately if you are a fan on an out of market team, there aren’t many options and cutting the cord might not be the best move for you.
Hockey:  If you are a fan of hockey, both of a local or out of market team, you are probably well aware that 99% of the games are on cable.  The cool part is there isn’t a TV service like Direct TV monopolizing the content.  Game Center Ice is 100% online and the Roku even has an App for it so you can watch it right from there in HD quality depending on your broadband.  I know what your thinking.  What if you love your local team?  It’s blacked out.  VPN services are available at a low cost and allow you to spoof your location so that they think you are somewhere else.  This allows you to get around the black out.  There are two ways to do this.  A VPN on your computer hooked up to your TV or a DD-WRT router set-up.  I get into VPN services in general on Episode 1 of my Podcast.  Check it out below:

Next week I am going to do Episode 3 of The Super Sweet Podcast where we will discuss the DD-WRT setup in more detail. Basically, it’s programming your wireless router to constantly be connected to your VPN, so that all of the devices that connect to it can utilize it. This is ideal for sports packages. I will get into how to acquire a DD-WRT router, how to flash your existing router (if compatible) with the DD-WRT firmware, or how to buy one already set up and ready to go with no hassle.  Remember, I’ll be talking about this stuff like an average guy.  You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to learn about this stuff, just a little time and research.

Baseball:  Baseball is the same as Hockey and it also can be streamed on the Roku.

    As you can see, there are some things to think about and consider when deciding if this is for you.  Once you get your set-up up and running, its extremely liberating.  You are paying for what YOU want.  If you have any questions at all, send me an email at:

I will read all questions on the podcast as well as in an email response.  If you haven’t checked out the Super Sweet Podcast, check it out.  If you are a beginner techie, nerd, geek, or new dad – this show is for you!  Now available to subscribe to on itunes.

Buffering is Bullshit. Get VPN.

    So much is happening these days with video streaming services and ISP’s.  They are at each others throats, blaming each other for terrible speeds/buffering issues, with the real loser being the consumer.  Its obnoxious, but there is a way around it.  VPN.
The Verge published a great article a few days ago with video of a guy visually showing you the difference in speeds both using a VPN, and when your not using a VPN.  If you are unfamiliar with what a VPN is, it is basically this:

There are loads of benefits to having a VPN.  One is protecting your IP address.  Your IP address is your digital footprint and personal identifier.  When using a VPN, you can hide this information from websites you visit.  If you live in a country that regulates internet usage by forcing censorship with firewalls, stealth vpn can free you from that nonsense.  VPN can also hide your activity from big brother.  Its your business, keep it that way.
    Lets get back to that article I was referring to.  All of the ISP’s are messing with streaming services, and no matter how much you bitch, there isn’t anything you can do.  Or is there?  When using a VPN, your ISP doesn’t know that your watching Netflix.  If it doesn’t know, it can’t throttle you.  Some bloggers may argue that there is no difference, but I disagree.  A writer on Verge also subscribed to this theory.  Watch this experiment:

I have seen the same results from personal experiences.  Those who argue this theory, also make mention of low quality or free vpn services which are no good.  If you are going to go with a vpn, I highly suggest using Torguard.  Torguard offers a few different products, all very useful depending on what you’re looking for.  I currently have a vpn through them, along with a torrent proxy.  The speeds are fantastic, and I have had nothing but good luck with them.  I have used STRONGVPN as well, but cancelled.  The service was decent, but they were expensive and made it difficult to switch locations by tacking on all sorts of charges.  Torguard makes it easy.
There is one more thing you may want to do when considering a VPN company to go with.  Torrentfreak wrote an article this year called “Which VPN Services Take Your Anonymity Seriously? 2014 Edition.”  They contacted loads of VPN providers asking them their policy on “logs.”  Basically the only evidence possible that can be used against you when using a VPN.  Torrentfreak asked the following questions to these providers:

1. Do you keep ANY logs which would allow you to match an IP-address and a time stamp to a user of your service? If so, exactly what information do you hold and for how long?

2. Under what jurisdictions does your company operate and under what exact circumstances will you share the information you hold with a 3rd party?

3. What tools are used to monitor and mitigate abuse of your service?

4. In the event you receive a DMCA takedown notice or European equivalent, how are these handled?

5. What steps are taken when a valid court order requires your company to identify an active user of your service?

6. Is BitTorrent and other file-sharing traffic allowed on all servers? If not, why?

7. Which payment systems do you use and how are these linked to individual user accounts?

8. What is the most secure VPN connection and encryption algorithm you would recommend to your users?

Torguard answered the questions if great detail.

1. TorGuard does not store any IP address or time stamps on any VPN and proxy servers, not even for a second. Further, we do not store any logs or time stamps on user authentication servers connected to the VPN. In this way it is not even possible to match an external time stamp to a user that was simultaneously logged in. Because the VPN servers utilize a shared IP configuration, there can be hundreds of users sharing the same IP at any given moment further obfuscating the ability to single out any specific user on the network.

2. TorGuard is a privately owned company with parent ownership based in Nevis and our headquarters currently located in the US. Our legal representation at the moment is comfortable with the current corporate structuring however we wouldn’t hesitate to move all operations internationally should the ground shift beneath our feet. We now offer VPN access in 23+ countries worldwide and maintain all customer billing servers well outside US borders.

We would only be forced to communicate with a third-party in the event that our legal team received a court ordered subpoena to do so. This has yet to happen, however if it did we would proceed with complete transparency and further explain the nature of TorGuard’s shared VPN configuration. We have no logs to investigate, and thus no information to share.

3. Our network team uses commercial monitoring software with custom scripts to keep an eye on individual server load and service status/uptime so we can identify problems as fast as possible. If abuse reports are received from an upstream provider, we block it by employing various levels of filtering and global firewall rules to large clusters of servers. Instead of back tracing abuse by logging, our team mitigates things in real-time. We have a responsibility to provide fast, abuse-free VPN services for our clients and have perfected these methods over time.

4. In the event of receiving a DMCA notice, the request is immediately processed by our abuse team. Because it is impossible for us to locate which user on the server is actually responsible for the violation, we temporarily block the infringing server and apply global rules depending on the nature of the content and the server responsible. The system we use for filtering certain content is similar to keyword blocking but with much more accuracy. This ensures the content in question to no longer pass through the server and satisfies requirements from our bandwidth providers.

5. Due to the nature of shared VPN services and how our network is configured, it is not technically possible to effectively identity or single out one active user from a single IP address. If our legal department received a valid subpoena, we would proceed with complete transparency from day one. Our team is prepared to defend our client’s right to privacy to the fullest extent of the law.

6. BitTorrent is only allowed on select server locations. TorGuard now offers a variety of protocols like http/socks proxies, OpenVPN, SSH Tunnels, SSTP VPN and Stealth VPN (DPI Bypass), with each connection method serving a very specific purpose for usage. Since BitTorrent is largely bandwidth intensive, we do not encourage torrent usage on all servers. Locations that are optimized for torrent traffic include endpoints in: Canada, Netherlands, Iceland, Sweden, Romania, Russia and select servers in Hong Kong. This is a wide range of locations that works efficiently regardless of the continent you are trying to torrent from.

7. We currently accept payments through all forms of credit or debit card, PayPal, OKPAY, and Bitcoin. During checkout we may ask the user to verify a billing phone and address but this is simply to prevent credit card fraud, spammers, and keep the network running fast and clean. After payment it is possible to change this to something generic that offers more privacy. No VPN or Proxy usage can be linked back to a billing account due to the fact we hold absolutely no levels of logging on any one of our servers, not even timestamps!

8. For best security we advise clients to choose OpenVPN connections only, and if higher encryption is called for use AES256 bit. This option is available on many locations and offers excellent security without degrading performance. For those that are looking to defeat Deep Packet Inspection firewalls (DPI) like what is encountered in countries such as China or Iran, TorGuard offers “Stealth” VPN connections in the Netherlands, UK and Canada. Stealth connections feature OpenVPN obfuscation technology that causes VPN traffic to appear as regular connections, allowing VPN access even behind the most strict corporate wifi networks or government regulated ISPs.

The complete article can be read here.  StrongVPN gave an evasive answer at first which made me not want to use them.
    I’m going to continue this series throughout the month, sharing how to configure a router for your home to be permanently connected to a VPN, how to set up a torrent proxy with uTorrent, and how to take almost any router and flash it with DDWRT which will allow it to be permanently connected to VPN. 

Winamp Theme Ubuntu!

   It’s 2014 and things have changed with how we listen to music, in fact, some aspects of the way we now listen and consume music have almost gotten wacky.  Nobody buys a CD anymore, vinyl records are coming back strong, and services like Spotify offer millions of users instant access to most music in seconds.  But if you’re like me, you probably have albums that are still not on spotify, so you still use a music player.  Also, if you are like me, you like to kick it old school and rock nostalgia whenever possible.  Back in the 90’s, we rocked out our monster speakers with Winamp.  If you have Windows or Mac, it is still available.  If you are using Ubuntu, you are out of luck, unless you want to run it in “Wine” which sort of blows.  Fortunately, like almost everything in Ubuntu, there is always a way to get the same experience!
Audacious, is a music player for Linux which can offer that to you.  It’s free, open source, and very quick. Here’s how we do it!

To install Audacious, just fire up your terminal and enter:

 sudo apt-get install audacious

Next, head over to this site and grab the winamp classic skin, then just extract the winamp folder right to your desktop.  There are other ways to do this, but I’m just going to use the easiest way for new users.  After you have you winamp folder extracted to your desktop, open a terminal and enter:

sudo nautilus /usr/share/audacious/Skins/

What this is going to do is open up the folder that your skins are housed in.  Then just drag the winamp folder from your desktop into this one!  You should be set.  Open up Audacious:

 

Looks super boring right?  Click “View” at the top and select “Visualizations.”  This should open the settings panel.  The drop down at the top labeled “Interface Plugin” will now have an option in it for “Winamp Classic Interface.”

 Just select which one you want, and get busy!

 

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C25K Time!

   Last year I got my blood work done for my yearly check up.  I’m healthy, never sick, blood pressure is good, however my cholesterol was not.  It was high at 260 with my LDL at 194.  At that time, I was able to locate problem areas for food that I eat.  I love fries, pizza, the normal delicious foods in life.  So for a year, I watched what I ate, still having those things but not nearly as much as I would have normally consumed.  I went in for this years check-up and it stayed the same.  The Dr. said that I have 5 months to lower my cholesterol, or i’d have to start taking “Statins”.  I’ve never been on a medication in the 35 years I’ve been alive, I’m not about to start now.
   So I spoke with my Dr. and told her what I eat regularly and what I don’t do regularly…or even at all…..is exercise.  I’m not a fat guy, but I’m out of shape and maybe 10-15 pounds overweight.  So now I have a goal.  I have 5 Months to get into better shape, and to move that LDL down.  The first thing I am going to do is a program my wife had heard a lot about, “C25K” (Couch to 5 K) an app for your phone that trains you over weeks to be able to run 5k without killing you.  A slow progression.  There are a bunch of apps for this, all offering free versions with limitations.  I decided to get the pay version.  It’s 1.99, its not going to kill you to cough up $1.99 to use an app for your $600.00 phone.  The pay version integrates GPS tracking so that it tracks how far you have gone and your speeds.
   I have finished two days of C25K so far and its going along nicely.  It’s kind of like having a trainer in your ear.  Instead of going for a run and killing myself randomly deciding how far to run, the app tells you what to do, so I don’t even have to think!  The cool part is, I can listen to whatever I want and the C25K app will just chime in when its time to change it up.  Definitely a cool app, I’m looking forward to seeing the progress.

 

Sweet Phone Theme for Ubuntu fans!

   As I recently posted, I upgraded my phone recently to the Galaxy Note 3, and the phone is awesome.  One thing I hate though on any android phone is the mess of a layout you get. Apps and shortcuts everywhere, 5 pages of home screen, its all nonsense.  Nobody needs that.  In the Google Play Store there are a bunch of Ubuntu themes.  The first thing you want to do is to download the “Smart Launcher App”, then the app called “Smart launcher theme Ubuntu”.  You probably want to see what it does first right?  Let’s take a look.

1) One simple home screen –  I love this.  There is just one screen with the essential icons, all right at your fingertips.

You can still put whatever wallpaper you want and all that jazz.  This is just a demo of the layout.  I love having these icons like this on the screen.  The bottom left is where you apps are housed.

2) Awesome app organizing – Smart Launcher will automatically put your apps in categories organized like this:

The apps are put into categories that are listed on the left.  Categories like Communication, Internet, Games, Media, and Utility.  All customizable.

My favorite feature of the app organizer is the search feature.  By just clicking the search icon, I can quickly get to what I’m looking for.  I can’t tell you how many times I used to have to search through pages of shit to find the app I was looking to use.

By clicking the “G” icon, all my apps staring with “G” appear.

3)  What about my widgets?  Another thing that always bothered me about the standard android layout was the 5 pages of home page to scroll through. I like widgets, but I hated placing them all over the place.  Smart launcher gives you an awesome option for your widgets further simplifying your experience.

Button for widgets

(I have no idea who “The Prince” is, just clicked a random spotify artist for display.)  The widgets page allows you to place as many widgets as you want thus giving you what you had before, but here you can get it when you want it.

You have nothing to lose trying this out.  If you don’t end up liking the layout, simply un-install the Smart Launcher app.  There are other themes to play around with in Smart Launcher as well, not just the Ubuntu theme.  One thing to note, is that the widgets page is only available in the pay version of Smart Launcher.  It’s only $1.99, once I fell in love with the free version, I wanted the widget page so I just bought the thing.
   Once you download the Smart Launcher app and Ubuntu theme for Smart Launcher, you simply open up Smart Launcher. It will prompt you asking if you want to use smart launcher “always” or “just this once’.  Just click “always”, remember if you don’t like it you can un-install the app in seconds.  Once Smart Launcher opens, your phone layout will change to the same format as the pictures, but different looking in terms of its presentation.  Go into where your apps are stored and at the top right you will see 3 dots, click it. Its the “preferences” menu.  From here it will show you the Ubuntu theme you downloaded with the option to click and install the theme.  Click it and you are done.  If you try this out, tell me what you think.  Personally I love it.

(If you end up liking the free version of Smart Launcher and decide you want the pay version, un-install the free one first before getting it to avoid confusion.)

Tutorial: How to Play NES or Genesis Games on your Andriod.

   I’ve decided to throw a few tutorials up for Android for a couple simple things that not everyone may know how to do.  If your like me, you loved video games back in the golden era, 8 and 16 bit classics.  I just recently bought the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 which is pretty much the greatest phone I’ve ever seen.  With a screen this size, its perfect for games like these.  How can you do this? Follow me.

   First off if you have an iPhone, you can’t do this as far as I know unless your phone has been jail broken.  The games in this example with be Super Mario Brothers (8 bit) and Sonic the Hedgehog (16 bit).  For these we will need to separate emulators.  Basically, one of your emulators is Nintendo and the other is your Sega Genesis.

1) Head over to the Google Play store and get the app “AndroGens” and “Nostalgia.NES Lite.”  Both apps are free.  The will look like this were your apps are stored:

 2) Before we even open them up, we have to go get the ROMs (games).  Disclaimer“You should only download these games if you already own the original versions.”  Head over to coolrom.com, they actually have a pretty nice mobile site and its easy to use. Do a search for “Super Mario Bros.” Hit cancel if you get any annoying pop up ads.  You may get a bunch of versions, just look for the result under “NES” and click it.  It will take you to this screen.  Scroll to the bottom and it will bring you to the download link:


3)  This is the tricky part if you are not familiar with the folder system in Android. Find out where your downloads go, its probably in the downloads folder which is default. 

My phone setup probably looks nothing like yours, but I’ll get into how to do that in a later blog.  The icon for “My Files” will be the same regardless.  Then you want to click “All” so that you can see all the folders. 

Scroll down to your “Download” Folder in your device storage (not your sd card storage).  When you open it, your file should be in there. If  you don’t see it make sure you check that you are in the right download folder.

4)  Click on the file you downloaded, its time to extract it.  You will be given the option to extract it when you click it. Click OK.  It will extract the file into the same folder your in.

So now we know where it is located, lets fire up the NES App. 

The NES emulator is actually pretty good. It locates the file for you but if you dont see it there, hit the top right preferences icon and it will give you the option to search for the game.
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5) Just select the game you want to play and bam!

The Sega app works the exact same way accept you need to locate the file yourself once you open  the app, so basically you would just select the file/game you downloaded and play.  Good to go!  If anyone has any questions feel free to contact me in the comments and I’d be glad to help.  Tomorrow I will show you how to Ubuntu you phone out!

The "Do’s and Don’ts" of Torrenting

 

    This post by no means promotes the downloading of anything illegal, please use the information I provide here at your own risk.

   I have been torrenting files for a long time.  I remember  when I first discovered torrents.  This was around the time when people were using Napster-like p2p clients to download single songs.  I remember the thrill I got downloading entire collections with the click of a button, all organized in folders by album.  It was fucking awesome.  I don’t swear much on this blog, but when I do, its warranted.  Getting a decade of albums downloaded from a band in 5 minutes is indeed “fucking awesome.” Back then things were easier, nobody really knew how to fight the war on file sharing.  Today its different.  I am an advocate of file sharing to the fullest, but you need to take precautions before doing so.
  Someone that is not familiar with using bit torrents might just waltz over to the Pirate Bay and start downloading.  Maybe back then it was a good idea, but these days, you have to be smart.  There are 3rd party companies that scour IP’s looking for idiots downloading cam videos of movies released yesterday only to offer them scary settlements or cease and desist letters.  Here are some rules and guidelines to follow.

1)  Don’t use Pirate Bay.  Don’t get me wrong.  The Pirate Bay is legendary and they are constantly fighting for internet freedom.  The truth is, unless you are pretty experienced  downloading torrents, this site can expose you to torrents riddled with virus’s, fake files, or torrents monitored closely for infringement.

2) Get yourself onto a private tracker.  There are some really great private trackers out there.  The problem with these is that its tough to find any with open registration.  The only way to get into them is to be persistent and check every day to see if they open up registration.  Another way is to get an invite from someone who is already a member.  You can sometimes gain invites by being cool in a forum where someone might have a spare one for you. There are a number of great private trackers out there, just do a little research.  I belong to “Iptorrents”.  Another good one is “ilovetorrents”.  Again, there are tons.  The benefits of belonging to these are high speed downloads, and every file posted will usually have plenty of very accurate comments pertaining to the file of interest.  You rarely find fake files posted or anything infected with a virus.  One thing that you can’t be when belonging to a private tracker is a “leacher”.  These are people who download files but do not share them.  The trackers usually have a minimum ratio of download to upload that they want you to maintain.  If you don’t maintain this requirement over a period of time, they will ban you from the community.  This can sometimes be tough to do, especially when we get to my next topic.

3) Be careful what you seed.  This won’t be popular amongst file sharing community, but if you are new to torrenting, don’t seed anything until you learn the ropes.  You are probably  thinking, “How can i get my sharing ratio up on a private tracker if I shouldn’t seed?”  That answer is easy.  Know and understand what you are seeding.  Don’t seed anything new and popular as they are sure to be targeted files.  Join a private tracker and download something obscure.  A lot of the time, you can sort the search results for files that have a lot of people downloading them.  Look for something obscure, even if its something that you don’t care about, you are getting it to increase your ratio.  Another way to increase your ratio without uploading, is to “Donate”.  Many of the private trackers will grant you a certain amount of Gigabyte downloads per dollar that you donate.  The money goes towards server costs.  Its a nice way to not seed, but to contribute without being looked at as a leach.

4) Get a VPN or Torrent Proxy….or even better..Both.  These days, with the NSA nonsense, there hasn’t been a better time to get yourself a VPN.  VPN’s are tricky.  If you are not familiar with a VPN, its basically a service that gives you an alternate IP address other than your own.  Everything you do online will go through the vpn first, kind of like a middle man.  This in turn hides your IP address from prying eyes.  Just recently, TorrentFreak recently published an article that was more of an investigative piece, where they went to all of the VPN services asking them about “Logging”.  The article can be seen here.  Many of them openly stated that they didn’t keep logs while some chose to not comment.  The others simply said that they emptied the logs after a few days or daily, simply because they didn’t have the space to house that much data.  When it comes down to it, this is the statement that carries the most validity.  When it comes down to it, they could be lying, who knows.  One  thing that is probably true though, is that the amount of data to log every users activities is probably pretty ridiculous, and they would need to empty the logs.  Regardless, you might as well go with one that promises complete anonymity.  Torguard offers a VPN and specifically a torrent proxy, both relatively inexpensive.  So basically I have my VPN and then when I torrent, my traffic goes through a proxy and then through the vpn, and vice versa.  Can your activities be tracked if you use a VPN.  Its possible, depends on how much they want to spend figuring out who you are and tracking your whereabouts.  Again, this post isn’t promoting illegal downloading so this shouldn’t be a concern, but you should know your options when trying to stay private.

    There is so much to learn about file-sharing, that your research shouldn’t end here.  Read as much as you can about downloading and about current events with the copyright wars.  It all directly effects file sharing and torrents weather you download illegal content or not.  Always be educated and informed.  Knowing is half the battle!

How to Print Postage using Paypal Without Recieving an Order or Selling Something.

    I came across a little trick online that I wanted to share in case other sellers weren’t aware of this.  I use Paypal for my other shops, its easy for me to keep track of orders and print/track shipping.  Stamps.com is a rip off and is a total waste, but I still need to pay $15.00 a month in case I get any international orders through my main website (you can’t print first class international with Paypal.) With this link you can print first class postage easily even if the customer didn’t use Paypal to check out.  It’s not exactly a feature that Paypal promotes, in fact, I have yet to find the link within the site to do it, but by using this link from my blog, it allows you to.  The option mainly exists for eBay sellers to create prepaid labels, but you can use it for anything.  This is a super handy trick that I thought I’d share!

Goodbye Windows 7!

  When not making shirts for you folks and during the off times that my daughter is asleep, I basically spend my personal time on the computer.  I’ve been teaching myself to code, researching  the ins and outs of networks, and really learning loads of stuff each day.  One thing that I found that kept annoying me was Windows.  Most of the stuff I was reading referred to Linux.  At first, I would mess around with Linux on Virtualbox.  Virtualbox is awesome because it gives you the option to run a second operating system on your existing one.  So I had Windows 7 and I was able to play around with Linux.  After a few days I said, “Screw it.” Enough of Windows.
  The more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me.  I hated Windows 7.  I hated Windows in general.  My sister and I would argue, Windows vs Mac all the time, and I would stand by the side of Windows and defend it.  Don’t get me wrong, I hate Mac still (and Apple in general) but I am finished with Windows.  I’m not some fanboy that hates Apple and loves Microsoft (or vice versa).  I Just want something that works, works for a long time, and doesn’t rip me off with new bullshit releases that break the bank.  I fancied myself over to the Ubuntu website and downloaded the ISO, burned it to a DVD, and soon enough, I wiped out my old operating system and said “hello” to Ubuntu!  Its like complete freedom.  Let me tell you why Ubuntu is so awesome.

1) Its free
2) You don’t have to buy an Office Suite, it comes with OpenOffice.
3) You are free from virus’s (I know its still technically possible but super rare, just like with Macs) so you don’t need a bunch of shit anti virus programs that eat up RAM and fail to catch anything because they are constantly out of date.
4) Any bugs that you come across, you won’t have to wait years for a fix. Ubuntu is open source, fix’s can be tracked down in Ubuntu.
5) You don’t have to yank your hair out restarting your system all the time, you almost never have to with Ubuntu.
6) Load of free software for anything you need at the click of a button.  The Ubuntu Software Center on your desktop has tons of great stuff, all free.
7) You can still run your favourite Windows programs if there isn’t an alternate Linux version.  There is a great program called “Wine” which you use to open any Windows program you would like to use.
8) All upgrades for Ubuntu are free of cost.
9) If you get stuck with any problem, just join the Ubuntu forum.  The people in there are awesome and can help you with any issue you have.  I’ve found that the issues I’ve come across were all quick fixes from the command terminal.
10) No more bullshit defragging the hard drive.

Using Ubuntu on the VirtualBox gave me a taste of what it was like.  I started reading some books on it, and doing some basic research.  Then I decided that there wouldn’t be a better way to learn than just diving in, getting rid of my old operating system, and forcing myself to learn this one because it would be all I had.  So that is what I did.  I love it. My computer is super quick, I haven’t come across one limitation yet.  If you have some spare time on your hands, check out VirtualBox and mess around with Linux.  I’m going to start doing some basic tutorials on some thing with this blog.  I am not an expert by far, but I’d love to share what I have picked up and learn/interact with other users.  More to come!

Reason #1000 Why the Roku 3 is Amazing.

    I’ve done several posts about the Roku box product.  I’ve really had nothing terrible to say about the little black box, and last night I discovered another awesome feature!
My biggest problem with all of these media devices is that, in the end, I still find myself hooking my laptop up to my TV to watch movies that I have on my laptop’s hard drive.  What I found out, is that the USB port on the side is totally functional for pulling and playing files from an external device.  What this means is that I can hook up a huge hard drive, right up to the Roku thus attaching it to an entire library of movies!  The “downside” is that it only plays mkv or mp4 video files, so you may need to convert some of your videos depending on what files they currently are.
All you need to do is hook your hard drive up to the Roku, and then go to the app store.  There is a free app in the music section called, USB Media Player (or something along those lines), the logo looks like this:

Once you do this, you can open up the app, and the Roku should be able to read all the contents on the drive and play them.  It is awesome.

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