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Monday, December 31, 2012

Roku's Remote Secret

Knowing that there must be alternatives to the cute but very lose-able remote included in the Roku XD 2 package, I searched to find a viable but affordable alternative. Browsing many forums, a person may think that a Harmony remote (at nearly $300) was the only alternative. I couldn't accept this. Then I found out that many people use learning remotes with varying success. Not good enough.

Then, finally, I found out about the RCA alternative. A small amount of their multi-device remotes include streaming devices, including Roku. I bought one with no shipping from walmart.com for under $20 (with tax included)

Anyone wanting to purchase one of these should do it while they still can, as it is a very good remote at a very reasonable cost. The model number is RCRPS06GR. The Roku code I used with the stream/CBL button is 52371. It was relatively simple. And... I can control some television features (such as volume) and Roku features without switching modes or programming the remote. Very good value.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cutting the Cord from Cable TV



Almost a year ago, I installed a Roku media streaming device for our television. This required an internet connection and a Wi-Fi router for the box to work. We ordered both the Roku and the router from Walmart.com using site to store. This was amazingly convenient for us.

After setting up the Wi-Fi connection to your device, you also must add and activate the channels on your computer Roku Account. Many channels are free, but some of them require a subscription either through Roku itself or a third party. Netflix and Hulu are some of the excellent third party providers, and are much cheaper than cable, and provide much of the same content. For kids content, I've found that Netflix is better.

I've been using RateRix as a supplement to the usual programming that we have, and have been able to enjoy  music videos, learning content for my children, and even helpful videos for my math class. There was even documentaries from PBS available there. Sometime in September the RateRix stopped being fully supported.

I've been researching alternatives to RateRix and one that keeps showing up is the Plex channel. Plex is a customizable solution and requires software to be installed to your computer, unlike most Roku channels.
I've not downloaded Plex Media Server yet. It seems to have two important values as a Roku channel, it's free and it can do what you need it to, if you can only figure out how. Its disadvantage is that it is only as good as the third party plugin channels that you install to it. I'll comment on this when I actually install and try the Plex Server.

Information about Plex Media Server link below:

http://gigaom.com/video/cord-cutters-plex-roku-video-review/


Information about the Roku link below:

http://www.roku.com/roku-products

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Calling All Three Dimensional Hobbyists

I've had some experience with AutoCAD, Inventor, and some other solid modeling software, but it is rare to hear of free modeling software. From the information that I've seen on the Autodesk 123D software apps, they seem to be well suited to the hobbyist. I've not tried it out yet, but I will leave a comment on this post if I  find enough time and energy to fully utilize this interesting looking free software. Did I mention it's free. The link is below.
http://www.123dapp.com/create

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Open Box Electronics

Apparently all electronics that are made to be sold in the U.S. have some sort of code which can be looked up to find a schematic.This sounds like an interesting way to figure out how to reconfigure old devices to find some new application for them. I've not watched the video yet, and am not quite sure what it tells you to do, but I do think that we should have more of an open-box concept about devices in general. The closed-box concept simply doesn't work for me, I'm too curious about how things work. Anyway, replacing stuff doesn't feel as good as fixing them. The link to the schematic tutorial is below.

Find Schematics for Everything

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Introducing... ME!

   Just to introduce myself and let everybody know what I want to do in this world. My name is Nathan, I am currently working on my last semester of an Electromechanical Associate Degree. I've been wanting to apply myself to new things lately, and have been working on just what I want to do, and how to do it.
   I have a drive to change the world, because I really do care. I'm interested in advances in technology, and I'm interested in doing things myself as cheap as dirt. I realize the compromises that that takes, but am willing to take the time to make those happen. 
   To me, green and sustainable are not dirty words. Alternatives make for a good backup plan if nothing else. With a little sense, they may actually make money for you. Energy efficiency is the best return on investment currently, but solar technology may actually catch up (especially grid-tied systems). 
   I've been on the lookout for interesting electronics projects, and if I find the right one, I may actually pay for the stuff to make it. I'll keep you posted.