Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Los Angeles Roof TV Antenna for VHF/UHF

Cutting The Cord

This year I finally cut the cord and got rid of my DISH satellite TV service which saves me about $50 per month! I've had the service for many years just to get the basic local channels like CBS, ABC, NBC, and FOX.  My plan was to replace DISH with a digital antenna so I could get all of those channels for free.  In this post, I'll share the model of the antenna that worked for me here on the west side of Los Angeles.

Antennas

Finding the right antenna proved to be more difficult that I thought it would be.  I first started with an indoor VHF/UHF antenna, the NorthVu NV20 Pro AMPd, that I got from Tablo's website.  Tablo is an Over the Air (OTA) DVR company.  Long term, I was contemplating buying one of their DVR's so I figured it would be good to get an antenna they were familiar with.  With this antenna, I was able to get some UHF channels like CBS, but none of the VHF channels like FOX.  I thought that maybe an indoor antenna was not powerful enough for my neighborhood in Los Angeles which is Del Rey 90066.

I shopped on Amazon for a highly-rated outdoor roof antenna and purchased this 1byone 85 Miles VHF/UHF antenna. I borrowed a friend's ladder, got on my roof, mounted this antenna and connected it to the coax cable that was previously connected to my DISH satellite which DISH never came to retrieve. I also plugged in and connected the included power booster behind my TV.  Unfortunately, I got the same result: UHF channels came in perfectly and VHF channels did not work at all.  I have no idea why since the specs for this antenna clearly claim that both VHF and UHF should work.  I ended up returning this antenna to Amazon for a refund.

Next I started Googling for with terms like "missing VHF channels in Los Angeles" and found this web page called Best TV Antenna for Los Angeles, CA Digital TV Stations from an antenna vendor in NY called Denny's Antenna.  The middle of this page described my exact problem:
Note: Some Los Angeles area residents have reported problems receiving KABC 7.1 ABC, KTTV 11.1 FOX, KCOP 13.1 MYTV and KCAL 9.1 IND when using antennas other than the EZ HD or the HD Stacker. This is due to the VHF broadcast signal frequencies in use by these stations and the use of the improper antenna to receive VHF signal frequency. Many of today's antennas (do to smaller antenna size) will not receive VHF signals. The EZ HD and the HD Stacker are designed to provide excellent performance across the entire VHF/UHF frequency spectrum in use in the Los Angeles free to air broadcasting market.
So I immediately ordered their EZ HD antenna.  It arrived at my house in just a few days.  I mounted it on my roof, connected the coax cable, connected a ground wire that was also left over from the previous DISH satellite, and scanned for channels on my TV.  Amazingly, it worked!  I was able to receive all the local channels, both UHF and VHF.  I have no idea why this antenna worked so well.  To be honest, this one felt flimsy and cheaply made compared to the one I bought on Amazon.

Denny's EZ-HD - works in LA

Channel Guide

A list of local channels is easily available online, but I wanted one for my phone so I downloaded the app TV Listings by TV24.  I was amazed how many channels you can get for free over the air.  The TV Listings listings were pretty accurate.

DVR

I look forward to being able to watch local news once in a while or a live event like the Grammy's that is hard to find online.  The next thing I am going to look into is whether I want to purchase a DVR such as Tablo.  A lot of the shows I've been watching are on Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon to which I already subscribe.  It isn't clear yet whether the DVR is necessary.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Chad Lefkowitz-Brown Solo Transcriptions

I am a huge fan of saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown.  I came across one of his videos on Instagram about a year ago and I've been following him ever since.

I recently purchased his book of 15 solo transcriptions by saxophonist and educator Ron Fix.  It's available in physical and digital form. It is fun to play through them and get some insight into how Chad thinks when he improvises.

Interestingly, this is the first transcription book I've ever seen that covers music solely from social media!  Every single one is freely available online on either Chad's YouTube or Instagram feed.

The digital version of the book comes with audio files you can play along to, but it doesn't include links to find each video online.  I combed through Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook to find each one.  That's what I want to share with you in this post so you can both watch and play along.  Happy practicing!

Here they are, listed in the order they appear in the book:


All The Things You Are

Instagram - November 9, 2016



Body And Soul

YouTube - December 8, 2015



Caravan

Instagram - September 27, 2016



Confirmation

Instagram - July 26, 2016



Driftin’

YouTube - February 26, 2014



For All We Know

YouTube - May 17, 2013


Get Lucky

YouTube - October 9, 2013



High High The Moon

Instagram - April 22, 2017



Melodic Cell Lines

Instagram - April 6, 2017

A post shared by Chad Lefkowitz-Brown (@chadlbsax) on


Nature Boy

YouTube - July 28, 2014



On The Sunny Side Of The Street

YouTube - February 16, 2015



Recorda Me

Instagram - August 24, 2016



Sandu

YouTube - July 15, 2013



Struttin’ With Some Barbecue

Facebook - August 4, 2016
Instagram - August 6, 2016



Take The A Train

YouTube - November 18, 2014



There Is No Greater Love

Instagram - November 16, 2016

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

JavaScript Crypto-Mining with CoinHive and JSECoin

In the past, it has been difficult to mine BitCoin (BTC) with JavaScript in a web browser due to massive amount of processing power necessary.  Lately, JavaScript mining solutions for other types of cryptocurrencies have come on the scene. 2 examples are CoinHive and JSECoin.

CoinHive


CoinHive
CoinHive awards miners in Monero (XMR), a crypto currency known for its privacy as compared to BitCoin (BTC). It current trades for about $94 USD per 1 XMR. Once your account reaches the minimum payout of 0.5 XMR (~$47), they will transfer the Monero to a wallet that you have to setup outside of a normal coin exchange.  From there, you can transfer it into an exchange wallet and then ultimately trade it for USD or BTC.  CoinHive can be used as an alternative monetization source to ads.  It can also be used as a CAPTCHA or gate where your user must mine some Monero before being allowed to enter a website. Note that CoinHive currently takes a 30% rev share from the Monero you mine.

Recently some websites have been in the news for deploying CoinHive without making their users aware of it. They have since pulled it down.  Here are some articles about it:

JSECoin

JSECoin
JSECoin describes itself as "cryptocurrency mined by webmasters built for everyone".  JSECoins are supposed to be worth approximately $1 USD right now each, but no one knows the real value until they do an ICO after which point they will be listed on an exchange. Their ICO is planned for Q2 of 2018.  Those who begin to mine JSECoin have no assurances that their rewards will be worth anything.


What the Heck


Since this is all so new and interesting, I have decided to learn more about JavaScript coin mining, and the best way to do that is to jump in and try it.  Therefore, I have installed CoinHive and JSECoin miner code on this blog!  Consider this a warning - visiting this blog may use some of your computer's CPU until you close the page.  I am curious to see what kind of a "CPM" I make to compare with the ad units I'm running.  If you have any experience with JavaScript miners, please comment below.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ubuntu CUPS Driver for Google Cloud Print

On my Ubuntu desktop computer, printing to Google Cloud Print works great when printing from Chrome.  This screenshot shows how I can select my printer, the Brother MFC-J450DW, from the printers I have previously setup in Google Cloud Print.

Google Cloud Print Printer Selection Dialog Box
Google Cloud Print Printer Selection Dialog Box
The problem is being able to select my Google Cloud Print printer from any other printer selection dialog box in Ubuntu.  The answer is to setup a CUPS printer driver that knows how to print to your Google Cloud Print printer.

Fortunately, Niftiest Software has made such a CUPS driver available: CUPS Cloud Print.  According to their website,
CUPS Cloud Print is a Google Cloud Print driver for UNIX-like operating systems ( Linux, Mac OS X , BSDs etc ). It allows any application which prints via CUPS to print to Google Cloud Print directly.
CUPS Clount Print is very easy to install on Ubuntu.  You just add their Personal Package Archive (PPA), apt-get install cupscloudprint, and run the setup script, written in python.  The setup script will prompt you for your Google user account.  Then it generates a link which you visit in your browser.  This will grant access to CUPS Cloud Print at Google and give you an authorization code. Just copy/paste that code when prompted by the setup script, choose an optional prefix for your Google Cloud Print printer names for when they show up as CUPS printers, and you're done.  After this, your Google Cloud Print printers will show up in your Printers settings, and you can choose them from any Ubuntu Print dialog box.

Ubuntu Printer Settings Dialog Box
Ubuntu Printer Settings Dialog Box

Here you can see that my Google Cloud Print printer name was Brother_MFC-J450DW and I told the CUPS Cloud Print setup script to use the prefix GCP-.  The prefix makes it easy to distinguish the Google Cloud Print printers from other printers you may have installed.  As you can see, I don't have any other printer setup besides the Google Cloud Print printers.

It's nice to be able to print easily from anywhere within Ubuntu without ever having to install a proprietary printer driver.  Thanks to Google Cloud Print and Niftiest Software for making this capability freely available!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Send Large Files with Amazon S3 and Groovy


Sometimes you need to send a very large files to people. You could use your email or file sharing service of choice, but they have limits.  For example:

Google Mail - 25 MB limit
Google Drive - 100 GB limit
Dropbox - 2-16 GB limit

Even if your file is within the limit, you don't necessarily want to use those services each time, because it will add up, and eventually you'll run out of space in your account.

You could use services that specialize in sending large files. For example: Hightail, WeTransfer, DropSend, etc. But, you may not trust them with your files or just don't want to bother with creating additional accounts.

I came up with another solution that works well for developers like me that are familiar with using Amazon S3.  With a simple script (I wrote mine in Groovy), I can upload any file from my computer to Amazon S3 and then generate a pre-signed URL that gives access to the file for a certain period of time.  This URL can be IM'd or emailed to anyone so that they can download the file before the URL expires.

Here are the steps to use this script:
  1. Make sure you have an AWS account and a bucket setup in S3.
  2. Download the script from GitHub: UploadToS3AndGenerateSignedUrl.groovy
  3. Modify the global variables:
    • pathToFile
    • bucketName
    • expiresInHours
    • myAccessKeyID,
    • mySecretKey
  4. Run the script:
    • groovy UploadToS3AndGenerateSignedUrl.groovy
  5. Copy the URL that gets printed to stdout. It will look similar to this:
    • https://my-bucket-name.s3.amazonaws.com/myLargeFile.zip?AWSAccessKeyId=12E3AZEDFJQ6CMZW1HG5&Expires=1421887816&Signature=GFQ0LeR%2FtgWWGtXu3cJXspFtKNE%3D
  6. Send the URL to someone else in an email. They can click on it to download the file.
  7. Optionally, use the Amazon S3 Console to remove the file from S3 once the recipient(s) have downloaded the file so that you don't get charged to have it sitting there forever.