Monthly Archives: October 2014

Mixed Up My First Batch of People Chow

…and it was pretty messy.

I mixed up some of the ingredients last night to prepare for when I got the final ingredient I needed today (the Whey Protein Isolate) in a blender. I didn’t add any oil or water to the mix. This was the first mistake.

My blender only fits about 5 1/2 cups of liquid. Adding all the ingredients minus the water used about 4 cups of that space, and trying to blend through all that powder doesn’t work.

I added some water to the top of the mix, stirred as much of it as I could, then transferred a bit over to another container. I continued to do this until the container was about half-full. By that time, I was also able to use the blender to mix the remaining ingredients with some water.

I added a bit of water to the container, and shook it to try to mix the clumps that were in it, and then transferred what was left in the blender into it. The mix took up the entire container. So I transferred some of it back to the blender, blended it, and put it back into the container, and repeated this process a few times. A tiny bit of People Chow was lost during this process (a bit spilled over the side).

Eventually I ended up with what I believe is an evenly-mixed batch of People Chow. I sat it in the fridge to allow it to settle for a bit, so I’ll see how it turned out later; should be pretty interesting. It has a bit of a smoothie-like texture to it.

For the next batch, I plan on using a 2-gallon container; that should give plenty of room for shake-mixing the ingredients together, and allow me to experiment with different levels of water.

For anyone who doesn’t know what People Chow is, it’s a popular DIY soylent recipe designed to be nutrient-complete. It’s basically everything you need nutrient-wise (for the most part; body builders may want to add more protein, but you’re free to modify it however you want really), put into a convenient drink mixture. It’s designed to be inexpensive as well.

And for anyone who wants more information on official Soylent, you can check it out here. Once they get the handling time handled, I would love to order some to try it out.

Got NTKTV Running in Linux!

I’m currently studying Japanese. I’m nowhere near good enough yet to understand Japanese media without subtitles, but I still like trying to watch in hopes that I’ll pick up on a few words or something.

I came across an archive containing what seems to be an unrestricted version of NTKTV, containing access to several channels. It’s coded in Java also, but it expects Windows, Command Prompt, and Windows Media Player to be present.

When I initially tried running the .jar file for the TBS channel on Linux, it refused to download the video. I couldn’t quite figure out why this was happening, so I figured I would try a different approach. I used some program to decompile the .jar, and after a little bit of searching, I eventually found a URL.

The URL in the TBS channel lead to which contains a mms address, followed by a list of available video files. So with that in-mind, I just took the mms address + a video file, and put that address into VLC media player.

This method worked, but it was not reliable. Sometimes it would work, but most of the times VLC would complain about not being able to find the file. When it did work though, it would work without issue for a few hours. This also led me to create a playlist, and in this playlist, I queued up an entire day’s worth of video. Was relatively easy to do since the video files all follow a certain format (TBS01_20141022_1800.asf = TBS01 (channel) + YYYY-MM-DD + Hour). If I recall correctly, this allowed for seamless playback of media from NTKTV’s server. This method of streaming got more unreliable as time went on, and I eventually just gave up on it, and continued to use the .jar file on Windows for some time.

I decided to check a forum thread about methods for streaming Japanese TV again a little bit ago, and saw that someone mentioned they had gotten NTKTV working on OS X (but they didn’t bother to post how). I replied to another post about why it didn’t work on Linux, and an idea hit me.

The way NTKTV works is, it downloads a small chunk of the video from the server to the OS’s temp folder, opens up Windows Media Player, and then continues to download the rest of the video in the background, while WMP plays it back. The issue on Linux however was that the video refused to start downloading at all.

When starting the .jar file in Terminal, I noticed a os_temp: line (which I somehow missed months ago). This line by-default led to /tmp/. My user account however does not have RW access to this folder, and I imagine this is the reason why the .jar couldn’t initiate the download. So the idea here was to change where Java should throw temporary files.

With a little bit of searching, I came across this page, which mentioned the command java I simply added that to the command I was using, and lo and behold, NTKTV’s app downloaded files just fine.

Playback is fine with mpv 🙂

My next objective is to figure out how to get my Chromecast involved. Was easy in Windows; just relied on VLC’s browser plugin, casted the tab, and threw the .asf into Chrome. Now that NPAPI plugin support is gone from Chrome in Linux however, the plugin no longer works.

Edit: Videostream seems to do a great job. It can also handle video files that are still downloading in the background too.

And for anyone curious, the full command I use to set the tmp directory and launch the .jar file is: java -jar ‘/home/espionage724/Videos/ntktv/Kantofixed/TBS.jar’

My Terrible RMA Experience With ASRock

This is my first attempt at doing an RMA with ASRock, and it may very well be the last time I do business with them.

A couple of months back, I was looking to purchase a new motherboard, as the BIOSTAR A880G+ I had was starting to show it’s age, along with not having too much room for future upgrades. The main features I was looking into when deciding on what motherboard to purchase were:

– AM3+
– Support for AMD’s highest-end FX processors (at the time).

There was a decent motherboard from MSI I had my eye on, but due to reviews, it seemed to of had mixed reviews on higher-end FX processor compatibility. So that’s when I settled for the ASRock 970 Extreme3 motherboard. At the time of purchase, this motherboard on ASRock’s product page had listed support for the FX-8350.

So I get the motherboard, and all is well for a couple of months. I finally got enough money gathered up, and decided I wanted to get that FX-8350 I planned on buying. I wanted to see how good this motherboard was with overclocking higher-end FX processors, so I went to check out some reviews from other people. That’s when the problems began.

To my surprise, there were plenty of mixed-results about how the FX-8350 performed on the 970 Extreme3. There were reviews ranging from the processor working fine at stock clocks, throttling under load, not having much overclocking room, down to the motherboard just not posting at all (to be fair, I’m pretty sure a BIOS update could resolve posting issues). I also noticed a review that said that ASRock removed the processor support note for the FX-8350.

I had to see it for myself, so I went over to ASRock’s product page, and sure enough, the FX-8350 was no longer on the support list for the 970 Extreme3. I didn’t think ASRock would originally list support for that processor without first checking it for themselves,so I decided to contact their tech support and inquire more into the matter.

The tech I spoke to was pretty helpful. He explained that the FX-8350 draws a large amount of power, and thus generates a good bit of heat. Depending on the environment, this could cause the VRM chips to overheat, and cause the processor to throttle. He also recommended that if I were to buy such a processor, to put a chassis fan over the VRM area to help prevent such overheating. So, turns out the processor would “work”, but not as ideally as I was originally led to believe.

I asked if I could exchange the motherboard for one that had true FX-8350 compatibility, and was told that customer support would contact me within 24-hours. Sadly, that’s the extent of how great ASRock’s customer support seems to be.

Five days have passed, and I haven’t heard from customer support yet. I send an email to the tech I was speaking to stating I would call up customer support later that day, and asked if he had a reference number or something. He said to just let them know I already spoke to tech support so they don’t redirect back to them. Seemed slightly sketchy that they don’t just communicate better, but alright.

Called up ASRock’s customer service, and eventually was able to speak to a person. I explained my situation fully along with mentioning I spoke to tech support already, and was told that I would receive an email with instructions to begin the RMA process. No problem; got the email a short time later, filled it out (once again detailing my situation fully), and also asked that the replacement motherboard be a Fatal1ty 990FX Killer (may of been a bit greedy with that request), but also said that it was ultimately up to them to decide what I get. At the least, I expected the 970 Extreme3 R2.0 board, which does advertise FX-8350 compatibility.

Two days go by and I haven’t heard anything. I call up customer support again, and can’t get a hold of the original person I spoke to. Was able to talk to another representative though, and I re-explained my situation. He then told me to email him a copy of the RMA request form along with the invoice. I sent it over, and waited a bit, but since I didn’t hear anything with the first request, I decided to call-in again just to confirm they can receive the emails. Was able to confirm they got the email that time.

Later on that day I get approved for the RMA, and get sent instructions as to how to send the motherboard. I send off the motherboard, and it gets to ASRock about six days later.

Three days pass, and I haven’t heard anything more from customer support, so I send them an email. Didn’t hear anything back that same day, but the next day I call them up and ask about it. Was told that it would take some time to test a new motherboard to verify it works, and was also told that I would be emailed when they shipped it out with a tracking number. I thought everything would be fine after that, so I just decided to wait until I got my new motherboard.

Eleven days pass now, without any updates from ASRock as to when they would ship my new motherboard. Getting concerned, I decide to try to call up ASRock today and ask what was going on, but was only able to get their general mailbox (during office hours). I went off to do some other things, and to my surprise, a package from FedEx arrives. Checked it out, and it was from ASRock. Was strange they didn’t even bother giving me an email that they shipped the thing, but that was fine, because I finally got the motherboard.

I open the box up, and noticed the motherboard looked awfully familiar. Looked at it up and down in full detail, and confirmed it was the same model (but not the same exact) motherboard that I sent in originally. I was baffled by this discovery, but then I thought that maybe ASRock just modified the board in some way to meet my original request (which was to get a new motherboard that could truly handle the FX-8350 processor). I called up ASRock once again just to see if this was the case.

The customer support representative I spoke to wasn’t entirely helpful, just said that I should have received a replacement motherboard. I asked if it was modified in any way, and she offered to transfer me to the tech that handled the RMA request. I accepted the offer, and was put on hold for about 5-10 minutes before the customer support rep came back and said that the tech was busy, and asked if I wanted to wait (with no ETA), or just get a call back from the tech. I took the latter, and went off to do other things.

Got a call back later in the day from the tech, and explained my situation yet again. The tech however didn’t seem to care, and along with stating “the FX-8350 won’t work on that motherboard” also threw the assumption that I “just wanted a free motherboard”. Seriously? Why was my RMA request even accepted if it wasn’t even going to be honored? He also said I could just pay the difference for a new motherboard, but wasn’t aware of any pricing or anything. I re-explained the situation again, and he put me on hold to talk to customer support. Was on hold for about 5 minutes before a customer support rep came on the line and without apologizing, told me that they could do an exchange for the 970 Extreme3 R2.0 board, but I had to send the original customer support rep I spoke to my new motherboard’s serial number (you would think they would just know). Was also told that I had to ship the motherboard I received back to them first too.

I’m not made of money. I paid to ship the motherboard to ASRock originally, and expected them to honor my RMA request, and they didn’t. So along with wasting my time, I now have to pay for shipping once again to give them the motherboard back? I sent the email with the serial number, and also requested a prepaid shipping label, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they denied such a request.

There is some serious lack-of communication down in ASRock America’s office, and it’s not something I would want anyone to have to deal with. I’ll still be keeping in-contact with ASRock to get this ordeal settled (and will update here accordingly), but I won’t be purchasing from them in the future, or recommending them to others. This was probably my most frustrating RMA process yet.

Update: I have detailed the rest of the experience over on reddit and pastebin. It’s been a bit of time since the ordeal, so I’m not certain I can really detail how the rest of the experience played out like I did here up until now without essentially copy and pasting. To quickly sum-up as to what happened though, ASRock sent me a prepaid label (with some difficulty), dropped contact for a while once again, then told me I had to pay $50 to upgrade my board out of nowhere. Ended up calling back later to decline, and they told me they couldn’t do the paid upgrade anyway, so there was wasted effort all around. Got the BBB involved (led nowhere except another negative mark on ASRock America’s BBB profile), and Newegg involved (with a bit of pushing, they agreed in the end to refund my motherboard, but I had already gotten rid of it).

My advice is to not buy products from ASRock. They don’t check their hardware to be fully compatible with components they state, and they clearly don’t have the customer’s best interest in-mind. I can also say the two motherboards I’ve owned from ASRock were pretty questionable quality-wise too. I had a Fatal1ty H97 Killer (relatively newer board), and the board was incredibly flexible in the middle.

Story of my Gateway VX1120 and Custom Refresh Rates on Windows and Linux

A few months ago I picked up a Gateway VX1120 from a computer store in town for $5, not knowing if it would work or not. I was always a fan of CRT monitors, and seeing something of this size, I had to jump on it.

Got it home, plugged it in, and found out that it worked fine. Instantly replaced the Acer S201HL I was using without regrets. Colors were more vibrant, and animations are much smoother (one of my favorite things to do when switching from LCD to CRT is to move a window across my desktop to observe the smoothness). Plus the resolutions available were extensive, so I was sure I could find the right resolution to use daily. The other CRT monitors I have in the house were limited to around 1024×768, or something slightly higher at a lower refresh rate, so they weren’t too ideal.

After some time, I found that the resolution of 1280×960 suited perfectly as a default resolution. It’s not high enough to make text hard to see, and at the same time, it’s large enough for the desktop not to feel cramped. The highest stock refresh rate for this resolution was 85Hz, which was great and all, but I soon looked into a way to improve that.

On Windows, I used a tool called Custom Resolution Utility (CRU). It allowed me to generate custom resolutions and refresh rates. I wanted to run at 120Hz just to be able to claim I had such a monitor, so that was the first refresh rate I tried. It didn’t work; and the monitor complained about the frequency being out-of-range.

After a little bit of research, I found that my horizontal scan frequency could go as high as 121kHz. So going by that, I then had the idea to keep trying resolutions with CRU until my horizontal scan frequency was just under that limit. Lucky me, 119Hz seemed to have worked fine.

So in Windows, the refresh rate wasn’t too hard to handle. Things got a bit more interesting when I went over to Linux however. I use an AMD Radeon HD 7850 graphics card (this specifically), so I have the choice of either using AMD’s proprietary driver (fglrx), or the open-source drivers. The refresh rate on my screen however seems to act differently depending on which driver I use though.

If I recall correctly, I was able to use the CVT-generated 119Hz with fglrx without issue (it’s been a while since I used fglrx with this monitor), but this wasn’t the case with the open-source driver.

Looking back at cvt, I noticed that my hsync value was 122.59 for 119Hz. Definitely over the 121kHZ limit, so then I tried going to 118Hz. It ended up at 121.45, which was still over the limit. I wasn’t sure if 121kHZ was a hard limit, so I added the refresh rate and tried it anyway. Both 119Hz and 118Hz failed to work; so I tried 117Hz. Got the hsync value of 120.31, which was safely under the limit, and worked fine.

I’m unsure how CRU and cvt generate the numbers they do, but a comparison at some point would be a great idea, whenever I find the time to do so.

So far, this monitor is still working great, and I have no plans of replacing it anytime soon, unless I go back to my standing desk setup.