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Netflix streaming playback speed and hidden menus
Posted on 05-16-2015 19:41:47 UTC | Updated on 05-17-2015 17:35:20 UTC
Section: /software/chrome/ | Permanent Link

Netflix and playback speed

I have always been interested in Netflix streaming, but I could not get over not being able to adjust the playback speed. That and the movie selection stinks (out of 159 titles in my queue only 40 are available to be streamed). I still tried streaming for 30 days and really liked some of the original content Netflix had. During that time I did not find any native way to adjust the playback speed in their html5 player. This really stinks as I am used to watching video with Vlc, YouTube, and MythTV all of which allow for playback speed adjustment up to 2x. It is hard to watch anything at lower speeds anymore. After a bit more searching I finally found a way to change the playback speed in Netflix streaming video.

Chrome extension Video Speed Controller

After much searching I found an Google Chrome extension called Video Speed Controller, which allows for the speedup of html5 video streams in the browser. Netflix has an html5 player so this works with Netflix streams. Hooray!! The speedup stream does not have any buffering issues and I've watched many things on with 2x playback without issue. Unfortunately you can't use this anywhere other than the browser. Come on Netflix please add playback speed adjust to all of your players on all platforms!!!

Performance at higher speeds

Beware that when speeding up video you will need to make sure your video card can handle the higher frame rates. When I stream a video file from local storage with a local program like Vlc at 2x, it is very smooth, without much jitter or video tearing. When streaming content from Netflix or YouTube or other sites using this browser plugin you are using the browser as the video player, and it might not be as clean of an experience. You might notice some more jitter in the video and some frame tearing on fast moving scenes. This usually happens if your hardware can't keep up rendering the video or if hardware acceleration is not enabled.

Chrome hardware acceleration

My testing for this is being done on Linux with Google Chrome using the accelerated Nvidia Drivers with a GeForce GT 520 a video card from 2011. What I had to do to get rid of the jitter and tearing is turn hardware acceleration on in Chrome. Google seems to be very careful about whether or not they turn on hardware acceleration. They usually don't turn it on unless they know for sure it will work. Mine was not turned on even though I had a video card that supported acceleration and the correct drivers. Chromes detection of this might not be the best or Google did not think the drivers for this were stable enough. What is great is you can turn this on anyways and it works great.

Turn on hardware acceleration in Chrome

To see if your hardware acceleration is already turned on or not type "chrome://gpu" in your Chrome URL bar. If it's turned off you will likely see lots of red text indicating so. Look for "Video decode" and see if it says "Disabled". If so you will need to turn it on. If it says "Hardware accelerated" then your good and can skip the rest of this paragraph. To turn on the hardware acceleration in the Chrome URL bar type "chrome://flags". The first setting says "Override software rendering list". Click the "Enable" to turn on the override. Then restart Chrome. Go back to "chrome://gpu" and see if it says "Video decode: Hardware accelerated". If so go try to watch a movie again or a YouTube video and it should be much smoother and likely have less tearing. If you don't have less tearing, go into your video driver config and make sure you have Sync to VBlank enabled. Mine is in my Nvidia X server settings manager then under "OpenGL settings"-> Performance. Check the box "Sync to VBlank".

Other neat Netflix streaming things

Netflix provides some hidden menus for stats and changing bit rates of your streams. Here are some different ones to try.I tried these using Chrome on Linux. They all worked for me.

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Disabling GNU Screen lock screen
Posted on 03-28-2015 20:05:10 UTC | Updated on 04-01-2015 23:30:01 UTC
Section: /software/screen/ | Permanent Link

Lock screen

For the impatient or TLDR ... Put: export LOCKPRG='/bin/true' in your .bashrc. Kill all screen sessions and start a new one. Ctrl-a x should now do nothing. Also, a nice fellow named Brian suggested I just unbind the x key. I thought it was a good idea. Just put "bind ^x" and "bind x" in your .screenrc. Lot's of different ways to do the same thing. Re-binding is the better way though.

I have been using GNU Screen for a while now. I usually create multiple new windows (Ctrl-a c) every day. Then I flip back and forth between the multiple screens (Ctrl-a n) or just toggle between the last 2 windows used (Ctrl-a a). Sometimes my finger slips and I hit Ctrl-a x which provides you with a password prompt. This is GNU Screen's lockscreen function.

Normal and not so normal

Normally you just enter your user password and the screen will unlock. Screen is using /local/bin/lck or /usr/bin/lock by default. This is all fine and dandy if you have a user account password to enter. If you have servers that only use SSH keys and don't use passwords you will have no valid password to enter. In other words you are stuck at this lock screen. One way around it is to login to the same machine and re-attach to the same screen session (normally "screen -r" if you have only 1 session open). Then kill the session with the lock screen. This is annoying to have to do.

Disabling lock screen

I wanted to be able to just disable the lockscreen setting and be done with this. Looking at the man page it shows there is no option to turn this off. So you have to go around it in a way. The way I found to do this on machines without user passwords is to disable the terminal lock program by setting the environment variable LOCKPRG to "/bin/true". For BASH put export LOCKPRG='/bin/true' in your .bashrc. Kill all screen sessions and start a new one. Ctrl-a x should now do nothing.

Warning about disabling LOCKPRG

For security sake be careful about disabling your LOCKPRG. /bin/true disables all terminal screen locking, so if you use some program that uses whatever is in the LOCKPRG variable it essentially disables it.

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Pantz.org now with https
Posted on 11-10-2014 00:26:04 UTC | Updated on 11-10-2014 00:39:02 UTC
Section: /software/http/ | Permanent Link

It is my pleasure to announce that Pantz.org can now be accessed in a more secure manner. Why add this now? What needed to happen to make this a viable option? Why can't some users access the secure site? Read on to find out.

Why not offer secure connections sooner?

The major reason I did not switch over to https sooner was that Google needed to support secure connections to their Ad servers. Late last year Google finally added the ability to serve up their Ads via SSL/TLS. I was not going to offer access to my site while the Ads could only be served up via standard http.

If you try to serve up external content (Ads) from your secure site, and that content is unencrypted you get nasty messages from browsers about the site having mixed content. The messages are very intrusive and ugly. By Google switching Adsense to https that ugliness goes away. All connections from the site could now go out securely via SSL/TLS.

The second reason I decided to do it was Google starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. I know these reasons are very Google centric, but the Ads pay for the site.

What type of cert did you get?

I wanted to choose one of the most secure types of certs I could for use on Pantz.org. This lead me to choose a ECDSA (Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm) with a SHA-256 certificate signing request. I got the cert from Comodo. Comodo offers ECDSA certificates signed by the Elliptical Curve DSA all the way up to the built in, browser trusted, Comodo ECC Root Certificate. This makes Comodo one the only CA's to offer a pure ECC certificate chain.

How did you get this whole mess configured?

That was the easy part. Our friends over at Calomel.org have a great tutorial on the how to perform the whole process. It's so indepth I don't even need to do a tutorial here like normal.

Why can't I get to your secure site

https has evolved over the years. SSL v2 came out in 1995. V3 came out in 1996. The successor to SSL is TLS. TLS 1.0 was defined in RFC 2246 in January 1999. TLS 1.1 was defined in 2006. TLS 1.2 was defined in 2008. Over the years weakness have shown up in the early SSL v2-3 protocols. These weaknesses make attacks more viable. Because of these weaknesses I have decided to disable SSL connections to Pantz.org.

Ciphers have also had attacks levied against them over the years. Some of cipher types have shown up with weaknesses are RC4 and DES. Because of these weaknesses I have disabled the use of DES and RC4 on Pantz.org.

By turning off SSL connections and not using RC4 or DES as an encryption type there are some people that will not be able to get to the secure Pantz.org site. The majority of people that will have this issue are people are using old Operating Systems and old browsers. Mainly this will likely be people trying to use Internet Explorer 6 to access the secure site or people trying to access the site with Windows XP on certain configurations. There are a few combinations of Windows XP and some browsers that work with TLS 1.0 (IE 8 and WinXP SP3), but many combos just don't. Even MS does not support XP anymore so upgrade.

Don't worry you still have http

There is nothing on Pantz.org needs a secure connection, so if you have issues connecting to the secure site just use the http version. It's as simple as that.

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