Thursday, December 3, 2020

Chrome Sharing Hub

Chrome Sharing Hub
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Sharing on Android

Share functionality on Android has been something of a mess, in that picking a Share target has been clumsy and painful. With Android 10, Google made significant improvements, although it's buggy in that the wrong target app is sometimes launched if you select too quickly (a problem that persists in Android 11).*

Meanwhile, possibly due to that clumsiness, the Chrome team has been working on its own Share solution, called Sharing Hub, and has now rolled it out widely.

What's Wrong with Sharing Hub?

The Sharing Hub provides an array of sharing targets at the bottom of the screen, which sounds like a good idea, except there are a number of problems:

  • The array of targets cannot be customized (as of this writing at least). That's only fine if you just want the sharing target choices made by Google.
  • If you want some other sharing target, you have to first scroll to the right, then select the More overflow menu to open the standard Android Share menu.
  • Opening the standard Android Share menu thus takes two extra selections, which is clumsy and painful, especially if you do it frequently.
  • Opening the standard Android Share menu also takes more time that slows things down, making it doubly clumsy and painful.

How To Disable Sharing Hub

Fortunately, Chrome Sharing Hub can be disabled, leaving just the standard Android Share menu:
  1. In Chrome, open
  2. Change the option to

* Work-around for the wrong target app bug is to scroll the standard Android Share menu up before making a selection.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Recommended VPN 2020

Update to Secure Wi-Fi with VPN

What is VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a service that allows you to connect to the Internet via an encrypted connection to ensure your online privacy and protect your sensitive data. VPNs are commonly used to secure connections to public Wi-FI hotspots, hide IP addresses and make your browsing private. In addition, VPN can make it possible to get around geographic blocking, such as accessing Canadian and British content from the USA (and USA content from Europe). I strongly recommend use of VPN, particularly on public networks (e.g., Starbucks Wi-Fi).

I had been using and recommending AirVPN, but it has eliminated all but one server local to me, and that server has not always been reliable. (Servers in other locations are not as fast due to extra distance.) So I undertook a through analysis of other VPN providers, and my new recommendation is Surfshark. In addition to excellent service and support, Surfshark is also (currently) a bargain, at only $47.76 for 2 years of service, less than $2 per month, with 30-day full refund.


  1. I get no commission for recommending Surfshark.
  2. During the Olympics, I use VPN to access Canadian coverage (by connecting through a Canadian VPN server), which is far superior to coverage here in the USA. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Choosing a Wireless Router 2019

TP-LINK Archer C8
Checklist for Wireless Networking

Very Important

  1. Don't settle for a "wireless gateway"
    A "wireless gateway" is an all-in-one device that combines a modem (cable or DSL) with a wireless router. They tend to be mediocre, poor performers, especially those supplied by Internet providers.
    1. Insist on a pure modem. Buy your own separate wireless router.
    2. Make sure the modem is configured in "bridge" (not routing) mode. Otherwise you can have "double NAT" problems.


  1. Simultaneous Dual Band
    The low 2.4 GHz band, commonly found in consumer-grade devices, is increasingly crowded, which can severely limit performance. The high 5 GHz band tends to be much less crowded, and will often provide much better performance. But don't just get a single band 5 GHz device, since some wireless devices only support 2.4 GHz, and avoid dual band devices with a single radio that can only work on one band at a time. In other words, not just dual band, but simultaneous dual band.
  2. AC1750 (Wi-Fi 5)
    The current baseline for good Wi-Fi is AC1750 (Wi-Fi 5), 450 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band plus 1300 Mbps on the 5GHz band. AC1900 and up can provide improved range and speed, but may not be needed in many cases.
  3. Gigabit Ethernet
    Although Fast (100 Mbps) Ethernet is comparable in real world performance to 300 Mbps wireless (actual wireless performance is usually much less than the advertised maximum), Gigabit (1000 Mbps) Ethernet provides much faster wired networking for not much more money and is otherwise good "future proofing".

Nice To Have

  1. Guest feature
    A guest feature is a separate wireless network for guests that lets them connect to the Internet but not to any of your own networked devices. It's a bad idea to give guests access to your own network.
  2. USB
    USB can be used to attach USB storage or USB printer to the wireless router for network access.


    1. ASUS RT-AC86U
      BestAC2900. Outstanding range and performance. High processing power for gigabit throughput. Excellent support.
    2. ASUS RT-AC68U
      Better. AC1900.
    3. ASUS RT-AC66U B1
      Very good
      . AC1750. B1 is improved over original version. All that most people need.
    4. TP-LINK Archer C8
      Best Buy.
       AC1750. All that most people need. 


    1. Update Firmware
      Check the support website for updated firmware before installing, and regularly thereafter (e.g., quarterly).
    2. Don't "cheap out"
      A cheap wireless router can reduce performance due to poor internal routing speed.
    3. Use WPA2 AES Security
      Identity theft is just one of the risks from getting hacked, and WEP "security" is essentially useless. Use a different (and equally strong) password for a Guest network.
    4. Set a Strong Password
      Use a random combination of 12 or more mixed case letters and numbers that you don't use for anything else, and do not use common words, names, numbers, etc.
    5. Don't fool yourself
      Network name (SSID) hiding and MAC address filtering are too easily circumvented to provide even minimal security, and they can lead to network problems, so don't use them.
    6. Network Backup
      Network storage is an excellent way to keep your devices backed up. Highly recommended. (WD My Cloud is a very good alternative to network storage on the wireless router.)
    7. Mesh wireless
      Mesh wireless is all the current rage, but impairs wireless performance. The better way to increase coverage is with wireless access points connected by Ethernet wiring, or by powerline networking where Ethernet is impractical. If mesh must be used, ASUS AiMesh can work well with a pair of wireless routers.

     See Also

    Tuesday, September 25, 2018

    Memory Card for GoPro

    Samsung EVO Plus microSDXC
    Which memory cards are good for GoPro HERO action cameras?

    Many professional photographers and videographers swear by SanDisk Extreme and Lexar Professional memory cards because they have proven to be tops in reliability and performance.

    But as of September 2018, arguably the best card for GoPro HERO (and for most other devices) is the Samsung EVO Plus (2017 Model). With Class 10 U3 speed (up to 100MB/s Read and 60MB/s Write), the 64GB capacity (with adapter) is widely available for only $21.

    For reliability and performance, format cards with the official SD Association Memory Card Formatter.

    Counterfeit cards are a huge problem. To protect against counterfeits, always (a) buy from a major reputable reseller like B&H, and (b) test before use with H2testw 1.4. Example of testing a 64GB Samsung EVO Plus in a Lenovo ThinkPad T460p:
    Test finished without errors.
    Writing speed: 57.7 MByte/s
    Reading speed: 70.2 MByte/s
    H2testw v1.4
    (After testing with H2testw, be sure to either delete the test files from the card or format the card.)

    Thursday, March 1, 2018

    FZ1000 No Limit Video

    Lumix DMC-FZ1000
    The Lumix DMC-FZ1000 by Panasonic is a terrific digital camera for stills, thanks in part to an amazing Leica branded long zoom lens, but what really sets it apart is excellent 4K video, except for one unfortunate limitation: the length of a video clip is limited to 29:59 (30 minute limit, thanks to an EU tariff, even on a USA camera).

    One way around the limitation is to feed video while monitoring (not recording) over HDMI to an external recorder like Atomos.

    Another way, not documented by Panasonic, is to hack the FZ1000 into service mode with the following procedure:
    1. Start with the FZ1000 turned off, with Drive Mode dial set to Single, and Recording Mode dial set to Program AE (P).
    2. While holding down Right Cursor, DISP, and AF/AE LOCK (yes, all 3), switch the camera on.
    3. Press green Play button to enter Playback Mode.
    4. While holding down Up Cursor and AF/AE LOCK (2 things), switch the camera off.
    5. Switch the camera back on.


    1. PAL cameras must be switched to NTSC frame rates to remove the recording limit. (This is not needed on NTSC cameras.) Format memory cards in the camera after making this switch.
    2. Recording limit is removed only for 4K video, not HD or other video formats.
    3. Yellow exclamation mark that appears when turning off the camera in service mode can be ignored safely.
    4. With this hack, FZ1000 is able to continuously record over 80 minutes of 4K video on a 64 GB SDXC card, ending with 2 of 3 bars battery (when starting with a fully charged battery).
    5. This hack reportedly also works for a number of other Lumix cameras with the 29:59 limit.

    Reset to normal mode:

    1. Start with the FZ1000 turned on, with Drive Mode dial set to Single, and Recording Mode dial set to Program AE (P).
    2. While holding down Right Cursor and MENU/SET (2 things right next to each other), switch the camera off.
    3. When the menu appears, press Right Cursor until the camera actually turns off.
    4. Camera has now been fully reset to normal mode with all settings restored to defaults, so must be initialized again (language, date, time, etc).

    Helpful videos:

    Tuesday, February 27, 2018

    Transcode with VLC

    VLC as a Recorder
    In addition to being a great way to play video and audio content, VLC is also a great way to record Internet streams (e.g., radio) -- see Record Internet Radio.

    MP3 streams are the simplest to record because they can just be dumped to a "raw" file, but that often won't work with other types of streams. The solution is to transcode (convert) streams into MP3 format with VLC before writing them to a "raw" file. It's also a good way to reduce the bitrate of MP3 streams for speech.

    Example of VLC output without transcoding:

    Corresponding example with transcoding for speech
    (bitrate 48 Kbps, stereo, speech sample rate):

    Corresponding example with transcoding for music
    (bitrate 128 Kbps, stereo, music sample rate):

    For the complete recording procedure, see Record Internet Radio.

    Monday, January 23, 2017

    TASCAM DR-40 Input Level

    TASCAM DR-40
    One of the best affordable digital audio recorders is the TASCAM DR-40, capable of producing audio recordings that are far superior to recordings made by most digital cameras and camcorders. Dubbing DR-40 audio into recorded video in post production with software like Adobe Premiere is a great way to produce quality video output.

    One of the keys to making good audio recordings is to set the input level properly. Set it too high and clipping can result in distorted audio. Set it too low and the result can be noisy when amplified to normal listening levels.

    A feature that sets the DR-40 apart from the competition is Dual Recording Mode, which makes a secondary recording at a lower level (at an adjustable difference of -6db to -12db) as a backup in case the primary recording is accidentally clipped into distortion.

    Here's a simple, effective way to set DR-40 input level properly when using Dual Mode:
    1. Set initial input level to 80.
    2. Adjust input level during testing or rehearsal for peak value of -6db (as shown on the display), with an average level of about -12db (triangular hash mark on the display), which will usually provide sufficient headroom (safety margin).
    3. Set Dual Mode at -9db. In the case where input level has accidentally been set too high for the primary recording, that will usually provide proper headroom for the backup recording.
    4. Before dubbing with video in post production, check peak recorded level of the primary recording, and if it did run out of headroom (higher than about -3db), use the backup recording instead.
    General recommendations for quality recordings:
    • Record in (lossless) WAV format.
    • Use a sampling rate of at least 48 kHz, preferably 96 kHz for music.
    • Use 24 bit depth.
    These settings may be more than you need for finished video, but you may well need extra margin in post production, so you should capture as much quality as possible. Because these settings can result in large files, make sure you have a sufficiently large memory card of high quality (e.g., SanDisk, Lexar Professional).

    Sunday, January 1, 2017

    VLC for Fire TV

    Amazon Fire TV stick 2016 with VLC

    Stream wireless audio/video to TV from computer!
    Plays virtually any valid file format!
    Excellent quality video, audio, sync, even subtitles!

    Several good network video streaming solutions are available (see Wireless HDTV Video) with the primary purpose of delivering content from the Internet, but streaming of local content (cell phone video, camera video, and other files) tends to be more difficult, often involving server software (e.g., Plex) on a computer, a problem for less technical users.

    What tends to work better for most people is a TV-centric (client-centric) solution rather than a server-centric solution, where the TV is used to select and play content files. That's now possible with the advent of VLC Media Player for Amazon Fire TV and stick. VLC is an excellent free and open source app that can handle virtually any valid file format.

    Installing VLC can be a bit tricky since VLC for Fire is not yet listed in the Amazon Appstore on the new 2016 Amazon Fire TV stick, which means you have to sideload VLC for Android (on which Fire TV is based):
    1. Download the latest ARMv7 of VLC for Android here.
      (Look for small APK package link below Play and Fire buttons.)
    2. Follow the instructions in How to Sideload Fire TV Apps.
      (If you have an Android phone, that method is probably the easiest.)
    The second part of the process is to enable file sharing on a Windows and/or Mac computer, and share folders in which you will place files for streaming by VLC on your Fire TV.
    To play files from your Fire TV:
    1. Start the VLC app.
    2. Select Browsing.
    3. Select Local Network.
    4. Select source network device (computer, network storage).
    5. Navigate to the audio or video file you want to play.
    If you need help, try VLC for Android and Chrome OS Forum.

    Tip: Fire TV is a great way to "cut the cord" (cable) with the excellent Sony PlayStation Vue service.

    Thursday, July 21, 2016

    Android Earphones King

    Xiaomi Mi In-Ear Headphones Pro
    There's a new king!

    Earphones with Mic for Android recommended:
    But, good as they are, the Xiaomi Mi In-Ear Headphones Pro is better than Klipsch but even less expensive than Sony! In fact it is better than any earphones this blog has tried under $100. Sound quality is stunning!
    • Hybrid dual drivers: dynamic for bass, balanced armature for treble
    • Metal sound chamber machined by CNC
    • MEMS microphone reduces noise interference on calls
    • 3-button remote for calls, music, and volume
    • Kevlar fiber cable for durability
    • TFE end section minimizes microphonics (clothing noise)
    • Comfortable fit and good isolation with multiple eartip sizes
    • Tuned by Grammy award winning tuner Luca Bignardi


    To avoid counterfeits (a serious problem), buy from:

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016

    Windows Monitor Calibration Issue

    Calibrating your monitor is important because most monitors are not calibrated by the manufacturer, and do not display accurate color. See Calibrate Your Monitor.

    But even after you've calibrated your monitor, it may not display accurate color, especially if you are running Microsoft Windows and have uninstalled the calibration software.

    If you research this issue you're likely to be told that Windows doesn't load the calibration CLUT (Color Look-Up Table) properly, and advised to keep calibration software installed. But even then your monitor may not stay calibrated, shifting between calibrated and uncalibrated for no apparent reason. The truth is that monitor calibration can be made to work properly under Windows if you take the necessary steps:
    1. Stop Losing Display Calibration with Windows 7 details how to configure Windows to use a calibration color profile. But that may work for you at first, only to shift back again. Something may seem to be fighting with Windows. If so, check the article again, and see the note regarding Intel display drivers, which will lead you to:
    2. Intel’s Video Drivers Kill Display Calibration, which explains how Intel interferes with display calibration, and how to solve the problem by disabling the Intel Persistence module. If you use Sysinternals Autoruns to disable Persistence, your monitor should then stay calibrated even without calibration software installed!