Saturday, January 11, 2020

Be wary when renewing your NEXUS card

Google search results may show results such as "www.nexus-card.com" at the top of the search listings. 
These companies are NOT the CBSA - they are private.  They charge $100-$125 on top of the actual government fee of $50 $USD.

You do not need to use such a company to acquire or renew a NEXUS card.  So, that's basically $100 for nothing.

When renewing, be sure you're dealing directly with the government.  Correct renewal link here.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

How to install Kodi advancedsettings.xml file on a Chromebook

On a PC, putting an advancedsettings.xml file in your Kodi directory is easy.  Copy and paste via Windows Explorer, done.

Same for an Android box or tablet.  Copy and paste using "My Files" or anything similar, done.


On a Chromebook, not so much.  Chromebooks hide the OS files.  Copy & paste is not possible.

However, it is possible to put an advancedsettings.xml file into Kodi on a Chromebook.


NOTE: This guide assumes you know how to point Kodi to another device that holds your advancedsettings.xml file, such as a USB stick, external hard drive, internal storage, or whatever.  If you don't know how to do that, go away and find out.

(Hey, you may as well.  You're probably going to need that same info to set up your video sources later.)

Steps:

1.  Make your advancedsettings.xml file. 

Here is a really simple file.  All it does is exclude certain directory names - like "Extras" - from being scanned into the Kodi library.

<advancedsettings>
  <video>

    <excludefromscan>
      <regexp>Extras</regexp>
      <regexp>Featurettes</regexp>
    </excludefromscan>

    <excludetvshowsfromscan>
      <regexp>Extras</regexp>
    </excludetvshowsfromscan>

  </video>
</advancedsettings>


Yes, you could regex the hell out of it.  But it's, like, 12 lines long.

You can obviously modify as you see fit - see the guide here.

 2.  Put it somewhere that is accessible by your Chromebook. 

This location might be:
-  a USB stick
-  an external hard drive
-  an SD card
-  a network location

or whatever.



3.  Go to the Play Store and install Kodi on your Chromebook.

4.  Run Kodi.

5.  Before you do anything else, go to Settings / File Manager.  Guide here.

Why?  Per the wiki:

"The File Manager allows the maintenace of files from within Kodi on platforms that have no underlying and easily accessible operating system."

Sounds like what we need.

6.  On the left-hand side, open "Profile directory".  This is the place where advancedsettings.xml needs to go.

(No, you can't really verify that.  But don't worry, it is the right spot.  And even if it wasn't, you can't really bolix up Kodi or your Chromebook by copying this kind of file to the wrong spot.)

7.  On the right-hand side, open "Add source".  Point it to wherever your "advancedsettings.xml" file currently lives.

Note:  I can't tell you exactly how to do this since it depends on your storage device (USB stick, network, etc.)  If you don't know how to do this, go away and find out, and come back.

7.  Click/tap on your advancedsettings.xml file in the right-hand pane, and hit Copy.

Note: Exactly how you copy depends on your OS (Windows, Android, etc.).  It's done via the "Context" menu, known as the right-click menu under Windows.  Right-clicking on the file name usually works.  For touch devices, press & hold may work.

8.  Change to the left-hand pane, and hit Paste.

Note: Exactly how you paste depends on your OS (Windows, Android, etc.).   Right-clicking in the left-hand pane usually works.  For touch devices, press & hold may work.


That's it - you've copied your advancedsettings.xml into the right Kodi directory.  Restart Kodi and the new settings should be in effect.

You can now go ahead and set up your sources.  The items excluded by your advancedsettings.xml file will naturally be excluded, as intended.



Sunday, November 24, 2019

Comparative performance of Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD / Model A007N

I purchased this lens recently, but am planning to send it back.  Experience is below for anyone considering this lens, or wondering if their copy is good or bad.

Note: this post does not review the "G2" model of this lens.

First informal tests showed up a possible issue.

Caveats:
  • Handheld,  1/1000s or higher, high ISO.
  • No, the sign is not straight. Who cares, look at the results!

0 - Uncropped example shot

f/2.8

f/3.2

f/3.5

f/4.0

f/4.5

f/5.0

f/5.6

f/6.3

 
f/7/1
Yes, I know DOF plays a part.  But still obviously a possible issue.


So, on to more rigorous testing, below.

Note: I am aware it is not fair to compare a zoom against primes, a zoom at max zoom vs. a zoom at min zoom.  However, these are the lenses I had available.   All lenses were shot wide open to make the tests as fair as possible.

All at ISO 100, tripod, 5s self-timer delay, Nikon SB-24 flash, lens VR off, lens was refocused for every shot.


Test rig

Zoom vs. Zoom:  Tamron 24-70 @ 70mm, f/2.8 vs Nikon 70-200 @ 70mm, f/2.8:

Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 @ 70mm, f/2.8

Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 @ 70mm, f/2.8

Similar focal lengths: Tamron 24-70 @ 70mm, f/2.8 vs Nikon 50mm f/1.8 @ f/1.8:
Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 @ 70mm, f/2.8

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 @ f/1.8

Third-party vs. Third-party:  Tamron 24-70 @ 70mm, f/2.8 vs Tokina 100mm f/2.8 macro @ f/2.8:

Tamron 24-70 @ 70mm, f/2.8

Tokina 100mm f/2.8 macro @ f/2.8
 It's obvious the Tamron is far worse than any of the other lenses.  Not what I would expect for this class of lens.

To be fair, I would not expect the Tamron to equal the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 (which is legendary), the Nikon 50mm (also legendary) or the macro prime.  But for my money, since Tamron touts this as a premium lens, it should be better than this.


Tamron @ 70mm at different apertures (target ~ 80 cm away):

f/2.8 - Poor

f/4.0 - Mediocre

f/5.6 - Excellent, tack sharp detail

OK, so the lens is capable of good performance - just look at that lovely detail at f/5.6.  So it's unlikely to be damaged or defective.  It just has crap performance below f/5.0 or so.


Again, I'm not expecting a third-party zoom to be as good as a prime, or a Nikon zoom.  But the whole Tamron value proposition is to get 80% of the performance  for 50% of the cost. This lens doesn't live up to that.

Also, the whole point of buying a fast zoom is to shoot it fast.  You can't tell me "just" to shoot it at f/5.0 or lower.  What, the athletes are going to slow down because I ask them to?


I tested the lens for front/back focus but could not discern any differences at f/2.8, even at max adjustment in a Nikon D7200,  owing to the poor image quality.  I don't think this lens is compatible with a Tamron TAP-In dock, and it's unclear if any focus adjustment will correct this anyway.

Being a G1, my Tamron was used and so perhaps was not in the best shape.  However, if you're planning to buy one, you may want to test it first.



Thursday, November 21, 2019

How to transfer Terraria data to a new Android

Amazingly complicated tutorial here.

tl;dr version:  Copy the following directories from the old device to the new:

Android/data/com.and.games505.TerrariaPaid/Players
Android/data/com.and.games505.TerrariaPaid/Worlds

I suggest you also do directory "OldSaves" as well.  On my old tablet, "Players" and "Worlds" were both empty, probably because it was running an older version of Terraria.


The entire rest of the tutorial is a walkthrough on how to copy these up to a cloud drive, and back down again.  Obviously any equivalent method will also do. 

It seems Terraria used to have a cloud save function.  I don't see it in the latest version (as of Nov 2019) and have no idea if it still exists or not.


Migrating Android "Hunt Cook: Catch and Serve" data to new device

Thanks to original poster here

I didn't get the process at first, so I rewrote it with more detail below.

Note:  If you have already started HuntCook on your NEW device, uninstall and reinstall it.  DON'T start it again (yet).

1.  Start HuntCook on OLD device.

2.  If you haven't already set it up, it may ask you to allow access to your Google account. 

You have to permit this, as this is where the backup will be stored.

3.  In the HuntCook app, go to Menu->Settings->Data Backup.

4.  Proceed to back up your data. 

-  You will need to assign a password.  Make it a simple one unique to HuntCook - you don't want a data breach goofing up your real passwords.

-  You will get a cryptic 16-character "Backup ID".  Be sure to write this code down.

-  You will also get the option to take a screenshot.  You can do so but I don't know where it is stored.

5.  On the NEW device, start HuntCook.

6.  Tap "Restore data backup" button in the bottom right-hand corner.

(It may be called something else, I forget the exact button name.)

7.  Enter the cryptic 16-digit "Backup ID" you previously wrote down.  Don't enter the spaces.

8.  Also enter your HuntCook backup password.

9.  You get prompted two or three times to allow transfer of the data from your old device to the new device.  Confirm the transfer.

HuntCook will then import the data and deactivate the game on the old device.  Your new device is ready to go.

You will be warned several times that transferring the data will prevent the transferred gameplay from being played on the old device.  However, the app is not deactivated, and you can start a new game on the old device.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Semi-canonical list for errors 0x80070035 and 0x80004005 on Synology NAS

Unfortunately, network problems can have a hundred causes.  This is a consolidation of the solutions found here, here, here, here and here.

I did not get them all, so if the list below fails, you may need to root through the threads yourself.  This will at least give you a head start.

Note:  These solutions are largely aimed at the situation where one (or more) network machines can browse the share properly, and one (or more) machines can't. 

These solutions do not cover Windows Server or Active Directory (AD) issues.


Error 0x80004005: Unspecified error

For this error, you can (usually) browse to the affected share via IP address (i.e. \\192.168.1.xx\share) but not by name (i.e. \\NAS\share).  It may or may not show up in Network.

This is (usually) a local DNS problem.  If you have other machines that work, your router / DNS server is OK, and there is something wrong with the DNS on the affected machine.

For this reason, I recommend you edit the hosts file first.  If that fixes it, and you only have one problem machine, you're done.


Error 0x80070035:  The network path was not found

With this, you usually can't see the NAS in "Network", or browse to it at all.

Possible solutions:

P:   NetBIOS service needed but not starting.

A:  Network and Sharing Center:
-  Check network is "Private" (either Work or Home).
-  Go to "Change Adapter Settings"
-  Right-click on network adapter, select "Properties"
-  Double-click "Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)"
-  Click "Advanced" button
-  Click "WINS" tab
-  Change from "Default" to "Enable NetBIOS over TCP/IP"

Note:  It is best to ensure this is done on all of the network adapters - even if they are not currently being used.

---------------

P:  SMB 1.0 is needed but not available.

A:   Enable SMB 1.0 as follows:
-  Control Panel / Turn Windows Features  On and Off (or Win + R, "optionalfeatures")
-  Check one of these:
  -  SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support
  or
  -  SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support / SMB 1.0/CIFS Client

You can also try checking / unchecking "SMB 1.0/CIFS Server" and "SMB 1.0/CIFS Automatic Removal".

Note:  SMB 1.0 is insecure and has been depreciated, and is not needed by most devices.  However, older Android boxen and the like might still need SMB 1.0 enabled in order to access the NAS.

Tip:  If you can log in to the NAS by IP address, do so and check the NAS logs to see what protocol was used.  If the problem machine can reach the NAS using SMB2 or higher, you might not need to enable SMB 1.0 support.

 ---------------

P:  Synology NAS SMB service not enabled.

A:  In DSM, go to Control Panel / File Services / SMB/APF/NAS and check "Enable SMB service".

---------------

P:  Synology NAS not handling SMB correctly.

A: Disable SMB 1.0 on NAS.
-  In DSM, go to Control Panel / File Services / SMB/APF/NAS.
-  Click "Advanced Settings"
-  Reset Maximum SMB protocol to "SMB3".
-  Reset Minimum SMB protocol to "SMB2".
-  Click "Apply".

Note:  Setting Maximum above SMB2 does not seem to do the trick.  The best combo seems to be setting Minimum SMB above SMB 1.0 and disabling SMB 1.0 on the affected PC.

Tip:  If you can log in to the NAS by IP address, do so and check the NAS logs to see what protocol was used.  If the problem machine can reach the NAS using SMB2 or higher, and can log in via IP address with SMB 1.0 disabled, you do not need SMB 1.0 support on either the NAS or the PC.

---------------

P:  IPv6 not working.

A:  Network and Sharing Center:

-  Go to "Change Adapter Settings"
-  Right-click on network adapter, select "Properties"
-  Uncheck "Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6)"

---------------

P:  "Client for Microsoft Networks" disabled or not installed.

A:  Network and Sharing Center:
-  Go to "Change Adapter Settings"-  Right-click on network adapter, select "Properties"
-  Ensure "Client for Microsoft Networks" is present and checked (enabled)

If not present, click "Install", then "Client for Microsoft Networks".

Note:  It is best to ensure this is present and enabled on all of the network adapters - even if they are not currently being used.
 
---------------

P:  "File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks" disabled or not installed.

A:  Network and Sharing Center:
-  Go to "Change Adapter Settings"-  Right-click on network adapter, select "Properties"
-  Ensure "File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks" is present and checked (enabled)

If not present, click "Install", then "File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks".

Note:  It is best to ensure this is present and enabled on all of the network adapters - even if they are not currently being used. 

 ---------------

P:  Out of date network drivers.

A:   Device Manager / Network Adapters / Update driver

---------------

P:  Network adapter driver corrupt.

A:  As follows:
 -  Network and Sharing Center \ Change Advanced Sharing Settings, turn everything to OFF on all profiles and options.  Save changes and close.
-  Device Manager \ Network Adapters \ Uninstall Ethernet and Wireless adapters
-  Scan for Hardware Changes to reinstall these devices and close Device Manger.
-  Network and Sharing Center \ Change Advanced Sharing Settings \ Turn everything to ON for all profiles and options - Save changes and close.


---------------

P:  Microsoft Virtual WiFi Miniport Adapter not set for proper NetBIOS operation.

A:  Network and Sharing Center:

-  Go to "Change Adapter Settings"
-  Right-click on Microsoft Virtual WiFi Miniport Adapter, select "Properties"
-  Double-click "Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)"
-  Click "Advanced" button
-  Click "WINS" tab
-  Change from "Default" to "Enable NetBIOS over TCP/IP".

 Note:  It is best to ensure this is done on all of the network adapters - even if they are not currently being used.

---------------

P:  Windows Firewall is blocking NAS.

A:  Temporarily disable Windows Firewall.  If this works, you'll have to figure out how to permanently fix it.

---------------

P:  Bad login credentials stored in Credential Manager.

A:  Navigate to Credential Manager in Control Panel, or run keymgr.dll.
-  Go to Windows Credentials.
-  Remove stored credentials for affected NAS.

Note:  The NAS credentials might be incorrectly stored in "Generic credentials".

---------------

P:  Windows using outdated login information.

A:  Map NAS to a drive letter:
-  Right-click "My Computer" (or "Computer")
-  Map network drive
-  Enter NAS share using IP address
-  Check "Log in with different credentials"
-  Open mapped drive letter

This will hopefully force Windows to refresh outdated cached login information for the NAS.

---------------

P:  Bad / incorrect "Microsoft 6to4 adapter" or "6to4 adapter" drivers

A:  Device Manager / Network adapters:  Remove all "6to4" adapters.

---------------

P:  Necessary services not running.

A:  Using "services.msc", check that the following services are running:
-  Server
-  TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper
-  Workstation


---------------

P:  Network provider order wrong / Network provider registry key corrupt

A:  Check the following keys:
HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\NetworkProvider\HWOrder\Provider orderHKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\NetworkProvider\Order\Provider order

Should be set to one of the following:
   RDPNP,LanmanWorkstation
  or
  RDPNP,LanmanWorkstation, webclient

Also check:
HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\NetworkProvider\ProviderOrder\Provider order
  and ensure RDPNP has a number lower than Lanmanworkstation


Also check:
-  Control Panel \ Network and Sharing Center \ Change adaper settings
-  Tap Alt key to unhide menu bar
-  Click "Advanced \ Advanced Settings" in menu bar
-  Tab "Provider Order"
-  Ensure  the order is:
  -  Microsoft Remote Desktop Session Host Server
  - Microsoft Windows Network
  - Web Client Network (optional, may be missing)



---------------

P:  NAS is using Guest account access.

A:  In Registry Editor (regedit):

-  HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanWorkstation\Parameters\
-  AllowInsecureGuestAuth = 1
-  RequireSecuritySignature = 0

Note:  It is not recommended that the NAS allow insecure Guest account access.

---------------

P:  Time sync issue is preventing NAS and PC from talking.

A:  Set clock on PC.
-   On NAS:  Control Panel \ Regional Options
-  Check "Synchronize with NTP server", server to time.google.com
-  Click "Update Now".

---------------

P:  Corrupt registry keys.

A:  In Registry Editor (regedit.exe):

-  Navigate to HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System
-  For a 64-bit system, create a QWORD called LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy
-  For a 32-bit system, create a DWORD called LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy
-  Set  LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy to 1.


---------------

P:  Jumbo frames not working.

A:  Network and Sharing Center:
-  Click Change adapter settings.
-  Right-click adapter, select Properties.
-  Networking tab
-  Click "Configure" button
-  Advanced tab
-  Select Jumbo Frame and disable


---------------

P:  NAS name not resolving to IP address.

A:  Edit the hosts file to link the NAS name and IP address manually.

---------------

P:  Security policy options incorrect.

A:  Using GPEdit.msc or secpol.msc:

-  Local Computer Policy -> Windows Settings -> Security Settings -> Local Policies -> Security Options

    Microsoft Network Client:
        Digitally sign communications (always)    DISABLED
        Digitally sign communications (if server agrees) DISABLED

    Microsoft Network Sesrver:
        Digitally sign communications (always)    DISABLED
        Digitally sign communications (if client agrees) DISABLED

Note:  gpedit.msc and secpol.msc do not exist in Windows 10 Home Edition by design.

---------------

P:  Bad files / settings in Sync Center.

A:  Start the "Sync Center".
-  Click on Manage Offline Files
-  Click View your offline files
-  Under computers, select the server and hit delete to remove it.

Note: If you've never messed with Sync Center, it is likely that there will be no offline file settings to delete / modify.

---------------

P:  HomeGroup not managing connections correctly.

A:  In Network and Sharing Center \ Change Advanced Sharing Settings\HomeGroup connections, turn off "Allow Windows to manage homegroup connections (recommended)".

Note:  If you're not using a Homegroup type network, Homegroup settings will not be shown, and this is not your problem.

---------------

P:  Two computers with the same hostname.

A:  Event Viewer
-  System logs
-  Search for Event ID 4321. It will tell you another computer with IP address x.x.x.x does not allow you to use the same hostname.

If there is no such event logged, this is not your problem.

---------------

P:   Client for Microsoft Networks corrupt.

A:  Uninstall Client for Microsoft Networks, reboot, reinstall, and reboot.

Note:  Windows 10 prevents this from being done via the GUI, and this could mess up your system worse than it already is.  For this reason I have not done it and I don't know the correct process, you'll have to find it yourself.

---------------

P:   File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks corrupt.

A:  Uninstall File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks, reboot, reinstall, and reboot.

Note:  Windows 10 prevents this from being done via the GUI, and this could mess up your system worse than it already is.  For this reason I have not done it and I don't know the correct process, you'll have to find it yourself.