Browser Choice

Desktop browser choice is pretty much a user-defining thing. The average user just uses whatever browser came pre-installed. However, power users pick their browser, and install it, if it’s not the default. Most pick Google Chrome, others Firefox, yet others Opera. Those paranoid about privacy, choose the Tor browser (based on Firefox).

The Opera browser was purchased a while ago by a Chinese marketing company, so I can’t help but think they have an interest in collecting as much user behavior as possible. Chrome is made by Google, an American marketing company – same thing. Chrome suffers from the security vulnerability in that they refuse to verify if SSL certificates are revoked. Firefox has other weaknesses, but far fewer.

I left off Safari and Internet Explorer, because they are not cross platform browsers, and they are usually not worth considering, except to download a better browser. I’ve only heard about Microsoft’s newest browser, Edge, which I think is specific to Windows 10. It may be the fastest browser on that platform, it is the only browser they are going to allow on the Windows 10S low-end tablets and systems. Microsoft has itself turned into a huge information mining operation, they only need market and sell that anonymized data for untold profit.

Well, right now, on my Mac, I’m using Google Chrome to watch video streams on my second screen, because it works well, and Firefox doesn’t. There was something chipmonkey about the audio under Firefox. But I am using Firefox to browse, because it’s not created by a marketing company, and Firefox with Privacy Badger is a pretty safe browsing environment.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Just tweet @whistl034

HDHomeRun and Plex make an inexpensive DVR

Last year, when we switched from Comcast to AT&T U-Verse, we already had a 4 tuner TiVO OTA and antenna in the bedroom, so we were fine there. For our office TV, I installed a TiVo mini I already had, and we were golden for TV and DVR.

Last week, the TiVo mini bit the dust, mid-program watching. Won’t boot, just a sad yellow ‘sorry boss’ led. I think it was $130 and it lasted four years, so I got my money’s worth.

Today, I setup an Ubuntu server running Plex Media Server software. I already had a free Plex account, so I was already able to run the Plex Media Server to stream my own media library. I can also run the free Plex Player client on my Mac. Their new DVR function, however, requires a Plex Pass, which costs money. You can buy one year for $40 or a lifetime pass for $120. Once purchased, the Plex Player client reveals additional functions, like setting up the DVR.

Plex gives away it’s two programs. The Plex Media Server is where you store your DVR recordings, so think of it as a DVR. You can have multiple DVRs, each controlling a different tuner, if you like. The second program is the Plex Media Player. They have clients for just about every device and OS, hard to find one they don’t cover, and you can just use the web interface. If you open up the port to the Internet, you can watch your video away from home too.

Oh, but where to get the TV signal and channel guide from? Last year, I bought an HDHomeRun two-tuner box from Amazon, for about $100, and an HDTV flat panel antenna for my office window for about $45. I decided I wasn’t a fan of the HDHomeRun Mac software and DVR, so I wasn’t using the HDHomeRun until now. The Plex automatically locates the HDHomeRun box, and let’s you setup the tv channel guide too. It presents the guide in a unique format that I’m not used to.

So, I’m giving it a shot. Have some recording setup, and it’s working fine. Video playback is smooth, not a whole lot of disk being used. Win!