JW Newsroom Notification Using IFTTT

How to use IFTTT.com to receive RSS notifications from the JW Newsroom site.

RSS and IFTTT

RSS (Rich Site Summary or Real Simple Syndication) has been around for a long time. This article does not attempt to explain the ins and outs of RSS. Feel free to use to use another RSS reader if you so desire. This article will show the basics of using IFTTT.com (If this then that).

IFTTT is a rather useful site to help automate or notify many different web based items. I am using IFTTT instead of other RSS readers because it provides a consistent way to be notified of new articles on JW newsroom on iOS and Android. I use both platforms and found that RSS readers on iOS do not provide very good notifications.

Sign In To IFTTT

You can use OAUTH and sign in with Google or Facebook. There are pros and cons to OAUTH. For more information on how it works check out this site. Be forewarned that like all authentication protocols there are some security risks. And recently a few security issues were discovered, but these should be patched by now.

I prefer to use a new password for each site. IFTTT supports long secure passwords and it also supports 2FA (Two Factor Authentication). I recommend using both. Your password should be at least 16 characters in length with lots of entropy. You can use the website or just the app on iOS or Android to register and setup your new IFTTT applet. Once you have your IFTTT account setup log into the site and then continue with these instructions to setup the RSS notification applet.

Below are the links for the IFTTT app for iOS and Android.

Creating the RSS Notification Applet

You can modify an existing applet. But this document will detail the steps to create a new applet. I am using notifications. You can also send a SMS alert if you prefer. I will leave that to you to figure out. Follow the steps below.

Create a New Applet

In the upper right of the web page you will see your username and a drop down arrow. Click on that and then click "New Applet".

IFTTT New Applet
IFTTT New Applet

Select Your Service

First click on the blue "+ this". It is surrounded by the red box in the picture below. The red box won't exist on the website.

Click Blue Plus This
Click Blue Plus This

Select the RSS Service

The RSS Feed service should be on the top row. Or you can use the search box and search for it. It is the orange box in the picture below. Just click on it to proceed to the next step.

RSS Feed
RSS Feed

Choose a Trigger

The RSS Feed service has two different triggers. I just want to be notified every time there is a new feed item on JW Newsroom. The other option will allow you to add keywords to only search for specific news items. In the picture below the correct trigger is surrounded by a red box that won't appear on the website.

Choose Trigger
Choose Trigger

Complete Trigger with Feed URL

Now you need to add the JW Newsroom XML Feed URL. To do this go to the JW newsroom site and right click on the 'Subscribe' button. Or long press on iOS or Android. Then select "Copy Link Address" or something similar depending on which browser or platform you are using. Paste it into the Feed URL and then click "Create trigger". See the picture below. The current link is copied below. It is possible this link will change. And if you use a different language you will have a different link.

https://www.jw.org/en/news/rss/FullNewsRSS/feed.xml

Add Feed URL to Trigger
Add Feed URL to Trigger

Click On the Blue + That

Now that we have set our trigger. We need to create our action. Click on the blue "+ that". See the picture below. Again the red box won't exist on the website.

Click on Blue Plus That
Click on Blue Plus That

Choose Action Service

In the search box type in "notifications". This will reduce the services to one option. Click on the blue Notifications box to continue. See the picture below.

Choose Action Service
Choose Action Service

Choose Action

Now click on the blue "Send a notification from the IFTTT app". Please note that you need to install the IFTTT application on your electronic device to receive these notifications. And you must sign into the app before anything will work. At the time of this writing there was only one action to choose for the notification service. See the picture below.

Choose Action
Choose Action

Complete Action Fields

This step can be modified to choose your own desires. You can add or subtract ingredients by clicking on 'Add ingredient'. You can add plain text if you desire. The ingredients available for RSS feeds are listed below.

  • {{EntryTitle}} = The title of the entry in the RSS feed.
  • {{EntryUrl}} = The URL of the entry in the RSS feed.
  • {{EntryAuthor}} = The author of the content as seen on the RSS feed.
  • {{EntryContent}} = The content itself as is written in the RSS feed.
  • {{EntryImageURL}} = The thumbnail URL in the RSS feed.
  • {{EntryPublished}} = When the entry was published.
  • {{FeedTitle}} = The title of your RSS feed.
  • {{FeedURL}} = The URL of the source of the RSS feed.

I like to have 3 ingredients. I use "FeedTitle", "EntryTitle", and "EntryUrl". Edit it how you desire and then click "Create action". See the picture below.

Completed Action Fields
Completed Action Fields

Review and Finish

The default description is very long. I edit this to something short and easily identifiable. Feel free to use whatever you desire. Once you are done click "Finish". See the picture below.

Review and Finish
Review and Finish

Make sure you install the IFTTT app on your tablet or phone and sign into the application. Once that is done you will receive notifications for every new story from the JW newsroom site.

 

That is all there is to it. Enjoy!

Convert Decimal to Base 8

Directions how to convert base 10 (decimal) to base 8 (octal).

Base 10 to Base 8

This document provides a quick example on how to convert decimal to base 8 (octal). There are two ways to convert base 10 to base 8. I am only showing the one of the methods. Wikihow has a nice tutorial. And cool conversion site provides a nice online calculator. For more information about modulo operations check out Wikipedia. You can also simply type '4242 to base 8' in Google. I also wrote this article to learn a bit about LaTex and how to write mathematical formulas in WordPress.

What is Base 8?

The decimal or base 10 number system has 10 digits. {0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9} Binary math is base 2 and only has the numbers 0 and 1. Base 8 or octal only has 8 digits. {0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7}

Here is a list of 8^0 through 8^5 just to see the first few exponents.

Base \ 8 = \ \begin{cases}  8^0=1 \\  8^1=8 \\  8^2=64 \\  8^3=512 \\  8^4=4096 \\  8^5=32769 \\  etc...  \end{cases}

Convert 4242 to Base 8 (Octal)

Follow the steps below to convert any decimal number to base 8. In this example I am converting 4242 to base 8.

  1. Divide \ (4242)_{10} successively by 8 until the quotient is 0. 
  2. The result is \ 4242/8 = 530.25. But only use the whole number of 530. Now find the remainder or the MOD of 4242. To do this use \ 4242-(8*530)=2. The remainder is 2 in this example. Or use MOD on your calculator. \ 4242 \bmod 8 = 2 
  3. Now take \ 530/8 = 66 and the MOD is \ 530 \bmod 8 = 2. Or use \ 530-(8*66)=2.
  4. Next take \ 66/8 = 8 and the MOD is \ 66 \bmod 8 = 2
  5. Next take \ 8/8 = 1 and the MOD is \ 8 \bmod 8 = 0
  6. Finally take \ 1/8 = 0 and the MOD is \ 1 \bmod 8 = 1

Here is the same example is a more legible format.

Division/8 Quotient MOD Octal
4242/8 = 530 MOD 2
530/8= 66 MOD 2
66/8= 8 MOD 2
8/8= 1 MOD 0
1/8= 0 MOD 1

Read the octal from the bottom to the top. The result is \ (10222)_8.

\ (4242)_{10} = (10222)_8

Convert Octal to Decimal

To convert base 8 (octal) to decimal write down the octal number and then multiply each digit by the corresponding power of 8 starting on the right hand side. Then add up the totals.

  1. Write down the octal
    11611
  2. Multiply each digit of the octal by the corresponding power of eight.
    1x8^4 + 1x8^3 + 6x8^2 + 1x8^1 + 1x8^0
  3. Solve the powers:
    1x4096 + 1x512 + 6x64 + 1x8 + 1x1
  4. Add up the numbers:
    4096 + 512 + 384 + 8 + 1
  5. The result in decimal is:
    5001

\ (11611)_8 = (5001)_{10}

ASCII Control Characters

List of ASCII control characters - Used by STTY and other UNIX items.

ASCII Characters

UNICODE has replaced ASCII in computers for the consistent encoding, representation, and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems. However ASCII control characters are still sometimes used in STTY or in VI to remove carriage returns.

My usual 'CTRL-V+CTRL-M' didn't work for me on my DD-WRT home router to remove carriage returns from a text file. So I had to look up the alternatives yet again. I learned a new method sending OCTALS in SecureCRT. So I decided to to write down the basics in case I ever need to use some of the other control characters.

To see all of the ASCII settings go to http://www.ascii-code.com/. This site will list the decimal, octal, hex, binary, & HTML number for each ASCII character.

The control character chart is copied below.

OCT DEC Char HEX CTRL KEY Description
\000 0 NUL \x00 ^@  \0 Null Byte
\001 1 SOH \x01 ^A Start of Heading
\002 2 STX \x02 ^B Start of Text
\003 3 ETX \x03 ^C End of Text
\004 4 EOT \x04 ^D End of Transmission
\005 5 ENQ \x05 ^E Enquiry
\006 6 ACK \x06 ^F Acknowledge
\007 7 BEL \x07 ^G Ring Terminal Bell
\010 8 BS \x08 ^H  \b Backspace
\011 9 HT \x09 ^I  \t Horizontal Tab
\012 10 LF \x0A ^J  \n Line Feed (New Line)
\013 11 VT \x0B ^K Vertical Tab
\014 12 FF \x0C ^L  \f Form Feed
\015 13 CR \x0D ^M  \r Carriage Return
\016 14 SOH \x0E ^N Shift Out
\017 15 SI \x0F ^O Shift In
\020 16 DLE \x10 ^P Data Link Escape
\021 17 DC1 \x11 ^Q Device Control 1 (XON)
\022 18 DC2 \x12 ^R Device Control 2
\023 19 DC3 \x13 ^S Device Control 3 (XOFF)
\024 20 DC4 \x14 ^T Device Control 4
\025 21 NAK \x15 ^U Negative Acknowledge
\026 22 SYN \x16 ^V Synchronous Idle
\027 23 ETB \x17 ^W End of Transmission Block
\030 24 CAN \x18 ^X Cancel
\031 25 EM \x19 ^Y End of Medium
\032 26 SUB \x1A ^Z Substitute Character
\033 27 ESC \x1B ^[ Escape
\034 28 FS \x1C ^\ File Separator
\035 29 GS \x1D ^] Group Separator
\036 30 RS \x1E ^^ Record Separator
\037 31 US \x1F ^_ Unit Separator (CTRL-Underscore)
\177 127 DEL \x7F ^? Delete

Remove Carriage Returns (^M)

Brief tutorial on how to remove carriage returns in UNIX. Use CTRL-V+CTRL-M in SED or VI. Use octal \026 \015. Use tr or perl.

DOS to UNIX

Whenever you transfer files from DOS (Windows) to UNIX boxes it is possible that carriage returns may be added to your text files.  This will sometimes prevent the file from working properly in UNIX.  I have actually had some files work with carriage returns (CR hex 0D).  I know the simple VI command to remove the carriage returns (^M) at the end of each line. And there are several other ways to remove carriage returns.

I ran into a problem on my home router running DD-WRT. It would not allow me to type CTRL-V+CTRL-M to create the carriage return (^M) in vi or anywhere else. I suspect is a busybox shell issue. So I had to find another way. This document shows the standard methods as well as a new method I used on my router. I am not including 'dos2unix' and 'unix2dos' as these may not by installed. I prefer to remember standard methods that should work on all boxes without installing additional software.

Who Uses What

A brief rundown on which OS uses which symbol for a line terminator.

  • LF = linefeed (move cursor down) - CTRL-J / ^J / hex 0A / Sometimes written as NL (newline)
  • CR = carriage return (return cursor to left margin) - CTRL-M / ^M / hex 0D
  • UNIX = LF only
  • DOS = CRLF (each line ends with CR then LF)
  • MAC = CR only

Typing ^M

To create the return character in vi or the command line you normally type "CTRL-V+CTRL-M". That is you press and hold the control key and then press 'v' and then 'm' (without the single quotes) and then release the control key. Another way is to use '\r'. (backslash r) And one more way is to use octal. Type '\026' for 'CTRL-V' and '\015' for 'CTRL-M'.

The Commands

Below are the various methods to edit the file. There are more methods than listed here. One of these is likely to work.

vi

The percent sign (%) will perform the search and replace on all lines. And the 'g' at the end does the search and replace globally and not on just the first instance in the line.

:%s/^M//g

Other ways to accomplish the same task.

:%s/\r//g
:%s/\r\(\n\)/\1/g

This wiki article has some other useful tidbits about VI (VIM) and file formats.

Display the fileformat option (ff) for the current buffer, and the fileformats global option (ffs) which determines how VIM reads and writes files.

:set ff? ffs?
:verbose set ff? ffs? (Helps to see in your vimrc)

Convert from dos/unix to unix

:update             Save any changes
:e ++ff=dos         Edit file again using dos FF (fileformats                                  ignored)
:setlocal ff=unix   This buffer will use LF only
:w                  Write buffer using unix (LF-only) line endings

Convert from dos/unix to dos

:update             Save any changes
:e ++ff=dos         Edit file again using dos FF (fileformats                                  ignored)
:w                  Write buffer using unix (LF-only) line endings

tr (translate)

The '-d' flag deletes the tokens. Input the original file and output the new file. The '\r' (slash r) is another way to type the carriage return.

tr -d '\r' < file > newfile

sed

Search and replace using sed is quite common. You can type ^M various ways. I am showing three methods. The '-e' is for scripting on the command line and running those commands directly. The greater than sign (>) redirects the output to a new file. Otherwise the results are just displayed to stdout (standard out). You can add a 'g' to the end for global replacement just like in vi. The '-r' is for using regex (regular expressions).

sed -e 's/\r//' file > newfile

sed -e 's/^M//' file > newfile

sed -r $'s/\026|\015//g' file > newfile

perl

You can also use a one line perl command. The '-e' is used to enter one line of script to be run by perl. Multiple '-e' commands may be given. The '-p' causes perl to assume a certain type of loop command. Useful for one liner commands. The '-i(extension)' will edit the file in place. The extension is added to the filename. The original file is saved as 'filename.extension'. The edited file is saved as the original filename.

perl -pi.bak -e 's/\r//g' filename

OTT TV Comparison

My comparison of three OTT (Over the Top) TV providers. I compare Sling TV, Playstation VUE, and Youtube TV.

OTT (Over the Top) TV

OTT, Over the Top, TV is streaming TV.  All you need is an internet connection.  I started using Sling TV a few years ago.  Today I am using Playstation VUE (PS VUE).  I have also tried Youtube TV.  I may try DirecTV Now in the future. Fortunately all of these new TV providers allow you to try them for free. This article covers three OTT TV providers.

Channel Lineups

Playstation VUE has 4 different lineups.  Each one is more expensive and includes more channels.  Today Youtube TV only has one channel lineup. Sling TV has 2 channel lineups.  You can purchase either one or both with a $5 discount.  This link below will take you to a Google Sheets spreadsheet that compares all of the lineups in the Chicago area.  Keep in mind different markets will have different channels.  And each company may add or subtract channels at anytime.  More about the channels is mentioned below.

Points to Consider

There are a number of things to consider about each OTT TV provider. My comparison is of the Chicago lineups. Here is my list.

Over the Air TV

Not all providers have your local ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX stations.  Some only have on-demand versions of these stations.  The on-demand versions probably don't allow you to fast forward through commercials. But I have the actual stations and not on-demand so I cannot be %100 sure of this statement. Some provide Telemundo and the CW. PS VUE has My Network, but that is probably the CW as it changed in Chicago from My Network to the CW. But I never watch the station so I don't know for sure. None of the providers have PBS. But PBS is government run so it will probably never be available.

  • PS VUE - Has all four major networks. Plus it has Telemundo and My Network/CW.
  • Youtube TV - Has all four major networks and the CW.
  • Sling TV - On-demand versions of NBC and FOX are available if you buy the blue plan.

Cloud DVR

PS VUE and Youtube TV both offer a cloud DVR.  Sling TV is supposed to be adding this feature. You can record as many shows as you like. Youtube TV will keep your recordings for 9 months while PS VUE will only keep your shows for 28 days.

Sports

Live sports is the biggest draw for cable and OTT TV is a very good alternative. Youtube TV is actually geared for sports and offers the most sports stations for the lowest price. But Youtube TV does not offer TNT or TBS. Without these stations you may miss some baseball and NBA playoff games. Local blackout rules still apply. Also I ran into a couple of games where the station did not have the rights to stream the game over the internet. In one instance I was able to find the game on another channel. In the other instance I didn't look for the game on other channels. It may have been available. But this is ridiculous and annoying that I may not be able to watch a game just because I am using OTT TV.

Your local sports channels will vary greatly from city to city.

News Networks

Let's face it, there isn't enough news for a 24/7 news channel. Let alone 7 or more 24 hour news channels. They all bloviate ad nauseam. Youtube TV does not have CNN. And it only has a few news stations. I prefer to read the BBC World News. Or I could simply watch it on the BBC via VPN.

Website / App Access

I like the ability to sign into a station website or application. It is one way to catch up on series that are not available via on-demand from your OTT TV provider.

  • PS VUE - It seems I can sign into any TV channel to which I subscribe. The only exception I found was CSN (Comcast Sports Network). This channel doesn't seem to allow any OTT TV provider. Seeing as it is owned by Comcast, the most despicable company in the USA, I am not surprised.
  • Youtube TV - It doesn't appear any channel allows logins for Youtube TV.
  • Sling TV - When I used this service before I could only log into ESPN. It seems a few more stations are available today. But not all of them.

Watch on Which Devices

You can watch all of the providers on IOS (Apple) and Android devices. You can watch all of the providers on your computer. And you can watch all providers on your TV. However, Youtube TV only works with Chromecast on your TV. I prefer Roku when I am watching TV recordings so I can easily skip the commercials with a remote and not open my tablet.

Premium Movie Channels

You can always buy HBO and Showtime separately if you like. Check the channel lineups at each site to see which movie channels you may purchase. These channels are usually separate add-on channels purchased separately.

Remote Access Away From Home

There are limitations as to which channels are available on your tablet if you are away from home. These limitations are complicated and stupid. Although I want to check to see if I can access everything on PS VUE if I use a VPN to my home router.

Concurrent Streams

This option is more important in a family. But even as a single person I sometimes watch multiple streams at the same time.

  • Sling - Sling Orange only has one stream.  Sling Blue has 3 concurrent streams. And if you buy both plans you will have 4 concurrent streams.
  • PS VUE - You can have 5 separate accounts on PS VUE.  This provides a total of 5 concurrent streams total.  One user can have up to 5 streams.
  • Youtube TV - You can have 3 concurrent streams.  You can have 6 accounts, but only 3 people can watch at the same time.

Conclusion

Which service is best for you really depends on which channels you want to watch. Decide if you need the local over the air channels and if you need a DVR.

At this time I plan to stick with PS VUE. But what I truly want is totally a la carte TV. I suspect a lot of channels would disappear if people were not forced to purchase these useless channels.

Windows 10 - Clear Clipboard

The clipboard is accessible to anyone from the Windows lock screen. This is a quick way to clear the clipboard whenever the computer is locked via the Task Scheduler.

Clipboard is Exposed in Lock Screen

I learned of a new Windows vulnerability on Security Now (Episode 600).  The clipboard is available even after you lock your computer.  This allows anyone to get that data.  Microsoft does not consider this to be a bug since physical access is required.  Listen to the Security Now show for the details on how to access the clipboard from the lock screen.

But it is easy to clear your clipboard automatically.  Run the command below.  And you can do this via the task scheduler.

  • cmd /c echo off |clip

Some site say to double quote the echo command.  But the cmd shell does not like quotes with pipes.  Using single quotes, double quotes, special characters, and escaping such items always confuses me.  I much prefer the UNIX shell where I can easily troubleshoot commands.

Clear Clipboard on Windows Lock

Launch the 'Task Scheduler'.  And then follow the steps below.

Create a New Task

First click 'Create Task...".  See the screen show below.

Task Scheduler Window
Task Scheduler Window

Create Task - General Tab

Now name your new task whatever you desire.  And optionally provide a description of your new task.  Then go to the 'Triggers' tab.

Create Task - General Tab
Create Task - General Tab

Create Task - Triggers Tab

Now click "New..." to add a new trigger.

Create Task - Triggers Tab
Create Task - Triggers Tab

On the 'New Trigger' screen select 'On workstation lock' from the 'Begin the task:' drop down box.  And then click "OK".

New Trigger Screen
New Trigger Screen

Your 'Triggers' tab should look like the following screen.  Obviously the name of your computer and ID will be different.  Click on the 'Actions' tab.

Triggers Tab
Triggers Tab

Create Task - Actions Tab

By default this screen will be blank.  Click on 'New...' to add a new action.

Actions Tab
Actions Tab

Fill out the 'New Action' screen as shown below.

  • Action: = Start a program (Default action)
  • Program/script: = cmd.exe
  • Add arguments (optional): = /c echo off | clip
  • Start in (optional): = C:\Windows\System32
  • Once done - Click "OK"
New Action Screen
New Action Screen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ignore the 'Conditions' & 'Settings' Tabs

You can ignore the 'Conditions' and 'Settings' tabs.  Just click "OK" to exit the create task screen.  Now test your new task to ensure it is working properly.

Testing the New Task

In the left hand column click on 'Task Scheduler Library' to get to the root location of all your scheduled tasks.  In the middle column scroll to your newly created task name.  In this instance it is the first in the list and is named 'Clear Clipboard on Lock'.  See the screen shot below.

Task Scheduler Window
Task Scheduler Window

Copy some text into your clipboard.  Open notepad and paste it once to ensure you have some text to paste.  Then on the 'Task Scheduler' window click 'Run' in the lower right hand column.  This is under 'Selected Item'.  Then try to paste again in notepad.  It should not work.  Close the 'Task Scheduler' window.

The next step is to copy something else into your clipboard.  Lock your computer by typing 'Win+L'.  Then type in your password and see if your clipboard is empty.

Scheduling Total Silence on Android Devices

Steps involved in scheduling an Android device to be completely silent. Useful for regular meetings or study halls. Added steps to enable this feature on Samsung TouchWiz launcher.

Blissful Silence

I love my little tech toys.  However there are times when all the little noises every device emits can be rather annoying.  And these noises can easily disturb people around you as well.  It is fairly easy to make your device silent.  But a nice feature is to schedule silence.  This is especially useful if you have a regular meeting where extraneous noise may be inappropriate.

There are a few ways to get to the following screens.  The method below should work on all Android devices and be independent of any launcher.

Three Main Volume Controls

Android has three volume controls.  Plus it has other sounds as well.  The three main volume controls are listed below.

  • Media Volume (The icon is a musical note)
  • Alarm Volume (The icon is an alarm clock)
  • Notification Volume (The icon is a bell)

Samsung TouchWiz Launcher (UI)

Owners of Samsung phones running the default TouchWiz launcher need to install a separate application to enable multiple do not disturb schedules. For whatever reason Samsung decided to hide this feature. It is available in Google's Android. But the TouchWiz launcher only allows for one schedule.

To get around this install 'Activity Launcher' by Adam Szalkowski. Launch the application. And follow the steps below.

  1. Click on the 'Recent Activities' drop down box at the top of the screen.
  2. Select 'All activities' from the drop down box.
  3. Scroll down to 'Settings' and open that section.
  4. Scroll down to 'Automatic rules' and click on it.
  5. Click on '+ Add Rule' and follow the directions in this document under the heading 'Automatic Rules Screen'.

Launch the 'Settings' Application

I will assume you know how to launch the settings application.  If not google how to do that yourself.  Your settings screen should look something like the screenshot below.

Touch the 'Sound & Notification' section.

Android Settings Screen
Android Settings Screen

Sound & Notification Screen

The 'Other sounds' highlighted by the blue box below will allow you to turn off three different sounds.

  • Screen locking sounds
  • Charging Sounds
  • Touch Sounds
Other Sounds Screen
Other Sounds Screen

We are concerned with the 'Do not disturb' button.  This is highlighted by the red box below.  Touch that to continue the scheduling procedure.

Sound and Notification Screen
Sound and Notification Screen

Do Not Disturb Screen

Touch the 'Automatic rules' box to continue.

Do Not Disturb Screen
Do Not Disturb Screen

Automatic Rules Screen

There will be two default rules.  Both of these are turned off and can be used as a reference.  Touch the 'Add rule' box to continue and create your own rule.

Automatic Rules Screen
Automatic Rules Screen

Add Rule Dialogue Box

We will be creating a time based rule.  Add a descriptive name for this rule and then touch 'OK'.  In this example the rule is named 'Test'.

Add Rule Dialogue Box
Add Rule Dialogue Box

Test Rule Screen

The default rule is shown below.  You need to edit the 'Days', 'Start Time', 'End Time', and 'Do Not Disturb' sections as appropriate.

Default Test Rule Screen
Default Test Rule Screen

Edited Test Rule Screen

In the example below the Android device will be totally silent from 11:50 AM on Sunday to 2:10 PM on Sunday.  You can create multiple rules.  There are three options in the 'Do Not Disturb' box.

  • Priority Only
  • Alarms Only
  • Total Silence

If you go back to the 'Do Not Disturb' Screen you can select 'Priority only allows' and set what you consider priority.  It will allow for specific persons to call you or message you.  And you can also allow repeat callers to allowed through.  Since I am setting this up on a tablet I am using 'Total Silence'.

Edited Test Rule Screen
Edited Test Rule Screen

Now that you know how to enjoy the silence, do such.

Ripping Blu Rays

A brief explanation on using MakeMKV to create a lossless copy of a Blu Ray. And then how to use Handbrake to reduce the size and convert it to MP4. And finally using FFMPEG to remux.

Grey Area

I prefer to buy books, music, TV, and movies I want.  I don't condone the illegal sharing of media.  But, when I buy a Blu Ray I want to be able to watch it wherever and whenever I want to watch it.  I have no issues with removing DRM (Digital Rights Management) so I can enjoy the stuff I purchase.  Making a backup copy is legal.  However bypassing DRM is technically illegal in the US.

Using MakeMKV

I prefer to use MakeMKV to backup my Blu Ray movies.  This makes a lossless copy of the movie.  I tend to just want the movie without any extras.  If I want to watch alternative endings or listen to the director's commentary I can always drag out the Blu Ray disc itself and watch that.  MakeMKV is no longer free, but it is very easy to use.  And it does the job.  Just follow the screenshots below to rip a lossless copy of the movie and place the video and audio in the MKV container.

Launching MakeMKV
Launching MakeMKV

Now identify where you want to save the output.  And select the parts of the movie you want to copy.

MakeMKV Item Selection
MakeMKV Item Selection

Expand the movie section.  Deselect the unwanted audio versions and subtitles.  Once you are done click the 'Make MKV' icon shown above.

MakeMKV Item Selection
MakeMKV Item Selection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using Handbrake to Transcode

To reduce the size of the movie and convert it to MP4 use Handbrake.  The settings I am using below are open to debate.  I use the 'High Profile' as the default profile as a starting point.  I want to reduce the size but since storage is cheap I am not trying to get the smallest possible file.  I can take a 30 GB MKV file and create a 3 to 6 GB MP4 file.  The size variation depends on the type of movie.  Some movies I have ripped are just larger than others.

I am not covering every setting in this guide.  Nor am I covering every single step required to transcode a movie.  I am not showing the 'Preset' panel in the screen shots below.

Picture Tab

Open the source and select the correct MKV file or disc.  Choose the correct destination file and adjust the name of the file as appropriate.  Choose the correct container.  I am using MP4.

It is a good idea to select 'Web Optimized' if you plan to stream the movie across your home network.  This places the 'moov atom' at the beginning of the file.  I am not a video engineer.  Search google for more information.  Or look at this Adobe site for a better explanation.

Movies are rarely 1920 x 1080.  Handbrake will attempt to automatically remove the black bars.  You can adjust how Handbrake does this by changing the Anamorphic drop down box and changing the cropping from automatic to custom.  This is a matter of preference.  Removing the black bars reduces the size of the file.  Ignore the 'Modulus' drop down box.  This just show the number of pixels are cropped when you click in the cropping section.  You can always type the exact number and ignore the arrows.  I only adjust the cropping if something strange happens and the numbers don't add up properly.

Handbrake Picture Tab
Handbrake Picture Tab

Filters Tab

I ignore this tab and accept the defaults.

Handbrake Filters Tab
Handbrake Filters Tab

Video Tab

I select 'Constant Framerate' and keep the Framerate (FPS) dropdown box as 'Same as Source'.

For Blu Ray movies I change the quality slider to 22.

Handbrake Video Tab
Handbrake Video Tab

Audio Tab

I remove the AAC encoded audio option.  I just keep the AC3 Passthru audio.  This is higher quality audio.  But not every player will play this audio.  Just click on the red X to remove the audio you do not want.

Handbrake Default Audio Tab
Handbrake Default Audio Tab
Handbrake AC3 Selected Audio
Handbrake AC3 Selected Audio

Subtitles Tab

I ignore this tab.  When I created my MKV I already removed the subtitles.  Now if you are ripping a foreign movie you may want to keep the English subtitles.

Handbrake Subtitles Tab
Handbrake Subtitles Tab

Chapters Tab

I ignore this tab as well.  The default option keeps the chapter markers.  This makes it easier to skip through the movie.

Handbrake Chapters Tab
Handbrake Chapters Tab

Once you are done click the 'Start Encode' or 'Add to Queue' buttons.

Remux with FFMPEG

I ripped all of the Tom Baker Doctor Who DVDs to MKV files.  To make it simpler to stream these files I remuxed the files and changed them from MKV to MP4 without losing any quality.  It is very quick using FFMPEG.

The command below worked for me.  And it is fairly simple to create a Windows batch file to remux a whole directory.  Refer to the Microsoft documentation on the 'for' loop for more information about modifying the variable.  I am using FFMPEG on my Windows box.  And I am using the 'caret' (^) to split the command over multiple lines.

The FFMPEG Command

Here is the basic command.

ffmpeg.exe -i \path\file\insert\movie.mkv ^
-vcodec copy ^
-acodec copy ^
\output\path\movie.mp4

One Line FFMPEG Batch File

for %%i in ("H:\Classic Doctor Who (MKV)\*.mkv") do ^
c:\users\<your_ID>\downloads\ffmpeg\bin\ffmpeg.exe -i "%%~fi" ^
-vcodec copy ^
-acodec copy ^
"H:\mp4\%%~ni.mp4"

Obviously adjust the command to suit your environment.  The double quotes allow for spaces in the directory or filename.  You need double percent signs in a batch file.  Single percent signs if you run this on the command line.

  • %%~fi - Expands to the fully qualified path name
  • %%~ni - Expands to the file name only without the file extension

How Much Streaming Data am I Using?

How to figure out how much data your video stream will use per hour. The short answer is for a 1080p video will use approximately 2.25 GB per hour. A 4K video will use approximately 11.25 GB per hour.

All Things Are Relative

First keep in mind that most streaming services will adjust the stream based on available bandwidth.  And the available bandwidth depends on more than your own connection to the internet.  Outside factors may cause data congestion.  And of course other devices on your own network may cause data congestion.  But assuming a constant bit rate it is fairly easy to calculate how much data you will use in an hour.  Just keep in mind that this figure is approximate.  Also note that data rates use 1000 not 1024 for the calculations and use bits not bytes.  A byte is 8 bits.

Playstation Vue recommends 10 Mbps (Megabits (not bytes) per second).  Plus it recommends 5 Mpbs for each additional stream.  Which seems to indicate to me that you really need 5 Mbps.

Netflix recommends 5 Mbps for HD quality.  And it recommends 25 Mbps for 4K.

Amazon Prime Video recommends 3.5 Mbps for HD video.  And you need 15 Mbps for 4K video.  I assume Amazon compresses video quite a bit more than other providers.

VUDO recommends 4500 Kbps for 1080p.  This is 4.5 Mbps.  For 4K you need 11,000 Kbps.  This is 11 Mbps.

The Formula

For 1080p video most sites recommend 5 Mbps.  To find out how much data that is in an hour use the formula below.

5 Mbps
x 60 (60 seconds per minute)
--------------
= 300 Mb per minute
x 60 (60 minutes per hour)
--------------
= 18,000 Mb per hour (or 5 x 3600 (seconds per hour))
/ 1000 (1000 Mb in one Gb)
--------------
= 18 Gb per hour (Gigabits)
/ 8 (convert bits to bytes - 8 bits per byte)
--------------
= 2.25 GB per hour (Gigabytes per hour)

So one hour of 1080p video will use approximately 2.25 GB.  A 4K stream needs up to 25 Mbps.  So we can multiply our 5 Mbps stream by 5 to get 11.25 GB per hour.

If we stream 3 hours of 1080p video per night for 30 nights we will use 202.5 GB of data.  This means we can avoid the 1 TB data caps for now.  But, it is unrealistic to assume this will last long.  Just converting to 4K will use more than the 1 TB per month.  And it isn't uncommon for a family to have multiple streams.  And every device today is connected to the internet and using a bit of data even when idle.

Here is a quick summary of the formula.

X Mbps x 3600 / 1000 / 8 = Y GB per hour

25 x 3600 / 1000 / 8 = 11.25