Amazon Echo in Canada

It’s time for a post! I know I haven’t posted anything in awhile, but this product is pretty cool. I know us Canadians are late to the party since this product STILL isn’t available, but I thought I would share my experience.

Product: Amazon Echo

About 90% of this product will work just fine in Canada if you use Spotify instead of Amazon Prime Music. The only problem you might run into would be the locale (used for timezone, weather, local news and traffic). You can get around this a couple ways:

  1. Specify the city when making these requests “Alexa, tell me the weather in Kelowna BC”
  2. Since my timezone was off, step one didn’t cut it for me. For some reason changing my city to Seattle didn’t update the timezone. Follow this guide to “hack” the Echo’s location to allow an outside the US locale.

First download this Chrome Extension called Request Maker.

Now visit the Alexa website and go to Settings -> click on your Device -> click edit beside your Device Location and change your zip code to a US zip code. Now you can click on the Request Maker extension and you will see a PUT to “https://pitangui.amazon.com/api/device-preferences/”, click on this and you will see the raw text that was sent to Amazon. Using these flags you can set your timezone and device local.

To see which timezone is correct for you visit this Amazon page.

Here is an example from Echotalk forums:

{"deviceAccountId":"DONOTCHANGE","deviceAddress":"23 Wenlock Road, London, N17","deviceAddressModel":{"city":"London","countryCode":"UK","county":"London","district":"Hackney","houseNumber":"901","label":"23 WA-305 NE, Bainbridge Island, N1 7SZ, United Kingdom","postalCode":"N1 7SZ","state":"London","street":"WA-305 NE"},"deviceSerialNumber":"DONOTCHANGE","deviceType":"AB72C64C86AW2","firstRunCompleted":true,"postalCode":"98110","responseStyle":"CONCISE","searchCustomerId":"DONOTCHANGE","temperatureScale":"CELSIUS","timeZoneId":"Europe/London","voiceCastEnabled":null,"autocastToThisClient":false,"isSaveInFlight":true}

Once you have made these changes click SEND and test out Alexa by asking “What’s the weather” or “What’s the time”.

This makes the ECHO almost 100% working in Canada and it’s a really cool product. Now I can control my lights, doors, media centre, temperature, SONOS (official support soon) and get information via jokes or Wikipedia. If you really want to enhance Alexa, try using IFTTT and Home Assistant.

Until Google Home is released, this speaker is a wicked solution.

 

Tips from switching to Telus (Cable and Internet)

Just recently switched to Telus from being a long time Shaw user. Here are a couple things you might want to know:

Hardware :
– Cisco ISB7150 (TV PVR)
– Actiontech V1000H (Modem/Router)

Putting the Actiontech V1000H into bridged mode (FW 31.30L.57) :

– Since FW .57, you now have to unplug the phone line, reset the router by holding the reset button till the power light goes red. Then you can plug directly into the device and connect to http://192.168.1.254. You might have to statically set your computer IP to something like 192.168.1.1

– Next we need to know our logins for this horrible device
– default customer login is (can be changed after first login) username: admin password: telus
– here is the one we want username: root password: Thr33scr33n!
– make sure you leave the phone cable unplugged when logging into root, and do this right after the reset. If you plug the phone cable back in the username and password will not work as the device grabs an update from Telus.

To enable transparent bridging mode :
– log in as root
– go to “Advanced Setup” WAN IP Addressing
– Select the ISP protocol “RFC 1483 Transparent Bridging”
Plug your own router (WAN port) into the actiontec router (LAN port), now your own router should transparently pass through the actiontec getting a DHCP assigned IP address directly from Telus. Some additional config may be necessary on your router.

– You should now be able to plug the phone cable back in

To connect to the Actiontec router while in bridging mode:

Directly connect a computer to the actiontec router and change the adapter address to a static IP in the actiontec’s default IP range.

192.168.1.1 should work.
Then connect to the router as usual – http://192.168.1.254

With bridging enabled, some strange behaviour is exhibited when logging in – you’ll see below the log in section that it says you’re already logged in as admin although you won’t be able to view any of the configuration pages. When you log in as root you won’t see any confirmation of a log in, you’ll just get bumped back to the home page. You should be able to go to config pages once logged in though.

– I was told to disable http://192.168.1.254/tr69.html (go to that address and change a few settings, mainly the url).

To get Optik TV working with a third party router, you must enable multicasting :

If you don’t have multicasting enabled on your third party router, TV channels will work for a few seconds then drop out.

Options I enabled in Tomato to get this properly working behind my router (so I could use the Telus apps, plus my picture seems better) :

– Advanced -> Firewall -> Multicast — Check Enable IGMPproxy and LAN then Enable Udpxy
– Advanced -> Routing -> Misc — Check Efficient Multicast Forwarding

I was having with Multicast flooding on my wireless network till I checked the above. Now everything is working great. All that’s left is for me to try and capture the Multicast stream and send it to my other media centers to have TV in more rooms without more Telus hardware.

*Apparently you get 2 IPs with Telus, so you can run Optik TV from your router, or from the Telus device (which would be off your network). Telus seems to have issues giving out a second IP, make sure you disable the DHCP server on the Device.*

How to get Optik TV app working on a rooted Android device :

Download the following
SELinux Mode Changer : https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mrbimc.selinux
Cydia Substrate : https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.saurik.substrate
RootCloak Plus : https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.devadvance.rootcloakplus
Am I Rooted? : https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.liamw.amirooted

These apps should allow you to disable the root check for the Telus Optik TV app on Android (I have yet to get it working)

Blocked Telus ports :

TCP 21 (ftp)
FTP server

TCP 25 (smtp)
Email delivery server (MTA – Mail Transfer Agent)

TCP 80 (www)
Web server

TCP 110 (pop3)
POP3 email retrieval servers (MDA – Mail Delivery Agent)

TCP 6667 (ircd)
IRC servers (Internet Relay Chat)

TCP/UDP 135-139 (dcom and netbios)
135 Windows RPC
136 PROFILE Naming System (basically unused)
137-139 Windows NetBios

TCP/UDP 443 (ssl)
Secure web browsing – HTTPS

TCP/UDP 445 (ms-ds)
Microsoft Directory Services

TCP/UDP 1433-1434 (ms-sql)
Microsoft SQL Server

More information can be found : http://telusinternet.blogspot.ca/

This might help with multicast flooding on your Wi-Fi

Raspberry Pi and Openelec XBMC

I will have a Raspberry Pi and Openelec XBMC setup here shortly, so I thought I would post a quick how to guide.

First you need some Pi (I would suggest buying a power adapter and SD Card)

Then you need an Image and Guide

I will post more once I have mine 🙂

Also always a good idea to get this for your IR Remote

Project Hackintosh

It has been awhile since I posted a project on here. My last one being the XBMC setup which is still going strong. In fact, Openelec is almost at 3.0 which will include the XBMC 12 with HD audio system.

Hackintosh – My plan is to have a MAC Computer without any MAC hardware

Hardware:

Needed Parts:

8GB of Ram or 16GB of Ram
SSD Drive (You can pick another one if you find a deal)
Processor (Intel Core i5 3570K Unlocked Quad Core Processor)
Case (Apex MI-008 mITX Case Glossy Black)
Motherboard (Gigabyte H77N-WIFI mITX LGA1155 H77)
16GB USB Flash Drive (You will need a 16GB USB Flash Drive)
WIFI (This should be easy on a Hackintosh)

More Power?

ASUS Radeon HD 6570
Silverstone Sfx Series ST45SF 450W Power Supply
Noctua NH-L9i LGA1155/1156 Low Profile Heatsink Cooler

Optional Parts:

Mouse Pad
Keyboard (Logitech Solar MAC Wireless Keyboard)
Razer Mamba 2012 Elite
27″ Monitor (To give a real nice iMac feel)

Guides I Followed:

Tonymacx86 (You will need Unibeast and Multibeast from HERE)
I also found iATKOS which is a already prepped OSX Bootable DVD (This should eliminate issues and the need for Multibeast, somewhat)
Install OSX in Virtual Box (Confirmed working in Windows 8)
BIOS DSDT file for Multibeast

Side note, the stock Heatsink/Fan *DOES* fit, it’s just really close.

BIOS Settings:

– On Board graphics memory = 64MB

– Disable Fast Boot

– Configure SATA to AHCI

– Enable Hardware Virtualization

– xHCI has to be set to AUTO, not Smart Auto

– xHCI and EHCI hand off must be enabled

– Init Display First = IGFX

Fix Airplay:

– Mac sure you are setting the latest Mac Mini as a profile in Multibeast and you have the correct BIOS settings above

So far I’m not really going into detail, but if you have all the same hardware as me and boot from the iATKOS disc, then all you need to do after is tweak a few things with Multibeast. Load up the DSDT file and change your Mac profile and screen resolution. Everything more or less works right away. I’m still toying with it, but I have a stable Hackintosh running 10.8.2 with Windows 8 in Parallels and all seems to be working with no hassle.

When I have more time I might post a better guide…

*To fix iMessage use Clover as a boot loader (I like it better anyways)*

Zotac ID41 XBMC (OpenElec) Guide

This Guide is mostly for me, as I just setup my first HTPC. I just wanted to have a place to remember what was involved in getting this setup up and running. Feel free to buy the Hardware I did and use this guide to setup your own stand alone XBMC HTPC.  Obviously this will not be ideal for everyone, but this works excellent for me.

Hardware:

Zotac ID41 (Barebone Mini PC)

Kingston SSDNow V100 64Gb Drive 

Kingston 2GB 800MHZ DDR3 Single Rank NON-ECC CL6 SODIMM (I bought 2 of these)

Flirc.tv Remote USB IR Receiver

Any Logitech Harmony Remote

Also a good idea to have a 1GB+ USB Flash Drive, any one should do

Software:

Not all of this Software is needed, but you might find it helpful.

OpenElec (Really the only thing needed + USB Flash Drive)

Flirc.tv (Needed for Remote Mapping)

My Config Files

Clonezilla

Ubuntu

Gparted

Universal USB Installer

Putty

Setup:

I will do my best to go over all the problems I have encountered. I have included a ZIP file with my Config Files needed for most of the below guide.

– Remote Setup

Harmony Remotes and Flirc.tv have some issues, this is what works best. Make sure your Remote Device added for the XBMC HTPC is either Panasonic TC-P65VT30 or SAMSUNG LN46C650L1F. I used the Panasonic as it won’t interfere with anything in my setup. Once this is done you can add your Activity and update your Remote.

Once this is completed you can open the Flirc App and start your Keymap. I looked to the default Keymaps for XBMC and within Flirc App use the full Keyboard mode and assign the appropriate key to which button suites your need best.

Example: Assign “T” to the button on your remote titled “Subtitles” to Toggle Subtitles within XBMC

I have included my Keymap from Flirc if you choose to use it. This seems to work excellent with Openelec, no issues.

Guide from Flirc.tv

– Installation

Here is where things can either be super easy and just work, or be a pain in the @$$. First of all, only have a USB Keyboard plugged into the Zotac device. NO OTHER USB device and make sure you are using one of the USB 2.0 ports.

Enter the BIOS with DELETE and get boot menu with F11 (I had issues entering the bios with a bluetooth keyboard or with anything else plugged into the USB Ports). Update the BIOS if you need to and then load optimal default settings and save/reboot. If you have the need to use AHCI, switch from IDE to AHCI after install. This shouldn’t be a problem in Linux.

*Another option that might help is “General ACPI Configuration -> Repost Video on S3 Resume -> Yes” as it seems to help with resuming from a suspend. WOL Should be working on this device if you loaded the Optimal Defaults*

Prep your USB Flash Device with Openelec (Make sure you pick the ION 64 Build), I use the nightly builds of Eden. Also make sure your SSD has a Partition on it, FAT32 if possible. With only your USB Flash Drive and USB Keyboard plugged into the USB 2.0 Ports on the Computer, start it up. If your Computer freezes after “Quick Install” try and prep another USB Flash Drive or preform a “Low Level Format” on the USB Flash Drive. Trust me, this can be a pain as I went through 4 USB Devices until one worked. Once this step completes you can remove the USB Flash Drive, reboot back into the BIOS and enable AHCI. Now when your Computer boots you should be in XBMC (OpenElec).

You should be able to plug in your other USB devices now (Flirc.tv IR USB receiver)

– Setup/Config

SMB (Samba) should be enabled, go to your PC and connect via IP Address as I noticed that the Device Name of “OPENELEC” doesn’t always broadcast. You can find the fixes for SSH, Sound, and Video in my Config ZIP File. You will also find instructions on how to get the Splash Screen working. All these are tested and working for me with the above Hardware.

Any other issues can be sorted at the OpenElec Forums

The rest of the Config is within XBMC (Themes and Plugins). There is no need for me to cover this as everyone’s setup will be different, and there is plenty of support out there for XBMC and OpenElec.

*Side note, Updating OpenElec should not affect settings*

Extra:

This is an extra step that is not needed, but after hours of setup and indexing I wanted to backup my XBMC Setup. Create a Live USB Flash Drive with Clonezilla and back that sucker up.

Hopefully this guide will help someone other than just myself.

*Update*

– Skin of Choice is “Aeon Nox

– I have been having freezing after resume issues, make sure your samba.conf is configured properly and try adding your SMB shares properly to your hosts.conf file. This could be USB 3.0 related as well.

– How to install Icefilms.info and use Navi-X to access Icefilms as well (Can be installed on many devices)

Centralize your XBMC Database (Great if you have Multiple XBMC Setups):

Here are a couple guides for you, these are geared towards Synology NAS users

Openelec Guide and QuixVenture Guide

If you plan on updating to XBMC 12 (FRODO)

3.1 If you used Path Substitution

As noted at the top of this page, XBMC v12 no longer uses path substitution for syncing thumbnails.

If you used path subs for the entire Thumbnails folder – Extra safe method
  1. Quit all XBMC devices.
  2. Update all instances to XBMC v12 “Frodo”, but don’t open/launch XBMC yet.
  3. Choose one XBMC device and open XBMC
  4. Say yes when it asks to update art.
  5. Copy your path-substituted thumbnails folder onto all XBMC devices, replacing the local thumbnails folder in the userdata folder.
  6. On the first XBMC device go into  userdata/database/  and copy the “Textures13.db” file to all the other XBMC devices in their  userdata/database/  folders.
  7. Remove path substitution for thumbnails from the advancedsettings.xml file of each XBMC device.
  8. You can now open/launch XBMC on your other devices.
  9. From that point on, XBMC will sync art/thumbs directly to each XBMC box, but will keep them in sync (whereas before XBMC would only add art on one box, and boxes could have different artwork if set manually). Having the thumbnails folder locally on each box will also speed up loading the library, and what art to use is stored in the videos DB that MySQL is already sharing.

Also, the above steps I find a bit off, I would not recommend copying the Textures13.db file over to the other computers. Just simply update one XBMC location and the rest will grab the information, no need to copy over thumbnails to all of them either.

My audio config is no longer needed with the HD audio system, but if you are still getting a dimming screen like I was…use the xorg.conf file I provided.

Another thing I noticed is that some Keymapping has changed, make sure you fix that using the Keyboard.xml file.