Encoding our Blu-ray library (Update on Handbrake-cli encoding tests)

  • Posted on: 17 October 2018
  • By: charm
Original on left, encoded file on right side

If you rip Blu-rays using MakeMKV the resulting file size can be huge. File sizes of Blu-ray movies in our collection range from 16GB to over 36GB. This was fine a year ago when we added an 8TB hard drive to our KODI server, but in less than a year we managed to whittle the free space on that drive down to 250GB. Buying more/larger drives is one approach to solving the free space problem, but we've already done this several times, going from a 1TB drive to a 2TB drive, then a 3TB drive, and another 3TB drive, before replacing them all with the 8TB drive. Another approach, the one we ulimately decided would be the right solution for us, was to encode those files - in this case using handbrake-cli, the command-line version of handbrake.

Handbrake-cli encoding tests x265

  • Posted on: 15 October 2018
  • By: charm
Handbrake-cli encoding video on seperate systems

When you're working with Blu-ray media file sizes can be a nightmare. Back when I got my 8TB drive I had slightly over 5TB of files. Eight terabytes seemed like it would be enough at the time, but here it is less than a year later and the drive is dangerously close to full (308GB free). Drive space wasn't a problem when I was ripping my DVDs, but when I "rip" my Blu-ray discs it's more like dumping them to the drive, there's no re-encoding done.

Hardware upgrades (tank) and switch to Xubuntu 18.04

  • Posted on: 2 October 2018
  • By: charm

Over the past couple of months I've been swapping hardware and and out of my daily desktop computer: tank. The last drive setup involved two Samsung 120GB SSDs in a striped RAID array (Ubuntu 16.04) and a 1TB Western Digital Blue (Windows 10). The setup was annoying both from a hardware and software perspective. One of the SSDs was situated below the 1TB hard drive while the other was mounted below a Blu-ray drive. Part of the reason for this odd setup was the configuration of the Antec Three Hundred Two case.

[Hardware] Networking for apartments

  • Posted on: 19 August 2018
  • By: charm
Our old network

Even small home networks can sometimes involve a lot of networking technology. Take the photograph above as an example. In that photograph we have a wireless router, an ADSL modem, a Gigabit switch, and a VOIP modem, plus a power bar to support all the devices. This is an old photograph, and the wiring is a bit messy (I've improved things with cable sleeves and changed up some of the technology mounted here).

[Linux] Xubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver available @ Computer Recycling

  • Posted on: 19 August 2018
  • By: charm
Network boot screen

The Computer Recycling Project at The Working Centre is happy to announce we now have Xubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver available on our PXE network installer. If you're in the Kitchener/Waterloo area and need Xubuntu installed, please feel free to drop by. This form of installation is particularly useful for those who don't have a DVD drive. We've also got older images, including some that work with Pentium M-based architecture.

[Linux] Ubuntu Linux 16.04 reinstall on tank

  • Posted on: 17 August 2018
  • By: charm
Fresh install of Ubuntu 16.04.5

I've been running Ubuntu 18.04 for a little while on my main desktop computer. I really haven't had any issues with it except for the constant running out of space on the SSD when ripping Blu-ray media (Ubuntu was installed on a 120GB SSD). Here are the steps I've taken so far after installing Ubuntu 16.04:

Update the system

sudo apt update

sudo apt upgrade

I then plugged back in my 1TB hard drive. Windows 10 lives on that drive. I booted Ubuntu and updated grub so it would recognize the Windows partitions on the drive:

[Refurbishing] Test the CMOS battery

  • Posted on: 16 August 2018
  • By: charm
Checking a CMOS battery with a multimeter

One of the steps in our refurbishing process at The Working Centre's Computer Recycling Project involves testing the CMOS battery inside each desktop PC we refurbish. Testing the CMOS battery is a relatively simple process and you can do it a number of ways. The simplest is with a cheap battery tester. You can sometimes find these at dollar or hardware stores. But battery testers can't be found everywhere so the next simplest method is with a multimeter.

[Windows] Converting home movies to DVDs (Hauppauge PVR-150 TV Tuner)

  • Posted on: 16 August 2018
  • By: charm

While I've been using Windows 10 lately to develop Fasteroids, almost everything else I do is on Linux, so I'm used to using Linux tools to get different jobs done, and it's what I go to when I have a problem and need some software to solve it. This week one of our refurbishing friends asked us to build him an older (Core 2 Duo)-based Windows 10 system that he could put his Hauppauge PVR-150 TV tuner card in. This wasn't a big deal, although the PVR-150 is an older card it still seems to be supported by Windows 10 (we needed to do an online driver update, but Windows 10 found the driver).

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