x86 single board computers

After the success of the Raspberry Pi there have a countless copy-cats who have tried to cash in on the trend, some more successful than others. They may have been a blessing for developers and makers in terms of price, though for many consumers situation hasn’t changed; ARM still lacks support for many popular applications that currently only work on x86.

That’s where x86 sbc (single board computers) come in.  I currently own a first generation Raspberry Pi which I’ve used to run Kodi and Rasplex (unofficial Plex client).  The Pi works perfectly fine for these applications, although I wasn’t too happy with the sluggish performance when displaying artwork or navigating between menus.  I immediately knew I had to Google my way through this in order to achieve better results.

After reading up on different blogs and forums I overclocked it, which did provide a speed boost.   I later configured my home server for NFS and explicitly use wired ethernet for all stationary PCs.  This does improve network performance over the traditonally used Samba shares.  I further modified the config file on my Pi’s SD Card so that it functioned as a bootloader which launched Kodi/Plex from an external USB3 drive.  This had the biggest impact.  I used this for quite a while and was generally quite satisified with the results.   I later added a Flirc to allow me to program any remote to work with Kodi/Plex.  I was truly happy with my Pi.

Fast forward probably less than a year down the road and I had bought a NUC, which is what I use on my TV today.   They’re great little PCs, though the charm of a tiny DIY project somehow disappears when you’re using a barebones system.  After a while I always, like a lot of tech enthusiasts, start reading up on what’s new or coming in the future.

These past few days, I’ve been obsessing over the various x86 sbc that have been recently announced these past few months. The ones that I have found so far are the JaguarBoardLattePanda, and the UP board.  They all sport an Intel x86 chip, eMMC memory, and between 1-4 GB ram depending on the board and/or model. This means I can run a full fledged Windows on them and I won’t need to boot from an SD Card which typically is slower than an on board eMMC.  This is an exciting prospect, as these boards are approximately the same size as the Raspberry Pi and don’t include a case – so the DIY appeal is definitely there!  I’ve read up on them and I’m leaning towards the UP board as they have decent specs and are produced by a company called Aaeon, which is an associate company of Asus.

It will be a few months until I can order an UP board and the range of products in this segment may very well have changed within that time period.   If and when I order one, I’ll try to share my thoughts on the product.

Start menu not working in Windows 10

So all of a sudden my start menu stopped working. The button does just not react anymore. All other buttons on the taskbar work. After a bit of googling I found a solution that worked for me.

First, press ctrl+shift+esc. This will open the task manager. Now if your taskmanager looks something like this:

Taskmanager

Press the button for More details.

Click File->Run new task.

Run

Enter powershell in the Open: input, and make sure to select the Create this task with administrative privileges checkbox.

Press OK

In the new window paste the following

and press Enter.

Don’t worry about the errormessages, just let it finish. Try opening the start menu again.

Virtualbox bridged ethernet not selectable on Windows 10

So I installed Windows 10 (works pretty well by the way), and one of the first things I did was spin up my VM’s again. That worked fine… Installed VB 5, started all the machines, yey!

Then I had to reboot… After the reboot VirtualBox told me the NIC was missing and it couldn’t select a network interface to bridge to, even though it worked fine before the reboot.

To fix this, open up the start menu, find Virtualbox and right click on the shortcut. Press Open file location. Once you’ve done that and the new window has opened up, right click on the Oracle VM VirtualBox shortcut and select Properties.

Go to the Compatibility tab.

 

Check off the box that says Run this program in compatibility mode for: and select Windows 8 from the drop-down.

compability

 

Restart VirtualBox and check if your network interface is back

If the network interface does not show up after restarting VB, try rightclicking and choose Run as administrator from the menu.

Spotify on PS3mediaserver

I just got some new speakers for my tv. In truth I’ve got three things I want to connect to those speakers. I’ve got my SetTopBox, my PS3, and my computer (for music). The STB and PS3 were easy. They’re right beside the sound-bar, and I’ve got the cables and all. My problem was connecting the computer. The only inputs on the speakers were one COAX and two TOSLINK.

I was thinking about ordering a USB soundcard with an optical out, since my computer only has a jack out. Then I figured I’ll google it a bit. There had to be a way to stream Spotify to PS3mediaserver. I couldn’t have been the only one with this issue, and of course I wasn’t. So, here’s my own guide to how I set this up, the recipe is collected from several blogs, but this guide should work with the latest version of PS3mediaserver.

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