How to Turn a Raspbery Pi into a Plex Server

Plex Server showing movie library

Plex Media Servers are great for storing and accessing all your movies, tv shows, and other media. Unfortunately, Plex Server hardware can be expensive, electricity intensive, or both. To reduce both bills,  use a Raspberry Pi for a Plex Server.

What You Need to Know

Running a Raspberry Pi as a Plex Server does come with several benefits. It won’t take up as much room as a server or a full-size PC. It also will use less electricity, even when idle all day. Best of all, it costs less than most other hardware capable of working as a server.

There are some downsides to be aware of, though. The Raspberry Pi 3 has an ARM processor that just doesn’t have the power to support transcoding. So when you are setting up your videos, you are going to want to choose MKV as your video format. That will usually bypass the need for transcoding. (Just about every Plex player supports MKV without transcoding on the fly, but a few smart TVs might have problems.)

Even then, while you’ll be able to watch standard Blu-ray quality locally, you probably won’t be able to view these videos remotely. And 4K Videos are likely not going to play well either. Also, keep in mind that this is not officially supported, and you’ll need to update the server software manually.

But once you account for those potential pitfalls, the Raspberry Pi does make a competent Plex Media Server.

Getting Started

Compared to using a dedicated full PC or an NVIDIA Shield as a Plex Server, the costs to get started with a Raspberry Pi are relatively low. You’ll need:

Optionally you might want to consider a case and a heat sink for the Raspberry Pi. You’ll need a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to get everything in place, but after that, you can run the Pi headless.

To start with, you will want to set your Raspberry Pi up following the standard steps. The easiest thing to do is get a copy of NOOBS to install the latest version of Raspbian.

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Microsoft is Ending Windows 10 Mobile Support on December 10th, 2019

Windows 10 Mobile support is coming to an end in December. Microsoft stopped developing features for the Mobile OS in 2017, but with this news, all updates come to an end, marking a final death to a once-promising mobile OS.

All Support is Coming to an End

Microsoft recently updated its support page for Windows 10 Mobile to note the change in status. After December 10th, any Windows 10 Mobile on the 1709 build will stop receiving any updates whether security related or not. The company will also discontinue any free support options or online technical assistance.

Users on build 1703 will see end up support even sooner—June 11th, 2019. If you’re wondering about 1803 and 1809, these builds never made it to Windows Phones.

Some Services will Stop Later

After the end of support, Windows Phones will continue to work, but some features will eventually shut down. Automatic and manual backups for settings and apps will cease after March 10, 2020. And services like photo upload and device restore will stop December 2020.

Your Next Move Should be to Switch to a new Mobile OS

Microsoft says it best. Switch to Android or iOS:

With the Windows 10 Mobile OS end of support, we recommend that customers move to a supported Android or iOS device. Microsoft’s mission statement to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, compels us to support our Mobile apps on those platforms and devices.

If you’re one of the few diehards who stuck out this long, you may find welcome surprises. Microsoft apps on iOS and Android are exceptionally well supported, and offer features not seen on Windows Phones today. Both an iOS and Android version of Outlook exists, along with an iOS and Android version of OneDrive. And if you need any help deciding, we think one phone really stood out last year.

via TheVerge

What Is the NTUSER.DAT File in Windows?

File Explorer window showing NTUSER.DAT file

Hidden in every user profile is a file named NTUSER.DAT. This file contains the settings and preferences for each user, so you shouldn’t delete it and probably shouldn’t edit it. Windows automatically loads, changes, and saves the file for you.

NTUSER.DAT Contains Your User Profile Settings

Every time you make a change to the look and behavior of Windows and installed programs, whether that’s your desktop background, monitor resolution, or even which printer is the default, Windows needs to remember your preferences the next time it loads.

Windows accomplishes this by first storing that information to the Registry in the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive. Then when you sign out or shut down, Windows saves that information to the NTUSER.DAT file. The next time you sign in, Windows will load NTUSER.DAT to memory, and all your preferences load to the Registry again. This process lets you personal settings unique to your user profile, like your chosen desktop background.

The name NTUSER.DAT is a holdover from Windows NT, first introduced with Windows 3.1. Microsoft uses the DAT extension with any file that contains data.

Every User has an NTUSER.DAT File

Windows didn’t always have full support for user profiles. In early versions when you started Windows, every user of the computer saw the same desktop, files, and programs. Now Windows better supports multiple users on the same machine, and it does this by placing an NTUSER.DAT file in every user’s profile. You can get there by opening File Explorer and either browsing to:

C:\Users\*YourUserName*

File Explorer windows showing the Users folder

or by typing:

%userprofile%

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Cortana Is Leaving Windows 10’s Search Bar, But Bing Stays

In the upcoming release of Windows 10, codenamed 19H1, Cortana and the search bar are breaking up and moving into separate houses. Unfortunately, the search bar won custody of Bing. Windows 10 19H1 is expected for release around April 2019.

The separation was announced by Microsoft in a blog post unveiling Windows Insider build 18317.

All jesting aside, the deep integration of Search and Cortana is one of the biggest complaints about Windows 10. We’ve taken time to show you how to hide and disable Cortana, and how to force Cortana to search Google instead of Bing. But if you liked and wanted the search bar, then you had to put up with Cortana. Thankfully Microsoft is finally taking care of that issue. But unfortunately, you’ll still have to put up with cloud searching.

As shown above, in 19H1, you will have a search box and a Cortana icon. You can turn off either or both. To disable Cortana, right-click the taskbar and uncheck “Show Cortana Button.” To disable the search box, right-click the taskbar and select Search > Hidden. You can also select “Show Search Icon” here if you’d rather just see a magnifying glass icon that takes up less room on your taskbar instead of the full search box.

The change doesn’t quite go far enough in our opinions. The search bar still incorporates Bing, and it’s no longer possible to disable Bing. Integrated web searches in the taskbar have some problems, as shown in the new settings for search.

As you can see, Windows now has adult content filter options for your search bar. And, while that’s a good thing to have if the search bar is going to provide web results, Bing’s SafeSearch is not always a guarantee that the results you get are safe for work. In fact, Bing has been really bad.

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How to Set Up Filters for Your Google Home Devices

Google Home devices are a great way to get voice assistants, music, and possibly video throughout your home. But you might consider enabling Google Filters to exert some control over the content that children or guests can play.

Filter Out the Bad Content for Everybody or Just the Children

Once you have a voice assistant in multiple rooms, you’ll find yourself taking advantage of the easy access to music and videos. Unfortunately, voice assistants don’t truly understand you; they simply respond to expected speech. They can “mishear” your command and play something unexpected, and this is doubly true with younger children who might have trouble enunciating. That, in turn, can lead to unintended songs filled with words you didn’t want a 6-year-old to hear. Or a hangouts call to an unintended contact.

You can prevent this by turning on filters for your Google Home devices. You can apply filters to specific Home devices or to all devices at once. And you can set up filters for all users of the devices or only for unapproved users. You also can block calls and limit the answers a Google Home device can provide about basic information like the weather or time. Thankfully, if you have any routines that play music or video, they will respect your filters.

There is one big caveat here. These filters only work with Google services like YouTube Red or Google Play Music. If you use another service (like Pandora), you’ll need to enable filters (if possible) from within those services. For example, on Pandora, you can do this by opening the web client, going to Settings > Content Settings, and then toggling the “Explicit Content” option off. Then click the “Save changes” button.

Unfortunately, if the service only blocks on a per device basis, like Spotify, you can’t block Explicit content on Google Home.

How to Set Up Filters

First, open the Google Home app and tap “Settings” underneath the “Home” Section.

Next, tap on “Digital Wellbeing.”

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