Internet TV and Bit-Rates

When we hook up our Internet TV box for the first time, we are allowed – in most cases – to set our TV resolution to 1080p. But the reality today is, that this resolution does not by itself state the picture quality.

Such video streams are sent to the receiver in compressed format, and the compressed bit-rate is a more accurate indication of what the actual picture quality will be. I.e., even if the basic format is 1920×1080, by compressing the stream more, lower bit-rates can be achieved, at the expense of picture quality.

Modern Internet TV boxes are quite intelligently programmed, to be able to change the bit-rate in mid-stream. Thus, when my ‘‘ started buffering, during an initial test, it did not only allow for its buffer to catch up with the point in the movie I was watching, but also noted that the real bit-rate of my connection was not high enough to support the highest quality level, available at 1080p. Immediately after that, the picture seemed slightly less sharp, but as I continued to watch, the overall quality of the picture started to recover again.

My has never had a streaming-interruption since then.

In fact, the way it is with HDMI connections to our TV, it is impractical for the source of the stream to change the picture-format in mid-stream. It tends to stay fixed.

And when we compare – which is a service offered by my ISP, also to stream TV to me via DSL – its reason for maintaining a consistent picture-quality is actually different. In this case, the bit-rate of the stream is reserved at the Modem / Router, which also belongs to Bell. I.e., the Bell Modem can ensure that a certain rate of bits per second are available for TV, and can do so at the expense of actual computers also trying to communicate. My is counted by the Bell Modem, as just another connected WiFi client.

What this actually means, is that if another person is considering buying a , but worried that his Internet is not fast enough – as long as he does have some form of high-speed Internet – he need not worry much. The receiver would detect his slow connection, and adjust the picture quality to suit.

Also, with a , we get to set the picture format to 720p instead, so that the required bit-rates start at a slower one.

If my TV was a 4K TV, I could set the format accordingly, but then I would worry, that this might be time and money wasted, because then, the picture quality on my network might not keep up with the 4K format.

Dirk

 

WiFi on Laptop named Klystron, RTL8723BE

One subject which I have commented on often, but which in recent months I have gotten little or no new information about, was the stability of the WiFi chip-set on my laptop ‘Klystron’, which is driven by the kernel modules known as ‘RTL8732BE’.

Here is an earlier posting on this subject.

Since that posting, there have been 2 firmware updates to that laptop specifically. One, to version 1.159, and the next, to version 1.160.

What I found was that firmware version 1.159 actually seemed to make the WiFi very unstable again – a regression. But firmware version 1.160 seemed to make it stable again.

In the meantime, I have a script in directory

/lib/systemd/system-sleep

which is intended to deal with A Different Problem that laptop has, which was, that after resuming from sleep, the laptop system clock would seem to jump ahead exactly 68 hours. I had changed that script as an experiment. But now I have changed it back again, to:


#!/bin/bash
#
# fixing https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=173487

case "$1" in
  pre)
    date +%s > /tmp/suspend.log
    ;;
  post)
    was=`cat /tmp/suspend.log`
    now=`date +%s`
    # time shifts for 68 hours
    if [ $now -gt `expr $was + 244800` ]; then
      date -s "`date -R --date="68 hours ago"`"
    fi
    /bin/sh -c "sleep 20; /etc/init.d/nmbd restart; /etc/init.d/smbd restart" &
    ;;
  *)
    ;;
esac

I often did suspect that problems which I had specifically associated with the kernel module, may not in fact stem from the kernel module. On my LAN, I use a router which is not owned by me, but rather by my ISP, and that router has numerous settings – as well as its own Firmware flashing – under the control of my ISP rather than under my direct control.

This router is still useful to me, because I subscribe to “Bell Fibe” and get to watch TV through it, in 1920x1080i resolution, which I could not do, if I was to try switching to a router owned by me.

But many of the problems which Klystron has on my WiFi, may all be policy issues with this router. Since I cannot get deep into the router settings, I am left guessing as to what router policies the laptop may not be abiding by.

But what this can do is lead to Samba problems specifically, which seem to mimic general WiFi connectivity issues, but which are not really examples of that.

Dirk

 

I do not own my own router.

One thing which exists in a big way in Canada, is that ISP subscribers own their own router. But as it happens, my router is owned by Bell and rented to me. The official reason for this, is the fact that my router also provides me with Bell Fibe TV, which contrarily to the naming, is in fact provided over IP via DSL twisted-pair wires.

This paid-for TV content is DRM, so that it is hard to imagine that any other computer enthusiasts have managed to set up their own router, and to receive Fibe TV anyway.

But this also means that I do not have the access to flash my own router. Bell can flash the router when they see a need, but I cannot. And this also means that I cannot obtain full control over this router.

Readers might think that this is an odd situation, for a person who sets up a Web-server, and an OpenVPN-server, at his home IP address. But by using IP-tables in my Linux configuration, I have been able to do precisely that. In particular, the OpenVPN-server requires an ‘IP Masquerade’ to work. But as of my last test, it does work.

But because I am a person who ‘sometimes thinks suspiciously’, I have also had ideas, about what other consequences might arise, from the router being under the control of somebody else. One thing which may happen, is that this router, which displays no options or information regarding IPv6, may get confused and start dropping clients, over repeated requests for IPv6 addresses.

The Web-interface of this router is a dumbed-down interface, which I can access, but which for my benefit, does not give me deep control over the settings. One thing which remains true however, is that in Canada, there is next to no real use of IPv6 from the side of ISPs.

Now, I have set up an IPv6 gateway, which allows my site to be fetched by way of IPv6 if this is desired. But I have also set up my ‘ip6tables‘ in such a way that any request my Server makes for an IPv6 address, gets routed to this gateway, and not to my physical Ethernet connection. It is only logical. So ‘ping6‘ works gloriously on the Server, but not on my laptop. When I do a ‘ping6‘ on my server-box, I also get to see a graphical display in my ‘gkrellm‘ monitor widget, of activity going out over my ‘teredo‘ virtual NIC, not over my real NIC.

And so I have a somewhat lopsided configuration at home, but one which does what I want it to do.

Dirk