Temporary fix for updating external HPFS/NTFS/exFAT hard drive’s permissions so Plex can access

When I plugged in my external hard drive that was on Windows to a Linux machine (Raspberry Pi 3), it was automatically mounted at /media/brian/Brian-HD, but the permissions were drw- --- --- 1 brian brian. I needed Plex to be able to see and use the hard drive, but no matter how much I tried to open up permissions, the ls -l command never changed.

Failed attempts to update permissions

sudo -R chmod 660 /media/brian/
sudo addgroup brian plex
sudo addgroup plex brian

Finding out that the drive is an exFAT.

sudo fdisk -l 
Device Boot Start End Sectors Size Id Type 
/dev/sda1 256 488378111 488377856 1.8T 7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT

What worked for me

PLEX support forums has an article specifically on how to mount NTFS hard drives (but exFAT works too) so you can get permissions for PLEX to see the files. But their article is old and has broken links, so I will restate it with updated links:

# Run and get the UUID of your device

# Edit /etc/fstab
sudo nano /etc/fstab

# Add this line to the bottom 
UUID=<UUID from before without quotes and brackets> /media/brian exfat permissions,auto 0 0

# Unmount your device
sudo umount /media/brian/Brian-HD

# Try mounting and troubleshoot
sudo mount /media/brian


The last step will work, but you might have to do some troubleshooting to make sure the format type is right and the mount location is correct.



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Factory Resetting Nexlux LED Light Strip

TNexlux LED Light Strip Boxhe Nexlux LED Strip Lights sold on Amazon have a confusing set of “How to restore factory settings?” instructions

First, to add a device, install their app (Magic Home Pro app on Google Play or Magic Home WiFi on App Store) and click “Add Device”.

But if you already have a device and changed Wi-Fi networks, you will need to reset that device.

Repeat four times unless the device strobes multiple colors:

  1. Plug into power. With remote, turn on lights. Wait a few seconds.
  2. Unplug from power! (Not turning off with remote.) Wait a few seconds.







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Google Location Sharing Review

Google’s version of Apple’s Find My Friend is Google Location Sharing. You can set this up to share your location with friends for a limited amount of time, or you can set it to always share your location with family (or friends). This helps them know where you are and hopefully make sure everyone is safe.

It works on Android and iOS, though on iOS, you need to allow Google to have background access to location services. Otherwise, the location updates will only be since you last opened a Google App on iOS.

I have not experienced any additional battery drain. If you use Google Location History, it is already saving and reporting your location to Google. So, this is just allowing your family member to view you using data your phone is already reporting.

In my usage, updates are between 2-30 minutes, but you can always ask it to refresh, which seems to pull a newer location, but I am not sure what it is exactly doing.

What are the alternatives? The best would be Glympse, which has more features for short-term sharing. It lets you pick a destination, showing your friend where you were, where you are going, and the ETA to get there.

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Secure Messaging Apps Review

oblivate Review

Makeusof.com released their own security app called oblivate, available on Android and iOS. Their announcement article was the typical propaganda saying the app has these features:

  • Message delete timers (“self-destructing”)
  • No screenshots (Android only)
  • No chat history
  • Free and no ads

But for a company to say an app is secure, as they are, the app should have at a minimum:

  • Encryption
  • Open-source or 3rd party auditing

And they do not. (They do not even have picture support!)

Coming soon, obliviate hopes to add encryption, support for audio, pictures, and videos, custom notification sounds, and more! We hope you enjoy the app.

Overview of All Secure Messaging Apps

This is a problem amongst the secure messaging app space, they all have security tradeoffs:

  • iOS stores your private keys in their servers.
  • Telegram uses its own encryption algorithm.
  • Wickr and this app are not open source.

Or usability tradeoffs:

  • Signal (Open Whisper System) is confusing to set up and limited users to talk to.

The best compromise out there is Whatsapp. It uses the best open source end-to-end framework, done by Open Whisper System. With end to end encryption, a government cannot force Whatsapp to give up your messages because Whatsapp cannot even see them! The one known security tradeoff is actually a feature – you can recover messages when you switch phones. This could be used by a government to get some of your recent messages. With that security flaw in mind, Whatsapp has a huge user base so you can talk to mostly anyone and the app is easy to use.

I suggest Whatsapp for normal, daily, secure messaging use.

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[NO SOLUTION] Lenovo Thinkpad shuts down after exactly 30 minutes

I recently received a rather new Lenovo Thinkpad Ultrabook for free because the machine running Windows would shut down after 30 minutes exactly. It was running Windows and I thought it was a problem with Windows, well…

Installing Linux, it would shut down after 30 minutes exactly.

On AC, Battery, or AC with no battery, it shut down after 30 minutes exactly.

In just the BIOS screen (no Operating System loaded), it shut down after 30 minutes exactly.

Updating the BIOS to the latest version, it still shut down after 30 minutes.

Verdict – Hardware

There are many forums discussing this topic across Lenovo and some will say “[SOLVED]”, but that is just because the post became stale. From what I can see, there is no solution to this and trying to fix it will be a waste of time. I believe this is only affecting older laptops so if you are reading this, you are probably out of warranty. But if you are in warranty, return the laptop. If you are out of warrant, get a new laptop.


Do a Google search for Lenovo shutting down after 30 minutes. I went through mostly all of the results.

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Saving Tree Style Tabs into Bookmarks with Firefox

On Firefox, my favorite add-on is Tree Style Tabs (download), because

  1. you can see all of your tabs and their names
  2. tabs have hierarchy (parent > children > grandchildren)

Once you use it, you will always want to use it, especially at work. But if you get the error message “failed to get permissions to create bookmarks“, you need to grant permissions to the add-on. This is not straightforward. The notification will probably be cutting off some of the words! But if you got here, this is how you do it.

Go to Add-ons > Extensions > Tree Style Tabs > more.

You should see this, so check the checkbox next to “Allow to create bookmarks”


You might get another error message! This is because this add-on’s preferences page cannot request access to the bookmarks. So, you now need to click on the add-on’s icon in your toolbar:


And follow the prompts there. The confirmation dialog will likely appear on the top left of your browser window!

Posted in Desktop Apps, How-To | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

NAT Loopback on Xfinity

The current Xfinity routers (end of 2017) do not support NAT Loopback and have no options for enabling NAT Loopback.

What is NAT Loopack?

NAT Loopback or Hairpinning is when Device_A behind a router tries to access another Device_B behind the same router by Device_B’s external name (e.g. domain name) instead of its local name (e.g. local IP address). Because of the way packets will leave the router and reenter, some routers disable NAT Loopback for security reasons.

Problem Description

When a router does not support NAT Loopback, a techie will have a problem if they are:

  • hosting a home server
  • using a domain name to route to the home server
  • accessing their home server via the domain name while on the same network as the home server

Partial Solutions

  1. While home, access the server using the local IP address.
  2. Use a VPN to route traffic out of your home, which will then go back home and to your server.
  3. Buy a router that supports NAT Loopback. [link_1]
  4.  Set up a local DNS server to change the public domain name to the local IP address.


Posted in How-To, Networking | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Plex loading local subtitles

Plex tends to do a good job of loading local subtitle files (usually .srt) and it can even automatically load subtitles for you [2]. But sometimes, it will not load a file that is in your directory with your video file.

The solution is likely a quick fix: add the Language code to the subtitle file. From Plex’s support [3]



     Avatar (2009).mkv 
     Avatar (2009).en.srt


  1. http://support.plex.tv/articles/categories/using-subtitles/
  2. https://support.plex.tv/articles/200288597-fetching-internet-sourced-using-your-own-subtitle-files/
  3. https://support.plex.tv/articles/200471133-adding-local-subtitles-to-your-media/
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Nextcloud Snap Installation

The Nextcloud installation page has two sets of instructions now: automatic and manual. Previously on this website, I have described the manual steps to setting up Nextcloud. It is a good learning experience and worth a try, but even better is the automatic installation using snaps.

“Snaps are containerised software packages that are simple to create and install. They auto-update and are safe to run. And because they bundle their dependencies, they work on all major Linux systems without modification.” [source]

Now, the steps are almost one step:

sudo snap install nextcloud

Reaching via different host names

By default, the only allowed hostname is “localhost”.If you are accessing your server by another name (e.g. or nextcloud-server.com), you need to add the trusted domains.

If you access the server on your Nextcloud server machine, the website will prompt you to add the trusted domains.

Otherwise for a quicker setup, you can add your trusted domains via the command line.

sudo nextcloud.occ config:system:set trusted_domains 1 --value=
sudo nextcloud.occ config:system:set trusted_domains 2 --value=nextcloud-server.com
sudo nextcloud.occ config:system:set trusted_domains 3 --value=www.nextcloud-server.com

Verify the results:

cat /var/snap/nextcloud/current/nextcloud/config/config.php


array (
   0 => 'localhost',
   1 => '',
   2 => 'nextcloud-server.com',
   3 => 'www.nextcloud-server.com',

External Hard Drive

In order to point your Nextcloud’s data directory to an external hard drive, follow these steps, assuming your external hard drive and new Nextcloud data directory is located at:


Log into your server first and set up an admin account.

Make sure your Nextcloud server is enabled.

sudo snap enable nextcloud

Connect the remove-media snap plug so that the Nextcloud server can access your external hard drive.

sudo snap connect nextcloud:removable-media

Change the Nextcloud server’s config file to point to the new data directory, so do

vi /var/snap/nextcloud/current/nextcloud/config/config.php

And change  the value of “datadirectory” to

'datadirectory' => '/media/<user>/<hard_drive_name>/nextcloud_data_directory',

Now, disable the Nextcloud server.

sudo snap disable nextcloud

And move all the data to the new data folder (including hidden files!)

sudo mv /var/snap/nextcloud/common/nextcloud/data/* /media/<user>/<hard_drive_name>/nextcloud_data_directory
sudo mv /var/snap/nextcloud/common/nextcloud/data/.* /media/<user>/<hard_drive_name>/nextcloud_data_directory

Set the proper permissions so your Nextcloud server can access the hard drive and not complain:

sudo chown -R root:root /media/<user>/<hard_drive_name>/nextcloud_data_directory
sudo chmod -R 0770 /media/<user>/<hard_drive_name>/nextcloud_data_directory

Re-enable your Nextcloud server

sudo snap enable nextcloud

Enabling HTTPS

Before using snap, verify that your domain name directs to your server. Then, use this simple snap command that will generate a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate automatically.

sudo nextcloud.enable-https lets-encrypt


If you cannot access the files after moving to the external hard drive, you might consider reading about dropping your mysql data tables. [link]

If you want to keep your nextcloud.log file on your local disk, because it will move by default with your data directory. [link]


Posted in How-To, Nextcloud/OwnCloud | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sideloading Apps onto Fire TV

Since the Amazon Fire TV is a device that runs Android, you can install any Android app onto your Fire TV, but to varying degrees of success.

How to

To get apps onto your FireTV, you can do it the manual way or the easy way.

Manual: Download an APK from an APK websites (e.g. APKPure or APK4Fun)*. Copy onto an SD card and insert the SD card into your Fire TV.

Easy Way: Follow the steps in this Make Use Of article. In short, you use the apps already downloaded on your phone and it will copy and install the apps onto your Fire TV.


You will probably hit problems with your downloads though, since they were not designed for the Fire TV.

  1. If an app requires Google Play Services, it will not open. You will need to try installing Google Play onto your Fire TV.
  2. If an app is not designed to play on a TV, the app will be stretched and unclear.

Example Apps

  • BTN2Go – Horrible aspect ration
  • MSG GO – Requires Google Play Services


  • * These APK websites can provide compromised versions of apps, do use at your own risk.


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