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How To Use Google Chromecast To Watch Streaming Video From Google Chrome Browser

Friday 8 November 2013 @ 6:12 pm

Google ChromecastToday, my Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player arrived in the mail. I’m really excited about it because this little thing allows me to watch YouTube videos on my TV easily. In other words, it makes my TV smart! With wifi connection, I can use an iphone, ipad, Android phone or tablet, laptop or desktop computer to ‘cast’ the videos onto the TV screen. Awesome! (as my kids said and it truly is).

What is the Google Chromecast? The Google Chromecast is a dongle developed by Google. It is tiny, just 2.83 inches but powerful. It lets you play audio or video content from a variety of devices namely your mobile phone, tablet computer, laptop computer or desktop computer onto your TV wirelessly via Wifi connection. You can stream video via an app. Supported apps include YouTube, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora Radio, Google Play Music and Google Play Movies and TV. If you are not in the US and is unable to subscribe to Netflix, Hulu Plus or Pandora, fret not, you can still stream video content from your desktop by using the Chrome Browser with a Chromecast extension. At the moment, this is still under Beta but it works fine.

Buy From Amazon

 

 

Google Chromecast

The box was small and there were four things that came with it.

  1.  a USB power cable
  2.  a power adapter
  3. the Chromecast dongle itself
  4. an optional HDMI adapter cable

Google Chromecast unboxing

I immediately set the hardware up. The simple instructions were on the box itself.

Instructions For Setting Up Google Chromecast

I searched for the HDMI input at the back of my Sharp Aquos TV.  I had an unused one called Input 3.

TV HDMI input

However, when I tried to stick the Chromecast dongle in there, it didn’t fit. Nevermind, that’s what the HDMI adapter cable is for. All I had to do was to join the HDMI cable adapter to the Chromecast dongle.

Here is a picture of the HDMI adapter and the Chromecast dongle.

HDMI Adapter and Chromecast Dongle

I join them together like this.

HDMI Adapter Cable joined to the Chromecast dongle

This baby needs to be powered, so the next step is to join the USB cable to the Chromecast dongle.

USB Power Cable joined to Google Chromecast Dongle

You can power the Google Chromecast by using the power adapter or if your TV has usb, all you need to do is to stick the USB cable in the USB input on your TV.

I decided not to use the power adapter because I couldn’t figure out how to use it. :P

Power Adapter

So, first I inserted the dongle into my HDMI Input 3 behind my TV…..

Setting up Google Chromecast

 Then I inserted the USB to my DVD player with a USB. If you are using the power adapter, all you need to do is stick the one end of the usb cable to the dongle and the other end to the power adapter. You don’t have to use your DVD USB input like I did. I used that because my TV does not have a USB input. Every cable and adapter you need is all provided.

DVD with USB

With the hardware ready, the rest of the setup was easy. Now what I have done so far was to plug it in (Step 1 on the box). Then all I had to do was follow step 2 (switch input – in my case Input 3) and then step 3 which is go to google.com/chromecast/setup and follow the instructions there to setup. It was really easy too.

Soon, I was able to play my YouTube videos from my ipad. However, I am an international user. In the US, besides YouTube, the other supported apps are Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Google Play Music, Google Play Movies and TV. So my use was somewhat limited to watching YouTube videos. These looked great, the audio and visual were terrific.

Watching TV using Google Chromecast

You can see that I am watching from Input 3 using the Google Chromecast in this picture.

Watching YouTube Videos using Google Chromecast

I didn’t want to just watch YouTube videos with my Google Chromecast. I wanted to watch streaming videos from my Google Chrome browser so now comes the real test. I had read that there were problems with that. The Google Chromecast can mirror any website you are visiting using the Google Chrome browser. So that means, if you are watching streaming video on your Google Chrome browser, it should mirror that too.

In order to do this, I have to be on the web by using the Google Chrome browser. I also had to install the Google Chromecast extension. This is no different than installing apps on my ipad. Very easy. Soon, I was watching streaming videos on my TV. The most delightful thing is when you are watching cast videos on your TV, you can still use your device for other things at the same time. For example, I took some of these photos from the phone using my phone camera, while the videos from YouTube were being cast onto the TV. The videos continued to play while I used the camera phone, surfed the internet on other tabs etc. This is what is really good about the Google Chromecast. While your device is casting, you can still use it as normal for other purposes.

Watching Streaming Videos using Google chromecast

There was a slight lag between the audio and visual and casting was not perfect at first but that was quickly fixed by going to my Google Chromecast extension and setting the options to standard video quality 480p instead of 720p.

Google Chromecast Extension Options

Whats my verdict?

I love it! I think I will be watching a lot more YouTube videos from now on as it works best with that. For the price, USD35 it is definitely worth it.  If you are an international user like me, you will have to pay some extra shipping charges to your country but it is still worthwhile. Shipping charges for me in Malaysia was more than half its price so do check on the shipping charges for your country. It is very easy to set up. You basically just plug in and play in minutes.

Small issues. I did not have any problems setting Google Chromecast up in minutes. My Sharp Aquos TV was ready to cast and there were no issues. I did face a few small issues though as I tried it out with all my devices.

  1. My ipad was able to cast YouTube videos. However, I could not install the Google Chromecast extension on it. It said “Sorry, your operating system is not surpported just yet. The Chrome Web Store is available on Windows, Mac, Chrome OS and Linux.” So I could not mirror streaming videos from my ipad.
  2. My android phone the Samsung Galaxy Ace was able to cast YouTube videos but the Google Chrome browser was not compatible with it so I could not cast streaming videos from it.
  3. I have not tried it out with the iphone at the time of writing.

My Google Chromecast was set up in the Living Room TV and I had no  problems casting YouTube videos and streaming videos from both my desktop PCs upstairs. So before you buy, do check up the minimum system requirements required for casting a tab from your Chrome Browser. However, if you are like me, you probably have multiple devices at home and one or two of them are sure to work. :)

Do note that in addition to installing the Chrome Browser. You will also need to install the google cast extension for your chrome browser. If you are not a very techy type of person like me, one easy way to find out whether your device is supported is to try to install the google cast extension for your chrome browser. If you are able to, then you are supported. If not, your device is not and you will not be able to use this feature.

 




My Love Affair With Words

Friday 4 October 2013 @ 8:54 am

I love words. I love reading them and writing them. Now I love pictures and I love combining pictures with words. I love writing poems, quotes, sharing experiences through non-fiction writing. One thing I haven’t explored is fiction. I don’t think I am imaginative enough for that though.

I think my love affair with words started in primary school. As the youngest child in a family of 5 whose mom passed on when I was 10, I was never heard at home. Shhhhh was what I mostly heard. No. No. Not when the adults are talking. My brothers and sisters are born within four years and then there is a four year gap before I came along. So I never got to join in very much when the siblings were talking as well. As a result I became taciturn and quiet. Well, at least that is my analysis of it or maybe I’m just naturally born that way.

So, maybe that is why I find that I can express myself much much better in writing. In writing, my words just flow out naturally. In writing, I have so much to say. I am really glad to have my blogs, my books and even my FB group for me to express myself. Being able to ‘speak’ at last makes me happy.




How To Make Your Own Facebook Cover In Minutes

Wednesday 18 September 2013 @ 8:17 am

You can make your own stylish Facebook Cover for your FB page in minutes. It is easy. In this post I will share with you how I created my own Facebook Cover for my FB page.

1. Take a photo. It is easy now that we have digital cameras and ipads or iphones and android devices. Make it seasonal if you can to make your FB page more festive. Here is an example. The Chinese Mid Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival is just around the corner. So, I took a picture of the pretty mooncake box and mooncakes which I got as a gift. Here is the photo. I’ve scaled it down to fit this page.

Shangri la Mooncake 2013

2. Wait a minute. The size is all wrong. You will need to fix that. That’s easy too. Firstly, you will need to know the Facebook Cover dimensions. The FB Cover Dimension is 851 pixels X 315 pixels. You don’t need to understand what pixels are if you don’t know it. All you need to know is how to resize it. You can use a free online picture resize tool to use it. I use http://www.picresize.com/ When resizing the image, pick “Custom  Resize” and type in the facebook cover size 851 x 315. Tip: You’ll have to take a really big sized picture, otherwise, you will not be able to resize it to the dimension that you want. You can’t resize a smaller picture into a bigger dimension. In other words, you can make a bigger picture smaller but not the other way around. 851 pixels by 315 pixels is quite a large size. The image you see below is a scaled down to 80% to fit this page. Otherwise it is bigger. I used my ipad to take the picture so the size is really large to begin with.

mooncake

3. Finally, you can add some text or effects to your picture. If you don’t have a software on your pc to do that, you can use a free online picture editor. There are some pretty good free ones online. Here is the one I  used to add some text to my picture. You can add cool effects too. http://ipiccy.com/

Facebook Cover Mooncake Mid Autumn Festival

That is it. Tadaaa. You have a cool looking current festive seasonal Facebook Cover for your facebook page. You don’t have to download it from any site and there won’t be any watermarks. In fact, you can add your own watermark or name if you like. :)

4. One more tip. If you like to show photos of yourself and your loved ones on your Facebook Cover. You can make a photo collage and resize it to the Facebook Cover Dimension. You can use a free online photo collage creator. Here is one. http://www.photovisi.com/ Add your favourite photos in the collage, then resize it and add effects ie repeat steps 2 and 3 above. Here is an example of a photo collage I did of the flowers in my garden. I used this http://newfbcover.com/ but it has a little watermark at the bottom of the image as you can see.

Flower Collage Facebook Cover




Malaysia Primary School Parents On Facebook

Friday 2 August 2013 @ 4:46 pm

Malaysia Primary School Parents On Facebook

Recently I started a group called Malaysia Primary School Parents On Facebook. I’m really happy with the group because I find it really useful to share and talk about the issues that we all face as Primary School Parents.

Anyone can start a group on Facebook. However one thing I find about Facebook groups is maintaining it. Naturally you want the group to be an involved group and you want it to be useful for everyone, not just you. That is a hard balance to strike. You see, in order to get more discussion and activity going, sometimes you have to start the discussion or keep it flowing or post interesting stuff for your group members BUT all the time at the back of my mind is the constant reminder that the group is not about you.

Now, if you wanted to have something all about you, that’s easy too. All you need to do is go and open a fan page and ask everyone to like it. A facebook group is not about you. You want to keep it happy and alive but it is not about you. That is the balance that has to be struck.

Just my random thoughts on a hot afternoon. I hope that all the members of the Malaysia Primary School Parents group finds it useful. I’m really happy that the members are discussing freely now. If you know me well enough, you will know that sometimes I disappear from FB and online for several weeks or months. That usually happens during the school holidays. We don’t usually go anywhere but I will be very tied up with the kids home 24/7. So, I’m glad that the group is now running on its own. :P




Help! I Accidentally Deleted All The Photos From The Camera On My Android Smartphone

Monday 13 August 2012 @ 11:59 am

Recently, I accidentally deleted all the photos from the camera on my Android smartphone. I had taken a photo using the camera on my Android Smartphone. At the time, the sun was out and it was very bright. I did not like the photo that I had taken so I selected the photo (or so I thought) but actually what I had done was selected all the photos on my camera. Since the latest photo was at the very top of the camera folder, I had accidentally checked the whole folder of photos instead of just that one photo and then I hit delete! As I said, the sun was very bright then and I didn’t even notice till the next day. Help! I had over 100 photos in there which I had not yet downloaded to my computer as a backup. Serves me right for being so lazy to download them.

So, I did the following in order to restore the photos that I had deleted from the camera on my Android device.

1. The first thing I did was to download the

Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery Software

This is a photo recovery software for Windows OS-based computer users that recovers deleted or lost photos, images, songs, movies, and other multimedia files from digital camera, external hard drives, laptops and desktop, CD, DVD, USB Drives, and memory cards.

I thought that sounded great so I downloaded and immediately tried to scan the photos from my camera by directly attaching my camera to the computer using USB and then selecting the external removable file folder.

Unfortunately, this did not work for me. It took a very long time and kept on hanging. :(

2. Next I tried

Wondershare Photo Recovery for Windows & Mac

This photo recovery software specializes in recovering photos, videos and music recovery that has been formatted, deleted, erased or corrupted. It is able to recover from all sorts of devices including camera, cell phone, memory card, USB, PC, Mac, MP3 and more.

Cool! I thought. This is it. This is for me. So I downloaded the photo recovery software and started scanning. The scanning took a long time. I can’t remember how long but I think it was about 2 hours. It was very detailed. I could see my deleted pictures in various sizes. I could also see all sorts of other people’s pictures which I had just briefly glanced at on facebook. I thought to myself. How funny. If you post your photos on facebook, you could be  unknowingly have your photos in the memory of someone else’s Android device!

Anyway, it took a long time and I was pleased to see my lost photos. However, when it was time to recover the photos, I got the message that the photos could not be recovered unless I purchased the software. Dang!  Some photo recovery software allow you to view the photos that can be recovered before you make a decision to purchase but I didn’t know that. :P

I don’t mind purchasing the software if I had thousands of photos in there which were keepsakes of my children’s photos from birth but what I had in there were mostly photos I had taken for my blog plus some photos of the children doing certain household chores at home. I wasn’t about to pay for that. Ok, I admit it, I am stingy but I can’t afford going around paying for software for mistakes I had made from just one click.

3. So, I searched for free photo recovery software and found

i) Photorec

Photorec is a file data recovery software designed to recover lost files including video, documents and archives from hard disks, CD-ROMs, and lost pictures (thus the Photo Recovery name) from digital camera memory.

a Facebook friend also recommended this free photo recovery software but at the time I had already recovered my photos using Recuva below.

and

ii) Recuva

Recuva recovers files that you have accidentally deleted or lost when your computer crashed.

I downloaded Recuva and proceeded to scan for my deleted photos. At the time, I had already taken a new photo on my camera. You are advised not to take any new photos before recovering your photos using any software as it will be harder and not possible to recover your photos after you have written over it.

Anyway, it took only 10-15 minutes to scan my deleted photos from my phone. I didn’t have to screen through 100s of other people’s photos the way I had to using Wondershare. All the photos I wanted were right there and all I had to do was select all of them and save them on my computer. Yahoo!

There is a free lunch after all!

Tip: When recovering photos you have accidentally deleted, do it as soon as you can and do not take any new photos in the meantime. In this way, you may be able to get back all the photos you deleted like I did. :)

Note: I am not doing a review on photo recover software. Some of the software above may work better for you than for me. I am just sharing my experience of how I recovered the photos I accidentally deleted from my phone. I am using the Samsung Galaxy Ace. Here is a review of My Samsung Galaxy Ace.

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