And, off we go again. The dust settles on the festive season, so it’s time for another pre-release to hit the streets… we’re getting close to final release now, so we’re moving out of Beta and into RC.

If you want to know the main features in this release series, please refer back to previous blog posts: this is an iteration of previous Beta releases, not a feature release, remember.

This is stable, reliable code, suitable for daily use. Please, then: install, test, and give us clear feedback on any remaining issues, either with the new features or perhaps with a regression in existing code. As this is a release candidate, we think it’s basically ready to go, but let’s aim to make sure.

You can get this release from here or – if appropriate – our nightly PPA here. If you’re on Android, you can enrol in our Beta programme and get updates directly from Google Play.

As usual, you can also see changes since the last release here or browse the merged PRs here.





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Hey everybody,

In June 2020 some suggestions on improvements to our add-on system were suggested by Matt Huisman and some minor changes were implemented. Who knew at the time but this turned into much more work both cleaning up the current add-on system and adding numerous new features. The main goal of this became to improve the add-on user experience and add security features in order to prevent add-ons and repositories from being misused by bad actors.

The main problems were founded in the initial design of the add-on system, which doesn’t distinguish between official and third-party repositories. This allows a mixup of installing and updating add-ons based only on their version information, regardless of their origin.

In order to tackle these issues and make the add-on system more robust as a whole, the following cornerstone changes were implemented to the add-on subsystem:

  • The official Kodi add-on repository and its origin – kodi.tv-mirrors – are now defined as such. This repository contains all add-ons approved by Team Kodi.

  • Proper update rule restrictions were set up, which means official versions will be preferred during update over non official. Additionally add-ons are now bound to their origin to stop cross-updating and mixing of official and third-party add-ons.

  • Add-ons now stick to their origin for automated updates – this means the end user still has the freedom to choose between official or third-party add-on, they’d like to use, but updates will no longer switch from official to third-party and vice versa based solely on the highest version number.

  • Add-ons that do not originate from a repository (e.g. zip- or manually installed) will no longer receive updates. I.e. they will be pinned (Add-ons from an official repo are an exception to this rule).

  • General improvement of pinning mechanisms. Add-ons downgraded to a lower version within their origin don’t get auto updated until they’re switched back to their latest version.

  • Improved migration process – add-ons marked as incompatible during migration can be auto updated on the next Kodi startup.

The subsystem work allowed the following GUI changes to be implemented:

  • You can now see the origin of add-ons and their pinning status (especially use in the All Repositories view).

  • You can see whether or not an add-on was (or will be) installed from a repo (and if that repo was official) in all views.

  • You can see if an add-on was installed from zip or is a system add-on in all views.

  • Many other UI consistency fixes around add-ons.

Lastly there were many, so many long time bugs and inconsistencies that came to the surface while doing this work, and all these that we know about so far have been fixed. In the end, the user experience of the add-on system shouldn’t change too much, but should be a more enjoyable overall.

Here are some of the things we would like to tackle in V20:

  • Signing of add-ons: the ability to identify an author across multiple repos. This enables things like trusted beta repos etc. Call for volunteers on this one, we don’t have any in team experience on cross platform signing!

  • Sandboxing of binary add-ons: Prevent binary add-ons from crashing Kodi

  • Navigating add-ons: Better tagging, and searching of add-ons.

Cheers,

phunkyfish & frank (howie)

 





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2020 has been a tough year, where we’ve had to stay apart from the things we love. No longer have we been able to pack into stadiums and concert venues, head to watch TV shows or hang out with friends and loved ones. Instead, we have turned to technology to make us feel like we are together, that we are experiencing these things even when we are apart. It has been a year that has shown us just how important technology is and what it can do for us. Those that have previously been out and about and not really on their phones have turned into avid tech fans, eager to catch up on anything they are missing out on from the outside world. Here are five ways that technology has got us through 2020….

It enabled us to watch our favourite entertainment from home

Let’s face it, humans like to have plans and be out and about doing this. In a year when we haven’t been able to go to things such as football or concerts, it has been a challenge. Luckily, technology meant that we didn’t feel as far away from the action as we might have otherwise. Once football matches were allowed to happen again (albeit it without crowds) avid fans could tune in and watch the games from the comfort of their coach. Tuning in to the FA Cup Finals might have been a bit different, but it meant you didn’t miss out completely. Singers did live concerts on their social media accounts and many actors did Zoom chats to keep us all entertained in a way that was different from past years but still entertaining all the same! And it was all made possible due to technology.

We could catch up with friends and family 

There are a whole host of websites and apps that really shone in 2020 for keeping us connected with our family and friends. From Zoom and Microsoft Teams to FaceTime and Messenger video, technology has allowed us to check in with loved ones when we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. We could chat with groups and whole families while also keeping safe. It was an easy way to be able to host quizzes, play games, and keep everyone’s spirits up when otherwise it could have felt like a very lonely time. This is particularly true for anyone living alone as it could have been a very lonely place without the ability to see and speak to loved ones.

It meant work could happen from home

When travel and transport stopped and we were advised to work from home, it could have been a nightmare for many businesses. Luckily, companies were able to use and utilize technology to their advantage and keep their companies ticking along. Meetings could take place, work could be distributed, people could communicate and things could run as smoothly as possible under the circumstances. In a time that has been hard on business owners everywhere, it was very important that they could still run effectively, create sales, and adapt to the changing world around them. Many companies changed their plans and created new initiatives to suit the situation.

Online teaching 

Education is an important passage of life and this year saw many schools, colleges, and universities have to shut during the most crucial period. There were many who had to sit exams, get qualifications that would let them into university the following year, or to get a degree before starting a job once they graduate. Online learning meant that people didn’t lose out and could continue to get an education without having to put themselves or their teachers and lecturers at risk. Teachers were able to set up group classes over video, to send over work via email (and mark it also) as well as set tasks and things to research. It also enabled the class members to still get a bit of the social aspect of education, catching up with fellow classmates and seeing other faces to those that they are in lockdown with at home. In a strange time, this was an important factor that helped many people out and wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance of technology.

Keeping us entertained with games and apps

In a time when the things we could all do was severely limited and we couldn’t leave for entertainment, dining out, or visiting others, it left many people wondering what there is to do. Luckily technology was on hand to help with entertaining. 2020 was the year of TikTok, where not only did everyone binge use it, but many hours were spent learning dances and songs, leading the way for a new generation of content creators. We have also been able to turn to many games such as on the Xbox, the computer, and the PlayStation. Never before have so many games of FIFA been played, Sim characters been created and Mario Kart matches taken place. With the use of technology items such as headsets, it has also created a great way for friends to stay in touch and catch up when they can’t see each other. Apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter also enabled us to keep in touch and see what was going on in the world. It enabled people to feel much closer and know what others were getting up to, as well as get ideas and inspiration for things to do at home.

Technology has been one of the most important things for us this year and will only continue to highlight our reliance on it as we head into the new year. There has been an emergence of new apps and things to see, do, and experience, and this will only grow. While it might have been a crazy year and one unlike any other, we got through it with the help of technology. What have you relied on to get you through? What has been your favorite bit of technology? Let us know in the comments below.

*Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels


Heya fellow net dwellers,

Right now the Remote Chaos Experience (RC3) is already running at full steam as virtual replacement for the 37th Chaos Communication Congress (37C3) that was supposed to be held in Leipzig, Germany, at exactly this time.

While we did not register an official assembly, some Team Kodi members are roaming around the RC3 world and we will use the opportunity to hold a short “What’s new” presentation plus Q&A session on the last day of the congress. The exact date and time is Wednesday, 30th December, 2 p.m. CET. The “venue” has not been decided yet and we will update this post as soon as we have more information.

We look forward to seeing many of you there!





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The Free IPTV project is the collective work of users from all over the world in order to create a free to everyone accessible m3u playlist with legally receivable IPTV channels. The project is open to everyone who wants to contribute, as long as the streams are not illegal. Every playlist is in a .m3u format and it is updated several times a week. Inside you will find a crazy amount of channels, including a huge list from the USA with entertainment, music, Roku, Pluto, and local channels as well as a complete list of every country like Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, France, Greece and more! The list was originally created in order to work with KODI and the IPTV Simple PVR add-on so some channels, very few to be exact, may need the YouTube add-on on KODI.

How To Use The Free Legal IPTV Lists

IPTV Smarters Was Removed From Google Play

You can select a specific IPTV list for the country/countries you are interested in or the last list named ZZ_Playlist_all in order to have all channels available from all over the world. The All in one playlist can be also be used with the https://is.gd/freeiptvall shortlink so it is easier to add on any app. Most Android applications will categorize each country and also add the channel logo for an eye-candy operation. If you want to stream the channels on Windows, Linux, or macOS you can do so with a player that supports m3u streaming like the VLC media player. On Android, I recommend using IPTV Smarters Pro which is totally free too. Just select to add an M3U List when asked and the app will handle everything for you. You can also use KODI, as mentioned above, with the Simple IPTV PVR add-on on any device that is compatible.

M3U Free IPTV Playlists:

Free & Legal IPTV Credits

Needless to point out that the work is not mine nor am I involved in any way. All the credits go to the Free IPTV repository on Github, so you may want to leave them some feedback on https://github.com/Free-IPTV and also to contribute if you want to.

IPTV best premium free iptv services

Is This IPTV Playlist Legal?

Yes, the Free-IPTV playlist(s) is totally legal. The channels are all free to stream and watch so you will not have any issues at all.

Is This Video Addon For KODI Safe?

Yes, it is a safe video addon for KODI. But better use a VPN since some links are blocked by certain ISPs and also to protect your identity and security when streaming free movies and TV shows. Especially with any of the third-party Kodi addons. So if you consider protecting your internet identity and demand high-quality privacy, then protect your online presence with a trusted VPN service like IP Vanish or Private Internet Access. Both are paid services but guarantee your online anonymity without keeping logs or paid records!


So, here we go again. Nothing earth-shattering, just a quick note to tell you that the second Beta of Kodi 19.x “Matrix” is now available for installation.

If you want to know the main features in this release series, please refer back to previous blog posts, especially the Beta 1 announcement: this is entirely a bugfix release, so – as befits a second Beta – there are no new features over Beta 1.

By this stage, there should be no show-stopping bugs, and this release should be pretty reliable – just make sure you know how to roll back, just in case. Please: install, test, and give us clear feedback on any issues you uncover, either with the new features or perhaps with a regression in existing code. We can then work to resolve these before we go to full release.

You can get Beta 2 from here, or – if appropriate – our nightly PPA here. If you’re on Android, you can enrol in our Beta programme and get updates directly from Google Play.

As usual, you can also see changes since Beta 1 here or browse the merged PRs here.





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The Best VPN Deals for Black Friday 2020

Black Friday 2020 and Cyber Monday 2020 aren’t here yet. But VPNs have started their sales early so you can get a discount right now. Mostly because of the pandemic, VPN demand is also high and security companies are now offering their services for an all-time low since they can make the budget. These deals are already live so you can profit from them right now!

IPVanish

IPVanish The Best VPN Deals for Black Friday 2020

Starting with IPVanish, which offers their services starting from a low of $2.92 per month instead of $11.99 with savings of 76%! The offer is valid for a 1-year service and for a total of $34.99 instead of $134.88. Their offer other than the top-notch VPN service includes a 250GB encrypted cloud storage by SugarSync. Very handy especially now that Google decided to limit their cloud services offering for Photo and people are looking for good alternatives. What is also amazing with this offer by IPVanish is that there is no more a 10 simultaneous devices restriction. Now you can connect as many devices as you own to their VPN service. They are also committed to zero-log; no connection or activity logs are stored. IPVanish offers access to over 1,500 servers in 75+ locations.

PIA

PIA Best VPN Deals for Black Friday 2020

Moving on to Private Internet Access, a great VPN service that has been around for a long time now offers their best deal for $2.08 per month instead of $11.95 with savings of 83%! The offer is for a 3-year plan which you get for $79 instead of $430.20. PIA is also known for its commitment to zero logs, and 19438 servers across 77 countries! With PIA you can use up to 10 devices simultaneously on the VPN service. They also offer a bonus, a Cloud Security License with Boxcryptor which although I haven’t personally tested yet.

Ivacy

Ivacy VPN black friday 2020

Lastly, perhaps the best bang for your bucks comes from Ivacy. They offer an insanely low $0.99 a month instead of $9.99 with a saving of 90%! The offer is on their 5-year plan for just $60 instead of the $599 that would normally cost you. With Ivacy VPN you can unblock easily BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Hulu & 7 major Netflix Regions including US, FR, JP, UK, Aus, De & Ca. They have been around since 2007 and were the first to introduce the Split Tunneling feature back in 2010. They do not offer a Cloud storage solution as the previous two but if you do not need it, Ivacy VPN is an incredible value for money VPN!

They All Offer Also

All the above-mentioned VPN services offer their services also by the use of an app. They all support all kinds of devices: Windows, Android, Android TV, macOS, iOs, Linux, Xbox, KODI, and almost any router. Whichever VPN Deal for Black Friday 2020 you will go, remember you have a 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee. I have personally tested them all, that is also why I am confident in recommending them. I have selected them from the plethora of VPN services I have tried in the last 7 years because of their stability, security, and all-around performance.


Lights! Camera! Action!

… nearly. It’s Beta time for Kodi 19.x “Matrix”, so let’s take another step towards the Great Unveiling.

As we now move into Beta, this release is much more about fixes than features: while there will be the odd new functionality, we’re concentrating very much more on getting everything working properly from this point.

To recap, then, one of the main objectives of 19.x “Matrix” is to release a production version of Kodi with Python 3 addons as early in 2021 as we can. That can only happen with enthusiastic community support, lots of good humour and willingness to see the best in others – well, that and coffee/beer (delete as applicable), of course!

Why Python 3? Simply, because Python 2 went end-of-life in January 2020, so the whole IT industry is lurching over to the new platform. It’s generally taking a long time, but it’s necessary if you want active support, bugfixes, the latest third-party libraries, security patches, and the like. You can see some of Kodi’s announcements about this change in previous blog posts.

Beyond that, though, here’s a quick recap of the major new features in 19.x “Matrix” – as well, of course, as many fixes and code changes that won’t be as obvious:

Audio/Music

  • Improvements covering multi-disc CD sets and box sets; metadata improvements such as better handling of album release dates, album durations, etc.; new fullscreen/visualisation settings; new Matrix-inspired visualisation; support for file tags over http(s).

Music Videos

  • Improved links with the music library to e.g. fetch related album/artist information, display both videos and albums when searching, display more linked information in info dialogs, etc.; improvements around grouping of all music videos by artist (vs album only); enhanced .nfo handling for multiple performers.

Skin/Look-and-Feel

  • Multiple improvements to Estuary, particularly around music and music videos, including: a redesign of the fullscreen/visualisation music window; additional metadata display; new “Now Playing” view; chapter information for music videos; enhanced “now playing” and “next item” views; a generally improved “out of the box” behaviour with regard to music and video library artwork.

Games

  • Improved game controller support on iOS; improvements to image quality in Pixel Art games.

Playback

  • Software decoding of AV1;subtitle improvements with new dark grey colour and selectable opacity; ability to provide a subtitle URI (URL, local file, etc.); static HDR10 and dynamic Dolby Vision HDR support (platform- and client-dependent).       

PVR

  • A host of improvements, including PVR reminders; TV/Radio channel groups, home screen widgets and dynamic PVR categories for Estuary; enhancements to the Group and Channel manager; navigation/usability improvements such as context menus, selection persistence, and EPG controls; info dialog enhancements; improvements to PVR handling via the API.

Security

  • Various improvements to user information, e.g. the security implications of enabling external interfaces or a prompt when enabling a broken/deprecated addon; a requirement for a web interface password by default; new origin enforcement for addons and dependencies, so third-party addons can’t overwrite code of other, unrelated addons.

Information Providers/Scrapers

  • New Python scrapers for music, TV and movies (linked to the Python 3 move).

… plus many code and platform-specific fixes and improvements that might be less visible to most users, but are still significant, such as the move to a single Linux binary for multiple windowing systems (X11, Wayland, and GBM).
 

After 18 months of hard work by the team and community, we now feel that Kodi v19.x “Matrix” is stable enough to enter beta phase of the release cycle and start to be used “in anger”. As above, our focus is now entirely on testing and fixes, moving in steps to a final release as soon as we practically can. This release should be pretty reliable for most users – if you do choose to install it, make sure you know how to roll back, just in case, but you should be safe. We need your help to find and isolate the remaining bugs (including, of course, any regressions), so, please: install, test, and give us clear feedback on any issues you uncover. We can then aim to get these resolved in upcoming releases.

You can get Beta 1 from here. If you’re on Android, you can enrol in our Beta programme and get updates directly from Google Play.

As usual, you can also see changes since Alpha 3 here or browse the merged PRs here.





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Are you thinking about making some new investments in your business model? If that’s the case, then you should definitely turn your attention towards technology. Here are some of the possibilities that you could explore which will strengthen your business model as a whole and improve your foothold on the market. 

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Renewable Power

One of the first options that you should definitely keep firmly in mind is renewable power. Ultimately, this is going to provide a lot of benefits for your business. First, there’s the obvious one. A renewable power source will guarantee that your business is going to save a lot more money and be more sustainable, particularly through the summer months. This equipment will pay for itself in just a few years so it’s definitely a solid investment. However, there are other benefits too. This tech is going to make your business seem a lot more modern and also help you show some skin.

It proves that you do care about more than just cutting costs and making profits. You are sending a strong message that you want to help save the planet too. If that’s not enough, there is a further benefit worth keeping in mind here too. 

This tech is now advanced enough that you can literally save any energy that your renewable power system produces. You can use it at a later date when you need it the most. Or, you can think about selling it on the market as another avenue for revenue. 

The cost of renewable energy options is going to differ. However, solar panels could be significantly less than most business owners expect, Particularly when you consider the subsidies that are available. 

VR

In terms of marketing, there’s a lot of exciting tech on the market right now. However, some businesses are going to benefit from exploring the option of renewable power. It’s worth noting that while this won’t be a significant option for many businesses, it could definitely help in certain cases. For instance, if you want to help your clients or customers visualize something in the clearest way possible, VR could be key. 

VR is already used by some architects and real estate agents. It can be used to both show what a final home will look like and it can be suitable for working on a property, bringing it to fruition. Many architects have noted that this tech is groundbreaking in terms of what they can expect and how much it can speed up the process of working on a property and bringing a design to life. 

Call Handling 

In the past, call handling in a business would ultimately mean filling a room with a large group of employees to take calls. This wasn’t particularly effective for several reasons. First, the employees were reading a script which meant that the support they could provide to customers was limited at best. Second, it was incredibly costly leading to massive problems with efficiency in the business model as a whole. These days, tech is providing new answers for call handling that work brilliantly. 

First, you should think about call automation. A big benefit of call automation is that you won’t need to hire the massive team to handle your calls. Instead, you can use the software to deal with most queries. So, you can rely on a far tighter team for this area of your business. They’ll still provide the results that you need. 

You can also use advanced analytic software in this process as well. The right software will allow you to quickly check how your business is performing in terms of calls, typically for sales. When you view a source on this option, you’ll discover it could have huge benefits for your company. 

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Hybrids And EVs

When you set up your business, you always need to think about the best ways to increase interest from employees. It’s not just about getting the support of customers. This group matters too and that means that you should offer the best incentives. These days, you’ll be surprised by what could ultimately turn the heads of the best candidates to fill roles in your business. 

For instance, you can think about investing in a fleet of EVs. The best EVs are perfect for urban life and will once again provide massive savings, this time to your employees.

Tablets

Finally, while not a brand new idea, you could also think about investing in tablets for your team members. This can be useful if you want to complete contactless payments. They are perfect for building up a flexible business team, particularly if they are constantly on the go. For instance, logistics companies could definitely use this tech to impress business owners. 

Tablets can be great in office environments too. As well as providing big ergonomic advantages, this tech is ideal if you have several tasks that you need to juggle at the same time. They are also far faster to load, compared with typical laptops on the market. This means that you won’t need to panic about having to worry about the wrong tech slowing you down. 

Or finally, you can abandon the calls altogether and instead focus on different options. For instance, you can think about investing in a live chat choice. Live chat software is now widely available on the market and will deliver the big results that you want. It’s actually widely favored by a vast majority of customers too. It has even been shown to increase lead generation and conversions, avoiding the issue of abandoned baskets almost completely. 

We hope this helps you understand some of the best ways that you can use to improve your company using the latest tech. If you make the key investments, you could potentially beat out any competitors and provide yourself with the upper edge that you need on the market. Ultimately, the right tech could improve key performance measures such as efficiency and boost the perception that clients or customers have of your company. 

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Last year at FOSDEM, KODI.tv was approached about their usage of analytics software on their websites that gives visitor data to big companies with servers located in countries with data protection laws that are less strict than what EU citizens are accustomed to. Team Kodi has always had a firm stance against user tracking in their software, so it felt incosistent that KODI.tv did not extend the same level of prudence to their websites.

At first, KODI considered removing analytics altogether. But it quickly became clear that this would be problematic for their Wiki maintainers: Without any insight into what pages are viewed most, it is next to impossible to prioritize the pages to update adequately. They were very happy to come across GoatCounter, which solved their problems nicely: It has a strong dedication to privacy and data protection, but still gives the data KODI.tv need to maintain the Wiki. Shortly after, KODI.tv announce that GoatCounter has joined the ranks of their sponsors!

It is still a very young project, but from KODI experience it is a great alternative for site owners looking for a privacy-focused hosted analytics solution. Smaller non-commercial sites below 100k pageviews/month enjoy free hosting.

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