January 2009

SqueezeCenter on Linkstation Pro

Back in 2007 I bought a Buffalo Linkstation Pro with the intent of installing SqueezeCenter (then called Slimserver) on it. Well, I never got around to actually installing the software but last night, thanks to this post in the Slimdevices forums, I got it installed and running in less than 30 minutes! I had already installed the referenced JTYMOD firmware so that cut the install time down by at least 30 minutes but, still, it was a piece of cake. And now my music library is available all the time! If the performance remains as good as it seemed to be last night, I may not bother installing another server and just stick with the Buffalo.

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fit-PC vs. NAS

I haven’t been leaving my servers powered on for a while, now. Not having them available led me to purchase a Buffalo Linkstation Pro a while back. I’m really quite happy with Buffalo’s implementation — with just a little work on my part, I can SSH into the device and set up some additional services that aren’t already available. But, it comes with a print server, which gives me access to my USB printer over the network. But I’m still not able to run SqueezeCenter for my media. Yes, I could hack at my Linkstation some more and get it to run there but it doesn’t address any backup issues — sure, I can recreate the library by re-ripping all of my CDs but who wants to spend a couple of weeks doing that?

So, I’ve been considering purchasing or building a RAID NAS. QNAP has some really nice arrays that come equipped with MySQL, phpMyAdmin, NFS, DLNA and a number of other nice facilities but are pretty pricey ($300 for a 2-disk TS-209 II, $400 for a 4-disk TS-409 Pro Turbo and nearly $600 for a 5-disk TS-509 Pro, all without disks). They’re professional quality RAID devices, though, and come with excellent support … and SqueezeCenter should drop right onto them without a hitch.

But, I’m considering going a completely different route. The fit-PC Slim takes a different approach. It’s a small, low-power PC with wireless and USB on which you can run Linux or XP. So, I’m thinking I could buy one of those (for around $250, diskless), install my own 2.5″ ATA disk ($100, if I don’t like any of the ones I have laying around), install Linux, plug in a USB drive (another $100 if I don’t like what I already have) and, instead of RAID, run a cron job to rsync my precious filesystems.

Whatcha think?

(Yeah, Chad, I know, I really need to get comments fixed, don’t I? 🙂

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Access your USB drives via Ethernet

This is a little dated but Addonics has introduced a NAS adapter. It has an Ethernet port and a single USB 1.1/2.0 port into which you can plug, presumably, any USB drive or printer and access it over the network. It can supposedly be accessed from any Windows, Mac or Linux platform, although their site says Linux 2.6 and above and also can be an FTP target.

$55 from ShopAddonics.com, presumably cheaper elsewhere. I may have to pick one up just to play with it.

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Phoenix HyperSpace (re)launched

Engadget reports (here) that Phoenix Technologies is relaunching their instant-on OS as a downloadable subscription ($60 for 1 year, $150 for 3, in its most flexible form). I haven’t played with it at all but I’m not sure I’d buy it.

HyperSpace is a mini-OS that supposedly boots almost instantly and lets you surf the web and connect to WiFi hotspots (for use by HyperSpace). So, it’s a mini-OS that essentially give you only the web. Since the web is one of the main things I use my computer for it should be a slam-dunk but an awful lot depends on the browser and how flexible it is — what engine it’s based on, what plug-ins it has and so on. Plus, it could provide a nice layer of insulation between my “real” computer (files, apps, etc) andthe web-at-large. The expensive version lets you toggle between HyperSpace and your base operating system (XP, Vista, Linux, I suppose), and that may be the best way to run it, although I can’t see myself always using HyperSpace to surf.

So, again, I dunno. Is Woody a visionary?

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Catch up

Lots has happened since my last entry. Back in the middle of 2008, my company was bought by a rather large company and we are all employed by them. We made out well, financially, but some of the terms are a bit onerous. However, we have jobs and we can mostly continue doing the things we enjoy for a living.

On the technology front, I’ve all but abandoned Windows Mobile. Yeah, just when it’s starting to stabilize and get some really good apps, this early adopter is jumping ship. I bought a Nokia N95 and T-Mobile’s G1 (aka HTC Dream). The Nokia is an absolutely amazing convergence device, containing 2 cameras, a back 5 megapixel camera with excellent optics and a front 640×480 camera capable of video conferencing and live video streaming. Python is available for it and can run its own web server, serving content over the web-at-large. It’s a mature platform, running the Symbian operating system (which is in the process of being Open Sourced).

The G1 runs Android, a Linux-based operating system and is an amazing feat. The camera is nothing special but the rest of the features and capabilities are very good, if you’re an early adopter and a Linux fan. There are quite a few apps available for it, from a simple bubble level to a web server to barcode/price comparison apps, to Shazam (hold the microphone up to a playing song and it tries to identify it). There are RSS readers, social networking clients, GPS apps, weather apps, stock tickers, pretty much the expected complement of apps. And there are even a few Exchange clients available for it, too — while GMail is nice, I miss the rest of the features of an Exchange server. Maybe I just need to get used to Google’s features but, I have to say, I use a LOT of the features of my Outlook Calendar, Contacts and Tasks and I haven’t been able to adjust my usage to accomodate Google’s shortfalls/differences. Some of this may be due to the lack of a full-features import client — I use categories extensively which are brought over as notes, not labels andmany of my contacts’ details include birthday, anniversary and assistant information which I’ve come to rely on (reminders for these popping up on my phone and my Exchange client). While I’ve looked for other import clients, I haven’t yet mounted an exhaustive search but that’s on my to-do list — something that Google doesn’t yet support, either 🙂

I’m also all but abandoning Microsoft products on anything but my personal laptop. I’ve searched around and all of the services I provide on my home computers/servers can be done with Linux servers. I also intend to migrate from Microsoft Office to either Open Office — I don’t generally demand a lot of my word processor, spreadsheet nor presentation program and have found that Open Office handles my modest needs quite well. I have only just started my migration and it may take the better part of a year to get completely converted but it’s underway.

That’s a brief rundown on what I’ve been up to. Now that things have settled down in my “real life”, I hope to be able to post more frequently — I’ve got LOTS of new toys and experiences to share!

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