Tag: Tips

Since getting my PS3, then setting up my Ubuntu file server, I’ve really enjoyed watching movies on my TV. To get the media from computer to Playstation requires the use of software that employs the UPnP protocol, in the form of a DLNA server.

If there are too many acronyms in there, just remember the name Mediatomb. Mediatomb is an open-source, cross-platform DLNA server that streams a variety of media formats across a local network to whatever compatible device you happen to have running at the end. It can stream video, music, photos in numerous formats, and will even transcode others so that they can stream as well. All this tinkering comes at the expense of user-friendliness, though. In most cases, the regular binaries for each operating system will do most of the cool tricks I mention here. To get the most out of the system, however, requires you to compile from source.

As mentioned in my previous file server post, I’m running Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackolope on a “headless” Intel server, which I control via the terminal. Since the computer doesn’t restart, I wanted it to run as a daemon, which was where I ran into a problem. For some reason, Jaunty didn’t play nice with the standard daemon package, so I had do a little digging to find the solution.

Steps

  1. Create a temporary working directory by issuing this command
    $ mkdir temp
  2. Install the ffmpegthumbnailer libraries by installing libffmpegthumbnailer. Use the command sudo apt-get install libffmpegthumbnailer and enter your admin password when prompted.
  3. Compile ffmpeg using the tutorial at Juliensimon.blogspot.com but include the configure tag --enable-libffmpegthumbnailer. Don’t move on until the configuration confirms thumbnailer installation.
  4. Compile and install the Mediatomb binaries from source — again, I used the excellent tutorial at Juliensimon.blogspot.com
  5. Check the functionality of Mediatomb to issuing the command $ mediatomb then opening a web browser to http://ip_of_server:49152/
  6. To make the daemon work, first download the daemon package by issuing this command (one line)
    $ wget http://mirrors.kernel.org/ubuntu/pool/universe/m/mediatomb/mediatomb-daemon_0.11.0-3ubuntu2_all.deb
  7. Now extract the files in the package to the temporary directory created earlier
    $ dpkg-deb -x mediatomb-daemon_0.11.0-3ubuntu2_all.deb temp

    As you can see, the daemon package is just a collection of configuration files, so installing it properly is just a matter of copying the files back.

  8. Change to the temporary directory with the files by typing
    $ cd temp_directory_name
  9. Type these commands one line at a time to copy the files back to their rightful place. The commands with two lines should be printed as one single command.
    $ sudo cp etc/mediatomb/config.xml /etc/mediatomb/config.xml

    $ sudo cp etc/default/mediatomb /etc/default/mediatomb

    $ sudo cp etc/init.d/mediatomb /etc/init.d/mediatomb

    $ sudo cp etc/logrotate.d/mediatomb /etc/logrotate.d/mediatomb

    $ sudo cp usr/share/doc/mediatomb-daemon/README.Debian usr/share/doc/mediatomb-daemon/README.Debian

    $ sudo cp usr/share/doc/mediatomb-daemon/changelog.Debian.gz /usr/share/doc/mediatomb-daemon/changelog.Debian.gz

    $ sudo cp usr/share/doc/mediatomb-daemon/changelog.gz /usr/share/doc/mediatomb-daemon/changelog.gz

    $ sudo cp usr/share/doc/mediatomb-daemon/copyright /usr/share/doc/mediatomb-daemon/copyright

    If the copy comes back with errors about directories, you’ll likely have to use the mkdir to create the requested folders.

  10. Now the important step is setting the proper permissions of the folder /var/lib/mediatomb. Change into that directory by issuing
    $ cd /var/lib/
  11. The folder /var/lib/mediatomb should contain 3 files:
    $ ls mediatomb
    mediatomb.html
    sqlite3.db
    sqlite3.db-journal
  12. Change the ownership of the folder and its contents.
    $ chown -R mediatomb:mediatomb mediatomb
  13. Change the permissions of the HTML file.
    $ sudo chmod 666 mediatomb/mediatomb.html
  14. Change the permissions of the remaining two files:
    $ sudo chmod 644 mediatomb/sqlite3.db
    $ sudo chmod 644 mediatomb/sqlite3.db-journal
  15. Make the script run at startup.
    $ update-rc.d mediatomb defaults

To start the server, simply issue the command sudo /etc/init.d/mediatomb start. If the server doesn’t start, view the Mediatomb log file to see what else is happening.

$ vi /var/log/mediatomb.log

Exit with :q. I’ve been running this setup since I first built the server, and it has worked exceptionally well.

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aboutSLIt’s now been close to three weeks since Snow Leopard arrived in stores, and the Internet has now had a chance to go through the entire system and find the good, the bad and the barely changed. I’ve been using it since that time too, and like some of the subtle changes. Since Engadget, Gizmodo and even David Pogue have all weighed in with lengthy reviews, I’m going to avoid that here. Instead, I’m going to go through some of the changes I’ve seen and whether I think it’s worth the $35CAN upgrade fee.

This is the first of 3 operating system comparisons. Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.04 will be up shortly.

The Improvements

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to upgrade my MacBook from 10.5 to 10.6. I inserted the DVD while logged in, the menubar and Dock faded away and I returned 50 minutes later to my original desktop. There were options for installing additional languages, printers or Rosetta, but the default installation seems to provide all the required data, with the notable exception of Rosetta. If you still run PPC based applications, be sure to click that checkbox.

animatedwifiAfter it was installed, I took a look around and found very few changes to the interface. Sure, Stacks can now scroll when using the tile arrangement, and some menubars have more function, but by and large, the upgrade is behind the scenes. The Airport menu is slightly animated when not connected to a network, as shown on the left. Doing an option+click on the menu items now brings up a condensed system preference panel with the most important functions front and centre. The Sound menu item brings what is probably the most convenient small update, with the ability to choose the audio input and output on the computer with entering System Preferences.

Snow Leopard also seems to change the behaviour of computers exiting from sleep as well. On my MacBook, sleeping the computer for an extended period of time (about 2 hours or so) sometimes causes it to go into deep-sleep mode. That means when it wakes again, you must load the contents of RAM from the hard drive, which can take an extra 30 seconds or so. I’ve yet to determine if this is a change to the OS itself, or simply a flaw with my computer.

Ideal customer

Apple has taken a new strategy here with Snow Leopard. By keeping the interface familiar and improving the underlying technology, they allow users to gain familiarity with the software. As a $35 CAN upgrade, it is easy to recommend, but for regular users of Leopard who use their computer more for email and web than pushing the boundary of computing, it’s probably not all that necessary.

Interestingly, I think Snow Leopard works better as an upgrade for those users still running pre-Leopard installations. As a move from Tiger, or even Panther, SL offers many new features that make computing much, much easier. I’m excited about the new applications that will be released shortly that take advantage of this new technology — it just looks like I’ll have to get a new computer to fully use all the new tools.

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px100Using a computer, and especially an iPod with music means having a set of headphones that sound good, pack well, and don’t break the bank.

For the last year or so I’ve been rocking a set of Sennheiser PX100 foldable headphones and I believe they satisfy all the above criteria.

The Sound

The most important aspect of any piece of audio equipment is of course, the sound. Despite the small package, these Sennheisers provide excellent sound in many configurations. They pump the bass for rock music, while maintaining the mid and high notes for classical, or even regular talking in podcasts. I find it very enjoyable to listen to movies using these headphones as well.

The fit

The PX100s work in an on-the-ear configuration, where the pads don’t actually cover the entire ear and instead rest on them. This means that ambient noise is not cancelled or blocked in any meaningful way, unlike the PX200 which have an over the ear design.

I find the design of these headphones very comfortable. They do not clamp too much, and the soft pads mean I can wear them for many hours without discomfort. That said, I sometimes find that they tilt forward on my head, to the point where I need to readjust them to be comfortable again. This doesn’t detract from the usability of the ‘phones at all, though.

Value

At $80 CAN, the Sennheiser PX100 headphones are somewhat expensive, but I think you get what you pay for. In this case, you get a solid pair headphones, plus a plastic carrying case that is crucial for everyday use. With the case, I don’t have second thoughts about tossing them into my backpack, which was how my previous pair of Sonys broke.

Only time will tell how they hold up to daily use, but over more than one year of nearly everyday listening, my ‘phones show very few signs of wear. They are an excellent choice for listening to any type of music.

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This is a quick tip about WordPress blog emails. Ever since this blog was started, I received emails about comments from my webhost default address. It was ugly looking and didn’t provide any details about who really sent the comment.

The solution is to create an email account on your server with the address wordpress@domain.com where domain.com is, of course, the domain of your website. Once this change has been made, comment moderation notifications will be from WordPress <wordpress@domain.com> and new comment details will be sent from the actual person emailing.

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Originally, this was going to be a tip about how to remove the addresses used previously inside Mail. I found the preference file, an application to edit the database, and even wrote up a post for MacOSXHints. Then Rob Griffiths — the legendary hints master running the site — sent me an email to say that everything I had done was accessible from the single menu item you see here. Once inside that window, you can search, remove and edit any addresses you have used to send email.

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