Day 262 – Meander

I lost track of time.
I need to go sleep so I can get to my gym routine tomorrow morning.

I think it’ll be a much more pleasant experience, because today after work I saw a physio, and he did some great work on the shoulder. The proof will be in the waking up un-stiff, but I feel optimistic based on how well the shoulder has been feeling this evening. There was the most massive of knots right on my shoulder blade. He tried to get it with pressure alone, but besides being very painful, that didn’t help much. He used some kind of electronic device to loosen the muscle and that worked remarkably well. Like magic.

Most of this evening has been spent browsing the net though. Some research for the new QNAP; I want to set up a VM or two for Atlassian tools, and along the way I discovered Vagrant which sounds like a fun tool to explore. Then I got sucked in to my news-feed where it appears Microsoft is open-sourcing technologies left-right-and-centre… I’m not sure what has come over them, but they are having a brilliant shot at turning into the cool technology place to work.

I was planning to do some photography this weekend, but I may actually end up with my nose in the laptop.
Especially since everybody else will be doing their own things as well, so I might as well.

Maybe Sunday will be for being social.

Day 257 – Progress and Perfection

After a lot more effort than I had anticipated, I decommissioned my 4-Bay QNAP NAS this afternoon. All files finally transferred off (400MHz of 2007 ARM grunt is really not adequate to saturate my network), and the 8TB of space re-formatted ready for sale, I have put up my final eBay listing for my little electronic re-org that has lasted the last couple of weeks.

It feels good to be able to stop thinking about the old, so that I can focus on the new.

As of yet, I have not played enough with my Windows 8 start menu to optimise it for its new consolidated uses. Only today, after a driver install and a re-boot, did I manage to get my 27″ monitor to run on 2560×1440 again. It had been stuck on 1680×768 stretched out to fill the surface.

I had hoped to make more progress on some software-development posts, but I really had to focus on my tools first and foremost.

Having said that, over my chores I did do some thinking about the larger structure of those posts, and I think I have come up with a great way to illustrate the “why”. I think the underlying theme I was looking for all along was to strive for a more perfect language. A future-state in which incorrect programs are impossible. Every abstraction along the way ought to at least try strive towards that goal.

And now I have to turn my mind back to the distraction of the TV in the background.

Day 248 – Upgrades and Installs

I completely lost track of time. And I was almost about to go to bed without posting. So just a quick update…

Two more parcels arrived today; one containing 16GB of SO-DIMM memory and one containing an external USB3 BluRay player.

The memory is for the QNAP to eventually support running VMs and web servers on the box. It was a little tricky to install; after taking the outer casing off it became clear immediately I was going to need some help finding the memory sockets. They were in fact on what was clearly the motherboard, but they are somewhat obscured behind cables to the front of the device. It is theoretically possible to install the memory by just taking out the drive caddies and going by touch… but I’m not that skilled. With the case off I could at least see what I was aiming for.

With that out of the way, I have moved the unit to a more permanent home in the study, and as we speak about 1.5TB of essential files from the previous NAS is slowly trickling into its new home.

In the mean time I’ve also updated some software packages on the new QNAP, and I’ve added a Plex server. Took me a few tries to get the download to work, but it looks like a really slick solution. And I’ve already managed to connect a Windows 8 app and my Android to the back-end, where I can reach some of the audio files that have already moved across. So far so good.

The BluRay player took a bit of effort too; apparently Windows 8 no longer comes bundled with codecs for DVD/BluRay, because Microsoft is trying to avoid the licensing fees for these codecs in a world that revolves ever more around streaming rather than physical media. I’ve re-installed my trusty AnyDVD HD, and VLC has no trouble playing discs now. So that’s officially sorted too.

I cannot remember what’s next.
Time for bed.

Day 243 – My Media Solution

Today I was stuck in media-land. Consumption, contemplation, cataloguing.

The day looked promising when I briefly opened my eyes to see the sunshine before closing them again to catch some more sleep. Wet’n’Wild was going to have to wait till I woke up properly. By the time I woke up the second and final time the sky was getting a little cloudy, but never mind.

By the time I made it to Michel’s for my coffee the sky had torn itself to pieces and was dumping truckloads of water all over the place. So much for outside, pivot to inside. Cold weather goes well with media consumption, hot food, hot beverages.

I brought a haul from JB HiFi home. I love their stacking discounts. 20% off all media in-store. Added on top of buy-2-get-1-free and buy-GoT-S3-get-50%-off deals. I walked out with a small tower of BluRays and intent to make a big dent.

I’m not entirely sure when the weather changed again into a sunny evening, but it might have been somewhere during Skyfall. By that point I didn’t really feel sufficiently motivated to do anything else with the last hour of daylight left.

What I did do during all this media consumption; lots of research.

As I was driving home earlier in the day an episode of Hanselminutes came on my podcast player. It was an interview with the developer of Plex; multimedia-player-extraordinare. I had played with Plex in the past, but it has come a ways since then and is still growing on by the sounds of it.

The backend server can run on a QNAP. There are front-end apps available for PC, Windows 8, Android, iOS, Chromecast… play can pause and resume between devices; when you start playing on the TV and run out of time, you can pause and then resume on your tablet from where you left off. It keeps track of who has seen what and what they liked. There is a recommendation system between users. It sounds very much like the solution I’m looking for.

And then there is Chromecast… a $35 plug-in HDMI device for the TV that integrates with Android apps and can connect to Plex as well. When you have a Chromecast connected to your WiFi, and your Android is playing a YouTube video on that same WiFi, it will have an additional “cast” button that instantly transfers the playback from the mobile to the TV.

So now I know exactly what I need for my solution:

  • A QNAP 870 Pro (as per previous post)
  • Plex server installed on the QNAP
  • Plex client for Android on my mobile
  • Plex client for Windows 8 on my laptop
  • Chromecast plugged into the TV
  • Investigate moving from Spotify to Google Music

Oh yes, … I almost forgot. Other than the cost per track including the Australia Tax, Google Music will probably do the job I want from a music store as well. $12 a month streaming of any tracks in the catalogue. Purchase tracks that I want to keep for on the QNAP. And for any music the store does not stock, Google gives room to upload 20,000 tracks that I have ripped myself; plenty to supplement tricky artists.

Now I just need to put all the pieces together.