Saturday, February 01, 2014

Three Front Followup

Happy Candlemas-mas! Judging by the weather forecast, Puxnatawney Phil may have some bad news for us tomorrow...

Anyway, some updates:

My running continues semi-apace; I managed to follow my program exactly for exactly one week, then I took the next week entirely off (snowstorms and bitter cold made good excuses). This past week I got back in the game, but I'm not quite back to my program yet. I'm doing a half-marathon in late April, and it's going to be here sooner than I'd like. Meantime, I got my Turner back, with new Hope disk brakes, though I have not gone on a ride yet -- maybe early tomorrow morning, before the chili contest? We also we got in a few XC ski sessions in the past few weeks, and we signed back up at the gym. The pieces are there, I just have to put them in place.

Next up, the jukebox project came together like clockwork, but then we had some Internet problems and the router got rebooted, and when things came back on the NAS and the Raspberry Pi couldn't talk to each other: I had them configured to refer to each other by their IP addresses, which got reassigned when the router restarted. Easy enough to fix as long as I'm around to do it, but not the ideal solution, so (after going through a few hoops, like installing avahi on the Pi), I can now refer to the NAS and the Pi by name. Shut things down, started them up, and it all worked no problem. I've really enjoyed playing with networks and  multiple machines, something I know almost nothing about, and now I think Ill come up with some more Pi projects like a local web server, a print server, and maybe even a weather station (something I've been thinking of doing for years).

And finally, on the cello front, I took my first lesson this past Tuesday. Pretty awesome, I'm on my way -- I can already (almost) play "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star!"

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Another New Gizmo

In the ongoing saga of our music-delivery system, I was forced to conclude that I would not be installing SqueezeServer on my new Seagate Central anytime soon -- word was that the Central was a bit underpowered for what I wanted, and more talk on the Internet made it sound like a pretty daunting task anyway -- so I went with Plan B: I ordered a Raspberry Pi.

This is a small, DIY- and education-oriented device, basically a minimal computer motherboard with nothing else -- memory is through an SD card that you supply, and input/output is through USB (keyboard & mouse), video/HDMI, and Ethernet jacks -- but it's a fully functional computer for all that, and it runs several flavors of Linux. Best of all, it cost about $40 when I got it from Amazon.

Of course, that price is predicated in your not needing anything else, such as keyboard or mouse or video monitor, or SD card, things could get expensive really fast otherwise. I thought I had everything I needed, then took an inventory of the basement, and found that my spare keyboard had a PS2 connection rather than USB, and the spare monitor has neither video nor HDMI input. Uh-oh... I could run the pi monitor through the TV, so I didn't need that, and since I was going to use a new SD card anyway I grabbed an extra Ethernet cable while we were at Staples, and tried to find PS2-to-USB adapters. Unfortunately the ones they had cost around $20 -- sorry, but I'd seen them online for two bucks, and a whole new USB keyboard could be had for less than $20. Not gonna happen. I ordered a new keyboard, $10 on Amazon.

OK, I had to wait for the keyboard, but I could at least get on with the task of setting up the memory. This turned out to be time-consuming but pretty simple: download the "image" file and burn it onto the new card. So at that point (Friday afternoon) I had everything I needed except that damn keyboard.

My real purpose for the pi required talking to it via ssh over our local network. All I really needed, once things were up and running, were the Ethernet cable and the memory, but for some reason I believed that I needed to start the pi up and configure it to allow ssh. A closer reading -- or to be honest, an initial reading -- of the instructions revealed that ssh was on by default, so I plugged the pi into the power and the Ethernet port, and sure enough I could log in from my laptop. I immediately canceled the keyboard order...

Installing the SqueezeServer was pretty straightforward as well, and took me only a few minutes more. Now we can control the music from our laptops or smart-phones, but we don't need the laptops on anymore to have the music play.

There are a lot of fun/educational projects for the Raspberry Pi on the Net, but most of them look pretty lame, and my pi (not the most powerful of computers in the first place -- but what do you expect for $40?)  has a real job to do, so I don't expect to be playing too much with it after this. Just set it and forget it.