Hand Dryers – The Dyson Airblade

An embarrassingly long time ago, I had my first encounter with a Dyson Airblade hand dryer. I don’t remember when, or where, but I do recall it being the only touchless, air dryer that actually friggin’ worked to get my hands dry.

The amazing Dyson AirbladInsert your hands past your wrists, and slowly withdraw, and BAM, your hands were dry. As dry or even drier than using 3 paper towels. Awesome.

Fast forward to today, and obviously, the patent has expired, because at every public bathroom on my recent trip overseas was a similar hand dryer. I was thinking to myself how cool this was that it had become mainstream.

Then I used one. First in the public bathroom in the Frankfurt airport. Wash my hands, and insert them into the faux-Airblade, and … Continue reading →

Frustrating Network Issues

Over the holidays, I bit the bullet and completed digitizing my DVD and BD collection in an effort to make it vastly more convenient to watch from the comfort of my couch. As part of this I bought the components for, and built an Intel NUC box into the Plex Media Server.

With me so far? Good. That worked great, and I had a quite robust workflow for creating the digital files needed. I had plenty (oodles and oodles) of storage, and apart from there being an insane Rat’s Nest of cables, power supplies and chords on my desk, all is working.

But that isn’t the point of this post. Continue reading →

To Convert or Not to Convert

To convert or not to Convert, that is the question.
When processing Bluray discs for adding to my Plex media server, I have a workflow. First, use MakeMKV to rip the media to an .mkv file, then it can be uploaded to the Plex directory and made available. However, these files are large. Scratch that, they are friggin HUGE. Alien for example is 30GB.

Disks are cheap, so why even bother converting?

The argument to convert

Continue reading →

Plex Media Server – Workflow

In the learning path for the population of my media collection as it transitions from disc based media to a disk drive, I have discovered a few truths that I will share.

There are some useful tools to “rip” your media. These are the essential first step in the process, to get your media from the source into a format that can be worked with.

The next topic is what sort of transcoding you want to do. Here is where some of my early choices in media ripping have come back to haunt me. In prior efforts, I was merely attempting to get media in a format that looked good when loaded onto my iPad. That meant that there was a pretty aggressive compression applied to the files, making them both storage thrifty, and acceptable quality for playback. Continue reading →

More on Linux – the new media server

As I am assembling my Plex media server, I have been semi-seriously using Linux for this purpose for about 3 weeks now, and here are some more observations.

First, I have been running it on two systems, an old desktop system with an Intel Core i7-920 CPU, 6 gigs of ram, and several disks (1 SSD for booting, and two quick 1TB WD drives, and a BD/DVD/CD rom drive), and the second system, an Intel NUC with a modest 7th generation i5 cpu (two core, 4 thread), onboard video, and ample connectivity.

The version of Linux I hae been using is the current LTS version of Ubuntu, 16.0.4. I did play with the 17.10 version, but it had some interesting bugs. Like turning off the monitor (a Samsung 24″ unit with HDMI) would cause the display manager to crash and restart.

As mentioned in a prior post, I am impressed by how well everything works. Not quite as pain free as Mac OS-X, but vastly superior to my prior experience of about 6 years ago. Upon installation the installer detected my wireless chips, the bluetooth, and the Intel graphics chips. I did need to be sure to get a version 4.1 or later kernel to fully support the CPU, but that wasn’t difficult. Continue reading →

More notes on Linux

I have been goofing around with Linux on the desktop for a few weeks now. The prime reason is to build a media server for Plex, but there are a few other projects that it will get leveraged for, including hacking around with my Mojo board.

the good

Installation – it was a bit convoluted to initially install. The PC I set it up on was old enough that it didn’t support booting from a USB stick, so I had to dig out a DVD burner to burn a boot DVD. Continue reading →

Linux Observations – 2017

A follow-on to my last post. Having last fiddled with linux (on the desktop, not as a hosting solution) was a VM running under vmware workstation probably 7 years ago. Back then it was just a fancy, enough to get my feet wet.

Last weekend, I resurrected an old PC (the one that I ran VMWare Workstation on, surprisingly), and the Windows 7 installation was borked. As good a time as any, I grabbed a Linux iso (Ubuntu) burned a DVD (alas, this machine is old enough that booting from USB is not supported) and I was off to the races.

Amazingly, one of my gripes in the past was the lack of out of the box support for a lot of hardware. This system installation it found and properly setup all my hardware. Even the cheap wifi card in this system (it is a small PCI board with two antennae and supporting only 2.4GHz radio). Continue reading →

Resurrection of an old PC

In the way back, I built a PC for a very specific reason. I was working on a product that had several configuration options and to effectively understand how they worked together, I needed to build various scenarios and test them. To accommodate this, I built a pretty solid PC, with a beefy (for the time, 2009) Core i7 processor, a solid ASUS motherboard (my go-to brand), and three disks. One 80GB Intel SSD “boot” drive, and 2 WD Caviar Black 7200RPM drives for storage and other purposes.

The OS was the then just launched Windows 7, and I put 6 gigs of ram in it which seemed to be enough for the era. (at the time 6 gigs of RAM seemed YUUUUUUGE) Continue reading →

The new king of Streaming – Spotify

Throughout 2015 and into 2016, I was evaluating the streaming music services, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, and Apple. The result of that initial evaluation was that the then new Apple Music plan was the winner. The combination of all my music collection in their cloud, plus the access to their enormous library, and arguably at the time, the best streaming over wifi at home and on cellular data. I ended up keeping Apple, and ditching Spotify, when

Fast forward to today, late 2017. I dropped my Spotify account in early 2016 due to a stretch of unemployment, and grooved on Apple. But lately, I am souring on the Apple ecosystem. Not enough to ditch my Mac and my iPhone, but having experienced iTunes on windows (that is truly a trying experience) I knew I needed an alternative for general use. Continue reading →

The Drobo Saga Continues

The Drobo Saga continues

The last episode was about the arrival of the new Drobo 5Dt, and a couple of NAS optimized disks. The installation was trivial, moving the disk pack from the original Drobo to the new Drobo was easy-peasy, and after about 2 hours of “rebuilding”, I added the first of the new drives.

A 4 TB WD red series, “NASware” drive. This caused a “rebuilding” event, but it took less than an hour to subsume it. The next two drives replaced the old drives in the pack, a 1 TB Seagate Barracuda, and a 2TB WD “Green” drive (optimized for DVR’s and low energy solutions). Continue reading →