I have an old computer that I had been using as a subversion server. Before the computer fully fails, I decided to move the subversion repository off the computer. Rather than putting it on another computer, though, I wondered if I still needed a server for source control at all.  As a small business, having less hardware to maintain/manage is better for me.

At first I wondered if I could use an NAS or similar device to function as a source control server. I found some reports indicating that you could hack an NAS to add in subversion server capability. But that’s not what I had in mind. I was wondering if my laptop could effectively be not only the computer that I use to write code but also the computer responsible for storing code. Now I didn’t want to make it a server, per se, where other computers could theoretically use it as a server. But I thought the computer might be able to handle storing files to a repository, like an NAS, on its own.

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RAVPower FileHub RP-WD03 Seabird

| by Ken | in Technology No Comments »

I’m pretty excited about this little black box I got recently.  It’s a RAVPower FileHub.  The codename is “Seabird” and the model number is RP-WD03.  “FileHub” isn’t quite descriptive enough, though.  Primarily, I got it to be a hub of files, that is true, but it’s got a lot more going for it.

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Less than a year ago, I figured out how to export TV from MythTV to write to an SD card for taking TV on the go.  I did eventually get things to work but even after all my effort there, I wasn’t getting the video compressed at all.  Also, it took a long time just to write the video to the SD card.  I wanted to improve the overall process.

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Static Solution for Desk

| by Ken | in House & Home, Technology No Comments »

I recently moved my office in the house to a room that’s going to work better for me.  I spent a lot of time working out the desk area and planning the desk surface and the chair area.  It’s worth it to plan because my butt spends so much time parked here.  The room was already carpeted and I didn’t really want to pull up the carpet – at least not at this time.  I kind of like the sound deadening that comes with the carpet and the floor underneath is nothing great.  But that meant I needed some sort of solution to having the chair roll around.  I tried just on the carpet and as expected, the chair squished in.  It was hard to move the chair and I was pretty certain the carpet would be wrecked within a few weeks.

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Recent Dell Optiplex “mini tower” models have a space below the optical bays and behind the front panel USB ports for something to be installed.  I’m not sure the original intent but there is a bracket that will fit a typical hard drive, although the mounting holes may not match up.  These mini tower systems like the Optiplex 9020 or XE2 have two optical bays and two hard drive bays.  But they have no specific SSD bays.  You could get an adapter to fit an SSD in a hard drive bay or an optical bay.  But why sacrifice one of those bays when you can put an SSD or two in this found space?

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MythTV sound problems… again

| by Ken | in Technology No Comments »

My main MythTV system (AKA “backend”) is in my entertainment system rack in the old family room.  My office is merging into that room and I needed to move the system rack a bit to make room for additional furniture.  And the rack had a few things that were no longer in use (like ReplayTV [still mourning that]) and a bunch of wires that had been used for things and hadn’t been pulled out.  Also, my APC UPS had proven defective (what good is a UPS if you can’t rely on it) so I removed it but needed to rework some stuff to get in the new one.  For all of these reasons, it made sense to disassemble the whole entertainment system and rebuild it clean – figuratively and literally.  Lots of dust to vanquish.

I put it all back together meticulously tying cables together and running cables in layers so everything was neat.  Once I got to the point when it was time to power everything up, I hadn’t gotten the TV put back on top yet.  (That old Panasonic plasma weighs 250 pounds and I needed to make sure I only moved that when I was sure I was done.)  I wanted to give MythTV a chance to catch up on database activity since it had been off for the better part of a day and I didn’t need to see that happen.  I made sure I had the MythTV parts set up and connected before I powered it on and the attached the Comcast cable box and HD-PVR.  And When I was certain everything else was working, I hoisted the TV back in place and hooked up all the HDMI.  Then I could test out the whole setup.  Everything worked with the exception of two problems with MythTV: the network didn’t come up and I didn’t hear any sound.  The network problem turned out to be because my Panamax power protector doesn’t work with Gigabit so I’ve ordered a separate network protector and in the meantime, I have the network cable skipping surge protection which is how I had it before – easy resolution.  But the sound problem turned out to be a bear to resolve.

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Installing MacOS Guest in VirtualBox

| by Ken | in Technology No Comments »

I’ve experimented with VirtualBox before but today I had a legitimate work need to try out VirtualBox with a MacOS Guest. So I installed VirtualBox on my Windows 7 64-bit laptop and pulled out my Snow Leopard DVD and… it didn’t work. Nothing could be that easy, right?

I Googled for an hour or so looking for the trick but all the posts I found were about how to work with a drive image or a hacked install or to use special bootloaders that would function as a sort of handoff (such as the Empire EFI which is interesting since it touches on the Hackintosh concepts I’ve talked lots about in this blog). I eventually found the trick I needed at something called “LeaseWeb Labs” in a post titled “How to run OSX in a VM on VirtualBox“.
So here’s what I did:

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After some recent network improvements at the house, I discovered the new router was causing interference with my old phone system.  Rather than replace the phone system with a newer one that is both technologically better and feature poorer, I decided to stick with the current one and change what I could.

Figuring that the new router is only causing interference where the old one did not must be because it the signal is somehow stronger.  Fortunately, I’m running dd-wrt on my routers so I there’s more tweakability than with stock firmware.  And fortunately one of the things you can tweak is the “TX Power”.  The default value for TX Power for the 2.4 Ghz antenna was 71 (out of a reported 1000?  that doesn’t seem right).  I changed it to 60 and the warblyness in the cordless phone went away mostly.  I can still get interference if I walk to the router and touch the phone’s antenna to the router.  Since that isn’t something I need to do to use the phone normally, I think I’m good now.

I’ve been using the same cordless phone system for probably 15 years.  It is a Panasonic KX-TG2720 base with lots of handsets.  An important feature for me is that it has 2 lines.  We still have a landline for the “house” and I have a work line.  I use the speakerphone.  We have Comcast voicemail on both lines and the handsets are setup to show when there is new mail and you just push a button to listen to your messages.  The handsets also include speakerphone capabilities.  The range is fantastic and covers our whole house including basement and all of our yard which isn’t saying too much, but the point is it is exactly what we need.

A month ago I re-jiggered our home network and replaced one of the older routers with a new one.  Since then we’ve been having interference between our handsets and the WiFi.  Frankly, it’s surprising we haven’t had a problem before since the old phone system is a 2.4 Ghz system and of course, that’s the band that WiFi has been operating in for years.  (And while I’d love to disable the 2.4 Ghz antenna from the routers, I have too many devices that don’t work with the 5 Ghz band.)  The new router has been a problem, though, making the phone sound really warbly when anywhere on the first floor – i.e. close the new router.

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I’ve got that new tablet that I’ve been writing about, the Teclast X16, and I want to be able to “watch TV” on it.  No, not live TV (except for the occasional truly live event, I have little use for live TV) but shows that have been recorded on MythTV.  The shows are on the server and I could stream them from there using a MythTV Android client.  And that does work.  But if I can avoid needing a network connection, I’ll be better off and most importantly, then my TV can travel with me.

The “tPad” does communicate through Bluetooth and I could use a BT file transfer to load files to it.  But I really don’t want to struggle with those kinds of connections.  I could also do a USB transfer which skips the flakey BT connection but then I still have to worry about filling up the “drive”.  I’d rather use the SD card slot on the tPad to store the stuff to watch.  (Technically, it is a Micro SD and it is labeled as TF.  Since I’ll be using an SD adapter to write to it from the MythTV server, for the rest of this post I’ll just refer to it as an SD card.)  And rather than stuff in an empty card and then transfer stuff to the tPad and store it on the SD card, way easier to just put the SD card into my MythTV server and drop the files on the card there.  Sure, there’s an element of sneaker-net involved.  But this isn’t something I’m going to do daily and it really isn’t too much trouble to stuff a card into the front panel of the MythTV server.  Besides, this way, if the SD card fills up, I know I have enough TV to last me a good long while and don’t have to worry about breaking the tPad functionality by accidentally filling up the main “drive”.  The only real hard part was setting up MythTV to automate getting the recordings to the SD card.

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