John's Musings

2/24/2006

Lounge Lizard

Filed under: General,Home Automation,Music — John @ 12:01 pm

Yesterday I took a plunge and made a purchase. Very fiscally unresponsable of me I suppose. Although in my defence I have been contemplating this purchase for well over a year, and my desire had not deminished at all. What did I purchase? I purchased a “D-Link DSM320“. For those of you who do not know immediatly what that is… It is a media player device for your home entertainment center. Years ago I built my own device that had nowhere near the features this does, and quite frankly has gotten way to clunky. I toyed with the idea of building another unit, but this prebuilt won out.
The first thing I had to do was to find and install a linux uPNP media server. The device itself comes with windows software which doesn’t do me much good. After a little research I decided to actually buy a licence for “TwonkyMedia” server from TwonkyVision. (They offer a trial version which I did download and test before actually setting up the DSM) The install went very well, and was one of the most simple installs I have ever perfomed on a linux box. After the install completed I pointed my web browser to the configuration page and ran through the options. I sepcified the location of all my various media files in doing so I also included the album directory for my photo gallery. This proved to be a very bad idea.
The problem that arose stems from Gallery making 3 copies of an image for each image loaded. At some point over 9,000 pictures TwonkyMedia server croaked. I then hit upon the idea of of creating symlinks for just the full size original images figuring that this would greatly reduce the number of images shown. This remedy also gave me the added opportunity to do a little reorganizing of my photos. After a few minutes of testing I discovered that twonkey was quite happy to read symlinks to the original images. So I proceded to create a directory structure and symlinks. The tough of manually creating a symlink for each of my thousands of photos made me ill. “Why do it manually when I know it can be done faster and easier some other method?” That some other method came in the form of the “find” command. To make sim links for each new category, I only had to enter the following command in each new directory to automatically symlink to each and every image.
find /path_to_gallery/album_dir/some_album/ -name "DSC?????.jpg" -exec ln -s {} \;
The find command went and located every images named DSC that had 5 characters and ended with .jpg. Find then ran the ‘ln’ program to create a symlink in the current directory using the existing file name. Once I did that for all the images I wanted to have visible on the media center I had Twonky rescan the directories when it finished it listed 6885 pictures served. A quick check by typing ls -lR |grep .jpg | wc -l in the root of the symlink photo gallery directory confirmed this to be the correct number.
The next step was to actually setup the D-Link itself. I initally was going to use it in wired mode, but I didn’t feel like making the trip to the basement to the patch panel to make the network jack behind the TV active. (Yes, I’m that lazy) Besides, I figured the D-Link has wireless so I might as well try it out. After plugging the D-Link into the Video2 inputs on my stereo reciever I pressed the D-Link power button and watched it go through its boot routiene. After booting it presented me with a straight forward series of wizards to setup the unit. The controls were at times a little less than intuitve, but I managed without much difficulty to add in my SSID and WEP Key. The system defaulted to DHCP which was nice, and prevented me from having to manually enter the IP configuration. I hit the “next” button and waited for the D-Link to connect. It failed. A few puzzled seconds later it occured to me that I had not added the D-Link’s wireless card’s MAC address to my MAC filter on my access point. 10 minutes later, after muttering under my breath as to why I would have chose such an irritating and equally hard to remember password for my access point, I had the D-Link added. I then let it try network connections again, and this time it recieved an address and was pingable from the other machies on the network. It then presented me with a “Searching for Media Servers” screen and there it sat. After about a minute the D-Link presented me with an “Unable to find any Media Servers” message. I remebered reading in the Twonky FAQs that if this happened I would probably need to add a multicast route to the server hosting the TwonkyMedia server.
Dreading the fun of playing with routing information I dove into yast and suprizingly a few minutes later had managed to add the route. (You have to use 0.0.0.0 for gateway or it won’t add a multicast) So I tried the search for servers option again, and after a minute or so it once again failed. This time however the client did show up in TwonkyMedia as a client however so there was some communication going on. I then went to the clients page on TwonkyMedia servers configuration screen and added the IP addres fo my D-Link to the list provided for just such an ocassion. I restarted the search on the D-Link and again it failed. This time I decided to reboot the D-Link under the assumption that perhaps something wasn’t qute right in the networking setup. When the D-Link rebooted it phoned home, and then asked me if I would like to update its firmware. I figured it couldn’t hurt and I clicked yes. About three minutes, and two progress bars later the D-Link asked to reboot. I let it. After the reboot finished I returned to the configure screen and again told it to search for servers. It immediatly found “WohlersHome” and a couple clicks later I was presented with a menu of all of my available media.

So far I have had no problems with audio, and only one video refused to play. The video was encoded at a VERY high bitrate thoguh, so I assume that is becasue of the use of the wireless connection and switching to wired should solve that. (That or I could just re-encode the video to a little lower bitrate) Photo slides shows have been fantastic, and I have no complaints there. Overall I am delighted with my purchase and the ease of install in my complicated network.

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