Sunday, 8 November 2020

STICKY: The Grand Plan

Welcome to Mediaserver8, a place where I document my adventures in home automation and media serving - mostly for my own reference and future sanity!

I'm going to keep this post on top and maintain the overview schematic at Gliffy to offer an introduction to my HA system as it evolves. (Here's a direct link to a scalable version of this diagram).


Read on for a detailed breakdown of this setup...

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

It's all about teamwork

In planning development work on the in-progress Amazon Alexa skill for voice control of Squeezebox devices, I wanted to establish some kind of online portal for testers as I wanted a degree of privacy and didn't want to pollute with bug reports.

I'd previously used Basecamp for this kind of thing but on investigation, it looks like their free tier is gone. One of my objectives on the project is to keep it zero cost for as long as possible so I needed to look around for an alternative.

I came across Teamwork, which appeared to tick a lot of the boxes and has a free tier that allows unlimited users across two projects with a generous storage cap. Perfect.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

unRAID as a software dev. platform

unRaid continues to amaze.

I find myself in the middle of a spare-time software development project that quickly grew from a personal home automation idea to a quite public 'when's it ready' kind of thing. It's the development of an Alexa Skill to allow spoken commands to an Amazon Echo to control Squeezebox devices. (see for the project details).

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Why Emby's not for me

I so want to like Emby. I use the server as a lynchpin of my whole-house a/v system, integrating it with Kodi front ends where it provides excellent media management and serving. I've recently starting using Amazon FireTV devices as clients and, while it's possible to sideload Kodi on these devices, it's not a seamless process and there's always a question mark over how long it will be tolerated on that platform.

Emby client looks like it might be a viable alternative. It's a natural fit with the server and it's a fully-fledged member of the app community with a presence in all the relevant app stores. Plus, the recent addition of LiveTV support makes it worth having a look at. LiveTV is a big part of my system and PVR is a significant part of  the way we use TVC in our house. There's a TvHeadEnd instance running on the network that manages 6x terrestrial/satellite tuners with channels accessed through Kodi TV plugins.

Of course, TvHeadEnd is not an officially integrated TV backend for Emby, like NextPVR or MediaPortal. There is a community plug-in though so it should work OK. I tried it in the web browser instance and eventually managed to get a picture so thought I'd try the dedicated client. This turned out to be unsatisfactory for a variety of reasons;

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Tidy up unRAID Docker folders

Since the latest unRAID update introduced the /mnt/users/docker share, my Docker files seem to be all over the place. I have some there and some in an /appdata share which seems to have scattered them on across the cache and the array.

I wanted to update all my Dockers to use the new /docker share and this is what I needed to do.
It turns out it's not just a matter of updating the AppData Config Path field for each docker - it doesn't seem possible to do that for an installed Docker, (changes don't stick). Instead, it's necessary to go through the worrying process of removing the Docker and reinstalling it!

Here's the steps I followed;

Monday, 14 November 2016

Alexa, meet Squeezebox

Since my Amazon Dot arrived, I've been smitten. A little like how I didn't think I'd use a smart watch until I bought a Fossil Founder, I though voice control a gimmick until I started playing with Alexa. In the past few days I've been toying with the idea of building full Alexa control of my squeezebox based whole-house audio system. Here's what I've managed so far. It's a basic proof of concept but it does work;

This comprises a very basic LMS plug-in which links the local squeeze server software to the cloud-based skill. The skill is written using Node-RED with a mySQL database in the background.  I'm really growing to love Node-RED more and more and it seems ideal for flow-based functionality like an Alexa skill. Here's the current flow that drives the demo in the video;

There's still a long way to go but so far this is promising and a blast to put together.