Jul 08

I recently upgraded our relatively old QNAP TS-109 Pro NAS server to their newer TS-119P II model. Although I’ve encountered severe issues with Q-RAID 1 on the 119, I’ll cover that topic in another post. In this post I wanted to address a tweak to how our Ubuntu server is mounting NFS shares from the TS-119. Previously, the client’s /etc/fstab had entries along these lines:

network-disk:/share/HDA_DATA/photos     /mnt/network-disk/photos     nfs _netdev,defaults 0 0

However, I noticed recently that the wrong share for the NFS server would get mounted on the client. Getting the wrong share mapped to a local mountpoint really messed up the operation of apps on the client.

While I didn’t find this exact problem being discussed, I noticed that some people have been taking a slightly different approach to specifying the NFS shares:

network-disk:/photos     /mnt/network-disk/photos     nfs _netdev,defaults 0 0

Note the absence of the “/share/HDA_DATA” portion of the share name. Since I had not attempted this approach for quite some time, I thought I’d try it.

So far, so good. I’ll report back if this approach as fixed the issue. I also plan to update our Mac OS X clients to take this same approach. Simpler is better.

May 01

Last month I was able to get a new pair of euro 2013 facelift B8 Avant tail lights installed on my 2010 Avant s-line. With the help of Cory, Alex of Europrice and David, the research, ordering and coding was very smooth. Thanks to those guys for their help.

This post addresses how I routed the fog lights. After installation and coding, here are the very bright fog lights in action:

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Jul 04

Last year I promised to post the scripts used to obtain and announce the current and forecasted weather conditions over our home speakers. We have a couple of key fobs in various locations of the house that can be used to trigger announcing of the current and forecasted weather conditions. Those key fobs use RF signals to trigger X-10 commands which are then used to execute the script below. The Cepstral Text to Speech (TTS) utility is used to announce the current conditions and forecast over our home speakers. Here’s an example of an announcement.icon

Read more to see the Perl script.
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Jul 04

Last year I hacked away at some scripts to report on current weather conditions and to announce caller ID information through our home ceiling speakers.  I had also hacked away at an initial script to poll the US National Weather Service for severe weather alerts associated with our area.
tstorm
Although the severe weather alert script seemed to be reliable, my family – including the dog – weren’t too pleased about hearing an emergency buzzer and alert broadcast every few minutes while a severe weather alert was in effect. To keep the family and dog in harmony, I did some more hacking to:

  • Announce the weather alert twice and then be quiet for a period of time
  • Override the quiet period when a more severe alert occurs

I’ve also published the current source code for people to leverage.
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Feb 27

Since we recently ditched satellite TV (the subject of another post), I bought an EyeTV One dongle for our iMac to record over the air (OTA) TV broadcasts. Fortunately, the St Louis metropolitan area has 16 or so OTA channels available. After trial and error, I was able to successfully automate the process of converting and publishing recorded shows such that various devices in our home can easily access the recordings.

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Feb 23

My son and I had some fun tweaking our 2010 Audi A4 using a $30 cable.  None of the changes affect the performance of the vehicle; they’re more geared toward entertainment, exterior lighting and window controls.  All we had to do was install VCDS, the program that came with the cable, connect the cable to the diagnostic port under the dash and start modifying the configuration.  Some of the tips came from AudiEnthusiasts.com, a great collection of information.

Overall, it was a pretty simple process and relatively inexpensive.

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Feb 22

Now that we have an Apple TV 2 hooked up to our main level TV and have moved our Samsung Blu-Ray DVD BDP-C5500 player to another room, it made sense to see how we could back up our DVDs to our NAS server such that we could load the movies on our iPad for road trips and stream them on TVs via the Apple TV, our Samsung Blu-Ray player and a Sony PS3 in the basement.

Many tech savvy people have been doing this sort of thing for years, but I’m glad that I finally got around to trying it for myself.  The results have been worth it: Not only are we able to easily access our 70 odd videos from all of the devices mentioned above, it helped set the stage for our use of EyeTV to record over the air (OTA) digital TV broadcasts and store them on our NAS server.

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Feb 21


We’ve had our low power consumption home server running for several years, but I hadn’t gotten around to performing a full system image back up of the server. Since I have been backing up critical OS and application configuration files and all of our database, web content and other files of importance are stored on our NAS server and accessed via NFS, not having an image back up wasn’t the end of the world. However, when it came time to replace the internal 8 GB SSD with a 30 GB unit, it was time to bite the bullet and perform a full image back up. Fortunately, I ran across the excellent and free Clonezilla tool to make this a pretty easy task.

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Feb 21

Back in April, 2010 we started using Apple’s Time Machine feature of Mac OS X to automatically back up the hard drives of our iMac and MacBook Pro computers to our QNAP TS-109 Pro NAS server.  Since earlier versions of the QNAP firmware didn’t have built-in Time Machine support, we used some command line magic to make it happen. Overall, we were pretty happy with the solution and we were able to demonstrate how we could easily restore the complete hard drive of our iMac using one of the back ups.

We have since updated to firmware version 3.3.0 Build 0924T, a version that includes built-in support for Time Machine. I figured why not try out the built-in support and move away from the earlier command line-based approach.

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Feb 19

We’ve been chewing up a lot of space on our NAS server as we’ve ripped and encoded our DVD collection and began recording over-the-air (OTA) TV shows through a new EyeTV dongle on our iMac. So it was time to increase the NAS’ storage capacity from the original 500 GB to at least 1 TB.  As I’ve come to expect with administration of the QNAP TS-109 device, the task of swapping out the original drive with a larger unit was pretty simple.

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