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.
Continue reading »

Tagged with:
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.
Continue reading »

Tagged with:
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.

Continue reading »

Tagged with:
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.

Continue reading »

Tagged with:
Jan 22

Over the holiday break I ripped and encoded our DVD collection such that we could easily play our movies on various devices ranging from UPnP clients such as a Samsung BD-C5500 Blu-Ray palyer and PS3 to a set of Apple devices.  Getting the videos loaded into our iTunes library was key to sharing the videos with the Apple devices.  Although I was able to easily add most of the videos to the iTunes library, some files that were encoded via the exact same process wouldn’t load.  The .mp4 files played fine via QuickTime.  Initially, as a workaround, I ripped and encoded the problem videos over again and was able to add them to the library.  But I hadn’t figured out the root cause of the issue. 

Recently, while working on another home project, I ran into the issue again and finally tackled the problem.
Continue reading »

Tagged with:
Apr 21

I picked up a Samsung BD-C5500 Blu-ray device for our living room TV area as a replacement for an older Sony DVD player. My main goal was to get a single device that could access NetFlix’s online streaming service and have a built-in DVD/Blu-ray player. At a cost of $180 USD I am impressed by what this device offers.
Samsung BD-C5500

Continue reading »

Tagged with:
Mar 23

As the severe thunderstorm and tornado season approaches, I wanted to see if I could modify our home server to easily obtain US National Weather Service weather warnings and broadcast them over our home ceiling speakers.  Sure, a simple weather radio works, but that’s just another device that takes batteries and is located in only one room.  It also doesn’t allow for any customization.
Continue reading »

Tagged with:
Jul 06

One of the next steps in our Kitchen Sound and Video project was to find a cost effective universal remote. Based on a bit of research, we homed in on the Logitech Harmony 550 remote:

Continue reading »

Apr 23

Although we moved into our new home a year ago, I didn’t get around to addressing the kitchen-dining area-sun room-deck sound and video hookup until the the past month or two. This post describes what we did to connect the following components together:

  • iMac kitchen computer (which is already connected to a home NAS server that houses audio files, pictures and documents)
  • 2 pairs of Polk Audio RC6i ceiling speakers in each of the following adjacent areas: kitchen, dining and sun room (in the future, we’ll be adding speakers to our deck)
  • 23″ LCD kitchen TV
  • Dish Network Satellite receiver

Continue reading »

preload preload preload