Friday, 31 July 2009

Music Streaming - my journey so far

For many months now I have been looking at implemeting some sort of media streaming at home, to store all my music in one place, and then be able to play it all around the house - integrated speakers, or through phono to amp.

Problem is - all seems to lead to the same conclusions such as "Too expesive", "Too fiddly", or involves drilling lots of holes into walls and ceilings (which I want to avoid).

For a while now I have been reading up on things like the squeezebox - great idea, love how it looks, and the price seems also to be quite reasonable. Sonos also have a similar setup whereby you can stream wirelessly from internet, mp3 lockers such as, or from a central storage system.

I have been trying the mp3 tunes recently, to see how long it takes to upload a double cd to the vault, seems to take far too long (upload on broadband not so great), but may still be an option as the logitech duet can read media from such sources.

Then there is the storage option, get a readyNAS, install SqueezeCenter (formally SlimServer), and bob's your uncle (or so you may think). Many reviews on this subject have said that using a NAS with this software on NetGear or QNAP causes problems with streaming the content out to your Squeezeboxes - and the fact that a NetGear NAS can be upwards of £300 alone!

So - leaves me again in a quandary - as I don't necessarily want a media center humming away in the lounge, even if it’s a Shuttle PC, and I don't want a NAS if performance for media is poor!

Looking at iPOD docks at the moment, I know it's not the same but maybe a good interim solution?

Who would have thought something so apparantley easy would be so hard.

The search continues...however I am swaying towards the Sonos option..stay posted!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Hardware Issues

Must be the weather I keep telling myself. Seems the heat may be getting to more things than just me. I have a Dell Precision M4300 which for the last few months makes this very strange sound - sometimes 3 times a day, other days silent. My team mates find it rather amusing as it always makes a noise at the wrong moment.

This is not the only time I have had issues with Dell Laptops, I have had 5 or so in the last few years at work, and all have had similar "strange noises" coming from beneath the bonnet. My most reliable Dell purchase was some 6 years ago when I was contracting - at the time my Dell Inspiron 5100 was expensive at just over £1k but I beefed up the graphics and to this day still performs fantastic as a home pc after upgrading to 1GB RAM.

I wonder whether Dell - as many other companies do - when they expand so much, the quality disappears. My new M4300 is less than a year old but already looks tired - the brushed chrome on the cover looks a right mess - looked great when new however.

Now I see my Blackberry also has given up the ghost - intermittently hard rebooting itself with no warning, due to be replaced next few days so lets see if the new one lasts longer than 9 months!

Maybe we are pushing the boundaries of technology now, everything has to be "NOW", real-time, at-hand, in a compact design. This along with competition for companies and individuals budgets seems that cost cutting is showing, so I guess the hot weather is not really the problem here, its; the fact that we should not always insist that cheaper is better :)