Moving from mControl 3 (Windows) to Indigo 6 (OS X) for Home Automation

Standard

Indigo-6

The Short Version: I moved VPN, home automation control, and video recording from an ASUS eeeBox PC (Windows) to my iMac (OS X Mountain Lion). VPN was changed from PPTP to L2TP using iVPN to control the server. Video recording is with the same program (Vitamin D Video Pro) using the same license. mControl was dropped and I’m now using Indigo 6 to control everything.

For home automation control I’ve been running mControl over the past few years. The development team rarely updated the software but rather than invest in a different package I went ahead and upgraded to version 3 when it was released. The software was running on an ASUS system I had setup at the house for managing home automation and security video recording.

Continue reading

Plugable USB 2.0 to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter

Standard

USB-Ethernet-USB2-E1000

Several months ago I lost some network ports on different devices due to a power surge from a nearby lightning strike. Unfortunately, one of the devices that took a hit was the ASUS system I’m using for managing home automation. After the surge I configured the system to use wifi but it was struggling to keep up with network traffic (the system does more than just manage my home automation setup).

After I while I decided to purchase a Plugable USB 2.0 to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter. It’s worked great ever since and as far as I can tell I haven’t had any new problems with the system (and bandwidth has clearly improved over the wifi connection). The device retails from Amazon for about $25.

Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router N900 Media Stream (EA4500)

Standard

Linksys-EA4500

A while back I purchased an Apple Airport Extreme Base Station to serve as our primary router and wireless access point. Though initially impressed, I learned that this expensive device wasn’t capable of fully permitting incoming PPTP VPN connections. In addition, it didn’t provide many configuration options. To work around this problem I purchased an ASUS wireless router and instead used the Airport as a wireless access point.

The final work-around resulted in two network devices where one could have worked just fine (I continued to use the Apple Extreme instead of only the ASUS wireless router because the Apple device offered better wireless range). I wasn’t thrilled with this setup and wireless covered was still lacking so I added a new device to my wishlist for Christmas, which I received.

We’re now using a Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router N900 Media Stream (EA4500). I was impressed with this model beforehand when my in-laws changed their router to one of these and I had a chance to work with it a bit. Since setting up our router I’ve removed the ASUS wireless router and the Apple Airport Extreme Base Station.

There are several features I haven’t used yet such as the ability to connect an external hard drive. The following are a few things I’ve learned about this router since installing it.

Continue reading

Waking Wireless Speakers from Standby for Audio Output (Windows 7)

Standard

I recently purchased a set of wireless speakers, which I’ve connected to my ASUS EeeBox PC. They work well but I have encountered a problem that is common to wireless speakers – they go into a standby mode and require a few seconds to initialize. For playing music this isn’t a problem. However, using the speakers for text-to-speech can be a problem as the speakers may not initialize before the computer has finished speaking. In addition, Windows text-to-speech output doesn’t seem to have a signal strong enough to wake up the speakers anyway.

Continue reading

Upgrading an ASUS EeeBox PC EB1006 Hard Drive (and Copying Partitions)

Standard

I still had about 70 GBs of free space on the ASUS. However, I needed more free space to add movies, or more likely, add my wife’s music to its iTunes library.

Rather then spend money on a new hard drive this month I decided to re-purpose an external, portable drive. Typically, the small portable drives are nothing more than a drive enclosure with a 2.5″ SATA hard drive. The ASUS drive was somewhere around 150 GBs. The USB external drive was 250 GBs.

I didn’t take photos of the process, but the actual drive swapping isn’t very complicated and I’m sure there are already numerous guides available on the Web.

Continue reading

Moving an iTunes Library from OS X to Windows

Standard

This was done using OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), Windows 7 Professional, and iTunes 10 on both systems. It may work just fine on different versions of the operating systems and iTunes, but I don’t know for certain.

I wanted to move a copy of my rather large iTunes library from the Mac over to the Windows system, which is always on. While it’s easy to setup Home Sharing and then initiate an import of all music over the network, there doesn’t seem to be a way to sync the playlists. I may be mistaken, but I could have sworn that when I first enabled Home Sharing I was able to sync my entire library and playlists from an OS X 10.6 system over to another system running 10.5 (with both running the latest version of iTunes at the time).

Unfortunately, only the files synced with the Windows system. I couldn’t find an easy method for copying playlists that didn’t involve a third-party program.

I decided to take a more direct route and just copy my entire iTunes library manually. To do this I pushed a copy of everything within the iTunes folder to a network drive, deleted everything within the Music\iTunes folder under the Windows account, and then pasted a copy of my library into the Windows iTunes folder.

Note: This will only work if your media is stored within the iTunes folder. If you’ve always had have the option under Advanced to Copy files to iTunes Media Folder when adding to library then you may already be in good shape.

The next time I fired up iTunes in Windows I had my media and the playlists I had setup on the Mac. The only thing I had to change after copying was the name of the iTunes library – it had also copied that from the Mac.

The information and artwork for my movies transferred, but the movie files did not because they were not stored within the iTunes folder. This was expected and preferred – the ASUS hard drive isn’t large enough to also accommodate the movies (I may upgrade the drive in a few months so I can also store the movies there).

I haven’t used the library much but it appears to be working fine.

Accessing Two Different Windows Shares With Different Credentials Simultaneously From The Same Server

Standard

Perhaps I was aware of this restriction a long time ago, when I used a Windows system as my primary desktop, but I completely forgot this. Windows does not permit accessing two different shares that use different credentials when they exist on the same system. There may be more to it than that. For example, it may only apply to a Windows user account logged into a desktop system.

Regardless of the details, I wasn’t able to access two shares on a network drive from the ASUS (Windows 7). Every time I tried to connect to the second share I’d receive a vague error message stating that the connection couldn’t be made. I knew the credentials I was using were correct.

One solution is to disconnect the first share and then connect to the other one. However, I was using that share for the Windows system backup and I didn’t want to bother with having to remove the connection and then re-establish it.

After searching a few pages and forums I came across one post in the Microsoft TechNet forums that explained a workaround. That this even works is laughable, but it really does. User Mustafa Radha explains that using the IP address for one share, and then using the network name for the other share, will work. Indeed it does.

For example, assume I’m trying to connect to a machine named “Server” with an IP address of 192.168.1.2, and it has two shares named “Photos” and “Documents”. You could access both shares at the same time by using these paths:

\\Server\Photos\
\\192.168.1.2\Documents\

Of course, you could swap the IP and name as desired.

Source: Microsoft TechNet – Connecting to multiple shares on a single server with multiple credentials? (System Error 1219)