Commercial Android Apps

What is it with commercial apps for Android that just don’t work?!

First off you’ve got Plex whose developers just say “its a Cyanogenmod7 problem, get them to fix it”, and now Nessus for Android logs in but doesn’t actually do anything – no scans or reports are displayed!

I also found that the version of iGo 8.4.2 for Android that I was using has what I can only assume is a broken skin, as the co-ordinate input method is just not there. Downloaded the unofficial MotoGIS 2.4 skin and it works a treat!

I also upgraded the blog to WordPress version 3.1.3

Plex for Linux and Android

Today I’ve been playing with PMS (Plex Media Server) for Linux, and also Plex Mobile for Android. Both have been pretty disappointing!

The Linux server is closed-source and precompiled for vague platforms like 32-Bit Ubuntu 10.10, but happens to run with some work on 64-Bit, I got it working on 32-Bit 11.04 after some hacking.

It looks like a direct port of the Mac version though as there’s no init script and there are spaces and capital letters in filenames, which actually stops the server from starting (good QA there!)

Then it seems like too much hassle to point a Mac client to it, as you have to have the same NFS mountpoints or something odd, and you can’t manually select a server from the client, you have to rely on stupid ZeroConf/Avahi.

To my surprise though, I ran it in a VirtualBox VM and allocated 256Mb RAM to it and it worked fine – so why does PMS seem to bog down my 2Gb MacMini?

I thought I’d try the Android client. Well that’s the slowest app I’ve ever seen (and paid £3 for) and on Cyanogenmod it doesn’t even play video, only sound works – and no its not due to lack of Flash10!

The promised remote control functionality hasn’t been written yet, although you can see its a direct port of the iOS app as the remote icon is there, it just does nothing!

So once again it seems Plex is not serious about running client or server on non-Apple platforms.

Wire speed!

Dad came over the other day and helped me run some CAT6 cable from my computer room to my lounge so I can stream video’s etc at gigabit speed over NFS from the fileserver upstairs to the Mac Mini which is now hanging off the LCD TV using my new HDMI-to-DVI cable.

MacOSX at 1920×1080 on a 37″ screen is incredible! I’m awaiting my wireless keyboard/trackerball so I can use it to surf downstairs as well as running Plex (Xbox Media Center ported to the X86 Mac) with the Mac’s remote control. I’ve watched my first 720p and 1080p movies, and you can actually see the difference from a regular 480p XviD or DVD – not just the resolution, but the detail like hair and leather textures and lack of compression artefacts, plus you get DTS 5.1 sound and so on that the Xbox1 simply can’t cope with.

I’m going to order 15m of white CAT6 or 5e from ebay though, as the blue looks a bit naff against my white walls.

I’ve been playing with Windows Vista today under VirtualBox3, it really is a pile of poo – can you believe that to install Service Pack 2 you actually have to first install SP1? They each take about an hour, and afterwards there’s still more to get from Windows Update. Literally to install Vista, Norton and Office (plus service packs etc.) must have taken well over four hours! Nothing like RedHat where you install 5.0, type “yum -y update”, go make a cup of tea and come back to 5.3 with OpenOffice and so on pre-installed.

Weather’s still boiling hot, in fact I’ve come out in prickly heat/heat rash, so am showering every few hours to keep my core body temperature down and minimise sweat.

I also finally found my old GnuPG key, so I’ve revoked the Jedi one from the keyservers, leaving the more up-to-date Synaptic one which uses better encryption.

New Home Theatre setup

I’ve just bought a 37″ LCD TV, 1080i FullHD all the bells and whistles. Its lovely. I’m awaiting a HDMI->DVI cable for my Mac Mini, and then that will be hooked up to replace my Xbox as my media centre box (running Plex).

Someone is seriously inflating the cost of computer accessories in France though – a 1.5 metre HDMI->DVI cable was 30e in the supermarket where the LCD came from, or four quid including postage from ebay UK for 2m!

I’ve moved the CRT telly into the snooker room, along with the Xbox. I tried overclocking my OpenWRT wireless routers to get the signal through the two 3 foot walls, and it just managed it at 15dbm (up from 7dbm!) but there’s more noise and heat and less signal now, so streaming video doesn’t work, even though http/ping/ssh are usable. So I’m going to have to run some CAT5e up from my bedroom through the lofts and down I think – which I already did when we renovated the snooker room, although its on the opposite wall to where I need the TV, and we’ve sealed up where the a cable could run behind the skirting boards!

I’ve got to do the same down to the Mac, as I tested and even 720p video’s can’t stream over 54g wireless (regular DivX does of course) and VNC is a bit slow too, gigabit will be much nicer. So I should be able to run a cable from a switch in my computer room, through the ceiling where the gas pipes go, and along the beam in the lounge to the Mac. I’ve got to look into the effects of running UTP cable alongside copper pipes, and then either beg some cable from PP, or see if the couple of 25m lengths I’ve got are enough – should be for the Mac, dunno about the snooker room though.

If I cable those two up, I can completely disable wireless in my house, it is an awful piece of technology really – too many “standards” with differing implementations, way overstated speeds and far too vulnerable to interference from microwaves, phones etc. Fine for some casual web surfing from a laptop, although I don’t have a laptop anymore – another piece of technology I don’t really have a use for.

I’ve also got to get a friend to help me run some more satellite cable (which I’ve got to measure and buy too) for the snooker room, I’ve got a spare Sky box, card and LNB socket, so might as well plug it into the telly.

It’s sweltering hot the last couple of days, I’ve been over to the folks and used their jacuzzi, but it doesn’t cool you much when its over 31c outside. My lounge is about the coolest place at the moment, being all thick stone walls and tile floors, as long as I keep the door shut.

Update: I just moved my 24″ LCD onto my main desktop machine, seems like a waste on the laptop docking station (it used to share with the Mac Mini) and wow, 1900×1200 is a lot of desktop space! You can play 1280×1024 games in a window, or have what used to be a fullscreen VirtualBox session in a window and still have about a third of the desktop free. Websites can look a bit odd though. An 80-column text editor only fills about a third of the screen too, so it should be useful for programming. The sound is a bit tinny compared to the 19″ though – as that was a TV as well, so had good speakers. Of course its handy for watching movies with the widescreen aspect ratio.

Update 2: I found that even the wireless speed of the Mac Mini was unacceptable – scp’ing a 700Mb DivX took ages, so I’m currently hanging a 15m piece of CAT6 out of the window and in through the back door! Getting around 35MBytes/sec over GigE now, so copying a 4.4Gb Matroska file took under 3mins!

I’ve also figured out how to sleep the Mac Mini remotely, as if you use shutdown it won’t wake using WOL. So you just make the following AppleScript:

#!/usr/bin/osascript

tell application "System Events" to sleep

chmod a+x it and run it over SSH.