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Personal Computing Technology

TeXmacs

TeXmacs is a technical writing system for use by scientists and engineers. TeXmacs is a front end to Donald Knuth’s TeX document preparation system that offers a unique advantage, the ability to embed interpreted computing language sessions using tools like Octave, Python, Maxima, etc. To learn more about using TeXmacs in a MacOS environment, read on.

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Audio Music Personal Computing Uncategorized

An Inexpensive Streamer

Featured image courtesy of Darko.Audio [1]

I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb here and recommend a piece of kit that I don’t actually own or use but that is a close cousin to kit in use here at Dismal Manor.

When Jason Stoddard, co-founder of Schiit Audio, has one of his periodic ask me anything interviews, a viewer invariably asks if Schiit will make an inexpensive streamer. Jason invariably answers, “no, that’s not our thing”. Jason has wisely chosen to avoid all the pain of what works with what in Linux Land.

But the question comes up sufficiently often that folks might like an answer. Back when I was looking for a streamer to replace AirPort Express and ChromeCast bits, I happened to discover John Darko’s Darko Audio YouTube channel. One evening, John reviewed the Allo Digital DigiOne Signature streamer and gave it marks that placed it firmly in high end sonic company with the Bluesound Node. After a bit, I ordered the boards and enclosure and put one together that I use in my lounge as my main stream receiver. I have a secondary HiFiBerry stream receiver that I use with the TV and video players.

In this article, I’ll tell you about a newer Allo Digital product that takes a bit different tack that will work nicely with today’s kit. That product is Allo Digital’s USBRIDGE Signature [2]. We’ll also look at what the more commercial products offer that is not part of the DIY streamers.

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Personal Computing Technology

Cox IPv6 at Home?

Cox offers IPv6 home service but with not much of a knowledge base for setting it up. In the simple case, DHCP6 does all that is needed. If you have a Cox provided or supported router, Cox will do all you need. If, like Dismal Manor, you have Ubiquity UniFi software defined networking, some additional configuration is possible.

IPv6 was designed to solve the network address exhaustion issue and make routing simpler. It does this by providing an explicit network number and a separate host address field. IPv6 allows the local network to partition the host space into slices using several of the high order bits of the IPv6 host address. In this article, I’ll explain how they are used here. This setup requires visits to several UniFi SDN configuration pages. Find the proper page and setting using the search tool.

Ubiquity continues to work on the UniFi SDN configuration capabilities and is delaying release of a UniFi SDN user guide until they reach some internal milestone. Keep an eye on UI.COM support to see if this has happened.

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Personal Computing

And the baby’s name is “Fruit Machine”

Your editor has been reading entirely too many submarine adventures based on the patrol reports and memoirs of World War II submarine commanders. The British called their torpedo fire control computer the “Fruit Machine”. The term is heavily used in WWII submarine adventure novels such as those written by John Wingate.

Given Apple’s new colors, I broke with the hall of fame greyhound theme to name the new machine Fruit Machine. Yes that’s her hostname.

After posting this article I made a second search on “Fruit Machine” and came across some LGBTQ slang usage I was unaware of. My apologies to my LGBTQ friends and readers.

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Home automation Personal Computing

Air Tags?

I had tried an earlier tracker that worked so well it became E-waste at the end of battery life. Basically, the radios weren’t there yet. A tag in the laundry basket could not be found or heard. Discovery of a tag left away from home relied on the general population running the tag app on their phones. Some did but the coverage in Norfolk, Virginia was truly sparse. Oh, and the battery life was about a month. BlueTooth Low Energy was not so low.

But I also watched the Apple announcement with some interest as I had just laundered one radio car key and cleverly hid the other in pants I’ve not worn for a while. The near death experience of the first key increased my interest in finding the second. I also have a couple of sets of Yubi Keys that unlock several important 2FA things. It would be really bad if they both went missing.

Categories
Audio Personal Computing Video

M1 iMac Pre-Purchase Planning

M1 iMac stock image courtesy of Apple.

I expect Apple Silicon to have a major impact on the functionality of the iMac. The addition of the custom rendering and custom machine learning hardware resources places the desktop Macs on par with the iPads and iPhones opening possibilities for audio and video processing on the new products. So I decided to be an early adopter while my 2017 iMac had some trade-in value.

In this post, I’ll talk about some things to consider in the pre-purchase planning phase.

Categories
Personal Computing Video

House of Worship Streaming Video Production System

During COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, my church used Zoom to stream worship services for the congregation. With the easing of pandemic restrictions approaching, the congregation desires to live stream the service in our hall. What is involved?

For one thing, Copyright. As a house of worship, use of copyright material in our hall during service is provided explicitly in the law. Once we start streaming copyright music and spoken word to an open congregation or including it in podcasts, we need to obtain a rights license, keep records or what we used, and report usage to our license grantor.

In this blog, I will examine one possible architecture for live production of worship video for recording and streaming. This system has yet to be built and operated so this design should be considered purely notional.

Streaming hardware and services are in rapid flux. The pandemic has spurred investment in new products and services that didn’t exist a year ago. For example, Black Magic Design has optimized many of its products for volunteer use in house of worship and similar environments, ProPresenter 7 supports streaming and capture, and services such as Resi provide robust content delivery to identified endpoints.

In a future blog, I hope to talk about our lessons learned cobbling together a video production workflow. The equipment is the easy part. Volunteers are the hard part. As with all systems of this type, the people investment is larger and more valuable than the stuff they are using. But good stuff is easier to learn and operate reliably.

Categories
Home automation Personal Computing

HomeBridge

A number of manufacturers of interesting kit have chosen to stay out of the smart home universe among them Ubiquity. Others like Nest play only in their own proprietary environment. HomeBridge is an open source software project that creates an environment in which Apple HomeKit bridges may be built. Smart home enthusiasts have developed over 2000 product plugins supporting popular devices.

Here at Dismal Manor we have two bridges, a Starling for Nest gadgets and Home Bridge on a RaspberryPi 4b that brings in the UniFi Protect camera RTSP streams.

The Starling is a commercialization of the Nest HomeBridge plugins. This product makes sense with the Thermostat and the cameras. It is less useful with just Protects.

In this article, I’ll describe my experiences setting up a UniFi Protect gateway and making the Ubiquity UniFi Protect cameras visible in HomeKit. UniFi Protect is one of the few camera systems having a Verified HomeBridge plugin.

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Personal Computing Technology

UniFiOS, The Missing Manual

Recently, IT System Integrator forums and YouTube channels have been all a-twitter because it appeared that a UniFi user ID and network connection were required to use any of the UniFiOS hosted controllers introduced with along with UniFiOS. After hearing Tom Lawrence and Willie Howe rant about the issue, I decided to experiment a little to see if their complaint was true of my deployment.

I wrote the previous post reporting my experience trying to log in to my controller host while divorced from the Internet. As expected, it smoked so I opened a ticket.

The various Internet communities can be helpful when I’ve overlooked something or misinterpreted something that is common product knowledge. When something appears to be a design issue, only the designers can help. So I ticketed my experience.

Ubiquity Support has responded with what appears to be the solution to my concern raised in the ticket, that local service should be possible during an Internet fade. Read on for the fix.

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Personal Computing Technology

UniFi OS Login Issue

The good folks at Ubiquity have revised the architecture of the UniFi software system to provide a uniform user management and login environment for Network, Protect, Access, and the coming Talk.

A roles based access rights scheme greatly simplifies user administration and has greatly reduced the number of UniFi related passwords in 1Password. So, life is good in paradise? Not really. Read on to learn of the unanticipated consequences.