Category Archives: Personal Computing

GDS3710 Part 4: Opening the door

This is the 4th post in a series chronicling a small church’s experience with the Grandstream GDS3710 Door System. We like the product but the deployment has been like solving Rubik’s Cube. We found we had to do a lot of tinkering to get things working, something that shouldn’t happen with such a sophisticated product.

This article summarizes some of our lessons learned, particularly with regard to use of the keypad to enter PINS, the interpretation of the virtual number field and the various way the doors can be opened using the GDS3710.

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Further thoughts on the GDS3710

The Grandstream 3710 Door System provides a video intercom, security camera (its recordable using compatible NVRS), RFID reader, and door unlock control relay. The device has a contact input that can be used for an inside exit demand input and a second that can be used as a door status sensor input. And all of this for the price of a door controller from HID or AXIS.

This is a new device so it has a few rough edges. This post talks about the rough edges.

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If something can’t go wrong, it will anyway

About a year ago, the retired moocher decided it was time to retire a couple of elderly Drobo Gen 2 direct attached storage devices. After much research, the moocher undertook an orgie of parts ordering, skinned knuckles, and arcane incantations to produce a FreeNAS storage server with collateral duties for networking and media service. Then there was thunder. It wasn’t bad but freenas wouldn’t run. This post describes the recovery actions and reminds all to take a key precaution.

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Roon Take 2

Abstract

Over the past several months, I fell in love with Roon, its ability to stream my digital music collection in pristine full definition audio, the Allmusic artist and album commentary, and Roon Radio, the ability to play other things from my library like what I had been listening too. Nothing offers this combination of features. Nothing appears to have the commercial traction of Roon.

This article serves several purposes. First, it is my working notes from rebuilding my Roon environment, an iohyve managed FreeNAS behave VM. Second, I offer this in the hopes that it might inspire others to home brew. This article is a bit advanced. You really need to have a year or two of Unix system integration experience to pull this off. It is not a character by character, click by click recipe to build a Roon Server.

Those who don’t have system integrator chops but want a quality music server should consider the Roon Nucleus described in Reference [4]. Roon has developed these robust system specifically for the music serving task. They have adequate storage and computing resources to run Roon Server and are designed not to sneak crud into your audio system over the USB ground. If you’d like a fancy panel with that, Bryston, Linn, Naim, and others, will make pretty metal for you.

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Adios Facebook

The recent revelations centered around Facebook and Cambridge Analytica compel me to bring this relationship to an end. Yes, Facebook, it is you.

  • Buggy iPad app
  • Buggy iPad messnger app
  • Only trolls are participating. Everyone I want to hear from is a lurker
  • You aided a hostile foreign power’s information warfare campaign directed at the US electorate, a campaign that probably resulted in the election of the worst US President ever.
  • You allowed an advertising client to plunder 50 million user’s profile information
  • Said advertising client left that information lying about on open or easily penetrated servers

So on Passover, the account goes.

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The Moocher bakes a Raspberry Pi

In poking about audio sites, I discovered Roon Labs Roon music server product. Roon is the music server I’ve been looking for for 20 years. Roon Labs has its origins in the Meridian Audio Solooes product over in the UK. This is a highly regarded embed music server organized in proper client server fashion. This post describes Roon, my Raspberry Pi build of a Roon Transport, and the commissioning process. Though not a step by step (see the references), this post includes some lessons learned during the build and setup, and the bandaging of my knuckles.

Listening Experience

After several weeks of living with Roon and the HiFiBerry Digi+ transport, I’m seriously taken with the product.

  • The composer, composition, and performance reviews are of high quality, written in an engaging and informative style.
  • Roon Radio is helping me rediscover records and tracks I had forgotten I had. Starting with a Thile-Meyer track, it worked through the album, into Fleck & Meyer, then to Nickel Creek, and Punch brothers and back to Thile-Mehldau. Poor dogs had to listen to acid grass and acid folk while I was shopping.
  • The Digi+ kit just works with the metal case and HiFiBerry standard power supply. There’s no need for expensive linear supplies or unobtainium wire cryogenically aged in unicorn blood. The DAC is going to jitter buffer, retime, and reformat for rendering and any exotica outside this final device is unable to improve the sound. Save your money.
  • Parasound got things right with the P5. The Optical and Coax inputs work well. USB input is reserved for disk mastering off my old Mac Mini and Parasound Z-Phono USB. This device has an ADC with line level and moving-mangent/moving-coil phono preamp. And it works as well as the P5 preamp and DAC. John Curl is a wizard!.

I really love the sound of this rig. If the album is well recorded and the mix is phase coherent, Brad Mehldau’s piano notes dance in space from string to string with a Brad and his Stienway are in the lounge sound.

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Introducing Roon Audio

I’ve been using Plex as my audio player for a while. Noodling around on the Internet looking Raspberry Pi stuff, I stumbled across HiFiBerry and from there Roon Audio. Roon Labs is a spinoff from Meridian of their multi-room digital audio player. These folks have done something right by starting with a client server open architecture which organizes the system as

  1. A music server process
  2. A music management service that builds metadata for your library
  3. A control service that determines what plays where
  4. And endpoints that play content or deliver content to an audio system

They’ve made the endpoint easily embeddable in high fidelity and home theater components. They’ve made the server run as a service so a machine need not be logged in to make your music available. The control runs on Linux, MacOS, and Windows and as iOS and Android applications on phones and tablets.

Where I’m At

I have a two week trial running on my new Mac. In August, I’ll subscribe and build a dedicated Roon Bridge using HiFiBerry parts. This Roon Bridge will replace the AppleTV 3 serving the HiFi. I’ll keep the TV and ChromeCast TOSlinks initially but will likely retire the ChromeCast.

Listening Impressions

It works with less fuss than Plex, a superior user interface, better library material encouraging music discovery, and potentially, state of the art digital audio as a result of removing first-mover constraints from the protocol designs and software architecture. I find Roon very listenable using the iMac’s built in speakers. They image surprisingly well in the near field when playing good source material. The sound is also good through an AppleTV and Parasound P5 built in DAC. This combination sounds less good than the Chrome Cast Audio feeding the same DAC. There seems to be a bit more image via the Chrome Cast than the AppleTV.

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Introducing “Trey”

I name my hosts after notable greyhounds. The new iMac is no exception. It’s Trey, named after Kiowa Sweet Trey, Nick’s sire and Crash’s sire. Crash is a friend’s hound pawcationing with us this week.

References

  1. Apple’s iMac user guide at the iBook store describes the basics.
  2. David Pogue’s “MacOS Sierra, the Missing Manual” explains how to make best use of a Mac running Sierra.
  3. There are no current manuals for High Sierra coming this fall.

Revision History

  1. Original issue

First Impressions of Trey

Packaging and Unboxing

Apple packed Trey cleverly in a trapezoidal box, an outer corrugated shipping box covering a similar pasteboard point of sale box. The boxes are designed to stack up nicely in an outer shipping container by putting one base up next to one that is base down.

It was a surprisingly easy procedure to open the boxes. Tamper evident paper tape closed the outer box at the top. Cutting the tape allowed the front flap to drop down and the top flap to fold over revealing the inner package and its carrying handle. Once freed from the outer packing, the pasteboard point of sale box is opened the same way. Flipping the top open gives access to the accessory tray holding your choice of keyboard and pointing device.

Opening the inner enclosure shows the foam shock protection which is easily separated from the machine. A non-woven fiber envelope encloses the machine. A film covering protects the screen finish and case finish. All of this is easily removed.

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