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HOW TO: Install VPN server on Ubuntu when server is behind firewall

The whole point in this post is to run your own VPN service, and allow you to connect remote devices to your home network. To start off yo...

Dec 29, 2009

The current NAS situation...

Looks like FreeNAS developer is leaving FreeNAS behind due to limitations, and moving to a Linux based system called CoreNAS - which then later changed to OpenMediaVault.  Being somewhat excited about an update for future-proofing and allowing major development , I was happy to hear the developer taking steps - however, there could be some time before we see anything.

For all you FreeNAS lovers out there, don't worry, looks like iXsystems is going to take over FreeNAS development.

Myself, I am going to look into Amahi....

If you got the money to fork out - then drobo is your solution:

Dec 1, 2009

Bootable USB operating system

So you want to try a new operating system; but don't want to remove your current one, you don't want to fork out for an expensive partition manager just to make space to try one out.

What you need is a bootable USB with operating system installed.  Well UNetbootbin is the solution for you.  This little Windows/Linux application will allow you to create a bootable USB from a variey of Linux Distributions, as well as a standard ISO image.

Check the application out here:

REMEMBER:  Your BIOS must support booting from USB devices - or this will not work in any way.

Nov 24, 2009

iTunes Library Woes

Ok once again my iTunes Library looked like it had gone south, but I managed to find a way to recover it.  The "iTunes Library.xml" file.  I always keep a backup of this bad boy, cause he is the one with all the ratings.  I think it is probably good practice to back it up once a month or something.  Anyway, my "iTunes Library.itl" file was damaged, god only knows how but the simple solution was to import the xml.

When the "iTunes Library.itl" file is corrupted/damaged, iTunes shits the bed and just creates a new empty one.  At this point all you do is File | Library | Import Playlist... and then choose the "iTunes Library.xml" file.  Immediately it will start restoring all your playlists/rating and other good stuff.

The source of this information was Apple themselves, you think they would make this an option when finding a damaged itl file....



I feel that you may have to disable copy music to iTunes library when doing this - otherwise you dupe all your material, that's if you have this feature enabled of course!

Nov 21, 2009

Streaming video to anywhere with an internet connection...

So I put a video in a directory on my webserver for my brother to check out, and I wanted to test if he could download it, so I entered the link to check it.  To my surprise it started to stream it in my Firefox browser, it may even do it in IE, but I hate IE/ActiveX so I don't use it.  To accomplish this streaming joy all you need to do is get VLC.


When installing make sure you check Mozilla plugin (if you are a Firefox user, ActiveX for IE users I assume) and then enter the link on your webserver (fll pathname) to the file.  After a short time buffering your media should be streaming to your browser.  The streaming quality is all dependent on upload speed from your server, and download speed at your location - but in a pinch, you can watch your videos from anywhere.

Obviously we are talking about home movies here, as it would be highly illegal to do this with copyright material - even is you own it.  Not only is it illegal, but your ISP may frown on your webserver and upload usage.

Check your ISP limitations before you go doing this sort of thing, you don't want letters through the door, or obscene bills!

Update:  I guess you could probably do this to your iPhone too if you have the video in the correct format for it...

Nov 20, 2009

Ember Media Manager

Just came across Ember Media Manager, this looks like your solution for Movie organization problems.


So far I have just had a quick look at this product, but it looks like you just select the folder that contains your movies, and then you can search each file and scrape the media information from online.  This basically accomplishes what XBMC does, but will give you an offline solution, a 'backup' incase you ever need to blow away your XBMC video database.

Will have to look into this more, but this seems like a great solution for movie management.

Nov 19, 2009

Media Organisation and Tagging

I love keeping all my media and music organized, whether it is completing music tag information for some OCD sanity or keeping clean file names for scraping purposes (the task or retrieving the information by parsing data from a website).

Now this can be a bit laborious for TV show names/episodes so I searched to find a convenient/efficient way to do this and came up EpNamer.  EpNamer scrapes a couple of sites for file information, you just select the files, specify the series name and then search!  EpNamer will come back with the suggested names for the various files you queried, show you a preview of the changes that will be made, and if applied it will make those changes.  Find out more about this free application here (mac and windows):


Now, for keeping my music tags up to date I like to use the open source solution MusicBrainz, specifically their Picard tagger.  MusicBrainz is an open source publicly maintained database of thousands of albums.  The Picard tagger comes with a variety of plugins, allowing album art download, original release date tagging, among many other great features.  Maintaining music can be hard, but MusicBrainz is there to help, the software has the ability to lookup tracks based on existing tag/filename information as well as PUID (acoustic fingerprints) - therefore that actual audio data content, rather than name/tag.  Be sure not to rename the files unless you know what you are doing, as this will mess up your music database if it uses filename, which iTunes and I imagine most others do, for database management.  To find out more about MusicBrainz click on the following link:


Nov 18, 2009

Album out of this world...

So The Beatles never broke up, well they did in our universe, but not in the universe one extraordinary chap traveled to.

Besides the outlandish story on the link below, there is a link to one of The Beatles parallel universe releases - an album titled Everyday Chemistry. The title maybe a clue to how this story came about, the use of some everyday chemistry to make hallucinogenic drugs.

Regardless the album is awesome, and I claim it to be the best album of the year - in any universe.


Nov 16, 2009


Well I upgraded to XBMC 9.11 alpha 2. So far I haven't seen any significant reasons to push this update, in fact I see issues to stay where you are.

1. Lirc is a nightmare to get configured for remotes - and I lost all my settings!

2. There seems to be some visual defects in the video playback - which I haven't had the chance to look into.

Anyway, I like to try the latest in case there is something I don't want to miss. I decided to ge rid of XBMC Live on my ION HD HTPC, since it had changed to read only, so no settings were saved. I read somewhere that someone else had this issue - it was caused from changing from VGA to HDMI - physical outputs, not settings - weird huh?!

I did an overall clean house on both my HTPCs, installed the latest Ubuntu and reinstalled XBMC. Apart from the remote and video issues I am really happy - nice spring clean - or should I say fall.

I urge you to check out XBMC if you are looking for a home media playback device. It's cheap and will play anything you throw at it. Plus with the scraping tools it is a good way to keep all media organized... And I stream mine from FreeNAS - more on that later though.