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It took me a long time to realise that the HomePod’s mains cable was actually plugged into the HomePod – I thought it was a permanent part of the HomePod.

But this story – https://9to5mac.com/2018/02/10/remove-homepod-power-cable-video/ – debunked that belief, with a good YouTube video to boot!

Our HomePod arrived in the first batch sent out by Apple – in other words on Saturday February 9th.

I will not bother you with unpacking details – but go straight to the first impressions :

– Siri now works very well, comparable to the Google Home (there is one of those in the house as well)

– The integration with Apple Music works flawlessly (almost)

– The setup procedure is extremely good

– The Homekit integration is not up to scratch.

– Airplay works,

– The sound quality is good for it’s size, but not to audiophile standards.

Siri

Siri works a lot better than I’ve ever seen it work on any other device. To be honest I’ve been unimpressed with Siri until I got the HomePod. I’ve quite possibly been spoiled by the Google Home speaker, where voice recognition works extremely well. I have to add that I have a reasonably strong Norwegian accent – enough to make working with various voice recognition systems (except for the Goole home) has been a bit of a hit-and-miss affair on occasions.

But as long as the HomePod is not hidden behind anything it works every time, even at quite a distance (12 foot) and even when playing music. Very impressive, especially seeing some of the artists I ask for songs by have weird and wonderful names.

Sound quality

I used to design and build professional sound studios and speakers for a few years – and have decent speakers at home (QUAD ESL and REL Sub). So iI have a fairly good idea of what makes a audiophile quality speaker.

And the HomePod is not bad, and even fairly good for it’s size. It beats most small speakers, and among these I count the Google Home speaker and the Amazon Alexa speaker. And it’s very dependent on positioning. Putting it in a corner makes it produce surprisingly good bass, but it then struggles with the midrange.

Make no mistake – it’s built for background musing around the home or office where the convenient access to your Apple Music library trumps HiFi listening, and it does this in spades.

It makes me listen to more music than I have for a long time (I’m not allowed my HiFi speakers in our living room (understandably) – but the HomePod can be used – as it looks good, and is smaller than you would guess from the pictures I have seen.

I have a new and small hobby project in music distribution for the house.

We have a “big” hifi in the library with 2 QUAD electrostatics and a REL sub – which we almost never fire up these days. But I still want to play music around the house. And in the living room we have 2 small JBL Control1’s (they are fairly unobtrusive and not too bad (you’d never know that I used to build recording studios for a living (-;)

So the current plan is to user Airfoil to distribute music to all our amplifiers/speakers/etc in the house. The master Airfoil will be on a server running iTunes/Apple Music, and the audio output will be through a combination of Apple Airports and AppleTV’s around the house. 

But for the JBL Control1’s i wanted to experiment and do it differently. The idea was to take a Raspberry Pi ZeroW (the tiny £9 wireless (and bluetooth) version of the Raspberry Pi and add a JustBoom Zero Amp to it. The fantastic thing is that there is a Airfoil Satellite for Linux and the Raspberry PI!

And I got it all working now.

 

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This is a partial screenshot of the server in action – you can see the audio sources around the house on the left hand side of the screen, and behind everything iTune/Apple Music running, pumping out music to the tiny Raspberry Pi Zero, and using the JustBoom amp playing on the JBLs!

I’m very pleased that the test seems to work!!!

After renting a cottage with a WiFi router from BT (BT Homehub) – and having some initial problems connecting with it from 

– Our MacBooks

– The Google Home speaker

– The Amazon Firestick

(Yes – we really took all these devices and more with us on a holiday) a short writeup of the problems we encountered, and overcame, could potentially help others on the future.

Problem

Initially all of our devices had random problems connecting to the WiFI, and then at random intervals dropped off the WiFi network.

Pinging the hub and bbc.co.uk showed around 10-15% packet loss.

The problem turn out to be in this setup in the router :

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The issue is the “Sync with 2.4 Ghz.

New mobile WiFi devices are built to rapidly move between access points when they find a new stronger (or as strong) access point. When the SSID’s are identical (as you might have in a house to enable you to move your iPad between rooms where you have multiple WiFi access points (we have 6 in the house as a example) they see the 2.4 Ghz and the 5 Ghz access points being advertised by the BT router as 2 different access points and start flapping rapidly.

Unticking the selection box, and making sure the 2 networks have different SSID’s (i.e. add a number 5 at the end of the 5Ghz network as a example ) solves the problems.

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Another way of solving the same problem :

We usually bring a portable access point anyway, to let us connect all our devices to one login at hotels we stay at – this will solve the problem if you have a Ethernet cable to plug into the house / room router, or to extend the existing WiFi network. We use a TPLink wireless N nano router for this.

This is really interesting

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While looking into getting Raspberry Pi Pixel to boot on one of my old Macs : 

 

Raspberry Pi • View topic – Fixing booting of the x86 image on Macs: “Fixing booting of the x86 image on Macs

Post a reply Watch  First unread post   18 posts Report this postReply with quotePermalink by spl23 » Sat Dec 24, 2016 5:49 pm As mentioned in the original blog posting, we’ve found that the live image doesn’t appear as a boot option on some Macs. I’ve found a method which fixes this on my 2011 Mac mini, which suffered from this problem – if you are trying to boot the image from USB on Mac and finding that it doesn’t work, you might want to try the following. It’d be helpful if you could comment below if this does or doesn’t work for you!

First, download the Enterprise bootloader from http://blog.sevenbits.io/Enterprise/.

Format your USB stick as FAT32 with MBR – you can do this in Disk Utility on the Mac.

Create a folder called ‘efi’ in the root of the stick, and then create a subfolder called ‘boot’

From the Enterprise bootloader, copy the two files boot.efi and bootX64.efi into the /efi/boot/ directory on the stick.

Copy the PIXEL-x86 ISO file into the /efi/boot/ directory, and rename it ‘boot.iso’

Finally, create a file called ‘enterprise.cfg’ in the /efi/boot/ directory, with the following contents:

(Via.)

I have used auto mounted filesystems from my Synology NAS for a long time, and it’s been rock stable, even though the previous version of OsX required me to move the mount points away from /Volumes (I moved them to /mnt/Reources).

But as soon as I upgraded to Sierra all looked ok for a few hours, and then the application (Plex) could not find it’s files any more.

After lots of investigations it turn out that the way auto mount works has changed.

When I reboot the server all works ok, until the share has been idle for a set amount of time, and is unmounted (and yes – this is the way auto mounts are supposed to work), as soon as something tries to touch any files on the mounted (or rather unmounted – filesystem), OsX mounts the filesystem in the correct place, but this time owned by root, and with permissions 

drwx——— root


which means that Plex (which runs as user plex) is unable to see the files, or indeed even the share. This was rather annoying as it appeared more or less at random (whenever it had been idle for a set amount of time), and therefore took time to debug.

 

My solution in the end was to open a terminal window and do a “cd /mnt/Resources/video/“ which stop sit from being remounted as “root”, but as the owner of the terminal, and all is ok.

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But this is not the end of the saga and I’m still trying to find a permanent solution.

And the next thing that surfaced was the iPad’s grandfather

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a Apple Newton!

We are trying to clear out at least part of the garage, and in going through old boxes (you did not think we were actually using the garage to park cars in did you?) we find all kinds of old stuff.

First out this card :

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It’s a old Symbiotic computer Systems hard-disk interface card – the company that made the first hard disk subsystems for Apple in the UK, and I did write some code for these!

The code was written in assembly, and was (as you can see from the label) slot specific.

It looks lie the new Apple TV box will have access to the Plex Server from day 1. A enthusiastic user decided that he would not wait for Plex to release their own client, so he wrote a AppleTvOs app that is already available (?)

 

SimpleX – A Plex Client for Apple TV: “SimpleX A Plex client for the new Apple TV. Coming soon.”

(Via.)

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