Jeff Sexton

Monday, December 15, 2008

House Music - Mediatomb and PS3, Again

My Mediatomb install on Fedora never has worked correctly. All the reading I did it about just convinced me that no one seemed to have the same problems or questions I did. So I took an old computer and put Ubuntu 8.10 on it. Ubuntu has a Mediatomb that can be installed with apt-get, all ready to go (mostly).

First of all, I think one of the reason playlists didn't work for me was that, since I wasn't sure which would work better, I had both a pls and a m3u file with the same base name. I think this wasn't working well, not sure.... When I added a small m3u file, alone, it worked fine. Mediatomb created a new "playlist" section, and the PS3 could play it. I had not seen that before.

Given that, I went ahead and set Mediatomb to work scanning the full artist/album directories. This takes a long time (on the computer I used). Meanwhile, I was also able to add a few more, small, playlists.

I used fapg to create m3u files from the plain path/file lists out of my old database:

fapg -f m3u -s <> files.m3u

And they worked!

This step was important because what I had were just lists of files. I found that when the PS3 plays a playlist is displays information from the extended tags in the m3u file, not from the MP3 file tags (when playing by artist or album, the PS3 displays the MP3 tag data, however). I don't know if Mediatomb or the PS3 is deciding this, but I couldn't find any other jukebox software that would read in my list and save off a m3u file with extended information in the m3u file, from the MP3 tags. This in spite of the fact that all the programs I tried (three or four, there are a lot these days) would display the MP3 tag information on loading a simple file list... fapg saves the day. Converting a plain list to m3u with fapg causes it to read the MP3 tags and add the extended information to the resulting playlist file. Nice.

Here's a few observations and questions I still have about the Mediatomb/PS3 combination.

1. It seems to scan and run well up to some point. Then scanning and the response times at the web application and on the PS3 slow down dramatically, to the point of getting timeouts.

2. Large playlists, completely added on Mediatomb, do not appear all at once one the PS3. If I browse into a list, I get just 30 or 40 entries at first. More entries show up in bursts every few seconds after that. If I exit that list, and browse back, it picks up where it left off, but if I start playing the list, it only plays the tracks that had been listed so far. I hope it doesn't have to do that everytime the PS3 is restarted. Perhaps a more powerful server would resolve this. So for, it's been doing this while still scanning the full volume so that is a factor.

3. I added m3u files to Mediatomb with an add operation, not with a timed scan of the playlist directory. The later is what I want, but I'm not sure it works. I did try adding the directory with a scan, but the playlists were not created. Again, performance constraints may be a factor. Also, it takes a really long time to do this with larger lists so I'm not sure it's practical. How will I create, load and play dynamic lists? Say from a search result in other software?

4. The folks on the Mediatomb forum are responsive and helpful.

5. Mediatomb works great for photos.

One last thing. I was running Mediatomb two ways; one using init.d and one just at the command line, separate databases. While adding m3u files using the instance started at the command line, but not while doing the timed scan, I'd see this quite a bit on the console:

TagLib: MPEG::Header::parse() -- Invalid sample rate.

Many of my CDs are encoded with a variable bitrate, so that's probably the explanation. The error does not impact the ability to play the files at all, as far as I can tell.

When all's said and done, I can now listen to my playlists. But there's still a lot of missing functionality to be figured out - better searching and browsing, dynamicly created playlists, effective and scheduled rescanning, streams, and tracking what's played - all things my old system does. I am however, most sure that the Mediatomb/PS3 combination can be part of the solution.


Best shoe throwing video ever.

Friday, December 12, 2008


A typical Office Depot store in East Palo Alto...Image via Wikipedia

Office Depot is closing 9% of their North American stores. They're just the latest... I bet this is the beginning of the end of the rediculous level of retail we've seen grow up over the past decade. Suburbs all the country are going to be littered with empty big-boxes that never should have been built in the first place.

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A human brain showing frontotemporal lobar deg...Image via Wikipedia

"Australian scientists studying illnesses of the brain believe that an inability to detect when someone is being sarcastic is a symptom of dementia."

Oh, ya sure, THAT's going to work, right, WHAT EVER..... They'll probably discover that irony actually causes mental illness, then where will be be?

"The AFP reporters apparently asked Hodges whether the test would still work on "people from countries not renowned for their appreciation of sarcasm or irony".

"Apparently he believed the test "could be modified".

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PC Power Saving

Image representing Windows as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase, source unknown

"...most organizations remain behind the times on PC power management, in large part due to common misperceptions about PC power, writes InfoWorld's Ted Samson, who outlines five PC power myths debunked in a recent report from Forrester, ranging from the energy savings of screen savers, to the energy draw of powering up, to the difficulties of issuing patches to systems in lower-power states."

This week I finally gave up and disabled the power saving modes on my Windows computer at work. Why? Because Windows simply can't do it. I was just plain tired of having to hold down the power button for a hard shut down twice a week or so when Windows could not manage to come back from a power saving mode. And then, who knows what would be lost or corrupted, and I'd have to not only reboot, but restart everything I'm using (a 20-30 minute process).

At home I have all Linux-based machines that have used power saving modes just fine for many years. And a second computer at work running a Linux that also does this just fine, thanks. These machines I don't even think about.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Wii Again?

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 23:  A shopper purchases a...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

"The Wii has emerged as one of the most sought-after gifts this holiday season, which has otherwise been lamented for a lack of new and hot products.

"On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving which marks the start of holiday shopping, the Wii was the most searched-for product on the Yahoo Shopping site. It was also the most popular product on eBay, with 3,171 of the consoles selling for an average price of $349 that day."

The Wii is what, three years old now? And Nintendo still has not figured out that maybe they should, oh I don't know, make more of them? I don't get it.
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Saturday, December 06, 2008

WholeFoods Shopping Humor

"Mom, just hang out around here. I'll go up there and check on my Thanksgiving order. Don't wander off."

" 'DON'T WANDER OFF.' What?! I'm not a child. I'll wander off if I want to."

"You'll get lost."

"No I won't."


[cell ring]

"I'm lost."

Friday, December 05, 2008

Netbeans Project File Madness

One of four Boeing 737-300 freighters operated...Image via WikipediaFor the longest time one of my Netbeans targets was haunted by a component that I had long ago removed and moved to a different project. What would happen, a lot, is builds would suddenly fail with a message like this:

[ERROR] file:/C:/MyProject/EJBs/src/conf/xml-resources/web-services/ThatEJB/wsdl/ThatEJB.wsdl is unreachable

Failed to parse the WSDL.
C:\MyProject\EJBs\nbproject\jaxws-build.xml:112: wsimport failed

This was in spite of the fact that I had removed the target using the IDE, as "by the book" as possible. It should have cleaned up its target references, but obviously did not, and it just wouldn't let go.

What I had to do was open up C:\MyProject\EJBs\nbproject\jaxws-build.xml and remove all the references to the ThatEJB target. I had to do this once a week or so in fact, as the jaxws-build.xml file sometimes gets rebuilt (I don't know what triggers this rebuild, it doesn't seem to happen all the time).

I finally found the true source of the reference. I had to edit this file:


This file contains an XML block for, it seems, each EJB, including ThatEJB. I completely removed that particular XML block. Problem solved.

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Context Roots for EAR Files in Glassfish

Description unavailableImage by UniqueOo Mania via FlickrAfter deploying a Java Enterprise Archive (EAR) file to a few different Glassfish instances, I found that the context root of an Enterprise Java Bean (EJB) in the application varied from server to server. It took awhile to determine how Netbeans and Glassfish set this part of the URL - although I still don't know why the (default?) paths varied.

It turns out that when using an EAR file, it doesn't matter what you put in the WSDL, in web.xml, or in sun-web.xml. The context root is controled instead by application.xml. In Netbeans, right-click on the enterprise application (EA) project, and select new and “Standard Deployment Descriptor”. This will create an application.xml file, in the project, based on your current web.xml. This application.xml file can be edited to set the context root.

When using a WAR file, the context root is controled by the usual deployment descriptor, as one might expect. An easy why to set a WAR file's context root, after deployment, is through the Glassfish server administration console. Go to "Applications" and "WebApplications" (on the left side of the administration page), click on the name of your application and you’ll be able to change the "Context Root" option. Then click “Save”.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Fisker Karma

A diagram of an electrochemical cell. Author, ...Image via Wikipedia

"Unlike the Volt, the Karma will have three operating modes. The default mode is "stealth," and it delivers optimal range and efficiency. Acceleration is governed to maximize battery life, and top speed is limited to 95 mph. Flip the switch to "sport" and you get unfettered access to all 408 ponies. "HEV" or charge-sustaining mode works a lot like a strong hybrid and provides deceleration engine shutdown, engine start-stop and charge sustaining."

Why not toss a few billion at companies like this instead of GM? Maybe we could finally get some good, American, electric cars built.

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"If you don't believe that Monkeys have REAL Ultimate Power you better get a life right now or they will climb a tree near your home and stare at you with their sad monkey eyes until your brain hurts!!! It's an easy choice, if you ask me."

Monkeys... Who knew?

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Description unavailableImage by falsalama via Flickr

"It's the end of the road for the Yugo.

"Production of the car has officially ended after almost 30 years."


"The Yugo factory is to be transformed and in future it will be making a brand new model for Fiat, something that has already been nicknamed here as the "anti-credit crisis car". "

I saw a Yugo the other day... They have not been imported to the US for a long time, but I did not know they were still made.
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Tuesday, December 02, 2008


11 weeks oldImage by Brian Hathcock via Flickr

"Many drinkers assume that Zima vanished shortly thereafter and has since existed solely as a punch line. But Zima actually survived for more than another decade, until MillerCoors pulled the plug on Oct. 10. Rarely has such a famously maligned product enjoyed such a lengthy run—a testament to its brewers' Madonna-like knack for reinvention. The Zima that died a quiet death last month bore little resemblance to the malternative that swept the nation during President Clinton's first term."

Zima... I had completely forgotten about this stuff. But I am sure that I still don't know anything about this picture of a dog.

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