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Messages - totallymaxed

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1
Users / Re: Why Do Media Directors Exist?
« on: August 28, 2014, 05:52:28 pm »
Below is a url to a Youtube video of our new Athena Orbiter in action. The demo uses our new Athena Orbiter - and has a slick dynamic UI etc...but all the non UI based capability is all part of how you can setup systems without MD's and thats the main point of posting this video. I'm posting it here really to show a Dianemo system without any MD's performing various control functions with Internet Radio, iTunes library based music content, Spotify and streaming a ripped movie to and controlling a SmartTV (Panasonic I believe in this case).

http://youtu.be/0KQAeGia26A

All the best

Andy


2
Am I right to assume that only Dianemo users can apply?!

Yes you are - as mentioned in the linked post.

Currently builds of Athena rely on too many Dianemo specific features and technologies.

All the best

Andr

3
Nice interface. Nice video. Next time *I* would love to have it a bit louder :)

Noted :-)

4
Just a note on the Athena Orbiter;

The Orbiter itself is written 100% in HTML5 so it is compatible with any modern HTML5 compliant browser. The demo in the video uses the Safari browser on an iPad - but importantly this could be an Android Phone or tablet or indeed a Laptop/PC running Chrome, Safari etc. One of the big wins we get from writing the Orbiter in HTML5 is immediate portability to any device on any OS/Platform.

We have also written new code that provides an abstracted two way interface between the internal Dianemo systems data structures. This UI Layer code provides the glue between the Athena UI and the legacy Dianemo DCErouter style code etc.

All the best

Andy

5
Users / Dianemo - Looking for Athena Orbiter & UI Layer Alpha Testers
« on: August 28, 2014, 01:42:12 pm »
See the forum post below for details of how to join our Athena Orbiter Alpha test program - make sure you watch the video linked to in the post;

http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=8880.msg100008#msg100008

Thanks

Andy

6
Users / Re: Entertainment Areas without an MD
« on: August 27, 2014, 06:45:43 pm »
Run /usr/pluto/bin/UpdateEntArea -e XX where XX is the entertainment area where you have your stuff associated with. That should generate the media scenarios. At least, it just did do that after I added a Squeezebox to one of my rooms.

mysql pluto_main -e "SELECT PK_EntertainmentArea, Description FROM EntertainmentArea"

will give you a list of all EA IDs.

If you go to Web Admin;

Wizards->Basic Info->Room

The numbers with a '#' in front of them are the EA ID for the room listed above.

All the best

Andy

7
Users / Re: Why Do Media Directors Exist?
« on: August 27, 2014, 03:53:46 pm »
Thanks for the explanation Andy.
So if you add a sat box to the same room, controlled by the core, can you configure the the Rpi to switch the TV to the correct input for the sat box?

Itsik

Yes you can do that if the TV supports Input select via CEC (which most do). Obviously you need to get the HDMI signal from the STB to the TV but if their in the same room that just needs an HDMI cable. If the STB is remote from the room then you need to get the HDMI signal from the STB in the central rack, to the room, and that can be done with some HDMI over CAT5/6 transceivers (those require a dedicated CAT5/6 cable) or a pair of IP based HDMI over CAT5/6 transceivers that can send HDMI video over a standard gigabit CAT5/6 network cable.

All the best

Andy

8
Users / Re: Why Do Media Directors Exist?
« on: August 27, 2014, 02:57:07 pm »
Andrew, could you expand on that a little, mainly on controlling the Rpi and how do you attach it to a room with no MD ?

Thnx

If you have a recent SmartTV with a LAN connection then you can use that LAN connection to both stream HD video and to provide control of the TV too. Dependent on the TV make/model you may also need CEC control as well as this is the only way to turn on a TV from stand-by for example. In Dianemo we place the TV in the required room and then configure pipes to make sure commands & audio etc are routed correctly from the Core to the TV.

If you have an older TV that has no LAN capability then we can use a Rpi with our build of RaspBMC + CEC installed. The Rpi in this case then performs all the functions of the SmartTV above including using CEC control via the Rpi's HDMI port to power on/off and perform other commands/functions eg input select on the TV in some cases or Vol up/down/Mute. Again in Dianemo we place the TV + Rpi in the required room and then configure pipes to make sure commands & audio etc are routed correctly from the Core to, in this case, the Rpi. One of the big advantages of the Rpi is that not only do you get a great media player by installing RaspBMC but you also get a great CEC control device too for free.

You could also use a commercial media player + older TV - but this would not provide CEC control so in most cases the Rpi is the more economic & less complex solution.

There are a few other details in the above arrangements but thats the basis of how we configure systems with SmartTV's or Rpi + older TV's.

All the best

Andy

9
Users / Re: Entertainment Areas without an MD
« on: August 27, 2014, 10:09:28 am »
This issue came up in another post I had

http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=13430.45

The inability to get media scenarios for entertainment areas that have not been configured with an MD. 

If anyone is interested in helping me get this to work properly I'd be happy to assist in any way I can. 

I have a fresh install of the latest 1404 dvd image with an entertainment area set up that has a TV, receiver, a cable box, and a dvd player.  No scenarios are generated, so it seems the issue still persists in 1404.  This exact setup worked perfectly with a 1204 install when I set it up using an MD, and then after setup removing the MD. 

I can provide any logs, and perform any experiments anyone would like on this setup.  I can also provide remote access to this set up if anyone wants to help me investigate the issue and fix it.

If the room/entertainment area has no MD then no auto-generated scenarios are created. You need to set the zone to manually managed in Web Admin. If you add an MD, then later remove it from the room/entertainment area you are essentially doing the same thing as setting it to manual.

All the best

Andy

10
Users / Re: Why Do Media Directors Exist?
« on: August 27, 2014, 10:05:02 am »
Andrew,
If I may weigh in. A few main points on MDs and why as a user I continue to use them and would be disappointed to see them relegated to a unsupported system.

Number one for me is Cost. An ip controllable HDMI matrix, HDMI endpoints, multiple set top boxes/STBs = multiplying the cost to every-room and every zone you add. You can add 'smarts' to any display with a relatively low cost MD and a remote.

I enjoy the ability to control any zone/room from and zone/room without having to have a dedicate room controller (ie. iPad) in each room. Call us 'old skool' but we also prefer to flick through with a remote rather than always use an ipad, ipod touch etc.

The philosophy of LinuxMCE/Dianemo is the central home control. Not just single point to point but in addition multipoint and the ability to move that media/user experience between rooms seamlessly. This includes the same UI, the same control process and access to all media in all rooms. As well as lighting, heating etc. controls. In your model, the only UI is on the mobile orbiter.

Telecom, Game player and surveillance cameras are not considered here yet within the thread. Whilst I agree that the most used component of the system is media, it is the integration of all these smart home systems in one point and turning any display device into a controller and viewer that got me so enthused in the system.

In having said this, not all times is there a need to have a UI and consistent user experience. I use media players and upnp in conjunction with squeezeslaves and traditional MD to get a mix throughout the home. I would just hate to see them become unsupported. 

Food for thought.
Cheers
Garath

All good points but I think you have misunderstood some of my comments here and in other threads. So let me try and clarify things;

In Dianemo & Linuxmce we have an incredibly flexible tool. We can organise and structure our installations using many different approaches/strategies. Some of those can include centralised resources like STB's with HD video distributed to each room via IP Controlled HDMI Matrices. Some might prefer no centralised traditional STB's but  instead use Myth or VDR backends running in the Core. Some might prefer STB's in each room - but that is very rare indeed. But all of these approaches and many, many more are possible.

With today's TV's you already have 'smarts' in the TV - just plug a network connection into the TV and it can be controlled from anywhere by any Orbiter. If your TV is slightly too old to have an on-board Network connection then install a Rpi running RaspBMC behind it and you can get all the same capabilities, including CEC control, on your existing TV.

Orbiters provide the ultimate in flexible control. Yes you can rely on on-screen Orbiters for all control but that means you need a TV in each room to access the UI - and what about those rooms where you may not have a TV? With portable devices we can take our Orbiters to any part of the house and control that room, and we can still control any other room while we are there. I addition we can do that without having to have MD's and TV powered up to do so.

With Dianemo or LinuxMCE we have centralised home control - but is does not require multiple MD's + TV's all over the house to achieve it. Every device type that is supported by either system can be integrated,  controlled and accessed without a single MD - they are not required to achieve that at all. But you can have an MD in any room if you want it with an on-screen Orbiter - mix & match without limitation. Orbiters running on portable devices or on PC's can be used without limitation to control any room and any device anywhere in the system. You don't need, and I have never seen, an installation where you need a portable Orbiter dedicated to each room. You take your Orbiter with you or use one that is already in the room.

There are two scenarios where that require an MD;

- Live TV streamed from Myth or VDR in the Core.
- Using the Game emulator

Everything else can be achieved without MD's and without any loss of capability, flexibility or centralised control, while at the same time reducing complexity and energy costs. But in the end of course it's your decision - that's the ultimate in flexibility.

All the best

Andy

11
Marketplace / Announcing - Athena Orbiter & UI Layer Alpha Program
« on: August 27, 2014, 09:19:42 am »
The new Athena Orbiter & UI layer is a complete re-imagining of how the Dianemo UI is engineered, designed & updated. We started with a clean 'sheet' of paper when engineering the Athena UI layer and it is all new code from the ground up. Athena in fact is the internal name for a project that will deliver a number of new technologies for Dianemo that we will be rolling out in the future, the Athena Orbiter & UI layer is just the first.

This video shows the basic Athena Orbiter in action on a live Dianemo system; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KQAeGia26A&authuser=0

The Athena Orbiter & UI Layer are still in development and we expect to release them in the latter part of Q4 this year. In preparation for release we are looking for a small number of brave 'Alpha' testers who will be given access to early alpha releases of Athena. Please bare in mind that these releases will be alpha code ie they may well be unstable and break periodically (or frequently!) and we can offer no commitment to direct support for these releases during the alpha testing phase. We are looking to hear from you about your experience with these alpha builds though and your feedback will contribute to shaping the final release version. You must have a Dianemo installation to take part in the Athena alpha program.

If you are interested in participating as part of the Athena alpha program please PM me here on the forum.

Thank you

Andy

Athena Orbiter & UI Background
The Athena UI itself is built using industry standard HTML5. This makes it incredibly easy to customise using standard HTML5 markup and tools. In fact if you are familiar with HTML5 then a text editor is all you need to customise the design or layout of any Orbiter screen. Any graphics App that can output a gif or jpeg file is all you need to adapt or modify any of the graphical assets used in the standard Athena UI pack.

The standard Athena UI files are all located in a directory structure on the NerveCentre and all the HTML5 source files for the Orbiter include plenty of embedded notes on modifying the various sections of each file. No deep knowledge of the underlying system is needed to modify or create a new Athena UI skin either. Creating a new UI skin for Dianemo has never been this easy before, make a change, refresh the screen and its there - no UI Regens are required.

The new Athena Orbiter & UI layer will, we hope,  open up Dianemo UI design and customisation to a much wider audience than ever before. The Athena UI is targeted for release during last quarter of 2014 and will be a free update for all current Dianemo customers.

12
Users / Re: Recommendations for server and station computers
« on: August 25, 2014, 10:39:40 pm »
Thanks very much for all that great information!  I think I have most all the details ironed out consistent with your recommendations.  As for the over-spec on the server, I found this (http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Core_Server_Newbie_Pack) after I had put down the specs in my last message.  In comparison, I can probably drop some $$$ by backing off the specs quite a bit and not lose performance. 

This info was extremely helpful!  Thank you again.  I'll do my best to keep information flowing with respect to how I put it all together and the equipment I use.  Is there a location where someone can add details of a particular setup for others' benefit?  Somewhere in the wiki?


-Kirk

Re adding your config to the wiki; just create a page and add your systems spec there. Glad to be of help.

All the best

Andy

13
Users / Re: Why Do Media Directors Exist?
« on: August 25, 2014, 06:30:43 pm »
Maybe I am misunderstanding you. I have UTP cables on the different locations. No coax though. and neither do I have extra PVR's / STBs. Those all bring extra complexity, costs, power and possible points of failure usage I supposed.

There are many different configurations that you can implement. You could centralise pretty much everything - Core, STB/PVR's, Suround Amps, Zone Amps etc in which case you could use an HDMI Matrix that supports Cat5/6 Baluns (ie it will send HDMI over Cat5/6) in room to send the HDMI picture at full quality to each room. You would then IP control the Matrix to route particular sources to specific rooms and control the TV over IP too (select input, vol +/-, mute etc etc). Your MD's or Media Players can then be centralised and routed through inputs on the Matrix or be located in room. If you locate them in-room then typically you would locate the controlled Amplifier in room too as it makes routing audio to them much easier.

It seems to me that the only reason to have MD's is if you want to use VDR/Myth and access live TV via them and you want to use LMCE on-screen Orbiter UI. If you only want to access recorded TV then you can use SmartTV's or Media Players to access those recordings via upnp (that works for Myth... not sure if can do that with VDR).
This would only need a single Cat5/6 cable to each room/TV location. If you need additional Cat5/6 connections in the room then use a small switch to enable that.

This doesn't add complexity at all.

All the best

Andy

14
Users / Re: Recommendations for server and station computers
« on: August 24, 2014, 07:36:24 pm »
Just saw this one, Andy.  For some reason I'm not getting notifications on this thread.  Hmmmm...

That is great info, and thank you very much.  I'm narrowing my options down quite a bit and I think I've settled on something like this for my core:

System76 Eland Pedestal.  It ships with Ubuntu 14.04.1 Server LTS, so I'm guessing it'll be AOK for this purpose.

Intel Xeon E3-1220V2 (3.10 GHz 8MB Cache - 4 cores)
16 GB DDR3 1333 MHz ECC
2x2 TB SATA III 7200 RPM in hardware RAID-1
Hot swap drive cage
CD-RW/DVD-RW Dual layer drive


The questions that stand out for this one are: 

Graphics are integrate Intel HD.  Is this enough for a core?  I assume the core doesn't need much graphics support.

I very much like the hardware raid setup - is this compatible with LinuxMCE?

No audio included, but there are extra bays for expansion.  I'll probably pick up an audio card or two, if they are needed.

As far as structure, I plan to have the core in a utility room in the basement.  I'll have Cat5e access there as well as all the house speakers will terminate there.  I assume I can either connect the speakers to audio cards in the core or to amplifiers controlled by the core.  (Those amplifiers would be in the utility room also.)  I'll have 2 rooms with 2 speakers each in the ceilings, and all those wires terminate in the utility room. 

For the media directors, I anticipate 2 rooms, maybe 3, and those will have small footprint computers in place next to the TVs.  I'm thinking something like this for the media directors:  https://www.thinkpenguin.com/gnu-linux/penguin-pocket-wee-gnu-linux-desktop  They have Intel 1080p HD video and audio support.

That's my current plan for hardware.  As always, any feedback is greatly appreciated.

-Kirk

Hi Kirk,

Looking over your post here are some quick replies;

- we typically never configure Dianemo NC's (our term for a Core) as MD's so we don't worry about what graphics as such. In the days when we used standalone MD's we'd install enough for the number of rooms in the install.

- your chosen Core hardware should be fine as far as I can see - but I'd test it with a liveCD first to be sure. But I would also say that the Core hardware is way over spec'd for even the biggest house installation. Most of the time your Core will just be sitting there burning electricity. We would usually spec a Core with a mid-range i5 or possibly an i7 (but that would be only for bigger installations than your proposing). So test the hardware first for sure and then decide.

- audio cards can be added if you have enough slots and can be virtualised to so a single 7.1 card can drive 4x stereo zones for example.

- centralising everything is a good approach. If you plan to centralise the Amplifiers then you'll want to use low loss high quality speaker cables to each set of speakers in each room (CAT5/6 is no good for speakers except in emergencies or over very short distances). If the MD's are located in-room then you might want to locate the amplifiers with the MD's to simplify cabling/connections between them (run plenty of cat5/6 back to the rack to cover unexpected situations ). Soundcards always need an amplifier - they can't drive speakers directly.

- I'd recommend locating your media storage in a separate NAS (this could be raided of course easily) rather than in the Core itself. Hardware RAID will use proprietary drivers etc but as long as you can configure the RAID array using the provided utilities then your Core should be able to use it.

- those MD's use and i3 and look very nice. However they may not be ideal because they use Intel integrated graphics. You should check that suitable hardware accelerated graphics drivers are available and test the real video performance with some HD video streams before committing to them. Ironically those MD's are somewhat similar to some of our small Dianemo NC's that we would use in 2-3 bed apartments.

Let me know if any of the above is unclear!

All the best

Andy

15
Users / Re: Why Do Media Directors Exist?
« on: August 24, 2014, 03:36:28 pm »
As said before. I only have UTP cable to the different locations. If you replace the MD by PVR/STB and cables then you increasing complexity and costs instead of decreasing it imho. Even though then the MD might fail I have more trust in something open then the closed smarttv, PVR/STB. Especially if it is possible to have _one_ cheap but fully working solution so all use the same. I still feel the core needs to have all connections directly feed into it and there need to be light players/controllers that can actually be controlled (like also softwarewise) whatever that might be ;-).

In these situations just place a small 4-port switch in the room behind your TV etc and the connect your devices to the switch. A switch is super reliable, low cost and very low energy. We'be used this config in 100's of professional installations and it has proven to work well and be incredibly reliable.

All the best

Andy

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