Ampache on QNap TS-239 Pro II

Posted: December 6th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: QNap | Tags: | No Comments »
  • Go to the Web Interface -> Applications -> MySQL Server -> “Enable MySQL Server” and “Enable TCP/IP Networking
  • Go to the Web Interface -> Network Services -> “Enable Web Server
  • In the “Web” directory on the QNap, create a directory called “music“.
  • Download the latest release of Ampache and extract it to this directory.
  • Open the corresponding URL in a browser (e.g. ‘http://nas/music’) and the Ampache installation page appears.
    If all requirements are met the configuration can begin.
  • Leave the default settings and enter ‘root’ in username and ‘admin’ in password, if you have not changed these.
  • This will generate a config file, which must be saved to the
    /config‘ directory of the Ampache installation.
  • Lastly, you will be asked to create a user for Ampache itself.
  • After logging into Ampache, go to the admin menu (found in the left menu) and add a catalog. This catalog should point to your music collection on the NAS.
  • Open a port in your router and forward it to the web server on the QNap (port 80 if it was not changed).
  • You are now ready to test your Ampache installation. You can go directly to the Ampache URL or if you have an iPhone you can use the free iAmpache app. One caveat with using the iAmpache app is, that it cannot play FLAC files. If you need to do this, or just want to save some bandwidth, continue with the following steps, which sets up FLAC to MP3 transcoding.
  • You will need LAME and FLAC in order to transcode the FLAC files to mp3.
    Install them as follows:
    ipkg install lame
    ipkg install flac
  • Open ampache.cfg in an editor able to display unix line ending (e.g. Notepad++) and edit the ‘transcode_cmd_flac‘ directive,
    so it looks like the following:

    transcode_cmd_flac = "/opt/bin/flac -dc %FILE% | /opt/bin/lame -rb %SAMPLE% -S - - "

  • Set ‘transcode_flac’ to ‘true’:

    transcode_flac = true
    Done!


  • Non-ASCII chars in Java

    Posted: November 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | No Comments »

    If you are having problems with non-ASCII characters (for example the Danish æ, ø and å) not showing up correctly in your Java application, try giving the Java VM the following argument:

    -Dfile.encoding=UTF-8

    You can verify that the charset has been set with this statement:

    Charset.defaultCharset();


    Gigabit LAN vs. 100 Mbps Lan

    Posted: October 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: network, QNap | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

    Having recently upgraded my home network to Gigabit speeds, I still had my old devices and cables around. Most of these were specced at 100Mbps, so now I had the perfect opportunity to do a head to head benchmark showing if the upgrade was worth the effort. I expected a significant performance improvement by replacing the old 100 Mbps router from my ISP, which acted as the hub for every wired and wireless device on my network, with a brand new Gigabit switch. As benchmark, I transferred a 2.3 GB file from my PC to a QNap TS-239 NAS 3 times over the router and switch respectively.
    These are the average speeds.

    .
    Name Speed in MB/s Total Tx Time
    NetGear VVG2000 Router 10.9 3:37
    TrendNet TEG-S80G 51,9 0:44
    .

    A significant improvement: The transfer is almost 5 times as fast over the Gigabit switch. The measured transfer speed through the NetGear router corresponds well with its specified maximum of 100 Mbps (~12MB/s). With the Gigabit switch, the harddisks of the PC and NAS  become the bottlenecks, since we are nowhere near the theoretical maximum of  a Gigabit network (120 MB/s).

    As a part of the upgrade, I also bought new Cat-6 cables. The oldest cable I still had in use was a Cat-5 and crimbed together by myself about 10 years ago. Since Cat-5 is generally not recommended for Gigabit networks, I thought it would be interesting to see just how much using these old cables would affect transfer speed.

    .
    Cable Speed in MB/s Total Tx Time
    Cat-6, 7m, Round 51.4 45.8
    Cat-6, 10 m, UltraFlat 51.9 45.4
    Cat-5, 5 m, round 51.5 45.7
    .

    To my surprise, the old Cat-5 cable was on par with the new Cat-6 cables! Luckily, there was not much of the Cat-5 cable to replace, so I won’t be beating myself up over making a useless investment…

    I also tested some “UltraFlat” Cat-6 cable, which I was worried would be susceptible to crosstalk, but as the table clearly shows, the performance of the “UltraFlat” cables are equal to that of the regular, round ones.

    So, the morale of story is: Don’t be affraid to use UltraFlat cables in your Gigabit network and if you have some old Cat-5 cable buried under your floor or in the wall: Test it with some Gigabit devices before going out of your way to replace it.


    TS-239 Pro II Turbo NAS

    Posted: October 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: QNap | Tags: | No Comments »

    This page details my QNap NAS setup and is primarily a reminder to myself of how to install and configure the applications running on it.

    Applications installed through QPKG

    Applications installed through IPKG

    Web Applications

    Applications on the PC

    iPhone

    Not installed anymore

    Local links

    Misc. Setup

    Coming up


    Slow access to shared network folder from VM

    Posted: August 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

    After changing the network adapter type on a VMware virtual machine from NAT to bridged, the transfer speed from shared network folders dropped to about 25 kb/s and browsing shared folders was really sluggish. The network folder was located on the host machine, which was running Windows 7 Searching the VMware knowledge base resulted in the following article. I can confirm that the proposed solution also applies to Windows 7:

    Performance issues with bridged networking on Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2008 host operating systems

    In short: Use regedit to navigate to the following place:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters
    

    Then create a DWORD key named DisableTaskOffload and give it ‘1’ as value. TCP task offloading means distributing calculations concerning the network communication to the network card, so creating this registry key means that all these calculations will be done on the CPU.
    Microsoft Virtual Server seems to be susceptible to the same problem and offers the same solution along with two others: Slow performance when you try to access resources on your Virtual Server 2005 host computer from a guest virtual machine


    Using the hReview-Aggregate format in PHP

    Posted: July 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: PHP, RDF, Semantic Web, Web | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

    Google is starting to support a number of microformats such as vCard and hReview. Google uses the term Rich Snippet for microformats.
    This article shows by example how to use the hReview-aggregate format, which is ideal for sites dealing with ratings and reviews. Some well known examples of sites already incorporating the hReview format are Imdb, Rotten Tomatoes and Cnet.

    As an example of how to use the hReview-aggregate format, we use a community driven site concerned with reviews of auto repair shops. On this site, each auto repair shop has a main page with its contact information and reviews written by users of the site.
    On each page we wish to put a hReview markup, so that search engines and other software agents can parse the name of the shop being reviewed, its average rating and the number of user reviews.

    The following PHP function writes a hreview-aggregate snippet based on a name of the auto repair shop and an array of reviews submitted by users.
    It first loops through the reviews in order to obtain an average rating (one decimal place) and then the actual snippet is echoed in the RDFa format.

    function create_hreview_aggregate($auto_repair_shop_name, $reviews)
    {
    	$average_rating = 0.0;
    	$number_of_reviews = count($reviews);	
    	
    	if($number_of_reviews > 0) {			
    		foreach ($reviews as $r)
    		{	
    			$average_rating += intval($r->rating);			
    		}		
    		$average_rating = number_format($average_rating / $number_of_reviews, 1);
    	}
    echo <<<EOT
    <div style="display: none;" xmlns:v="http://rdf.data-vocabulary.org/#" typeof="v:Review-aggregate">
       <span property="v:itemreviewed">$auto_repair_shop_name</span>
       <span rel="v:rating">
          <span typeof="v:Rating">
          Rating:
             <span property="v:average">$average_rating</span>
             /
             <span property="v:best">5</span>
          </span>
       </span>  
       <span property="v:votes">$number_of_reviews</span> 
       <span property="v:count">$number_of_reviews</span>
    </div>
    EOT;	
    }
    

    This code is placed on the main page for each auto repair shop in the database. If the page comes up in a Google search result, the name of the repair shop and the average rating will perhaps sometime appear just like movies on Imdb do today

    Googles presentation of Pulp Fiction on Imdb

    Chances are that the snippet is just summarizing what is already visible to the human eye on the page. To avoid this redundancy, it is perfectly legal to hide the snippet.
    This is what I have done in the example above by giving the div surrounding the snippet a “display: none” style.

    Rich Snippets Testing Tool

    At the moment, Google only supports Rich Snippets in its search results from a handfuld of major sites such as Imdb, Rotten Tomatoes and Cnet. If you are curious to see how Google interprets the semantic data on your site, you can use the Rich Snippets Testing Tool.
    This is how the hReview-aggregate produced by the code above is interpreted by the tool:

    How Google interprets the rich snippet from our example

    This tool also helps you in ensuring that your markup is syntactically correct. There is not much point in having semantic data on your page if it isn’t parsable by a machine after all :).
    Another useful, non-Google tool for this purpose is Optimus.


    Getting Debug Output From Scripts on ASPX Pages

    Posted: May 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: .Net, Debugging, Scripting, Visual Studio | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

    To get some useful output when debugging C# or VB scripts on aspx
    pages use the following statement in the script:

    System.Diagnostics.Debug.WriteLine("We are here!");
    

    In Visual Studio, attach the debugger to the process serving the
    page containing the script (typically an IIS server process).
    The debug text, “We are here!”, now appears in the output window
    whenever the aforementioned statement in the script is executed!


    Lazy Linking

    Posted: May 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Google, Web | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

    Imagine that you have accumulated a database of customers, businesess or some other kind of organisation (from here on: “entries”).
    For each entry you have properties such as name, address and telephone number, but you are missing one essential thing: The URL for the homepage of the entry.
    You could fix this the hard way and begin looking up the homepage for every single entry, but this quickly becomes time consuming (and extremely boring).

    If the correctness of the link to the homepage is not mission critical, there is another, easier you could try: Google’s “I Feel Lucky” feature.

    Chances are, that the names of the entries are pretty unique. This means that a Google search on the name will most likely render the homepage for the entry at the top of the search results. This also means, that had you pressed the “I Feel Lucky” button, you would have been taken directly to this homepage. The good news is that you are not restricted to using this feature by clicking the actual button on Google.com. It is also possible to use it programatically by constructing a simple query string for the Google server.

    For example: The following link will take you to the homepage of the CodeIgniter framework:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=CodeIgniter&btnI=3564
    

    the btnI=3564& means that we want to use the “I Feel Lucky” feature and the string after q= is our search string, i.e. the name of our entry.

    The obvious drawback of the Lazy Linking method is, that it is inherently inaccurate. There are two scenarios, where it will fail:

    1: If the homepage of the entry in question is not ranked at the very top of the search results.
    2: If the entry does not have a homepage at all, the user will be taken to a random page.

    However, if these drawbacks can be accepted, the method is definitely a time saver.


    How to prevent divs with a set width but no content from being collapsed

    Posted: April 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Web | Tags: , | No Comments »

    When rendered by Firefox, a div with no content is collapsed even if it has a width set.
    A simple way to fix this is to insert &nbsp; (the html code for space) into the div and Firefox will
    regard it has having content and render it according to the width property.


    Sluggish Mouse Movement in VMWare Virtual Machine

    Posted: March 28th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: VMWare | Tags: | No Comments »

    If mouse movement is sluggish or kind of laggy in your virtual machine, even after installing VMWare tools, the following procedure could possibly fix it.

    • In the virtual machine, right-click the desktop and go to Display Properties -> Settings -> Advanced -> Troubleshoot
    • Move the Hardware Acceleration slider all the way to full.