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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Saturday, 19 April 2008

More things to do with the Neuros OSD (including being frustrated)

OK, so I just can't leave it alone! I'm slowly working through the features and new developments for this little box-of-tricks, and trying to rationalise them, in case things go horribly wrong and I have to start again.

I'd like first of all to thank Matthew Wild for all his assistance with his excellent wooble and lpkg applications, and for his insights and experiences with the OSD so far. With his help, I baled myself out of some awkward trouble last night when I discovered there was corruption on the compact flash card.

Which represents a good place to start...

Arizona - a new firmware.. the good and bad

To make use of the shiny Qt graphics engine, the clever people at Neuros have completely re-written the basic code for the OSD, but in doing so have caused the on-board memory to more-than fill up. For all purchasers of the device, they are offering a free CompactFlash card (or a voucher for a free one) to hold the new firmware.

You can find the firmware tucked away on the Neuros blog, here, but you need to have upgraded to the last of the previous generations of firmware (333-175-02849-beta - a beta edition, so not necessarily one I'd have downloaded from the automatic download, but available here nonetheless) to install it.

It certainly took a while to do its business, but when the game of 'Pong' had finished, it seemed to boot up, and look reasonable. Until.. it suggested I update to the latest version of the firmware (which ended, quite ominously, in test). I clicked OK. Oops. Another half-hour of waiting, and then.. disaster. When it started installing the latest batch of applications, it got stuck on 1% and that was it... every restart after that would try and continue where it left off, and no progress was made in over an hour.

Fortunately, there's a roll-back procedure, which involves sticking the 'old-school' firmware on a freshly-formatted CF card in a directory called newpackage and with a file called disable_upk_version_check. I followed those instructions (which can be found here) and tried again.

So.. was it worth it? Did it get rid of the slight niggles I had - the horrendous time it sometimes took to connect to the Windows shares on the mac, the occasional, but total, complete hang-ups when I was trying to search for YouTube videos? Well, no.

In fact, the two excellent facilities I'd installed (the video streaming, and the remote control website) also both stopped working! Fortunately, a new version of stream _fuse is available for Arizona, as linked to in a forum post here.

As I mentioned before, the developer of Wooble has been very helpful throughout our email conversations; apparently an executable called screenshot is missing from the new firmware, but he has updated it and is hoping it will be included soon; I'm sure he won't mind me linking to the copy he kindly offered me here - copying it into the bin directory where you installed lpkg will make the OSD screen appear in the web front-end.

So.. this could be considered as 'back to square one'. It's still a little unreliable - every time I want to demonstrate the 'new thing' I've discovered, I find it has hung or just takes ages to respond. But I think that'll improve with time - there are definitely lots of bug reports being submitted, so we'll see how it goes.

Streaming internet radio on the Neuros OSD

I thought I'd look into the development of streaming radio capabilities - it would be great to be able to listen to my favourite Shoutcast stations (like FTLfm, Radio Nova and - of course - image FM).

With Arizona, it is possible to play radio streams (yay!) although only through the 'command line', either through telnet or using the More Applications -> Advanced Applications menu, which gives a terminal prompt that can be typed into using the remote control and arrow keys. Ouch.

So.. how do you do it? It's not easy... you have to enter the stream address manually, by opening up the listen.pls (or similar) file, and typing in the address you find, thus:

~ $ xmms2 add
~ $ xmms2 play

To stop it, use

~ $ xmms2 stop
~$ xmms2 clear

But the best bit is that it works - sound comes out of the TV, so internet radio is definitely possible. In fact, I was looking at the development schedule, and it seems that streaming audio - including last.fm - may be turning up in August.

So that's my trials and tribulations for the day. I still had some time to go for a walk in the April showers with Lenni and Chris earlier, zipping up the hill on their scooters, but I think I'd better leave it alone for a bit, for fear of neglecting my family!

Posted by james at April 19, 2008 8:57 PM

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