Mediatomb makes your PS3 finally useful.

Ca 8 months ago I bought a Playstation 3. I was fascinated by its ‘supercomputer in a box’ claims, found Cell technology mildly interesting and it’s been a long time since I’ve been playing a good first person shooter. As Amazon had a good deal that included “Resistance: Fall of Man” I had this magnificent geek box sitting next to my TV in no time.

If you look at it objectively, it really does offer a lot for its moderate price: it can play Blue Ray, DVDs, CDs and all sort of other discshaped things, USB keys, can hook up to your Ipod and all other sort of things. It does Bluetooth, Wifi and, crucially, has uPNP capabilities: for those non-Geeks out there it means it can play movies and sound files that are lying on other computers around the house by the virtue of wifi.

In the past I managed to get this done thanks to my single Windows machine in the house, but who wants to have one of those monsters on, wasting electricity all the time. Now, thanks to Ubuntu, the AspireOne and Mediatomb this is all much more elegantly organised:

As the AspireOne is only fired up for work at home (it never ends, you know) my need for a decent musical background begins exactly at the same time. With the PS3 hooked up to a decent pair of speakers this is (though of course not hi end, due to the fact that the music on the Aspireone is encoded in some sort of compression format) an easy way to put my 28 GB music collection to use. Mediatomb is surprisingly easy to install and configure for a Linux product concocted by without doubt very nerdy but ultimately nice gentlemen (just look at the guy who looks after Rhythmbox for Gnome. You wouldn’t even mind living next to him. And that’s a big compliment for your average Gnome coder).

This is of course not perfect, and I am aware of the acute lack of proper, non-encoded tunes in my household. There is still the matter of 450 vinyl records stored away in a warehouse in Ilford, but before I could peruse these again I have to source a decent amp, a set of proper electrostatic speakers and dig out my Thorens turntable, so that will take a bit.

In the meantime I am quite happy to enjoy Charlie Parker in mildly compressed form.

Sometimes even music reproduction is being hit by compromise.

Tough. I know.

Where to go when you’re an AspireOne user.

The EEEpc’s community has already been well documented, so today a shout out for the two sites keeping the AspireOne users out there happy, supported and content: is a blog cum forum, serving the need of the AO community and is incredibly helpful (especially the forum, which really produces some astounding guides and hacks, thanks to its resident ultra-alpha geeks).  Macles* keeps an eye on the software side of things, offering downloads for the Acer Bios upgrades and points to updates.

Both excellent sites, both well worth visiting.

Ubuntu on the Aspire One

Hello all,

after a short break from posting, Messagedfromtheouthouse is now back in action. Work unfortunately was a bit overwhelming over the last two weeks, but after a nice and quiet weekend filled with lounging on sofa and bed and some serious Indian cooking I am appropriately refreshed to get back to the important business of blogging. Anyway, I am sure you all remember that I recently bought an Aspire One, Acer’s answer to the EEEpc, the lovely little white laptop that is giving so much joy to the best girlfriend ever (and millions of happy clients all over the world). Faced with a serious shortage of EEE’s in my vicinity, I went for the Aspire One with it’s chunky 120MB HD and more generous sized keyboard. Fitted with ‘Linpus Lite’, I was moderately happy with the machine, though it’s ancient software suite and garish desktop design annoyed me slightly.That and it’s annoying fan, but that’s a different story.

This weekend I finally had the chance to change the operating system, and after much soul searching I went for Ubuntu’s Netbook Remix (NMR). And boy, the change is immense.

But first things first: the current NMR is based on Ubuntu’s Hardy Heron with some kernel tweaks for Intel’s weird little Atom processor and some proprietary drivers for the built in wifi. The installation is straightforward: download the image, transfer it unto a USB key, boot the AspireOne from the USB key and Robert is your mother’s brother. After the first boot all you have to do is add some personal details and everything just works. Firefox 3, Evolution, Open Office 2.4, all wrapped up in a very tasteful GUI, devoid of the terrible vomit green and orange colours that Linpus Lite was offering.

Battery management seems improved, wifi works, audio works (and somehow sounds not as flat. Maybe due to a different Alsa version?), webcam works, and now I have access to Ubuntu’s massive repositories and I don’t have to dabble with Fedora’s weird package management system anymore. A win-win situation.

Suddenly working with the AspireOne seems to be much more fun.