Saturday, June 28, 2008

Web Server the web server isn't going to be an old 486...

It looks like I'll be building it up with an old Pentium 233 MMX instead.

Granted, the older computer would have been nicer to use, and I got it to boot Freesco and post and whatnot, but nevertheless, those old IDE controller cards are next to impossible to come by, and if you do have any (I have two), they're near impossible to configure.

So, I'm using an old PC that was freecycled to me. I just need to get a larger hard drive now so I don't have to mess with it for awhile. Ideally, when I get another computer to use as a web server, I'm going to load Absolute Linux on it and stick it in my office.

Waste not, want not.

Stay Tuned...

Chuck, MI

PS - Someday, after MDTV actually has a signal going out over the internet, I will return to actual Catholic content on this blog and move the tech talk over to another one. In the meantime, though, one blog is sufficient.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Quick Update

The MDTV Darwin Streaming Server has been up for almost a total of ten days now, running nice and steady. I've not gotten a chance to do much more on that due to a few other projects that have been in the works. My old server that was being used for DSS was decommissioned when I put the new one online, but I will be recommissioning it soon to be used as an FTP server. It makes too much sense to have one of those, especially if I'm out in the field editing video and I need to get some programming back to the "station" (if that's what you want to call it - Facing facts, it's the server in my basement).

I'm also working on a web server that is based around a (get this) 66Mhz 486...

Scary, isn't it?

The nice thing is that I'll be using Freesco on that, and I upgraded the RAM in the box so it can do all the nifty things Freesco will do. 64MB RAM is nothing these days, but in a 486 running Freesco, that's almost overkill! I plan on running the Apache Web Server with this, and since that's all this box is doing (holding web pages that will ultimately redirect the user to the videos on the VoD server, which is on a considerably faster server), I really wouldn't think that I'd need anything faster.

Besides, if this works well and keeps costs down, it helps because that would be more money to put towards either the production of new programming or the cost of obtaining old programming. And besides, the Freecycler in me says that it's best not to stick another PC in the landfill. Even the Vatican is trying to "Go Green" these days.

Stay Tuned...

Chuck, MI

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Latest Progress

Seeing that I wound up having to usher at our TLM this evening, I was only able to figure out two things today, one by default and one by research...

1) I now know how to restart Darwin Streaming Server after a reboot. This is by merely starting the Perl script in the directory to which it was installed. I had to figure this out after I came home from said TLM and there was my server sitting on the login screen...

2) I may have found the settings to use in MediaCoder for use in transcoding material to use on Darwin. This is good since I've failed pretty consistently in this regard recently. I will test this tomorrow.

Now, I just have to find that serial mouse for my son's laptop and a way to raise about $150,000 to obtain a house for my family and ample office and studio space to continue Mater Dei Television in a way that would allow me to do this full time. Please pray...

Stay Tuned!

Chuck, MI

Saturday, June 14, 2008

New Server Installed But...

The new server is up and running Ubuntu 8.04 LTS and has Darwin Streaming Server running on it as we speak, but I still can't seem to stream anything out if it was transcoded with MediaCoder (which is too bad, seeing that's a nice little program - at least as far as Windows standards go). I'm going to have to fix the transcoder issues tomorrow, as it's late and the wife wants to spend a little time with me tonight.

The good night is that I did find out that you can actually get DSS installed and running in "root" but then switch back to the user to run it. That's a good sign.

In any case, I'm tired. The new server is going and the old server will likely be made into a web server soon.

Stay Tuned!

Chuck, MI

Friday, June 13, 2008

New Server

Well, the new server seemed to be pretty stable overnight. It's not the fastest thing that I've ever built, and certainly not the prettiest, but it's faster and has more memory than what the streaming video is currently running on. I've not yet installed the OS. I'm still running Ubuntu live. Nevertheless, I'm happy thus far. Before I install anything, though, I'm going to put a gigabit ethernet card in it first, so it looks like a trip to my favorite electronics/computer store is in my foreseeable future...

Stay Tuned!

Chuck, MI

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Crossing My Fingers...

OK. I just built a server with a PC motherboard that had been giving me all sorts of fits the last time I used it. I had different memory in it back then, and that's since been changed.

I'm going to run Ubuntu on it on the live distro all night and see if I can move the mouse in the morning. If I was able to, then that's telling me the memory was the problem the first time. If it freezes, it's probably a bad motherboard and I'm going to be launching a barrage of obscenities that would make Ralphie's Dad blush...

I'd name this server Jude, after St. Jude, but believe it or not, saints aren't in my naming scheme. I can't tell you what my naming scheme is because then I'm easier to hack.

Stay Tuned!

Chuck, MI

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Deciding to do some much overdue cleaning (due to the necessity of needing to swap out TVs and I couldn't get to the one I needed until I moved a bunch of stuff), I decided to put together another server.

This should come as no surprise, as what I currently have Darwin running on right now is an older, somewhat slower, but certainly very reliable Ubuntu box. I figured at some point I'm going to need about three servers to start with: One to run Darwin, one to run a web server (likely Apache), and one as an FTP server. I thought of actually getting the FTP server done first, but decided to build another streaming server instead because I have the parts for it and if it works, then it's going to be a much faster box. Even if it's slightly faster, we'll be money ahead.

I've heard that the new Celerons are so poor compared to the Pentium 4 that it's as much as a 60% drop in performance compared to a P4 of the same speed. The old Celerons are only 10% from what I understand. We'll find out. It might wind up a total wash for all I know seeing that the current streaming server is running on an 866MHz PIII in a Dell Precision 420 and I'm about to build up an old eMachines box with a 2.2GHz Celeron. 60% of 2.2GHz comes out to 880MHz, which would only be slightly faster but with faster RAM and much more of it (the old server RAM is kind of slow and pricey in comparison).

So if it works, and I've got about three more eMachine motherboards if it doesn't (one of which is rumored to work but needing a video card), then I'll build it up with Ubuntu and Darwin and the old Dell will run Apache. The FTP server will likely be an older box that will run something more utilitarian that I can set up and access from the other computers on the network. I don't need a fancy GUI with that one.

In any case, it's late, it's been a long day, and I'll write more tomorrow...

Stay Tuned!

Chuck, MI

Monday, June 9, 2008

OK...So that's a good sign...

OK. I have my wife's FluxBuntu laptop hooked into the same local network which is running my Darwin Streaming Server, and currently, I can actually stream the test clips from the server to the laptop, which again is within the network. This is a positive thing. This means that Darwin is, in fact, working.

However, I can't seem to stream anything I've actually transcoded myself, nor can I stream to my other internet circuit.

While I think streaming outside the network is a port forwarding issue that I need to look at deeper tomorrow, I'm still not sure why I can't stream anything that I've encoded with MediaCoder. What I've done was sent myself a couple of the sample files so I can pull them down and open them up with MediaCoder to see what the settings are, then I can use those settings to transcode my clips.

I'm not thrilled with reverse engineering, but whatever works, right?

Either way, another victory tonight. I'm happy that the DSS is at least talking with another computer inside the network.

"I said WOO! HOO!" - Homer Simpson

Stay Tuned!

Chuck, MI

The Switch to Darwin

No, I'm not opening up THAT can of worms...

I'm talking about Apple's open-source project, the Darwin Streaming Server. I finally got it running on Ubuntu. It's currently been up for about the last 15 minutes or so, and I don't have any videos on there as of yet, but I got the sucker running.

This should be an improvement over VLC as far as a VoD server goes. VLC, while a virtual Swiss Army knife of media programs, just doesn't quite have the bugs worked out of their server portion yet and as a result, I've went ahead and switched it over to DSS. DSS is supposed to be a Red Hat/Fedora Core thing, but after searching through the Ubuntu forums, I found that someone actually came up with a way to get this thing going on Ubuntu.

So now we know what the next two things to do are...

1) Move the videos into the movies folder.
2) Read how to configure it for VoD.

After those two things happen, we'll worry about the port forwarding if it's necessary at all (which it may be) and firewall issues (again, if it's necessary at all). After that we may actually have a worthwhile beta test to do...

Also, I've finally found a good banner to use for Ubuntu, so I've added that to this blog too. Check it out. Ubuntu is free and easy to use and stable. It beats the hell out of spending $99.00 on an operating system, and even that's on the cheap.

Stay Tuned! I think we're finally close...

Chuck, MI

Friday, June 6, 2008

I'm Not Dead Yet...

...although this is where Terry Jones of Monty Python fame would say "...but I was coughing up blood this morning" in a falsetto voice meant to be imitating a female...

So anyway, I've spent the last couple of months in rediscernment of my calling to this apostolate (that and kind of busy with a multitude of other things, such as job hunting, getting the TLM going with my Una Voce chapter, now known as the St. John Bosco Latin Mass Community, and other things not to be discussed here). Anywho, I was getting frustrated and asked God to give me a sign. Afterwards, I went on eBay and saw that someone was selling another reel of "The Catholic Hour".

This was too easy, so I asked Him again for one more film, JUST to be sure...

No more episodes of "The Catholic Hour", but there were THREE films there that would be of use to MDTV.

I guess that answers my question. The answer was simply God saying "Back to work, Dummy..."

In addition to that, we have our first videotaped TLM in the can! The only issue with it, however, is that the lighting was awful and I only used one camera on it. Actually, the lighting was alright as long as I didn't zoom in to where Fr. Roberts was giving his homily. The lighting from my position wasn't good. If I had a camera in the back of the chapel where I was taping, it would have been better. Perhaps next time...

Also, I may have come up with another theory as to why VLC isn't working well as a VoD server. I've got my wife's laptop (with FluxBuntu loaded on it) hooked up to the same router. I thought I'd read on the VLC forums that there was no problem using it with intranet, but it didn't work well over the internet. I'm going to test this to see if it's true. If it is true, I'm going to look at possibly using a VPN in order to connect outside the network. If we use something like OpenVPN, then people just connect to the network and view videos that way. At least for the time being, that might be the best way to go.

Stay tuned...

Chuck, MI