No, not a new product by Microsoft.
After the repainting project in our home office, we finally got the wall shelves up we’ve putting off. As a way to motivate us, we’ve been holding off on getting some nice speakers for office music till the shelves were done, suffering with our semi-crappy computer speakers we each have on our Macs.
With the shelves finally up, we ordered a pair of Audioengine A5+ self-powered speakers (Marty decided the upgrade to bamboo was worth it, and I have to agree). We typically have Apple Airports for streaming music around the house, with one connected to our AV receiver in the living room, and another connected to an amplifier in the basement. But, this time, I wanted to experiment with using a Raspberry Pi as an Airplay endpoint. I picked one up off of Amazon, along with an USB WiFi adaptor and case. I also picked up an USB DAC, since it is well know that the built in DAC on the Raspberry Pi is lacking. I went for a cheap DAC, to see if I could get a working solution I liked before I invested too much in to the hardware. About $30 for the DAC, and if I tossed the project, the Raspberry would be used elsewhere.
A bit of software hacking got the solution working, and we were very happy with the results. At that point, I started to do a bit of looking for a better DAC, and settle upon the HifiBerry DAC+ Pro and the brushed metal case to hold both the Raspberry and the DAC. I also decided to move from the stock OS to a distribution package geared toward a music receiver/streamer solution, Pi MusicBox. With Airplay support built in, and also the ability to natively play streams from Spotify, YouTube, and other online source, it seemed like a more streamlined solution. Nice simple web interface means I can start and control streams from any browser.
All up and running, it’s a very nice solution. I’ve very happy with the choice over another AirPort (my other AirPorts are also running as wireless APs in my house, and I had no need for another AP in the office), and I’m thinking that another Raspberry Pi with DAC might be installed in my garage soon to support some back yard speakers.
Due to an impending boot drive failure in my Mac Mini, I took the chance to reload my computer from scratch and reload everything manually. It didn’t need a reload, but since I had to replace the boot drive, I thought it would be some good house cleaning to re-install everything manually, allowing me to get ride of crud that had built up.
As often is the case, when I do a reload, I end up finding some new, neat utilities to load onto my computer. I wanted to point out a couple that I recently discovered.
I’m a big fan of using spaces, even with having a multiple monitor setup. I like tossing programs that I don’t need to look at all of the time off to other spaces, allowing me to switch to them w/o having to dig through the windows piled up on my desktop. TotalSpaces make managing OSX spaces even easier, and has lot of nice features that aren’t stock. My favorite is the grid view, being able to see all of the spaces and programs at once, and even be able to drag programs between spaces quickly and easily.
The other is Bartender. I rather like iStat Menus for monitoring my system, but those monitors do take up space on the menubar, and that along with the other various programs using the menubar, it makes for a lot of clutter. Bartender allows me to have a sub-menubar, so I can toss most of the items into the sub-menubar, cleaning up the looks of the main menubar, but allowing me to access the programs rather quickly. Very nice.
I’ve been using it quite a while, but I think one of the best overall OSX utilities is still Hazel. Perfect for creating rules for managing files automatically, and also has a nice app cleaner built in. It’s like a 2 for 1 utility.
Marty and I have been working on an all things beer/coffee blog, and I’ve moved updates on the keezer over there. New taps installed today.
Keezer is mostly finished. I’m going to pickup a keg tikis week and run it off the picnic tap inside. Will start to gather the items needed to connect up all 4 raps, and start to get the taps.
Collar built and installed. Next steps: Temp controller, drill needed holes in collar, and stain collar.
2:22:28. If I remember correctly, 39th place in 40+ Clyde. The lack of riding in September/October was noticeable, but still pretty happy with the race and my time.
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It’s time to start the winter beard, but for something different this year, I decided to start from a clean shave. Feels sort of strange, and I’ve gotten tons of comments on the facebook photo I posted. For many people, it’s the first time they’ve seen me clean shaven (and perhaps now understand why I keep my face hidden). It’s probably been 10 years since I’ve totally shaved.
But, it won’t last for long. I’ll easily have a full beard in a few weeks, and by the end of the month, the clean shaven face will be a thing of the past once again.
The start of Mowvemnber