Back in action!

So a few weeks ago, Gloria suffered a hardware failure on her motherboard. It seems that there was some sort of issue that eventually prevented the motherboard from [su_tooltip style=”cluetip” position=”north” shadow=”yes” rounded=”yes” size=”2″ content=”When power is turned on, POST (Power-On Self-Test) is the diagnostic testing sequence that a computer’s basic input/output system (or ‘starting program’) runs to determine if the computer keyboard, random access memory, disk drives, and other hardware are working correctly.”]POST[/su_tooltip]-ing. This unfortunately caused the server to lock up unexpectedly, and of course took down everything I had on it.

So I submitted a warranty request to ASUS, and after discussing the issue with them, I was eventually able to submit a RMA request with them. For some reason however, ASUS’ technical and warranty support seem almost archaic. Web forms submitted to a direct email, with incredibly poor HTML formatting on the replies make me wonder if their support is outsourced.

But thankfully, the system worked, and I was able to get a replacement motherboard sent to me, and I just plugged everything back in and powered Gloria up. Thanks to my settings with fstab ages ago, I didn’t have to worry what ports the various hard drives were plugged into in order to ensure it booted properly. All of my drives are indexed by UUID rather than port number, so even my network shares are back where they should be without having to worry about changing settings again.

Now all I have to worry about is updating things since the downtime. Otherwise, it’s game on for anything else.

Pokemon Go!

Pokemon Go! has been released in the US now, and of course I just had to download it. I’m really looking forward to going out and exploring my neighborhood, and catching as many Pokemon as possible. If I just so happen to get some exercise in the process, so be it. I need the exercise, for sure.

I hear the game is similar to Ingress, made by the same company, Niantec. In Pokemon Go, the goal (as with any Pokemon game) is to catch as many Pokemon as you can, and use those Pokemon in gym battles. What makes Go so unique, is that you actually have to travel to different areas, using the app’s GPS tracking to follow your position at all times. You can catch wild Pokemon in various locations, with the type of area you’re nearby determining what type of Pokemon are available to catch. Walk next to a river, and you’ll get some water types. Walk through a park, and get some forest types. Pretty much anywhere else will get you very common types. Even the time of day determines what you catch.

You can use items as well, but once those items run out, you’ll need to rest at a PokeStop – special landmarks all across the map that usually contain valuable items, experience, and ‘stardust’ to help you on your journey. They can be things like statues, firehouses, bridges, or anything else that stands out. I’ve got a few stops nearby my house that I’d like to go to so I can restock at some point.

Unfortunately, due to the extreme popularity of the app, the game’s servers are severely overwhelmed. This means that you’d be lucky to even be able to log in, much less play the game. Niantec should have definitely foreseen this level of traffic though, given how popular Pokemon as a whole is. If you do happen to be able to log in, it’s also possible that the location-specific assets won’t load, since those are not saved locally, and can only be retrieved from Niantec’s servers – which are unstable to say the least.

Hopefully the servers won’t be so bloated this weekend, as I have plans to walk all over my neighborhood as much as possible so that I can catch every damned Pokemon that I can!

UPnP woes

I’ve had various successes and failures with my media sharing system. I’ve got a whole network of programs set up so that I can add, remove and update my various media at home – mostly videos of course. I’ve got Samba set up so that I can share files throughout my network, and Universal Media Server set up so that I can watch videos and podcasts on various devices throughout my home. So far, everything’s worked out quite well to stream all of my movies and TV shows. All except VLC.

Since version 2.2.0, VLC has had issues with Universal Plug-and-Play streams. Either it would not find the media server, or if it did, it would have issues playing the files. Recently, VLC updated to version 2.2.4, and with it, they’ve inexplicably removed the UPnP network streaming option altogether. I haven’t found any reason as to why, exactly. There’s been no mention of the omission on their site, or in the changelogs as far as I can tell. It’s very frustrating to have to stream my videos via Samba file sharing, since I can’t use the more interesting features that media servers offer, such as live subtitles and playlists.

I do know that VideoLAN is going through a huge rewrite with their next update to 3.0, and I’ve tried out some of their nightly builds. It does seem that they are re-adding UPnP support, but in their most recent builds, it seems that even selecting that option crashes the program. So it might be some time before I can use my favorite media player to stream my shows and movies. Til then, I’ll just stream my shows either via Samba, or via the lightweight web server that Universal Media Server offers.