Radio Free Amrich

LA is nice but we miss our old morning radio show from SF. The LA DJs are all aging fratboys making fart jokes and talking about sports and Elvis. I miss the sardonic whinings of Sarah & Vinnie. Kat found the Squeezebox and suggested we use that as our alarm clock — a fine substitute for the ancient one I’ve been carrying with me since college. It has a cassette player in it, so you can wake to a tape. That’s how old it is. But the new jam? Shiny and red. I love red consumer electronics. They’re so…not black.

So we got one and I realized, hey, this thing streams from either the internet or your home network — install server software on as many PCs or Macs as you like, and the Squeezebox seeks them out, even prioritizing iTunes so you can use the same playlists. We can use this to listen to our “bedtime stories” — old radio dramas that we’ve burned to MP3 CDs and run off a boombox with a sleep timer. And we’ve got this Mac Mini that’s just sitting on the network as a poor-man’s NAS box for data; why not load it up with a big iTunes library of old-time radio MP3s and do that? That will make things simple…right?

But there’s always a problem. Here’s the domino effect that took up most of my day. The Mac Mini has been wireless only; I hate wi-fi, but it wouldn’t play nice with my network any other way, so I figured, at least it’s connected (most of the time — I swear a string of vulgarity every time it drops wireless during a file transfer). I fiddled with it and, lo and behold, it likes the wired router now. OK, so I’ll wire it up, and the streaming will be faster and more reliable.

To do that I have to move it. The wireless access point is only a four-port wired router, and that’s taken up by the main Macs and two PCs. To get all the other devices online (namely my game consoles on the other side of the room) I ran one port around to an ancient MaxGate 7-port router. It was built in 2000 and I don’t have the manual; it was a gift from the free table at work, no doubt a castoff from Maximum PC. But somehow, ages ago, I figured out how to disable its DHCP so it would just be a switch, not a router. I move the Mini to that side of the room, wire it up, plug it into the MaxGate…nothing.

A half-hour is spent simply trying to get into the MaxGate’s admin menu. The Mini doesn’t have its own monitor (I usually go in via shared screen on another Mac), so I have to unplug the Xbox 360 from the VGA port on my gaming HDTV, steal a mouse from another computer, find the spare Mac keyboard…then I finally get it right. The Squeezebox now sees the Mini, and the Mini is wired. Awesome. I put everything away and reconnect the 360. I wanted to play games today and I’m running out of day.

The 360 can’t find the network any more. The router won’t pass along an IP address. I guess I screwed up somewhere in the MaxGate’s menus. I search the internet; I swap to Manual settings and back again; I fiddle with cables. I connect the Mini to the TV again. Another 20 minutes goes by. I get into the MaxGate’s menus again with my PC laptop, click “save” on a setting that I haven’t changed…and everything goes black on the Mini.

I swap cables around. It comes back to life 10 minutes later. Everything is fine. Except I want to punch each and every piece of equipment in this asinine chain. But the upside is, I can wake up and listen to Sarah and Vinnie again. Also, hopefully th

I think I am going to play a fighting game. Or a shooting game. Or a PC Load Letter game.

I can’t wait to figure out how to get video to stream from my PC to my PS3.

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