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Virtualization: the ultimate Swiss Army knife in an IT position

Virtualization is an important tool when working in an IT environment. It can be really useful to troubleshoot issues with users for servers. In an all windows studio environment it can be critical when it seems almost everyone else is using OS X. Virtualization is a powerful tool if you have a motherboard that supports the function and can really help you improve your productivity and just keep you agile for whatever may come up. Virtualization of almost any operating system is possible on PC, Mac or Linux using Virtualbox for free.
It requires a little knowledge of file systems, boot sectors and if you have hackintosh’d anything before your probably pretty comfortable with this stuff. A few things need to be in order.
You must have BIOS set to enable virtualization. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for this but it’s usually under advanced BIOS features.
Next for virtualizing OS X under Virtualbox you will need to download the latest version. It’s available free here.
A DVD vanilla installation disc or an ISO of OS X is the only thing you may have trouble obtaining.
As well you will need a boot loader to start the installation disc.
Chameleon or iBoot work well here.

Next set up Virtual box by giving it enough resources. Enabling I/O APIC AND disabling Enable EFI. There is a pretty good tutorial here about these options and where to find them.

Set a virtual disk for OS X to install to and in Virtualbox select your boot loader under the SATA controller you find your virtual disk under. Once in the installer choose disk utility from the toolbar and format your virtual disk under OS X. Install to that freshly made partition.


You might need a few boot flags once you get OS X started after installation. The hackintosh community has a good list of them. I used:

-v -x -f PCIRootUID=0 GraphicsEnaber=No

Once inside you may feel the need to update but avoid apples updates as they can really muck things up. Software updates on the other hand should be fine. Enjoy virtualization and using your PC, Mac or Linux to the max.


Deluge as a daemon for always on torrenting with XBMC

Having an HTPC is great and can replace cable (in my opinion) if you set it up in such a way that it takes care of itself and manages media for you. Generally, one must sort movies music and tv into different folders so that XBMC can scrape the appropriate websites that catalogue tv and films respectively. Deluge is a lite weight torrenting application that:

  • deluged is always on as a daemon almost out of the box
  • Accessible through any browser on your network (and off with port forwarding)
  • Can sort your files to different folders as you label them

Installation of Deluge on Ubuntu 10.10 is relatively easy using this link. The daemon version is called deluged.

Once you have it set up to run on boot then it works even when booting into the XBMC desktop environment so even when watching movies you can torrent. It is best to have the disk that handles video file playback and torrenting on different hard disks as disk thrashing can occur when many small transfers are taking place during playback. Deluge can also manage RSS feeds with smart filters so that it downloads the version or quality level you specify as a series is posted.

In ten years I’m sure this will all be irrelevant. Until then, deluge will keep you up to date on your favourite shows and streamline the process with relative ease. If you have questions about the install process of deluge or the operation of it just ask in the comment section.


Ubuntu HTPC

I started wanting a computer for viewing movies and television because I like to have a seperation between my workspace and leisure time.

I first installed XBMCbuntu which is a pretty good way to go if you have lean hardware. Lean distro’s like the Raspberry Pi oriented OpenELEC. has fewer frills to save cycles for playing video and the GUI for XBMC. Of course codecs and bit-rates have a big effect on playback and some HD can be too intense for the wee little Pi.

I found myself limited by having to install so many things from terminal. Handling fstab and samba from webmin helps. I decided to spare the processing and go for a more functional Linux server. If you want, XBMC creates a user that runs pretty lean as a desktop environment. Then you can tuck back into Gnome or Cinnamon or whatever environment you like for tweaking or adding things.

Enter Ubuntu 13.04 and all it’s glory. I got the whole thing up and running with the exception of a proper Netflix client. Linux doesn’t yet have one. There is a wine port which will give you the windows interface. I have moved to new beefier hardware and now enjoy all desktop environments as I had been given a damaged motherboard in a trade.

The build has undergone some changes and upgrades as the original motherboard failed (kicking and screaming) late last month. The new guts are Intel based and dissimilar or not to the AMD architecture, Ubuntu booted up fine and I was ready to go with a quick update.

My only comment is one must think about power management and how if your system goes to sleep will you be missing any of it’s services. Some things are just best run on a router.

Wireless devices for the living room

logitech keyboard and gearhead mouse, logitech is a safe bet in Ubuntu
HTPC cases finish the look.
The HTPC next to my receiver
Music XBMC
There are tons of useful add ons for XBMC. The fusion package installer makes it all the easier still.
xbmc screenshot
Playback quality is very fine.
Ubuntu has an app store, music store, and a free cloud service.


Re-recording mixer for a new series on the FOOD Network

Figured I should post about the show I’m currently the re-recording mixer on, airing on the Food Network. Giving You the Business is a hidden camera show where the contestants are candidly recorded by robotic cameras. The premise is that 4 contestants don’t know they are competing for a chance to win a franchise at which they have worked at for (x) amount of years. The CEO is silently grading all of them from behind a view monitor as they deal with all sorts of difficult customers. From a technical standpoint, the show is ambitious as the crew spends much of their time in a truck or building near by remotely operating. It’s like a stakeout but noone’s going to end up in jail. As well, actors are using improve through much of their transactions and have to think quick on their feet to not let on to the contestants.

Sound wise it’s a lot of x tracks and denoising (They don’t let you cut the fridge on this set). Re-recording mixers take the original tracks recorded on set and re-record them into stems at broadcast spec’ and cohesively in 5.1 and stereo formats. If you hear anything you don’t like let me know in the comments will ya? Cheers.


New Web Series – How Not 2 Guide

With ‘self help’ regularly showing up in media it’s good to remember not all of it is sound advice. I began working on a new web series that is a little edgy. The cast is full of familiar faces in Canada, and it looks great too. Shot by the talented Scott McIntyre. Here is the first episode. Stay tuned to the youtube channel and enjoy being somewhat offended.

New knock off Arduino board

Well after having difficulties uploading my first sketch to my new OSEPP UNO R3 Plus I learned I was the proud owner of a knock off. But hell, Now I kinda just want to get messy with it and fry it. It came with a very small kit with limited documentation, a few cheap components and a fairly steep learning curve. I figure, what the heck, time to jump in. It seems the memory of the board is only such that when analyzing audio you can just sample a second at a time making only short sound or initial sound analysis possible. I am looking at identifying barks of a particular basset hound and logging them. Also, a super paranoid peephole device for a friend.


Rack Mounted DAW

I haven’t posted much lately but here is a project I just started piecing together. It’s a 2U rack mountable DAW which fits tightly into a 3U carrying case. The idea was that it fits within carry-on baggage limits at airports and can travel safely above you in flight. K series optimization abounds in this build. This thing should do backflips when it’s done. 🙂


(AND IT DOES) Playback of one of my co-workers mixes with a 700+ track count is smooth in 64bit with many VSTs.

If you have any questions about the build let me know. I will answer your questions directly or write a post. Not pictured here are the HDDs, GFX card or the Blackmagic card for video playback.

UPDATE: The rig flew to sky walker sound and back and didn’t skip a beat on a mix with over 700 track and 35 5.1 busses. Pretty good.

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