Use OpenElec on Raspberry Pi with Hyperion

I recently updated my Raspberry Pi in the living room. I used Rasbmc as an easy to use XBMC distribution. However, there will be no update for Rasbmc once XBMC is replaced by KODI. You are then forced to use OSMC. As I also use Hyperion as server for my WS2801 LED stripes behind the TV I’m not sure if Hyperion will work with OSMC. Therefore, it was time to look for an alternative.

This is where OpenElec comes into play. Its a Linux distribution optimised for use with XBMC and is not that easily customizable if you want your Rasbperry to serve other purposes as well. But that’s not my concern, as I just intend to use it as XBMC client.

There is already a nice tutorial available on the OpenElec Github page. However, I had some serious issues with Hyperion and I want it to document, should I ever reinstall again.

Hyperion tries to connect to the XBMC JSON RPC api to get information about the current status of XBMC. This includes the information for active screensavers or just idling in the main menu. If I just use the instructions from the Github page, I was not able to deactivate my background lights while I was in the XBMC main menu. I’ve found two issues in the Github Project but only one was really helpful:

You have to activate and deactivate the Remote and local control of XBMC, only then is Hyperion able to connect to XBMC and only then it will get the right status information. Now it finally obeys the configuration and disable the background lights when its in the main menu.

 

PS: Don’t let yourself be fooled by the colors from the attached picture. The white balance picked it wrong up and it was also to a time where I did not calibrated colors for Hyperion 🙂 It looks much better in reality 😉

Windows 8.1 and Intel USB 3.0 eXtensible Host Controller code 10

Sometimes my desktop computer does not recognize its attached devices on its USB 3.0 ports. This is especially annoying when you use these ports for your input devices and you are not able to login to your computer.

I’ve ran a few times into this problem, but never found a real working solution to fix this problem. You can still use the USB 2.0 ports for the input devices, so you are able to login again. When you look at your device manager, you will see an yellow exclamation mark on the

Intel USB 3.0 eXtensible Host Controller

and if you look at its device details you will see an error code 10. A research on the internet showed me that other people are also affected by this, especially in combination with Windows 8.1 (while Windows 7 and Linux pose no problem).

First of all, there is this official Microsoft page for troubleshooting and installation of USB 3.0 devices. IT gave me no new clues and was therefore useless. Then I was full of joy when I found this page in the MSDN blogs from one of the engineers at Microsoft responsible for the USB 3.0 stack in Windows 8. However, while providing much technical background and tips for debugging, it did not help me with my particular code 10 error. If you search the page for „code 10“ you will also find two people desperately looking for a solution, so I’m not alone with this problem. Another excellent technical resource was this page. While providing also a few ideas for what to look for, his ultimate idea was to install the Windows 8.1 update (which I already installed).

So nothing really helped me here. My earlier tries blamed the problem on the integrated USB 3.0 hub of my Dell U2713HM monitor, but it would not help to disconnect the hub and power for a clean reboot. I then thought I could find a better driver on the Asrock page for my Z77E-ITX board but that did not help either.

Only working solution I came up with was to uninstall the controller and to reboot the computer. After this reboot, the controller was reinstalled and worked again. I honestly don’t know what went wrong here, but it is a real annoying thing and I hope that coming Windows updates will fix this.

How to configure Apple Airport Express 1st Generation on Mavericks

This is a follow up on my older blog post „How to configure Apple Airport Express 1st Generation on Mountain Lion„. The situation is the same: I’ve wanted to configure my fathers Airport Express 1st Generation. However, we both updated to Mac OS X Mavericks 10.9 and where unable to use the Airport configuration utility I’ve created in my aforementioned blog post.

Looking online for a solution to this problem, I’ve found this blog post which provides you with a running Configuration Utility. Corey did also an analysis why the older Utility was not running anymore: The Utility relies on a library which broke backward compatibility in Mavericks.

Dell U2713HM connection problems with Macbook Pro 5,5 over Mini DisplayPort

Yet another tip for the international reader 🙂

After some years with my old Samsung Syncmaster 205BW, I decided to invest into a new big screen with sufficient possibilities to connect all my computers while avoiding dual or triple monitor setups. After testing several 23 and 24 inch screens, I decided to buy a Dell U2713HM from an Amazon Warehouse deals promotion. This screen is really amazing and I cannot live without its WQHD/2560*1440 resolution 🙂

But to use this high resolution, you must connect it to your computer or mac via DualLink DVI or Mini DisplayPort. HDMI and VGA or even normal DVI are only usable up to FullHD/1920*1080. So I could easily use the supplied DualLink DVI Cable to connect my PC (with an Nvidia GTX 660 TI) and my old Macbook Pro 5,5 over its Mini DisplayPort.

While the PC connection is without problems, the DisplayPort tends to forget that there is an external screen attached. The screen will change between black and standard gray/blue from the Mac OS X 10.8. It is not possible to use the external screen until I disconnect and reconnect the Mini DisplayPort cable. Only then, my Mac realizes that there is an external screen and uses it in its native resolution.

This problem originates in the DDC/CI support of this monitor. With DDC/CI it is possible to control your screens settings from your PC/Mac without the use of the screens OSD. While this looks tempting, I would have never used this feature. That is why I decided to deactivate the support in the Dell OSD.

You can deactivate this option in the settings menu of the Dell screen under the point „Other settings“, then DDC/CI set to disable.

Suddenly, everything works again and my Mac detects the screen without any problems, even when it wakes up and DisplayPort wasn’t selected as source in the monitor.

How to configure Apple Airport Express 1st Generation on Mountain Lion

This is a tip which should be also available for my international readers, therefore it is in english 🙂 If you prefer a german version, please click on this Macwelt article.

My father uses my old Apple Airport Express 1st Generation. He uses Mountain Lion aka. Mac OS X 10.8 on his Macbook Pro and wanted to reconfigure the Airport. However, Apple decided to drop support for older generations of the Airport Express. Therefore, the current version 6.1 of the Airport Utilities is unable to find his Airport Express model.

This is where this handy tool come into play. With unpkg, you can extract the content of the pkg installers supplied by Apple, as older Versions are not runnable on Mountain Lion. You need to extract the tool and start it.

a Mac OS X .[m]pkg unarchiver - version 4.5
a Mac OS X .[m]pkg unarchiver – version 4.5
Now you can download the older Airport Utilitiy in version 5.61 which is the last version with support for his type of Airport Express. You can download it directly from Apple. Mount the downloaded dmg file and drag the Airport Utility Installer onto the unpkg window. unpgk will now decompress the pkg file to your desktop.

AirPortUtility FolderYou can now move the App from the Applications/Utilities folder to your Application folder. Double click on it and you will get the older version of the utility. Be sure to skip the update, as it will try to download the newer version of the Airport Utility 6.1 which you definitively don’t want to use as it will stop working with your kind of Airport Express.