Category Archives: Home Theater

Raspberry Pi

How-to Build a Low-Budget Usenet Downloading Machine: Setting up Storage

Since we’ve started this How-to Build a Low-Budget Downloading Machine series, we have shown you how to gather the parts necessary to build your Pi, set up the Raspbian OS, and set up remote access to your Pi using SSH over your network. All of this has been great so far; now you have a fully-functioning, low-powered mini-computer that can be used for almost anything, and it won’t consume more than $15 in energy per year. Yes that’s right, a fully-functional computer that costs next to nothing to run for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Are you excited yet? You should be! Now that our Pi is booted, primed and ready, it’s time to christen our soon-to-be Usenet downloading machine with some much-needed storage.

What You Need

The hardware you need for your storage solution is based solely on what storage configuration you would like. You could have one standalone external USB hard drive to dump your favorite downloads onto, or you could set up a dual-USB drive backup to keep a copy of ALL of your download files. You could also set up two independent USB drives to increase your overall storage capacity if that is what is most important to you. At the end of the day, your storage configuration is ultimately a matter of personal preference. Using one USB drive, your downloading rig will ultimately use less power; however, you will miss out on the obvious multi-drive benefits.

Setting Up Storage for Raspberry Pi

When we got ready to piece together this how-to, we discovered our friends over at How-To Geek had already created an excellent guide called How to turn a Raspberry Pi into a Low Power Network Storage Service. In How-To Geek’s article, you’ll find instructions to set up either of the two storage configurations we discussed earlier, as well as instructions on how to set up Samba to enable access to your storage via your windows network on your other computers and devices.

What’s Next?

Stay tuned for our last installment of the How-to Build a Low-Budget Downloading Machine, in which we’ll be setting up SABnzbd. In this final chapter, we will take you through the installation of the SABnzbd package on Raspbian OS and provide a step-by-step guide for configuring access to UsenetServer.


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Geeky Gadget Review

Product Review: A Day with the Amazon Echo

As busy as we all are these days, having an inanimate voice-controlled personal assistant that is as responsive, as intuitive and as powerful as the computer on board the starship Enterprise would be a welcome addition to our daily lives. So far, all the voice activated assistants are mediocre at best, leaving many of us with a mechanical, disjointed user-experience that feels much like talking to robot. Even Siri with her attempted vocal elegance and forced feminine wiles leaves us with a feeling of a flat, one-sided conversation. When we had chance to review the Amazon Echo and spend a day with virtual assistant Alexa, a new contender in this very unique technology space, we weren’t too optimistic about it being in any different than the others, but we were pleasantly surprised at what we found.

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Playback and Stream Any Media with Plex

With the advent of plaforms like YouTube, Vimeo and Vine, there is no shortage of user-generated video content on the web. In fact, it is these services that have given way to the democratization of media with varieties of content coming from creators all over the globe. Whether a creator or a consumer of user-generated content, users today have the need for good media management software to keep everything organized and to provide instant access when needed. There are many media library software solutions out there that will indeed keep things organized and offer both playback and stream, but there are very few solutions that offer organization and playback across any device and platform. Plex offers the best of both worlds by making media playback and stream on virtually any platform or device possible, all while keeping things organized.


What is Plex?

Plex is a free multi-platform media management system that can stream playback of a user’s media library to almost every imaginable device, from a Chromecast to a Roku, iPhone, iPad or even an Apple TV. Plex consists of two main components: the Plex Media Server (to store, organize and stream media) and the Plex Client (To playback the stream from the server.) Although the Plex Media server software is free, the client apps for Android, and iPhone for example, cost a few dollars. The convenience and value the user receives is enormous when compared with the minimal investment of purchasing the client for payback on a favorite device. The Plex Media server can be installed on a wide range of platforms from Windows, Mac, Linux and FreeBSD to NAS systems like QNap, Netgear, Synology and Drobo.

Plex Features

For a full list of Plex features, visit their features page here. Plex also offers a subscription-based service called the Plex Pass for a small fee. Plex Pass members receive access to the new features while they are still in their beta testing phase, giving users a chance to try out the latest and greatest from the Plex development team.

Download Plex

Downloads for Plex are available on their downloads page.

Plex Client Apps

Most Plex Apps for mobile or connected platforms are paid apps. These include:

  • Android
  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Google TV
  • iOS
  • Roku
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows Phone 8


Build a Cheap Home Theater PC

Many people are often looking for a better more flexible home theater device to better manage and browse their favorite digital media, but many of us don’t have a huge budget to drop on the most expensive gear.

Building a good home theater media management system on a budget can be a challenge, but watch as our friends from DIY Tryin show us how to turn a Raspberry Pi into a cheap yet powerful home theater PC using BerryBoot and XBMC clone openelec. For a full list of items needed to complete this project, check out Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Home Theater PC – Watch Netflix, Amazon Prime and more