High Variance

Home Music Streaming

Sometimes I write because I’ve learned or created something interesting that I want to share. Sometimes I write because I’m so appalled by something I need to get it off my chest. But rarely is it both. About a week ago I was ready to write a scathing post describing my really great but really unstable home music system. Things are a lot better now, but I still wanted to share.

The hardware is a combination of old Apple parts and stereo equipment:

  • An Airport Express that I bought on eBay for $55 connected to an old Bose Acoustic Wave (also bought on eBay) in the kitchen
  • An iMac in the office with my entire 76 GB music collection stored in mp3’s and de-drm’ed AAC files
  • A 1.0 AppleTV connected to a traditional stereo system in the living room

With this set up, I run iTunes on the Mac and can have it play in any or all of the three locations at any time. With the Remote iPhone app, I can control it from anywhere in the house. Sounds nice, right? Unfortunately, I would have to reboot my wireless router (a 2wire from Uverse) a couple times a day because the Remote app would spontaneously stop talking to the Mac. And then a few times a week I would have to reboot the Mac because it would stop talking to the kitchen Airport Express and the living room AppleTV. Grr….

I had no idea what was going on until I stopped using the Parallels virtual machine software on the Mac. I had been running MS Office in a Windows 7 vm, but finally got sick of the quirks and just installed the Mac native version of Office. It took me a couple weeks to notice that I never had to reboot the router again. Damn you Parallels! I don’t know how you messed up the network, but you did! Then I noticed that the Mac only stopped talking to the other devices when I used the Yale VPN. And when I got off and even quit out of the Cisco VPN app, it still couldn’t connect until I rebooted. Two applications messing up the network? Hmm….makes me wonder if maybe a bug in the OS is to blame.

So as of today, I still don’t know why those two apps were causing problems, but I don’t have any more surprises. I don’t use Parallels and I always reboot after using the VPN. This keeps the 80’s music flowing. The system still isn’t perfect. I want to add another output node in the basement. I want to install Airfoil and stream Spotify throughout the house. And the Remote app takes way longer than it should to connect when it starts. But for the most part, I can listen to whatever I want wherever I want and that makes me happy.