Shivering on the 49th Parallel
Saturday, September 17, 2005

My Prismiq media player hasn't been working for awhile now. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with it. It started first by crashing while trying to play video. If I went upstairs and brought up the Media Server window, Stream 1 would say <CRASHED> and that was it. I messed around with it for a week or so and it just wouldn't work anymore. The next weekend I tried to put on some MP3s, as this media player would stream them from my computer up here to the stereo downstairs. It wouldn't work either.

I left it for awhile and came back to it the next weekend. I did some troubleshooting, even going so far as to capture the stream using Ethereal and logging data from the media server and sharing it on the Prismiq message board (un-official message board because the cocks at Prismiq have abandoned their media player and are focusing on pimping their wireless access point.. like there aren't enough of those on the market already) and we were all stumped.

The only thing I could think of that I did to my MP3 collection was that I re-tagged them all with Tag & Rename and used that program's hooks into Amazon's API to download and insert the cover art into the tags themselves. Maybe the Prismiq (which runs an embedded Debian $wiki(Linux) OS) was choking on the ID3 tags? I copied a folder of MP3s and stripped all the tags out of it and tried that. Still nothing. Same problems. After messing with it the whole weekend, I gave up. My Prismiq Media player had become a glorified internet radio receiver. The web browser still worked and the AIM chat client still worked, but I never used those anyway. Why use a 320x240 crappy looking browser when I have a 17” 1280x1024 LCD upstairs and a 12.1” 1280x800 laptop wherever I go?

Last night I went out to Calico Jack's with the gang. Ratskyn (new website) wasn't playing, they're taking a few weeks off, so we all just hung out and had a couple drinks. I wasn't feeling up to partying, so when everyone went down to McCoy's for a bite to eat, I headed home. Once I got here, I decided to start playing with the Prismiq again. I guess I was bored or something? I dunno.

Just to make things more complicated, I set up the Prismiq upstairs with it's svideo output jacked into my AVerMedia USB300 tuner/capture device and displayed it on my laptop, while running the media server software on my desktop. Same thing happened as before, but this time, because I wasn't having to run up and down the stairs testing, I noticed something, though... the media server was reporting that it was streaming the data to which is my router, and not which was the IP address on the Prismiq Media Player. Since I had it available, I tried connecting the Prismiq via wired ethernet instead of wireless, and all of a sudden it worked! I looked at the server stats and it showed it was streaming to now. I rebooted it back to wireless and it borked trying to send it to again.

At this point I thought that maybe there was a routing issue between the wired ports and the wireless ports, so to prove that point, I installed the media server software on my laptop, which was also a wireless client. It worked. Media server was streaming to and the video and audio were coming through! So now that I knew that I had an issue streaming from wired-to-wireless ports, I turned my attention to my router.

My router is a Linksys WRT54G V3.0 with big antennas on it and it's running Sveasoft's Alchemy firmware (Alchemy is free, Talisman costs $20 bucks.) I tried to get it working with Talisman, which I paid for, but couldnt get it to work properly, and the free Alchemy version did work, so I stayed with it. This was a few months back, maybe even as far as six months, I don't quite remember, but it was a serious pain in the ass and when I finally got it all running, I left it and didn't mess around with it anymore. Suddenly, I realized that the Prismiq stopped working about the same time that I got the Alchemy firmware running and the WDS config set up and connected between all the apartments here. I also remember seeing a config switch for “AP Isolation” which is good if you're running a WiFi hotspot so that wireless clients can't talk to each other, from a security/privacy standpoint, but it FUCKING SUCKS IF IT'S A PRIVATE NETWORK! I made a beeline for the Advanced Wireless settings and hunted down “AP Isolation”. It was set to DISABLED. So much for that idea.

I even went so far as to back up my config data and flash the router back to Linksys' default firmware and settings, and all of a sudden the video stream kicked in and the Prismiq was working again! With this, I narrowed it down to the Sveasoft software actively blocking the stream. I also noticed that the rest of my network came crashing down, as it was dependent on some of the features in Alchemy to work. I flashed the router back to Alchemy and everything came back up again, and the Prismiq went down.

I called it a night, and before I went to sleep I posted a message on the Sveasoft message boards, as well as one on the Prismiq (unofficial) board saying that I was trying again to get it working and would post my results later.

This morning I went to the Sveasoft message board to see if anyone had responded to my post, and of course, no one had. I crafted a few advanced searches of the existing messages and hit upon a thread dealing with VideoLAN server having trouble using Multicast streams with Alchemy and Talisman. I didn't know if the Prismiq used multicast or not, but I read it over a couple times and got the feel for what they were saying. Someone suggested turning off the SPI firewall in the router, but I already knew that didn't work because I tried it already. That's for packets coming from the WAN port. One post mentioned to try turning off the Loopback interface on the router. Hmmm...

After I brushed my teeth and had a couple pop tarts and a cup of something instant and coffeeish I plugged everything back in up here and made sure it (wasn't) working as usual. I then opened the router config page and looked for the Loopback setting. It was set to Enabled. I clicked the help link and there actually was help for the setting on this page! (Sveasoft's documentation is a bit spotty as well. I can see how difficult it would be to maintain it if you're constantly making changes to it, but they're not even doing that. they're “constantly working on it” but nothing ever really happens) The help file said that the loopback interface makes your internal clients appear as if they are external. This is useful for testing things like DynDNS names. The loopback is an option because enabling it will break PPTP and Windows machine browsing by wireless clients. I disabled it, restarted the router and the media server and BAM! It's all working again!

So now I have to queue up a bunch of video files to be re-encoded and their bitstreams unpacked so I can watch them on my TV downstairs without any A/V sync issues. While that's running, I'll be posting a follow-up message on the Prismiq (Unofficial) Message Board, as well as adding/updating a page on the Prismiq (Unofficial) Wiki.

Saturday, September 17, 2005 8:43:07 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Links | Tech | Gadgets | Wireless#
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