How to set up Home Assistatant

First of all I want to say that this is how I set up my instance of home assistant, there are actually a lot of ways to do it and you can find more information about it on the Home Assistant Getting Started page.

 

Step 1. Gather what you need

 

Step 2.Selecting the operating System

Instead of flashing a regular Linux distro like Raspbian on the pi we are going to flash an OS called HassIO. The advantage of HassIO over something like Rasbian with Home Assistant installed is how easy it is not only to install it but keep it up to date and install addons. The downide is that you loose some flexibility. Convinced? If not I once again refer you to the Home Assistant Getting Started page otherwise lets move on.

 

Step 3. Download the software

Before we do the actual flashing you need to download two things. A piece of software called Etcher that will be used to write the OS to the card and of course the actual OS. The latest version of HassIO can always be found here, click the Raspberry Pi 3 link.

 

Step 4. Installing Etcher

This is probably the simplest part of this whole thing, simply open the setupfile you downloaded and click on I Agree. Etcher will begin to install and once done will even start by itself, easy huh.

 

Step 5. Flashing HassIO to the card

Now that you have Etcher open in front of you, click the button that sais Select image , the file you want to select is the HassIO file you just downloaded, it will probably be named something like “resinos-hassio-1.1-raspberrypi3.img.bz2”

Etcher will try to find your SD card automatically but it is very important that you make sure it choose the right one as anything on the card/drive it has selected will be removed. we good? Good. Now hit Flash and let Etcher do it´s job.

 

Step 6. Plug it all in

Time to plug it all in. Put your SD card in your Pi and make sure you plug in your ethernet cabe on both ends before you plug in the power to your Pi. Once the Pi boots up it will automatically download the latest version of Home Assistant and set it up, this will take about 20 to 30 minutes so this might be a good time to go get a cup of coffee. You will know that it’s done when you can access the web interface of Home Assistant at http://hassio.local:8123.

 

Step 7. Installing addons

There are a couple of addons that you will need if you plan to use any of my other tutorials regarding home assistant.
Since the configuration of addons may change I will just link to the setup instructions of each addon instead of going throu it all here. You will find them in the store under the HassIO tab in the sidebar of Home Assistant.

 

That´s it, now you have the basics up and running and it´s time to move on to actually doing something fun with it.

Before we leave I want to point out that I will not be writing a post about how to navigate the Home Assistant UI or how to edit config files. If you need help with this there are a lot of information availiable at the Home Assistant Websiteforum and Discord server. The BRUH automation youtube channel is also a really good source of information for beginners.

This video in particular I think would be a good next step.

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Using a network shared folder in Booksonic

I recently got a  question regarding using a network shared folder in Booksonic so I thought it would be a great idea to show how you can do this.

  1. Press the windows button and R at the same time
  2. Type services.msc and hit enter
  3. Look for the service called Subsonic, rightclick it anc click on properties
  4. Go to Log On and make sure the checkbox for This account is checked then enter the login information for an account that has access to the shared folder.
  5. Hit ok and then rightclick the Subsonic service and restart it.

Now you should be able to use your network share within Booksonic without problems.

 

UPDATE:

Obs, keep in mind that you can’t use a mapped location, you need to use the full path, as an example mine is \\PopeensDataServer\D\Audiobooks or \\192.168.1.4\D\Audiobooks

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How to stream audiobooks to your phone with Booksonic

If you are like me then you probably love audiobooks and services like Amazon’s Audible that lets you stream your books directly to your phone. Audible is great but what about all those other books that you buy on cd in the store or as mp3 downloads online, or how about those that you download for free from sites like Librivox? Those you need to put on your phone before you can listen to them right? No, you actually don’t anymore.

Until recently I used a software called Subsonic to stream audiobooks to my phone. Subsonic is a great piece of software but it’s aimed at music so there are some problems with using it for streaming audiobooks, for example you can’t get book descriptions in the app. Back in October this lead me to start looking for a replacement but surprisingly it seems there really aren’t any, or at least there wasn’t back then. Now there is Booksonic, the fork of Subsonic and DSub that I started working on when I realized that was going to be stuck with Subsonic for my streaming needs.

So what is Booksonic then, well the short version is that it’s Subsonic for audibooks. You install a server software on your home PC and then you connect to it with your android phone and it will allow you to stream all your audiobooks to your phone regardless of if you are at home or not. The server is completely free but the Android app will cost you a one time fee of $3, well worth it if you ask me but you probably should ask someone else since I’m a bit partial, being the developer and all.

 

So, now that we know what Booksonic is lets get started installing it. In this guide we will be installing it on a windows machine but it’s also available for Debian based Linux like Ubuntu and Mint. For mac and other systems there is a war file so you can run it with tomcat. For more instructions about this, check out this guide by Luite posted in the comments

 

Step 1. Getting the server

The server is available for download at booksonic.org, since we are installing it on a windows machine we will be downloading the Windows Installer version.

Step 2. Installing the server

Once the file has been downloaded you double click it to start the installation. The installer will start to look for java on your machine and if it can’t find it it will ask if you want to install it, hit yes. Once it finds java you will get a welcome screen, here you should click the next button. The next screen will allow you to change where to install booksonic, unless you have a specific reason for changing it you can leave it as it is and click Install. Now uncheck the view getting started document checkbox and hit finish. Congratulations, you have installed the Booksonic server!

Step 3. Setting up the audiobook files

Now it’s time to start setting your up audiobooks. Find somewhere on your computer where you want to store them and go there. I have a folder called Ljudbocker on an external drive called F so for me the location would be F:\Ljudbocker\. In your folder create a new folder for every author you have. It will look something like this
guide-forfattare

Now go into into the author folders and create new folders for every book. I like to use the format “year – Bookname”, that way I can quickly see what order they should be listened to directly in my file manager but you can use just the bookname as well if you want. Booksonic will get the year from the tags inside the files. As an example my folder for Arthur Conan Doyle looks like this.
guide-arthur-conan-doyle

Now it’s time to put in your files. Booksonic can handle all major audio file formats. Put your audio files into the books folder, to add a cover put it in as a jpg called cover, if you want to add a book description create a file called desc.txt and put you description in that. To add a narrator you create a file called reader.txt and put in your narrator there. There is a third party tool called Booksonic Library Editor that can help you manage these txt files which has worked great for me.
As an example here is my directory for A Study in Scarlet.
guide-study-scarlet

As a last step we are going to set the tags of the music files. For editing those I am going to use a free piece of software called Mp3Tag, it can handle a lot of different formats including mp3, m4a and m4b.

How you prefer to tag the files is up to you but for me I do it like this. If I have a chapter name I set that as the title, if not I set the books name as the title. I set the Author as both Artist and Album artist. The Album is of course the book name, the year I prefer to set as the year the book was released but if you want to use the year the audiobook was released then go for it. Then I set the track number and the cover image. If you want to save some space you don’t have to set the cover in the tags since you already have the jpg in the folder but I recommend you set it anyway in case you want to use it somewhere else. To make it a bit easier for you here is what it looks like for my track 1 of A Study in Scarlet.
guide-mp3tag

Step 4. Configuring the server

Now that you have the server and files in place we need to configure the server so it knows where to find your audiobooks and since we are going to make the server accessible from the Internet we are also going to change the default password. To do this click this URL and it will open Booksonic for you in a new tab. http://localhost:4040

Once the page has loaded sign in with both the username and password admin.

When you sign in for the first time you will be shown a getting started guide. The first thing on this guide is changing the password so lets do that, click on Change administrator password and it will take you to the manage users page. Make sure the user admin is selected and then check the change password box. Enter your new password in the textboxes that appear and hit save. You will be signed out, don’t worry about that, it is normal.

Sign back in with your new password and you will once again see the getting started guide. This time click on Set up media folders. You will see that there is already one folder added that is called music, you can rename that to whatever you want but I usually go Audiobooks, in the field for the folder put in the location to the folder containg your author folders, in my case this was F:\Ljudbocker\. Once that is done, scroll to the bottom and hit save. After this I recommend you do a scan, you can do this by clicking the link called Scan media folders now.

Click on home in the top navigation bar and you will be taken back to the getting started guide, at the bottom of the page you will see a link called Don’t show this again, click that. An alert box will pop up telling you how to get the guide again, click ok.

Step 5. Enable internet access

Congratulations, the server has been completely set up and if you only want to use it at home you are ready, if you want to use it from outside your own network you need to port forward port 4040. Since port forwarding is different on every router I am not going to shw you how to do that but you can find instructions for your router at this portforwarding.com page. You only need to forward port 4040 and should ignore port 80.

Step 6. Installing the Android app.

Now it is time to install the Android app. You can find it by searching for Booksonic on Google Play or clicking this link

Step 5. Configuring the app

It’s time to configure the app to use your server and doing so is very easy.

If you prefer video tutorials Kenneth Loebenberg made one that you can find here, otherwise continue reading.

Open your app and click the three lines at the top left, this will get you a sidemenu or drawer as it is called in the android world. Click on settings. Now click on servers. You will already have a demo server here so instead of adding a new one we are going to modify the one you already have. Click on the demo server. Now click on name and name it Audiobooks.

Before we set the server address we will need the IP of your server so on the machine you installed Booksonic go to popeen.com/tools/ip, this will show you your IP address. Now on your app hit server address and set it to http://IP:4040 where IP is the ip of your server. Remember to use both http:// and :4040 or it will not work.

Now set the username and password in the same way and hit Test connection. It should say Connection is OK, if you get anything else go back and redo step 5 and if you still can’t get it to work you can contact me and ask for help at [email protected] or leave a comment below. Once the tests sais Connection is OK you can hit the arrow at the top left corner a couple of times until you get the lines again, click them and the click home.

Congratulations, you are now ready to start streaming your own audiobooks.

 

I hope this guide has helped you understand how to use Booksonic and if you have any questions at all don’t hesitate to leave a comment below, send me an email at [email protected] or visit /r/Booksonic on reddit. If you have any suggestions on how to make Booksonic better I would love to hear them (once again, here, email or reddit), you can find all the planned features here

To end this post I would like to recommend you go and check out David Clarke at verysmallrocks.io. He is the reader of the free Sherlock Holmes books (LibriVox recordings) you saw in my collection and unlike some other LibriVox readers his recordings are every bit as good as you would get if you went to the store and bought an audiobook. If you are seeing this David, thank you once again for your amazing work!

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A walk-trough of setting up this blog

So I thought it would be nice to take you on a walk-trough on how this blog has been set up in case you might be might be interested in starting one yourself. In the post I will not go into details about the different configurations of the blog software but more into hosting, domain and how to actually get it online. In each step I will tell you a little about why I have chosen for example a specific service.

 

So lets get started.

1. Domain

For me, choosing a domain name for the blog was easy, actually I bought it long before this blog was even thought of. Popeen is my nickname both online and offline so it just feels natural to me that it should also be my home on the web. When I first wanted to register it back in 08 it was already taken but I kept my eye on it and when suddenly it became available I rushed to buy it. And here is the part you are probably here for, where did I buy it? I bought it from a company called Loopia and since then I have kept it there. A couple of other domains I had at Loopia I have actually moved over to GoDaddy, not because they are better in some way but because they where cheaper at the time the domain  needed renewal. So for buying a domain go for what is cheapest at the moment, just make that you pick a serious company and that they will allow you to change the nameservers yourself, if you are unsure go with Loopia. When its time for renewal, have a look and see if things have changed or keep using what you choose in the first place if you don’t care for a couple of bucks here and there and are happy with what you got. If you decide to switch just remember that there often is a transfer fee from your new registrar.

 

2. Hosting

When it comes to hosting there are a ton of alternatives out there and probably just as many opinions. But in my case I have one host that I use for everything and that I love, Inleed. The speed of the host is good and so is the price tag. At the moment prices start at 19SEK/month, that is less then $3. But speed and price in all honor, where Inleed really shines is the support. It’s not often that I have had to contact them about something but when it has happened the response has been blazing fast even at very uncomfortable office hours. An example of this was this new years eve when I contacted them by email in the evening, in three minutes I had a response and in five the problem was solved. They are always quick to help and you feel like they really care about you. I’m sure there are other hosts out there that are just as good but there are also a lot of them that are really bad so why take the chance, so I say go for Inleed. If you go for something other then Inleed make sure that they support PHP & mySQL and that you will have FTP access to the server.

 

3. DNS

DNS? What? Isn’t that included in my domain you may say, and yes, it usually is, although it actually costs extra for Loopia users if you want to use theirs (this is probably true for some other registrars as well). But the thing is, you don’t want to use their DNS. You want to use a service called CloudFlare. Why would I want to use that you are probably saying now, well there are a lot of reasons for it and it would take up at least a full blog post to mention them all so lets just summarize them with that CloudFlare makes your website faster, more secure and that the base plan is free. If you want to read more about it you should have a look at the CloudFlare overview page. When you have registered your domain at CloudFlare you will get two nameservers back, they look something like this:

betty.ns.cloudflare.com
sri.ns.cloudflare.com

Keep in mind that yours will probably not be the same as the ones above. Once you have yours you head over to where you registered your domain and head into the domain settings. Since this is a bit different for every registrar I can’t tell you exactly how it will look but what you want to do is find where to change the nameservers and then set them to the ones you got from CloudFlare, if you cant find the settings ask the support and they will help you.

 

4. Software

Now we are getting in to my favorite part, the software. First of all you will be needing an FTP Client so that you can upload your files to the server, I recommend the FileZilla Client, it’s really good and it’s free. Secondly you will be needing your blogging software, for this we will use WordPress. If your host comes with a One-Click Setup you could use that but to be sure that you get the latest version I would recommend you install it by yourself. Installing it is really easy and I will be putting together a blog post on how to do it soon and add a link here but for now if you need help you can have a look at the wordpress support site.

 

5. Themes and Plugins

If you have been reading this post to set up a blog on your own and following along then first of all shame on you, you should always be reading the complete instructions before starting, secondly congratulations on your new blog. While the blog is technically finished it might be a good idea to install a custom theme on it to make it look a little better. You can find a lot of both free and paid themes by using google or you can head to the theme section on the wordpress website

 

Thats it, now you know how this blog is set up and how to do it yourself should you ever want to set up your own blog.

 

Credits:
The top photo in this post was taken by Torkild Retvedt and is released under the CC-BY-SA Licence. It has been cropped a bit and the original is available on this flickr page.

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