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View Full Version : MULTIPLE SQUEEZEBOXES FOR COMMERCIAL APPLICATION



Steve Chisholm
2004-06-07, 20:46
I'm considering using multiple Squeezeboxes running off a PC server for
a commercial Day Spa application. 7 treatment rooms would each have a
Squeezebox, ideally on a wireless connection, to play relaxing or
therapeutic music to clients from a central file library. Since they
would be paying clients the music system would have to be reliable, with
near 100% uptime, delivering high sound quality.

The technical spec's suggest this is very do-able as does my initial and
very helpful reply from the Slim Devices technical team.

Having spent nearly two weeks now viewing the daily E-Mail posts trying
to find references to a similar application I am unsure how ready these
systems are just to "plug and play" straight out of the box.

Talk of various difficulties setting up, hang ups and crashes along with
"nightly downloads" make this exciting product seem more like a
production prototype for hobbyists and tech wizards. I'm not meaning to
be cheeky or to annoy anyone by saying this - but it is my honest
observation.

I'd welcome some feedback from anyone that has set up multiple units in
a commercial environment outside the home and any general feedback about
uptime / continuous use.

Thanks

Steve

Jack Coates
2004-06-07, 20:51
....
> Talk of various difficulties setting up, hang ups and crashes along with
> "nightly downloads" make this exciting product seem more like a
> production prototype for hobbyists and tech wizards. I'm not meaning to
> be cheeky or to annoy anyone by saying this - but it is my honest
> observation.
>

very few people join the list just to tell you that it works. You ever
call up the folks that make your car and say thanks?

> I'd welcome some feedback from anyone that has set up multiple units in
> a commercial environment outside the home and any general feedback about
> uptime / continuous use.
>
> Thanks
>
> Steve
>...

There've been a few posts like yours, usually resorts, spas, a few pubs.
They've been successful AFAICT.
--
Jack At Monkeynoodle.Org:
It's A Scientific Venture...

vidurapparao
2004-06-07, 21:40
> Talk of various difficulties setting up, hang ups and crashes along
> with “nightly downloads” make this exciting product seem more like a
> production prototype for hobbyists and tech wizards. I’m not meaning
> to be cheeky or to annoy anyone by saying this – but it is my honest
> observation.
>
The references to nightly builds on this list are part of our attempt to
get the software as rock solid as possible before it goes into
production. The people on this list are often interested in testing and
trying pre-release software. The latest *production* version of the
software is always available on
http://www.slimdevices.com/su_downloads.html.

What you're seeing on this list is probably a lot more transparency in
the technical support and development process than you would see from
most other companies. You're also seeing an active and enthusiastic
community of users, interested in helping each other. From what we've
seen, that translates into a more mature and professional product than
others out there.

--Vidur

Dan Aronson
2004-06-07, 21:56
Steve Chisholm wrote:

> I’m considering using multiple Squeezeboxes running off a PC server
> for a commercial Day Spa application. 7 treatment rooms would each
> have a Squeezebox, ideally on a wireless connection, to play relaxing
> or therapeutic music to clients from a central file library. Since
> they would be paying clients the music system would have to be
> reliable, with near 100% uptime, delivering high sound quality.
>
> The technical spec’s suggest this is very do-able as does my initial
> and very helpful reply from the Slim Devices technical team.
>
> Having spent nearly two weeks now viewing the daily E-Mail posts
> trying to find references to a similar application I am unsure how
> ready these systems are just to “plug and play” straight out of the box.
>
Steve,
I have two at home (I know, not quite the config you are looking for)
and they are quite plug & play. I believe that most of the problems
raised here (on this mailing list) are by people trying to stress them
in various ways:
1) Problems with running the "latest and greatest" releases. In general,
for an application like yours, use
releases that have been around a while (unless there are specific bugs
that you run into and are trying to fix)
2) Problems with immature plugins/features (again, unless you need to,
don't try to be bleeding edge)
3) Performance problems with really large music libraries (that are
probably updated often).

For any project such as yours, it is always worth testing things out to
see what bugs show up in your implementation. I would start with two
squeezeboxes, try to "burn in" the system for a month and then
go from there. I think this would be a prudent approach for any solution.

The fact that the Slim community shares things like nightly downloads
should be seen as a positive, not a negative. Almost any product has
alpha and beta testers. The difference with this one, is that the
mailing lists give you an inside view of this. Again, don't be bleeding
edge and you shouldn't have a problem.

That all said, this is a bug that I've seen posted here that I've run
into that is currently being addressed
(bug 323, http://bugs.slimdevices.com/show_bug.cgi?id=323*). *I think
that before I moved forward on
a project such as yours, I would want to know the status of this.

One thing that you will have to decide if you use the
squeezebox/slimserver is how you want to architect
your system. Will you run multile squeezeboxes on a server application,
or one server for each squeezebox?
There are pros/cons to each approach.

--dan



--dan

Pat Farrell
2004-06-07, 22:11
At 12:40 AM 6/8/2004, Vidur Apparao wrote:
>>Talk of various difficulties setting up, hang ups and crashes along with
>>“nightly downloads” make this exciting product seem more like a
>>production prototype for hobbyists and tech wizards. I’m not meaning to
>>be cheeky or to annoy anyone by saying this * but it is my honest observation.
>The references to nightly builds on this list are part of our attempt to
>get the software as rock solid as possible before it goes into production.
>The people on this list are often interested in testing and trying
>pre-release software. The latest *production* version of the software is
>always available on http://www.slimdevices.com/su_downloads.html.
>
>What you're seeing on this list is probably a lot more transparency in the
>technical support and development process than you would see from most
>other companies. You're also seeing an active and enthusiastic community
>of users, interested in helping each other. From what we've seen, that
>translates into a more mature and professional product than others out there.

I see this as touching on a more fundamental problem.
At lot of people on this list, are hobbyists and wizards.
Which is cool, in that there are great resources here.

But as zillions of SqueezeBoxes are sold (yeah!) it is being sold
to more folks who are coming from a user perspective.
Folks in the audiophile community that are not computer specialists
at all, "pure users" who think Macs are complicated :-), and
my great aunt. The idea of pointing these folks to a nightly is shocking.
It is not what they expect, and is really not what we "the enthusiasts"
should be doing. The "squeezebox as music appliance" buyers want
solid, robust releases that work without thought for months if not years.

The enthusiasts want cool features and want them now. So far, Slim
and the volunteers have been delivering. But the "appliance" users
can't possibly want three releases in six months. Let alone
recommendations to try nightlys and see if they fix it.

Its part of the normal maturity process for any industry and product.
At some point, the hackers get replaced by product managers.

I have no idea if the SqueezeBox is at that point in its maturity
process. But I could easily believe that the user community
really could use two separate mailing/support lists. There
are really at least two separate communities.

Pat

Roy M. Silvernail
2004-06-08, 04:03
On Tue, 2004-06-08 at 01:11, Pat Farrell wrote:

> But I could easily believe that the user community
> really could use two separate mailing/support lists. There
> are really at least two separate communities.

We already have two; discuss and developers. And given the general tech
level of the early adopter crowd, both lists are fairly technical (i.e.
not necessarily accessible to the appliance-level user). Perhaps a
yellow-covered-book list would work, but I'm not sure. People
intimidated by technology are less likely to join a mailing list and ask
questions than they are to read a well-designed and clear FAQ.
(non-techies don't grok Wiki, either) But as I'm sure you know,
appliance users don't read *anything*.

Right now, the server product is growing and maturing at a very fast
rate. My theory is that by 5.1.7, all of the major bugs will have been
squashed, and the development effort will turn more toward enhancement.
At that point, less frequent major releases make sense (assuming that we
have a good drop-in mechanism for plugins). 5.1.7 will be the appliance
users' 1.0 release. Solid enough to run with the absolute minimum of
user intervention beyond watching the CD auto-start and pressing 'play'.

So your observation is a good one, but I'm just not sure that a mailing
list is the best vehicle to serve the yellow-book users.
--
Roy M. Silvernail is roy (AT) rant-central (DOT) com, and you're not
Never Forget: It's Only 1's and 0's!
SpamAssassin->procmail->/dev/null->bliss
http://www.rant-central.com

Ron Thigpen
2004-06-08, 06:56
Steve Chisholm wrote:

> I’m considering using multiple Squeezeboxes running off a PC server for
> a commercial Day Spa application. 7 treatment rooms would each have a
> Squeezebox, ideally on a wireless connection, to play relaxing or
> therapeutic music to clients from a central file library. Since they
> would be paying clients the music system would have to be reliable, with
> near 100% uptime, delivering high sound quality.

Based on my experience using the SB in my home I think that you can
easily achieve your goals.

Many of us in the group that posts to this email list are at least as
interested in pushing the envelope of what can be done with these
devices as we are in a stable, reliable experience. We have made
choices in how we configure and use our systems that have definite
impacts on reliability. You will want to make some different choices.

Here are some recommendations to consider:

Use only the most recent stable release of the server software.
Encode your music to MP3 format using an appropriate quality level.
Avoid other formats and internet radio streams.
Maintain a rationally sized music library.
Use good, consistent tagging in your music library.
Commit an appropriate level of hardware to the SlimServer host machine.
Stream MP3s to your SBs and let the SB handle the decoding.
If not prohibitive, use a wired network.
If using wireless, configure for good signal strength and consider the
number of streams and the width of streams you wish to handle.

For various reasons, each of these choices should eliminate potential
problem modes. If these recommendations are followed you should have a
rock solid installation.

--rt

Ken Anderson
2004-06-08, 07:03
I just joined this list recently because I want to make some
customizations to my environment. However, I have been running a
slimp3 with Mac OS X as a server for about a year now, and there has
never been a hiccup with the production software. In fact, I'm often
stunned by the fact that, if I chose an mp3 stream as my audio source,
I could return and listen to that stream days later, and it will still
be running. That *never* happens on a PC.

Hope that helps, and good luck!

Ken

On Jun 8, 2004, at 9:56 AM, Ron Thigpen wrote:

> Steve Chisholm wrote:
>
>> I’m considering using multiple Squeezeboxes running off a PC server
>> for a commercial Day Spa application. 7 treatment rooms would each
>> have a Squeezebox, ideally on a wireless connection, to play relaxing
>> or therapeutic music to clients from a central file library. Since
>> they would be paying clients the music system would have to be
>> reliable, with near 100% uptime, delivering high sound quality.
>
> Based on my experience using the SB in my home I think that you can
> easily achieve your goals.
>
> Many of us in the group that posts to this email list are at least as
> interested in pushing the envelope of what can be done with these
> devices as we are in a stable, reliable experience. We have made
> choices in how we configure and use our systems that have definite
> impacts on reliability. You will want to make some different choices.
>
> Here are some recommendations to consider:
>
> Use only the most recent stable release of the server software.
> Encode your music to MP3 format using an appropriate quality level.
> Avoid other formats and internet radio streams.
> Maintain a rationally sized music library.
> Use good, consistent tagging in your music library.
> Commit an appropriate level of hardware to the SlimServer host machine.
> Stream MP3s to your SBs and let the SB handle the decoding.
> If not prohibitive, use a wired network.
> If using wireless, configure for good signal strength and consider the
> number of streams and the width of streams you wish to handle.
>
> For various reasons, each of these choices should eliminate potential
> problem modes. If these recommendations are followed you should have
> a rock solid installation.
>
> --rt
>
>

Rob Studdert
2004-06-08, 07:14
On 8 Jun 2004 at 10:03, Ken Anderson wrote:

> I just joined this list recently because I want to make some
> customizations to my environment. However, I have been running a
> slimp3 with Mac OS X as a server for about a year now, and there has
> never been a hiccup with the production software. In fact, I'm often
> stunned by the fact that, if I chose an mp3 stream as my audio source,
> I could return and listen to that stream days later, and it will still
> be running. That *never* happens on a PC.

You were going so well until the last comment.

I ran a PC based dedicated MP3 player/library/network server with S/P-DIF I/O,
IR remote and 4 line LCD under NT4 virtually continuously (ie literally 24/7
night and day) from mid 1999 until I bought my first Slim device. Never a
problem.

Rob

Ken Anderson
2004-06-08, 07:29
I was specifically referring to listening to mp3 streams directly on a
PC (not as a server or anything). Whenever I try to listen to an mp3
stream on my windows 2000 machine it usually stops within 3 or 4 hours.
Of course, your mileage may vary! I'm sure running slimserver on a PC
is fine - that's not what I was referring to.

On Jun 8, 2004, at 10:14 AM, Rob Studdert wrote:

> On 8 Jun 2004 at 10:03, Ken Anderson wrote:
>
>> I just joined this list recently because I want to make some
>> customizations to my environment. However, I have been running a
>> slimp3 with Mac OS X as a server for about a year now, and there has
>> never been a hiccup with the production software. In fact, I'm often
>> stunned by the fact that, if I chose an mp3 stream as my audio source,
>> I could return and listen to that stream days later, and it will still
>> be running. That *never* happens on a PC.
>
> You were going so well until the last comment.
>
> I ran a PC based dedicated MP3 player/library/network server with
> S/P-DIF I/O,
> IR remote and 4 line LCD under NT4 virtually continuously (ie
> literally 24/7
> night and day) from mid 1999 until I bought my first Slim device.
> Never a
> problem.
>
> Rob
>

Pat Farrell
2004-06-08, 10:25
At 07:03 AM 6/8/2004, Roy M. Silvernail wrote:
>On Tue, 2004-06-08 at 01:11, Pat Farrell wrote:
> > But I could easily believe that the user community
> > really could use two separate mailing/support lists. There
> > are really at least two separate communities.
>
>We already have two; discuss and developers.

Sure, and I'm on both. But that was hardly the
distinction I was suggesting.

Rather, I was seeing the user community (separate from
the developers of the open source product) as having
at least two subcommunities. One for early adopters,
techies and wizards, and the second for "music appliance" users.

The real question is, when does the SqueezeBox move out
of "early adopter" era and into more widespread usage.
I'm too close to being a techy to know.

It is clear than many of the "announcement only" products
are aiming straight at the heart of "music appliance" market.
Many of them are, of course, still vaporware.

>questions than they are to read a well-designed and clear FAQ.

Snide comment just begs to be inserted here...

Less snidely whiplashish, I think the current FAQ is way too long and
linear, with too many variations of content, some highly technical and
other "how do I plug it in?". Just IMHO.


>(non-techies don't grok Wiki, either) But as I'm sure you know,
>appliance users don't read *anything*.

Right. Well known. But a standard answer to applicance
users is "Read the FAQ, reference #foo"
rather than "try the nightly"



>Right now, the server product is growing and maturing at a very fast
>rate. My theory is that by 5.1.7, all of the major bugs will have been
>squashed, and the development effort will turn more toward enhancement.

ah, the next release is 5.2
and while I applaud your ideas, I don't see it happening.
The pace of change and enchantment is amazing.

>So your observation is a good one, but I'm just not sure that a mailing
>list is the best vehicle to serve the yellow-book users.

I tend to agree that mailing lists are in themselves to techy for appliance
users.
As are forums, FAQs over 20 lines, etc.

As products mature, they have to evolve to being naturally stable and
self installing. I kinda like getting sources from CVS, but that
means I'm not an appliance user.


Pat

Roy M. Silvernail
2004-06-08, 10:47
Pat Farrell wrote:

> At 07:03 AM 6/8/2004, Roy M. Silvernail wrote:
>
>> On Tue, 2004-06-08 at 01:11, Pat Farrell wrote:
>> > But I could easily believe that the user community
>> > really could use two separate mailing/support lists. There
>> > are really at least two separate communities.
>>
>> We already have two; discuss and developers.
>
>
> Sure, and I'm on both. But that was hardly the
> distinction I was suggesting.
>
> Rather, I was seeing the user community (separate from
> the developers of the open source product) as having
> at least two subcommunities. One for early adopters,
> techies and wizards, and the second for "music appliance" users.

True enough, and I had that in mind. It just didn't make it to the
keyboard.

> The real question is, when does the SqueezeBox move out
> of "early adopter" era and into more widespread usage.
> I'm too close to being a techy to know.
>
> It is clear than many of the "announcement only" products
> are aiming straight at the heart of "music appliance" market.
> Many of them are, of course, still vaporware.

I'm too close to the techy side, as well. At some point (and Vidur may
end up the enforcement on this), we're going to have to declare a
moratorium on new features to firm up the current set and concentrate on
squashing bugs. You're correct that the release software has to be
solid and bullet-resistant.

> Less snidely whiplashish, I think the current FAQ is way too long and
> linear, with too many variations of content, some highly technical and
> other "how do I plug it in?". Just IMHO.

Good point. Like everything else, the FAQ has grown more than been
written. It could stand to be redone by someone with a documentation
background to unify its presentation.

> ah, the next release is 5.2
> and while I applaud your ideas, I don't see it happening.
> The pace of change and enchantment is amazing.

Another good point, which is why I think a feature addition hiatus will
be necessary soon. At least to get us to the next major release point.

> I kinda like getting sources from CVS, but that
> means I'm not an appliance user.

Many (most?) of us aren't, so we make the mental shortcut mistake.
Maybe a read-only "Tip of the Day" list aimed at the appliance users?
--
Roy M. Silvernail is roy (AT) rant-central (DOT) com, and you're not
Never Forget: It's Only 1's and 0's!
SpamAssassin->procmail->/dev/null->bliss
http://www.rant-central.com

Ron Thigpen
2004-06-08, 11:03
Pat Farrell wrote:

> At 07:03 AM 6/8/2004, Roy M. Silvernail wrote:
>
>> Right now, the server product is growing and maturing at a very fast
>> rate. My theory is that by 5.1.7, all of the major bugs will have been
>> squashed, and the development effort will turn more toward enhancement.
>
> ah, the next release is 5.2
> and while I applaud your ideas, I don't see it happening.
> The pace of change and enchantment is amazing.

Actually, it looks from here like Vidur is right on top of this issue.
Tree management, branching when neccessary, release management, and
developer wrangling all appear to be happening. Impacts start right
now. Track record develops over time. Give it a minute or two.

--rt

kdf
2004-06-08, 13:45
Quoting "Roy M. Silvernail" <roy (AT) rant-central (DOT) com>:

> > ah, the next release is 5.2
> > and while I applaud your ideas, I don't see it happening.
> > The pace of change and enchantment is amazing.
>
> Another good point, which is why I think a feature addition hiatus will
> be necessary soon. At least to get us to the next major release point.

we're in one now. have been for a couple weeks. bug stomping only to make the
release as strong as possible.

-kdf