No compatible streams are available

That title is an error message from Emby, the music, movies, and more, server that I use on my systems, so all our music is available. It’s really very, very good. But sometimes it stops working. And you get that error message.

All over the internet, you can find people searching for that message, asking what it means, and how to fix it. What you won’t find is anyone giving a simple, direct answer, not even the people who wrote it.

I don’t claim to know the answer in every case. But I can tell you what caused it on my system, and how I fixed it. It is worth seeing if you have the same problem…

When I set up Linux Mint on my big PC, the hard disc the music is on appeared to be in the /mnt directory. I didn’t decide that, it’s just how it set itself up.

I had a look at the directory structure, and found that the hard disc now appeared in the /media directory. I hadn’t moved it.

So, I told Emby to forget its libraries, and then added them in again with the right path.

It worked.

This is virtually amazing!

I’ve been wanting to change my main PC from Windows to Linux for ages, but held back because there are a few applications on it that I found didn’t have a Linux equivalent, such as the old version of OneNote that I like, and the Canon photographic utilities for my DSLR camera. The OneNote version is the one that just works on the local machine, rather than the newer one that insists on putting things “in the cloud”. I want my data here, not somewhere I am unable to control, and might get disconnected from. I have a strong dislike of dual booting systems, from back when they used to be a real pig to work with, and kept going wrong…

A lot of people have told me, “Oh, you can run your Windows software under Linux, using Wine”. There’s something wrong with me, as I never could get any of those programs to work in Wine. I think I prefer wine to Wine…

What I needed, clearly, was to keep a virtual copy of the PC, and run it on the Linux machine. And it turns out you can…

A while back, I had moved as much data as I could from C: to my 4 Terabyte D: drive, planning to keep the programs that used the data on the boot SSD.

First, I used VMware’s useful converter program, to make a virtual machine from the PC’s SSD. For some reason, VirtualBox isn’t yet able to do this. I’m more used to VirtualBox, which seems to have better support than VMware, so I fed VMware’s resulting virtual PC into a converter that outputs a VirtualBox machine.

Having saved that very carefully, in more than one place, I installed Linux Mint Cinnamon on a brand new SSD on the PC, and started the fun of getting used to it. It’s really good these days, and “just works”. I put VirtualBox and RealVNC on Mint, and found that my saved virtual Windows 10 computer ran just fine.

Well, actually not the first time, it didn’t. Reverting to Windows 10 was easy, because it was on the old SSD, and I was able to fix the things I had forgotten to do. There is a snag here, in that each time I return to Linux, the Data drive gets changed to a read only file system. There’s a simple fix for that snafu, that I will mention when I remember what it is.

Now, normally, I use a Chromebook around the house, to access the PC and all the little Raspberry Pi computers I run. Mrs Walrus seems to prefer to have me where she can see me, or maybe she likes my company, and I do an awful lot on what used to be her Chromebook. I was already using the Chrome browser on the Chromebook to do remote access to the Windows PC. To my absolute delight, when I fired that up, it connected to the virtualised PC on the Linux machine. When software is good, it can be very good indeed!

Soon, I must get the Chromebook to remote directly into Linux Mint as well. Mint is just fine using RealVNC Connect to work the Pi computers, so now I have more than one way to access them.

End of Part 1…

Meta-Spuds

Forgive me Readers (if any) for I have not blogged about food for over a fortnight!

I just received an email from the Guardian’s Rachel Roddy, about mashed potato. Now I know many people think mash comes in a packet, and you just add water, and some of us are old enough to remember the Cadbury’s Smash robots laughing at our primitive way of making them… “they cut them with their metal knives”.

Normally, I might just read it, and perhaps some of the things it links to, but I was rather impressed with the way Rachel Roddy referenced, in one paragraph, all of…

Rachel Roddy mentions an Italian trattoria, that served

the puree di patate con lardo. It turned out to be a small mound of buttery mashed potato topped with three slices of cured pork back fat that had once been white, but was now translucent as it melted into its mountain. It remains one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten and summed up the joy of mashed potato: ordinary and luxurious, silly and serious. Mash, wonderful mash.

Now, I have wanted to make lardo for ages, but hey, it’s the 21st Century, and farmers in the UK are mostly producing damned skinny pigs, because everyone knows fat is dreadfully bad for us, so you can’t even get pork fat a couple of inches thick, even when you go to a real butcher. Part of the problem is that pigs are not kept until they have time to get properly fat before they’re rushed off to whatever food product factory has the contract for them. It’s the same problem when I make bacon, as well, there’s only just enough fat on it to be able to fry it properly. Once upon a time, you would put bacon in a pan, fry it, fry the eggs in the fat that was left behind, and then soak the fat up with a Staffordshire oatcake, and eat the lot. I once made a batch of Staffordshire oatcakes, and they were wonderful. I must make more, as I no longer live in Staffordshire, and nobody sells ready-made ones here in Wales.

Staffordshire? You know…

Money saving Duck methods

Duck is delicious. Sadly, it’s not cheap. But there are ways to make it less expensive.

Buy a whole duck. A whole Gressingham duck currently sells for about £9.

Meanwhile, two duck breasts cost £8, and two duck legs cost £4.50 or thereabouts.

A whole Gressingham duck, removed from the packaging.

Here’s a whole duck. I’ve pulled the plastic bag of giblets out, and put them in the stock pot, along with the wing tips. There will be more in the pan soon….

Giblets and other bits, waiting for me to make duck stock.

Now, with a very sharp knife, and considerable caution, I have cut one breast off the duck. Not very tidy knife-work, but I’m out of practice…

The duck with one breast cut off.
THe other breast’s gone, and so has this leg.
Here are two legs, and two breasts. £12.50 already, from a £9 duck.

Eventually, one ends up with two duck breasts and two duck legs, for the freezer. When I have collected four legs, I will make confit duck legs.

The duck breasts seem to be smaller than the ones they sell separately. My guess is that they use their biggest ducks for the portions, and sell the smaller ones whole.

Bits of duck, about to become stock.

The rest of the carcase just gets broken up, submerged in water, and boiled for a while, resulting in a delicious stock. What can I use that for, you ask?

Well, I used it for ramen. There wasn’t quite enough duck meat on the carcase for this, so I quickly cooked a couple of chicken thighs, you can see it at the top of the bowl. This was a lovely dish for a cold, wet evening…

A bowl of ramen.

Backing up Windows 10

Of course, you back up Windows 10 using the Windows 7 backup program.

Of course, you have made a System Repair Disc.

Now, you want to make a system image.

But if you have drives C: with the operating system and programs, and D: with only your data on it, which together are bigger than the drive you want to put the system image on, there’s not enough space.

If you just select “Make a system image”, and don’t select a drive, it assumes you want all the discs, and fails again, because “too big”.

You have to select “Make a system image” AND the C: drive BUT NOT the D: drive.

Now, it WILL make a system image…

No, of course it doesn’t.

Notice how a 30.88 Gigabyte backup is too big for a 2 Terabyte drive?

I am so utterly sick of the tripe Microsoft sells as software.

The comments on recipe pages…

Sure, I find recipes online, and sometimes I change things when I don’t have the full list of ingredients. That’s normal, surely? But then there are these people…

“One lemon is sufficient. I added a big bunch of kale at the end as I felt it needed some green. I roasted the squash then added to the pan. I added almonds with the coriander at the end to give a bit of crunch. I made my own harissa paste using chipotle. Nice meal with a depth of flavour.”

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/squash-chicken-couscous-one-pot

This was a “one pot” recipe. If you want kale with it, serve it separately. Of course, you’ve defeated the one-pot-ness of it, but this really won’t taste good if you shove kale in it. And the squash was supposed to disintegrate to make the sauce, but you’ve got nice crusty lumps of squash. Did it even need “a bit of crunch”, what with being a stew and all that implies?

Also, you can’t make harissa with chipotle. You’ve made some sort of chipotle sauce.

Some of the comments are a lot more sensible.

5 stars from us, followed the recipe to the letter and really liked the freshness the lemon brought to it …. Like a tagine but without using expensive preserved lemons. Portions are huge, this made 6 generous portions so some bonus portions for the freezer 😊

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/squash-chicken-couscous-one-pot

Now, call me greedy (OK, I am), but two chicken breasts doesn’t seem particularly generous for six people. I suppose one reason for recipes like this IS to feed more people with less meat, though.

However, if you put cut up a lot of lemons and put them in a big jar with salt, you’ll find preserved lemons are actually not expensive. And they’re brilliant in a tagine! https://doctor-dark.co.uk/blog/lamb-tagine/

Cooking temperatures

I had a little rant, a while ago, about the bizarre ways some recipes tell us to judge temperatures. https://doctor-dark.co.uk/blog/weird-stuff-in-recipes-part-94/

Many of them involve testing the temperature of hot oil by dropping in a cube of bread, and noting how long it takes to turn “golden”, which is generally described as being around thirty seconds. The size of the cube of bread is rarely, if ever, given. I wonder how many cubes of bread have been wasted in this way? My solution was to buy a cheap electronic thermometer, or perhaps even a quite good one, as the less cheap ones tend to give a reading more quickly.

If you’ve eaten at a commercially run barbecue, for instance, you will have seen the cooks poking a quick reading thermometer into the food, to see if it can safely be eaten, or will cause illness.

I was reminded of this, when I looked up labna/labneh in Claudia Roden’s “The Book of Jewish Food” recently.

The idea of poking your little finger in the food, and trying to keep it there while counting to ten (and how fast?) when the food is hot enough for it to “sting” is somewhat disturbing.

And don’t try this with hot oil! It will do more than just sting…

Roden, C. (1999). The Book Of Jewish Food. New York: Alfred A Knopf, Inc.

Butter chicken wars

An Indian court is going to hear claims from two restaurants, as to which of them is entitled to claim they invented butter chicken.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/jan/25/indias-courts-to-rule-on-who-invented-butter-chicken

In our recipe book collection, we have several recipes that are called butter chicken, here are just two…

Two recipe books with different butter chicken recipes.
Two recipe books with different butter chicken recipes.

I don’t know whether either restaurant has a valid claim, but if Rick Stein is right, it’s pretty much a standard Amritsari way to cook the beasts.

Labna for mezze

I wanted to make labna, the soft cheese popular in the Middle East. Basically, it’s strained yoghourt. It would clearly be expensive to make it from good shop yoghourt, like Fage, at about £5 for a 900g tub, our favourite from Greece, so I decided to start making my own. Cue intensive internet “research”…

It turns out that Lakeland are selling the Easiyo yoghourt maker for half price, which I took to be an auspicious omen. The internet says the charity shops of the country are full of the things, because people get fed up with buying the ready-made powder the makers want you to keep buying, but I got myself a clean new one, for about £10.

The internet kindly pointed out that I wouldn’t need to go to all the bother of heating the milk to a certain temperature, and then cooling it before adding a live starter. Instead, I’m using UHT milk, which somebody else has heated, cooled, and put in a handy box.

So, I put UHT milk and a couple of spoonfuls of Yeo Valley organic natural live yoghourt in the inner jar, filled the youghourt maker with boiling water, put it all together, and left it overnight.

Putting the yoghourt I made into cheesecloth

The result was a good, set, yoghourt. Not very solid, but tasty. The next step was to put it in cheesecloth, and strain it. There’s three layers of cheesecloth in the picture, as I thought even quite thick yoghourt might run through it, but one turns out to be enough.

Labna, with the whey that came out of it.

Now, the Mezze book says one of the things I can do with labna is make little balls, and keep them in olive oil, in the fridge, ready for use. I had a go, but only made a few, before deciding that the process was too messy, and wasteful. The rest has gone back into the fridge to dry out some more.

Raspberry Pi 7 Segment display

Introduction

One of my #RaspberryPi Zeros is called PiClock, and has an 8 digit seven segment LED display. The program it runs displays the time, and sends it to two other Pis, that display it on Unicorn HD HATs. Between midnight and 8 am, it flashes the message “SLEEP” every five minutes, as well. The software library that it uses can display numbers, and most upper and lower case letters, but not all of them. I rather liked the idea of animating sequences of single segments on it, because, well you know, blinkenlights. I had a look at the software library, “7seg.py”, to see if I could get it to do that.

It turns out that the library uses a Python dictionary to look up the byte to send to the display for each of the characters it can display. Decoding the hexadecimal bytes took a few minutes, working from the code for the digits from 1 to 5.

The first bit is always a 0. The remaining seven are the seven segments, in the order abcdefg, which are laid out like this…

So, the codes for illuminating single segments are as follows…

Now to amend the library! I needed some typeable characters to put in the dictionary, ready to be used in strings in the python code. For no obvious reason, I chose a selection of brackets and the tilde character, and amended the library file. The selection of brackets didn’t work!

After trying characters until they did work, I ended up with #][£<$~ as the symbols for the segments abcdefg.

I’m only showing the amended part of the file, where the pattern to send to the display is looked up. The arrangement of the brackets and tilde for the segments is as follows…

Now I’m ready to program PiClock to do silly animations, which will be fun, and a lot easier than using the WordPress editor. Note to self: See if you can find a WYSIWYG editor for WordPress.