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MediaBox project

Wireless Toronto's MediaBox project is a derivative of Ile Sans Fil's HAL project. The two projects may have slightly different goals (or our goals might be the same – we don't know yet), but we intend to share the same software platform, and similar hardware platform.


February 28, 2007: The mediabox project is basically on-hold, except for the case of venues who have their own content which they'd like to make available to users through their WT hotspot. See the February Hacknight meeting notes below.

February: The February WT hacknight will be to work on the MediaBox.

January 2007: MediaBox was incorrectly called “Mediashop” in the Globe & Mail article about the Roach Coach.

Meeting notes

February hacknight

Wireless Toronto February hacknight notes

(It's been a while, so I apologize that these notes won't be very detailed. If you were present, please fill in any gaps I've left, or correct any mistakes I've made.)

Info/background on the mediabox project:

We met at InterAccess on February 28th to work on the MediaBox project. We didn't ultimately get our hands dirty with anything, but we had a great discussion.

Michael & Andrew each brought the MediaBox unit which they had. We got these from Ile Sans Fil.

We opened one up and looked inside, and reviewed the discussions that we'd had to date about how we'd like to deploy these boxes (and how our approach is a little different than ISF's).

The conversation then turned to strategy: how do we want to use these boxes? What for? We had clear answers for certain scenarios: the folks at the Harbourfront Centre would like to use it to make their library of documentation of art shows/performances available. Venues like the Cameron House or The Drake might like to do something similar.

We didn't have any clear answers for venues who don't have their own content to share. We talked about collaborative playlists and open Samba shares, but the use-cases aren't clear – so it seems hard to justify spending a lot of developer time on these ideas, when there are other things we could be doing.

So the conversation turned to the portal pages. Specifically: we *can't* know how people could/would use the mediaboxes until we know how they could/would use the portal pages.

A great idea came together to get user-contributed data onto the portal pages: each hotspot has an email address, and each portal page features all content which was sent to that email address. Super-simple. Chaotic, perhaps, but it might be a great first step to getting people to participate.

To block spam, we could build a hook: email content will only be posted to the portal page if it's from a valid user's email address. If that doesn't provide enough security, the email could be rejected if that user isn't currently logged in to that hotspot.

Patrick indicated that he'd be interested in contributing to the development of this app.

Conclusion: with the exception of venues who have content that they want to share using the mediabox, the project is essentially on hold, pending two things:

  1. We need a clearer sense of use-cases.
  2. We need to make some progress with portal pages, which is a much higher priority for us.

early October 2006

Michael P, Andrew and Gabe met at Gabe's house

1) Where:

  • First at Yonge-Dundas Square and Concord Cafe
  • Next at 401 Richmond and Cameron House?

2) Future tech:

The current boxes have only 1.5GB storage. Multi-gig USB keys are available now for pretty cheap… for future boxes, we could use these, or go with full-on 300+GB USB drives. It depends on what we intend to do with these boxes.

3) Content:

In Montreal, ISF has two major content partners, who will be producing playlists (is that right?) for their HAL boxes. In Toronto, we haven't done this, and realistically, probably won't. So what do *we* want to do with these boxes? We discussed it, but nothing was conclusive… we came up with two ideas which we'll implement on a trial basis:

  1. an arbitrary collection of music content, available via iTunes
  2. a quota-enabled, world-writable samba share, to see what people do with it

4) To-do:


  • rsync with content repository on auth server, every 3 hours
  • get permission from podcasters to put their stuff on our boxes
  • technically, since these files can't be downloaded, we don't need to be careful about copyright issues

Samba share:

  • if the slug can't do quotas at either the linux or samba level, we're going to have to rethink this
  • email ops list each time a file is added, removed or edited
  • no sync-ing with content repository


  • as this is a trial, we need full logs of if/how people are using the service. Our rsync setup is one-way, so logs will be emailed to the ops list nightly.
  • we're not going to bother installing an openvpn client on the boxes; instead we'll use Andrew's clever dual-ssh method

5) Naming:

  • each box will be named SLUG1, SLUG2, SLUG3, etc. For now they'll all have the same iTunes content, but eventually we'll want to keep track of which is which. Something on the server-side will keep track of that for us: which slug is at which venue.
  • we're not fond of the name “HAL”, which stands for “Hub des Artistes Locaux” – “local artists hub”. We'll call them “MediaBoxes” instead, which gives us more flexibility in terms of how we use these boxes.

6) Next steps:

  • Andrew will work on the tech stuff.
  • Michael will pursue content.
  • Gabe will work on text & design for the web site and portal pages.
mediabox.txt · Last modified: 2013/09/28 17:06 (external edit)