MEGA Launched today to much interest (500,000 accounts created already), and with the inspiring statement that “The Internet belongs to no man, industry, or government”.

The idea is simple to explain, complicated to pull off: Let people store whatever they want, and make it encrypted in such a way that no one can see the data unless that single user decides it.

This, of course, means that MEGA can’t see it, nor can any government agency in the world.

Interesting.. You said something about video?

To keep the blog on task, the question is: Will this work for all my video?

4TB of storage for $29.99/mo is decent enough to consider, if it means never having to think about security again.
Home movies, recordings for court cases, and hypothetically: even movies that the MPAA does not want you to have.

However, as it stands, MEGA does not fit in to any solution for actually watching video content.

To be fair; this is just not what it’s made for.

The way it works means that in order to view any file stored on mega, it must first be downloaded to your computer, then decrypted.

Very much a “file locker” where everything is locked away safe until you need it, then it’s locked again when you walk away with whatever you came for.

Of course, this means that streaming files is completely out, and it’ll take some serious work (assuming anyone is interested in doing the work)  before there’s a program that can talk to MEGA, download the file, decrypt it, then show it to you.

For now, everything is accessed through the browser, and while there is an API, it’s going to really come in to it’s own for encrypting communication, not static files.

I’m going to try it out, simply because it’s worth seeing how it’s done, but to be honest; it just doesn’t fit in to anything I do right now, and it won’t until it’s as seamless as Dropbox or Bitcasa, with mobile apps and everything.

 

 

Aside from all this, there is one thing I want to say about the Terms of use and Privacy policy:
There have been some people saying that it’s worrying that MEGA collects and stores IP addresses, communication logs, site usage, etc. People have also expressed concern that MEGA does so to help serve advertising.
While there have been scares before, and I understand the initial hesitation; the way that MEGA works means that theoretically they could collect every shred of data they have access to, and still never have any idea what you have in your files, or even what the files are named.
In my opinion, it’s better for them to own up to being a for-profit company (which they are), while building a solution that cannot be policed.

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A very interesting idea that’s in the queue for testing, is to tie in the external server to a service like bitcasa, using the server for file renaming, processing, and transcoding, and having the bulk of videos in the “infinite” storage.

This opens so many doors…

  1. Trying to find the right seedbox for your Plex server, but 1TB+ of storage is an extra $40? No problem!
  2. If you need to move servers; No problem!
  3. Need more horsepower for sharing personal videos? Add more servers to the same bitcasa folder!
  4. Want to tweak like crazy? Run the server off a smaller SSD: No Problem.

Of course, there are still unknowns, which is the best part

And, it’s being tested for Plex servers right now, meaning it’s mature enough to get our hands dirty with.

And, sometime soon, we’ll see how the landscape evolves when Mega brings storage back with a new focus on personal encryption.

 

I’m excited for 2013 to unfold.. Are you in?

Note: The testbed for all this still needs a few more people to chip in by sending at least $20 each via PayPal to linkingparents@gmail.com (refunds if we don’t meet the minimum).
Once we reach the goal, we’re setting up a seedbox-based media server, and documenting the whole thing so anyone else can do it!

I wanted to cover some of the details of the seedbox media server so we can all get excited about the possibilities.

The short:

When we have it set up, it will mean a ‘cloud server’ that automatically downloads the shows that you choose, and serves them to you on any device that supports Plex. This includes the RasPi.

You let me know which shows you watch, and the second a new episode gets online, we’ll make sure the file transfers properly, and is ready for you.

This means that you don’t have to use your home connection for downloading, don’t have to put the time in to hunting shows down or organizing, and don’t need anything more than a small device, a good screen, and an internet connection.

Of course, we’ll look at storing backlogs, and downloading an entire series if you want to check out something new.

The other fun bits that we’re thinking about:

The big reasons I personally want this instead of (or in addition to) Netflix/Other services are:

  • No need to wait for new episodes to hit Netflix (this can take months)
  • Video looks much better: With a small enough user base and the right home connection, it’s possible to watch shows in full-quality 720p, or even in some cases 1080p.
    We find Netflix to be blocky compared to a commonplace x264 served via Plex.
  • Killer Seedboxes can have 100Mbps or 1000Mbps speeds: that’s 6 seconds to download a 30min show in razor-sharp 720p,
  • It’s even possible to push out a notification, so that if you’re chomping at the bit to watch Walking Dead, but you’re not home; you know the minute it can be streamed in full quality from your iPhone to a friend’s AppleTV. (Or through your android device via HDMI).

 

And to Recap the deal:

If 15 people to send at least $20 each to linkingparents@gmail.com via paypal, we’ll set up a seedbox-based media server. If we don’t meet that number by January 21st, I’ll refund and focus on something else.

 

Here’s something else that sethmccumber and I have been working on:
Can you spot the console?

LegoRasNES-Teaser

Cartridge-loaded SD cards are sooooo handy!

With the NZB scene in flux, it’s more and more complicated to sort out the details in order to have a smooth and automatic experience (aka; our favourite). Plex is also making rapid progress, and there has been some very promising work with using the RasPi as a Plex client.

With everything where it is, it’s time to start

Everyone has been pulling in their votes, and there have been some excellent insights to go along with it; now we get to act.

There are 3 hosting services that are excellent possibilities, and in order to dive in for real testing I need to know if you’re serious about this;

If 15 people sign up by sending at least $20 via PayPal to linkingparents@gmail.com, then these people will be the core, ready to try out all the crazy ideas we come up with before settling on the ideals that work for everyone.

Obviously the ongoing costs are monthly (where it gets sustainable looks to be about $20/mo), and if you send the minimum of $20, I’ll personally make sure you get at least 2 months out of it (lots of time for testing and the start of the new tv season).

If we’re successful, then by the end there will be a continually updated guide (or wiki) about how to roll your own seedbox media system, and step into the freedom from bandwidth issues, ISP notices, home-server resources, and the other annoying time-sinks.

And, of course, with Plex on the raspberry, we’re getting closer and closer to a solution that just means a seedbox and a RasPi plugged in to any tv that doesn’t already support Plex.

In case you skimmed;

if 15 people to send at least $20 each to linkingparents@gmail.com , we’ll set up a seedbox-based media server. If we don’t meet that number by January 21st, I’ll refund and focus on something else.

There’s a lot of work going in to this question about servers, and I’d like to get some perspectives from people so that I can narrow things down and open some really interesting doors…

 

 

This is just me; I’m not entering your email addresses anywhere, won’t use them to send you email, and will never give it to anyone else.

I may quote great questions in the followup.

An idea that’s been in the back of my head for a while has been to get rid of the home server and have everything hosted somewhere else…

(somewhere with a nice big internet connection)

I’m about 3/4 of the way through planning this, and am at the stage where I want to test out some providers.

We won’t mention names yet, but if it all pans out, there will be a big post about the solution.

The idea is to outsource a server that holds all the new stuff (fresh episodes of TV shows, movies that I want to watch but have not committed to yet, etc), as well as a good chunk of the archive of HD content.
The CPU will be powerful enough to enable this server to become my personal Netflix, with the added bonus of being able to share personal media with friends…

Of course, everything will be available via the RasPi, iOS devices, Android devices, and laptops. This change will also means that having a super huge connection at home becomes less of a priority, which might even make the whole thing cheap while it makes it more stable and more convenient.

There are thousands of seedbox companies now, and since the technology lines up extremely well (raw HD space on a very fast internet connection) it makes the cost of something like this almost trivial once I can find a company that lets me have terabytes of space in trade for the small amount of constant processing this server will need.

Having a media server in the cloud just feels like the right choice.

I’ve created a new page on Pseudo Parental Control with Plex.

This is currently a high-level overview of how we handle parental control with 4 kids, the Raspberry, a couple computers, iOS devices, and a Roku.

So;

Big news! (via XBMC DevCon 2012 – Vienna)

First, is that the Raspberry Pi “side project” is officially merged with the XBMC code base!

This means that going forward, it’s going to feel less and less like a hack to run XBMC on the raspberry: Power in numbers!
Second:

MPEG2 and VC-1 codecs are available for purchase!

This means that unencrypted DVD rips will play just as excellently as h264 does.
VC-1 also means you can do the HD wmv files that were distributed, as well as the ones that are created when windows media centre records TV.

Check out this short guide for more detail.
And, for something completely out of the blue:

PVR SUPPORT ALL AROUND!!

Now that h264 encode is supported (a misunderstanding about licensing was resolved), we see official PVR support in XBMC, OpenELEC, Raspbian (and thus Raspbmc).

When I saw this, my reaction was “hubbaWUH??” Thinking of the little RasPi as a media player, recorder, and server is stunning!

Of course, these are all fresh and new, which means a bunch of bugs are going to be ironed out in the coming months – if this feature interests you, consider putting in the work to help smooth everything out; it would help a lot 🙂

Now that we’ve been testing the Raspberry Pi as a media client, there are some Greats and some Not So Greats…

Greats:

  • Small
  • Super light on power
  • Wicked graphics chip for video playback
  • Flexible (the kids can learn how stuff works and how it breaks, and trying something completely new is just a matter of a new SD card, and that only scratches the surface of the amazing projects being worked on. Android, puredata, GL shaders, just to name a couple…)
  • Technically a full computer
  • Enthused community
  • PseudoTV (To be honest, this has kept me plugging away for much longer than I expected – there’s a benefit to just hitting up your own channels)

Not So Greats:

  • Needs a TV with CEC and HDMI to really shine (without those, there is a hardware barrier (new remote? or keyboard? mouse?), and a software barrier (Downmixing DTS continues to be an issue with volume level problems and outright stuttering due to software decode. To be fair, it’s the way the analog audio chip was designed that’s hurting everyone Edit: Thanks to XBMC officially bringing RasPi in to the fold, this was resolved on the firmware level by the amazing popcornmix just days after I filed the bug report with XBMC)
  • XBMC’s continued reluctance to offer a real Client-Server solution.. Syncing libraries involves a lot of setup, and this doesn’t even do half the stuff that Plex does
  • Speaking of Plex; Lack of Plex support is huge for me right now. I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself with 20+ hours invested in to shoehorning XBMC in to my previously butter-smooth Plex setup.
    PleXBMC is to be respected, but it’s limited by being between a rock and a hard place; XBMC shines when the library is populated locally, and Plex shines when the library is populated on the server.

Now, I’m in a new town,

and the inhabitants have not been exposed to good tech.. Fall is coming, and with this: hibernation.

So, I’m asking myself: what’s the best I can offer them?

To me, this is still Plex. With MyPlex, media is everywhere you want it to be without router setup or fiddling, and it transcodes 5.1 when necessary without the volume issues that plague software on the Raspberry Pi.

We’re testing the Roku boxes (Just got them up here in Canada), and after being spoiled, I can’t say I’m very happy with them.. No AirPlay support, adding unofficial channels is… non-intuitive…, no chance of Navi-X or PseudoTV.. However, they do Plex, Netflix, and Crackle (which I didn’t know I would enjoy) very well. Good remote, smooth interface, and analog out…

It’s been a painful ride, for sure: NFS has never been something I’ve needed, or even had a desire to test until now.

It pretends to be easy to configure, but I could not find beginning-to-end instructions for setting up NFS for XBMC when you’re not already an NFS native.

 

So; I created one.

 

This encapsulates all the stuff I’ve learned (we learn most through failing, after all), and hopefully will help anyone else that wants to accomplish the same thing. 🙂