Archives for posts with tag: Bitcasa

Bitcasa; the service that I struggle with supporting…

In theory, everything sounds good, and the end result is so tantalizing

One of the usage mistakes I made early on was to use Bitcasa for a ‘temp’ folder; the TV Shows – Downloaded folder.
The main use of this folder is to hold currently running shows that are not going to be archived, meaning it goes through a lot of usage in a week as episodes are filled in, watched, and deleted.

But, forces were conspiring

Bitcasa pulled the Ubuntu client, claiming data loss when used with any other client, and all talk of a headless version has died out.
Also, Plex and Bitcasa are not super friendly towards each other, with issues scanning in new episodes (among other minor quirks).

I personally think that this issue with new episodes is because of the way Bitcasa handles ‘infinite’ drives in linux: basically mounting a folder ‘on top’ of the old one, leaving all the old content there to wait for the day that you deactivate and remove it from Bitcasa (I did this today and had to bring the folder back up to date).

 

Some lessons to move forward with:

  1. If you plan on using the current Ubuntu client (if you can find it), plan on only using that and the read-only clients like the mobile app or website.
  2. If you really want an infinite folder, create a new, empty one and transfer data in to it: Do not turn an existing folder infinite, it’s just confusing and a waste of space.
  3. If you want to use Bitcasa and Plex, start with the free plan, and get seriously involved in both forums.
    There are things Bitcasa should be doing, and there might be things that Plex can do to work around what Bitcasa should be doing.

 

I’m still not giving giving up, of course

The idea of paying $20/month + $10/month for all this:

  • automatically handle all the downloading,
  • transcoding,
  • and serving to
    • RasPis,
    • Rokus,
    • iPhones,
    • iPads,
    • Friend’s AppleTVs (through AirPlay),
    • and every other device the Plex supports
  • never having to worry about bandwidth complaints
  • or content notices that the ISP has cooperated on
  • keeping the home FTTH connection super responsive by keeping the concurrent connections as low as possible

as well as the ability to stop maintaining an in-home server if I choose to…

is just so much better than the old way.

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After having used Bitcasa for the past two months, the potential is obvious.

There are still a few things to work out, however…

First and foremost: there is no ‘headless’ client.

Using the Ubuntu client on a headless server requires installing the X Libraries, a window manager, and a VNC server so that it runs in it’s own (networked) GUI.

The client itself feels unpolished, and moving a large folder from a ‘backup’ folder to an ‘endless’ folder requires re-uploading the files.

Moving forward,

thinking towards having a cloud server downloading files and serving them through Plex to all the different devices, including Raspberrys (Raspberries?); something like Bitcasa makes more and more sense: Download to an infinite drive, and you can move servers at will, or scale up/down on the fly without having to worry about shuffling terabytes of files between instances…

If you are not already aware, Bitcasa is a service that promises Infinite storage for what will be $10/month.

The pricing and business model they have created is based on the idea that they can encrypt everything in such a way that if you have a copy of “ubuntu-12.10-desktop-amd64.iso”, and other users have a copy of “ubuntu-12.10-desktop-amd64.iso”, then Bitcasa only stores 1 ‘encrypted’ copy, thus saving hard drive space.

I use the term ‘encrypted’, because

when we talk about media, there is a potential issue;

if you were to download “Life of Pi (DVDscr)” (the most pirated movie this week, according to the spectacular people at TorrentFreak), and the MPAA downloads the same copy, they can approach Bitcasa and Bitcasa has the technology to see every person with this file in their infinite folder, even though the encryption means they cannot see ‘inside’ the file.

There are a few sneaky things we could potentially do to make up for this pitfall, but at least two of them mean we’d sacrifice Bitcasa the company in order to use Bitcasa the service.

As far as testing goes, I ran Bitcasa on my headless server ( thanks Matt Harrison ), and uploaded 200GB for testing. It took a couple of days on our 15/15Mbps connection,

and within the first 5 minutes of testing it actually works as well as the videos made it seem;

without giving it time to cache content, I was able to watch and scan through a 4GB 720p mkv with maybe 3 seconds between opening it and seeing the first frame of video.

Very interesting…

Doubly interesting if/when we get a version of Bitcasa that runs directly on the RasPi…