Archives for posts with tag: myplex

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.

Honestly, it’s been a little bit since researching and trying new HTPC software has pulled me in, and recently I’ve been shown

just how wrong it was….

In previous posts, I talked about how the dream setup was to have a lightweight Plex client installed on the RasPi, so that it would just be a matter of the well-established Plex server serving content to any number of RasPis automatically.

Recent work, however, has blown this entirely out of the water!

In what seems like the blink of an eye, RasPlex has sprung up, bringing a complete port of the new codebase of Plex/HT to the RasPI version of OpenELEC.

Seriously; the entire (Next generation) Plex desktop  client is now on the Raspberry.

Even the site is flash, yet looks like it works with it’s hands – very nice.

Initial impressions: Fantastic.

One caveat: The FAQ warning at the bottom of this page mentions having to ‘warm up’ the cache in order to have a responsive UI, but it’s not a well-known fact, and the first boot of RasPlex had me thinking that my Raspberry was slacking – 3-4 second response times to the plex remote, taking over 7 seconds to start a video, grinding to a halt when AirPlay was tested…

With with size of our Plex library, it was still caching 30 minutes later, and was still fairly sluggish before getting up to this speed a while later (left it on all night).

TADA! Raspberry Pi and Plex; together in the future at last!

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.

Now is the perfect time to kick start a project to get a very simple Plex client on Linux on the Raspberry Pi.

Similar functionality to the iOS app, and likely based on the work done by the OpenELEC team.

Unfortunately, I am not the person to do it: even the hour or so every few days to work on my own setup is scraping focus from other projects. I know that there are some great people and great teams out here that could find their voice through a project like this, so I’m happy to release it in to the wild. 🙂

Here’s Why:

The release of the Raspberry

  • We’re now passing the 75,000 unit mark.
  • Another shipment of 100,000 is already in the works and set for fall delivery.
  • No signs of slowing down.
  • More similar boards getting in to the game.

x264 Scene releases

  • The groups that allow us to device-shift content we already have recorded chose on Feb 20,2012 to change the encoding from Mpeg4 to x264 on all shows being released.
  • This cuts out a bunch of older device support, and pulls many people towards a new device (Devices left in the dust: Wii, Original Xbox, VCD players, lower-powered computers, and more I’m not thinking of).

Crowdfunding options (See: KickStarter)

  • RasPi has a huge mindshare, not least of which is because of the video showing it running XBMC way back when.
  • Media centres are common, but finding the right client for Plex has been tricky; there’s no Plex box, and as far as I am aware, there is no Plex client on any device that has an RCA video connection in addition to HDMI.
  • I have seen numerous posts about people being willing to pay for something that works.
  • IMO; Plex has the right idea from a user interface and interaction standpoint; MyPlex is awesome, streaming to all devices with synchronized play counts and transcoding when needed? Yes please.

Outsourcing Options

  • It’s easier than ever to hire great developers, there is even an option of having some of the stars of the forums on the payroll through something like odesk.com.
  • Once the UI is pared right down, the basics of the Plex Client make it an attainable short-term goal.

There’s even some money to be made

Sell Pre-loaded SD Cards

There has always been a market for people who take technically complicated solutions and package them in a simple way; selling an accessory kit with two options: “SD” (3x RCA output) or “HDTV” (HDMI), a preloaded (and approved) SD card with automatic updates, and a decent remote.

Even sell just the accessory kits: Partner with a drop-shipper so the only stock to be maintained are blank SD cards, and even that can be outsourced since it’s just a matter of imaging the card, testing it, and putting it in an envelope.

So, what could this look like?

Visually, I think the Plex team has done some amazing work, with a lot of thought behind everything, so I would definitely suggest teaming with them or at least getting their consent to shamelessly rip off the iOS version‘s design.

For functionality, these are some suggestions for starting points:

  • MyPlex Support (find servers and shows the device as a media player so that the plex iphone/ipad app can be used as a remote)
  • Animations to a minimum (700Mhz ARM after all)
  • Intelligence regarding SD card size (<2GB: disable caching by default, 8GB+; cache as much as possible in RAM-friendly formats, etc)
  • PMS needs to transcode audio from some HD files while leaving the video intact (DTS decoding chokes the CPU when it’s not doing passthrough)
  • Free download installer (a la OpenElec or Raspbmc)
  • On-device updates for Plex, and the RasPi kernel
  • And, maybe; access to overclocking profiles from within the advanced settings (changes the config.txt file with a warning of what happens when it’s flaky, as well as how to change it back if the device fails to boot)

Imagine your name in lights, and TVs around the world literally glowing with the work that you contributed to!