Archives for posts with tag: Television

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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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…

Still playing pretty heavily in PseudoTV, and it’s definitely spoiled me quite a bit.

After over 7 years of not watching TV channels (besides the occasional FoodTV binge at a friend’s house), I now recognize the attraction to having “regular TV”, such as not having to specifically plan what to put on and not having to commit to watching something from the beginning.

It’s not for always, but it’s nice to have some times just purely to zone out a little.

Things of note so far that make PseudoTV happy:

  • Consider deleting all tvshow.nfo files before pulling the shows in to the XBMC library (this allows it to pull more categories from the internet)
  • Go through any video directories that you have set as Movies or TV Shows, and check for any orphans that did not show up in the library (in the file list: highlight > context menu > movie/show/episode information)
  • PseudoTV “directory channels” do not need the content to be in the library, however the script does not see files mounted through SFTP (other protocols may be affected as well). This can be resolved by mounting the share as a drive letter in windows or using the mount command in linux

Now at 22 channels, PseudoTV is a little less happy on the Raspberry Pi, but it’s as responsive as on the main laptop, which is fantastic 🙂

So, there have been a few changes in the last few days, constantly working on the House Acceptance Factor.

There’s an update to the Network Access stuff coming which will add some more information about speed, but for now: More tweaks!

  • Bumped up to arm_freq=900 (from 850 – there is still a lot of way to go for optimizing all the config.txt settings, but one test at a time) edit: had a couple crashes when doing the more intensive things, so brought this back to 850)
  • Disable Fanart (Settings > Skin > Background Options > enable “Hide Background Fanart”) – This actually made a tremendous difference, and is not missed that bad with analog out… we have a non-default background that the kids pick, and that helps
  • Disable “Recently Watched” (Settings > Skin > Home Window Options > disable “Show Recently Added Videos”) Note: while I notice a difference in performance, I actually keep this enabled because it’s a decent tradeoff for people waiting for the new shows.
  • Mentioned before: Disable reading thumbnails from the files (Settings > Video > disable “Extract thumbnail and video information”)