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Dear citizens of the internet,
We are Anonymous.
The United States Government is again attempting to control and censor the internet. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act has just recently passed the house.
This bill would allow major internet entities such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google to voluntarily share your personal information with the U.S. Government. This will not only effect users in the United States, but also anyone with an account with these companies.
This upcoming Monday, April the 22nd, we invite you to join Anonymous in a internet blackout. We encourage all web developers and website owners to go dark on this date. Display a message as to why you are going dark, and encourage others to do the same.
We hope, just like the successful protest over the Stop Online Piracy Act, we can encourage the senate to stop this bill.
Spread the message, and inform the world.
We are Anonymous
We are the people
We are the internet
Knowledge is free
Things are still not quite right, although they are pretty good for most situations. Maybe I’m asking too much of a single file format or media server to handle everything, but I’m hopeful.
So where am I at? Well, half of the frustration has come from trying to identify the cause of my problems. For example, when playing MKV files through the Plex app for Windows 8, I’m still not getting DTS. But alas, thats because Windows 8 doesn’t play DTS in a MKV container quite right, so Plex is still transcoding the DTS audio track to AAC. Not what I’m looking for when I’m sitting on the sofa.
So the real trick is to figure out which device to use for specific purposes. And that sucks, because I was hoping one device would really do the trick for most of my needs. My OPPO 103 bluray player doesn’t have a Plex client. It has native DLNA, but doesn’t give me all the beautiful fanart or metadata that the other media clients do. It does, however, support MKV containers with DTS, so the picture and audio playback is outstanding.
Converting all my DVDs that are in TS_Video folders to MKV will make them unplayable in Windows Media Center, though. So I wont be able to browse and playback my MKVs within Media Center, which is really my preferred method so far. The Plex front-end doesn’t handle Live TV, so I can’t completely abandon Windows Media Center just yet.
The new XBMC (Frodo) claims to support live TV, but I haven’t got it working right yet. If it does work, then I may use XBMC as the main interface on the HTPC, and let Plex power the back end and streaming to my mobile devices.
For streaming, Plex has become my app of choice, and it rocks on all of my devices. But it lacks the “Play To” functionality from DLNA that would make it perfect. I still need to use BubbleUPnP when I want to use my tablet as a media controller and have the bluray or HTPC act as the rendering device.
Close, but still not there.
Found this in the Windows Sysinternals forums.
Instead of fighting with the F8 or F5 or whatever F key you need to reboot into safe mode, try these handy scripts instead.
Reboot Into Safe Mode: Copy to notepad and save as “RebootSafeMode.cmd” (ignore quotes)
bcdedit /set safeboot network
shutdown -r -f -t 0
Reboot in Normal Mode: Copy to notepad and save as “RebootSafeModeOff.cmd” (ignore quotes)
bcdedit /deletevalue safeboot
shutdown -r -f -t 0
What can I say? This is way more of a headache than it should be, and certainly not anything for your recreational streamer to want to tangle with.
I’ve been trying to find a simple to use media streaming server to deliver music and video across my house and available to stream on our devices. This project sucks. So many applications are close, but none deliver on everything I want, leading to endless days of starts and fits and forums and tweaks and frustration.
The latest entry on my WHS 2011 is Mezzmo, which claims to be “the ultimate media server for streaming movies, music and photos to your UPnP and DLNA devices.” Well, thats what I’m trying to do.
So, first thoughts? Its not very stable out of the gate. I think its choking on the size of my music library, and has crashed three times in the first hour. That said, unlike Plex, it handles backed-up DVDs in Video_TS folder structure just fine, which was one of my top requirements. Why? I wanted my OPPO-103 to be able to handle the video processing. With Plex, I was forced to convert my DVDs to MP4 or MKV videos. If I wanted to play a movie on the Samsung Plasma, MKVs weren’t working.
So alas, where does that leave us? Not sure yet, but I’ll be playing with Mezzmo during the 15 free trial to see if it works better than Plex for me and my needs.
Pretty sure I’m throwing way to many things into the mix to fairly determine whats working well and whats not. But for now, I’m just happy I’ve got things working. Next step: work it out backwards and repeat.
In the meantime, here’s whats working. The new release of Plex Media Server running on Windows Home Server 2011, with help from a little script by CJMURPH over in the Plex forums that essentially gets Plex running as a service — aka, nobody needs to be logged into the server. Much more secure than having to log in as the Administrator and leave the server running.
But Plex is being flaky and I’m not sure that I’ve got any of the transcoding working right. But alas, I’ve got my “portable” movie library — movies compressed with Handbrake down to 1gb mp4′s with stereo audio at 192bps for watching on tablets and netbooks — playing on all my DLNA devices.
I added BubbleUPnP Server as well, so I could use my android tablet and phone as DLNA Control Points without having to buy the Plex App for Android just yet. (Remember, we’re about doing things as cheaply as possible!) The Bubble Control Point app is smooth and intuitive, especially on the tablet. Pick your media library (movies, tv shows, music) from any server on the network, then pick which device you want to play the content on. Remember to change your streaming settings in Windows Media Player if you want a PC to be able to receive the DLNA request to play content.
I’m also running MyMovies on the WHS2011 server to gather additional metadata for my movies, although there may be some redundancy with Plex Media Manager there. We’ll have to check that out further. The main benefit of MyMovies is their android app which will filter by media type, keeps track of my bluray library, and makes sure I don’t buy discs I already own.
A few things are not working as hoped, though. MKV files are not supported by my Samsung TV. Somewhere in my workflow, I’ll have to transcode them to mp4 in order to send them straight to the TV. Fortunately, thats not high on my list of requirements. For MKVs containing surround sound audio, I’ll stream those to my OPPO-103 bluray player which can receive and decode MKVs, and play the audio through my receiver to enjoy full 5.1 surround audio.
Unfortunately, I can’t fast forward or rewind MP4 video from the android phone (using BubbleUPnP Control Point app) when streaming to the OPPO-103.I get a “No Such Container (code:710)” error. I can FF/RW when streaming to the Samsung.
Video_TS folders are also problematic. Plex doesn’t seem to like them very much. My library was showing every movie in a Video_TS folder with a Part 1 and Part 2, neither of which would play. That leaves me to figure out the best format for archiving non-encoded DVDs on the media server. Video_TS vs ISOs. I was under the impression that Plex could transcode on the fly, but I probably haven’t gotten that set up right yet. Or another DLNA server that better handles Video_TS folders. For now, full def DVDs will be watched in Windows Media Center.
As mentioned in my previous post, I also installed Win 8 on my main HTPC and installed XBMC 12 Frodo – Release Candidate 3. It wasn’t finding anything on the Plex server, but I think a deep scan may fix that. Also, I find the navigation of Win 8 a little frustrating, but I’m willing to chalk that up to the learning/comfort curve for now. I busted out the old Hillcrest Labs Loop remote, which I thought would be good for the 10′ experience on an operating system designed for a tablet, but I’m not so sure yet.
I also installed the Hulu app, which was very well integrated with the Win 8 OS.
Overall, a productive day messing around. The only major tragedy was that formatting the hard drive before installing Win 8 cost my all of my “no copy” flagged content recorded in Windows Media Center off of the premium cable channel. I’ll have to catch up on Veep another way. Maybe the HBO to Go app on the Samsung’s SmartHub.
Figured what the hell. Before finalizing what front-end media player I want on my HTPC, I figured it was a good time to start with a nice, clean install of the latest OS. I can always go back.
Upgrading the main HTPC with Win 8 Pro 64 before slapping the new XBMC 12 on it and testing out its PVR capabilities. There’s irony in installing Windows 8 to get away from using Windows Media Center.
So I’ve been messing with a number of media serving options to deliver music and movies across my devices, both in house and on the road. My main goal is to have the widest variety of devices supported with the minimum amount of work for me and the server.
But alas, this is harder than it should be. Mainly because I’m sticking with Windows Home Server 2011, even though Microsoft isn’t. But hell, for the $40 I spent on it a year ago, I already got my money’s worth. Now its just easier than starting fresh and learning Linux/Ubuntu.
Serviio worked well, but you need to pay for the software. I gave it the 15 day trial, thought it was OK, but didn’t have the desire to tweak it.
Now I’m taking Plex for a test drive. Plex Media Server is free, so I’ve installed that on WHS2011, and with some help from the Plex forums, got it running without having to log in to my server.
Step #1 – get the libraries working in the house. Hurdle #1 – Plex doesn’t like Video_TS folder structure. It likes MKV and MP4 files. Well, thats a problem, because all of my uncompressed DVDs are in Video_TS folders. So I’m contemplating using MakeMKV to turn them all into MKVs. But thats a pain in the ass. Windows Media Center on Win 7 has no problem with them, and Plex has an add-in for WMC, so not rushing out to do that just yet.
My MP4 encodes are all indexed and delivered fine to all of the computers in the house. Next step, pony up the $5 for the app and see how they stream. Maybe I’ll leave Plex for streaming to devices and keep Windows Media Center for watching and recording TV and playing back DVDs.
We’re bringing back the hobo to document home oriented digital projects that we’re working on, the software we’ve found to do it, problems we run into, and how we’re solving them. Most will be focused on simplifying, streamlining, and organizing digital media libraries in order to distribute content around your house and share it with friends and family as easily as possible. And as much as possible, how to do it without spending any money.
As a reminder, The Digital Hobo is a collection of friends and tech enthusiasts sharing info about our experiences. Points of view are our own. We don’t condone any illegal activity, including piracy.
Bookseller Barnes & Nobel adds a new layer of complexity to their DRM policy.
New credit card = new library. If you update your credit card info in your account, you’ll no longer have access to any of the books you’ve previously purchased. Not smart.
More from The Consumerist…