Tag Archives: plex

Wall mounted Calendar/Picture Frame

The Hudl arrives! There goes the afternoon...

I like Google Calendar a lot, specially because all my calendars are now inside of Google Calendar. Even my work calendar is inside of Google Calendar because I can’t stand to have multiple calendars again. So it would be great to have access to Google Calendar when I’m wondering around the flat without having to switching on a device and load up the calendar app.

The closes I’ve gotten to this to date is my Archos 70 tablet which sits on my coffee table as a XBMC remote. I’ve loaded a couple more things on to it including a Transmission remote, Yaste, Audio monitor, Plex, XBMC remote and Calender. Because its running Android 2.2 (Froyo) theres no Google now or Daydream support which is a shame because this is where I would use it.

So a wall mounted Google Calendar certainly rings bells, however with the price of Tablets now a day, I just don’t see the point. They all pretty much come with a Wide-SVGA or higher resolution and Wifi/Bluetooth. It would be easy to turn one of these into a wall mounted calendar with the right software (Any Cal?).

The massive price drop of tablets has also prompted me to reconsider the wireless picture frame. A tablet running the right software and a well setup daydream mode would make a great self updating picture frame. Specially if the Plex UPnP thing works as it should. Heck because your using a tablet, you could use RSS feeds with enclosures to get pictures on to the device. Or some other type solution.

What ever, now is a great time buy those cheap tablets… I’m certainly keeping eye out for the sub £50 ones in the New Years sales.

Boxee & Plex go for the cloud

In the old days it was kind of clear

  • XBMC was the original and was a lovely but a little rough around the edges, maybe the kind of person you have to explain before taking him home to meet the parents.
  • Boxee was XBMC’s social and flirty younger sister who wanted to settle down and become famous.
  • Plex was the good younger brother who acted older than he was and went to oxford to hang around talking to hipsters.

Ok thats the way I think about it at least…

But its interesting that Boxee has started to slice of ties with the original XBMC community (too famous too fast?) and also started to making in-roads on Plex with there new cloud system called cloudee.

I stick with XBMC because I like the rough around the edges style. But I will be the first to say, I’ve got nothing against the cloud for home entertainment, just doesn’t really feature in my life right now.

Plex media server ups the media server game

plex media server screenshot

Plex has always been on my horizon as its part of the future change in home entertainment, however Technicalfault shared a link to a blog post from the Plex media server team.

In this aint your grandfathers DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance), the Plex media server team (PMS) outline why the inclusion of Plutinosoft’s fabulous DLNA SDK, makes PMS the best DLNA server.

The result (besides a lingering scent of cologne and flowers) is the world’s best DLNA server. No, really. I’m not prone to hyperbole. This DLNA server can do things that no other DLNA server on the planet can do. And the coolest part is that with this new release, all the content served up by your Plex Media Server is now accessible by an insane amount of new devices, including ones that may already be in your homes (your LG washing machine doesn’t have DLNA? Send it back!)

So somewhere between all the hype and banging of chests, there might be something interesting…

I’ve never bought into the Plex way of doing things mainly because XBMC works for me. Plex although based on XBMC favors a ecosystem which seems to be about streaming from the server to their client. But reading the news about the PMS beta, I thought maybe I could use it on my server instead of using UPnP servers like Ushare and Mediatomb. I had just build my new server and had not yet installed a UPnP server yet. So after twelve47 sent me a link to the ubuntu beta, I installed it and tried it out.

My first thoughts is it won’t change much of the way I do things at home. I haven’t created a Plex account and frankly the ability to do transcoding is pretty much lost on my setup. I tend to watch 99% of things on my XBMC box in the living room. I do have another XBMC box in my bedroom room but I tend not to use it much (although this changed recently when I replaced my desktop machine with the XBMC box). So now I listen to my podcasts in the morning using XBMC…

XBMC does actually have a DLNA server built in, so I was interested to see which one is most standard complaint or works with devices around the flat?

UPnP and DLNA from a early time years ago has always captured the imagination. When I had my Nokia N80 work phone, I tried to get DLNA working, and for the most part it didn’t quite work. You could see the devices, but for the most part the services wouldn’t be compatible. When Microsoft added DLNA to the Xbox 360, things started looking up. Interestingly the Playstation3 has always had it.

This is also why I find the whole Apple Airplay such a joke because as usual, apple make it simpler (as they do own the ecosystem and the products) then claim it as there own (or at least there fanboys do). Funny enough XBMC now even supports AirPlay.

You could see the XBMC UPnP server but not actually stream anything, or even browse. So I was interested to see if this would be be any different with PMS?

For music… I can tell you its better than the XBMC UPnP server, as I was able to stream music without too much of a problem. This has never quite worked with XBMC UPnP server but PMS handled everything just fine.

However for Video what surprised me was the fact XBMC UPnP server and Plex Media Server could both stream my whole movie and TV collection without too much hassle. Obviously work had been done on XBMC UPnP since I last looked at it. I guess Plex does have the upper hand on the Xbox 360 because of the transcoding, but as default it down samples my glorious multichannel audio down to stereo, which seriously sucks for me. Couldn’t see at a glance where to turn on AC3/DTS comparability in Plex. Pictures is another area which XBMC UPnP server seems to fall short, while Plex was able to handle my complete collection without breaking a sweat.

So with the Xbox 360 sorted… I tried the other device which I’ve been playing with, the Wifi UPnP enabled Picture frame I picked up very cheap a while ago. Unfortunately although it did see the Plex server, it couldn’t do anything with it…

Although it didn’t work, the interesting part of the Plex Media Server is the ability to get down and nasty with DLNA and a XML config.

DLNA is a rather broad and flexible standard, and different devices interpret the standard in different ways. Some by design, some due to device bugs accident. This makes it impossible for a media server that supports DLNA to provide a one-size-fits-all implementation of the standard. Instead, the server must adapt to different clients by recognizing them and changing its behavior accordingly. A client profile is the basic unit of information that Plex Media Server uses for this purpose.

And this is where it gets very interesting… I’ll attempt to reverse engineer my picture frame’s DLNA support so I can share pictures with it and hopefully be able push forward with the conversation I had with Jas about extending my digital artifacts out into the real world.

Anything I buy now pretty much must have support for DLNA and the ability to hack Plex to get it working with the different devices is a very good thing.

Android has some great DLNA clients and I’m already thinking about hooking up my Archos Tablet (which I’m using as a desktop alarm clock, thanks to the kick stand and my Samsung Tablet 7+) to other things around the flat. Even thinking once I get my HTC 1x (yes I ordered one) instead of selling my HTC desire, maybe I could hook it up into different parts of my flat? This is why I find the Google Open Accessory API (ADK) really interesting and a certain nod to the future…

For now I’m keeping Plex Media Server on the server, and it may find more use in the future but generally right now I’m using Samba and NFS to stream media around the flat. My hope is XBMC now on version 11 (eden) will spend a little time on their UPnP server, as it was the best for a long time.

The next version of XBMC (Dharma) is now available

XBMC

Almost missed this one.

Unfortunately I’ve not had a chance to play with it on my home cinema setup because I switched off the machine just before I went away for the holiday season. But reading through the list of changes and finally having a little dabble on my laptop confirms this will be the first thing I’ll do when I get home.

XBMC 10.0 “Dharma” is ready for consumption. Those who have been following development know that add-ons are the main focus of this release. In the past, in order to find a new skin, you would have to dig through the forums, find a link, and hope it worked. Ditto for plugins, scrapers, etc.

Those days are over. All of these things are now available within XBMC, no need to put down the remote to find new content or change the look of your HTPC. Just head to the “add-ons” section in the system menu. At the time of this writing, there are 11 different skins available, all with distinct looks and personalities. But we didn’t stop there. Want to watch your favourite youtube videos? Listen to some web radio or podcasts? Install a web interface to control your living-room experience, or even one to manage your media? It’s all available in the new add-ons system. Even before the final release, we have seen an average of 50,000 add-on downloads per day. It’s time for you to see what many others have discovered! And remember, the best part is that the add-ons are very much alive. New ones are being added every day, and current ones are continuously updated.

So finally XBMC has caught up with Plex in regards to plugins and scrapers. The full change log is here.