Oh Plex, why oh why?

XBMC media centre

I know the picture above isn’t Plex but rather XBMC/KODI but this shot sums up how I feel about Plex right now.

I have been using Plex server quite a bit and decided that I would snap up a lifetime PlexPlus pass a while ago. So I was pretty peed when they updated their policy around data collection. From Plex’s Highlights of what is changing:

Upcoming features and services involving third-party and ad-supported content will require Plex to collect and, in some cases, share information about the third-party content you are streaming. For clarity, third-party content is content that we deliver or stream to you that is not contained in your personal media library.

Ok thats annoying for me but not too much of pain as I don’t really use the Plex addons/plugins. I know others are more upset about this.

In order to understand the usage across the Plex ecosystem and how we need to improve, Plex will continue to collect usage statistics, such as device type, duration, bit rate, media format, resolution, and media type (music, photos, videos, etc.). We will no longer allow the option to opt out of this statistics collection. Again, we will not collect any information that identifies libraries, files, file names, and/or the specific content stored on your privately hosted Plex Media Servers. The only exception to this is when, and only to the extent, you use Plex with third-party services such as Sonos, Alexa, webhooks, and Last.fm.

We will no longer allow (including paid lifetime!) users to opt-out! Also usually when you get something like this, its anonymous data collection. I know later its makes it sound like anonymous but it never actually says this. I still need to read through the privacy policy in full again. But this feels like it might break a EU data law and for sure the ones coming soon. (Plex is based in Delware & Switzerland)

To be fair I’ve had a task to try out Emby for a long while, but this begs the question of what happens to my Plex pass and why don’t Plex share collected data with us? Luckily plex data portability isn’t such a pain. Also its another reason why most of my media consumption is through Kodi not Plex.

Are you happy with the state of the mainstream net?

Pirate Markets & Guerrilla Libraries, with Balázs Bodó

I was listening to the Steal this show podcast season 2 episode 8 with Balázs Bodó and Jamie King. They were talking about how we have kind of gotten use to the way the net is and they are wondering where the innovation is coming from or going to.

It tweaked my interest as I have always got a interest in technology uses for legal and illegal purposes. Its that classic cat/cops and mouse/robbers scenario, I’m not saying technology is neutral, but the same technology can be used to liberate and enslave. I thought it might be nice to share some of the stuff I’ve got in my tabs/task list to look at…

Most of the good stuff I’ve recently been looking at is all about privacy and security, which has required me to get a lot more serious about my digital keys.

  • Asemica
    I have always been interested in Steganography, especially in clear view where you wouldn’t normally expect it. Securebook always interested me and I’m slightly responsible for inspiring the developer of that. But its not been update in a while and I always thought why can’t I use something else to generate the text required in a way which is clearly still readable?
    Because of this I’ve been looking for something like Asemica.
  • Zeronet
    I was originally looking at Zeronet for my decentralised dating idea but have always been interested in things like freenet from a long long way back. Its pretty neat and certainly ticks all the buzz words but has a solid idea built on open tech.
  • Keybase
    I can’t quite work this one out but I signed up to the alpha and have been trying it out for the last few months at least. I haven’t sent any GPG messages yet but getting my head around it all. The keybase file system is much more like a distributed dropbox and it doesn’t take a lot of thinking to imagine the possibilities.
  • ZeroTier
    This is what I’m using as a VPN for all my devices and its quite simple but effective. Its quite neat as it works like Hamachi and I have configured my server at home to bridge networks, allowing me to access my 1gig connection in the UK from anywhere. I haven’t played with accessing other networks yet but its in my tasklist to bounce around the world if needed.
  • TOR (the onion router)
    Does this one really need any explaining? So many people instantly think of the dark web and buying drugs, porn or worst. Well theres a lot more to the dark web than this and I’m seeing some seriously credible technology solutions built on top of TOR. Of course TOR project really lend its self to huge amounts of data bandwidth, but have you recently looked at the TOR Stem or TOR messenger?
    Theres other things I’ve seen which I’d rather not talk about which does the connection over TOR then switches to IPv6 afterwards for the bulk bandwidth.
  • Signal
    Remember that instant messenger system Snowdon used? Well its end to end encrypted messaging by open whisper systems and theres apps for most platforms including Linux and Android. Its pretty neat but if used in a careless way can’t really help you much. Some would say whats the point now Facebook/Whatsapp are doing the same? Well actually they are using Open whisper’s library, so clearly superior.
    Signal is starting to get a lot of people now and although it won’t be as popular as whatsapp, facebook messenger or even google allo; its pretty neat and bots are coming.
    I’d like to see shared identities, so both my mobile phone numbers (work & personal) combined. I could choose to message from either of them but also see both. A master identity of some kind?
  • Bitmask
    Encrypted VPN and Email, looking at it I thought it was a bit too good to be true. So I checked out and found its actually an implementation of the LEAP Encryption Access Project, which had a number of interesting projects including TorBirdy (TOR+Mozilla Thunderbird).

Less about privacy and security but still on my task list

Plex and Emby
Streaming your own media anywhere and everywhere is very attractive especially when you have a fast home connection. I have Plex installed but I’m certainly looking at Emby which seems to be the new kid on the block. Looking at it, Emby might play nicer with things like Kodi & VPNs maybe?

There’s many things out there if your curious and look around for better; for example I have on my task list hacking my Chromecast, which I seen someone has put the Plex client on a chromecast, got screen mirroring without wifi and even a DNLA client. Lets not forget EZcast and Miracast alternatives.

 

 

 

Building your own private cloud?

Head in the clouds

I recently saw this from Gizmodo Australia, and read it with lots of interest.

Movies and TV shows come and go on Netflix on a regular basis, which means you might be half way through your favourite flick when it gets yanked from the service. The solution? Buy all your own content and set up your own private cloud-based streaming service you can get at from any computer or device.

The stand-out contender here is Plex, which we’ve recommended before. It’s new Plex Cloud service, now in beta, lets you use an Amazon cloud locker to store all your movies and shows and stream them from anywhere.

Previously, you had to host the files yourself, so that meant leaving a computer or network drive switched on all the time to get at your content over the web. With Plex Cloud that’s no longer necessary, though you do need to pay for a Plex Pass(from $US4.99 ($7) a month) and sign up for some Amazon storage (it’s $US59.99 ($79) a year for unlimited storage).

We’ve included a couple of other options if you’re not taken by Plex Cloud. They’re not quite as Netflix-like as Plex Cloud, but if you already pay for storage on these services then they’re good alternatives to consider.

Interestingly there was no mention of the friends sharing option which I have been using without the plex pass or plex cloud service. Its the advantage of self-hosting and having plenty of bandwidth at my disposal, but I like the fact you can also switch to have support from them too. Useful if your server goes down or something. This represents a more ideal solution.

I’ve always been interested in what happens when things are much more distributed. Plex is just the start, I already started looking into Emby and some other solutions for media. But for a long while I have been thinking about replacing some of the services I use which I believe I could run myself on my own server.

The whole owncloud thing has always interested me, but I’m weighing up having to be a sysadmin and my time. Although I found Docker which might take some of admin out of this in future. However I don’t want to replace everything, just the things I’m feeling less comfortable with (its about personal choice).

The ones I’m thinking about currently are Evernote, Last.FM and Instapaper.

Evernote I want to replace with something like simplenote (although I admit its not self hostable but my evernote’s recent restrictions have made me wonder why I pay for a pro account?). I looked at using Turtl but its not reliable and mature enough currently. On a related note, I’ve been tempted to install a GIT server at home. Then using a combination of GitignoreMindmup and some kind of GIT repository syncing between home install and Bitbucket; could be great for working on mindmups.

Last.FM with GNU.fm. I only use last.fm to scrobble/track my music playback. I also hooked up Libre.fm but noticed the actual server for libre.fm was just GNU.fm. It seems like a very simple service and useful when looking back for a song or podcast. Especially when placed in a calendar type system, it really triggers my memory. Its also worth noting the last.FM data lost recently has also made me wonder why I even need it. I mean I never use it for music discovery (as I found it rubbish) or anything else. I might as well dump my logs of usage to my google calendar?

41Mxf-vJwzL

I just discovered Wallabag to replace Instapaper. Before I was using readitlater which became Pocket. I switched to Instapaper because of the deliver a mobil ebook to kindle every morning feature (heck I pay for this feature). But since i’m considering a epaper display android tablet which means it could read anything including PDF, RSS, ePub and Mobi. Plus I wouldn’t lose my kindle books because the Amazon app will run on it too. Having a smarter epaper device will squeeze out instapaper and likely mean I will read even more than I currently do (well worth the investment). I still far prefer to read longer stuff on a epaper display.

Theres no doubt I’ll start running more on my own server in future, already considered Open VPN and Zeronet. I think the money saved from certain subscriptions will easily pay for the electricity of hosting it myself?