How I listen to podcasts in 2018

Me listening to podcasts in madrid

I had quite a bit of time to read and listen to podcasts during my holiday in Portugal and Spain. One of the posts I read was Adrian talking about current his tech stack.

But I thought it might be good to talk about how I finally sorted out my podcast setup as it includes many parts of my current tech stack.

I listen to podcasts and audiobooks quite a lot. If I was still using last.fm I could likely quantify exactly how much but through my setup I’ll reveal a rough number at the end.

Listening devices

I listen to podcasts in the morning via Xbian running on Raspberry Pi 2 (considering switching to rasplex but Yaste remote supports Plex and Xbian as a audio endpoint/upnp renderer) which I bought a long while ago. This is setup in my room via ethernet and connected to a small amp and stereo speakers, one in my bedroom and one wired into the bathroom. I decided to do this after trying Bluetooth and FM speakers but they were just too quiet or unclear. Nothing beats a dedicated non-battery device. The wiring could do with a clean up. The Raspberry Pi is also connected to a audio splitter with one going to a FM transmitter.

This broadcasts to my little micro-hifi in the kitchen which I got from ebay over 10 years ago; its handy for multi-room synced audio without messing around (although I considered using a Chromecast audio and other things). The small amp in my room is connected to a TpLink HS100 smart switch meaning I can turn it off when leaving easily and quickly. I have only set it up for local wifi access not remote access, because frankly why would I need to this?

When not at home I use Google Pixel 2, I decided to get the 128gig version because I had enough of dealing with space issues. I have plex client installed and I have a plex pass (life time subscription), so can sync podcasts and audiobooks with ease. I do have it on my Nexus 7 and 5x too, but don’t carry them around much. I find Plex client is pretty good and doesn’t eat too much battery. Syncing seems seamless but with offline support sync support and 12gig of mobile 4G data. Because its using Plex at the backend, plex will save position no matter what device, as I’m logged in using the same account.

I also have Chrome Plex client on my laptop, meaning I can keep on listening when at work. Yes I listen to podcasts and audiobooks while working. I know many find this unthinkable but it works for me.

Plex Media Server

I’ve had Plex mediaserver running for quite a long time now and the advantages of having a gigabit internet connection and decent vpn (zerotier) means I can stream, sync or download podcasts and audiobooks without any fuss to my own devices. Plex media server keeps the position and checks for updates to the server filesystem.
Plex indexes the podcasts and audiobooks as audio and with some tweaking works quite well, although it can get confused when podcasts numbering and dates. It would be great if it had a audiobook and podcast indexer to pull much more metadata.

Podcatching

Unfortunately Plex media server doesn’t actually support podcasts which would be great if it did but its a pain to get working and not worth it for me. Especially because I have a complete Ubuntu stack its running on.
Because of this I use to download the podcasts from the web using a native ubuntu app. I tried Gpodder and Rhythmbox but they were resource hungry when downloading 30+ podcasts. Then tried VLC but it seemed over kill just to download podcasts. So tried some command line programs including Podfox and podcatcher. In the end I used Podget then setup a cron to trigger it every 2-4 hours. I also have Podget clean up the podcasts every 3 months.

One of the biggest things which drove me nuts was adding and updating rss feeds. Someone says you listen to the guilty feminist podcast, and would have to update server configs, etc. But using my Tiny tiny RSS install, I now have all the podcasts added to the master subscription list and generate a custom RSS feed aggregated for podcasts. I add the generated feed to Podget and the next time its updated, it will automatically add new items.

Because its done via TTRSS, it means I can add & remove the feed via any TTRSS client including the one my phone or using the web interface via my VPN (I only expose the web interface that way).

Small pieces loosely joined

It sounds like a lot of work but honestly it works well and means I can remove a part of it and it will still work. Remove Podget, could be replaced with anything including VLC, etc. Plex could be replaced with Emby or another mediaserver. TTRSS could be anything self-hosted. Using Plexpy to log is under my own terms and the data is only shared and useable by me.

I do wish I could get to this type of space with so much more of the services I use. Right now, I’m quite impressed with how smooth everything works.

Looking forward

I’m looking at a way to tag and generate a feed out of the tags in TTRSS, instead of adding it to a hierarchy. Sometimes a feed could fit between two or more places. I’d also like to improve plex’s indexing around podcasts and audiobooks. Podget generates a m3u playlist file but not found much use for these yet. I also wish the plex input for kodi was less heavy.

I just added the Recode podcast while writing this post and I looking at my plex client on my Pixel 2. Podget downloaded all the episodes over my gigabit connection in about 6mins flat, the podget won’t remove them till a few months old but I can easily remove them via plex or directly from the file system over the VPN.

As promised, looking at Tautulli (what use to be PlexPy). Over the last 3 weeks I had 83 plays or 22 hrs 14 mins of playback.  The last podcast I listened to while on the Madrid Metro to the airport at 7:30am was Rob Reid’s Always on podcast – Episode 23: Rodney Brooks | Robotics & AI – Their Present & Future

Not enough detail?

If you are interested in any detail, just comment or tweet me for more info.

 

Could the Mycroft 2, be the perfect replacement for a Google home

I saw the Mycroft v2 recently and had a look through the kickstarter page to learn a little more.

MyCroft v1

It looks promising but after some research and some tweets, I remembered the mycroft.ai is something I looked at previously and was interested in installing on a RaspberryPi to see if I could create what I really need. Its one of my many projects I wanted to do with my holidays sometime. Its clear voice and hue lights could be very good, especially for guests but I don’t want google and philips to be involved in that process.

I also suggested mycroft and betty to Databox team, when we talked about voice in the living room of the future. It seems like a perfect match right?

Anyway, I think I might back the second one only because I don’t really want to do the hard work making it work on a Raspberry Pi.

NFC mixtapes

Thanks to Cefn for dropping myself the Cassette project.

I originally dismissed a bit thinking it only played one song per tape but from the video you can see it does actually play a playlist. I think its a neat idea but I prefer the shareability of our own physical playlist project. (interested in seeing more? it will be at mozfest this weekend) I’m also wondering how you create the playlists? But its worth saying the engine which reads the playlist and the actual player are separate on the physical playlist machine for this exact reason.

Love to work together on something which combines both things really…

Raspberry Pi’s for the godchildren?

With all wires - Top

Its a tricky one…

I like to buy presents of my godchildren which matter. Its tricky because you don’t want to buy something boring but educational. When I was young my godparents would get me Lego, Chemistry sets and ultimately Technical Lego. This certainly helped my creativity develop.

So whats the modern equivalent of Lego? Something you can buy more of and add to?

Well I thought Raspberry Pi. Yeah, no brainer right?!

But here’s my issue.

I have 2 male godchildren (4 and 6) and 1 female (7).

My natural thought was to get one for the 6yr old, specially because his dad is technical and the child has already shown an amazing comfort with computers. The other male is too young and frankly more interested in super-heroes. So why not the older female?

I don’t know… (and I feel like I’ve had this debate before, so excuse me if you’ve heard it before).

I also didn’t want to buy her pink stuff but she loves it so much. Along while ago I bought her some pink lego and she seemed quite happy with that. Although to be fair I’ve never actually seen play with them. Me being a melding godfather decided one year to buy her a mini telescope, hoping it will foster a little more science in her life. Of course this nothing against the parents, I love them to bits. But my understanding of what a godfather does is to do whats best for the child regardless of how much it drives the parents insane.

So back to the point, why have I not bought her a Raspberry Pi? Is this nasty sexism which I don’t know about? Absolutely not!

I guess I balanced it all in my mind and decided it would be a little unfair to force something like this on her at this stage. Instead I bought her some more Lego but the friends subsection.

What would you do? Am I doing down the godfather title by not giving her what might be good for her? She has godmothers, maybe its the godmothers who gives her what she wants and the godfather who makes the difficult decisions. And I don’t mean that in a sexist way, the godmothers should be making the difficult decisions for the boys, while the godfathers are buying stuff he wants?

Who knows but I am certainly thinking for her birthday, I should find something which crosses over and brings out her geeky side.

Any tips on what, are very welcomed.

I’m hoping the likes of Jasmine Cox, Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Rosie Campbell, Rebecca Gregory-Clarke, etc. Can offer some advice on this? I can’t be the only one wondering about this….?

Ouya with XBMC sitting in a tree…

Ouya at home

Simon kindly lent me his brand new Ouya a while ago but I’ve only just gotten around to playing with it as I want to replace my ageing Lenovo Thinkcentre with a new XBMC box.

I wanted originally was interested in the Boxee box but frankly that gone down a path I certainly don’t want to be dragged. Now XBMC works nicely on Android, I’ve been looking at android boxes which seems to be made for XBMC. Most of the boxes are tiny and have all the right ports including HDMI, digital optical out, etc.

So how does it work on the Ouya? Well after a little setting manual up (I would install a SSH server but its not mine to mess with) its good, very fast specially compared to the Raspberry Pi. The User interface is nippy and playing back 1080p seems effortless.

The biggest problem I’m having is getting Dolby Digital or DTS out of the console. I did some research and its a problem quite a few people are having issues with. Audio passthrough can be enabled so the AC3 signal should be able to get to the Onkyo 7.1 surround amp but no matter what I do. And as with everything else, others are struggling too.

If I could solve the problem of Digital passthrough output, I would certainly consider getting a Ouya to replace my home cinema setup. I would love to attempt to get the Wii remote hooked up to the Ouya as the controller is a little too big for a home cinema controller. Although to be fair I’m using the Android Yatse controller app on 3 out of 4 of my Android devices including my mothers old HTC android phone, which is now my permanent desktop XBMC remote.

I’ll persist with the audio output and check it can play back all the old formats like Divx 3.2 and Mpeg1 and 2 stuff. Also need to check how the suspend works…

Replacing my xbmc box with RaspberryPi

Fresh RaspberryPi

I recently bought a Raspberry pi from RS and it actually came before Christmas, so during the holidays I hooked it up and installed OpenElec after reading about the different XBMC versions you could install.

I decided to replace my aging Compaq mini desktop in the bedroom with the Raspberry Pi, because I mainly use it for listening to podcasts and every once in a while I will watch a piece of media (usually podcasts) on the LCD TV screen. So I don’t really have to worry about the might of the Pi or it not beable to decode Mpeg2 smoothly. Its time has come

So from this aging beastie…

My old bedroom xbmc box

To this lovely compact package on my desktop.

My XBMC RaspberryPi with FM Transmitter

After hooking it up to my 15 inch LCD TV, I had to rearrange the audio to get output to the FM transmitter and to the local sound system (essentially to get audio in the shower, bedroom and kitchen). My hope is maybe to buy more Pi’s and hook them up around the flat to do local multicast streaming instead of FM.

I’m impressed with the Pi and I can certainly see many more uses for it personally. I think I might switch from OpenElec to XBian, as I want the ability to add stuff and maybe mess with the latest version of XBMC . Of course this is as simple as switching the SD card and reattaching the micro USB adapter.

Certainly thinking of attaching the whole pi to the bottom of my desk or behind the LCD TV, just because I can.

Some interesting trends…

Internet Fundamentals

The ever lasting effect of the Internet on Television, or as I call it the TV post Internet.

See Eric Schmidt’s Edinburgh Festival Keynote which can be read in full on PaidContent.

Kids need licence to tinker

The concept and idea of a BBC Micro for the 21st Century, which some are saying could be the Raspberry Pi.

Been thinking about this stuff deeply recently for work and what I’ll be doing in the near future… You might be interested in some of the Top10’s I’ve been creating on top10.co