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Wrong technology choices

So, occasionally (frequently) I pick the wrong technology to stick my stuff behind. It happens to everyone, I'm pretty sure, but there are only two things I can do. One is to keep chugging forward and make the old stuff work or change. This weekend, I hit one of those points.

We have two Roku in the house. We have a first generation in the basement and a second upstairs for the main television. I ended up buying the first gen about a week before the second came out... which annoyed me greatly since they basically dropped all support of that device the week the second came out. And their customer support was terrible when I was trying to figure out something.

But, we stuck with it because of a few factors (the low energy draw main). The big thing was accessing my media server and the movies I have on there. I originally picked Roksbox but I found that Plex would have been a far better choice.

Self-contained server

One of the drawbacks of Plex is that it is a self-contained server. It wants to do everything including hosting files, acting as the web server, and everything else. I'd rather trust individual programs (Apache, NFS, etc) but I realized that if it works, I don't mind giving up a bit.

Insisting to on online

Plex really, really, really wants me to connect to their service. It nags me every management screen and even in the configuration. I don't really want my movie collection online (doesn't want to piss of the MPAA).

They have a donate feature and I'll probably use that within a week (it is "worth" it when it hits $1/hour).

I just don't want my stuff on the cloud and this isn't any difference. However, if SMWM insists on having it for her Android, then I'll do it. But, not until then.

Format limitations

I have some trouble hearing. I use captioning pretty heavily and I used to have my entire collection as Matroska (MKV). However, Roskbox couldn't handle MKV files at all. So, I wrote a bunch of Perl and Bash programs to convert my entire collection. Took about three months to run.

Apparently Plex does transcoding in real-time. So I could have kept all my pretty MKV files with soft subtitles. But, as I converted, I deleted the old versions because I ran out of space. (sigh)

Subtitles and audio

I like how it handles multiple subtitles and audio channels while Roku doesn't. I watch a fair amount of anime, so I like to listen to either the Japanese or English audio channels.

The subtitles are also great because I can actually get black-bordered with white text. The first generation Roku insisted on non-bordered white subtitles which disappeared in bright screens. The second generation is non-bordered yellow... which disappeared on different scenes.

With the Plex, I can have something that actually works nicely around Roku's limitations.

Recently watched

One of the really nice featuers is that Plex shows me the recently viewed movies. Remarkably, this is one of my favorite features because I watch a lot of movies over the week and weekend, but with EDM, I have frequent interruptions.

The work so far

I spent a lot of hours writing programs to get files int he format for Roksbox. that included downloading stuff, formatting, and everything else. But, even though I wrote it (and stuck it up on Github) but don't need it anymore, I don't regret writing it. It was a learning experience to work with those systems, APIs, and services. And worth the time I spent on it. But, I'm also happy not to work on them anymore.

First impressions

I'm pretty happy with it so far. Yeah, I'll have to rebuild my collection make to MKV if I really want to, but I'm patient and most of the anime never got converted because I hadn't verified it worked yet.

But, given a choice between Roksbox and Plex, I would seriously recommend Plex at this point.