Where’s March?

Story submissions, Linux Media Servers, and chair-ass for a whole month!

At the end of February I made my deadline for one more vignette for Wormhole Digital Publishing. Radio silence until two days ago – my editor said the schedule changed, we have a reprieve on revision time and we even get to select my very own bits for a dedicated edition – look for that this summer! (/self promotion)

 

On a related note, that means I should have started on the next novel. Well, um. Yeah.

 

So here’s what I’ve been doing:

Plex

I have a reasonable¬†collection of DVDs and MP3s from my bygone bachelorhood that are (literally and figuratively) collecting dust. An entire part of my home is dedicated to storing media cases for things that I haven’t touched in years, in some cases over a decade.

You may remember a day when media hoarding seemed like a reasonable thing to do. That was before streaming media. Before Spotify made it possible to hear again the stuff you thought was ancient history dead and gone. Maybe not all of it, but still…

Before Netflix made their huge catalog of good stuff AND utterly shameless crap available to digital subscribers.

Before Comcast/Xfinity started pawning media.

That was the day when you carefully assembled shelves and shelves of Betamax/VHS/LaserDisc/DVD/BlueRay/CDs.

…and-digital-media-format-of-choice started clogging up our tiny little 200MB hard disks on our shitty little post-Pentium home PCs.

Yeah, I did that. I even had a tiny little MP3 player that held a whole GB of music. It failed the 3-feet to concrete test.

I haven’t walked over to the media shelf and picked out something to watch in… I don’t remember how long. (that’s not counting the one time I went and dug out a Mouse Movie for my daughter to take on a road-trip). I mean something for me. Because there isn’t much up there that my wife has any interest in, bless her tasteful sensibilities.

But, what if I could have it at my lazy-ass fingertips on my PC or phone?

Take it a step further… I can have my media at my fingertips, and also create a place to store camera pics, phone videos, and all that shit you forget that you have and might want to see some day (can you say Fensler Film GIJoe PSAs?). All this in a free* repository that will build an index and where possible will pull down media metadata to help make sense of your digital hoard.

Sweet.

So, I did that.

It worked out to about twenty hours of effort, including tearing apart a couple of old computer cases, cleaning out the century-worth of dead spider spew, putting in some new drives and building a new server OS. Five hours of that was formatting the 4TB of initial RAID space.

At first blush I’m pretty impressed. I copied over all of my music files, ripped over the years with various tools on some really old systems, and it didn’t really struggle with matching. Kudos to whoever wrote that logic. It looks like it’s using last.fm as its primary (only?) resource, and as far as I can tell its about 99% accurate. Maybe I get some kudos for having mostly correct ID3 tags? Dunno.

I’ve only transcoded one movie from DVD, a 2003 release in 480p. It looks okay on the PC monitor. The sound is there but a little faint. I’m sure these are really issues with how I converted them from DVD to digital and I’ll work them out with time. I suppose some more work is warranted in understanding how Plex decides if/when/how to transcode a file, and what my base files should actually be.

Apart from the effort that goes into rip-compare-re-rip I’m now out of excuses to grind on that new novel. Oh well.

 

*the server software is free, and the included web server app works well enough. The app for mobile devices requires a subscription, costs vary.