30th January 2017

Over the past few days I’ve been setting up my own media server, and in particular, Plex. Plex is a great tool that can do wonderful things to your media collection, but the one thing that I just love is that it can take plain video files, an then give it so much context. It really makes your library something to look at.

The Server

The actual server itself is my old MacBook Pro, which I don’t think is the best machine for the job, but it’s the best spare machine I have available at the minute. I’m not going to write down all the specs, but it’s got an i5, 4 GB Ram, and a 1 TB hard drive. The only job of this machine however, is to manage my collection, the storage is a 3 TB NAS drive that I’ve had for a while.

My Collections

At the minute I have three different libraries in Plex, one for all the movies I have downloaded, second for the TV Shows, and then I have also included my iTunes Media folder as a library, as I have a huge number of films in iTunes.

Now let’s get on to how I populate these libraries (Leaving some ethical behaviour behind of course).

TV Shows

The TV Shows are just video files that I have collected over the years and obtain manually, there are a few applications that can track new episodes, and even download them automatically, but I haven’t found any that I deem good enough. I don’t watch many tv shows, so a tiny bit of manual work isn’t a big deal for this.

Movies

My Movie collection is a mix, I have ripped some movies in the past (I hate DVDs), and also have a rather magical automation for downloading other movies I like. Here is a step by step process on how this automation works:

  1. Find a movie on Trakt, and add it to my watch list.
  2. CouchPotato finds new additions in my Trakt watch list, and then populates them in it’s own database.
  3. Every so often, CouchPotato will check to see if any of the added movies are available to download (with some quality preferences).
  4. CouchPotato then sends these links to download to Transmission, which is currently running as a local web server.
  5. Transmission will triage each addition, and with some specific restrictions like cumulative download limits and speed limits (that actually change depending on the time of day), start these downloads, and place them in the correct folder on the NAS.
  6. Plex Media Server tries to detect when new files are added to the libraries (It also checks regularly), and then it will analyse the media, add it to the library, and also put together all the needed metadata.

It’s a really fast process, and I enjoy how little work I have to do to make something happen. I’m sure the process may change in the future, but at the minute it feels pretty seamless.

iTunes

This is definitely where my main content comes from, it’s where I get all of my favourite content. Even to a point where I will have a copy of a film, but I will then also purchase it on iTunes. Because it means I get the best quality available, any iTunes extras, and I also feel like it’s future proofing my movie collection slightly.

Thoughts

I’m starting to really see why I hear so many good things about Plex, it’s easy to set up, it work’s nearly everywhere, and it just makes my media collection look amazing.

Running my own media server is something I think I will take further, and if I can pick up a cheap Mac Mini soon, that may be the next step. With my Amazon Dot, and now this small project, automation is becoming a fun hobby.

29th January 2017

A few days ago Setapp was released to the public, but I was fortunate enough to be in the beta, so I’ve had a lot of experience with it. If you don’t know about Setapp already, it’s a subscription-based service that gives users access to a huge bunch of great macOS apps.

If I calculate correctly, this is my second month using Setapp, and it’s been great. I’ve had access to so many great applications, that before I wouldn’t of even thought about, or even heard of.

But after all of this time, there’s only a few applications that I have actually launched:

  • CleanMyMac
  • CodeRunner
  • iStat Menus
  • MoneyWiz
  • Ulysses

CleanMyMac is something I’ve ran a few times, just so I could get an idea on the state of my new MacBook.

CodeRunner is actually quite a nifty application, it’s basically a text editor for programmers, that can actually compile and execute code itself. I played around with this a few times when doing Java at university, but it wasn’t something I stuck with.

iStat Menus is probably the only consistent app I use from Setapp, and that’s really just providing me with a few useful stats, that I could realistically live without. Because my Mac isn’t at any stage where I need to worry about resources.

I think I’ve opened MoneyWiz about three times, once to set it up, and then twice to check out my transactions. It’s a nice idea, but not something I need.

Ulysses, maybe my favourite application out of the lot. But I’ve been doing a bit less writing recently, so I haven’t used it as much. I do have iA Writer, and then there’s Bear, so it’s not a necessity, although Ulysses is a well made app.

From a usability point of view, Setapp has worked perfectly. And it does provide a great deal of applications for a little amount of money a month.

However, my problem is that I simply don’t need these applications. And although a few of them are nice to have, it doesn’t warrant any kind of subscription fee.

Check out Setapp for yourself and see if it’s right for you.

26th January 2017

I’m just on the way home from finally seeing Lion King at the theatre. It was one of my favourite movies growing up, so it certainly had a lot to live up to.

In general I think that it was pretty good, there were some bits that were really enjoyable, and others not so much.

My favourite characters were easily Rafiki and Pumba, because they seemed the most “realistic”, and the songs seemed to be near original with them.

What I didn’t like was when scenes were added or removed. I understand that it may be slightly different, but there was a 2/3 minute scene that just wasn’t in the film. A slightly smaller example is when Timone and Pumba are tasked with distracting the Hyenas, instead of the little song and dance I remember from the movies, there was some random Irish dancing?

Of course there was some Frozen references, but I guess we can’t escape that anymore.

So as I said before, it was pretty good.

I would encourage people to see it, but I don’t think I’ll be going a second time.o

24th January 2017

Apple have today (24th January 2017) released the first beta of iOS 10.3 to developers. I am of course putting this on my iPad and iPhone, so I will keep updating this post with anything new I find.

Apple File System

Apple File System (Wiki) is a file system that is currently being made by Apple for macOS, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS. However since announcing it in mid 2016, I haven’t seen any more information about it.

But in the first build of iOS 10.3, your iOS devices will be converted to the new file system, so it’s probably best that you do a backup before you upgrade any devices.

Find My AirPods Has Been Sherlocked

Since the AirPods came out, there was a few apps that helped you find them, seeing as they are pretty easy to lose! However they have now been sherlocked, as you can now use Apple’s Find My iPhone app to find them, and even play a sound.

Asking for App Store Rating and Reviews

A new way for developers to ask for ratings and reviews inside apps has been introduced, with the SKStoreReviewController (Currently not resolving) API.

More details from The Loop:

Apple is also limiting the amount of times developers can ask customers for reviews. Developers will only be able to bring up the review dialog three times a year. If a customer has rated the app, they will not be prompted again. If a customer has dismissed the review prompt three times, they will not be asked to review the app for another year.

Customers will also have a master switch that will turn off the notifications for app reviews from all developers, if they wish to do that. – The Loop

Responding to Reviews on the App Store

This is pretty huge, when iOS 10.3 ships, you will be able to respond to reviews on the App Store! The responses will be public, and even the Mac App Store is getting support!

New Profile Section In Settings

At the top of the Settings app, there is now a profile section which makes it easier to quickly find important information.

Firstly, you can change your Name, what phone numbers/email addresses you are contactable at, date of birth, and then a few settings for whether you want to be notified by Apple News, Apple Music, etc.

Then there is the Password & Security section, where you an obviously change your password. But you can also control your two-factor authentication from here, and change your trusted phone number. If you’re trying to verify another Apple device to your iCloud account, then you can request a verification code here as well.

After that there is the Payment & Shipping section, where you can choose your default payment method, and address for when purchasing items from iTunes, iCloud, Apple Store, etc.

You can also navigate to the iCloud, iTunes & App Store, and Family Sharing settings from the same page.

Finally, this section also shows you a list of what devices are currently registered to your iCloud account. And if you select one of them, you can configure Find My iPhone/iPad/Watch, iCloud Backup, and even remove Apple Pay cards from them.


As mentioned above, this post will regularly update as I find out more information on the latest Beta.

Latest Update: 24th January 2017

24th January 2017

Stocked up on coffee again!
☕️

16th January 2017

Bowling with @rebeccarobot

16th January 2017

Some pretty cool lights!

16th January 2017

Beach weather?