Tag Archives: XBMC

Set up your own personal streaming video library

(This post will be sticky for a few days, so new posts will appear underneath it)

Based on some feedback I received both in class and via email, I decided I would write a post that walked through the steps of ripping and naming files and configuring clients. After taking around fifty screenshots and writing a whole lot, I realized it would be much easier for me to record some videos, and hopefully much easier for you as I could cram a lot of information into a hands-on demonstration that would provide visual context. .

Therefore, over the weekend I recorded three videos, each covering a particular aspect of setting up a media library, and I have embedded them below. I will also post them to their permanent spot on our brand new Videos page. Each is about 20 minutes long, and they’re easily digestible (I hope). The first covers riping and properly naming your media, the second covers using PLEX Server to set up streaming, and the third covers using XBMC as a dedicated media manager.

As I mention in the first video, the process isn’t necessarily complex, but there are steps involved and considerations that have to be made. Once you’ve you’ve gone through the initial setup, however, adding media is relatively easy.

A different view of XBMC than what you'll see in the video

A different view of XBMC than what you’ll see in the video

More about creating your personal video library

On Friday I demonstrated the service I use to maintain a personal Netflix of sorts, PLEX. I got a couple of questions about it, and there were questions in class, so while this won’t be a post on the complete process of ripping then storing the video files, I will offer some clarifications and the tools I use to have it all up and running.

First, the tool I use to rip the videos is called MakeMKV. It rips some pretty big videos so storage will be an issue, and it rips them into the MKV format so your file will have a .MKV extension. It doesn’t preserve menus, only gives you a single file, and it can be somewhat overwhelming once the initial rip is complete. I also like MakeMKV because Blu-Ray is a proprietary format, so any time you buy a Blu-Ray or a Blu-Ray drive or anything Blu-Ray, Sony gets a cut. Therefore, a free Blu-Ray ripper is not something you’ll find laying around online. MakeMKV will eventually tell you you need to buy or register the product, but you can enter the beta key on this page and it will continue to work. I’ll talk a little about ripping, but there’s an excellent walkthrough here.

So about the ripping; once you put the disc in the drive, it does an initial scan and then you hit the big disc-drive button and it finds all the video content on the disc. I found this image online (it’s not mine) but this shows what the end result of a disc scan looks like, in this case Back to the Future.


All Simpsons episodes going online, with a catch

Love The Simpsons? Of course you do, everyone does. The greatest, longest-running, most award-winning, most culturally influential animated show in history has brought in fans for 25 years. While there have been ebbs and flows in the quality over that period of time, it can’t be denied that the show, like Krusty the Clown himself, has been nothing less than an industry unto itself.

Even so, the show has not embraced the digital age as much as one might expect. Yes, they’ve had albums and games and a virtual world and a really great attraction at Universal Studios and even that total piece of offensive crap Tapped Out, but as for the episodes themselves, they’ve been the AC/DC of television shows. It’s why I had to rip my own collection, that’s it in the screenshot below.

Using XB

Using XBMC Media Manager

But all this is coming to a spectacular end. FXX has announced that they have acquired the rights to the entire catalog of Simpsons episodes as well as the movie, and will be making them all available online to stream and watch whenever you want on any device you want wherever you want. Not only that, you can search for episodes or characters and set up playlists, just like a music service. But there is an enromous catch:

In order to bask in the glory of The Simpsons, you have to be a subscriber to FXX, and that channel is only carried in about 25% of the country, and apparently bundled as part of a sports package since it was originally intended as a soccer channel. If you don’t have FXX in your lineup, then no Simpsons, or their massive 552-episode, movie-included marathon for you!

The Simpsons are not the first animated show to do this. At southparkstudios.com you used to be able to watch every episode of South Park (well, except for one) whenever you wished. The creators of the show, which started as an animated short on the Internet, were very smart to negotiate all online rights back when the Internet was a fledgling idea. The network gladly agreed, never thinking the Internet would become what it is, and as a result we all had full access to all episodes.

What used to be southparkstudios.com

What used to be southparkstudios.com

But no more. Just this month, an agreement was signed that put all South Park episodes behind the Hulu paywall, and starting in September you’ll need a Hulu subscription to watch them. I’m no fan of Hulu, never have been, and I was disappointed to see this. I sense a lot of new torrenting will take place. Or a lot of new visitors to watchcartoononline.com.

So screw South Park! Watch The Simpsons instead, as well you should.

Going Up