audio/video content

Browser view. I was able to fix the database’s misspelling in Track 3’s title with Mp3tag. (Click to enlarge)

I probably was drawn to listen to the original “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” soundtracks this week due to my last few posts subconsciously reminding me of that 1964 spy show’s gadgetry.

Some time back, I bought the three U.N.C.L.E. soundtrack packages (2 CDs each) from Film Score Monthly. They were compiled by Jon Burlingame, who also wrote the detailed booklets included in each set. The scores by Jerry Goldsmith, Morton Stevens, Walter Scharf, Lalo Schifrin, Gerald Fried, Robert Drasnin and Richard Shores still sound great.

I can hardly stand to put CDs into a player at this point, preferring to rip them once to my Plex server for anytime, anywhere use with Plex apps in Roku, my smartphone, or the Raspberry Pi/OSMC. My mental set has changed, as when TV came in and altered peoples’ relationship to radio.

Plex Chromecast’d from phone app to the big system.

It’s especially difficult to physically handle these sets, as 2-CD jewel boxes seem prone to breakage and droppage. Also, the fat little booklets (important for full enjoyment of the music) do not enjoy being extracted from or replaced in the cases.

I had previously ripped these CDs with Windows Media Player, but the result was a mess. WMP’s tagging of the .mp3 files was inconsistent, possibly due to the sets being limited editions. This made them poorly organized under Plex.

By now, I know about Plex naming conventions, and use a free tool, Mp3tag, to add/change the tags embedded in each .mp3. So I was ready to try again.


The first problem is with Plex seeing each CD of the pair as a separate album. To solve it:

  • Rip the first CD of the set. Then open up Mp3tag and display the folder containing the .mp3 files. Mp3tag shows you a tag called “discnumber”.
  • Select all the tracks, make their discnumber=1 and save.
  • Do the same with the ripped tracks from the second disc, making those tracks discnumber=2.
  • Then you can move all the .mp3s into a single folder, and Plex will see it as a single album with 2 CDs.

In addition, Plex needed a couple of tags to be fixed:

The “Album” and “Album Artist” tags are key.

I had to experiment with the “Album” tag. Windows Media Player had tagged it “The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Vol. 1 [Original Soundtrack Album] Disc 1” (and then Disc 2), which confused Plex, even after removing the “Disc 1/2″ part of the tag.

Ultimately, in Mp3tag, I changed all the tracks to Album=”The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Vol. 1″ and Album Artist=”Various Artists”. The latter is a catchall solution for compilation albums, and soundtrack albums not entirely composed of tracks from a single artist.

Windows Media Player had also filed the album folder under Music/Soundtrack. To correspond with my retagging, I moved all the tracks to a folder I named “The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Vol. 1″ (same as the Album tag) under the already-existing Music/Various Artists folder.

Mp3tag revealed that the music already was tagged Genre=”Soundtrack”, which is good enough for my purposes, so I deleted the now-empty Soundtracks folder.

I repeated the above for Volumes 2 and 3.

Using Mp3tag free software to fix tags for Vol.3. I dragged the key tags into view. (Click to enlarge)

The album art Plex selected for each album was a bit grainy. If you can find (or scan) a higher-resolution version, you can edit the album in Plex and add the new art under “Poster”. I also added a landscape-oriented Background image of the U.N.C.L.E. logo for each album.

(FYI, most CDs rip correctly with no alteration needed. These were exceptions.)


Not yet content, I wanted to keep all the album booklets together for use while listening.

I repurposed a UPS mailer, printing and gluing on an image found via Google.

(I always wondered why Napoleon Solo’s badge was #11, while Illya was #2. No mystery about Mr. Waverly being #1. If Solo ever complained, maybe Illya pointed out in mock solace that “11” in binary is 3 in decimal.)

Back in the dot-matrix printer era (the 1990s), I printed out an excellent online U.N.C.L.E. TV episode guide, written by Bill Koenig. At that time, I went so far as to bind it into a homemade U.N.C.L.E. folder. With the new packet,  I have a dossier.

(This guide is available at SpyCommandFeatures.wordpress.com with additional articles about the show. I added a shortcut to my phone for even easier reference.)

Homemade episode guide and CD booklet folder


Heroes & Icons (Tulsa channel 41.4) has been playing “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” I have recorded all but 4 of the 105 episodes to hard drive with my Raspberry Pi/OSMC/Windows Media Center setup. The remaining 4 should be coming up within the next month.

My next project may be to remove the commercials and convert them to .mp4 format with MCEBuddy.


Previous U.N.C.L.E. research from Tulsa TV Memories:

The T-Town Affair

U.N.C.L.E., SAGE, SABRE, Strangelove & Tulsa: Connections

And, U.N.C.L.E. HQ in the TTM aStore

Amazon Dash Button, repurposed.

If you are an avid Public Radio Tulsa 89.5 listener like I am, you probably have had a “driveway moment”:

You just arrived back home with a riveting story in progress, but there is something urgent you need to be doing besides sitting and listening to the radio in your car.

So you dash indoors, turn on the radio, and try to continue listening while you do whatever is so all-fired important.

But wait, here’s the Public Radio Tulsa “Driveway Moment” Button!

From your driveway or garage, push the button on your key ring, and instantly start recording on your indoors Windows PC. Listen to the rest of the story when you have time.

Yes, in only one fast, easy stroke of your index finger!


This is a short how-to, since the hard work is in two previous posts.

  1. Do the hack described in detail in this post: Amazon Dash Button Hack: X10 wireless doorbell.
  2. Instead of creating the doorbell.bat file, create a KWGSrecord.bat file as described in this post: DIY online radio recorder (KWGS update). Change the number of seconds in that file from 10800 (3 hours) to 1800 (1/2 hour), or whatever length of time you want.
  3. Alter the text in DashButton.bat from the first post so it executes KWGSrecord.bat instead of doorbell.bat.

There, wasn’t that easy?

Maybe not.

But it can be done, because I just tested it from both our garage and driveway.

You could also keep the button near your home radio for spur-of-the-moment KWGS recording.

Yet another example of repurposing the Amazon Dash Button.

(By the way, the button’s product label can be peeled off, and replaced with a custom label if you wish. Or you might say it means a “Bounty” of good radio.)

Now it’s a KWGS radio with recorder!

JohnnyCarsonWeleetka

Just came across this Tonight Show on Antenna TV (8.3).

I recorded it on TiVo, and downloaded to my PC with the help of free pyTivo (see linked previous post).

With free Windows Movie Maker, I edited the segment into a 5:30 .mp4 for YouTube. But someone beat me to it. See bottom of this page.

This appearance was notable enough to be mentioned in Weleetka’s Wikipedia entry.

JohnnyCarsonWeleetka2

Chief Ronnie Porter talked about the problems of law enforcement without an adequate police vehicle.

We learned that the Weleetka chief was originally from Wewoka. Reminded me of this classic Tonight Show take-off on “Dragnet” with Jack Webb:

And here is the video:

kodirecent

The new Plex beta addon for Kodi as seen on our 65″ TV. (Click to enlarge.)

Plex is a great free way to deliver local music/TV/movie content from your computer(s) to your TVs, smartphones, tablets, and browsers.

There are free Plex apps on several of our media devices: the Roku boxes, smartphone/Chromecast, and TiVo.

But my first Plex app was the unofficial PleXBMC addon for my $35 Raspberry Pi computer, running on free Raspbmc media center software.

Raspbmc was an adaptation of XBMC (Xbox Media Center) software for the Pi. XBMC was later renamed Kodi.

Today, Raspbmc has become OSMC (Open Source Media Center), and is still based on Kodi. The PleXBMC addon still works, though the developer has not updated it in awhile.

Now there is an official Plex for Kodi addon. It is still in beta, and is currently available only to PlexPass holders.

Here is a preview.

I am also taking this opportunity to show how I have set Plex up to organize my Windows-automated online recordings of the locally-produced weekend KWGS music shows (see the previous cord-cutting post)

Read on after the screenshots…

folksaladkodi

My Christmas recording of “The Folk Sampler”. I added the pix from KWGS’ and Mike Flynn’s websites.

folksaladkodi

Christmas “Folk Salad”. That is my own simple naming convention for the recordings.

allthisjazzkodi

Christmas Eve “All This Jazz”. The AAC+ format provides the best sound for the 56Kbps bandwidth.

swingonthiskodi

Christmas Eve “Swing On This”. Grabbed the nice background shot from the internet.


How to organize home-recorded radio shows for Plex:

I will demonstrate by adding my KWGS recordings of “Jazz Night in America” to Plex.

They are on my Windows Desktop in a folder called 1JazzNightInAmerica, with names like JNIA20150704.mp3.

For Plex, each .mp3 needs to be in a separate folder, so that Plex will see them as “albums”. We will name each folder the same as the .mp3 name. My simple naming convention allows them to be put in order by date.

Right-click an .mp3 in Windows Explorer, select “Rename” from the context menu, and use Ctrl-C to copy the show name. Then right-click on the leftmost space within the right pane of Explorer, create a New Folder, then do Ctrl-V to paste in the name of the show. Finally, move the .mp3 into the new folder of the same name. Do this for all the .mp3s.

jniamp3s-=========>>jniafolders

I created a new folder in Windows Explorer under “Music” called “Jazz Night in America (KWGS)” to be consistent with the naming of the other KWGS shows. (I configured Plex to look for new music in the Music folder when I installed it on this PC.)

Now I move one of the folders from 1JazzNightInAmerica into it.

Plex will detect it eventually, but to snap it up, I tell Plex to Update Libraries. Now I see an [Unknown Artist]/[Unknown Album] under “Recently Added Music”. I ignore it for now and go to my Music Library on Plex where I see a list of artists. Scroll down and find “Unknown Artist”. This will now be renamed.

Click the pencil icon for the [Unknown Artist] to edit. Type “Jazz Night in America (KWGS)” into the Artist slot. I copy and paste that same text into the “Sort Artist” field as well. You may, if you wish, add genre Tags (I selected “Jazz” and “Contemporary Jazz”).

You may also add a Poster image and a Background image for this artist. I usually look for official images associated with the show. You need only enter the URL of an image and it will be imported into Plex (but go ahead and save them to your PC as well for future use). I found a photo of host Christian McBride with his bass, and the JNIA logo to use as the background.

I now have a new “Artist” listed as “Jazz Night in America (KWGS)”. Click that artist icon. This artist has one [Unknown Album] so far. Edit the album by clicking the pencil icon on it.

The path to the .mp3 is visible under the Info tab. Copy the intended album name from the path, in this case, “JNIA20150704”. Paste it into both the Album and Sort Album slots under the General tab.

Click to enlarge.

(Optionally, you may also wish to add the same image you used for the artist Poster above; it must already be saved on your PC to do this. Plex uses it for display in some views if it is there. I found that if I added the image to this first album, Plex added it to the rest of the albums I added later.)

I now have a new Artist with one properly named Album to his credit.

At this point, I cut and paste the remaining folders from the Desktop folder into Music/Jazz Night in America (KWGS) folder.

I then tell Plex to Update the Music Library again. When complete, Recently Added Music shows a bunch of new [Unknown Artist]/[Unknown Albums].

You must edit each one, but it is easier this time. For Artist, just type in “Ja”, which will be sufficient to bring up a small list of matching artists from your library. Select “Jazz Night in America (KWGS)”. Click the Info tab and copy the name of this album (e.g., JNIA20150711) from the path, and paste it into Album and Sort Album under the General tab. Save Changes.

The latter process was a bit laborious, since I had so many shows already recorded. It’s not so much work if you are just beginning to record a weekly show.

Here is Mr. McBride and his shows. Now I can go to any of my devices with Plex and listen!

I hope this is helpful to someone, somewhere.

jniaplexview

Browser view of “Jazz Night in America (KWGS)” in Plex, with all the shows (“albums”) I previously recorded. All are now available to my Plex apps on Roku, smartphone, TiVo, Chromecast, Raspberry Pi. (Click to enlarge)

(This is an update and upgrade of a previous post, Free DIY internet radio recorder, due to KWGS changing the hosting of their streams in October 2016.)

KWGS’ engineer advised in email: “I’d recommend our listeners use our new AAC-format stereo stream for best fidelity. It’s the ‘Public Radio 89.5 (stereo)’ option found on our Listen Live page:”


KWGS streaming on VLC Player

KWGS streaming on VLC media player. Click to enlarge.

The popular and versatile freeware multimedia player VLC can serve as a recorder as well as a player.

I pasted the URL from “Public Radio 89.5 HD1  (stereo)” on KWGS’ Listen Live page into VLC, enabling me to record their stereo stream as an .mp4 file. This tutorial shows how to do it, just name your test file ‘radio.mp4’ instead of ‘radio.mp3’.

Also, on the VLC player menu, go to View and click ‘Advanced Controls’ to add a record button.

Once you are a bit familiar with VLC as a radio recorder, you need a way to make it automatically record your station at a scheduled time.

This I did by first creating a Windows batch file that uses command-line VLC to record 3 hours of KWGS whenever the file is run.

Then I used the built-in Windows Task Scheduler to run the batch file every week at 9 pm when “All This Jazz” is on.

The result each week is a 74 MB .mp4 file of the show. The file name includes the current date, e.g., last night’s “ATJ20161217.mp4”.

The batch file can be easily duplicated then modified to record other KWGS shows as well.

Here’s how to do it.


I recommend using free Notepad++ to copy, edit and save the text from my own ATJrecord.bat file. It will save you headaches over special characters and spacing. Standard Notepad is more trouble than it is worth for this purpose. Word and WordPad are worse.

Copy all the following code, paste it into NotePad++ and save as ATJrecord.bat. Some of the code runs off the side of this web page, but you will pick it up in your copy/paste operation:

“C:\Program Files\VideoLAN\VLC\vlc.exe” http://18103.live.streamtheworld.com:80/KWGSFMAAC_SC –sout=”#std{access=file,mux=mp4,dst=C:\Users\TulsaTV\Music\1AllThisJazzM4A\ATJ%DATE:~10,4%%DATE:~4,2%%DATE:~7,2%.mp4″} –run-time=10800 –stop-time=10800 vlc://quit

  • Double-check the path to vlc.exe (in green) on your computer after installing VLC, and correct if necessary.
  • Alter in the path (in orange above) to your own AllThisJazz folder.
  • (The text colors won’t be copied; they are here for clarity.)
  • Make sure the four double-quote marks are the straight up-and-down kind, not the slanted ones (it happens sometimes when you copy text from a web page like this).
  • Replace the apparent dashes immediately in front of sout, run-time and stop-time with double hyphens from your keyboard if needed (another copy weirdness).

There should be only one space between each string of characters. I count 6 strings and 5 spaces between them. The 3rd string is a long one, starting with –sout and ending with .mp4}”. If you have it right in Notepad++, you will see solid shading around the whole “paragraph”.

FYI, 10800 is the number of seconds in three hours. You can change it to adapt the .bat file to record other KWGS shows such as “Swing on This”, “Folk Salad”, and “Folk Sampler”, all one-hour (3600 second) programs. I am enjoying all of them.

Test your ATJrecord.bat file by double-clicking on it. A black command prompt window will pop up to execute it, and then a VLC Player will pop up and start recording KWGS. (You may want to temporarily change 10800 in both places in the file to 20 for testing so you can see that both windows disappear when the recording is complete.)


Once you have your batch file working, add a task to Windows’ Task Scheduler to run it every Saturday at 9 pm. Here is a useful tutorial for creating a basic task. (Type “Task Scheduler” in the Run box to access it.)

Suggestions for creating and modifying your basic task:

General Tab:
Name: Use .bat file name, minus the “.bat”.
User account: Your own, rather than Admin.
Run whether user is logged on or not.
Run with highest privileges.
Configure for: whichever Windows version you are using, e.g., Windows 7, or 10.

Triggers Tab:
Weekly at 9 pm every Saturday of every week, starting on your next Saturday.
Enabled (be sure it is enabled!)

Actions Tab:
Browse for path to your .bat file

Conditions Tab:
The actions in parentheses are optional:

(Start the task only if the computer is on AC power.)
(Stop if the computer switches to battery power.)
(Wake the computer to run this task.)

Settings Tab:
(Allow task to be run on demand.)
(Run task as soon as possible after a scheduled start is missed.)
Stop the task if it runs longer than 4 hours (for this 3 hour show).
If the running task does not end when requested, force it to stop.


You can play the recordings on your computer with VLC.

I like to download the .mp4 files directly onto my smartphone for listening while exercising.

Running the free Filezilla FTP server on my Win 10 laptop lets me use the free FtpCafe app on the phone to grab the recorded files. (I have a 64GB microSD card in the phone for media file storage.)

I added the free VLC media player app to my phone. The app handles the AAC+ format, so you get stereo and the full sound spectrum. It lets you easily jump to the spot you want to start listening from by dragging the pointer on the seekbar. I keep a memo of where my listening left off on a Notepad-type phone app.


Additional technical note:

In the batch file code above, you will see this URL:

http://18103.live.streamtheworld.com:80/KWGSFMAAC_SC

The URL comes from the KWGSFMAAC.pls file you can download when you click “Public Radio 89.5 HD1  (stereo)” on the KWGS Listen Live page.

The .pls (playlist) file is just a text file that looks like this currently:

File1=http://18103.live.streamtheworld.com:80/KWGSFMAAC_SC
File2=http://18103.live.streamtheworld.com:3690/KWGSFMAAC_SC
File3=http://16113.live.streamtheworld.com:80/KWGSFMAAC_SC
File4=http://16113.live.streamtheworld.com:3690/KWGSFMAAC_SC
File5=http://17993.live.streamtheworld.com:80/KWGSFMAAC_SC
File6=http://17993.live.streamtheworld.com:3690/KWGSFMAAC_SC
File7=http://15703.live.streamtheworld.com:80/KWGSFMAAC_SC
File8=http://15703.live.streamtheworld.com:3690/KWGSFMAAC_SC
Title1=KWGSFMAAC_SC
Title2=KWGSFMAAC_SC-Bak
Length1=-1
NumberOfEntries=8
Version=2

I used the first URL for my batch file. I’m not sure why the others are listed. Could be as alternate URLs, or for load balancing. Maybe someone can enlighten me. But the batch file works only if you pick just one of them.

If the batch file should stop working at some time in the future, download and edit the then-current KWGSFMAAC.pls file from http://publicradiotulsa.org/listen-live, and see if you need to use a different URL in the batch file.


Additional notes:

These KWGS files use the AAC+ (aka AAC+ v1, aka HE-AAC v1) advanced audio coding format. The format packs in the maximum quality for the bandwidth. I believe Apple devices will render the files correctly, since they can handle .m4a, their version of .mp4 audio files with AAC encoding. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. 🙂

You can use the Plex channel on Roku boxes, the Plex smartphone app, and the Chromecast device for playback as well.

I also use PleXBMC on my Raspberry Pi/OSMC. A phone app ($5 Yatse or free Kore) is the best way to control the Pi for this purpose, since you can jump directly to the time you want to start at (needed with a 3-hour long show!)

I finally got down to business and properly rebuilt my Plex music database, having stumbled into various pitfalls. The setup I now have for these KWGS music shows is a wonder to behold, and will be the topic of a future post.