Kodi

All posts tagged Kodi

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)

New Raspberry Pi 3 with Ethernet, & USB dongles: IR remote control, wireless keyboard.

New Raspberry Pi 3 with USB dongles: IR remote control, wireless keyboard/mouse.

For once, I spent birthday cash on a specific fun item: the new Raspberry Pi 3. The Pi with clear case and power supply cost $50.

A few needed extra expenses:

Two Kingston Digital 8GB microSDHC Class 10 UHS-I microSD cards: $11 total

Wireless USB PC Computer Remote Control Media Center Controller: $8

Logitech MK270 Wireless USB Keyboard/Mouse Combo: $20 (already had one to use with the hacked Wii)

This new Pi has a quad-core processor, ten times more powerful than my original Pi (which has a new job, plugged into our bedroom TV). That makes for much snappier response in OSMC (Open System Media Center), an adaptation of Kodi software for the Pi and other devices.

I loaded one of the microSD cards with OSMC, then customized it. That’s easy by now, having previously explored most of its many available settings and options.

The other microSD card I loaded with Raspbian, a Windows-like operating system for the Pi.

For the first time, using Raspbian, I can efficiently browse with the 65″ theater room TV as a monitor using a wireless keyboard and mouse.

I recall presuming back in the early 2000s that big-screen browsing would be coming soon. It turned out that laptops were a much better way. (The height of boredom is watching someone else browse.) But this would be great for demonstrating a site to a group of people.

As much fun as I have with the Pi, I must admit that a Roku/Chromecast/Apple TV/Fire TV-type device can do almost everything it can do for home theater.

The Pi on OSMC/Kodi definitely can’t replace one of these devices, as it does not have proper addons for Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.

But the Pi still does a few unique things for me:

Serves Windows Media Center PVR recordings to the TV. But I wouldn’t need the Pi for that if the WMC PC had an HDMI output. And Emby is capable of doing the same, only better!

Plays back practically all audio and video formats.

For example, I use VLC media player with Windows Scheduler on a PC to record weekly radio shows from KWGS online. The highest quality stream offered is in the advanced audio coding format AAC+. The Pi/OSMC is a good way to take advantage of this .m4a stream delivered via Plex, my current preference in music/video library systems.

Chromecast can handle some .m4a files, but not these (tried it per How to Stream Local Media from Desktop, Android and iOS to Chromecast); my Roku 3 wouldn’t play them, even using the Roku Media Player channel.

Skip directly and easily to specific times on audio/video recordings with a Kodi smartphone app, such as Kore or Yatse. Roku can play my .mp3 files, but no skipping allowed.

OSMC has a slicker and more comprehensive interface than Roku. It includes current Yahoo weather for your zip code and a news ticker, just in case you shut yourself off from the outside world a little too much.

Free Kodi addons of various stripes, e.g., ESPN3.

More tinkering (and hair-pulling) possibilities.

As I mentioned, the original Pi has moved to our bedroom. I added a USB wifi dongle, got it onto the current version of OSMC, added PlexBMC and a few other music and video addons.

But honestly, the Roku LT is sufficient in there. I will be thinking about what else I might do with the old Pi, e.g., RISC OS, Software-Defined Radio, etc. (See previous post $8 USB tuner turns PC into FM radio/recorder.)

Update, 10/6/2016: I wound up moving the old Pi running OSMC back to the theater room; the new Pi is also there running PIXEL (Raspbian OS). With the Logitech Harmony remote, I can switch between the two rather than changing SD/microSD cards.

My original Pi

Windows Media Center running on my PC after free upgrade to Windows 10! Note the logos, some of which I created.

Windows Media Center running again on my PC after the free upgrade to Windows 10.

The free Microsoft offer to upgrade PCs on Windows 7 & 8 to Windows 10 ends on July 29.

I use Windows Media Center as a free DVR. I had planned to skip the upgrade in order to keep WMC, since Windows 10 doesn’t support it. (See previous post RIP Windows Media Center (in 5-8 yrs).)

But last week, as the deadline approached, I got to wondering again if there was any way to keep WMC going under Win 10. Turns out there is!

Look for DavidinCT’s post of 4/8/2016 about midway down this Windows Central Forums page.

Download the WMC zip file appropriate for your PC, unzip it, and read the directions closely before starting.

Update, 10/4/2016:

My successful add of WMC to Win 10 per the above method was wiped out when my PC automatically received the Anniversary Update for Windows 10 Version 1607 for x64-based Systems (KB3176936) on 9/24/2016. Tried a reinstall, but got an “Installing package failed, reverting…” message.

Using the WMC version 8.8.1 zip file referenced in this post at MyDigitalLife, I was able to get WMC working again. You would need to create a login there to see the post.

More about this particular Unofficial Windows 10 Port at Wikipedia.

Was the Windows 10 upgrade worth it in retrospect? Probably not, except as a learning experience, which it certainly was. Here’s to the next big Windows 10 update, if there is one, not creating quite so much labor. 😉

I upgraded to Win 10, then installed WMC with the download. There were hitches reinstalling the following three WMC-associated third-party programs, which I solved. But all YOU would need to do to avoid these problems is simply uninstall the first two before doing the Win 10 upgrade, then reinstall them afterwards. (As I did on my second desktop PC.)

ServerWMC – feeds data and video to my Raspberry Pi for viewing and control through OSMC/Kodi. In order to reinstall it on Win 10, I was forced to locate its original .msi install/uninstall file. It was in the folder “Windows.old” created by the Win 10 upgrade. (This folder is needed if you want to roll back to the original Win 7 or 8 installation.)

My Channel Logos – a useful program that populates the WMC TV schedule grid with network logos (you can add custom logos, too). Again, had trouble reinstalling because it wanted to see the the original .msi file, but this time, I couldn’t find it. Used the free version of the Revo Uninstaller program to remove the old version of MyChannel Logos so I could do a successful reinstall.

One further tip: my previous custom logos were in C:\ProgramData\MyChannelLogos. I did have the foresight before the new install to change the name of the existing MyChannelLogos directory to MMMyChannelLogos so it wouldn’t be overwritten. Afterward, I moved my custom logos to the new Custom directory under MyChannelLogos.

Ceton My Media Center – allows the corresponding smartphone app to control and program WMC remotely. It took me awhile to realize that it was still there under Win 10, just no icon or program was visible (even in Control Panel/Programs and Features). Found it by typing “Ceton My Media Center” in the new Win 10 desktop search box. Pinned the “app”, as Win 10 calls programs, to the start menu.

Problems like the above (though I haven’t run into any others yet) are why you ultimately might want to do a new clean install of Win 10 after the upgrade. Microsoft allows you to burn ISO image files to a DVD for this purpose, should the need or desire arise. I created DVDs for all three of my computers. The tool is downloadable on this Microsoft Win 10 page. I’m too lazy to reinstall without a compelling reason, but it’s good to have the option.

Other notes:

  • I ran TightVNC viewer on my laptop to remotely upgrade my two desktop media PCs, which were running TightVNC server. No need to attach a monitor and keyboard, even during installation, and the several reboots.
  • WMC programming data for the TV listing grid is provided free by Microsoft from Rovi (also see previous post TiVo to be acquired by Rovi (Tulsa roots) ). My guess is that the data will become unavailable by 2020 or 2023, but if you still have the PC, at least you will be on Win 10, which Microsoft will support through 2025.
  • Personally, I like Win 10 better than Win 7, and much better than Win 8. The app “charms” have been tamed and are actually useful now. But if you dislike Win 10, you can revert back to Win 7 or 8 within 30 days of your upgrade.
  • Some PC models are not approved for Win 10 upgrade. I learned this when I tried and failed with a Dell Latitude E6420 owned by one of our nephews. Here is Dell’s page listing their Computers tested for upgrade to Windows 10. If you have problems, check with your PC’s manufacturer.

Think it over fast, the free upgrade opportunity goes away after July 29!

Screenshot of our 65" TV playing "Sonik Re-Entry" via the PleXBMC addon in OSMC/Kodi

Screenshot from our 65″ TV while playing “Sonik Re-Entry” on my $35 Raspberry Pi media computer.

This is a post where both sides of this website (vintage local TV and cord-cutting) converge.

Drive-in theatre maven Wesley Horton recently found an ad in the Nov. 10, 1967 Stillwater News Press for the Channel 2 Saturday night sci-fi/horror movie program, “Fantastic Theatre“, and sent me a copy. I finally got to see again the logo created by the Channel 2 artist!

1967 ad

1967 ad. Click to enlarge.

In early 1999, I had identified the show’s creepy electronic theme as “Sonik Re-Entry” by sending a .wav file of me trying to “sing” the instrumental melody to a couple of experts on early electronic music.

Once identified, I ordered a two-fer CD with the album it was taken from, “Song of the Second Moon” by Tom Dissevelt and Kid Baltan, plus Russ Garcia’s “Fantastica”. I later discovered that Channel 8’s “Plenty Scary Movie” promo used music from this bonus album, so it was a great deal.

A few days ago, I ripped the CD into .mp3 files using Windows Media Player. I have it set up to automatically do this when I insert a music CD into my PC.

I wanted the album to appear in Plex (What is Plex?) correctly so I could play it on Roku boxes, my Raspberry Pi/OSMC/Kodi media computer, or download it to smartphone for listening at the gym.

Usually, that happens with no further intervention needed. This time it didn’t.

On my phone

Smartphone. Click to enlarge.

This particular CD (issued in 1998 by Fantazmos Records in Frisco) was not recognized by WMP’s music database, so I had to name the .mp3 tracks, and manually add ID3 metadata tags to them. This I accomplished with freeware, Mp3tag. I had previously learned by trial-and-error plus Google which tags were important for the Plex server software on my PC to index the tracks properly.

In addition, I had to move the tracks from the two albums into separate folders, using Plex’ naming and organizing conventions on my PC.

Plex lets you add album art, a background, and the performers’ photo. I used part of Wesley’s ad for the background, and found the cover art online easily enough.

The screenshot at top shows you how it appears on our big TV. At right is a view on my wifi-only smartphone, showing the Dutch composers/performers.

Listen to samples of “Sonik Re-Entry” on the TTM “Fantastic Theatre” page. One features a voiceover by the original host, Josef Peter Hardt, created especially for David Bagsby’s “The Tulsa Project” CD!

RadioIDL, a favorite on OSMC/Kodi

RadioIDL, favorited on my Raspberry Pi running free OSMC/Kodi software in our theater room

Home theater isn’t only about electronic and computer gear, and it isn’t only about video.

I found a worthy local online radio station, RadioIDL.com (for Inner Dispersal Loop).

The programming is mostly blues, and includes locally-based artists such as Cindy Cain.

Here’s what I have been listening to for the past 25 minutes:

08:08:34 Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials – S.D. Jones
08:05:42 Sonny Boy Williamson – Better Cut That Out
08:00:09 The Allman Brothers Band – Melissa (live)
07:57:11 Freddy King – It’s Too Bad Things Are Going So Tough
07:53:58 James Cotton – Midnight_Train_w/Gregg_Allman
07:53:51 RadioIDL Tulsa Urban Wilderness Colin
07:51:40 Howlin’ Wolf – Shake for Me
07:48:47 Joe Turner – I Get The Blues When It Rains
07:45:46 Cindy Cain – Papa Let Me
07:42:12 Lonnie Mack; Stevie Ray Vaughan – Double Whammy

RadioIDL also has its own local talk shows: City of Giants with Michael Patton, and The InnerLoopers with Mark Barcus and Mary Morrison Barcus.

Some of the ways to listen:

    Go to RadioIDL.com and listen via browser or pop-out player.

    Set up an account with Tunein and add RadioIDL as a favorite.

    Get the Tunein Android or Apple app.

    On Roku, add the Tunein Channel (free).

    If you have a Raspberry Pi running OSMC like I do (see image at top), get the Tunein add-on, then make RadioIDL a favorite for the device.

    Also, RadioIDL is coming soon to iHeartRadio, which would make it accessible on TiVo’s iHeart app.

If you are a blues fan, you don’t need to be from Tulsa to appreciate RadioIDL!

Give it a try. I find it a refreshing change of pace.