Kodi

All posts tagged Kodi

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.

OSMC 15.2

The free Open Source Media Center software installing on my $35 Raspberry Pi in the theater room.

Goodbye Raspbmc and XBMC, hello OSMC and Kodi!

I’d held off on the free software upgrade due to not wanting to lose my PleXBMC installation on Raspbmc “Gotham”, the last version of that software before it was superseded by OSMC this year. But some SD card/USB stick corruption issues suggested to me that the time was right to overcome my laziness.

The transition went smoothly yesterday. I again have access to all my DVR’d shows on a Windows Media Center computer by reinstalling the free ServerWMC add-on software. I also have a nice Plex client again on the Pi with a more recent version of the free PleXBMC add-on. (See previous post Windows Media Center & Raspberry Pi.)

By now, I have other well-functioning Plex clients on Roku boxes and Chromecast, as well as on smartphone and tablet. So it wouldn’t have been a crisis not to have Plex on the Pi; I just like the slick Raspbmc/OSMC interface that brings together TV, movies, music, internet radio, photos, and even a news crawl and Yahoo local weather.

Valuable and unique free TV content available through OSMC includes ESPN3 in HD, and CBSN, CBS’ new 24/7 online HD news channel. (Later note: the latter is also available on Roku, I discovered.)


Raspbmc was an adaptation of the Xbox Media Center (XBMC) software for the little Raspberry Pi computer. It was done by Sam Nazarko, then an 18-year-old student in the UK.

From http://kodi.wiki/view/OSMC:

“OSMC (short for Open Source Media Center) is a Linux distribution based on Debian that brings Kodi to a variety of devices. It is the successor to Raspbmc and Crystalbuntu.

“OSMC is an embedded, minimal, self updating Linux distributing which ships a Kodi front-end for a variety of devices. The project was founded by Sam Nazarko in 2014 and is maintained by a group of volunteers in their spare time.”

(For my own future reference, my Raspberry Pi 1 Model B is now on OSMC 2015.09-3 running Kodi 15.2, kernel: Linux 3.2.3-3-osmc Linux 4.2.3-3-osmc; PleXBMC 3.6.1, PleXBMC Helper 3.4.2, and ServerWMC 0.5.8.)


Sam Nazarko

Sam Nazarko

Back in July, I commented on TTM@Facebook: “Sam resembles Dr. Sheldon Cooper in appearance, but both Sam and OSMC are a lot more stable.”

Sam replied: “That.. made me laugh so much. Unfortunately you’re not the first person to suggest the similar appearance either…”

Congratulations, well done, Sam and company!

(Added 10/22/2015: See my new comment on previous post The missing context button for a new and easier way to restore that function to your remote.)

Windows Media Center's days are numbered

Windows Media Center’s days are numbered

(Update: Yes, you can Add Windows Media Center to Win 10! — 7/23/2016 post)

Microsoft just announced a few days ago that they are discontinuing support for Windows Media Center software in Windows 10.

Windows 7 has WMC as a free feature. Windows 8.1 has it available as a paid add-on. Support for Win 7 ends in 2020, Win 8.1 in 2023.

If you try to run WMC under Win 10, you will get the message above.

I hate this. But Microsoft is planning to make its Xbox their replacement for WMC. Read all about in in this article at TechHive: Windows Media Center is dying. Here’s how the Xbox can replace it.

In the theater room (or maybe I should call it the media room to keep with current usage), I have a Win 7 computer with WMC software recording my shows as a DVR. A little Raspberry Pi  computer acts as my front end to the Win 7 computer to get the shows onto the TV. WMC has been very reliable.

(A Pi or another box is unnecessary if your PC has an HDMI port; just plug your Windows PC directly into your TV to use WMC. The Pi has been a bit flaky, honestly; just today I had to restore it due to its USB stick getting corrupted by a brief power outage from an exploding transformer. However, it launched me into this whole arena of home theater, and I have learned a huge amount by working with it.)

So in 5 years, WMC will no longer be supported on my old PC (it was my mom’s cast-off). I could still run it without support, but the PC would no longer get security updates from Microsoft. I suppose I could also run Windows 7 as a virtual machine under Windows 10, but that might be compounding the kludge factor a bit much, even for me. I also doubt it would be satisfactory, because the program listing data that is free as part of WMC will probably go away, too.

An alternative I tried before getting on board with WMC is the free NextPVR. It runs on Windows and works similarly with the Pi. The downside is that you need a pay subscription to program listing data from Schedules Direct or the like, which as a card-carrying cheapskate, I eschewed.

There are other ways besides NextPVR.

The free TVHeadend software runs on Kodi (the new name for XBMC, the media center software originally created for Xbox). It was the first thing I tried on the Raspberry Pi, but I couldn’t get it to recognize the Hauppauge USB TV tuner I had, so I skipped it. There is also MythTV, which I haven’t tried.

Anyway, 5 years is an eon in computer years, so I won’t worry.

2014-09-26 20.06.44-1

Neighbor cat napping in my Laz-E-Boy. Click pic to flip.

The following is a cautionary tale about how far some home theater enthusiasts may go to get things just right. It’s also to document a solution for myself and anyone else. It won’t be to everyone’s interest.

You don’t need to be into this kind of thing to have a good home theater setup. A Roku box can deliver paid services like Netflix as well as free content like Crackle, YouTube, and your own content on the Plex Channel. Many of the cord-cutting tips here require more awareness and will than technical knowledge to execute.

Some of us can’t leave well enough alone. Others, like Albert (above), are content to simply enjoy home theater with friends and family.


You won’t believe what I had to do to get a Context menu button for my Raspberry Pi media computer onto my Logitech Harmony 890 remote.

To navigate optimally through the media menus in RaspBMC (the Pi operating system I use), a Context button is desirable. This is especially true if you use PleXBMC, a beta software add-on that lets the Pi become a Plex client.

To control the Pi without keyboard and mouse, I originally bought a $5 IR dongle with remote. I plugged the dongle into the Pi, which it recognized. I added a Chinavasion CVSB-983 “device” to the Harmony remote which allowed me to map the basic play/pause/navigate-type functions.  That way, I could use the Harmony instead of the cheapo remote.
The Android XBMC remote app does have a “Context”-type button (like a right-click on Windows). It works fine on RaspBMC and PleXBMC. But I usually use the Harmony remote rather than the smartphone app.
(*Later note: XBMC has been renamed “Kodi”, and OSMC has superseded Raspbmc; in my new comment below, I added a new, much simpler way to add the Context button under OSMC.)
So after considerable googling (especially here and here), I plugged the dongle into my Windows PC (which it recognized), aimed the cheapo at it, and used free software ShowKey to find out what code was being sent when I pressed a useless yellow button.
ShowKey translated it as Ctrl-Alt-4, and gave the XML code, which could be modified for the Pi:
<four mod=”ctrl,alt”>Notification(Key, four, 3)</four>
2014-09-29 22.53.18

And there it is.

This button was simulating a Ctrl-Alt-4 on a keyboard, which my Windows computer was configured to interpret as some kind of notification. I changed the code snippet in my Notepad to this:
<four mod=”ctrl,alt”>ContextMenu</four>
Now FTPing into the Pi with WinSCP/Notepad++, I copied the keyboard.xml file from deep in the OS (/opt/xbmc-bcm/xbmc-bin/share/xbmc/system/keymaps) to a userdata area (/home/pi/.xbmc/userdata/keymaps), so that the new copy would supersede the original. Then in the Global/Keyboard area of the .xml file, I pasted in the above code (make sure the double quotes are non-italicized), so that a push of the yellow button would be interpreted by the Pi as a command to pop up a context menu . After the Pi was rebooted, the cheap remote had a working yellow Context button.
Once I added a soft button to the Harmony to send the yellow key IR codes, I had a context key on the Harmony!
Sometimes the little things are the most satisfying.