At left: our vintage 1980s TV, playing a classic “8’s The Place” promo, brainchild of Carl Bartholomew, aka Uncle Zeb.
(See 26 minutes of Zeb’s promos on the TTM YouTube Channel.)
A brief explanation of how this was done will serve as an introduction to several future cord-cutting topics.
Zeb created a DVD of these promos for friends. I used a piece of software called MakeMKV to repackage the video files on the DVD into a “container” format, .mkv. So now I have a file called “8’s The Place Promos.mkv”.
If you have a new smart TV, this file is directly playable from a USB drive. However, all our TVs are mentally challenged to various degrees. The one shown above is completely witless.
Roku makes an inexpensive little box that hooks up to your TV, allowing you to watch internet channels including Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Plus (subscription required) as well as YouTube, Crackle, and a host of other free channels. We have three Rokus.
One of the free Roku channels is Plex. It enables you to see and play audio and video files residing on your home computers, via your home network. Download free Plex Media Server software on each computer, then point it to the folders with your audio/video content. The Roku boxes can then present your movies, TV shows and music through your TV, using a very simple remote control.
From “Science Fiction Movies” by Philip Strick:
“In the charming Hungarian short film, ‘Certain Prophecies’ (1968), a flying saucer the size of a powder-compact releases its mouse-like astronauts (Tau and Rho) on to a café table, where they gaze in horror at the ruins of mankind — the fish bones, the ashtrays, the crystal towers still glowing with dregs of wine (‘This was the source of their energy’). As they return to the recesses of space, they pass a gaping waiter, and their startled radio message flashes across the galaxy. ‘Our predictions were correct. Mankind has vanished from the Earth. And the Gods have returned once more.'”
Back to our workout room TV (above): it’s used by my wife to watch “General Hospital” episodes recorded on the DVR in the den.
The den TV uses an X10 sender to transmit its video output to the workout room TV, which has an X10 receiver (both devices resemble the little UFO in the film, “Certain Prophecies”, at right).
Any DVRed program in the den can be selected, viewed, rewound, or fast forwarded from the workout room, courtesy of the built-in InfraRed Extender.
The den TV must be prepped (VIDEO1, SPEAKERS OFF & FIXED AUDIO OUT), but the slight hassle is worth it for my wife. She is then able to watch her shows from the kitchen or the bedroom (both TVs have X10 receivers).
The quality is about as good as analog cable, but with an old tube TV, you can’t tell the difference, anyway. In fact, older analog sets do a better job than newer digital ones for this purpose.
But the “8’s The Place” video isn’t on the DVR, it’s a video file on a PC. So how did I get it onto the old TV?
I switched to VIDEO2 on the den TV, which selects the Roku box. Then I played the Zeb video on the Roku’s Plex Channel, and it was transmitted to the workout room.
More about these devices in the TTM Amazon Store.
They’re kludgy, but they get the job done for now.