All posts tagged Plex


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 official Plex apps on several of our media devices: Roku boxes, smartphones, and TiVo.

I have been using the unofficial PleXBMC addon with my $35 Raspberry Pi/OSMC-Kodi computer.

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

Preview it in the following series of screenshots.

They also show how I have organized for Plex my Windows-automated online recordings of the locally-produced weekend KWGS music shows (see the previous Cord-Cutting post). Details after the screenshots…


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


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


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


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.


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.


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)

Background: Clark Gibson TCC Jazz Festival 3/25/2016

Background art: Program for Clark Gibson’s appearance at the TCC Jazz Festival, 3/25/2016

I’d been hearing tunes from this CD, “Bird with Strings: The Lost Arrangements” by Clark Gibson + Orchestra, for months on “All This Jazz” (KWGS 89.5, 9 pm-midnight Saturdays).

The host, Scott Gregory, announced a few weeks ago that Clark would be playing a concert at TCC Southeast campus.

Great job by Clark, director Reid Bennett, and the TCC Orchestra and Band. Clark is such a nuanced, unbounded player. I bet Charlie Parker (the “Bird” of the CD title, one of the progenitors of bebop music in the 1940s) would have loved it, too.

Of course I bought the CD. (Onstage, he mentioned it has been in the top 50 nationwide.)

These days, I regard the physical CD as a backup copy with liner notes, and a souvenir when autographed, like this one. Seems like way too much work to actually put in CDs(!)

Windows Media Player automatically ripped it into mp3 tracks (320 kbps for maximum quality).  In my setup, it is then added to Plex when you update the media library.

Above is a screenshot of our theater room TV. The album art was retrieved by Plex automatically. But there was no background art in the database. Luckily, I had the concert program.

I scanned it, but it was in vertical rather than horizontal format, as needed for a Plex background. I used free image software IrfanView to halve the vertical dimension, and allow the image to be compressed (unchecked the “Preserve aspect ratio” box when resizing).

You can see the result after I added this image as the background. A nice reminder of the show every time I play the album.

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!

New Year's Eve in New York

New Year’s Eve in New York

(This post isn’t directly about cord-cutting or home theater per se, but about a side benefit of Plex, which itself is a very good cord-cutting/home theater move.)

New Year’s Day, I signed up at Planet Fitness in south Tulsa.

At home, we have a Diamondback 860Rb stationary recumbent bike, and a Schwinn Bowflex Comp machine. Both my wife and I have used them regularly.

The bike was originally for her, but I liked it as an rainy-day alternative to running, and have used it much more often in recent years. I can get a pretty good workout from the Bowflex, so much so that I let my All American Fitness membership lapse years ago.

But after using the Life Fitness brand machines on the ship during our cruise last month, I thought I might like to be in a gym again for all the muscle-specific machines that demand constant force throughout the range of motion with inertial resistance. It would also be an impetus to get out of the house more often.

Planet Fitness has Life Fitness machines, plus a nice setup in their huge aerobic area with 18 TV screens, set on 9 different cable channels. You plug your own headphones into the machine’s console, then select the sound for the screen you want to watch.

The 2 shows I missed while cruising.

On my smartphone.

Arnold on my smartphone.

PF also has free wifi, so while exercising, I can stream any of our Plex content (e.g., my recordings of KWGS’ “All This Jazz” radio show, or any movie, TV show or music album from our Plex library) from home to my wifi smartphone in the gym. (Also see this summer’s post Poolside fun with Plex remote access)

Of course, I can use any of the other phone apps, such as Netflix, YouTube, TuneIn Radio, etc.

Plex has another feature which would be useful if there were poor or no wifi. You can sync any movie, TV show, or album to a specific device (like my phone), then watch or listen when not connected to a network.

This has always been possible, but used to be a huge hassle, due to the need to convert to a device-friendly size and format, then load the media to a phone or tablet.

But with Plex handling the transcoding and downloading, it’s easy.

Most of the movies in our Plex library are ripped from standard DVD (480p resolution, 1.5 Mbps bandwidth). When selecting for download in Plex, I typically cut the bandwidth in half (to 720 Kbps), since it makes little difference on a small screen, and creates a smaller, faster processing and loading media file.

I just added a 64 GB microSD card to my phone, so I imagine I could get most of our video library on it if I so desired.

Right now, I have two of my favorite movies (“The Terminator” and “Dr. Strangelove”) and two “All This Jazz” shows downloaded to the phone.

The other day at the gym, I tried streaming “Diamonds Are Forever” from one of our home Plex servers. During the 30 minutes I pedaled, there were a couple of momentary freezes, but they weren’t a significant viewing problem. If I didn’t care for that, or if wifi bandwidth were a problem, I could have just downloaded the movie before heading out the door.

Which I need to do in about 15 minutes.

Happy Plexing and Flexing New Year!

iHome portable speaker and wifi-only smartphone with Plex app running.

iHome portable speaker and wifi-only smartphone with Plex app running.

Yesterday, I visited a friend with a swimming pool at his house. To provide musical entertainment, I took along my wifi-only Samsung Galaxy Note II smartphone (formerly my wife’s), and a portable iHome rechargeable speaker.

All my music content is currently stored on my laptop at home.

As described previously, the laptop and a couple of other household computers are running the Plex server software. That allows stored music, TV shows and movies to be played by devices running Plex client software. Up until recently for me, those devices were the Roku boxes and the Raspberry Pi running PleXBMC software.

But other devices can be Plex clients, too, such as a browser, a smartphone or a tablet.

With the free Android Plex app on my smartphone, the phone can play my music in the workout room or out on the patio via our private wifi network.

However, it can also work at remote locations, like my friend’s pool.

To achieve this, you must enable remote access on the Plex server. Here are the directions: Enabling Remote Access for a Server, and if needed, Troubleshooting Remote Access. This can be tricky, depending on your router. With my old warhorse Linksys WRT54G, I had to do Manual Port Forwarding as described in the second link to make it work.

The result was delightful. My phone had internet access via my friend’s wifi. I had used my DIY radio recorder to capture “All This Jazz” from KWGS the night before (I could have selected any of my music content). At poolside, I started the show and it streamed from the laptop in our house, 3 miles away. It played until it was time to go.

Just for kicks, I kept the music going in the car to see how long it would last after losing wifi access. I got to 61st & Memorial, still going. 71st & Memorial, still going. Got home, still going! Checked the phone, and it had reestablished access to our wifi and continued to play on.

Evidently Plex buffered at least 10 minutes of the show. You may recall that I chop the three-hour program into twelve 15-minute segments for convenience with Roku, where you can’t “rewind”. (Reminds me of an 8-track player when it switches to the next track.) Did Plex buffer an entire segment, or more? I don’t know.

But it is a lot of fun to use. All of this fits into a sandwich bag for safe and cheap transport to and from poolside.