QNAP 451+: Hardware Accelerated Transcoding

I’m having problems with Plex using too much CPU to transcode files. Actually, I’m not sure why it’s transcoding to an AppleTV 4, it should be able to Direct Stream .mkv files. I’m trying to go ahead and use the QNAP hardware accelerated transcoding engine.

First problem, all transcode requests are returning, “Failed: File read/ write error“. No logs for the failure, so off to ssh I go. The transcode command lives in: /mnt/ext/opt/medialibrary/bin. There are three commands we care about:

  • mfytranscodesvr
  • mytranscodecmd
  • myvatranscode

Running the first seems to indicate it already running, and the second seems to kick-off another failing transcode. The third command is interesting because it appears to the be accelerated version. It’s actually a symbolic link to: /mnt/ext/opt/QDMS/bin/myvatranscode.

A quick check shows that the entire /mnt/ext/opt/QDMS directory is missing. This is apparently because I turned off DLNA streaming. By re-activating the “Media Streaming Add-on”, the accelerated streaming appears to be working now.

We’ll have to see if Plex is smart enough to pick-up the transcoded version when available.

QNAP 451+: SABnzbd/Sickbeard setup

  1. Install the Python 2.7 from the QNAP app center.
  2. Install the following qpkg from the QNAP community app repository:
  3. Configure SABnzbd with Usenet servers, and SickBeard with shows to search.
  4. Make sure that SABnzbd is configured to post-process by using the nzbtosickbeard.py script.This will also require configuring the values in: /share/Download/nzbToMedia/autoProcessMedia.cfg.
    Specifically

    • SickBeard integration had to be activated
    • The port had to be set to 7071 (based the SickBeard.qpkg config).
  5. If necessary, patch the first line of: /share/Download/nzbToMediaCharTranslator.py to use:
    #!/usr/bin/python2.7 -OO
  6. If necessary, patch: /share/CACHEDEV1_DATA/.qpkg/SABnzbdplus/SABnzbd.py to fix a bug causing SSL timeouts while  fetching nzb files from indexers using HTTPS (as per this forum post):
    opt_out_of_certificate_verification = True
    if opt_out_of_certificate_verification:
        try:
            import ssl
            ssl._create_default_https_context = ssl._create_unverified_context
        except:
            pass
    
  7. If necessary, patch: /share/CACHEDEV1_DATA/.qpkg/SickBeard/SickBeard/sickbeard/helpers.py errors related to searching for nab files (from this forum post):On line 227, remove the str() from around the e.code so it reads like:
    logger.log(u"HTTP error " + e.code + " while loading URL " + url, logger.WARNING)
    

    Then, do similar down on line 234 so it reads like:

    logger.log(u"URL error " + e.reason + " while loading URL " + url, logger.WARNING)
    

Microsoft: too greedy to get out of their own way.

So I just started up my Xbox 360 for the first time in 6 months to try out the new Metro UI and media features. First stop, the Netflix app. After downloading the app and starting it up, I get told I need an Xbox Live Gold account to use Netflix.

Now I have a free XBL Silver account which is free, but I don’t play enough multi-player games to justify $60/yr. for a Gold account. I do currently spend $8/mo. for Netflix streaming — now Microsoft wants me to pay for Gold access just to get at content I already pay for.

To be clear:
I paid for the Xbox 360.
I pay for Netflix.
I pay for my broadband connectivity.

So all I want is for Microsoft to let me use the app (that’s already on my Xbox) to use the things I’ve already paid for. For this they want $50 each and every year (subject to price increases).

Fail.

For the record you can buy a Roku as little as $50 (one-time purchase) and get more currently available apps.

MythTV vs. TiVo

I’m hooked on TiVo. If you’ve never used one, I highly recommend it. Unfortunately, the company’s insistence on charging monthly for TV schedule information, means that I turned to other sources when I got an HDTV and wanted TiVo-like features.

Specifically I turned to MythTV (or MythTVHD if you prefer). Being a bit of a do-it-yourself geek, it made total sense. I have plenty of experience with Linux and open-source software. After buying the appropriate hardware, I put together the internals of a MythTV setup. It took some tweaking, but I got the entire system working with over-the-air HD recording last March. I had intended to build a custom case and wireless remote control setup over the summer, but then two things happened.

Zap2It labs cancelled free schedule service for hobbyists (including MythTV users). While I’m sure they had good reasons, but I decided to wait and see what was going to happen with schedule service for MythTV. Then a couple of weeks ago TiVo offered to sell me a brand new TiVoHD unit, and transfer the lifetime service from my old (standard-def) TiVo for a total cost of $498. I pretty much jumped on the offer.

So after 6 months with MythTV, I’m now using a brand spanking new TivoHD box. How do they compare?

    MythTV:

  • supports playback of DVDs
  • can rip DVDs to the hard drive
  • unencrypted HD signals only
  • can detect and skip commercials
  • works with whatever size hard drive you install
  • scheduling now costs only $2/month

    TiVoHD:

  • better user interface
  • two tuners built-in
  • supports encrypted HD via 2 cablecard slots
  • can fast-forward through commericals
  • can hack it to work with any hard drive
  • scheduling costs $5-$13/month
  • it just works

Truthfully, it’s that last bit that’s the clincher. It took me days to get the MythTV setup to where I wanted it, it took me no time at all to setup the TiVo. With lifetime schedule service from TiVo, the benefits of MythTV are minimal.

So I think I’m going to punk out, and dismantle my MythTV box. I suppose I could just turn it back into a gaming rig, but I don’t really need one of those anymore…

I’m tired of this…

Between our current lousy administration and the local government enacting legislation just to force students out of the community, I’m really getting fed up. This time, Congress has proposed cutting NPR & PBS budgets by 23% now, and completely in 2 years.

From an article in the Boston Globe:

On a party-line vote, the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees health and education funding approved the cut to the budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which distributes money to the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio.

[…]

The same appropriations subcommittee called last year for an even more drastic cut of $223 million from public broadcasting programs. At the time, Republicans attacked the PBS for programming they said represented out-of-the-mainstream viewpoints, …

Check out the article yourself for more details, and sign the petition against this move over at MoveOn.org.

Love Monkey

So, I missed Love Monkey‘s short 3-show stint on CBS. The show, starring former Ed leading man Tom Cavanagh, seemed to be part of the huge, mid-season roll-out that led to several shows being cancelled after only a couple (or fewer) episodes. Based on a novel of the same title, I think the show suffered from an awkward title, and no confidence from the network.
But much to my surprise VH-1 picked up the show, and plans to air the existing set of eight episodes. Having now seen four episodes, some things are immediately apparent to me. First, the pilot wasn’t particularly good; there’s a distinct: been there, done that, typicalness to it. Next, the second and third episodes are much better. Finally, this show deserved better – I think the networks have lost the ability to be patient and nurture good shows. Possibly they don’t have faith in their ability to pick winners; or maybe the pressures of instant ratings feedback make patience difficult, if not impossible. But if the broadcast networks want to start reversing the trend of viewers flocking to the shows on the cable networks, they’ll have to start developing some of the same sensibilities that have allowed HBO and Showtime to start producing excellent TV.

I’m not surprised that Love Monkey has found a new, if somewhat temporary, home on a cable network (although this particular was a bit of surprise), and I hope that it florishes enough to get a whole new lease on life (more episodes). Do yourself a favor, catch Love Monkey on VH-1, new episodes are currently airing Tuesday nights at 9pm.