How to create your own streaming TV service

I’m not really someone who watches most of the stuff on TV – I watch specific TV shows that interest me, the occasional movie, and I would watch news, documentary and some sports channels if they were available at a reasonable price without all the other crap.

I’ve therefore put my old computer to good use and created my own streaming TV service that shows me the TV shows and movies  want to watch, when I want to watch them, and you can too. Think of it like a PVR over the internet. Basically your own private version of this rumoured streaming service from Rogers with the stuff you want. Also gives me an excuse to go the bar and watch certain sports 🙂

Hardware and software needed

Here is all the stuff you need:

  1. A computer (or certain NAS devices) to store and stream from. You need a sizeable harddrive to store media on. I used two 1TB Western Digital Reds in mirrored RAID configuration (I’m tired of losing data).
  2. A fast wireless router (best to get a 5.8GHz model these days to reduce interference).
  3. Linux server – free. I used a Ubuntu Server 13.1 VM running on a Proxmox VE host, but you could use any Linux distro.
  4. Serviio streaming media server – free or $25 if you need it. I wanted the MediaBrowser web interface so I can play content on my MacBook Air.
  5. Flexget content automation tool – free.
  6. Transmission bittorrent client – free.
  7. Samba  file and print server – free. This is not required, but mounting the files on your laptop is also kind of useful.
  8. An account on Trakt.tv – free. Use to select what TV shows you want, but it’s also a very useful site.
  9. Some time and some knowledge of Linux (or a friend who does) – opportunity cost.

You can also add something like a DLNA-compatible TV to this mix, or an PS3 or Xbox (I found the Serviio Media Browser far preferable for browsing content due to the crap interface/functionality available on the Xbox). Read More

Tyent USA – a great example of customer service excellence

I like to write about companies that are amazing – either amazingly crap, or  amazingly good. Today I want to talk about Tyent USA. These guys make water filtering and ionizing equipment, which produces clean, filtered, and alkaline pH water.

You can read more about the benefits of drinking alkaline water online, I’m not here to talk about that. However, what I do know is that I’d much rather drink filtered, alkalaine water than pH neutral Toronto tap water. And because of that, I purchased a Tyent MMP-7070, I think around 4-5 years ago now. It’s worked flawlessly ever since.

One time I broke the connector on the back, and I sent it back for repair. I just had to pay for shipping, and it arrived back shortly after, as good as new. Perfect service.

This time around, I had lost one of the screws for the water diverter that attaches to the kitchen tap. This meant that the lever you turn to divert water into the unit kept falling off in the sink – not a huge problem, but annoying nonetheless, and I couldn’t for the life of me find one that fitted despite trying several times. Eventually I decided to send them an e-mail, and ask if they could send me a replacement screw, and to call me if there would be any charges.

The next day, I got an e-mail that a replacement diverter was on its way by UPS. They had sent me an entire replacement diverter, for free, and by international courier, all without any charge. This, ladies and gentlemen, is outstanding customer service, and I applaud you Tyent USA. When my water alkalizer reaches end of life, I’ll be sure to buy another one from  you.

Footnote: This was a perfect experience, right up until the last minute, when the package arrived at my door. Tyent had marked the package as being worth $50, even though they had not charged me for it. Fair enough. There was $3 in GST to pay to the UPS driver, and for my convenience UPS had “kindly” paid the $3 in GST to Canadian Customs. However, UPS were going to charge me a $23 brokerage fee to pay $3 the day before, for a total charge of $26 owing to UPS. This is 766% on $3, and can only be described as daylight robbery. Shame on UPS.

Windows Phone 7 to “eclipse” iOS by 2015?

In my daily FirceMobileContent update there was in interesting story today entitled “iSuppli: Windows Phone on pace to eclipse Apple’s iOS in 2015“.

If we are to believe this, then by then Windows Phone will have overtaken iOS in operating system market share, and will be second to Android. Hmmm.

Currently the market looks like this:

OS Share of Smartphone Sales

Windows Phone is at what, 3%? Negligible anyway – and has been declining for years.

The iSuppli projection looks like this:

iSuppli market share

According to iSuppli, Windows phone will be just above iOS by 2015, which I find hard to believe as Apple has been able to innovate a lot more than Nokia and Microsoft combined. But hey, maybe without Steve Jobs that will end?