Fully automated media centre using Flexget, emby, Trakt and IMDb

Further to my post back in 2014 about creating your own automated media centre, I’ve improved on a few aspects of this.

Improvements made:

  1. Replaced Serviio with Emby. Emby is better than Serviio by a long way, and continuously improved.
  2. Enhanced my Flexget setup considerably with 4 private trackers and variables.
  3. Replaced e-mail notifications with Pushbullet push notifications to my iPhone.
  4. Added an NVIDIA Shield (not pro version, don’t need the HDD) with Kodi (and emby for Kodi plugin) to play media locally on my TV.
  5. Added Filebot to do automatic extraction and renaming of files into the relevant place for emby to consume.

Let’s look at the changes one by one.

Emby

Not too much to say here, other than Emby is awesome. You can add multiple accounts for friends, and content and watch history is synced across devices. I have multiple devices accessing it including Android TV/Kodi, Roku, Samsung Smart TV, iPhone App, and Google Chrome. I’m not going to detail how to set it up as that is well documented, but suffice to say emby is a great product and I’m a lifetime premium subscriber.

In my setup, media is automatically extracted by Filebot (below) after being downloaded, indexed by emby using real-time file system monitoring, and relevant meta data is downloaded automatically.

Notable plugins that I have installed are

  1. Emby.Kodi Sync Queue – very important, and provides instant updates to Kodi when new media is available and syncs library deltas to Kodi instead of the entire library.
  2. CoverArt – make things look pretty.
  3. Rotten Tomatoes Reviews – self-explanatory.
  4. Trakt – syncs my libary and watch history with Trakt (cos I’m nerdy).

Flexget

Flexget is an amazingly powerful tool, and is the brains of the setup. Since my original post, I’ve cleaned up my config and updated it for more recent versions of Flexget, and refined my configuration to abstract some of the configuration using YAML alises. My current configuration is below:

Read More

Beanfield FTTH – 2 month review and technical details

Around a month ago I posted a 1 month review of Beanfield’s 50/50 FTTH Internet service, along with some technical details and some of my internal network configuration.

Since then, there are a number of updates to post regarding my original review.

Beanfield Clarifications

Beanfield have been in touch and have kindly provided some feedback on my first review. I have to commend Beanfield for reaching out and actually providing some feedback – well done Beanfield. Next time, feel free to post comments so everyone can see your responses!

Firstly, the network hardware is actually a zNID 2600 Series Indoor Gigabit Active Ethernet ONT (my bad), and from port identification appears to be a model 2628A. This is different from the GPON version, as explained below:

The Zhone we use is not using GPON. GPON uses passive optical splitters to connect up to 32 fibres to a single fibre, which is essentially sharing a single fibre between 32 users. GPON is very common with fibre-to-the-home service delivery (for example, Bell uses it). We actually deploy Active Ethernet, the opposite of GPON. Active Ethernet runs like an everyday, ordinary Ethernet network in that every customer is provided with their own fibre strand, which runs to the Cisco switch we have in the building.

Next, some feedback on how my existing router was rendered pretty much useless by the default setup. Beanfield made the point that the majority of their customers are not as technically savvy as myself, and so they choose to manage everything via their own Zhone hardware.

This I have to take issue with to be quite honest, as I explained to them. Sure, this may work for the majority of customers. But there is an entire “prosumer” market, and it would make sense that most of this market would jump at the chance to get FTTH if they knew about it’s availability. This market will, quite simply, be left disappointed by the default setup and it’s limitations as they currently stand. Read More

How Toronto Parking Enforcement wastes taxpayer money – and how to get your ticket cancelled

Toronto Parking Ticket

Ever got a parking ticket within 10 minutes of your ticket expiring? Did you know there is a 10 minute grace period that they never tell you about?

Great, but want to know something else? Toronto Parking Enforcement is wasting your tax dollars, as they themselves have a 5 minute grace period even thought the city itself has a 10 minute grace period.

  • The Toronto Police Service Parking Enforcement Unit observes a 5-minute operational grace period before issuing a parking ticket for a time-limited offence, e.g. overstaying at a parking meter or a pay-and-display parking zone. The grace period is intended to ensure fairness and integrity in parking enforcement operations, and serves both as a courtesy to drivers, and avoids the issue of timing discrepancies between a driver’s watch, a hand-held ticket-writing device, and a meter or pay-and-display machine.
  • The City of Toronto also has an administrative time allowance for time-limited offences including expired parking meters or expired pay-and-display receipts. This is a separate practice from the Toronto Parking Enforcement Unit, and may allow a parking ticket issued within 10 minutes of the expiry of the time-limited period to be cancelled, rather than requiring that drivers request a trial and appear in court in these circumstances.

Honestly, how difficult is it for Parking Enforcement (which is a unit of Toronto Police, whose budget is paid for by the City of Toronto) to have the same grace period of 10 minutes? Apparently too difficult for our local councillors to figure out.

And if you aren’t within the 10 minute grace period, then fight your parking ticket anyway with the TicketCombat’s handy guide. It’s good practice for more serious tickets.

Beanfield 50/50 FTTH – 1 month review and details

NOTE: I have since posted an update to this blog post that corrects some of the technical aspects of the post, provides some further feedback from Beanfield, and points out some serious limitations of their service. You can read these updates in my 2 month review of Beanfield.

It’s been roughly 1 month since Beanfield came and installed my Fibre (FTTH) into my condo, and seeing as I couldn’t really find any online reviews (and zero specific details) of their service before signing up, I thought I’d write my own.

Installation involved running a fibre strand into the cabinet in my unit, which is not done by default unless a previous tenant or owner has had the service. The Beanfield tech arrived on time, and quickly got to work. It was overall a pretty painless process, and took around 2 hours to complete. Total setup time was around 2.5hours, and they charged me $150 for installation (you can also opt for $75 install and $10/month fee).

What you get

Beanfield appears to install a Zhone zNID GPON ONT, model 2628A Beanfield installs a  zNID 2600 Gigabit Active Ethernet ONT (8 Gigabit Ethernet and 2 POTS ports) – see 2 month review. Perhaps I am incorrect on the exact model number or GE vs. GE POE ports, but it’s definitely a 26xx model. Everything was neatly wired up to the fibre.

Below you can see 3 ethernet cables running to my built in Cat6 wall sockets (not used) and one cable running to my wireless router (that I moved into the coat closet), which is then connected directly to my headless server (also living in the closet).

Zhone Switch
Zhone 26xx GPON ONT

What’s interesting to note here is that this is essentially a router with 8 GigE ports and the fibre is terminated in the unit. There is no public network socket. This is very different from a normal Rogers or Bell setup, where you can install either a router or an ADSL/router combo (for DSL) and get the public IP on your own router. What this means is that your existing router is pretty much useless, and everything is controlled via the Zhone 26xx. Read More

Unpaid internships must be destroyed

Matt Bors, Political cartoonist for Medium, has published an excellent cartoon/infographic on how Unpaid internships must be destroyed, and encourages interns to “file their lawsuit today”. I couldn’t agree more, so check it out below.

In other news, Toronto lawyer Andrew Langille stepped in after reading my previous blog post about internships and Anokhi Media, and has offered his assistance – thanks Andrew, hope you can make an example of them and stamp out the practice in Canada.

Unpaid Internships Must Be Destroyed

Unpaid Internships Must Be Destroyed