Just thought I’d through up a quick post to tell you all about my recent carefree life, all thanks to several pieces of software that just work! Like many of us I like to watch my favourite TV shows week to week as they air in the US, but I don’t live there. Now for many years this hasn’t been a difficult thing to do, with ease of access to content via Torrent or Usenet and even Hotclient, FTP or IRC bots way back in the day you could always get what you wanted. The thing was that locating the thing you wanted wasn’t always hard, but all the crap you had to do from getting off a machine and into viewable format was.
I’ve been a avid user of Usenet for about the last 10 years. I’ve seen retentions go from 6 days to almost 2 years now. Usenet does cost money yes, but it’s fast! I mean take this comment with a grain of salt, but if your max connection speed in 2000Kb/s then you’ll download content from a good provider at that speed. No long waits! The problem with Usenet is that it was confusing for many years. My housemates were always great proponents of it, as they could often request something and I’d have it ready for them to watch in 10 minutes. The problem became when they’d tell their friends and they’d ask me for a description on how Usenet works. Needless to say, it isn’t as simple as you’d think to describe.
“Files are broken up into thousands of messages. You uses an indexing site like binsearch.info to search for the content you want. They create an NZB file of the files you need. You use a program to download it from a server you pay for. You par it, you unrar it and then you put it on a device that fingers crossed can play it.”
This would only raise 1000 more questions. What is a par file? How many pars do I need to download to repair? What do you mean I can add up their value for the smallest par requirement? What’s unrar? What’s a CRC error? When I search for something how do I know it’s what I want? …
To return to the point of this post I just wanted to say that I haven’t looked up a single NZB in about a month, but continued to get all my favorite shows. Enter Sickbeard! Sickbeard is an amazing tool that essentially keeps an eye our for new NZBs on services like NZBMatrix or Newzbin. It keeps track of what shows you already have, adds shows in the format you request as they become available and allows you to added wanted shows you might have missed. It’s essentially still in Alpha, but I’ve not had a crash or problem in 40 days.
Sickbeard nicely integrates into your favourite NZB downloader SabNzbd+. Again this is an amazing piece of free software. It downloads, pars, downloads repair pars, extract and categorizes your downloads for you. This almost never has a problem.
Plex and a jail broken AppleTV. For about 2 years I was running XBMC and Plex in different configurations off a PC and then a discarded Mac Mini. This was always problematic. Partly the problem was that I didn’t have the money to go out and buy a new shiny HTPC or Mac mini, so my old noisy hardware would often fail. So you can imagine the joy I felt when I heard the $99US Apple TV2 could run a Plex player when Jailbroken. The price was small so I was totally willing to take a gamble on it, but I must say I was skeptical. I thought I would get low quality and more to the point it would be super buggy and crash a lot. Amazingly it hasn’t. There are a few bugs and it does crash time to time for me, but only ever in the menu. Never once has it during playback.
So it’s Saturday and I don’t get a chance to watch any of my shows during the week, so I’m off to do that now. Nice to know they’ll all be there despite me having made no effort at all.