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Converting Media Format

The beauty of Plex has not gone unnoticed by my family, having the ability to watch our local series and movies at home on the device of their choosing, while also having the ability to access it from outside of our home network. Recently, my friends have also benefitted from this, as I am testingtheir viewing experience on the 5 Mbps upload speed of our fibre line. So far I haven’t had any complaints, although I don’t believe that I two people have attempted to watch at the same time.

The one side of having the ability to watch the media on all of these devices is that fact that not all of the files can be directly streamed without being converted. This results in many of the devices having to transcode the media while watching. Fortunately for those devices, they do not have to do the transcoding as that responsibility falls to the Plex server…

These old media formats (ahem!! Looking at you *.avi), require transcoding in order to be viewed by these devices. This puts undue stress on my home PC to transcode these files whenever someone wants to watch them.

Fortunately, this can be resolved. The use of ffmpeg in this case means that all of these titles can be converted to formats/containers which don’t require transcoding.

I have a large amount of media stockpiled on the different hard drives on my PC, currently sitting at 590 movies, and 88 shows. This would take a while to go through each and every movie and episode to do the conversion.

I made a repo with some scripts in which to do this, it also has a script which backups a list of the movies and series.

This conversion process, ideally, converts the files in-place, so that the old versions are not kept. One of the first parts of the script is to rename all of the folders and files so that there are no spaces in the names, as this breaks the script. This is all built in.

So far this has been performing as required. The AVI file type is not used much anymore, so this is often a once-off process, however, it simplifies this process greatly.


SVG Graphics in LaTeX

I have often required the ability to import SVG graphics into LaTeX, this is often to save time, or sometimes the conversion process doesn’t always come out as I wanted.

I found a convenient method in which to convert an SVG image to a PDF which can then be imported into a LaTeX document. I found it from the folowing link.

Essentially, Inkscape supports PDF and LaTeX exporting. This means that, the document is exported as a PDF, however, the text can be placed in a .tex file. This is often convenient when the font needs to stay consistent.

Simply, if Inkscape is installed, and it is on the systems PATH, then simply use:

inkscape -D -z --file=image.svg --export-pdf=image.pdf --export-latex

Include the generated .tex file which will import the image:

\begin{figure}
    \centering
    \def\svgwidth{\columnwidth}
    \input{image.pdf_tex}
\end{figure}

This useful code is what is written in the stack exchange post.


Media Backup

The past couple of months have got me a bit worried about the reliability of my home PC. I have had two hard drives fail me since I first got my PC all those years ago. Hard drives fail, often for no reason at all, which begs for a backup system to be put in place. The meaning of backup in this circumstance is not to backup the actual original media, but rather to backup the titles of the movies and series that I have.

The reason being that in the case that I lose a hard drive, I would have no idea what was on there and wouldn’t know what to get back.

There’s a lovely little tool that can be added onto Plex, with the name of ExportTools, which can periodically make backups (either csv, XLSX) of the names of the titles listed on the Plex server.

I am currently backing up these files to my Google Drive folder, just for simplicity.

Out of interest, I created a Python script to extract the names of movies and shows that are listed in these backup files. Here is the script:

import pandas as pd

movieFileName = 'Moviescsv'
movieData = pd.read_csv(movieFileName)

movieTitles = movieData['Title']

movieTitles.to_csv('movieTitles.csv', index=False)

showFileName = 'TVShows.csv'
showData = pd.read_csv(showFileName)

showTitles = showData['Series Title'].drop_duplicates()

showTitles.to_csv('showTitles.csv', index=False)

The aim of this script is to extract just the title of the movies and shows, and remove duplicates. This script can be found in a repository that I created in order to hold a number of different media tools and scripts for backups and things for Plex.

Watched Media Side Note

Is there something like this for Netflix? Surely Netflix keeps records of this kind of stuff, purely based on the fact that they are able to keep track of how far you are in watching episoeds/movies and it also knows what you have watched and gives you recommendations based on these. I believe it would be interesting to see what I have watched over the years on Netflix, maybe a bit scary, but still interesting.


Edit Commit Message

The other day, I was in a situation where I didn’t name my commit correctly, and I had pushed it at this point. Luckily, I am the only person who is currently working on this repository, so I simply made use of the following site to do the process. Worked like a dream.


Migrating from Wunderlist

I recently heard that Wunderlist will not be in existence much longer. It appears as if this happened a while ago. It has served me well over the past couple of years. I also see that they sold their service to Microsoft, who are renaming it “Microsoft To-Do”. They appear to be keeping Wunderlist going until this new application has reached parity. I am enjoying the new growth in Microsoft, however, I don’t really want to be tied to the Microsoft (365) ecosystem. Plus, I always enjoy looking for the best service out there.

Not too sure why I was looking at different tasking applications… anyway, now seems to be a great time to migrate.

I attempted to create a list of requirements that I need in a tasking application. What I need in a tasking application.

Requirements:

  • Create tasks
  • Create categories for tasks
  • Create due dates and reminders for tasks
  • Reminders should be in the form of push notifications and emails
  • Link up with calendar
  • Add notes to tasks
  • Android, web, macOS (future), iOS (future)

It appears that the best three out there (excluding Omnifocus and Things) which I have seen.

  • To-Do
  • Todoist
  • Tick Tick

The To-Do doesn’t have integration with station, but that isn’t a train smash.

I am going to start with To-Do and Tick Tick as they have the ability to import my Wunderlist data.

This leaves me with Tick Tick to get started with. Lets see how that goes.