Plex

12:23PM

All this time I’ve been using Sony‘s Media Player on the PS4 to playback my videos, through the Plex Media Server of my iMac. Admittedly, it’s a very basic and rudimentary system, but that worked for me, so I continued using it.

I also used the Beamer app for the iMac, which allowed any video file to be Airplayed on the TV through an Apple TV, and I used it for those quick downloads-and-one-time-viewing instances, mostly. But for the bigger files like movies and TV shows I still used the PS4 Media Player. (Which kept me in Plex upgrade hell, because somehow the newer versions didn’t want to play on the PS4, and I had to hold back and use an older one so I could keep using it. Go figure.)

Then Plex for the PS4 came along. At first it required a paid Plex account, which left all those freeloaders like me in the lurch, so that was out. But a few months ago they relented and allowed non-paying users to use it as a local media server (not as an internet media server, mind you, only local), so that was fine and dandy.

It was fantastic and full featured, showing me pretty menus and specific details on the files and whether or not I’ve started watching them and giving me a breakdown of how much of it I had watched, showed me subtle progress bars on the bottom of the posters and convenient markers on the corners to show me if I haven’t even touched the file yet, and all that. I welcomed it.

But I continued using Media Player to play the vids as it was a simple and already-learned system. Besides, using the Plex app on the PS4 required me to jump through many hoops first to actually get to it, and it took a hell of a long time to start up. A hell of a long time. So I stuck with Media Player, using a older version of Plex Media Server on the iMac from early last year. It was quick and instant, and easy to use, which was perfectly fine for me.

Then I got my new 4th gen Apple TV this week.

The ATV had a new Plex app that came with it (well, I had to download it off the App Store, but it was free). It required me to upgrade Plex Media Server to the latest version on my iMac, so I knew I might have to let go of the PS4 Media Player (and I did; the upgrade borked the PS4 app as usual—at least I’d have the actual Plex PS4 app to fall back on). So I took the plunge, and now I’ve upgraded my viewing pleasure to a full-on, complete Plex experience!

The app starts up quickly on the Apple TV, and features detailed menus and wonderfully laid-out graphics. They thought of everything. It’s a whole new ball game, and I don’t know why I didn’t do this before!

There are still a few differences between the PS4 version and the one on the Apple TV of course. For one, the layout of the files are more compact on the PS4 than the ATV, with the graphics (usually the movie posters) packed more per screen on the PS4 than the leisurely layout on the ATV. Also, the menu choices are more plentiful on the ATV, which was a whole new thing for me. I wish I could show you guys some screengrabs of the differences, but getting them off the Apple TV is a bit involved and requires me to buy a new USB-C cable in the bargain. And you can forget it on the PS4; that sucker won’t even allow you to get a screen capture at all—the software won’t allow it.

So, with this I retire my much-used and -loved PS4 Media Player, and upgrade to the Plex app on the Apple TV. I’ve given the app pride of place on the second row of the app menus, and I expect to give it much use these coming months.

Ain’t progress grand?

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My new 4th gen Apple TV

New-Apple-TV-in-Box

8:49AM

I’m softly playing Christopher Cross’s old song Spinning on my new Apple TV on my new flatscreen on iTunes Home Sharing through my iMac, the music coming out through my nice soundbar, and I’m enjoying it immensely.

Yep, I splurged and got a new 4th gen unit yesterday morning. My old, beat-up 3rd gen ATV had given up the ghost a couple of months ago—it had gotten stuck on a reboot loop and now refused to recognize any wifi or ethernet connection I threw at it, making it a nice, useless paperweight. It took me this long to decide to finally replace it.

To be honest, the new 4th gen had been calling out to me even before my 3rd gen broke down. A brand new, fast, slick tvOS, large storage space, brand new apps and games at last, and that wonderful Siri Remote with the glass touchscreen. You can actually converse with the damned thing!

The only difference was that it was twice as thick as the old one; otherwise it looked the same, even if it was missing the optical port, which Apple dispensed with (and I still don’t understand why; that thing was precious). The only sticking point was the price—it cost twice as much.

But I have my ways of getting great deals, and never mind how, but it came down to almost the same price as the old one. Got it from the guy yesterday, and I’ve been installing apps and games on it and tweaking it to my personal preferences since yesterday. I finally got it running just the way I like it this morning, and I’m about to explore its nooks and crannies.

There are a bunch of improvements and trimmings that Apple implemented on this one, although one fantastic and phenomenal one was old hat to me—the Aerial screensaver, which was designed for this new ATV but leaked onto the Mac a couple of months before it actually came out on that platform, and I’d been using it generously and liberally on my 27″ iMac for a while now.

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The glass touchscreen remote is great. All I need do is swipe across it and the icons and menus just zip by; this thing’s interface is really fast and responsive, and is just begging for a good internet connection to be really fantastic. It’s a good deal bigger than the old one, and thicker, and recharges via a lightning cable every three months or so.

I’m still trying to get used to the layout of the few buttons on it, and continually mistake the touchscreen, Menu and Home buttons for one other, resulting in repeated clicks and swipes.

The introduction of Siri is also fantastic here. You have to hold the Siri button down to speak to her though, and I guess that’s better than having the Siri of the remote and the Siri of my iPhone get confused with each other. The sequential responses are fantastic, allowing you to drill down into specific queries without getting bogged down in gobbledygook.

I just have to learn to converse with her in a unstilted. non-pretentious and normal voice and conversational pattern, just like I’m speaking to someone beside me (something I haven’t really learned even after all these years of Siri on the iPhone).

I’ve downloaded and installed tons of apps and games since yesterday, and left the bigger ones to steam on through the night as I slept, and checked on them this morning when I woke up. I had to delete a few of them though as geolocation put them out of my reach.

I still have to go through a lot of them, which I will do the whole day, as I’ve reserved this entire long Chinese New Year weekend to do just that.

I love times like these!

 

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I gave up on it

7:43AM

Dammit, I gave up. It’s too childish and simple. I can’t take it.

After almost a week of playing with it, I gave up on Star Wars: Battlefront. The X-Wing/Tie Fighter dogfights, the epic battles across vast landscapes and the hero shootouts just didn’t appeal to me. Me, the original, dyed-in-the-wool Star Wars fanatic.

I’m sure a lot of gamers would love it, particularly the rabid legions of SW fans out there, whatever their ages. But it isn’t for me, much as I tried to like it. The game is so babaw. It suffered in comparison, I guess, with the The Division beta, which came out (and I played to death) the same weekend I got SW.

Now The Division is more my style. Realistic (after a fashion, anyway), gritty and exciting, and way more adult than lightsaber and raygun fights, with its ruined, dystopic New York of the near future. I’m looking forward to its release on March 8.

And with that, I’m reselling SW today. I got it low, and I’m selling it high. Least it could do, after disappointing me greatly. I have a buyer already. Posted it late yesterday, and by the evening I got trade and outright purchase offers. I’m meeting the guy at Trinoma at lunch; he’s buying it from me at a 50% markup from what I got for it, and it’s still fricking cheap at that.

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I’m also replacing my 3rd generation Apple TV this morning. It gave up the ghost a few months ago, and got stuck on a rebooting loop. No matter what I do, it’s just stuck on that loop. I originally wanted to just replace it, but the newer 4th generation model that came out late last year is too attractive to pass up. Besides, I got an excellent deal for a brand new 32GB model, way lower than what it’s going for in the Apple resellers around here. I just have to shell out a little bit, and I will have me a spanking-new, Siri-enabled super whiz box.

Cool.

 

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It’s February?

9:47AM

Dang. It’s frigging February!

And here I was still getting used to January. I can’t believe how fast time is flying. It’s as if Christmas was just yesterday. 2016 will be over before we know it. And I’ll be 54 this month!

Dang.

In other news, Electronic Arts just announced this weekend their game Star Wars: Battlefront just reached 13 million copies sold in the two months it’s been out. Add me to that number.

Yes, I gave in and finally bought me a copy this weekend. Finally. After hemming and hawing and holding off all this time, and after everything I wrote about it being not really worth the money, here I was finally buying a copy.

Hell, it wasn’t as if I wasn’t getting a good deal  for it. Granted, it’s second hand, but that doesn’t really matter in the world of video games; it’s practically new! The guy was selling it for P1200, and I managed to get him to a flat P1k. The cheapest I’ve seen it previously was P1,800. It’s still selling at DataBlitz brand new for P2,500! Who could pass up a deal like that, I ask you?

I came across the game on the net just before leaving for brunch with Burt yesterday, on OLX. The guy had just posted it there just an hour before, and I was lucky to catch him early.  Met up with him in Trinoma after lunch, got it and went hurriedly home to play.

It turns out I got it just in time for the first major update too, and on the heels of the free Battle of Jakku update, so I’m not really missing anything (bitch of a download though). And I kind of like it or now. Turns out the full game is more fun than the beta, particularly the X-Wing dogfights, which was missing in that beta test.

Too bad I got it the same weekend as The Division beta came out, which means I gotta put off fully playing with Battlefront until that’s over. I’m playing The Division as much as I can before it expires. They extended it to tomorrow, which is fantastic. It’s shaping up to be a great game, with amazing graphics and gameplay I can live with. I just might buy this game when it comes out March 8.

Am I back to buying games as they come out? I certainly hope not.

At least I just wrapped up a writing project for January. At least the month wasn’t a total waste.

Posted in Commentary, Video Games | Leave a comment

Proximity detector?

osd_function

10:39AM

I’ve long been wondering about my PS4‘s activity detection scheme.

I leave it on for long hours and oftentimes forget that it’s on, I get so wrapped up in my work. So it patiently stays there, quietly humming and going into low-power, screen-dimming mode, until I pay it mind, whereupon it pops up into full brightness and awareness, ready to obey my command.

Or more.

Sometimes it’s eerie when it seems to detect any attention, however mild, even before I realize that I was going to pay it any mind myself. There have been times when I catch myself absently looking at my TV, thinking about how to phrase something, and being startled to see the PS4 pop into full awareness, upon which I access the menu and look at something, most often because I seem to think it’s expecting me to do that.

Or, I’m doing something completely unrelated to the console, but it pops into attention, seemingly hoping that I would pay it a similar favor. Or I move an appendage ever so slightly at my computer, a foot or an arm, and it springs into full functionality. Yesterday, I went out of my room, and it popped into attention as soon as I entered the room again.  And it’s on the far wall!

Frigging strange.

Of course I know it’s working off a sensor of some kind, and probably reacts to any rumble or movement in the room, but man, it’s damned sensitive if that’s the case. I catch myself ascribing the PS4 with some kind of latent sentience sometimes.

Sheesh.

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