06/16/2017: Building my digital library (part 1)

Some time ago, I made two posts about how I have set up my home network for streaming shows from my computer to each TV and mobile device. This post is more in-depth on how I get the content ready to stream.

Currently, most of the content I am streaming is from television. Eventually, I plan on transferring all my DVDs & Blu-Rays, but not yet. I have two TiVo boxes that I am transferring the shows from to my desktop computer. In fact, the shows I am transferring are ones that my daughter likes to watch repeatedly. And because she likes to watch them so much, we cannot delete them from the TiVo, which means there is less and less space to record things my wife and I want to watch. Once they are available on a central location, I can finally delete them.

The first thing I did is try to figure out how I was going to stream everything once it was on my desktop computer. I wanted something that was free and would work with all the devices that I currently had. After a little research, I decided on Plex. When I first started this process, I was running Windows Vista on my computer, which was not currently supported. I ended up downloading a old version of Plex. Once I upgraded to Windows 10, I was able to unlock all the potential the app offered. Therefore, I recommend having the latest OS if you plan on using Plex.

Next, I created a spreadsheet for me to track which shows that I had on the computer. Plex offers documentation on how to name the files, so that it recognizes them as TV shows. You don’t have to follow the naming convention, but if you do, Plex will automatically add in additional information, such as original airing dates, grouping by season, posters, and a brief summary of the show. I incorporated the naming convention into the spreadsheet.

There are a few options to transfer shows off the TiVo. A few are even offered by TiVo. But, I decided to go with a program called, kmttg. Both the setup and use may be a little difficult for a novice, so make certain to fully read and follow the directions. It also helps to have Windows 7 or 10.

Once kmttg is set up, it gives you a list of shows to transfer. Be warned, some shows may not be able to be transferred, due to copy protection. Those shows are usually highlighted in brown. None of the shows I was going to transfer were protected, so I was okay in that aspect. The options I chose were to both have kmttg transfer the show and to have it convert it to a Matroska (.mkv) file. Transferring and converting would take time, so I would set up to have it do a few shows either overnight or while I was not at home.

Now that I had the shows transferred into mkv files, I needed to edit them. For editing, I used Avidemux. The TiVo often would have content leading into and out of the show, so I needed to trim that off. Some of the shows had resolutions less than high definition (HD), so I needed to convert them (more on that later). Lastly, some recordings featured two shows, which needed to be split up. Each edited file was encoded as a mkv file, using H.264 for video and AAC for audio. They were saved using the naming convention off the spreadsheet I created earlier.

This post is becoming too long, so I will continue it on part 2.

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About Thomas J. Brown

I am the last true Saiyan...wait, that can't be right...
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