Posts Tagged ‘media’


Posted: July 2, 2018 in Audio, Hacking and playing, Storing
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Bliss describes itself as a tool to fix the metadata in you library:

“bliss performs all the hard work in organizing your music collection; making it consistent, correct and complete with little effort.”

You define a set of rules about how certain key elements of your library should be. At it’s most basic this can be checking that the album artwork is present, of a minimum or maximum size, specific format and name. Additional rules define that the folder structure is correct, that certain tags are present and even if there are duplicates.

It basically scans your music library and then tells you which albums have failed to meet the requirements set out in the rules. It then offers to apply a ‘fix’ for each non-compliance.


Compliance Report (Images courtesy of bliss)

You can point it at your whole library and just let it get on with the scan and then come back a few hours later to see the results.


Initially installing and testing the app gives you 100 free fixes, with 250 additional fixes costing £12, 2500 fixes for £29 or Unlimited fixes for £59. You can buy as many or as few fixes as you need, although best value is definitely the Unlimited fixes for £59.


Some fixes are automatic – updating artwork is one of those… so while I pointed the app at the new rips directory that was being populated by VortexBox, it suddenly started using fixes to download the artwork. My own fault, I should probably RTFM, but I did wonder why fixes were being used without my ‘authorisation’.

Of more concern was the use of multiple fixes to fix the same missing artwork – I’ve contacted the creator to see if this is a known issue and I’ll report back.


So far I like what it is doing, but I’m reserving judgement to see a) how it handles bulk FLACs b) if the issue I experienced is solvable or just me being stupid 🙂



Images courtesy of Bliss

Prices correct as of June 2018 – Pricing page is here

** UPDATE **

2 July 2018 – I’ve been speaking to bliss support (& Dan the creator) about the issue. Nice fast response to my query and it appears to be bliss being a little too enthusiastic about doing stuff. My issue of using multiple fixes for the same album looks like it was caused by bliss finding the first file, fixing it, finding more files in the same folder, fixing them and then finding the remaining files.

I need to figure out how I can prevent bliss from scanning the folder structure until I’m ready – i.e. all my FLACs have been copied to the destination folder.



Music re-rip is a go

Posted: June 26, 2018 in Audio, Hardware, Storing
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All this playing with rippers, RPi music players and the realisation that the quality of some of our rips is less than poor means that I’m going to re-rip all of it.

Given the mix and match of tools, and the issues with having to apply the correct metadata twice, I’m thinking that I will concentrate on getting the FLACS all done and right before I then batch convert them to decent quality mp3.

To be honest, I also need to figure out what tool I can use to batch convert several hundred FLAC albums…. But lets get the process started….


  1. Rip CD using VortexBox and/or Daphile to FLAC. Store files to \\Tower\rips\flac
  2. Amend file names (add disk ID if required) and add artwork if already found from previous digital version
  3. Move album directory to \\Tower\rips\data for bliss fixing
  4. Use MusicBrainz to check metadata. On saving files are moved to \\Tower\rips\final\flac
  5. MP3 creator creates VBR version in \\Tower\rips\final\mp3


I think that will allow me to get it all done in batches, and allows me to fix any naming issues relating to CD1 & CD2 folder names that appear during the ripping. Also allows me to copy across any decent existing artwork (folder/cover) that already exists, reducing the work for bliss & MusicBrainz.

I’ll add reviews/comments for the next set of tools – bliss & MusicBrainz, once the process is further along.

New Audio Ripping Box

Posted: June 16, 2018 in Audio, Hardware, Storing
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So the old Vortexbox is no more, the Atom 330 is so 32 bit that very little decent software now works on it. More by luck than judgement I managed to find an old micro-ATX board that has now been roped into service.

Given the variable quality of the music library, I’m seriously considering re-ripping everything to FLAC to ensure the best quality on the various playback devices we have.

So the question is – do I install Vortexbox (and perhaps get around to trying Bliss as well) or do I look at alternatives?

Itinerant fiddler…. so alternatives it is!

So far I’m looking at 3 options: Daphile, Vortexbox and dbPowerAmp.

First up Daphile

Daphile is a Gentoo based distro that does basically the same as Vortexbox. It is much more locked down as there is no access to the underlying system, and there are no additional services that can be added to enhance the functionality. It rips CDs as FLACs and adds them to the onboard LMS server. It does support LMS plugins btw.

The UI is much more polished than VB, with very little effort I can configure it to rip to my unRAID server where our music is actually hosted. I can specify the quality of the FLAC, schedule backups of the local music folders and even access Jivelite to control local playback.

Metadata is added but only via a single source (I can’t remember I’ll add it later!) and has mis-identified a couple of CDs.

What it doesn’t do…. No DVD ripping, no Plex, Subsonic or Bliss servers. It doesn’t allow you to rip to FLAC and then automatically create mp3s as well.

Generally I like it, I’m in two minds about keeping it but I have a couple of issues.

  • The inability to also create mp3 files from the same source at the same time
  • Metadata quality
  • Inability to configure naming convention for the output

If I’m just re-ripping for FLAC, then it will do the job very well, but I’ll still need to do manual work to rename and check the metadata. As there are several hundred CDs, that’s not great.

Next up Vortexbox.


Emby Server

Posted: January 28, 2016 in Home Media
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As someone with several Kodi boxes floating around the house, I had always wanted the ability to synchronise both my library and my view state across the boxes. When this capability was introduced by using a central MySQL database I was happy – especially as it meant that rebuilds on low power devices would no longer taken hours as the entire library was rescanned.

Moving to unRAID 6 with it’s Docker eco-system made it even easier – no longer manually installing and maintaining the DB somewhere. Just install a MariaDB container, set up the user and off you go. I still needed to scan for new content on one device and update the DB, but at least it was on only one and not on all of them.

Migrating to newer versions of Kodi could still be an issue if the DB structure changed, but again, once the library was re-scanned by one machine, it was available to all the others.

Enter Plex

For various reasons – mostly that I had a couple of white NowTV boxes hanging around – I also installed Plex as a plugin on the unRAID 5 box. This was a much nicer experience than managing my data via MariaDB – using a central system with a nice GUI that then managed my library across multiple devices meant I could check the metadata and ensure that I had the right artwork. The trouble was I was now maintaining two systems, one Plex for a NowTV box and my work laptop for when I travelled and then ‘normal’ Kodi DB for the main playback machines. Replacing the playback machine with NowTV wasn’t an option – at that point they were wi-fi only and that wasn’t helpful. A small Plex OS install wasn’t available and I wasn’t going to install a full distro just to get Plex.

The Plex-XBMC plugins that were available didn’t seem to work properly – playback on one device wasn’t resumable on another and viewing history wasn’t always up to date. I also ran profiles on my system – the tv and films are split into stuff for the Kids and everything else. That way I can give the kids access to their stuff without worrying that they might decide to watch Alien or Kill Bill. While Plex eventually introduced this, it was a paid for option and it wasn’t enough on it’s own to justify the cost. With the retirement of the NowTV box, Plex became an unnecessary overhead and was shutdown.

Enter Emby

I’d played with Emby when it was MediaBrowser, but it was a little unstable and didn’t really offer anything new to me, so I left it alone. With the introduction of an Emby plugin that basically replaced the local Kodi library with a fake one that was fully populated from the central server, Emby became an important part of our setup.

Emby server runs in a Docker container on unRAID 6. It parses and manages the library providing metadata, art work and playback history that is then sent to each Kodi device at start up. It also includes profiles so I can map the local Kodi profile to a user on the Emby server and restrict access to content.

Rebuilds and updates are easy in that I have to install Kodi, install the Emby plugin and point it at the server and all my content is available for playback. This also means that I can run different versions of Kodi and point them at the same Emby server… making it much easier to update. I’m not updating several boxes at the same time to ensure that they all work with the new DB.

The one thing I DON’T allow Emby to do is handle playback – I deliberately tell the system to use the native file path for playback – and not to go through Emby. That way I’m not wasting resources on transcoding or double handling the files.



Emby Add-on for Kodi

So I ended up buying one of these a while back to have a play with. As a new version Duo2 was due to be released the next day, I got this one cheap from Apart from the slightly clunky interface, and the utter PITA to setup (thank god for the dummies guides found on world-of-satellite’s forums!) it’s really not bad. It’s not a user friendly environment like the Sky box, but given enough time I’m sure you’d get used to it.

Bonus number 1 is that I can now use any of my XBMC boxes to stream live TV from the Vu+ box across the network and view it. Goodbye MythTV back-end on Freya that never started properly!

Bonus number 2, I can use an app on my phone to control and stream content from the box (live and recorded) for viewing.

Bonus number 3, I can move the recordings off the box and store them on my unRAID server for editing or by telling the STB that the unRAID is just another disk, record directly to it.

Bonus number 4, I have plugged in a Hauppage Nova-T USB stick – basically a PC DVB-T tuner – into the box and can use it as a third tuner.

Downside 1 (and it’s huge!) I only have a single pair of satellite feeds into my lounge, so if I want FreeSat/Sky on the box, I need to disconnect my actual Sky box from the dish and connect the Vu.

Downside 2, it’s slow. The channel change is not the fastest thing I’ve ever seen. I understand why people in the W-o-S forums were encouraging people to wait for the new box with it’s massively increased RAM/CPU specs. Still as a secondary STB,it’s more than fine.

This has raised an interesting possibility for my next BIG project… a new satellite distribution system…. and the parts are coming together quite nicely 😀

How True

Posted: April 22, 2013 in Rants, Watching
Tags: ,

While cleaning out old emails, I came across this comment that a colleague had found out in the wild and then reposted on an internal blog. It’s dated November 2011 and still seems like nothing has changed:


It’s well into the 21st Century and we’re still using optical storage media. After getting my Logitech Revue (with Google TV) I no longer have any devices capable of playing optical storage media in my living-room.

Any time we buy a DVD/BluRay it gets ripped/encoded and lives on our household NAS. I can watch it on the big TV, I can watch it on my (Linux) PC. I can even transfer it to Mobile/Tablet/Laptop to watch on long journeys.

The only problem with this is content-availability, if its not available to buy in this territory then I’ll buy it from another territory and get it shipped here. If its physically not available to buy, but it can be found on the internet and downloaded within a few minutes i say its fair game.

Organisations like the **AA are just trying to prop up an outdated business model, on the one hand they want content to be legally considered a physical piece of property. You “buy” it, they “sell” it and thus it can conceivably be “stolen”. Under this basis online downloads are correlated as “lost sales”, last time i saw some litigation they’re claiming $3,000 USD per music track.

At the same time, they’re dead-set against the second-hand market, any other physical goods I can sell-on once i no longer need it – but apparently not. In this respect they want content to be considered a “non transferable license” for usage of the media – i.e. you don’t “own” it, possession of the media entitles you a limited license to watch the media.

As one Slashdot commenter noted, “Google, if you’re listening can you just buy the RIAA/MPAA and be done with it?”


If you’re not convinced, try asking one on the film studios for a replacement DVD because the kids have scratched it so badly that it doesn’t work anymore. If it is a “non transferable license” then they should replace it because I bought a license to use the media.

If it’s not a “non transferable license”, they shouldn’t get their knickers in a twist when the original disc gets ripped to a home server to prevent it getting damaged in daily use. As I own the ‘physical’, that means I can do what I want with it.

You can’t have it both ways.