Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Movie Library Rebuild

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had done a stupid and had accidentally deleted nearly my entire movie library.

Briefly, here's what happened.

My video library -- movies and TV shows -- was all imported into iTunes. Most were iTunes purchases, but I had also ripped DVDs and placed the files into iTunes. This allowed me to watch my content from an Apple TV device.

I decided to move my content into Plex, since that would expand the available devices for my content. That meant "ripping" iTunes video content (much like one does DVDs) and placing the resultant MP4 files into directories Plex would read.

After I copied all my DVD rips, I screwed up and accidentally deleted my iTunes purchases from my local library, meaning I had only a couple of hundred movies instead of over 1,500.

Even more simply put: tried to move my files, accidentally deleted most of them.

That wasn't fun. And I've been spending many off-hours rebuilding the library.

It's been slow going, but I am making progress. I did make a few changes along the way. Plex allows me to separate movies into different libraries. For example, I've created a separate library for short films. In iTunes, all videos were either Movies, TV Shows, or Home Movies. In Plex, I can arrange them however I like. So, I moved all my short films -- Disney, Pixar, Warner Bros. (Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies, etc), Buster Keaton shorts, Christmas specials (Rudolph, Peanuts, etc), and so on -- into a separate library.

That move alone dropped the number of "movies" I had to a much lower number. Currently, I now have 561 short films. I didn't have that many before, because all of the Looney Tunes -- including 112 Bugs Bunny, 53 Daffy Duck, etc -- were under "TV Shows" although they were simply short film collections. Now, they are listed as short films, and categorized by character. Buster Keaton shorts are all together. Georges Méliès short films are all together. And so on.

I've also been able to import Amazon-only purchases into my library. I actually has a utility that would help with that for some time, but never used it until recently. It does an okay job. I still have to do a process on those movies after I download them, but it's not much worse than doing an iTunes movie. And, I've now got them all in my library.

That leaves me with 1,292 movies. That's full-length movies. There are still 166 that need to be imported from iTunes. That means that, as of now, I have 1,458 movies, or will once I've imported the rest of the iTunes purchases.

That number will change soon, though. Once of the tasks I've taken on is getting the un-riffed version of the movies that Mystery Science Theater 3000 took on. And, I've made some progress there. More about that another time.

So, I'm making progress. And, when I'm done, I hope I live long enough to watch them all.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Washington's Birthday (2020)

George Washington
Today is Washington's Birthday. Well, it's not, but it is. It's the federal holiday "Washington's Birthday." Some people call it "Presidents Day" because some people are stupid. There is no federal holiday called "Presidents Day." Never has been.

When George Washington was born, the date was February 11, 1731. You see, the United Kingdom of Great Britain was using the Julian Calendar back then. There is an issue with leap years with the Julian Calendar, so the calendar was always slowly getting more and more inaccurate. Also, in England and the colonies, New Year's Day was on March 25. Go figure.

Anyway, in 1750, the U.K. changed to the Gregorian Calendar and fixed things. New Year's Day was now in January. The calendar dates were adjusted 11 days, which meant that, retroactively, George Washington was born on February 22, 1732. But that was only the first time people screwed around with his birthday.

The federal government did try to do right by Washington in 1879 when they added a fifth national holiday. Washington's Birthday, February 22nd, was added to the list of New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day as national holidays. Other holidays were added later, until we have the ten we have today.

In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act went into effect, moving many of the holidays to Mondays instead of the proper or traditional day. Washington's Birthday was one of those. And, just like the government, they made it so it would never be right. The holiday falls on the third Monday in February, which means it can be as early as the 15th, and as late as the 21st. It will never be on the 22nd, which is when it actually is.

Some states used to celebrate Lincoln's Birthday on February 12th. Around half the states have state holidays honoring both Lincoln and Washington today. And, states can do that. Still, the federal holiday is, and has always been Washington's Birthday.

If your state celebrates more than just George Washington today, fine. Honor Lincoln and the other presidents that your state recognizes. But, there is a reason the federal holiday is simply Washington's Birthday. Don't forget to honor the man without whom we might very well not have this great nation.

George Washington. February 22, 1732 - December 14, 1799. First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Space Junk

Suddenly, some people are all concerned about satellites orbiting earth.

The Night Sky Will Never Be Same...
Thousands of Artificial Lights Streak Through Dark...
Musk, Bezos Junk Up Atmosphere...

What these people don't seem to realize is that there have been artificial satellites and large space junk orbiting Earth since October 1957. By the time Sputnik 1 decayed and reentered the atmosphere, other satellites were orbiting. We've not been without stuff in space for over 52 years.

With the number of satellites that are being launched by Amazon, SpaceX, and other companies, it's suddenly a problem? The people complaining haven't seen the night sky in years. I can go out and look up into the night sky and see things. I still like to do that. But people who don't are suddenly getting their panties in a wad over some companies putting up satellites that will provide Internet access over the entire country.

Don't get me wrong. Space junk is a problem. And the increased number of satellites will increase space junk. But space junk in the form of more Internet access. Have you seen what's on the Internet. I'd stay clear of that thing if I were you.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Maybe She Has The Right Idea

Everybody on the right is getting their panties in a wad about Nancy Pelosi ripping up her copy of Trump's State of the Union address. Well, not everybody. I'm not.

You see, I think this should become a trend.

Think about it. Somebody stands up in Congress and gives some papers to the Speaker of the House. The person reads it, then the Speaker of the House rips it up.

Imagine if that was a bill.
"Madame Speaker, I present to you my proposal that the government get involved with the regulation of the color of vacuum cleaner bags. We cannot allow this plethora of colors of vacuum cleaner bags to continue to cause confusion among the American consumer when having to choose between beige, taupe, off-white, and light grey. My proposal would allow for the creation of the Department of Vacuum Cleaner Bags with oversight authority on all such items manufactured in or imported into the United States and offered for sale to consumers.

I also present my accompanying proposal that covers industrial vacuum cleaner bags and ensures they conform with the standards set forth by the E.P.A. and the United Nations Climate Neutral Strategy.

I also present my accompanying proposal to increase funding to the United Nations specifically for its Climate Neutral Strategy."
Tell me, would you be upset if the Speaker then ripped it to shreds?

It should be the duty of the Speaker of the House to rip up everything handed to her (or him, once things right themselves). If that means a presidential speech or two gets ripped up in the process, that's the price we have to pay.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Iowa Stubborn

With apologies to no one (although the late Meredith Willson might not care for this)...

Oh, there's nothing to say
About the Iowa way to caucus,
When we caucus
Which we can’t get right at all.

There's an Iowa kind of special
Chip and software attitude.
We've never been without.
That we recall.

We can be down
As your falling poll numbers in the backrooms
If you ask to get the vote results on time.
And we're so by God stubborn
We won't admit that there's a problem
For a week or more.
Want the results? You can kiss our ass.

But what the heck, we'll tell ya,
What we think we want to tell ya
You can throw a fit
But really keep it to yourself.
You really shoulda give Iowa a pass.

But we'll give you a kick
And a smack to go with it
If your polls should happen to crash.

So, what the heck, you're welcome,
Glad to have you with us.
Even though you may not ever want to come again.

You really ought to give Iowa
Hawkeye Iowa
Buttigieg,
Sanders,
Warren,
Biden,
Klobuchar,
Yang,
Steyer,
Bloomberg,
Gabbard

Ought to give Iowa a pass!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The trouble with peace

I saw something on the news about President Trump's Mideast peace plan. Not much, but a little bit.

The news has been mostly a dead basketball player and the Democrats' attempt to remove Trump from office.

And that's the trouble with peace. Nobody really cares about it. Well, nobody in the news cares. Peace means people not killing each other. Peace isn't good for selling ads, or posting clickbait articles, especially when it risks throwing a positive light on a Republican.

Not all of the countries in the area are in favor of Trump's plan. Jordan and Turkey don't like it, but Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE all are in favor. But none of that matters if you can't use the news to sell fear, or otherwise cast Republicans in a bad light.

The Republicans do enough on their own to make themselves look bad. They don't need the "media" helping.

Whatever happened to "give peace a chance?" For some, it's a 50-year-old song played on old people radio, and nothing more. Other than royalties for Yoko Ono, there's no money in it.

Monday, January 6, 2020

We can rebuild it. We have the technology.

What I Feel Like I Did To Myself.
Every now and then, I do something really stupid.

Oh, sure, I do stupid stuff all the time. Just ask, well, heck, anyone. But sometimes I elevate the stupid to a new level.

You know -- or you may not, but you do now -- that I have a large movie library. I'm not sure how many I have. I stopped counting in November. The count was at 1,525 at the time.

Since then, a few things happened, one of them really stupid, as I mentioned. First, I got some DVDs with a bunch of movies. You may have seen the type: 50 Sci-Fi Classics or some such. Of course, the "classics" turn out to be "Voyage To The Planet of Prehistoric Women" or the like. Not exactly "2001" or "Star Wars."

I mentioned in November that I was moving my content over to Plex. Everything was in iTunes because most of the stuff was purchased in iTunes. But, I decided to move to Plex because it was available on more devices. The DVD rips were easy. I was able to just copy them to the Plex library directory. The iTunes purchases needed to be ripped -- kinda like you do a DVD -- and copied to the Plex directory.

And, yes, ripping from iTunes is something Apple doesn't like. I understand, since it can lead to piracy. That's exactly how a pirate would do it if iTunes was source content. Only, I'm not a pirate. I'm not sharing or selling my iTunes content. It's for my own personal use on my own personal devices.

Now, with over 1,200 iTunes purchases, it's kinda hard to keep up with. So, I decided to use the checkboxes in iTunes (Windows) to indicate what had been copied and what was yet to be copied.

Then I started to run short of disk space. With a copy in iTunes and a copy in Plex, that meant that I'd be running out of disk space on that 10 TB drive. I didn't really want to upgrade the drive right then, so I decided to remove the iTunes content that had been copied into Plex. And that's when the trouble started.

With so many items in the library, one must be very very careful to ensure that things are properly marked so that accidents don't happen. I was not very very careful. Apparently I deleted my iTunes downloads that had not been copied instead of the other way around. So, while I still owned all those 1,200+ movies, I didn't actually have a local copy.

So, re-download them, right? Not exactly. When you have around 7 TB in your library and a 1 TB data cap from Comcast, you don't really want to try to do that. So, I decided I'd download some and handle them. Since iTunes checkboxes are remembered for content that's downloaded or not, I'm still able to mark content as moved to Plex. Just now it's gonna take a while.

And, it's gonna take longer, since I've decided to do this in two steps.

The first step is to get the content in the library. Simply put, get the Plex library running. Get content in it. And, the quickest way, particularly with the data caps, is to download the SD version of the content rather than the HD or 4K/UHD version.

This is not ideal. I want the better quality version to watch. But, I figured SD is better than nothing, so I've been rebuilding the library with SD versions. I've got 969 of the movies in Plex, with a few hundred more to go.

And, my count will not be the same. Previously, I was using the iTunes definition of movies to count the number of movies. Now, I'm not. I'm using what I think of as a movie to count.

You see, with Plex, you can have multiple libraries. And, I have a separate library for shorts. You know, Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse cartoons. iTunes counts those as movies. To me, they really are not. Same thing with Buster Keaton shorts. While "The General" is a movie, "The Balloonatic" isn't. In iTunes, they're both movies. In Plex, I'm able to designate them as I see fit.

This does lead to some inconsistencies, such as my designating 45-minute "Sherlock, Jr." and 34-minute "The Red Balloon" as movies while 51-minute "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is a short. That's because I think of "Rudolph" as a short while I think of the others as features. Generally, an hour is my cut-off, but if it just seems to fit differently, I go with what feels right. And, if I change my mind, it's easy enough to move the file to the other library. In a matter of seconds, Plex will re-scan the directory and make the change.

Also, all the Mystery Science Theater "movies" are now ripped out and stored as TV episodes. iTunes said they were movies. And, yes, they kinda are, but they're really episodes of TV shows. The actual movies they riffed were movies, and those that I have (91 of them) are movies.

Once I'm done with building the library in Plex, then I'll start replacing the SD versions with HD versions. That'll take a while. I'll simply add a "HD" column in my spreadsheet of movies and update to the HD version as I can.

I'm not sure how many movies I'll have once I've moved everything over. I'm still purchasing movies along and along, so the library is growing. I just don't know how big it is yet. I'm estimating around 1,300 or a little more. Yeah, I lost around 200 with the MST3K reassignment to TV. And I have over 100 short films, but I was over 1,500 before I started, but I hadn't put all the "50 Sci-Fi Classics" into the library. So, yeah, around 1,300+ is my estimate.

I do hope I live long enough to watch all of them when I'm done.