Having A Little Plexibility

If you don’t have a home media server on your network, I’m not sure this post will interest you. Might want to skip.

Haha. Seriously, though. This is pretty nerdy stuff I’m about to explain. If you’re familiar with it, I apologize and will make this quick.

Plex is a web app that allows us to put all of our media (movies, music, podcasts, photos, etc.) on a platform that can be streamed to most devices on the network (like a smart TV, or a tablet/phone), and can be accessed by another Plex user if we give them access. Or by yourself, if you’re traveling.

For a real-life example, my brother and his wife travel a lot, often for a month or more at a time. Their son digitized their videos, from Hollywood titles they owned to home movies, which they can watch from anywhere. They have an old Mac dedicated to this, always on. They have, in a sense, their own private Netflix.

They showed me last year, when I spent the night with them in one of their rented condos during an extended stay in Arizona. It was cool, I admit, although I don’t know anyone who runs the risk of coming up empty when looking for something to watch. Still, the home movies part is cool, and one assumes that if you buy a movie, that means you might want to watch it again from time to time.

I’ve heard about Plex for years, though, and its predecessors. It seemed a little excessive and fussy, and possibly dangerous (I don’t allow anyone, including my brother, to access my stuff until I do the same thing with a dedicated PC acting as a server, with only the movies and security software to prevent leaking onto my network. I get a little paranoid, I know).

But it pushed me in a direction I thought I’d long turned from, collecting stuff. Movies in particular; I’m way past owning physical media of music, CDs and vinyl. I have a 21st-century sensibility about this, which predates the 21st century, actually. It seemed obvious to me way back in the 90s, that eventually every title, every TV show, every everything would eventually be available to stream. Very obvious.

So I looked at that collection of VHS tapes from when my kids were little and we were awash in Disney films. I’ve got a little Smithsonian-type collection of Winnie the Pooh videos. I wanted them gone, either out of mind or else reproduced in a digital form I could put on a hard drive somewhere and back up forever.

I sometimes have bought Blu-Ray versions of favorite films, mostly because they’re favorites and in a sense, I just want to have them. I’ve got All That Jazz, apparently a beautiful remaster with lots of commentary, and had it for over a year. The plastic is still one. It’s knowing I have it.

But, c’mon. Digital. I have hundreds of e-books. My wife has thousands of songs. I can most likely see anything I want to watch from the comfort of home, for a few dollars in rental fees or else through one of the streaming platforms I subscribe to (Netflix, Amazon Prime with HBO, and Criterion Channel; others in the house pay for Hulu and Crackle. I think I may dump Criterion, great films but not the ones that really appeal to me, and Starz seems to be a fantastic source of fun films I’d like to watch or rewatch).

So the whole point of this exercise, it seems, it so that I have a pretty interface that shows all the movies I own, digitized and sitting on an external drive, ready to be watched anywhere I want to watch them.

Screenshot_2019-05-30 Plex.jpg

Here’s a small section. I’m not sure why The Terminal is there, but I probably recorded it and kept it around (I like it, mostly because of Stanley Tucci and Hanks’ accent, and just the general sweetness). The rest vary from guilty pleasures (not really an action movie guy, but I adore the Matt Damon Bourne movies. Also Matt Damon). I love Elizabethtown because I really like the actors and the culture shock/warmth. I love heist movies and The Score is my #1. Thirteen Days is the best film about the Kennedy administration I’ve seen. The Cooler and Wonder Boys have star turns by William Macy and Michael Douglas (and Frances McDormand), respectively. Out of Sight is terrific. I’ve never actually seen all of The Big Lebowski, but maybe.

See? I think I just like the pretty pictures. But it does strike as an interesting idea in group sharing, if the security bugs can be tamped down. We all have different stuff. It’d be fun to share.

I have 14 of the Marvel movies, by the way. Two are still in theaters. I have a goal.

And an interface. It’s all I ever wanted.

I’d also love it if someone else had affection for Elizabethtown, because I feel sort of funny about it.


Chuck SigarsComment