Thursday, September 8, 2016

CarFlix (Or: netflix for the car)

Ok, so this post is not really about SharePoint at all... but a day to day challenge I recently had to face in my personal life.

Last week I replaced my car to a new car that didn't have a DVD player.

I knew the kids won't like it, and I was determined to find a better solution than an after market DVD player for the car.

The problem with these, you see, is that the kids have to constantly drive me crazy with which DVD to put in, change it, press play, stop, skip, volume, or find the movie they want to watch.

That had to stop.

Then I was thinking, you know where we don't have that problem? At home. Since the kids can use their iPads to watch Netflix or shomi (in Canada) and switch between movies and shows as they please with no need for those pesky DVDs, which we buy only for the car.

But, I didn't want to kids eating up all my data plan on my phone while we were on the road...

So, I was looking for this setup:
1. Some storage that I can rip my DVDs into movie files and store on it
2. Some sort of wifi hotspot router that I can put in the car to create a personal wifi network
3. Make the storage available on the wifi network
4. Install some sort of media server that would serve the content from the storage device

Now, I said to myself there is no way someone built all that so I started looking at raspberry pi as a way to build such a setup myself, which I was able to figure out and with a lot of hard work and about 400$ would get it up and running. Only one problem: it would shut off abnormally when cutting the power, and the OS might not like it and fail, which will require keyboard and screen to fix such issues.

Well, the answer came from an unexpected search. I looked up Plex media server, and in one of the docs I found that some NAS storage devices can run a Plex server right on them (#1+#4).
I started reading on that and found that a WD NAS can run Plex and also have WiFi built in.

I started reading on "WD My Passport Wireless Pro" and found this amazing model:
"WD My Passport Wireless Pro WDBSMT0030BBK - Network drive - 3 TB"

Now, here is what it has:
1. 3TB of storage
2. Built in WiFi that creates a hotspot
3. Plex server installed
4. All day battery
5. USB charger

Basically, everything I was looking for and much more! The battery was a huge plus.

I bought it, copied some of the DVDs to it, set up the Plex server and configured the WiFi hotspot - all using my iPhone without hooking it up to the PC even once.
It was a breeze, easy, simple, and things just worked (a reboot after installing Plex was needed to sort it out).

Now, when we are in the car, the kids iPad can connect to the "CarFlix" WiFi, open the Plex app in their iPads (or use the browser) and watch whatever movie they wanted.

So, this is my "CarFlix" setup. What do you think?

P.S. I found the cheapest deal that was in stock from Dell Canada's web site. Everywhere else it was out of stock for months: