Self-Hosted Streaming – 2022-01-23 Update

I may have mentioned before – verbally to persons since I’ve not posted about it before – but there are a number of streaming services that can be utilized.

Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Disney Plus and a whole slew of others exist. For personal servers, there are ones like Plex, Emby, JellyFin and – on the much older scale – XBMC. You can look up each one and check out the features – I’ll be going into details of a few soon, but the focus will be functionality and the “watch together” feature.


Fortunately – or unfortunately maybe? – COVID came around and forced everyone to stay indoors. This then prompted the various companies to implement methods for friends/family to watch content synchronized. I honestly don’t recall who was first, but users all over had various things developed that pushed things forward to where they are now.

One of the mentions would be the MPC (Media Player Classic) ports that have been around. There was an addon to a version that allowed you and friends to “watch together” any video file. The downside is that everyone had to have the same video file on their system, and then have the addon running. This would then synchronize the playback – mostly – but it would not allow pausing by anyone. That means – if I paused it would only pause for me. I believe later iterations developed on this, but by then the big companies had caught on.

Enter the “watch together” features from Netflix, Amazon and the other big players. These allowed users of the platform to plan a date/time and stream the same content. This would be hosted on the provider (Netflix/Amazon/etc) and the play/pause would be global. This means if someone had a call or needed to rush to the bathroom, everyone would be paused until someone hit play again. I believe Netflix took things a step further and allowed for a sidebar chat to be available.


Some persons that either have private content – or “not so straight” content – would want to have these features available as well. Enter services such as Plex and Emby.

Plex was more along the “commercial” line while Emby was somewhere on the fence about being “commercial” in comparison to Plex. The main fork of Emby became Jellyfin, and I assume that the open source core components are the same, but development has differed along the way.

Regardless of which you choose, each has their pros and cons – but each will allow you to selectively give access to your personal library. This content can be hosted on your PC at home, or on a server somewhere else that you rent/own. You could – for example – place your wedding or funeral videos in a shared location that could then be streamed to persons that you grant access. Let’s get into the main three.


Plex is by far the “top dog” when it comes to a commercial product with great features. As with the others, it’s a streaming media server and service that you own and place whatever content you like there. The difference with the others is you pay for monthly, yearly or lifetime subscriptions which opens up other features.

Based on how Plex works as a service, you share your content with other Plex users based on their email/username. You can specify what content they can see, and you can have a “local” login set for your household with parental controls available.

Plex was the first of the self-hosted services to have a “watch together” feature available. This pushed the envelope and made it the #1 service in the self-hosted category.

As of this writing, Plex still works nicely but has some recent bugs that may be related to an influx of users, or changes to coding which has caused the service to take a downturn. Specifically with remote hosted content, your videos will play fine – pause fine – resume fine. Seeking through a video (fast forward or rewind) now causes the video to playback at 2X speed for some strange reason. The “watch together” feature has become extremely buggy, and the issues seem to be across the board.

While Plex is probably still the easiest to find and install on any device, the current problems make it unbearable to keep using. As a more “commercial” service, I expect that the issues will be fixed – but there seems to be no timeline. Work was done on the back-end it seems, and some features were added, but the playback issues and “watch together” issues still persist. This has been going on since December 2021.


Emby has (or had?) cemented itself squarely at the #2 position when it came to a Plex alternative. The mixed open and closed source code with stalled development seems to have caused a diminished following.

While Emby is still one of the best self-hosted services available, the lack of a “watch together” feature has caused persons to move to either Plex or Jellyfin – which the latter is a fork of Emby. We’ll get into Jellyfin next, but let’s look at the Emby features.

Emby allows you to do most of the things that Plex does – except “watch together” – yeah – sorry about that. I’m kinda upset that Emby has not added this feature. But let’s move on.

Emby allows you to easily and quickly log in using a code – Plex does something similar with a “claim code” for the servers. Emby allows you to set parental and other restrictions to users. Emby, though not as popular as Plex, has begun to have apps available in mainstream TV stores. Let me get into that a bit…

Prior to the prevalence of Android TVs, each manufacturer like Samsung and LG would have their own stores. You could still “sideload” Android apps, but they were not always easily supported. Plex was available in these stores, but Emby has started to gain a presence there as well. In terms of simply installing from my Samsung TV – some difficulty on other older models – Plex is king of this while Emby would be the close second.

If your TV isn’t 100% smart or running Android, I would suggest using an Android box or an Amazon Fire TV – stick or box. This would allow very easy installation of any streaming service.

Emby has premium features that can be purchased, and they also have a lifetime option. Unlike Plex that only periodically offers the lifetime, Emby has it available for purchase whenever you want.

That’s about it for Emby – so let’s get into the #3 on this list.


Welcome to the new kid on the block that has blown everything else out of the water. Almost.

Jellyfin is a fork of Emby with a lot of community work going into it. While Emby still has an active community, one of the biggest requests has been a “watch together” feature to keep up with Plex. For whatever reason, Emby did not progress with the feature. Community members made two main addons which work, but they require a bit of technical knowledge to get it working.

Someone – or a group of persons – developed “Jelly Party” as an option for Jellyfin. This was a website that you could go to and follow the instructions. It would then allow synchronized playback with a “watch party” situation. Because Jellyfin is a fork of Emby, this feature ended up working with Emby as well. Jellyfin then integrated this into their later releases and it’s now a part of the mainstream Jellyfin. This leaves Emby in the dust. Sort of.

One of the issues I’ve had with Jellyfin recently – on a Fire Stick – is constant crashing of the app. This doesn’t happen in the browser, but sometimes you want to watch on the bigger screen.

Jellyfin is 100% free and has the community assisting with development. This seems to push the overall process faster than Emby, but it may still take some time before Jellyfin becomes more mainstream.

Honorable Mention

What persons have been doing is using YouTube, FaceBook, Discord and other services to stream video that they’re watching. While this works, it’s entirely up to a single person to manage the playback. There’s also the risk of an account being banned if it’s reported as playing “questionable” content.

In Closing

Plex, Emby and Jellyfin are great tools regardless of which you pick. The issues I have with one or the other may only be specific to my servers or media. I would recommend that you try out the one you like and see if it works for you.

For general playback, Plex is unbeaten overall. The CPU usage for transcoding is lower than the others, but the current issues with playback and the “watch together” not working is a pain.

As a 100% free tool, Jellyfin is the next best thing since sliced bread. It works overall, but the recent issues with crashing on the Android platform (Fire Stick specifically) makes things a bit tedious. If you want to watch together though, it’s probably the best choice currently. For self-hosted that is.

Emby is probably the most stable of the three mentioned. It works great overall, but the main reason persons shy away is the absence of the “watch together” feature. If you only want your library shared for yourself and watching with friends is not a concern, then Emby is definitely the one I’d suggest.

If there’s something else that you’d like to suggest, please do so in the comments area so we can discuss it. Have a good one!

Dealing With Macs

This is something that I’ve discussed with friends a few times before. I have friends that are hardcore Mac users – some are in the middle – and some are adamantly against Mac. I’m…in the middle I guess from a user perspective. From a HARDWARE perspective – I love them. From a TECHNICIAN perspective? Hatred. I’ll explain.


If you’re just using the device, the stability is excellent. The lack of virus infections and lovely interface makes it easy. Once you get into the ecosystem it’s a quick and easy transition from any one Mac device to another. The iOS and OSX interface is very similar. The fact that your purchases stay with you is great! A little annoying that most things are paid, but most of them are worth it. Some apps as well do far better on the Mac than on any other platform. Except maybe Linux in some cases.


With the exception of exploding phones and other things you’ll find online, the Mac hardware is pretty solid. There are small nuances that are integrated that you may not really notice, but it’s there and quite satisfying. Like the Apple Pencil for example. It is balanced to ensure that it will always roll to a particular side once on a flat surface. Little things that make a big impact.


Macs are a nightmare to work with – especially if you don’t have another Mac to use. From having to back-date the system in order to reinstall, to having to FORCE INSTALL an OS in order to update – these are the particular things that make it difficult to work with. Macs have forced obsolescence ingrained in their DNA. Regardless of how good your Mac is, it will become obsolete to the point that it’s not useable. If you’re not a technical person, you have no choice but to change your Mac at end of life.

The “end of life” situation is fine for persons in countries that have good exchange and warranty programs, but the rest of the world does not have those luxuries. You buy a system and you need to do all you can to make it last.


As with any piece of hardware or software, I have little to no preference. That entirely rests on you the end user and your wants or needs. Doing video or audio mixing/editing? Mac. Don’t want virus issues? Mac. Want a solid piece of hardware that will last you 5 years or more? Mac.

If you’re in a country where recalls for defects can be easily accessible, then great! If you’re not – then you have to suffer with what you have. While Macs are great in lots of respects, the availability of compatible software (free or otherwise) is limited. Yes you can find some Mac counterpart to a Windows platform software, and it may even be better, but it is a hassle.


I have three case studies that I’d like to present – for the Mac enthusiasts. These are situations that I’ve resolved, but the level of tediousness was…tedious?

MacBook Pro with defective board. Off warranty. Problem is it doesn’t recognize the internal drive periodically. While data was retrieved – this is a “M13” SSD – the user was unable to have an OS boot on this device ever again. While I resolved this using an external drive, bear in mind that you cannot install MacOS on a USB drive. Just saying.

iMac with a failed drive. While I can’t recall the versions, it was something like Lion that shipped on the device originally, and it was upgradeable to High Sierra. Internet recovery – one of the BEST THINGS on Mac – put back Lion on the device. There was literally no way to get High Sierra on the device. None. Attempts to get the OS upgraded failed. Could not connect to the store to upgrade – would not install the DMG when downloaded – upgrade could not go through. Resolved by forcing an install using a patched HFS and a CLOVER boot tool from within Windows. Still had to back-date the system during setup for it to go through though. But yeah. Go Mac.

Last one. MacBook (not pro) that died. Was taken to another tech before who had managed to get the system restored after a replacement was purchased (identical). This is running OSX 10.5.8 or something – and the system can run 10.11.3 or something. As you know, any Mac that is outdated cannot access certain websites and applications cannot work – minimum requirements and all that from the forced obsolescence. This one was a bit more tricky. Even after getting the “El Capitan” installer app set up on a “High Sierra” system – then exporting it to USB – the thing refused to install. Booted fine and everything, but REFUSED to install. This was “bypassed” using a forced install method – not the date/time method. But these are the things that you go through when working on a Mac.

Much of the problems with OS reinstalls could be resolved by validating the model/serial during internet restore, then putting on the last version available instead of having techs go through all these hoops. Having something on the back-end do this so the user will always have the latest version for their system would be best IMO.


Macs are great devices. They are pretty stable in both the hardware and software. If you’re an end-user then you won’t have many issues, and if you have an upgrade program that you can get into – you’ll have zero issues. If you’re in a country where you have to stay on an older model for an extended time? Ensure you have backups. Get a technician to create the install media for your current/latest OS and have that saved somewhere. Whether iCloud or some other cloud backup – ensure your important files are safe. The cloud storage thing applies to EVERYONE – not just Mac users.

If you’re not purchasing “official” software then go Windows. You can find more “unofficial” software and free software that can work. If you REALLY want to go fully free – go Linux.


Good night everyone. This will be my final post on the matter of outstanding balances for this year (2022) before I get back to regular tech posts – periodically.

I checked today and it will cost 30% of what is owed plus GCT. I don’t mind since something is better than nothing – and with some persons with outstanding amounts, that’s been the case for months/years.

If JPS/NWC is not paid then your service is disconnected. I may not be as large as they are, but I do have overheads that need to be addressed. Having me tied out for an extended period of time makes me have to shift things up. As a client – if you had to wait until you paid everything up front, you’d have been highly inconvenienced and unable to meet deadlines or get work done. I usually get the job done beforehand as most persons need their equipment in order to earn.

Let’s leave it at that. Let’s hope that the general outlook for persons in 2022 will improve, and persons will be more forthcoming with their status.

2022 – Update to collections & service terms

Happy New Year everyone. 2022 wants to be 2020 too….started off badly if you ask me. Aside from family passing away, we lost Betty White in December and started the year with Sidney Poitier leaving as well. While there are other celebrities that we’ve lost, those are the two most prominent ones that are easily identifiable to locals (Jamaicans) if you ask me.

One of the younger deaths in 2022 was Bob Saget. That was unexpected if you ask me.

Now – with those unpleasantries out of the way – let’s get into some more unpleasantries. The topic of the post.


While there are no major changes to the terms, there will be updates to how I handle some things. I will also be updating these terms on the main site. I’m probably going to be lazy and type it out here then just copy/paste into the main site. Or not.

I’m going to be rather blunt about certain topics here. This has come out of necessity. I will also go a bit more into details about certain clients here – without getting too specific. I assume you will read the details and be aware of where things are.

Unfortunately I’m getting older – and I’m getting a bit less tolerant when it comes to providing the services without payment being sent. I love I.T. There are few things that I enjoy as much as doing repairs and troubleshooting, but having a love for something does not pay the bills.

My day job is my priority. If I’m not able to address your issue in a timely manner, I’ll refer you elsewhere or discount your repair if you’re willing to wait. as I’ve said on the main page link, some persons have had me waiting for payment for 3+ years now. I’ve held old devices for persons for 5+ years. It’s going to stop.


I have two cases that I’d like to highlight. Just to give examples and make the persons involved aware.

One customer I ensured to have the system back up and running as it’s needed for them to earn. Partial payment was done, but almost 50% of the invoice has been outstanding for 3+ months now. That’s on the lighter end of tings.

The next customer – I’ll highlight that this is a business – has owed for 6 separate invoices within 2018, and only 1 of 6 has a partial payment. That’s going on 4 years now.

I’m not doing it again. I’m sorry. The details are on the website – which covers my legal obligations. While I already have a network of IT persons that I spread delinquent names among, I am going to check with my lawyer about posting the names of these persons/businesses online. Maybe I should. Maybe I can’t.

The information given to the network of IT persons/businesses simply has the details of the offender, and a warning to ensure that collections are done. But some offenders will not have me doing work for them ever again. I’ve been patient enough I believe.

I’d like to mention something – just so individuals don’t think I’m picking on them and praising businesses. Government is no better. Had a situation where one of the Parish Councils owed me for a printer repair for 2 years. When they needed me again – I sent someone else. After the other person visited twice and brought reminders physically, they finally paid. Government of Jamaica. TWO YEARS.


That’s it for now. I’m done being that nice. I love what I do – but free work does not cover the petrol cost (have you seen those lately?) or the electricity costs to do the work. Has got to stop.

Especially for those who have long outstanding payments – if no effort is made to clear the balances, the collection will be handed over to an agency.