Tag Archives: Project Magnavox

How to Automate Creating Directories Based on File Names and Moving Files Into Them in Linux

When I first started unlocking new features in Kodi, I noticed that all the artwork was making my library directories a bit unruly, so to help clean things up, I decided to move all the video files into their own folders. Unfortunately, I have quite a lot of video files. Fortunately, I uncovered a little bit of code to manage this task for me. Drop these two lines into a shell script and execute the script in your favorite flavor of Linux to create a subdirectory based on the name of each file in a given folder, then move that file into its respective directory.

find . -maxdepth 1 -type f -exec mkdir {}-DIR \; -exec mv {} {}-DIR \; ;

find . -maxdepth 1 -type d -exec rename "s:\..{2,3}-DIR::" {} \;

Oh, yes, programs. This is happening.

‘Synergy’ Allows Quick, Easy, Seamless Keyboard/Mouse Sharing Across Multiple Computers

I ran across a special on Boing Boing for a bundle of Mac software that I couldn’t resist (Paragon NTFS For Mac alone was worth the discounted price), and made an impulse buy. I’ll write more about each application later as I play with them, but I wanted to give special recognition to this Synergy app from the mind of one Nick Bolton.

I have been working on Project Magnavox for almost 2 years now (It’s an ever-evolving project, as you dear readers have no doubt figured out), but I have always had to juggle between my laptop or tablet and the wireless keyboard that I have attached to the VCR. With Synergy, I am able to interact with the VCR using only the keyboard and trackpad on the laptop! Think of it as a sort of KVM switch, but instead of flipping a physical switch, you simply drag the mouse to the screen you need to interact with and you’re ready to go. Seamless.

Installation is a snap. Once you sign up and pay for an account, simply download the application to each computer you wish to connect. Enter your credentials on each computer, decide on a “host” machine (whose keyboard and mouse you will be using), and position the clients relative to the host’s monitor position. For example, my laptop is the host machine, and I simply drag the mouse off the top of the screen for it to appear on the TV connected to Project Magnavox. The best part is that I can sit comfortably at the table across the room, work on Project Magnavox, and need not worry about staying within range of my el cheapo wireless keyboard.

Synergy is software for sharing one keyboard and mouse between multiple computers.

Source: Synergy – Mouse and keyboard sharing software

Scraping Games In Rom Collection Browser

A few tips and tricks to better scraping games in Rom Collection Browser:

As of this writing, the thegamesdb.net usually glitches and causes an error during scraping. If this happens, change scrapers for the next run; the GiantBomb scraper still seems to be working.

Not every rom file will find the right game. If this happens, choose a unique title that isn’t in your collection, then edit the *.nfo file manually. Even if the file scrapes correctly, you can make changes to the *.nfo file to tweak your library listings. For example, renaming “Zelda II: The Adventure of Link” to “The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link” or “Super Castlevania IV” to “Castlevania IV: Super Castlevania” to keep sequels with their respective franchises.

Use the Local Artwork scraper to fill in missing or incorrect artwork manually. Make sure the image(s) are in the correct folder(s) and named EXACTLY the same as the rom file that they belong to (excluding the extension, of course). Also, use Local Artwork to add videos to your library listings. I prefer to locate recordings of the games’ original television advertisements, reveling in the nostalgia and casually examining how sensibilities have evolved over time. Arcade games naturally get their attract mode videos.

How To Run Games From Kodi

As we’ve seen from previous numbers, Kodi is a pretty powerful application that can be extended to power your entire media experience from local downloaded and physical media to a nearly infinite number of media streams, but we have not covered exactly how to run games from Kodi. For this, we’ll obviously need some games installed on our system, and we’ll need to download an add-on called Rom Collection Browser (if you followed my recommendation to use the Aeon series of skins, you will have RCB already installed on your system).

Rom Collection Browser is available through the stock Kodi repository under the programs menu and is installed like any other add-on.

Before we begin the setup, we must ensure that our files are sorted correctly on the computer. For emulators, each set of roms needs to be in its own folder, sorted by system (all NES roms need to be in an exclusive folder, all SNES roms need to be in an exclusive folder, etc.). For Windows games, make a new folder and place a shortcut to each game’s executable file within.

On first run, Rom Collection Browser will prompt you to create a configuration file, click OK and it will bring up the initial configuration file for a new rom collection. First, RCB will ask you to choose a location for the game information and artwork. Since this is a first run, you will most likely need to download all the pertinent artwork and information, so choose the online option.

Wizard - Online 2 - small

Next, you’ll need to choose a platform for your game collection. If you are adding roms for an emulator, choose the appropriate system for the emulation. If you are adding PC games installed locally, choose the appropriate option (Windows/OSX/Linux).

screen_configwizard_autoconfig2

Once you’ve set your platform, RCB will prompt you to browse to the emulator executable (unless you are adding Windows games, in which case, RCB will skip to the next section). Once you have selected the executable, you will be prompted to enter the particular emulator’s command-line parameters, if applicable. Most emulators worth their salt offer a CLI parameter set to add a measure of granular control over each game as it is executed, because who wants to dick around with settings on a game-by-game basis every time you want to play something different? RetroArch, by far, is the best of the bunch in this respect, and I highly recommend it for all your emulation needs.

RCB will now ask you to browse to the folder containing the roms you are adding. On the next screen, you will type in the file mask for the particular set of roms you are adding (for Windows games, the file mask is *.lnk).

Next, you’ll select a path to the artwork folder. I prefer to use the same folder that contains the roms. RCB will create folders for the basic types of artwork (boxfront, boxback, screenshot, fanart), so you needn’t specify a location for each…yet.

Finally, RCB will ask if you would like to add another rom collection. I recommend only adding one collection at a time as it tends to be easier to watch for mistakes, but you may prefer to do all your scraping at once, and that’s your mistake to make. If you choose to add another collection, you’ll be redirected to the platform choice dialog and start the process over again. If you choose not to, you will be directed to the scraping dialog.

screen_importoptions2

In the scraping dialog, you will be presented with several options. First, choose the particular system that you will be scraping information for. Next, choose the level of interactivity you wish to utilize. For large collections, I recommend starting with the fully-automated (“Automatic: Accurate”) option to do the heaviest lifting without needing to constantly monitor the progress. Once the majority of games have been successfully scraped, use the “Interactive: Select Matches” option to import the titles that may have oddly formatted or incorrect file names. On first fun, I recommend using the default trio of scrapers. Later edits may require changing scrapers, but these three should take care of the bulk. RCB will now query the specified scrapers for information and artwork regarding each game you’re importing (much like Kodi does for your video or music library). Once finished, you will be presented with a list of games ready to play. Simply select them from the list, hit “OK” on your remote, and get to playing!

How To Install RetroArch in Windows

Building Project Magnavox into a genuine all-in-one entertainment system is more than just being able to access all my videos, music, and streaming media on one device. To round-out the feature set, we need to take a page from Microsoft’s playbook and add videogames to the mix. Granted, I could install all my game consoles underneath the television, but that takes up more room than I actually have in my small apartment. Besides, outside the aesthetic benefits of having a veritable museum in my living room, it’s frankly more trouble than it’s worth to rig the wiring, route the cabling, and squint at a screen stretched beyond its original aspect ratio. As awesome as James Rolfe‘s basement is, until I have my own library, I’d like to keep my setup as space-efficient as possible.

This leaves me with one of the most polarizing concepts in classic gaming: emulation.

Now, I’m no stranger to the debate, and let me first say adamantly that it is the opinion of this reporter that, legally speaking, you may make backup copies of software that you have legitimately obtained for personal use [emphasis added]. This is the only application that we will be dealing with here. Secondly, I advocate for emulation in this sense because it does make playing the games much easier and convenient, contributing to my own enjoyment. Thirdly, the so-called “collector’s market” has driven the prices for games through an unsustainable ceiling, and because young millennials would like bragging rights by being able to “own” a copy of a particular game, all the carts and discs worth playing have been bought up only to appear on eBay at ten times or more their original price. Much like the market for vinyl has all-but ruined the casual collection of original-run albums, the market for cartridges and discs has similarly eroded the enjoyment from the hobby.
libretro1
Enter Libretro, a handy piece of software that seeks to pull as many different emulator “cores” into one central application, running almost any classic game as close to original quality as possible in a convenient package. The Libretro API uses a custom front-end called RetroArch to set up and run the roms for each emulator core. The pair are installed simultaneously as a package, and each core is installed as an add-on from within RetroArch itself.

To install RetroArch in Windows, simply download the latest stable RetroArch build from the website, then unzip the downloaded file to the location of your choosing. If you’re still running Windows 7 (because fuck Windows 10), you may run into a missing file error. Specifically, you may be missing d3dx9_43.dll from the DirectX runtime, so you should follow my instructions for fixing that error here.

That’s it! RetroArch is completely self-contained and should run without incident. Use the arrow keys, Z, and X for most of the navigation (you’ll see a control map on first run), download an emulator core from the Online Updater menu, open your freshly-dumped roms, and get playing!

The Piracy Box Sellers and Youtube Promoters Are Killing Kodi

So, I walk the line on this one. While I generally condone piracy less and less–especially when there is a “legitimate” alternative (Netflix, Hulu) available–I recognize that it’s the “career pirates” that really cause a problem in the system. That being said, I’m a long-time fan of XBMC and Kodi (as one can tell by reading my blog), so I’m inclined to agree with the Team on here. Kodi is very powerful software, and like any open-source project, can be exploited for nefarious purposes against those who likely don’t know better.

I appreciate the Team’s response here, slathered in the libertarian ethos that defines the Hacker Ethic. The message is clear: Kodi does not enable media piracy any more than an iPhone enables terrorism. It is merely a platform that can be infinitely expanded upon for reasons both legitimate and illicit. I, personally, would love to see an official Netflix, Hulu, or Crackle plugin, but that will never happen if the powers-that-be see Kodi as a gateway to piracy.

I write my how-to articles on Kodi both for personal reference and as a resource to those who may be reluctant to dive head-first into such a project without someone to hold their hand. Project Magnavox is a labour of love, but it’s also a prototype determine the best way to build a robust all-in-one entertainment solution for the average consumer. The more I can help the average consumer cut the cord, the more I feel like I can help effect fundamental change in the way media is distributed and consumed–dragging the consumer away from the “cable monster” and into the wild blue yonder of Freedom. The pirates that seek only to make a quick buck by shilling these half-assed “Kodi boxes” are only biting the hand that feeds them as consumers looking for a cheap alternative to Big Cable get burned and the name Kodi leaves a sour taste in their collective mouths.

I’m not an official developer for Kodi, but I feel like I am part of the team. I don’t actively participate in the fora, but I try my best to parse the mountain of information therein and present it in a format that is less intimidating to the average idiot. I have loved Kodi since I started using it sometime around 2006 (when it was still called “Xbox Media Center”), and I will fight to defend its good name to the bitter end!

Over the past few years it’s become clear that many users have been watching pirated content using unofficial and unsupported add-ons that frequently break, and they are installing add-on repositories whose trustworthiness is questionable, leaving themselves open to numerous security exploits.

Source: The Piracy Box Sellers and Youtube Promoters Are Killing Kodi | Kodi