Plex Now Has Hundreds of Free Channels – Here’s how to navigate them (sponsored post)

Plex, well-known for its media server capabilities, has now ventured into providing over 600 free advertiser supported television (FAST) channels in the U.S., with a total of 1,100 channels globally. These free channels are accessible on various platforms, including mobile and and TV devices, without the need for a dedicated Plex server.

In my latest video we take a look at how to navigate all of these choices.

Plex’s interface is structured to help viewers quickly narrow down their choices. The channel guide offers an initial glimpse of all available channels, and further efficiencies are found through category filters like “Hit TV” or genres such as crime and sports. There is also a “featured” section where Plex showcases some of the heavy hitters on the platform like the NFL’s free channel which was recently added.

Plex’s universal search feature will also surface content that is playing live in addition to on-demand offerings.

Moreover, Plex integrates local over-the-air TV channels if a user has a Plex Pass and a network TV tuner, allowing for a blend of local and streaming content. This feature enriches the user’s viewing options, providing a seamless integration of local and global content on a single platform.

Viewers can personalize their viewing experience by adding channels to their “favorites,” making them easily accessible upon each return to the service. These preferences sync across all devices connected to the viewer’s Plex account, ensuring a consistent setup regardless of the device used.

New channels are being added all the time. Plex has a helpful search tool set up on their website that can give you a breakdown about what’s available in your particular market.

Disclosure: this post and video was sponsored by Plex, however they did not review or approve this content before it was uploaded.

Running Plex in a Docker Container on Synology is Super Easy

Over the last couple of months I’ve been playing around with a bunch of self-hosted projects using Docker containers on my Synology NAS. In my most recent sponsored video for Plex, we take a look at spinning up a Plex server inside a container using Synology’s new Container Manager on DSM 7.2.

One might wonder, why use Docker when you can simply install Plex from the Synology package center? The answer lies in the flexibility and advantages Docker offers. Docker containers provide backup and migration opportunities that are more straightforward than other methods. They also offer a level of isolation, enhancing security. In the case of Synology specifically, the Docker versions tend to get updated more frequently, ensuring you always have the latest features.

Before diving in, ensure your Synology NAS is compatible with Docker. Synology’s website has a list of compatible devices that work with their Container Manager. If you are a Plex Pass holder and want to enable hardware transcoding you’ll also need to ensure your Synology NAS is running with an Intel processor that’s compatible with QuickSync video encoding. You can learn more about video transcoding in another video I made on that topic.

My video will take you step by step through the installation process by using a Docker Compose file to configure the container. If you’d like to see the one I’m using you can download it here.

Setting up Plex on Synology NAS using Docker was one of the more straightforward Docker projects I’ve undertaken. The process is efficient, and the benefits, especially in terms of backup and migration, make it worth considering for your next install.

How to Find a Good Deal on a New Tesla

I’ve been driving electric cars for 13 years, and 10 of those have been in a Tesla. Every so often Tesla finds themselves with an abundance of inventory at the end of the fiscal quarter and will discount the cars heavily to get them off the lot. This is one of those times.

In my latest video I take a look at how to find the best deals – in some cases you can save thousands of dollars off the sticker price. But just be prepared to do your due diligence as Tesla isn’t always focused on customer satisfaction these days.

So where are the deals? Click through my affiliate link and then click on the “explore inventory” button below the model you’re looking for. You’ll find filtering options on the side to narrow it down to your desired feature set.

I recommend sorting the cars from “Price Low to High” to find the ones that are significantly reduced in price. For example, I found a Model 3 Long Range All-Wheel Drive model for a little less than $4,000 off the list price:

In addition to the price reduction my affiliate link gets you an additional $500 off a Model 3 or Y and $1,000 off a Model S or X.

Tesla’s website also provides information on federal tax credits available for Model 3s and Model Ys. These credits can be applied to your taxes if you meet certain eligibility criteria. Leasing options are also available, where the tax credits may be worked into the lease. There may also be some tax credit options on used vehicles.

If you already own a Tesla with the full self-driving option, you can transfer it to a new vehicle. But, this is a short-running promotion, so act quickly if you’re interested. Also, note that the new vehicles come with full self-driving hardware version 4, which is not yet compatible with the full self-driving feature.

Be cautious when browsing the inventory. Tesla mixes demo models with new inventory models. Demo models have mileage on them and could have been used for test drives or even returned by other customers. They’ll note the demo units on the top of the listing like this Model S example:

Although the car above only has 52 miles on the odometer it’s possible it could have sat in the showroom being manhandled by customers for several weeks or more. My advice on the demo models is to head over to the Tesla store location and take a look at the vehicle yourself before putting a deposit down.

Here are a few things to expect in regards to the buying experience: Tesla’s purchasing process has always been a bit impersonal but it’s gotten worse. In fact the first time you’ll actually hear from someone is after the deposit is made, and it’s mostly a one way conversation via text message to set up the appointment. Any questions you ask will go unanswered. Perhaps it’s a little better in areas where Tesla has a retail presence but generally it’s a self guided sales process all the way up until the point you’re picking the car up.

To reserve a car, you’ll need to put down a non-refundable deposit of $250. If you have a trade-in, Tesla won’t give you a final offer on your trade until after that non-refundable deposit is made. Right now it appears as though that offer won’t arrive until about day or two ahead of your pick-up appointment. This is a significant change from Tesla’s previous process where customers knew up-front what they were being offered. If you walk away from the deal you’re out the $250.

The good news is that throughout my decade of Tesla ownership I’ve found the cars to be reliable and a ton of fun to drive. I’ve had very few interactions with Tesla service and the cars require very little maintenance beyond tires. For service calls they now have a mobile service program where a bulk of maintenance and service issues can be taken care at your home or office. They’ll come to you!

Hopefully you found this overview hopeful at landing a good deal on a new or used car. If so I’d love for you to use my affiliate link. More info on the referral program can be found here.

New Synology How To: Using Docker Containers with the new Synology Container Manager

In my latest video we veer off into the nerdy weeds with a detailed step-by-step tutorial about how to spin up and manage complex Docker applications using the new Synology Container Manager that can be found in DSM 7.2.

As I mentioned in my previous video about my self hosted projects, there are hundreds of amazing open source applications out there that offer similar functionality to popular cloud apps. I received so many questions and comments from that video about how I get them running via Docker on a Synology NAS, so that’s where this video comes in.

Because the Docker containers run in an isolated environment, they’re a little more secure than just running applications on the NAS directly. They’re also very easy to back up and move to another server if needed. Just copy the folder over to the new machine, rebuild the containers with a mouse click, and migration is done!

In the video I demonstrate installing Wallabag, an open source “read later” application similar to Pocket and Instapaper. The way it works is that Wallabag will download an archive of a provided URL, transform the web page into a readable format with just the content, and make it available for offline reading via a web browser. The Wallabag app for Android and iOS can sync the Wallabag container’s data with a phone or tablet.

Wallabag runs on the NAS in a container and its data is stored locally there as well. Using Tailscale I’m able to connect back to the application from anywhere in the world securely without having to open up any ports on my router.

I chose wallabag for this demonstration because it’s an example of a project that consists of multiple Docker containers working in concert with each other. In this case there’s the main Wallabag application in one container, a mysql database server in another and a third container runs a redis caching server.

In the past it was possible to get a project like this working but it had to be done outside Synology’s Docker app using the command line or another tool. Container Manager now makes it possible to build and run applications like this without having to use anything else.

In the tutorial I detail the steps of finding and editing Wallabag’s Docker Compose file and building the application as a “project” inside of Container Manager. One of the important things in this process is pointing the containers to a directory on the NAS for storing data. Containers are considered expendable with each update or build, so user data has to be mapped to a persistent storage location on the NAS. After trouble shooting a few minor error codes I was able to get Wallabag project built and operating relatively quickly and reliably on the NAS.

While all of this might seem a bit daunting vs. finding an app and hitting the install button, containerized applications are in many ways the new standard for running open source applications like this. While there is some up-front complexity, the advantages of having what is essentially portable versions of very robust server applications save far more time in the future. Should something ever happen to my NAS I just need to restore the backup files to a new location, click the build button, and I’m back exactly where I left off.

Let me know what you think in the video’s comments! Also be sure to share some of the containers you’ve found to be most useful.

Disclosure: Synology is an occaisional sponsor here on the channel and they provided me with the NAS hardware used in the review free of charge. However they did not sponsor this video nor did they provide any input or approval prior to publishing.

New Plex Feature: Discover Together

Our monthly sponsored Plex video for June focuses in on a new social sharing feature called Discover Together. This feature, currently in beta, allows users to share their watchlist and viewing history with friends.

The Discover Together feature is currently available to Plex Pass subscribers, but once activated, it extends to all friends connected to your Plex account – even those on the free tier. Upon activation, users are greeted with a landing page explaining the new feature and providing privacy options. By default, all information is set to private, and users can choose to share their watch history, watchlist and ratings with friends.

Your personal profile keeps track of how many movies, shows, and episodes you’ve watched since joining Plex. It also displays your recent watch history, watch list, and ratings. This information is then shared with friends.

The Friends tab displays all your Plex friends, and you can click on each friend to view their profile. The Activity feed shows what everyone is watching in real time, and shows what media is trending among your friends.

One of the fun aspects of Discover Together is the ability to send messages to friends about specific episodes or movies. For instance, if you’re watching an episode of Star Trek Picard and notice a friend has watched it too, you can send them a message to discuss the episode. This is especially helpful if a television show has a huge spoiler and you want to talk about it – you’ll know which of your friends has seen it!

The feature works on TVs, phones, and the web interface and offers a similar interface on each platform.

For those interested in automations, Plex now offers the ability to set up RSS feeds for your watch list and your friends’ watch lists. This can be found in the account settings under the watch list section.

Plex’s Discover Together feature provides an efficient way to share and discover content with friends. It’s a robust tool that extends beyond your Plex server, indexing content from various streaming services. It’s a feature I look forward to exploring more in the coming weeks.

ChatGPT Saves Me Time by Converting YouTube Transcripts to Blog Posts

I’ve been around for awhile in the tech media space so I’m always weary when the next new “shiny object” emerges on the scene. Google Glass, VR, crypto and NFTs were mega hyped by influencers only to fall way short when it came to mass consumer adoption.

Over the last several months the chattering influencer class has shifted focus almost entirely to artificial intelligence (AI) driven by the very rapid advancements in Large Language Model (LLM) chatbots like ChatGPT. I haven’t heard a peep about NFTs in months!

I approached this new technology with a healthy degree of skepticism. While it certainly has a “gee whiz” factor to it could it actually have some real utility in my day-to-day life?

I decided to pony up the $20 monthly subscription fee for ChatGPT Plus to see if it could save me some time and make my workflow more efficient. And surprisingly – it did. You can learn more in my latest video.

I’ve been using ChatGPT to help write these blog posts based on the transcripts of my YouTube videos for the last month or two. Last week ChatGPT became even more useful through the introduction of plugins that allow ChatGPT to perform tasks that go beyond its pre-existing knowledge cutoff of September, 2021.

One of the plugins I’ve been using is VoxScript, which can pull down full video transcripts from YouTube which the ChatGPT can use to produce summaries for this blog and my email newsletter.

Here’s how it works: I provide ChatGPT with the URL of my YouTube video and ask it to write a summary in the first person in a journalistic, neutral language style. ChatGPT uses VoxScript to pull down the full transcript from the video and starts writing the summary. The result is usually a well-written summary that captures the key points of the video, saving me about 30 minutes to an hour of writing time.

The AI does an impressive job of interpreting the automatically generated YouTube transcripts, even correcting inaccuracies and presenting the information in a coherent manner.

Of course, it’s not perfect, and I do have to tweak some parts to ensure it aligns with my voice and style. But overall, it can generate anywhere from 75-90% of the post depending on what the topic is. This post, for example, needed a little more work done to it by yours truly but the framework it provided was a great time saver.

As AI technology continues to evolve, I’m excited to see how it can further enhance productivity and efficiency in various fields. And AI is more than just chatbots. For example Tesla’s full self driving system is an artificial intelligence neural network running locally on their cars trained to drive a car.

As always, I’m interested in hearing about your experiences with AI. If you’ve found a practical use for AI that has improved your workflow definitely head over to YouTube and share your experiences in the comments section of the video.