A lot has been said about how good or bad the South African Netflix library is. Wondering what movies and shows are available?
Well, no point in me keeping you any longer then, go forth and Netflix and chill.
In what was the most chilled launch in history, Netflix kind of just appeared in South Africa. I would imagine some techie just got an email and flicked a switch and that was that.
The time for Netflix and Chill is NOW! You get a 1 Month free trial to see if it actually works.
Compared to the US version, some shows are missing, but do you really care? ShowMax is the bastard child of DStv so we can give that one a skip.
Oh, one note, you’ll be charged in US Dollars because our currency is about as stable as your mother in law.
For my day job I’m a developer. That entails learning new technologies all the time. Time after time I’ve battled to keep interest making “To do” list apps and “Hello World” programs. A few years back a needed to learn PHP. Not just the basics, I needed to learn it well enough to make a production system for a client.
At the time I lived with my parents and our internet was poor to say the least. I used the internet at work to download things at night. I needed a way to manage these downloads remotely. I started looking at APIs and remote access. I decided setting up a simple PHP site pulling from APIs would be the best option. And so started my media centre infinity project.
I have to thank Johann Du Toit for the term “Infinity Project.” He introduced me to the term as an individual project that never ends. You keep evolving it over and over again making it better and better as you learn along the way.
I started with a basic page that showed downloads, their progress and I kept track of upcoming episodes of the series I liked to watch. I ran if off a RaspberryPi. Soon I updated an old laptop with some extra hard drive space and I put the extra power to good use.
Fast forward a few months and we had uncapped internet at home. I installed Kodi (then XBMC) and left the laptop plugged into my TV. Soon I stumbled across SickBeard and CouchPotato and started automating movie and TV show downloads. My basic PHP script got a make over and pulled from those APIs.
Soon my site was getting too large to manage so I rebuilt it from the ground up using CodeIgniter. I chose CodeIgniter because the learning curve wasn’t big at all. I got a lot of functionality out in a very short space of time. I was well on my way to “productising” my media centre manager. I made the mistake of using a Bootstrap based but paid admin theme. It seemed like a very good idea at the time, but without it being open source I couldn’t release any of my code. By this time I had moved to Cape Town and my media centre was my primary source of entertainment. I also had much better internet.
Web technologies are always evolving and recently I decided it would be a good idea to learn AngularJS. That way I would be able to make web based apps for iOS and Android as well as it being a stepping stone to really learning Swift properly. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to update my media centre.
I started with a few tutorials online and soon I had the basics down. I’ve always battled with markup. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it, I just didn’t enjoy it. I found AngularMaterial. I started over and soon I had a really good base to work from. I refactored my old code into an API with a REST library I wrote for CodeIgniter. (Based on this one but heavily updated for performance.) I learned about JSON Web Tokens along the way as a good way to authenticate requests.
Some of you may have noticed me being a little missing in action over the past few weeks. I’ve been focussing on work, some freelance work and helping build an Uber Style App for a startup. On top of all of this I managed to get my media centre into a presentable form.
So this is what I’ve come up with so far:
I made everything responsive as I use it on my phone the most often. I linked it to the Kodi API so I have “Play Now” buttons on the movies and series. I also have the “Now Playing” remote. This pulls whatever is playing from Kodi and the progress. I added in some play/pause and stop buttons. The side effect of having this available over the internet is that I can troll my girlfriend and pause whatever she is watching when I’m at work.
This project is far from over, I will keep updating it. As and when I learn new technologies. I’m hoping an iOS app can be next. Currently I’m running this off of a Mac Mini with OS X Server on it connected to a 4K TV. I’ve moved from SickBeard to SickRage as it is much more actively developed. I can run 4K movies and series at 30fps. (More than enough for video) I serve it to the world over my Telkom Fibre line. This is more than sufficient for my personal needs.
I look forward to your ideas and feedback, please leave them in the comments below or give me a shout on Facebook or Twitter. I’ll look into releasing what I’ve done on GitHub when I’m properly using environment variables and remove a few hard coded hacks. I hope you guys enjoyed this little write up.
Well add this to a list of strange things I never thought I’d see.
The interesting part about this is the price though. The wholesale price for this 1mbps line is less than R50. ISPs seem to be announcing pricing around R55 though.
For many people this will make a lot of sense as the cost greatly outweighs the need for speed. You’ll also be able to tack on a reasonably affordable uncapped package to make the most of this. This is also a bonus for people who are paying for 2mbps but only getting 1mbps due to Telkom’s shitty infrastructure. They can now pay less to be disappointed.
The last problem for Telkom to deal with is that pesky analogue line rental. This package makes entry level ADSL really affordable until you include the R189 a month of compulsory analogue line rental. That is a service you don’t want and will probably never use.
I have had Telkom FTTH since the 20th of May 2015. That makes June my first full month testing it out. You can read about the installation here.
I got the 50GB soft cap package from TelkomSA. This made my total cost R999.00 per month, discounted to R499.00 for the first three months. As this is a 24 month contract it included a modem/router and a DSTV Explora along with the DSTV Explora wifi adapter. It also included free installation.
Very rarely do we get to compliment a service provider in South Africa, let alone Telkom but they have done a wonderful job. My internet has not dropped once since it was installed. It is very stable and speed tests are consistent even to Europe and the US. I have included a whole selection of screen shots below from different times to different servers to show you how stable this connection is.
No matter what time of the day or night I get full line speed even on P2P downloads. This would indicate that Telkom is not shaping or throttling their capped accounts.