Using PlayOn Desktop to Schedule Off Peak Video Downloads

What is PlayOn?

PlayOn Desktop is a program that allows you to schedule the download of movies and tv shows during Sky Muster ‘off peak’ data times. It is relatively cheap and very simple to use, you don’t have to be very tech savvy and its an excellent way to utilise your off-peak data that often goes unused.

What Do I Need?
You need an existing Netflix account or You Tube account to use PlayOn and a PC or laptop with Windows installed. Unfortunately PlayOn Desktop doesn’t work for Macs. 

BIRRR is currently researching the Play On Cloud app which works in a similar way on idevices, we will update when our research is done.

How Much Does it Cost?
PlayOn costs $4.99 USD per month or $30 USD annually or you can pay a one off lifetime membership charge of $69.95 USD. Prices do change regularly so check out current pricing on the Playon Website. Look into downloading a limited time trial, if you want to test the software without the commitment.

PlayOn charges are  an additional cost on top of your Netflix subscription. (Netflix AUS costs $9.99 per month for the basic package, which allows you to stream or download Netflix on 1 screen at a time in Standard Definition). Other plans are available, however it is not ideal to download from more than one device on Sky Muster. You may want to ‘trial’ Netflix for free for a limited time first.

How Does It Work? 

You can set your Play-On to record and download videos as .MP4 files during Sky Muster off-peak times.  PlayOn will start and end the recordings automatically. The recording works in a ‘streaming’ fashion. Meaning that if a movie is 3 hours long it will take 3 hours to record, and you can record up to 6 x 1 hour episodes of a TV series during your off-peak times. This means you can download up to 180 hours of movies and TV shows per month during your off peak time (subject to your data limits). This enables Netflix and You Tube to be more accessible to those on limited data connections.

PlayOn records during normal times too so if you find yourself at the end of your billing period with some leftover peak data and not enough time to use it up you can use PlayOn to record shows during peak times as well to use your data effectively.

How much data does it use?
You can easily adjust the quality of your recordings (similar to adjusting the streaming quality on your Netflix account), which will reduce the amount of data that is used per recording. However, I find anything less than Medium quality to be unwatchable and if you have a decent sized tv then you may want to stick to a High quality download setting.

Low Definition: reduced standard definition video quality, can use up to 300MB per hour.
Medium Definition: standard definition(SD) video quality, can use up to 700MB per hour.
High Definition: high definition(HD) video quality, can use up to 3GB per hour.

How to Watch?
Once you have downloaded your movies and TV shows there are multiple ways to watch them. You can use a streaming device (such as Chromecast) from your desktop, tablet or device. You can also put the files onto a USB or hard drive and plug that straight into your TV. If you have downloaded onto a laptop you can also use an HDMI to plug your computer directly into your TV.  Mirroring apps (try Googling one that is compatible with your TV and device) are also an easy way to watch.

Problems & Tech Support
PlayOn works really well the majority of the time. You can have issues where shows have not recorded properly or not at all (this can be from a minor Play-On glitch or a short Sky Muster outage or update). The program will flag the ones that failed to record overnight so you can add them to the queue to record next time.

PlayOn is a US based company so doesn’t offer phone based support in Australia, however there is a ‘tech support’ button in PlayOn settings which details problems and glitches and how to fix them.  PlayOn tech support can also be contacted via email.

How to Use?

  1. Create an account on the PlayOn website. (you will also need to have created a Netflix or YouTube account)
  2. Choose which payment option you want.
  3. Download the program to the computer you want to use (remember it is not compatible with Mac Computers)
  4. Follow the prompts as instructed.
  5. Once the PlayOn desktop program has downloaded go into settings and the ‘channels’ tab and enter your Netflix or YouTube logon and password details.
  6. In that same settings screen under the ‘General’ tab you can choose the quality of your download from HD to Low Quality as discussed above.
  7. Once this is set up you can go to the top right hand side of the screen and see an ‘off peak’ button. Click it to set up to record during off-peak times. You will need to enter your off-peak times in. PlayOn is very definite and only starts once the off-peak time has begun, it also won’t continue to record past the off-peak time you have set. e.g. If you have a 55 minute episode to record, but only 45 minutes of off-peak time remaining PlayOn will simply not record that episode (rather than record most of it or go over the specified time) and it will remain in the ‘Recording Queue’ until next time.
  8. Now the fun part. Click on the channels tab and choose the Netflix channel. Now you can choose whichever movies and tv shows you want to download. Once you have found what you want to record you will see the button on the far right of the show/episode description that says ‘record’. Click that and it will add it to your ‘Record Queue’ to be recorded during off-peak. You will have to click record for each episode of a series.
  9. Click on the ‘Record Queue’ button on the top right of the screen to see everything you have in your queue. You can change the record order etc from there if you want.
  10. Keep your computer turned on and connected to the internet overnight for the recordings to work (turn the volume down on the computer if you don’t want it annoying you through the night).
  11. You can see which recordings have downloaded successfully and which haven’t in the ‘new recordings’ and ‘failed recordings’ tabs on the left hand menu. Any ‘failed recordings’ you can just add to the ‘Record Queue’ again for next time and they will usually record successfully.  If you continue to get failed recordings or have other problems go to the ‘Help’ button at the bottom left of the screen.
  12. Sometimes when you open the PlayOn program you will get a screen that says ‘Server can’t be found’. Simply click the ‘Open Settings’ button and you will see a ‘Start/Stop Server’ button on the right of your settings. Click it and wait for the box to become green and say ‘Running’ and you are good to go. This happens often and is due to settings that don’t start the server automatically (to save data).

How to View
Refer to the How to Watch section above. You can open the PlayOn program to watch them, otherwise the recordings are also stored in a ‘Play-On’ folder in your Video files on your desktop. From that folder these can be transferred to a USB or hard-drive for viewing (and travel etc) if you want.

Check out Skymesh’s PlayOn hack article

Prepared for BIRRR by Sophie Parbury & Ben from SkyMesh.

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider regarding your eligibility and best plans available. Page updated 25/10/18.

nbn Fixed Wireless – Non Standard Installations

Fixed Wireless: NON-STANDARD INSTALLATIONS

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The following are some notes regarding nbn Fixed Wireless non – standard installations.

Please remember that each non-standard install is assessed on a case-by-case basis by nbn, nbn are currently reviewing their non standard install protocols. Current protocols can be found here under Non Standard Install Processes. Some of the non-standard installs pictured on the BIRRR website may no longer be approved by nbn.

In the event that the ‘standard installation’ procedure fails, the next steps are:

  1. Check that the installer has tried to get a strong enough signal on all areas of the roof of the main residence or the premises/ shelter where you wish the nbn equipment to be installed.
  2. Ask if the installer has checked in all directions, in the case that there may be other local nbn sites. If the answer is no, please request this or discuss it with the installer.
  3. Ask the installer if there is any other location on your property where the signal may be strong enough to connect.
  4. Ask if the installer has tried a 3 metre mount to get a stronger signal at the locations. If the installer does not have a 3 metre mount, please request that they return and try again with a 3 metre mount. You may need to make a new appointment with your service provider for this as well. Note: A 3m mount can only be installed on tin rooves with a pitch of <30°
  5. Indicate whether you are prepared to take other steps (at your own expense) to get a service. Make sure you have approval from nbn before carrying out any work for a non standard installation. For example:
    • Build a shelter specifically to house the equipment and then relay the data to your main location / homestead. Note: A wireless relay of the data will be required, if the total cable length from Outdoor Unit (ODU) to Indoor Unit (IDU) run is greater than 100m. See note below regarding Wireless Relays. nbn currently mandate a 240v supply for the fixed wireless NTD. The nbn wireless NTD consumes 25 watts. nbn are looking into other power supply options for rural users.
    • Dig a trench to take cable from one building where signal is sufficient, back to the main location on your property. It must be trenched and the cable run through White Communications Conduit. The maximum cable run between the outdoor unit and the indoor unit that nbn provides is 70m (Category 5 cable) or 100m (Category 6 cable).
    • Install a tower / pole to install the equipment on.                                                     Note: The installer needs to accurately identify the location with photos, latitude/longitude etc, plus height of ODU to achieve a suitable signal.
    • Use a cherry picker or similar equipment to provide access to the location where the installation might be achieved.

6. Ask if the installer has any advice for how to get a sufficiently strong signal anywhere on your property

7. Ask if the installer knows whether your neighbours have an installed service and, if so, what the difference is between your location and theirs.

8. Specifically ask the installer not to log the job as a Service Qualification failure, but to log it as a non-standard installation if they are not able to complete a non-standard installation appointment on the day.

9. If all efforts on the day still do not work, you will need to call your service provider to arrange a new non-standard appointment. It is important that you are clear with the service provider that you need an appointment for a non-standard installation.

10.  In the event that all installation attempts fail, you may be able to access a neighbour’s nbn service. If applicable, you may wish to approach your neighbours and ask if they are willing to allow you to order a second service, at your expense to their location. nbn Fixed Wireless supports up to four (4) separate services to one set of installed equipment. If that is OK with you and your neighbour, you may then be able to relay the service to your own residence via a wireless link. There is commercially available equipment that operates wirelessly and may be able to relay the nbn service to your location, provided your neighbours are willing. nbn does not provide this equipment and is not able to guarantee the results.

11. It is also possible to get a second NTD installed at another location / property in the case that this is needed (for example if the four data ports on the installed equipment are being used or your neighbour would prefer not to have your equipment located in the same place as theirs). This can be done by asking your service provider to get a second location ID assigned to a location / premises so that the nbn equipment can be installed

12. Installers are sub-contractors to nbn and may be of varied experience. The majority of the installers are seasoned professional contractors and take this role very seriously. If you believe that you are not getting a professional experience or that the installer does not present themselves in an acceptable way, please let your service provider know so that nbn can track and improve installer behaviour and the installation experience. nbn manage the performance of the installers and are always keen to hear when there are issues so they can help to identify and improve poor experiences and poor behaviour. nbn instructions are to always do everything installers can to help an end user get the Fixed Wireless service, if possible.

WIRELESS RELAYS

A wireless gateway or bridge can span up to 50km with direct line of sight.  The gateways  can be set up before being sent out.  Then all the customer has to do is find a good location for antenna and run some cable to power point (240 volt power must be supplied) and turn the unit on. If it’s under 200 to 400 meters you only need one if its over 400 meters then it is recommended to use two, one as an access point and the other as a station.  Wireless Gateways are generally under $300 per unit.  A wireless relay can be supplied and installed by telecommunications specialists, or they or can be shipped out with full instructions so people with a bit a knowledge and handy man skill can do the install themselves.

You can read more about wireless relays here: Using a WIFI Bridge to achieve an nbn Fixed Wireless connection and learn about how to set one up with some of the stories on our Stories and Testimonials Page. 

Please note that some of these stories and connections would not be allowed under the new protocols for nbn non-standard fixed wireless installations. Each case will be reviewed by nbn and we encourage end users wishing to do a non standard installation to contact their chosen provider.

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Fixed Wireless Gateway

For more information on Wireless Relays Contact your nearest installer / technician from the BIRRR list here or from Telco Antennas

PLEASE NOTE: If the non-standard fixed wireless service has trouble after installation and needs repairs or fine tuning, installers must be SAFELY able to access the location. The means to achieve this must be borne by the customer.

Useful BIRRR Fact Sheets for Non Standard Installations:

BIRRR members stories on achieving nbn Fixed Wireless:

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with nbn or your ISP regarding your own connection issues.  Thanks to nbn for assistance in compiling this document.  Information has been obtained from nbn, Skymesh, Whirlpool forums and BIRRR members. This page was updated on 15th July 2018.

Network Outages

The RSPs that have network status information are

  1. Aussiebroadband here
  2.  Active8me post network outages on their FaceBook page here (like their page and the updates will appear in your newsfeed) and on their network status page here.
  3. Iinet posts all the planned maintenance events here https://www.iinet.net.au/status/
  4. Clear Networks here
  5. Optus here
  6. SkyMesh also have a network status page that is usually up to date at https://www.skymesh.net.au/advisories/
  7. Telstra here
  8. Westnet here

Contact nbn – 1800 OUR NBN or via their FaceBook page or email: info@nbn.com.au to see if there are any widespread outages.

This is a user reported outages page that is good for alerting you to a widespread problem – click here

How to choose an nbn provider

 

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Click HERE to access the PDF version of the BIRRR How To Chose an NBN Provider document.

Check your address on the nbn rollout map here.

For nbn Fixed Line and nbn Fixed Wireless technologies Whistle Out have information on plan comparisons and how to pick a provider.

For nbn Sky Muster Satellite plan comparisons, see the BIRRR comparison chart.

Further information on nbn Technology Types can be found here.

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider regarding your eligibility and best plans available. Updated 29/08/18

Upload videos to Youtube during off peak hours

This is a Google Chrome Extension – you must be using the Google Chrome web browser, which is a free download from chrome.google.com
This allows you to schedule the uploading of videos to YouTube to occur during off peak hours.
This is completely different to the YouTube video scheduling feature, which does NOT schedule the uploading, only the publication time.
For details on installation and use, click https://chrome.google.com/…/ocpgggmabipnhemenjflgnflbcieplc…

Go to the page above.
Choose the green “Add to Chrome” button.
Double check it is enabled:
In a Chrome window, choose the 3 dots at right of URL box.
Choose More Tools.
Choose Extensions.
Should be ticked with the word Enabled. Close.

How to use:
Open Chrome tab to your YouTube upload page.
It will look slightly different to normal.
Where it normally has a fairly large grey arrow with “Select files to upload” (this will still show momentarily), in its place now is new text (see image):

To schedule:
Change the date/time in the box manually to your planned off-peak time.
Press Choose files. I would suggest that you have all the files you want to upload in a dedicated directory, go there, select all (mac: command A), press open.
Then press the schedule button.

***It says you must leave the browser and tab open. This means if you wish to keep using the browser you need to open this as a separate window that is kept open.

(This agrees with my recollection that when I have been uploading manually in the past, if I opened another tab to do other work, it cancelled the upload. This also suggests that you may not want the computer to go to sleep or the screen saver to come up, but I’m not sure of that.)

If you upload multiple files the first is uploading and the others say Upload Pending, then as one finishes the next starts to upload.

Remember: Once uploaded they are NOT published. You can come back at your leisure, go there and edit the description, title etc. And publish when ready. (and YouTube does have a publishing scheduler).

The above instructions were contributed by BIRRR member Deb Maxwell. While all efforts are taken to ensure BIRRR documents are correct at time of publishing, BIRRR cannot guarantee that the linked software is free of any fault or malicious software.