So, a couple of nights ago my wife and I sat down and watched “Luck”, which is an Apple TV+ exclusive animated movie that had a funny enough trailer to actually get me to subscribe to Apple TV+. I have seen this trailer roughly seven thousand times on twitter and other sites. I suspect I am not alone in this.
Having now seen the movie, iI I had to write a short review of “Luck”, it would probably include the phrase “Well, the trailer was funny”. Some of the creature designs are cute, I guess. I was also oddly and strongly reminded of Teela Brown from Niven’s Ringworld series, and that wasn’t a series I had thought about in years. I guess that’s a positive thing? I should totally re-read those.
Despite my generally lukewarm response to the film, I will acknowledge the positive messages that came out of it:
First, it’s pretty strong on the message that bad luck isn’t the catastrophe it seems like if you learn to prepare for things going wrong, and second that bad luck makes you better able to deal with adversity. Both of these resonated with me, and I’m totally not just desperately trying to justify my ATV+ subscription here.
While I do not suffer from atypically bad luck – quite the contrary, in fact – I do find that I have my best days when something goes wrong and I’m forced to figure out how to fix it.
Case in point: I’m following a few anime series this season, and one of them is a particularly awful piece of isekai drek called “Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World”, which is mostly notable in that the main female lead looks an awful lot like Isabelle from Animal Crossing, albeit with massive bazongas, and that the main male lead is even more of a murderhobo than most fantasy protagonists. Like, we’re talking serial killer levels of sociopath here. I cannot morally justify watching this show, but I cannot look away.
This show IS available on Crunchyroll, but I would charitably describe their presentation as “unwatchable” and thus I have been watching fansubs. Which brings me to the chain of events that I went through earlier:
Goal statement: Rather than watching the show on my computer screen, I’d like to watch it on the moderately-sized television a few feet away, from the comfort of the chair in front of the television, and I don’t want to spend time re-encoding the files. I also don’t want to run an HDMI cord from the computer to the TV as that would be unsightly.
First attempt: The TV has a built-in media player app, and some USB ports. Copy episodes to USB stick, plug into TV, it turns out that the TV can’t read the USB stick as it’s formatted in a Mac format. Erase USB stick, reformat to ExFAT, TV can now read it and the media player can even see the files and play them… without subtitles.
Second attempt: Install VLC for Android TV. Play episode. First episode plays with subtitles. Second does not. Some time here spent trying to figure out if the episode has subtitles (it does) and why VLC for Android TV isn’t working. It turned out that the answer was to change the default subtitle language from “no default language” to “en”. I have no idea why this was necessary for some episodes but not others. Fansubs are not entirely known for quality control so who knows. Now I have subtitles working.
While doing this, I also noticed that VLC has an option to get video files off a network share, which would save me the annoyance of copying them to a USB stick. I, therefore, set my ~/Movies folder to shared, pointed VLC to my desktop computer and it immediately told me that there were no files it could play.
This seemed odd, because it hadn’t even given me a login error or prompted me for a username/password. I found a suggestion online to turn off SMB1 in VLC’s settings – I have no idea why VLC defaults to SMB1, as an aside, it’s been deprecated since WINDOWS VISTA – and that didn’t seem to make a lick of difference.
Finally, out of frustration, I force-quit VLC and restarted it and tried to connect to my desktop again… and it immediately prompted me for credentials and suddenly I could happily stream anything in ~/Movies.
Let’s hear it for the power of Turning It Off And On Again.
Side note: seeing the contents of ~/Movies from the VLC file browser made me realize that I had been tossing random video files in there for years and that it was a godawful mess of a directory, so I spent several minutes whipping it into shape. Another positive outcome!
But then I got to thinking. If I could stream files from my desktop, I could certainly point it at the well-organized video library on my NAS as well… and I could probably set up network shares in VLC on the iPad as well.
So now, instead of my former process of running video through handbrake to make it compatible with the iPad’s TV app, then copying it over via Finder, I can simply stream the original files over my local network. No transcoding required, no slow file copy required, just point, click, watch, and then delete because no way on earth I’m going to want to watch this series a second time.
ALSO, I’ve been watching Crunchyroll/Netflix/Youtube/etc off the PS5 apps, but setting up VLC pushed me to finally install and configure all of the various streaming apps – including HiDive, which doesn’t have a Playstation app – on my TV proper. So I’m also saving however much power a PS5 sucks up, which I suspect is quite a bit of power even if it’s just playing a video.
So all in all, a very positive outcome to the day and it all started simply because the built-in media player app on my TV couldn’t display subtitles.