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Welcome

Welcome to assassinhtpcblog.com. This is the most comprehensive and most detailed tutorial on the internet in regards to how to setup and use your HTPC.

Downloading

Table of Guides (with quicklinks):

 

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Downloading Torrents and NZBs to your HTPC

In this set of guides I will show you how to download files to your HTPC with using bittorrent and/or nzbs. Torrent files are probably the most popular way to download files to your HTPC. (What are torrents?) NZB files are probably the second most popular way to download files, and this is because they require a subscription to both a news-host (provider) and news-index. While there are free hosts and indexes, the paid ones are considered a “requirement” if you are going to use things like sickbeard, headphones, and couchpotato as daily drivers. (What are NZBs?). Note that both torrent and nzb are file extensions like mkv, doc, txt, etc.

Legal Disclaimer: Assassin HTPC in no way endorses or condones the acquisition of illegal or copyrighted material. Downloading these materials is at your own risk and we take or assume no liability for these actions. By reading this guide you agree to this disclaimer.

NOTE: Please also see my VPN guide below on setting up a VPN which greatly improves internet security.

Downloading torrents and nzbs is very simple. The only thing that may be considered complicated is running automated programs to “get” those downloads for you and “move” them into your media library afterwards. Fortunately for you, I have put together all the information you will need right below. You will need to choose wheter you want to use only torrents, only NZBs, or both. I’ve only included instructions for all of this in Windows. For torrents, I’ve found uTorrent to have the best combination of options and least bloat of all the bittorrent clients I’ve used. For NZBs, SABnzbd is easily the most widely known news downloader tool, so I’ve never tested anything else. I will show you how to use either sabnzbd or utorrent (or both) with sickbeard, couchpotato, and headphones. These three programs are great tools written in Python to take care of all the manual work of moving and renaming your files for you created by midgetspy, ruudburger, and rembo10 respectively

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Using VPN for Internet Protection

This guide was researched and authored by paid user AMG_Roadster. I appreciate his expertise and input for this guide…

Note – the information below from AMG_Roadster is still relevant, but I am currently rewriting this guide to reflect which VPN I use personally, my reasoning for using them, and a little more elaboration on additional VPN aspects you should be concerned with

Let me preface this section by stating that we do not condone the theft of copyrighted material. We strongly recommend that you obey your local laws concerning copyrights and acquire any and all media in a legal manner. It is important to know that copyright owners are becoming more active in their monitoring of Bittorrent and P2P software. The only way to be 100% safe is to acquire your material legally.

There are a number of reasons to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service to mask your IP address and location. For example the BBC player is not accessible to you outside of the UK. One way to circumvent this limitation is to connect to a VPN server located in the UK. Or maybe your country blocks the use of Skype. Simply connect to a VPN server in another country and viola you have access to Skype. VPN is a great way to circumvent geolocation limitations that have been placed on your access to the many services and options available on the internet.

That being said increased anonymity offered by VPN services also increase your safety online if you do elect to share copyrighted intellectual property. One of the downsides of using VPN is that it still offers a single point of failure. There are a limited number of servers offered by VPN service providers and copyright holders often times have significant resources. They can connect the dots very easily and contact your VPN provider issuing a warning or attempting to have a subpoena served. Or If your VPN service provider is raided their logs and your IP address are now in the hands of law enforcement.

So you have read the above and are still interested in pursuing a VPN service.

Do not just you rush out and subscribe to a VPN provider – take your time and investigate their service to ensure that they support bittorrent traffic, find out if there are any data caps, if they limit the bandwidth, how many servers they have, the location of the servers, etc. In other words do you due diligence. You made an effort to investigate your CPU, memory, hard drive, etc. This is no different. We also strongly recommend that you at least start off paying by the month. This will cost you a little more but if the service sucks you are not stuck.

Now before we get further into VPN service providers and setting up VPN on your local machine you need to be aware that there is a huge security hole associated with PPTP-based VPN and IPv6. This means that services such as IPredator are broadcasting information linking to your real IP address. So the first thing we are going to do is to address this security hole.

IPv6 is the latest address protocol that will eventually replace IPv4. In Windows Vista and Windows 7 it has been enabled by default, but it is also a fact that IPv6 is not yet common and many software, routers, modems, and other network equipment do not support it yet.

You can also disable it by simply unchecking it from the Local Area Network Properties window, but this is not a permanent way to get rid of it. It gets enabled again once the system is restarted, so in order to permanently disable it, open the registry editor by clicking Start, then type regedit and hit Enter. Once it is launched, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SYSTEM > CurrentControlSet > services >TCPIP6 > Parameters key.

Now right-click Parameters in the left sidebar and choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value

Name the new parameter DisabledComponents and set the value of DisabledComponents to 0 and click OK.

That’s it, now restart your computer and IPv6 will be disabled permanently.

Now that we have laid the ground work for safe bittorrenting it is time to look at service providers. There are a number of options out there but here are seven providers that as of this writing did accepted P2P/bittorrent traffic although some conditions may apply.

HideMyAss

HideMyAss Pro VPN is an easy to use application which anonymously encrypts your entire internet connection. The tool automatically works with any application or protocol including p2p/bit-torrent.

IP Address Location: US/UK/NL/DE/CA/SE

Update: Be very leery of HMA and carefully consider if you want them to be your VPN: Link

[HideMyAss]

ItsHidden

ItsHidden is a free VPN that works on BitTorrent (BT) traffic including uploading and downloading transfer. Thus, it’s useful for users who torrent traffic been throttled by their ISP, or users who need to hide themselves for anti-piracy organizations from sharing copyrighted materials.

IP Address Location: Netherlands

[ItsHidden Home]

BolehVPN

BolehVPN provides a service to; bypass your internet throttle – allowing you to download torrents at max speeds, protect your surfing privacy, and bypass websites censored by your ISP. All this in one easy setup.

IP Address Location: EU/US

[BolehVPN]

AceVPN

AceVPN is a VPN service that you can use to privately and securely surf and download on the internet without leaving a trace and/or being tracked. AceVPN allows P2P traffic only for premium accounts.

AceVPN requests their users to limit the upload and the download speed to 100kbps, so that it does not affect other users on the network.

IP Address Location: US

[AceVPN]

CyberGhost

CyberGhost is a free VPN service with servers located in Germany. Actually, it’s a commercial VPN service that also has a free version. The free version, called Basic, it’s limited 10GB a month broadband usage. The P2P/torrent is allowed but with traffic limitations.

IP Address Location: Germany

[CyberGhost]

PacketiX VPN

PacketiX.NET online test service is a free VPN service offered by SoftEther. It is a test platform for developing PacketiX VPN 2.0, a high-security VPN system. This service can be used to browse with Japanese IP address.

IP Address Location: Japan

[PacketiX VPN Home]

BTGuard

BTGuard reroutes all your BitTorrent traffic through servers in Canada. This means that anyone who connects to you via BitTorrent, will see BTGuard’s IP, and not yours. BTGuard is simple to install and use – just download and install. For more advanced users, you can also configure your own BitTorrent client.

IP Address Location: Canada

[BTGuard]

I am currently using HideMyAss.

[Update: Be very leery of HMA and carefully consider if you want them to be your VPN: Link These developments have occurred since this guide was written and there are likely better VPN options out there.]

As of 2013 I am currently using PrivatVPN which was recommended to me by multiple users. Its easy to use and so far has been fantastic.

I liked the option of being able to randomize servers, select servers by region and/or country, and automatically change VPN servers after a specified period of time. It also allows for secure IP bind. This means that you can prevent an application (aka bittorrent) from running unless your VPN software is running. A good way to ensure that you do not forget to anonymize yourself or that someone else does not start the program and expose you to the consequences.

The selection of country where the server is based does have tradeoffs. The greater the distance from your physical location the slower your upload and download speed. That being said selecting an IP address based in Russia for example may provide additional security due to their intellectual property laws verse those in the UK, US, Canada, etc.

The Dashboard is the main screen in you access in the HMA VPN client. This screen contains your login credentials, where you select the country you want to connect through, and the VPN protocol. Once you tell the client to connect to VPN you will see the connection log populate and confirm that you have a secure, encrypted connection. This screen is makes it very clear whether or not you are connected through a message at the top of the screen as well as changing the color of the connect/disconnect VPN button.

Below you can see that a successful connection has been established. This screen shows your original IP address and location as well as the new IP address and location you have established by connecting through the VPN service.

Here is verification that the connection information being reported by the VPN client is accurate.

Secure Binding Control – Secure Binding is designed to ensure that specified programs do not run unless the HMA VPN client has established a connection.

The IP Address settings allow you to change the currently assigned IP address, setup a random IP address change at specified time intervals, and to verify the current IP address you are showing to the world. It is important to note that if you setup a random IP address change that your true IP address will be exposed when changing servers.

The County Selection Page is self explanatory. It allows you to specify which servers you want the VPN client to be able to connect through and what VPN protocols.

Another VPN option is ItsHidden. The setup for this service is a bit different as there is no local client that you are running.

VPN Service Setup (Windows Vista):

Start —> Connect To:

Select Set up a connection or network

Choose Connect to a workplace and click Next

Choose Use My Internet Connection (VPN)

Enter “vpn.itshidden.com” as the Internet address and enter a Destination name (e.g. “ItsHidden”). Click Next

Enter the ItsHidden user name and password (you’ve received these after completing your purchase, and you can also find them in your receipt e-mail), check Remember this password if desired, and click Create.

To connect to ItsHidden VPN service: Start —> Connect To

Select “ITsHidden” and click Connect

Click Connect again

You are now connected to ItsHidden

To disconnect, right-click the VPN connection symbol in the system tray,

and under “Disconnect from”, select “Itshidden”.

These are just two of the VPN offerings available. Take you r time, look at and investigate the services offered and finally select the one best suited to your needs and situation. And remember that we do not condone the theft of copyrighted material. We strongly recommend that you obey your local laws concerning copyrights and acquire any and all media in a legal manner.

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Installing and Configuring uTorrent

With your VPN in place, let’s get started with uTorrent.

Before we get started, let me clear up what may become a point of confusion if you perform a few “do I need a VPN” web searches. This very guide itself used to recommend uTorrent and Peerblock. Let me give you visual for how Peerblock should be regarded

Peerblock used to be considered pretty-good-protection. Things have changed in the past few years, and today it basically serves the following purposes

  1. Blocks several good connections – false positives
  2. Doesn’t keep up with bad connections – false negatives
  3. Doesn’t prevent anyone (blocked or unblocked) from pulling your IP from the tracker (assuming a public tracker)

So to reiterate . . . with your VPN in place let’s get started.

Go to the uTorrent downloads page and grab the current stable release (3.4.1 build 31227 for the purpose of this guide)

In case you aren’t already using it, I recommend you add Google Chrome as your default browser. As you notice it’s what comprises most screenshots throughout my guides, and I use it as my daily driver. If you clicked the download link from Chrome, then your download will be available afterwards in the bottom left as shown below. Otherwise locate your download (if using another browser) and double click the installer

You will get the standard windows security warning for any downloaded software unless you have your UAC notifications disabled. Click “run”

In the next several screenshots I will take you through the install steps for uTorrent beginning with a “Welcome to the uTorrent Setup Wizard” to which you’ll click next

Now click next past the warning about utorrent scam-alikes

Next you’ll have to accept the EULA to continue

The next step is standard “shortcut” options. I typically only want desktop icons, but choose whatever you prefer

Now we get to a Configuration page. I leave both boxes checked (default) since I want the exception to be added, and I want uTorrent to start automatically

Now we arrive on the junk. I always uncheck these boxes, but if you want to try out random software or feel that it further supports their hosting and don’t mind removing it later on then give it a try

To proceed on the next screen without accepting 3rd party software click “Decline Offer”

The final screen may trick some into “accepting” since the “I do not accept” radio button is greyed out. However, just click “I do not accept” and you will see that it does, in fact, let you decline the offer. Finally choose “Finish”

Now let’s open uTorrent (right click your uTorrent tray icon and select “Hide/Show uTorrent”) and start changing your preferences. (Either press Ctrl+P or select Options -> Preferences)

In the next several screenshots, I will show you the settings I use in uTorrent. I’ve chosen these settings based on how I want it to work with a VPN and the automation programs (sickbeard, couchpotato, and headphones). Each screenshot I’ve included should have the settings I use. Your first view should be the “General” tab (notice your column of preference options on the left). If not already checked, I ask uTorrent to start with Windows and start minimized. The default settings should match what you see below

In the next set of preferences “UI Settings,” I enable the option for minimize to minimize uT to tray. I ask the single click on tray icon to open (since I don’t prefer double clicks), and I uncheck the “show balloon notifications in tray” since I feel they are obstructive to my HTPC experience. Don’t worry about the “Show options to change . . . .” under “When Adding Torrents.” That “show options” dialog will only appear when adding torrents manually, and whether or not you leave it checked won’t make any difference to sickbeard, couchpotato, and headphones (they will never bring up the show options prompts if you set them up with the guides below)

In the “Directories” section you will need to put some thought into where you want your downloads to go. Typically you don’t want these to go on your SSD, but instead your recorded TV drive or some other “scratch” disk. As you see in the screenshot below, I have a uTor directory on my Recorded TV drive (E:). Within that directory I have an incomplete and complete directory. You can nest them if you want, but it does not make any difference. When your download finishes uTorrent will move it for you automatically. Same-disk file operations should be the same speed whether the folders are nested or not, and I like having separate directories. The other setting on this page that you’ll want to adjust is the “Automatically load .torrents from” checkbox. This can be anywhere you want, and this is a convenient option if you tend to search for torrents manually (since you can point it to your default download directory – which is what I do)

One thing that is noteworthy about the “Directories” section (that has changed in recent builds of uTorrent) is the LACK of an “Append Torrents label” option in the “Completed” downloads area. Not to worry as this option still exists in the webUI (which we will enable and use to configure this behavior

The next section is important to understand. In the “connection” tab your needs may vary. For example, if you use a private tracker and need to maintain a specific seed ratio, then you will probably need to use different settings than what I recommend. I disable NAT-PMP port mapping and disable UPnP port mapping, but I check the “Randomize port each start” box. I do not enable a Proxy server, though if you want to this is the place for it. (See alternative proxy settings in the VPN guide above if you want). I use my VPN provider’s client app instead (though they offer a proxy service) since it has some DNS leak protection and a kill switch if the VPN connection is lost. With my VPN provider, UPnP port mapping and NAT-PMP port mapping do not work on their listening ports. In fact, torrent seeding does not work very well on most VPN client apps, but as I know it does not work for mine I simply disable this altogether.

I leave Bandwidth, BitTorrent, and Transfer Cap at their defaults. Under Queueing I change BOTH the Minimum ratio (%) and Minimum seeding time to 0. I do this because I want sickbeard, couchpotato, and headphones to “move” files instead of copy. If uTorrent says they are still seeding then they won’t be processed until seeding is finished. I use this approch since it is tidier and I don’t have multiple files sitting around. As to the maximum number of active torrents and maximum number of active downloads, I leave these at default. Setting these too high can hurt your download performance, so if you want to increase them I would suggest adding +4 at a time until you can see your downlink speeds saturated (or just leave them at default like I do). I never have more than four or five simultaneous downloads anyway. The final step that is required to have uTorrent mark your downloads as “finished” wehn complete is the checkbox under “When uTorrent Reaches the Seeding Goal.” You’ll want to check the box named “Limit the upload rate to” and enter a value of 0

I leave Scheduler, Remote, Playback, Paired Devices, and Label at default.

Label would be a very important section for separating your download directories, but all of the automation programs I take you through below can apply a label to what they “send” to uTorrent for you. Instead of going the long way and applying rules and directories for those labls in this Menu we will simply check a box in the WebUI that will accomplish the same result with much less effort. I’ll show you this further down. For torrent automation this is very nice, because you will have “separate” download scan directory (i.e. one for sickbeard, couchpotato, and headphones), but each one will be a “sub-directory” of your completed downloads — like completed/movies, completed/tv, completed/music. That way sickbeard never goes and post-processes your music downloads or vice-versa, and your manual downloads don’t end up in your automatic post-processing folders.

The LAST preference I change (finally, almost there) is under the “Advanced” branch. Choose Advanced -> Web UI to enable webui. Create your username and password and choose an alternative listening port (since we had the default connection port randomized on each start). Don’t pick a port you use for something else (flexraid defaults to 8080, mediabrowser defaults to 8096, xbmc defaults to 80, plex defaults to 32400). I personally use 8085 for uTorrent.

Now whenever you want to manage uTorrent you can point your browser to localhost:port/gui/ (where port is what you chose above for the alternative listening port). Previously you had to manually add the webui.zip yourself from their forums, but at least with 3.4.1 it is included when the setting is enabled in preferences. For the web ui, I as always recommend chrome. Firefox and IE have problems showing the extended -> options within “Labels” and “Remove” sometimes (depending on version), but I have never had an issue with Chrome.

Let’s go ahead and point our browser to localhost:8085/gui/ (unless you chose a different port) so that we can change one more option. (you will be prompted for the username and password you just created above)

Click the “Gear” icon to open preferences from the WebUI (shown in above screenshot with a red box around it). In the WebUI preferences, choose “Directories” on the left hand column. Then check the “Append the torrent’s label” checkbox I have shown below with a red box around it. Then apply your changes and select ok

Before diving into automation tools, lets take one last look around the desktop client. Notice on the left there is something called “Bundles.” If you haven’t updated uTorrent in a while, you may remember these as “Apps” (which is what they used to be called). Bundles are a good place to get some of your first content. You may not recognize much of the work here, and that is kind of the point. They have small indie films from different societies, non-label music, books, etc. The content presented their is referred to as “featured” and a lot of it has become “play only” rather than download.

The image below is from the previous guide, showing you how to get your first torrent from what used to be the “Apps” area. Rather than find a downloadable portion of the new “bundles” area and recreate this information, I’ve left the old picture. The show is Pioneer One

On this screen we can see a few important pieces of information.

  • The file(s) that are downloading located under “name”.
  • The size of these files.
  • Percent done of the download.
  • Status (Downloading vs Done/Sharing)
  • Seeds (Very Important: These are the people actively sharing the files. The more sharing usually the better resulting in more reliable and higher speed downloads)
  • Leechers (Somewhat Important: These are the people actively downloading the file from the seeds. You typically want a high seed to leecher ratio.)
  • Upload and Download Speeds: This will depend on the speed of your connection and the seed/leecher ratio as well as the seeds’ connection speed
  • ETA: Estimated time of arrival (how long the download has before completion)

Once the download has completed and you are finished using uTorrent right click on the file from the uTorrent main download screen and select “remove”. This will remove it from uTorrent which will allow you to move it on your HTPC to its new folder.

After removing it from uTorrent let’s go to where you told uTorrent to store your data. You should now see it in your folder. Right click on the file and select “Cut” – this will move it to its new location and delete the old file in the previous folder.

Since this is a TV Show lets go to your HTPC’s “TV Shows” folder.

Make a new folder named “Pioneer One”. Inside the “Pioneer One” folder make another folder named “Season One”. Now inside that folder left click and select “paste”. This will move this file into your new folder. I usually re-name my media at this point. Since this is the first episode of season one we need to rename it “s01e01”.

Its that easy! You just added a new TV show to your TV Shows folder!

There are a lot of websites out there to use to search for media for your Assassin HTPC. Good luck torrenting!

Now that your uTorrent client is configured, lets move on to some slick automation tools. This way you won’t have to mess with any searching, moving, or renaming unless you just want to for nostalgia

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Installing and Configuring SABnzbd

As I mentioned above, you need to choose between torrents, NZBs, or both. If you are just going to use torrents then you can skip this portion of the guide. You may be at a crossroads as to which one you should choose, so I’ll give you a quick overview of both. Torrent files are P2P which is a shortened way of saying peer-to-peer. You and everyone else pulling those files down are identified by the tracker for that particular torrent. Most public torrents can be “leeched” as well, which is where you download without uploading, although some trackers will ban your IP for this. Torrents are the most popular because they are free. An alternative and more private method of downloading are NZBs. These are less popular primarily because decent news-hosting servers are not free. Popular hosts are Giganews, Astraweb, Usenetserver, and Newsdemon. A very popular index used to be NZBmatrix, though it has been permanently closed.

What is a host, and what is an index?

This is another reason why NZBs are less popular — they are not search, click, download capable. Again, nzb is literally a file extension, but if you want to know more about the subject the keyword in all of this is Usenet (look here) In order to download any NZBs you need a newsreader, news host, and news index. The newsreader we’ll setup below is SABnzbd, but for it to work you need both a host and an index. Sickbeard and couchpotato will search some free indexes for you, so you are welcome to try them before picking a different index. In fact, several popular indexes give free accounts (some up to 10 hits a day) which is another good way to test your options. In fact, you can even create, manage, and host your own index if you want. I recommend the following server and index, but feel free to try more (you want to find a good match for the type of content you are looking for, these work for me but may not for your desired content)

Okay, now that the introductions are complete, let’s get to installing and configuring sabnzbd

To begin, let’s go to the SABnzbd download page and choose the Windows Installer

The exe should begin automatically downloading from sourceforge. When it’s done, go ahead and click it once to begin the install (from the bottom-left downloads area in Chrome)

Tell User Account Control “Yes, you want to install” then SAB will ask you to specify a language

English is fine with me. Now it will ask you to agree to their license

Now it will ask you to choose which features you want to install. I check all four boxes, since I want it to run at startup and takeover NZB associations.

Then as all program installs do, it asks for the install location and start menu shortcut. I choose the default options

Then on after the install, I deselect the ‘show Release Notes’ checkbox and click “Finish”

Now, if you take a look in your system tray, you will see nothing has changed

This is because we are not yet running SABnzbd. Before going and launching it you need to recall what else you have installed on your machine. If you have flexraid installed, then you will have to change it’s default port or you need to change SABnzbd’s default port since they both want to use 8080. You can use ports in order or not, but just to give you an idea I have the following ports in use on my server

  • 8080 – flexraid
  • 8081 – sabnzbd
  • 8082 – sickbeard
  • 8083 – couchpotato
  • 8084 – headphones
  • 8085 – utorrent
  • 8090 – xbmc
  • 8096 – MB3
  • 9080 – serverWMC
  • 32400 plex

 

If you want to change sabnzbd’s listening port from the default (8080) then open a command prompt (several ways to do this, but the quickest is to open “Run” by pressing “WIN+R” then type “cmd” and hit “Enter”)

In the command prompt you are going to need to change to your SABnzbd install directory. That should be as simple as typing “cd C:\Program Files (x86)\SABnzbd” — without quotes of course, and include the spaces between Program Files (x86)

From the C:\Program Files (x86)\SABnzbd\ directory you need to enter “SABnzbd.exe -s localhost:7777” — again without quotes, and here you can use whatever port you want instead of 7777

Give it about 5-10 seconds and you should see the SABnzbd tray icon appear and your default web browser will launch with an address of localhost:7777/wizard/ (or whichever port you specified)

Choose your language (English is default) and then select “Start Wizard”

The first step in the setup wizard is to enter your usenet server details. I’ve entered the settings I use with UsenetServer and shown a successful connection

Now let me explain what I entered and why

  1. Host – I used secure.usenetserver.com since that is required for SSL connections to their server. Just usenetserver.com doesn’t allow SSL connections
  2. Port – You can use 563 or 443 with secure.usenetserver.com for SSL, find this information with your news server if you aren’t using usenetserver.com
  3. Username/password – when you sign up with a news server, they should ask you for your name, email, desired username, and password. You should get a confirmation email from them that your account has been activated, and if your desired username was available. Whatever you enter or are provided with from your news server should be entered here
  4. Connections – I use 13 even though my server allows 20. The reason I choose this has to do with how SABnzbd closes connections on completion. If you set 20 (and your server allows 20) then your speeds will often times be lower since SABnzbd will open and close connections (never going above what you set) as needed, but it will keep the maximum to itself. Your news server, however, will typically count your open connections “slower” than SAB, and if SAB asks for new connections (since it’s closed others) then your server will reject those requests — thus slowing your overall speed. 13 or 14 is a good number to go with if your server allows 20
  5. SSL – I check this box to enable 256-bit encryption on all my NZB downloads through secure.usenetserver.com (If your news server doesn’t allow SSL, I would suggest you use one that does – all popular news servers use SSL these days)
  6. Test Server – Finally!! Let’s check this box to see if your connection is successful, if not try logging into your news host and verify your login information, hostname, and port

Now to page 2. Here I change the access to make “SABnzbd viewable by any pc on my network” and I uncheck the “Launch my browser when the program starts” checkbox. This way when my server reboots SABnzbd will start without popping up a browser window, and I don’t have to be at my server to view and configure things. Any browser on your LAN can enter 192.168.whatever.ip:7777 and access sabnzbd. If you want to pass this through to a DDNS service (outside your LAN) then I would suggest you give it a username, password, and HTTPS access. I’m not going to cover passing SABnzbd outside your local network, because I don’t use it that way.

Page 3 of the wizard is dedicated solely to integrating a news index with SABnzbd. Specifically OZnzb (which I don’t use, so I leave this blank and select next). If you don’t have a news index yet, it is probably worth giving OZnzb a look since SAB has included their integration in the setup wizard.

Page 4 will restart SABnzbd and apply your configuration. When it is done, you will be prompted to allow SABnzbd through your Windows Firewall. I check both boxes and select “Allow access”

Back to page 4, SABnzbd should say “Setup is now complete” and it will remind you that closing the browser window does not close SAB. You will need to right click the SABnzbd tray icon and select shutdown. Now lets click “Go to SABnzbd” and finish configuring things.

This should be the default page that opens when you click “Go to SABnzbd” Or if you closed that by accident you can always just open a browser and type localhost:7777

Lets choose config

For General, the only thing I really change is the Web Interface (since I don’t care for the look of Plush-gold, I change it to Classic-green) This is just an appearance setting. On this General page, there are two improtant things to note. The API Key and NZB Key. The full API Key is something you want to put in an open text file with notepad or something, because we will be copying and pasting it into sickbeard, couchpotato, and headphones later. When you are done click “Save Changes” (note: you have to “save” any changes you make on any of the config page for them to stick)

Under Folders I make a few changes. First I create a “SABnzbd Scripts” folder and choose it’s location for the “Post-Processing Scripts Folder” field

I also change the Download (both temporary and complete) to my 2TB E:\ drive rather than leaving them on my SSD. If you have flexraid or some other NAS-type location for your completed media then I suggest you DO NOT enter it here. Think of the SABnzbd completed directory as a “holding” area, because we are going to setup Sickbeard, Couchpotato, and Headphones to post-process all the files FROM this holding area TO their final storage detination (i.e. flexraid). I suggest using your recorded TV drive if you have one (this is what I use my E:\ drive for – also, SAB will likely never be writing above 5MB/s unless you have an insanely fast internet connection, so there is nothing to worry about with a few recordings and SAB writing to the same drive at the same time)

Under the “Switches” configuration I make two changes. I select the checkboxes next to “Abort jobs that cannot be completed” and “Check before download” The check can make things slower, but using it and the abort option can help you out if you are not using an unlimited usenet server account or you are low on disk space

I don’t make any changes to Servers, Scheduling, or Notifications, but Categories will need some things added to keep your downloads separated. Later we will tell Sickbeard, Couchpotato, and Headphones to send SAB the tags we specify in this Category Configuration so that all of our automated requests get sorted to the right folders. For the Folder/Path of each category, you can simply type “movies” or “music” without specifying an entire path. The path is relative to your “completed” directory, so for example after sab finishes a music download it will automatically move it from E:\sab\incomplete to E:\sab\complete\music if the download was tagged as music. Also, don’t worry about the “Script” option for now, but we will return to this when setting up sickbeard and headphones. I give the “Indexer tags” the exact same name as my “Folder/Path” (see below)

I leave Sorting, Special, and RSS alone. This completes your SAB setup, and you are ready to automate things with the long awaited tv, movie, and music tools. However, if you have registered for an index you can go ahead and test things out by visiting the site. I’ll take you through a quick example

After clicking “download NZB” on your index site, you should be able to simply “click” the download in Chrome’s bottom-left download area. Since you’ve checked the “Associate NZB files” in SABnzbd setup, windows will automatically send the file to SAB. Let’s open our SAB queue to see it in action

Notice you can change the category in real-time while your download is in the queue. Just change the pulldown appropriately, in the case of the above screenshot we would simply change it to TV.

BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS

Setting up Python

OK, I know what you are thinking . . .

Why setup python? Can’t I just download an exe and install? This is too complicated . . .

Well, I hope your still following along, because I’ve put together this python guide for a few good reasons.

  1. All of our auto-tools use python
  2. The most bug-fixed and feature-laiden versions of those tools will need to run from source
  3. I’ll take you through it step by step, and once you have done it you will see it’s worthwhile, not hard, and kind of fun

That being said you can find exe downloads of sickbeard, headphones, and couchpotato and just use my guides below to finish their configurations. In fact, my guide does use the exe method for couchpotato. However, I’ve included a forked version of sickbeard below that has good built in torrent integration (which you won’t find in the standard exe downloads from sickbeard)

Follow along and I’ll get you through it all. Let’s start by downloading Python from their downloads page

IMPORTANT – choose the Python 2.7.6 x86-64 installer (3+ versions of python won’t work for us)

When it’s done click the msi installer and tell the user-account-control popup that you want to install. Then next screen should ask if you want to install for all users or just yourself (ensure that the 2.7.6 version is being installed in the title window — 32 or 64 bit doesn’t matter)

I personally choose “all users” Now onto the next screen, it will ask you for the destination directory. Again this is personal preference and it doesn’t typically make a difference, but my preference is to create an “Apps” folder in C:\ (notice this is where I created the SABnzbd Scripts directory as well, and we will extract sickbeard, couchpotato, and headphones there in their respective guides) I just like having all my “extract and run” applications in one place. If you follow this then you will need to type C:\Apps\Python27\ into the text field in the Python Setup menu (see below) then click next

I leave the next customization setup screen at default and click next

Then you will get a “Installing” window and another user account control “Are you sure” dialog. Just click yes to the user account control and when it’s finished installing you should see this screen (click Finish to exit)

Finished? Not quite, we need to add Python to your windows system variables. Start by opening control panel then select “System” (make sure you aren’t using the categories view of control panel)

Now click “Advanced system settings” on the left

On the System Properties menu, choose the Advanced tab and click “Environment Variables”

Now scroll down in the “System variables” box and find “Path” then choose “Edit”

Now, whatever your “Variable value” already contains is based on your setup, but all you need to do is make sure you are at the right hand side. Press the right arrow key on your keyboard a few times to ensure you are all the way. You will need to enter this specific text

;C:\Apps\Python27

Don’t forget the semicolon (;) and don’t add spaces — also use the directory that you installed Python in if you didn’t follow my steps above to install it in C:\Apps\Python27

Since Sickbeard also needs Cheetah as well, I’ll include that here

Download Cheetah from here
Now click the carat (^) near the Cheetah-2.4.4.tar.gz download and select “Show in Folder”

Now right click your downloaded tar.gz file and choose “extract here” with 7zip (install 7zip if not already since it is really a must have application for any PC)

The way 7zip handles tar.gz files is to extract the tar file first. Now right click the Cheetah-2.4.4.tar file and choose “Extract files …”

Now it will ask you where you want to extract to (you guessed it, to C:\Apps\Cheetah). Click the ellipsis next to the filename to browse

Browse to C:\Apps and make a new folder then rename it Cheetah, and select OK

If it asks you to overwrite any files just select yes to all

Your end product should look like this

Almost done, now open a command prompt (WIN+R then type cmd and hit Enter)
In the command prompt type (without quotes)
“cd C:\Apps\Cheetah” — press Enter
“python setup.py install” — press Enter

Then a whole bunch of stuff will run and you should end with “Pure Python installation succeeded”

Now you can close the command prompt and move onto installing sickbeard!

BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS

Sickbeard for your HTPC

Okay, now that we have SABnzbd, uTorrent, Python, and Cheetah installed it’s time for the easy part . . . installing Sickbeard. The version I like to use supports torrent searches with built-in client integration (just like the master-branch of sickbeard has with SABnzbd) since I get better performance by using both torrents and usenet.

To start, go to echel0n’s SickRage github page and select the “Download ZIP” option.

Now choose “Show in Folder” for the zip file, and right-click it then select “Extract All…”

Since I like having all of these in the C:\Apps folder, I change the destination to that directory

After it’s finished it should open the location you chose to extract to. I prefer to rename it from SickRage-master to “Sickbeard”

Remember that “SABnzbd Scripts” folder we made in the SABnzbd setup, well it’s time to use it. Open the extracted sickbeard folder, and open the “autoProcessTV” directory within

Now copy the “sabToSickBeard.py” file and paste it into your “SABnzbd Scripts” folder (or whichever folder you specified in the sabnzbd config)

When you go back to your SABnzbd config “categories” area you will now have the “sabToSickBeard.py” scripts as an option in the “Scripts” pull down in the category. Note this should only be selected for your tv shows category

Now we have Sickbeard installed, but we have to configure it to run on startup. Let’s start by making a desktop shortcut, so open your C:\Apps\Sickbeard folder and right-click the “SickBeard.py” file found within. Choose “Send To” then “Desktop (create shortcut)”

Now go back to your Desktop, right-click your new shortcut, and select “Open With”

If you are using W8, it will likely NOT find what you want to choose (which is pythonw.exe) so choose “browse” and point to your Python install directory (C:\Apps\Python27 if you followed the guide) MAKE SURE you choose pythonw.exe and NOT the python.exe without the “w.” If you choose wrong then a command prompt will launch each time you start the shortcut.

Now the final step, add this shortcut to your startup menu. If you are on W7 then this is in your Start Menu, but if you are using W8 then you will want to open an explorer window and type “Shell:Startup” without quotes to open your startup shortcuts folder.

Copy/paste your sickbeard shortcut from the desktop to this folder and sickbeard will auto-start when you reboot. To start it right now, just double click the shortcut.

After double clicking, SickBeard should open your default browser pointed to localhost:8081/home/

Your first time it may say that you need an update (even though we are using the latest git version). Feel free to click the update button in your browser, and while you are there notice the restart and shutdown buttons as well. If for some reason you want to shutdown sickbeard, then you will need to open your browser to the sickbeard home page and click the shutdown button. Go ahead and add this page to your bookmarks

Now that you are inside Sickbeard’s interface on your browser, let me explain some of your options. Most everything is “click-able.” For example, the “Sickbeard TVRage master” icon area will take you back to the home page if clicked, the “Show List,” “Coming Episodes,” “History,” “Manage,” “Logs & Errors,” and “Gear Icon” are all menu options that we will get to shortly. Lets start with the “Gear Icons” which is the settings area. Hover your mouse here and the multiple settings menus will open in a pull-down menu. The different settings menus should be Help & Info, General, Search Settings, Search Providers, Subtitles Settings, Post Processing, and Notifications. Lets start with General

Note: If these areas aren’t working for you then it’s likely you are using an outdated version of internet explorer, opera, safari, or some odd mobile browser. As always, I recommend Google’s Chrome browser, but Firefox has also never given me any trouble with these web applications so go with an updated version of either one of those browsers.

Under General you will have 4 tabs. Misc, Web Interface, Date and Time, and Advanced Setting. The one you should see open right now is “Misc.” Here are my settings for this tab

Don’t forget to click “Save Changes” at the bottom when you make any changes before switching to different tabs. I leave defaults set for Web Interface, Date and Time, and Advanced Setting, but if you want to change the default port from 8081 then you can do so in “Web Interface”

Lets move onto “Search Settings.” Notice (now that we are in a settings area) that the different settings menus are listed across the top as well as still available in the “Gears Icon” pulldown

In the Search Settings menu, you should have Episode Search, NZB Search, and Torrent Search tabs. Under Episode Search, I change the Usenet Retention to match my News Host.

Notice in the picture that UsenetServer advertises “2103 days retention.” This is what I set under “Usenet Retention.” As for the Backlog Search Frequency, I change this from 10080 (which is 168 hours – aka 1 week) to 4320 (which is 3 days). I leave the other settings alone, but you can adjust the Daily Search Frequency to your liking. Note the times are in minutes. Remember to click “Save Changes” at the bottom

Now choose the “NZB Search” tab if you installed SABnzbd above (skip this if you only want to use torrents). To see the options I set for this screen you’ll need to check the box for “Search NZBs” then select “SABnzbd” from the NZB Method pulldown menu. Now set your SABnzbd URL, Username (if applicable), Password (if applicable), API Key, and SABnzbd Category. If you followed my SABnzbd guide above, then your URL should be localhost:7777, category should be tvshows, and no username nor password. Your API Key will not match what I have (since it is unique to your installation). You’ll need to copy and paste your specific API Key from SABnzbd -> Config -> General -> API Key. When you have entered everything click the “Test SABnzbd” at the bottom, and if everything is correct (SABnzbd needs to be running) you should get a message saying “Success. Connected and authenticated” (Don’t forget to click “Save Changes” afterwards)

Now lets configure the last tab, “Torrent Search” (if you installed utorrent, but skip this if you only want to use SABnzbd). Search Torrents should be checked by default, but go ahead and change the TORRENT Method pulldown from Black Hole to uTorrent. Now enter the settings I have shown below, but adjusted for your own username, password, and label. I just use “tv” for the uTorrent Label rather than tvshows (which I use for the sabnzbd category), but since these are going to different completed download directories it shouldn’t matter. Since we have “append label” checked in the webui of uTorrent then it doesn’t matter what you choose for uTorrent label, but remember what you choose since we will enter that as our post-processing folder. If you used my uTorrent setup guide above then your Host should be localhost:8085. Notice that if you enter that in a web browser nothing will happen unless you enter localhost:8085/gui

HOWEVER, for this sickbeard menu do NOT put the trailing “/gui” behind your host. If everything is entered correct, then clicking “Test Connection” at the bottom should pop up a notification saying “Success: Connected and Authenticated” (don’t forget to click “Save Changes”)

Now choose “Search Providers”

Look at all the built in search providers. First lets configure our custom Newznab provider (and Torrent provider if applicable) then come back to the priorities screen to prioritize.

Click the “Configure Custom Newznab Providers” option if your index isn’t builtin. Since I use nzbplanet, and I know it is not built in then I have to enter it as a custom provider. Here are the settings if you use nzbplanet as well, but you will need to get your specific API key from their site (should be in your account options)

I don’t have any custom torrent providers, but if you have a login to a private tracker that isn’t already built in then you can probably enter it as a custom torrent provider. Lets go back to the “Provider Priorities” screen. I prioritize nzbplanet to the top followed by PublicHD. Take note of all the options that don’t require a login, and pay special attention if you aren’t using both SABnzbd and uTorrent since some will only find torrents and some will only find NZBs. To change the priority just click and drag the ones you want to the top and order them as you prefer

Now let’s move to Post-Processing. The tabs you should see (below) are Post-Processing, Episode Naming, and Metadata. For the Post-Processing folder, you don’t need to enter anything if you are just using SABnzbd. However, if you are using uTorrent then you need to enter the appended download directory (meaning put whatever label you chose behind your uTorrent completed downloads directory). Since I’m using both, I enter my uTorrent completed downloads directory here with the “tv” label appended (i.e. E:\uTor\complete\tv). I prefer the option for sickbeard to “Move” downloads asa well. Here are my Post-processing settings

Now choose the “Episode Naming” tab. This is where you specify how you want your episodes renamed. I personally prefer each of my shows to be in separate Season folders. You need to specify that here or they will each get dumped into one single folder with the show name. I also like for each episode to be named like this
“Show Name – S01E01 – Episode name.mkv”
To get each episode named like this and put in their appropriate season folders, you need to change the Name Pattern: field to “Custom” and then enter the following “Season %S/%SN – S%0SE%0E – %EN” (don’t enter the quotes, and don’t worry about the Season folder slash being the wrong direction “/” since you should see a sample right below where Sickbeard corrects it to the windows style “\”)

For the Metadata tab, I just ask it to add XBMC 12+ metadata (I’m using XBMC Gotham). MB3 interprets XBMC metadata (and Plex as well if you add the NFO importer to your Plex scrapers) so using XBMC 12+ gives you the most universal support. Of course, you can have an external program like Mediacentermaster scrape the metadata for you as well.

You should be all setup now, unless you want to use any notifications. I have Sickbeard notify XBMC when a download is finished an update it’s library. This should be a simple set of options that you can configure based on your setup, or you can ignore the notifications area altogether and view your progress by pointing any of browser on your network to sickbeard’s web interface.

Since we are finished configuring, let’s go to “Add Shows”

After this example, you will probably want to add your entire “TV” directory as “Existing Shows” but for this example lets just use the “Add New Show” button. (A warning on adding your existing shows, I would disable post-processing metadata then add the existing shows and re-enable metadata)

For our new show, let’s ask sickbeard to get the Public Domain first season of a popular show “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Notice that when adding a new show you can choose to have sickbeard use “TVRage” or “theTVDB” as an index. In my experience, most things are already named in line with theTVDB so I choose that one every time so far. Certain shows are known to be indexed on theTVDB “incorrectly” depending on how you want your show organized, so if you prefer the TVRage naming and organization then feel free to choose that instead. When you have typed the show name click “Search”

Sickbeard had no trouble finding “The Beverly Hillbillies” on theTVDB.org (sometimes multiple matches will be found, just ensure you select the one you want) Now let’s click “Next”

Sickbeard will now ask you to pick the parent folder. If you have your TV shows organized into a directory named “TV Shows” then that is the parent folder. You don’t need a directory named “The Beverly Hillbillies” to be created, or any season folders populated within — sickbeard does all of that for you. Just pick the appropriate parent folder, and click next (do not click “Add Show” just yet). Note that I have used Z:\TV Shows as my parent directory – that is because I have my Flexraid drive mapped to Z:\ on this computer. I suggest using your flexraid tv shows drive as the parent folder if you have your media stored that way, because this way you wont have to bother moving anything again after sickbeard does its thing

Now sickbeard will ask you to choose how you want it to download this series. The defaults are for it to mark each episode as “skipped” and prefer “SD” for the quality. Depending on the show, you may need to select “Any” for the quality. For this guide, I’m going to let it mark episodes “skipped” and change the quality to “Any” (most flexible). When you make your preferences click “Add Show”

Give it a second to add the show, then click the sickbeard logo to go back to your home page (or type localhost:8081 in your browser and press enter)

Back to the homepage you should see your new show added under your “Show List,” so lets click the title “The Beverly Hillbillies” to see the episode view of the show

Okay in the episode view, notice the episode number, name, airdate, and status are all filled in. Lets scroll down to Season 1, and check the empty box I have shown below in red

Notice that when we checked it that the all 36 episodes in the season were checked as well. Now scroll back up to the top and click “Go” (next to the “Change selected episodes to” Wanted area). Make sure “Wanted” is selected in the pulldown box before clicking go. This will force sickbeard to create a backlog for these episodes and automatically send them to your SABnzbd or uTorrent programs for downloading

You should get a pop up message saying that the backlog was started for “The Beverly Hillbillies Season 1”

Now lets take a look at the “log.” This is one of those top-level options we haven’t covered yet, you can check here for errors or view the entire log. See below

Looking at the log, we can see that sickbeard went searching for Season 1 and found that we asked for every episode in the season, so it sent the entire S01 to uTorrent to download

We can check with the uTorrent webUI to see if it was in fact added

I’ll cover one last thing in this sickbeard guide. Everything should be up and running now automatically, but every once in a while sickbeard won’t find what you are looking for OR you just like searching for things and pulling them in on your own. If you want something to be found by sickbeard, then you can simply add a torrent to uTorrent and give it the “tv” label. That will force uTorrent to move it into Comleted\tv when it is finished, and we have added that to Sickbeard’s post-processing download directory to be scanned. If you aren’t using torrents, you can do the same thing with SABnzbd’s category. I gave SAB the category of “tvshows” and since we told SAB to use the “sabToSickBeard.py” post processing script then you do NOT need to enter SABnzbd’s Completed\tvshows directory into sickbeard’s post-processing completed TV directory. HOWEVER, if you want sickbeard to scan that directory because you manually search for NZBs and have SAB download them, then feel free to add it (just make sure to apply the tvshows category to those downloads in SAB). Most of the time, torrent users will be the ones manually searching for releases, and I fit this profile myself. Even though I have both torrents and nzbs in use, I only manually search for torrents whenever a release can’t be found automatically. For this reason, I have the uTorrent Completed\tv directory in my Post-processing “tv” downloads area.

Now, aside from the automatic mode, there is also manual post processing. I’m going to cover that below

The two best uses of manual post-processing are miscellaneous download areas that you have not yet renamed or entire tv packs that you have not organized to your front end. Who wants to do all that editing by hand? The only caveat is that you need to have the show added to sickbeard. In the example I am going to show, I have the entire I Love Lucy series in a folder (in need of processing) but I have not added it to sickbeard yet. First go to Add Show and choose either theTVDB or TVRage indexes based on what your series looks like. The organization of the seasons I am using matches theTVDB exactly, so I add it as a new show with all episodes skipped in any quality.

When you are sure that you have added the shows you want processed to sickbeard, go to your sickbeard home screen (localhost:8081) and click the “Post-Processing” button near the top

Now you will need to click “Browse…” and tell sickbeard which folder you want it to scan (be careful if you select a folder with several nested inside it). In my case, I point it to the I love Lucy Seasons 1-9 Complete folder. I want it to Move those episodes, and the remaining checkboxes I leave unchecked. If you want the manual processor to replace something sickbeard has already processed for you then check the “Forced” box. To let sickbeard take over, click the “Process” button (if you don’t yet trust the post-processor, you can use “Copy” instead of “Move”)

BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS

CouchPotato for your HTPC

Next, we’ll install and configure CouchPotato. Just above we covered installing SickBeard for your HTPC. CouchPotato is for movies what SickBeard is for tv shows. However, since CouchPotato has both torrent and nzb integration builtin we will just use the simple install method rather than installing from source. Start by going to the CouchPotato site and download their latest Windows installer.

When finished, click the exe to begin installing. Tell windows you want to Run the installer and press Yes at the user account control popup. Now the first page of setup tells you that CouchPotato is going to be installed in your AppData folder. Click next

Next check the box to have CouchPotato run at startup and click next

Now click Install to finish up

After it’s finished installing click finish and leave the “Launch CouchPotato right now” box checked

The default port is 5050. I don’t know of anything else that runs on this port, so you can always leave it at default. The first launch should open your default browser pointed to localhost:5050 AND windows firewall should prompt you that you need to allow it through your firewall

Now let’s go through the web configuration. Some things you should note that will be different than SickBeard and Headphones (next guide) is that since we used the installer rather than the github source there will be a windows tray icon when this program is active. The Shutdown and Restart options in the web UI still work, but you also have that option in the tray icon for couch potato. Also, while SickBeard and Headphones require you to click “Save Changes” when altering your configurations, there is no “Save Changes” option at all in the CouchPotato configuration screens. CouchPotato just saves everything you type in each screen automatically (every 2-3 seconds it seems). You get a green check mark as an indicator that your configuration has changed. As you go through it you will see this, let’s get started

You can simply scroll down to each settings area. In the first section “General,” as with all of these applications, I like to deselect “Launch the browser when I start” option. I like for all of these to launch on my server after every reboot, and I don’t like having 4 browser windows open when that happens. Notice the green check mark?

Now scroll down to the next area (downloaders). In this area you will need to uncheck the “Black Hole” box and enter your uTorrent and/or SABnzbd settings. Here is a picture of my settings. Note, you do not need to enter http in front of localhost, nor do you need to enter /gui behind the port for uTorrent like you would in a browser.

Scroll down to the Search Providers area. As you can see, it has two torrent providers checked by default. I leave these checked, but I change the seed ratios and time to 0. Under Newznab, I add my nzbplanet address and api. In my experience http://nzbplanet.net works (no need for the trailing / although that works with SickBeard and Headphones).

Now scroll down to the Rename area. Check the box next to “Rename downloaded movies” to reveal the options beneath. For “From” you don’t have to enter a path if you are only using SABnzbd. If you are using uTorrent then you will need to enter the completed/movies directory. For “To” I like to enter a directory I use in Flexraid named “HD Movies.” I keep this separate from my Blu-Ray directory which is where I store full rips only. I don’t like the default folder or file naming conventions, so let’s change them. This is actaully not obvious, but you can delete the existing options then type in the ones I list here. To delete the options, hover your mouse over them and click the red “x” that appears. I don’t like that it wants to name the movie folder “moviename,the” as I prefer “The” to lead my movie titles. I also like for the title of the movie to exactly match the title of the folder, so if you want just type exactly what you see from my screenshot after removing the existing options. After CouchPotato saves the settings, you will see that it picks up typed in options as long as they are named exactly the same as what it uses with the “Add Option” button. I also tell it to extract rar files, since occasionally torrents are downloaded in that form. If you are only using SABnzbd, then this doesn’t matter as SABnzbd does this before CouchPotato ever sees it. I also like for it to cleanup leftover files

Scroll down to the last section “Automation” In this section, CouchPotato lets you know that they include a userscript or javascript style bookmark that you can add to your bookmarks to automatically send movie titles from IMDB and TheMovieDB pages you are on to CouchPotato. Let’s skip these, because after we are finished setting up I’ll show you a better option (the browser extensions they have on their home page)

Now scroll all the way to the bottom and click the giant green button

Now to add a movie. You can use the built-in search which is pretty good, or you can go back to the CouchPotato site and download the browser extension for your browser of choice. Again, I recommend that choice be Google Chrome, but CouchPotato makes extensions for Firefox and Safari as well. Just click the one that applies to you to get started

If you are using Chrome like me, then clicking the Chrome button from the site will take you to the chrome web store where you will have to click Install then Confirm that adding couch potato gives it access to your data on all websites as well as your tabs and browsing activity

Now you will see the CouchPotato icon to the right of your Chrome address bar (note that extensions are disabled in incognito mode). When you first click it it will explain that you need to “attach” it to your CouchPotato installation by going to Web UI and clicking the extension once more.

So lets type localhost:5050 in the address bar and hit enter, then click the CouchPotato extension once again. Now it will give you the same message, but this time “Click” the button

You should get a message like this

Now let’s go make use of the extension, by searching IMDB for the public domain movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Notice that once you are on an IMDB movie page, the CouchPotato extension goes from grayscale to colored

Click the extension and a “pop-out” section should come up to the right half of your screen. Notice you can choose your preferred quality and click “Add”

Once you click add, you should get a message saying that the title was successfully added to CouchPotato

Now if we go back to localhost:5050 we can see that it is either working on the title or in this case it has snatched the title for me. Just a note, snatched simply means “sent to downloader” and you will get a new message saying “downloaded” when it is actually in your library.

BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS

Headphones for your HTPC

As sickbeard is for tv shows and couchpotato is for moves, headphones is for music. Again you should have either SABnzbd or uTorrent (or both) installed along with Python (required). Headphones supports both torrent and nzb searches with built-in client integration which gives you the best of both worlds. In my own personal findings . . . NZBs are typically quite poor in the music sections, so I’m only going to do the setup guide with torrent integration. If you followed the sickbeard guide you will be well versed in the necessary options by now, so if you wish to add nzb searches as well you have everything you need in the sickbeard guide and you’ll just need to work through a few different menus. I really recommend just setting things up with torrents (especially for music) since they are more reliable, but also realize that in some of the more fringe-cases neither option will have what you are looking for To start, go to echel0n’s SickRage github page and select the “Download ZIP” option.

I just used the default download location for this

Now choose “Show in Folder” for the zip file, and right-click it then select “Extract All…”

Since I like having all of these in the C:\Apps folder, I change the destination to that directory

After it’s finished it should open the location you chose to extract to. I prefer to rename it from Headphones-master to “Headphones” Headphones is now installed! Since we have it installed, let’s configure it to run on startup. Start by making a desktop shortcut, so open your C:\Apps\Headphones folder and right-click the “Headphones.py” file found within. Choose “Send To” then “Desktop (create shortcut)”

(If you followed the sickbeard guide you don’t need to do this next step of assigning a default program for .py files, but doing it again won’t hurt anything) Go to your Desktop, right-click your new headphones shortcut, and select “Open With”

If you are using W8, it will likely NOT find what you want to choose (which is pythonw.exe) so choose “browse” and point to your Python install directory (C:\Apps\Python27 if you followed the guide) MAKE SURE you choose pythonw.exe and NOT the python.exe without the “w.” If you choose wrong then a command prompt will launch each time you start the shortcut. Now the final step, add this shortcut to your startup menu. If you are on W7 then this is in your Start Menu, but if you are using W8 then you will want to open an explorer window and type “Shell:Startup” without quotes to open your startup shortcuts folder.

Now just copy/paste your headphones shortcut from the desktop to this folder and headphones will auto-start when you reboot. Let’s go ahead and start it right now (double click your shortcut) After double clicking, nothing should happen. If you want to see that headphones is running you’ll need to open your browser and point it to http://localhost:8181/home/ Since you are using the latest version you will not see the screen below your first time. However, in the future as updates are available they will be shown here. All you have to do is click the update button in your browser, and as you can see mine needs to be updated. Don’t forget to add this page to your browser bookmarks

Just like when you are inside the Sickbeard or CouchPotato interfaces on your browser, most everything in Headphones is “click-able.” Since you are already pretty familiar with this if you followed the other two guides, lets go ahead and click the “Gear Icon” to head into our settings area.

Compared to sickbeard (which headphones was originally based on) the settings menu is a lot leaner. There are only the 6 tabs: Web Interface, Download settings, Search providers, Quality and Post Processing, Notifications, and Advanced Settings. The one you should see open right now is “Web Interface.” I put my changes in red on the screenshot below. I use 0.0.0.0 as the Host so that I can access headphones from other computers on my network pointed to my.server.ip.address:8181 I haven’t noticed any issue running headphones with my download scan interval at 5 minutes. The other settings I leave at default, as my primary headphones usage is a musicbrainz download parser (which it is very good at). Remember to save your changes, and if you want to change the default port from 8181 then this would be the place to do it

Lets move onto “Download Settings” Under Download Settings you should have a column for usenet and a column for torrents. Since you have to make a choice on both I recommend leaving the one you prefer least as “Black Hole” without a directory (Notice this is my setup for the usenet column). In the torrents column, I recommend uTorrent (especially if you set it up following my uTorrent guide above). Recall your uTorrent Host address, Username, Password, and Label (but you don’t need to enter the trailing /gui/ portion ofthe host address like you would need to in a browser). If you followed my uTorrent setup guide above, you used music as a label. Also be sure to enter the specific uTorrent completed music subdirectory as your “Music Download Directory” and for good measure change the “Prefer” option to “Torrents”

Now lets configure the Search Providers tab Again, I have my settings shown in red below. There aren’t many changes to make on this page. As a reminder, I don’t have NZB search providers setup due to my poor experiences with them. However, if you want to use sabnzbd with headphones, then you will need to enter your NZB search indexer on this page.

Now we move to the “Quality and Post Processing” page This is the most personal choice page you’ll find, so I’ll explain my options in a little more detail Quality I choose the “Highest Quality including Lossless” option since I prefer lossless music. If you have a specific preference, you can choose “Lossless Only” but realize that option will not return any results a lot of the time. If you don’t have any means of playing back flac files in your frontend or you don’t want them then the option to exclude lossless should work for you. Post-Processing I prefer my downloads to be moved, renamed, have their metadata corrected, have album art added into their folder, embedded in the file, and I prefer leftover files to be deleted. I recommend these same settings, because you will leverage musicbrainz.org (the best music database in my opinion) to rename your music and provide metadata. Embedding your album art makes the file size a little larger, but I find that most scrapers identify embedded artwork so I let headphones do that task for me. I can’t fathom a reason to keep the original nfo, so I recommend leaving that unchecked. I have a top-level folder in Flexraid named Music, and since that is where I want my music collection I let headphones go ahead and move the completed folders to that destination.

The final settings page, Advanced Settings, has some interesting options but I leave them all at default. Headphones will re-encode your downloads for you, and if you have a specific Folder and File name preference then you should take a look into the Renaming options present on the page. I didn’t have my ordinary music library named in the default headphones style, but I left these options at default because it makes short work of determining whether or not a folder or file in my music library was added by headphones. Also, your file tags are more important than your naming structure for audio files

Now that your settings are configured head into the “Manage” area of headphones Manage has some very useful areas. The first you will see is “Scan Music Library.” If you have an existing, coherently tagged library then it will likely scan in without issue. Before doing that, let me explain the one other option that I use Manage for. In the “Force Actions” tab, you can force headphones to run it’s post-processor on your downloads folder (I typically don’t use this as I have it scan the folder every 5 minutes, but if you don’t want it to auto-scan at such a regular interval then you can come here to fire up the post-processor) Let’s go ahead and add the path to your existing music library under “Scan Music Library” Both boxes should be checked by default, but if not check them and click “Save Changes and Scan”

One thing to note about scanning your music library with headphones. It will take a long time. That is because musicbrainz is bandwidth limited. If rembo10 let headphones hammer the musicbrainz.org database, you would get a 24 hour ip-block placed on yourself. If you are truly interested, musicbrainz.org has clear instructions for creating your own personal mirror of their database (which if you make yourself can handle as many requests as you have disk i/o). Personally, I just let it take it’s time. After I hit scan, I let it run overnight and it was finished the following day You don’t have to scan your library to make use of headphones of course (though I find it very convenient). Let’s cover how to add artists to your headphones database. Notice the big search bar in the top left of the heapdhones home page. I’ve typed an artist name in there (and left the pulldown at it’s default position of “Artist”)

The search results page should look exactly the same for you if you typed the same search. It would also look the exact same if you typed that into musicbrainz.org as the artist names list and score are provided by musicbrainz. Notice you can even view the Artist on musicbrainz.org to verify they are the correct performers.

When you are sure the right artist is on your results list then click the artist name. You will likely see exactly what I’m showing below

Notice headphones is telling you that the fetching of that artist’s info has failed. You should see the “Refresh Artist” button in the top right along with delete artist, pause artist, and get extras. I had to refresh the artist about 5 times for a success, which will look like the following page

On a successful refresh, the albums from that artist should begin to appear. If you want headphones to search for a particular album in this fashion, then you would click “want” under the status. Notice that by default all albums are skipped

BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS

Publishing your Plex server to myplex from behind a VPN

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