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Update on Playback Issues

vanstinatorvanstinator Plex Voice ControlPosts: 707Members, Plex Employee, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Plex Employee

I wanted to take a moment to talk about some of the ongoing playback issues that we’re seeing in production and provide some updates on what we’re doing internally to address these issues. We’re actively working on two issues that are causing the majority of failures we’re seeing today.

Audio Streams abruptly stop.

This happens when Alexa aggressively buffers the HLS segments and then goes silent for awhile. A standard Plex client would send heartbeats to PMS to keep the session alive. We’re unable to query the Alexa player to get the required information. This means PMS eventually kills the transcode session because it times out. Internally we’re experimenting with sending adhoc heartbeats to your PMS while media is streaming to keep the transcode session alive. We’re anticipating this will be the first fix and will likely ship soon.

NAT Loopback.

This is a challenging issue because of how Alexa Voice Service interacts with your media server. In short your echo device only ever directly hits your server when it attempts to load a media stream. This is why all of the other features of the skill generally work when media playback fails. We don’t have enough information to know if your PMS is local to your echo device so today we just send the remote access address to your device. Internally we’re investigating ways to infer whether or not your echo device shares a network with your media server so we can intelligently support local and remote access connections. We don’t currently have an ETA on when this might be shipped but we’re seeing promising results internally with the experiments we’ve conducted.

Projects I currently develop or maintain

Classic Forum for Plex - A forum skin that aims to replicate the classic forum experience as best as possible without taking away some of the better things about the new forum.

PlexWink - A Plex Channel that monitors Plex and controls your smart lights based on playback.

UASViewer - A Plex Channel for the Unsupported App Store that lets you browse channels right from Plex.

Comments

  • rossiniorrossinior Posts: 223Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    Thank you for the update... good to know, that work under the hood is done... now, if I could only use Plex via Echo devices at all... (German-based user)...

    My plex settings:

    16TB QNAP PMS, 8 TB Buffalo Win2k12 PMS - 3x FireTV(2nd gen), 1x Android tablet, 1x Samsung S6 (Music, Movie, TV show libraries)

    My "small" feature wishes:
    -* multiple parallel filters using an advanced mechanism (AND/OR/NOT) combine different categories when using filters
    -* better collection (not only as a meta tag, movie grouping, searchable)
    -* user defined meta tags which can be assigned to standard tags but which do not get lost when updating the data (example) [I want to add "James Bond" to all James Bond movie titles without marking the titles as not changable; I would add information on different versions (Uncut, Extended, DC) of a movie to the movie title, I would like to add the role of a character, I want to add a user defined collection name without marking the standard field as not changable]
    -* flag to limit my search to the actual library which I am in when doing a search
    -* German plex skill for Alexa

  • randalstrouprandalstroup Posts: 11Members ✭✭

    @vanstinator said:
    I wanted to take a moment to talk about some of the ongoing playback issues that we’re seeing in production and provide some updates on what we’re doing internally to address these issues. We’re actively working on two issues that are causing the majority of failures we’re seeing today.

    Audio Streams abruptly stop.

    This happens when Alexa aggressively buffers the HLS segments and then goes silent for awhile. A standard Plex client would send heartbeats to PMS to keep the session alive. We’re unable to query the Alexa player to get the required information. This means PMS eventually kills the transcode session because it times out. Internally we’re experimenting with sending adhoc heartbeats to your PMS while media is streaming to keep the transcode session alive. We’re anticipating this will be the first fix and will likely ship soon.

    NAT Loopback.

    This is a challenging issue because of how Alexa Voice Service interacts with your media server. In short your echo device only ever directly hits your server when it attempts to load a media stream. This is why all of the other features of the skill generally work when media playback fails. We don’t have enough information to know if your PMS is local to your echo device so today we just send the remote access address to your device. Internally we’re investigating ways to infer whether or not your echo device shares a network with your media server so we can intelligently support local and remote access connections. We don’t currently have an ETA on when this might be shipped but we’re seeing promising results internally with the experiments we’ve conducted.

    You guys should just look into acquiring My Media for Alexa...might be the quickest way to keep people from looking elsewhere for their needs.

  • Sland12sSland12s Posts: 5Validating, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    @randalstroup said:

    You guys should just look into acquiring My Media for Alexa...might be the quickest way to keep people from looking elsewhere for their needs.

    Except it only works on these windows systems: Windows 8, Windows 10, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server Essentials 2012, Windows Server Essentials 2016 and not Win 7 or Server 2008R2

  • vanstinatorvanstinator Plex Voice Control Posts: 707Members, Plex Employee, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Plex Employee

    I believe My Media also requires a local server too. Our situation is quite a bit more complex.

    Projects I currently develop or maintain

    Classic Forum for Plex - A forum skin that aims to replicate the classic forum experience as best as possible without taking away some of the better things about the new forum.

    PlexWink - A Plex Channel that monitors Plex and controls your smart lights based on playback.

    UASViewer - A Plex Channel for the Unsupported App Store that lets you browse channels right from Plex.

  • randalstrouprandalstroup Posts: 11Members ✭✭
    edited 11:10AM

    @Sland12s said:

    @randalstroup said:

    You guys should just look into acquiring My Media for Alexa...might be the quickest way to keep people from looking elsewhere for their needs.

    Except it only works on these windows systems: Windows 8, Windows 10, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server Essentials 2012, Windows Server Essentials 2016 and not Win 7 or Server 2008R2

    "Only" you say? lol...AT LEAST IT WORKS...In any case, assuming this is true, I'm sure the Plex braintrust could find a way to extend its compatibility.

  • randalstrouprandalstroup Posts: 11Members ✭✭
    edited 11:30AM

    @vanstinator said:
    I believe My Media also requires a local server too. Our situation is quite a bit more complex.

    Yes, it does require a server...I'm not sure what you're implying, it seems to be a similar product to Plex's. While I concede your software/code is very likely quite a bit more complex and generally quite useful and powerful, and I certainly don't understand the complexities of it all, my point is that the very negative reviews and copious frustrations being voiced by your customers do not look good. Clearly, people are struggling with integrating your product with their evolving media needs/demands, which is not good for business. I was simply suggesting a potential work-around that might be a band-aid, perhaps temporary, for the current blood-letting. Perhaps taking a step back for the sake of "simplicity" and functionality isn't a terrible idea.

    Has there been much progress this week? Any ETA for a new rollout?

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