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#1 ayetobee

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 03:56 AM

I have been using Plex for about two weeks now, so am a newbie.

More importantly my wife has also been using it as well for a week.

I have to say the experience once it yields results is great, yet it does take time to learn. Which as far as UI development is concerned would have to be considered a mixed result, if intuitive interaction is desired.

I will list below the things that work immediately for my wife, a child care worker who's first language is Japanese (I think therefore far from the general user demographic).
1 - the side listing of options. Movies, TV Shows, Videos, Weather and big images make it obvious what is inside and the use of plain english with further detail once highlighted is great.
2 - the weather report, straight forward, yet the information screen shows the forecast on the left as opposed to today, therefore requiring the user to scan through the screen (it is arguable which is more important though),
3 - Movie listing with cover art and multiple options of displaying them (though the setup of them needs to be done first),
4 - TV Shows listing with cover art and fan art (a known show is also recognised by it's associated cast and familiar artwork),
5 - Photos in slideshows and the ability to scan through them with the apple remote,
6 - watching movies in version 7.6 has more intuitive controls with volume, skip, pause - results as per the majority of other apple products which is what my wife is familiar with (and benefits from the R&D apple have already put into it),
7 - setup options are hidden, pressing and holding the menu button is counter-intuitive to her (therefore potentially specific to her) and therefore going through setup options doesn't occur to her. This means she will not 'un-set' much.

Things that I found counter intuitive in setting up the system
Setting content, the issues unfortunately are many
1 - I had to look up how to do it online and was initially confused about what I was trying to achieve.
2 - Set Content's initial screen has 'none' as the first choice. You can imagine a user believing there are 'none' options to choose from.
3 - Add Source buttons are to the right, above and below the options in each window. The user therefore needs to figure out where the cursor goes after each click (if they are all to the right, with seperators between then I think it could work better Browse, Add, Remove | Set Content, OK, Cancel)
4 - Variable results from scraping without much explanation of why. Does the novice user give up now and believe the system is not functional? The more experienced user will go and find out why (through great online documentation), and commit to trial and error.
5 - The issue of remakes, though known, is frustrating.

Ultimately a setup wizard would be highly beneficial with plain english explanations (a media centre will be used and therefore needs to be set up by novices).

Music Setup
1 - I was silly enough to believe I would find the iTunes database scanned in the same fashion as the movies. Gaining artwork is still foreign to me. I think music fans would enjoy the use of fan art and associated extras, I would consider this demographic more demanding than Video fanatics though (so a double edged sword). There is probably a way to do this yet I haven't figured it out.

As far as the current build and my family is concerned there are more pros than cons (though we haven't set up profiles yet for kids movies). The only remaining item is the integration of eyetv (which I know is coming, I am watching in Lighthouse).

This is a great application. Thankyou for your efforts.

#2 Kent

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 04:54 AM

2 - Set Content's initial screen has 'none' as the first choice. You can imagine a user believing there are 'none' options to choose from.
3 - Add Source buttons are to the right, above and below the options in each window. The user therefore needs to figure out where the cursor goes after each click (if they are all to the right, with seperators between then I think it could work better Browse, Add, Remove | Set Content, OK, Cancel)
4 - Variable results from scraping without much explanation of why. Does the novice user give up now and believe the system is not functional? The more experienced user will go and find out why (through great online documentation), and commit to trial and error.

Ultimately a setup wizard would be highly beneficial with plain english explanations (a media centre will be used and therefore needs to be set up by novices).



I think you've really nailed the biggest problems in the lines above. The whole setting up sources thing needs to have better error messages and hints - and, probably, should be 'Wizard'ed. After all, it isn't terribly intuitive as it stands, it is both the most complex & the first task that users perform (ie, the users are by definition newbies when they first do this), and, there is almost no indication of what went wrong if it didn't work (without digging through the logs).

Essentially the interface needs to not just guide you through the process, but also have a look at the directories and filenames you have and suggest a better layout if it looks inappropriate. It also needs to tell you things like - scan timed out, or, when it can't find anything, the dialogue box needs something like - I couldn't find %s on %s, please enter a search term for %s and I'll present you with a list to choose from (as opposed to saying 'manual').

Been thinking a bit and decided to add something more:

To reiterate my point - I'd say that the aim should be that a standard user should be able to have a product they can use almost immediately without reverting to the documentation. As it stands, adding a source and setting up a scraper would either need take some time with experimentation (just to realize that 'set content' needs to be used and how it works) unless they happened to get very lucky or would require the docs. Following that, even if they get everything perfect, there's no indication of what went wrong if the external scraping source has a problem (like as I write this with thetvdb.com) - it just silently fails.

A first step could be an 'are you sure' warning with a quick description of why it is a (potential) problem if you have the scraper set to non when you add a source.

#3 jayman978

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 02:47 AM

Thank you for taking the time to give us some helpful feedback.

We hope to drastically improve the issues you mentioned this year. The Devs have a plan for both library and user interface improvements. For the time being, having to deal with sources and setting content will be a necessary evil :)

#4 Ed+S.

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:22 PM

Hello,

First, THANK YOU for developing a product that I bet will ultimately be extremely useful. Since you are distributing it FREE I do not feel I have the right to comment but let me say that if I were able to set up the product I would have no problem paying for it, say $50 or so. I am going to comment in hopes that it will help. This may sound arrogant and that is not my intent - just to let you know I am not your run of the mill average computer user. First of all I am extremely intelligent, was a National Merit Scholarship recipient and have an advanced science education which remains with me. I will not mention my I.Q. because it would sound even more arrogant but it is in the realm of Stephen Hawking and not lower than his. I have been a beta tester for innumerable software products just for fun and a free lance network administrator for friends with small businesses and have done these things for decades. I remember using the origin IBM PCXT and DOS at Hopkins back in the mid 1980's and was a geek even then. I am able to troubleshoot issues and solve problems on my network and those of friends when other technical support options have shrugged their shoulders and recommended simply replacing PCs because the problem appeared unsolvable. I have used media server solutions (both software and hardware) for years and have the d-Link DSM-520 still since it was first introduced on the market years ago and am a PlayOn user (great product - yours could exceed it if only it were easily configurable). These things being said perhaps the following would help and I absolutely would buy your software in such case.

1). Users do not need to know what metadata are. Terms like this are confusing. In general a plain A B C guide on how to see TV shows and movies and access other online content. A geek guide for post set-up advanced topics or advanced uses to customize graphics, database structure, etc., AFTER establishing basic functionality would be fine.
2). To me it was virtually incomprehensible how to get streaming content to show up on my TV screen. Do I need to set up a rudimentary directory structure which serves as a databast into which I import streaming programs then watch them in a time shifted manner. My partner was laughing at me because he is used to seeing me perform electronic voodoo on our extremely sophistocated HD 7.1 home theater with RF remote, etc. He always says when I die (if first) he will sell all of it but the TV and just watch television without all the sonic thrills. I did not hire a technician to install this system which uses wireless-N, gigabit ethernet, streaming and stored A/V on a variety of servers, bi-amped speakers, high end pre-amps and processors, etc., which my dealers were surprised I would know how to do. It was not prob. Yet I am at a loss with Plex. I could not for the life of me figure out how to stream a simple television program to my HT. The options shown in the media manger and media server information on your website are entirely different than in the system tray of my media PC. While I can see scads of channels and have Amazon Prime instant video, Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, etc. I could access the directory structure as far as the seasons of episodes but no matter what could not get these folders to populate and could not find instructions on how to make this happen.
3). "Publishing" was hit or miss with no apparent pattern to when things would hit or miss. I have the luxury of being able to use another PC to access PlayOn and the above noted services to test if there is a connectivity issue in addition to troubleshooting my network adapters and there was never a connectivity or adapter problem when "publishing" failed. I could click retry three times and it would not publish AFTER having clicked publish one time on a prior attempt which was successful. Regardless, I could never get anything other than a list of seasons of episodes for various television shows (West Wing, Foyle's War, Downton Abbey, originat Outer Limits, X-Files, etc.). Individual episodes would not appear. The various methods of populating these folders did not work and finding the options such as "turbo" etc., was extremely counterintuitive and did not appear in the same module of the product as described in the online materials.
4). Perhaps a simple database with a simple graphical front end that downloads at least the episode material that is linked to a streaming source which can result in a point and click experience where it is as simple as establishing a stream between the PC based media server software and the HT box (like Roku) where I imagine the digital stream is decoded and sent to the analog inputs of a processor/pre-amp or left in raw format (bitstream or Lpcm) and is processed either by the HT box or in my case my HT processor via an HDMI connection. Surely this is possible because not to harp on PlayOn but I downloaded it, installed it, provided my login information for paid services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime and voila - the server showed up the list of servers on my TV screen and it was simply a matter of performing a series of clicks to navigate a hierarchical directory structure to see any and all TV episodes, movies, etc., with no learning curve, no confusing terms, etc.
And, I was able to use my OPPO BDP blu-ray box which has VERY limited streaming capabilities (in terms of included proprietary applets from various service providers), simply click "my network" on the OPPO's home page, select PlayON from the list of media servers then drill down through the directory structure to get to the episodes I wanted to watch then watched them. With Plex I could never get anything beyond the "season" folders as noted above.
5). PlayOn is a paid product and your product appears to have far greater access to streaming media and so I would pay for it. I would rather pay for a superior product that works and has consistency between online documentation and the actual interface than get a free product that in some cases seems virtually impossible to use and has documentation that is not in ABC format. Other media servers that have capabilities inferior to what Plex seems might be able to do but these products are useable by someone who is a casual user like my partner where even I cannot figure out how to watch a simple TV show in Plex. So, after 3 tries of installation an uninstallation and configuration of various modules I am giving up until Plex is a functional product which is comprehensible and intuitive to me and am using what I consider an inferior product because at least it works.
6) In closing this tome all I think you have to do is establish an ABC instruction set with options like "to watch TV, "to watch online movies," "to watch recorded media on your PC," with a simple non-technical method of achieving each of these things in your documentation you could charge for your product and it would be a great product. You don't gave to use Oracle or SQL on the backend - I bet something like Access or a proprietary simple database you develop with a GUI front end would work and boom, done. Surely since you write for the Mac you have to do it for those folks. By the way, even when enabling mouse input it does not work. It allows one to highlight an option in the UI but to activate that option one has to press the <enter> key on the keyboard. And unlike standard Windows format there are no maximize/minimize, window or close buttons in the upper right hand corner of any of the modules so to close the program one has to press the Windows key to bring up the start menu then right click on the Plex icon in the task bar and left click on EXIT. Or, one has to use the three fingered salute and shut down using task manager. These may seem picky but they are standard things like a steering wheel and tires on a car. Maybe your team is predominantly apple cored and that explains all the non-functional or irregular functioning idiosyncracies of the Windows version of Plex but just wanted to let you know in case this has not been called to your attention. Thank you for your diligence in developing a product that looks like it could be the benchmark at some point. Make it easy to set up and use and I will be first in line to BUY the product once that is achieved (provided we are not shredded by the galactic rift in the near future). Thanks, take care and best to you.

Regards,
Ed S.
Maryland
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#5 unisonruss

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:56 PM

Hello,

First, THANK YOU for developing a product that I bet will ultimately be extremely useful. Since you are distributing it FREE I do not feel I have the right to comment but let me say that if I were able to set up the product I would have no problem paying for it, say $50 or so. I am going to comment in hopes that it will help. This may sound arrogant and that is not my intent - just to let you know I am not your run of the mill average computer user. First of all I am extremely intelligent, was a National Merit Scholarship recipient and have an advanced science education which remains with me. I will not mention my I.Q. because it would sound even more arrogant but it is in the realm of Stephen Hawking and not lower than his. I have been a beta tester for innumerable software products just for fun and a free lance network administrator for friends with small businesses and have done these things for decades. I remember using the origin IBM PCXT and DOS at Hopkins back in the mid 1980's and was a geek even then. I am able to troubleshoot issues and solve problems on my network and those of friends when other technical support options have shrugged their shoulders and recommended simply replacing PCs because the problem appeared unsolvable. I have used media server solutions (both software and hardware) for years and have the d-Link DSM-520 still since it was first introduced on the market years ago and am a PlayOn user (great product - yours could exceed it if only it were easily configurable). These things being said perhaps the following would help and I absolutely would buy your software in such case.

1). Users do not need to know what metadata are. Terms like this are confusing. In general a plain A B C guide on how to see TV shows and movies and access other online content. A geek guide for post set-up advanced topics or advanced uses to customize graphics, database structure, etc., AFTER establishing basic functionality would be fine.
2). To me it was virtually incomprehensible how to get streaming content to show up on my TV screen. Do I need to set up a rudimentary directory structure which serves as a databast into which I import streaming programs then watch them in a time shifted manner. My partner was laughing at me because he is used to seeing me perform electronic voodoo on our extremely sophistocated HD 7.1 home theater with RF remote, etc. He always says when I die (if first) he will sell all of it but the TV and just watch television without all the sonic thrills. I did not hire a technician to install this system which uses wireless-N, gigabit ethernet, streaming and stored A/V on a variety of servers, bi-amped speakers, high end pre-amps and processors, etc., which my dealers were surprised I would know how to do. It was not prob. Yet I am at a loss with Plex. I could not for the life of me figure out how to stream a simple television program to my HT. The options shown in the media manger and media server information on your website are entirely different than in the system tray of my media PC. While I can see scads of channels and have Amazon Prime instant video, Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, etc. I could access the directory structure as far as the seasons of episodes but no matter what could not get these folders to populate and could not find instructions on how to make this happen.
3). "Publishing" was hit or miss with no apparent pattern to when things would hit or miss. I have the luxury of being able to use another PC to access PlayOn and the above noted services to test if there is a connectivity issue in addition to troubleshooting my network adapters and there was never a connectivity or adapter problem when "publishing" failed. I could click retry three times and it would not publish AFTER having clicked publish one time on a prior attempt which was successful. Regardless, I could never get anything other than a list of seasons of episodes for various television shows (West Wing, Foyle's War, Downton Abbey, originat Outer Limits, X-Files, etc.). Individual episodes would not appear. The various methods of populating these folders did not work and finding the options such as "turbo" etc., was extremely counterintuitive and did not appear in the same module of the product as described in the online materials.
4). Perhaps a simple database with a simple graphical front end that downloads at least the episode material that is linked to a streaming source which can result in a point and click experience where it is as simple as establishing a stream between the PC based media server software and the HT box (like Roku) where I imagine the digital stream is decoded and sent to the analog inputs of a processor/pre-amp or left in raw format (bitstream or Lpcm) and is processed either by the HT box or in my case my HT processor via an HDMI connection. Surely this is possible because not to harp on PlayOn but I downloaded it, installed it, provided my login information for paid services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime and voila - the server showed up the list of servers on my TV screen and it was simply a matter of performing a series of clicks to navigate a hierarchical directory structure to see any and all TV episodes, movies, etc., with no learning curve, no confusing terms, etc.
And, I was able to use my OPPO BDP blu-ray box which has VERY limited streaming capabilities (in terms of included proprietary applets from various service providers), simply click "my network" on the OPPO's home page, select PlayON from the list of media servers then drill down through the directory structure to get to the episodes I wanted to watch then watched them. With Plex I could never get anything beyond the "season" folders as noted above.
5). PlayOn is a paid product and your product appears to have far greater access to streaming media and so I would pay for it. I would rather pay for a superior product that works and has consistency between online documentation and the actual interface than get a free product that in some cases seems virtually impossible to use and has documentation that is not in ABC format. Other media servers that have capabilities inferior to what Plex seems might be able to do but these products are useable by someone who is a casual user like my partner where even I cannot figure out how to watch a simple TV show in Plex. So, after 3 tries of installation an uninstallation and configuration of various modules I am giving up until Plex is a functional product which is comprehensible and intuitive to me and am using what I consider an inferior product because at least it works.
6) In closing this tome all I think you have to do is establish an ABC instruction set with options like "to watch TV, "to watch online movies," "to watch recorded media on your PC," with a simple non-technical method of achieving each of these things in your documentation you could charge for your product and it would be a great product. You don't gave to use Oracle or SQL on the backend - I bet something like Access or a proprietary simple database you develop with a GUI front end would work and boom, done. Surely since you write for the Mac you have to do it for those folks. By the way, even when enabling mouse input it does not work. It allows one to highlight an option in the UI but to activate that option one has to press the <enter> key on the keyboard. And unlike standard Windows format there are no maximize/minimize, window or close buttons in the upper right hand corner of any of the modules so to close the program one has to press the Windows key to bring up the start menu then right click on the Plex icon in the task bar and left click on EXIT. Or, one has to use the three fingered salute and shut down using task manager. These may seem picky but they are standard things like a steering wheel and tires on a car. Maybe your team is predominantly apple cored and that explains all the non-functional or irregular functioning idiosyncracies of the Windows version of Plex but just wanted to let you know in case this has not been called to your attention. Thank you for your diligence in developing a product that looks like it could be the benchmark at some point. Make it easy to set up and use and I will be first in line to BUY the product once that is achieved (provided we are not shredded by the galactic rift in the near future). Thanks, take care and best to you.

Regards,
Ed S.
Maryland


I found this post amazing, thank you for taking the time to write it out. I have very similar sentiments about Plex :) I look forward to developer(s) input...and I know it will come because this is the type of feedback that they prefer (judging by my experiences in the forums all of these years).

#6 Ed+S.

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 06:21 PM

I found this post amazing, thank you for taking the time to write it out. I have very similar sentiments about Plex :) I look forward to developer(s) input...and I know it will come because this is the type of feedback that they prefer (judging by my experiences in the forums all of these years).


You are most welcome and thanks for the thanks and validating that I am not just a total idiot that is the only person who can't get this to work. Sorry for all the typos. I felt like a real moron after giving background about my level of expertise so the developers didn't think I was just some dumb guy who couldn't figure out how to flush a toilet, then posting something riddled with typos. Take care and let's hope we can get this seemingly superior product to work!

Regards and Best Wishes for a happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous future,
Ed S.