Monday, April 05, 2010

Manage Commercial Skip & Transcoding with Sage Job Queue

SJQ Logo

Sage Job Queue  - Boy that sounds like an unexciting piece of software!  But don’t let that stop you from checking this excellent program out.  Sage Job Queue or SJQ for short is a very powerful program that can manage anything from the simplest to the most complicated set of processing tasks and provide to you all of the control you could ever want or need.

What does SJQ do?

Sage Job Queue (SJQ) is similar to Comskip Monitor, DVRMSToolbox and DirMon2, SJQ watches for new media files and based on the instructions you give it, it automatically processes those files to detect commercials as well as other processes such as transcoding to other media formats.  The impressive thing is how flexible and powerful SJQ is.  SJQ can handle just about any set of instructions you throw at it including:

  • Process all commercial skipping (you pick the program whether it’s comskip, Show Analyzer, VideoReDo or something else) whenever a new recording shows up in one of your SageTV recording drives
  • Select from only the media you want commercial skipping to be processed on.  For instance say you want it to always ignore premium channels like HBO or Showtime, or perhaps any PBS channels – SJQ can do that.  Want to only process commercial skipping on channels 1 – 102?  Yep, SJQ can do that also.  To be exact, SJQ can pick and choose to your hearts desire on which things get processed so you don’t waste valuable processing power on your HTPC server on shows or other media that don’t have commercials or that you just don’t want commercials detected on.
  • Run multiple instances of your commercial skip program at once.  Have a quad-core processor? You can run four instances.  Have two computers in the home – one as your HTPC server and another is your HTPC “extender” PC (sorry MediaCenter guys)?  Yep you can use SJQ to use the CPU cores from BOTH computers to run commercial detection.  Imagine a quad-core server PC and a dual-core extender PC on the same network all running comskip at the same time to speed up that processing and you get the idea.
  • Run transcode, commercial detect & other processes from SJQ.
  • Want to monitor or manage your commercial detection or transcoding remotely?  Well SJQ lets you do that.  There’s a web-based UI for configuring and managing & reviewing the files in the queue to be processed.
  • Use SJQ to move recordings to a NAS after they're done recording. I thought that was pretty cool as you could let your NAS do what it's good at and not try to stick SageTV + supporting pieces on it.
  • Find older recordings (for example recordings over 30 days old) and transcode those files to save disk space.
  • Transcode certain media files into a different format such as iPod-friendly files & move them into your iPod media folder all automatically

So what’s the downside to SJQ?

There ARE one or two negatives to SJQ.  The first one is that it only works with SageTV – sorry MediaCenter, XBMC and other HTPC users.

The second downside is the one that has kept me from using SJQ until now - this program isn’t the easiest thing to configure and set up.  It’s not impossible by any means, but it takes some real work and reading to learn it.  Lots of steps are to be taken to get this program to do what you want it to.  But don’t let that stop you.  Once I took the time to delve into SJQ and learn how to make it do what I wanted it to it’s something even I could figure out. 

How Do I Get Started?

I highly recommend you take a few hours to learn it and set it up to use with your SageTV setup.  I’ll provide a basics guide to getting started with SJQ next, but I’ll warn you now – you really should read the documentation all the way through.  In the meantime here’s a screen-shot from the web interface showing SJQ working through my long list of recorded TV shows


Read more about SageJobQueue at the SageTV Forums.  And stay tuned to GeekTonic for a how-to on SJQ