Saturday, January 3, 2015

Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #95

Hi, everyone !!

In case it had escaped your notice, this is my first 'Weekly RoundUp' article of 2015! So, before I go any further with this post, may I wish "A Very Happy New Year" to each and every one of you reading this blog. Thanks to all of you for continuing to read my Roku-related ramblings each week, even though I struggled to keep up with all the news in the latter part of last year - as I've said before, your support for what I do through this blog is very much appreciated - THANK YOU !!

Anyhow, those of you who have been regular visitors over the past few months or so are (probably) already aware that there have been one or two changes of scenery among the background images on our favourite streaming media player(s) during that time. For those with (relatively) short memories... the fun began with a "Hallowe'en" theme at the end of October, closely followed by an "Autumn" theme (i.e. "Fall", for the benefit of our Trans-Atlantic cousins) during the Thanksgiving period. More recently, over the festive "holiday" period, we were treated to a "Winter" theme... ensuring that Roku owners in all regions had a 'White Christmas' on their streaming media players, even if there was no snow on the ground outside! Following on from that... everyone that owns a Roku device, no matter which "region" they're from, will (more than likely) have witnessed yet another change in backdrop (i.e. "theme") on the Home Screen of their streaming media player(s) during the past seven days. If you happen to have missed it, the theme was (unsurprisingly) a special one for the "New Year" period. As such, it was only present for a few days and, given it's golden glow, you will understand why it led to my proclaiming (via the companion Twitter Feed: @ukrokuchannels to this blog) that Roku had chosen to (ahem) "Bling in the New Year", with their apparent suggestion of a "prosperous" start to 2015 for Roku owners, thanks (largely) to the use of this image:- 

That said, the "New Year" theme has already disappeared from our Roku devices (sometime overnight, I believe) so there's no point looking for it now... even if you did want to add it to your Roku player(s). Of course, there may equally well be some of you who were less appreciative of the enforced change of scenery thrust upon your television screen(s) as a result of yet another back-door "update" from Roku !! Anyway... if it happens again and you don't like the new theme, or if you missed it (at first) but would like to add it while it's still a "current" option, it's very easy to switch back to a previous theme (or select another, from the choices available) via the 'Settings' menu on your Roku. All you need do is navigate to "Settings > Themes > My themes" from the Home Screen & highlight your choice of "theme". This gives you a thumbnail screenshot of what you can expect as your backdrop (if selected) and it's then a matter of pressing the "OK" button to confirm your choice and save the change.

If, in future, you'd rather not take advantage of (or, be subjected to) these seasonal themes, then you can SIMPLY SWITCH THEM OFF, which is (again) easily achieved VIA THE CUSTOM SETTINGS in your Roku 'Settings' menu. Simply navigate to "Settings > Themes > Custom settings", from the Home Screen of your Roku, and you will see the option to have "Seasonal themes: On", or else "Seasonal themes: Off". It's then just a matter of deciding what's best for you and highlighting your choice before pressing the "OK" button to confirm it and save the change. Those choosing to leave "Seasonal themes: On" will find that their Roku player(s) will automatically switch to a "Seasonal theme" whenever one is available, and then automatically switch back to their previous choice of "Theme" when it expires. Anyone opting for "Seasonal themes: Off" will find that their Roku player(s) DOES NOT automatically switch to a "Seasonal theme", BUT... for the period of time that a "Seasonal theme" IS AVAILABLE, you can still switch to it (manually) as and when you like. In other words, IF YOU DO NOT WANT to have your Roku switch to a "Seasonal theme", without your actively choosing to do so, then all you need do is deactivate SEASONAL THEMES by choosing "Seasonal themes: Off", which will leave your Roku player "Theme" set just as you like it, with no danger of any unexpected changes in the future, unless you choose otherwise !!

Personally I like the (slight) "surprise" element of these "Seasonal themes" which, as was the case this week, can often appear for just a day or two and I was (once more) thrilled to discover the "New Year" theme on my Roku in the day or so prior to New Year's Eve. So (unsurprisingly) I (for one) will be leaving my "Seasonal themes On" for the foreseeable future to see what excitement lies in store as the days, weeks, months and years unfold. If it's not too late to develop one, maybe the folks at Roku could give us some "Hearts and Flowers" by way of a new "theme" for Valentines' Day?!

In the meantime... those of you who happened to read my previous post (from the same time last week) on this blog, "Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #94", may (perhaps) recall my suggestion that, based on the previous year, this (current) week could well prove to be a little light in terms of new Roku channels being added to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store. Sadly... as much as I hate to say, "I told you so", in this instance... it turned out to be true! Believe it or not, for the first time in a long while, we struck out completely and there have been ZERO NEW CHANNELS ADDED to the selection available on UK Roku devices during the past seven days... I KID YOU NOT !! Some small comfort can be taken, not that it offers much by way of consolation, from the fact that we did manage to achieve something (in)significant this week by EQUALLING THE TOTAL NEW ADDITIONS which were ADDED TO THE ROKU USA CHANNEL STORE during the same time-frame! In other words... there was nothing new for our Trans-Atlantic "cousins", via Roku USA, either !!

Of course, for Roku owners, this is very much the exception to the rule... I mean, if we wanted to feel the pain and disappointment of ZERO NEW CHANNEL ADDITIONS (almost) every week then we'd all have gone out and purchased NowTV Boxes from 'NowTV', instead of "genuine" Roku devices, in the first place - am I right?! Of course I am - you know it makes sense !! Luckily, as Roku owners, we have ANOTHER ADDED ADVANTAGE OVER NOWTVBox OWNERS in that the "Official" Roku Channel Store (as well as offering 1,300+ EXTRA ROKU CHANNELS than you have access to on NowTV Boxes) is NOT THE ONLY SOURCE OF ROKU CHANNELS as we are also able to add A LARGE NUMBER OF PRIVATE CHANNELS at our disposal !!

Fortunately... as anyone who read my "Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #93" from two weeks back, or else the followup post (linked to above), or who uses social media to "follow" the companion Twitter Feed: @ukrokuchannels will (more than likely) recall... that details of a few such "private channels" (i.e. "secret channels", or "hidden channels", otherwise called "beta channels" by some) have been shared via these pages. If you are not familiar with the concept, unless you happen to know the access code (otherwise quoted as an "invitation code", by Roku), then you will not be able to add them to your Roku device(s) since these private channels (and their details) are not published via the "Official" Roku Channel Store, as found on your streaming media player(s). Anyway... I came across ANOTHER SIX PRIVATE CHANNELS during the past seven days and (as in recent weeks) I've decided to re-publish details of these additional "private channels", including their access codes, so that all of you can have some extra choices in your Roku channel selection to make up for the lack of "public channels" which came our way over the new year period:-

ADD "Channel PEAR" PRIVATE CHANNEL to Roku device(s) VIA THIS LINK: Channel PEAR

Or, LOGIN to your Roku Account, AS NORMAL, and SCROLL DOWN the page, until you come TO the 'MANAGE ACCOUNT' section, CLICK the link TO 'ADD A PRIVATE CHANNEL' and then USE ACCESS CODE: channelpear

USEFUL INFO:- The "Official" website of the 'Channel PEAR' private channel for Roku devices, FOUND HERE, describes the functionality of the channel as follows:-

channel PEAR is a cloud-based ROKU® multimedia library that lets you instantly add, manage, and sync media from local sources, free-to-air preset channels, user submitted channels, and more.

Essentially, it is a utility for Roku devices which allows you to add MRSS Feeds, IPTV Streams and other compatible LIVE FEEDS from URL's of your choosing, as well as your own video files (which can easily be uploaded to the cloud for streaming), as playable sources - complete with custom titles and cover art. JUST REMEMBER: All content must be in one of the SUPPORTED FILE TYPES that are compatible with Roku devices a full list of which can be found, VIA THIS LINK, on the "Official" Roku Support site. That said, the main ones to look out for are: M3U, M3U8, M4A (H.264), M4V (H.264), MOV (H.264), MP4 (H.264) and MKV (H.264) file types. Provided you are already resigned to the (somewhat) limited options, when it comes to "supported file types" on Roku devices, then this is unlikely to trouble you. However, I don't intend to open that particular "can of worms" here... so, let's just leave that for a separate post on another occasion... someday... maybe?!... in the (distant) future !!!

When it comes down to it, this is all about "Roku media pairing made easy" - hence 'Channel PEAR' !! As such, once you've added the 'Channel PEAR' private channel to your Roku Account (using the link and/or access code provided above), all you need do is register, HERE, for a FREE 'Channel PEAR' ACCOUNT and then activate or "pair" (ahem) your Roku device, USING THIS LINK, again done via the "Official" website of the 'Channel PEAR' private channel. Once that's been taken care of, you can begin building your media library using either the "Community Media Database", FOUND HERE, or the "Preset Channel Feeds" found on the "Official" website of 'Channel PEAR' (see link above) or (perhaps) even by validating your own sources (HINT: There's a dedicated text-entry box at the top of the "Official" website for 'Channel PEAR' into which you may type any "URL to validate" that you come across). Just DON'T FORGET TO SHARE THE KNOWLEDGE via the "Community Media Database" if you find something which hasn't been listed previously! ;-)

PLEASE BEAR IN MIND: That some of the content in the "Preset Channel Feeds" found on the "Official" website of 'Channel PEAR' will be GEO-RESTRICTED and, therefore, will be of no use to UK Roku owners - simply by virtue of our location! The same will likely apply to some of the content which has been shared via the "Community Media Database" by users from other Roku regions. All I would suggest is that, if you do find a URL or MRSS Feed, etc. which doesn't work in the UK, you leave a comment in reply to the relevant entry on the "Community Media Database" so that other UK Roku owners are aware of what is likely to work and what isn't! Your co-operation and participation is what helps to build communities like this, so try to give something back as well as take what is offered.

Once you've added some media you can begin watching by syncing your media library with the Roku device. This is easily done by re-launching the 'Channel PEAR' private channel on your Roku device. IMPORTANT NOTE: In order to get past the 'Splash Screen' of the 'Channel PEAR' private channel on your Roku device, YOU MUST HAVE AT LEAST ONE SOURCE OF CONTENT which has already been added to your media library. IF NOT... YOU WON'T BE WATCHING ANYTHING! ALSO: It is of vital importance that you RE-LAUNCH THE CHANNEL to sync the content with your Roku device EVERY TIME YOU ADD NEW CONTENT TO YOUR MEDIA LIBRARY!

ABOVE ALL: Please remember that the 'Channel PEAR' private channel for Roku devices is still very much a 'BETA' channel, having only launched a week ago, and remains a "work in progress" so feel free to provide any feedback you may have via the website. You can also connect with the developer of the 'Channel PEAR' private channel through their Twitter Feed: @channelPEAR or else, get social with them via the "Official" 'Channel PEAR' Facebook Page: Channel PEAR (Facebook). Another very useful resource is the SUBREDDIT WEBPAGE of the 'Channel PEAR' private channel for Roku devices, FOUND HERE, which (in addition to being another source of feedback) allows you to view the comments of other Roku owners and (perhaps) learn from their experience(s) with the channel. The channel developer has also responded to previous comments on Reddit and one such comment yielded the following advice:-

As long as the source is compatible with Roku, you should be able to play it. The challenge comes with actually finding the source. That's why it's mainly geared for MRSS playlists/feeds or live streams, so if you find a compatible feed, you cold be adding hundreds of videos with just one source depending on how it's setup. Obviously right now, this utility is only useful for people with existing media sources that want an easy way to throw it up on the Roku without having to install a media server, etc.

Also, on the subject of validation codes / pairing Roku devices, he commented as follows:-

You need to validate a source before it lets you pair with your Roku. To try it out, use the URL I provided as an example FOUND HERE for the source, then give it a title and click validate. Then continue with the steps until you get the option to pair.

In the matter of finding legal online streams to add to your media library, and the (possible) future potential for , he had this to say:-

I would just use google and search for things like HLS, m3u8, live stream, or Free IPTV lists. I've also been using one particular URL THROUGH THIS LINK with pretty good success. I think this channel could be something interesting. I'm more leaning towards the idea of social / sharing types of "sources"... like when you send your friend a custom link & they get your source on their Roku. Could be kind of neat for telecommunication too.

Anyway, despite there being plenty more tidbits of information to be had, I'm not about to start regurgitating the entire content of the Reddit page here... you get the picture, though, right?! If not, at the end of the day, the proof of the channel is in the streaming - so let's get on with the next one...

ADD "Retaliate" PRIVATE CHANNEL / GAME to Roku device(s) VIA THIS LINK: Retaliate (Game)

Or, LOGIN to your Roku Account, AS NORMAL, and SCROLL DOWN the page, until you come TO the 'MANAGE ACCOUNT' section, CLICK the link TO 'ADD A PRIVATE CHANNEL' and then USE ACCESS CODE: retaliate

*** UPDATE *** - Short-lived though it was, as a 'BETA' test channel on Roku devices, there was an announcement made by the developer of the 'Retaliate' game channel, HERE, via a dedicated thread on the "Official" Roku Forums that THE 'Retaliate' PRIVATE CHANNEL HAS BEEN PULLED and can no longer be added to Roku devices using the above access code. This is what was said:-

Thanks everyone for the feedback, support, and all around good time. I have pulled the private channel and submitted the game to Roku. I changed the password for the leaderboards so old installations of the channel will not be able to post (sorry for the inconvenience but I didn't want some of the earlier versions of the game to be able to post scores). I'm about to wipe the leader-boards & will see you all when the game is published!

THE GOOD NEWS IS... that, by submitting the game to Roku, there will (hopefully) soon be a PUBLIC CHANNEL VERSION added to the "Official" Roku Channel Store in all regions. So, expect to see that featured in one of my (future) 'Weekly RoundUp' posts on this blog, if and when it does get approved by Roku and added to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store in due course.

Meanwhile, I'd like to extend the gratitude of the developer for any UK Roku users out there who did download the 'BETA' test version of the 'Retaliate' game channel in the last few days, ESPECIALLY those who also provided feedback to the developer - as requested via the companion Twitter Feed to this blog: @ukrokuchannels where details of the private channel were first published for the benefit of UK Roku users. Anyone who did manage to add the 'BETA' test version of the 'Retaliate' game in time, and has played it since, but hasn't (yet) left feedback can LEAVE THOUGHTS & COMMENTS via the relevant thread on Roku Forums, FOUND HERE. Alternatively, you can connect with the developer via their Twitter Feed: @Retaliate_IXVI or else, get social with them through the "Official" Facebook Page: Retaliate IXVI (Facebook) and provide feedback that way. In that respect, some of the feedback the developer is looking for includes:

  • Is the pace of the game good, does it need to be sped up or slowed down.
  • Does anyone have any issues with overscan (I believed I stayed within the safe zones)
  • What happens if you switch to SD mode? (I have Roku 3 and designed this for 1280x720)
  • Are you able to scan the QR codes?
  • Is it fun! (Obviously the most important thing in a game)

Conversely, if you missed your chance to try the 'BETA' test version of the 'Retaliate' game channel, you can get to SEE WHAT LIES IN WAIT for you if/when it is added to the "Official" Roku Channel Store BY VIEWING THE OFFICIAL 'Retaliate' GAME TRAILER which can be found, HERE, on a dedicated page for the Roku version of the game via the 'Retaliate' website. Essentially... what you're getting is a "retro" arcade-style video game, akin to (say) 'Space Invaders' and such like, where you must collect bombs (there's no ammunition when the game starts) to then fire back at the descending alien spaceships whilst using your shield to "absorb" what's being fired at you! To fully test your retro arcade-style video gaming skills, there's FOUR DIFFERENT SETTINGS AVAILABLE to play with varying degrees of difficulty: Easy, Normal, Hard and Extreme PLUS, as the developer has mentioned, there's also a leader-board where points can be shared and high scores kept although, again this has been (temporarily) disabled while the "approval" process is underway by Roku. That said, you can expect it to be up & running again once a "public channel" version of 'Retaliate' gets added to the "Official" Roku Channel Store in all regions. As an ADDED BONUS... due to the simple controls employed for your movement, shield and firing methods (esssentially no more than left, right, up & down - like a joystick) this game can be played with pretty much any Roku remote (i.e. no need for a motion-controlled specialised gaming remote) and, therefore, will (likely) be compatible with all UK Roku models if/when it's added to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store - GREAT NEWS FOR UK ROKU USERS! Though Roku owners in the USA may find limitations with pre-2011 Roku models!

ADD "WDMU Internet Radio" PRIVATE CHANNEL to Roku device(s) VIA THIS LINK: WDMU Internet Radio

Or, LOGIN to your Roku Account, AS NORMAL, and SCROLL DOWN the page, until you come TO the 'MANAGE ACCOUNT' section, CLICK the link TO 'ADD A PRIVATE CHANNEL' and then USE ACCESS CODE: wdmuradioaudio

ADD "The Chonilla Network" PRIVATE CHANNEL to Roku device(s) VIA THIS LINK: The Chonilla Network

Or, LOGIN to your Roku Account, AS NORMAL, and SCROLL DOWN the page, until you come TO the 'MANAGE ACCOUNT' section, CLICK the link TO 'ADD A PRIVATE CHANNEL' and then USE ACCESS CODE: chonilla

ADD "Silent Movie Channel" PRIVATE CHANNEL to Roku device(s) VIA THIS LINK: Silent Movie Channel

Or, LOGIN to your Roku Account, AS NORMAL, and SCROLL DOWN the page, until you come TO the 'MANAGE ACCOUNT' section, CLICK the link TO 'ADD A PRIVATE CHANNEL' and then USE ACCESS CODE: rollem

ADD "Nowhere Khan" PRIVATE CHANNEL to Roku device(s) VIA THIS LINK: Nowhere Khan

Or, LOGIN to your Roku Account, AS NORMAL, and SCROLL DOWN the page, until you come TO the 'MANAGE ACCOUNT' section, CLICK the link TO 'ADD A PRIVATE CHANNEL' and then USE ACCESS CODE: nowherekhan

So, what you have there is no less than SIX PRIVATE ROKU CHANNELS from various channel developers encompassing internet radio (WDMU), personal comedy podcasts (Chonilla Network), vintage movies (Silent Movie Channel), a video game (Retaliate), video study aids (Nowhere Khan) and a Roku client for LIVE STREAMING of MRSS FEEDS / URL's (Channel PEAR) which come with the ADDED BONUS that they are all UNAVAILABLE ON NOWTVBox FROM 'NowTV' !!


Before I sign-off on this 'Weekly RoundUp'... a brief reminder that, whilst I had hoped I'd be able to catch-up on the missing Roku-related news from this blog in recent months, with all the extra work I've been burdened with of late it remains unlikely that I'll be fully caught-up anytime soon. Until I do find the time... my one saving grace is that (as mentioned previously) I have somehow managed to remain up-to-date with all the latest additions to the "New" category of the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store and will endeavour to flesh-out what's missing ASAP! Admittedly, there are quite a few articles that I need to catch up on but, rather than post links for individual weeks, I'll simply refer you back to my "Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #78", which contains all of the pertinent information you might need when researching back over the items in question. Again, I'm sorry this has dragged-on (far) longer than anticipated, and apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused you, but (all being well) things will be back up to speed soon!

For now... all I could offer you was the (above) brief list of Roku "private channels" which I came across in the past seven days. As with my other recent posts, you can expect any additional Roku-related news from the past week, along with details of any changes to the channel selection found on NowTV Boxes, to be added at some point in the near future. As for "mending" all of the "broken" links from previous 'Weekly RoundUp' posts, I still can't put a time-scale on how long that is going to take but (like I said before) if you "copy" the existing link(s) and change the "http" prefix to "https", as well as removing the "forward slash" between 'channels' and '#!details', so that "channels#/!details" becomes "channels#!details" in each weblink, you should find that they will all work for you and redirect to the new-look version of each individual channel description. As with the last eight 'Weekly RoundUp' posts, every link from this week (plus all future posts) will use the new format, so it's only those from 'Weekly RoundUp #1' up as far as 'Weekly RoundUp #86' which you'll have to amend... at least, until I can edit/repair the links for you !!


Anyhow, like it or not, that is your lot for this week and, whilst it doesn't happen all that often, we have (once again) managed to equal and (more unusually) match exactly the zero channels which made it into the "Official" Roku USA Channel Store during the same time-frame - BIG WOW !! Still, no matter which Roku "region" you happen to hail from (including Ireland, Canada and those marked as 'Rest of World' as vague as it seems) it's always better to have SOME NEW CHOICES - even if they come by way of Roku private channels - rather than none at all, as I'm sure you all agree?!!

Meanwhile... hopefully everyone in the UK with a Roku player managed to find something they like within the SIX PRIVATE CHANNELS outlined above. If not, then you'll just have to pay us a visit another time when, with any luck, there will be something more to your liking. Afterall, there's no point installing every channel because like I say, when it comes to adding new channels to your Roku player, IT'S YOUR CHOICE and, as with all things Roku... THE CHOICE IS ALWAYS YOURS !!


As mentioned earlier in this post, you can expect my usual summary of all the goings-on (or not) in the (severely restricted) Roku Channel Store that features on NowTV Boxes to follow in the near future. Meanwhile, whether you happen to own a Roku player, a NowTV Box, OR BOTH, as I do... be sure to check my previous posts (as mentioned above) for all the new additions to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store in each of the twenty-two preceding weeks and then come back again in seven days' time for my next 'Weekly RoundUp'. However, if you can't wait that long, remember you can always keep up with all the UK Roku action (as it happens) throughout the coming week, by following the companion Twitter Feed: @ukrokuchannels where UP-TO-THE-MINUTE INFO on all things Roku-related (here in the UK) INCLUDING PRIVATE CHANNEL ACCESS CODES are posted on a daily basis (well, almost).

Until the next time, then...

That's all folks !!

1 comment:

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