Music in the “Cloud”… Just say No

March 31, 2011 at 17:38 | Posted in Privacy/Security, thoughts | Comments Off
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Since Amazon’s announcement of their “Cloud” based music service (“Cloud Drive”) the blog-o-sphere has been all a buzz with this hot new idea.

Regular readers of my blog will know that I think “Cloud” services are a trap and only good for the person that is offering the service.

This is no exception. Most of these “Cloud” services are charging something like $10/mo for unlimited streaming. It might sound good on the surface but once you think about it you realize that…

  1. You’ll own nothing
  2. Your ability to stream will depend on connectivity.. Your bill will not (you’ll be charged $10/mo whether you could stream or not.)
  3. It is fairly trivial to set up your home computer to offer this same service for free and with all the music you already or will ever own.
  4. These services will most likely insert advertising into the music either now.. Or in the future once people are hooked.
  5. By connecting to their servers to stream your music these companies will be able to track all kinds of information about you.
    1. what you listen to
    2. where you listen from (device and location)
    3. How often you listen
    4. etc

Considering that with less than two hours work you could have exactly this for free why would anyone opt to pay $10/mo. to own nothing, be tracked and profiled, and advertised to. It is just a bad deal all around and people should just say no.

Note: In a future post (soon) I will detail how to set this up for yourself for next to nothing. Certainly for less then $120/year and your privacy

Xbox Media Center – Not just for the Xbox.

October 19, 2008 at 12:20 | Posted in Cool | Comments Off
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This week I am going to do a quick review of “Xbox Media center” (XBMC). Now before you tune out it’s not just for the Xbox. This wonderful open source project works on Linux, Mac, Xbox (of course), “Apple TV” and even Windows. There is also a live version so you can take it with you.

I thus far only have experience with the Windows version, but what I have seen has left me truely impressed. We needed a replacement for the previous media center software that we were using on a windows machine we use for such things. After looking around for a while I discovered XBMC and was delighted with the results.

Thinks I like about XBMC?

It’s fast. We have had problems in the past with media center software being slow or heavy resource hogs or both. XBMC doesn’t suffer from these problems.

To date it has played everything we have thrown at it from .flv files to .mkv XBMC played it all no problems.

It is slick. XBMC is just plain cool. It is the type of interface you want to have running when you invite people over so they can go.. “Hey.. Cool… What is that..”. Part of the slickness of XBMC is the fact that is it skinnable and that the skins don’t just paint over the same old interface to change the look of it, they can actually change the way things function and are presented. You can see screenshots from the current version of XBMC here

It has a built in File manager for managing your media once you have watched it.

It has integration with IMDB and other on-line sites. This allows it to easily retrieves the information and thumbnails (cover art, etc) to present in the media lists.

It can play streaming video from the network. The Windows version came with a script for browsing and viewing the trailers on apple.com

oh yeah.. it can be extended using scripts.

It has a large development and user community and so is a very active open source project. The large user community also means it is easy to get help on-line.

The controls are easy and intuitive, that coupled with the large clear On-Screen Display (OSD) makes using XBMC a dream.

I’m a definite convert to, and advocate of the project. I hope that XBMC get the recognition it deserves. The developers and other contributors have put together a first class piece of software that deserves some time in the spotlight.

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