This whole connected world thing seems to be working out quite well – with apologies to the people who can’t yet take full advantage of the connected world. One of the points I made many years ago when I was fervently arguing for all things NBN for Dubbo was that I had some ideas on how we would use the NBN when it was only talk but once it became reality I was convinced that new, exciting and fun things would be dreamt up by some of the innovative and clever people this world possesses.

Today I want to talk about one area that seems to be exploding at the moment that has only become a category due to the high-speed connectivity that many people now have access to.

Media streaming devices.

To tell the story today, we need to go back a few years. Go back to the days before the expectation was that we could connect at incredible speeds at anytime from anywhere (I am sitting on a non-Internet enabled plane as I write this – how yesterday!) Think of a time when digital cameras and digital video recorders were being used but the Internet was just a thing you dialled into when you wanted to use e-mail.

We took photos and videos on our cameras and either left them on our camera’s memory or copied them to a computer somewhere. Viewing the images later was always a bit of a drama. Squinting at the camera screen somehow seemed lame – but acceptable – or sitting around a small computer screen had to suffice when a few metres away was a nice 42” plasma. With alternatives being complicated or clumsy at best, we put up with this for many years.

Then along came this always connected incredibly fast Internet thing and we have so many choices in how we might view these images and videos. I won’t go into brands as there are so many but, to whet your appetite, let me talk in general terms.

There are two main directions that organisations are taking. Some leave all of the files on your PC and allow access from multiple locations by using the fact that your PC is connected to the Internet and other solutions upload all of the information to the Internet so you then access it from wherever you are. Which general solution path you head down depends on how you would generally access your photos and videos. If you want to setup a TV in your house as a digital photo frame (I have two in my house) or you want to have many family movie nights or view photos in your house, storing them locally on your network and accessing them via that method makes more sense. You can still access them remotely but they may be a little slower. If, on the other hand, you intend to access your images from outside your home more often then inside, using a method that uploads them all to the Cloud makes more sense – with the added bonus of a second copy of your data. With this method you can still setup local viewing in your house but each time you view an image it will download it over the Internet. Having enough data is therefore critical on your plan. These facilities are incredibly easy to setup and you can buy hardware to plug into your TV that is incredibly cheap – if you have a TV that doesn’t have the facilities built-in. If you are amazed by the price of the hardware the price of the software and apps to help you manage your files and libraries is even better. I have struggled to find one I need to pay for. Some of them offer enhanced services that come at a small price but what you can do for free is quite amazing.

I have some seven terabytes of videos and photos that I have collected over the years and it was always going to be a ‘one day’ job to do something with them. With the ease of use of these apps, that ‘one-day’ job is now and I am taking advantage of that huge library already.

It may not sound that exciting in the scheme of things but old videos and photos of loved ones and past experiences brings a lot of joy to people. Enjoy organising your files and chuckling away at images of yourself when you had a mullet/beard/goatee/flares or whatever. You might just need to turn off the rotating images when you have friends around. I can tell you from personal experience that sometimes their laughter is a little too loud!

Based on my discussion today, how could I have an App of the Week (AoTW) that wasn’t somehow related. From the plethora of choices available – hundreds of which I could have chosen – my AoTW for this week is Plex. Set it up in about 5 minutes on your PC or Mac and then use your Smart TV or smartphone to view your libraries – from within your house or anywhere in the world! Now that is what I am talking about!  

Mathew Dickerson



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