Windows Movie / TV library and Player… is there a decent one!?

While I always thought my blog would be about telling people my own opinion or sharing the never ending knowledge of stuff in my head…  (not that the infrequent Blog Posts would support such a fountain of knowledge .. I’ve been very busy…   I now ask a question of the interweb… and hope to get your comment and feedback:

I have a Windows 7 Media Desktop (slimline eeePC) and I want to run an application to Index and Play Movies / TV shows that I have on an External Harddrive.

Now… *Boxee* used to be great, but the PC version has been withdrawn for some time. Boxee just worked, it was a point and click app that was easy to navigate, simple, streamed anything (including 1080p on windows intel atom media pc)

-I’ve tried *XBMC* and it seemed Ok, though the menu options seem mental, and recently I cleaned up a number of file names and despite having the option of re-index on restart of the programme it left all the Movie Covers in the library and ever time I clicked on one it said it could not be found. So I deleted the DB from the profile folder in Windows Explorer and now it won’t index at all!

-I tried *PLEX* but for that you need to install the Media Server aswell as the Media Centre to run it on a computer as a Library and Player. I told the Server to update library, left it for 20mins and there was nothing in my player… so I went through preferences and added the file locations, left that for a while and I could browse the folder structure but there was no sight of any IMDB info or movie covers.  It’s also almost impossible to navigate with a mouse.

– I had a look at *Windows Media Centre* the Windows 7 built in App and after telling it where my files were, left it for 20mins and it’s loaded them… into Movies. But they are rubbish tiles with word on and no film info, and despite adding a folder under Recorded TV, the TV menu is empty.

SO Internet… *can someone suggest a Good, Simple, Robust, Media Centre Windows Application* that I can install, point at my 2 Terabyte USB 3 Hard drive and say there’s the Movies Folder, there’s the TV folder – Index, title with basic info and a pic, and occasionally do an auto refresh and keep up to date.

 

My Google+ page showing this Blog Post – comment there or here

Samba Mobile – seemed like a good concept but it's flawed

I have previously tweeted and posted about a new mobile service called Samba Mobile which allows you to earn data to use on a SIM that can be used in a dongle, mifi or mobile/tablet device by watching adverts through the Samba Mobile website. I first thought it was a clever and good concept, but while away this week and trying to use Samba as me sole mobile data device I’ve identified a flaw in their service, the following is an email I’ve sent to them today:

SambaMobile

I did text your support number earlier but have received no response so am sending this email to support@sambamobile.com.

I’ve identified a flaw in your service, which has actually cost me money.
I have been away from home this week and have been using my SambaMobile SIM in my Mifi device (battery operated dongle which acts as a wifi-hotspot). I had earned some data on my Samba SIM before my week away and while away had my laptop and tablet connected to my Mifi Device. While using the SIM to check emails, social networks and web browse to plan my week, I used the laptop & tablet on the SambaMobile.com site to watch adverts and earn more credit to keep my account topped up.

I was surprised how quickly the data was being used so topped up my account (£5 for 500mb) with cash aswell as trying to watch more adverts….  I was shocked and confused how I’d managed to use more than 1gb (gigabyte) in a very short period (over two days). I first wondered if my laptop or tab was running background process’ or doing unobvious activity that was using the internet…?

So I started to experiment, leaving my laptop and tablet connected & idle for an hour at a time. It used very little data (no more than 300kb  (kilobytes))  which I can measure on my Mifi, which has a display showing the downloaded data of a session. I then was able to match the amounts measured on the “data used” from the My Account on SambaMobile.

I then had an idea and wondered if watching adverts was both earning AND using data.

My suspicion was confirmed as using the measurement on my mifi along with the Data Earned vs Data Used on SambaMobile it proved that the service does not differenciate using the SambaMobile website as non-chargable data and as the SambaMobile streams a variety of video sources as adverts, incl YouTube and some of these display on my laptop as High Definition, it was actually costing me more in data than I was earning and explained why I had used soo much data in such a short period of time.

The concept of SambaMobile is a good one but this is a major flaw and defeats the object of an advert revenue operated service, when the same device/service you are trying to generate data to use for mobile browsing is actually costing you and in this case the money I’ve paid to use your service has been eaten away by the adverts supposed to be topping up my account.

Please review my account and details I’ve provided, revise / alter your operating model, warn customers that using the SimbaMobile SIM to watch adverts costs data (while you fix this) and refund the money back to my account as I believe I’ve been mislead and have spent money which I havn’t been able to use.

I look forward to your reply.

Regards

Are we all getting a little too Social?

If you have a count right now, how many social networks are you on? And how much information do you disclose to those people you know and those people you don’t. Or how much information did you forget that you disclosed or didn’t think is visible to all the world.

On my last count I have probably signed up to more than a dozen “Social networks” over the years, where I’ve been asked to disclose personal information about myself. Some of these I still use and others have closed, been merged with other organizations or I’ve chosen to no longer use or delete. These include Facebook, Twitter, Google+, MySPace, Flickr, Digg, FourSquare to name only a few and the more well known.

All these sign-ups seem to try and justify why they’re asking for your personal data, including for ‘Security’ purposes to secure your account, to enhance your experience of their site, to share with other social contacts and the final one (which is normally hidden in the small print); to disclose / sell to the marketing department, associated companies & third parties so they can farm everything they can about you, then stalk you, advertise to you and try to sell you stuff!

In-light of the latest Google Privacy Policy from earlier in 2012, which in summary means that Google can share all the data it holds about it’s users across all platforms & products it has, where-as previously each product Google released came with it’s own T&C’s which totaled approximately 70, but meant just because you G-Buzz’d, G+’d, Emailed, watched on YouTube or searched for things, it could only keep that data within that arena to push advertising to you or share with it’s authorised associates. The new Policy now it means if you’re logged into your Google account and search for something, it can be stored then used to show you an advert in any of the platforms about that same subject, or if you search for YouTube video it can store that search or watch history and use the information to advertise to you within Google.com of the Banner in your GMail.

It’s all a bit Big Brother and Stalkerish. Google will justify it as a way of enhancing your online presence and experience, others will say storing that much information by one company is a fraud waiting to happen and I agree that with online identify theft & fraud growing, simply having all your eggs in once basket can be a dangerous thing. Companies don’t express the need for Users (that’s you and I) to ensure their password is difficult to crack and that their computer is protected so isn’t susceptible to Malware and Virus’ that disclose your details to someone who wants to take over your account. We’ve all seen the papers previous giants like Sony got hacked and more recently Yahoo, is anyone really safe!?

Google don’t readily advertise that you can disable some of these feature, the easiest is disabling Web History so they can’t store everything you search for on Google.com https://www.google.com/history/
The other option is make sure you’re not logged into your Google account when searching Google.com, use an alternate search engine, or install a 2nd browser i.e log into your Gmail with Chrome and surf the net Firefox.

Now, I’ve talked about Google alot, but there are other culprits Facebook has been in the news for it’s more recent advertising campaign of telling you what other people you know have liked to encourage you also Like it. Or Facebook will analyze what you like or information that identifies where you’ve been, such as a Check-In, location that a photo was tagged of you or even who you’ve messaged or commented on and will suggest new Friends. It’s all a little creepy, especially when people you knew from School from 20 years ago pop-up! Though in most of my cases if it was a someone at school who I didn’t care to stay in touch with, I sure ain’t fussed about giving them a ‘Poke’ or sharing stuff with them now… but that’s just me!

Unfortunately, if you’re like me and always question why something is asking you for personal information then you’ll either get knocked back and not be able to enjoy all that many services, because they make telling them your life story mandatory to let you in… or you tell a lie, create a false account or submit partially false information and you become one of the 83 million Fake Facebook accounts reported a month ago in various news sites.

Either way, people have various reason they want to have some anonymity. The bad people that just want to Troll and Abuse other users, which I whole heartedly disagree with…. if you have something to say / have an opinion, then say it to someones face and with an identity, don’t hide behind ‘RantyUser69’ or some other stupid alias.
Or the not so bad people like Me who know the value of personal privacy, have worked in sectors where I’ve been required to locate people and in one case had the tables turned and got a rude awakening from a bad/rogue client.

Also I feel I shouldn’t be forced to expose myself (not physically lol) to 3rd parties who I haven’t chosen to deal with – I don’t buy the small print of ‘we may share your information with our subsidiaries, partners or selected third parties’. Same as I hate when you innocently purchase an item from an online retailer and they suddenly assume they can spam you with product updates despite having no marketing opt out option on their website / checkout process. It really annoyed me recently when having to go on the annual hunt for car insurance and on a number of websites the Opt-Out buttons were not clear and you had to click on a drop down to display the options to Opt-Out and if I hadn’t have carefully scanned the small print I would have missed it.

Also tip for all if you – get your own domain name and within that domain name have your main email address and the option to create delivery address’. You can add a delivery address within a few simple clicks – i.e carstuff@50percent.co.uk, use the address for it’s purpose to get quotes. Once you’ve chosen your supplier you can give them your Normal address and delete the delivery address – so all those companies that try to spam you, the deleted address just bounces and you don’t hear from them again until you choose to contact them. I like this way of working and it saves having to go through the process of signing up for a brand new email service ever time. I can add as many delivery names as I like and all the emails get delivered to my inbox then I can also use rules to filter them to sub-folders if I want.

That’s enough from me for this time… any questions or comments about data disclosure, data protection, and tips of protecting your personal information feel free to drop me a line or select one of the social network options on the right hand side.

Review on 2 Multi-Point Bluetooth Devices

So, after not blogging for ages…  (thought I know I should really…)   I have been working too much and in my spare time, aside from walking the dog and visiting the watering-hole aka The Pub, I have been playing with some electronics bits and pieces.

Here’s a video I did reviewing 2 Multi-Point Stereo Bluetooth Headsets.

As I explain, I own multiple Phone / Tablet devices and want to be able to enjoy good quality Audio in Stereo while also being able to manage calls from either device. But I want to do this with a single bluetooth device….   this can be done by using a Multi-Point Bluetooth Device which allows you to pair more than once mobile / tablet device at a time.  Here’s the video I did in June 2012: