I recently stumbled across a piece of software called Orb. Essentially Orb makes it simple to access all of your local media remotely from anything with a web browser. It automagically integrates with iTunes and iPhoto and you can share folders from your computer and even a TV tuner if you have one.
The breakthrough use for me however is easy remote access to your iTunes library and video library. My personal machine of choice is a MacBook from 2007 with a “tiny” 200 GB hard drive. However I have two other desktops I use regularly at home, as well as a machine at work that I spend a good chunk of time on. Getting iTunes to cooperate with all of these and getting my music where I need it is a chore.
I have about 100 GB of media on my laptop, and another 100 GB between my other two personal systems. My collection is horribly fragmented amongst these three machines and I often have a hard time keeping track of what is where. I would prefer to have access to it all on my laptop but I just don’t have space. Not to mention I would not be thrilled to lose my entire collection if the computer got lost, stolen, or otherwise damaged (as laptops can be prone to).
Ideally I would be able to store everything in one place (preferably somewhere semi-secure) while still having access from any of my other systems, and ideally, from anywhere I want. That would enable me to remove almost all of my media from my laptop and keep just enough to entertain me any time I may not have internet access.
Between iTunes Home Sharing and Orb I have been able to setup a system that I have been long awaiting, but to lazy to setup. I consolidated and organized all of my music and videos on to one hard drive in one of my home desktops. This is always running and always connected to the internet. Apple made this transition much easier by introducing “Home Sharing” which enables you to share your library among up to 5 computers on your local network. The breakthrough is instead of just playing media from one computer on another you can easily copy it and move it around freely.
This is where Orb comes in. With all of my media in one place all I needed to do was install Orb on that machine, let it index my collections and log in to watch it or listen to it online. The only draw back I have found is that the online user interface looks like it belongs in the 90’s, it is truly ghetto-fabulous. Otherwise it provides unimpeded access to my music, playlists, videos, and everything else I need.
I am interested to try it with a video tuner. I was given a sling box as a gift several years ago and I’m curious if there is some way to make Orb work nicely with it, because otherwise Orb renders it totally useless. If they could polish the online user interface a little bit this would be a perfect solution for sharing my home media collection with myself.