Streaming dreams – Part 1

For sometime I’ve tried using services like Apple Store or Google Play Store to purchase or rent movies. The new services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, Eros Now, Zee5, AltBalaji, Sony and many others. They are also creating original contents which are quite interesting. We are living in a cord-cutter’s dream world. The plethora of choices cause us to over-subscribe just like some channels we pay for 1-2 good programs. This in turn is the reason some end up paying more or are still living with the old cable/DTH. This is my memoir of accessing my movies from anywhere.

Disclaimer: I wasn’t (and still not) very bright at many ideas.

Accessing my files remotely was a though that has been going on with me since 2005-2006 (if memory serves right). I was lucky to have a personal computer in college. It was a decent one but was quite capable in running my softwares (read games, music & movies 🙂 ).

Winamp, it really whips the llama’s ass

I still had cassettes for audio which I had recorded but then it was getting bulky. Audio CDs were expensive & I never looked at them but MP3 was new to me. I was literally jamming with collections from Kishore Kumar, Mohammed Rafi, 90’s Bollywood to Metallica, Iron Maiden, Guns N’ Roses, Linkin Park. OK! don’t judge me now ;-). I was hoarding and list was growing on.

Going to folders was getting painful and playlists was not my thing (still I’m trying to work it out). I was looking for a Winamp replacement & tried multiple audio players the most notable being Sonique, Media Monkey & JRiver Media Center. I was playing around with them and learning about ID3 tags and then came iTunes. One incorrect option and my music library turned a mess – it seemed as if a missile launched directly into it. It took me around 3 days (more to refine) to set my library back in order and since then I’ve been stuck with iTunes.

That’s all audio… show me the movie

I’m keeping that aside for now but that’s one important bit. Back to topic. I’ve always been a big movie buff & my college years were no different. We would arrange for CDs/DVDs & have movie marathons. DVDs were lot better – a single CD-esque can have better quality movie & sometime more than 1 & lovely menus (don’t remember if I saw them on CDs). In hostel, 1 CD/DVD shares multiple hands before being returned to rightful owner. It was to an extent that whenever a new CD/DVD was available that same movie would be playing in multiple rooms. My problem, I didn’t have a DVD reader (at least for a good period of time). My room mate had much generous PC – with DVD reader. The problem with CD & DVD is that the rental ones go bad very fast. They don’t play well with all players.

Time to join forces. The force was strong with me

This was my first brush with networking. I went shopping for LAN cable and connected my system with my room mate. Thanks to big brains of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) & developers at Microsoft, it was easy. We could share anything without relying on CD (burning, rewriting process), limited storage pen-drives. This was big, well, HUGE infact. My music library just exploded, in a good way. Movies, I could rewatch & not worry on storage.

Yeh Dil Maange More (This heart desires more)!

Slogan by Pepsi

Shopping again, but this time by some more friends who got convinced by this networking. We got a switch and connected 3-4 more computers. My initial LAN cable din’t work (cross cable & straight cable) so had to take few help. It was probably the first student managed LAN in my college & me probably being the first administrator & my system being the server (I got new DVD Writer 🙂 ). We did something new this time – Need For Speed – network gaming. We had chat systems (BORGChat) to communicate. This is when more people joined & at peak we had 2 switches with approximately 10 systems online.

It was going great but it was busted by the warden. We were given reason that we can network inside rooms but not across. We tried to get the devices but some lost interest (some got focussed to study) and the LAN never revived. Good thing is some juniors created their own version and took it next level.

It was time to move on

Years passed & along the way I befriended new birdie – called internet. There were things that were being done, it was amazing. Some used it for study, I used it for entertainment – YouTube, mySpace, Orkut (yeah OK, I’m not proud of that). I had my old collection of songs, ripped movies and they were just idle & taking away space. I couldn’t carry my desktop with me so It was time to switch gears – laptop. This was a mammoth powerhouse – 10 years on & still rocks. It could run Crysis & Crysis 2 at respectable FPS. I had to offload data to external drive & carry it along. The desktop was now under custody of my parents & before I could put good use to it, it was gone (more on next part).

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