CyberNotes
Tutorial Thursday




One of the questions that I get asked rather frequently is how people can take their media with them to places (normally work) without carrying a media player around. There are plenty of services out there that will let you upload, for example, your music so that it can be accessed from anywhere. But most of the time people want to stream it directly from their home machine.

Is it possible? Of course, it’s just a matter of finding the right tools for the job. If you’re trying to stream media (music, movies, images, documents, or television) from your home computer I recommend checking out the free Orb service. With it you download and install a small application that always runs on your computer. Then by logging into their website you can access nearly any type of media that has made its way onto your machine. Forget a file at home? No problem! Orb can not only stream media but will also let you download files directly from your home computer.

–Supported Media–

orb logo Orb handles a wide array of media including television, videos, photos, music, documents, and more. In the configuration options you can set the directories that you want Orb to snatch media from, which means the control is really in your hands.

You might be wondering how the streaming television works. It’s required that your computer have a supported tuner first of all. After that it takes just a few steps to configure the Orb software. You can also schedule shows to record so that you don’t miss them!


–Supported Devices–

The primary computer that hosts the media will need to be running Windows XP or Vista for Orb to work. Then when it comes to accessing the media all you really need is a computer with a browser and Internet connection. Or more specifically…

  • Any Windows, Linux or Mac OS-X laptop or desktop computer that has a broadband connection and a media player that can stream Windows, Real or 3GP media, such as Windows Media Player (v.9 or above), WinAmp, RealPlayer (v.9 or above) or Quicktime Player.
  • Any Pocket PC that has Microsoft Windows 2002, 2003 or Mobile 5 Pocket PC.
  • Any Palm OS device with the Kinoma Player 4 EX is compatible with Orb. Such devices include (but are not limited to) the Treo 650, 680, 700p, 750 and the Tungsten C.
  • Any cell phone with a Web browser and either Windows Media Player, TCPMP, RealPlayer, or 3GP Player.
  • All of the major gaming consoles so that you can stream all the digital content from your home PC and from the Web onto your TV screen in the living room! Orb works seamlessly with the Nintendo Wii, Sony Playstation3 and Microsoft Xbox 360.

So it’s safe to say that you can stream media using Orb to a lot of different devices.

–Setup–

orb setup 1 I hadn’t used Orb prior to writing this article, and despite being a first-time user I had the software setup and running within a few minutes. Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Download and install Orb. It’s available in a variety of different languages, and works with Windows XP or Vista.
  2. Start going through the setup process. If you don’t already have an Orb account you’ll be able to create one from within the application. Note: You’ll need to verify your email address if you’re creating a new account.
  3. Head on over to mycast.orb.com to start streaming media! There you’ll find a fully customizable homepage, but I recommend that you click the Open Application button to select what type of media you want to stream:
    orb open application 

–Remotely Manage Media–

Now that you have Orb setup and understand how to navigate around the site it’s time to have some fun! You can create playlists of your favorite songs so that they are quickly accessible, and managing photos is a breeze. From within the Orb MyCast site you can do it all:

orb media manager
(Click to Enlarge)

And before you shrug this off as something you’ll never use there’s one very important aspect that has made this a valuable tool to me: downloads. Even if you don’t want to use Orb to stream your media it can still be used kind of like a personal FTP server. If you get to work and realize you forgot an important document at home just pull up Orb, find the file, and click the download button. To speed things up you can even have the file compressed before downloading it (if you’re downloading multiple files they’ll automatically be compressed before sending them):

orb download

–Overview–

There is a sense of reassurance that Orb isn’t storing any of my files on their servers, but at the same time they’ve got an amazing online interface that I can use to access any of my media located at home. Give it a whirl and I’m sure you’ll like it as well!

Orb Homepage