For some time now I’ve hunted for the perfect media center solution for my apartment. Let’s face it, DVDs are so last year! Digital media is where it’s at.
I’ve tried (and loved) many solutions, all the way from plain old Windows Media center to XBMC. Since my recent migration to OS X I stuck with the old faithful iTunes.. That was until now.. Featured on one of my daily RSS feeds was the latest release of Plex, it wasn’t that I hadn’t heard of Plex before – but I’d never actually downloaded and tried it out.
So off I went, downloaded and installed version 0.9.3.4 (latest at time of blogging). The install was start forward enough and was quite quick to complete. I was then greeted by Plex’s Media manager, which was a first for my media center trials.
Media manager makes it a cinch to set up your media locations, and uses its Internet links to download and update your medias metadata. Right from your movies synopsis’ to its media artwork.
What’s even more special, is the ability to choose different artwork if you’re not happy with the default.
As with most media center solutions Plex is also capable of managing your TV shows, audio and photos. Just like it does with your movies the media manager downloads and updates the meta data and artwork for your TV shows and audio.
Once you are happy with your freshly organised and professional looking media collection, it’s time to start-up the beast.
My current setup (awaiting further cash injections) is a 2010 17″ MacBook Pro with HDMI out to my LCD tv, and audio out to my Sony surround sound unit. Now my TV is quite dated now and doesn’t normally play well with my MacBook. However straight out of the box, Plex looks stunning.. With the slight exception of cutting off the RSS feed at the bottom and weather in the top right. Luckily a few tweaks in Plex’s settings soon had this rectified.
The Plex home screen is pretty similar to most media centers on the market, with a menu system on the left hand side and a selected menu related image on the right.
One thing that immediately becomes obvious it’s just how well Plex works with Apples remote control. The menu structure is easy to navigate and intuitive. Giving you everything you need to make this the perfect in media solution.
I am a massive fan of the movie selection screen, everything you need to know to make an informative choice. Displaying information such as the media quality, the movie rating, it’s synopsis and a movie poster. Now, there are other views to choose from, but I always seem to come back to this one.
Plex has a massive amount of features, and should be enough to satisfy any tech hungry mind. So why not dump your current media centre solution and give Plex a try. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed!
Not only is Plex available for download to your nice shiny Mac, but there’s also a version available for Windows users too!
Do you use something else for your media centre? Why not post its details in the comments below and we can see how it stacks up!
Have you ever found a clip on you tube of a live eventconcert that you wanted to listen to whilst away from your PC? Well now you can, all you need to do is grab the url of the clip you want. Now paste it into the box provided over at http://www.video2mp3.net/index.php
Select your preference on quality, and then click the convert button. Within minutes you will be redirected to a download link containing your MP3.
It really is as simple as that!
I would strongly advise against using this for ‘theft’ of music – if you like a track, buy it!
Back in December 2008 I posted a link to a tutorial on how to create iPhone ringtones. Which worked well, as long as you had the patience to pin point the timings of a track. Well since then I have had to get a little bit more ‘technical’ with my ringtone creation. Mainly because of the music I was trying to clip.. So I thought it was about time I put another tutorial together, but this time a little bit more in depth, covering all the aspects of clipping using the wave display.
Now, all you need to do is locate your MP3WavSound file through the built in menu system, or drag and drop it into the dark area in between the menu bar and status bar. Once it’s done loading the music file you should be presented with a window which looks like this (obviously this will differ for each sound file)
Using the built in menu bar you can play the track, and locate the section you want to clip. Remembering that most devices using 30 seconds of the clip for the tone. Once you have found the section you want click on the wave table where it starts, and drag you mouse whilst keeping an eye on the field under the ‘Length’ radio button until you have grabbed 30 seconds worth. You should notice the highlighted section will turn a slightly darker grey colour:
With the section highlighted, if you press the ‘Play’ button Audacity will play the section you have selected. If you are not happy with it you can move the highlighted section back and forth with your mouse until you find a section you like.
Once done simply click Edit > Cut in the menu bar, or ctrl + x on your windows keyboard (cmd + x on Mac) to cut out the section of track. Now click File > New to open a fresh project window and paste in your clipping. (Edit > Paste etc)
Check you have clipped the correct part using the play button, and once you are happy click File > Export. Give it a meaningful name and select a location for the file, in the format drop down box select “M4A (AAC) Files (FFmpeg)” and click ok.
Once the export has completed, locate the file and rename the extension from .m4a to .m4r.
Now open iTunes, select the ‘Ringtones’ sections and drag in your newly created .m4r file. All that’s left to do now is sync you iPhone, select the new file in the settings menu and your done.
So hopefully, you will never pay for a ringtone again
I think it’s fair to say you can tell a lot about someone by the music they listen to, and the device they use to listen to it with. Being a big Mac fan, I quite like iTunes – now don’t get me wrong. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not too bad.. However – one area I think iTunes is really bad in, is the sorting and maintaining of large imported libraries.
Spotify has recently opened it’s doors to FREE uk membership, it’s normally by invitation only, but for a limited time you can sign up for free! “What is Spotify” i hear you shout.. Well here’s a quick paragraph or two from the website:
“What is Spotify?
Spotify is a new way to enjoy music. Simply download and install, before you know it you’ll be singing along to the genre, artist or song of your choice. With Spotify you are never far away from the song you want.
There are no restrictions in terms of what you can listen to or when. Forget about the hassle of waiting for files to download and fill up your hard drive before you get round to organising them. Spotify is instant, fun and simple.
Because music is social, Spotify allows you to share songs and playlists with friends, and even work together on collaborative playlists, Friday afternoon in the office might never be the same again! We’re music lovers like everyone else.
We want to connect millions of people with their favorite songs by creating a product that people love to use. We respect creativity and believe in fairly compensating artists for their work. We’ve cleared the rights to use the music you’ll listen to in Spotify.”
You can find out more, and download the client here: http://www.spotify.com