At our next meeting we plan to look at a range of storage devices from memory sticks and USB drives to the latest in internal hard drives and SSD (Flash) drives.
Michael will demonstrate some comparisons of various different drives including various internal SSD drives designed to replace the hard drive inside a PC. We will also look back at the historical performance of mechanical hard drives and how it has progressed to the present day.
The meeting will include a description of Gareth's NAS he is building from scratch with an SSD to boot from and normal drives for storage. It's not ready yet, but he can certainly talk about it.
This should be an interesting evening so do come along.
This was held at the Crown Hotel, Felixstowe Road, Ipswich.
Most of our regular attendees were able to come with the exception of Michael, Gary, Gerald and Sarah. Fortunately Royal was able to come with Daisy; with transport provide by Frank before and Peter after, and we were very pleased to see them again. It was quite an enjoyable evening, although those choosing the lamb were a little disappointed.
The surroundings were very comfortable and there were no other occupied tables close by so conversation was easy. For those who had them the desserts were great too!
For the meeting we had a number of TV Media Players available to demonstrate, including an AppleTV, a Patriot Box Office and a Western Digital media player. For the purposes of the evening the AppleTV was actually running Xbox Media Centre, but more on that later.
For streaming to the devices on the night Gareth was using PS3 Media Server on his Mac as a uPnP streamer which allows not only streaming the original file format, but also on the fly transcoding to codecs and bit-rates commonly supported by TV media devices. uPNP or Universal Plug and Play is also often described as DNLA on TVs and players and allows the media players to autodiscover sources of content on the local network.
Similar software is available for the iPhone/iPad called Air Video and the associated Air Video Server for the Mac/PC, which can transcode any video over the air to be played on the iPhone/iPad video player. Similar software is available for Android although less transcoding would be required as the Android player supports more native formats.
There are many tools available for transcoding video between formats. Handbrake is a tool for Windows, Mac and Linux that can be used to convert video formats off-line and Gareth has used it to encode video to store on a NAS drive within the house and play on the TV via the media player. He uses a custom preset for this, which is the high quality DVD quality preset with the quality settings increased a little more. A typical movie in H264 video format is typically about 2GB. The subtitle options allow you to embed subtitles and either burn them into the encoded video file, or add them as a subtitle data track that a lot of players can then render and overlay. Handbrake can also search for foreign language sections of subtitles in a source video and automatically add them to the output.
H264 is a very intensive codec to encode however and a 3 year old Mac laptop is slower than realtime when encoding - but Handbrake is software only encoder not using any modern tricks utilising the GPU.
To demonstrate media playback through a TV we started with the Apple TV connected to an LCD TV with HDMI. The AppleTV started up with standard Apple interface with Movies to buy trailers and watch moves, Internet to watch YouTube clips, look at Flickr photos etc., Music to connect to iTunes on a PC and play music, Photos for connecting to iTunes shared photo library and an extra menu item XBMC as we have Xbox Media Centre installed.
XBMC can play videos, audio, photos but you can also add small apps e.g. weather apps, and plugins for extra functionality. Extras installed on Gareth's AppleTV include the iPlayer plugin, and a YouTube plugin, which gives access to some ITV, 4OD, Demand 5 content hosted on YouTube. The main reason for adding XBMC to the aTV was for the uPNP/video streaming functionality and the ability to mount standard Windows SMB file shares- freeing Gareth from importing every video into iTunes and allowing files to be served direct from a NAS drive rather than have to keep a Mac/Windows PC running.
When accessing videos via the uPNP option which connects to the PS3 Media Server running on the laptop you can access both the original recordings (if in a suitable format) but also from the client device on the TV select a transcoding option to convert on the fly to a lower bit-rate or supported codec which can be a useful feature.
Next we looked at a Patriot Box Office, which is a budget media player available for £50-60 that can play a very wide range of formats but has quite a basic user interface. It can play files from uPNP servers and Samba shares over a LAN, can have a USB wireless adapter connected, a local USB hard disk and even a 2.5" internal drive is an option. It can be a little difficult to configure but once configured it works well.
Michael brought along a Western Digital Media player from ~2008. This is not a network enabled player and relied on USB hard drives or memory sticks for the media storage, but otherwise behaves the same and connects to the TV via HDMI. Sadly the demo was limited due to missing the remote control. Despite being an older device it has a well thought out attractive user interface. The more modern ones with networking are available for £80-£90.
Lastly we discussed the Sumvision Cyclone Live, which is a full 1080p HD media player that Andy had ordered and was waiting for delivery. This was ~£50 and can use a USB realtek wireless dongle to add wireless networking support.
Apologies for the absence of the August Newsletter and the lateness of production of this Newsletter; we have all be very busy over the summer and time has overtaken us. I hope you will still manage to get to the meeting on Wednesday.
Peter and Gareth.
|21 September||Solid state drives (SSD) and storage devices.||All|
|19 October||Mac Evening||All|
|16 November||HD video opportunities||All|
|21 December||Party and Gadgets evening||All|
|18 January||Social evening - venue TBA||All|
|15 February||Linux 2011 on ARM etc.||All|
|21 March||Slide show evening||All|
|18 April||AGM + extras||All|
Meetings are now on the Third Wednesday of the month unless otherwise stated.
Our meetings are held at the Bourne Vale Social Club, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE , for a map and other details please see the website. http://icenicomputerclub.users.btopenworld.com
The first visit is free and subsequent visits for non - members is £2·50. The membership fee is £20 due from the AGM date in April, but may be reduced for those joining late in the year.
Continuing our publicity for EAUG events, there is now a full list of meetings up to the end of the year on their website.
Meetings are at the Great Baddow Village Hall, on the second Tuesday of the month
opening at 7:30 p.m. for a start at 7:45 - 8:00 p.m.
For directions see below (note the new web addresses)
Tea/coffee/biscuits usually available.
Visitors pay 2.00 GBP for the evening, which is deductible from the normal joining subscription if you decide to join at a later date.
See the Membership page of the website for more information:
They have now moved to the St. Andrew's Computer Club at Britannia Road, Ipswich.
They have a full programme on the parish website (http://www.ourstandrews.co.uk), We may be able to make new contact with them to arrange something in common.
"ICENI does not have any Insurance cover for computers or other equipment so please be advised that you bring machines to the club at your own risk."
However many household insurance policies will include cover away from home often with no increase in premium. (Ed.)
If anyone would like a copy of the CD of our old newsletters this could be arranged.
I am open to suggestions on what people would like to have included in the website.
Our website URL is
http://icenicomputerclub.users.btopenworld.com as a virtual domain,
it can also be reached using http://www.btinternet.com/~icenicomputerclub
Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org