Our next meeting is our August Social Evening, which is to be a meal at the Brantham Bull.
The social evenings are always an enjoyable way to catch up with friends from both Iceni and the EAUG, and we hope you can join us for an evening of good food and lively conversation!
Our last meeting by Gareth and Michael introduced and demonstrated a number of methods for streaming media within the home from computers to be displayed on TVs or listened to on a HiFi system.
Gareth began the evening with a look at a number of setups he uses at home for both audio and video streaming.
For audio Gareth uses an Apple solution on his Mac computer although the same would work on a Windows PC. iTunes is software for managing a library of audio and video together with sync'ing of music to iPods. Another feature it has is called 'AirTunes' which enables remote audio to be sent to speakers in other rooms over the network. To do this Gareth has a wireless LAN access point which also has a 3.5mm line out jack. This is connected to the HiFi in the lounge and iTunes on a laptop or desktop PC can see these speakers and playback remotely. During the demonstration Gareth also showed us the Apple Remote application running on the iPhone. This completes the picture for remote audio, as it provides a remote control to iTunes on the main PC. For Gareth this allows him to listen to any song from his whole music collection, downstairs on the better quality HiFi system without going upstairs to the PC, and without hunting out a specific CD.
Gareth also uses the network for access to video and was able to demonstrate 2 solutions. First was another Apple solution using Front Row, an audio/visual front end built into MacOS. This a rather simplistic GUI to view video and pictures from a remote Apple computer that can also access the music stored in iTunes. It does work well but is Apple specific and is sometimes criticised for being light on features. Also included in this GUI is the ability to watch video trailers from Apple's Quicktime site. We could not view this on the night due to a lack of internet access but Gareth told us the quality of the video is quite good and it doesn't take too long to begin playing.
The last demo Gareth had to show was XBox Media Centre (XBMC). This was a media centre front end originally written to run as homebrew code on the original Microsoft XBox games console. Since that time it has also been released for Apple MacOS and for Linux where it is now possibly more useful due to the faster processors and graphics cards available. Nevertheless Gareth does have an old XBox connected to the TV at home and to the network, and uses it for streaming video providing the encoding rate is not too high.
XMBC is similar to Front Row from Apple, but has more features and is also extendible. Plugins are available for a number of things, including the ability to search and play directly from the BBC iPlayer service. As standard it can play most audio and video formats, and can access files on network servers/PCs via Windows file sharing, FTP, HTTP, uPNP and more. uPNP is quite a modern invention, and essentially allows media servers to advertise files they have available to be discovered by clients such as XBMC or the Playstation 3 etc. on the network. Gareth was able to demo a number of video clips streaming from his laptop.
Michael then showed us some of the things he uses, and first up was Spotify which is software for Windows and Mac (also runs under WINE on Linux) for streaming tracks and whole albums from the internet. This is legitimate music with backing of most major record labels. Free accounts are available which allow you to listen to unlimited music but with targeted adverts inserted every 15 minutes or so. Otherwise advert free accounts are available for £10/month.
With Spotify you can search for artists, tracks and albums and can make your own playlists. Frank suggested Fats Waller and we were able to search and play a track using Michael's 3G modem, albeit with some delay.
Next Michael showed us Windows 7 Media Centre. This is similar to Front Row and XBMC but is official Microsoft code that forms part of Windows 7. The user interface again lets you look at pictures, videos, and play music and can locate the media both locally and on other Windows devices/servers. The interface looked very professional and also allowed searching by rating and the ability to rate tracks. Extra's also include the ability to play the games built into Windows 7 including FreeCell and Solitaire.
Finally to wrap up the evening Michael showed us MediaPortal. This is a free open-source Media Centre for Windows which has similar functionality and is probably comparable to Front Row./ It does not have the full bells and whistles of Microsoft Windows Media Centre but looked to be good for creating a simple to use media front end on a TV at home.
(I am sorry I missed this evening, because it sounds very interesting. perhaps there will be a repeat evening sometime? Maybe a few diagrams would help those unfamiliar with this technology. Peter)
Nothing particular this month.
|August 19th||Social Evening The Brantham Bull|
|but see emails.|
|16 September||Hardware evening - Building a PC update||Michael|
|21 October||Cross Platform evening--|
Programmes ported to Windows
Ovation Pro, Personal Accountz, DPlngscan, etc.
|18 November||Social Networking + Web applications|
(Facebook, Twitter etc.)
|16 December||Gadgets and Party evening||All|
|20 January||Social Evening TBA||All|
|17 February||Windows 7 "The Release"||Michael|
|17 March||Mac OSX update "Snow Leopard"||Gareth|
|21 April||AGM plus update on software |
iLife,Photodesk 3.09 etc.
Note the programme is flexible and in particular the February and March meetings may be swapped around.
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 listed on their website.
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:
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)
http://www.eaug.org.uk or 'phone one of the contacts on http://www.eaug.org.uk/ppl.htm
No further contact this month.
For information on this group we have added a link here
http://www.ipswichcc.co.uk They have now a brand new website although they don't have a link from their old website.
They also state that they have now a full membership.
"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