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View Full Version : The Holy Grail of Media Management?



The_Hawk
13th March 2009, 08:49 AM
I'm not sure if this has been asked before, can't seem to find anything suing search, but then maybe I'm just not searching right... but I digress.

I suppose I'm searching for the holy grail. A unified media library serving multiple devices across multiple platforms. Before we start, lets remove price from the equation and say I will consider anything within reason be it Apple TV, Mac Server, Mac Mini, Windows Server, Windows PC, anything really.

To start I have these devices:

1 x MacBook (Wifes)
1 x iPhone 3G 16GB (Wifes)
1 x Vista PC (Mine)
1 x iPhone 3G 16GB (Mine)
1 x Windows 2003 Server
1 x XBox 1 running XBMC
1 x iPod Nano 8GB
1 x iPod Classic 120GB
1 x AirPort Extreme
1 x HP Mini Note 2133 running Vista (not currently running iTunes).

At the moment we have two separate iTunes accounts running iTunes on her MacBook and my PC, both machine are authorised for both accounts, although I want to amalgamate both down to one account. I know I can't do this, but all but one or two apps on my account are freebies, so it would only cost me about $10 to re-buy the bought apps on her account which would simplify things.

What I would like is a local "sever" of some kind that holds the entire music library including all Podcasts (which it would update automatically). I would then like both her MacBook and my PC to reference those files and sync our iPods/iPhones appropriately. (I can live with a system that requires a particular device to always have to sync with a particular PC/Mac).

What I'm also looking for is the ability for any of the users to subscribe to a new podcast, or purchase a new app/album/movie etc which would then automatically sync onto the "server" and be available to all users. (I do understand I can only have 5 computers "authorised" so will worth within that).

Lastly, in the real world my computer is a desktop, so wont be moving from the house, so can always refer the "server" for all media. The wifes MacBook (and maybe my Netbook if possible) have a possibility to move outside the house so it would be nice if there was some way for the media to be synced with a machine rather than just referred to. In reality I can live without this, but it would be nice.

If I need an Apple TV to manage everything, fine. If I can use a Windows Server excellent since I have one, a Mac Server is possible if needed...

Am I living in dream land or is something like this possible?

Jimbo
13th March 2009, 09:16 AM
i don't know too much about it, but you need to use symlinks across the network...

The_Hawk
13th March 2009, 10:18 AM
I was talking to one of the guys at work and came up with a slightly different explanation.

Considering more and more of us have multiple devices and/or multiple family members, each of which get's it's own library... What I want is a collaborative iTunes server for the whole family that managed an amalgamated library (nice if it had multiple account support, fine if it required a single account to work). This way you can share your movies, music and apps as allowed for in the "up to 5 machines". Would even be nice if it had a check out/in component for those times you have more than five devices to ensure your not exceeding your "rights" to use something you purchased and shared in the family.

From my continued searching I'm starting to think this would have to be a new Apple product. Hell I'd pay for a "server" version of iTunes that did these things, even it if it was a special version of an AirPort or Apple TV just for this purpose. We are getting more and more wired in our house but seem to be missing that common link between all devices.

azenis
13th March 2009, 10:31 AM
Interesting. I am looking at doing something similar, when I get my mac mini for the lounge room, I was thinking about using a NAS to put my movies and music on, so my mac pro, the mini, and the wifes Dell could all access the music and movies from that, rather than having all the music stored in triplicate. Does this not work? If so, BUGGER.
Oh all music is ripped from CD theres toss all bought via itunes so DRM is not really an issue.

digitalrev
13th March 2009, 10:37 AM
I'm not sure if this has been asked before, can't seem to find anything suing search, but then maybe I'm just not searching right... but I digress.

I suppose I'm searching for the holy grail. A unified media library serving multiple devices across multiple platforms. Before we start, lets remove price from the equation and say I will consider anything within reason be it Apple TV, Mac Server, Mac Mini, Windows Server, Windows PC, anything really.

To start I have these devices:

1 x MacBook (Wifes)
1 x iPhone 3G 16GB (Wifes)
1 x Vista PC (Mine)
1 x iPhone 3G 16GB (Mine)
1 x Windows 2003 Server
1 x XBox 1 running XBMC
1 x iPod Nano 8GB
1 x iPod Classic 120GB
1 x AirPort Extreme
1 x HP Mini Note 2133 running Vista (not currently running iTunes).

At the moment we have two separate iTunes accounts running iTunes on her MacBook and my PC, both machine are authorised for both accounts, although I want to amalgamate both down to one account. I know I can't do this, but all but one or two apps on my account are freebies, so it would only cost me about $10 to re-buy the bought apps on her account which would simplify things.

What I would like is a local "sever" of some kind that holds the entire music library including all Podcasts (which it would update automatically). I would then like both her MacBook and my PC to reference those files and sync our iPods/iPhones appropriately. (I can live with a system that requires a particular device to always have to sync with a particular PC/Mac).

What I'm also looking for is the ability for any of the users to subscribe to a new podcast, or purchase a new app/album/movie etc which would then automatically sync onto the "server" and be available to all users. (I do understand I can only have 5 computers "authorised" so will worth within that).

Lastly, in the real world my computer is a desktop, so wont be moving from the house, so can always refer the "server" for all media. The wifes MacBook (and maybe my Netbook if possible) have a possibility to move outside the house so it would be nice if there was some way for the media to be synced with a machine rather than just referred to. In reality I can live without this, but it would be nice.

If I need an Apple TV to manage everything, fine. If I can use a Windows Server excellent since I have one, a Mac Server is possible if needed...

Am I living in dream land or is something like this possible?

3 possible solutions
1. Drobo with the itunes plugin.... still only 4TB ish..
2. Windows Home Server (HP media Smart Server)..
3. A butt load of scripts..

wabbit
13th March 2009, 10:56 AM
What ive done. Im a tad keen on media and i'm not saying it the best of the best, but hey it really works for me.

NAS: Thecus N7700 (http://www.thecus.com/products_over.php?cid=11&pid=82) (7 bay, limited to 8TB per volume being ext3 filesystem)
HTPC: Mac Mini '09
S/W: Plex.

The NAS does a bucket load of Services and is highly configurable. I should have bought a real NAS a long time ago. Im now using all the external hard drives as a secondary level of redundancy/backup.
(I've caught this thread at a bad time, being capped and about to head out door going camping! And as such nearly everything is turned off bar the core network. I can update my post when i return if it helps).

Brentnal
13th March 2009, 11:49 AM
I have found sharing iTunes through iTunes doesn't allow syncing to iPod/iPhone. So I do the following:

- Music: Share the files via SMB. Maintain separate libraries on each client computer. I can then sync the iPhone with the laptop, the iPod with the PC.

- Movies: No way I am converting everything to MP4 to work through iTunes/AppleTV. However I have an AppleTV, so I installed a "hack" called Boxee. This software will open all AVI/XViD/etc on the AppleTV via a SMB share. It also automatically downloads TV/movie cover art, descriptions of episodes, actor lists, etc.

- Playing music over remote speakers: As my file server (Vista) is always on, I have iTunes auto open at login on this machine with the library of music. I can then use iPhone remote control to play music to the AppleTV remote speakers function. Even if my laptop is switched off.

Can't help with the iTunes account stuff as I only have 1 account and I have it authorized with my laptop (sync with iPhone).

The_Hawk
13th March 2009, 12:16 PM
I already have all the media on a Windows Server box, with each machine managing it's own local library. Problem is there is no automated way to sync new content. Whenever I rip a new CD I save it onto the server, but I then need to tell my wife to add that media to her machine.


For apps and podcasts it's all saved locally so each person has to grab the files and send them to the other person (or put them up on the server). Since we have difference tastes this isn't really a problem, still it would be nice if it was all in one place.


Drobo looks quite expensive and since I already have a server, it would be nice to use that.
Windows Homer Server is a glorified version of what I have...
NAS... well yeah, see above.


Still searching the web for options, but it's something I would say there would be a decent home market for a nice tool.

richbowen
13th March 2009, 09:42 PM
Is it possible that you're over-complicating this? What's wrong with just having all the media on one drive (be that internal or mounted external) of one computer (probably your home PC)? You then sync your iPhones to that computer (which prob also needs to have master iCal/Contacts etc).

The only problem then is media onto the laptops/netbooks - in reality I guess you're talking music rather than video files (that would fill your portables' drives). If the portable is on the same network (ie: at home) then use iTunes to share the master library. If you're on a different network then use your iPhones - carry a cable and play your iPhone's music through the speakers on the laptop via iTunes. You could even do the same trick using your iPod Classic - with 120GB of media you'd be set.

The_Hawk
14th March 2009, 06:53 AM
I don't know that you can play music off an iPhone (via USB) can you?

Having everything shared on a server solves half the problems, it's just a case of getting that integration that one step further.

I don't think it's overly complicated, just the evolution of home media sharing becoming more and more common place. As my kids get bigger we will start adding more users, sure we all have different tastes, but the ability to automatically share media simply needs to be the next logical step.

richbowen
14th March 2009, 10:10 PM
I don't know that you can play music off an iPhone (via USB) can you?


If the iPhone is "manually managed" on the computer that you want to play the music then it works. (ie: tick the box)

http://img.skitch.com/20090314-qwca4x8c963xfn4w516tefch8a.preview.jpg (http://skitch.com/richard.bowen/beb2f/itunes)
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