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The Internet has changed so many lives in so many ways, that I can't possibly try and summarise it in the opening paragraph of a review. With broadband connections in the UK now offering 512Kbit/sec and above upload bandwidth, this is the same as the bandwidth we had available for downloading not too long ago. This situation opens up a very different aspect to the Internet, as this is a fair amount of bandwidth to play with.
File sharing software has been used for years, even in the dial-up days, so apart from faster speeds – this is nothing new. But with this much bandwidth available, it's possible to remotely access your computer and stream music, videos and documents at a decent pace.
I moved to IMAP for my email not to long ago, as well as setting up a Linux server with remote VNC access, document access over a web browser and streaming MP3 playback. The MP3 system I use is called Zina, this allows me to view my collection over a web browser and stream it to a music player, such as Winamp and where necessary, transcode on the fly.
I love that I don't have to worry about throwing documents onto a flash drive, or filling my notebook up with music before I go on a trip. I know that I'll be able to access everything when I need it – a great weight off my mind! This is something I feel everyone would like to be able to do, but most don't know that what options are out there, or think that it is reserved solely for large businesses.
Setting up a Linux server is probably the most flexible option. You don't even necessarily need to have a dedicated machine to do so - if you fancy a challenge check out OpenWRT, which is a Linux distro that will run on a large selection of routers! You might also want to look into VideoLAN.
However, most of you guys (and girls) probably don't have a clue about doing any of that stuff by yourself and just want to install a program and be done with it. And why not? That is why Winamp Remote, and then Orb caught my attention.
Winamp is still used by a lot of people today, despite its purchase by AOL. However, as a product, I feel like it's gone downhill since version 2. It has become slower and too many features have been added. It's simplicity and speed was what made it popular. It's not particularly good at video playback either – although some people still choose to use it. Upon installation, it is possible to not only exclude video playback, but turn off the advanced skinning system, which is the biggest slow down. I recommend doing so!