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Multi-media files are large. With the ever growing size of our music collection and the addition of PVR capabilities to our media server it became apparent that we would be needing both some serious horsepower and ginormous storage room in order to accomodate our media needs. Over the years we have been steadily upgrading our media server. This system is responsible for both storing music, video and photos as well as recording television programs.

The hardware

  • Antec Sonata III case
  • ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe motherboard
  • AMD Phenom X4 9550 quad core processor
  • ASUS DVD-RW drive
  • ASUS Radeon 3650HD video card (Passive cooling)
  • Crucial Ballistix DDR 2 RAM (4 GB)
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 hard drives (5 x 1 TB)
  • Hauppauge HVR-1800 Analog / Digital TV tuner PCI-Express (2)
  • Gyration wireless mouse and compact keyboard set
  • Low RPM ball bearing fans (2 x 120 mm)


In today's society technology seems to play a large role in providing entertainment. We are inundated with ads informing us that our television is too small (or too standard definition), that our cellphone is too old (that model was so six months ago you know) or that we really need to latest XYZTM to make our lives perfect. While we personally try not to buy into such nonsense there is no question that technology is part of how we have fun.

When looking at technology to provide entertainment value we try to look beyond the hype and see how it will benefit us. In most cases entertainment related technology is geared towards getting more money out of consumers. Brands want loyalty, services require subscriptions and the very devices are sometimes even built with expiry dates (although not always obviously so). As people who value our resources (be it time, electricity, money or even that precious little free space in our minds) we try to find technology that will mesh with our goals instead of changing our lives to suit what the entertainment industy thinks we should be doing.


Wow that's a lot of data

We are living in the digital age. Photos, videos and music are all digital now. We are storing a vast multitude of media information is a dizzying array of formats on an equally frightening number of different devices. Often these devices speak different languages and manufactures want to lock you in to their device, their media and ultimately filling their pocket books. With new technologies, formats and devices coming along every year it is really hard to know how to store and perhaps more importantly preserve your digital media.

How to deal with it all

Much like when designing a network, we feel that when looking at how to handle your digital media needs, you should start by looking back in history and then looking at what's appears to be on the horizon and making some educated guesses. For example, in our case we looked at all of the video an audio storage formats and decided that in order to maximize compatibility and future accessibility we would store our data in the most widely accepted formats. In the case of video we chose MPEG2 or XVID due to their prevelance and open format respectively. For audio we went with MP3 since basically everything supports it and at high bit rates using variable rate encoding it comes in at a resonable size and we can't tell the difference in quality. Photos we store in their original JPG format. Again this format is easily read by any device and has been around for essentially forever. As time progresses we may need to adapt but so far we're doing alright and at least we know that our data can be read on virtually any device out there.


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