08-Jan-2012 S Is For Sierra

Or Streaming… or Slideshows…

It’s also for starting and sticking to something – our resolution to ‘just get on with things’ that are important rather than sidelining them for a future date still survives unscathed. One week into the new year and we’ve re-prioritised so that we spend some time every day on things that are specifically us-related (are we being selfish? or simply sensible?)… we’ve been rehearsing a new song after breakfast each morning and it seems to be coming along nicely, a different style including an instrument not seen so far at a jiva show – shiny, percussive and melodic. And there’s the playing around with something not strictly in the repertoire or the ‘potentials’ category but which might yield slight improvement in technique – Jimmy sits and picks or strums for a short time every day, slaving over chord shapes and rhythms and picking styles. The theory is that he’ll work his way up to scales and solos and all manner of things, but we’ll wait and see how that pans out.

Unfortunately we’ve not been ultra successful on the weight loss scenario – for the most part we eat sensibly, plenty fruit and veg, no stodgy stuff, not many sumptuous sizzling sausages, a varied diet and all that… but surely we’re allowed the occasional sinful splurge? And so, on Saturday after shopping, we tootled off to Pizza Hut where we had salad with our pizza and, of course, Ice Cream Factory dessert – simply scrummy or what?

S is for Streaming… or Slideshows… Val has recently completed the ripping and mp3 tagging of our main CD collection so that we can stream songs singly or by artist or album or randomly – she now has the unenviable task of similarly processing our classical CDs. That will be quite a struggle as there doesn’t seem to be a widely adopted standard for how to best utilise the available meta tags – yes, there are fields for Composer, but not all software shows it or sorts by it. We’re left with a tricky situation… do we substitute Composer for Artist, or do we sneak both into the same tag field – suggestions anyone? If you’ve successfully set up an mp3 library which contains a mix of albums including classical we’d sure like to hear how you achieved a satisfactory solution.

Having made substantial progress with the audio and video sections of our media library, we’ll soon be turning our attention to having a stab at the pictorial media on our server (a Synology DS411j with four 2 TB Samsung drives installed). Like many people we have thousands of photos (mostly ours – some taken by friends, family, fellow musicians, audiences – mostly copied from camera cards – some scanned – some sent by email – some downloaded from the web), and the photos sit stranded in folders and sub-folders and are very rarely seen which is a shame. Ideally we’d like to be able to view them in some sort of slideshow with appropriate sensible (or even silly) comments and data showing the who, when and where information for each – in principle that should be simple to do, but in reality it will be a sizeable undertaking.

We’ve searched and can’t find any standard tagging system for image files – sure there’s a lot of software that allows you to create your own categories and tags and captions etc, but the output isn’t necessarily portable between PCs and operating systems, unless you have the same software installed on the target/recipent computer as on the source machine used for creating the slideshow – and then there are other devices to consider, eg DVD or BluRay players or portable media players and such. So for now we’ve settled on using svBuilder Pro to create slideshowswhich can be viewed from web browsers – it is customisable regarding size and screen layout of thumbnail and large images with different navigation options and colours etc. You can see an example slideshow here – let us know what you think.

Using svBuilder means we won’t just bore people stupid with packets of holiday snaps, but we’ll soon be able to bore them in style on our screens (10″ netbook, 15″ laptop, 19″ monitor, 24″ monitor, or super-size 46″ TV). This particular software doesn’t allow for creating DVDs or Blu-Rays for domestic players, but we do have other stuff that can handle that side of things.

Serious subject matter, huh? Thanks for stopping by – hope to see you somewhere soon…

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