I embarked on a massive procrastination project yesterday, and I’m pleased to announce it has all worked out for the best. It all started because I’ve always been fighting with the computer that I have hooked up to the TV to play movies. The picture quality has always been somewhat questionable, the sound has been unpredictable, and it has, in general, always sucked. I’m always looking for new drivers and fighting to make it work properly. It was functional, but just barely.

First of all, I realized that I have an Xbox. I don’t really use it, but it’s there, and it’s hooked up to the TV. I wondered if an Xbox could be used to play video. Some research led me to some software called Xbox Media Center (XBMC). I installed it, and found out it’s incredibly awesome. It plays movies, music files (with crazy visualizations), Shoutcast streams, shows weather reports, searches the IMDB database for movie info, outputs progressive scan video and Dolby Digital audio, and can stream content off of a network share. Not only this, but it has a severely hot and sexy interface.

XBMC on the Xbox does all of this much better and much easier than the computer that was hooked up to the TV. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out that this is what I should do.

Step two was to make better use of the computer assets on hand. I now had this TV computer that was redundant. So, I converted it into a Linux server to hold movies and music. I’ve been wanting to have a small server around, but didn’t have appropriate hardware handy for it. I like the TV computer for this purpose because it’s small, quiet, and doesn’t use a lot of electricity. I used Linux because it doesn’t take up a lot of space on the hard drive, so most of it can be used for storage. Also, I can run an Apache web server and MySQL database so I can test websites before putting them on the Internet.

Previously, I was storing my music and movie collection in three different locations: the TV computer, my desktop computer, and my laptop. Now that I’ve moved everything to the new server, it’s freed up lots of space on my desktop computer for photos. I’ve got at least 30GB more space than I had yesterday, which means I can hold off buying more storage for a while. Not only that, but I can get to the same multimedia files from my laptop and my desktop. I don’t have to worry about hunting all over the place to find things. They’re all where they’re supposed to be. Anyway, today it is good to be a geek. 😀