Easy Media Server

I have had my media server running for a few months now, so I thought I would document how I have it set up in case anyone else wanted to follow along.

The What and The Why

I have read several articles on media servers and most of them do a lousy job explaining what one is. Instead of trying to define a media server (and almost certainly failing badly), I will describe some of how I use mine.

Before I get to the fancy uses, let me start with the most basic. For anyone who remember VCRs, you will remember how you could stop your movie in the middle and take the tape to another player and start playing from where you left off. With a DVD, you can continue where you left off but only from the same player. With movies on my media server, I can play them on any television in the house (or even an iPad) and start where I left off from any one of them to any other of them - whether I am still at home or not.

My media server allows me to have one place for all of my movies and television shows that I have on DVD, all of my music, all of my photos, all of my audio books, all of my home videos. I can then access any of these from any television in my house, any computer, any of my Android devices, my iPad, my iPhone (yes, we actually use all of those). I can access any of this data on my mobile devices (tablets and phones) whether I am in the house or not. I can either use WiFi or mobile data to access them or I can download any media to any device (with minimal effort) before I travel and watch it without data usage.

This means that when we travel, we can watch a DVD movie on our iPad from our hotel even if we don't have internet there (so long as we thought to download it before we left) or any movie we have anywhere we do have internet. With two five year old kids, this has proven to be wonderful. We can pull up a movie in the car if we need to (we generally don't, but there have been times that it has been comforting that we could).

We can even share any of this media that we choose with anyone we want who has a (free) Plex account and a way to view Plex, whether or not that have a media server themselves (this serves as a Spoiler as to what software we use for our media server).


ColdFusion Programmer Wanted

So, my last blog entry was about my needing a developer to help me out. I found one and he is great. I just have even more work that needs doing.

At this point, I am looking for a 1099 contractor, not a W2 employee. I need someone with current U.S. residency, but I don't particularly care where you are located. All work is remote.


Business is Booming and I Need Your Help

In less than 3 months, I will have been working for myself for 10 years. In that time, I have mostly been able to keep up with client demand on my own. This has been by a combination of hiring occasional subcontractors and turning away business.

Now, however, I have too few clients to turn away and still too much work to handle on my own.


Getting Around Windows 7 "Destination Path Too Long" Error When Deleting Files

Years ago when I started learning VBA for Excel, I was reading a book by John Walkenbach and he compared learning macros in Excel to using a remote control - once you learn it you don't know how you lived without it. I would say that is true of scripting in general.

The bad news is that programming is also like using a credit card, inasmuch as you can get yourself into a depth of problem just not possible without it.

I got experience with that first hand recently when one small programming mistake caused a bit of a disaster on my computer.


How We Got Started in ColdFusion

On the first day of last month, we had a fun "How I Got Started in ColdFusion" day. The response was much bigger and better than I expected. Including blog entries, "How I got Started" stories in comments on different blog entries, and one Google+ entry, I have found and compiled 110 responses (sortable and filterable page of all stories I have found so far).

Where I could determine the answer, I tracked what version of ColdFusion each person was using and which year they started (though I did not attempt to determine one from the other). I also tracked broad categories of how people got started. One interesting thing that came from this was to see that there are really two different ways people get started in ColdFusion.


How I got Started in ColdFusion

After having announced "How I got Started in ColdFusion" day, I feel obligated to write mine.


August 1, 2011 is "How I Get Started in ColdFusion" Day

During the cf.Objective() conference at which I was a speaker (I did mention that I would work that into all future anecdotes!), I got into a conversation with some other developers (including Tony Garcia and Greg Moser) about how we got started in ColdFusion. I realized two important things:

1) Every "How I Got Started in ColdFusion" story is interesting. I have heard dozens so far and I have found each and every one of them to be interesting.

2) Very few of these stories seem to match how we expect people to get involved in ColdFusion.

So, I propose that all of us post a blog entry on August 1 telling how we got started in ColdFusion. If you don't have a blog, send me your story and I will post in on my blog.

This could be a really good way for our community to get a feel for how people really get into ColdFusion, which can help guide our discussions of what we can do to better spread the word.

I'm looking forward to hearing/reading how more people got started in ColdFusion!

cf.Objective Custom Tags Presentation

I had the high honor and great opportunity to speak at the most recent cf.Objective() conference.

If you haven't ever been to this conference, I would highly recommend it. This was the sixth year of the conference (my third) and it was fantastic all around. The other presentations were universally good (if not great). As always, I learned a lot - both in the presentations themselves and in conversations with other speakers and attendees.

For my part, I gave a presentation title "Don't Forget About Custom Tags", attempting to convince people that custom tags are still relevant and a great tool to have in your toolbox (and one which should be used frequently).

I zipped up the presentation (PowerPoint file and code) for anyone interested in seeing it.

I felt a bit more nervous than I expected, so I felt a little flat, but hopefully people enjoyed the presentation and I will get the opportunity again (I'll find out the answer to the first when I get the chance to read the reviews).

Thanks and congratulations to all of those responsible for putting on another great conference!

I'm Speaking at cf.Objective() this year!

It is hard to believe, but I have been accepted to speak at cf.Objective() this year. I have been to this conference twice before and I loved it both times. The presentations were great and so were the hallway and dinner conversations. It seemed like I was learning something all the time.

I am honored and humbled (ok, intimidated) to be among the speakers at cf.Objective() 2011. They recently announced the schedule and it is well, awesome! Seriously, go take a look. I'll wait.


Vote! (and my predictions)

No matter who you plan to vote for, I would encourage every one to get out and vote today.

In late September, and again a few days ago, I put together a map of my predicted results in the race. This has nothing to do with what I want, just a prediction of what I expect.


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