Digitalisation: Switching your library to the cloud

I think that one of the most exciting developments of the 20th century is the cloud. For anyone who doesn’t know what the cloud is, it’s a number of things. Firstly it’s a backup for your data. Second, and this is my favourite one, it’s a centralised way to store files we all use. For example, music. Spotify, Apple Music, the list goes on. They store the songs and you pay a subscription to access their files in a library so vast – you’d never have enough storage to assemble yourself.

As a TV and film addict, naturally my physical archives reflected this. In my early days, this was in the form of drawers and drawers of VHS’s, taking up a significant portion of space in my bedroom and living room. Then came the arrival of dvd. Aside from being able to skip through films, play films on my computer and fit longer playback on a single disk – it had a significant other advantage of VHS. Size. Slowly but surely my VHS collection shrunk to half the size, while doubling the actual content.

Flick forward a few years and a similar process began changing my dvd collection into blu-rays. But before I got too far into the transition, the cloud hit hard, and before long another medium for TV and film was born.

Now I like to own the entertainment that I enjoy, especially when I plan on watching it several times over. So while I love Netflix, Amazon prime, NOW TV and the likes; they don’t completely replace the old fashioned way of assembling a personal video collection. Enter iTunes…

Back when iTunes was first starting out as a digital supplier of music, Apple probably didn’t realise the scope that it could actually achieve. Perhaps this is most evident in the very name of the service. But by the time iTunes was offering TV shows, films, audio books and such, they were clearly beyond the point where they could change the name. But either way, once iTunes had set itself up to be the virtual TV and film library of the future – I started to comprehend the space that would be freed on my shelves. The ease of selecting my programming, and ability to watch the videos on multiple devices were also massive bonuses.

So, now I write this, probably about four years into the digitalisation of my entertainment library. I thought, as we move further and further into the cloud -based age there may be some tips I could share. Things I’ve learned along the way.

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Farewell, hotmail. You were my first email.

Why I have to leave hotmail. A not so simple explanation.

The simple explanation
Don’t worry, this isn’t on political, religious or charitable reasons. The reason is quite simple, I’m blown away at the volume of emails that aren’t getting through to me. Not getting redirected to junk, but literally thrown aside at Microsoft’s’ discretion at any given time without notice given to the server or the (non)recipient. What follows is a long and detailed account of how I came to realise this issue existed, as well as my ultimately futile exploits to resolve the matter. There’s no need to read them all, unless you feel compelled, but I do urge you as one email user to another – if you use hotmail: change supplier for your own sake as well as people trying to contact you.

I have been a hotmail user for as long as I’ve had an email address – and to this day still use the first ever email address as my primary source of web mail – and its a hotmail address. So it genuinely pains me to change things up, but I have completely exhausted all other options. This post is a means to try and explain the problem, my multiple attempts at fixing the issue and Microsoft’s belligerent and arrogant responses to my heart-felt desperation to fix the problem.

I would urge anyone using hotmail addresses (this includes any emails containing the following; @hotmail, @live, @msn, @Microsoft, @outlook or @Skype) to seriously consider moving services across to another provider. Generally speaking, the much better alternative is Google Mail(Gmail) anyway.

The not so simple explanation
The problem of not receiving emails had been present for a very long time. But naturally, as a user of one of the world’s most well-established Webmail softwares, the obvious culprit to missed emails that never arrived was clear – sender error. So over the years that had been my most common assumption towards such occasions…

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Finally, a Nintendo to Switch to

Excuse the pun. It was just to irresistible. But, you will have no doubt deduced that this blog post is in relation to Nintendo’s latest console release: the Nintendo Switch.

I indeed caved to the pressure to purchase one of these consoles. Primarily upon the news that there was a new Zelda game accompanying this launch, but also various other traits of the console that I though Nintendo had long-abandoned. This is my first Nintendo in 8 console generations and over ten years, and I wanted to share my first thoughts and predictions for the console as well as my overall comparison to previous Nintendo consoles as well as its bearings on other mainstream competitors.

Without getting to technical or detailed, here is an overview of the new Nintendo Switch – in case you weren’t already aware. Unlike most other consoles to date, there are quite a few ‘moving’ components to the console rather than simply a main unit and game controllers. The Switch offers the ability to play on a main TV screen, but also the ability to separate out an internal portable screen too. Essentially bridging the gap between home theatre gaming and portable gaming. The clever mechanism of the hand-pieces mean that there is an independent left and right side which, depending on the game, can even be used by two different players as competitors. For more involved games (such as the 2017 Zelda release) requires both sides of the controller, mounted in the classic arrangement. For portable play, to either side of the portable screen, or for TV gaming to a central controller unit that unites the two halves.

It sounds more complicated than it is. And a careful look at any promotional shot is explanation enough to how the console works. Perhaps that is why the ‘original’ Switch comes with alternate colour controllers for each side – to fully illustrate the gaming potential without too much explanation.

So let’s get into the good (and bad) stuff…

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Sharers and Archivers

Social Media. It’s been called many things. Solved many problems. Created just as many. But one thing’s for sure, it’s not going anywhere. It popped up not to long ago and doesn’t look like it’s going to loose momentum in my lifetime.

I think it’s only been recently that I have become aware of a split in users. It comes down to the way in which we use social media, and perhaps, defines the quantity and style of the updates that we post.

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The “New” iPhone

Without question the most controversial technological smartphone announcement every year is that of Apple’s iPhone. Perhaps it’s just because it gains more media attention than all the gene-splicing technology, but I digress. The Android users get on the aggressive high-horse, while the Apple users get more defensive than a grizzly bear protecting her cubs. It’s just such a magical time. This year, especially, with Google’s release of yet another competitor to the market, the Pixel. Not the best year for Apple to hold back on features with their latest release. At least, so I thought…

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Spammalot

We live in a fantastic age. The age of smartphones, instant communication and virtual mailboxes. But with every development comes the annoyances. And with modern technology – it’s spam. The rise of the spammer has been a gradual dripping tap to everyone with access to communication. But here in 2016, it’s a bit less of a dripping tap and more of a torrential downpour of plain horse excrement. It is the juicy un-popped pimple on the face of modern technology. As an owner of quite a few web-based businesses and manager for many more, it’s something I have to deal with on a daily basis. Sometimes hourly. So my patience for spam is all but gone. As an 80’s sitcom once put it “I’ve got one nerve left, and they’re leaning on it..!”.

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Cutting the Cable (aka Netflix vs LoveFilm 2)

A few years back, I wrote an article reviewing and comparing the two video streaming services; Netflix and the then LoveFilm (later to be rebranded as Amazon Prime). At the time, I concluded a win for Netflix after reviewing various factors. Earlier this year I decided to revisit the debate. In early 2016 I drafted a new article, taking into account all of the new features that both of the services offered. but every time that I may an effort to publish the post – one of the services will add a game-changing feature…

But now, in short, this post will look at my journey to ‘cutting the cable’, the cliche catchphrase for cancelling the paid monthly TV services that come through cable and switching to online TV (as best possible)…

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