Last weekend, as I visited my parents’ house in Brno, I asked my brother, if he has heard a recent mix by Scratch Pervertz. He didn’t have it, so I went on the net to find it. Before I even typed in the name, I realized that there should be an easier solution. I connected to my computer in Prague with VNC, in ten minutes I had set up my Apache server so that it allowed access to my music directories, and we could listen to the mix in question. However, I thought, perhaps there will be some better solution. Something that would go beyond simply accessing files as they are – something that would for example convert them to different bitrates, so that it would be possible to listen to them on mobile phones. And what about videos? It would definitely be nice, if it would work with videos too – I could use the same approach, simply use a HTTP server to access my files, but that is even more impractical then accessing music, because of the need for bandwidth. I googled up one or two solutions for Windows, but I didn’t find one that would be powerful and yet simple enough. And as I already had access to my music that night, I didn’t pursue this matter further. Next morning however, a new post was out on Lifehacker, covering exactly this topic. And there it was – Orb. A service, that allows you to access media on your computer from anywhere, and when I installed it on my home computer, I found out that it is actually better then I would have hoped. It allows you to browse your media, catalogue them, tag them, create playlists, etc. It can also convert and resample your media to several format and bandwidths. And it allows you to access not only music files and movies, but also pictures and documents. And it works – not only can I listen to music and watch anything I have on my home computer at work (where it works flawlessly even behind a very restrictive, port 80 through SOCKS proxy), but practically anywhere where I can get a decent GSM connection on my Nokia N70. And while the movies don’t look like much, for the small mobile display it is actually pretty good, and in places where the mobile bandwidth is less occupied, there is no problem increasing the quality. Now this is something I didn’t know I wanted until a few days ago, and I’m already wondering how did I manage to live before that :) Not that I would need to fill my head with “media” all the time, but in the times when I do want some entertainment, this is very comfortable. There’s no need to recode movies, if I want to watch them “on the road”, there’s no need to copy stuff, or carry it with myself… and it just works. Great. You need to have a decent upstream on your home computer, of course, and it needs to be running, but mine is running most of the time anyway and my connection is 1.5 Mbps, so no problem there. Actually, I could see something like this replacing portable players in the future. I mean, I’m already used to having net access everywhere I go, and even though it is just Opera on a small mobile phone screen, it is still better then nothing when you need information, or when you want to catch up with reading some blog posts you starred with Google Reader. So why should you settle for carrying a few gigabytes of media on yet another gadget, if you can have access to all that is on your computer and on the net? There are limits, of course, the mobile bandwidth often isn’t good enough, and you will also probably reach the FUP data limits (10 gigs on my phone), but still…