I’ve recently come across a couple of very handy tools, one courtesy of one of my imaginary friends and the others via Lifehacker.  Lifehacker is one of my favourite sites to read.  It’s supposedly a productivity blog (which really begs the question, why would I be reading it) but I find it a really good source of new software to play around with.   More information following the jump.


My friend Sean from Vancouver has been involved in various Microsoft Beta programs for several years.  He managed to score free licenses to Vista Ultimate amongst other things.  He’s been going on about Microsoft’s Live Mesh.   He and I both use it to manage a home desktop computer from our laptops.  Today I started using it to synchronize my music collection between my laptop (where most of the organization and ripping of files is done), my work desktop (where most of the actual listening is done) and my home desktop (used as a backup and attached to my Xbox as a media server using TVersity, covered further down the page).  I’ve basically got it set up so that any change in a watched folder on any of the machines will show up on the other two.  I’ve got slightly different collections at each of the three so I’m using the laptop as the master collection for now and adding things to it as I find them on the other two computers.

The second of the tools is a media server called TVersity.  It watches folders on my home desktop for media and provides them via the network to my 360.  It handles a whole bunch of different file formats and codecs and transcodes on the fly so that the 360 will show them.  If used as a media centre extender by Windows Media Player, the 360 is very limited in the codecs it will play back.  TVersity eliminates this trouble.  It can also be used to stream YouTube content to the 360 but I haven’t played with that at all, yet.

The last I want to mention today is one that I only came across today.  Libra is a really cool home library management software and I’ve only really scratched the surface so far.  My favourite function that it has is the ability to use my laptop’s webcam to scan UPCs from my books, games, movies and CDs and then get covers and information from Amazon.  It also has a lending library area where you can fill in the person to whom you lent the item, the date it left and a due date.  It would be really cool if it sent an email to that person on the due date but I don’t know if it does.  As I said, I’m only just starting to play with it.  I may have more information later.

like someone would hold a crying child