In a world awash in external USB hard drives, the NAS – or Network Attached Storage – toils in relative obscurity. And that’s too bad, because for the networked home they can be an invaluable addition, taking a surprising amount of hassle out of everyday computing tasks.
A NAS is basically a hard drive bundled with a low-power computer that sits on your home network (router or switch), allowing you to access files from every computer on the network, along with tablets, smartphones and media players (PS3, Apple TV, Media Center PCs, etc.). You can use a NAS to centralize music libraries, documents, installation files, backups, video collections, photos, etc., all without a direct connection to your devices.
Several companies offer inexpensive NAS solutions and most are pretty good. But I’ve long been a fan of Buffalo Technology’s networking products, and their NAS offerings are no exception. The company’s newest home NAS is the LinkStation Live LS-X, available in 1TB, 2TB and 3TB capacities. The 2GB version, the LS-X2.0TL, retails for $219, but is available from Amazon.com for just $129 with free shipping – that’s cheaper than many external and internal hard drives with the same storage capacity.
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The West Wing – one of my favorite TV shows of all time – is now part of Amazon’s Prime Instant Video library, meaning Prime members can now watch all seven seasons free. Like all Amazon Instant Video, you can watch on your computer, the Kindle Fire, or any number of compatible Smart TVs and set-top boxes. The XBox and PS3 game consoles are also compatible with the service.
If you’re not a Prime Member you can join, of course, pay to watch The West Wing on Amazon Instant Video, or purchase the DVDs.
Irrespective of your political leanings, it’s a great show.
A clip from The West Wing
Several years ago, I ripped a short story from an audiobook CD (Stephen King’s Everything’s Eventual) and stored it on my Mac. I came across the book last week at the local library, and decided to listen to the tale again.
But when I found the folder that contained the audio, I discovered that I hadn’t used iTunes’ built-in joining feature at the time I ripped the CD; there were several .MP3 audio files, one for each track of the disc. This is not the ideal way to listen to an audiobook on an iPhone or any other device.
So, I decided to re-rip the original disc, but it was missing from the case. Typical. I was stuck with those 25 or so files, but still wanted a single Audiobook file for the story. So the search began.
Turns out there are several tools for joining MP3 files on a Mac, but most are paid applications and I didn’t want to shell out $20 just to join a few tracks. But I found a free solution that worked quite well, and offered a lot of other useful features as well.
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My favorite Kindle of all time also happens to be the cheapest, the 4th Generation, non-touch Kindle. It’s $79 with the ads (aka Special Offers) and it rocks.
Amazon has just released a new firmware update for this model, version 4.1.0.
Well, according to the support page, you get an “improved reading font that is higher contrast and crisper so that you can enjoy a paper-like reading experience,” parental controls, Airplane Mode, automatic keyboard, new Kindle Format 8 support, improved table and image viewing, and more.
You can find out more about the update here. The update will be pushed to compatible Kindle readers in the coming days, or if you’re like me and would rather have the update now, you can download it here, and update manually.