Building a Home Server/HTPC – Part 2 (Picking the right OS)

This is continuation of my epic guide writing a step-by-step guide for Malaysians (and people from other countries too) on building their own Home Server/HTPC or something in-between. If you have not read my first part , kindly do so by clicking here
In this part , I would be focusing on the software aspect. Assuming that you have built your HTPC/Home Server or a hybrid. Now we want to get it to run. There are two options that we can go for either taking the Windows route or taking the Linux route. I’ll briefly explain pros and cons for each of the routes.
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Building a Home Server/HTPC – Part 1 (Hardware)

When it comes to your digital life things are different.  These days , we use smartphone , notebooks , tablets , desktop computers. Our lives are revolving around digital stuff and part of that is making sure all of your digital stuff is kept safe and sound, but along with that is making it equally easy to access.

HTPC - makes your dumb TV into a smart TV  Picture taken from
HTPC – makes your dumb TV into a smart TV Picture taken from

This is where the home server comes it . Frankly , it is  is nothing new – you might be running one already,(without you know). Home server is a PC that is going to run 24/7 , keeping all of your data , files , flims , music , photos (and even porn :P) .This PC would be running 24/7, so it is always going to be on. Don’t worry about power consumption , we would be going green That’s besides providing any network capabilities or streaming servers you might like to add such as streaming to your iPhone wirelessly , PS3  etc.
Initially , I thought of writing on how to build a home server ,but I am going to tweak it slightly for people who are going to build a HTPC or a hybrid. In this part , basically we would be spilling out the requirement and roughly estimate the cost that needed to build one of these beasts
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WMC Plugins that I use

As you know that I have setup a HTPC which I have described it here. My HTPC project is still ongoing and ever ready to evolve.  In order to enhance my HTPC experience , I have decided to use additional Windows Media Centre plugins to make my life easier (I could just control it with a remote). This would allow me to do additional things and expand my HTPC.
Here are some of the plugins or software that I use
1. Kylo Web Browser
Download link

Kylo is an amazing browser. It is built upon Firefox and it is designed for big screen . As you could see the buttons and text size are large enough so that you could sit back and surf the Internet. Its great for reading news online , checking out scores or simply just quickly check your e-mail on the big screen. With Flash compatibility and the ability to use Windows Media Center Remote for navigation , it makes an ideal Web Browser for your Media Center
2. Hulu Desktop Integration 
Download link

Hulu made an awesome application that allows you to watch hulu programs without a web browser. This Intergration tool serves as a middle man , allowing you to launch Hulu Desktop via Windows Media Center. What it basically does is that it minimizes Windows Media Centre and starts Hulu Desktop. If you close hulu desktop , bam it shows back Windows Media Center. So it makes it seamlessly
3. BBC iPlayer for Windows Media Center 
Download link

There is even a BBC iPlayer addin for Windows Media Center. It makes it easier for me to watch programs such as Top Gear , Click and BBC News. All done with a touch of a button that is.
Oh yeah if you are outside US/UK , you would probably need to use VPN , so that you could use BBC iPlayer and Hulu . So what other add-ins do you use. Kindly share and leave a comment

My New Genuis MediaCruiser 810

This is a mini-review of my newly bought keyboard , which happens to be a Genuis Media Cruiser 810
Well here is the story. At first I was using the Microsoft Wireless Optical 700 , yeah it was the cheapest Wireless Keyboard and Mouse set that I could get. It was only for RM 99 , thats cheap man for a wireless keyboard and mouse.  Anyhow i faced a problem , it was too hard to control using a wireless keyboard and mouse without a proper table. How would you expect to control or click something with mouse by using a normal mouse on a couch. Its not comfortable at all , and on top of that the range became a limiting factor , the Optical Keyboard 700 has a very minimal range and i wasn’t able to lean back on the couch and control it. Nevertheles , my search continued after I stumbled across this , Microsoft Media Center keyboard. Its meant for Media center , it has these cool media center keys such as record , play , puase , rewind , etc. Sounds nice , but one thing for sure is that it has a cool bulit-in pointer (aka a joystick) which makes it easier for me to navigate through menus and other things. I mean how sily would you look if you are using a normal mouse and a keyboard just like I before. Not to say its sily but its a bit annoying , especially when you’re trying to use the mouse to navigate through menus and other things !

The Media Cruiser
The Media Cruiser- It has a cool finishing and I love it

One nice thing I like about it is that it uses RF (Radio Frequency) and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to configure this thing. It just works automagically , just plug it and play. It works out of the box with Windows Vista and I believe it does the same thing too for Windows XP Media Center Edition. As for the media center function it just works , hit the start Button and you have Windows Media Center. You can navigate through it , such as scrolling down through menus , watching live TV (ASTRO in this case) , watching recorded videos , watching downlaoded videos and even Internet TV as well. Overall its pretty good , I mean what more can you expect from this keyboard. The mouse isn’t prefect though its just like a joystick but its handy to navigate through menu and for use it to surf the Internet ! Here is another shot below
The price is RM 279. Yes its a bit pricey for a keyboard , what do you expect , its very hard to finish here in Malaysia and there aren’t many vendors that carry these sort of keyboard and HTPC is usually stereotyped by Malaysians as for the wealthy ones only !
Trendy keyboard matches my table !

My HTPC + HD Experince

Behold my HTPC - What , the picture is too blurrrryyyy ? You can't see. Read on more *Its a suspense* - WARNING : You might be addicted to it!

Over the past , I think 5-6 years (I would say my entire life). We have been using a simple CRT Setup + SAMSUNG Home Treater (acts as an amplifier and outputs sound to 5.1 speakers). Its about time to move on to HTPC World. There are many advantages of using a HTPC + LCD Together (Trust me it sucks on CRT – Well you can load Media Centre and watch movies but thats just bout it. Don’t think of surfing the Web or playing games on the CRT TV as Resolution is just going to suck. No matter what). If you want to have a look at the pictures , please feel free to do click on Read More to read my in-sight comments and thoughts on my current HTPC setup and as well as pictures – I do believe a picture says a thousand words
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