Take Your Music Everywhere

I’ve always wanted to have and play my music from anywhere.  As of today, I’m getting really close.  Two things happened to make it easier. First, Zune Pass with Free MP3s (if you have MP3s from other sources, skip this section and move on to “Mesh” below) First, I’m a Zune Pass guy.  For $14 a month, you get unlimited music to listen to on your PCs and Zunes.  Of course, if you end the subscription, you don’t keep the music.  That’s mostly true as of today, with a great exception.  As of now, every month you’re a Zune Pass subscriber, you get to download 10 DRM-free MP3s from the Zune library.  These credits show up as you browse your music, and when you go to buy an MP3, you’ll see ‘NO CHARGE’ as long as you have credits remaining (note: these aren’t rollover credits – you need to use them every month). These MP3s are yours forever, regardless of whether you have a Zune pass, or even Zune hardware or software.  They’re POMP3s (plain-ole MP3s) to do with as you like. Second, Mesh Ok, so it’s great that I get free MP3s.  And since I can copy them around, I can take them with me on any device.  However, it’s time-consuming to copy files and make sure everything’s in sync.  It also doesn’t help if you’re at someone else’s computer.  That’s where Live Mesh comes in.  Live Mesh, although much more, includes file-synching capabilities.  Once you install Mesh (www.mesh.com) on the desired computers, you can join them into your own sort of personal network (called a Mesh, of course), simply by using your Live/Msn/Hotmail Logon.  Once they’re in the Mesh, you can add any folder on any computer to be synced, and specify that it should also be synced with any/all of the other computers.  So, Computer A and B sync a folder called ‘ZuneMP3s’.  Any changes on either computer will automatically be synced through the included computers without you doing a thing!  Add some MP3s on computer A and they’ll be on computer B, and vice versa.  Any problems with making sure all your devices have the MP3s is solved.  And you can have nearly unlimited computers in your mesh. That’s great.  Your PCs all have your MP3s.  But wait, there’s more.  This is where it gets really, really good!  In addition to syncing the folders to your devices, you can sync it to your Mesh “Live Desktop”.  This is your mobile desktop on the web.  As you can see below, I’m syncing my MP3s to my Live Desktop.  (Note: there’s currently a 5gig limit to your Live Desktop while it’s in beta).   Why is this important?  It’s important because your Live Desktop includes a built-in media player by way of the Silverlight plugin.  This means, yes, you can play your MP3s from the browser, from any computer that supports Silverlight (Mac, Windows, Firefox, Safari, etc)!  At a friends house?  Just log on to your Live Desktop and start playing your music! Bonuses Bonus #1: Soon you’ll be able to include Mobile devices and Macs in your Mesh.  That means you can have your MP3s sync to your phone for play on the road! Bonus #2: Mesh includes remote desktop abilities.  That means that you can remotely connect to any machine in your Mesh as if you’re sitting in front of it. Bonus #3: Mesh is set to be much more than just a file-synching solution.  Silverlight apps can be hosted within it, and developers can write apps that use it to sync whatever types of information is relevant.  Summary I can sync and play my MP3s from any PC in my Mesh, and I can play my MP3s anytime, anywhere, from a browser!  How’s that for cool?!?!

John West

John West is an independent technology consultant who specializes in using technology to improve business processes.  That means that technology for its own sake isn't worth much; it's value only comes from helping people do things better, cheaper and faster.

That said, he spends way too much time testing cutting-edge gadgets that often come with promises of making things better and faster, but often fail to live up to those promises.  And they usually fail on the cheaper front as well.

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