Star Wars Battlefront 2 Gameplay (YouTube Playlist)

Hitman Absolution – Newbie Gameplay Playlist

Instead of jumping around EssayBoard to piece together the whole Hitman Absolution “newbie gameplay” series, I pieced ’em episodes altogether in a YouTube playlist so now you can view ’em episodes with ease.  Enjoy!!!

Had Ditched Spotify, Was With Xbox Music, Now I’m Back With Spotify Again But Still Using And Loving Windows 8 Ecosystem

Spotifys huvudkontor på Humlegårdsgatan

Spotifys huvudkontor på Humlegårdsgatan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A month after I quitted Spotify, now I’m back with it for my music listening pleasure.  A month ago, I ditched Spotify for Microsoft’s Xbox Music as I bought into the idea of a more coherent Windows 8 platform ecosystem.  Unfortunately, Xbox Music was a frustrated experience.  Fortunately, I like the Windows 8 ecosystem still, but my love affair with Windows 8 ecosystem just have to do without the Xbox Music experience.

Xbox Music experience was bad for me, because it was hard to have the playlist on my HTC 8X Windows 8 phone to sync correctly with the one on Windows 8 PC and creating playlist was a pain through Xbox Music app.  Furthermore, Xbox Music suddenly refused to play any music in my playlists even though I had one more day of free trial subscription before the whole free trial subscription period would end accordingly.  I would have stuck with Xbox Music by subscribing to its monthly fee payment structure, but the last straw was about how Microsoft did not train their customer support departments well on how to deal with Xbox Music errors, whether the Xbox Music errors found on the smartphone or the Windows 8 PC.  I experienced this first hand as customer supports would transfer me back and forth between the Windows 8 and Xbox customer support departments, but in the end my question and problem would not be resolved.

I thought I would have gone for weeks on end without being able to listen to awesome music on my smartphone since now I’m no longer using iPhone 5.  Instead of iPhone 5, I’m using HTC 8X Windows 8 phone.  I like HTC 8X Windows 8 phone a lot, because it got Windows 8 operating system.  I think Windows 8 operating system is way cooler than the stuffs that make up Android and iPhone operating systems.  Nonetheless, without great music experience, it was painful for me.  Luckily, Spotify came to the rescue.  Spotify app, a beta version nonetheless, is now available in Windows 8 phone app store.  Like a thirsty person that was in a desert, I was too eager to download Spotify app on HTC 8X and paid up roughly around $10 per month for premium plan with Spotify.

The great feeling of being able to listen to whatever music I want and not having to be frustrated by the creation and syncing of playlists is a wonderful thing.  Now, I’m listening to Spotify again whenever I’m in my car, at home, and elsewhere.

I think Microsoft needs to have dedicated teams within their Xbox Music department to make sure Xbox Music does well.  If I’m Microsoft, I would want to imagine that Xbox Music — a core service among core services within Microsoft complex — is a company of itself, just like Spotify, and so the teams that build Xbox Music can be dedicated enough to see things from the ground up, to make sure that Xbox Music will be just as easy and a pleasure to use as Spotify.  After all, Xbox Music does carry the substantial amount of music that form the core of the whole Xbox Music service.  Unfortunately, content fulfilling isn’t enough for some people like me, because a clunky Xbox Music user interface in terms of creating and syncing playlists and weird Xbox Music errors do push people like me away from the service.  Furthermore, bad customer supports on Xbox Music do not help to alleviate but only enhance the Xbox Music problems.

In conclusion, I think Xbox Music needs to be better, and I think Microsoft has the resource to dedicate such a task.  Windows 8 ecosystem is great, but I think people will appreciate more if Xbox Music is a part of Windows 8 ecosystem greatness.  Thanks to Spotify, I like to stick to HTC 8X smartphone a lot longer.  There is one downside with Spotify at the moment is that it doesn’t work well with Windows 8 PC.  Why?  I experience that Spotify refuse to quit or to have its process to be terminated once you launch it on Windows 8 PC.  Furthermore, Spotify tends to crash too frequently on Windows 8 PC.  Perhaps, some people have better luck with Spotify on Windows 8 PC, but I don’t.  Some people’s answer to Spotify problematic issues on Windows 8 PC by launching Spotify on a Windows 7 virtual machine (i.e., installing Windows 7 on a virtual machine that runs on Windows 8 PC).

Free Up Some Hard Drive (Or SSD) Space For Your Mac By Having Spotify Stores Offline Playlists On A NAS Volume

Vinh Nguyen's Spotify Offline Playlist Poppings

Vinh Nguyen’s Spotify Offline Playlist Poppings

Did you know that you can configure Spotify to save all offline playlists on a network attached storage volume?  In my case, I used FreeNAS to create a ZFS dataset volume; turning ZFS dataset volume into AFP share which had allowed Spotify on Mac OS X to save the offline playlists onto this very volume.  This way, I can free up some storage space on my MacBook Pro’s hard drive for other things.  I can also see this idea might be useful for Mac users who happen to save Spotify offline playlists on a small SSD (Solid State Drive), because Mac users can free up a lot of storage space for their small SSD by saving Spotify offline playlists on a network attached storage volume.

Configuring Spotify on Mac OS X to save offline playlists onto NAS is easy.  Just open up Spotify, go to Spotify > Preferences, scroll down till you see where it says Cache, click on Browse button to locate your NAS’s volume, and that is all.  Here is the example of my NAS (FreeNAS) volume’s path on MacBook Pro, [/Volumes/AppleShareVolume/Spotify-offline-playlists].  A Mac need to be connected (i.e., authenticated and logged in) to a NAS first before Spotify can successfully locate a NAS volume.

Mac users who are on the road a lot and need to play Spotify offline playlists on their NAS volume, they can basically configure their router to do a port forwarding of port 548 (AFP port) for the NAS server’s local IP address.  Furthermore, to securely authenticate with NAS server, Mac users can use VPN to connect to their NAS server.  If Mac users don’t know how to set up a VPN server, they can easily use either TunnelBear or Private Tunnel VPN service.  Both TunnelBear and Private Tunnel support Mac OS X and allow Mac users to quickly connect to a VPN server so the public network connection such as a coffee shop’s WiFi connection can be encrypted.

I almost forget to tell you this!  Mac users need to make sure the home Internet connection has a decent upload speed.  Without a decent upload speed, the home network will not be able to transfer the data from NAS to Spotify app fast enough, therefore defeating the purpose of having Spotify offline playlists to be saved onto a NAS.  After all, what is the point of saving Spotify offline playlists onto a NAS if the home network is too slow in delivering the playback for the Spotify offline playlists, right?  Of course, Mac users can always rent a premium server that stays awake 24/7 and turn it into a NAS server, but this solution is overkilled and too expensive for home using purpose.  Obviously, even a NAS server is overkilled for home using purpose, but FreeNAS is Free and it can be installed onto any cheaply built computer that has adequate RAM and storage space.  Besides using NAS to store Spotify offline playlists, Mac users can go as far as to save iTunes music, movies, PDF files, and so much more onto a NAS too.