Opera Unite + Windows Home Server?

16 06 2009

I’ve gotten a lot of hits on my article about how I extended my Windows Home Server (WHS) with Hamachi.  I use Hamachi because I need a more direct way to interact with my WHS content away from home (beyond what Microsoft’s remote access supports).  But that’s really just file sharing.

The next step to me is socialization.  If you’ve listened to Seth Godin’s TED talk about enabling “tribes”, you could see that the most immediate tribe most people have is their family.  WHS can help fulfill your tribe’s interest in family photos and media, but there could be more to it…

Perhaps there’s a way to use Opera Unite to create a richer experience around WHS.  While Opera Unite says it’s designed to remove the middleman (or the middle machine?) from the content-sharing equation, I contend there is a role for a server in this brave new peer-to-peer world.

Promoting the middleman

I think Opera Unite and WHS can play nicely together and still fulfill the “no middleman” mantra.  After all, you control your WHS.

Now, keep in mind that Opera Unite is alpha technology – not something I am going to put in play yet on my server.  However, a thought experiment of what might be enabled using Opera Unite is definitely in order.

Opera Unite will help users easily create micro-social networks.  This is timely and interesting to me right now because I am doing an exploration of private social network services for groups of industry professionals.  The problem with those services is trusting the 3rd party with your content.  Opera Unite’s peer-to-peer, cross platform type community could be a solution to that problem.

Putting Opera Unite in play on your WHS would allow friends and family to not only access your pictures, video, music etc. but also comment and interact with others

Some families today use personal web sites to post pictures, or create groups in social utilities like Facebook for their interactions.  But many people feel that’s too much work, or they’re uneasy about sharing their content with a third party.  Also, Facebook-like services can feel like feature and information overload.

Opera Unite adds a personal touch to the content people amass around their family.  However, there are a couple of weakness of peer to peer sharing: having the content you want available when you want it, and securing the content from data loss.  So, I think that having a WHS in the mix gives a technology like Opera Unite a great place to store it safely in a place you trust.

Getting your Groove on and Meshing together

I think that Groove (a brain child of Ray Ozzie) was on to something back in 2004.  It allowed people to set up a “walled garden” for collaboration.  It traversed firewalls and kept people in sync with zero configuration.  You could socialize with others, share content, and comment on everything.

Since it synced everything in the workspace, backup wasn’t as much of an issue because as long as one peer had the information, other peers could re-sync and be up to date, even if there was a catastrophic hardware failure on one member’s machine.

Groove is still around and it is still cool.  But Groove is Windows-only and suited to businesses.  Plus it’s hard to figure out what’s going on with it these days.  In some ways it appears Microsoft is parting it out into technologies like Live Mesh

I’m going to talk about how I use Mesh with my WHS later.

What Mesh lacks from Groove or Opera Unite is the social aspect.  It syncs your content well enough, but it doesn’t add a social texture to it (yet).  I imagine the Windows Live Spaces might be an answer to that some day, but we’re back to the “server as the middleman” thing again.

Socialize in the family room

What’s neat about Opera Unite is the fact that it is / will be cross-platform.  That means your smug Mac-based family members can share and experience content from their Windows fanatics and Linux heads equally.  They could even argue about their platform of choice in a lounge.  Sharing the content on devices is also another nice feature they’ve enabled.  Using your WHS box as a peer seems like the right thing to do since that server is on all the time anyway.

I think a logical extension is to give it a 10 foot experience on the big screen – integrate it with the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii.  Also, enable it for TiVo and Windows Media Center.  Of those options, Windows Media Center or perhaps the PS3 are probably the easiest to work with right now, but Opera already has a relationship with the Wii.

The point is, we have a place to put content that we own (Windows Home Server).  Technology like Opera Unite can socialize it.  Taking it out of the personal computer and putting it to use in the family room seems like a logical next step.

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5 responses

16 06 2009
Helen Sam

Nice piece –
In fact, I was googling Opera and WHS and landed on your blog.
I use a linux computer and will definitely see how I can combine them as suggested in this blog post.

Thanks for this tip:)

16 06 2009
spackle

I think the way it would have to work (it doesn’t exclude Windows Server 2003 as an OS explicitly) is that you’d have to leave a user logged in on the WHS box to keep Opera Unite running. I do that anyway right now for Live Mesh, but occasionally, WHS will apply an update and reboot itself automatically. So you have to re-log in your user (or set it to auto-login via the registry).

Of course, Opera is warning people that it’s alpha code right now, so obviously the “how it should work” may vary from the “how it actually works”. But I believe I’ll be trying it out as soon as I can!

Thanks for stopping by!

17 06 2009
Opera Unite + Windows Home Server? « Spackle

[…] original post here: Opera Unite + Windows Home Server? « Spackle Tags: and-experience, content, content-from, fanatics-and, fedora, heads-equally-, kernel-and, […]

17 06 2009
Could Family Comment on your WHS Stored Photos – Perhaps « MS Windows Home Server

[…] can read the article here, whilst more information on Opera Unite is available from […]

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[…] can read the article here, whilst more information on Opera Unite is available from […]

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