I finally am taking some time to get serious about my personal digital life and I have started to set up a home media center. I have always been pretty conscious about backup of family videos and photos, but exposing them within even our home has always been lacking.
Home videos and photos must be accessible from backup.
I have had a second generation Drobo for a long time and I keep my important files there; however the volume only supports HFS+ for larger volumes. This restriction makes it hard to set up any kind of network share based on this device. HFS+ has issues on Linux for larger journal volumes (like the Drobo), a Mac is too expensive to use as sharing server and Windows is completely out of luck.
These limitations around the Drobo have meant that our personal media gets backed up but is not easily accessible on demand.
Watch news and media from YouTube and various podcast sources.
I don't have any kind of cable television package and where I live it is not easy to get broadcast channels either (unless I want to buy a powerful antenna and mount it high). Local news and media outlets are not very compelling to me anyway. I therefore subscribe to a number of podcasts and spend a lot of time on YouTube watching entertainment and educational media.
Currently I tend to access these sources haphazardly; catching up by hand in my down time. I would like to have a hub in this media center where most (if not all) of these sources aggregate.
Access to Netflix streaming.
I am an avid Netflix subscriber and any media center must provide a first class Netflix experience. Right now I watch Netflix on my PS3 and I would hate to build a media center connected to my TV and still have to use the PS3 anytime I want to watch Netflix.
Backup DVD/Blu-ray collection.
Since discovering Netflix and related services, I tend reach for physical media less and less when it comes to commercial content. I still like to watch the old movies and shows I've bought over the years but the disks take up a lot of shelf space, get damaged easily and are really not a great method for content. I think I would watch these more if I could access them in my home as easily as I do Netflix (and maybe even buy more). For now I don't have a Blu-ray device for my computer, so I will experiment with a few DVD's and see what I think.
Syncing for backups from laptops on the local network.
Right now I am doing most backup and syncing from my laptops and electronics by plugging directly into my backup devices. I really want to make this as painless as possible. Just getting a basic network sharing over SSH would be a good first step but eventually I want to do some kind of automated system like ownCloud, BitTorrent Sync or Syncthing.
Potential for remote access.
This is not really a major goal at this point but eventually I would like to be able to access my private media securely from outside the house. I would love to be able to access my full library of family photos and video while visiting family.
Progress So Far
I have bought some basic hardware and I am experimenting with various software options. I will post articles once I have things set up.