Stream Your Audio and Video Anywhere

Troy asks, “Can streaming music from my home PC be done any other way you may know of over the Internet? More clearly, can I be in Texas and access my PC in Seattle so I can stream my music that way as well. I have over 1,500 songs I would like to access.
There are a number of ways to access your personal music collection anywhere in the world. Troy’s question specific relates to an article I wrote awhile back about streaming music to your Pocket PC to anywhere in your home. The next logical extension of streaming music around your house is to stream it to wherever your travels take you. This gets a little tricky because creating a publicly available stream potentially means you will be violating the licensing agreements of the content you are streaming. At the same time, there are several legitimate ways to deal with this, providing access to your music while also keeping anyone else from gaining access to it.
The most logical extension of my tutorial on streaming at home involves using the same stream created in that tutorial online. Assuming your broadband connection is linked to a router, this is a fairly easy proposition. Find the URL for the internal stream, which is likely http://192.168.x.x:8080, where the x represents a number. In your router configuration options, you want to forward that address outbound, so that it may be found outside the router by way of your direct IP address. When you connect from abroad, you’ll be connecting to your home machine at an address like http://67.171.x.x:8080, which is in the IP block. Depending on the model of your home router, you may be able to restrict access to this IP address using a username/password combination, but not all routers offer this feature. If you are sending the stream in the clear, it is available for anyone to listen to and may result in other people tuning in.
A second way to stream your home content remotely is using a free software app called Orb. Orb installs a server component on your home system and allows you to connect to via any browser. Orb is actually quite perfect for the scenario you describe, as it allows you to browse files on your home network, which is something the streaming option won’t support. Orb provides quick access to audio, video, photos and live television (if you have Windows Media Center). Using Orb, your data is safe behind a password protected system, so there’s no chance of other people tuning in. The great thing about the Orb option is that it is free, although you have to register with their service in order to use it.
A third option that’s useful for streaming your audio files remotely is a product called Andromeda. It requires you to install some kind of Web server product on your home system, like the Internet Information Services install available from the Add/Remove Programs Control Panel. After installing the Web server, you install Andromeda and it finds all your audio files and makes them available via Web pages running on your home machine. Similar to the streaming example, you need to forward ports from your home machine to the Internet using your router in order to access the media files. The advantage of Andromeda over the streaming option is the ability to browse and listen to files in a password protected environment. With some minor tweaks, you can add support for video, photos and virtually any file type you think you might need access to. Andromeda does not require registering with a service, but does cost $35 for personal use.
Orb is likely to be the simplest of these three solutions and the user experience is awesome. I’m a fan of Andromeda for the roll-your-own solution, but it’s more work than most people care to deal with. Orb is optimized to automatically handle files depending on your connection speed and device, so you won’t have to worry about getting caught in buffer hell by using their solution.