My in-home network

My current in home network by you.

My parents visited the flat in Manchester the other day, one of their comments was about the massive amounts of technology there was in the flat. I think it was the very first time they had ever seen my LCD TV and I guess it can seem a little dominating when your use to much smaller. Anyway that and people asking me how I do certain things, prompted me to quickly sketch this up in my favourite drawing app inkscape.

If I had thought about it a little more, I would have included where the FM transmitters are, as they allow me to walk in and out of the shower listening to the same thing as before. I've been less successful with a bluetooth audio network but do have bluetooth on every single machine except the smoothwall box and I own a bluetooth ghetto blaster thing which is useful when I walk in to the house listening to something interesting on the phone, using bluetooth headphones. Then want to switch to the speakers while cooking.

Some things about the setup which people might be interested in. I use to have a 24 port 3com switch to do all the network switching but I found with the 2 wifi access points I had enough network points to do everything i needed. I then replaced the smoothwall box with a solid state ADSL2 router and that also comes with 4 ports and wireless. So I got super strong coverages across the flat and a 100meg network link backbone. I do still use the Xbox (console) for any films which have AC3 sound, currently my replacement xbox (cleverly named xbox) doesn't support AC3 passthrough (Once I change the soundcard, that will all change). I got Ubuntu automaticlly logging in and booting up Xbmc right now, but I'm tempted to switch it to Boxee.

Some people might say why have I got Electrix and Stratrix? Well Electrix is a 1.4ghz AMD under-clocked to 1ghz with one 40gig HD, 1gig of memory and thats about it. Its my download and playback music in the bedroom computer. It hardly uses its internal HD, instead everything is on the NAS. If I could run this machine off Flash memory I would, because its meant to use a small amount of power. Its fitted with a 250watt power supply and I'm on the look out for 200 or less ATX power for it. I do have a fan on it, but I hope to one day have the guts to take it off and run it just off a huge heatsink and nothing else.

If FreeNas had Podcast download support and real bittorrent support which included time-throttling and RSS filtered downloads. I would switch off Electrix straight away and use that. I had even considered using boxee's download manager or installing Azureus and gPodder on Xbox so I wouldn't need the extra box, but it just wouldn't work.

Stratirx on the other hand is a modern-ish PC, 2.8ghz AMD processor with 1gig memory and 250gig HD, big graphics card, etc. Its doesn't really get turned on much because its been replaced by my laptop really. But if I was to do any video editing or anything like that, I would use this machine.

Honestly it all sounds complex but the thing to remember is that this whole setup is across 3 rooms and everything makes logical sense when you see it in context.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.