Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What The Heck-a-Roonie For

I’ve gotten a few emails and some blog comments asking why I would even want or need a home network. It’s difficult to say, exactly. I guess more than anything, I just want it. I’m a geek, and I’m proud of it. I think it would be cool to have a home network and be able to stream music and video to every room in the house. Wireless will never cut it for that. At least not at the moment.

I’ve decided I need a better plan of attack, though. I’ve been kind of all over the place with hardware and software ideas, and not really sure which way to go. As I hinted at in my last post, I don’t think there is One Way to do this, on the hardware end. That is to say, each room, or type of room, is different. What works in the parlor may not be appropriate for the kitchen, and that may not work for the bedrooms.

I need to start with the basics so I can try things out. I think the over all success of this is going to come down to software. Hardware is an important part of the equation, but you can only do so much with cables and routers. Poorly written software will sink any project, I don’t care how good the hardware is.

Of course, I can’t really play with software until I at least have a basic server up and running, so that is where I need to start. The good news is, I was wrong about the cost of the ClarkConnect server software. I said it was $375 for a 10 user license, but it is really free for someone like me. There is a small business edition that is $375, and an Enterprise edition that is for larger implementations that costs more, but the homer version is free. This is fairly common in the Linux world. The caveat is, you get no technical support with the home version, but there is an active user base that is there to help.

So that part is taken care of. I downloaded the 475 MB ClarkConnect distribution today. Now what I need is the box (e.g. a computer to load the software on and act as a server). Once I get that I can set up a mini network and play around with it to see what works and what doesn’t.

12 comments:

Derek said...

The problem is always that technology is evolving so fast. Even if you put the most up to date system in now, it'll be out of date in less than 10 years. The open source software sounds good, especially for someone that's good with programming.

Derrick said...

You'll be blown away at how simple ClarkConnect is and how much protection it provides.

Greg said...

Derek,

I guess you're right, but that can be said for just about everything now days. Cell phones, TVs, DVDs....they'll all be out of date in 10 years.

Derrick,

This is what I keep reading about ClarkConnect. I'm glad you confirmed it once again. Thanks.

Alicia said...

I am really enjoying reading about this greg. It's like the plaster. I tend to believe that with technology for homer, it's best to be about 5 years behind technology and keep applications simple. I've kind of notices that with professorial stuff there is more efficiency and quality in application when things are 'behind the curve.' My colleague had an online course designed and it cost 100 000 to do it. It's beautiful, but how many students have to enroll for it to be cost-effective, and for how long will the technology last? Say I.

Nick said...

I think you're underestimating wireless. I watch netflix online movies streaming to my laptop over 802.11g wireless with no problem. For audio, hands down you have more than enough bandwidth. And the 802.11n routers are becoming available now, and they quadruple the speed... see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_802.11

Kathy from NJ said...

Personally I wouldn't make the guest rooms too comfy, you really don't want people to stay too long! I grew up in a family of 6 and we had only one TV (after they were finally invented), all of my siblings only have one TV.

Greg said...

Nick,

Maybe it can work if one computer is watching one movie and there is no other traffic on the system. Honestly, I've never tried it. What if two computers are in the house streaming video and another is streaming music. That might even tax a wired system. My own experience is that wireless is not quite there yet. Our wireless system at work and the one in my home are less than reliable. From what I've been told by others, including the network admin at work, a wired system will out-perform a wireless system ever time, with everything else being equal.

Nick said...

Agreed that a wired system will always outperform wireless. In my case it was a decision of "at what cost". I did wire a trunk of coax and Cat5 to each floor - but I didn't go crazy putting drops into each room. (I put one into the hall closet, for the wireless router...) I put two wireless access points in, one in the basement and one in the first floor, and we have no issues streaming video and music. In my house it would be a rare occurance if two computers were streaming anything at the same time, but I believe it would handle it fine.

I think its just that I've gotten to the point that I hate cords and cables.

We put a stereo system into one of the kitchen cupboards, and wired the in-ceiling speakers directly there. (ugh, cables.) I'm now starting to think about routing our MP3 collection to the stereo - and the only plausible way will be wireless.

My point being, you can always upgrade your wireless capacity, but you can't always run a new cable through a wall.

Greg said...

Nick,

There is no question, wireless has its applications. From what I've read, it's just not there yet for some things. I don't know.

A lot of things work, and some work better in different situations. My experience with wireless in my home was not good enough to build an entire system around it.

Ron said...

I follow this mostly for the old house stuff, but had to chime in on this one. I am a huge fan of wireless, and it works fine everywhere in my house. I stream video and audio to multiple computers, and it works fine. And as Nick said this is only g and if I upgrade to n it would probably handle anything. But the main thing is that for a old house if you don't want to drill holes in to run cable it is a dream. I ran one Cat5 cable back when I had Cable instead of DSL but that was it. I love wireless,

Greg said...

Hey Ron.

I'm glad it works for you, but my experience with wireless was the exact opposite. I even blogged about at last spring. Maybe I get a lot of interference here or something. I don't know.

Ron said...

It is true that wireless will not go through a brick chimney very well. I have one dead spot in my house where this was a problem. So I think it depends a lot where you locate your router. I relocated mine when I went to DSL and it works very well now.

You have had a chance to pull a lot of Cat6 wiring, and I would do that in your situation, as it is cheap and as you said, will surpass wireless, even good wireless.

In my case with an intact historical house, I did not want to drill a bunch of holes in the wall. So wireless has been good for me.