Home Entertainment

as Media increasingly becomes Digital Media, you may want a Home Server to "manage" it all

or maybe you'll be happy with a constellation of closed systems: Tivo/DVR, etc.


Aug'2009 notes

After Moving To Chicago I'll have to get things set up.

  • We'll want to listen to music in multiple locations/floors

    • We sold our old stereo, so we have flexibility.

    • Though Jihi isn't ready to just have all our CD-s ripped and stuck away in storage...

  • We'll probably end up with 3 TV-s on 3 floors.

    • At least 2 of those will need Cable/DVR.

      • Can we live with only watching some recorded programs on 1 particular TV vs the other?
    • Maybe the 3rd could just use a DVD player. And a MacMini to play World Of Warcraft and Spore. (Actually the MacMini has a DVD slot, so don't need separate box.)

Fred Wilson writes about his mix of stuff periodically

  • Jul'2009: using Boxee to watch NetFlix Watch Instantly titles, also using MacMini hooked up to TV-s. (Also using Hu Lu.)

  • Dec'2007: three separate entertainment systems. Each entertainment system has its own media cabinet with a smart amp that can switch audio and video. There are four inputs in each media cabinet; a Sonos box, a HD/DVR/cable box, a HD radio receiver, and a MacMini. Each entertainment system has an HD flat panel display. That's the entire setup, replicated three times. Except the basement system which has an XBox 360 in it... Each entertainment system sits on our house network. So all the devices in the media cabinet, at least the ones with a EtherNet (sonos and mac mini), are part of our house network. This works great. If Emily buys an episode of Grey's Anatomy on her laptop, she shares it with everyone else and we can watch it on the Mac Minis. If someone pulls down an .avi file from the web, we can all watch it no matter where the file sits on the network. We still have one Request server with all of our mp3s on it and the Sonos system is the way we access it. I thought that Sonos with Rhapsody and Request would be the killer music setup. And it is for the most part. We probably listen to Sonos 80% of the time in our home.

  • Mar'2006: on Sonos. The controller allows you to access the digital music files and services that are on a computer in your home and play them through the equivalent of a home stereo. The Sonos Zone Player (seen in the picture on the left) is the heart of the system. It connects to your computer (via an ethernet connection) finds the music and the music services and build links to them... If you have more than one place you want to play music in your house and you don't have a multi-room system, then you can get a second, third, fourth, Zone Player and they all synch with each other. You only have to setup the first one. (He includes pricing info.)

Ah, it looks like the big provider/service here is ATT UVerse. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U-verse http://uverse1.att.com

  • Total Home Dvr can record four standard definition or two high definition video streams at once and play them back on any TV connected to U-verse via a set-top box. The DVR can be programmed to record from the on-screen menu or any internet connection using ATT's website

  • Jihi's concerned about capacity of DVR, and whether you can add extra Hard Drive, like with Tivo.

    • apparently there are 2 boxes available: a Motorola which can hold 65hrs of HD or 233hrs of regular, and a Cisco which can hold 82/311. The installer has both in the truck, so you can pick when he arrives. Neither can have an external drive added.

    • a key scenario that concerns her is having things pile up while she's on the road.

      • I think she can manage the DVR inventory remotely: sometimes we end up having to record lots of shows we've already seen just to keep things simple, then delete them without watching.

      • Maybe I should get her a Sling Box.

Aug27: ATT installer comes

  • he spends ~3hrs, I have to leave in the middle

  • WiFi seems to be working, at least in part of the house. The router/hub is in the basement at the circuit box.

  • the DVR is the Cisco IPN4320 (320GB): the installer said they don't install any Motorola boxes anymore. It's at the basement TV location.

  • the Set Top Box is the Cisco IPN330HD - at the other 2 TV locations

  • He told the painter who was here that there's a problem getting the phone working in some parts of the house. I think he means that he can't get some of the jacks working right (getting VoIP joined to analog lines). Will have to test my Wireless Phone-s once they're unpacked.

  • ATT registration process isn't working with either Safari or FireFox on my MacBook. I got as far as making an ID/emailAddr, but when it got to the actual home-account-setup:

    • Safari just kept giving me the same page over and over

    • FireFox [gave](https://pattcw.att.motive.com/wizlet/Uverse Activation/lineTestEvaluationPerform.do) me: 'Location: /wizlet/Uverse Activation/servicesContent.jsp; Internal Servlet Error: null; Root cause: null'

      • after starting a fresh page a couple times, it worked.

Aug28: check one TV, it's working

Aug30: urgh, looks like they're blocking my outgoing SMTP, will have to research. (Or maybe something else is the issue...)

Sept08: 2009-09-08-TimecapsuleAndUverse

Sept15: Couldn't figure out how to record a series on the DVR. Of course, press Record twice.

Sept18: finally dealing with lack of UVerse Voice service. Spend hour on web-chat, ending with getting tech visit scheduled.

  • found that (a) there's an existing "data cable" wire coming from the appropriate Phones jack in the router, connected to stuff that looks like phone wiring; (b) if I plug a phone into that jack instead of the wire, it works.

  • previous owner says: We had a single (Cordless Phone) base with multiple handsets. The ATT router was in the cabinet in the family room. (Our installer has put the router in the basement, possibly because we don't have a TV in the family room, so no hardware there, and other cable wires have to be used, or something...)

Sept21: UVerse guy came. Got 1 phone jack (in "office") working, plugged Cordless Phone base into that, spread around 3 other handsets (Uni Den set I bought for NYC VoIP experiments) around the house, signal seems fine. There's a double-phone jack in that office, so at some point there must have been 2 phone lines/numbers. We could pay someone to unravel everything, but who knows what would work. So going to try to keep it like this.

Sept21: plugged in Chumby for first time in at least a year. Putting it in the bedroom as alarm clock and radio for now.

  • connected to UVerse WiFi fine

  • starting downloading OS updates shortly after being online

  • hmm, no LastFm widget!

    • there was one at some point in the past, but it was removed.

    • someone installed lastfmproxy as a hack.

  • strange lack of music widgets: ah, you don't necessarily need a separate widget, there are various options for the built-in music player. Picked a station from Shout Cast for now. But maybe will try Pan Dora at some point.

Oct01: contemplating Home Audio choices. Have lots of spaces. Jihi doesn't want to have all our CD-s ripped, at least not for now: so at least somewhere there needs to be a multi-CD-changer. Some options

  • 1 "main system" with multi-CD-changer, plus boomboxes elsewhere

    • maybe even that "main" system can be kept small/cheap for now

      • there are "mini" or "shelf" systems that include a changer, like the JVC UX-G70 ($250), the Sony MHC-EC55, etc.

        • Wave system changer - ah, that $250 just for the changer, you still the need base Wave system for output! And apparently very noisy changing disks.

        • I Luv i9200 includes IPod holder, too! But seems a little too crappy.

        • update: I bought a Sharp system for under $200 that includes a 5-CD changer.

  • 1 "main system", plus IPod-boomboxes elsewhere (since I do have a fair amount of stuff ripped already).

  • 1 "main system", plus Sound Bridge-like systems elsewhere.

    • Chumby with appropriate plugin, and speakers that plug into headphone jack.

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