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What's Next for Your High-Tech Home?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the drooling-technophiles dept.

Toys 82

koreth asks: "You have the remote-controlled lighting. Your kitchen has speakers in the ceiling and a control panel to play your MP3s, your bedroom is wired for gigabit Ethernet, and you already record HDTV on your computer and watch it on a front-projection screen. You even have a robot to do your vacuuming. So now what? Is has all the nifty stuff been done already, or are there still some nifty homebrew projects out there? What's next on your list of high-tech home improvements? What have you had to cobble together yourself, because nobody sells it in a package yet? What gizmos and conveniences do you expect your home will have in a year or two?"

"A few years ago, there was a rush of innovation in household high-tech items for early adopter types. Hobbyists tinkered to get their PCs to act as DVD players, put their baby-cams on their private Web sites, and pieced together low-cost audio servers. But that rush seems to have largely evaporated, perhaps a victim of the .com bubble bursting. There are still lots of products coming out, but they're aimed squarely at late adopters who have yet to catch up with the latest stuff -- witness the huge number of PC media convergence products announced in the last six months, all of them with functionality that's been available in some form for years."

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What gizmos? (4, Funny)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941245)

What gizmos and conveniences do you expect your home will have in a year or two?"

Broken gizmos. Lots of them. Warrantee expired.

i rent you insensitve clod ! (2, Funny)

kayen_telva (676872) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941294)

;(

Re:i rent you insensitve clod ! (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 10 years ago | (#7945451)

Funny, but still true... Those of us renting have to ask the landlord before we even put up new shelves, and daren't install broadband because it has a one year lock-in but the landlord could end our tenancy with two months' notice. Not much scope for funky gadgets here. :-(

But hey, keep the ideas coming. We can dream... :-)

Re:i rent you insensitve clod ! (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 10 years ago | (#7946650)

Where do you have a one-year lock-in for broadband service? Are you out of the US perhaps? Putting that issue aside, it is quite doable to wire up one's apartment for a LAN.

My cable modem is in the central hallway broom closet where the cable comes in. From there, my Linksys NAT box spits out a line to the home office/dining room where another 100Mbit switch handles our little fileserver, my desk (I plug in my Dell laptop when I get home), and my fiance's G3 Mac & Dell workstation. The Linksys box also sends out a line to the living room where I keep the wireless router for my iBook and TiVo is plugged into the swtich that's built into the wireless router.

All this takes is running two long CAT5 cables along the walls. We can nail retention clips into the baseboard without permission, but if you can't, just get creative with adhesives and couch legs to keep your wires snug.

Re:i rent you insensitve clod ! (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 10 years ago | (#7951205)

Where do you have a one-year lock-in for broadband service? Are you out of the US perhaps?

Yep, I'm in the UK. Here it's pretty standard for all of the big broadband ISPs offering ADSL to make you sign up for a "minimum one year" contract, to offset their expenses from connecting up a property and make up for all the upgrade work that's been performed on telephone exchanges to support ADSL. We have a weird, and often criticised, system where the infrastructure providers and ISPs are all tied up in one tangled web. The guy who really gets stung, unfortunately, is the consumer (surprise!).

There have, as I understand it, been questions asked about whether/how the contract could be enforced if you moved and wanted to move your broadband contract with you. Nevertheless, as written, if I sign up and then my landlord decides he'd like his flat back in a couple of months, I'm out of pocket by 10 x monthly broadband subscription fee, for no benefit. I'm not rich enough to risk that.

Re:i rent you insensitve clod ! (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 10 years ago | (#7948293)

Perhpas what the poster meant was that he or she rents their TV, stereo, etc.

Re:i rent you insensitve clod ! (1)

madcow_ucsb (222054) | more than 10 years ago | (#7958860)

hmmm a set of shelves is nothing a little spackle and a touch of paint can't fix...

That said, I've never had many landlords who really cared about minor things like shelves as long as you don't trash the wall (and if you do, fix it!)

But for those oppressive landlords (I had one for a couple years in college) the key is blackmail.

I had a landlord (those of you who've lived in Isla Vista near UCSB no doubt have heard of Ron Wolfe - what a prick). He tried to stiff us on 2 years security deposits. He runs a pretty shoddy establishment, so we called the fire marshall and they did a surprise inspection on our dwelling. They found a *lot* of Really Bad violations (like stairs falling down on the only exit path...)

Landlord's goons came over *pissed*. We calmly told them that for every day they held our money, we'd report a violation from another unit. Got our money back the next day, an apology, a brand new carpet (this *never* happens in IV) and they never bothered us again. You've just gotta speak in terms they can understand ;)

Re:i rent you insensitve clod ! (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 10 years ago | (#7959489)

Yep, s'funny that. I had rotting stairs outside my place, too. Warned them about them for nearly 18 months. Then one day, one gave way under me. Seriously injured my back, several days off work, pain and no physical hobbies for weeks, you know the drill. Contacted my landlord's agents shortly after that, pointed out the injury, and said pretty bluntly that if they didn't fix it within a couple of weeks, I'd make arrangements to do it myself and send them a bill of unspecified size to cover everything. Strangely, it was fixed pretty sharpish. A lot of people suggested I sue them, too. I decided against it since finding decent accommodation around here is a pretty tall order just now, and once the stairs were fixed my place was OK. But next time...

Brrrrrrrrr..... (2, Insightful)

eyeball (17206) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941295)

I don't know about the rest of the /. world, but it's really cold today in the US Northeast, and all I can think about is getting a new super home heating system.

Re:Brrrrrrrrr..... (3, Funny)

Mark Imbriaco (133740) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941822)

Funny you should mention that -- my office which only has a couple of desktops and a laptop running in it, still manages to be several degrees warmer than the rest of the house. Too cold in your house? The obvious solution is a Beowulf cluster, of course!

Re:Brrrrrrrrr..... (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941908)

My office (with an Athlon in it) is the coldest room in my apartment right now.

Re:Brrrrrrrrr..... (2, Funny)

tsa (15680) | more than 10 years ago | (#7943414)

Well, why don't you switch it on then?

Re:Brrrrrrrrr..... (2, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 10 years ago | (#7949834)

all I can think about is getting a new super home heating system

Speaking of which, being the incessent hacker, I'd like to optimize the heck out of my energy systems' costs.

For instance, it's 20 below zero outside, and my refrigerator is burning electricity to keep my food cold. It should be opening a vent instead.

Currently I'm burning propane (and supplemental wood) to heat the house, when I have acres of warm earth to tap (need a ground-source heat pump ... has anyone heard of a water-source heat pump used in a monster cistern?)

I'd sure like to have some quiet-enough wind turbines that could keep my electric bills down too, and be cost-effective - I could put them up several hundred feet away if I understood electricity better, so sound isn't too much of an issue as long as the neighbors won't hear them. I have plenty of wind, some sun, and little love for OPEC.

I'm not about to rebuild my house with 12" walls and solar panels, though, the capital costs are too high. Hackers are good with coming up with cost effective solutions though, anybody have some great ideas along these lines?

Re:Brrrrrrrrr..... (1)

HeyLaughingBoy (182206) | more than 10 years ago | (#7953402)

Speaking of which, being the incessent hacker, I'd like to optimize the heck out of my energy systems' costs

I think about this kind of stuff from time to time and I wonder about the cost/benefit ratio. Unless your energy source costs are really high, does the extra cost of time/equipment really pay for itself? I was introduced to the timer thermostat concept when I automated heating and air conditioning in my apartment years ago using an old Tandy Model 100 and some homebrew hardware. Same concept can be bought off the shelf (with touchscreen!) for less than $50 these days.

If it's -20F outside and you want to use that to cool your refrigerator, you need insulated pipes to bring the air in, fans to blow the warmer air back out, a vent control system, and ensure that the holes in the wall don't add to the house heating problem. All that probably will take years to pay for itself. At the same time remember that the fridge is helping to heat your kitchen in winter!

Likewise, if it's -20F outside, is the ground temperature really high enough to heat your house?

Perhaps rearranging how you do things may work better. e.g.,
My basement here in MN was usually in the 50's-60's year round so it was good for a wine cellar and computer room with no air conditioning needed.

Likewise, instead of bring cold air into your refrigerator, wheel the entire thing outside for the winter and power it off, letting nature keep food cold. Inconvenient, but probably more cost effective than building a cold air piping system (tho the latter would be cool!).

Or motion detectors on some lights in the house. Like a thermostat that lowers heating when no one's home, turning off lights when the room's vacant will save lots over time at a relatively low investment.

Keep drapes on south side of house open to take advantage of greenhouse effect in winter, close in summer. Steve Ciarcia (Circuit Cellar, Home Control System) looked at automating this about 10 years ago and concluded that an automatic drapery control system would pay for itself in 20+ years of energy costs. But the convenience may be worth it to some people.

I'm kinda rambling with miscellaneous thoughts here so I'll stop. But check out Home Power magazine [homepower.com]

Re:Brrrrrrrrr..... (1)

HeyLaughingBoy (182206) | more than 10 years ago | (#7953149)

Willing to bet dollars to donuts it's colder here in Minnesota (but probably wasn't when you wrote this. We had a warm weekend :-).
Anyway, try improving your insulation before buying new heating. Our new house is 2x the size of the old one and the heating bill so far is running less than 1/2 what we're used to, just due to it being so much better insulated.
And invest in a digital timer thermostat. They usually pay for themselves within one heating season!

i'm not a wealthy yuppie (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7941303)

ask those 'metrosexual' twats, perhaps they can afford such luxuries. rich people are gay.

Or... (1)

TwistedSquare (650445) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941320)

You're not stupidly rich, and you have nothing so fancy!

Music is big! (2, Interesting)

mistert2 (672789) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941370)

I have been building MP3/OGG jukeboxes that have ethernet out of old 200-300mhz machines. As soon as I get one done, somebody buys it off of me. Some people want ethernet, old people want ways to rip 33s, 45s, 78s and tapes, everybody wants a CD burner on theirs. I pickup the beat up machines at a local computer store for $20, CD burner for $30-50, and I offload my old ethernet/sound cards/harddrives/video cards.

I really want home automation for lights and heating. My wife actually put her foot down and said "I have enough trouble with the VCR and CD player." I let it go, cause she lets me buy gadgets and gizmos.

I will be putting in more motion sensor lights. The ones I have bought in the last five or six years are vary adjustable.

I want wifi from one end of the house to the garage to the my crappy shed/workshop. I love my wifi. I want a cell phone/palm with wifi.

I thought a heat pump would be cool. Maybe the Canadians here can fill me in on what they use for that. I have heard great things as of late.

I can heat my house on wood, and would like to pre-heat the water going to my water heater. That would save on the propane bill. I suppose the wood splitter and buck saw should be added here. Kevlar pants and gloves for chainsawing.

I need broadband, but satellite is way too much cash.

Re:Music is big! (1)

HeyLaughingBoy (182206) | more than 10 years ago | (#7953485)

I will be putting in more motion sensor lights

What have you been using? I looked at the stuff at Home Depot, but they only had outdoor floodlights.

A wife... (4, Funny)

DocSnyder (10755) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941395)

Unfortunately, wives compatible with hi-tech households are quite rare.

Re:A wife... (0, Flamebait)

override11 (516715) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942341)

The only ones that are, are primarily made out of plastic.....

Re:A wife... (2, Insightful)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942793)

You married the wrong woman then.

Damn, I love my wife!

Re:A wife... (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 10 years ago | (#7945463)

Unfortunately, wives compatible with hi-tech households are quite rare.

You think that's a problem? Try having a g/f who comes home and tells you what techno wizardry you need, how her computer is more powerful than yours, etc... :o/

Re:A wife... (1)

sharkey (16670) | more than 10 years ago | (#7953142)

You just need a better remote control. [priesty.net]

I wish (3, Insightful)

elemental23 (322479) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941406)

What gizmos and conveniences do you expect your home will have in a year or two?

My SO is going to be a year and a half into grad school two years from now. I'll be lucky if I can afford a coffee maker at that point.

AVL (APRS-like UI-View -or- just GpsDriive) (1)

ivi (126837) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941409)

Rather than getting cel.tel. calls while I'm communting back to my home, I'd rather people
there have the ability to "track" me - either
my cel.phone (except, we're in Oz, where this
isn't [yet] possible) or (available today) by
APRS.

A quick look at a computer screen will answer
the questions like "Where are you?" & "How
soon will you be home?" better than I can,
at least while I'm driving... ;-)

As a bonus, we can (either while I'm on the road
or after I am home) check the weather at the
place(s) we'd planned to go to after hours,
using the APRS system's cool weather station-ploting / data-reporting features.

'can't wait until this technology migrates to a
WiFi network near me... ;-/

Re:AVL (APRS-like UI-View -or- just GpsDriive) (2, Funny)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942801)

You REALLY need to think that thru. Just sit down and thing about what you say you want. If, after sitting and thinking for an hour or so, you still find nothing wrong with it do the rest of us a favor and never vote again.

Mini-ITX platform (3, Interesting)

SpinningAround (449335) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941458)

Arguably though, early adopters are the only ones with PC-based 'digital convergence' systems. They are based on expensive motherboards and fast, hot chips. As a result they are either noisy, or a lot of money was spent to make them quiet. The market is waiting for a small, quiet, powerful (in relative terms) platform.
The Via Epia [viavpsd.com] boards are almost there but are just a little short of processor horsepower to handle DivX decoding (and other processor intensive operations). The rumours [epiacenter.com] are that there will be a 1.2Ghz Via C3 processor on a new core revision (C5P) out shortly. C3's provide roughly 50% of the horsepower of a similarly clocked P3 in the current core so at 1.2 Ghz (with some potential improvements in the new version core) you are almost at the level where you have a cool, quiet platform with enough horsepower to be a serious media-center PC.
Of course, Via are rumoured to have some very cool stuff on the horizon, included a possible dual-cpu [etmag.com] board and a new processor codenamed 'Esther' to be produced in IBM's fab.
Maybe this [via.com.tw] is what I am waiting for? So perhaps this is the year when digital convergence becomes a reality for the masses?

Re:Mini-ITX platform (3, Interesting)

Toxygen (738180) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941891)

Hey, if you want a quiet but powerful cpu solution for your media pc, I'm using one of the zalman cnps6000 units on an underclocked athlon xp. The heatsink is so efficient that you don't even need a fan so long as you have reasonable airflow in the case (I'm using one fan that runs at 21 dB), and underclocking it might sound a bit silly but it keeps it very cool and besides, you just don't need a 2100+ to play movies and music and such. It's clocked as a 1500+, and if the bios would let me lower it further I'd do it just so I could get rid of that noisy 21 dB fan :)

Re:Mini-ITX platform (1)

the quick brown fox (681969) | more than 10 years ago | (#7961660)

It's actually not very hard or expensive (I guess that's relative) to build a relatively quiet P4 or Athlon based system. Heatsink manufacturers are getting quite good at building thin-fin copper/aluminum heatsinks with big slow fans on them {1 [dansdata.com] 2 [dansdata.com] 3 [dansdata.com] }. Or even without any fan at all [dansdata.com] .

VIA now offers an EPIA board that takes a P4 or Celeron [ituner.com] (only up to 533MHz frontside bus though). At $185 (mobo only), it's a lot pricier than their C3 based solutions (which are IIRC $100-150 with proc included), but throw a P4 2.6GHz in there and you won't be "just a little short of processor horsepower" for anything. ;)

Re:Mini-ITX platform (1)

-tji (139690) | more than 10 years ago | (#8010030)

Right on, dude.. I am waiting for the new C5P, which is about the size of a penny.. It has very low heat/power characteristics, and decent performance. If I could find a very small case that still allows a 3.5" HDD, it would be the perfect Linux server. Fanless operation, with a quiet Maxtor 250GB hard drive would make for a nice quiet system.

The dual processor reference board also had two 100Mbps Ethernet ports, and a DVI video port.. I want one!

Well... how about... (2, Interesting)

Ieshan (409693) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941479)

What with the submitter's sense of beauty, perhaps the rather cynical suggestion of a case-modded real doll [realdoll.com] isn't out of the question? (smirk)

Re:Well... how about... (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 10 years ago | (#7948394)

Yeah, but if you had one of those with a computer built in she'd say "Not tonight, dear, I've got to re-compile my kernel."

Low-tech (3, Insightful)

SW6 (140530) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941490)

My high-tech home could use a working hoover, a comfortable sofa, and some cats would be nice. Much more useful than another toy that breaks after six months, and definitely more conducive to a pleasant environment.

Re:Low-tech (1)

tbmaddux (145207) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942237)

a working hoover, a comfortable sofa, and some cats
Get a HEPA filter vacuum. It will help you clean all the cat dander off your sofa. I use a bagless (uses a dust cup) Eureka that also filters the motor exhaust. It's powerful enough to suck in an entire cat, so be sure you have a spare.

Bagless vacuum: No substitute for the Dyson (2, Interesting)

ccmay (116316) | more than 10 years ago | (#7947465)

I use a bagless (uses a dust cup) Eureka that also filters the motor exhaust.

These are poor imitations of the REAL bagless vacuum, the almighty Dyson. [dyson.com] The first time I used mine, it pulled up two full bins of filth that my old Hoover had left in the carpet.

It filters out dirt by centrifugal motion in "cyclone" tubes. Unlike all other bagless vacs, there are no filters to replace. It has seals of approval from various allergy associations for its excellence in cleaning dust and other allergens out of the house.

It is easily the most excellent gadget I bought in the past year, and that's saying something, as I am a sucker for electronic crap. Plus it looks very cool and futuristic.

Any Slashdot reader who can afford it need only try it once, and he will be a customer for life.

-ccm

Re:Low-tech (2, Funny)

unitron (5733) | more than 10 years ago | (#7948473)

"It's powerful enough to suck in an entire cat, so be sure you have a spare."

Spare cat, or spare vac?

Re:Low-tech (1)

tbmaddux (145207) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964892)

Spare cat, or spare vac?
That would be telling.

Nothing!! (3, Insightful)

zulux (112259) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941525)



I'm trying to get technology away from my life - it's not bringing me joy.

For $3500 - I could buy a DLP Projector or Or I could go to France for a month - get fucking drunk on good wine, eat good food and attempt to have fun with the pretty french girls.

Guess which one I'll be thinking about on my death bed?

Re:Nothing!! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7941747)

"Those french movies looked almost real on the DLP Projector I had"

/obvious/ (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7941862)

You are posting to slashdot, so I'm guessing you mean your homemade DLP projector...

Re:Nothing!! (2, Funny)

Me303 (607100) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941867)

/get fucking drunk on good wine, eat good food and attempt to have fun with the pretty french girls. Guess which one I'll be thinking about on my death bed?\ Hah and why you are then registered user on slashdot ;) So that why i guess you get that DLP and after you maby thinking these girls (why i dont travel) on your death bed ;)

Excellent!! You are NOT what you own. (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 10 years ago | (#7944176)

Don't get caught up in getting crap to achieve an identity. Your life will be much more rewarding if think about this.

Instead of buying the latest DVD/whatever player for $400, get a cheap used accoustic guitar for $50 and learn how to play it - much more fun/rewarding in the long run - bring it to the beach (chicks LOVE this, join a band, etc.

Don't let Madison avenue define who you are by what crap you own, you are much more than just that.

Re:Excellent!! You are NOT what you own. (1)

splattertrousers (35245) | more than 10 years ago | (#7945221)

Don't get caught up in getting crap to achieve an identity

Uh, everyone I know buys things because they will somehow improve their lives, not to show off. (Perhaps your friends are more shallow than mine, I don't know.)

I don't think it will impress anyone that my basement lights turn on when I go down the stairs. That's not why the lights are on a motion sensor. They are on a motion sensor because when I go to the basement with a load of laundry or a big box, it's a pain in the butt to put down the box, walk to the switch (which isn't near the door because it's an old basement), turn it on, walk back, and pick up my box.

Sure, it wouldn't kill me to do all that, but it's worth $25 to me to not have to do that for the next 10 years that I own the house.

Re:Excellent!! You are NOT what you own. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7961706)

Don't let Madison avenue define who you are by what crap you own

Yeah... instead, define who you are by how many beach bimbos you can sleep with!

I give (1)

MacFury (659201) | more than 10 years ago | (#7944267)

I give...which french girl will you be thinking of?

I'm guessing the redhead. Am I right?

Re:Nothing!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7946619)

Don't waste your time and money on the stuck up French girls. Especially if you're American. No its not just me being bitter, I saw many good looking guys get turned down rudely.

An enterprise-grade printserver in the laundry rm. (1)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941528)

I got sick of cheap laserprinters and inkjets scattered around the house so I bought a used Laserjet 4000 on ebay and added 64meg of ram and a duplexer.

I'm building a custom cart that will fit in the laundry room next to the dryer. I'll be pulling the old CAT5 tomorrow and mounting a printserver box next to it.

No more putting off big print jobs til I can take them in to work.

Re:An enterprise-grade printserver in the laundry (1)

compwizrd (166184) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942098)

Great workhorses, and if you ever need parts, they're cheap on ebay, just buy another laser printer.

Pickup feeders are about 5 bucks, if the fuser unit goes that's about 75 from a rebuilder.

Re:An enterprise-grade printserver in the laundry (1)

EddWo (180780) | more than 10 years ago | (#7945489)

You might want to think how the humidity of the dryer will effect the printer.
It may not be too bad, but I wouldn't like to think of all the paper getting stuck together because it got damp.

Drinks / Kitchen automation (1)

EdMack (626543) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941539)

Having a bar monkey is a cool home-brewn project, although creating a 'smarter' or more automated kitchen would be a very large and very High-tech :)

Re:Drinks / Kitchen automation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7950192)

Listen pal, where I'm from we call them BLACK PEOPLE and we consider them our EQUALS.

MicroSoft Powered Stove (2, Insightful)

Bruha (412869) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941550)

I saw on WinCE device that would control your stove and other devices in your house and even your computer. I'm sorry but I'll be damned before I let MS anything controll my house in that manner. What happens to me when a virus hits my pc and turns everything on the stove on catching whatever may be on or in it on fire not to mention the danger to my kids if they didnt know the stove had been turned on.

Re:MicroSoft Powered Stove (2, Funny)

tbmaddux (145207) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942261)

WinCE device that would control your stove
Clippy!

You appear to be burning a pot of beans. Would you like assistance?

Re:MicroSoft Powered Stove (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942815)

And in related news, fire insurance rates jump 100%!!!

Zero gravity bedroom (1)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941744)

I'm planning to move house to the ISS.

Re:Zero gravity bedroom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7942010)

Obligatory generic sci-fi quote:

"Have you ever had sex [in|on|with][zero-g | mars | hyperspace | an alien | a cyborg [named 7 of 9] | a lady with a prehensile tail] ?

Energy Mangement System (1)

gremlin_591002 (548935) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941783)

Install current sensors on your mains, major appliances, HVAC system, and computer outlets. Work on reducing your energy load so you can buy more toys. While your at it, get the HVAC and hot water systems on a web site so you can monitor and control them remotely.

Annoying the neighbors (1)

dbirchall (191839) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941789)

Once we finish fixing up a room in the basement, my dual G5 and its Cinema 23HD are going to move in there, along with my (and my wife's) other high-tech toys. Then we'll get a futon couch, some artsy lighting, and a decent set of speakers (probably Logitech Z680's so I can go optical Toslink from the G5 to them) and a remote (either ATI or Keyspan) and the neighbors will feel 500 watts of remorse for all the times they annoyed us by cranking up the sound on their movies.

Other than that... mini-DV camera at some point, and a Canon EOS digital SLR.

Smurf tube... (1)

(H)elix1 (231155) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941827)

I'll be building a new house in the next year or so - have the lot, but no consensus with my bride on the house.

Anyhow, the one thing I consistently regret in my current home is cabling a thing is a huge pain. I finally updated my home network with wireless, but no drivers when I'm running on the Linux side. I added a satellite dish, I had to do some nasty drilling / drywall patching. When I build, I'll be running a generous amount of empty low voltage conduit everywhere. You never know when you have to run fiber, speaker wire, etc.

Re:Smurf tube... (2, Interesting)

rekkanoryo (676146) | more than 10 years ago | (#7943012)

I feel your pain with running wires. You should see my basement. It's a disaster from all my computer-related wiring. My parents aren't too thrilled, but they don't say much because they know if I don't have my network, I'll become a *very* unhappy camper.

My "high-tech" home should include broadband internet as the first, most important thing. Next would be a KVM switch thad did something unusual--it would come with wireless adapters for the PCs that draw their transmitting power from the USB so that I don't have to have a quarter mile of KVM cabling to have all my PCs hooked up to the switch. Third would be a plasma TV in the living room and each of the two bedrooms. A digital satellite system with a builtin DVR would be nice, too. And, hell, while we're at it, a 10-disc DVD changer (for watching all three Matrix movies and the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings movies all in one long session). And forget the concept of the remote controls we have now--instead, I want touchscreen panels embedded in the arms of my couch and chairs, ala Star Trek: The Next Generation. I want a voice recognition system, too, so that I don't have to do everything by hand. And finally, two fiber and two cat5e drops one stud away from each electrical drop, in every room except the bathroom (WiFi for there :) ).

That's MY high-tech home.

Re:Smurf tube... (1)

splattertrousers (35245) | more than 10 years ago | (#7945258)

What about running the wires along the base of the walls and then clipping on some removable baseboards on top of the wires?

Then when you need to re-wire something, just pop off the baseboards. Plus, if you want a jack to be in a particular spot, just pop off the baseboard, drill a hole, install a jack, wire it up, and pop it back on.

For the doorways, you could have removable thresholds. (Or whatever that piece is called that goes on the floor directly under a doorway.)

Re:Smurf tube... (1)

(H)elix1 (231155) | more than 10 years ago | (#7946378)

I'm so done with anything else on my current house. When I build - within the next 18 months - I will install proper conduit. Already did some ugly wiring here... (grin)

A High-tech garage would be next.... (1)

bergeron76 (176351) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942079)

Just ask this guy [slashdot.org] . Mine, however, would include a linux based DashPC [dashpc.com] development area like this one [dashpc.com] .

Re:A High-tech garage would be next.... (1)

sporktoast (246027) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942479)


[...] however, would include a linux based DashPC [dashpc.com] development area like this one [dashpc.com] .

Just don't plan on driving that car in California [slashdot.org] .

Automate your Christmas Lights! ;-) (1)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942115)

If you want to go overboard (like I did! ;-), then automate your Christmas lights ... and just for grins, add a webcam ... and then add the ability to control 'em via the web ... and then allow any surfer to do it ... and then get Slashdot'ed to test that it is all working properly! ;-) [slashdot.org]

Read all about the Christmas Lights [komar.org] which also includes an analysis of the Slashdot Effect on Christmas Lights. [komar.org]

What's Next for Your High-Tech Home? (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942227)

Lava lamps. Lots of them!

Seriously, my next high tech move will be to build a RAID-5 array out of the 3 x 250 GB drives I got for Christmas. A few months ago I lost a 120 GB drive which had a bunch of stuff I didn't have backed up, so I'm making sure that this never happens again.

I still won't be protected from fire or theft, but drives die all the time, and as long as more than one doesn't die at once I'll be okay.



PS The fortune is currently "The most important thing is the thing most easily forgotten." Please don't forget about this Thing! ;-)

Re:What's Next for Your High-Tech Home? (1)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 10 years ago | (#7955022)

It'll happen again.

I think backups to one single non real time drive are much better than a local raid 5. cause, when you accidently delete your media directory you'll run around quite livid wishing you had done a remote backup.

find a friend who also has linux and help each other by rsyncing your data to each other's apartments. can't beat it!

How about someone of the opposite sex (3, Insightful)

GrandCow (229565) | more than 10 years ago | (#7943078)

In my experience, the majority of people that have all these devices aside from the ludicrously wealthy are also sadly single.

Re:How about someone of the opposite sex (2, Insightful)

SealBeater (143912) | more than 10 years ago | (#7944565)

sadly single or just single? The state of being the one doesn't necessitate
the following of the other.

SealBeater

Re:How about someone of the opposite sex (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 10 years ago | (#7948561)

Of course they're single. You think married people can afford that stuff?

DVD (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 10 years ago | (#7943409)

Yesterday I bought a DVD player that can play MPEG-4 and DivX. That very high-tech for me. It's a Philips DVD-737 [philips.com] .

Some Serious Ideas (3, Interesting)

Ed Almos (584864) | more than 10 years ago | (#7943774)

OK, if you're into home automation as much as I am then here are some ideas. Please note that not all of them are realistic at this time but technology is always improving.

1) Full climate management on a per-room basis. If it's too hot in a room the system turns up the AC, too cold it opens a radiator valve or turns on the underfloor heating, too bright it closes the blinds/drapes.

2) Intruder detection, link individual room alarms to cameras and record the pictures digitally.

3) Voice control of all functions. Imagine walking into a room and saying 'increase lights by fifty percent and it happens.

4) A home phone system combined with an intercom.

I started my tech career reading Circuit Cellar and that gave me lots of ideas (thanks Steve), if you ever find a collection of the Circuit Cellar books then snap them up because you will be prying mine from my cold dead fingers.

Ed Almos
Budapest, Hungary

Re:Some Serious Ideas (2, Interesting)

canthusus (463707) | more than 10 years ago | (#7943875)

Voice control of all functions. Imagine walking into a room and saying 'increase lights by fifty percent and it happens

I agree with that. One of the big issues is with control - all these gadgets need to be controlled, which means loads of remotes and/or geeky interfaces which other family members aren't happy with.

I want to have *controlled* access via the Web (so I can tell the heating to be on when I get home etc). But voice control would be great:
"Computer - switch television to BBC1 please"
"Computer - heat enough water for a bath please"
"Computer - tell me the weather forecast please"
"Computer - play some Kraftwerk please"
"Computer - what's 12 times 24 please?"

All very possible - need to integrate TV/MP3/Internet streaming/HVAC/normal computing functions. The fun bit is getting the voice recognition to work sensitively enough to work from a mike in each room (rather than have to carry a wireless lapel mike around).

And for contrast, I'd like to have one room in my house with no electricity. No little gadgets with a fan whirring away. No speakers. No harsh electric light. No telephones. Candles or oil lanterns. Open fire. Books. Peace.

Re:Some Serious Ideas (1)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 10 years ago | (#7944754)

I was going to do voice control via lapel mic a couple years ago. Then 3Com's Audrey bombed and the units were getting blown out for chump change, so instead I bought a few of them to sprinkle around the house, and just use the web interface I was already constructing.

~Philly

Re:Some Serious Ideas (1)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 10 years ago | (#7955055)

i hooked Realize Audio on my XP box into the linux box using macros, and the linux box has X10 connected to all the lights and fans. It took me about 3 hours to get it all working. You can get an omnidirectional microphone from radioshack for 39 bucks with OK-ish pickup, and I've demonstrated that you can indeed turn the window fans both on and off from 12 feet away by asking for it at a slightly louder voice than normal.

Re:Some Serious Ideas (1)

Black Perl (12686) | more than 10 years ago | (#7955847)

All of the above is possible using products from Home Automated Living (HAL) [automatedliving.com] .

The only problem, currently, is discerning your voice in a noisy room. Gated mic systems are the best bet, but you have to be relatively close to one for it to turn on.

Re:Some Serious Ideas (1)

phillymacmike (445518) | more than 10 years ago | (#7944277)

OT: My favorite Ciarcia article was the month he described trying to get back into the house, past all his intruder detection stuff, when he *locked himself out*. Sometimes a geek's worst enemy is him/herself.

Re:Some Serious Ideas (1)

splattertrousers (35245) | more than 10 years ago | (#7945294)

3) Voice control of all functions. Imagine walking into a room and saying 'increase lights by fifty percent and it happens.

I don't think I'd like that. I've always had Macintosh computers, and for a really long time they've had voice recognition. I can tell my Mac to do just about anything (except be inexpensive :) .

But I don't use it. It works fine, but I don't like talking to my computer. I don't know why.

Instead of voice recognition in the house, I'd like to have good controls. All the control panels and switches I've ever seen are crappy and ugly. I want good-looking and easy to use controls. And lots of them, some mounted in obvious places (walls) and some hidden away (coffee table).

This guy make false assertions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7946901)

I love how IT people and marketroids like to sell their ideas the way this Slashdolt does. They word their sentences as though you *are* or *have* the things they say you do, when in fact you do not (remember all the claims in the late-90's for PDAs about how "you live a fast-paced, mobile lifestyle," etc. and that Handspring Visor is just the thing for you?)...

"You have the remote-controlled lighting."

No I don't. I have lighting controlled by a switch on the wall, like most homes.

"Your kitchen has speakers in the ceiling and a control panel to play your MP3s,"

Wrong. Sounds nice, but I don't have such a nice kitchen.

"your bedroom is wired for gigabit Ethernet,"

Wrong again. 10/100 and 802.11b (the wireless is a very recent addition, thanks to big rebates on a flaky Netgear MR814v2 wireless router).

"and you already record HDTV on your computer and watch it on a front-projection screen."

Incorrect. I don't have HDTV. I don't have an HDTV-capable card in any of my computers. I don't have a front-projection screen.

"You even have a robot to do your vacuuming."

Nope. No Roomba here. Just old-fashioned elbow grease and an electric vaccuum from the stone-age.

"So now what?"

As a college student in CS, now I find another industry to get into besides IT, because there is no future for IT. I cannot live on less than minimum wage [yahoo.com] .

Face it, American IT is dying, as is the rest of our economy, and for once, it's a trend that is actually not Dubya's fault.

Re:This guy make false assertions (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 10 years ago | (#7948970)

"...it's a trend that is actually not Dubya's fault."

No, just his big contributors.

DVDless DVD Jukebox (1)

DonGar (204570) | more than 10 years ago | (#7949339)

It's illegal and all, but I want to have a movie server much like the music servers that people build.

I'll rip all my DVDs (a lot)stick them on the server, and then be able to play them back from any PC, or the TV without getting up or moving.

In addition, I'd like it to be able to easily serve other video such as Red versus Blue, etc easily.

I started on this, and was making progress, but had to loan out the machine for a 'quick' work project that has taken much longer than it should. At the time, the trickie part was not handling the video, it was maintaining ALL DVD features as I ripped and reencoded to something efficient enough to let me hope to fit all my DVDs on a 300 G drive.
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