Technological Grail Quest and some reviews too.

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Today's adventures in tech hell

Well today I thought I would see if I could get my monitor situation taken care of, and well, not going to happen today, unfortunately.  I have to say that when it comes to driving multiple monitors, MS Windows (XP Pro 64) works better with the ATI/AMD (5400 series) graphics card than my Ubuntu 12.04 (64) does.  I have the driver (proprietary) from AMD but it still is lacking.  I know that I would be better off with an Nvidia card, but right now I don't have one, and I have used ATI cards in the past with good success.  This doesn't mean I have given up on the Ubuntu project, it is just that at the moment I am too frustrated with it to even bother to try harder.  Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe on the next build.

That takes us to the next item up for discussion, the next build.  Considering all the things I am thinking of doing, the next build will be based on the basis that we as a family and therefore even as a business, have moved away from the desktop.  I am also considering that for the most part we have become much more mobile, and that will have a lot to do with how I set up the next computer system and network.

The next build will be based on the server client basis, with the clients being various devices, from tablets and laptops, to phones and sub networks of thin clients and sensors.  Here is the thing; I am going to be looking at power consumption quite a bit, and also on how we use the system.  We won't have good TV reception, even with a good antenna, and I really don't care much for mainstream TV, or the local news (except a little).  So our entertainment will be 90% based on the web and either streaming or downloading video.  My wife streams a lot of video, mostly to her phone, but if she had a tablet or a laptop (I am thinking tablet) she would use that mostly, as the phone is so small.  The key to her use is that I need to be able to provide her with good services, and a dock for the tablet that will allow her to connect to a real mouse and keyboard (although wireless will be sufficient), so she can use it like a desktop, mostly.  Myself I am really stuck on the full size keyboard, and I really don't like the laptop format, but better that than the power consumption of a desktop.  So I will most likely be working on an all-in-one or a large tablet (if they have them), with another customized dock.  I like Linux in general, and Ubuntu especially (for its ease of use and user friendliness).  That aside, both my wife and I sometimes like to play games like The Elder Scrolls, and Sims, which require the full capacity of a desktop computer.  This is the problem, now I need the solutions.

The solution, a hybrid server client network.  A Debian based server that provides the muscle to serve video to my flat screen TV (I am buying a new one that will give me better options for integration with the server), collects data from many different sources of output (video cameras, sensors, lighting controls and such) and allows me to access them through an internal network, but also gives me the ability to access them through a secure network connection to the cloud, and last but not least, the server will also have to provide the back end for the business, that will be mostly run on the cloud, but will also be run here, at the home, so it has to keep everything in sync.  Where we will be living will be in the middle of no-where, so network access at this time is via a satellite connection.  This means much more downloading of video than streaming of video, as we don't have an unlimited connection except between the hours of 12:00 AM and 5:00 AM EST.  This means queuing the video downloads, and setting it up so that we only download video between 12:30 AM and 4:30 AM EST just to be on the safe side.  This means privileges need to be set based on the content of the data to be downloaded, but also on what programs will be allowed to operate during certain hours.  I do not want some type of oh sorry I forgot and there goes the bandwidth for the month, nor do I want a why can't I do that thing, as it should be easy to see that it will hurt the business.

This is so far pretty easy to set up, extensive, and it might actually require pretty heavy weight hardware to handle all this and all the channels of wireless, but pretty much a walk in the park for a veteran of networks and computers.  Here is where it gets tricky.  I want a guest wireless on a particular channel of the wireless that will have access through the gateway to the internet (will still require some type of security pass) but not to the internal network, or to any sites that do not conform to what we think the users should have access to.  It is my guest network, I should be able to control access if I want to.  I also want to have our devices to have full access to the internal network, the external network, and still be safe from external intrusion (mostly, I am not an idiot, I know this is just a pipe dream).  And lastly I want to somehow have a game machine, with MS Windows on the network, that will allow me to play games either on my TV, or on the machine itself, or at the same time.

I know, I know what I am asking, and I know it is difficult to provide, but I think I can do it.

Let me take on the Windows machine first.  For one thing, why don't I just go the root of the game console, wouldn't that solve my problem.  Well sort of, but it would be an unpleasant compromise at best.  So I have to come up with some other solution.  My basic problem with the game machine (other than the multi-thousand dollar build price) is that it will consume massive amounts of power.  I don't want to have to wait for it to go through huge amounts of start up just so I can sit down and play a game, so it will have to have a very dedicated OS build, and I may need to leave it running all the time. Now I know that is bad, but there has to be a way.  It can sleep, that reduces the power and makes the start up faster, but it still leaves on, and it doesn't answer the final question.  How can I play Skyrim on the computer, while my wife plays Sims on the TV, and neither one of us getting performance hits, all with one box, possibly located in two different places.  Not possible, well it will have to be, because I will either have it that way or no way at all.

Well that's the sketch, now let us see how the script works out as I try to get this all together.  Lots of data later, and I will post some new updates on this project as I see fit.  If I do it, if I can make it work, and you all want the full run down, and all that has to be done, well maybe I will post that as well.  I might be able to do this for you too, if it works, but my friends it will cost you, of that I am certain.

Have a nice Day,

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