Network attached everything

Our home network has finally made the jump from simply a set of computers going through a home router to the internet into something that better deserves the name “network”.

Up until recently our home network was made up of the following.

  1. DLink router connecting to the internet
  2. TV – Streaming content over DLNA from the computer
  3. 1 Windows 7 Computer
  4. Printer/scanner

To make matters worse our TV was connected via power line Ethernet (for the uninformed this is the same tech that plug-in baby monitors use. Signals are transmitted via the power lines in the building. The advantage is no need to run cables, but faster than wireless and you don’t broadcast out to the world (still not that fast though)).

Over the last month and a bit I have finally been bringing it all up to spec and adding a few more things to it (helped a lot by Demelza’s computer finally being fixed).

First I drilled a hole from our lounge into the floor below. I then ran a network cable between the lounge and the study, fitting wall sockets at both ends. I then mounted a gigabit switch to the wall in the study and upgraded our DLink router to a Netgear DG834G which is quite simply still the best router for the home.

My Christmas present this year (which I admit I have had early) is a Synology DS411j which is a network attached storage/webserver/media server/go make a cup of tea/everything server. It is now taking over the files on the network. It holds all the videos, music and pictures and can stream them to any device on demand (including the phones).

I cannot explain well enough how great this box is. Want to watch something from the TV on the box, just browse to it and hit play. Same for music. You can view a slideshow of your photos from there too. If I were to plug in some IP based security cameras into our network I could have it record the video from them and serve it to my phone if I wanted… It is a web server which for a web developer is a major plus (PHP, Apache, MySQL for the interested). Hell, for the really interested, it is just a Linux box, I can SSH as root to it and do what I like, install packages, stop services, mess with config etc.

I don’t even know where I am going with this other than to say my computing life is becoming awesome. I have a network running at gigabit, 2 machines connected to it, a TV that takes content, a server that gives it, a printer on the network and even two phones that can browse to files on the network and tell the TV to play them. And the best bit… it all just works with not a bit of Apple technology in sight (well, sometimes I let my Apple laptop come play)!

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