Archive for June, 2010

Google Voice is now invitation-free!

June 22, 2010

Google Voice no longer requires an invitation. Just head over to http://voice.google.com, sign in with a Google account and claim a number. There are a TON of features available which can be useful to every(wo)man, just one of which is its multiple ring facility. With it you can have it ring your mobile phone, your home and (if you’re interested), your work number as well as any others you might have. If you head off to visit Grandma, you can update your settings to include her number in the ring schedule and remove it when you get home. I’ve been using it as my primary phone number for years and can’t imagine life without it. Please, do yourself a afvor and, If nothing else, head over to the site and read up on what it can do.

New hardware in the household

June 2, 2010

A few weeks ago, I bit the bullet and replaced my well-used Linksys WRT54GS with a new Netgear WNDR3700. The Linksys was running an older version of DD-WRT and I considered loading OpenWRT on the Netgear but, honestly, the stock firmware is currently meeting all of my needs. Smallnetbuilder.com’s review of the Netgear was what got me on the right track but the thing that pushed me over the edge was the fact that Linksys/Cisco STILL doesn’t allow the DHCP server to give out static IPs. Yep, I bought and brought home their E3000 and spent all of about 20 minutes with it before I boxed it back up and headed back to Fry’s. Why do I want the ROUTER to hand out the same IP over and over to a given device? It’s so I only have ONE place to look and update for all the particulars of my routing and IP address assignment. Sure, I could assign the IP addresses manually, going around to each device and putting its IP address into it but then, well, it’s a manual process and I have to keep a record someplace. Yes, I know that some rogue device could come in and masquerade as one of my REAl devices but, honestly, how often does that happen? Out of nearly 50 networked devices in my home, I’ve got nearly 30 that have a fixed IP. So, go ahead, call me lazy but that’s how I do things.

 

The newest member of my household is my home theater PC, the Gateway SX2840-01. 6GB of DDR3 RAM, 1TB 7200 RPM hard disk, Intel Core I3-530, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit — small machine, big performance! CNet said it was “the budget PC to beat”. And Fry’s had it on sale this past weekend for $450 while everyone else is selling it for $560. Nope, no Blu-ray but it has 9 USB ports and an eSATA port so I don’t think I’ll have a problem adding one later if I decide to give up on my standalone player. And if I’m really pushed I can add a small form factor video card to use instead of the Intel HD graphics, although I watched quite a few streamed 720p HD videos with no artifacts or hiccups. No 1080p yet but that’s coming next weekend, I think. It’s hooked up via HDMI to my TV (Samsung LN52B750 ) and via VGA to an LCD monitor.

 

Have I abandoned my Squeezeboxen? Nope, I’m still running Slimserver (now called Squeezebox Server) on my Buffalo Linkstation LS-GL but the addition of the Squeezebox Radio, its lack of support in the 7.3 versions of the software and the wait for a version that I could load and run on the LInkstation started pushing me toward a more “standard” solution. Since I’ve also got several devices that understands DLNA (e.g. the aforementioned Samsung LN52B750) I figured adding a machine into the mix that can provide that streaming capability wouldn’t be a bad idea. I’ve been running Windows 7 for quite a while, now, and have to admit, I like it a LOT more than Vista and am even coming to like it better than XP. So, runinng Windows Media Center and J River’s Media Center and Squeezebox Server gives me 3 different ways to stream, upload and download.