Musing on home networks

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Musing on home networks

Postby gordon.cooke on Fri Feb 12, 2010 1:34 am

OK- so here is some random thoughts Ive been toying with today. Just wanted to see what anyone else thinks (or just yell into th void, whatever)

There has been a lot of buzz about the iPad, its underwhelming specs, other upcoming slates etc. We've also seen a rise in ebook readers (Kindle, Nook etc). I dont mean the older slate laptops where you flip the screen over, but a true slate form factor with thickness around 1/2 inch and sized about a sheet of paper down to a half sheet (maybe 12 inch down to 7 inch screen). These devices are rather underpowered on their own, just only so much room to fit a processor and power) but I think the form factor is awesome! This is what scifi has been predicting for years. The little tablets they pass around on various Star Trek shows, Galactica, any number of movies. The other day Im watching Star Trek TNG and I noticed in engineering *this happens in a lot of episodes) some no-name guy always hands Jordi (chief engineer) some data or anaysis on a little slate and walks off. There are full hard terminals on about every wall, yet there is an obvious usefullness to having a small mobile display. I also noticed they dont seem assigned, just pass it off like we would a few sheets paper. They dont transfer the file form my device to yours, they just circulate the hardware around. OK, so its scifi, and a ship is a closed system, but the concept is interesting.

The other thing Im thinking of of how overpowered main desktop computers have gotten. To me, what really points it out is the number of 1.6 GHz computers that are dominating the market. Sure you can buy a 3Ghz, but for what normal consumers do, it seems we have stagnated at about 1.6GHz as a basic requirement for average joe home user. Sure, make it dual core to because we want to multitask. Im just amazed how little of my computer power i use most of the time. Grabted, Im an engineer so I do actually do some heavy computing that will drive a core to 100% for a minute or so, but how often do I do that vs surfing the net, playing a game, check email etc (and I only use a laptop). Throw in cheap TB hard drives.

So what Im pondering is- how close are we to where average home users will change their ideas about home computing? Here in the US we are log past the 1 computer per household point. More like one desktop, probably a laptop for each person over 14, wifi, high speed internet, and a few old computers collecting dust in the garage. Some of the windows 7 ads have shown off ease of networking as an important feature. But I think that joe users mental picture of home network is still that of standalone computers that share the one internet connection, share printer, and maybe they can push files around.

It seems like we must be near the verge of shifting to a home network architecture where a 'desktop' serves as a central processor for the whole house in a true multi-user type environment. Then, instead of each person having their own full computer and full set of (mostly unused) resources, each person in the household has a slate to act as an access and UI device. The slate only needs to be a thin client. A full system is hidden somewhere in th basement or a closet like a water heater or furnace. Far future-- computer infrastructure becomes part of the house like other utilities. Perhaps this central computer is the media PC under the TV- or perhaps the media PC is specialized a client.

So what about leaving home? Before my work cut off use of thumbdrives for security reasons- an 8Gb thumb drive was plenty for moving files i needed to carry and work on between different places. But what if you need more? With the new cloud technology perhaps private clouds are the answer. Go to your friends house, use their wifi in guest mode and hit your house over a secure link to all your data.

I know there is plenty of stuff on the internet about various hobbyists who do this type of home setup. So I think he pieces are all there. What I wonder is- what will it take to get joe average to embrace the new architecture? Lets look at it backwards, why haven't they? My guess, currently you would probably implement such a network using either old desktops in various rooms, or standard laptops. An abundance of old hardware probably puts joe average off- I dont want a computer in ever room, I'll just go in the den and use the shiny new one (and forget the door stops collecting dust). I think the other problem is laptops. They are full systems and I can use them anywhere in the house. Ijust leg the whole thing with me and I have everything.... except the 50 GB of music on the desktop in the den, so I'll just copy them over too.. wish I could keep them sinked up. But thats the starting point they are used to, and dont know much different. The reaon I think current full power laptops are a issue is because they have so much built in standalone capability. I work in a research lab and for the past years we've been running over a dozen computers, just using a workgroup so we could share files (work is locked into windows). I final got us a central storage solution being installed now, because we had such an issue with 'where is THAT dataset' along with, 'the drive on THIS computer is almost full, lets move some data to to different one (which has a seperate dedicated task) and try to remember thats where we moved the files' So now we will have some very fat clients, but we can finally have our data locations become transparent (along with some other net upgrades) So I am curently very aware of the long term issues of relatively large capability that is segmented in what should be a unified environment.

So- maybe here is the biggest thing we as a community could discuss. What would it take to change the paradigm and get home networks more of a network? Assuming it should be. I think a slate form factor UI would be a big push. Seems new, advanced, and its lighter than a laptop (many of which dont fit comfortable on a lap). I think it would also need to be marketed as a system. Not just market some 'link your computer together with your printer' but market the whole system as 'heres a whole family computer, massive storage, two slate interfaces baseline ($200 each additional)....."

OK, so Ive rambled enough-- ideas anyone???????
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Re: Musing on home networks

Postby tower on Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:29 pm

Many of the slates remind me of big PDAs
They are new gadgets so the firms try to create a hype but why bother spending money on a device to read books on when you can buy a real book far cheaper than a download (and without any of that DRM malarkey)

As for home networks just look how many folks leave their wifi router with default passwords, I do not think the average Joe is ready for home networking all they would be doing is creating ready made bot farms!
Last edited by tower on Wed Feb 17, 2010 10:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Musing on home networks

Postby richyrich on Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:42 pm

[yawn] . . sorry, I fell asleep when he went into the den . . . [/yawn stop]
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Re: Musing on home networks

Postby Fluxx on Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:00 pm

Maybe I'm spoiled, but 1.6Ghz is enough? Give me 2 or more Ghz or I feel like I'm on a riding mower!

Kids, and I'm no kid, use computers in startling resource-hogging ways. For example, they will be downloading an entire movie while trying to play a game, check their emails and IM a couple of friends at the same time. That can stop up the pipes in a 3Ghz quad-core processor. Did I mention that they will probably have some music on, and be talking to someone on the cell phone at the same time?
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