The people who do this for their homes are doing it for the machismo, not the actual usefulness of it. It's the millionaire's version of chrome pipes and superchargers on a teenager's Chevy. It's just for show.
For instance, that guy pictured in front of his basement control room: sixteen phone lines, the caption says. Why? The only reason fifty rooms needs sixteen phone lines is if he's actually a boarding house for conference attendees, or he's running some kind of phone business. Medium data pipes are best served with cable or dsl, and heavy pipes are done with T1 trunks or bigger.
Maybe I'm guilty of this: When I got a cash windfall, I owned a $45,000 Silicon Graphics workstation, mostly for useless tinkering. It was neat, and when I was done playing, I turned that used workstation into a used Japanese sportscar.
Nowadays, I have cheap stuff. A Pii server and a Piii workstation through a cheap Belkin hub. I have a Piii laptop in another room and am waiting for one of those Linksys wireless hubs to arrive to make part of the LAN wireless. If I own something, I put it to useful work, and I don't buy more than I will really use. For home automation, I have X10 lights all over, and the laptop has a firecracker dongle to control them.
If I really wanted to impress geek visitors, I'd still go out to get a mondo big screen. Kids, non-geek spouses, and the geeks you invite all can be impressed with a couple hours of social entertainment. That is, of course, if conspicuous consumption is important to you.
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