The house I'm getting is roughly 100 years old, and in a quite historic area. I'm planning on doing some extensive restoration, not renovation. My first thoughts were that if I were building it from the ground up, it would be easier. But I'm starting to think it probably doesn't make much difference. Running some CAT5 through the walls can't possibly destroy the "historic value" of the home any more than a touchtone phone already does.
I started by thinking about wiring, just some CAT5, then I thought, five to ten years down the road, isn't that going to look as bad as some places you see today that they ran COAX around the office for a LAN? Then I found a few places like this one that have bundles that include fibers. Obviously I probably am not going to put a fiber based NIC in all of my PC's, but down the road that might be the next technology, right?
Next, I started thinking, with TIVO being hackable, why not have a LAN based home audio/video network? Stream MP3's into ever room for a "in tune" house for parties, and have any movie or TV show I want at any time in any room? That would take hacking, hardware, and work, so I looked further.
From that idea, I ran across something people are calling a residential gateway. Trolling USENET comp.home.automation and alt.home.automation, I found comments like "Future software generations (of Residential Gateways) may be able to see, for example, that you watch a particular TV show every Thursday at 7:00 and on this particular Thursday you have to take the kids to a soccer game (based on the calendar that is synced with your palm pilot), the RG asks you via pop-up TV message, e-mail to pager or WAP phone, etc if you want to record this show because you'll be away..." and "Yeah, as long as we keep MurkySoft out of it. Otherwise they'll insist that all the software runs remotely, and they'll keep automatically upgrading it
, and charging recurring fees."
Of course the next natural thought was, why not throw a few cam's in the house, like the stuff x10 and others sell. See any room or any place you want in the house, from anywhere else in the house.
Home theater stuff is big now days, and there are countless websites like this guys that talk about integrating a PC into a home theater. But I haven't even begun to investigate this, even though now days you can get a complete video editing package from video card vendors like Matrox that allow you to do pretty much everything you can imagine.
And, the business world has long relied on presentations to clients using projectors, so now days you can by a projector that you can plug into a PC for $1500 to $4000 that will turn a whole wall into a screen with anything you want to project on it. Throw a $120 DVD player in, and projector on a PC, you could potential have a HUGE, high-resolution screen to watch TV or videos on, right? Not to mention, a four foot screen, wireless keyboard/mouse would make for the ultimate couch potato/web surfing combo, no?
Blue-tooth and wireless LAN technology also has me wondering if it is really worth spending the time running wires through the house. Should I just wire one room per floor, and wireless LAN the rest? Or is it worth spending the time and money wiring up an old house with all of these new wires and cables?
So, I'm at a loss. Being a UNIX geek, with a minor knowledge of MS Windows has me thinking about OS's for "little boxes" I would put to control each room. BeOS and MacOS (espically with Mac's OS X coming) have me wondering if I should consider OS's in the equation. I'd prefer to stick with something free and that I know, like Linux or FreeBSD. But when it comes to audio/video, you can't deny the power of stuff like BeOS, Mac's and (cough, choke) Windows. What I'm really hoping to find, is a web site like SlashDot, Kuro5hin, Toms Hardware, or ANYTHING that reports this kind of stuff, so I can do further study. But all ideas are welcome.