wireless networking in your home

i love it when a plan comes together.

one of the biggest challenges that i’ve faced after moving into the house is figuring out how i was going to handle the networking needs of my house. this poses a much greater problem than one would think after your consider a few things:

1) the house is not wired for ethernet.
2) the house is on a concrete slab so you can’t wire under it.
3) i don’t want to tear up any walls.

so, the painful, but obvious choice after these considerations is to have a wireless network. the next big choice was how to set it up. 802.11b, 802.11a/g, 802.11g, pre-802.11n? these were all good questions. the stylings of the pre-802.11n devices are probably the best these days, but they are also pretty expensive. the biggest concern i had about a wireless network as the primary network for home was speed. i do video streaming on the home network quite often so it was essential that the home network could support this.

the problem gets worse. the access point is going to be in a different room from my desktop which is in a different room from my media centers. nothing will be wired into the router! i could run cable everywhere, but that seemed messy…and i don’t like messy.

i settled on getting an 802.11g network. mostly this was cost-based. you can get cheap routers for the 802.11g standard and it SHOULD be fast enough for streaming. large file copies are going to be slow, but i’ve accepted that.

so the hardware that i ended up getting:
buffalo whr-hp-54g wireless router
buffalo ethernet converter
edimax pci wireless card

a new router, a new wireless ethernet converter/gaming adapter, and a new PCI wireless card. the important things to look for when buying each of these products varies, but if you want something that gives you the best performance, here are some things to consider:

make sure it has the feature set you want. WPA security is more secure than WEP. this particular router, for you hacker-types, can be flashed with a dd-wrt firmware. if you know what that means, you’ll think it’s cool. if you don’t, then don’t worry about it.

ethernet converter
the ethernet converter/gaming adapter looks like a 4 port switch, but what it really does is give you ethernet ports that are wireless connected to your router. so if you have devices that you want to connect to your network, but don’t want to string cable everywhere, this is the way to go. setup is relatively easy for this device, the instructions that come with it are good.

PCI wireless g
i also got a PCI wireless network card. it’s weird to see the wireless icon on my desktop, but this lets my desktop connect to the wireless router. you should get one that has an external omnidirectional antenna. it’s worth every penny in the improved range and connection quality that you get.

so at the end of the night, i had my desktop set up in the office, the router set up in a different room, and my ethernet adapter connected to my media center downstairs. i was watching a downloaded tv show streaming from my desktop to the router to the media center all wirelessly with no issues. it was great.

i haven’t done any raw speed tests, but the video ran just fine.

how to buy a vacuum

i have recently purchase a new house and with that comes a slew of responsibilities and needs that i have never thought of before. i’ve been doing a ton of research on all sorts of things that i never cared about and for all of that time spent i want to have something to show for it. so, i’ve decided to chronicle the entire process. this is probably only going to be really relevant for people who want to buy new stuff for their home, but hopefully it won’t be too dry.

vacuums are probably one of the most misunderstood appliances you can purchase. i mean, if they work well, they suck, and if they don’t suck, then you don’t want it. so, which vacuum sucks the most?

that’s actually a loaded question. as with any purchase, you really have to consider a few things. the first thing to consider is budget. set a budget for yourself on how much you want to spend on a certain item and see what’s available in your budget.

for me, i figured that i would spend around $150-200 on a vacuum. a great resource to check out is the vacuum wizard. they have a lot of valuable information on different types of vacuums for different needs.

if price is not an object, it seems to be the popular opinion that the dyson vacuums are the way to go. i personally like the dyson ball, but i don’t own a dyson myself. these vacuums mean serious business and if you don’t object to buying a $500+ vacuum, go for it! even my mom, the consummate penny pincher, recommends it. “worth every penny,” she says.

for me, i wanted a powerful vacuum but didn’t want to pay the price. i also wanted an upright vacuum, not a canister. these are really personal preferences. after having gotten the vacuum, i thought that i could use the hose attachments to clean the stairs, but the vacuum i got doesn’t fit comfortably on a stair, so it makes cleaning the stairs difficult.

oh yeah? which vacuum did i get? i got the eureka boss vacuum. it’s supposed to be the most powerful vacuum in its class, the packaging says that it is more powerful than a dyson. it is pretty powerful and it is good at what it does. not good for stairs, the hose attachment is shorter than i would have preferred. but it cleans the floors well. this is a heavy vacuum, though. don’t be fooled by its stylish looks, it’s heavy!

shopping spree

i’ve been going on a major shopping spree for the house. i’m buying all sorts of necessities and “necessities”.

for example, my wireless router is dying at the apartment. i don’t know why i go through so many of these things, but i ordered another one because this one is dying. so far, i’ve decided that wireless networking, though insanely convenient, is also very problematic for me. i don’t get why. really, i don’t.

with the purchase of a wireless router, i thought it would be time to start planning my media center needs, so i purchased a gaming adapter for the xbox so that i can have access to the network wireless. i am THIS close to purchasing a file server. THIS CLOSE. but i’m going to hold off for a little bit more until i can be convinced that i really need one. that i really, really need one. i do. really. i know i do.

i also got a PCI wireless NIC. i know, lame, but i can’t help it. i need it, it sucks. i’ve moved on. you should too.

i also bought the mediagate MG-350HD media center. wireless. neat. yeah, man…that’s a lot of wireless gear.

the greatest thing of all? they are all shipping from different places and all of them are arriving tomorrow. tomorrow is gonna be like christmas.

owning a house

when you own your own home, lots of things start to matter that never mattered to you before. for example, i never cared about grout color. dark grout? light grout? never made a difference to me. so when i went to lay tile in my kitchen and was posed the question, “what color grout should i use?” i was dumbfounded. i had no idea. should it be red? black? brown? gray? white? off white? i don’t know!

or take the small hedge that i have outside in the front yard. it is very difficult for me to justify purchasing a motorized hedger to maintain a 3 foot by 3 foot by 5 foot hedge. i mean, it’s TINY. how can i justify spending over a hundred dollars to trim it every so often? so instead, i bought a little $8 pair of shears and trimming that hedge nearly killed me. i haven’t used shears in many years because my parents have motorized garden tools. i never knew how much of a difference it makes. let me tell you, though, after i cut the hedge, i had never felt more proud of any garden work i have ever done before. crazy, isn’t it?

and just last night, christi and i spent more time that you would think is reasonable installing a keyless entry system in our house. the biggest problem we had was that the hole in the frame for the locking mechanism was too small and we needed to make it a little bigger. of course, i don’t have a chisel or hammer which would have made this process easier. the big question i have every time i need to fix something around the house is, “should i go buy the tool to fix it?” the big question is how often will i really use a chisel? probably never. so, instead, i went to my trusty leatherman, got out a pocket saw, and proceeded to make the hole bigger with that instead. ghetto, i know! but it worked and saved me from having to go to the hardware store…again.

still packing

packing is both a chore and a joy. part of it is liberating to get rid of stuff that i haven’t looked at since i moved into the apartment nearly a year ago. part of it is just a pain trying to efficiently and intelligently pack things so that i can find it again. but now, time has become a factor. i need to get it done.

so now i’m just throwing stuff in boxes. whatever fits, goes. it’s actually not that bad, but there have been some questionable packing choices. why is my sleeping bag packed with my board games? good question. i don’t know myself.

i went to the house and it is still mostly empty. it looks sad. it needs furniture.

the start of packing

today marked the first day that i really tried to pack up some stuff. it’s overwhelming. i’ve lived in this apartment for about a year and i didn’t think that i accumulated a lot of stuff, but there really is quite a bit of stuff here. i just went through all of the books that i own and am deciding what comes with me, what goes to my parent’s house for permanent storage, what i’m going to try to sell, and what i’m going to donate.

i’m going to try and donate a fair number of items on my move out. last time, i didn’t try to sell anything, but this time, i think i’m going to try to sell things away and see how that works out. one of the things that i’m not looking forward to is moving my bed and tv. i still don’t know how i’m going to do it. i’ve packed about 5 boxes and i think i’m going to call it a night. i’m exhausted and sweating again. it doesn’t help that the weather here has been in the 90s and it’s midnight now and the apartment is still over 80 degrees. it’s crazy i tell you. wasn’t it just last week that it was RAINING??

bye bye elph

after many years of service, my trusty canon s400 elph finally gave up and stopped working. it’s been through a lot with me and i have been contemplating whether or not to replace it. one of the chief complaints i had with the camera is that its low light performance was really sub-par. i also missed the lack of aperture priority or shutter priority controls. but now that the elph doesn’t work anymore, it was time to think about what kind of point and shoot camera i would replace it with.

i’ve always been a huge canon fan, so it was very tempting to pick up one of the new canon point and shoots. technology has evolved and canon digitals are better than ever. still, i wanted something that was a strong low light performer. then i started to think about what else i might use this camera for and it got me thinking.

i don’t want to invest in a huge setup for underwater photography, it’s not like i dive a lot, but i do dive every so often. on my last dive, i took pictures underwater for the first time and it was kind of neat to take pictures while diving. so i got to thinking that i should buy a digital camera that i could dive with. low light photography and underwater shooting…hmmm.

i looked around and eventually decided on the fujifilm f41fd with the manufacturer waterproof case. we’ll see how it performs when i get it.

trying to catch up from the weekend

this weekend was a pretty long and busy weekend. we went to vegas to play in the westside volleyball tournament. our team played in the lowest pool available. the first day we played reverse co-ed with the girls hitting and the guys setting. the first day results? we went 0-8 for the day.

the second day we modified our format and had the guys hitting and the girls setting. we ended up taking second place for the day. second place gave us shirts. speaking of shirts, i wonder where mine went…

while we were in vegas, christi and i went to check out mamma mia. neither of us had seen it and neither of us are huge abba fans. i think the only abba songs i know are the ones on the erasure album, abba-esque. we got tickets through some ticket broker online who gave us tickets for nearly half price. i was a little concerned that we might have bad tickets, but it all ended up just fine. we actually got great seats on the lower level in about the middle section.

the show was awesome! i had low expectations for the show, but i was pleasantly shocked. the music was great, the acting was great, and the show itself was very entertaining. if you haven’t seen it yet, i would recommend it.

on monday, i went to the city to buy wedding bands. christi and i went to the gift center to buy them and we saved quite a bit of money going there. i think that my ring was about 30% cheaper there than at other jewelry stores, so i was pretty happy.

after we bought the rings, we went to watch conan o’brien who is visiting all week. dana carvey was the guest and the show was taped at the orpheum. the line went down for blocks and blocks and i was afraid that we wouldn’t get in, but we were just able to sneak in and saw conan live. it was pretty cool.