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Showing posts from July, 2012

Anybody Want to Buy a Six-Month-Old Receiver?

Last year, I upgraded our AV Receiver, because I came to understand that an ARC (Audio Return Channel) HDMI connection was absolutely necessary. It still is, and the stereo wasn't that expensive, especially considering that I was able to sell the old one for a decent amount. But now Sony has gone and done it - AirPlay directly integrated into a reciever . It would seem that if I'm building an Apple-enabled home, this would be required, right? Well, I'll look into it. Right now, the stereo system DOES have AirPlay access, in that it has an AppleTV attached. And that isn't going anywhere - the AppleTV works so well with the iPad that it should be considered a required accessory. Would adding AirPlay to the stereo help out? Or would it be overkill/redundant? If, for instance, the stereo input would automatically change to AirPlay the moment I select the stereo on my iPhone, it might eliminate the step of having to change the TV/Stereo input to the AppleTV. Knowing

The best laid plans of mice and men....

It's been SLOW going at the AAAD homestead. The home theatre project remains in a state of almost total inertia, despite Mrs. AAAD's insistence that the HDMI wires get buried and the LED gets wall-mounted immediately. I have an HDMI wire running from my TV, in front of the fireplace, and into the component rack. An HDMI wire that is being shared among multiple components . How did it come to this?! The reason? The former homestead (a Bucktown duplex up/down) has sprung a leak. Well, more accurately, the former homestead has sprung thousands of leaks and now needs a full roof & truss replacement. Which has turned a quick 3-day, $13K project into a 10-day, just-under-$30K project. Which is a bill that - even split between two owners - puts a damper on my enthusiasm for buying things like $600 in light switches. Of course - completely necessary. Those trusses looked awful, and literally crumbled when I touched them. I'm glad our upstairs neighbors didn't get a

Just Like Starting Over - Unbundling DirecTV with AT&T or Comcast

Well, this just isn't working. We are having an incredibly difficult time with our WOW UltraTV setup - the security system doesn't like the phone, the TV menus are sluggish and unintuitive, and the internet... well, the internet is rock solid, so never mind that. But really, it's time to look into a different solution. Especially given that I'm spending $160 for a suboptimal bundle, and that there are no contracts. Over the weekend, we finished the most recent season of "Mad Men", which had been stored on our old TiVo Series 3. The difference between TiVo's interface and WOW's interface was night and day.... and it's not as though we're newbies with WOW. We've had it for 40 days now. And it's still every bit as tricky as it was on Day 3. You hit right-left-right to move deeper into menus? If you want to start a recorded program, you can't select the title and see shows.... you have to WAIT a bit, or else you're looking at

Three Powerless Days!

All projects were on hold as of Sunday afternoon - the brief but powerful storm that tore through Chicago's west suburbs uprooted trees and downed power lines all over our village, and it's taken a full 48 hours plus to restore power. As of 15 minutes ago, we were back in business! Now, time to spend my 4th of July holiday getting this DLNA server running!

Brinks is Broadview is ADT - Our Adventures in Home Security

As I mentioned in my last post, it has been a bit of a trick to get our Brinks security system working with our WOW UltraTV VOIP phone system. We only have one "phone jack" in the house, and that's the primary UltraTV box. So for now, we have a bit of a jerry-rigged situation with a phone line running through the house connecting the Brinks box to the UltraTV system. It also seems that, in recent years, there has been some serious consolidation in the home security world - Brinks installed this system when our home was built in 2008, and since then, they've been purchased at least once. Now, the only game in town is ADT. ADT can make our system work over a regular phone line for $29.99 - or they can make it work over a cell signal, for the cost of a new system ($99.99) plus a monthly charge of $44.99. I'm going with option 1. Option 2 does have its advantages, though - a newer security system could be armed and monitored via iOS, which is kind of o

Updates, Incidents and Accidents

I've got the opposite of the usual "home theater wife" - I've now received an ultimatum that the TV needs to be mounted on the wall, the wires buried and the TV audio running through the AV system, ASAP. Which is great news. On the other hand, we're still having a heck of a time getting our WOW Ultra TV system lined up properly. The first issue arose when our ADT security installer arrived - the phone jacks in the house, obviously, are not active. And without that, monitoring can't work. I was in NYC for work when the installer arrived, but my wife handled the situation at least as capably as I would have. His solution was to run phone cable along the basement ceiling, from the ADT box to the phone jack nearest the UltraTV box in our den. Then, add a splitter of some sort, and voila - the ADT box and the phone are both connected to UltraTV's one active phone jack. Except, now the phone doesn't work. And I'm not sure if the ADT line is worki