Skip to main content

Checking in - April 2018

It's been a long run here at AAAD. Six years!

And yes, we've been waiting for HomeKit to take over the world for the better part of a decade.

While things have been largely stagnant on THAT front, the rest of our tech world has changed dramatically.

Back in 2012, we moved to the Chicago suburbs and became landlords.

We got to work making our new house our own - building out the home theater, finishing the basement, removing trees and building a shed.

Then, after 5 years, we refurbished and sold the Chicago condo.

Lots of change - but our technology evolved even more quickly.

We went from WOW cable, to DirecTV's Genie system, to cord-cutting.

Last year, we put an Apple TV on every television in the house (hardwired via Ethernet!) and started using the Sony Playstation Vue app.

We added a QNAP NAS to our system, which stores our photos, music and movies, and serves them up to our Apple TVs via Plex.

We went from a CD collection, to an iTunes library, to an Apple Music subscription.

At this point, we have immediate, on-demand access to almost every piece of entertainment ever created. (And if we DON'T have something, we can find it pretty quickly.) It's really something to behold.

So what's next?

MacOS Server 2018

One thing I desperately want - and which Apple has never effectively "cracked" - is to move our iTunes and Photos libraries to an always-on server in our basement.

We just got a new 5K Retina iMac, but I don't want the iMac to be the sole central repository of our media libraries. I don't want to have to make sure iTunes is open and the Mac is on, in order to play my locally stored music.

(Which, granted, is less and less often these days.)

For years, the answer WOULD have been to get a Mac Mini, install macOS server, and use that as our primary home server. But Apple stopped making worthwhile Mac Minis in 2012, the year this blog started.

Recently, Apple recently announced that it was deprecating most of its macOS server functions, and would focus on "management of devices".

The Apple internet reacted extremely negatively to this news. I'm kind of excited.

I'm HOPING that this is code for macOS evolving into a consumer-level "central computer", which handles media, but which leaves the typical hard-IT server functions to the cloud.

If I can buy the successor of a Mac Mini, plug it into our NAS, and use that to handle our iTunes libraries, I'd be extremely happy.

HomePods

We originally had an AAAD project called "AirPlay Everywhere". That was superseded by Sonos, as AirPlay couldn't do the multi-room tricks Sonos could.

But now that AirPlay 2.0 is imminent, it's possible that our Sonos system will "play nice" with HomePod.

If not...well, HomePod wins, and the Sonos stuff will hit eBay.

Voice control - and HomeKit control - are just that important.


A New House?

We put in SO much work! And we just barely finished! Why would we ever move?!

Well.... a few years after moving to the burbs, we had a second child.

(And even though we turned our 4 bedroom into a 5-bedroom when we finished the basement.... well, there's no bed in that basement bedroom. That's where the Peloton lives.)

So it's starting to feel a bit crowded, especially when we have grandparents over.

Also, I got a job that's about 40 miles from our suburb... which is a bit of a strain.

So maybe a move (or even a vacation condo nearer my office) would make sense! We need projects!

Here's What's Next!

When I started this blog, the intent was to chronicle a number of major projects. A new home theater in the living room. A finished basement. A home server. A home audio system.

All of those projects have been completed - in most cases, in a fashion that was different from what I'd originally envisioned. (Technology has a way of giving you things that you never even knew you wanted.)

The one constant during the last 6 years has been change - a consistent evolution toward making technology faster, simpler, and more comprehensive.

It's been fun writing about all of this - I never thought we'd see the response we did, with hundreds of thousands of pageviews.

The news out of Apple has seemed.... slower in recent years. I've waited on new Mac Minis and new HomeKit gear for YEARS. And the pace of posts here at AAAD has reflected that.

I'm going to keep blogging about all things Apple - ideally, a bit more often than I have in the last year - but we'll be mixing in more travel reviews and home-renovation posts.

Thanks for reading. Onward!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Not All AirPort Extremes are Created Equal (UPDATED)

I'm looking for a used AirPort Extreme. In all the usual places - eBay, Craigslist.  I'll probably get one this week. Why? It's a long story.  A while back, I picked up an AirPort Express A1084 router on Craigslist, and found that it was incompatible with my AirPort Utility and wireless-n network, even though it looked *identical* to the current model of AirPort Express.  So, I wrote a post on this blog about the different types of AirPort Express routers, noting that if you're looking for used Airport Express routers to extend your AirPlay network, you'd better seek out model A1264. In the months that followed, Apple updated the AirPort Express again, changing the form factor (it looks like a little white AppleTV now), adding simultaneous dual-band support, and giving it model number A1392.  ASIDE: I'm not totally convinced that the form-factor change was an improvement. The A1264 plugged directly into the wall, which was incr

Review: NuCore Flooring from Floor & Decor

This NuCore flooring review will also function as a Basement Update: We're finally, officially moving forward on the Phase 2 finish work.

Review - WOW Ultra TV vs. DirecTV HR34 Genie

Here in the Chicago suburbs, we had two options for whole-home DVR services. We initially went with WOW Ultra TV, and after about 4 months, we switched to DirecTV's HR34 Genie system. (Neither Verizon FIOS nor AT&T UVerse were available in our area, so we can't review those. I haven't used Dish's Hopper, either. This is a straight compare/contrast review of WOW vs. DirecTV.) Both Ultra TV and Genie have their plusses and minuses. Both offer 1080p output, but that's primarily for the menus, as most TV content is provided at lower resolutions.  Both systems have a similar design architecture - a central hub, with multiple tuners and a large hard drive, recording and storing all TV shows, and distributing them to televisions around the house upon request.  Both systems also bring a number of "add-on" apps and have ways of accessing "on demand" content.  We've had each system for enough time to really put them through