My Home Tech: Summer 2011 Roundup

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A long, long time ago, in a blog post far, far away, I documented some of my home tech in a piece that described how it all connected together. The article actually focused on my home network equipment, but I figured it would be useful to document the rest of the kit so that I can look back on it in a few years and marvel at how outdated it all was.

In a move which is hopefully slightly more interesting than my outrageously poor opening line, I figured it would be fun to expand out and showcase how I actually use some of this technology in my day job and my home life because I enjoy reading about the interesting things others have done, so perhaps others out there will appreciate this!

Highlights

Before I can kick-off any mini series style articles, let’s set the foundations:

  • Gigabit Ethernet cabled throughout
  • Netgear GS605 Gigabit Switch
  • Connectix Home Network Cabinet
  • Connectix Home Network Patch Panel (8 RJ45 + 4 telecoms)
  • HP ProLiant N36L MicroServer (4TB storage)

Infrastructure

Our apartment is cabled using gigabit ethernet, with at least two outlets in each bedroom plus four in my home office, and four in the living room behind the TV. This all terminates back to a Conectix Home Network Patch Panel which provides 8 termination points for each of the sockets, plus 4 telecoms connections which can be used to route the BT line to any of the RJ45 outlets scattered around. The network sockets all terminate back to a Netgear GS605 Unmanaged Gigabit Ethernet Switch, which sits inside my Connectix Home Network Cabinet.

I really like having the flexibility to swap-out any active hardware or install new stuff without any hassle, plus having the freedom to route connectivity about as I need it is pretty neat.

Network Cabinet Setup

Energy Metering

Within the network cabinet is a Current Cost Envi and Current Cost Bridge, although I have to say that I am not overly impressed with the bridge’s capabilities since it connects only to the my.currentcost.com web site, which although powered by Pachube, locks all your data away.

In the coming months, I will hopefully be announcing my revised ‘Arduinometer’ project, which is now based on the new Netduino Plus. This open-source platform will be capable of reading simultaneously from different energy meters, including gas, electricity and water.

Connectivity

Right now, I’m using BT as my broadband provider. Until their Infinity service is available in my area (September 2011 is the ETA – yikes!), I’m using their Total Broadband package. As you can see, I get relatively decent connectivity, but I’d obviously like to improve on that and I have high hopes for the BT Infinity Service (when it becomes available):

What matters most to me is reliability: as I work from home, I need a robust connection that’s there when I need it.

Servers & Storage

At the heart of my home network is a new HP ProLiant MicroServer N36L with 4TB of storage capacity. It runs the newest Windows Home Server 2011 operating system. All my client PCs (including my main development station) are backed-up daily by the server. That makes for a total of 4 PCs and 1 laptop being regularly backed up by the server, quietly and transparently.

As an added bonus, after a clean build of my development station, I took a full backup of it and that should allow me to do a complete rebuild simply by restoring the backup (which is actually an image of my machine) to go back to my ‘ideal state’ at any point in time.

Development rig

My main development machine is an Intel Core i7 870 @ 2.93GHz. It has 8GB of Corsair DDR3 RAM and runs Windows 7 Ultimate. I’ve fitted out the very lovely ¬†Antec P90 case with a Corsair sealed liquid-cooling unit for keeping the processor nice and cool. Having a nice big radiator and 12cm fan means the RPMs can be kept low and that in turn reduces noise from the case.

Storage wise, I’m running a 120GB OCZ Colossus SSD as my primary drive with a 600GB Western Digital Green Caviar for storing most of the data. I also have a secondary 60GB Corsair SSD which has holds code I’m working on with Visual Studio 2010 (which, by the way, is installed on my primary SSD).

Driven by the NVidia GeForce GTX 275 primary graphics card are two 24″ LCD monitors, but I have aspirations to update those this year to a couple of IIyama 27″ panels. I also have a cheaper standard graphics card driving a 3rd 21″ CTX LCD monitor on which Twitter sits (yes, it is an addiction – live with it).

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