While the boys are at Camp Fern I have been making some updates to the study electronics.
The study PC was really getting cramped for hard drive space and has slowed down so bad, and there is so much it won't run now (it's an XP machine and I haven't had luck upgrading machines to 7) that I replaced it with a new Dell Inspiron 2330 all-in-one that gets rid of the separate tower. I used the transfer cable to move files and it worked out generally okay. Still working on transferring Quicken and some of the other programs. I also backed up my external hard drive backup with an online backup with iDrive Sync. It will take days to get all the documents and photos I need to save to back up online, but once they do, I'll have a secure backup, plus access to documents from any machine. I also made sure iDrive syncs with iAnnotate, so if I want to work on home documents the same way I do office ones, I can. I may end up adding the office to iSync because I certainly have the room. Have not decided on that yet.
The old machine was still great for Internet and basic office work (word processing, etc.) so I moved it up to Collin & Parker's room along with the good computer speaker system, replacing the two really old PCs they had up there - neither of which could even get on the Internet. Speaking of which, the machine is pre-wifi, so today I added a wireless-N adapter so when they get back from Fern they can play games in their room - someone they've rarely been able to do before. So right now they have, for the first time, a nice, neat new computer setup. They will be so excited to have their own computer now.
Next up were some upgrades to the TV/audio system. First up was an Auvio docking station for my iPhone so I can listen to my Audible books while painting the ceiling. It is snugged in below the TV and has its own remote, but it is an "application" on the Logitech remote now, so I can click on it and play Audible or music files. The second is now largely moot, but it's still a nice option.
I was reading some articles yesterday morning about viewing photos on a TV and one of the applications discussed was Apple TV . When I looked it up, it looked like a really useful option for the study, since it would
- allow the TV to stream audio and video from the new PC via Home Sharing on iTunes; and
- allow me to put images/video from the iPad up on the TV.
It has other features as well - access to online movie content through iTunes or Netflix, but that overlaps partially with what the Sony Blu-ray player already does (as well as the Roku players in our bedroom and the twins' room) so I doubt I'll use that much. So I got that installed yesterday and set it up as an additional application on the Logitech remote just now.
I initially wasn't going to run the audio through the receiver, just the TV via the HDMI cable, but after I realized how handy the streaming audio from my iTunes account was going to be, and how bad the audio from the TV sounded, I switched the optical audio cable that had been a backup source for the SACD receiver to the Apple TV, and it sounds great. The location of the unit itself took a little thought - I decided to put the unit in the study, instead of the wiring closet, which meant running a second IR emitter from the extender in the wiring closet IR extender to the study (there was already one, serving the Blu-ray and SACD players). Setup of the remote went fine.
In checking the remote's settings, I ran across the same problem I have had ever since moving the audio receiver into the wiring closet - I can't see what its settings are, and as a result get weird audio surround settings. The underlying problem is that many of the receiver's settings scroll through, so while the remote can dictate what inputs are set, you can't control remotely what the sound settings are, and thus might get some bizarre "concert hall" sound settings or inappropriate movie surround settings without knowing it. I am learning which buttons not to press, but I still probably need to go into into the closet to check what the audio settings are depending on whether I am watching a movie or listening to music if I am really interested in getting the right settings. (Assuming I can even figure out what those are - what are the "surround" settings for music?)
The basic problem is that the receiver is several inches too deep to fit on the 11" deep study shelves, so it has to go into the closet, but that means I can't see the settings. Hopefully eventually I'll be able to get a smaller receiver, or find a better way to monitor its settings, but for right now, this will have to do.
Update: just looked at some newer receivers, and not only do they display their settings on the attached TV, but the setting are also controllable via iPad/iPhone apps. And here I thought I had fairly up to date equipment...