FreakoutITGeek's Blog

Random IT postings from Freakz

Ideal Home Setup

From time to time I think of my ideal home set up and dream about what it would look like. I thought I’d share these thoughts with readers of this blog and see what others think of these dreams.

Let’s start with the all important network:

At present I have a Linksys wifi router that’s quite a few years old now and is starting to show its age. Connected to the router I have my salvaged IT kit (iBook G4, Apple IMac [2006 intel chipset]), my 5 year old Dell laptop, my iPhone 3GS, My wife’s blackberry, our Nintendo Wii, DSi & our iPad all connecting. As the router was one of the best available at the time, it’s doing good but with only 4x 10/100 network ports and the wireless G wifi it is struggling with all the devices competing to share the Virgin media connection. It’s time I upgraded this to something that is more suitable for our current & future requirements.

My preference at the moment is to move to the latest Cisco / linksys router, ideally the E4200 Wireless N-450 Dual Band Gigabit Cable router.

The E4200 looks like a good option:

The updated WiFi security settings will allow us to continue our Nintendo Wii whilst protecting the devices that can use better security protocols.

The dual band will allow the older systems to use the Wireless-G signal, whilst newer devices can use the Wireless-N signal for video streaming etc without the older systems having an impact on the newer ones. It also has 3 antennas for wireless-N signals and another 3 for wireless-G signals and MiMo to easily allow for multiple wifi connections and great signal strength.

The 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports will allow me to connect vital equipment such as a Mac Mini Server, NAS and iMac so that they can have the fastest possible file transfer speeds between each other and the WiFi. 10/100 is just too slow nowadays. The E4200 also has a USB port to allow for file storage using an external USB drive, not as good as a NAS, but space for storage and backup is always worth having.

I’ll have to look into the possibility of using a RADIUS server for greater WiFi security (need to check out OS X server docs) and I’m playing with the idea of having a second ‘public’ wifi ( an option on the the E4200 ) so that I can allow Free WiFi (limited) access similar to recommendations by the EFF.

So the network should be sorted with the E4200, but I will probably need better storage for backup, saving files, and streaming (?)

My idea is to have a NetGear ReadyNAS Duo (RND 2000) connected to one of the Gigabit ports of the router, this will have dual SATA drives running as a mirrored RAID, without being too costly. Using Mirrored RAID should ensure data security (I’ll have to have it on some form of Surge protector, possibly something from Belkin or APC) as it will probably be used to hold backups from the different machines as well as being used as for media streaming to the other devices and file storage. The Netgear Duo also has a USB port so that I can share our printer from it so that it’s hopefully going to be available from the Windows laptop and the Apple systems. The USB port will also be handy to transfer existing data from our current 1GB external USB drive to the NAS.

So that should be the network & storage sorted. Now for machines for work.. I think an updated iMac and Mac Mini Server will be ideal for my needs.

The Mac Mini Server is an overlooked bit of kit, taking up the same space as a stack of CDs or DVDs the server will hardly be noticeable. It should be handy for managing the Apple kit we already have and should allow me to try out media streaming, pod casting, web design and loads of other things that I’ve been unable to do previously.
It has dual hard disks so a NAS may not be needed(?), however I’d hate to have everything on one system, where the drives are not hot swappable.

The iMac will allow me to remote into the Mac Mini Server ( so that I can have it ‘headless’), but at the same time be able to learn more about the current OS X operating system, create videos, play with Garage band ( maybe learn to play something), edit photos & videos from our digital camera or my iPhone. BootCamp, VMWare or Parallels ( not sure which is better at the moment) will be needed so that I have Windows 7 and XP installed to allow me to still support friends and family when they are looking for help (gotta keep your hand in). I’m sure that there’s loads more exciting stuff that I could do with updated kit ( including App development for OS X and iOS), things that are just not possible with the old kit I have at present.

And to chill out, I think we should have an Apple TV, pulling content from the NAS or the Mac Mini Server. The Apple TV would have to be connected to a big TV or a projector ( I’m now wondering If the rumour about Apple patenting a 3D projector is true?) and it would be handy for showing photos and videos taken on the digital camera or iPhone to friends and family.

Some management of all this kit could be performed using our iPad 2 or iPhone ( Which I’ll have to consider upgrading soon. Hopefully Virgin Mobile will start providing the new iPhone when it comes out, especially as Virgin mobile use T-Mobile as their carrier and T-Mobile & Orange sold the iPhone 4 and they have now have merged to become Everything Everywhere. Even Virgin Mobile Canada sold the iPhone 4, so I’m hopeful that Virgin Mobile UK will do the same soon)

So there you have it, Dual band Wireless N router possibly with public access, Mac mini Server managing everything, loads of secure storage, an iMac work horse, Apple TV for chilling out, iPad for fun ( web browsing, games, social networking, etc) and everything just working together 🙂

Now back to reality with a bump.. I’d better get a better job to pay for all this kit & the electricity it will all use 😦

Shame it’s all just a pipe dream..


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