Multimedia, Charter Communications, and the Planet of the Apes

I spent a huge portion of my weekend attempting to turn my home into a multimedia environment the likes of which might be seen at Disney World.

It took me about a half-day to realize that I don’t have the uber billions that Mickey and friends enjoy. What I do have, however, are two LCD TVs, one with a digital tuner and one without. I have two computers that, for all geek intents and purposes, are slighty dated, and one stand-by computer worthy of nothing more than surfing the net…at most. I also have another 13″ LCD monitor for which I paid vast sums of money three years ago.

The goals are few but complicated. I want to be able to store and control in one main location all media—photos, movies, wireless, audio, and net access. A hub, if you will. I also want to be able to:

1) Control all of it from any location (any station)
2) Stream movie and audio playback from the main hub.
3) Utilize each station as a TV and a computer
4) Use each station as a DVR to record HD or SD programming

I pretty much have it all figured out, except for the recording of HD programming. This is because 1) I’m cheap and don’t want to give the cable company any more money for renting of their damn boxes. (I have one box and I know that I can make it all work with that box) and 2) Purchasing the right digital video card for my computer is a bit complicated to get exactly what I need.

Issue two would be easily solved if issue one didn’t exist. It’s technical, so I won’t get into it. But when it comes right down to it, it’s the principle of the thing. I despise Charter Communications and their nickel-and-dime strategy to rape you of anything that they can. $5 a month for digital access and $3 a month for digital service – my ass! What the heck is that? $7 a month for HD service, $3 a month for HD access, $10 a month for an HD box, and $4 a month for any extra digital (not HD) boxes. HD boxes would be another $7 a month…or something like that. I think you know what I’m saying.

So my goal is to beat them at their own game, legally. Doing it illegally really isn’t a challenge to me any longer and that’s not who I want to be. Stealing, although risky, is simple, cheap and efficient. Doing it legally is a whole other battle. It’s much more expensive, probably more expensive than renting the equipment from Charter, at least in the short run. And the short run is rule in the world of technology. But again, it’s the principle, and the challenge. Besides that, I’ll own my equipment versus giving my money to Satan incarnate.

When I told my wife about it, she balked. It’s probably because she wants a flat LCD in the bedroom, and that’s all she wants. It makes no difference to her if I can play a movie on the TV upstairs when in all reality it’s playing on the computer downstairs. She just wants it to work every time without pushing eight buttons, turning three knobs, and adjusting this RCA input so that it fits into that coax outlet.

And I tend to agree, which is yet another reason why it’s taking such a long time and so much research. I’m making it so that all you have to do is click here to see photos, click here to see movies, click here to listen to music or click here to watch TV. (Sounds remarkably like a Charter Communications HD box, eh).

BUT IT WILL BE BETTER THAN CHARTER. BETTER I SAY. BETTER
(I’m feeling slightly mad-scientist-ish right now.)

Better because I’ll make it work myself and won’t have to pay nickel and dime fees.

So here is the kicker. The whole reason that I put myself on this rampage of technology research and store hopping from Circuit City, to Best Buy, to Comp USA and back is simple, some might say foolish. But not to me.

My daughter wanted to watch a DVD on Saturday. Neither of my cheap DVD players work on my cheap and arcane TV. However, I had the movie downstairs on my computer hard drive as a backup. But she wanted to watch it in the bedroom. I got frustrated because I couldn’t give her what she wanted, and because I couldn’t make my POS DVD player work.

GET YOUR CHEAP LASER OFF MY DISK, YOU DAMN DIRTY DVD PLAYER

Muuaahhhh. I will win.

 

Visit Worlds Beyond Rittman Photoblog.

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