TiVo – How could we live without it?

Last year before we got TiVo, I told everyone that said it was great, that they must be crazy as it couldn’t be all that good. My wife and I watch our fair share of TV, but have watched a lot of junk in our couch potato time. In the year since we got TiVo, we can’t really watch TV without it. The summer has a lot of junk on and it allowed us to catch up on some stuff. Now that the new season has started, our TiVo is filled with shows that we want to watch. Being able to skip commercials is great and we now watch TV on our own time instead of when the networks say we want to watch it. We record the news every night and don’t have to be home at 5:30 pm and can walk the dog without having to rush back.

I know that every company and his neighbor is coming out with a DVR/PVR, but I’m quite happy with my TiVo. My wife has accepted the technology (she was reluctant at first) and we’re both hooked.

More audio wiring

I managed to run some more cable today; the runs were to outdoor speakers and quite straightforward, but time consuming. I need to remember to carefully label the wires at both ends. I ended up having to use an Ohm meter twice to get the correct labels on the wires. I felt real stupid as I already did this once before in my wiring project. I’m trying to find a professional to a bit more of the wiring as many of the remaining 17 runs are a bit complicated and a little more than I can handle.

More audio installation

I made a little more progress today; I pulled 3 more runs. The first being the Cat 6 for my office; that was easy as I was just replacing some Cat 5. The next 2 proved very challenging as I had to spend time in the sweltering hot attic. After a few tries attempting to fish the wires down the wall in the attic, I remembered I had a 3 ft drill bit my dad let me borrow. That did the trick to get the wires where I needed. In this particular room, I decided to use a low voltage add on box that clips to a regular box. Getting it in was a little tricky, but doable. The volume control had to be nudged into the box as the add on box must have been designed for low voltage outlets or something else with lots of wiggle room. However, when I went to put the cover plate on, I realized that the original box was a bit wider than normal boxes, so the cover plate didn’t fit. A little work with a drill on another switch to move the mounting holes yielded a perfect fit. Despite the extra work involved, I really like the look of the light switch and volume control in one cover plate. I’m not sure if I’m going to do this for the other 3 that I have like this.

Home Depot

I went to the closest Home Depot today to get some low voltage boxes and covers for my home audio system (I managed to pull 4 runs of cable today!) and couldn’t fit a 12 port, 2 gang wall plate. I asked an associated if he could check to see if another store had them before I wasted my time and gas going there. He said that usually all the Home Depots carry the same products and he had never seen it before. He looked it up on the computer and found that they had 21 in stock. Great, I only needed 2. So we go back to the aisle and look at the overhead bins for the stock number and he couldn’t find it. Uggh. Off I went to Lowe’s (it was closer than the next Home Depot). No luck. Then 20 minutes to the next Home Depot where I found what them! Perfect, wasted an extra 35 minutes and half a gallon of gas (about $1.45 these days) because the guy in Home Depot couldn’t find inventory.

Home Audio System – Doh!

I couldn’t sleep last night and finally realized why. In all my planning for the audio system, I seem to have left out connectors for half the speakers. I planned for one wire for left and one wire for right. Obviously there are two wires for right and two for left. That means I need to order more connectors from DeepSurplus and goto Home Depot to get some more low voltage boxes. I feel like such an idiot; this project probably would get done much faster and correct the first time if I hired a professional, but then I wouldn’t get the joy of knowing I did most of the work myself.

Home Audio System – Weekend Update

Since I had some spare time this weekend and still don’t have anyone to pull my cable, I went ahead and started tackling the project. First off, I installed a light switch (not really part of the audio system, but part of moving our family room) which only took 3 hours; it shouldn’t have taken that long, but getting the old single gang box out took far longer than it should have and getting all the wires back in was a royal pain. Next up, I decided to run a few runs of cable. This turned out to be an interesting task. I knew there was some access to our walls from the garage and had been told by the previous owner that the owner before him had a darkroom in the back of a storage area; this got drywalled in some time ago. I chopped out some drywall and discovered the “hidden” room. Running the wires was relatively easy, but extremely time consuming. 2 runs down, 26 more to go.

Putting in the first speaker control turned out to be challenging. I cut in the low voltage box, wired up the Cat 5 and tried to put the control in the low voltage box. Unfortunately the company that makes the low voltage box (Carlson) must never have talked to the company that made the control box (Russound) as the low voltage box was a few millimeters too small! The volume control box is huge because it contains an amplifier (it’s an A-BUS control); after a little modification of the low voltage box, I managed to get it installed.

More pictures are in the gallery. Hopefully this week I’ll be able to run some more cable.

Tendonitis

Almost 3.5 weeks ago, my foot started hurting, so I stopped running and exercising for about a week. When the problem didn’t get better, I went to the doctor. He diagnosed it as tendonitis. It’s now been over 2 weeks and things are getting much better. However, not exercising for that amount of time is making me stir crazy. I use my exercise time (running 2-3 times a week and cycle class twice a week) as time that I can do nothing else, but think. Hopefully I can start full force again next week. I’m so used to regular exercise nowadays, it just seems strange to sit around. I don’t wish this upon anyone.

Gigabit Ethernet

As part of my home audio system project, I decided to upgrade my network from 100 Mbps to 1000 Mbps (Gigabit). I installed 2 gigabit switches and a new ethernet card in my server. Luckily 3 of my other computers already had gigabit ethernet. I changed a few patch cables from Cat 5 to Cat 6 (Cat 6 is recommended for gigabit) and still have to replace the main cable from my office to my server. Hopefully this upgrade will speed up my backups when I drag down 65 GB of data from my server to my removable drive. I never thought I’d need/want gigabit and now I wonder why I didn’t do it before. Cost is pretty minor (~$60 for each switch and ~$70 for a new ethernet card).

Speakers arrived!

My speakers arrived today for my home audio system. 9 pair of various types of speakers are now sitting in our spare room (soon to be our TV room). I’ve posted some pictures in my gallery. I’m real excited to now get everything installed, but the person that was going to run the cable is in Florida doing hurricane repair work. One of his co-workers is supposed to get back to me about pulling the wire, but it looks like I may be searching for someone else to pull the cable.

Home Audio System Update

Our speakers should be here by Friday which means that we can start installing everything. Very exciting. Unfortunately the person who was supposed to pull the wires is in Florida doing hurricane related work. Luckily, one of his colleagues is available to do the work. There is a ton to do as we have 9 pair of speakers, 8 controllers, and 3 audio sources. My dad is going to help me cut in the boxes for the controllers. Maybe next week we will be well underway with this. I didn’t realize the scope of this project until recently. I have a ton of equipment on my floor and just got a box of Cat 6 wire today. As part of this work, I’m upgrading our home network to Gigabit ethernet. I’ll try to post pictures (if I remember) as things progress.