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.

Macs on Intel and DRM

I’ve seen rants lately that have been complaining about Apple putting DRM (digital rights management) into their Intel based Macs such as the Developer Transition Kits some developers have “rented”. The complaints are that Apple should allow people to run OS X on any old Intel based machine. I think that this idea is a complete mistake and am happy that Apple is going to lock down the OS to their hardware. There are a number of reasons for this. First off, by having Apple control the hardware and the software, things just work better. Second, from a troubleshooting point of view, there are already enough combinations of Macs and OS versions, that adding any old Intel hardware would make supporting products a nightmare (look at how much trouble Windows users have). The rants are just short sighted; who cares if Apple is moving to Intel from a consumer’s point of view? The consumer just wants a Mac and doesn’t care what processor it runs. Developers care as they have to do work to support it. All I can say, is “give me a break” and I hope that Apple doesn’t change its stance and let OS X run on generic Intel hardware.

Automated Telephone Menu Systems

I received mail from Time Warner Cable thanking me for being a business class customer for a year and offered me a free 2 Mbps upgrade. So, I called the toll free number and tried to navigate through the menus to claim my “prize”. After the system hung up on me the first time, I tried again. Next time, I got it to connect me to the Desert Cities office which isn’t where I am. So I called my local office (I memorized the phone number a long time ago) and after miss navigating the first time, I tried again and managed to get a person in sales. I asked for business class sales and he gave me the same phone number I already tried. He them transferred me to a live person who then asked for my zip code and transferred me to my “local” rep. The local rep answered (obviously on a cell phone) and asked if I was transferred to the number or I called it. He said he’d call me back when he gets in the office.

While I really like the service and have only had a few hours of downtime in the last year, talking to a human who has a clue is nearly impossible. We’ll see if I get my upgrade (I’m not sure I will as all residential and home business customers got upgraded from 3 MBps down to 5 MBps down earlier this year. Maybe I can convince them to give me a free upgrade to better upstream bandwidth.)

Company Recommendations

People keep asking me for recommendations on vendors such as general contractors, places to buy stuff, etc. So I started a web page with some of my recommendations. I’ll try to keep updating it as I encounter more companies that provide excellent service, prices, and quality.

One week of blogging

I’ve now been blogging for a week and must say that it is kind of neat to be able to write what’s on my mind and not have to bug my wife. I don’t expect my ramblings to be very interesting to anyone, but at least I can get things off my mind.