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Home Network Rehab: The View at Substantial Completion – Part 1

May 20, 2007

In February, I laid out our ambitious plans for remaking our home network for Vista. With my new personal PC from Velocity Micro arriving a few weeks ago, the hardware upgrades were complete. Now that I have just sold and shipped my old person PC, I am able to sit back and take stock of what we have accomplished over the last few months:

  • All the PCs in the house now run Vista and are connected to Small Business Server 2003.
  • Five of the seven PCs in the house are new since November 2006.
  • We are running Vista Media Center with dual cable card tuners and dual ATSC tuners.
  • We are now running a network multifunction printer.

Despite all the new hardware (or perhaps because of it, there are a few nagging problems):

  • The HP laptops have no sound when returning from sleep mode in Vista.
  • My personal PC can’t use a USB mouse anymore and the card reader drives no longer function. [Update 5/27/07: the card reader now works.]
  • This past week the Media Center PC’s Cablecard tuners stopped functioning, requiring them to be reinitialized and the channel list to be re-edited. Every few days or so, the CableCard tuner will fail to detect a signal and fail to record a show.
  • Vista Media Center does not do a good job allowing Extenders to use the Music Library. The library is not easily (if at all) updated to reflect new additions, and many functions are still slow.
  • The last I checked, Transcode 360 did not work properly with my Vista Media Center setup– for reasons perhaps related to other aspects of our network setup.
  • J River Media Center’s design makes it difficult to elegantly transfer podcasts to my PocketPC– in order to avoid duplicate podcasts, I have to uncheck a setting each time I run it from a client PC. (Windows Media Player’s smartlist functionality is too limited to even attempt this.) [Update 5/27/07: J River has promised to fix this issue in the next build.]
  • J River’s Media Center doesn’t handle the BloggingHeads.tv audio RSS feed correctly. [Update 5/27/07: J River fixed this issue.]

There are probably be a few others I am forgetting, and of course many things are done well: the ability to have centrally located media and to work efficiently from any PC around the house thanks to Small Business Server.

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