3.4.06

You might as well face it, you're addicted

Listening to: Burbling air con in my hotel room
Most played: Fantasizing about buying loads of boys toys
 

After spending Sunday helping J to move house to Bath, have re-ignited the lingering passion for splurging cash on boys toys. There are 3 main projects in my head in rough order of desirability:

1) Next-gen entertainment
My not-that-old 21" TV just doesn't really cut it in the new lounge. The sofa is just too far away from the screen for it to be enjoyable to watch. In addition, you know that things are bad when H can't quite read the screen without her specs! So, a nice new, big flat screen is required. And it will complement the aethestic of the room nicely. Honest! Current hot contender is a 40" Samsung LCD screen. Having surfed the web for a bit, this seems to be a very good bet at a decent value price. Still coming in at around £1300, so lots of saving to do.
To complement the TV, I'm increasingly tempted by the XBox 360. The few times I've played on it at J's I've really enjoyed it. But more than anything else, Live is genius. It really does capture the community concept of gaming so well. Online leaderboards are quality. The friends option just works really well. Achievements are ace. Just playing around with J, you do find yourself checking out other people's gamer cards etc.
And I've been longing after a speaker upgrade for the stereo for ages. Current speakers are OK, but a bit vague. Have seen some nice KEF iQ5s that have great reviews and aside from sounding great, would look awesome in the lounge. Especially alongside a new TV.
There is a kind of phase 2 to the next-gen entertainment project, which is a further upgrade of the stereo to get a Cambridge Azur 640V2 amp and CD player. This can kind of go on hold, but is "only" a £500 upgrade, so could follow hard on the heels. Plus, I ought to be able to ebay the existing stuff, or sell it on somehow, so it shouldn't be too costly.

2) The perfect studying environment
Currently, music is provided to the study by means of a rather ropey old stereo that sits on the floor. What I really need is a nice small unit that can sit on a bookshelf, without totally dominating it. There are some vaguely suitable microsystems, but they still feel a little on the large side. Obviously, a very sexy alternative would be a Bose wave music system. But they are about £450 a pop. But I've come up with a not much cheaper, but maybe conceptually better solution ... the marriage of an iPod with a Bose docking station. All the Bose sexiness with even sexier iPod magic. In some respects, this is a smarter option. It's got a smaller footprint. I also get an iPod out of it. I'm slightly more likely to make use of the docking station when on the road (eg travelling on hols with H). And it would be tidy to have all the music held in the iPod, because I wouldn't have to wander off to get new CDs and have them scattered round the house when I'm working. However, it's not a cheaper option: 200 notes for the iPod 30GB and 250 quid for the Bose docking station. And there's more. My home PC isn't compatible, so it would precipitate an upgrade of some description (we start to segue neatly into plan 3 here).

3) Home network action a go-go
I've always had a bit of a hankering after a nice geek-tastic home network. I have a router. With a little bit of jiggery-pokery, a full-on network is mine. Firstly, move router to lounge and run cables upstairs to study. This gives the advantage of being able to network the Xbox 360 (see project 1) using wires rather than having to shell out for a wireless adaptor. Then I could put a little 4 or 6 point hub/switch in the study to server my existing PC (rebuilt as a server), a new PC (med spec to run dedicated Linux as an office workhorse) and an XP based laptop (to support iTunes for project 2). Then I'd run a cable into the loft to a wireless access point et voila: 21st century connectivity. Handy if, for example, I was to invest in a Nintendo DS and Mariokart DS and Animal Crossing WW. Just for example obviously. Also, a wireless enabled laptop could roam around the house with impunity. Ideal for summer coding in the conservatory.
I kind of have further plans for the network. The main reason for running a server is to see whether I can do anything to enable me to access my e-mail more efficiently when on the road. At the moment, I'm web-based, which is OK. But I've no intention of using Gmail yet. So I would like to run my own mail server from the house. This should be no problem, as I have a static IP with Zen internet and ought to be able to get another if necessary (probably not, as I reckon I might be able to use the NAT on my router, but need to investigate further).

So, those are the 3 main plans. There are more, but that's where the focus lies. I think I have got the rant off my chest.

Laters,
BB