Some thoughts about networking

So there have been many times I've revamped, reinstalled and reconfigured my home computer layout. I've snaked CAT5 through basements and attics, hooked up wireless routers and configured wireless access points to stream video and audio data all over houses and apartments (my own, friends' & family's).

Lots of things went wrong, or broke down over time. But there were a select few things that I was able to get working that really went the distance in terms of blanketing my abode with data packets of movie and music goodness. I've gone through probably 5 completely different routers, and hundreds of feet of network cable, and in the end it all served one purpose - to let me get my data anywhere in my house.

My current setup is somewhat wonky right now because I am using an ASUS WL500-W router with DD-WRT as the operating system on it. I've been moderately happy with it, but it has some quirks that definitely make me want to break the thing like the printer in "Office Space." You shouldn't have to completely remove every single network cable and USB cable from the device - just to reboot the damn thing. But while it's up and running, it does what it needs to do - feed me the data.

To explain the hardware layout in my house, I'd like to call it the Holy Trinity. I have an iMac, a dual-booting Windows XP/7 machine, and a Dell Mini 9 running Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.04. I have several other networked devices for streaming video, audio and such around my house, but talking about those is a completely different topic for another day.

It's funny to see all these different OSs and how well they seem to work together. I'm able to access all the shares via SMB or through SSH/FTP and that's fine with me. My wife likes to tease me about how much time computers and electronics take out of my life, but I know she appreciates being able to hop on her Mini 9, and check her Facebook or email. Some days I wish that I didn't have to work on all my computers and network so much, but it's one of those rare moments that make me happy to have control over a piece of something. Some people choose food as their control device, and that can be dangerous (i.e. bulimia or anorexia), some like to use healthy activities to keep some control over their lives (i.e. exercise and outdoorsy stuff), I like to network.

Not necessarily the people kind - I am a tad introverted, but I think it's important to have a healthy balance of individual/alone time and social interaction. My wife is exactly the opposite as me in that respect. She recharges her batteries by hanging out with and talking to her friends and colleagues. I, on the other hand, like the peace and quiet of my office when I can spend time listening to music and burning DVDs or reading up on my favorite blogs.

Sometimes personal introspection is the easiest way to make discoveries into what makes us tick. I suggest reading a book, or sitting down with a puzzle every once in a while just to escape the tedium or stress of the day. Home networking is my rubik's cube. What challenges you?


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