Wednesday, October 12, 2011

wire less & office technology

Oh yeah this is about gadgetry so feel free to skip it if science scares you.

I don't know why I am obsessed with increasing the efficiency of my office's technology. I just hate feeling like I'm wasting time in doing things that should just happen a little more naturally. How do I explain this? Hmm. Okay maybe it would be better to explain what I'm working with.

So here's my basic set up before. I have a TV, a Wii, a PS2, a printer/scanner/copier, three hard drives, and a photo printer. At my desk I have a power cord for my laptop and my laptop.
If I ever need something printed, this is what the office looks like with a cable running from the big cabinet to the desk.
It's scary looking, teetering on the edge like that with a cat ready to pounce on it at any moment.
I tossed around a lot of solutions that I was driving Matt crazy with like a time machine, buying a wireless printer, etc. But since the beginning I wanted to just buy another airport express and put it in the office. An airport express is an internet router that allows you to plug your internet via ethernet cable into the unit and it sends out a wireless signal. The difference between this unit and all other wireless routers is that this one is 1) Made by Apple 2) It allows you to plug your printer into the USB plug which allows you to print wirelessly 3) It has an audio plug which allows you to connect a radio or speakers to it and therefore play your music from your phone or computer to the speakers without having to directly plug into the radio or speakers. It's a phenomenal little piece of machinery that can be yours for the bargain rate of $99 OR $69 on ebay.
I'm not even gonna detail the amount of hacker crap I did to get this thing to work upstairs since we already have an airport express downstairs and another wireless router upstairs. Hours it took me and I still haven't figured out why it won't show up in my wireless networks. Whatever, it works doing exactly what I wanted it to do. I can now print wirelessly and play music wirelessly.

First, the music. Ideally I would want some beautiful speakers a la Tivoli but the problem with those speakers is that they're mother chucking expensive and they don't even charge your iphone/ipod while they're docked. Nor do they have a clock! Believe me, speakers and EvY are a hot topic around the house because I'm obsessed with finding the perfect ones but I haven't since I had been gifted with a fantastic Altec Lansing set that don't exist no more and we lost on our wedding day. I think I just want them to do too much. I want them to look good, sound good, be portable, have rechargeable batteries, have a clock, dock and charge your iphone/ipod, have a remote control that controls the iphone/ipod, and have an rear audio jack so I can plug them into my airport express.  So instead I settled on the best option Marshalls had to offer, this guy but for about $20 less.
He is not portable, doesn't have rechargeable batteries, has no remote, and he's okay looking and sounding. But he does have a very visible and cool clock and he docks and charges the iphone/ipod (and ipad if I went that way), and has a rear audio jack which connects him to the airport.
I don't know if you are familiar with the awesomeness that is Apple & iTunes technology but if you have speakers set up for AirPlay, which is when the speaker is plugged into the airport (aka that thing I've been trying to accomplish), then you can play your music to that speaker wirelessly with the touch of a button. In our case we have AirPlay set up for the downstairs living room speakers and now the office speakers so at the bottom of my iTunes there's a button that I can chose what speakers I want the music to play to so technically my computer can be on upstairs and be playing music to the speakers in the livingroom without having to move the computer or plug anything in. Magic.
But what if you want to play something else? If you have an iPhone you can download the remote App and it controls your computer's music from your phone. So you can be in the kitchen and want to suddenly listen to the Glenn Miller Orchestra and bam, you can. Or if you're done in the kitchen and moving back upstairs you can switch the speakers back to play upstairs.
Also with the iPhone you can play music that's on your iPhone if say your computer is in your backback in the trunk of your car, and just go to the iPod app and play Poison by Bell Biv DeVoe to the speakers of your choice.
The great thing about this is if guests stay in the office they can plug their iPhones/iPods right into the dock overnight and it will charge it and they can play their music too! Technically speaking I don't really need a remote for the upstairs speaker unless I'm playing music off of my little iPod. Of course iHome anticipated this remote thing so you can just buy a remote for it if you wanted but at this point after a few weeks of living with my set up I can tell you I don't think I'll need it. If I'm up here, the laptop is here and I can just control all my music with my computer and phone. But it would be nice for my guests laying in bed listening to Wilco or whatever.
Now the rest of the technology. The TV/Wii/PS2 thing was an epic saga that you can recall here which still cracks me up. We've since learned that the PS2 is old so it responds as a DVD player to older DVDs (something about the encoding) and lamented this with a co-worker. Well he said there is a hack that converts your Wii into a DVD player but through many complicated steps. Matt's personal Geek Squad friend (I'm proud to say I'm the Geek Squad for a few friends + my family) came over and they hacked the Wii and it works sorta for some DVDs. All in all I've given up on the DVD playing upstairs so when Matt's videogaming with buddies downstairs, I just go upstairs and stream Netflix on the Wii and it's perfectly fine. Especially since it has episodes of Ally McBeal, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Glee Lost, Futurama, and Family Guy plus tons of movies.
Next to the TV there's three drawers that keep all the technology stuff together like the batteries for the Wiimotes and the misc. cabling and cases for the phones.
Oh and here's the Wii Fit in action. I want to expand my workout game repertoire but haven't found one I like as much as just the Wii Fit Plus.
I really like the balance board element which can tell when you're shaking or putting weight on the wrong foot and all the games that actually cause you to sweat and are fun. Wii Fit Plus is great 'cause you can customize your workout and just press play and go. Supposedly it's a scale too but it's wildly inaccurate.
And the printer: it now prints wirelessly. No plugging in necessary. Of course you still have to plug it in directly if you need something scanned or want to use the built in card reader but mostly I just print fresh & easy coupons so that's all we need it for.
The photo printer is rarely used but I plug in directly with that one too.
I moved one of the chargers for the hard drives to the desk area so when I need to plug a hard drive into it I just move the drive there and plug it in and let it time machine. I try to back up about once a week so it's not that big a deal to just move it over to the desk and then move it back when I'm done.
So that's my ridiculously long update about the technology in my office. And all of the extra hassle is because I just want things to be hidden and not visible and ugly. Worth it.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

lost me... i did look at the pictures though.