Fun with Homebrew Networking


home-network-Switching gears for a moment,… I’ve been writing extensively on such large-scale mundane matters as AI (Artificial Intelligence), Neural networks, 3D printers, Singularities (think Skynet), quantum computers, hyperdrive / deep space exploration and, well, you get the idea.

Now let’s bring it all home.

No, I do not speak of buying a copy of IBM’s Watson or getting a neural network of your own, but there is a growing trend that shouldn’t be overlooked: home networks.

If you have a computer, a printer and a cable / FIOS modem, you have a home network – which is pretty describes a lot of U.S. domestic households (in point of fact, home broadband access has doubled in the past ten years, reaching now nearly 77% of the total US population); the same can also be said of many other international households.

Now add modern consumer technology.

In the past ten years (concurrent with a growing population utilizing home broadband services) we’ve seen the introduction of such things as:

* iPhone’s, Androids and Window smartphones;

* online music / movie / Television streaming services;

* remote storage and shared file services;

* explosive growth of tablet peripherals (iPad, HP’s, Samsung, etc.).

And increasing, all are being offered at rather inexpensive pricing; ten years ago the mere mention of several of these items for home use would’ve elicited a polite chuckle. Not any more.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that it is to one’s advantage to both themselves – and their family – to seriously consider establishing a home based network.

To be honest, not everyone needs a cloud based service, but considering the growing diversity of technology and services, it’s not a bad idea to consider setting something up that’ll enable you and you family to take advantage of what’s out there.  And if you have a  home-based business or just do occasional work on the side, then you need to consider establishing a home based network.

Given the ever-decreasing cost of storage nowadays (you can buy an external 2 Terabit drive for $200 or under; two years ago the very idea of such storage at these low prices was considered absurd: not anymore! Now, one can literally set up a home network RAID -Redundant Array / hard drive systems – similar in scale to what the pro’s use for their operations).

Home networks can be as simple as simply connecting an external hard drive to your home cable / FIOS box router, or linking  to your Play Station / Apple TV – or even more, depending upon the size and scope you wish to undertake. And incidentally, if you have a small business, the size and scale of a home network can also be utilized to service a small business environment (albeit with different considerations, depending upon the nature, size and scope of the small business involved).

There are a number of help guides out there for review (personally, I think this is probably the best I’ve come across so far, but there are many more: http://www.howtogeek.com/67015/how-to-plan-organize-and-map-out-your-home-network/); regardless of how you go about it, here are several key considerations you need to think about:

1) Ecology – what environment are you going to exist within? Are you a Windows-based household? Are you big on Android / Play Station or you’re an Apple household? This is important as you will find one dirty industry secret is that not all equipment functions well on all systems. Some external hard drives don’t play as well with, say, Apple as they would with Window’s based environments.

2) Purpose – what is your specific purpose for undertaking this? Just because I’m writing about this doesn’t mean you should go out and get yourself a home based network: it’s just an idea for consideration  (albeit a rather good idea). Some things you can do rather well without the hassle – like backing up your files on Google docs (despite the fact that it was down the other day) or Dropbox (despite the fact that data stored can be accessed by some folk without your knowledge you can always encrypt your files) or Time Machine (which, BTW, can sometimes fail).

3) The Long Term – things change fast. Five years ago, the iPhone didn’t exist; now it’s everywhere – and with that, the introduction of ‘apps’ and the revolutionary change that’s brought to our world. Having a home based network – with some planning – can better enable you to deal with any new developments and take advantage of routines and services you never considered.

4) Ease. It’s gotten a whole lot easier to do these things on your own at home. What was something that required a CompSci degree / background some 15 years ago is now commonplace throughout a multitude of homes. Now, it’s relatively easy to take the next step and take control of your data on your terms and in your way.

There are other considerations worth checking out:

* DVD backups – at the risk of incurring the wrath of the RIAA and other associated members, one idea is to back up your various ‘items’ onto your home network (and mind, only for your own personal viewing!). In this manner, you could organize your ‘items’ into pre-specified folders and assign user rights / access. Want to keep the kids from watching your old Sam Peckinpah films? Here’s one way to do just that.

* True Multi-Media capability – your home network becomes your library, enabling you and your family / friends / colleagues to access files at will (within limits, if you so wish) at any time without imposing on anyone else. Your kids could have their own ‘homework folder’ – and you can have greater peace of mind knowing that their access to ‘questionable’ websites can be better controlled (insofar as you can do so) via the installation of various port access controls.

* VPN – With a home network, you now have the capability of a true Virtual Private Network. With your home network you could (depending on how you arrange your cable / FIOS system) enable access to your files remotely regardless of where you are in the world and view them while on the road so long as you have Internet access.

* Small business support – with a home network, your business can now be enhanced, allowing authorized / controlled access. To be sure, Dropbox / Google Docs are excellent, but with a home network, you can consider doing such things as iServer or a true business network functionality via a viable VPN that you alone can control at will.

* Entertainment options – in the coming decade (if not sooner) we can expect to see major changes within the cable / FIOs market as to how we view our various shows on our televisions / computers (note how the two are becoming more and more interchangeable). With a home network, you’ll be far better able to deal and take advantage of these changes as they develop.

* Additional Back-up – sure, you have Time Machine, Dropbox and even Google. But in the event that your outside internet goes down, wouldn’t you want to be able to still access movies, shows or music? Now with your home network – so long as the electricity keeps flowing – you can do this. And BTW: one important aspect to consider is including a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) which can also serve as a surge protector and prevent your network from being ‘zapped’.

Homebrew networks reflect a greater, growing trend: the growing expansion and greater utilization of technology at home, creating a real platform for other practical uses and applications.

And you can have all of this for as low as $250 (assuming you already have broadband internet access and a computer).

Might as well get something back from that monthly subscription for cable / FIOS that you’ve been paying for.

(Photo courtesy of bmisitgs.wikispaces.com)

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