OK, I can’t help it. I like the odd gadget around to make life easier.

I probably also am a bit obsessed with my computers. They don’t have to be the latest spec, but they all have a purpose. My computers have been networked since about 1995, initially thin ethernet, then 10 base UTP and now a combination of gigabit, 100 base UTP and wireless.

After a few years of configuring static IP addresses, I made life easier by using vDHCP to provide dynamic network addresses to the computers. However as time went on, I moved to a NT domain and then used the built in DHCP service.

We first connected to the Internet in 1996, it was a dial-up account to Pipex using a 33.6K modem on a single computer. It used to cost £15 a month for right to dial-up and then the call charges were on top. In early 1997, we discovered Nearsite software which could act as a web proxy for the other computers, you had to download the website into cache from the computer with the Internet connection and then you could ‘surf’ the downloaded website, not quite seamless, but it worked. In early 1999, we changed to a Tesco dial-up account with no monthly charge. In 2001, we got a 3 user license of WinRoute Lite, (used to be TinySoftware then sold to Kerio,) which allowed 3 computers to access the Internet on the same connection and in early 2002 we changed to £5 unlimited access, no call charges account. In November 2002, we added a wireless router and in December 2002 we converted to a 128K ‘broadband’ cable connection, which is now a 4MB connection.

Gadgets: I have a very useful Pronto RU940 remote control and a Hewlett-Packard iPAQ 5450 PDA.

Media PC: I have had a PC connected to my HiFi since 2001 to playback my cached music. Up until the summer of 2010, I used Meedio to control the music. It was easily configurable and at the time well supported. The rights were sold to Yahoo, but it was working fine for me as it was, I didn’t see any reason to look for a replacement. Following issues with my DVD recorder, I revisited this in 2010 when I looked at replacing my DVD recorder. The solution I have been using since then is Mythtv, which has enabled me to integrate my TV watching/recording with my cached music and videos. There are Android apps to integrate this with the kids tablets as well.

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