The Internet is amazing!!!

Really, that's it, that could be my post for the day, nuff said. I mean, it's so cool that I'm actually using the Internet to sing my praises about how great the Internet is... how meta? 

The fact is, a lot of what we've accomplished on our renovation would have been very difficult or completely impossible without the Internet and all of the completely awesome technology that has come along with it. Pretty shocking given the fact that our house is 125 years old and we are trying our hardest to keep the historic aspects of it as intact as possible.

It's a nearly infinite source of information, documentation, collaboration, and interaction. There's no way I would have found all of the matching antique hardware without the various websites and market places. Figuring out the proper isolation membrane, type of paint, approach to plastering, etc would have been exponentially more difficult without the past experiences (sometimes painful) of others completely outlined on website in the most apparent locations or deepest corners of the web. It's my hope that some of our experiences will similarly be referenced and shared among hundreds or even thousands of people that we will never speak to or meet. That is just how cool the Internet really is!

Though the Internet has been around since the 1960s, the Internet as we know it (the World Wide Web) has been widely used since just 1994. As someone who has been actively working on software and web development since 1994, both as a hobby and as a career, I am still amazed on a daily basis by what technology can and does do. I obviously can't cover this topic in much detail in a single blog post, so I'm just going to focus on one a few small aspects of how technology has impacted our home renovation.

If you're a regular reader, you know to the extent that I go a bit overkill with technology around our house. Whether I'm building a custom server rack, or wiring the house with thousands of feet of Cat-6 network cable and speaker wire, I'm well aware of just how overboard I'm going, BUT I LOVE IT!

I actually had to work from home today to be sure I was here to receive my pre-ordered and anxiously anticipated iPhone 4S. Yep, I'm an early adopter/crazy person like that, and I'm not waiting in line at the Apple store. Been there, done that, never again!

It's HERE! Yay!

So while I was sitting on my couch working on my laptop, Lulu sleeping beside me, my co-workers got onto Turntable.FM for what has become a Friday Turntable tradition. If you haven't seen it, Turntable.FM is a really cool streaming music DJ website. You can listen, request songs, or DJ with others, controlling the selection of music, and you can vote on the quality of the music selections. In short, it's a great way to listen to music and a fun way to interact with people.

I figured I would take full advantage of being home and rather than listening to the songs on my little laptop speakers, I turned on the computer I have attached to our television, and then turned on the whole house audio so I could hear the music selections regardless of the room I was in. So there I was, sitting on the couch on my laptop, connected to VPN at work, remotely logged into my computers and servers at work, using my iPhone as a mouse and keyboard on the PC hooked up to the television and listening to the streaming music over the whole house audio system... UBER-GEEK! And all the while, I'm franticly and actively getting work done, that's how cool the Internet is!

So at this point I started to take some mental stock of how many Internet connected devices we have in our house. It really blew my mind. 

The total list includes computers, our television, DVD players, iPhones, printer, android tablet, a small robotic device, smarthome web server, external network drives, audio devices (like Sonos), security cameras, web cams, and the list goes on and on. In total we have 23 devices in our house that have an active Internet connection. It's crazy when you consider that our 125 year old house was built without even a glimmer of this on the horizon, and it stayed that way for over 100 years.

This isn't the end of the list either, within a few years we will see a huge influx of IP enabled appliances into every day life. A washer that alerts your phone when the cycle is done, a refrigerator that creates a grocery list for you, a stove that will let you know when your food is done and may even send a photo of the bubbling pie you may be cooking just so you can see just how done it is. These are all things that are really right around the corner. 

I, for one, am excited by all of these technological advances in our house. They are not a black box to me, I understand how they work, and they are rather simple at their core, we've just needed to let technology catch up before we could move this way. 

We've done some research on the original owners of our house and have determined that the first person moved into the house in late 1885 or early 1886. A widow with a child who was downsizing from her previous large home with servants on King Street, Mrs. Bryan would never have been able to imagine what the house would contain from a technology perspective over 100 years later. 

If she were to come into the house today, the interior would probably look somewhat similar to what she remembered. The colors changed, but overall layout and functionality of the rooms are probably close to what existed when the house was built. Even the doors, windows, and molding are the same. But what would she think about lights that I can turn on and off from a wireless phone, music coming from the ceiling or wall that I can adjust and change from the same wireless phone I used to turn on the lights. If I try to put myself in the mindset of what they would have experienced in the 1880s, I have almost as difficult of a time as I imagine they would have trying to grasp what the world has become from a technology and connectivity standpoint. 

Heck, if 15 years ago you would have told me what cell phones can do and what we would have in our house, I would either call you a liar or expected to win the lottery to pay for all of this stuff. The thing is, nothing is particularly expensive or advanced, it is just how the whole package has come together over the years.

What about your house? New or old, how overrun is your house with Internet connected devices? Just 10 years we have one, a computer. Where do you think we'll be in 10 more year? Dozens? Hundreds Perhaps? Does it scare you or excite you? 

I think you know where I stand on it. Ok, now I'm off to play with the new phone and ask Siri a ton of really dumb questions, some surely renovation related.

Comments 3


10/14/2011 at 5:40 PM
I think I'm at around 14 or 15...

I've been shopping around for some net-enabled security and cameras - mind doing a write up on your experience in that dept?
Matthew Ronk
10/14/2011 at 7:15 PM
It scares me to think about that. I'm sure I'd have to rake my shoes off to count ...
10/19/2011 at 2:23 PM
I wish I was more technologically savy on the hardware side. I have a laptop on a wireless network and that's it. Pathetic, I know - especially since I was an early adapter of personal computing and have been internet connected since the BBS days - I'm guessing that was before you were born LOL. (Note the Screen name - it's only 10 characters since that was all the space you got back then, and I refuse to change it now!)

My first personal computer was a Commodore 64. And my first computer related job was making the punch cards for a huge mainframe - back in 1973.

The problem is that I haven't stayed 'caught up' over the last 8 years or so. I haven't even upgraded my phone since 2007. The "electronic toy" budget is the first place I cut spending.
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