Alright, so it’s the same old room with the same old stuff in it for the most part. Even the cats don’t appear to be overly excited in the picture. Still… it’s BETTER.
First of all we did our friend and professional furniture rearranger, Kelley, proud by rearranging all of our furniture for the first time in 5 years! Kaycee and I spent an hour pushing stuff around the living room to see how well it fit. I think we ended up with a really good arrangement that opens up more space and puts all of our storage in one spot.
As if that wasn’t enough, we also changed things functionally. Kaycee had the DirecTV rep crying in despondency yesterday as she heartlessly ripped away their $70+ per month allowance. See the rabbit ears on top of the TV to the right? That’s now our live TV feed along with a CM7000 DTV converter courtesy of our own tax dollars.
Right now, the rabbit ears give us a fairly decent digital signal. I’ll soon be boosting that BIG TIME by building one of these beauts for a couple of bucks.
The final thing we’ve done is integrate a Home Theater PC (HTPC) which is tucked in to the left of the entertainment center. Hardware-wise I built it from a throwaway machine and added a video card from our friend Nitin. It’s running Ubuntu as an OS, and uses XBMC and PlayOn to play media from a variety of sources including DVDs, downloaded content, music, and live content from places like Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube. It’s a great little system that can be remote controlled by anything with a web browser, and will soon be remote controlled by… a remote control.
What’s left to do: Another shelf for the entertainment center would be useful for the Wii Fit (which you can see is kind of jammed in there). The speakers are in weird places at the moment and I’d like to correct that. I’ll be running some cable in the crawlspace for surround speakers, and also to wire up the HTPC which tolerates wireless but occasionally disconnects itself when it’s doing heavy lifting. All simple stuff, really.
Being out from under a monthly TV payment makes us happy. The kids are going crazy over old shows (Flipper, for example) and we’re not missing out on anything except for some live sports (*cough*Hurricanes*cough*). Overall I think we’ll be glad we kicked DirecTV to the curb.
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