Home Network Recommendation

Question

DrPeering –


I hope you can hear the anxiety in my tone - TV is complicated today. There is no single box that you watch with an on/off switch.  I now have a router, 2 switches, a firewall, dynamic IPs, pcs, ipads, ipods, viewing kits propagating bittorrents and whatever other viruses were downloaded along with my gigabytes of, shall we say, content that transcends the language barrier. Don’t get me started on firmware. You have to be a technician to set up and watch TV now. So my question to you DrPeering is: what is the right way to google for dolphin porn?


G. Gottfried

Answer

G. Gottfried - I can hear your loud and clear. Thanks for the question and I would love to talk about home networking.

I have been on a buying and testing binge lately and can recommend a good simple and solid home network configuration for 2013. When the good people at Magnolia presented a proposal for my house A/V system with a price tag close to $50,000 I decided to explore minimalism.

Here is what you buy:

First, get a

Netgear FVS336G ProSafe Dual WAN Gigabit Firewall with SSL & IPSec VPN ($225)

http://www.amazon.com/Netgear-FVS336G-ProSafe-Gigabit-Firewall/dp/B003UT69IK/ref=pd_sim_e_6

It can provide a secure 50Mbps connection along with 8 GigE ethernet ports for your hardwired devices.

Ooma Telo Free Home Phone Service ($150)

http://www.amazon.com/Ooma-Telo-Free-Phone-Service/dp/B002O3W4LE/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1359744559&sr=1-1&keywords=ooma+telo

This Ooma will save you at least $20 per month per line you buy from your telco/cable co so pays for itself in the first year after you cancel your POTS or enhanced POTS service.

Ubiquiti Networks UniFi UAP-PRO Enterprise WiFi System ($230)

http://www.amazon.com/Ubiquiti-Networks-UAP-PRO-Enterprise-System/dp/B0089QB1SC/ref=sr_1_5?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1359744701&sr=1-5&keywords=ubiquiti

This provides terrific wi fi coverage in my house, upstairs and downstairs, and outperforms my Apple Extremes by a substantial margin. It has a nice GUI but didn’t need to use it much.

Comcast Residential Service: 50Mbps service above my basic Internet Service $50/mo

My strategy is to migrate everything from Comcast TV to Comcast Internet over time. Paying $20-30/month for a phone line now seems silly to me, when an off-the-shelf box can do it for a one-time price. And I never used the Comcast portal for checking voice mail or any of the other advanced features - we used our own answering machine. All we really need is a POTS line which is what comes out of the Ooma. (There is a small monthly expense for taxes - thanks government officials) Next thing to cut is HBO since the whole family uses Netflix instead.

The whole house is now wired with Cat6 so I wonder if I will ever use the 2 lines of coax that came in the pre-made wiring bundle feeding every room in the house. At least for me, the cutting the cord to old fashioned cable TV is getting closer. I wish I had run fiber or conduits instead to each room box.

Use One World Computing (OWC) to upgrade your MacBook Pros and Airs :

http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/SSD/OWC/

They have videos to show how to upgrade memory and disk at less than half the cost of Apple memory and disk. Best Buy had a sale on the 11” MacBook Air for $799 with a paltry 64G of disk. Smart purchasers picked one up and upgraded the SSD to 240GB for $329 making a nice fast travel computer loaded up with entertainment and productivity software.

Finally, pick up an Apple TV ($89) when it is on sale at Buy.com) and a Netflix subscription ($25/mo) so you get the disks in the mail for those movies and TV shows that are not available on-line.

I like the Vizio TVs with wifi and Internet Apps built in - they seem pretty solid.

VIZIO E420i-A1 42-inch 1080p 120Hz LED Smart HDTV ($500) and Amazon Prime ($80/year) will get you a large library of movies for free from Amazon as well as free 2-day shipping on everything you buy from Amazon.

For travel, get yourself set up with a DynDNS portable DNS service ($10/year) so you and your machine can be tracked by the government wherever you go. Just joking - it is a valuable service for staying connected when on the road.

Eventually I will set up a VPN so I can watch Netflix in countries that Netflix can not serve directly, but that is another story. With this equipment you will have a pretty good networked home for less than the cost of labor for installing my Magnolia quoted system. Not a fair apples to apples comparison of course, but you get my minimalist point.

Now if you are like me, and located in the middle of a cell phone dead zone in the heart of Silicon Valley (Palo Alto) you may also have to go to AT&T and buy a Micro Cell (aka “Femto Cell”) for your house so you can get the AT&T cell service that you paid for. This $150 Femto Cell box will be hard wired into your home network, and that box will use your AT&T Internet bandwidth that you already paid for to enable AT&T to provide you the AT&T cell phone service that you already paid for. This became so upsetting to me that I switched to Comcast and recycled the box. Boo Hiss AT&T - I understand the problems obtaining cell phone towers in Palo Alto but the wrong answer is to make your customers pay for your inability to provide cell service.

Finally, buy a pair of Drobo boxes ($599) with a few 3TB disks ($129) for TimeMachine and archive storage of stuff you don’t absolutely need on a local disk (old videos, photo libraries, past research projects and client directories, manuals, receipts, etc.).

Drobo 5N 5-Bay NAS Storage Array, Gigabit Ethernet (DRDS4A21) ($599)

http://www.amazon.com/Drobo-Storage-Gigabit-Ethernet-DRDS4A21/dp/B00AMAJGOO/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1359827067&sr=8-2&keywords=drobo

Western Digital Caviar Green 3 TB SATA III 64 MB Cache Bare/OEM Desktop Hard Drive - WD30EZRX ($129)

http://www.amazon.com/Western-Digital-Caviar-Green-Desktop/dp/B004RORMF6/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1359827157&sr=1-2&keywords=3TB+disks

That is it - worts and all. I have gone through a couple decades of increasing capabilities and capacity USB sticks, wifi access points, upgrades, earbuds, noise cancelling headphones, game consoles, PCs and Macs, every year installing better and better stuff and shifting the inactive boxes into the crawl space. Stacks of boxes of useless formerly state of the art junk filled my attic.

Keep-on-Peering -

Summary