geeking out: I’m becoming a HTPC convert

Proper use of an HTPC

Living in Alexandria, my mornings usually consisted of making coffee, having a little something to eat, cleaning up the apartment and listening to shows on NPR. My NPR addiction was mostly caused by having a car and a long commute even to the metro station every day. When I moved back into the city, radio reception was spotty and I didn’t drive anymore and the NPR online broadcasts used RealPlayer which I hate, so I just stopped. More recently I have been trying to listen to NPR in the morning before heading out to work, but my at-home time is such a short duration that there’s no point.

I’ve been moving stuff around and actually having less computer equipment in the bedroom which I’ve found has the benefit of a much better night’s sleep. Windows computers are high-maintenance! Even when you put them to sleep at night, they’ll suddenly decide it’s time to switch themselves back on and perform updates and then stay on all night. Many a time I’ve been woken up at 3am because Windows Update deemed it would be a great time to start upgrading the machine. So I first moved the cable modem and router out of the room, reducing the blinking lights and more of my entertainment/network stuff is in the living room anyway. This past week I made the decision to move the computer out as well. It’s always been a Home Theater PC (HTPC) and I’ve never really made much use of that. I don’t need the DVR functions of it, but having access to all of my music and videos without having to convert them across the network was great.

It made me start exploring the Windows Media Center application a lot more. A developer created a Netflix application that plugs into it and will let me mess with my queue and view the Watch Instantly movies. Plenty of other companies have added subscription apps to it, and I can finally have my NPR in the mornings again. It’ll still just be weekend mornings, but I have access to the previous week’s worth of shows. NPR on Demand? Oh, we like!

So far the only drawback to this is that gaming is going to be difficult until I get a good integrated mouse/keyboard. As it is I’m only playing City of Heroes lately, though Lord of the Rings Online has offered me a $10 client, $10/month “come back” special. It might not be finding the right hardware as it is the right platform. The coffee table is too low and tv trays are too high, but I’ll sort it all out.

Weren’t we supposed to get some rain this weekend?

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2 Responses

  1. Lindsay says:

    Pat on the back for moving electronic entertainment things out of the bedroom. Sleep specialists say your bedroom should only be used for the 3 S things: sleep, being sick and having sex, so that you only associate your bed physically with total relaxation.
    Feng Sui fans say electronic devices like that in your bedroom are a recipe for sleep disaster.
    Hope it all helps.

  2. susan dennis says:

    I have a small usb keyboard with built in trackball that I have no use for. Send me your address and I will drop it in the mail to you. No kidding. It needs a new home and I think it would like to play games.

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