Monday, August 16, 2010

DLNA - Digital Living Network Alliance

You’re going to be hearing more about a new acronym -- DLNA…..

….especially in reference to HD-TVs, Blu-Ray players, etc. New models of these devices already incorporate wired or wireless Internet networking, to access online services such as NetFlix video streaming. But in addition to a “Networking Blu-Ray player or Wifi networking HD-TV”, you’ll see references that these devices are also ‘DLNA-enabled’.

Essentially this means that home entertainment devices with networking can also access stored video/music/photos on home computer equipment. Microsoft is part of this group, interestingly Apple is not. Other members include AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Cisco/Linksys (see above for complete list).

So far, over 8,000 devices have been certified for DLNA.

Friday, August 13, 2010

More Reliable Internet

Internet outages can happen to ANY internet supplier -- AT&T T1, AT&T DSL, Comcast, Wowway, etc. -- affecting thousands of customers. But end user outages and interruptions can also occur, making you think your ISP(internet service provider)'s service is less reliable than it really is.

To the average person, "internet infrastructure" is about as sexy as the plumbing at home. But I think the time has come to pay some attention to it, as your internet infrastructure will be your 21st Century foundation. If it doesn't work well, then all the things you'll want to connect to it won't work well -- or at all! And it doesn't have to be costly -- doing a few things right will enable you to enjoy all those useful 21st Century technologies which are becoming available.

First of all, you need high speed internet from Comcast, AT&T, or Wowway. With AT&T, make sure your DSL is a minimum of 3Mbps download so you qualify for free security software (for 4-10 PCs). If you have Comcast or AT&T U-Verse, you're all set.

Then, most people will want a wireless (WiFi) router to give fast wireless internet to laptops, netbooks, iPod Touch, Kindle readers, and wireless printers. Again, this is included with AT&T U-Verse. For AT&T DSL users, get one of AT&T's 2Wire Gateways. For others, the best router I like right now is the Netgear WNR3500L. About $80, has gigabit ethernet, and fast wireless N300 capability.

Plugging your internet infrastructure (cable/dsl modem and router) into a surge protecting power strip protects your equipment against damaging surges or over-voltages of electricity. But while electrical undervoltages can also damage the equipment (particularly power transformers), they can also cause your networking gear to lock up and stop working. The usual solution to this is to unplug the equipment for 5-10 seconds, and then plug it back in.

But as the number of wired and wireless devices in your home or office grows, the best solution is to get a small battery backup UPS (uninterruptible power source, starts about $50 for 200 watts) to plug your networking equipment into. This will feed a constant stream of power to your devices, regardless of whether or not the battery is being recharged from wall power. Your networking devices will sail uninterrupted through power surges, brownouts, "blips", and even short duration outages (ie 30-45 minutes with a small battery).

With a UPS Battery making your infrastructure reliable, you can confidently add 21st Century internet devices and services (ie digital phone service, iPod Touch, streaming NetFlix to your HD-TV) to your home or office, knowing that your internet signal will be there for them.

Note: You CAN get larger capacity UPS units which will power a PC or server along with your networking gear. Larger units also include a monitoring cable and software, so that when the battery has 5 minutes of capacity left, it will automatically (and gracefully!) shutdown your PC. See your Professional Nerd for more details and answers to your questions.


If you've noticed the closing of Blockbuster Video stores, it's because of NetFlix. They are the service which will mail movie discs to/from your home, charging a flat monthly fee and no late charges.

If you're not interested in snail-mailing discs, you MAY be interested in NetFlix's latest offer -- unlimited video streaming for $9 per month. Personally I think THIS offer is going to do to HBO and Showtime, what mailing discs already did to Blockbuster.

Video streaming means delivering movies real-time via your high-speed internet connection. With a single NetFlix account you can watch movies of your choice on the internet device of your choice. This means PC, Mac, and personal devices such as iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad.

To use this with your big screen TV, it too has to have an internet connection. Some of the latest HD-TV models are internet/WiFi (home wireless internet) ready. To others, you can easily attach a laptop via VGA/HDMI connection. But the most interesting (and inexpensive) way to do this, is to purchase a "networking" Blu-Ray player. Prices have bees steadily falling to where a 'wired' networking Blu-Ray player such as the Panasonic DMP-BD65 are now $120 from CompUSA stores. Like a PC, this requires an ethernet wire between your high speed internet router and where you'll have the Blu-Ray next to your big screen TV. For $40 more, CompUSA can sell you a Samsung BD-P3600 Blu-Ray player with built-in WiFi (home wireless internet), so you don't need to run a wire from your router.

With devices like these attached to your big-screen TV, just use it's remote to setup your NetFlix account, ignore the DVD queue, and start searching for and adding items of interest to your 'Instant Queue'.

A networking HD-TV/Blu-Ray player has a fully functional web browser which can also be used for web surfing as well as viewing live TV internet streaming, and stored YouTube videos.

Professional Nerds - Delivering 21st Century Technology !