Irritatingly out of line with what their commercials say, in my area Comcast, under the covers of the national broadcast digital switch, is sneaking in their own switch to digital, moving channels above 30 to their own digital format. Previously, I had Windows 7 Media Center running on a PC with a Hauppauge PVR500 which can decode two television signals at once setup to record shows I like. The XBox 360 works great as a Media Center client letting me easily watch the recorded shows over my home network on my normal TV.
Unfortunately with Comcast's change, now one needs a cable box or a Comcast digital to analog converter in order to view their signal, but Comcast is offering up to two free converters for those who'd like them. The second of my two free converters I hooked up to the Media Center PC and I got the IR Blaster that came with my Hauppauge out of the garage. I plugged in the USB IR Blaster to my PC, connected one of the IR transmitters to the 1st port on the IR Blaster, and sat the IR transmitter next to the converter's IR receiver. I went through the Media Center TV setup again and happily it was able to figure out how to correctly change the channel on the converter. So I can record now, however:
The weekend before the previous, Sarah and I moved our belongings into the new house and spent a lot of time packing and unpacking, and now we're officially living there (interested Facebook friends can find my new address or just ask me). The Saturday of the previous weekend Sarah's family came over for a half house warming and half Sarah's birthday celebration which was fun and served to force us to do more unpacking and forced me to take trips to Home Depot, Bed Bath and Beyond, etc. On Sunday, Sarah and I went out to her favorite restaurant and she opened her gifts that I had to hide to keep her from opening before her birthday. Happy Birthday Sarah!
While at Home Depot I had trouble finding what I was actually looking for, but I did find everything I needed to terminate the Cat5e cables that are wired in the house. Each room has a wall plate with two RJ45 sockets, both sockets wired to Cat5e cable. One of the cables per plate was already hooked up to a standard phone service punchdown board and the other cables per plate were all hanging unterminated next to the punchdown board. So now I've terminated them all with RJ45 connectors and hooked them up to my hub, wireless router, cable modem, etc. I had the same sort of fun setting all that up as I did playing with model train sets as a child. Hopefully no therapy will be required to figure out why that is.
I ordered a ThinkGeek Bluetooth Retro Handset to use at home. When I come home I plug my phone in to charge in my room, but then I can't hear it ring elsewhere in the hosue. The idea was to take this handset which wirelessly connects to cellphones via bluetooth and place it in another part of the house so that I can tell I'm getting an incoming call. The only issue I have with that setup is that it ringing isn't any louder than conversations held over the phone, that is, the ringing is a little quiet.
The handset pairs with cellphones in the same manner as any other handset over bluetooth. It has an internal rechargeable battery which is charged via a standard USB port built into the base of the handset and it comes with a USB cable. Next to the USB port is the only button on the phone which is pressed to answer a call, hang up a call, or begin voice dial, held down to turn the handset on and off, and held down longer to begin pairing with a cellphone. There's a blue LED in one of the holes in the microphone portion of the phone which blinks to indicate if its on or trying to pair. Transitioning between on, off, and pairing produces a cute sound and a change to the LED.
Overal I'm pleased with its simplicity and use of common parts although I wish there was a way to adjust the volume of the ring.