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Concept Evaluation-Single house computer

  1. Aug 24, 2011 #1
    With the advances in computers you can now get a server with phenomenal computing power and most homes have multiple computers in them. I'm interested in the concept of a single computer with 'access portals'.

    The access portals would be nothing more than a monitor and keyboard with the monitor having a wireless adapter for video and a built in codec. The OS would likely have to be re-written to allow processors and video cards to be devoted to specific users and something to deal with potential video latency.

    The concept is to have quad core server with 4 video cards sitting in your utility room that can be accessed by up to four access portals at a time. You would just log on with your account and get your applications/games/whatever. The idea is it's easier to manage/update one box than try to keep 4 up to the latest hardware/software versions and such. Every time you get the latest game/application you always find about half your systems can't run it.

    You could work on something sitting at a desk then just move your small portal up to the bedroom to work (like a laptop) while your spouse reads or whatever. You could make it so I-pads/tablets can access via your wi-fi or even their wi-fi when not at home. It could grow into a whole house system...no cable box, the cable company gives you software and a 'key' and you plug the cable into your home computer, TIVO built right in, wireless transmission to the TV's so no cables. Home security, built right in with notification to your I-Pad, wireless phone...whatever. Standards developed so when appliances become smart they build to a standard that can 'talk' to your home server.

    I'm thinking something like a Linux OS as people would continue to develop it to me expanding needs, right now many of these pieces exist but it's all proprietary.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2011 #2


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    So, all the work we've done in two decades to get small, discrete, smart devices, and now we're going back the other way???

    Reminds me of a cartoon I saw years back.

    "Beckett, our company is foundering. What do you recommend we do?"
    "Why, we'll decentralize all our offices! Distribute them across the country and we'll save save save!"
    "Brilliant Beckett! Here's a raise!"
    2 years go by....
    "Beckett, our company is foundering. What do you recommend we do?"
    "Why, we'll centralize our offices! Bring them all here to one monolithic head office and we'll save save save!"
    "Brilliant Beckett! Here's a raise!"

    Seriously, the direction we're going is to put all that powr into each device. Why put it in one device and all the troubles that brings with it?

    Maybe you're too young to remember the nightmare that was central processing units and dumb terminals. :wink:
  4. Aug 24, 2011 #3
    Smart? I would argue that point. I've got a blackberry that can't only 'talk' one application with my computer (email) unless I really want to view that .pdf on a 3" screen scrolling like mad. A Kindle, once again one app and that's just to load the Kindle with a book. GPS, one function and talks to no one, maps need updated and I can't use the constantly updated google maps to update it, instead I get to pay. Tablet that can do a lot but can't make a simple phone call over a blue tooth headset so I get to carry that along with my Blackberry. Oh, and I get to pay separate wireless services on most of these. Cable companies making box tops and Tivo's we get to rent at $5 each per month that a simple piece of software could accomplish. And, I can get a special disk for my Wii if I want it to use it to stream video to my TV vs. using my computer. Separate home surround systems so complicated it takes an 80 page manual to configure instead of software and a receiving antenna to auto configure for your room. And 4 computers, all with different applications, google favorites, desktops, configs, security settings. Everything is proprietary and isolated.....I don't consider that smart and have yet to see anyone use half of the garbage loaded on most of these 'smart devices'.

    But you're probably right, we should remove the radio's, air conditioners, GPS's, inflation sensors, trip indicators (can always do the math on paper after all) from our cars as they just weren't meant to be integrated.

    My point is, we have more computing power in any of these devices than they used to put us on the moon and the interoperability is almost non-existent. We get to 'learn' how each separate device functions (from an OS standpoint, not application) and use them separately because each is special. I don't buy it.
  5. Aug 24, 2011 #4


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    But now you're suggesting they have to be completely interoperable or they are no more functional than doorstops.
  6. Aug 24, 2011 #5
    No, I'm just saying why not at least a start to interoperability, added functionality and the ability to segregate functionality by user/purpose? We always hear about smart technology but everyone is building their smart technology to be stand alone with limited interoperability. 40 years ago 'they' said their was no need for computers in the house. Now I have 4 of them for 3 people and the basic presentation hasn't changed for the home PC since the beginning. On my main machine I've loaded 4 virtual machines for different functions. One for general use/games w/no security. If it gets infected I blow it away and rebuild as it's no big deal. One for surfing, no security but every time I shut it down it reverts to the original build on start up so no cookies, spyware, malware.... One highly secure for, well secure stuff....you get the idea. I find it odd that we can't build a single very powerful system like this for all home use. If my son wants to surf he goes to the mainframe component I've set up just once like mine currently is instead of getting viruses that require his whole system to be either secure, patched, antivirused or I have to rebuild his system. Oddlly (at least I think), I paid over $200 for an OS and 'Bill' tells me my VM's are not licensed copies because he apparently thinks I should have $800 in his software even though it's all on one machine. And this is just because this is currently the only real viable way to functionalize a device. I'm just suggesting a shift in our thought processes. These devices are massively powerful and for the cost of 4 PC's you could have a massive server that could be easier to manage/upgrade, so much more powerful, used to compartmentalize functions, add functions, and do so much more.
  7. Aug 24, 2011 #6


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    Oh I get the idea... :devil:

    Anticipation for the coming "singularity" was high back in the 90's. Don't know what happened there...
  8. Aug 24, 2011 #7
    "Maybe you're too young to remember the nightmare that was central processing units and dumb terminals."

    Actually, I was a Citrix thin client administrator. That's where this idea comes from. I managed a system solo, part time as my primary function was network administrator, for over 300 users. It was a thing of beauty. 6 servers, all the applications in one place (well 6 places). Upgrade to the next version of office. No problem, each day shut down connections to one machine. Through attrition the following day the server has no users. Update it, bring it online and shut down connection to the next and repeat. No need to visit 300+ computers or 'push' to them with an accepted failure rate of 10%. And they add a printer just once, with a roaming profile they 'see' that printer on any thin client they log onto. Mapped drives? Again no problem, it's all their roaming profile. Their mail is automatically set up on any device they use. They can even disconnect on one system then connect on the next and the exact same applications come up right where they left off, even has the word document or whatever sitting at the last word they typed. But alas, the crazy cat lady can't have her favorite cat as her screen saver and they can't watch you tube while at work because the environment is not comprised of 300+ personal computers but 6 managed servers. Personal computers have a massive overhead and a very limited life cycle. Thin clients of 10 years ago are still in operation with no issues, just 6 new servers every 3-5 years.
  9. Aug 24, 2011 #8
    "Oh I get the idea... "

    Clearly you're messing with me now. It's for online banking, Microsoft Money, password protected stuff.....things I do actually care about someone getting access to.
  10. Aug 26, 2011 #9


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    I'm thinking the OP wants this at their home:
  11. Aug 26, 2011 #10
    Damn right I do! Considering everything in that picture will now fit into a box smaller than the average carry on suit case. That's my entire point. We broke them into small discrete devices because we had to. We don't have to anymore. And I'm not saying do away with the devices. I'm saying integrate them.

    The average phone (even calling it a phone seems silly as it does so much other stuff it's as if being a phone is now secondary at best) is smart enough to see my home wi-fi and connect automatically, saving carrier costs, but it's not smart enough to connect to the network devices on that network natively and do useful things? Really?

    Never mind.....too many 'but that's the way it's always been' folks here. You may go back to your slide rules.
  12. Aug 29, 2011 #11
    I am sure you can connect your smart phone to most network devices if you are willing to write the drivers to do it. You can probably even connect to a lot of things over blue tooth if you write the code too.

    But in all you idea misses the point. There aren't any real advantages to it. The central computer would be very expensive, slow, and introduce a single point of failure to your a house full of electronic entertainment. Most software updates automatically now, no huge chore there.

    If you just want to run a server so everyone in your house can run off of one computer go for it. Security becomes much harder that way, which it seems is a big concern of yours, and you might have a hard time finding a motherboard that can support 4 heavy duty video cards at the same time but given enough money that isn't a problem either.

    Me, I kind of like the cable company giving me a DVR box for an extra $10 a month. It is their hardware, the automatically update the software for me, and if it breaks I get a new one for free.

    I only really want my smart phone as a source for getting on the internet or playing games when I am not at home, so the central server idea doesn't matter there. While each one has its own OS, they aren't that much different.

    Ohh, and a lot of new sterios already come with auto tune capabilities for the room.
  13. Sep 2, 2011 #12
    I think the idea has already been tossed around in the 90's. I'd be more worried about how everything would pass by one system only. Would make alot of drama if somehow, someone hacked into that only thing that holds pretty much everything valuable to you. (i.e: bank accounts, security access to your house, anything that would be remotly operated in the house by that one central computer...) I recall reading a couple of books where some drama scenarios like the ones I just stated happened! Althought it's just sci-fi, I do think that some stuff needs to be seperated and that putting all your eggs in one big box is risky!

    My 2 cent opinion. On a more technical note, I do think it is already in our means to achieve that idea. However, I think people are not too much inclined on the idea itself.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2011
  14. Sep 14, 2011 #13
    I have thought about similar set ups but not as complex. I would still want other computers in the house especially if I had kids oneday. Usually I have my main computer set up in the living room or my room as the entertainment system, depending on where Im living. The normal setup would be desktop, hdtv, and sound system, I'm done paying for cable. I download and watch my tv and movies on the internet and plan to as long as I can. I use an Xbox 360 controller for pc games and emulators and other wireless input devices. I use a free remote desktop connection program I can take control of the main computer from other computers if I need to turn the volume down on the tunes or do tedious maintenance tasks from a more comfortable location.

    I have thought about taking it to the next step when I own a house of my own, the main entertainment system could have a wireless HDMI router so I could have another monitor in the kitchen if I wanted to look up recipes or cooking videos. This computer would be controlled by a bluetooth mouse and keyboard. Another advantage is for a PC gamer like me who likes to play certain games on the couch with my 360 controller for windows but some first person shooters I need to sit down at a desk. I only have 1 computer capable of running the games to there potential so I set up a gaming desk somewhere with a keyboard/mouse and smaller monitor. I guess I am kind of split here, I wouldnt mind having the setup above, but I still want multiple systems in the house.

    I like the idea of packing all the tech into every device we have like dave said. I like the idea of having multiple systems with there own brains and finding applications to take control each system from another system. Tech is allready leaning that way. That blackbery you gripe about is not a good example. Take a look at some of the super phones on the market. I am currently using a phone with a dual core processor, 1gb of ram, nvidia graphics chip and I can 720p videos on my TV that I load onto my SD card. Newer pones now allready have 1080p playback and recording. The same remote desktop connection I use on windows is also available on android for free.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2011
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