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Welcome to the TechHomes blog. In general, Kirk posts interesting articles/comments about new home automation and home theater products and solutions. Most of Rick's posts are related to smart home industry trends and updates on wired communities and tech-savvy home builders.

We look forward to your comments,
  Kirk Bauer & Rick Hargett

Note: If you have suggestions, questions or praise, you can contact us here.

Road map to a broadband nation
Written by Rick
The May 2005 Business 2.0 magazine includes an map of the US insert that profiles several of the "most connected" communities in the US. 

A few examples:

- My favorite...  Keller, TX (a Dallas suburb) has rolled out a fiber-to-the-home initiative that brings 30 Mbps data speeds to the front door of 15,000 homes (eventually 100,000).

- Daytona Beach, FL is developing a wireless network that will extend to over 65,000 homes, offering 1.5 Mbps connections for as low as $25 per month.

- Manassas, VA has installed a 300-kbps solution that runs over power lines.  Yes, it's slower than cable or DSL, but it also costs just $29 per month compared to Comcast cables' $46 per month offering.

Is your city a Broadband Boomtown?  Read the article here...

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Warming Up to Climate Control
Written by Rick
CNet news is running an article called "Warming up to climate control tech".  Good article on how more-and-more homeowners are embracing technology to save energy, thus saving $'s.   In particular, the author discusses an emerging trend of homeowners signing up to have their energy use monitored in real time by the utility... "During peak periods, when electricity costs the most and can be harder to come by, these providers reduce energy consumption via a command, sent to a computer on your power meter, that slightly throttles air conditioners or other select appliances. ".

While I'm not yet convinced that I should allow an outside utility or service  to dynamically change anything in my home, I am a big fan of using technologies like programmable thermostats and multi-zone HVAC systems to maintain my own control over climate in my home... saving energy and $'s.

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Home Theater PCs
Written by Kirk
My next project will probably be a house-wide media system.  I'll probably go with MythTV.  I want a centralized video recorder with a bunch of storage that has multiple tuners and can record in HDTV.  I then plan to create a client computer for each TV -- something simple that provides the user interface and streams the media from the server over gigabit ethernet.  I also like the built-in video game emulator support that is part of MythTV -- I would be able to play a wide variety of games from any room in my house.  Slashdot has a story about this very thing that came out today.  Very interesting read.

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Hard-wired lighting control
Written by Kirk
LiteJet Keypad
In my current home I use X10 technology to control my lights since I did not build this house.  But if I was to build a new house, I'd seriously consider hard-wired lighting control, like the CentraLite LiteJet which can control 24 lights and comes with 16 keypads that you can label, dimming on every light, scenes, etc. This is a good deal for only $3000 list, and looks nicer and is faster and more reliable than X10.  

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Sonance iPort
Written by Kirk
Came across Sonance's iPort today -- basically a wall-mount for your iPod that runs to a wall plate with audio out and IR in.  This allows you to connect your iPod to your existing whole-house audio system by just popping iit into the wall.  Not cheap, but very cool.

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Written by Kirk
Not new, but I haven't mentioned it here before.  VisionArt is a great way to make your plasma TV wife-friendly.  A nice frame surrounds your plamsa TV and limited edition prints can lower to cover or raise to reveal the screen.  The print is rolled up behind the frame and thus it looks very professional.

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