Well, this should be quite the week. Geoff and Adam are in Taiwan covering Computex, while much of the gaming press is attending E3. Together, they should provide a rich, syrupy flow of news each day. Meanwhile, Cyril and I will be back at HQ, trying to manage all of the info coming our way. We also have a couple of longer articles queued up, which we’ll try to get posted shortly.
I’ve had a new experience this past weekend, attempting to set up a home network that will allow my parents to view and print pictures, listen to music, access the web, and check email—without having a beefy PC involved in the mix. My dad has Parkinson’s, and his computer use has shifted to his iPad, which works best for him for various unavoidable reasons.
The trick was to retire dad’s Windows-based laptop while enabling him to browse, edit, and print from his large, many-gigabyte trove of pictures and to listen to his large digital music catalog. Neither data set will fit on any iPad, you see.
My solution has been more smarts at each node on his network. I upgraded the iPad to iOS 5, enabling cloud backups and freeing him of the need to sync with a PC. I added a new all-in-one printer/scanner; its Wi-Fi connectivity, AirPrint support, and iOS control app combine to make printing and scanning easy and cable-free. The printer also has a card reader and a 4.3" touchscreen, so dad can print photos straight from his camera’s SD card. For storage, I chose the 2TB version of WD’s My Book Live NAS, which connects directly to a router and enables network-wide sharing. WD has a couple of iPad apps that allow access to the NAS, one for browsing multiple file types including music and videos and another, slicker app dedicated to photo viewing. The photo app makes scanning through his many gigs of family photos very fast and easy.
The one kink in the works is that AirPrint (Apple’s print-from-the-iPad feature) doesn’t work reliably, apparently because their Linksys WRT110 wireless-n router has multicast issues. This router has the lovely combo of being largely locked out of using third-party firmware and not having any official updates from Cisco/Linksys since 2009. There’s a possible fix involving downgrading to an older firmware rev with known security flaws, but I’m not keen on that. My solution was to order a new Netgear WNDR3800, which I picked based on positive experience with my own WNDR3700. In addition to (hopefully) working properly, the WNDR3800 will connect to the My Book Live via GigE, speeding network transfers.
I think it’s all coming together reasonably well. For my next trick, I may even return his Windows-based laptop to service, with a fresh OS installation, though not in a mission-critical capacity. If it works for occasional use, bonus. If it’s infected by malware or otherwise troubled, as Windows laptops too often are, the show will go on without it.
Oh, also: cat-copter.