I recently read an article suggesting that the average family would spend from $10,000 to $20,000 on consumer electronics in the next few years. My immediate response was, “How will they be able to afford the expenditure”? This is equal to the amount of money a family spends on a mini van. Click, the light went on, what if they did not buy the mini van and converted the other half of the garage into a SoHoMMR (small office, home office, multi media room)? A radical thought!

So we take the plunge, and buy a high end multi media machine with all the bells and whistles. The man said it has more memory and speed than the typical computer room of yesterday. That is nice but we didn’t even get to choose the color!

Some Assembly Required

DIY Home Automation at SmartHomeUSA
The new vehicle finally arrives. It looks like any other personal computer I’ve seen; non nondescript gray, a small TV like monitor screen, an intimidating keyboard, and an annoying mouse with its tail tied to the PC. I still can imagine that neat mini van we almost bought, but times are changing, so lets get on with it. Set up a table and chair, put monitor, keyboard and mouse on table, PC under. New vehicle must need fuel, oh here it is, all these plugs. I need a power bar. Just got this thing and it is starting to two bit me to death already. I really must forget about that van and give it a chance. All powered up and ready to go! Go where? No wheels, but an operator manual Page 1 states PC stays still while information flows to the PC via highways; ie telephone, TV cable, etc, or floppy disk or CD. Telephone?, That highway goes almost everywhere. I think I connect to it. Connect? Connect where? That’s what that guy at the store was talking about, a telephone/fax/modem card. Put the PC in the car and go back to the store. Good thing we didn’t sell both cars.

Install a telephone/fax/modem card and software please. Will this make the PC a fax? Yes, the connection of the hardware and software will create a virtual fax with capabilities well beyond conventional component faxes. The ability to output directly to any fax anywhere from your work processor program or any program in your PC. The card will also allow you to connect to the office network, transfer files. Oh, may I suggest some more software? Connect to a bulletin board, library. The list goes on.

Back to the garage. Oops! Sorry! SoHoMMR. Plug in the PC and telephone. Send and receive some faxes. Connect to the office network, review my E mail. Maybe this thing could allow me to telecommute a few days a week, allowing the car to be used for other errands. I’ll talk to the boss next week. What is this multi media stuff all about? I guess I’ll start with the encyclopedia. Neat pictures and sound and I’m in control. all right! What else is here? Games; incredible sound and graphic detail. Educational interactive demo. Yes, this is the way to learn. At this point the family comes to the garage to see what all the commotion is about. A fight soon breaks out over who can or can’t see the screen. We need a bigger screen. If we got a projector type we could project right there on the wall of the home theatre. (I remember when this used to be a garage). When we remodel I think I’ll build the speakers right into the walls.

Now that I’m being environmentally correct, “My other car is a PC” is my bumper sticker, I must get that home automation program and get control of my house lighting and heating setback. I guess I should improve the security for when we are away. I am beginning to see the advantages of this new vehicle. Instead of transporting our family to the world we can bring a portion of the world to our MMR. Let’s invest in this room and explore what we could actually achieve.Let’s invest more in this room and explore what we could actually achieve.

Existing home audio/video equipment could be replaced with a high end PC with virtual or software components with amazing features and windows like control panels at a low cost. Future audio/video upgrades may involve only a software change or card change. The CD will become the media for the next few years replacing audio tape, video tape and computer storage. The Windows environment allows the almost seamless integration of any interest holding program into the MMR. Eventually the MMR will be the centre of a traffic jam as an in house network will provide access of all features throughout the house. Older PCs will be reutilized for access only and the new High End PC with mega speed and many giggling bits would be the center of the multi media room.

Goodness, I’ve become a computer nerd! I was talking to those guys in Systems at work the other day, and I actually understood what they were saying. I’ve got to take a holiday! Even with all the high tech expenditures the total cost was less than the mini van, and telecommuting two days a week has saved more on fuel and parking. Even the CD movies coming in the mail save us driving. I even rode the bike to the store yesterday. But hey, I’m still going to take that mountain holiday with the family, and I am going to rent a mini van with four wheel drive. Who says you can’t have it all!

“My other car is a PC”.