Sunday, January 27, 2008

One Small Step for a Man, One Giant Leap for Couch Potatoes

You may recall that the Palatial Overclock Estate (what the media still insists on calling the Heavily-Armed Overclock Compound) has a TiVo digital video recorder. This Christmas, Techno-Santa brought us a Slingbox. Techno-Santa frequently brings us complex electronic devices that lead Mrs. Overclock (a.k.a. Dr. Overclock, Medicine Woman) to gaze lovingly into my eyes and say "This had better come with technical support."

The Slingbox extends your DVR, and hence your cable television feed, to the internet. I'm sitting here watching streaming video of some movie on the SciFi Channel on my ThinkPad X61 laptop over our WiFi network. I have an avatar for the TiVo remote over in the corner of the screen. I can watch television in real-time, watch a DVD, or control the DVR, all from my ThinkPad. (Or, I suppose, from Mrs. Overclock's PowerBook, too.)

Works remotely across the Internet as well. Although the thought of sitting at the local coffee shop and watching something I recorded at home the night before is going to take some getting used to.

It was ridiculously simple to install. The hardest part was dealing with all the dust bunnies behind the three cabinets containing all the A/V gear and our network equipment stack. This promises to being a whole new level of time wasting to my daily laptop usage.

One suggestion for the technorati at large: we need a standard for the secure internet control of A/V devices. This deal with everything controlling everything else via an IR port is silly, when all the devices have a CAT5 cable to the same router just two feet away.

Update (2008-02-06)

The bad news: thanks to the winter storm over the Midwest last week, Mrs. Overclock (a.k.a. Dr. Overclock, Medicine Woman) and I found ourselves stuck in an airport for eleven hours. The good news: it was a frackin' huge airport, and it had free WiFi. When we got tired of riding the trains around the concourses, we settled down with our laptops. Before we left home, I had put a DVD of a television series we had been watching intermittently (six episodes of the 1954 Rocky Jones, Space Ranger) in our TiVo. Sure enough, I was able to watch the DVD, playing in the TiVo in the family room at home, on my ThinkPad while sitting at the airport.

Totally surreal.