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Old 12-03-2008, 08:31 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Dec 2008
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Default Hardware Networking in the 21st Century

feel this question is best posted here, though it engenders larger questions of varying degree across the spectrum of personal computing.

I am fed up with our current computing infrastructure



There is so much untapped potential that it is painful, and unfortunately, the status quo is only maintained by existing companies. Rarely, if ever, do independent large corporations innovate (Though we have seen impressive examples to the contrary by both Google and Apple in recent years). I digress however...

In starting, I would like to say I reject the notion that a Computer belongs at the desk. I feel the residents of Tom's Hardware will understand this sentiment far more than the rest of the world.

With as powerful as my computer is, the ability to be both an Administrative and Entertainment powerhouse, I am annoyed beyond belief the extent of what things I *cannot* do.

I hope though that perhaps you all may have some answers to my questions, questions that the modest search engines have failed to help me with.

My System

To give you a little understanding of my computer use, I will let you know that I am a College student in Engineering. Approaching graduation, my computer use is divided into four primary categories:

- Music, Movies, and Television (Copied my CD's onto my computer, Copied my DVD's onto my computer, and have a Television Card)
- Administrative Work (Office Applications for productivity)
- Gaming
- Designwork (CITRIX client CAD design through my university. Upon graduation this will be replaced most likely by my own CAD program or hopefully a similar VPN network like CITRIX)

My computer is primarily used under FreeBSD, with a 10% partition for Windows that I may play PC games, use Adobe Flash, and *better* access CITRIX VPN.

My Needs

I would like to have the ability to make my TV/Projection System act as a remote desktop for my computer. In that respect I mean that I would like to be able to stream Music, Movies, and Internet Browsing directly to my TV, using a remote and/or wireless keyboard for interface.

Some prominent beginning examples exist out there:

Apple TV - Not really interested in it's limitations / cost association / Itunes.
D-Link - All that I have seen are configured for Windows Media Center.

This leads to question number 1:

Question 1 - Does there Exist a system that can wirelessly mirror a computer environment on TV/Projection system. If so, are there limitations to the quality of Video/Audio media that can be presented. From my understanding of TV's, their value comes from their size and ability to present crisp images. If I am streaming from a remote local network computer, will I lose all of that quality? Moreover, can this be done cheaply, without having to go to the expensive extent of mounting a full desktop computer behind my TV.

This leads directly into my next personal need: Home networking.

While TV's are making strides in connecting to computers, one thing that is still lagging (it seems to me), is the idea of client side vs. server side processing.

Ideally, when I go home, I would like to have an ultra-cooled server hiding in some closet upstairs. Laden with a couple terabytes of information, this server would be able to run up to three virtual desktops at one time.

From this position, I would be able to access the server remotely via Netbook/Laptop-esque machines, small portable that I would have with me most of the time.

Some of this is already possible, as using a specially encrypted packed, one can turn on their computer at home and access data/programs. It seems though that this software is still in it's infancy, as speed is a considerable issue.

In a roundabout way, what I am getting at is that Laptops and Desktop computers are getting *too* beefy. Too large, and not just large in size, large in power consumption, processing needs, all of that.

Question 2 - Is it possible to have a central home server while having ancillary satellite laptops with very little processing power of their own, that merely *connect* to this Virtual network
? The major areas where this still seems impossible is in areas such as gaming and visual applications, where client side video processing is still integral. Is there a better way we can do this?

I imagine I have rambled a lot. The core point I would like to drive home is that I do not want my desk to be the center of my computing. Rather, I would like some hidden out of sight location to do all the work, all the processing, and be able to wirelessly interface those aspects into my TV, Laptop, and hopefully, Mobile Phone, with an emphasis on the distinction between Laptop and Mobile phone growing smaller and smaller.

I would like to note that this entire post is based solely on my own perceptions of the computer field. While I consider myself advanced in the aspects of computer management, I am well unaware of recent advances in networking among other topics, that are very relevant to my perceptions. If I am wrong, tell me I'm wrong, but at the same time, please help me find a tenable solution. Cheers

TLDR: Don't want computer at desk, running FreeBSD, want TV to connect wirelessly to server, want to run home VPN network.
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