New Year, New Projects

New Year, New Projects

By George Jones

george01.jpgThis month, we take a long, hard look at 19 new PC technologies that promise to evolve your PC’s performance and functionality to new levels. It’s the perfect story for the onset of 2005. Flush with loot from the holidays, we can all hunker down and begin the entertaining process of mapping out the year’s upgrades.

I often get so caught up in thinking about upgrading my rigs for performance during this pre-spring fling that I overlook more basic, non-performance-related PC tasks. No more! I hereby commit to the following PC projects in 2005.

Get my digital audio together: 2005 is the year I rip, archive, and organize my entire music library. I’m going to start by organizing all the songs in my existing digital library; I’ll get the song/artist/album names right, then I’ll make sure it’s properly organized. Then I’m going to rip every CD I have to FLAC, or maybe Apple’s proprietary lossless format. This will ensure archival-quality sound, in case I lose or scratch a CD. Then I’m going to convert these files into a smaller, more portable digital format like 192MHz MP3s. The result will be a song collection that’s easy to sort, easy to move onto my portable music player, and easy to stream throughout my house.

Build the ultimate media server:
I want to take one of my old systems and turn it into a high-capacity server exclusively dedicated to storing all my music and photographs. On top of this, I want to get some PVR action going. I’m envisioning four to five TV tuners, with an equal number of cable boxes. Using an off-the-shelf copy of WinXP Media Center Edition 2005 or BeyondTV, or maybe SageTV, I’ll be able to record anything and everything and stream it throughout my house.

Wire my house: The more I’ve worked with streaming media, the more I want to run Gigabit Ethernet to key areas of my house. Don’t get me wrong—I’ll still use Wi-Fi for my notebook and more simple tasks. But there’s no way I’ll be able to stream hiccup-free video from my media server to other rooms in my house without wires. It shouldn’t be too difficult a task. And once it’s done, it will be easy to upgrade in the future.

Computerize my kitchen: It’s time to build—or buy—a kitchen PC. I’m thinking something simple mounted near the stove and prep area, with a small screen (and a protective coating), and possibly a touch-screen display. Hmmm…maybe I’ll convert a tablet PC?

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