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My Home Server Obsession Revealed!


jvk
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Ok I love my WHS (it's a franken-build) and I have had it for about two years now but I have one problem with it. Before I ask the community for help, I thought it would be best to contribute to the community first. Below is a visual accounting of my WHS obsession, fortunately I have a very understanding and forgiving girlfriend.It all started with wanting to get my MP3s into my Surround Sound System. I bought a case from a guy on Ebay, installed the components and a HTPC was born.

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The HTPC itself is bottom component in the stack

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Originally I used the Media Center remote control that came with the case and a wireless mouse, then I found this great deal on a hybrid of the two made by Gyration, the "air music remote". It works great since it has mouse, remote, and a media display in one small package.

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Then I got to thinking, if you can stream media into your living room, why not the bedroom? after all my apartment already has built in ether-net cabling and I could take advantage of that. I bought a touch screen to control the computer (an ELO model used from Ebay. it used to be a POS (Point of Sale, not other meaning) terminal in a retail store). The touch screen is not multi-touch so there are no flicks or swipes, just mouse emulation, but it works great!

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If a pc is to go into the bedroom, it can't look like a pc. So I went to Ross(like a TJ Maxx) and found the perfect dresser valet that would fit a Mini-itx motherboard. Cheapest computer case I have ever bought at $11.99! A little drilling and a lot of cutting later, another pc was born. It runs off of an old laptop drive, has a slot loading dvd, an external Brick Power supply, and is really quiet! Below are some pictures of it outside of my nightstand so you can see it.

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Ok, so this is a Server community so I guess it is time to show the server. Originally I had the server in my night stand, but my girlfriend complained that it would wake her up every night around midnight with this "gurgling" sound. it was probably the nightly backups that were not just waking up my Laptop and HTPCs but also waking her up. So off to the closet the server went to join my router and cable modem. The windows home server is also a print server as well.

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The server is a franken-build, built with a Chenbro case, 3 drives, 3 GB of Ram and a VIA mini-itx motherboard with an embedded 1.8ghz chip. The Server runs like a champ, although it is a little on the noisy side. Since the build I have removed one of the drives and some of the memory for a my next project. The picture below is my next project (let's just call it "project vail")... Actually believe it or not I found this computer in the trash! The case was in great shape (although I'm not a fan of the gaming motif) and all components (power supply, dvd drive, memory, motherboard, hard drive, cpu, etc.) were all intact. I pulled it out of the trash, plugged it into a monitor and it booted right into windows XP! I couldn't believe it. Since then I have put a new Motherboard, CPU and the Hard drive and memory that were sourced from my current WHS.

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The CPU is an AMD chip that is capable of running in either 32 bit or 64 bit modes. This way I will be future proof when the next version of WHS comes out! Future improvement will be to put the guts into a suitable case, I have my eye on the Silverstone Fortress 2 as well as a fanless powersupply and fanless CPU cooler. This server has to be quiet. So that is my obsession, or well I call it a hobby at least. Not pictured is the solution that I put together for my girlfriend. I bought her a dell Zino for Christmas (they had a great sale of them) and hooked it up to the new HP multi touch display and put it in her kitchen (she lives at a different place than me so no WHS integration). You might ask why would I do that, well she uses it to display her recipes while in the kitchen. (I scanned her recipes into a PDF format and she loves it since she can bring them up on the screen and view them quite clearly). I also put a few recipe of the day RSS feeds on the RSS reader windows side bar gadget on the desktop for her as well. And not to lose sight of the Media theme, I ripped all her cds and loaded them onto the Zino and plugged it into here Bose wave radio which sounds fantastic! Even though she is not that techy (i.e. nerdy like me) she has no problem using the pc as it is pretty intuitive. If you guys are interested in seeing her set up I can take some pictures of it if you would like.

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Cool setup jvk, it's great. I've really wanted to get that new HP touchscreen monitor, saw it on sale for $280 the other day. How does that work with Windows Media Center, did you test it out at all? I was thinking of having it in the Kitchen just like you did for your girlfriend. I think it would be great to have TV, recipes like you said, an occasional web browser, calendar, etc. Curious on your thoughts!

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Thanks everyone,

wodysweb: The HP multi-touch monitor in the Kitchen works very well with Media Center... it is one of the "Windows 7 Approved" touchscreens. In media center itself, it behaves kind of like a big iPod. In the media libraries you can swipe thru the content as opposed to hitting the right arrow on the remote. It lets you locate content quicker. As far as movies and recorded tv play back goes, it is great since it is much easier to navigate thru the video by touching the progress bar at the bottom. No more fast forward, just touch where you want to go! If you are putting one in the kitchen, I definetly recomend the HP model since it comes with a stylus, that way if your hands are dirty while cooking, the chance of messing up the monitor is much less. The real bonus is that in the web browsers when you click on a text input box, Windows will present you with an icon next to the input box that is a shortcut to the on-screen keyboard! Very trick! Here are some pictures.
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mikemcm1956: The touchscreen on the nightstand is an "ELO" 15" model. It was used when I bought it and works pretty good althought it is not mulit-touch capable. You can find them on e-bay for around $140.

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jvk, thanks for the info, even pictures! I think I'm sold on the idea, now it's just getting it approved by the girlfriend...how did you pull it off :-)

Question about your current WHS case, have you ever had any problems with getting enough juice from the external power brick? I was looking and that seems like a cool 4 bay hot swappable case, but it says only 150 or 180 watts for the PSU...curious on your thoughts.

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