Scott's Column
Returning From Vacation, and Adding a Network Switch

January 7, 2014
By Scott Lewis

This month there is not much to report. As mentioned last month... I went to Orlando Florida for vacation, and have not had time to write up anything valuable for this column. Though I did install a switch in my home theater.

The Vacation

My best friend and his family and my two sons and myself all stayed in a rental house. A house that had 7 bedroom, and we used all of them.

We spent three days at Disney World. We all went to Magic Kingdom and Epcot Center (one day each). On the last full day we split up with 5 of us going to Disney Hollywood Studios, and the remaining 7 going to Animal Kingdom.

We also spent two days at Universal Studios, one day on the Marvel/Harry Potter side, the other day on the main movie studio side.

One more day was spent at Kennedy Space Center taking their "mega" tour. As I understand it this tour should be shut down by now as they are going to be doing a significant amount of work on some areas for new rockets that will be launching in a couple of years. Sorry, I can't remember the details of that better, but suffice it to say... we were there at just the right time... at least until they re open the areas for public tours in a couple of areas.

We all just lounged around the house on New Years Eve.

And myself... I got the extreme pleasure of meet up with my Step Mother (technically ex step mother). She was my father's second wife. She happened to be in Orlando to pick up other family members of her husband, so we met with them for brunch. This brunch was on the day everyone else went to Magic Kingdom. My youngest son and I ended up missing the Haunted House, but for me that was well worth the extra visit with my step mother, who I normally only get to see when I am visiting New York

This was without a doubt the best vacation I have every been on. I think it beats my honeymoon.

Netflix & HuluPlus

Upon return I subscribed to Netflix and HuluPlus. This is in preparation for cutting the cord. I watched a few items on each service over the weekend, and I was pleasantly surprised with the video quality of both, but a definite nod goes to HuluPlus in this area.

Next month I will give you a run down on what each service is providing that benefits me... and what they are missing. I am not sure if I will look into other services, such and Amazon Prime. I'll have to let you know that later.

A Switch

The one technology item I have to report is that I added a network switch to my home entertainment system.

I previously had just one Ethernet cable running from my bedroom, where my cable box and router live, to the living room. Yes, I punched a small hole in the wall to get the Ethernet cable to reach between the rooms. Since my router is a Gigabit router, I theoretically have Gigabit access to my home theater.

A little background... I have two Blu-Ray players in my home theater. One is an excellent LG BD590. It will stream almost any kind of file from my home server. I rarely come across a file it can't play. However, the drive in this unit does not play discs anymore. So I also have a Panasonic Blu-Ray player for playing Blu-Rays.

When I decided to cut the cord I needed to know how I would stream content to my TV. The LG Blu-Ray player does not have a HuluPlus app. The Panasonic player does. So, I needed to get the Panasonic player on the internet.

I bought an inexpensive switch. A switch is just a device that will spread a signal to other devices. I bought a 4 port Gigabit switch. For more of that theoretical speed. A switch is easier than getting another router as the switch does not have any configuration. If I had used another router (or hub) I would have to configure it to not give out IP addresses to devices. With the switch, that never happens. The devices just get their IP address from the one and only router in the environment.

I simply plugged the Ethernet coming from the router into the switch, and plugged the switch into both Blu-Ray players... and my XBox 360 (previously we would remove the Ethernet from the Blu-Ray player when using the XBox).

Now all three devices are on the internet any time they need it. No more reaching around to swap a cable.

About that theoretical Gigabit speed limit. Well, each of the three devices only has 100Mbit Ethernet in them, so they can't make use of the extra speed. But it is there if someday it comes in handy. Regardless... I am not relying on WiFi to broadcast video, so I get very good performance all the time.


Next month more on Netflix & HuluPlus.