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ADVANCED HOME NETWORKING
A glimpse at what the future holds, where you’ll be able to access all your data from anywhere in your home from any device at any time
Welcome to the future of advanced home networking. Gone are the days of cluttered and tangled unattractive wires. Each and every device in your home will be seamlessly connected to one another and you’ll be able to access each and every type of files - photos, music, movies – on any device, from anywhere in your home. With the advent of DLNA, NAS and wireless technology, you’ll be able to control everything remotely, including your media players, torrent downloads, web camera and even your home lights and sprinklers.
Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA)
In the earlier chapters we introduced you to DLNA and told you how DLNA is a worldwide collection of electronics, computer and mobile device companies that lets these consumer products connect and communicate with each other and share digital media easily. DLNA makes it possible for you to have a cool networked home and create a digital network that moves with you - from room to room, device to device and moment to moment.
You can begin your age of digital living in two simple steps:
1. All you need is a wired or wireless home network, and guess what? You're ready to get started! That's because today's DLNA Certified devices connect, discover and communicate with each other over a home network - like the one you currently have for sharing your broadband internet.
2. Purchase DLNA Certified
products available on the market. Once these devices are connected to your home network, there's virtually no limit to what you can do.
Now all this sounds very cool, but what is it exactly that DLNA allows you to do? Imagine you've just downloaded a movie on your smartphone, but you don't want to watch it on the small screen of your phone. Who would, when you have a 42" flat screen LCD TV, right? So if your smartphone and TV are DLNA certified, what you need to do is very simple:
1. Locate the movie on your smartphone
2. Send it to play on your TV -all done wirelessly.
Or maybe you want to watch a movie in the living room, but the TV with the DLNA Certified
set-top box is in the bedroom and already being used to watch a teary soap saga. Rather than watching something else or waiting to use the TV in your bedroom, you can simply:
Access the set-top box
Watch your show on the living room TV.
A DLNA Certified
smartphone just might leave you speechless. With your smartphone, you can now:
Find, send and play music:
Simply locate your favorite playlist on your smartphone and play it on any receiver, such as your DLNA Certified
wireless speakers or AV receiver.
Send and print photos:
You can now access the photos you took earlier in the day on your smartphone and have them printed directly from your DLNA Certified
digital printer - all done wirelessly, of course!
Send, view and upload videos:
Just like you we told you earlier, you can send videos stored on your smartphone to view on your DLNA Certified
TV. After you can transfer and store the videos on your DLNA Certified
network attached storage (we’ll explain NAS in detail later on).
Getting your hands dirty
So now it's time to get down to the basics, and setup the connection that will enable you to do all the cool things we've described above. In this section, we'll be showing you how to connect your LCD television to your home network with a wired ethernet connection.
First of all, you need the following equipment:
1. An internet connection.
2. A router (If you're connecting more than just the TV to your internet connection).
3. An ethernet cable long enough to connect from the TV to your router (or ethernet wall jack).
After you have all of the above equipment, follow these steps:
1. Connect the ethernet cable to your router, modem, or wall ethernet jack.
2. Connect the other end of the ethernet cable to the LAN port on the back of your TV.
3. Press the MENU button, and use the directional arrows to select "Setup”
4. Select "Network"
5. If Network Type is set to Wireless, select "Network Type" and then select "Wired".
6. Select "Network Setup".
7. Select "Internet Protocol Setup" and then select "Auto".
8. Select "DNS" and then select “Auto". Most users will select "Auto for Internet network protocol Setup and DNS". If your network requires you to put in a Manual IP address and DNS Server, enter those settings.
9. Press the RETURN button Network screen.
10.Select "Network Test". The TV now tests the network to make sure it's connected and working properly.
If the connection test fails, make sure that the ethernet cable is properly connected to both, the TV and the router. Next, power off the TV and unplug the modem and router. Wait for about a minute and then plug the modem and router back in, and then power on the TV. Rerun the Network Test.
If you have a wireless network, it's substantially easier and all you need to do is select your network type as Wireless in Step Sand proceed exactly like before, from step 5 onwards.
Media Servers have been often touted as panacea to all your file storage woes. But what exactly is a media server?
In its most simplistic sense, a media server is a device that stores and shares media. Now this is a very vague and open definition and encompasses a number of different types of devices. It may be a simple NAS, a home theatre PC running windows XP Media Center Edition or a commercial web site server that hosts media for a large web site. When we speak about media servers in a home setting. We’re usually referring to its role as a collector of a host of information, including but not limited to video, audio, photos and books. These different types of media, irrespective of their origin, are stored on the media server's hard drive.
In this section, we'll be showing you how to build up your own media server, using your old unused PC. We'll also show you a cool feature that comes with Windows 7, which encapsulates what Media Servers are all about.
Building your very own media server
While the market is now being flooded by computer manufacturers coming out with "media servers" to sell to consumers, it's important to know that you don't have to necessarily buy a brand new machine. Instead, you can use cheap (or salvaged) parts to build your own box, as media server hardware doesn't have to be top-notch.
You may have one or two old computers hanging around the house, in a corner, in a basement, attic, etc. just collecting dust. We'll now show you how to build home media servers from this old junk of a computer. Note here that in this short tutorial, we're assuming you have XP running on your old computer. But it should work equally well with any Windows OS.
1. Start by clicking "Start" and "Control Panel".
2. Select "Network Setup Wizard".
3. Press "Next" two times and then select "This computer connects to the internet thorough a residential..." and then select "Next."
4. Enter a name and description for your server and then click "Next."
5. In the next window, select the workgroup name and then click "Next."
6. Now, select the "Turn on Windows File and Printer Sharing" option and click "Next."
7. Make sure the info is right and click "Next" again.
8. On the following screen, select "Just Finished" and then click "Next" and "Finished"
9. To start sharing, simply create a folder in any directory.
10.Now, right-click on the folder and click “Network Sharing and Security”.
11.When the Security and sharing window loads, select “share this folder on the Network” and “Allow Network User to Change My Files.”
12.Now go to your other Computer(s) that you wish to access these files at and click on “start” and then right click on “My Computer” and select “Map Network Drive”.
13.Now, click "Browse" and select the name of the home server and click the "+" beside it to expand the options and click the folder that we just created.
14.To access your newly established home media server, simply go to "My Computer" and double-click on the drive you created and you're in! You should now be able to copy and paste files to your heart's desire!
Sharing digital media with other computers on a home network with Windows 7
Windows 7 comes along with Windows Media Player 12 which you can use to easily turn your personal computer into a media server to stream music, movies, and pictures to other computers and devices on your home network.
1. In order to start streaming media from your Windows 7 machine you'll need to turn it on by opening Media Player.
2. In the Library section of Windows Media Player 12, click on "Stream"then click "Turn on media streaming."
3. Alternately you can also bypass Windows Media Player 12, and do the following:
a. Open Control Panel.
b. View All Control Panel Items.
c. Select "Network and Sharing Center".
d. Select “Media streaming options”
e. Click on the button to turn on media streaming and press "OK”.
4. Now you'll be able to - view all the devices which are connected to the network and can then select which computer or media device have access to the media.
5. You can also customise the streaming settings by selecting what will be shared and also notice the parental ratings control.
6. Now that we've enabled media streaming, it's time to take a look at what to look for in Windows Media Player 12. On another device on the network open Windows Media Player and under Library you'll see "Other Libraries" and the available libraries of Music, Video and pictures available for streaming.
Isn’t this a cool feature? You now have a dedicated computer with a lot of disk capacity to run as your media server. This gives you the freedom to have computers and tablets and laptops, containing less space, connect and enjoy all the media they want.
Remember floppy disks? Yes, those square disks which were quite a rage in the 90's but now would be hard to find even in an antique store? Historically, floppy drives have been widely used to share data files, but today the storage needs of the average person far exceed the capacity of floppies. Enter Central file servers. They made use of basic client/server networking technologies to solve these data storage problems. File servers have had a long track record of success. However many homes, workgroups and small businesses are not usually in a position to justify dedicating a fully general-purpose computer to relatively simple data storage tasks.
This is where NAS or Network Attached Storage enters the picture. NAS challenges the traditional file server approach by creating systems designed specifically for data storage. Instead of starting with a general-purpose computer and configuring or removing features from that base, NAS designs with the bare-bones components necessary to support file transfers and add features "from the bottom up”.
But wait - here comes the best part ! You don't have to go out and purchase a NAS device. You can build a superior alternative using spare parts left over after upgrading your PC. That's right folks! You can build your very own NAS with the following parts:
· FreeNAS (Free,
· ISO recorder (Free,http://isorecorder.alexfeinman.com/isorecorder.btm)
· USB thumb drive
· Optical drive
· Power supply
· One or more hard drives
Now that you’ve got hold of all the requisite parts, the first step in the process is to build the physical NAS box. However, since this is no different from assembling a PC, we'll skip ahead to the installation of the operating system. We're going to walk you through the finer points of setting up a FreeNAS based network storage device on your very own.
Burn the FreeNAS ISO to CD
First of all make sure your motherboard's BIOS is configured to boot from a USB device, as we’ll be installing the operating system to a thumb drive.
FreeNAS is based on FreeBSD, which is a Unix like open-source OS. FreeNAS is different from both, Linux and Windows. You should therefore bear in mind that using the OS as the backbone of your file storage is going to wipe out anything that might be on the hard drives you use. But there's also a bright side to it - FreeNAS itself requires no hard drive space for installation. Download the FreeNAS ISO and insert a CD in your burner. If you don't already have software capable of burning an ISO image to a CD, download and install the free utility ISO Recorder. Once you've burned the image, put the CD in your NAS box's optical drive, restart your computer and boot FreeNAS from the CD.
Install FreeNAS on a USB thumb drive
We're going to setup our NAS to boot from a USB thumb drive so we don't limit our upgrade options.
Ø Plug a thumb drive into the NAS box's USB port when the FreeNAS Console Setup menu appears.
Ø Choose the menu item "Install/Upgrade to a hard drive/flash device, etc."
Ø When prompted next, choose the first option: "Install 'embedded' OS on HDD/Flash/USB."
Ø Choose the optical drive containing the FreeNAS ISO image and hit Enter.
Ø Now select the USB thumb drive on which you want to install the OS.
Configure your network settings
Ø After you've installed the operating system on the thumb drive, remove the CD and reboot your NAS box.
Ø When your NAS box has rebooted, choose the first item from the Console Setup menu 'Assign Interface".
Ø Unplug the NAS box's ethernet cable and choose the OS's Auto Detection option.
Ø When prompted, plug the ethernet cable back in and hit the Enter key.
Ø You'll get a message that reads "Detected link-up on interface XX," where "XX" is the name of your ethernet interface. Hit the Enter key again.
Ø The next screen will read "Configure OPT interface."
Ø Choose the option that reads "Finish and exit configuration" and hit the Enter key.
Now the next thing we need to do is set the LAN IP address. However before we can do that, we need to reboot the computer. You can do this by typing the number 7 and hitting Enter to reboot the computer.
Ø When the machine has finished rebooting, choose the second item from the Console Setup menu "Set LAN IP Address".
Ø When prompted whether you want to use DHCP, choose Yes unless your network is set up with static IP addresses.
Ø At the next prompt, select "Auto Configuration for IPv6”.
Ø The OS will then give you the IP address that's been assigned to the NAS box. You can ping your NAS box in order to ascertain if it has joined your network.
Ø You can manage the settings of your NAS box using your web browser. Just type the NAS box's IP address into your browser's address bar. (The default user name is "admin" and the password is "freenas".)
Configure your drive
Ø Once you've logged into the web GUI, you'll want to take a shot at a few important configuration steps:
Ø Start by clicking General (in the left-hand menu stack, under the System heading) and change the desired information in the large pane on the right.
Ø Change the name of the NAS.
Ø Set the correct date, time, and time zone.
Ø Create a unique username and password.
Ø Click the Password tab, type in the existing password ("freenas"), and enter your new password in the two boxes provided. You're now ready to prepare your hard drive.
Ø Go back to the left-hand menu and choose Management under the Disks heading.
Ø The plus sign inside the circle on the right-hand pane indicates that you can add an element to the NAS.
Ø Click the plus symbol and all the drives in your system will appear in the window next to the disk heading. Choose your hard drive.
Ø Make sure that the value for "Preformatted file system" is set to "unformatted" before you click the Add button; then click "Apply Changes".
Format and mount the hard drive
Are you ready to wipe your drive? What you need to do, is return to the "Disks" heading in the left-hand column-of the NAS box's administrative options and choose the Format option. From the dropdown menu select your hard drive and enter a volume label. Accept the remaining default choices: "File System: UFS (GPT and Soft Updates)," "Minimum Free Space (8)," and "Don't Erase MBR (unchecked)." Click the Format Disk button.
Before you can access a drive, you have to mount it. So go back to the left-hand Disks menu and dick "Mount Point". Click the circled plus sign, select "Disk" from the dropdown Type menu, and choose your hard drive from the dropdown Disk menu. Select "EFT GPT" from the Partition menu and UFS for the File System value. Click the Add button when you're finished. An OK message in the Status window indicates that the drive was successfully mounted.
Enable services and create shares
We need to be able to access our NAS box using computers running Windows, so it's essential that we enable the SAMBA networking protocol on our NAS box. Look in the left-hand column for the heading labeled Services and click the CIFS/SMB menu item. Place a check mark next to "Enable" in the main window but leave all the values at their default settings. Click the Save and Restart button.
Now that you have SAMBA up and running, you'll have to create one or more network shares. This will allow your remote computers to treat the NAS box's hard drive(s) as though they're a local resource - which is why we made the NAS in the first place.
So click the Shares tab in the "Services: CIFS/SMB: Settings" window and click the circled plus button. In the screen that appears next, share a name, add a comment describing the purpose of the share, set the path and click the Add button. Click the Apply Changes button on the - next screen. When you've finished configuring FreeNAS, click the Backup/Restore button to create a backup of your configuration. You should now be able to find your NAS and your newly created shared folders listed in your network places.
How to stream from your NAS box
Now that your new NAS box is ready to go, getting all your movies and photos to stream to your media device of choice is extraordinarily easy. Here's how you do it.
Ø To get started, head into the web configuration for your NAS and go to
Services > UPnP.
Ø Click the Enable checkbox on the right-hand side and give your UPnP server a name.
Ø Under "Database Directory", click the "..." button and browse to a folder on your NAS where you want the UPnP configuration file stored (it doesn't really matter where this is).
Ø Then, head down to Content and click the "..." button to point FreeNAS to the folders you want to share.
Ø You can add multiple folders from all over your NAS, and it can stream them as long as they contain movies or music.
Some devices, like the Playstation 3, may require you to transcode your higher-definition videos, so check the "enable transcoding" box if necessary. Then hit "Save'. If you head over to your UPnP device and search for servers, you should see that your NAS pops up, and you can browse your media folders and watch those videos on your TV.
Another really cool tool in your networked home is a Torrent Box. Simply put, a torrent box allows you to queue, manage and share all your torrent data via a network connection. This means that you can just leave your old PC running Torrent, in the corner chipping away at your downloads and seeding away, whilst you're out working on your laptop. You wont need a monitor once you’ve set up the box, which means you can put it anywhere it will fit.
1. It's always best to start with a fresh operating system, so format and reinstall your chosen OS on the PC's hard drive.
2. As you're going to be using the machine to store data, you'll need a fairly large hard drive depending on your plans. However if you're using the box as a go-between (before transferring your downloads to shares or backup locations) then space is not so much of an issue.
3. It's important to remember to format the drive on which you'll be downloading your torrent data to NTFS, and not the older FAT32 file system. NTFS will allow you to download files greater than 4 GB, a constraint when using FAT32 devices.
4. Make sure you have at least one shared and accessible location from which to access the data. Simply create a folder on your main download drive, right-click and choose "Share". This is where all your downloaded data will go.
Installing uTorrent and the web UI
1. Download the latest version of uTorrent from its official webpage and boot it up. You may want to adjust a few settings, including your connection settings for optimal download and upload performance.
2. Hit Ctrl+P to bring up the Preferences dialog or you can even access it from the Options Menu.
3. Within the General tab check "Start uTorrent on System Startup". This means if you ever need to restart or move your box you can resume your torrents by simply turning it on.
4. Under Web UI, check "Enable Web Ur and create a username and password.
1. Make sure your torrent box is turned on, connected to the network and running uTorrent. Using any machine on your network visit
Here "x" is the computer's location on the network and 'port" is either your uTorrent client's connection port or alternative listening port.
2. You’ll be prompted for the username and password you created under uTorrent's web UI preferences. Log in and you'll be presented with uTorrent's web user interface.
3. From here you can add, remove and manage your torrents as well as update your preferences. Its quite literally uTorrent within your web browser.
Accessing your web UI is all well and good on your network, but what about when you're not at home? For this you need a static IP or DynDNS in order to connect from outside of your home network. This is not a problem if you happen to be a computer geek! But since you're reading this, we're going to assume you're not one.
This is where uTorrent Remote comes in. Whether you want to simply add a torrent to your download queue, manage which files are downloaded within a particular torrent or even change your client settings, uTorrent Remote gives you full access to uTorrent from anywhere.
1. Make sure you're running uTorrent 3.0 or above. If you're not, install the latest version and boot it up.
2. Click on the uTorrent Remote button on the Menu Bar. Doing so will quickly take you to the "Remote" section in uTorrent's preferences. Now you need only add a username and password:
3. You should see "Status:Accessible" under these boxes shortly after you fill them in. If not, try another username / password combination. When you do see “Status: Accessible” you’re done.
4. Head over to
5. You'll need to move your mouse around to help encrypt the communications, and then you can enter your username and password.
6. Everything you can do in uTorrent itself you can do here, as well.
A torrent box is a very dean new way to put your old technologies to use and it costs nothing to setup. If you've already got an existing media center or file server, adding torrent functionality is another simple step you can take to streamline your home setup. Remote access gives you the freedom to peruse from afar and have your downloads ready for you and the rest of your network, the moment you get home.
Confession time! How many of you have ever wished you could use your tech to keep an eye on your home while you're gone? Yes, we're all guilty of harboring that particular fantasy. So, we're going to tell how you can do this = without an expensive dedicated setup!
All you need is a web cam. In this section, we'll show you how to use your everyday tech to set up a motion-detecting camera in your house, so you can keep an eye out for intruders, mischievous pets, or even pestering kleptomaniac roommates.
What we're going to do is install a web cam software like Yawcam software to utilise any standard PC web cam (USB or built-in) as a surveillance camera for free. If you have a laptop, all-in-one desktop PC or a monitor with a built-in web cam, you won't need to spend any money on this project at all.
Next, we'll strengthen the coverage of your surveillance setup by adding whatever spare iOS or Android gadgets you have handy - old phones, iPod Touches, anything with a camera - to the mix. In order to exercise this particular option, we'll use a few handy apps that let you turn your mobile work gear into an extra pairs of eyes for as good as free.
So, what are we waiting for? Let's start.
Use your PC web cam to monitor your home
1. Download the software from
2. Plug in your web cam and have drivers installed.
3. When everything is hooked up properly, launch Yawcam.
4. Add your camera by clicking the "Settings" menu and choosing "Device". If your web cam is built into your PC - as is the case with those found on most laptops and all-in-one desktops - select the "Integrated Camera" option. If you're using a USB-connected external web cam, select "Change to" and choose your USB camera out of the lineup.
5. YawCam will open a new Preview window with your camera's video feed.
6. From the main Yawcam window, click on the Window menu and select "Motion Detection".
7. You can fine-tune the motion-detection features in the Settings menu, where you can confine the motion detection to a certain area of the camera image, tweak the sensitivity level, and more.
8. Click the Enable button on the left-hand side of the window. Now motion detection is running!
9. From the Motion Detection window, click the Actions tab and check "Send E-Mail"; then click the Settings menu button. Here you'll need some information from your email provider - specifically, the SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) settings. If you're a Gmail user, you can find Google's SMTP settings by following these instructions.
10.Next, check "Attach image" at the top of Yawcam's Email Settings menu, specify the email address you want Yawcam to send it to, and tweak the flood control settings to make sure you aren't completely inundated with camera spam. Click "OK" and you should be all set.
Use your i0S or Android smartphone as a wireless network camera
Here's how to use your iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or Android phone/tablet as a wireless network security camera:
1. Download the app “Wireless Camera ($2)” app, from the App Store and open it on your iOS device.
2. Wireless Camera uses iOS's built-in Web server features to start a website on your local network that you can access by pointing your browser to your gadget's local IP address.
3. Open Wireless Camera and tweak the settings to suit your personal preferences. Then check "Motion Detection and Add Timestamp" and check "Enabled" at the top to start the recording.
4. From here, you can position your iOS device wherever you like, and it will begin streaming a video feed that you can access in
http://[your device's local IP address]
5. Navigate to the web interface and click "View Recorded Images" to see how your camera is doing.
Note that if you want to access your video feed from outside your home network, you'll need to delve into your router's Network Address Translation and port-forwarding features to point incoming traffic toward your iOS gadget.
Alternatively, you can use a spare Android handset as a wireless network camera:
1. Download an app called Motion Detector Pro by MVA. Motion Detector Pro is free in the Android Market.
2. From there, you can configure your ideal motion detection threshold, which comes in handy for separating the motion that you want to see (burglars, pets doing cute things, roommates eating your snacks) from the noise (trees, shadows, moths, etc.).
3. You can also specify a phone number or email address to receive the incoming snapshots.
4. Next, press "Show advanced settings", and you can configure Motion Detector Pro to start up when you send it a specific text message. Define particular zones in your camera feed that you want it to monitor and turn on a stealth mode that closes the app as soon as the phone is touched.
5. Once you've finished tweaking the app, activate the motion detection and you're good to go.
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