An Incredibly Geeky and Reasonably Low- to Mid-Tech Home Stereo System

2006-08-16 18:24:00 +0000

I see iPods everywhere, probably for two reasons:

  1. Everyone owns an iPod (but me).
  2. Okay, not everyone owns an iPod, but everyone at my college owns an iPod (but me).

Also, I went to Target today. Walking in the electronics department, I passed an aisle that was almost entirely devoted to iPod accessories. There were about a dozen different home stereo systems, the top of which one docks oneʼs iPod into so one doesnʼt have to stick white earbuds into oneʼs ears while at oneʼs home.

I may not have an iPod, but I use iTunes, and I like listening to music, too. And last night I discovered that I had all the pieces necessary to put together an incredibly geeky and reasonably mid-to-high-tech home stereo system.


  1. My computer. Well, one of my computers. There are five computers in my apartment right now. Three belong to me, one belongs to my work but Iʼm responsible for it and I act like it belongs to me, and the last one belonged to my former roommate and will belong to my next roommate when he arrives.
  2. My router. Well, one of my routers. There are three routers in my apartment right now. They all belong to me and they all function with varying degrees of … functionality. One of them is a wireless (Netgear) router I bought from Goodwill. It doesnʼt work. One is a wireless (Belkin) I bought from Walmart. It works well and itʼs the one I actually use on my internet connection. The last one, a Linksys wired-only I bought from Radio Shack, is the one I am using for this project. It is ideal for the task because it got fried in a power surge a few months ago, and now it only works as a DHCP server; it will network four computers together, but it canʼt be used to pass an internet connection through.
  3. Some speakers. My former roommate had some nice ones hooked up to his computer (the computer he left here). The speakers stayed with the computer. They are composed of a subwoofer and two satellites.
  4. Network cables. Of course.
  5. One more computer. Iʼm using the little tablet from my work, because it is portable.

I had all the pieces, so I went about setting it up.

First, my desktop computer (it has a name: Tatooine) that has all the music on it was moved into the living room. I have some shelves built into the wall, and Tatooine fit very nicely into the bottom shelf. There is a nearby electrical socket, too, so I didnʼt need any extension cords or power strips.

Tatooine is configured to log in to my account automatically when it starts up. Also, it will start up even if nothing is plugged in to it. By nothing, I mean no keyboard, mouse, or monitor. I find it funny because every time I start it, the motherboard gives the “Help, there arenʼt any peripherals plugged in!” beep code sequence. But it starts up anyway.

Tatooine is running Windows XP Professional, which turns out to be important, because I couldnʼt do this (as easily) if it were running Home Edition. Why, you ask? Because only Pro allows you to log in to the computer remotely. And you can bet thatʼs turned on.

So Tatooine is on the bottom shelf, running, and the speakers are plugged into the sound card and there is an network cable running from Tatooine to the half-broken router. Tatooine has an IP address.

Now I bring over the tablet (it has a name: Alderaan) and run a network cable from it to the router. Now Alderaan has an IP address. From Alderaan I connectected via Remote Desktop Connection to Tatooine.

Bingo! I run iTunes and control it like normal. Even though I am controlling everything from Alderaan, the program itself is running on Tatooine, so once I start a playlist playing, I can disconnect and shut down Alderaan and the music, it flows!

So basically, I went though this whole ordeal so I could play the music I want, on the speakers I want, in the room I want. I think itʼs worth it.

Desktops within desktops