Welcome to the latest issue of our eMagazine. This month we received several articles aimed at explaining and solving some of the mysteries of installation of Home Technology systems and equipment.
George Wilkinson continues his excellent series with Systems Integration Procedure – Part 4b. This one stresses the importance of having an overall plan of attack when commissioning complex home systems. If you’re a professional integrator then you’ll be interested in Utilizing D-Tools System Integrator Software to save time and money.

Here are some of the offerings:
Installing Flat Screen Displays discusses several mounting solutions.
Too Close for Comfort? is about the rules of thumb for selecting and placing 1080p projector screens.
Selecting Automated Window Treatments by Tom Morgan will help you decide which shades to use and how to sort out the details.
Integrating MCE with Video Displays talks about how to select the right screen for you Media Center PC system.
PLC – Lighting Design by Eugene Kowch discusses how to use Programmable Logic Controllers in your home lighting system. Eugene has been a contributor for several years and if you are interested in PLC applications here is a link to his series of articles.
And here’s a great tip from the Training Department – Magnetic Personality Test Leads
Should we be allowed to have as many copies of our media as we want? Andy Marken, Jon Peddie Trade Points, Counterpoints; Barbs, Jabs On the Proposed Disc/Content Backup Ban in Back This Up Suckah!!!
If you’re a follower of THE Insider like I am then you’ll be interested in the latest 5 installments:
Content Insider #83 – Teachings of the Wii Generation
Content Insider #84 – Saving Our Past for the Future
Content Insider #85 – Data Privacy
Content Insider #86 – Pre-Millennials…The Market Underfoot
Content Insider #87 – DRM…Pirates Helped
And if you like the old and the new try out Classic HomeToys #11 – TRS-80 and Which Future for Robots?
We also did some interviews for this issue.
Jeff Lubitsky of Richard Gray’s Power Company talks about Power Conditioning and
Richard Rives Bird of Rives Audio, Inc. is an expert on Acoustic Treatments for your Home Theater.
How about a few product reviews to get your interest:
Pinnacle’s PCTV HD Pro Stick is an amazing little unit that gives your laptop over the air HDTV wherever you are.
And how about Wireless Multi-Room Audio for your iPod with Eos Wireless iPod Speakers.
Lastly … here is an excerpt from the EarthToys Alternative Energy eMagazine Editorial that may be of interest. I think we are seeing convergence moving beyond the consumer electronics industry and into the Alternative Energy world:
What the heck is Nanotechnology and how does it affect this industry? Wikipedia says “The main unifying theme of nanotechnology is the control of matter on a scale smaller than 1 micrometre, normally approximately 1 to 100 nanometers, as well as the fabrication of devices of this size.” Two contributors this month seem to think it could have expansive consequences to the future of solar panel design. In my Interview with Peter Lynch about the investment opportunities in the PV sector he states “I see great potential in the nano technology area. It is my feeling that if there is a huge blockbuster technology that is going to emerge and “take over” the PV industry, I feel that it will somehow involve breakthroughs and application of nano technology to the area of photovoltaics.”
Also, in an article about a new study by the Helmut Kaiser Consultancy entitled RENEWABLE ENERGY MARKETS DRIVEN BY CLIMATE CHANGE it states that “Nanotechnology is undoubtedly one of the key technologies which will influence energy efficiency”.
I think it’s great to hear some optimism rather than all the doom and gloom of the past few months. I for one would rather keep listening to these engineers and business leaders rather than the politicians and rock stars about the future of the planet.
And, speaking of business … it appears that the time is ripe to get leaders to pay attention. In a report about SemiCon West 2007, Rhone Resch, President of SEIA told the semiconductor industry that “Polysilicon demand for the photovoltaic industry will be more than twice that of the IC industry in 2010.” and it appears that they are ready to listen.
As usual, thanks to those who contributed these and the other fine articles in this issue. If you would like to participate by contributing an article for the next one please don’t hesitate to let me know (news@hometoys.com). If you are not ready yet but want to be reminded of future opportunities then sign up for our Author List.
Bob Hetherington

What a day. I’m looking outside to a pure blue sky and the feeling that spring has arrived after a windy stormy day yesterday. Sorry if you aren’t there yet … but have faith … it’s coming … soon 🙂 And it’s already daylight saving time where I live. Did your PVR / Media Server / Home Automation Controller know about the change? A minor headache if not … but a headache none the less. The more spoiled we become … the more spoiled we want to become and the more dependent we get on technology. I’ll leave it to philosophers to decide whether that is a good thing or not. Personally, I like it. Mind you I also thought the slide rule was an incredible convenience when I was at University … and the microwave … forgetaboutit!

This month we have a great variety of articles as usual. Regrettably we’re almost at the end of Steve Faber’s series with Home Theater Design – Part 9. Maybe we can talk him into more.
For those of you into the installation game, George Wilkinson has produced Systems Integration Procedure – Part 4 which goes into the nitty gritty of integrating the hardware and software systems. Before this gig I was in the commercial building commissioning game. The complexity of the systems are not that much different and for sure the time pressures are the same.
Another nice bit of help for installers is A Solution to the NID Nuisance – Tips on how to run cable through the wall to the outside Network Interface Devices by Grayson Evans
Parks Associates has been a HomeToys supporter since day one and they always provide top notch analytical articles for us. For example Managing the Digital Home by Kurt Scherf provides great insight into new opportunities for service companies to expand into the residential technical help market. But I think my favorite Parks article of all is Digital Hell by John Barrett. This could be a biography of Bob … seriously. John describes his experience with Home Technology … good and bad. I think I have experience each and every one of the quirks that John has. If you think it won’t break … give it to Bob 🙁
Next up, an article by Mark Hazen of Intellon. Back to wires? How did that happen? discusses HomePlug AV. 200-Mbps through the electrical wiring system. I just can’t figure out why this technology is so slow to catch on … or am I missing something? Would it not make sense for all of our electronic equipment to communicate through the home wiring system … talk about plug and play … wouldn’t that be the ultimate? No wires … no wireless … no brainer!
A new guy on the block for us has provided an excellent article About RJ Jacks. Tom Moore dwells in a miserable place that has no springtime weather at all. In fact it has no winter or fall either. Hawaiian Summer all the time 🙁 Mahalo Tom … and thanks for this very informative article. I’m not jealous … honest.
One of my favorite writers has again given us a bunch of things to think about. THE Insider (who could it be?) sent in 3 new features:
Insider #76 – Digital Rights Mgmt. – Keeping the Treasure Hidden or Opening the Mountain
Insider #78 – Blue is here to stay – Blue is Here to Stay…That’s Not Pulp Fiction!
Insider #79 – The Undersea Internet World – Crisscrossing the underwater land masses are hundreds of puny little fiber optic cables that carry our stuff from one country to another.
But what happened to #77? Is it an unlucky number? Is it Bob’s age? It’s a pretty good golf score that’s for sure.
More series articles for your pleasure: Classic Home Toys #9 – Colecovision by James Russo and for those into Programmable Logic Controllers, Eugene Kowch has written us a library over the years and here is his latest PLC – Memory Backup.
With HDTV and beautiful flat screen technologies taking hold, the demand for peripheral equipment to optimize the experience has grown. We have several articles to show for it including:
The Shrinking HDTV Antenna – The challenge for most HD antenna manufacturers will be improving antenna performance while making them smaller and less obtrusive. Richard Schneider
Ten Reasons to Buy a Video Processor – Video-processing technologies are essential in order to achieve outstanding picture quality for today’s high-resolution video displays. Anchor Bay
Power How-To #3 – The amplifiers for today’s home theaters are designed to deliver this vast increase in power; however, when the fast dynamic peaks prevalent in music occur, the power supply is momentarily taxed or stunned.
Improving Home Theater Performance – Think of the power conditioner as the bloodline. Anything less than the best will only lessen the vitality of your system. John McDonald
Our business is supported by Advertising revenue as you know. I’m an engineer by profession and I’ve had to learn about it on the run so I always appreciate advice from the pros. Here is some from EVOK – Adjust Your Brand’s Halo and Let it Shine. I can’t emphasize enough to our clients how important branding is these days. The CE marketplace is huge and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.
Lastly, we have a bunch of product reviews in this issue from various sources:
NuVision 47LCM1 Deep Black 1080p LCD HDTV Monitor – Brandon Hetherington
Harmony 1000 Touchscreen Remote – RemoteShoppe.com
M1 Gold Cross Platform Control – Michael Zemering
Chord CPM 2600 Integrated Amplifier and Tetra Manhattan 120U Speakers – Michael Silver
HeartStart…Don’t Stay Home Without It – Phil Philcox
I hope you enjoy the issue. If you would like to participate by contributing an article for the next one please don’t hesitate to let me know (news@hometoys.com). If you are not ready yet but want to be reminded of future opportunities then sign up for our Author List.

CEDIA Expo dominates this months issue … and rightly so. It seems that this show is dominating when it come to new product launches and by watching what is going on there you get a glimpse of what the future holds for the industry and those of us who enjoy the resulting technology products and services.

Open forums tend to be my favorite Emagazine issues because we get excellent participation from a variety of companies and authors. This issue is no exception. Home Technology Solutions are appearing daily and with CEDIA just around the corner this is shaping up to be one of the most exciting years ever for those of you involved in the industry or just wanting to get the toys installed in your homes.

For the marketers and entrepreneurs in the industry we have 2 white papers from Parks Associates that provide research about Media Servers in the Digital Home as well as Digital Home Health—A Primer. Bottom line … Media servers will be huge and Remote Health Services will experience steady growth for many years to come. CABA also provided a summary of the Connected Home Roadmap which identifies mainstream, connected home solutions and their enabling technologies by highlighting products and services that have mass-market appeal and that enhance personal lifestyles and consumer value.
If you’re an integrator you need to read Integration Procedures Part 2 – Cable Testing by George Wilkinson. Step by step test procedures are described in this article and George promises to continue the topic next time. Another area that you should learn about is covered in Smart Home Security which discusses security issue with home networks. Your customers are going to want it so get ahead of the curve.
For you DIYers we have a nice selection of HowTo articles starting with How to Choose a Home Automation System which really breaks down the thinking process nicely to develop a step by step process for analysing your needs. Cocoon Tech submitted Measure Salt Level in Your Water Softener which describes in detail how to use an “ultrasonic” sensor so nothing touches the salt. Also, with the mounting method used, the sensor can be pivoted out of the way for easy refilling of salt in the water softener.
Manufactures and designers … there is lots for you to read too. The Digital Network’s Final Frontier expounds on why IP-based network architecture is best while From Old Cars to High-speed Home Networks discusses how AC powerline and coax cable both networking together is what Intellon Corporation calls a hybrid network. Technology discussions about Managing a M2M Project and Beyond the Battlefield – SSD’s will open your minds.
If you’re in the market for some Home Entertainment products have a look at HDTV and the Antenna Revolution and New Breed of Multi-room Audio Systems to get some good background knowledge before you go out and buy.
Into shows ,,, try these reports … InfoComm 2006 Recap, Hot Projector News From Infocomm, Integrated Systems Europe 2006 and SmarterWohnenNRW (Smarter Living).
THE Insider has been busy again with 3 installments covering Content Protection, Mobile Entertainment and IPTV – DVD Insider #60 – DVD Insider # 61 – DVD Insider # 62.
I hope this discussion helps you find what you’re looking for in this issue. In October we will be focusing on Audio Systems and Speakers so if you wish to contribute your expertise please send me an email at news@hometoys.com.
Enjoy!

As many of you know I recently visited China for an eye opening whirlwind tour and adventure. You can read some of my comments in the IS China 2006 report. Combining that visit with the reading of a book called “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman has been a wake-up call for me to the realization that indeed we are on the verge of a new era of globalization. Unfortunately for us in the west … our media, educational and political organizations are not giving us the real picture and instead are selling the illusion that we are and will forever be the most educated and progressive society on the planet. We give our children ribbons and stickers no matter how well they perform and tell them that it really doesn’t matter if you win … as long as you do your best and have fun participating. This is true as long as you are on a team that will carry you through to the finish. The sad thing is that if everyone on the team (i.e. the next generation) feels that they don’t need to win … then they won’t even finish … in fact they probably won’t even enter the competition!!! Meanwhile, the rest of the world will be going for it … progress will be made … and let’s just hope that they keep the rules that we are used to playing by.

So … how does any of that relate to this Emagazine issue? My reason for creating and maintaining the HomeToys and Earthtoys websites was and is to promote free exchange of information within an industry. With an engineering background I was trained to break complex problems down into small manageable bits. Back in 1996 when I started HomeToys it was said that the world wide web was like the New York Public Library … with all of the books thrown on the floor. My task then was to pick one section of the library and try to organize it into a meaningful resource. To do that I decided that the best way to accomplish this was to let those with expertise contribute to the library while I merely attempted to keep everything organized and accessible to all. 10 years later … after throwing nothing away … HomeToys has quite a bit of information and in fact traces a small bit of history in the Home Technology Industry.

So what?

Moving forward it is ever more important that we build on our strengths and use them to change the way we do business in a global marketplace. Individually … each of us should ask ourselves … what value do I have to the rest of the world … not just my country or neighborhood … but the whole planet. In turn those of us in business must ask the same question in order to survive the changes that are taking place. One way to do that is to look at how we arrived at where we are today, break our thoughts into small bits and apply engineering principles to use those tools to build a strategy for our future. My contribution to this is the creation and operation of two related website resources that continue to grow and provide free information to those who will build the future.

Yes … Home Technology (HomeToys) and Alternative Energy (EarthToys) are related! It is my belief that technology … not politics … will advance the energy industry and provide us with a viable future where many more societies on the globe can enjoy the kind of lifestyle that I am able to enjoy. The home technology industry is perhaps the best example I have ever seen of how product and service development can advance rapidly via collaboration and co-operation. Not since the race to the moon has there been a more aggressive and rewarding advance of technology in my lifetime. 10 years ago there was an infantile internet community of individuals sharing ideas and a handful of technologies available to a few do it yourself buffs to automate and enjoy top quality entertainment systems in their homes. Now look where we are today! Millions of internet users share information and collaborate via multitudes of networks resulting in the most amazing access to rich and affordable lifestyle options that we have ever experienced.

On the other hand … there has been virtually no adoption or effort to improve the accessibility or affordability of alternative energy products or services for the average person … at all … in my lifetime. Yes, billions are being spent by governments, philanthropists and environmental organizations and associations each year … and yes … everyone is talking about alternative energy and the environment. But … do you own any products based on all of this jabber? Do you even know if there are affordable products you could use instead of that wasteful electric light bulb? My guess is that you now have baffled look on your face and want to tell me that you thought the government was supposed to look after that complicated stuff. Well they haven’t, nor do they really have any mandate to do so. And the only businesses really benefiting from all the hooplah are the hotels and conference organizers who sell high priced meeting rooms so that bureaucrats and scientists can sit around and admire how well each other presents their fund raising cases. Sorry if that sounds harsh … but it gets my blood pressure up. I already stated that I have an engineering background … and engineering is about building things that work … from concepts that are usually too complicated to communicate to the average man. For example … how about an iPod!!!! Sooner or later someone has to leave the meeting and go ahead and build something!

I warned you that I was going to ramble and rant a bit 🙁

So Mr. Engineer … where do we go from here? What is the solution to this dilemma? Well in my opinion, the solution is collaboration and co-operation between those of you who are wizards in the Development, Manufacturing, Marketing and Installation of Home Technology Products with those of you in the Alternative Energy Industry. We need affordable products and services for our homes and businesses that can save us energy and get us off the oil bandwagon. I think the demand is there now and growing with each penny increase in the price of oil and electricity. We can’t wait for governments and policy decisions any more. To begin with how about just an affordable and simple solar kit designed to power a small home network? I know you can buy some bits and pieces and build one for yourself … but I mean we need to see one available in Best Buy or Circuit City or Walmart … and it needs to be marketed to the average guy or even better … to the average gal. Lets get together and break the big problem into little bits that we can understand and implement.

Thanks for listening. I would very much enjoy to hear your comments and ideas via email to news@hometoys.com. I’ll be happy to do my part by organizing them and presenting them here in the next issue or before that if the response is high.