We have an Onkyo TX-NR509 in our main room, which we sometimes call, in a nod to another era of architecture, our hall. It feeds a pair of Polk Audio speakers that I received as hand-me-downs years and years ago — those old Polks our hefty for their size and they sound great. The Onkyo, unfortunately, does not feed our television, which is an aged Panasonic CRT that was built before the HDMI era but refuses to die. (And we just don’t seem compelled to double our television bill to commit to HD content. First, we don’t watch enough television to warrant it, and, second, a lot of the television we watch doesn’t really demand that it be seen in HD. It’s a “nice to have” kind of thing for us.)
The Onkyo could do a lot more, but mostly we use it to stream music from Pandora or play audio — music, podcasts, or audio books — off our iPhones. But what we would really is to be able to stream audio from our kitchen computer, which sits on our household LAN just like the Onkyo. We thought we could do that very easily: I thought I had read that the Onkyo was “AirPlay” or “AirTunes” compatible, but it appears not to be. If I put the Onkyo into DLNA mode, it does not see iTunes on the computer as a server and iTunes does not recognize it as speakers to which it can play.
Barring buying a designed for the purpose device like an AppleTV or, for a lower cost, buying and setting up a device like this Raspbmc (a Raspberry Pi built to run XBMC), the next logical step is to set up a device we already own. We are already using the Airport Express to strengthen the signal in my study and to stream to the speakers there. We could, in theory, dedicate our old 12-inch G4 PowerBook to be a music server, but that seems like a lot of hardware for such a simply problem. We do have, however, a capable device that is currently serving no other purpose, our original iPhone (sometimes known as the 2G). It has a somewhat cracked screen and I have no idea of the battery’s condition, but it could live on the Onkyo’s USB connection and its capable, so far as I know of running the one piece of necessary software, Apple Remote.
Note Bene: While Onkyo provides its own iOS remote application, someone else appears to have come up with another option. It’s $5, but oRemote looks promising.
As of the beginning of this month, July 2012, my wife and I have embarked upon a new program of fiscal responsibility, thanks to the convergence of two trends that brought our fiscal, *dissoluteness* is probably the wrong word and so let’s go with *inattentiveness*, into focus:
1. The first trend is the one with a deadline this month: the tuition for our daughter’s private school, which has taken a rather large step up, for reasons that were made clear but do not change the reality, how how I feel about it.
2. The second trend is the ongoing flat-line of our salaries, which have seen one three percent adjustment since 2005. So, no change in seven years despite both of us getting promoted, being regularly prominent at the national level in our respective fields, and our various efforts to help out locally.
Some of this is no doubt due to the extreme financial difficulties forced upon our state by the hurricanes and then the election of a governor who is vying for national prominence by being tough on what conservatives are fond of calling the “cultural elite” of which the professoriate are a part. (Never mind a good chunk of us are moderates and/or conservatives: why deal with complexity when the simple version makes for better sound bites?) And some of it is the nature of things at a public university in the Deep South. You live with it the best you can: remembering to be thankful to have a decent job with decent pay and benefits when lots of others do not. And I should be clear: we enjoy our work and our lives on a daily basis.
Here’s the trends as an abstract chart:
And so it was time to rein in our spending. We are not profligate spenders. Our expenses for repairs on our house and one of the cars this summer dwarf the money we spent on a five-day vacation in Perdido Key, Florida, but the money was spent and we need to make sure we stay within a budget.
For too long, however, our budget has been an abstraction: a loose sense of the finitude of our finances. It was time to bring things into focus and to make clear to ourselves what we could and could not afford. Our focus is both on the immediate need to be able to pay our daughter’s tuition as well as achieving some long-term financial security goals, which include our own retirement as well as financing our daughter’s college education. We are thinking of it in terms of saving for things we *really want* (and which are largely more expensive) and spending less on things we *kinda want*.
To do this, we have put strict caps on our individual monthly spending. Groceries and certain household expenses as well as expenses associated with our daughter — the child needs clothes as she grows after all — will not count against those caps, but they will be tracked via a recording sheet which is now posted on the refrigerator. (I confess: I am regularly a bit too wanton in my spending on groceries. Places like Fresh Market simply offer too many little treats that are too easy to pick up and place in your basket as you wander about the store. *No more wandering!*)
We both spend money on books because our university library simply hasn’t bought books in the last seven years — that sounds bizarre, but it is close to the truth — and so the only way we can keep up with our fields is through individual purchases. We are simply going to have to find ways to fit that within a monthly budget or begin to find alternate ways to keep up with our fields. Our library does, for instance, maintain its journal subscriptions, and so we will look to spend more time there.
We both also have our favorite indulgences, and I suspect that we spend more money there than we would like to admit. The moment to indulge is past for now. Perhaps one day when times are better, we can indulge again, but not for the time being.
Would we like to be able to afford grander vacations than locations we can drive to? (We would like, for instance, to be able to afford a vacation to Europe while our daughter is young.) Sure, you bet. Would we like not to worry about how we are going to retire before turning 80? Sure, you bet. Would we like to know that our daughter can go to any school into which she has won admission. Sure, you bet. We hope that our new fiscal responsibility will get us there. If anything, it is making us more mindful of what we already have. That is a good place to start.
When in doubt, consult the [FAQ](http://www.readynas.com/kb/faq).
This morning I am re-establishing my home NAS: I am going to put my iTunes library and Media directory on it, so I can sync my phone from my laptop as well as from our kitchen computer. My wife really likes the kitchen computer and this is going to make it easier for me to get access to my data. I’ve had, and used this ReadyNAS for a variety of purposes over the years. I have never been keen on what seems to me its sometimes mysterious file/port management process. I understand its done to make things easier for users, but it only makes things harder for me. That noted, this thing has always been rock solid.
During the holidays, I am re-working my home office a little bit to fit a bit better for the way I work and to have the kind of look that excites my imagination. One of the things I realized flipping through various catalogs is that, yes, the current fashion for natural materials does speak to me. Then again, I have always like the look of wood, stone, and glass. It’s what makes Frank Lloyd Wright’s houses so appealing, his respect for those materials and where a synthetic material is called for, it’s glass so that again the natural world can shine through.
I am lucky that my small office already offers so much of one of those materials, glass. Though only eight feet in length and width, one of those walls disappears thanks to a six foot square sliding door. Another wall has a three foot square window. The wall opposite the sliding door does not exist but is simply an archway giving onto a small hallway leading from the garage to the kitchen. On the opposite side of the hallway is a six foot square window giving onto the dining room. Above my head the roof slopes up to a four foot square skylight.
Right now, the walls are covered in a light tan that Sherwin Williams calls “Ecru” and which is almost ubiquitous in the house, a neutral tone we introduced to cover the bright white walls when we first moved in and which was meant to buy us time to think about more significant uses of color. The floor of my study is made up of white marble tiles with patches of gray and pink in it. I would never have chosen anything like it, but it is marble and it is already there. Why not live with it until winning the lottery makes money no object?
Until then, we are trying out some smaller changes, to see what effects they produce. And so with some Flor tiles en route, I just requested a tile sample from the American Cork Products Company: Iris Mocha.
Wish your LED Christmas lights didn’t flicker? [So do a lot of other people](http://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1127036).