The Barnes & Noble Review
With all the talk of DVD, HDTV, multiple phone lines, home LAN connections, and much more, you can't help but wonder how you will ever prepare your home for all of these technological advances. Call it a smart home, if you will, but state-of-the-art technology is making it feasible to run your home with a computer.
Smart Homes for Dummies is one of those books that I find intriguing. Unlike other Dummies books that may explain how to design a quilt or care for a dog, this book is for people who are cutting-edge gadget junkies. In other words, you'll love this book if you enjoy reading the following fascinating description of Bill Gates's home: "As you come in the front door, you get an electric pin to wear. This pin drives your Gates home experience, because the house always knows the location of your pin.... When you enter a room, the art on the walls changes to match your taste, because wall-mounted display screens exhibit the art. And if you're listening to music, the audio system plays the kinds of music you like."
We can't all live in Bill Gates's house (although I am sure everyone in Washington State could fit!), but you can have some of the elements of his hot home-networking technologies in yours. The possibilities really are endless, and Smart Homes for Dummies will put your creative mind into overdrive. One idea that is super-savvy involves programming your sprinkler to weather.com; your lawn will then be watered based on weather predictions. It can also be programmed to water more during high-temperature periods or to forgo a watering cycle if youlivein a drought area.
Some of the ideas in Smart Homes for Dummies that are supposed to prepare you for the next century may, however, scare you. The idea of spending $199 just so you can have music chiming into people's ears every time you put them on hold is rather alarming.
But most of the ideas actually aren't as hokey as the aforementioned. Practical solutions abound prewiring like crazy within the walls, installing a cable modem for fast Internet access, and devising home-automation controls, to name a few. Smart Homes for Dummies is the definitive read when remodeling or building a new home. Like other Dummies books, this one is filled with icons, including the Standards War, which points out when you should wait to buy until conflicting standards get ironed out, and Wireless Wonder, which shows you a device you can install without ripping out your walls.
Whether you're installing a security system in your house or deciding which television set to purchase, Smart Homes for Dummies is a surefire way to take your home into the next millennium with technological and stylistic acumen.
Instead, get Smart Homes for Dummies, published by IDG Books. Written by Danny Briere and Pat Hurley of telecommunications consulting firm Telechoice, Smart Homes is unusually up-to-date, with mentions of digital-audio distribution, splitterless vs. conventional xDSL, wireless KSU phone systems, and other new technologies. As for the manufacturers mentioned in the book, I couldn't find any information that was obsolete.
But Smart Homes is more than simply accurate, it is truly useful, with an abundance of call-out tips ("The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association...offers advice on how to shop for a security system and the names of contractors who have qualified for their 'Installation Quality' certificate."); warnings ("If your modem connects to your computer with an Ethernet interface...you actually need to install two separate Ethernet Network Interface Cards in your proxy server..."); and sound opinions ("You can build a very similar video distribution network that forgoes the second RG6 cable to each outlet....[but] at the risk of being repetitive, we think that this kind of abbreviated network is probably a false economy...").
Rightly, the authors separate the really technical tips from the merely useful stuff. It's clear by glancing at each page what you really need to know and what is gravy (delicious as it is) for the techie.
I like that the book mentions many of the standards that we hear so much about, but doesn't dwell on them. Honestly, how much does a consumer (or installer) really need to know about the intricacies of CEBus?
Lastly, Briere and Hurley aren't too proud to credit their information sources, which include many familiar names in home control and networking.
The best thing about Smart Homes for Dummies--it's a wonderful guide for smart people, too