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Ernest Miller Ernest Miller pursues research and writing on cyberlaw, intellectual property, and First Amendment issues. Mr. Miller attended the U.S. Naval Academy before attending Yale Law School, where he was president and co-founder of the Law and Technology Society, and founded the technology law and policy news site LawMeme. He is a fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Ernest Miller's blog postings can also be found @
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November 09, 2004

The Server in the Closet Gets a Little Closer to Reality

Posted by Ernest Miller

I remain enamored of a concept I think of as the "server in the closet." I believe that, eventually, every home will have a fairly sophisticated server as the locus of the many networked device in the home. Everything from the VoIP phone system, presence-enabled media (IM), multimedia (podcasts, broadcatch), etc., etc., etc. There will be fat and thin clients in the home, all of which can be (but not required to) coordinate through home's central server. More importantly, this "server in the closet" will be part of bi-directional communication with the rest of the world wide network, turning every home not only into a receiver, but a transmitter.

Anyway, that is my dream and every once in awhile I note devices and other things that tend towards this future. Today's edition is about a terabyte server priced for the consumer.

If you can read Japanese, check out the press release: Buffalo Terastation [Japanese]. Otherwise, you might want to try Gizmodo (Buffalo TeraStation 1TB Network Storage).

$1,000 bucks and you get 1TB of storage, nicely configured with four drives, RAID and highspeed connectivity. That is some serious storage for the price. And how much info is in the Library of Congress? I seem to recall an estimate of 17 Terabytes. The day when the LOC is available on the desktop is not too far off.

Comments (5) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Tools


COMMENTS

1. joe on November 9, 2004 07:46 PM writes...

There is, of course, a dark side to this future... if a virus/worm/maldoer just has to attack a central server in your house, they will.

Further, if all homes are like this, such an attack could take out a large part of the whole country.

Maybe what we need is two separate OS's in the box... so that if one gets hosed by an attack, the other can take over... that is, "heterogeneity in a box"?

Permalink to Comment

2. Jay Fienberg on November 9, 2004 11:02 PM writes...

Don't know if you already read this, but it's another excellent case for the-server-in-the-closet-future-is-here -- in this case, it's appeared in Toronto.

The Limits of SpongeBob SquarePants
One Canadian's Wireless Neighborhood Network Could Someday Serve Us All
By Robert X. Cringely

http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20040930.html

Permalink to Comment

3. Rolo Timassie on November 10, 2004 05:55 AM writes...

Re: Joe's comment, that reminds me of a made-for-TV movie from the 70s I saw as a kid, where these people live in a house under the sea that has a central computer running everything, and it goes bonkers at some point and all the appliances go wild, including the washer which fills the place with soap suds. It was a comedy IIRC.

Permalink to Comment

4. Jay Dean on November 13, 2004 07:08 AM writes...

The hardware will turn out to be the easy part of this vision. The early-adopters will live through some difficult times while applications that support this configuration are developed. Trying to setup, maintain and use a "wired home" with todays software is a struggle. I'm sure we will get there, but we need to write a bunch of new apps.

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5. Alexander Wehr on November 14, 2004 03:36 PM writes...

"Trying to setup, maintain and use a "wired home" with todays software is a struggle. I'm sure we will get there, but we need to write a bunch of new apps."

the MPAA is fully against the "wired home". they've forced the digital cable "plug and play" agreements down the throats of cable companies and consumer electronic firms which, under the DMCA, means hollywood gets to dictate who can make products which can read cable tv signals.

Additionally, anyone familiar with section 1201 of the dmca knows the nebulous definition can be applied to engineering ANY type of interoperability which does not already exist, from generic printer cartridges to dvd burning software.

Kinda makes the point of having a computer useless eh? but the general public wont notice for a while. Since half the apps necessary to make a computer work with digital media now are already illegal under the DMCA, i predict that 80% of software will have to be illegal open source projects in order for the future of computing to exist.

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