Our Smart Home roots …
30 August 2020
Our first home build was in San Antonio in 1997. Our family was growing and we needed more space. We found a perfect location with an elementary school across the street behind the house. The middle school was not far and the high school was only blocks away. Perfect.
I was working as the IT Director for the San Antonio Spurs at the time and we were in the initial stages of planning for a new arena. My goal was to make the venue (now the AT&T Center) as technically advanced as our budget would allow with future flexibility built in to accommodate advancements in years to come. So I was immersed in everything involving network, wifi, digital signage, audio/visual, you name it. If it plugged in it was at least partly my responsibility.
As I learned more I also started thinking about ways to incorporate some of that new technology in our home as it wasn’t available at build time like it is now. As our kids were using computers in school and at home for homework and video games (more video games than homework I’m pretty sure) it became apparent I needed a better way to provide internet access than simply relying on wifi. So I came up with a plan to run Cat5e cable throughout the house to wire everything including Xboxes, access points and computers. Not exactly smart home but certainly the foundation of what would become a passion of mine. With the help of our oldest son Chris we knocked it out over a few weekends and we were off and running. As a side note I’d highly recommend doing this wiring work with the other low voltage stuff during the framing stage of a home build. You don’t want to be spending a lot of time in a San Antonio attic during the summer.
We went especially heavy with the network in our game room in anticipation of devices like smart TVs, connected Blu-Ray players and voice assistants. Additionally we wired up the room with 7.1 surround sound for a theater quality audio experience. There was a lesson here I only realize now which I’ll apply to our build in Canyon — wire for everything and make it two drops if there’s any question as new technologies have become enablers — TVs, smart components, appliances, wifi, thermostat, doorbell, cameras, audio, sensors, whatever.
We sold that house in 2008 when I moved on to be the VP of IT with the New Orleans Hornets. We bought a beautiful home in Mandeville, LA across Lake Pontchartrain from the city. This is where I expanded another passion in growing things like oranges, lemons and grapes (we had pear trees in San Antonio) that I will certainly be expanding again in our Canyon home. So stay tuned for more of that. Our beautiful new home was not as easily wired as in San Antonio so I cabled everywhere I could but also got a lot better at wifi. The challenge was now everybody in the house had a smart phone, tablet and computer. We also had smart TVs for the first time so I cabled those if I could and connected the rest to wifi. I also wired the other components best I could where we had TVs but also discovered soundbar technology which turned out to be surprisingly good.
My career eventually landed us in Minnesota as I took on the role of VP/CTO with the Vikings and buying another existing home — and our first experience with smart home technology …