Having the house to oneself is a nice feeling of relaxation and just being. Except when you’re being asked to watch kids, then there is no relaxation, or is there? I’m a geek and I embrace that fact whole-heartily. Sometimes a little too much, but that’s a very rare day.
I had my desktop, LCD and laptops with me having just left college for the winter break. I was also staying with my daughters mother helping take care of the kids over their school vacation. She was going to be leaving for a few days and it was up to me to keep an ever so “close-full” eye on them. I should also mention this was Christmas week, which meant extra excitement was abound in them about getting presents. I managed to carve out a little space for myself in the back half of the living room of the old Victorian to store my bundle of technology to keep it out of the way.
Having been that time of the year and not having cable TV meant that the kids wouldn’t be able to watch any of the traditional Christmas series or movies. The geek in me had other plans for that solution. It involved a few things and quick thinking on my part. There was already a wireless router in the house for internet access to their mothers laptop, which meant an even easier setup. I had an older laptop, but with a busted screen that could be used as part of this plan. The only issue I had, and a big one at that, meant that I would have to give my LCD to the destructive powers of the playroom. I made it abundantly clear that no one, and I meant NO ONE! was to touch it under any circumstances. There was no need of threats or punishment as they understood Christmas being around the corner could be canceled instead.
So with busted laptop and monitor in hand, I quickly set them up side by side on the window bench and got everything working to have a nice picture displayed. I made it extremely simple for them to make movie choices based on what I had in my personal ripped DVD collection. All they had to do was let me know the three movies they wanted to watch for the day and I’d have it setup for them. I even made it easier on myself by streaming everything over the wireless network from my laptop. Couple that with the UltraVNC program running on both laptops, and you’ve got yourself an easy way to remote into their movie to pause it when needing their attention.
This worked out better than I thought it could have. The kids enjoyed spending time together watching their favorite movies, if I happened to have one they liked. And if they got bored, being in their playroom, they could go about creating their own games without causing any issues with the others in the room. Though there were a few times I had to intervene. This idea worked so well in fact that I also managed to screw it up. Remember that little corner I scrapped out for my pile? Well, I also happened to have expanded it to the desk nearby for test setup purposes. This lead to a 30 minute freak out by not only myself scrambling to fix it, but by a group of kids wanting to watch a movie with me on the big couch. Its a pretty good thing I’m quick with my thinking!
I brought over my desktop tower, set the monitor on top of it and hooked it into my personal laptop with the external hard drive. A quick DIY television set was thus created. I don’t remember the movie we watched that night, but I certainly remember the kids having such big smiles on their faces when I came back to sit with them all on me. Even the teenager of the group was enjoying herself, lost in the moment. A pile of quiet kids, a fun movie and a happy household. That was definitely one of my favored Christmas memories that year…