The perfect poor-man living room™

February/2005: Personal - 2005 is already shaping up to be a pretty good year. For the last few years, Phoebus and I have been working on creating the "Perfect Poor-man Living Room™." It has been a long journey, but we have finally accomplished what is living room perfection. The dream of two twenty-something males, finally accomplished. Now remember, this is the perfect poor man living room. No, we don't have a giant plasma screen. But when you consider what we started, it truly is perfect.

The original front room lineup of July 2001 (when Phoebus moved to Portland) included the following:

- Garage sale recliner that ceased reclining shortly after purchase
- Funky sixties-style vintage green floor chair that broke shortly thereafter
- Bean bag
- Old TV
- N64 and Dreamcast

That's it. Three and a half years later?

The view is from the large sectional. I'm WAY back in the corner of the sectional, with the digital camera zoomed out for width on most of these shots, so everything looks further away than it really is, for the sake of getting everything into one shot.

Notation 1 to the left is a TV Phoebus acquired from a neighbor in 2002 for eighty bucks. It sits in entertainment center #1 which will be pictured in the next shot. Notation 2 is a similarly sized TV back where the kitchen is. Obtained by myself in summer 2004, it has perhaps the best picture quality. Notation 3 is the largest TV, acquired by me in late 2003. It sits in an IKEA TV stand acquired in late 2004 from my friend in San Francisco. Notation 4 is Phoebus's old computer, acquired in 2002. It was moved downstairs this year as Phoebus built himself a nice, new computer. So his old computer moves downstairs. That computer has a TV out.

The three TV's are all set to the same feed, with a switchbox above entertainment center #1. In the picture there, the cable box is set to Headline News, who feature a great little story on prescription drug costs. Yawn. TV's 1 and 3 are always set to the same feed. However, TV #2, the "Kitchen Living Room TV" has a switch that can flip it off the main-line feed into it's own cable feed. So if TV 1 and 3 are being used for something, a person can go sit in the Kitchen Living Room and watch their own feed on TV #2. Usually, the Kitchen TV stays on the same feed, that way you never break contact with what you're watching, even if you need to get a soda. There is also an additional computer in the kitchen, for internet surfing while cooking. That computer is old and slow, however.

This is entertainment center #1. It has a stereo system on top that is hooked to the main-line feed that goes to all three TV's. Additionally, the cable-box and switchbox reside above the stereo system. The switchbox is great, as it controls which feed displays in the rooms. Option 1 is the DVD player. Option 2 is the X-Box. Option 3 is the computer feed. In the picture above, you're looking at the desktop of the computer. Off to the right of the entertainment center is a bookshelf filled with books... I guess in case of a power outage. Poor books.

This is the room you read a book in. This is the kitchen. The TV you see here is the one barely seen in the large first image. This is TV #2. You can barely see it due to the photo, but that's Penn and Teller in an episode of Bullshit being streamed from the computer into the switchbox into the three TV set-up. The large dark area is the giant dark green couch I acquired for free in 2004. That's the "kitchen couch." Behind it is the sink and main cooking area where the aforementioned old computer (reading comics while you cook Spaghettios is the American dream) resides. When I read, I come down here and lie in the sun from the giant kitchen window we have. Very comfortable couch.

Dr. Katz streaming from the computer to all three areas. Laura's the bomb... well, for a cartoon character.

Of course, who doesn't like emulators? Oh, but the problem with emulators is that the games are better on the TV? Well, Phoebus and I agree. That's Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Can't see it too well from this shot, but the picture quality is perfect. The controller is long enough that you don't even feel like you're playing the game on the computer.

For the old school, a little castlevania action. Just like having a NES again.

A little Million Dollar Baby, transmitted from my hard drive upstairs via the computer downstairs to the TV set-up. A couple hundred movies instantly at the disposal of the computer downstairs. Complete runs of Dr. Katz, Aqua Teen, Seinfeld, Bullshit and Curb Your Enthusiasm among other shows on demand as well. That's the best "on demand", really.

Of course, there's Not really practical for my personal site, but it's the best way to watch Homestar Runner, of course.

And the ultimate reason to have it set-up like this. Halo 2 all over the place, and notice to the right? That's right, the home of the "Death Throws" Project Wonderboy open for good measure.

There are some other cool features of the room that you can't see. The table is pretty nice, additionally the ikea TV stand works very well and has a chess-set on top of it. Entertainment center #1 has dual black touch lamps on top of it to light the room nicely, and there are three fans set up in a triangle-fashion, three corners, that can create enough wind to deal with Portland's seemingly constant warm weather. Also, behind the computer in the right corner, we have... uh... acquired... for free... one of those convenience store giant round tubs on wheels that are used for promotional sodas. You know, the giant black ones that hold ice and have a plastic lid. Whatever they're called. That's use for empty soda cans and bottles. For there is nothing better than throwing around aluminium into containers from great distance.

Other uses for the front room have been numerous. We've had 10+ people over with three X-Boxes for "Halocaust" and the entire set-up is basically built for system-linking video game consoles together since we always have two or three ethernet cords downstairs already from the upstairs router. Ideally, if we purchased more video-game systems (A second X-Box would be nice), we could play multiple video game systems in the front room with ease. Then there's no concerns over hogging the X-Box. Still, for what we've paid, this is easily THE perfect poor-man living room™. Why poor-man?

Because everything shown has cost us less than one thousand dollars over the last three and a half years.

Yep, less than a grand. The truth is, no one is all that poor in America if you don't have children. If you make less than 12,000 dollars a year, you can still live pretty high on the hog. We've built a massive palace of entertainment which can see us go from X-Box, to a huge movie/TV list, to any of the old school games (NES, SNES, Genesis, GBA, PS1, etc, etc) to BF1942 on the TV from the computer, to... blah blah blah. For HUGE... INTERNET... GEEKS... we've been able to create the perfect situation for very cheap. From green chair to sections and couches, from old TV to three current-gen televisions, from N64 to... well, N64 emulator. With a little spit-shine and polish, we have transformed the front room into braggability without any real budget.

Maybe we'll upgrade a couple of the televisions in the future, but for now we get to enjoy a year of perfection. A long road, but the perfect poor-man living room™ has finally become a reality.