The May Family  
The May Family; Garland, Texas


Summary of Technology


Like many modern, American families, we are a product of the times in which we live. Our household has embraced and incorporated many of the tools that the industrial revolution — more importantly, the silicon revolution — has made available to the modern family. It is here that we will share a few of the technologies of which we make use on a daily basis around our home. From time to time expanded articles will appear. Where relevant, keywords will be hyperlinked to destinations containing additional information, should the visitor be so inclined to follow.


It is not our intent to rehash the history of computing. Rather, we endeavor to illustrate our modest implementation of a few of the technological advances that have come about as the result of ENIAC and the DARPA research that followed.

Herman, in particular, has had an abiding interest in many aspects of technology for many years. This enthusiasm can trace its roots to the year 1978, when at the age of twelve, he and his brothers received a Apple II-plus from their mother. In addition, the family as a whole were early adopters of cable television, microwave oven, and video gaming systems.

Experimentation and self-motivated learning ensued. The result has been an enduring affinity for all aspects of technology, its derivations, and the exploration of potential.

As one might imagine, this interest has resulted in the adoption of many technologies within the May household over the years. A few of those will be highlighted in the following sections.

Primary Systems

The May household currently houses four, active computing devices. All are Apple products and run under the power of MacOS X (Darwin). Like all dedicated Mac users, each of these machines has been named according to its personality and/or primary usage.


Scheherazade is the workhorse of our household. She sports a little over one third terabyte storage capacity, she houses scheduled backups of the other four Mac OS systems and is partitioned in such a manner so as to also serve the network-based $HOME directories of Rebecca and Collin. Perhaps most importantly, Scheherazade hosts the home automation (HA) system which operates and coordinates various aspects of our home as well as hosting the household jukeBox. In April 2005, she experienced a reincarnation event and is now more powerful and versatile than ever.


  • Mac mini
    1.42 GHz G4 processor
  • 1024Mb RAM
  • 380Gb HD storage
    cumulative drive capacity
  • MacOS 10.3.9
  • acquired: April 2005


Brunhilde is the primary workstation for Collin and secondary workstation for Elizabeth, Rebecca, and Herman. With her relatively snappy processor and data bus, she serves as the primary video and sound editing workstation for the entire household. She is also enabled with a direct-to-television connection — via an RF converter — to allow for large crowd presentations.


  • eMac 1.0GHz
  • 512Mb RAM
  • 80Gb HD storage
  • MacOS 10.3.9
  • acquired: May 2003


Icarus signified the first of many aspects of our computing experience. in his first incarnation, he was the first portable (aka "laptop") computer that we purchased and, as reflected by his name, was our first foray into the world of wireless connectivity. Along with his companion, Daedalus, allowed us to raom the house, yet still maintaining high-speed access to the 'Net.

Now representing the second fastest system in our household, Icarus is once again the primary portable workhorse. He serves Herman as a video transferal and editing platform; an audio transferal and editing platform; and the primary control panel for various automation and data collection services within the household. In general, this system carries on the duties of portable research and development platform for Herman.


  • 12" iBook G4
  • "iceBook"
  • 512Mb RAM
  • 60Gb HD storage
    immediately upgraded from the original 40Gb drive
  • MacOS 10.4.2
  • acquired: July 2005


Finally, we come to Ariel. She is the primary workstation for both Elizabeth and Rebecca. Having a relatively speedy 700MHz G3 processor, she also serves to assist with tasks related to video capture and conversion. When used in conjunction with the analog to digital video conversion capabilities of our JVC miniDV camera, Ariel is enlisted to transfer video from our existing VHS and cVHS library to a digital form that is subsequently processed and recorded via Brunhilde.

Another significant services that Ariel provides are manifest during long distance road trips. Making use of her CDRW/DVD combo drive, she makes an excellent, full-featured portable DVD player — for both audio and video. And, with the aid of an iRock, the soundtrack movies can be piped through the automotive speaker system. Connection of an external firewire drive allows for access to our 5500+ track jukeBox while on-the-road as well!


  • iBook 700/"Dual USB"
  • 256Mb RAM
  • 20Gb HD storage
  • MacOS 10.3.9
  • acquired: June 2002

Secondary Systems

coming soon: expanded coverage of our technology repertoire


For many years we have made use of mechanical analog timers to control various lights and appliances around the house. Among the latter have been a couple of lamps to project that "lived-in" look while we are away for extended periods. They have also served their purpose as an automated means of providing illumination for our aquarium and, during the holidays, to ignite and douse the tree lights.

Around ten months ago, Herman decided to experiment with a technology that had intrigued him for years — X10 automation. Starting out small, he initially replaced only the three primary timers mentioned above. Taking advantage of the SmartHome starter kit (purchased at the local Fry's), he simply recreated the three static timing scripts via some AppleScripts. While it worked quite well, his imagination soon got the best of him and various modules and capabilities have been grafted onto the original system

It falls well outside the scope of this overview to delve into the specifics of the system in any greater detail within this forum. However, Herman is presently drafting a full treatment of the subject which will soon appear within his webspace. Suffice it to state for purposes of this discussion that, after much trial, error, and experimentation, he has settled on the highly versatile and extensible MisterHouse for the underlying control technology.


We have embraced technology in our home. Some of us have been more accepting of that fact that others. Nevertheless, on the whole it has been a welcome and useful incorporation. Has it made our lives better? Well, that is a highly subjective and relative question. It has enhanced our lives and not, we feel, at any great expense relative to our harmony with one another or the world around us.

As with the industry in general things are constantly in motion and we never know just quite what will be next.

Stay tuned ... ;-)


HIM envelope
last edited: 2005.08.10