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Moving in a Wired World

While upgrading is tempting, you're not obligated to acquire the latest gadgetry. Redmond suggested minimizing changes to reduce complexity and stress. "The fewer the known changes, the more likely a smooth transition," he said.

"If you can, stick with the same ISP [Internet service provider], do not add or change any network hardware and don't change connectivity methods."

When new-and-improved technology beckons, building or remodeling allows the luxury of wiring for the future. The most flexible and forward-looking approach is running multiple cables -- phone, Ethernet, coaxial -- from each room to a central wiring point ("patch panel") so connectivity and equipment can be easily changed.

Enclosing cables in conduit with spare space allows expansion.

For the more common situation, a move involving an existing layout, prepare by mapping rooms to receive computer or electronic equipment, showing walls, doors, windows, phone/cable/Ethernet jacks and electrical outlets. Plan furniture placement and where to connect. Don't get caught with jacks or outlets behind immovable furniture.

"A well-designed home has furniture placement worked out," said Jonathan Lathrop of Have Truck Will Haul Moving Service in Prince George's County.

He said that you can generally tell where the architect intended to put furniture by the outlet placement. A living room's long wall with outlets on both ends is meant for the sofa; cable jacks are usually on the opposite wall for TV.

If you ignore these intentions, your creative arrangements may require extension cords, cables or even rewiring.

Of course, plug in extension cords before placing furniture. "Extension cords with flat plugs don't stick out from the wall if you need to put furniture against an outlet," Lathrop said.

John Naman of Falls Church, a retired technology consultant, said electrical capacity adequate for previous occupants may not support a high-energy lifestyle. When he moved from Silver Spring to Virginia, he said, "there were numerous power issues, including overvoltage and numerous outages and [electrical] noise caused by a loose link to the undersized transformer."

For basement-installed equipment, Naman suggested guarding against water hazards -- perhaps elevating it above floor level -- and installing GFCI [ground fault circuit interrupter]-equipped electrical outlets. And he said product warranty coverage varies by state and may not be available where you're moving. Reread important paperwork, he advised.

A potential pitfall is broken ISP promises. Steve Chafe, co-owner of Five Star Wi-Fi in Silver Spring, described one provider promising to duplicate service in a new location but providing less than half the bandwidth "because the new spot was at the end of the maximum cable length for high speed." He ultimately switched to a competitor that also could not match previous bandwidth but did better than the first ISP.


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