July 29, 2014

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Last week, I wrote about some ideas around improving the networking setup at the new house. It’s a nice place but a few of us are sharing a lot via my single WiFi router and I’d like to make improvements. Here are the key reasons for a change:

  • Stable and fast network throughput to every room in the house at near gigabit speeds
  • Wireless access that works from my mailbox all of the way to the boat dock and in all levels of the house
  • A shared media setup that allows all of the house tenants to share our content such as TV shows, Films and Music. We’ve been utilizing sneaker-net but it’s not ideal
  • LAN Gaming via PC & Xbox 360/One
  • Shared Printer Access – I get asked to use my printer quite often and I’d like us all to share a single printer

Initially, I made this network diagram:

New House Network Diagram

The purpose here is to make sure I cover all of the needs and then I created a thread on the Reddit Home Networking section to solicit feedback. Great feedback overall there. So here’s what the hardware setup will be like:

Hardware: 

  1. ModemArris TG862G DOCSIS 3.0 Residential Gateway (I preferred the Motorola 6141 Surfboard but I have Comcast Voice so needed to get this dual-modem that supports 105 Megabit (Docsys 3.0) and VoIP via Coaxial.
  2. RouterCisco 2811 Integrated Services Router which is an old favorite that I used to configure back in my IT days. It’s overkill for us but is rock-solid and is rack-mountable.
  3. SwitchCisco SGE2000 24-port Gigabit Switch. It meets 3 requirements for me. This switch supports VLANs, has all Gigabit ports and is rack mountable in a 1U configuration.
  4. Battery Backup / Surge ProtectionAPC Smart-UPS RM SMT1000RM2U 700W/1000VA 120V 2U Rackmount LCD UPS System – Battery backup is a huge importance when dealing with a site-wide network connection. This will keep the phone + internet live and power the hardware including access points during a power-outage.
  5. Wireless Access PointUbiquiti Networks UniFi AP Enterprise WiFi System – I have an access point I like a lot but wanted something more versatile with a more powerful radio for increased range. I bought 2 of these.
  6. Network Printer: I’d like to upgrade to a color Laserjet at some point but for now, I’m using a printer Apple gave me for free when I bought my iMac last year. HP Envy 100 e-All-in-One D410a Printer is a WiFi printer that supports Apple AirPrint but doesn’t have an Ethernet port. It’ll work for anyone on the network and will reside in the server cabinet for anyone to print to that wants to do so. We’ll have a tip-jar for ink replacements.

Cabling / Mounting:

  1. Tripp Lite SRWO8U22 8U Wall Mount Open Frame Cabinet for mounting all of this hardware.
  2. Cat6 Patch Panel 110 Type 24 Port 
  3. Premium Cable Management, Metal D-Ring, 1.75 inch
  4. Single Sided Shelf, 3.5(H)X10(D)X19(W), 30Lbs – I got an extra shelf for holding the modem or hardware that can’t be mounted
  5. 1000FT 24AWG Cat6 550MHz UTP Stranded, In-Wall Rated (CM), Bulk Ethernet Bare Copper Cable – Blue
  6. Cat6 RJ-45 Toolless Keystone – Blue
  7. Cable Tie 4 inch 18LBS, 100pcs/Pack – White
  8. Wall Plate for Keystone, 4 Hole – White
Network Attached Storage (NAS):
 
I wanted hardware that was versatile and expandable that could live on my Gigabit switch or plugged into my iMac via USB3. I settled on the Sinology DiskStation DS214play Diskless System Network Storage with two 6-terabyte Western Digital Red WD60EFRX 6TB Ientellipower 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5” hard drives.
The drives will operate in RAID 1 and initially I’ll attach them to my iMac and that of my roommate’s to copy all of our media to the drive. It has a built in XMBC and DLNA server on the NAS so we can stream content from it to our entertainment devices including phones and tablets. I will use it to store my iTunes Library (which is around 4 terabytes) and eventually, I want to get an old Mac Mini w/ OS X Server which will act as a full time iTunes home server for us all to share. The Mac Mini w/ OS X Server will also manage Time Machine backups to the NAS from the 4 Macs in the house and user permissions, etc.
Sinology is a very popular NAS choice right now and I’ve researched them quite a bit. I wanted to get a 4 disk setup since Hard drive capacities aren’t doubling every 12 months like they used to but I think 6 terabytes of storage using RAID 1 (Mirroring) is a good starting point. I can remove Parity and go RAID 0 if I need more space and there aren’t HDs out there with more than 6TB capacity.
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The timeline / due date of this personal project is to be August 14th which is when I go to California for a few weeks. I’d like to have everything completed by then. This weekend, we’re running cables and getting all drops terminated and tested. I think we’ll do 20 drops total across 4 rooms.
After that, I’ll spend a full day configuring the router, switch and access points and getting all devices migrated off WiFi and over to the Cat 6 setup. Pending any hiccups, this is a 2 weekend job.
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The retail cost of the entire job is quite high but I shopped around and got all of this equipment used except for the cables and Western Digital drives. The Switch, Router and battery backup were free and the Modem I bought a few weeks ago as an alternative to paying Comcast $10 a month for a modem rental fee.

Cables arrive Thursday. I’m stoked to start this project!

July 29, 2014

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Lake life is pretty nice. Aside from the noise and traffic, there are some perks. I’ll probably never live on a lake again so I’m trying to take advantage of that.

Mascoma Lake, New Hampshire

Mascoma Lake, New Hampshire

Mascoma Lake, New Hampshire

Skiing on Mascoma Lake - New Hampshire

Skiing on Mascoma Lake - New Hampshire

Skiing on Mascoma Lake - New Hampshire

Skiing on Mascoma Lake - New Hampshire

Skiing on Mascoma Lake - New Hampshire

Skiing on Mascoma Lake - New Hampshire

Skiing on Mascoma Lake - New Hampshire

Skiing on Mascoma Lake - New Hampshire

July 28, 2014

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via The Atlantic:

 The rise in housing costs is having big effects on the broader region as well. We should be thinking about San Francisco in the context of the rest of the urbanized Bay Area as we look for ways to make life more affordable. As people get priced out of their first-choice neighborhoods, they move to new ones, and they in turn make it safe for subsequent waves of gentrifiers. This process has now moved from San Francisco to Oakland, and perhaps other parts of the Bay Area as well.

The entire piece is worth reading. It’s easy to continue playing defense and say that people like me didn’t gentrify San Francisco but we are. Entitled white kids will say that’s just the winds of change but the problem is incredibly complex!!! It’s hugely complex in a way that most of us can’t even fathom. I won’t pretend to understand the economics of the bay area.

There is very clear indication that change is needed fast. Families are hurting, housing prices are climbing and the core citizens that are responsible for keeping SF going can’t afford to live there.

Heck, I can’t even afford to live there and I don’t make minimum wage. This is a problem affecting cities beyond SF but the city by the bay is seeing the worst of it.

July 27, 2014

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via Pete Brown:

 I have an alarm that goes off about this kind of stuff now. It starts clanging when people ask if they can ‘pick my brains’ about something. If I’m lucky, they offer to buy me a pint in return for information which, if I’m any good, could eventually lead to a major profit opportunity for the company asking.

and

Writing is now my full-time profession. I worked two jobs for years to build up my skill and reputation to a point where I can just about scrape a living from writing. It’s a much less lucrative job than the last one, but I love what I do, and that makes me very lucky, I know.

These two sections, while separated by a paragraph are hugely important. I see the same argument for photographers today. There’s an argument that anyone worth their salt in any field shouldn’t do it for free. Unpaid work is for inexperienced interns and if you are able to do something great, a price should be set. I would offer to photography a wedding for a friend but only if they also hire a professional. I’ll do candids and for fun. I’ll ghost-write for your startup CEO but only as a favor or in exchange for goods & services, not cash. There are few things I charge for and writing / photography aren’t worth charging.

Maybe one day I’ll have the talent to be paid for this. Pete Brown is there but many of us aren’t.

The problem though is that for every person who has the talent worth charging for, there are 10 amateurs who will do it for free. This puts Pete and other professionals at a serious risk because what’s cheaper than paying for 1 Pro? 10 free amateurs.

Pete and a lot of writers / photographers I work with say we should all charge what we’re worth and stop doing it for free. Even if you’re cheap, set a price. There will always be people like me who make a decent wage at our 9-5 job who will weekend warrior for free.

July 26, 2014

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via Kotke:

I’ll be here, blogging away until 2073. I figure 100 is a good age at which to retire. If I have a point to make, I’ll have made it by then. Man, I wonder what crazy YouTube videos there will be to post in 30 years? Probably Wes Anderson filming trials riding in a wingsuit on Mars or something. I can’t wait.

I feel the same way. I’ve had this blog since 2009 and the beer blog since 2012. My first blog launched in 1999 is long gone (saved on my RAID Array in HTML format) and my 2nd and 3rd blogs,also archived as XML / WordPress backups, I’ve been blogging for a very long time.

This blog only gets 7,000 visitors a month with around 25,000 page views. My beer blog gets a little more than that but not a huge number, nothing wort monetizing.

Anyway, I’ve stopped using social media. I participate in two online forums and still upload photos to Flickr but that’s it. The social network shuffle happens so often now, it’s been great to go back to basics which is to sit here and author a blog. I’m not a great writer, my life isn’t interesting but the ability to share here is a valuable thing to me. Most importantly, I own the server, the blog CMS, analytics software and the entire experience.

——-

Two weeks ago, I received an email from someone I’ve known since 2003. We met a few times, she enjoyed my thoughts on the value of college and it was moving enough for her to write a letter. That’s a big deal to me. My long-form high school education writing has a small group of readers who check in every few weeks to see what’s new and this person has read my blog since the very beginning. That is huge to me.

This month’s Facebook, Twitter & Orkut come and go but blogging is for life.

July 25, 2014

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via:

I realize it’s going to be impossible to write sentences like the ones above without coming across as a raging prick, so let me try to soften the blow to my American readers with an analogy:

Raw, uncensored perspective that anyone who has traveled a lot can relate to.

July 24, 2014

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Please no.

I only use one irreplaceable Google service. I can live without YouTube and there’s not a single other product I use from them…seriously. When they killed Latitude, I was pretty hurt because i used Latitude for life-tracking so I could see KMLs for where I had physically been the last 5 years…every moment of the day geo-tagged. I really liked that service. The same goes for the most recent news that FourSquare is turning into a recommendation engine for things to do and all check-ins must be done on Swarm now. Swarm is a step back from FourSquare’s application and it makes my activities far more public. I don’t want to use Swarm…I want to use FourSquare. I tried Swarm and I hate it. 

For the past 6 months, Gizmodo has touted that the end is near for Google Voice and each time, they seem giddy about the whole concept. Calling people from Voice.google.com is too hard I guess so they prefer the technology exist within hangouts instead.

Why?

Everyone I know, even my parents don’t know my cell phone number. The reason is because I literally get a new number every year. My land-line and cell phone number change quite often because I simply don’t care about what number I currently have. Yes, I have a land-line, a cordless telephone in my house. when you spend 2 hours a day on conference calls, it’s quite nice to have a real phone. The clarity and latency of a land-line is great. Cell phones still suck at voice latency and call quality especially where I live…and that’s assuming you get reception at all which I haven’t at my last 3 homes here.

So Google Voice is great! When you call my 415 number, it rings my Macintosh, my mobile phone, my land-line and my desk phone at the office…simultaneously.

If I don’t like you, I can block you from ever calling me again with one click or simply mark your number as spam. If Blocked, you’ll get a disconnected sound, if spam, you can leave a message but my phones won’t ring. I can text (SMS) from my web browser! This is so cool. I hate typing on mobile devices. I HATE it. Typing with my thumbs is the most painful process in my life right now. It takes hours to write a sentence and I usually just give up and go over to my iMac. So texting is such a big deal with kids my age that I can text from my computer. AWESOME!

Finally, I don’t have to dial numbers. I click a number from an email and my land-line rings and I pick up and it connects to the number i want to dial. 

Google Voice is great because:

  • Phone Number portability
  • Browser based SMS
  • Block / Spam features
  • Special Ring-tones
  • Call Screening (If you’re not in my contacts / address book, you have to state your name and I can screen who it is before pressing 1 to talk to you)
  • Listen in on voicemails…I can listen while you leave a voice mail and press a key to actually talk to you or not..up to me.
  • Voicemail transcription
  • Mobile applications for iOS and Android

It’s the greatest thing ever! Google Voice is something I’d pay $50 a year for.

Can you guys please stop calling the death of Google Voice and also stop telling Google that merging it with hangouts is a good idea? It’s not a good idea. Please don’t let this happen. 

Just the fact that my friends and family will have to call me on 3 different telephone lines OR they call my cell phone number, I have no service, 4 hours later I get a voicemail or missed call notification, I have to then dial their number on my land-line. It’s terrible. Or they call my land-line and I’m not home. Or I have to actually listen to voicemails instead of having them transcribed automatically and dear God, I have to type SMS messages on my phone because 80% of the people I know don’t have iMessage?

This sounds like a living Hell. 

Google, don’t change Voice. Please don’t. I’m begging you.

July 24, 2014

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I’ve linked to the year feature that The Verge did with Paul Miller a few times. Unfortunately, my Instapaper queue forgot a few of these posts and I finally found them last month.

Below are 3 more features I thought fun to link:

how my creativity got killed

I have a running joke with a friend about how audiophiles, past a certain dollar figure, lose all semblance of musical taste. I think it’s because it’s about consumption; you need to find the perfect “content” to show off your sound system. I guess that’s the word I hate the most: “content.” It suggests an empty terabyte on your DVR to fill, 40 hours of evening free time to consume, a distribution pipeline to monetize. At some point, do I consume content, or does it consume me? I want inspiration, not a 4K babysitter.

love, loss, and dating without Facebook

I don’t know if you know this, but I have a terrible memory. Like, monumentally bad. It’s not just for facts and figures, either. I don’t remember faces very well. Sometimes when I would meet up with her, I’d be waiting on a corner and keep thinking I’d seen her, and it would take a second to realize it wasn’t her. And then when I finally saw her, my memory would putter to life and go “oh yeah, THAT’S what she looks like.” I don’t want to sound all sappy or anything, but she was always better looking than I’d remembered.

For our quasi-dates I relied on word-of-mouth recommendations for restaurants and things to do. I grabbed a brochure from a community organization in her neighborhood. Sometimes we’d just walk and look around for something to strike our fancy. I dedicated a couple of pages in my Moleskine to listing useful facts about her, or the name of an artist she liked. And yes, I sent her some snail mail.

boiling it down to the essentials

Without the internet, my world has shrunk. It’s all very simple, and if maybe I still don’t understand it, at least I can see it all at once. My folder called “notes” has 1,097 items in it. 470 of those text files were created or modified after I left the internet. That’s literally all I’ve created since I left the internet. 

Great insights. I can relate to these in many ways. The articles are great and I appreciate the world Paul did while offline for a year. He has certainly changed my thinking and, at least I feel less alone in the isolation that is self-inflicted out here in the woods.

I’d prefer to be more isolated. The only thing holding me back is my job.No immediate changes planned but I do dream of building that bomb shelter one day underground, V for Vendetta style. We’ll see what the future holds.

July 23, 2014

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I’m planning out some home networking changes and posted to Reddit to get some feedback. The readers here are pretty tech-savvy but I think everything is covered. I’m working out a diagram today but the shopping list I think is set in stone. 

The only research I want to do is around picking the right firewall for our needs and I’ve heard good things about SonicWall. 

If you have some thoughts or ideas, head over to Reddit and let me know:

http://www.reddit.com/r/HomeNetworking/comments/2bhzsu/home_network_from_scratch_am_i_missing_anything/

July 23, 2014

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Screen Shot 2014 07 22 at 10 37 16 PM

While I’ve been linking to some bookmarked posts the past few days and writing a bit more, it looks like this blog surpassed 1,000 Blog Posts. WOW! It took 5 years but it’s really amazing that I hit such a cool milestone. Thanks for reading!