Tag Archives: technology

To Fios or not to Fios?

For the past six months, Verizon has been spending a lot of time in our neighborhood. I was as likely to spot little tented trucks with big spools of cable spilling out, as deer on my way to work. Every day this last week there were Verizon trucks working on poles. And, as I suspected, it was because they were bringing in fiber.

Yesterday morning the Fios Internet flier went up on every mailbox in the neighborhood. The offer for our area is the enhanced deal, so 10 Mbs down / 2 Mbs up for the lowest level of service, and 20 Mbs down / 5 Mbs up for the next level. Given how often the cable modem falls over, and how while they increased the downstream recently, they decreased the upstream, which is annoying for things like NX sessions to work, photo uploads, and a host of other bits.

I’m still trying to figure out what the phone quality is like, before I make the plunge, but I’ll probably look at switching some time this summer.

More gems from Redmonk: Google Linux Repositories, and DrunkandRetired.com

From sogrady’s daily links post (which I tend to find one new gem in every other day), I found that Google has a set of online repositories for just about every Linux distro out there. What a great way to make sure you’ve got the latest google earth, or any of their other apps you like. (Update: Apparently the repo only contains 2 packages, picassa, and google-desktop-linux. Boo google for not putting google earth in there, which is the only app I really care about at the moment.)

Through sogrady’s links I also came to the drunk and retired podcast, in which cote (another Redmonker) discusses current trends in technology, as well as dives into some technical topics in depth. The discussion of parsers, and Domain Specific Languages recently was surprisingly coherent for trying to explain something like that with audio only. While this isn’t MIT lectures by any stretch of the imagination, it’s a pretty good place to get exposed to technology trends that might be outside of your normal day to day environment.

Build To Order Servers… buy from these people

We got a donation to MHVLUG a year ago, which was a stack of 2U PIII servers that were being decommissioned from a company that one of our members worked at. We sold about 1/2 of them (at really nominal price) to get machines into eager members hands, and raise a little cash for MHVLUG events (like equipment for install fests). The servers had one flaw though, the power supplies liked to commit suicide if you unplugged them. You know this has happened if you plug the box in, and just hear a clicking sound from the power supply, and the machine won’t power on. 😦 The power supplies are an odd proprietary connector (though it breaks out to standard connectors after that) so direct replacement didn’t seem like an option. We swapped out PSU for those LUG members that got ones that broke, until we ran out. At which point everyone was on their own.

This hits home a bit, because I’ve got 2 of these boxes. 1 is serenity, which runs my wiki, but more importantly, my wedding site. That machine is fine. However, my xen test box did the suicide dive this weekend. Ominously, we are out of power supplies, and the site that we’ve got the wedding info on no longer has anything I could steal a supply from. This is not a good place to be in.

So over the weekend I began searching for power supplies again. While we’ll never find the crazy card interface that the current PSUs have, a little further research showed that any long 2U supply should fit in the case. After much time with google I came across Build to Order Servers. It appears that they had a 2U supply that would fit in the box, output 300W (the current one is 275W), and only cost $68. So between me, and the rest of nycccp.net, we ordered 4 of those units. That was Sunday.

Monday rolls around, and I get an email from the Vendor (and, as I found out later, a phone call at home). They are out of the supply I ordered, and won’t get more until July 17th. He does ask me where I’m going to be running the systems, because if it is in the US (where the power is reasonably conditioned), they’ve got an equivalent model which is $10 cheaper. He also asks about what my server board pins are, because the power supply is 20 + 4 pins, and most people order a 20 -> 24 pin converter with them. I respond back to him with output of dmidecode from my server board, plus the fact that it looks like I’ve actually got 24 + 6 pins. A couple hours later he sends me an image of a similar mother board (“is this what yours looks like?”), offering to custom mod the power supply pin outs for 24 + 6 for a small fee, and still being able to ship by Thursday if I’m ok with all of this.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is service. We’re talking about a total sum of about $250 worth of equipment here, and the folks at Build to Order Servers spent a lot of time making sure that I actually got equipment that is exactly what I needed. It’s rare that you see that now adays with all the crazy big box stores, so I am always astounded when someone really does give that much care for their customers.

Anyway, if you are in the market for anything Build to Order Servers has to offer, you should consider them. They went the extra mile for me on a small order, so I can’t imagine they’d do any different for you.

Email is still king

On slashdot a couple of days ago I read this interesting article on collaboration, which I found to be quite insightful. It also strikes pretty close to home, as I’m in process of putting together a paper for an internal collaboration conference, which says much the same thing, that current collaboration techniques like email remain king, and the right solution is not to try to replace them with the next wizbangy thing.

The two most interesting bits I found were:

99.9% of all knowledge workers use email. Understanding and using email has become synonymous with ‘using the telephone.’ Email crosses the boundaries of Language, Country, Creed, Geography and Origin. Everyone has it. Everyone uses it. This is largely because email enjoys the industry standard protocol of SMTP. The “SMTP Pipe” ensures that any user in the world can participate and interact via email, no matter what email client software they are running.


Collaboration Software is still difficult to access. This is mostly for good reason as business users are, and should be, concerned with security; but the accessibility of collaboration software often falls prey to the IT department’s insatiable appetite for restricting, controlling and limiting employee access to mission critical tools. To date, even the most advanced collaboration solutions only provide limited mobile device access and functionality.

I’ve run into that last one more times than I care to count over the last few years.