Monday, February 23

Moving my network around

Today I moved my network around, so just a quick article about why, or what was the point.

It’s funny the little noises that irritate you. For me, there are a few, high pitches whines, buzzing sounds that are constant, when my wife clicks her nails together, and computer fans.

In my office, I have a PowerMac (Dual Core, with Dual Fans), a Linux box that I do a lot of Snort Testing on, and a 1U server that is older than my daughter.

The 1U was moved to the basement a long time ago, simply because the fans on the thing were so incredibly loud, you couldn’t sit in the same room as the machine. It was crazy. I can’t imagine a server room full of these things. The fan ran constantly too. Not when the processors got hot, but all the time. So very irritating! I moved this server to the basement by drilling a hole in the floor in my office and running a Cat 6 cable down there. Simple enough.

That was about a year ago.

As I’ve stated before on the blog, and on twitter, and go knows where else -- I’ve moved totally to using laptops as my primary machines now. I keep everything “in the cloud” except for things like Pictures, (in iPhoto), Music, (in iTunes), and random misc software.

I use my iDisk for my Document and File Storage, and am starting to use Google Docs for collaboration on documents. I use Evernote for jotting taking notes and keep everything in one place. I use Google mail for my email (eliminating the need for a local client), and I use Google Calendar for my Calendaring. (As opposed to iCal.)

So my needs for everyday computing are rather lightweight. Last week my company replaced my aging PowerBook G4 with a brand new MacBook Pro. I started to do the “laptop dance”, you know the one, where you transfer years and years of data that you have kept for God knows why over to your new computer. After about an hour of doing this, I decided that this was inefficient and stupid and stopped. Moved everything to things like iDisk and Evernote, and eliminated the need to have everything locally. (Technically I do have everything locally, it’s just synced for me.)

I brought my new MBP into the office here at the house and stared at my PowerMac for awhile.

My Powermac has served me well for years. It’s a Dual 2.0 PowerMac G5, liquid cooled, and has 4 Gigs of RAM in it. This thing is still pretty fast, and I bought it in 2004/5 ish timeframe. But what did I use it for?

It’s sitting here connected to my 20in Apple Cinema Display -- which by the way, Apple stopped making recently -- keyboard and mouse connected to it. But how often do I use this thing? How about, almost never! I’d rather use my laptops, because then I can wander all over the house, go to Starbucks, Panera, whatever.

So I thought for a while. I already have a Cat 6 cable running to the basement, what if I relocated all my computers, switches, and everything to the basement, and only keep my wireless access points (with their associated Ethernet cables plugged in) upstairs?

So I moved everything. Powermac, Linux servers, switches, hubs (for testing), downstairs. I even moved my FiOS connection end point downstairs, (which required re-running the cable, etc.).

All I have in my office now is my MBP, with the 20in Monitor attached to it, and I have my personal older model MBP sitting next to it. (It’s my “grab my computer and go to the bathroom for reading material” computer.)

You can hear a pin drop in my office now, and it is much less distracting.

I recommend, if you can relegate your computing devices out of your office, into another room, closet, floor, attic, or whatever, do it. It’s awesome.

Saturday, February 14

A tale of my mother in laws laptop

So, yesterday, my mother in law moved into my house to stay with us for awhile. (Yes this is cool with me, it was actually my idea.. Anyway.)

She handed me her laptop, Sony Vaio (this thing is a freaking brick!), loaded with Windows XP, she always makes jokes about my network here at the house, and about how “clean” it probably is (all macs, security etc..) So I went about starting to clean it.

First, I wanted to get the antivirus updates. She had a current Antivirus client (Symantec), it was the full suite, with the firewall and everything. So I updated that, took awhile as it hasn’t been updated in awhile.

-- Sidebar --

My mother in law has been on dialup in her neighborhood where she used to live for a long time. She doesn’t log in for long, long enough to log into her AOL account and check her email and some light surfing.. (yes AOL. Seriously.)

So you can imagine, everything hasn’t been updated in a long time because of the speed of her connection, she doesn’t have the kind of time to sit there and let downloads download overnight.

-- Back to my Story --

The Antirvirus ran, asked me if I wanted to deal with the stuff in Quarantine. I looked what it was, 3 instances of “Bloodhound.Exploit” in Temp Internet files. Okay, not a big deal, they’ve been quarantined for over a year, so I just deleted them. Hopefully that’s all it finds.

So I started to download XP updates. This is really where I started to value my Macs. This machine was pre Service Pack 3, Windows XP. So you know the drill, get the updates up to date so you can download SP3, then download SP3, then install that, then update, update, update, update. I had to go to Windows Update at least 5 or 6 times. Office was actually updated, but the Windows OS updates were so far behind it took me 6 hours to get this thing updated.

Now, I know when you build a fresh Mac install you have to do the same thing. But it only takes me about 20 minutes to do it, not 6 hours.

I started telling my tale, as I was going, to my followers on Twitter. A lot of jokes were made, you know, about making the laptop a doorstop, or if I had a table with one short leg, go ahead and prop up the table with it.

Other suggestions were made like, “load Ubuntu on it, tell your mother in law it’s the new version of XP”. I thought about it, but my mother in law is just one of those kinds of people who get comfortable with her computing experience and you don’t want to upset that. She like her XP, and Microsoft Word, so I don’t want to mess with her right now, maybe she’ll get a mac on her next computer buying experience.

Anyway, it’s fully updated and working now, yes, it’s on my network, as much as I hate to admit it. (It’s the first Windows machine on my network in about 6 years.)

Hopefully now, I can keep her patched and updated.