Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Urgency or not

On the difference between "I need it urgently" and "I can afford to wait", giving me time to choose the best offer at that time

It's urgently needed, so you will pay the product/service at the price you find at that moment (the sooner the better, that's why it's urgent)  - Will be most of the time more expensive than in the second case. There is some extra fee to pay because of the urgency, this is part of the service

Second case; you can afford to wait for the best offer - your choice will be based on more parameters and other extra features, often at a better price than in the first case.

So, to put it briefly: urgency is more expensive but that's part of the deal
Quick piece of wisdom  :-)

If it's free, that could mean several things (at least one of them being true):

* you are the product
* being only a user and not a paying customer, you won't receive the same level of support
(that's free, so you use it at your own risk and you cannot expect a fully customer service experience)
* free could be part also of a freemium offer, meaning if you need more tools/support/advice... , you have to pay
* it's open source - so a certain level of volunteering/pleasure/passion is behind
* free for personal use only (so not at corporate level)
* needing refinement  ;-)
* PR stunt at corporate level - the xxx first customers will have a preferential offer
* PR stunt individually (showing your own capabilities)
On USB3.0 and USB-C

Acquired recently a new laptop (ultrabook) for college purposes
Noticed how light and thin it is and so few extension ports (both going together apparently)

To sum it up, 2 USB3.0 ports, one USB-C and no network port (purely wifi based, with Intel AC3165)

So, in order to add a bit more functionalities and performance, I see here 2 possibilities

1/ External - a combo USB3.0 hub + Gigabit Ethernet (based on USB-C or based on USB3.0)

After several searches on Amazon and a lot of users comments, it seems that USB-C is still in its infancy, with some compatibility issues, depending on the equipment brand and how USB-C has been implemented by the laptop manufacturer - around 15-20 % of the buyers for different USB-C solutions are complaining for compatibility issues. So finally opted for a USB3.0 solution.

N.B. Please keep in mind that whatever USB equipment you will use (USB2/3.0/C), do not forget that what you will plug will need power. So choose wisely what you will buy, depending on your needs:
1/ not too power hungry (typically a USB key) - a USB hub without external power is fine
2/ requiring some minimum amount of power (external hard disk or external dvd writer) - a USB hub - powered externally - is highly advised

By experience, an older external hard disk will require more power, an external SSD/USB key requiring a lot less. In case you connect an external hard disk via USB port and nothing is happening, 2 cases come in mind: faulty equipment and extra power needed.

2/ Internal - changing the wifi card with another model

After checking laptop specs + pictures of the inside, I found an Intel AC3165.
It's an entry level wifi card (Intel branded only) - So going for a replacement: Intel AC8265
Should be worthwile, please see a comparison between both equipments from Intel website:

On the plus side - more recent, higher max speed (867/433),
better antenna configuration (2x2 instead of 1x1)

On the minus side - void laptop warranty

N.B. What to pay attention for:
* preferably use the same brand and the same "family card"
* before changing your wifi card, pay attention to its size (for the same wifi chip, there are half size and full size cards)
* put the installation/drivers files on a USB key or -preferably- already on the C: drive
* be careful when unplugging/replugging the antenna wires

Et voilĂ  !

See you next time

Monday, May 22, 2017

Brand new to blogging - so let's start :-)

--- IT & systems & networking tips, tricks, self assembling my own data center and other IT issues ---


If you are really into IT (professionally speaking or as a hobby), nowadays it's easier to create your own data center, preferably based on 10 Gb technology

Why 10Gb and why your own data center ? Several points to take into account:

*/ Self training is easier and more affordable that before

*/ Specific open source projects (e.g. GNS3 as a graphical network simulator)

*/ Virtualization is becoming more and more important, that means a higher bandwidth
between your hosts is becoming also more and more important

*/ Adding also all the SSD "phenomenon": the internal transfer rate for a SATA hard disk (NAS oriented) is around 210 MB/s (last entry in WD Red / 10 TB) compared to an entry level SSD (internal transfer rate between 460 to 560 MB/s)

*/ New or existing  NAS systems with 10GB interfaces (or with PCIe interface accepting
10Gb NIC cards) - Thinking about several models from QNAP or the latest 8 bays model from Synology (DS1817+)

*/ Specific offers typically self training/beta testing oriented (VMWare with VMUG & EVALExperience, Microsoft with MSDN ...)

*/ Hardware solutions offering new possibilities to home based data center (Xeon-D) [AMD Ryzen oriented data center is still in its infancy - as of May 2017 - , to recheck later on whith a real server based solution and a better integration within VMWare Compatibility List)

*/ New offers at networking level for 10Gb bandwidth

This is really this latest point which has triggered the beginning of this blog.
Let me explain a bit further:

When speaking about 10GB, there are mainly 2 ways to start if you consider a "small" infrastructure project:
* SFP+ (fiber based)
* 10GBase-T (Ethernet based)

SFP+ offers several advantages when compared to 10Gb Ethernet:
> lower latency
> less power consuming
> second hand SFP+ switches available
> lots of second hand SFP+ NIC cards available from different brands and pretty cheap
but one major disadvantage (at least from a home based data center point of view):
often a microcode at the connector level has been installed, so preventing you to mix different
brands or no name brands (switches and/or NIC cards)

10GBase-T is becoming more and more interesting - nowadays - for your home based data center,
with an existing standard, CAT6E cables and - finally ! - cheaper hardware offers

*/ at the switching level:
>> ASUS  XG-U2008 (2 * 10 GbE ports) *** +/- 250 $ [several existing reviews]
>> Netgear XS708E-200NES /v2 (8 * 10 GbE ports) *** +/- 700 $ [several existing reviews]
>> TP-Link T1700X-16TS /v2 (12 * 10 GbE ports) *** +/- 1000 $ [no reviews yet - as of May 2017]

*/ at the NIC level
>> Intel based NIC (X550 T1 or T2) *** between 315 (1 port) and 392 $ (2 ports)
>> Aquantia based 1*10Gb port-NIC (AQC107): ASUS ROG Areion 10G (on ASUS ROG website, not yet available), GIGABYTE GC-AQC107 (announced, not yet available), Aquantia own brand already available  (at Arrow Electronics for example) *** 130 $ (seems a real 10Gb killer NIC)

Motto of the day: "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
["Forrest Gump" / 1994]