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Comment: Just went through this (Score 1) 336

by Wrexs0ul (#45948985) Attached to: New Home Automation?

Went through this exercise and moved-in to our new place in May. My goals were: good future proofing, multi room audio, iPhone airplay for my wife, surround for the main tv, a home office for a guy who sometimes pokes around data projects, and as few exposed cables as possible.

What we ended up with was pretty good, but there's a couple lessons learned and things I'd do differently. First, what we did:

- dual cat6 and coax runs wherever a tv would be. 4xcat6 for bonus room/main tv
- quad cat6 to home office
- cat6/coax/power to outside CCTV. No plans to use it, but it's there.
- conduit to bonus room/main tv
- replaced all phone jacks with cat6/rj45
- pair of good speakers in main rooms and deck, wired to basement
- surround, in-wall speakers in bonus room/main tv
- Control4 system for automation and audio
- separate receiver for the main tv
- cubox-i's for xbmc. These are new, but working really well
- couple control4 light switches to play around with
- control4 module for the security system
- Nest for thermostat
- couple wemo power switches for Christmas lights
- iPhone for remote, but any phone would work
- good 24port managed gigabit switch. It's worth the extra few hundred bucks
- 2 ASUS dark knight routers with after-market range extenders. Full bars anywhere on the block :)
- rack in the basement. Keeps son out of the cabling and they're cheap secondhand
- unraid NAS for media. Cheap, reliable solution $/GB
- good power management

No regrets about any of this. The iPhone makes for a good universal remote and Control4 (audio/lights), the nest, our receiver, and xbmc all work great. If you wanted better integration you could probably buy a module from Control4, but I found the single controller offered a lot less than purpose-built apps.

No shortage on networking. I see fiber to the rooms being recommended, but they're already testing 10Gbit over cat6 so I was content to settle on copper. I figured it's a risk either way, there's always the potential for a new standard of cable in a couple years so conduit where it counts and practical for the rest. We don't use all the jacks right now, but they're cheaper at build than fishing cables after the fact.

The audio is also very good for a closed system like Control4. It'll read your library and has modules for services like Rhapsody which my wife uses regularly. I opted for a separate Yamaha for the main tv for better sound, plus I'm not spending a bunch of money on a Control4 locked-in video switcher in the basement. XBMC does a fine job sharing media and it's easy enough for non-techies like babysitting grandparents to figure out.

I'm not pleased with the two Control4 light switches. They use a Zigbee wireless system that has range issues unless you wire enough switches in your house for coverage, and are ridiculously expensive (almost $200 pretty switch!). It's neat being able to turn on the lights on my iPhone, but definitely not worth the price. is promising sub-$60 light switches this spring that are rip and replace with app and an open API, so I'm keeping an eye on this as a future solution.

Two things I'd definitely have done differently knowing what I now do:

1) get more power. We've filled the breaker box and have been told will need another line from the city if we ever need more power. For a guy familiar with servers and power consumption this was pretty dumb on my part. Calculate your power needs before they trench your utility lines, or have them run one before the house is built. Our options for more power in the future are looking expensive, and a little planning could have saved that.

2) comparison shop your automation vendors, including multiple resellers of the same product. We picked Control4 with the builder's recommended vendor because they had a mature app and most of the features we wanted at the time, with what looked like good future options. This was a poor choice. The reseller intentionally misled us to believe the main Control4 unit would support AirPlay out of the box; it doesn't, you need an addon module (surprise $$$). We're also stuck paying expensive install rates for any future work, including something a simple as adding a light switch to the network (you can't do this yourself). All in all I should have checked with other Control4 resellers before buying-in instead of relying just on personal research and the sales rep.

Make no mistake, I'm not against Control4. Their audio system is very good, and we're happy with it. I also think that value for dollar you won't get an out-of-the-box solution that's easier to use for whole-home audio or some of the other things they do. If like me you don't have a lot of time to tinker with your own system this is the way to go. They also have a fairly decent controller for installed hardware that let's you do things like program a triple-tap of a light switch to dim the lights and turn on the music.

Long story short: consider a suite like Control4 if you want a single controller for everything and are ok with the feature set they provide being all you need. If you have a little time and brain space for learning look at the new guys in town like Nest and MyUbe as a more cost effective solution. I'm going to wait on reviews for MyUbe before buying, but from what's out there it's looking pretty good.

Comment: Unlikely (Score 4, Informative) 319

by Wrexs0ul (#45110365) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Mitigating DoS Attacks On Home Network?

Unless they're pounding the entire subnet for some reason, only hitting machines whose ping responds.

Most folks that'd DDOS you aren't that sophisticated, and if they are there's really nothing you can do until someone decides to focus their malice elsewhere.

The best bet for the poster is mitigation. Talk to the ISP, let them know the situation, and start feeding them a list of IPs to block at their head-end. While you as a client only have X bandwidth before it overwhelms your DSL, they have X^n and are usually amenable to blocking malicious traffic before it screws-up all the clients in an area.

But, to repeat what's already been said. If the attack's following you to new IPs your only bet is:
- Factory reset the router, then plug it (and only it) in.
- Have it get a fresh IP
- Wait 30 minutes and see if an attack starts
- Plug-in a known safe device to check the router. Fixed devices like an iPhone or Android phone should work (unlikely that's what's compromised).
- Use the device to check the router and see what kind of traffic is happening
- Slowly start reconnecting your devices, one at a time, waiting a safe amount of time in between each.

If the router starts getting hammered without anything connected you could have a compromised router. Just last year thousands of routers were compromised that had too simple a password and remote access enabled.

If it starts after a certain device is plugged-in, time to track-down the culprit or (better) format the compromised machine. You're probably safe 90% of the time, but one a machine is rooted it's a good policy to never trust it.

If the router is getting traffic and you know it's safe, then you might be seeing an attack on your network segment. Only your ISP can help.


Comment: Untrue, lots of examples (Score 1) 121

by Wrexs0ul (#44703349) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Hands-On Activity For IT Career Fair

CS knowledge absolutely drives the real world. Sure, big data or HTML might not be sexy things for an IT booth, but there's plenty of real-world ideas:

- Make 2 groups: one to write real-world instructions, the other to enact them. Have them write down how to tie shoelaces, that's always fun and eye-opening.
- Programmable robots. Lego Mindstorms isn't expensive, and you've probably been waiting for an excuse to buy this yourself for years :)
- Any math or logic games. You've heard of the water buckets to fill X with Y water using what's on hand.

And that's only the software side. You're right that most hardware isn't easily modified these days, but if PC towers are boring there's always home and personal electronics. Taking apart, cleaning, and reassembling everything from laptops to your old xbox still needs IT experience. It might not make you more employable, but it'll give your kids a chance to think twice about what they can do to prolong the life of their digital stuff before it gets tossed.

Comment: Pretty much (Score 1) 325

The date is far enough out that folks will have forgotten this report by then. It's one of those hopeful dates meaning "in our lifetime", just like 2001: A Space Odyssey or Star Trek.

Might well be accurate though, as I understand it we'll be getting self-driving technology from the Vulcans shortly after the eugenics wars.

Comment: Re:WEB hosting isn't expensive (Score 2) 301

by Wrexs0ul (#44559931) Attached to: EFF Slams Google Fiber For Banning Servers On Its Network

I get your point that for the majority of people it's not worth your time to setup a web server when a thousand providers offer good service for the price of a specialty coffee. But, when I was 16 I wanted to learn about the WWW, Linux, and CGI, and a local web server with Perl let me host some friend's sites. Nowadays I still have a web server at home plus three racks in our DC for projects.

Controlling your hardware and OS is a good learning environment, plus complete control over things that might cost way more than $4/mo. I learned a lot about tweaking hardware and network security by having to do it early on. Today I use a home web server for some automation projects whose hardware needs physical access to the devices it manages.

So, in short, lots of reasons to host at home. Not even high-bandwidth-for-cheap ones.

Comment: This. (Score 1) 461

by Wrexs0ul (#44547599) Attached to: Book Review: The Healthy Programmer

I came across My Fitness Pal after syncing it to a Withings scale I'd bought. As a data guy this has taken all the fuzziness and cheating out of weight loss. It's great. Calories and nutritional info is recorded, the scale syncs automatically after measuring (just stand on it, no data entry), and I'm getting their version of Fitbit, called Pulse, to help track exercise and sleep.

I think most Slashdotters who sometimes struggle with weight won't get much more out of a book they haven't scoured Google for already. Easily being able to visualize personal info seems to really help with the accountability part, which I think is way more important to the knowledge-savvy crowd.

Comment: This is putting the cart before the horse. (Score 2) 100

by Wrexs0ul (#44076499) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Should a Non-Profit Look For In a Web Host?

As a web host I can tell you this is coming from the wrong angle, there's no "Large Non-profit" package I could sell you that'd make you happy within your budget. $15/mo general web hosting has capacity limits by design. Ultra-redundant with a 24/7 team of on-call remote hands and the full rack of dedicated hardware that comes with it may not be a smart use of your org's money. Hopefully these will help you better flush-out your solution:

Consider your needs in three categories:
1) Infrastructure.
- What does it take to drive your site?
- What's your uptime requirement?
- What OS/Software/Hardware are you running on now?
- What does traffic look like today? 5 years from now?
- What bottlenecks/problems are you experiencing?

2) Support.
- When things break who's the first person that gets called? Who's the second?
- Who will maintain the infrastructure (security patches, hardware updates, etc.)
- How important is it that you get personal, escalated support at 3am?

3) Cost.
- What's the budget for a Large Non-profit? $3/mo, $30/mo, $30,000/mo?
- What price point can you realistically sell your board?

Typically at least two of these will drive your needs for the third. As a Large organization you're probably looking at 1 & 2, then selling 3 to the board. That can be a whole other mess, but a well designed needs document and a decsion-maker friend to bounce ideas off can work wonders. Make sure to flush out the why, "what happens if we don't", and alternate options for these points, which are by no means comprehensive for your project.

Also consider having a developer sit-in on the needs assessment. 1000 people at a time doesn't mean much with no context of the site. It's been mentioned above: is that 1000 people browsing pure html, 1000 people on a heavily-optimized PHP site, or 1000 people running data intensive operations (like multi-million row searches)? I've personally brought down big servers with crappy PHP code, and run 1000+ active vBulletin forums on 10 year old whitebox servers. It's all in how you identify and address bottlenecks, and a trusted developer can make that process easier.

Hope this helps. Good luck with your search.