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Comment This works for me (Score 2) 272

Here is what works for me, as well as a few things to keep in mind.

If all your client devices support samba (i.e. they're all computers) then by all means just install Windows on an extra box and set up shared folders and dump your media in there.

You mentioned tablets and smartphones. Those likely do not support samba, so I'd suggest a DLNA server such as Tversity. It works pretty well, but there are some rough edges. What about accessing data to present on TVs, etc?

Another concern is the ongoing cost of powering a system sitting in the closet serving only as a file server. Assuming your old computer will suck 100W 24x7x365, do you really want to pay $100 a year to your electric utility to run it?

If I were you, I would look at some of the appliance solutions such as a USB NAS device that lets you plug Cat5 into one end and multiple USB devices (such as USB HDDs) in the other end to create networked storage. Such devices only use a fraction of the power, plus they're silent and generate no heat. A device like that will pay for itself in power savings in under a year.

Another option would be something like a Boxee Box. That will also let you share two USB hard drives to the network, plus it lets you play just about any file format and stream Netflix, etc to a connected TV. The Boxee Box was recently discontinued in favor of the Boxee TV, so you ought to be able to find one on clearance somewhere for $140-150. Just get a couple 2TB USB drives and connect them. If you need more than 4TB of storage, you're probably better off looking at one of the network hard drive appliances that let you put 4 or 8 drives in anyway.

As far as backup, I wouldn't bother messing with RAID, just buy double the storage you need and make a nightly or weekly differential backup between the two storage sets.

But the REAL question is...with Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Pandora, SoundCloud, Spotify, etc, do you really need to keep all that media anymore? Why not just pick one or two services to pay a small subscription fee to and let it all live in the cloud? That'll save you from spending money on a computer, storage, software and electricity, and will probably give you a wider variety of media.

Comment It's nice when it works (Score 1) 80

I recently flew cross country on a business trip. I flew American Airlines and had two flights out and two flights back. I purchased the daily pass on the first flight out and it worked fine for e-mail, vpn, remote desktop, etc. Unfortunately, even though all of the flights said they were wifi enabled (and the crew mentioned the wifi availability on all four flights), the first flight was the only one during which I could see the GoGo SSID. So, I feel kind of ripped off because I purchased the daily pass assuming I could use it on both flights that day but only got to use it on the first flight. Apparently there are some service issues which mean that even though the flight says it has wifi available, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's working.

Comment Re:Obvious answer (Score 1) 303

OP posted as though he's a one man show trying to gear up for a new development cycle. Most one man shows aren't cash rich and I suspect they don't want to pay for managed hosting for a dev environment and I figured removing Linux from the equation significantly reduces the barrier to entry for PHP.

That withstanding, there are a number of other problems with this, I just attacked the one at the top of the pile.
Running apache/php on Windows isn't the ideal environment as most php support will be focused on linux
Running dev on a public VPS is questionable, just throw it in virtualbox or vmware on your dev box until you have a working product
And, yes, desktop jockey sysadmins are never a good idea, especially for something public facing. The "and Linux doesn't support remote desktop" comment in the article pretty much nails this as a really bad person to be running a Linux server.

Comment Re:Shouldn't the question be... (Score 2) 445

So it works. VoIP is great and cheap and all, but what do you really use a land line for? I suspect most people will say something along the lines of, when my cell phone is dead, or during a storm when cell service is out, or to call 911 in the middle of the night when someone kicks in your front door, or when your 2 year old is choking. Cell phones are great inventions, but at 2AM when I hear glass shattering I'm not going to want to wait the few seconds it takes to find my cell, unlock it, load the phone app, dial the number, wait for the call to go through, relay my address to the 911 dispatcher, etc. From a land line it takes 2 seconds and the dispatcher has your info on the screen immediately.

Comment No. (Score 1) 445

If you do any business internationally, you certainly don't want to pay wireless international rates, which are often 10x that of wireline rates.

Cell phone quality is just that - cell phone quality. Do you want to conduct business calls on a connection where you and the other party may not be hearing everything that is said, or would you rather use a desk phone that has a good chance of having a 100% digital wired connection with crystal clear audio?

I don't know where you work, but where I work despite having several IM choices, there are those employees that refuse to use them because they don't like the intrusion when they're working. The only way to get those folks is on the desk phone. Sure I suppose you could use a cell, but it takes 10-15 seconds to find the cell, unlock it, navigate to the phone app, place the call and wait for the call to go through. The desk phone takes about 2 seconds from wanting to call someone to the other end ringing.

What about intercom, overhead paging, etc?

What about multi-party calls beyond three people? This is an area where Meet Me, etc really shines.

Perhaps the biggest driver for us would be the ability to use Jabber apps on mobile devices to place calls via WiFi that go out through the corporate trunks. This is a HUGE cost saver if you travel internationally where you're often paying $1.50 or more per minute while roaming on your cell. Data is much cheaper than voice is in this scenario.

Comment Basic requirements (Score 1) 416

Here's what I've got in my tool set. This is a personal set of tools that has been accumulated over many years. I wouldn't expect a company to buy all of this at once, but this will take care of most any tool needs in your server room:

A GOOD label maker and appropriate qty of labels
Bulk rolls of velcro
Zip ties of various sizes (both the normal type as well as the type with a screw hole that can be screwed to a wall/telecom backboard)
A good LED flashlight as well as a good LED headlamp with extra batteries for both
RJ45 crimper, bag of 100 RJ45 connectors, cat5 stripper and a quality pair of telecom scissors
Punch down impact tool with 66 and 110 blades
Tone generator and cable tracer
Cat5 tester (minimum a cheapo $30-40 unit or more expensive if budget permits)
Butt set, banjo (google banjo telecom), and a bag of 100 RJ11 connectors and a few RJ11 modular jacks if you support any type of analog telephony
If you support any type of CaTV you'll also want an RG6/RG58 stripper, crimper and a bag of coax connectors
Hammer, screwdrivers (slotted, phillips, torx, safety torx and star drive in appropriate sizes), tape measure, electrical tape, double sided tape, crescent wrench, a small socket set with both standard and metric sockets, pliers (needle nose, and standard), wire cutters / lineman pliers, wire stripper, cable fish tape, cable fish sticks, duct tape, loopback plug, ethernet crossover adapter.
Cordless drill (nice to have on occassion)
Box of Cat5e jacks
Spool of telecom cross connect wire

Comment Why DIY? (Score 1) 135

I understand DIY provides a fun project, but you can buy what you're looking for directly from Verizon for under $100. Coincidentally, that puts it in the right price range to make it a great Christmas gift. Since you're going home for Christmas. Something you buy will be more rugged, you can mount it outside on the roof or the side of the house and run a cable back inside to the hotspot/usb modem.

Comment Obvious first problem (Score 1) 943

So they save the government 4 billion. What's the cost to retool every piece of equipment to accept and understand these new coins? Vending machines, toll booths, car washes, pay phones, change machines, slot machines, parking meters, etc. I can see this EASILY outweighing the possible cost savings, the gov is just passing a minimal (in the grand scheme of things) cost on to the private sector where it becomes a much larger cost.

A better solution would be to universalize debit cards by doing something to reduce the barriers to accepting them (i.e. cost for terminals, service fees, etc).

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