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Comment Splashtop and Sophos UTM (Score 1) 173

I have a similar situation for remote access, but my parents are 12 hours away.

I use Splashtop with the remote access feature (paid feature). No approval to access the machine is required.

I use Sophos UTM(next gen firewall, formerly Astaros(sp?)) for Web filtering, spam and anti-virus protection in my home as I was tired of trying to tie solutions together to make them work and SPAM was really starting to get bad. As you are doing this for personal use, you can get their Home use virtual license for free and run it on an old computer with esxi. Since it is a full fledged firewall you can also setup VPN connections if you want to. As you are covering multiple house holds you will need a user in each household to get a separate license for home use. Or you could purchase their appliances. With this you can create web filter rules with time based restriction, user based restrictions, ip address restrictions etc...

Splashtop Remote desktop solution:

Sophos UTM home use:

Comment vlans, virtual machines, and a managed switch (Score 1) 384

Get a 16 or 24 port managed switch that supports vlans (you need a port for each pump plus your laptop)
Put each pump in a separate vlan
Use a descent laptop with parallels or VMWare workstation
Run X number of machines to run the upgrade, each connected to a different vlan (trunk the vlans to the VMs through the laptop NIC (maybe use a USB nic)
Get a little fancy and see if you can script the running of the upgrade so when the VM starts it automatically starts the upgrade process.

Another option that could be wireless would be to use a device that supports multiple SSIDs like a Mikrotik router with wireless.
Each SSID would be a separate vlan/separate pump.
On the pump side use a similar mikrotik device to bridge the wireless and ethernet port. (you might be able to use something like a Raspberry Pi as this client device)

Comment Re:CrashPlan (Score 1) 326

Crashplan also has a service to allow you to seed your backup with a hard drive(s) It costs additional money, but helps keep that initial 8TB from taking years.. (Seeded Backup and Restore to Your Door)

I use them and although I don't have 8TB with them I do have over 150 GB and have been able to restore what I needed. I also provide my local resources as a backup target to other family members using Crashplan.

PS, I'm glad my ISP doesn't have a 300 GB cap.

Another option might be to use Crashplan with a neighbor that is within line of site and setup a private wireless network (ubiquiti Nanostation or similar product) and run crashplan between each other's houses. They get to backup their data to you, and you get to backup your data to them (however you will probably need to pay for the system since you have the lion share of the data). You could look at NAS devices that can also work with Crashplan directly. I use UnRaid with the Crashplan plugin.

With the 64 GB every few days data feed, a 10 Mbps upload Internet connection should be able to upload that data in about 15 hours.

The more expensive profession/enterprise option: LTO 5 tapes, however you are talking sever thousand dollars just for the drive, and you may need to spend more to get software to run the drive, but for capacity and portability they work well. Just make sure you test restoring from them once in a while.

Good luck.

Comment home based Cell phone extenders (Score 2, Interesting) 214

I haven't found anything that is less than $200, but I have a product from

It is a simple device, that takes some work to get installed correctly, but works for me.

Even at $240, if you are going to be living there for over 2 years, it is less than $10 per month if you choose to look at it that way.

Just comes down to how important is better cell phone signal to you in your basement?

Comment Broadband speed might be more of an issue (Score 4, Insightful) 348

I just recently returned from a trip to India and found that many of the cyber cafes and family homes that I visited were not running the latest service-packs for Windows. I would attribute that to mostly being because although they had "broadband" their speed even during off hours were more around the range of 64 to 128 Kbps with high latency due to over subscription. Can any of you imagine downloading Windows XP SP3 over that kind of connection? (Setup a speed limiter on your next bit torrent download at about 5 KBs/40 kbps and see how long that file takes to transfer) Along with the problem that most computers are purchased as cheaply as possible so they frequently run with the minimum amount of ram possible, making the use of Antivirus software and the latest Service packs way too slow to even browse the web.

Security patches and Anti-virus updates that are several megabytes a piece are fine for someone with a lowly 512 kbps broadband connection, but understand that most people in these countries like China and India still have very large modem and slow DSL that is extremely over subscribed at the ISP.

Even here in the US there are many people that have dial-up even if other options are available because they don't feel the broadband options provide a good cost/performance ratio. $40 for 512kbps WISP connection or $10 for a cheap dial-up connection. $480 + install for the first year, or $120 for a year of dial-up over a phone line they already have...

Please keep in mind that although 5+ Mbps broadband is available in most Metro markets there are still a lot of people that have much slower connections making many online services out of reach (Steam, hulu, and to some security patches).

Comment Re:UXGA, WUXGA and WQXGA (Score 1) 370

I also was noticing this for the last several years since LCDs have started taking over. I had a Dell C820 (I think) 5 years ago with a 15" 1600x1200 display and loved it. The number of applications, or telnet windows I could have open at the same time was outstanding. However to get anywhere close to that resolution with an external display required an additional 6" (21" total) to the screen size and cost as much as the laptop did...

Why can't I get something that has that small of a dot pitch (ppi) in an external display?!?

I don't need a 22" widescreen display, a 17" is just fine, but to be able to get very much vertical space a 22" HD monitor is required...

On the plus side, my 17" Sony trinitron that I bought when going to college was $600, my 22" Dell HD LCD was $150 shipped a few months ago.... That is a nice price drop.

A few other options are to go dual screen and stack them on top of each other with a support arm (you might pay as much for the arm as the monitor though) since just about all recent video cards are dual headed. Two stacked 22" HD displays could be nice...

I feel your pain, and if you find something, make sure you spread the word. Give me a 17" UXGA display and I would be very happy.

Comment Re:Cisco to Blame, not Mikrotik (Score 1) 196

No, that is a commonality between admins that don't care about their network.

I have experience running both Mikrotik and Cisco (a lot more experience with Cisco), and can say that when configured correctly both run well, however Cisco makes it easier to get it configured correctly. Cisco has a wide array of documentation and their IOS helps you avoid many configuration errors.

Mikrotik has similar command line help, but their documentation is a bit behind their current release, so if you try to use that new feature, you better still have support available so Mikrotik can tell you how you should have done it and then provide you to a link to yet un-published documentation. (vrrp in the 3.x line is my example)

However when you are running a small wisp where bandwidth and revenue are really tight, Cisco is just plain out of that price range. Mikrotik fits the price range for this business segment. (What price do you need to pay to be able to route 20+ Mbps on Cisco? How about 40 Mbps? On Mikrotik it costs about $200. Now in a WISP you have multiple towers each with a router to help move that 40 Mbps around... Or put Mikrotik RouterOS on a two or more processor server with multiple NICs and you have a wire speed router, firewall, etc for the cost of a low end Cisco router, however your RouterOS server concotion has 10 to 100 times the throughput capability...)

Cisco Brand appeal only gets me so far, that mighty dollar is pulling me more and more toward Mikrotik every day.

Comment Re:Require pay and benefits parity (Score 1) 612

I didn't used to see why either but somebody who is wiser than I am put it this way: Michael Dell is too cheap to pay for the country that created him

Most consumers want to keep as much of their money as possible. When two products look comparable most consumers look at the lower cost product to purchase. If Dell made all of their products in the US, hired only US people, Dell would not be able to make the profit that they do (which isn't much at this point).

The US market is currently a Consumer driven market. So in truth the consumer has put Dell where they are today by purchasing their products.

I'm married to an Immigrant to the US, so color me biased, but you are also an imigrant. If you want to keep your job over an H1-B visa holder, lower your salary to a similar level (your salary = H1-B salary + (legal costs for H1-B))... But wait you don't want to give up your money either do you...

Comment Zune Marketplace (Score 2, Interesting) 361

I bought an original 30Gb refurbished Zune last year. I don't use it a lot, but when I do I enjoy the experience, I have put videos on it for my daughter (3 years old), pod casts, pictures, and any music that I want.

Two months ago Microsoft changed the details of their Zune Marketplace subscription offereing unlimited downloads for $15 per month. Not too different from Rapsody and the such, however there is a silver lining, you also get to download and keep 10 songs per month which they remove their DRM from. Some music is also in mp3 format. That 10 songs sold me on that subscription and I signed up, and have taken advantage of the service as much as I can. (BTW you can use the service on three PCs and two Zunes) Maybe it is just a ply to increase their numbers, but it worked for me.

Personally I hope they don't can the line. They have some work to do, but it is a solid product, just not as "cool" as an iPod.


Submission + - A Third Series of Stargate coming soon? (

Kirkex writes: Robert C. Cooper, executive producer of SCI FI Channel's Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, confirmed to SCI FI Wire that he's developing a third series with the working title Stargate Universe, but remained mum on details. (The project has not yet been picked up by any network, including SCI FI Channel.)

Submission + - General Relativity Experimentally Confirmed!

Anonymous Reader writes: I have been watching this project for some years now, eagerly anticipating the results to incorporate them into my own theories on gravity being faster than light. I had feared the experiment was critially flawed because it was so delicate. However when I checked the site today it appears that Gravity Probe B is being hailed as a success!

Over four decades of planning, inventing, designing, developing, testing, training and rehearsing paid off handsomely for GP-B. The 17.3-month flight mission succeeded in collecting all the data needed to carry out this unprecedented, direct experimental test of Einstein's general theory of relativity — his theory of gravity.
This is big scientific news. I have yet to peruse the detailed results myself and absorb them into my personal view of the universe, but I am curious what readers here make of the results.

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