30 October 2009

What would I do with this?

I have been spending some time looking at some robotics. Mosty from a hobbiest point of view. I ran into something cool on a blog called: Liquidware Antipasto

It is talking about modules that communicate with each other to share code. The code basically changes the color of a blinking LED. It is cool to watch the code move from module to module - changing the color of the LED as it moves.

I don't know how I would use this tech, but it looks cool. The modules are availile from http://www.liquidware.com/

James W. McKeand

21 October 2009

What is a peer?

In my last post I stated that a peer suggested I look into blogging for business promotion. I got griped at by probably my best friend for calling him a peer. "I thought we were friends..." he said.

My friend is Pat Lloyd, he runs one of the other IT firms here in Mexia, TX. (I am still not sure why we have 5 or 6 IT firms in a town of 10,000, but we do.) We have a lot in common. We have our niches - I handle servers and network infrastructure - he handles the client end (he also covers home users and I concentrate on businesses).

Pat and I eat lunch together once or twice a week. We talk about issues in town, our families, and what we run into at client sites. We bounce ideas off one another. We even call each other into help out at our respective clients.

James W. McKeand

19 October 2009

First Post

A peer suggested I look into blogging to get my name out there and attract attention to my business. I debated the good and bad about blogging, I hope my addictive side does not kick in, causing me to get sucked in to spending too much time on this. I spend much of my day surfing the web looking for solutions to my clients problems. I run into some pretty interesting technologies. I will be putting these on this blog.

So, this is my first post on my new blog.

The current hot topic for my clients is Web Filtering. Many of the businesses I work with want to limit their employee’s Internet access. I know there has been studies that show that employees that are allowed some freedom with respect to “personal” internet surfing at work are more productive. This is true that taking a 10 to 15 minute break to clear their head does lead to better productivity. But, I think there are exceptions to this improved productivity. The reality is that a person with unlimited access to the Internet AND an addictive personality can easily be sucked into shopping sites, streaming video and audio sites. It is these “exceptions” that cause the problems for employers.

The loss of productivity is not limited to the single employee that is catching up on the TV shows they missed last night. You add the guy in the warehouse that is streaming internet radio because the metal roof of the warehouse blocks FM and AM radio signals, plus the HR director that is watching a preview of a harassment video – and you have a problem. The problem is the loss of bandwidth that all of the users are supposed to be sharing.

The solution I am looking into is Untangle this can be found at http://www.untangle.com. They have free and pay products. One of their technologies that looks rather interesting is their “Untangle for Windows”. It runs in a virtual PC on a Windows PC. The VM engine in Sun’s VirtualBox. The only downside I can see is that smart switches can/will break their “Re-Router Technology”. I cannot comment further – I have a smart switch here at the office, so the “Re-Router” will not function. I am quite interested in getting this running – maybe at home.  Here is the quick start for “Untangle for Windows”: http://wiki.untangle.com/index.php/Quick_Install_Guide:_Untangle_for_Windows

The “normal” install of Untangle Server is on a separate box – this will wipe the hard drive of the box. You can deploy the server in either a transparent bridge or as a router/firewall. I think Untangle is running on a hardened Linux Kernel. The user interface is quite unique. You populate a rack with the software appliances you want – Firewall, Web filter, Spam filter, WAN failover, and etc. You can turn on and off the soft-appliances as needed. Take a look at the screen shots and demo videos: http://www.untangle.com/Demos-Screenshots

Well that is it for my first blog entry. Ya’ll have a good one…

James W. McKeand