Expiry imminent

The Xmas theme this year turned out to be “practical technology” with most of the gifts we gave and received. Internet use of our mobile phones had been rising all year and it was an easy transition for Carole to use a tablet device she got as an anniversary gift.


Carole keeping warm with her Fire

DeShawn went 21st century AND growing up in a big way, getting his first mobile phone and a tablet device.

Kitted out with tech

Your author remains a bit of a luddite with his old fashioned desktop computer and single mobile device/phone. But, with a new stereo system and phone mount in the car, at least his music can follow him down the road (not to mention GPS navigation, hands free calling, etc.).


Turns out that plaster is a very good attenuator of wireless network signal. So, to support our growing tech needs at 118 Henry Street, we installed an array of wireless access points thru the house to insure complete and thorough irradiation. One access point is downstairs in the living room, one in DeShawn’s bedroom upstairs and one in the new sewing room.

Thus, the errata to the network diagram

See you next year!

“We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.”

— “Auld Lang Syne” by Robert Burns

Tanha, Part 4

(Mr. Obvious knows that it’s been a while…use this link to recall the minutiae to date.)

The commission of server HONNE brought much stability, disk space, and peace of mind to the LAN’d of 118 Henry Street. The hardware purchases to bring the server to life, however, required correspondingly much dollars and effort. The practical realities of discretionary poverty cooled our  obsession vision for a while.

Still, when there was nothing else to worry with (or, there were many obligations to avoid), we would keep trying to put together a plan for something both useful and unusual. Since the project budget exsanguination, the only cabinet we could afford had to cost $Free.

It’s no exaggeration to say (and to those that know me, no surprise) that the desire to proceed got so strong that one day, we went thru the entire house with a tape measure and sized up virtually every piece of furniture as a candidate for server cabinet. Within a couple of hours, we had our victim.

Not the cat…the sewing machine cabinet

And so, the sketching began in earnest…

Click for a larger, more readable version

The exterior and structural parts of the cabinet were easy to re-purpose for our 21st century needs. Most of the design time was spent modeling the insides of the cabinet. The last design decision, after much gnashing and machination, was to purchase one more piece of hardware. Instead of building the electronic innards from scratch, we would use a rack mount server case as a chassis.

The heart of the beast, it beats (with Windows Server 2008 R2)

Adapting the sewing machine cabinet involved building 2 shelves inside it’s exterior structural shell. One shelf below , and one shelf above the server chassis .

The bottom shelf as viewed from the southern hemisphere

The top shelf as viewed with the hatch open

Another top view…yes, that power strip is factory color

The top compartment has the hard drive for system image backup (one of 3 methods used for system redundancy), a built in network switch and some ventilation fans.

Back view of an early trial fit for the server chassis

Front view with the door open (still looking for a display plate to cover the lights)

Proper ventilation and resultant heat dissipation were critical to the final form. The server chassis has 4 ventilation fans and the cabinet has 5. This creature is not quiet but it sure runs cool.

Ambient room temp 78 degrees (click to see disk temps)

That’s a max disk temp of 9 degrees above ambient…geek out!

Our fav pic so far

With the exterior decoration, we’ve stopped about halfway around the world on our journey to Tibet, resting somewhere near Morocco for now. The obsession vision isn’t quite complete, but, as they say….don’t hold your breath.

PS..check out the updated network diagram.

Tanha, Part 3

Here at 118 Henry Street, we are very accustomed to the regular interruption of amenities that most normal people assume invariant. Sometimes, these interruptions are planned, other times, they are a..ahem..surprise. Hot water (twice actually), electricity, A/C, these are all potentially impermanent in an old house, under restoration, in a old neighborhood, in a small town.

We debate “Which would you rather”. E.g., “Would you rather do without hot water for 3 days or electricity?” When it comes to our computers and the internet, ‘bout everyone in these parts would rather do without water for a day then our technology. In fact, we could go without a refrigerator for a long while if it meant keeping the internet up. Washer/dryer vs. internet might be a tougher choice…

Our computers, as we’ve mentioned before, are as much an integrated part of our family routine, history, and daily life as bathing every day. Today, this day, we have 1.79Tb (1 Terabyte = 1000 Gigabytes) of photos, movies, DeShawn swimming videos, music, documents, diagrams, blog posts, all of Carole’s grants and lesson plans for the last 12 years, etc. etc. etc. Our entire intellectual property is in digital form, and by design, on our server.

In this digital regard, I suspect, we are more like other modern families than it may first appear. The biggest difference may only be my sustained anxiety about the “hard drive failure” thingy.

With the imminent demise, earlier this year, of our home server and subsequent digital extinction, my obsession vision for a Tibetan server cabinet would be supplanted, attention, budget, and all, with the need for new server hardware. The desire for a piece of custom furniture was replaced with the purchase of several digit dollar’s worth of hard drives, disk controllers, motherboard, etc.

Thus, the genesis of HONNE.

We did splurge a little for a top-of-the-line chassis

Relevant to our discussion, the most notable feature of this server was 4 (count’em behind the red toggle slots) 2.5” 1Tb hard drives for data storage. One, very easy, way to decrease the potential bummer from the “hard drive failure” thingy is to spread your data across multiple hard drives, “spindles” as we call them in our biz. On HONNE, we used “RAID5” (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) to minimize the impact of any single hard drive failing.

Never could we tolerate the loss of digital information as important as:

The forever classic, “My Couch”

With a couple weekends of concerted effort, totally ignoring the sewing room project, and gutting the budget for my Tibetan server cabinet, our network was finally stable, our data safe for a while longer.

Still, the obsession vision persisted…