Computers & Networks

A blog about computers, networks, and peripherals used in a small business or development lab environment to support the development of nano devices and systems.

Lightweight portable security

morreale Saturday 30 of July, 2011
The DOD has created a Linux distribution for users to connect and surf the internet with minimal risk of being infected by malware. This lightweight portable security distribution does not mount the hard drive so malware can't infect it. It is available in a basic and deluxe version. The download speed is very slow so allow lots of time.

Android verses iOS

morreale Friday 12 of November, 2010
I've been fascinated by all the new mobile devices that are available new. This includes the iPhone, iPad, Droid, Windows 7 phone, and the Galaxy S phones and tablets. I'm wondering which set of devices will integrate together to form what is becoming my home/small business cloud. I have computers, laptops, a NAS, this hosted website, and four social media sites. I can see a smart phone, tablet/pad, web TV, home theater pre-amp, flat panel TV being integrated into this network in the future. How do I get my email, access my social networks from each one of these devices, or make them share data nicely. Will all these devices support some level of design tools like OrCAD, PSPICE, Mathematica, LabView, MatLab, Materials Studio, ChemSketch, Eclipe IDE, SolidWorks, and similar tools? I asked Phil McKinney from HP how to share my just my email between all these devices and he said it was a difficult problem to solve.

So then, the new issue of Electronic Design magazine arrived in the mail. The issue has the article Google’s Android Versus Apple’s iOS: And The Winner Is? that describes the architecture of the two mobile OS's plus MeeGo's architecture. Each OS is unique and offers a rich set of features but creating a common code set for an application that runs on all phones is not possible due to the architectural differences. Now, I wonder if I could run an email client like Thunderbird on all my devices, could I find a way to sync the mailboxes together to access my mail from anywhere using any device in a distributed system architecture? Syncing to me implies that a master database exists somewhere so this would seem to be "a make it work solution for now" and not a true distributed solution.

Free smart phone applcications

System Administrator Thursday 02 of September, 2010
There are so many smart phones and applications are available today. PC Magazine lists the Top 100 Free Apps for Your Phone 2010. Remember when Palm was king of the hill for PDAs and Smart phones? How times change. Apple and the iPone are number one today. It not clear how long this will last since Android has become so popular with so many manufactures. It's become the runner up for smart phone. Still, the article indicates that there are 225,000 iPhone application verses 60,000 applications for Androd. Can't wait to try some of the out.


System Administrator Thursday 02 of September, 2010
Putting together network with desktops, laptops, smart phones, printers, servers, and other peripherals is a challenge. Keeping it all running is a huge effort. Some components fit and work better than others in your network so I'm always on the look out for new devices that might fit an needed or future application.

In a network design, mobile devices like laptops and smart phones are an essential part of the system. I like smart phones that can do most of the mobile office applications so a laptop isn't always necessary on every trip. An email client that can handle multiple mail boxes is also a key requirement.

Running and building a new network was an eye opener. The big revelation is that users home network is part of your network. If their network is unprotected and open then so is yours. This was a big revelation for me. So, budget anti-virus and firewall software for all home network computers. Norton Internet Security has been a long time favorite along with the best rated free anit-malware programs. Unfortunately, no one program rules them all. Teach users how to use wireless encryption and network MAC filtering. Ask them to bring in home routers for a proper setup. You will save so much time this way.

I like to build my own systems when possible because I can select the best components. Better components are more expensive but I have fewer failures and system can be used longer with modest upgrades. Then old computers can be later used for other other application like testing or for lab measurement automation. One key component that needs careful attention is the hard disk. I only buy enterprise grade hard disks rated for 24/7 operation and 1.2 MHr MTBF rates. A hard disk failure is such a productivity killer for not only the user but the person that needs to restore the users machine. Losing data is an incalculable loss as well so the expense is easily justified.

I generally try to build a network for my users and thus define the "corporate" standard computing set with a bit more variety than you see in most corporate networks. Not everyone gets everything and the job has to justify some of the high end workstations of course but the users have some choices. The goal is to optimize productivity.