QNAP Intros the First 2.5-inch SATA, 8-bay, Intel Atom-based NAS – QNAP Press Release

QNAP Intros the First 2.5-inch SATA, 8-bay, Intel Atom-based SS-839 Pro Turbo NAS. ( Press Release ) – Quality Network Appliance Provider

HEXUS.Net article, EHomeUpgrade article

My comments on this 2.5” hard-disk NAS

Initially, the use of a 2.5” hard disk in a NAS would have been simply considered as a “toy” but there are more “business-class” multi-disk NAS units like this one come on the scene that use these disks. This QNAP unit – the SS-839 Pro – impressed me because of the fact that there is a NAS fit for the business or “muscle-NAS” market that give respect to this low-power small form factor.

It also can hold 8 of the disks in the same footprint as a typical 5-bay “muscle NAS”, with support for sophisticated RAID and “business server” functionalities available in this class of device. Another benefit that I also like is the ability to have less power consumption than a NAS of this class and can provide for more expandability as one’s data needs grow.

Once the 1 Tb 2.5” hard disk comes on the scene, this will certainly wipe the 3.5” form factor off the map as far as hard disks are concerned and make that size only for certain removeable media.

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Preventing a suicide that is happening on the other side of the world

 Aussie 999 call stops UK suicide | The Sun |News

Suicidal British man saved by online friend in Australia | Daily Telegraph (UK)

My comments about this issue and how it can be done

Recently there have been a few incidents where a person who is taking part in an Internet chat, instant-messaging or social-networking session observed that one of the participants was about to commit suicide and intervened by contacting their local police via the local regular emergency number or contacting a Netizen who is in the same country as the incident.

You may think that the Netizen contacting the police locally to intervene in an emergency on the other side of the world isn’t feasible but it can be feasible. The local police force who works with the local emergency number can connect with your country’s federal police force or gendarmerie and even use your country’s foreign office to connect with the remote country’s national and local police forces. The local or federal police force may also establish contact with other international police forces through the use of Interpol. They can also use the IT knowhow used for handling money-laundering, child-pornography and similar computer-assisted crimes to locate the origin of suicide notes placed on the Internet.

To make this work effectively, you would need to give the local emergency operator any useful information about the origin of the note or its sender, as well as details about the facility that you witnessed the event on. If you have to use contact(s) local to the incident, give the contacts as much information as possible for them to pass on to the local police.

The local police forces, especially those officers involved in answering the local emergency number must know how to respond to emergency calls that have an international dimension such as this Internet suicide note that had just been witnessed in Australia or the earlier Facebook suicide note that was witnessed in America during April.

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The European Commission vs Microsoft anti-trust fiasco – or “Web-browser delete”

Over the last week, Microsoft put up the idea of offering the “E” versions of all of its Windows 7 operating system packages sold in the European Union. This version, which doesn’t include Internet Explorer, is an attempt to appease European-Commission anti-trust action that was instigated at the behest of Opera. This was even though the European Commission may require Windows-based computers to have a “ballot-screen” where the user chooses which Web browser to install when they set up their new computer.

The main issue that I was thinking about with the fiasco is whether a computer supplier will have to do what vehicle builders did before the 1980s with the car radio. That is to offer a “radio-delete” option where you bought the vehicle at a slightly-reduced cost if the radio wasn’t supplied. Most people took advantage of this option to allow the purchase of a better car radio from the retail sector, where as some just saw it as a way of reducing the cost of their vehicle purchase. This kind of packaging was more feasible with vehicles that were to be bought new off the showroom floor because the motorist was in a better position to have the desired package.

Could there then be a requirement for all computer retailers in Europe to provide computer systems with a "Web-browser delete” option where they provide the computer with no Web-browser. Users would then be supplied with a DVD-ROM disc or USB memory key that has the installation packages for four or five different Web browsers. It may appear easier to provide this option for computers that are being sold “to order”, which is practised mainly with small independently-run computer shops; or online computer resellers like Dell. On the other hand, it may not be feasible where computer equipment is sold “off the rack” like in most non-specialist stores like department stores or discount electrical stores. In these locations, users also expect to buy a particular package of equipment for the price quoted on the sticker. They can satisfy these requirements by providing the aforementioned DVD-ROM disc or USB memory key with the Web-browser installation packages.

The main issue for most users, especially those buying their first computer, is that they will go for the browser they are most familiar with, whether the one that is supplied by default with the operating system for their platform or the one that their school or workplace uses.

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Video introduction to DLNA setup

I had come across a video on how to set up a DLNA media network and was amazed by how it went about describing the process. The video is mainly based around TwonkyMedia Manager (review) as a media server and a Sony Bravia DLNA-compliant LCD TV as the media player, but it applies to any network media device or software that follows UPnP AV / DLNA standards.

For further reading, please visit my feature article on establishing a DLNA home media network with your PC.

This will become more relevant to Australian viewers who had watched the Harvey Norman TV commercials advertising a 40″ Sony Bravia LCD TV for AUD$1976 at the time this article was published. The TV that is in this particular promotion is infact DLNA compatible.

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HEXUS.net – News :: Deal of the day: 1TB Hitachi Deskstar hard drive for under £52 : Page – 1/1

Is this a sign of the times with hard disks? Time to keep an eye on the swap meets and the Internet for this special so you can add extra capacity to the PC or NAS. You may even consider running 2 or more of them in a fail-safe RAID array to protect against loss of data

Cited article

HEXUS.net – News :: Deal of the day: 1TB Hitachi Deskstar hard drive for under £52 : Page – 1/1

Hard-disk storage continues to get cheaper by the day, but we’ve yet to see anything as cheap as this:

It’s the Hitachi DeskStar 1TB hard drive, and it’s being offered at bargain-basement prices on various websites. The cheapest we’ve seen, though, is Ebuyer.com who is currently offering the drive for just £51.82 delivered. That’s around 5p per gigabyte, for a 7,200rpm SATA drive with a 16MB cache. It just doesn’t get much cheaper than that, if at all.

Ebuyer’s website reckons the etailer has over 800 in stock, so this could be a good opportunity to max out your PC or NAS.

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SmallNetBuilder – Small Network Help – 802.11n Headed for September Ratification

 SmallNetBuilder – Small Network Help – 802.11n Headed for September Ratification

Cited text from SmallNetBuilder article

SmallNetBuilder has learned from a reliable source that the final issues in 802.11n have been resolved in this week’s meeting of the IEEE TGn in Montreal.

The draft standard is now expected to successfully pass through the final steps required for a ratification as a final standard in September. This is four months earlier than the currently published January 2010 date.

The key issue holding up the standard has been the mechanisms to be used to prevent interference between 802.11n and Bluetooth devices.

My Comments on this stage for 802.11n

Once this standard is ratified, most of us can now buy 802.11n-compliant wireless-network hardware while being sure it will work with other manufacturers’ equipment.

But the main issue with this ratification is whether most hardware manufacturers will roll out firmware for existing draft-specification 802.11n hardware that is in the field. This is of importance whenever newer final-specification hardware is deployed, because there could be compatibility issues between the different versions of the standard.

A good step to go about this is to go to manufacturers’ Websites and look for upgrade packages for any 802.11n hardware. In the case of laptops, use the laptop manufacturer’s Website or “quick-update” routine to check for updates for the wireless-network subsystem. If you run an “n-box” or other equipment serviced by your Internet service provider, check with the provider if there is new firmware in the pipeline for the hardware. This may be dependent on whether the device’s manufacturer is rolling out compatible firmware for provider-distributed devices.

In some cases, you may need to run your 802.11n wireless network segment on a “mixed” setup which observes best compatibility with 802.11g devices even if the segment is running only with “n” devices.

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Long-distance Internet friendships and relationships – what to be careful of

Originally published: 28 April 2009 — updated: 4 June 2009

You may want to establish an Internet-based friendship with someone who lives a long distance from you or dabble in the Internet-based dating and relationship game.

The main problem is that, with the Internet, there are many different pretenders out there. They will use “faux foreign language” and names peculiar to particular ethnicities to impress those who are looking for people from a particular ethnic background like a Continental European background. Pictures that they supply may not portray who they are. For example, they could be lifted from other photo collections or “photoshopped” to make a person appear older or younger, of a different race or at a different location. As well, the details they make available don’t match to whom they are.

The main group of people who are easily deceived by these pretenders are typically lone people, especially lone young women who are looking for a full-time relationship.

It would certainly pay to do your homework about the prospective Internet-based correspondent. If they send pictures, pay some attention to the detail and look for signs of alteration or inconsistency in the pictures. You can detect the “foreign-language” pretender by being or knowing someone who is familiar with the foreign language and looking for inconsistencies with the way they write the language.

Another good practice would be to send a postcard or letter through the post to them and have them send a postcard or letter to you through the post. You can then check for the origin of the postcard or letter by looking at the stamps and the postmark. The stamps will typically be priced in the country-of-origin’s legal tender and the postmark will have information pertaining to where the letter was posted from and when it was posted. These are protected by various laws that govern the operation of the country’s postal system and the country’s anti-counterfeiting laws.

This is a step that will need to be taken if you or they are considering travelling to meet up. It can avoid a situation which happened to a close friend where they flew to the USA to meet an American friend whom they had been in regular conversation with over the Internet. They had arranged to meet each other at the airport in the USA but the American friend didn’t show up to meet the close friend.

Similarly, it may be a good idea to engage in a voice conversation using either the classic fixed / mobile telephone service or VoIP (Skype, MSN Messenger, etc) in order to ascertain whom they are. This allows you to identify whether their voice matches the picture that they have provided by virtue of gender, age and native accent or whether they are proficient in the language they profess they are proficient in.

It also pays to visit government Websites that deal with romance scams because these sites can provide information about handling the Internet-based liars that are part of these scams.

For children, it is important to have their parents and/or another trusted adult “in the loop” when they establish an Internet-based friendship.

If we can work together to make it hard to be a pretender, then the crime rate for crimes involving the Internet like child pornography and immigration offences would reduce significantly.

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Network Connectivity Joins the AV Club – or Ethernet connectivity via AV equipment-connection cables

 Network Connectivity Joins the AV Club | ABI Research

Cite from press release

Over the past few weeks, a couple of announcements around consumer electronics connectivity have caught my eye. In late April, the DiiVA Interactive TV standard was announced after a year of development, with the backing of mainstream CE manufacturers LG, Panasonic, and Samsung, along with the Chinese government and a number of major Chinese CE manufacturers. The DiiVA standard was designed to integrate HD Video, multi-channel audio and bi-directional data (Ethernet and USB) in a single cable. Then, just last week, the HDMI Licensing group announced the HDMI 1.4 specification, which will integrate Ethernet connectivity within the HDMI cable.

My Comments on this concept

The concept behind the DiiVA stamdard and HDMI 1.4 is to cut down the “spaghetti junction” that exists behind a home-entertainment system by avoiding the need to run an Ethernet cable between each Internet-enabled AV device and the home network.

The current problem is that most Internet-enabled equipment that is in the field will require use of a direct network connection, typically an Ethernet cable, even if the AV setup includes equipment that has the new connections. As the standards gain traction, users will have to work out which component will be the interface to the home network; and some equipment will need to always have a direct connection to the home network as well as support for Ethernet connection via the new standards.

When the standard reaches momentum, I would still prefer that certain classes of equipment always have an Ethernet socket or MoCA/HomePlug AV interface. Primarily, I would require that a television set (with built-in TV tuner); and a surround-sound receiver would have the home-network interface. Similarly, I would require that devices performing the role of a surround-sound receiver like “home theatre in box” systems and single-piece “soundbars” be equipped with the home network connectivity. This is typically to allow one to assure network connectivity to all consume AV-equipment setups that use these connections, as these setups evolve. Some AV peripherals like optical-disc players or games consoles may just rely on their network connectivity coming via the AV connection.

Another factor that needs to be worked out with this connection setup is making sure that the network-enabled AV setup just works. Issues that can impede this ideal could include “network collision loops” where devices that are directly connected to the home network and are interconnected with network-enabled connections create an infinite data loop. This can lead to extensive operational and performance difficulties, similar to when a laptop is connected to a WiFi router with an Ethernet cable while its WiFi network functionality is active. This issue could be addressed by the use of a priority-based algorithm for determining the data flow in the AV setup.

Once these issues are addressed, these connection standards should then lead to trouble-free network-enabled home AV for all setups no matter how sophisticated they are. Similarly, this could lead to such concepts as the AV devices providing extra network services such as in-fill WiFi access points or Ethernet switches.

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Teleworking Best Practices

Pandemic Preparedness: Teleworking Best Practices | Wi-Fi Planet

My comments on this topic

In the article referenced from this post, the last few paragraphs talked about being prepared for teleworking whatever the “raison du jour” was. This was because whenever there was a national security incident, a natural disaster or a plague, the concept of telecommuting would be raised through business discussions. But whenever these risks subside, telecommuting falls off the agenda.

I personally consider the concept of teleworking as something to be factored in to everyday office life no matter the national or global situation. One application I think of very heavily would be for workers who end up doing double-duty as family carers, such as for ill or convalescing children; or elderly parents.

As well, it may appeal to people who are approaching the end of their tenure at the business to be able to increase being used to staying home rather than at the office. This is more so with family-run businesses where there is an increased risk of “living in the office” even as their active tenure comes to a close.

Similarly, it could also allow larger office-based employers to reach talent pools that exist in rural communities for some of their office jobs. The employers can be able to then work from home for most of their working month, but come in to the office for meetings and similar activities.

The way to technically prepare for teleworking would be to ensure that there is a good-quality secure Internet link to the office, such as a VPN, and consider the use of a VoIP or other “virtual extension” setup for the telephone. A webcam can be handy if you intend to do some video-conferencing with the office.

As far as the printer is concerned, make sure that you can print out any workplace documents with it. This may involve making sure that any “remote-desktop” programs can work with your local printer.

Small businesses can look towards using LogMeIn or GoToMyPC as a quick-setup remote-desktop tool, especially if you use “home” versions of Windows operating systems in the office or you don’t have much computing knowledge. If you use a “pro” or “business” version of Windows and have a fair bit of computing knowledge, it may be worth knowing how to use the Remote Desktop functionality.

As far as your VoIP or “virtual extension” setup is concerned, it may be worth making sure that your system can be capable of allowing the same extension number to be easily switched between two or more physical terminals, like a softphone program, VoIP handset or classic fixed or mobile telephone. This can permit the phone system to work with your work-home life.

Once you have a setup that allows you to do your work at home, you can be ready to work from home at a moment’s notice.

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Use of WiFi technology for safety and security

Ekahau Enhances Staff Safety of Hospital Psychiatric Wards

My comments on this issue

The Ekahau press release that is linked to from this article details the use of a WiFi-based staff badge that can be used to locate particular staff members in the hospital’s psychiatric ward and deliver messages to them.  But the feature that drew me to this device was the remote panic-alarm functionality that sends its signal via the hospital’s WiFi network.

Any panic-alarm or medical-alert system that is deployed in the home typically requires a transmitter and receiver working on a dedicated frequency, in a similar manner to garage-door openers.  If they are monitored by an external agency, the devices then transmit their alert signal to the monitoring station via a dedicated telephone or cellular circuit.

Now there is a different reality being brought about with cost-effective Internet service provided to WiFi-based wireless home networks in many households. This has included the concept of providing telephone and multi-channel television service through the same pipe, all thanks to the magic of IP-based packet networks. The classic circuit-based signalling methods used by these alarm devices are becoming less relevant in the packet-based signalling. Similarly, most users will want to benefit from the infrastructure that is laid down in a home network, such as the establishment of a multi-access-point WiFi network with a HomePlug-based backbone to cover a difficult house.

The Ekahau setup could be scaled back to allow an alarm installer or broadband Internet provider to sell a similar system in to the home. Any moveable sensor like a medical-alert pendant could make use of the existing WiFi network for transferring its data to the monitoring facility. It could then lead to e-mail and / or text (SMS) messaging if the device is triggered. Similarly, the unit could be used to deal with “wandering” behaviour that can be part of dementia-related illnesses by alerting if the person goes out of range of the WiFi network. As well, such systems could support local monitoring through the use of a local server device, thus providing their output through a Web page, platform-specific “widget” or desktop application.

This setup may appeal to broadband providers who want to gain more “average revenue per unit” by reselling basic security services as part of their package. It could also be a way of achieving a legitimate upgrade path for currently-deployed building security systems, especially in the context of the “switched-on” Internet-enabled home.

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