Pre-order the hottest 60Hz 4k monitor now!

The long awaited Samsung 28″ 4k LED monitor is up on Amazon right now for Pre-order for $699. While there are cheaper alternatives out there, this is the first display that does 4k at 60Hz refresh (via DisplayPort) for less than $1000.

Samsung 28" 4k 60Hz

As a developer, I can’t wait to see my desktop with all the extra real estate. It also comes with PiP with the two HDMI ports. Folks really seem to be excited about this, but I don’t see the draw on this feature, as I have many monitors on my desk.  It is important to note that the HDMI connections are limited to 30Hz, so if you get this, make sure you also have a DisplayPort output to really take advantage of this thing.

I just pre-ordered, and my estimated ship date is April 21.

Here’s the link to buy:


Finally got my Google Glass

Google GlassThe day has finally come.  I received my invite to join the Explorers program, and purchased the technogadget I’ve been drooling over for the last 6 months: Google Glass.

Upon finishing the transaction, I was given the choice to go to New York, LA, or San Francisco to pick it up.. OR to just have it shipped.  Although originally I was planning on spending a night in NYC to pick them up, I decided that I couldn’t wait another week and just had them shipped. Amazingly, I had my glass 8 hours later.

Unboxing was a very fun experience… packaging seemed like it was straight out of Apple’s book (unboxing video coming soon).

After a few days of playing around and getting familiar with Glass, I can honestly say “THIS IS AWESOME!”  Before I was exposed to Glass, I had a worry that Glass wouldn’t be something I’d be interested in having on my face all day.  Now, after several days of nonstop use, I can say with certainty that it is tough to NOT have it on.  Surprisingly, the word that comes to mind to describe Google Glass is: unobtrusive.  The apps don’t bombard you with notifications or information.  At first, I didn’t like the fact that it wouldn’t notify me if someone commented on my Facebook post, but I quickly realized that this is perfect.  Everything is there with a simple tap or head nod, but only the really important stuff “pops.”

Glass took some getting used to. I think I have a head start in getting acclimated, because I just got prescription lens glasses about 6 months ago.  Getting used to wearing regular glasses took me almost a week.  Adding Google Glass to sit on top of my glasses only took a few hours to feel natural.  I’m very excited to get prescription lenses for Glass.

About 5 minutes after connecting them to my WiFi, the XE11 update downloaded and installed, so this is the only version I’ve been exposed to so far.   I really like the Google Now features. A few times I’ve been surprised/impressed so far:

  • Swiping over to see a reminder of a local college football game today was very cool.
  • Earlier in the day I searched for directions on my iPhone’s Google Maps app.  I didn’t end up taking the trip, but I noticed a few hours later the directions were showing up as a “card” on Glass, all ready to go with the touch of a button.
  • Talking my phone through taking a picture, writing a caption, and then sharing it on Facebook all with both hands free.
  • The responses from Google are really good… similar to the Google Search app on the iPhone. The responses are formed as sentences, if possible: “There are four cups in a quart” or “Harrison Ford is 71 years old.”
  • The camera is quite amazing:

Google Glass Camera
All in all, I’m very impressed. This weekend I plan on diving into some Glass Development.  Stay tuned!

Parents of Facebook: Respect your child’s right to privacy

kid_sucker_catAs a guy in my mid-thirties, my Facebook feed is filled to the brim with parents posting about what is most important to them: their children. Facebook is, after all, a great tool to socialize, share pictures with family, and stay in contact with people in your lives – even if they didn’t play a huge role in your life. I have plenty of Facebook friends that I was never close to, but I love seeing their updates because they are awesome, interesting people.

And while I usually smile at the adorable pictures of these kids (some of which are a spitting image of a high school classmate I haven’t seen for 15 years!), I also get a sinking feeling in my gut. Parents on Facebook today are ruining any chance that their child has to make choices of their own about their online presence.

Parents: consider the following before posting:

  • Anything that gets posted to the internet will be around forever. Let that sink in. It doesn’t matter if you delete your Facebook profile, or remove that embarrassing picture from Instagram.  The data is out there, and it has already been replicated across other systems or websites.  You are posting something to a permanent public record that will be very easily accessible until the end of time.  In fact, as years go by, data storage gets cheaper, and technology will emerge to make historical data more accessible and searchable.
  • Your children are going to be real adults one day, facing the same struggles you are facing, but with the added threat of their digital past coming back to haunt them. Respect your children. In the blink of an eye your child will be a young adult in high school, and every classmate will have instant access to all the comments and pictures that were posted by everyone’s parents.  Fast-forward to when your child is interviewing for his first real job. Why introduce the unsettling possibility that the employer may have read the posts about the temper tantrums he was fond of throwing as a kid?

Reconsider posting personal details about your child to social networks.  If that is absolutely not an option for you, at least be sure your Facebook privacy settings have been modified to restrict your posts to friends and family.  And although this should go without saying, do not post something that will be embarrassing for the child 20 years later.

I grew up in an age before the internet. When MySpace rolled out, I was 24 years old. I was given the luxury of choice when it came to building my online presence.  I opted to be very public in almost all aspects of my online life, but that was my own adult decision.  Everyone should have the same choice.

Synology DS1513+ NAS w/LAG – The ultimate home storage set-up

1513_and_SG300Want to get serious with your home storage set up? The 1513+ NAS server is for you.  With 5 drive bays, 4 network interfaces, and scaling up to 60TB, this thing is overkill for most people (probably including me).

I am using this as general home storage, and to store HD security camera footage.  I have Linux, Mac, and Windows workstations in my home, and this NAS fits my needs perfectly.  I’ve been up and running for about three weeks now, with no major complaints.  The Synology OS and the web-front end is very well-engineered, and I haven’t run into any bugs at all.

Network and Link Aggregation (LAG)

Along with my Synology Filestation purchase, I also upgraded my home network.  In order to benefit from the 4 Gigabit network ports on the back of the Synology, a switch capable of link aggregation is required. Specifically, the switch needs to adhere to the IEEE 802.3ad standard.

After going back and forth between a layer 2 switch and a layer 3, I finally just decided to spend a little extra and went with the Cisco SG 300-20 managed switch. This switch is awesome. If you’re not a network engineer familliar with IOS, there is a very feature-rich web front end that I used for everything. I also replaced all of my older CAT5 cables in the house with some nice new (and cheap) CAT6. Here’s what my super-charged home network looks like these days:


Setting up LAG (link aggregation, teaming, binding, bonding, whatever you want to call it) was a breeze on both the Synology and the switch:

  1. Plug in all four network cables from the Synology into four ports on the switch.
  2. Configure link aggregation in the Synology first (via Control Panel -> Network). Choose the type of aggregation, and configure your IP address, etc.
  3. On the Cisco, configure a LAG group and assign the four ports to that group. I set the load balance to MAC.
  4. I later turned flow control on for the LAG ports, as I was seeing some packet loss in the Synology logs. You may need to experiment a bit here with your switch and clients. Also keep in mind that it takes quite a bit of traffic/activity to happen for those LAG algorithms to start being efficient.  I didn’t see any noticeable improvement when testing concurrent speeds at first. Only after a lot of testing and activity did I see more than 1000 Mb/s out of the filestation.

It is important to note that many people will not benefit from link aggregation.  LAG won’t make a difference in the transfer speeds to/from a single computer.  You’re not building a fatter pipe with LAG, you’re simply allowing multiple interfaces to operate as one, which in turns allows you to push to multiple computers concurrently at a higher rate.  When only interacting with one client, the port speed will always be Gigabit (unless you have a LAG set up on the client, and a 10Gig switch!).  However, if you’re streaming HD movies or constantly moving large files to or from multiple clients, this is a great feature.


I went with 5x 4TB Seagate NAS drives. These babies gave me just under 15 usable in the Synology Raid configuration, and were on the compatibility list from Synology. No drive issues yet, though I feel one of them may be failing, as once in a while I will hear a click, then each drive seems to do a cycle with the green light turning off momentarily on each drive, left-to-right. Drive failure is not surprising when dealing with 20TB. In fact, due to my previous history with buying new drives, I expected at least one to be DOA, but that was not the case! I will post updates here as things progress.

All in all, a great device. My only complaint was the “Surveillance center” app only included a license for a single camera. Buying more licenses is not cheap at all. Instead of buying more, I just re-purposed an old windows server to manage the cameras and the footage file management, then used the Synology as mounted storage on my security cam server. Here’s my final set set up:


CompTia Security+ Exam Tips

CompTia Security+While the exam is still fresh in my head, I going to hand out some tips and suggestions for the CompTia Security Plus exam.  I took the test one time, and passed with a 834/900.

My Previous experience:

  • A few weeks ago, I got my MTA Security Fundamentals, along with the CompTia Network+.  The Network+ really came in handy for Security+.
  • 10+ years in telecom, IS/IT/Development roles
  • Lots of other certs… I’ve taken nearly all MTA certifications now, mostly thanks to WGU (Washington Governors University).

My study time/process/tools:

  • I spent about 4 days preparing for this exam.
  • My university provided an online tool called LabSim, provided by “TestOut”. This was a mix of videos, tables, quizzes, and hands-on simulated exercises.  I did not really feel this was efficient use of my time, but 90% of my study time was spent using this source.
  • I also had access to a UCertify Course as provided through WGU. I avoided this source.
  • Professor Messer’s Security+ videos on Youtube. I watched about 10 of the ~200 of them. Those are really great, especially if you need a clear explanation on a topic you’re not getting.

What to focus on:

  • If you don’t do ANYTHING else, at least memorize the protocols (and where they are used), ports, associated hashing or crypto algorithms, and categorization.  The thing that helped me the most was the fact that I had all of the symmetric and asymmetric protocols and algorithms fully memorized.  In fact, before I even started the test, I jotted them all out on the scratch paper, under their proper heading. I referred back to this table probably about 20 times.
  • Know the “strongest” configuration for all areas: wireless networking,  remote authentication, etc.  There were quite a few “what is the most secure configuration” type questions.
  • Don’t skip the chapter on the risk assessments and calculations… I skipped it and it cost me a few questions, I think.  There were probably 7 or 8 questions about risk management, documentation and process.
  • Know the terms involved with security threats.  I was tempted to skip the chapters discussing worms and viruses, but I’m glad I didn’t because there were probably 20+ questions on phishing, worms, viruses, malware, spear fishing, vishing, pharming, rootkits, backdoors, trojan horses, etc.  Make sure you REALLY know the difference between these, and the appropriate response to these security threats.

What to skip:

  • The LabSim online training course I was using (provided by “TestOut”) went into a LOT of detail and hands-on exercises that I felt wasted a lot of time.   They had me doing many tasks that were unrelated to security, such as dinking around with AD, adjusting network settings, etc.  While it may help give context to some of the concepts, just keep in mind that every question on the real exam asked a SECURITY question.  For example, on the real exam, I was never asked to configure a RADIUS server or anything close to that. But I WAS asked many, many questions regarding the protocols, ports, and algorithms used with RADIUS.

98-367: Tips for taking the MTA Security Fundamentals Exam

courses-exams-98-366-98-367-mta-networking-and-security-fundamentals-917-891Just got back from scoring a 97% on the Microsoft Technology Associate Exam for Security Fundamentals. I found it to be the easiest certification I’ve taken to date, however, here are some tips to help you prepare:

My Previous experience:

  • I just got my MTA Network certification as well as CompTia Network+, which actually gave me the answers to all items related to network security. 
  • 10+ years in telecom, IS/IT/Development roles
  • Lots of other certs… I’ve taken nearly all MTA certifications now, mostly thanks to WGU (Washington Governors University).

My study time/process/tools:

  • My only source was the Wiley text: Exam 98-367 Security Fundamentals (Microsoft Official Academic Course). I spent two nights reading this cover to cover, with the exception of the networking chapter. This book is a little dry, and the content is scattered, but everything you need is in there.
  • I have a Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual machine to play with… the exercises in the book aren’t really helpful, but i found it helpful to play around with the server when they reference something unfamiliar. Its its too much trouble for you to set this up, you can get away without it.

What to focus on:

  • Different types of password attacks – there were more questions on things like brute force, dictionary attacks than anything else. 
  • There were at least three question on digital certificates and digital signing (what are they for, who do they protect?)
  • NTFS permissions – what happens to perms when you move a subfolder? What about copying files?
  • Know the different layers of security presented in the first chapter of the book. Lots of questions like “Encrypting a thumb drive is an example of ___________” with possible answers of integrity, confidentiality, etc.

What to skip:

  • That book has a lot of stuff unrelated to security. While it is important to understand some concepts, don’t waste your time memorizing stuff unrelated to security. Examples of what I mean below:
    • You don’t need to memorize the OSI model (if you haven’t already). Just know the security-related nuggets you read about. A question you might see on the exam would be: IPSec operates at layer ______ of the OSI model. 
    • Don’t memorize the extra stuff in the tables presented in the book. Example: the test may ask which file systems support NTFS, but it will probably NOT ask what the maximum filesize is for NTFS.

Most of this exam is common sense, especially if you already go about your daily life in a safe and secure manner when it comes to computers. Just read each question carefully.  But if you are the type of person who isn’t sure what type of wireless security your home network is using, or have never dealt with setting file permissions, you will probably want to take some time and read the text.

Good luck!

Stupid, racist woman calls 911 because cab driver is “Very Muslim”

Prepare to be enraged!

Jennifer Crabbe is a worthless piece of crap that is very scared of Muslims. Now, I usually give people the benefit of the doubt when I watch a short internet clip of someone being an idiot… “Well, we don’t know the whole story” … “Well, this person could have just had a very bad thing happen to her” .. that is usually what I tell myself.

Not this time. 30 seconds in to this video is when I knew I hated this woman, and everything about her.  What makes her little stunt even more annoying is the fact the way she initiates the phone conversations with each of the dispatchers:

Dispatch: “911, whats your emergency?”
Worthless bitch: “Hello!”
Dispatch: “…uhh”
Worthless bitch: “How are you?”
Dispatch “…” 
Worthless bitch: “I’m scared!” 

I’m ready to punch the wall! The only thing that makes me feel better about this world is that she is being accused of a hate crime.

Google Hangouts kills the ability to place outbound calls

google_hangouts_callingLike many, I use Google services for email, voice, and messaging… it is pretty much my primary mode of communication in one form or another.  I’ve been very happy for years with my Google Voice + Gmail + Gtalk setup…. until today… when I realized that I could not dial into my conference bridge for my 8am meeting.

“Wait- there’s GOT to be a way to do this”, I thought to myself.

Nope. After digging around on the Google Voice forums, it was confirmed: You can no longer place outbound calls from Google Hangouts, Gmail, or the Chrome extension.

Google is moving real-time communication to their new “Hangouts” platform (or at least the look-and-feel). This means that Voice, SMS, chats, video calls will eventually all be contained in Hangouts, instead of having different interfaces all over the magical world of Google applications. This is a great thing… but it doesn’t seem like they are ready for prime-time.

The official response from Google:

“Today’s version of Hangouts doesn’t yet support outbound calls on the web and in the Chrome extension, but we do support inbound calls to your Google Voice number. We’re working hard on supporting both, and outbound/inbound calls will soon be available.”

I guess I’m just thankful they aren’t dropping Google Voice entirely, which is a valid concern these days when it comes to Google.


COSM is now Xively

XivleyCOSM, the self-proclaimed “first public internet of things cloud” is out of beta, and came out with a new name: Xively. With the new brand launch, the look and feel has changed to be a bit more business/professional looking. Now there are three tiers of service offered for production use, none of which are free.

It will be interesting to see how this Platform as a Service (PaaS) gets used. When I played around with it a few months ago, there wasn’t much there other than a bunch of twitter stats (COSM offered Twitter status out of the box as  a working demo of the technology). Now, you can take the test drive to set up a package tracker. In addition to the cosmetic changes, there are some API differences (the old COSM will still work, for a while), and new Oauth integration. Nice!

Has anyone done anything useful on this platform yet? Any interesting projects out there?