I am an IT professional, with a Networking degree. And I feel shame.

For a while now, I’ve been wondering why I get such shitty wireless performance on my home wireless network.

What’s poor performance? Well, I just used speedtest.net to test both a wired ethernet connection, and a wireless connection. The wired test result was 85 Mbps down, 30 up, which is about normal for my Fios connection. But the wireless result, on multiple devices, was 14 down, 2 up.

That is unacceptable.

For a long time, I thought it was simply the wireless card in my laptop – it doesn’t have a great reputation. But for a long time I was getting 25/15, so I accepted it as a first world problem, and didn’t think about it too much. Lately, it’s been worse, with todays test numbers (14/2, remember?) being the norm.

And then I remember – my wireless router is set to 2.4 Ghz, as my laptops wireless card seemed to get a better lock on that than it did at 5 Ghz. Why not try changing it to 5 Ghz, and see if I get a boost from that, you ask? I’m way ahead of you! I log into the router, make the switch, am about to hit “update”…and I notice another setting…the wireless protocol. It’s set on Legacy A.

::so much facepalm::

I like to do things one change at a time, so I put the router back on 2.4 Ghz, and set the protocol to a/n mixed. Update. Restart wireless. Log in with multiple devices…and get an average of 69 down, 39 up.

IT professional, ladies and gentlemen. With a degree in networking.

Moto X vs N5 – which way to go?

now playing – Kashmir, because Led Zepplin is good smartphone buying music

I was strolling through NYC the other day, walking down a sidewalk where they had a scaffolding set up, enclosing the sidewalk. I was carrying my phone, my more or less beloved Gnex, in my hand…and my hand clipped one of the scaffolding bars…phone meets sidewalk, screen is traumatized by the meeting. Cracking ensues.

What a drag.

It could be worse, the phone still works fine, and the cracks aren’t THAT bad. I broke an N7 screen (I don’t make a habit out of this – it’s just coincidence that it’s happened twice in the last couple of months) a couple months back, and it was wrecked – lost all touch functionality. So it definitely wasn’t the worst case scenario – I still use it daily. But, I was starting to think about the new phones that were coming out anyways, and this is hurrying that up a bit.

The two phones I’m looking at are the Motorola Moto X, and the Google/LG Nexus 5. Most other times, this would be an absolute walkover for the Nexus phone – I’m a huge fan of the line, I love reliably getting the latest software without having to root the phone.

Let me just take a minute to talk about rooting – it’s something I just don’t want to be bothered with anymore. I hacked the hell out of all the phones I owned before my Gnex, and just don’t feel I should have to anymore. As far as phones have come, hardware wise, it should never be necessary, and I don’t want to support lines of phones that make it necessary…or providers that make it necessary, for that matter. On that note, I know a woman who owns a Gnex on Verizon. It was released first on Verizon, and it’s the flagship Google phone…supposedly untouched by bloatware, supposedly getting the first taste of the new Android versions. But hers…well, Verizon embarrassed Google, in my opinion. They did everything to that phone that wasn’t supposed to happen – added bloatware, held the updates up for at least 6 months per iteration, and disabled Google Wallet.

I have no beef whatsoever with Verizon. I think they have some products that are standard setters – Fios, for instance. But I don’t like the way they handled the Nexus line.

But I digress. Like I was saying, normally, I’d be all over a new Nexus phone. And Motorola has “added” to vanilla Android, something I usually consider very nearly a sin. But in looking at the additions they’ve made, they’re both very subtle, and very sensible. The hands free voice commands…I’m sure a lot of people will look at that as a gimmick, but I use Google Voice Actions all the time, and they work well for me, so I know that’s a feature that would get heavy use from me. And the Active Notificatons, along with the ability to silence the phone by putting it face down just…makes…sense. That goes a long way with me – sensible additions to Android is totally welcome in my book, and apparently the hands free voice activation has already made it upstream into Kit Kat, which may actually have improved it a little more, but I’ll need to verify that before making a decision. I’m very much hoping that the Active Notifications make it upstream at some point.

Another thing that gives the Moto X a big boost up in my opinion is one thing that Google and their partners have dropped the ball on, with a consistency that makes me think it will not be changing anytime soon. Accessories. The Gnex (and first N7) had these three pins that were supposed to work with all manner of docks…and as far as I know, never had anything made for them. Look, I don’t ask for too much. All I really want is a good car dock, and the one for the Gnex sucked, and sucked hard. It held the phone reliably. That is the only thing it did well. It didn’t charge the phone, it didn’t put it into car mode…it’s just a piece of plastic that held the phone. Not acceptable. But the Moto X already has one…made by Motorola, specifically for the Moto X. It does everything I want, and doesn’t look like a piece of garbage. Huge plus. Huge.

Are there minuses to the Moto X? Yup, a couple. First – the price. I will not pay $600 for a phone. I’m a T Mobile user – one of the many places where I vote with my wallet is I will not ever again be tied to a contract with a cell phone company. Given this, the best choices are T Mobile or Ting, and I’m not the biggest fan of Sprint’s service, so that kind of rules Ting out (if you are in an area that Sprint is good in, check them out – great company). Verizon does offer off contract service, but I don’t think you can get a completely unlimited plan from them, so that kind of rules them out – I go through about 8-10 GB of data per month. But when you buy a Moto X on T Mob, you have to buy direct from Motorola, and you can’t use T Mobiles plan where they spread the cost of the phone out over the next however many payments. I’ve read that they’re dropping the price to $480…if they do that, we can talk. Otherwise, I’ll find one on Ebay.

The other minus is the spec sheet isn’t that hot. I’m not THAT concerned about it…coming from a Gnex, it’ll seem like it flies to me. This phone is pretty synergistic in the way it uses its resources, so it’ll seem greater than the sum of it’s parts. But…the N5 really is a much more muscular phone.

Build quality – I haven’t had a chance yet to get my hands on either of these phones (that will change later today – the Guppie hipped me to the fact that Best Buy has the Moto X), but I suspect that Motorola has better build quality than LG. I’m really not a fan of LG, and wish Google had gone with either Motorola or HTC for the Nexus – both are so superior in build quality, generally. Google is being pig-headed in its insistence that Motorola is a different company. Whatever. And while I’m not that fussed over how a smartphone looks, the Moto X looks like a much more ergonomic and stylish bit of kit; much more finished.

Got any thoughts on this subject? Yay on one, nay on the other? Do please weigh in, and give me your input. I actually know one person who owns both – the mighty tech obsessed Brandon Roberts. Hopefully, his N5 will arrive soon, and he’ll be able to give a completely unbiased comparison. Guest article, maybe? That’s right, Brandon – I’m looking right at you, buddy.

Update:

Stopped in at my local Best Buy, just to get my hands on the Moto X (not to buy – as I said, you have to get the T Mob version from motorola.com). It’s a little hard to tell, because of the security devices that they have attached to the phone, but it felt solid in my hands. I like the materials they use, and the screen looks really good. Now I have to find a Nexus 5 to play with.

TrueAbility Linux Showdown

This is pretty cool.

There is a company called TrueAbility. They do testing for companies looking to hire talent, to evaluate the knowledge that the applicant has, in the best possible way – via a live server test. Several high profile companies, including Rackspace, use them as an evaluation tool. They give you an IP (they allow root login, which I guess is necessary in this case, but in the real world would be a no-no), the password, and then off you go, root shell access. Just like what I do every day at work.

I’ve taken a TrueAbility screen before, and thought it was a great idea…although the company I was taking the test for, I didn’t really see the point, since they didn’t use any of the services that I worked on in the test (Apache, mysql). If I had a critique, it would be that there are a couple of different ways to do anything, but they seem to want ONLY one way, and I wasn’t given credit for a couple of things that I know I got right. However, they do send a recorded screencast to the company that you’re applying to, so you can walk them through what you did. If the company is cool, they’ll see what you were up to.

Anyways…right now, TrueAbility is having a Linux Showdown, from Sept 16th to Sept 19th. I just bombed on the first one – without giving anything away, it was heavily Postgres oriented, and I have little to no Postgres experience. I didn’t make my results public, so I won’t be shamed…I’m just using it as a learning tool, today.

It is fun, though. I recommend going and trying it, if you know any Linux:

Take the TrueAbility Linux Showdown!

I am a big fan of vanilla android. And I am a big fan of products being sold for just slightly over cost, because Google almost views it as a loss leader to get you using their other products. I am also a big fan of many of Googles other products – Google+, Google Music (or Google Play Music – I’m a fan of the product, not the stupid name), Drive, and of course Gmail. All this┬ámeans the Google Nexus line was pretty much tailored for me.

When the Nexus 7 was first announced, I pre-ordered. It arrived, and I loved it. It’s absolutely perfect for my needs – content consumption, social media, and as a reader. It worked great, too – very snappy, very little lag. But as time went by, and we went from 4.1 to 4.2 to 4.2.2, a lot of lag has been introduced into the system – to a point where you can’t really call it lag; it will sometimes totally lock up for around 10 seconds.

It’s not the end of the world, but it is annoying.

My one other issue with it was, even though it came with a fairly high quality screen, the colors were…a little washed out looking, to my eye. And to many other peoples eyes, as well. So when the new N7 was announced, with it’s high res screen, and more powerful feature set, I took a look at my bank balance, and said why not. After all, I should be able to sell my OG N7 for a fair amount of money, and offset the purchase of the new tablet, at least partially.

Well, the new tablet has arrived, and I’ve now lived with it for several days. And I’ve been comparing the two side by side over that course of time. How do they compare? Lets see.

Right off the bat, there are some physical differences – the new N7 has gotten rid of the chrome bezel (thank goodness), and isn’t quite as wide.

N7 vs N7

N7 vs N7

In the picture, the new N7 looks slightly taller – it is, but just barely. As I said, it’s also not quite as wide. However, the viewing screen is exactly the same.

It is also considerably thinner.

Skinny is good.

Skinny is good.

This is one of those things that I didn’t think would be a big deal, but as it turns out, after a couple of days, the older one feels bulky. The new one is also slightly lighter, at 11.2 oz, vs 11.9. It’s barely noticeable, but I do find myself holding the new one with just two fingers a lot, while I’m reading, which is probably more due to how thin it is than the weight.

What I was most looking forward to was the higher screen resolution, and I was hoping for better color, as well. As far as the color was concerned, I was very pleased, but I wasn’t sure how much of an improvement the 1920 x 1200 resolution of the new N7 was over the 1290 x 800 of the old N7. It sounds like a huge jump, right? In fact, viewing them side by side, the difference is much more subtle than I thought it would be. At first, I actually thought there was no noticeable difference at all.

That doesn’t sound quite right. There’s a BIG difference. The new screen is MUCH better. The colors are more vibrant, graphics/images/text jump off the screen. Much BRIGHTER, too. But the resolution/pixel density…I was having a tough time seeing a difference.

Until I watched a movie side by side on both of them.

New N7

The above image was a night and day difference on the two units (this is a screenshot from the new N7). You can’t see any difference in a screenshot, but when actually viewing…you couldn’t see the sun on the old one. It looked like it was obscured by clouds. Detail is universally crisper and…well, more detailed than on the old N7.

There was one area, however, that the old N7 was better at. In low light, gradients weren’t portrayed as well on the new N7 – they look a bit pixelated. That, however, is the only area where the old is better than the new.

Other differences – the new one has both front and rear cameras, and the front facing one, while still not great, is better than the old one. I’m not going to take a lot of pictures with the back camera, but it’s nice to have, just in case. It takes ok pics, nothing to write home about.

There’s a notification light on the new one! Hurrah!

You can charge the new one wirelessly. I’m sure I’ll really dig that if I ever get a wireless charger.

There’s some new, low power Bluetooth stuff that I didn’t play with at all (hey, you want in depth, there are plenty of other places to get that kind of thing – I’m giving you a street level POV).

Two speakers, instead of one, for passable sound. This is the only mobile device that I’ve ever been able to say that about.

The headphone jack is on the top now. I’m not really pleased with that, but I’ll get used to it. Another fit and feel thing that I do like is the power button and volume rocker feel a bit more positive when you press them. A subtle difference, but I like it. They’re also slightly more recessed, and if you don’t know where they are, that might make them hard to find. They’ve used a different texture for the back – the new stuff is fine, but I really liked the touch of the old one.

And of course, much more horsepower under the hood.

So.

Which is better?

The first day I had it, I didn’t think the differences were all that great. But over the course of a couple of days, I noticed I went from picking up whichever one was closest to me, and not caring which was which, to a couple of days later, only picking up the new one. The old one is practically forgotten about – and it’s still a really good tablet! But the new one is just nicer in virtually every way. There’s ZERO lag – this thing FLIES. There were a couple of applications on the older N7 that took several seconds before they were usable – most notably the Netflix app (the Redbox Instant app opens smoothly on everything!). No such issuewith the new one. Because of the two speakers, I don’t have to use headphones with it. The colors are better, the resolution is higher…and I’ve noticed reading on it is…just…a little bit easier on the eyes.

Little things. Subtle differences. But enough subtle differences so it all adds up to a better unit. If you don’t have a tablet and want one, jump on this one. If you have an old N7, and have the disposable income, go ahead and upgrade – you’ll be happy you did. If you have the old N7 and don’t have the cash…stick with it. It’s still a great unit, and will easily get you through another year.

 

 

3rd post/Jira Training

Ok, probably not the sexiest subject in the world. Yup, Jira training was held on Monday. We’ve been using it for a little while, but the powers that be within the Joint Venture (Redbox Instant is a partnership between three companies, and internally is referred to as the Joint Venture. Don’t worry, I’m not giving away any trade secrets, here) decided to start using it as a platform for all departments, instead of just having Jira for bigger issues, with each department having it’s own, internal ticketing system (we used RT). It was nice having control over our own system, but it’s definitely more efficient having the entire JV use the one system. And Jira is a very good tool, well respected in circles that employ Agile development.

Still, training? Really? Yeah. Jira is highly configurable, and there are a couple of things that make a lot of sense, once you know them, that aren’t necessarily intuitive right off the bat. The ticket closing method, for instance. Someone opens a ticket, it gets assigned to you, you resolve it, and send it back to the person who opened the ticket, who then closes it. With the previous manner in which we used our systems, something would get assigned to us, we’d fix it, and close the ticket ourselves. This method just makes more sense.

Ok, that’s it for today. I’m gearing up to build a new home server, which is going to employ a 1U HP server, ESXi, and NAS. I don’t know much about ESXi…that is, I know what it is, and I understand it and how it works, but I’ve never configured it myself, so this will be a good learning project.

In the meantime, though, it’s back to coding, and an early night for me. I have a 2 am deployment that I have to be present for (ah, the life of a sys admin), so I want to get at least a few hours in before getting to that. Have a good night, everybody!

2nd post/Gomez!

So here it is, my long awaited second post.

This is fun, right? Me numbering each post, just in case you miss one, and feel the need to catch up. Don’t worry, I’ll stop doing it as soon as I’m on a roll.

So, training at work today. I currently work supporting a SaaS called redboxinstant.com, which is a Netflix competitor. We use a variety of monitoring products, one of which is called Gomez. And today, lucky me, I got trained on it.

My review? It’s a good bit of tech, if you’re are supporting a product that uses a CDN. It allows you to run a variety of benchmark tests from nodes all over the country. It might even be world wide, but as we are only nation wide at this point, I can’t vouch for that at the moment.

Ok, well I’m living in the nerds dream, right now, because I have a plateful of shitty food in front of me, and I’m getting ready to do some coding. So that’s all for now.

Beat it!

First post/Python wins tonight

The title says it all. It’s been a long day, I feel like I’ve learned a couple of things (a prerequisite before I hit the sack), but I’ve been banging my head against the wall for an hour or so, over a coding issue.

I know it’s something stupid, some small detail that I’m missing. But it’s late, and I tend to miss details when I’m tired.

Python wins, tonight.

But tomorrow I’ll be back.