Networking

Networking multiple Windows the easy way

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I've lost count of the number of times that people have asked me to help get their small network of two or three Windows XP computers talking to each other, and I've never spent the time to work out what the magic combination is.  Recently I came across a program called Network Magic that takes all of the effort out of it.  If you're having problems getting your PCs to talk, give it a try.

Have fun with wireless network intruders

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Here's someone who discovered his neigbors were using his wireless Internet connection without his bidding. Instead of blocking them he decided to have a little fun, first redirecting all of their web page access to Kitten War, then he set up a web proxy so that he could manipulate what they were seeing, to interesting effect. Full details, including source code and configuration, are available.

Slow network? Reboot your modem!

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An odd one today. Over the past few days (week?) I've noticed that our cable Internet connection was a bit slower than usual, basically lots of latency and downloads running at 1/10th their usual speed which makes running a VPN connection a real pain. Calling tech support didn't get anywhere as they insist that you disconnect any router that you might have wired up and directly connect one computer to the line. I figured for SCOs and Googles (s'n'gs) that I'd try doing what they asked anyway. During the course of attempting to get my desktop to properly recognize the DHCP connection I power-cycled the cable modem probably three times and after doing so the connection suddenly was faster. To verify that the router wasn't at fault I didn't cycle its power at all, then reconnected it after the initial test and everything was working correctly again - cycling the power on the modem fixed the problem? I'm not sure why this would have happened, but it did and I'll remember it for the future.

Cheap 3Ware RAID cards are awesome

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Just a quick tip this time. As part of a server reshuffle at work we picked up a 3Ware Escalade 7006-2 PCI IDE RAID card that has turned out to be quite brilliant. Instead of dealing with CPU and I/O-intensive software RAID (as this particular server was set up with before), now we have reliable, hardware driven RAID that only cost $100! It was unbelievably easy to set up to boot, I simply plugged in the card with the machine's two 33gb drives, did a quick firmware update, booted into the BIOS-level configuration panel and within 30 seconds had a RAID-1 (drive mirror) setup created. My SP4-slipstreamed Windows 2000 Server installation went without a hitch, besides catching the driver-installation prompt before it disappeared, and right now I'm installing the usual boat-load of Windows Updates. This is one card that I thoroughly recommend to anyone who needs some basic drive redundancy, and as its available on ebay for $100 there's no reason not to put it on all your basic servers or anywhere else you would otherwise use software-based RAID.

A huge thanks to Bryan Smith who tipped me off to this card, and continued thanks to him for the continued tips and insight.

Brighthouse launches tiered Internet services

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Brighthouse Networks, who we use for our Internet service at home, just sent out their price list for 2006 which had a surprise in store: they've finally added tiered pricing on their Internet services. In plain Engrish this means that you now have a choice of three different packages for high-speed Internet from them:

download speed upload speed price comment
256KBps 128KBps $29.95 A minimum of 5x faster than dialup and enough for most people.
5.0MBps 384KBps $44.95 What we've had for years, very fast.
8.0KBps 512KBps $59.95 Really fast, I recommend it only if you are running servers at home.

The basic $30 deal is really fast enough for the majority of people, unless you're big into downloading large files (e.g. Linux ISOs), as it's going to be five times faster than dialup, you don't have to worry about the phone lines being busy, you don't have the problems of not getting a good connection, and its not much more than the major dialup services anyway. Oh, and they give you free dialup access for when you need it.

Actually, ever since about two years ago when they upgraded their standard service from 3MBps to 5MBps I've been waiting for them to do this. It is a good sign that they realize that not everyone needs the higher speeds or want to pay that much but would still like something faster than dialup. I think they'll really clean up in their market.

Personally I wish my parents had options like this, I'd gladly pay for their service if they could, but they live so far away from service providers that they'll have to wait for someone to offer a wireless service; still, for everyone else its worth going for.

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