Q1-2016 Broadband Update: Bye Bye Global Capacity, Hello Tachus!

According to Bob Dylan, “The times they are a-changing.” I certainly hope so. I’ve made some changes to our broadband service hereabouts, and I’m hopeful about a new alternative. The details of these two things are worth sharing.

I’ve long held that someone in a technology business, who works from a home office full time, should have redundant forms of internet access. If you’re going to have redundant access they should use different modes of connection. That way a single errant truck or backhoe doesn’t take out both of your services.

This belief was strengthened by our own experience in events like Hurricane Ike in 2008. We lost Comcast service for several weeks, falling back to our stodgy old DSL circuit. The DSL meant that we had IP phones running the morning after the storm, when even cellular service was down, amazed and confounded our neighbors.

Our first broadband service to this location was a DSL circuit. The name on the bill changed numerous times. What started out as Sprint Ion devolved into Earthlink, then Covad, Megapath, and most recently Global Capacity. The data rate was slow, but reliability was high.

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Now Over HTTPS Courtesy of Lightningbase & Let’s Encrypt

It wasn’t that long ago that I reminded you of how much I admire Lightningbase. Here’s just one more reason why these guys rock. Lightningbase has recently made it very easy to deploy SSL for WordPress sites by integrating Let’s Encrypt.

Lightningbase founder Chris Piepho announced the effort in a blog post. Since I’ve wanted to use SSL for a while, but not had the time to work through the details, I took the new offer as a sign that I should go ahead with the implementation.

I must say that I was floored by how easy this was! The entire process of getting this domain running on SSL took me less than 15 minutes.

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Recommended Reading: 3D Sound Overview

3D Audio Overview PDFA long time ago, when I was still in school in Toronto, I became fascinated with an obscure form of surround sound recording known as Ambisonics. In researching a paper for school I became smitten by the approach conceived by English mathematician Michael Gerzon. It’s a truly elegant system, something beyond the commercially successful surround sound approaches that we all know.

I was especially impressed with the Cowboys Junkies 1988 album, The Trinity Session. It was recorded in a old church on King Street in Toronto, in a single day. The band played in this place with incredible acoustics, ringed around a single Calrec Soundfield microphone. The Soundfield microphone is the surround microphone design based upon the theory originally published by Michael Gerzon at Oxford University.

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Compulab Airtop: The strong, silent type of desktop computer

airtop-isometry-cutout-300pxI can’t really explain it, but fanless, small form-factor computers have always held a lot of appeal. Over the years I’ve twice selected SFF models as my desktop. Compulab, and Israeli company, has consistently offered very interesting SFF platforms, including the Fit-PC and Intense PC Series.

I bought an original Fit-PC simply because it was interesting and relatively affordable. However, novel as it was, Fit-PC was destined for industrial and signage applications. With hardware common to a netbook it simply didn’t have the grunt to be more than a plaything. While the Intense PC models were more powerful, they were also considerably more expensive than a traditional SFF desktop. I admired them from afar.

This week Compulab noted that they are beginning to produce their newest model, the Airtop-PC. It looks like their most innovative design yet.

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Evaluating USB Headsets for Interpreters

This is admittedly a deep dive into a niche topic. It stems from work done for ZipDX, but is more technical than most audiences can stand. Nonetheless, those of you who frequent these waters may find it interesting.

plantronics-blackwire-c320-usb-headset.jpgWhy Do This?

One of the more fascinating aspects of my work at ZipDX involves the interpreters engaged in the use of our multilingual conference capability. These people, who are located all over the globe, are simply fascinating people. They have incredible skills with languages, and finely tuned sensitivity to the nuance of cross-cultural communication. It’s positively inspirational to hear them at work, and very gratifying to support them in their work.

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Revisiting Algo Solutions

In the recent pre-holiday period we had the usual spike in the number of deliveries. This reminds me of how much I admire that Algo Solutions 8028 SIP Door Phone that graces our gate. It’s a splendid device, the definitive solution to the problem of deliveries to a one-man office. When a courier arrives they push the button. Even in their pre-holiday panic I can be talking to them before they have the opportunity to cut-and-run.

On rare occasions when they arrive and I’m not on the property, the call routes to my cell phone. I can advise them to take the package next door, or try again tomorrow.

There have been a couple of times when I was nearby or on the way home. In those few cases the driver offered to make another run past our gate after making some other deliveries in the neighborhood. The ability to talk to them immediately helped them clear their daily load, and saved me a trip to the not-so-nearby depot. Win-Win!

The 8028 Door Phone has been installed for a while. I noted this week that there was a firmware update for the device. While I was not having any trouble with the device, it only took ten minutes to update the firmware.

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