SOHO Tech: Power-Over-Ethernet is Awesome!

Over the years I’ve come to admire 802.3af standard power-over-Ethernet (aka P.O.E.), even for small- or home-office applications. What follows is an introduction to the topic, and some novel ideas about its use in possibly unexpected applications.

IEEE 802.3af Power-over-Ethernet is the industry standard approach to delivering DC power to network attached devices. Given a P.O.E.-capable switch, or a P.O.E. inserter, DC power is delivered over the same Ethernet connection that provides connectivity. Thus one wire is all that’s required to a distant device on the network.
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ProBlogger: Should You Move Your Blogging Site to HTTPS?

Lets Encrypt in LaptopIn many ways I’m not a fan of meta; social media about social media, conferences about conferences, blogs about blogging, etc. However, in an effort to stay in touch I do follow a few sites, including ProBlogger. Yesterday’s news dump included their post, "Should You Move Your Blogging Site to HTTPS?" 

In general, I appreciate their recommendation that bloggers adopt HTTPS. Since the guest author is an SEO specialist, he presents the argument from an SEO perspective. He notes that very soon Google will warn Chrome users when they arrive at a site that isn’t secured.

While the author hints very generally at some of the mechanics of moving to HTTPS, he fails to mention Let’s Encrypt. That’s a pity since the project has been a godsend to many bloggers, myself included.

When Lightningbase, my glorious host, offered integration with Let’s Encrypt back in February I jumped on it immediately.

The setup process was blissfully simple. Just a few clicks in their admin portal initially, then use a search & replace plugin to bulk change the root of every link in the database. Voila! Done.

The certificate auto-renewed at the 90 day point. There’s been no looking back.

Uptake of Let’s Encrypt has been growing, with 16 million active certificates at present. It’s supported by a long list of hosting providers.

What I don’t understand is why ProBlogger removed a comment I left about Let’s Encrypt. I don’t really understand how a post encouraging people to use HTTPS could fail to mention the newest approach to easier implementation via a free, automated, and open certificate authority.

Feature Idea: Blackout Mode in Consumer Electronics

This is a bit of a trip though time. In my past life, involved with broadcast technology, I travelled extensively. One of my many trips involved an evening driving from Boston up to Burlington, Vermont with a sales associate. It was a nice ride in his Saab 900S, and my first experience with Saab.

As the afternoon wore into evening and we lost the light I came to appreciate a particular feature of the Saab dashboard. It had a “Blackout Mode.” With the press of one button all the dashboard and console lights went out. That is, everything but tips of the tachometer and speedometer.

With blackout mode engaged driving the dark, empty highway was a lot easier on the eyes. It was a nice feature. It spoke to a thoughtful design team.

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The Big Blue Yeti, Soft Phones & Audio Sample Rate

dialpad-windows-desktop-yetiA short while ago friend and telecom luminary Dave Michels contacted me about a problem he was encountering with his Blue Yeti USB microphone. While he appreciates the benefits of a headset, he prefers to not use one when there’s video involved.

Dave uses the Yeti when recording videos and participating in various UC podcasts. He’s recently started to use it with the Dialpad soft phone. That’s the service that provides his home & office phones.

The Yeti is a fine microphone for many purposes. The combination of USB convenience, handy level controls and low-latency monitoring makes it an excellent choice for podcasters. I recently wrote a blog post for ZipDX that describes its use by a professional interpreter in the UK.

In Dave’s case, when using the Yeti with Dailpad others on the call would complain that his volume was very low. So much so that he was forced to switch to his Plantronics Savi headset. They also complained that “he sounded bad.”

To solve these problems the two of us set about a quick investigation. What we found is potentially useful, so I’m sharing it here with y’all.
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BBC Erroneously Reports "Webcams used to attack Reddit and Twitter recalled"

As you may be aware there have been a few rather high-profile DDOS attacks in recent weeks. They all have one thing in common…they leverage common network attached devices that have been compromised, or at least left unsecure.

Many of these devices have been found to be network attached cameras. Brian Krebs has a great post on the matter. The table of most common devices includes IP cameras from several manufacturers, some printers and consumer routers.

USB vs IP Camera

I take exception to the BBC headline that reads "Webcams used to attack Reddit and Twitter recalled." Their use of the term webcam is egregiously in error.

By definition, a "Webcam:"

  • Has not been a factor in these DDOS attacks.
  • Are not network attached devices.
  • Are usually USB connected to a computer.
  • Are not able to do anything without the host computer.

While you may think me pedantic about the headline, the BBC’s overly broad definition of a "webcam" does their audience a disservice. There’s simply no need to have every granny who video chats with her grandkids worried about the one-eyed Logitech menace atop her monitor.

Quite plainly, it’s the router, Dropcam, Nest thermostat or Skybell that she should be worried about. Not that those products have been cited as problematic, but by virtue of the fact that they are network connected, they at least might be compromised.

You wanna put stuff here? Well, to start with, who are you?

The Who - Who Are You AlbumOver the past few weeks I’ve received another few offers from PR folks. They periodically seek to place content for their clients on this site. The see what’s here, find some similarity to their clients product or service, and make some nondescript offer of collaboration.

While I remain open to offers of collaboration, even sponsorship, to date I’ve rejected every such advance. This is largely because the approaches have been poorly conceived.

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