Category Archives: News

Of Inches and Feet – Or the Origin of a Poor Measuring System

Have you ever wondered why we use inches and feet in the United States or where it came from when the metric system seems to make so much more sense. I mean, really, 12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in a yard. How is this easier than 100 centimeters in a meter? Additionally, the centimeter being smaller than the inch, the metric system, without even addressing millimeters, allows for greater precision. More precision, simpler extrapolation from one unit to the other, where in the world did inches and feet come from?

Well, the inch, according to some, was originally the width of a man’s thumb. Therefore, as he was working he could simply measure out three thumb widths, or four, or five, or whatever length he desired, and he would have consistency in his measurements – within some measure of variance. The important thing to remember is that HE would have consistency in HIS measurements. If another man measured out the same three thumb widths, the actual length, width or height would vary. But, since every item created in the days of yore was a one-off item, this was not a real problem for many craftsmen.

Eventually, around the 14th century, the inch was defined as three corns of barley placed end-to-end. Of course, whether you use the human body or a plant member to define measurement, you are going to end up with inconsistency.

The yard was originally the length of a man’s belt or his girth, according to some sources. Again, depending on your dietary practices, your measurement would be different from another man’s. And your measurement would differ throughout life – at least mine would.

Interestingly, over the years, consistency was developed not for a pure desire for standardization, but out of governmental desire for more taxes. According to The Weights and Measures of England, by R. D. Connor, standardizing on yards and inches (instead of yards and handfuls) was implemented to prevent cloth merchants from avoiding taxes. We can always count on the greed of rulers to provide a standard if nothing else will do.

Thankfully, the modern world is moving more and more to the metric system (in fact, most of the world outside the U.S. these days) and we can get away from what is now a consistent but confusing system and use a consistent and simple system. No longer will I have to teach my small children or grandchildren creative techniques for remembering 12 inches make a foot and 3 feet make a yard.

Now we just have to get rid of miles so we don’t have to talk about 5280 feet in a mile anymore. 1000 meters in a kilometer is so much easier, don’t you think?

HP Buying Aruba Networks – What Would It Mean?

Here’s a little known fact: HP wireless is one of the biggest players in Wi-Fi. They have been for years and it is in part because they were already implemented in many organizations as the switching infrastructure. It just made sense to add on HP wireless for the 802.11 solution.

Now, to be clear, HP wireless products have, frankly, been very good Wi-Fi products. They work. They get the job done. However, they have garnered little to no buzz in the Wi-Fi experts community because they have not been the innovators. In most cases, they have been a, “Yeah, we do that too.” vendor, which means they do most of the good stuff other vendors do, but they are seldom the innovators. To be clear, this is a valid industry strategy. Many tech companies have been consistently successful by simply implementing the best of what others do. There is nothing wrong with that strategy and it typically becomes a familiarity or price sell for them. Now, if the rumors come true and HP acquires Aruba Networks, this is a big move and could actually lead to some very interesting innovative scenarios.

This would be massively bigger than Cisco acquiring Meraki. This is more like GM acquiring Nissan. This is a top five player seeking to acquire a top five player. As of early 2014, the top five WLAN vendors by revenue market size, per IDC, were:

  • Cisco
  • Aruba
  • Ruckus
  • HP
  • Motorola

When Cisco acquired Meraki, they were acquiring a strong player who was best known for their management interface and certainly not for their hardware. As HP looks at Aruba Networks, they are getting a hardware and software powerhouse that could place the HP/Aruba brand for growth and real competition with Cisco. Right now, cisco still outsells the other four top five combined. In fact, they outsell all other enterprise vendors combined by some measurements.

Of course, only time will tell if this merger will happen, but it could bring some exciting and interesting new things to the Wi-Fi arena if it does. We’ll keep our eyes on it for sure!

Foods We Shouldn’t Eat?

Now, I’m the first to suspect anything that is created by a company that has a product to sell; however, after a year and a half of nutrition study while recovering from cancer treatment, I have to say that I feel there is far more “truth in advertising” in this advertising than in most. Make up your own mind (and, yes, I know this is not related to technology [smile]):

banned-foods-infographic

Three Reasons Why My Surface Pro Is A Beast Compared To Your Non-Windows Tablet

1) Running Windows Apps
…and I mean all Windows Apps. I can run a Windows XP VM, using VMware Player or other tools, and then run most any application I desire – even those not directly compatible with Windows 8. Yes, it is a bit clunky sometimes trying to “click” in the right place with my fat finger, but pulling out the pen typically resolves this issue. The point is that I can run very important software apps for an IT geek like me, such as protocol analyzers, spectrum analyzers and programming tools and I can run them all in their full-blown power – not in some limited, nearly useless, tablet version.

 
2) It’s A Computer
…a real computer. Running with 4 GB RAM and a lickety-split fast processor, I can do anything other basic laptops can do. With a small USB 3 hub, I can connect multiple USB devices at the same time. The Surface Pro, and its sister Windows 8 Pro tablets now coming out, is the only tablet that can “really” be used as a tablet and then as a desktop computer. When I go into my office, I can plug it into a USB cable (attached to a powered hub) and have full access to external storage, keyboard and mouse. Then I plug in the video cable and I have a large screen monitor. The performance is as good as my 2 year old desktop sitting across the room.

 
3) It’s A Tablet
…in spite of what many have said (mostly those who have not used it), the Surface Pro is a tablet. Granted, it’s a bit heavier than an iPad, but, then again, it can do a few thousand things the iPad can never do (because of its limited interface options and applications – that’s right, I just said the iPad has limited applications over the Surface Pro because it cannot run all of the Windows apps released over the past decade or more [see reason number 1]). The touch sensitivity is equal to my iPad and my best Android-based devices. No problems there.  The pen is very accurate and makes for excellent diagramming – far superior to that available on either the iPad or the Android-based tablets.

 
As a side note – I have used iDevices off and on for more than three years and Android-based devices during that time – I have lots of experience with all three device types. I have waited a couple of months to write this post because I was initially blown away by the Surface Pro and I thought, “surely this is going to wear off and I will see the flaws in this device that make it less appealing than the Apple or Android devices.” Based on the reviews I had seen to that point, I thought I must be confused about how great it is. Now, after more than two months of use, I am more convinced than ever that, for an IT geek, the other tablets can’t even come close (though this may not be true for the general user). Going back and exploring those reviews again, it became obvious to me that most negative reviews fell into one of the following two categories:

  • Reviews by people who had not used the Surface Pro but commentated only on its features.
  • Reviews by people who had used Apple devices for nearly all their work (laptops and tablets) for several years.

Certainly, people in the first category, should not be taken seriously. People in the second category should be taken very seriously because they do present an issue for Microsoft. Microsoft has to address the learning curve for that group (and it includes many, many younger buyers today). But I don’t work for Microsoft marketing, so that’s their problem and this adaptivity is not in any way a reflection of usefulness or value for those who are willing to adapt. Stated another way, if a device is harder to use for someone who has been using another device, this is not an important  factor in the measurement of either the usability or the functional usefulness of that device. It is simply proof that they know how to use the other device better. Simple as that. From a functional perspective, no one can argue with sincerity that the iPad or Android tablets offer more than the Surface Pro (with the possible exception of access to memory cards, but that is easily solved with a USB memory card reader – though it is, admittedly, not a pretty solution).

 
The reality is that I could go on with another thirty reasons that the Surface Pro is far better for the average IT geek than the other non-Windows tablets, but I simply lack the energy to persuade you. My goal is not really to persuade anyone anyway – just to be a voice that is not influenced by the anti-Microsoft bias that is so common out there. Here’s the way I would summarize it. Do you want a device that can do all the following in equal capability to a laptop while being a true tablet?

  • Run advanced IT software
  • Access custom USB hardware
  • Run virtual machines
  • Run Office – real Office or Office-like applications with all capabilities
  • Access hundreds of thousands (millions ?) of full-featured applications
  • Current access to tens of thousands of custom Windows 8 UI apps (with a growth rate surpassing 100,000 by the end of summer) – think of these as the “tablet” apps for Windows 8
  • The best Internet browsing experience of any tablet (remember, you can install Firefox or Chrome on here – and I mean the real ones, not the lame tablet releases [smile])

Then Surface Pro (or one of its sister Windows 8 tablets coming out from other vendors) is right for you. Certainly, it’s not for everyone, but I cannot even fathom thinking the competing OS-based tablets are better tablet tools for the standard IT pro. However, many will disagree with me and just keep complaining to software vendors about the fact that their needed IT tools are just not available for the iPad that they use.

 

Just sayin’

Zig Ziglar – You Will Be Missed

I know, I’m an IT guy. Why am I talking about a sales trainer and author from the 1970s? Because Zig Ziglar became much more than a sales trainer throughout his grand career. He was a trainer, motivator, leader and mentor to so many including me. On the morning of November 28, 2012, Zig passed at the age of 86.

Many people have influenced my life over the years. In the tech sector, Mark Minasi responded to my emails in the 1990s (I was shocked) and shaped my perception of what an author should be like and how an IT industry expert should interact with his or her customers. In the religious world, Jesus (without comparison) has impacted me more than any man and my Pastor, Richard Collins, has had a profound impact on my life.

From a business perspective, no one has probably impacted me more than Zig Ziglar. Sadly, I did not have the chance to meet him, but his audio programs and philosophies have strengthened me through tough times over the past 20 years. I would describe him like this, “Zig Ziglar was a leader and not someone who talked about leadership.” Why? He wasn’t afraid to risk everything to stand up for something. That’s a leader. Someone who tells you how to lead, but doesn’t stand up for something, is really no leader at all. Zig was a leader.

Yes, he is gone, but his legacy remains. It remains in me. It remains in thousands. It remains in books, audio and video recordings that will live on. It remains, because it had an impact. It remains, because it came from passion. It remains, because it should.

Zig, I truly do hope to see you, at the top!

Tom

Headed to Wireless Field Day 3 (WFD3)

I have been selected as a delegate for WFD3 and will be attending in September. You can learn more about it here: http://techfieldday.com/2012/wfd3. This event is just one more thing that shows how great it is to be an IT professional. We understand community. We breath community. We are not the nerds in the basement anymore. Now, we’re the nerds on Twitter 🙂

Seriously though, the WFD3 event is going to be exciting. We get to visit with vendors and learn about the latest enhancements to their technologies for WLANs. I’m looking forward to learning new information and hanging out with the greatest techs in the whole industry: Wi-Fi geeks.

During the event, I will blog, tweet and post videos so that we can all learn together. If you don’t follow me yet, I’m at twitter.com/carpentertom. As I blog during the event, the blog posts will be duplicated here and at CWNP.com so you can check either location to see all that’s happening.

Currently, the delegates for the event are as follows:

Ryan Adzima A Boring Look @radzima
Tom Carpenter CWNP @carpentertom
Sam Clements SC-WiFi @samuel_clements
Daniel Cybulskie Simply WiFi @SimplyWiFi
Rocky Gregory Intensified @bionicrocky
Jennifer Huber I ♥ WiFi @JenniferLucille
Blake Krone Digital Lifestyle NSA Show @blakekrone
Chris Lyttle WiFi Kiwi’s Blog @wifikiwi
Sean Rynearson WiFiGeeks @Srynearson
Scott Stapleton Not your fathers WiFi @scottpstapleton
George Stefanick my802.11 @wirelesssguru
Gregor Vučajnk 802dot11 @gregorvucajnk

877-670-5577 – Overcharged Mortgage Loan Fraud

As you know, I try to keep people informed anytime I receive a mailing that is either fraudulent or intentionally misleading. The letter comes with absolutely no name on the letter. Only a phone number is given, which is 877-670-5577. You are informed that "Through government studies it has been brought to our attention that your loan as well as many other loans may have been overcharged or miscalculated several thousands dollars." Notice the manipulative language, "may have been." This phrase is intentionally used to relieve them of responsibility and to suck you in. When you receive such mailings, always interpret "may have been" to mean "99.9999% of the time it was not!" That's the safest practice.

The truth is that loans are rarely overcharged and, in most cases, companies offering mortgage audits charge you to inform you that everything was done correctly. Don't fall for the scam and don't call the number. If you call 877-670-5577, you can be certain you will be harassed for months to come. Let your family members know to avoid this organization and to ignore any messages or phone calls from them.

IPv6 Network Utilization on Windows 7

OK. For about a year now I've been telling you all that Windows 7's implementation of IPv6 by default will cause quite a bit of unnecessary activity on your network if you're not actually using it yet in the infrastructure. The numbers will be in soon.

Up to this point, I've only been telling you that a packet capture clearly shows the traffic generated by the IPv6 stack is significant when you consider dozens or hundreds of machines that may exist on a subnet. That's all about to change. I'm in the process of writing an article for Windows IT Pro magazine on the impact of IPv6 on a non-IPv6 network. In the process, I've built a lab of 24 virtual machines running Windows 7 with IPv6 out-of-the-box setup on an IPv4-only network infrastructure. I will be measuring the traffic generated by these machines.

Next, I will be enabling IPv6 on the infrastructure by doing the following:

-Enabling DHCPv6

-Enabling DNSv6

-Enable IPv6 on the Cisco routers(two will exist in the network)

Now, I will measure the network consumption when IPv4 is disabled on the network.

Finally, I'll measure the network consumption when IPv6 is enabled alongside IPv4 in both the Windows 7 clients and the infrastructure. When I'm done, I'll post the fast facts here and, of course, you'll be able to read all the details in Windows IT Pro magazine. I'll let you know the issue that will contain the article as soon as I find out.

Can you tell I'm excited about this lab fun I'm about to have?

An Interesting Side Note

I noticed, today, that CNBC.com was listing the 10 unhappiest states. A few days ago, I noticed they listed the most religious states. Interestingly, when I compared these, 3 of the unhappiest states were in the list of the top 10 least religious states. None of the top ten most religious states were in the list of the 10 unhappiest states. Is there a connection? Don't know, but I sure found it interesting. Particularly since the 10 most religious states that are not among the 10 unhappiest states have similar unemployment rates (with the obvious exceptions of Michigan and California) and much lower median income rates with matching sales tax rates. It doesn't appear that wealth has much to do with happiness, but religion just may. Curious.

SQL Server 2008 R2 Editions

Microsoft has changed the edition structure for SQL Server 2008 R2 by adding two new editions: Datacenter and Parallel Data Warehouse. The Datacenter edition adds features for management improvement and support for more than 8 processors. The Parallel Data Warehouse edition supports much larger data stores and enhanced data warehouse functions. For more information about these new editions and the traditional editions and what they'll look like in SQL Server 2008 R2, visit this page:

http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2008/en/us/R2-editions.aspx