So how do you connect the bits together then?

One thing people often ask is how I connect my computer stuff together in my home office. Do I use a wireless access point or do I use ethernet?

The simple answer is, it depends!

The internet connection comes via a modem into an Apple airport extreme router, I used to run a BT home hub but after trying three different versions I decided they were unstable enough to not be worth the trouble.

All the computers, that’s three laptops and the iMac desktop all connect in the office via Ethernet, none usually use WI-FI unless they are moved from their normal positions. Also connected to the router is my Synology DS 413J NAS for backups and my HP mono laser printer.

In the office there are two desks, one for me and one for the wife, each has a Netgear GS105 5 port Gigabit switch to connect equipment to. This means that less cables run back round the walls to the router. The NAS server also is set up to allow customers to remotely upload files to specific folders if they need to send me any updated files for their web sites etc.

The wife’s Windows 7 laptop has it’s own dedicated inkjet printer. I don’t normally print in colour so it’s not available via the network to all machines. My Windows 8.1 laptop, my iMac and my MacBook PRO all automatically backup onto the NAS. Also all the business stuff is automatically backed up via the cloud to off site storage. The wife’s laptop automatically backs up to a WD external 2TB hard drive as well as to the NAS.

The Apple airport extreme router also has 2.4 & 5 GHz  access for mobile devices, our tablets and phones all connect on 5GHz. We only use 2.4 GHz for my Windows laptop plus the wife’s Kindle and her laptop if we use them anywhere else in the house, though having said that I never normally use my Windows laptop out of the office as it’s just used for one specific piece of software.

I can also switch on a guest network for visitors if necessary on either or both bands. The reason I make so little use of 2.4 GHz is simply because it’s too crowded, I can normally see about 25 to 30 networks on the band, 5GHz is faster and clearer which makes it the obvious choice.

So there you have it, that’s how it all connected together.


Looking at the past in the future

As those who follow my other blog or who work on the preserved railway I work on are hopefully aware I have been photographing a private collection of railway bits, some of which you can see in previous posts.

Now this activity has actually got me thinking about storing this information and it’s longevity.

We humans are now storing more and more stuff relating to our daily activities, such as pictures and videos. It has been said that in a thousand years or so archaeologists will have more records of this period in history than any that has gone before. But will that actually be true.

Most stuff we store is on hard drives, CD/DVD’s and the like, but we need to ask ourselves a couple of questions.

1. How long will these storage devices hold our files without deteriorating?
2. In say a thousand years will we have anything to read these devices with?

Let’s take the first question, CD/DVD’s for example do not have an infinite life span, the technology is over 40 years old and many of the discs have deteriorated. I had some CD games a few years ago and the silver coating was flaking off the plastic disc it was attached to. I do believe some archives are looking at their electronically stored files and re-copying them.

In answer to the second question, let’s take for example a Phillips N1500 video tape, in it’s day it was popular, it was first available in 1972. Now if you are clutching one of these tapes in your sticky little hand, perhaps you found it when clearing out a relatives loft, how are you going to play it? I am sure there are the odd machines still about, but it would be difficult I expect to find one locally. This being the case I would guess that in another 40 years it will be impossible to find one working. Those that have been preserved will fail either mechanically or electronically at some stage. Electronics wise, will components be available to replace those that have failed, my guess is that the answer will be no.

Without going on and on what I am saying is that basically we are saving stuff on devices that either have a limited (in terms of many years) life span, or they will in years to come be unreadable anyway due to lack of equipment. This means that we could either loose the records through decay or loose them simply because we will have no means of reading the data that is stored.

Now I know what your thinking, you’re thinking I am perhaps being a bit dramatic and perhaps I am but in response I will say that I have here a 5 ¼ inch floppy disk, I wonder what percentage of people have a computer with a drive in it that can read the disk? My guess is less than five percent. I can remember using them less than 20 years ago.

This brings me to the conclusion that the best way to preserve digital images and documents is to actually print them and store the paper copies in a controlled environment. If you do this then I reckon they will be viewable for many more years than their digital counterpart.

What do you think?

Technology free Thursday.

I won’t be around on Thursday 11th June 2015.

We are having a technology free day, with no computers, mobiles or iPads.

The server will be switched off as will the computers, mobile phones and the iPads.

It’s also Sue the wife’s birthday. So a peaceful day pottering round the garden.

Just want a day away from the technology, to I suppose recharge the batteries hopefully I will feel much better on Friday, plus it will be nice to get out in the fresh air, rain permitting of course.