Archive for the ‘Industry’ Category

Voice Recognition in the Work Place

Monday, October 24th, 2011

If I could have three wishes, one of them would surely be 100% accurate voice recognition with every electronic device that I interact with. I don’t mind typing but given the choice, I would much prefer to speak my commands rather than have to type them into a keyboard or hammer them out on an iPhone or iPad.

Voice recognition is obviously in its infancy but it is becoming quite good considering the tools we have to work with. In fact this blog post is being dictated into an iPad with the headphones that come with the iPad and so far it has been 100% accurate. I agree it could get confusing for a computer to decipher commands if you’re in a crowded room or there is loud music playing in the background or any other number of situations that might not be applicable to voice recognition.

That said how nice would it be to wake up in the morning and say, “turn on shower”. Or if you’re laying in bed at night and you want the lights off, instead of getting up to walk across the room you say, “turn off the lights”. How about you say, “did I remember to lock the doors” and the computer says “no, the back door is unlocked, would you like me to lock it for you now”.

It almost sounds a little like being lazy on the surface but I think it goes much deeper than that if you really ponder the possibilities. Steve Jobs seemed to be headed in the right direction before his untimely passing and I suspect that in the not-too-distant future, keyboard will go the way of the eight track.

Imagine how much we would save on hand sanitizer and carpal tunnel syndrome treatments.

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Using a Content Management System (CMS)

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Content management systems have been around for many years and while they have their pitfalls, they also offer a tremendous advantage over hand coded HTML websites. The primary difference is that the content management system provides you with a web-based interface to modify the contents of your website. If you are unfamiliar with HTML, this prospect might scare you. However, if you know how to use email than you have enough skills to use a content management system and update the content on your website by yourself.

Even designers are using content management systems for the final product because it’s much easier to hand off the completed website and a fully functioning back end control panel that empowers their clients to make changes without having to call the designer every time they want to add a new sentence or change a heading. There are lots of content management systems available but WordPress is probably the most commonly used. It’s easy to install, easy to manage and even easier to use. If you have a complex website that is database driven or have some special function that you think might be incompatible with WordPress, it’s very likely that the developer can integrate that functionality into WordPress and still give you enough control to make changes to your content without whacking all of the code that they created.

The thing that blows me away about Word press and other content management systems is that there is literally an army of developers who create widgets and plug-ins for WordPress and most if not all, are free. So if you need to add a scheduling function to your website, you can typically just search the plug-ins and find one that you like and that is rated very highly by other users, then easily add that your website yourself. This whole process could take (5) or (10) minutes as opposed to (5) or (10) days with a developer, and your cost is nothing.

Another cool thing about WordPress is that it runs on open source operating systems (you can run it on Windows too) and WordPress itself is totally free. So you can essentially run this free application on a server running an open source operating system and open-source web server software like Apache. WordPress is also a very light weight application so it will only use a small amount of resources on the server. This doesn’t mean that WordPress is not capable of serving up millions of webpages because it certainly is. In fact, there are tremendous amount of very popular blogs and websites running WordPress right now that serve tens if not hundreds of millions of page views monthly.

While WordPress is not for everyone and content management systems in general are not always a good fit, they’re certainly worth a look if you’re tired of waiting around for your Web designer or developer to return your phone call or email because you need to update the telephone number on your website.

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What is a Dedicated Server?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

What is a dedicated server? That’s a relatively easy question to answer but a short answer will only scratch the surface. A dedicated server is a physical server that is installed in a data center, connected to an IP network and used to host applications that are accessed via the web or to process database requests, email, DNS or any other number of tasks.

The thing that differentiates a dedicated server is typically that the full resources of the server are only used by one client, hence the word “dedicated”. This is also referred to as dedicated hosting. An example of how this would not apply would be for shared hosting because while you can have literally hundreds of shared hosting clients on a single dedicated server, those resources are not dedicated to any one particular client and are spread among many clients. The example of running hundreds of shared hosting websites on a single dedicated server goes back to the earlier comment about the short answer only scratching the surface.

Good examples of clients who would require dedicated servers would be clients whose websites have outgrown their shared hosting environment. That is typically a function of CPU and RAM requirements. If you are trying to run large database application on a shared hosting server while 200 other websites are competing for processing power, you will probably see a substantial degradation of service. It will likely still function, but it will also more than likely be very slow and at times even unresponsive. Not to mention that your provider will encourage you to migrate to a dedicated server or to managed hosting if you lack the technical expertise to manage the dedicated server.

What is a dedicated server vs. what is not. Dedicated servers typically imply that you have the technical expertise on staff to manage all of the technical aspects of that server, including security, routine maintenance, updates and many other things. If you do lack those resources, managed hosting would likely be a far better choice for you. While the cost for managed hosting is always more than dedicated, the peace of mind you will receive by knowing that your server is managed by a team of experts is always well worth the additional cost.

So there you have it. The next time someone asks you “What is a Dedicated Server?”, you can now give an answer that makes sense.

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Helpful Links

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Here’s some great websites and tools I regularly use at work.

 

General cheat sheets for Cisco and routing protocols such as BGP, EIGRP, and OSPF. Also has reference sheets for things such as IPv4, IPv6, and NAT.

http://packetlife.net/library/cheat-sheets/

 

Cisco Mailing List to keep up to date on current issues.

https://puck.nether.net/pipermail/cisco-nsp/

 

OpenNMS for monitoring network equipment.

http://www.opennms.org

 

Great info on setting up netflow stats for your network.

http://www.dynamicnetworks.us/netflow/2-getting-started.html

 

Internetpulse shows ping times between major providers and reports any possible large outages.

http://www.internetpulse.net

 

Mxtoolbox allows you to check any IP address to see if it’s blacklisted.

http://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx

 

Various helpful internet tools.

http://www.robtex.com.

Hopefully these helpful links will keep you from looking like this guy -

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Migrating to Cloud Computing

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Imagine that you could click a few buttons and migrate your environment from a dedicated server to a cloud computing platform. You won’t have to imagine for very long because that’s something that we’re working on right now.

It seems that one of the biggest obstacles for entry into cloud computing is the migration from your old server. We are working hard to find the best way to migrate dedicated servers or managed servers with very little input (or risk) from the end user. That would include migration of your operating system, all installed applications and of course, your precious data.

Testing has gone very well and we are confident we can roll this out in the very near future. At a minimum this provides a mechanism to get you quickly and easily into cloud computing and enjoying all of the benefits while sidestepping the hassles of a typical server migration.

Another area that is of great interest for us is helping clients migrate from server co-location to cloud computing. It’s essentially the same thing as migrating a dedicated server but the benefits and cost savings would be off the charts. We are still in the testing phase but making excellent progress and we expect to push something out to the public very soon. We have already successfully migrated from various platforms and the response from our techs is always the same, jaw-dropping ease and mind numbing efficiency.

Stand by for more news on this exciting development as we continue working hard to bring you the best cloud computing platform available.

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