Fibre v’s Rat

We recently had 2 fibre links terminating in the same cabinet simultaneously go down… obvious answer is a switch fault. We replaced switches, gbics, patch cables all with no result. We eventually concluded it had to be a cable fault and opened the fibre patch tray to find the below. A rat had cleanly cut all 12 fibre cores…

Google+ is not yet available for Google Apps

UPDATE: Google+ is now available for Google Apps. Sweet!

I’ve being using Google Apps to host my email using my own domain for many years. Since Google Plus was launched I have been keen to try it out.

“Google+ is not yet available for Google Apps.”

What? It’s available for people with free accounts such as Gmail, but not paying customers of Google Apps? How annoying, i have to sign up for a Gmail account with some random username (decent usernames are taken) such as just to use Google Plus.

End rant. Memory Giveway

UPDATE: I didn’t win, but got a consolation prize of $50 to spend at RamCity so i ordered the RAM. Will soon have 24GB in my Hyper-V box :) are giving away $500 in RAM!

“All you have to do is write an article in a blog post, forum post, twitter post, etc on the internet about why you want to win a $500 memory upgrade, and tell us which product(s) from our website you want to win”

I’ve used RamCity to purchase memory upgrades for client servers and workstations. Their products are always good quality (I usually opt for Kingston RAM), they guarantee the memory will fit your system and best of all it’s much cheaper then buying from the server manufacturer! So I thought I best give this competition a go!

What would I do with $500 in RAM?

I would increase the memory in my home Hyper-V server from 4GB to 24GB (2x of these kits will do it), allowing me to test more operating systems and applications simultaneously as well as virtualise my desktop PC’s with RemoteFX, reducing my electricity costs.

Currently I have two PC’s that run almost 24/7. My “Server”, which I use primarily for file storage and running virtual machines. My desktop which is used for day-to-day for work, internet browsing, dowloading files and playing media. I don’t play any games. With electricity becoming more and more expensive I considered how I could cut down on power consumption without loosing functionality and performance. I already run a Hyper-V role on my server for testing, I figured I could virtualise my Desktop PC and use a low power Intel Atom based PC or Thin Client to access it!

Microsoft RemoteFX was introduced in with Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and Windows 7 SP1 and could give me the full Windows 7 experience with Aero etc via Remote Desktop 7.1.

I decided I should test my idea…

Test Setup
Hardware: Intel Core i7 920, 6GB DDR3 1333, ATI HD4870 and 1TB 7.2k SATA.
Software: Windows 2008 R2 with SP1 and Hyper-V role, Windows 7 SP1 Virtual Machine.
Client: Another desktop running Windows 7.

I won’t go into the setup and configuration of Hyper-V and RemoteFX, I will discuss this in a future post.

I was rather impressed at what RemoteFX can do. Windows Aero was seamless and 1080p video playback was fine. I did see some stutter playing HD YouTube clips but I put that down to flash. In my opinion its usable as a day-to-day desktop.

Windows Areo and 720p video playback inside an RDP session to a Windows 7 VM.

To make this all happen, i would need to install additional memory in my server as it doesn’t have enough to run the base OS, my desktop and test machines.

HDHomeRun Network Tuner

I’ve been running a Home Theater PC (HTPC) for years, starting out with Windows XP Media Center Edition, followed by Vista MCE and now the best release by far Windows 7 MCE. I’ve had my share of crap digital tuner cards, my current media center runs a Hauppauge HVR-2200 tuner, by far the best tuner i have used, until now?

I purchased an Asrock ION330 to use as a HTPC for the bedroom with the aim of watching live tv and recorded media, unfortunately my rental doesn’t have a TV outlet in the bedroom. I have a Ethernet over Power (EoP) adapter to connect the HTPC to my network, so i thought perhaps i can use the network to stream TV from my main HTPC to my bedroom HTPC. I came across DVBLink which has a server component that installs on a machine with the tuner card and a client that installs on another PC (in my case the bedroom HTPC) allowing me to stream digital TV over the network. I found this solution to be slightly unreliable, occasionally i would have to restart media center several times before i could watch a channel and i also got the odd stutter. These issues pushed the GAF (Girlfriend Acceptance Factor) right down, still in my opinion a very cool piece of software.

I’ve read plenty of good things over at about the HDHomeRun dual network tuner from Silicondust. I decided to bite the bullet and purchase one at around $180 AUD delivered. I connected the unit next to the lounge room HTPC with the only antenna outlet in my house.

Configuration took around 10-15 minutes. It comes with a small utility to select your country and do a scan to see whats out there. It installs virtual tuners on the client machine, allowing media center (and other software) to take advantage of the tuners. The

media center configuration is done the same as an internal tuner card.

So far so good, ive had the HDHomeRun connected for a few weeks now, solid as a rock.

Asterisk PBX on Wyse VX0

My workplace was disposing several Wyse thin clients and it got me thinking, besides a terminal what else could they be used for? Perhaps a low power, fanless PBX or NAS. I started researching and soon found this particular Wyse VX0 has a VIA Eden 800Mhz CPU, 64Mb memory and 128MB of flash storage. I also noticed it had a DDR and SD card slot. I had a spare 512MB DDR stick so in it went.


I’ve been successfully running AsteriskNOW with FreePBX at home as a virtual machine for some time. AsteriskNOW runs CentOS 5 as a base operating system, after some testing on the wyse i experienced stability issues and determined the wyse is not suitable for such an operating system. Some googling revealed Askozia an “embedded” version of Asterisk with a Web GUI based on Monowall which is based on a cut down version of FreeBSD.

Pressing “DEL” on boot will get you into the wyse BIOS, the default password is “Fireport”. I noticed the BIOS is very much like a normal PC, you can adjust boot order, enabled/disable components etc. I adjusted the boot order so the unit could boot from a USB CDROM.

I followed this guide to install the Askozia image onto the internal flash storage.








I setup Asterisk via the web GUI and i was away! I am very very impressed with what this thing can do, transcoding 1 telephone call with G711 the system was at ~1-2% CPU and ~27MB RAM. I suspect moving to a codec like g729a will increase this load, however this machine is clearly capable of running many simultaneous calls.

I also measured the power consumption of this device, my meter indicated 12W while on the phone. In my area electricity at peak rates currently costs 22c per kwh, so this device will cost me less then $2 per month to run.

Jumba VPS Hosting

This blog is hosted on a Linux VPS (CentOS 5.5) from Jumba. I’m rather impressed considering the price of $10 AUD per month.

What you get with the “Vegetarian VPS”:

  • 10Gb of storage
  • 100Gb transfers per month
  • 10Mbit port
  • 1x public IP address

All for $10 per month! As long as you’re comfortable administering your own Linux server, you can’t go wrong!

Some quick tests

Downloading from an AU source (2.3MB/s or 18.4Mbit, more than advertised)

wget -O /dev/null
5% [===>                                                 ] 53,949,322  2.30M/s eta 7m 25s

Latency to some Australian networks

[root@vps ~]# ping
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=249 time=4.26 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=249 time=4.05 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=3 ttl=249 time=4.18 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=4 ttl=249 time=5.72 ms
[root@vps ~]# ping
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=1 ttl=56 time=23.4 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=2 ttl=56 time=23.3 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=3 ttl=56 time=23.3 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=4 ttl=56 time=23.3 ms

Digital TV in Dubbo

I installed two cheap digital set top boxes in Dubbo last week, both identical. One box was reporting low signal on some channels, in particual all TEN and 7 channels.

After comparing the settings between the two boxes i found one was using different frequencies. The “Auto Search” function locked onto the wrong frequencies with lower signal strength every time. My guess from a distant tower.

Some googling revealed the correct frequencies for the local transmitter (Buninyong hill) and a “manaul” search fixed it

For the record:

SBS 718.625Mhz
ABC 739.25MHz
PRIME 760.50Mhz
WIN 781.5Mhz
TEN 802.5Mhz