Friday, November 14, 2014

Technology tidbits...

I'm going to take a small break from the space-related posts to talk about one of my other passions - technology. I have no particular theme to the topics below...I'm posting them in a somewhat 'stream-of-conscious' manner.

Net Neutrality
Quite honestly, I haven't read enough about it to know exactly where I stand. If one listens to the politicos, the right would have you believe that it's the technology equivalent to 'Obamacare' - with all the doom and gloom that implies, and the left will leave you thinking that if it's not passed that evil corporations will block/cripple any competitors on their network, thus stifling innovation.

The truth is likely somewhere between the two. I have no problem if an Internet provider wants to allow faster access for some traffic if a service wants to pay for it, so long as they don't hinder access for those that won't/can't pay for the priority access. For instance, I think it's perfectly fine if Comcast (a company I *despise*) offers Netflix prioritized access to Comcast's Internet customers...but I do NOT think it's OK if Comcast decided to slow/impede someone's traffic if they were unwilling/unable to pay for priority.

Some think that infrastructure buildout will negate the need to even consider implementing something like Net Neutrality because future tech will ensure there is enough bandwidth to go around. That's a fallacy - consumption always seems to meet and rapidly exceed any additional gains in bandwidth availability. For instance, I co-manage a very large enterprise network supporting more than 45,000 users. We are regularly running out of available bandwidth, even though we have three independent Internet providers. As soon as we increase a circuit, that extra overhead is consumed by some new device...or app...or website. So thinking that the need for some reasoned governance would be negated by a technology that's "just around the corner" is a bit naive.

That said, do I want the government dictating to a private company how they should be allowed to sell their product? I can't say that I do. To use Netflix again as an example, there is data to suggest that - at times - Netflix accounts for more than 25% of all Internet traffic in the US. That undoubtedly puts a strain on the network infrastructure of the providers, and any additional capacity must be paid for by someone. Should it be the source of the traffic (Netflix)...or should the consumer pay increased fees to cover the buildout? The money has to come from somewhere.

I'm sure this is only the tip of the iceberg with Net Neutrality. I'll revisit as I have more info.

Apple OS X Yosemite Wi-Fi Issues
Yes, Virginia, there are Yosemite wi-fi issues. I was running the beta of Yosemite on my late-2012 MacBook Pro Retina for a couple months before commercial availability, which was an upgrade to the OS X Mavericks. I encountered no wi-fi stability issues on it at all and assumed the rumblings of wi-fi problems were the domain of an unlucky few. Fast forward a couple weeks and I was re-evaluating my stance: some new Macs at work were not so fortunate.

I'm currently evaluating best-practices for integrating Macs into our very large Windows-only network and had ordered a couple iMacs and a Mac mini for small-scale testing. All three arrived with Mavericks and worked flawlessly on our wireless infrastructure. After performing an upgrade (not a fresh install) to Yosemite, I began to experience random wi-fi drop-outs...first on one iMac, then the other. The mini seemed to be immune. I tried some hints & tips I found online, all to no avail. The issues persisted even after performing a CLEAN Yosemite install.

I dropped back and decided to used a wired connection since any officially-supported Mac in our infrastructure will be wired. The problems immediately vanished. So there is definitely something 'hinkey' with wi-fi on Yosemite iMacs. Your experience may differ, of course...but just be aware that it's a possibility.

Enterprise Technology Podcast
I'm in the process of organizing a podcast geared towards enterprise technology needs. It's been bubbling in my noggin for a while, but I think the time may be nigh for a development. Keep an eye out on the blog for further info.